A Story About My Uncle is a game based entirely around a single game mechanic, a grappling beam. Players shoot a beam at a distant surface, they are pulled towards the target, and then they must use inertia and timing to fling themselves towards their goal. That's about it. We've seen this before in just about every Zelda game, so this is nowhere near as revolutionary as the one-mechanic behind the extraordinary Portal. Still, when it clicks, swinging across a map and carefully timing your shots can be thrilling.
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."
Time to break out that pad of graph paper again and start charting the depths of nerd-dom. Eye of the Beholder II is not a drastic departure from the click-frenzy gameplay of the first game. It does do a much better job at injecting story elements into the experience via wonderfully rendered cut scenes:
This "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.
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:
But even those bosses all kinda fight in the same manner.
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.
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.
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.
All these Ubisoft open-world games (Assassins Creed, Watch 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.
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.