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."

Batman: Arkham Asylum on PC (9/10)

Batmen goin' all kicky!

I'm still waiting for that Wonder Twins game, but in the meantime this will do. After Arkham City this does seem less grand, but it still is more-or-less the same fantastic game. The fluid fighting system is just as good as I remembered it was in the sequel. Even the mindless Riddler trinket hunting works here. There is a wandering story about The Joker and super-henchmen that doesn't really amount to much. But who really cares. When the game mechanics work this well, I'm fine with a second rate plot.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood on PC (6/10)

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

I enjoyed the original Call of Juarez and its spin-off, Gunslinger, but this one didn't really grab me. It tries to mix things up by letting you play each level as one of two characters, Ray or Thomas. But, in the end, it's still just a very standard shooter with bland environments and no real weapon variety. I guess learning Ray's backstory (this is a prequel) was interesting and there was a real attempt to craft some genuine character development. Otherwise, it was just so-so to me.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel on PC (8/10)

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Okay, here's another Borderlands sequel. Actually, this is more of a large expansion pack to Borderlands 2—using the same engine and most of the same mechanics. The only new additions are the low-gravity environments and oxygen management. Admittedly, the ability to jump hundreds of feet into the air is pretty fun and opens up many of the levels, but, in the end, it's still the same old game: run towards the map marker and shoot anything that gets in your way.

Radiant Historia on Nintendo DS (8/10)

Radiant Historia Box ArtI bought Radiant Historia based on its reputation as one of, if not THE best RPG on the Nintendo DS. Well, it's a JRPG so take that praise with a grain of salt. In fact, when I first got it, I manged to clock about 20 hours but eventually got distracted by other games. It's easy to lose focus from this extremely text-heavy game. Once again, many clicks are wasted on redundant "..." dialogue boxes and the accompanying, un-skippable "..." word bubble animations. So, it took four years and a fun romp through Etrian Odyssey for me to muster the energy to attempt another play through. Rather than pick up where I left off, trying to remember the convoluted plot up to that point, I started anew. During this run I would try my darndest to differentiate between all the cutesy anime characters and not lose focus.

The main touted selling point of Radiant Historia usually is its complex time-travelling plot. At first, being able to redo past events to alter the current ones is an nice mechanism. However, once you are deep into the game and there are dozens of points to which you need to return again and again, it becomes a drag and a nuisance. For me it didn't help that there seemingly was no way to skip the endless cut-scenes (I discovered it's the "start" button about 30 hours in). Despite the grandiose concept, there isn't that much in terms of branching story lines that would, like a Telltale game, lead to a unique game for each player.

Etrian Odyssey on Nintendo DS (8/10)

Rat Battle in Etrian OdysseyEtrian Odyssey is an old-school RPG in the vein of Wizardy or The Bard's Tale. That is, you assemble a party of adventurers, go to a town hub to gather quests and equipment, then delve into an uncharted labyrinth killing monsters and mapping your progress. There isn't much of a story to follow here. Your goal is to find the "secret of the labyrinth" which, spoiler alert, has something to do with global warming (97% of scientists agree this is a dumb twist). Exploration and combat are the real core of the game, and the mapping of the maze is the primary gimmick. A task for which the DS is excellently suited. No need for graph paper. Just use the stylus and mark your map directly in the game. I can't tell you how frustrating it was playing Bard's Tale, carefully mapping away, only to have my time-consuming efforts foiled when the map ran off the edge of the graph paper. I'd then have to tape a second piece to the side or, worse, start over from scratch.

Pandora's Tower on Nintendo Wii (8/10)

Pandora's Tower US Box ArtIt's been quite some time since I've played through a game on the Wii. Pandora's Tower is certainly one of the best looking games on the platform. It follows the standard console action/adventure game formula: a series of areas to explore, a new ability added in each area, and a boss at the end of the section that requires mastery of that ability to be defeated. Wrapped around this is a sappy story of the girl who has been cursed and must now be fed monster guts in order to cure herself. I'm really not one for the Japanese anime-style of story telling, but it wasn't as horrible and convoluted as the genre can be. I especially liked the scenes of Elena gobbling up gore... well, at least I did the first dozen times I watched that cut scene. The 39th time... not so much.

Machinarium on PC (7/10)

Macinarium

Okay, first things first. Machinarium is a beautiful game with excellent art direction, sound and music. However, something about this point-and-click adventure just didn't... er... click for me. It could be the fact that the game erased my save files halfway through my first attempt. I didn't pick it up again for at least a month after that. But I think this is just a little too puzzley for my tastes. At times I really didn't have any motivation other than there was a guy who had an object that would obviously be useful somewhere.

Teenagent on Ms-DOS (3/10)

Teenagent

You can download and play Teenagent for free from GOG.com, and, because of my obsessive-compulsive nature when it comes to completing games I own, I felt obliged to give it a whirl. It took about 45 minutes of frustration for me to realize that this point-and-click adventure really wasn't worth the logic-defying effort. This game commits all the puzzle design sins of 90's adventure games. It's the type of game design that pretty much killed the genre.

Outlast on PC (8/10)

Outlast

Outlast is one of the most nerve-racking games I have played. The game delights in distracting your attention then blasting you with a heart-stopping jump scare. The first couple of hours, when you don't really know what to expect, are the worst. This is a stealth game in which you have no weapons, no means of defending yourself. Your only tool is a video camera with an infrared mode to help you see in the darkness. Other than that, the available options to avoid being killed are either to hide or to run. As the game progressed, I realized that running was far more useful than cowering under a bed or in a locker.