Review: Deadlight

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Deadlight Review

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Zombie Prince of Persia

People like to complain that zombie games have been over done at this point but I’ve yet to feel zombie game fatigue myself. Despite using many of the tropes and themes associated with the zombie apocalypse setting, most major zombie games actually play quite differently. The original Resident Evil games helped create the survival horror genre, creating suspense and tension with its claustrophobic rooms and lumbering tank controls. The Dead Rising series focused on scavenging and escort missions with a healthy dose of wacky Japanese humor. The Walking Dead was an adventure game that was about the human drama that emerges among survivors. Even the three big zombie first person shooters play differently enough to feel like unique experiences. Left 4 Dead focused on a mad run and gun rush to the safe house, the Call of Duty zombie mode was more about holding down an area and keeping barricades up, and Dead Island was basically Borderlands with zombies. The different gameplay in each of these titles kept the zombie apocalypse fresh because it allowed the player to explore this fascinating setting from new perspectives and experience different aspects of it. This notion is essential to our ability to appreciate any art form. Every theme has already been explored by the arts, but originality still thrives in our perspectives of those themes. Each new artist that creates a work provides a new lens through which to explore the most essential aspects of our nature. We do not derive the value of a piece of art from its subject matter but from the angle by which it explores its subject. Repetition in the arts only becomes derisive when an artist tries to imitate another’s voice instead of using his own unique one. Deadlight whispers to us in an old forgotten voice. It isn’t the zany variety show of Dead Rising or the heavy metal splatter films of the first person shooters. Deadlight is poetry. It’s the sad, beautiful story of the end of mankind.

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Review: Chivalry Medieval Warfare

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Chivalry Medieval Warfare Review

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Chivalry: Insulting Feminists Since the Dark Ages

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There is a bizarro world version of first person shooters, a game genre where everything is the same yet completely different. Imagine a shooter where guns are the exception and everyone uses knives. A shooter where riot shields aren’t eccentric but common. A shooter where you’re not expected to hide behind low walls in the periphery but to meet your opponent head on out in the open. There’s been a genre lurking in the shadows for many years now that has all of the trappings of a competitive multiplayer PC first person shooter like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2 but with a focus on sword and shield melee combat. It’s a unique and thrilling experience that should be tried by anyone who has ever giggled his way through the chaos of a knives only round in Counter-Strike. Chivalry Medieval Warfare is the latest entry in this genre and while it’s certainly not for everyone, it’s worth trying out and seeing how the gauntlet fits on ya.

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Review: Dead Pixels

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Dead Pixels Review

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An 8-bit Ammo Hording Sim

There is an inherent and basic drama to needing more than you have. This is the element that appeals to me the most about zombie fiction. I enjoy reading about people scavenging in old department stores and pharmacies, siphoning gas from abandoned cars, and looking at ordinary mundane places and imagining how it could be refitted as a safe haven against a hostile world. It’s not the end of the world, but the rebuilding of it that thrills me. Zombie games usually focus on the more visceral elements of the zombie genre. Left 4 Dead has you blasting holes in heads and running for your life. The Walking Dead focuses on the social drama of the scenario, having you navigate heated arguments and making tough decisions involving the lives of people that have become an adopted family to the player and dealing with their inevitable loss.  But Dead Pixels is about making the most out of what you have. It’s solving the problem of having to cross a street filled with 30 zombies when you only have 10 bullets and then figuring out how to cross the next one with what you have left over. Continue reading “Review: Dead Pixels”

Review: Guardians of Middle-earth

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Guardians of Middle Earth Review

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In Soviet Russia, Gollum Owns Sauron!

So I’m just going to throw some buzz words at you. MOBA, League of Legends, Lord of the Rings, Consoles, Streamlined, Turbo dynamic integrated business processes.  That pretty much sums up Guardians of Middle Earth. Guardians of Middle Earth is a Turbo Dynamic Lord of the Rings tie-in console exclusive MOBA game with streamlined mechanics.

For those that don’t know, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) is a competitive game genre where two teams of five players try to out level each other until they are strong enough to destroy the opposing team’s towers and base. Guardians of Middle Earth takes the familiar genre and sets it in middle earth using Lord of the Rings characters as champions (or in this case guardians.) What makes Guardians of Middle Earth interesting is that it takes the familiar MOBA genre and adapts it to be played with a gamepad. No other game has tried to bring the MOBA genre to consoles in its purest form. Every other console MOBA has attempted it by mashing it up with another genre. Awesomenauts mixed MOBA gameplay with a platformer and Monday Night Combat turned MOBA into a third person shooter. Granted, these other genre experiments are interesting but MOBA games have a certain magic to them that can only be invoked in a straight MOBA game. Still, Guardians of Middle Earth may try to bring the wholesome MOBA goodness to consoles but the changes necessitated by adapting the genre to consoles keeps it from being the unadulterated MOBA experience you would find in League of Legends or DOTA 2. Luckily these changes come off as fresh rather than debilitating and makes it a worthwhile experience for hardened fans of the genre looking to spice things up a bit. Continue reading “Review: Guardians of Middle-earth”

REVIEW: Darksiders

Darksiders Review

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War! UH! What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing!

I am a man who appreciates a bad ass opening cinematic. Some games have such amazing opening cinematics that I wish they would of just never made the game and used the money to make a movie instead.  Half of the time these games are MMOs.

The three cinematic trailers for Star wars: The Old Republic were some of the most fantastic, visceral action sequences I’ve ever seen. I’ve shown them to everyone I’ve met who has ever said the words “Star Wars” and have rewatched them countless times. However the game itself was just something I couldn’t get into (much to the benefit of my productivity.) The same could be said for World of Warcraft and, unfortunately, Darksiders.

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Review: Runespell Overture

Runespell Overture Review

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High Stakes Pagan Hold’em

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I enjoy watching the birth and maturation of game genres.  It starts with a snow flake.  A game is released that is both unique and beautiful.  This first game does something different, special but the game must also be polished enough and popular enough to catch the eye of other developers.  Then a confusing and painful puberty begins.  Other developers see this first game and are inspired.  They tweak the original game’s systems and aesthetics and make it their own.  Pessimists say these developers are just cashing in on a gimmick and call these derivative games copycats.  But if the original game system is strong enough, tweaking it and changing the aesthetics can create very different experiences.  The only difference between a really good game with a bunch of crappy uninspired copies and a bunch of games that are part of the same genre is how long people keep making copies and how good they are at changing the formula enough so that it still seems fresh.  When Puzzle Quest came out its combination of traditional RPG storytelling, character building, and structure with a bejeweled based combat system was something completely unique and unheard of.  Puzzle Kingdom, Galactrix, and a sequel came after.  Now we have Runespell Overture as the latest Puzzle RPG.  Is it a shameful copycat or does it help establish the Puzzle RPG as a new and exciting game genre? Continue reading “Review: Runespell Overture”

Review: Mark of the Ninja

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Mark of the Ninja Review

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The Fantastic Story of How Mark Finally Found a Job Where He Got to Wear Pajamas All Day

Perspective can mean everything.  Look at Ikaruga, Contra, and Quake and the importance of perspective becomes apparent.  Whether a shooter is played top-down, from the side, or in first person has drastic effects on how the game is designed, plays and feels.  Many genres are created by taking a familiar type of game and simply changing the perspective, resulting in something fresh and interesting.  Mario became something completely new when it was reinvented on the Nintendo 64 and Grand Theft Auto didn’t get its massive fan base until the third game shifted the series into third person.  Mark of the Ninja is another experiment of this ilk.  Mark of the Ninja takes the time honored stealth genre and flattens it into 2d creating one of the most interesting and satisfying stealth games in recent memory. Continue reading “Review: Mark of the Ninja”

Review: Crackdown

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Crackdown Review

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Super Cop Playground

Crackdown is an open-world game.  That’s it.  It’s not a living world.  It’s not a breathing world.  It’s not a world that feels larger than the player nor is it a small world.  But, Crackdown has a world, an open world, and you do play in it.  Playing Crackdown is a lot like visiting a large building that is still under construction in the middle of the night.  It’s eerily quiet and the air is still.  You can still see the scaffolding wrapping around its exterior and the intestinal piping and wiring line the hallways, exposed through gaps in its unfinished walls.  You could really do just about anything here because you feel alone, truly alone.  Isolated and away from the prying eyes of judgmental observers, you could run screaming down the bare, empty corridors.  You could curse up a storm, throw things against the walls, get on the roof and enjoy the view, or do something else completely inane like opening all the windows and closing all of the doors.

Crackdown feels incomplete.  Like our barren and isolated building, the world of Crackdown feels like the frame of a world under construction.  The structures and layout are there and dime-a-dozen carbon copy cars and “people” wander the streets aimlessly.  Interchangeable “bad guys” sit at street corners and seem more like yellow-shirted place holders than violent gang-bangers out causing havoc.  And then there is you, the only dynamic character, the only thing that breaths in this barren cityscape.  The world of Crackdown is quiet and without music, and the fact that most of the noise in the game will be generated by your character’s leaps and grunts, gunshots and detonations, and squealing tires and revving engines emphasizes the fact that you are the only living entity in Crackdown’s cardboard cut-out world.  As a result, Crackdown winds up feeling very much like a game. Continue reading “Review: Crackdown”

Review: Battlefield: Bad Company

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Battlefield: Bad Company Review

You ever feel like you were born to die?  Well you will after playing Battlefield: Bad Company.  Bad Company starts out as a really fun game but quickly becomes incredibly frustrating to the point that you find yourself constantly asking questions like, “why do I engage in self-destructive behavior, like playing this game?”, “why do we have to die, all the time in this game?”, “If God is both all-powerful and all-good, why would he allow artillery and snipers to exist?” and “Life used to be so beautiful, what happened?”  That last one is easy, you played this game.

I feel like I should preface this review by pointing out two things, one I am a HUGE fan of the battlefield franchise and I have been enjoying the series since Battlefield 1942.  Second, for some bizarre reason, I cannot seem to get into online console games.  I mean, I’ve certainly enjoyed the online multiplayer of some console games in the past; in fact, I don’t think the Halo games (excluding the first), the Gears of War games, or even this game would be worthwhile without their online multiplayer component. However, these games have never been able to keep me playing for longer than a week or two unlike many online PC games such as: Company of Heroes, Team Fortress 2, Counterstrike, or even Demigod. Continue reading “Review: Battlefield: Bad Company”

Review: Assassin’s Creed

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Assassin’s Creed Review

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Crusading in the Cause of Bad Assery!

Let me be blunt, Assassin’s Creed is not a stealth game.  Assassin’s Creed is a bad ass simulator.  And by bad ass simulator, I don’t mean that it’s a simulator that is sweet as hell (although it clearly is simply due to the nature of that which it seeks to simulate); I mean that it simulates the experience of being a total bad ass.

You play the role of Altair, a too cool for school first-class assassin extraordinaire.  Unfortunately, his rebellious shenanigans quickly get the best of him, and after horribly botching a mission by giving the creed a heavy-handed bitch slap, Altair finds himself demoted to the level of a new recruit.  Altair then spends the rest of the game trying to return to his former position as a high-ranking member of the assassin’s brotherhood by assassinating 9 key individuals.

The game also has a second, very distinctive setting and lead character.  Although the idea of having a play with in a play seems to be rather common, I believe this is the first time a game has told a story within a story before.  You also play as Desmond, a current day bartender who has been kidnapped by a mysterious corporation.  The corporation uses Desmond’s “genetic memory” (an old crackpot scientific theory that attempts to explain how birds know where to fly every summer for migration and other similar instincts) to relive important events in the life of Desmond’s ancestor, Altair, in order to find the location of a certain item.  The modern day portion of the game seems awkward at first and plays like a simple adventure game with wonky controls, but as the game progresses, Desmond’s discussions with corporate entities and the subversive feeling that comes from sneaking out and hacking into computer terminals really give the game’s story a sense of scope and help accentuate the importance of Altair’s actions in the past. Continue reading “Review: Assassin’s Creed”