There’s a scene in Demolition Man when Sylvester Stallone is first woken up after being cryogenically frozen for three decades and has absolutely no idea how to behave or what is acceptable in this technologically advanced, modern world. That’s the scene I kept picturing throughout Duke Nukem Forever, continually lamenting the lack of a plucky young Sandra Bullock to keep him in check and teach him how to behave.
Duke Nukem Forever is a throwback to a period of gaming history that many have largely forgotten – a time before regenerating health bars or cover systems or gravity guns. Duke himself is the kind of iconic character who rose to stardom on the grounds that he had a name and a voice and a personality, rather than being just another anonymous husk for players to move around. The fact he was a misogynistic, egotistical dick was, at the time, irrelevant.
The video game industry has matured since then. Unfortunately, Duke hasn’t.
Continue reading First Impressions – Duke Nukem Forever
Metro 2033 began life as a novel penned by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It told the tale of a post-apocalyptic Russia, and explored the lives of the survivors who sought refuge in the hermetically-sealed metro system beneath Moscow.
The video game adaptation of the story, developed by Ukraine-based 4A Games, was a spectacularly bleak and depressing affair that managed to capture a sense of bitter desperation within a world that was, in my mind, thoroughly believable. It’s one of those games which largely flew under the radar of the mainstream while still managing to develop something of a cult following, and with the 2013 release of a sequel – Metro: Last Light – and the 2014 repackaging of both games, it made sense to return to the original and explore what made it such a triumph.
Continue reading “Ghost Train” – On Metro 2033
[This post is part of the Completionist series. Check out the other entries here.]
In the achievement community, Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie is commonly thought of as a kind of hazing ritual for wannabe point whores; something to be endured to prove your commitment to the cause. I’ve never understood this. When the game was released in 2005 it was reasonably well-received by critics and audiences, and in the darkened piss-stained swamplands of movie adaptations it’s practically a masterpiece. I’m not sure when exactly the game developed this reputation. Maybe it’s just people passing on second-hand information, maybe its hyperbole, or maybe nobody can remember far enough back to say for certain. Maybe I’m just an idiot. But what I’m trying to say is that I really think King Kong is alright.
Not great, obviously. It’s let down by repetition and poor pacing, and it doesn’t have enough ideas to sustain its (admittedly short) running time. You’ll be checking your watch before the end, almost certainly. But of the five or so hours it lasts, I’d say at least three of them are pretty decent. That’s not a bad ratio.
Continue reading Completionist – King Kong
As a gaming franchise the Bond series is still arguably clinging to the coattails of Goldeneye 64, which to this day is regarded not only as one of the best first-person shooters of all time, but as the title which almost single-handedly popularized competitive multiplayer. Of course you’ll have to take my word for all of this, because Goldeneye has aged beyond horribly and the idea of sitting around a TV, squashed up on the couch with your buddies and staring at a small quarter of the screen is as ludicrous now as seamless online gameplay probably was then. But, this is how things used to be, kids.
Anyway, Quantum of Solace is developed by Treyarch and runs on the Call of Duty 4 engine, which is about as good of a start as we could reasonably expect. It also has the distinct advantages of having a recognisable, current star at the helm, and being based on a film (two films, actually) released recently enough that people are probably still interested in them. Luckily Treyarch realized that Quantum of Solace alone was far too boring and worthless to function as the sole basis for anything, so a lot of the game is built around scenes pinched from the vastly superior Casino Royale. So far, so good.
Continue reading Review – 007: Quantum of Solace
There’s something peculiarly admirable about Danger Close’s Medal of Honor, even though it’s a boring and derivative entry into perhaps the most boring and derivative genre of video games in existence. Taking on the cultural behemoth that is the Call of Duty franchise was always going to be a losing battle, but healthy competition is pleasantly encouraging and the much-maligned military shooter doesn’t have enough of it.
That isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of first-person shooters about soldiers, but significantly fewer which are advertised and promoted as a genuine competitor for the industry titan. Medal of Honor is a reboot of a critically-acclaimed series published by one of the industry’s biggest and most influential companies, and from the jump it was marketed as exactly that – a big deal.
Continue reading Review – Medal of Honor
Video games sure are weird. I mean, only in this bonkers industry could something like Dying Light even exist. It is, for all intents and purposes, the sequel to 2011’s Dead Island in all but name: it’s developed by the same team, it has the same kind of zombies, it has the same pseudo-RPG first-person gameplay, and it even has the same ridiculously stupid weapon degradation mechanic. It isn’t Dead Island 2, though, because that’s being developed by Yager (those’re the guys who made the excellent Spec Ops: The Line) and will be released later this year. So I hope for the sake of both games that they’re not as similar in reality as they look to be on paper, because otherwise the most oversaturated genre in media today will be further saturated by two versions of the exact same game.
Still, Dying Light does indeed exist, so as a fun little exercise let’s try talking about it without mentioning Dead Island every couple of minutes.
Continue reading Review – Dying Light
When I recently took to Twitter to declare that Call of Duty: Black Ops might have the best single-player campaign in the series, my timeline immediately became contorted with posts of outrage and confusion. I remember thinking at the time of the game’s release that many people I know and respect didn’t seem to be having as much fun with it as I was, but even in hindsight it seems that for some reason Black Ops left a particularly sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.
My good friend and colleague here, Daniel Hart, expressed to me his various concerns with the game, and he made several valid arguments. He felt that the bombastic action scenes could have been spaced out and punctuated with more thoughtful character moments. He suggested that the game constantly wrenching control away from the player was done at the expense of interactivity and immersion. He thought that the campaign had potential for greatness, but needed to be expanded and lavished with the same care as the multiplayer for people to really and truly care about it.
Continue reading Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops (Campaign)