I thought the original Call of Juarez was a better-than-average shooter that was bolstered by it being set in the Old West. I'm really surprised by the lack of western themed games given that for seventy-five odd years that was the go to "universe" for pulp stories and films.
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."
This was a free game on Steam on the day of the sequel's release. I grabbed it without knowing anything about the game. Apparently, the distinguishing feature of Sniper Elite V2 is its over the top x-ray view gore simulation. Make a head shot and watch as the bullet shatters bones and eyeballs. This adds absolutely nothing to the game other than a novelty cool factor and it starts to get in the way when you are trying to make successive shots quickly.
The fourth Blackwell game continues to make improvements over its predecessors in terms of technical polish. There is also a bit more depth to the puzzles and game play. This is still no where near the brutal difficulty of an old school point-and-click game, but it's nice to have more options in terms of combining inventory items, switching characters and querying your in-game search engine to advance the game.
This and the previous Blackwell Unbound apparently were intended to be a single game with flashbacks and intertwined plot lines. Many of the same characters appear again and it's nice to see a larger story arc developing.
The first four Blackwell games went on sale on Steam this week for around 50¢ each. These games have been on my radar ever since I saw this Mattchat interview with Wadjet Eye company founder Dave Gilbert. Basically, he was a hobbyist using the Adventure Game Studio to create Lucasarts style point-and-click adventures. He decided to make a go at transforming his hobby into a business and some dozen or so games later the company has survived.
Have you ever wanted to be the star of your very own nihilistic, anti-war fever dream? Well, look no further than Spec Ops: The Line. This game is, for the most part, a standard cover-based third-person shooter. The mechanics are solid, but nothing out of the ordinary. Where this game separates itself from others is in its dark story that owes a lot to Apocalypse Now and its progenitor, Heart of Darkness. Instead of taking a boat up the river, you are making your way through a sand storm engulfed Dubai on a quest to find Colonel Konrad (Conrad, get it?) and his rogue 33th brigade.
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.
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.