Billed as a first person shooter RPG, Borderlands focuses on collecting loot over story. There a lot of superficial similarity with the recent Fallout games: large open world to explore, quest-based goals and a little bit of humor thrown in. But the world of Borderlands is barren and devoid of interesting people and stories.
My primary gaming device these days. Technically any computer can be called a "PC" but this category is specifically for Windows/MS-DOS based games.
Over the past few years I have had a love/hate relationship with The Walking Dead T.V. show. Unlike most of the trash in the zombie sub-genre being released these days, the pilot episode was simply one of the best zombie stories ever filmed. However, as the series progressed, it has sunk in quality where at times it just feels like a bad soap opera filled with characters who make the most unrealistic and stupid decisions. The fact that there is a zombie apocalypse going on has little or no bearing on the plot most of the time (you can just replace "zombies" with "earthquake" or another major disaster and you would have the same show).
Clocking in at 31 gigabytes of disk space needed, Max Payne 3 is a monster of a game. I would have bought it at launch, but my old computer just would not be able to run it. The Max Payne series has been one of my favorites for a long time. I love the cheesy noir narration, gritty environments and, of course, the insane slow motion gun battles. The third installment retains all of these elements and gives the game a beautiful audio-visual overhaul. Most notably, the comic panel storytelling device has been replaced with your standard in-game cut scenes. Lots and lots of cut scenes that, at times, interrupt the flow of the game play. You just want to burst through that door guns blazing but then you're forced to watch Max slowly creep his way into cover while explaining that the room was "full of goons."
I had hoped that when they adapted the Web version of Surgeon Simulator into a full game they would have added a funny story line à la Trauma Center. Instead they have just expanded the original game by adding two more procedures and a couple more environments. It's still much the same game: purposely horrible game controls, inappropriate tools for the job, painfully hilarious physics interactions and general surgical mayhem.
Like a gazillion other people, Doublefine Adventure was the first Kickstarter that I bought into. It was scheduled to come out two years ago. During the delay I started playing many other more modern adventure games to get me in the groove again (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here). It's finally out (at least the first half of the game is out), but how does it stack up against other adventures?
Infinite is a worthy successor to the original BioShock. It's not so much a sequel as it is a re-theming of the game with a new story, new environment but much of the same game play. The cloud city of Columbia is simply beautiful and filled with visual and sonic detail. There's something to look at around every corner.
Another game that came bundled with my new video card. I had never played a game in this series because I assumed it was some sort of military sim. It is actually a third-person stealth game, and a very good one at that.
More episodic point-and-click adventure from Telltale Games. This series is definitely geared more towards younger gamers but there is much charm and witty story telling to keep older players entertained. If you enjoyed the movies and shorts, this is just like another cartoon in the Wallace and Gromit series. I thought the first episode, Fright of the Bumblebees, was the best and there is a nice bit of characterization and story that carries over from episode to episode. It's not quite on par with Sam and Max but it's still a worthy modern adventure game.
I played the first Assassin's Creed several years ago and, while I thought it was an okay game, I was never compelled to continue on with the series. It was just too repetitive and item collection driven. The only reason I have AC4 is that it was bundled with my new video card. Black Flag is an absolutely beautiful game and it's no wonder EVGA bundled it with my GTX660 as a way to showcase that mid-range card's capabilities. Ever since the original FarCry I have been a sucker for games that are set on tropical islands.
At its core it is mostly the same game as AC1 but the narrative is much more focused. The missions, although similar from one to the next, aren't the exact same quest over and over. There is actually a story-based point to most of the challenges you face. The mindless item collection is still part of the game, but looking for pirate booty sorta makes thematic sense here. The combat has also been streamlined but is ultimately kind of disappointing after experiencing the pure elegance of Batman: Arkham City's excellent fighting system. Thankfully, avoiding combat and stealth are a big part of the game.
Contract J.A.C.K. is billed as a prequel to the super-excellent shooter No One Lives Forever 2. What we really have here is a modest set of stand-alone expansion levels for NOLF 2.
When I heard that this game featured Michael Biehn as the main voice actor I was intrigued. When I saw that it was an over-the-top homage to eighties science fiction and action movies I had to have it. The game doesn't disappoint in the nostalgia department. In addition to the neon Tron-style art direction, there is tons of cheesy dialogue, 8-bit cut scenes (including a power rock training montage), and an incredibly cool synthesizer-based soundtrack.
This game has been on my back burner for quite some time now. I play a little here and a little there, but it never really got its hooks in me. This was Telltale's first foray into episodic point-and-click adventure games and it shows. There is no over-arching story to tie the episodes together, solving the puzzles is mostly just a matter of clicking on everything in your inventory and they threw in a bunch of item collection nonsense to make up for the limited gameplay options.
While Invisible War was not without its merits, it really lacked the depth of the original Deus Ex. This third installment attempts to amend some of that and bring the series a little closer to its RPG, stealth-centric roots. For the most part it succeeds. The levels offer all sorts of play options and paths. Also, the third-person perspective stealth system works much better than the hiding in shadows ever did in the original game.