First, a disclaimer: The following might contain minor spoilers for Resident Evil VII, and will definitely contain some major ones for how I feel about the video game industry’s lecherous DLC practices. Mere weeks after the main game’s release, Capcom are already groping in your pockets for more cash, whispering sweet nothings in your ear about how much cheaper it would be to simply buy the season pass and have done with it. They’re probably right, but savvy gamers know that shelling out for such things ahead of time is a bit like bobbing for apples in a pool full of shark fins – you might come up with something tasty, but you’re more likely to get your face bitten off.
Still, here we are. Banned Footage, after a period of purgatorial PS4-exclusivity, is now broadly available as either two individually-priced three-part volumes, or, if you’re a daredevil, for free as part of the season pass. If you were hoping for a purchase recommendation, no such luck. Both are hit-and-miss enough that they’re equally worthwhile or worthless depending on both your disposable income, and which parts of the uneven vanilla game you found most appealing. Sorry about that.
Continue reading DLC Review – Resident Evil VII: Banned Footage Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
[This review contains a big spoiler for the main story of Assassin’s Creed Unity. You’ve been warned.]
In my rambling analysis of Assassin’s Creed Unity, I didn’t mention anything about the game’s myriad performance problems. I didn’t talk about Arno getting stuck in the middle of a hay cart or hovering in mid-air. I didn’t complain about having to restart checkpoints or reset my console. That’s because I played a post-patch version of the game which had had most of those bugs and issues teased out. So I didn’t see any of that stuff. Aside from some rather glaring dips in framerate, and the occasional texture pop-in, Unity ran pretty smooth for me. No crashes, no lost progress – not much fun, admittedly, but for wholly different reasons.
Still, as compensation for shipping a game that was (allegedly, I suppose) thoroughly broken at launch, Ubisoft made a smart decision. They cancelled the game’s Season Pass and made the first planned piece of downloadable content, Dead Kings, free for everyone. I hadn’t even realized it had been released before my Xbox One had downloaded it, installed it, and thrown a little notification onto my screen with that all-too-familiar blip: “Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead Kings is ready to play”.
Well, if you insist.
Continue reading DLC Review – Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead Kings
Even though I said a large portion of what I have to say about Secret of Monkey Island, video game humour generally, and the benefit of re-releasing classic games in my review of the previous Special Edition, here’s some more of that stuff anyway. Because why not?
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge Special Edition (hereafter just Monkey Island 2, thanks very much) is a better remake of a better game. If you enjoyed the first one – in either its original or shiny, high-definition form – you’ll enjoy this even more. If you’d rather boil your own head than play a 90s-style point-and-click adventure… this probably won’t sway you. Yes, the game is better, but it’s better because the jokes are funnier and the puzzles make slightly more sense. The underlying format remains unchanged.
Continue reading Review – Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge Special Edition
Secret of Monkey Island was first released in October of 1990, a time when “adventure games” were still a real thing; the genre monopolised by the two warring monoliths of LucasArts and Sierra. I was a month old.
By the time adventure games had faded into relative obscurity during the latter half of that same decade, I, like most people, was so enamoured with the high-resolution art, CD-quality audio and three-dimensional game worlds of the home console scene that I considered everything which came before entirely obsolete. It took me half a decade to start considering that viewpoint potentially incorrect, and another half again to realize exactly how incorrect it truly was. That was when, twenty years after the game’s initial release, I sat down to play Secret of Monkey Island.
Continue reading Review – The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition
As my suffering readership is no doubt well-aware, I love a video game which prompts an interesting discussion. And say whatever you like about Sunset Overdrive, the new open-world sandbox adventure from Insomniac Games, but it certainly does that. So let’s discuss the thing that’s been on my mind constantly since the first five minutes of it: How can a game so fun to play, a game with such simple, elegant mechanics, a game based around a single near-genius concept… how can that game make me want me murder every single member of its development team?
Well, let’s find out.
Continue reading Review – Sunset Overdrive
I’m a gleeful inhabitant of Stacking’s imaginative, alluring world. I have a childlike exuberance for charming design, and Tim Schafer’s industrial-era marriage of matryoshka dolls and modernized adventure gameplay is nothing if not full-to-the-brim with the exact kind of charm I love. It’s a wondrous experience which offers a few, focused hours of great ideas rather than a sprawling opus tarred by the brush of repetition.
At its most fundamental level, Stacking provides a more accessible, less esoteric rejuvenation of the old-school point-and-click adventuring formula. In a broader sense, it succeeds so completely because it can take serious social issues such as the Great Depression and child labour, and present them as a whimsical, off-beat narrative premise while giving the player free-reign to explore the various humorous scenarios it creates.
Continue reading Review – Stacking
The problem with Resident Evil isn’t that everybody dies, it’s that nobody ever stays dead. The series has never treated mortality with any kind of permanence. In the first few games, which were fairly traditional zombie stories, that was fine. It was mostly the point. But throughout many, often ill-advised sequels, Capcom started to apply the same logic to their major characters and plot beats. Albert Wesker has been the recurring series villain for 20 years, and he was killed in the first game.
The reason for Wesker’s implausible resilience is the T-Virus – a zombie-brewing superweapon that is also responsible for all of Resident Evil’s other unanswerable narrative quandaries. Sometimes they call it the G-Virus, or the C-Virus, and sometimes it’s a parasite called Las Plagas, but functionally it’s always the same thing: Bottled contrivance. Whatever you need, story-wise, the T/G/C-Virus Parasite can provide it. Monster outbreaks in Midwestern America, rural Spain, Africa? Done. Games set on luxury cruise liners and multicar locomotives? No problem. Villains and supporting characters dying grisly but ultimately unimportant deaths? Easy. Everything that has ever happened in a Resident Evil game can be explained by this, insofar as anything that has ever happened in a Resident Evil game can be explained at all.
Continue reading Review – Resident Evil VII