There is a distinctly foreign feeling to your first game of Tribes: Ascend. It seems strangely familiar at first glance, a sci-fi shooter with teams, loadouts, objectives, all the jazz you’ve come to expect from a FPS in today’s market. Ascend, however, is wrapped up in packaging that hearkens back to the days when PC shooters were the way to kill people over the Internet, and it revels in the knowledge that a player cannot just jump in and start wrecking things. Instead, they have to sit down and relearn how to move, shoot and survive. A first-person shooter with a lengthy learning curve is a rare thing these days, but when everything clicks and that player feels the surge of adrenaline that can only come from what Hi-Rez is bringing back to the shooter scene in Tribes: Ascend, it’s all incredibly worth it.
Reviving a great title such as this is always viewed with both excitement, and scrutiny. When I heard EA was releasing a new SSX title I immediately asked myself the big question; is this resurrection for the player or the profit? It’s becoming increasingly more popular amongst developers to cash in on their previous success by releasing sub-par re-releases to coax old fans into an obligatory purchase. With that being said, EA has brought a fresh new look on this once casually fun title. This “tricky” plethora of environments and new challenges not only test one’s ability, but patience as well.
When the credits roll on the 8-to-12 hour game you’ve been waiting all year for, your story, your adventure with whatever character you have just saved the world for the umpteenth time with is over. Before the intervention and widespread acceptance of DLC as a story-extender, this was simply a fact that people had to accept. As BioWare announced the Mass Effect trilogy – not just one game, but three separate titles interwoven with another through the choices the player makes along the way – they were attempting to chip away at this long-standing facet of the medium. They claimed they would bring deep and meaningful interactions with characters you would grow to know and care for over the course of three separate storylines.
With Mass Effect 3, the story of Commander Shepard and the brave crew of the Normandy finally draws to a satisfying, if somewhat technically frustrating conclusion. BioWare’s promise of crafting this world of strong characters, however, is the real star of the show. [Read more...]
In the last couple years, an interesting trend has started to evolve in the gaming “sphere”. Developers, in an effort to move the medium forward or perhaps to elevate the idea of “GAMES ARE ART YOU GUYS” into more of a focal point, have started working on titles that offer a more cinematic experience as opposed to a down-and-dirty game full of…well, gameplay. These games, which I guess you could call “art games” if you really wanted to, are more about eliciting emotion from what you’re seeing in front of you as opposed to dragging you along through a carefully-structured narrative. The latest to follow in the steps of Flower, Trauma and Dinner Date is a remake of 2007 Source Engine mod Dear Esther. Developed by thechineseroom and Environmental Artist-Wizard™ Robert Briscoe, the “game” doesn’t ask you to do much more than walk forward, while a story is told to you all along the way.
You’d be surprised at how unbelievably brilliant this approach is.
The best phrasing I could use to describe 2007’s The Darkness is “diamond in the rough”. Based on the Top Cow comic book series, Starbreeze Studios (now working on that fancy new Syndicate thing) delivered a very amiable shooter that had some bold ideas and genuinely grounded characters. It was a really fun game, but it never really seemed to be widely-recognized by the public. Five years have passed since we last saw Jackie Estacado and the nefarious force inside him, and even with a new studio behind the sequel, The Darkness II proves that he’s doing better than ever…relatively speaking.
At this point, this review feels a little unnecessary. A month after launch, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has blown past everyone’s expectations, shattered sales records (even beating out Modern Warfare 3 in the UK) and done a pretty bang-up job of scooping up award after award. Five long years after the middling-to-pretty-good Oblivion, Todd Howard and his army of world-building wunderkinds have managed to deliver a sequel that improves vastly on everything its predecessor got wrong. It’s immersive, incredibly in-depth, and one of the finest games to come out this year.
If that minor paragraph didn’t seal the deal for the four people who haven’t played Skyrim yet, let’s dig into this with a more in-depth review.
Ye find yeself in yon dungeon. Ye see ye flask. Possible exits are north, south, and Dennis. Sequence may not be a Strong Bad short, but it tries its best to be snarky and sarcastic. Having never seen a comedic rhythm-based game, I was wary to touch this one. But we’ll see if it worked out in the end. [Read more...]
When I picked up my copy of the original Assassin’s Creed, I was more than skeptical despite the title’s lingering precedence. It’s always an unsure bet when depending on how “pretty” some shaders look in comparison to how the game actually functions, if at all… Up until I stuck my disc into my Xbox 360 I only heard whispers of what seemed too good to be true. I was so very wrong, finally it seemed as if the Havoc and Anvil engines were crafted for the sole purpose of molding this game into what is now a must-have title for any respectable gamer of most platforms (even cellphones…). One can hardly describe what it means to play an Assassin’s Creed game: whether it’s the remarkable and seamless collision detection or how each frame seems like a painted picture, this game set a new bar for developers everywhere. Unfortunately they may have set the bar too high.
We live in a time where games are slowly growing more “serious” about their content and what they’re trying to portray. From the slew of military FPS titles to RPGs that deal with the ending of worlds and massive “problems”, it seems like developers are trying to turn gaming into a place for manly men who deal with manly things. If anything, it seems like we’re headed towards a world where most games are the same, trying to copy the same steady formulas. With that in mind, it’s wonderfully refreshing to see a game like Saints Row the Third come out and bring us a step or two back in a much more “fun” direction.
Let’s be honest for a minute: Sonic the Hedgehog hasn’t exactly had the best run this generation. From the frightening, universally-panned Sonic ‘06 to the middling Unleashed and slightly better Colors, the blue blur just hasn’t been all that enjoyable to hang around with since the 360 and PS3 have become the industry’s darlings. Despite all that, he has yet to actually give up and cash in his chips. Now it’s his 20th birthday and we’re all supposed to celebrate that fact the way Sega thinks we should: with Sonic Generations, a compilation/tribute/retrospective/amalgam of Sonic’s history. It’s a strange thing, but by allowing the series to poke a little fun at itself, Sonic Team has managed to put out a title that’s mostly worthy of the Sonic moniker.