Robert Wm. Gomez's

Video Game Reviews

Here's where I keep track of video games I have played. I rate the games on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being "highly recommended" and 1 being "forget this game and go read a book or something."

Cursed Mountain on Nintendo Wii (7/10)

Cursed Mountain Limited EditionThis "limited edition" version was one of the first games I bought for the Wii. It's been sitting on my stack of unplayed games since June of 2011. At the time, I didn't know anything about it beside the fact that it was really cheap (Amazon order history says it was $8.99!). It comes in a tin case (like Metroid Trilogy) and includes with a DVD and CD soundtrack. Turns out, I shouldn't have put it off for so long and it's actually a decent game.

Okay, it's decent by Wii standards. That means the usual control annoyances, bland graphics and simple story-lines. What it has going for it is a unique game world and premise. You play a mountaineer in the Himalayas on a quest to find his lost brother who disappeared in a search for a mystical artifact.

Wolfenstein 3D on MS-DOS (6/10)

Wolfenstein 3D

As with most of the great shareware titles of the 90s, I played the free episode of Wolfenstein 3D a gazillion times but never bothered to buy the complete package. Once again with thanks to GOG.com I have been able to finally complete in its entirety. This is the progenitor of first-person shooters and the basic game mechanics are still pretty solid. Its main problem is that of repetitiveness. There are only four kinds of enemies to fight. That isn't including the bosses at the end of every episode which all have a unique sprite and some even have an elaborate death sequence:

Wolfenstein Death Cam

But even those bosses all kinda fight in the same manner.

Beneath a Steel Sky on MS-DOS (5/10)

Beneath a Steel Sky

I think this is considered by many to be one of the best point and click adventure games of the early nineties. I can see why people remember it fondly. The cyberpunk setting is unique (if you don't count Neuromancer or just about every CD-ROM title from the same era), the production is impressive, and the game is massive for a point and click. At the time of this writing it is still offered as a free game on GOG.com. Unfortunately, I felt it to be a bit too oblique and meandering.

Serious Sam 2 on PC (6/10)

Serious Sam 2

The original Serious Sam became an unexpected hit when it received the approval of Old Man Murray. While other games were trying to be dark and mature, Serious Sam reveled in pure, goofy run-and-gun action. It was like Duke Nukem if it was made by a backwoods folk artist. This sequel is somewhat of a technological upgrade, but the art design still looks like the work of someone just learning how to use 3-D Studio Max, and that is the game's charm. The enemies range from run-of-the-mill space marines to exploding clowns to giant cigar smoking mechanical T-rexes.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Nintendo Wii (8/10)

Skyward Sword Box Art

Well, this is a Zelda game. The formula has remained unchanged ever since The Ocarina of Time. The princess has been abducted and you must work your way through the various dungeons one-by-one, collecting a new power in every dungeon. Each game in the series introduces a new game-play element. In the case of Skyward Sword that is its (supposedly) precise motion controls.

Skyward Sword requires the use of the Wii MotionPlus controller. While it's definitely an improvement over other games that have tried to use the standard WiiMote as a sword, you still end up just flailing your arms like an idiot. The key here is to realize that the game is forgiving enough to allow you actually to take your time and be precise for many of the bigger battles.

Far Cry 4 on PC (8/10)

Far Cry Kill Kill Kill!

All these Ubisoft open-world games (Assassins  CreedWatch Dogs, etc.) follow the same basic formula. Main story which you can take your time completing, lots of side activities and missions, and collectible stuff that gets you nothing in the end. Each is enjoyable up to a point, but then they wear out their welcome and become tedium. But despite the flaws, I genuinely enjoy the Far Cry games. I am a sucker for the FPS/stealth mix in which you can approach any conflict from a large number of paths. Each outpost I conquer without tripping the alarms feels like a real achievement.

Jotun on PC (3/10)

Jotun is all about drawings

The only thing this game has going for it is its art direction. There's some wonderful hand-drawn characters and evocative music. However, like a Doublefine game, this one is all style and no substance. The highlight is supposed to be the various boss battles in which you spend a ton of time chopping at these giant character's heels. Every swing of your axe removes about 1% of the enemy's health. It's just an exercise in tedium. The controls are sluggish and un-responsive . It's like fighting in a bowl of molasses.

Alien: Isolation on PC (8/10)

Alien: Isolation

The first few hours of Alien: Isolation are some of the most nerve-racking gaming I have ever experienced. It's a stealth game in which you are mostly defenseless and must hide to survive. There's no sneaking up behind enemies and stabbing them in the back. The enemies aren't just some dopey guards walking in a set pattern that you are trying to avoid. It's one of the most menacing monsters in cinema history. One wrong turn or overly loud noise and you are facing its dripping double jaws in seconds.

Crusader: No Remorse on MS-DOS (8/10)

Crusader Just Standing Around

In the 90s, I tried playing the demo of this game many times and could never really get into it. Crusader was one of the best looking PC games of its time and I really wanted to like it. But the controls. Oh my God, the controls. Eventually, this scheme would go on to be described as tank controls in other games like Resident Evil. Basically, you aim and move your character in relation to the direction their sprite is facing rather than the direction you want them to move on the screen. Crusader takes that counter-intuitive mechanic to a whole new level of complexity by adding jumping, diving and ducking to the mix.

There are some default mouse controls which almost work, but your character is stuck with gun drawn, shuffling around like a man with his pants around his ankles. I got about a third the way through the game doing that until just gave up and set the game aside for a while. Months later I returned and forced myself to learn the standard keyboard controls. These are still clunky, but with practice and a lot of help from the auto-aim feature the game becomes much more fast-paced and responsive. Even then, the mouse is still helpful when the occasional fast-spinning aiming is required. For the most part, it pays to just bite the bullet and learn the keyboard controls. Think of Crusader like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing but with more explosions and incinerated humans.