Hotline Miami is an ultraviolent, fast-paced arcade-style game that owes a lot to Smash T.V. and Berzerk. Although it uses both analog sticks, I wouldn't quite call it a twin stick shooter since you are using the shoulder buttons to fire and swing weapons. These controls are not easy to get used to, but eventually I got a handle on them. Yet even near the end I was still dying because I would accidentally throw my weapon rather than target an enemy.
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.
I really wanted to like Brütal Legend. but once again Doublefine has created a game that is a triumph of style over substance. The story concept is there: Jack Black as a concert roadie who saves heavy metal music from obsolescence through the power of rock. There are so many great ways that this tale could have been told. How about a parable about commercial, corporate entities are watering down great music? Or how with so many entertainment choices, kids just don't care about being in bands any more? Nope. Instead we are taken to what amounts to your standard D & D fantasy world with a sheen of Eighties metal album cover art direction laid on top.
In the above scene from Memento Mori you are supposed to trick a little, abused girl into thinking she's your friend. The only thing that's missing is the white panel van and sick puppy dog. Fortunately, the rest of the game isn't quite this creepy.
I understand that this game was originally a Nintendo 3DS launch title. So, by the standards of portable gaming, this is not a bad game at all. However, here on the PC it seems a little behind the times and blah. This criticism is mostly about cosmetics. Unlike the bright and diverse levels of Resident Evils 4 & 5 the game seems really limited to the samey-looking hallways of a dingy cruise ship's interior. While you would think that they could use this environment for all its worth by, say, including the listing of the ship, bursting portholes, and other aquatic mayhem. Instead it's your standard FPS hallway levels with a little swimming here and there.
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.
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.