Category Archives: Video Games

Completed #5 – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game about family, about love, about trust, teamwork and companionship. It’s also a game – if you go out of your way to unlock all the achievements – about being a fucking psychopath. This is one of the many things I love about Brothers, which is the kind of perfectly-pitched experience that is novel, creative, and far too expensive for most people to bother playing it.

Luckily, though, Brothers was one of the titles used to pad out Microsoft’s new subscription service, Xbox Games Pass, and at only a couple of hours long it’s the perfect fit. Now you can play a wonderful game for nothing, and not have to waste your time bitching on forums about the price.

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Completed #4 – Giana Sisters: Dream Runners

Ugh.

This isn’t very good. It isn’t a very good game, and it isn’t a very good experience for an achievement hunter, despite being quick and relatively easy, depending on how the game’s randomness is feeling at the time. It took me under an hour, which is the quickest I’ve ever done it, and it still frustrated me a great deal. These are the sacrifices I make so you don’t have to, I guess.

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Completed #3 – Forza Horizon 2: Fast & Furious

Well, this is alright.

I can’t say I was expecting all that much, either. Sure, I like Forza Horizon 2 as much as the next guy – finely-tuned arcade driving mechanics, that lovely balancing, a range of event types, a big, beautiful open space to speed around in. And this is basically just a slice of that; a bit like a demo for it, really, albeit one that mostly repurposes slabs of the game with the movie license awkwardly attached. Shameless cultural cross-promotion is what it is, and I’m not entirely keen, but at least you get a smattering of the movie’s cars and a whole bunch of tortuous, unskippable voice work from Ludacris.

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Completed #2 – NBA 2K17: The Prelude

I suppose there are two ways of looking at NBA 2K17: The Prelude, a free, downloadable mini-preview of NBA 2K17. The first is obviously how it was intended to function: as a surprisingly in-depth way for players to build the athlete they will eventually take into the full game’s MyCareer mode; allowing them customisation options, and the joy of seeing their character progress through a college career as their draft fluctuates with good and bad performances. There’s a story, too, one bolstered by real-life players and analysts, who show up to add some legitimacy to the proceedings. Ever wondered what your player might do in his downtime at college? Ever wanted him to see him play video games with his roommate, or call his parents to let them know which prestigious college team he elected to join? This is the experience for you.

Here’s the other way of looking at it: I’m here for the achievements, and I don’t give a shit about any of this.

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Completed #1 – 6180 the Moon

Oh, hey, you’ve heard about the Ready, Steady, Cut! Gamerscore Challenge, haven’t you?

I hope so, because if not this isn’t going to make much sense to you.

Either way, welcome to the first instalment of “Completed”, the creatively-titled series where I write a bit of bullshit about each of the games I beat to 100% throughout this challenge. These aren’t reviews, by the way; think of them more as little diary entries, each one chronicling what it was like to play this particular game for this particular reason. It sounds like a load of rubbish, and it probably is, but the whole point of this challenge was to find ways of looking at games in interesting ways – particularly ones which ordinarily wouldn’t be that interesting to talk about.

Which brings me neatly to 6180 the Moon.

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Review – Gears of War 4

What’s this?

I don’t want to alarm you, but despite quite clearly having the numeral “4” on the end of the title, Gears of War 4 is actually the fifth game in the respectable Gears of War franchise. And when I say “respectable” I’m not even being my usual, sarcastic, devilishly-handsome self. The first game was critically beloved, a commercial success by every possible metric, exceedingly well-designed, and became a rubric for cover-based third-person shooting to such an extent that the industry’s continued – and continuing – milking of the series’ saggy teats has led most people to retroactively taint the Gears games themselves. A shame, really, because they’re all pretty great. Except this one, as it happens. This one is merely fine, just in quite a tired, predictable, faintly desperate way.

Oh, no. We’re not doing the Halo thing, are we?

Not quite, although the business parallels are undeniably similar. Epic Games didn’t want to make Gears of War games anymore, much like how Bungie didn’t want to make Halo games anymore, and so in both instances Microsoft invented a developer with the specific mandate of making more games in those respective franchises. In Halo’s case, the property was handed over to 343 Industries, a phenomenally inept pack of corporate stooges who bastardized Halo’s core gameplay, plot and characters, and slapped them back together in a Call of Duty clone wearing Master Chief’s helmet.

Gears of War 4 has, admittedly, fared slightly better. Its developers, The Coalition, at least had the good sense to leave the fundamentals of a Gears experience largely unchanged. The problem is that they left them so unchanged that the whole thing feels like a knockoff, second-hand Gears experience without any of the creative verve that gave the original trilogy its unique appeal.

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Review – Prey

What’s this?

Weirdly enough, it’s absolutely nothing to do with 2006’s Prey, a topsy-turvy sci-fi shooter that, if memory serves, had an arsenal of weaponry comprised of living extraterrestrial organisms that would belch gelatinous projectiles at the player’s foes. It also had a wrench, which means that, as a matter of fact, 2006’s Prey does indeed have something in common with 2017’s Prey, and it’s newer, shinier wrench, as well as 2007’s Bioshock, with its underwater, objectivist wrench, and even 1999’s System Shock 2, which had a blocky, pixelated wrench, and is a game to which all of those listed above owe a rather significant mechanical and thematic debt.

It’s another first-person sci-fi quasi-horror wrench-swinging RPG, is what I’m saying.

Could have just said that.

I could, yes, but – let’s be frank – these creatively-bankrupt titling practices are really starting to get on my fucking nerves. The old Prey isn’t even that old. And it hardly cemented itself as an iconic brand; it doesn’t seem to me that there’s much sense in slapping the name across what is, for all intents and purposes, a perfectly serviceable new IP. That’s Bethesda for you though, isn’t it? Never a thought spared for the lowly consumers like me who write themselves in knots trying to review the thing. It’s not even enough to specify that it’s another – all together now – “spiritual successor” to System Shock 2, because so is Doom 3 and Dead Space and, if we’re being honest, every sci-fi horror game released in this millennium. You also have to clarify that’s its set on a spaceship and it’s about an alien invasion and there’s a wrench in it.

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