As it happens, I was correct about Splinter Cell: Conviction. Most of the points I made in my previous post about the game remained valid throughout, and nothing the experience offered succeeding in challenging my opinion of it. This is still a pretty bad stealth game, and still an uncomfortably drastic step away from what I believe made the series great in the first place.
But, while negativity is often a lot of fun, I’m always much more focused on the stuff I liked and saw potential in, and Conviction has a lot of that. My issues with the game are almost entirely based on mechanics which play havoc with the stealth, or things I deemed to be specifically non-Splinter Cell. Some of those I discussed in the prior post. The rest are self-explanatory matters of preference which only really arise when Conviction is taken as part of a greater whole rather than an individual game.
Continue reading Final Thoughts – Splinter Cell: Conviction
For the fifth game in a series that has always been a beacon of excellent stealth design philosophy, Splinter Cell: Conviction is a surprisingly terrible stealth game.
In fact, I’m not even sure Conviction is a stealth game at all. As a man who has been referred to in various official media as “the greatest stealth operative in the world” for quite a while now, Sam Fisher is either being spectacularly misrepresented, has lost his touch, or simply doesn’t give a shit anymore.
Continue reading First Impressions – Splinter Cell: Conviction
[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
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
It’s hard to explain the appeal of the Sniper Elite series. It’s one of those gaming guilty pleasures that sounds faintly perverse written down, and utterly ludicrous spoken out loud. Not that there’s anything particularly unusual about sniping in games; almost all shooters have at least one rifle, and many have whole stretches of gameplay that are dedicated to nothing but long-range marksmanship. The sniping in and of itself, though, isn’t the appeal of Sniper Elite. Things would be so much easier if it were. But, no, there’s something else that differentiates this series from other sneaky-stabby-shooty third-person games, and it’s that psychotic slow-motion X-Ray view that lets you see all the catastrophic internal trauma you’re inflicting on your victims.
Seems an odd thing to be into, doesn’t it? Certainly wouldn’t sit well around the office water cooler or the in-law’s dinner table, and you get the sense that Rebellion, the game’s developers, probably recognise this. Which, I assume, is why they continue to set the series in World War II, despite having exhausted every major theatre of the conflict. You need Nazis for this kind of thing. These games have such a throbbing stiffy for lovingly-detailed exploding organs that it would be uncomfortable if your bullets were tunnelling through the brainpans of anyone else. But killing Nazis is always guilt-free. In the context of taking on a xenophobic imperialist war-machine, it’s actually pretty satisfying to watch precisely how much irreparable damage each bullet is inflicting on the Third Reich. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.
Continue reading Review – Sniper Elite 4
Ah, Corvo Attano. I remember our first meeting like it was yesterday. He was returning home; to the bubonic city of Dunwall, and to the side of its Empress and her daughter, Emily, whose lives it was his job to protect. I remember my first few tentative steps in his boots, how his head bobbed as I steered him along. I remember the Royal Spymaster, peering down at me from atop his beaky nose, and I remember thinking how suspicious he was. Had nobody else noticed? I remember the Empress, how she seemed exactly halfway between cartoon and live-action. I remember the first of the hooded assassins teleporting into frame. Were they wearing… gas masks? No time to ponder. There was suddenly a sword in my right hand and a gun in my left, but I had no idea how to swing one or fire the other, and before I knew it the Empress was dead and Emily was gone. I remember the Spymaster’s nose bobbing back onscreen, and wondering, again, how nobody knew this guy was bad news. He promptly accused Corvo of murdering the Empress. Betrayal, I thought. Dishonour. Oh, of course. The last thing I remember is the hilt of a sword rushing towards Corvo’s face, and then nothing at all.
Corvo is the hero of Dishonored, Arkane Studios’ first-person, semi-open-world assassination game. He doesn’t speak and we never see his face, but we know he’s the hero because there’s a camera in his head and he wears a mask that looks like half a clockwork skull. Dishonored loves that mask. It adorns the box art and the title screen and the installation thumbnail. There’s even a loving, extended animation of it being removed and replaced between missions. Most people, quite justifiably I think, don’t remember Corvo. Why would they? But they remember that mask.
Continue reading Review – Dishonored
It’s becoming increasingly tricky to keep track of the Assassin’s Creed series at this point. There are the main series games, which I’m generally aware of, even though some of them have numbers at the end and others have subtitles, and they’re occasionally released at the same time (as with the recent-ish Unity and its previous-gen cousin, Rogue). There’re expansion packs, like Dead Kings, standalone expansion packs, like Freedom Cry (which can be bought separately or downloaded as proper DLC for the game they’re most closely tied to); and there are weird platform-exclusive expansions, like Liberation, which began life as a Vita-only title before eventually being released everywhere else in increasingly shinier variations. I’ve even got two of the things on my phone, and according to Wikipedia they’re both canon as well.
What this tends to mean is that very few people actually give a shit when a new one is announced or released, which is probably why Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, the first in a three-part series (Parts 2 and 3 of which are set in India and Russia, respectively) arrived with very little anticipation, fanfare or attention. More surprising to me than the fact this thing exists at all is that each of these games are built around characters introduced in various corners of the surprisingly vast Assassin’s Creed multimedia continuity, which I didn’t know existed. I can’t imagine that target demographic (people who aren’t sick of the franchise, and are familiar with the spin-off animations and graphic novels) being particularly big. So I’m not entirely sure who China is for.
Continue reading Review – Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China