Category: Reviews

Like I mentioned earlier, Pankapu will be released on the 21st of September.

Which is today. Yay.


I have played the game for about 3 hours up until I came to a roadblock that I will explain later. Don’t know if said block was poor design or a flaw that is unique to the pre-build. In either case, expect a timely review now and a thorough review later this week. Once I beat episode one, I will have even more info and insight as to what I think of the “ending”. Yes. There will be spoilers. Not in this review but in¬†the next one. You have been warned.


Before I get into the Good, Bad, and Summary of my gameplay experience thus far, let me recap briefly on how I got this game so early. Like many of the indie reviews I do, the source comes to me rather then the other way around. And as is becoming fairly common for me, the messaging system of choice tends to be through my profile  on LinkedIn.com. I was approached by a representative of Too Kind Games and was asked to review it. Upon accepting, I was given a press kit with the pretty pictures you are about to see and a steam code. Perks of being a game reviewer, I suppose.

If you haven’t read my previous post yet, let me recap what this game is about. Real quick; boy has PTSD, his dad cheers him up with a bedtime story, story is about dreamland being taken over by nightmares until dream god creates a hero to save that world RPG platformer style. There. Your all caught up now.

Pankapu is a kickstarter project of a very small indie studio called Too Kind Games, is the dream product of two talented frenchmen, and has been released for the PC as well as pretty much any next gen console you can¬†afford. There is even hints about it being for NX, so you’ll be able to download it if and when you get it for Christmas.

Okay, as always we start nice and positive. Here’s what went right.

The Good

The game in question can be as smooth and polished as you’d expect. It’s an indie game for sure, but one with low-maintenance graphics that feature beautiful artwork, flowing animations, and responsive control schemes that are intuitive to master. So intuitive in fact that the game manages to keep handholding tutorials down to a bare minimum; a godsend in the age of annoying information blips every time you try something new. All in all, maneuvering between enemies and platform is easy enough, and the challenges can require great precision without being unfair. That in and of itself is a staple of good design.

The narrative seems a little too simple at first, right up until you remember that the game itself is actually a child listening to a bedtime story. The game reminds you of this subtly with characters that resemble people who for the sake of this game’s meta story exist “in the real world”. Even when you level up your hero with new magical abilities, you get sparse flashbacks that tell the story of what exactly happened that made the child listening to the adventures of Pankapu wind up with real nightmares. This promises to come together at the end to provide a real sense of closure to what is bound to be a tragic tale of trauma and rehabilitation.

I wasn’t able to play all three character classes yet, but got a good feel for the one called “Bravery”. Its basically when your hero dressed up like a crimson knight complete with shining armor (beautifully drawn shining armor, I might add) a sword you can throw, and a shield that absorbs attacks to restore your magic. It’s annoying to see places where your hero can’t reach because it lacks the ability to “double jump” as promised by the green archer class, but you can always work with what you are given up to a certain point.

The lighting effects of this game contrast sharply and add subtle effects when needed and dramatic effects when appropriate and impressive. The music is soft and peaceful enough to be engaing without being annoying. The levels are well designed, and while it is sometimes tough to play, the game is always fair in a way that tests your skills rather then your patience.

That’s it for the good. Now for the other stuff.

 

The Bad

Just like I called it, the gameplay narrative is EXTREMELY reliant on cutscenes that aren’t so much cutscenes but slightly animated graphic novels with moving text. The only human voice you can understand is the narration of the father telling the story. Everything else is either mute, or speaks in sound effect gibberish, while you rush through a non-rewindable wall of text that you can easily skip over without meaning too. What’s worse is the annoying habit of the narrator to deviate from the storybook text printed on the page. It’s a minor complaint, especially given the developer’s lean resources, but I can’t help but feel a little confused and snapped out of the moment when I see the game spell one line of text and hear the narrator say something else that is the same but completely different. You never lose the gist of what is happening, but I still would like to hear the father read the story in front of my eyes and not in the designer’s head.

 

Like I said earlier, the story of the actual game is a little bland. If you ever played a video game since the 80s, you know the basic narrative pretty well, and the plot doesn’t get interesting without the flashbacks or the meta underneath. What’s worse is that some of the characters can be annoying. The spider sidekick you get stuck with seems to quote the obvious a lot, and is the kind of annoying guide that hasn’t bugged gamers since Navii. See Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for details on that infamous character.

While the spider has some moments here and there, even the good parts of the game fail to make up for what appears to be a very severe design flaw. I can honestly say I would not be able to complete the game even if I tried. Unless they update this one major flaw or I find a way around it (will let you know¬†if that’s the case), I find that while exploring a deep cave, one with ledges and platforms jutting out of the walls, there is literally one space that is JUST OUT OF REACH. I cannot jump high enough with my current abilities, and the game will not let me progress without making the impossible jump. Literally an impossible jump is blocking me from completing a single level in the game. To call it a game breaking bug is an understatement, and it needs addressing ASAP if its worth even a dollar to play, let alone 5. Hopefully, by the time you read this article, they will have addressed it in time for you to buy the game.

That’s the Bad. Time to wrap things up.

 

The Summary

All things aside, if they can fix that one game-breaking bug this game is worth much more then the five dollars advertised. Even if this is episode one, it promises to be worthy your money and your time. It takes real guts to start an indie project like this, and these guys bang out an awesome product that would make and humble bundle an awesome holiday gift by virtue of gracing it with its presence. By itself, I would pay three times this amount for the experience it offers, and despite having some dark undertones, this game is bound to be a family favorite for the budget conscious. 

The only thing holding this game back from being an instant classic besides that one bug (which they can fix with a 5 minute update) is the fact that the bedtime story narrative is a little weak and some of the narration doesn’t sink up. Both can be fixed easily by tweaking some of the text elements in the game in a way that perfects the already glorious design.

That’ll end this review. Next up on my list is a game from Telltale, about another kind of knight…

Image result for telltale games Batman Logo

See you then!

 

 

Last year, on October the 28th, a team called Too Kind Studios started a Kickstarter Campaign for the game shown above. As you might have brilliantly deduced, said campaign was successful. What you may have also deduced by the existence of this article is that I was contacted by someone representing their team to do a review upon the games release.

The game will be officially released on the 21st with the full review.

As for the game as it is now, I haven’t played any of it (yet) and in addition to announcing its release date, here’s my impressions on the game based on the information provided by their PR campaign.

For those of you who haven’t checked out the Kickstarter campaign or the GreenLight on Steam , the game is basically about a young boy with sever PTSD who suffers terrible nightmares. His father comforts him each night with a special bedtime story that his folks told him. The story goes like this:

That’s the basic premise of the story; you are a hero named Pankapu, upon which the game is named, and you get to save the dream world from nightmares Action RPG Platformer style. The game itself is told through the eyes of the young boy whose listening to the story being told by his father. It is a living testament to a concept in game design referenced as “Mechanics as Metaphor” and promised to be a fun game with a moving backstory that tells of the struggle through past trauma. The game will be released in the form of “episodes” that resonate the same style as an adventure game from Telltale, in the sense that the game will tell a complete story in fragmented parts that will be sold separately. Only 1 has been completed, and will be sold on steam for $4.99.

My Impressions

The game Pankapu reminds me of another game which also included RPG elements in an Action Platformer. Ever hear of a game called “TOMBA!”? For those of you who haven’t, its basically about a pinked haired Tarzan wannabe who fights evil pigs with magical powers. It was released for the first Playstation console, it was colorful, imaginative, and borrowed themes and tropes from every fantasy story you could think of, and does it in a way that is beautifully animated and colorful. TOMBA! was very well recieved in its day, and was one of my favorite games growing up. Pankapu seems to be going the same direction, but with a slightly more serious tone as it sets up its more fantastic elements as a metaphor for a story that inspires a child in need.

The quality of the narrative will lean heavily on this metaphor, and I can only hope to see the nature of the boys’ trauma revealed as the game progresses. The nightmare creatures that you are inevitably going to be slashing and shooting throughout the game provide ample opportunity to reveal backstory as to what it actually was that gave the child PTSD. Different creatures can represent different people or events that happened in the child’s past that reflect on a rather unfortunate set of circumstances; or worse, be the results of outright abuse. Such a theme remains compelling not only due to the unique way its being told, but in the idea that the story is there to help the child overcome it.

The graphics of the game look polished, the animations are smooth, and the cinemas seem to rely very much on the Max-Payne style “Motion Graphic Novel” approach in which your not so much seeing a cinema as you are a slideshow with word balloons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and for the low low price of $4.99 and the fact that this is a small game that was just recently kickstarted, you can hardly blame the developers and art team for cutting corner. Plus, none of this seems to compromise the quality of the game. Just don’t expect anyone’s lips to move and to have voiceovers mixed heavily with big and thick dialogue boxes and captions.

The class system seems to be very utilitarian and splits on the classic Warrior/Archer/Mage split that seems to permeate so many action RPGS. They aren’t named that of course, and I can say for sure that the naming conventions of everything in this world is…well… kinda obscure. Heck, even the child’s name is hard to pronounce, and every creature and character’s name seems to be taken out of a forgotten over pronounced back page of the Silmarillion. I get that this is supposed to be a dream world, and I also get the hint that the world the child actually lives in isn’t all that different, but even so, staple characters tend to benefit when the audience can remember and pronounce their names. But I digress.


Regardless, the game itself seems to be a lot of fun. The controls seem straightforward enough to be simple to learn and easy to master, and I look forward to cycling through classes and leveling up to find the perfect combos and earn that shiny new ability. I just hope that the way such abilities are used and rendered take advantage of the action platformer system that doesn’t feel slapped on or too reliant on the ol’ skinner-box mentality. The game itself looks promising, and I will be disclosing just how much of a prophet I am once I play the game through and through. Look forward to mentioning more of it on the 21st. Till next time.

fallout-4-logo

There is a very good reason Bethesda¬†took away not one, not two, but 3 game critics awards for their showing of Fallout 4. It promises to be one of the best games this year. To put that in perspective; it was pretty much announced this year. As in two months ago. At this year’s E3. That never happens. Most games these days make their entire dev cycle in a PR circus up to the point in which they have to postpone or rush the deadline just so they can ship out a mediocre product that ends up getting thumbs down by guys like me. Bethesda studios did it right; they showed up to the PR conference with Fallout 4 near completion, an honest¬†demonstration of the gameplay, and on top of that a finished phone application that promises to become more popular then the game, for reasons we will discuss.

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Since this is my first review in a LONG time, and I am still working on redesigning this site, it might be a good idea to restructure my game reviews in a slightly less obscure format. I will be sticking to the usual 7 word Synopsis, but I feel that this approach needs a little tweaking. Instead of attempting to define what could be a 50 hour experience into 7 words, I will simply write a small paragraph for each section. A paragraph for the good, for the bad, and for the summary. I might revert to my old method when posting on twitter, but that seems to be the only time where the “traditional” format is useful. That, and maybe for those vine reviews I always wanted to do.

Anyway enough chitchat; here is the 7 word synopsis regarding whether or not those E3 awards mean anything.

Here’s my Review of Fallout 4

manNDog

The Good

Let me start off by saying that I love playing this game. Period. I was a big fan of the previous game Fallout 3 and actually enjoyed Fallout:New Vegas despite some of its flaws. I think almost every decision made in the game itself was either necessary or at the very least necessary to make this a top quality game. The graphics look very realistic when your not moving something in a weird way. The controls are responsive, and more attuned to FPS style combat then any other Fallout game to date. Even the command system, while not completely flawless, does offer you a degree of control over companions. The little tutorial videos for the series patented S.P.E.C.I.A.L system look like they were made by a professional animation studio from 1935 . The story, while simplistic, offers a wide variety of options without adding too much complexity, and the sheer depth to character statistics make crafting your character feel like an art form him OR herself.

and speaking of crafting…

BaseballBatnever have I seen the core mechanics of RPG, RTS, and world-building games like Minecraft come together so seamlessly. Not only can you build modifications, not only can you build cities AND run them. Not only can you upgrade machines and augment your massive robot power armor, but you do it in a way that compliments your exploration and RPGing. Rather then being just tacked on, it becomes part of both the story and the game as a whole. You know all that useless junk you end up hoarding in every single Bethesda game (not just Fallout; Skyrim had this issue too) when your looting a cave? That’s all useful now. Everything from the teddy bear to the globe to the broom sticks can be McGuyvered into something as cool as a weapon mod, a power up, a new type of explosive, or even a new house and piece of furniture. All the Homemade stuff that served as mere backdrops for the previous Fallout games that were obviously made from scrap are now yours to build and command. You are no longer just a lone adventurer but an active leader of a community and a builder of your own monuments.

fallout-4-crafting-electricity-lights-die-sign-xbox-one-ps4-pc-gameplay-screenshot

Do use responsibly

That’s it for the Good. We got a few things for the Bad that you need to watch out for.

fallout-4-screenshot-nuke

The Bad

I’m not going to talk about how the animations sometimes gets weird when certain objects like items or AI chicken heads move in the wrong spot. I’m not going to talk to you about how there is no tutorial for the V.A.T.S. system that still predominates the combat system. I’m not even going to complain about how you can build everything in Fallout 4 except bullets and ammo; two very important resources in a game with dozens of guns as the primary weapon. Those are all things to watch out for, to be certain, but one thing trumps them all that actually ruins the experience pretty badly if your not careful.

See this screen?

loading

This is free wallpaper that is based off the loading screen. The one where you press start and it loads that awesome game I told you about. I pressed start when beginning this game at around 8:00 am this morning, hoping to get a little more play time before writing this thing.

It’s almost 12:00 at noon as I type these words.¬†IT’s STILL LOADING.

I am not the only one with this problem either. I played this game on the Xbox One, and its supposed to be even worse for the PS4 and PC. Plus there are supposed to be glitches to watch out for, including one where your weapon disappears. I thankfully haven’t run into any problems like these. Worst that happened to me was that there is too much load time and I sometimes saw characters and objects float while on the edge of surfaces. This is pretty normal though.

What isn’t normal is having to wait 4 + hours to not just play for the first time, but continue playing. This is ridiculous. I have tried restarting the app, unplugging the Xbox One, and it still loads like molasses. I will try updating the Xbox One and see if it helps, but a word of caution to the unwary consumer; be prepared to wait.

Okay that’s the brunt of the bad, lets wrap things up.

fallout_4_vault_1

The Summary

You might think that playing this game isn’t worth it based off my previous statements. Especially if you never played a Fallout game before. While I can say for sure that veteran Fallout fans will have a much better experience with this game then inexperienced players, the game is worth learning and worth the wait. My advice would be to start the game before heading to work on Friday and then playing it for the rest of the weekend. It takes that much time to load, that much time to master, and you will have fun for hours upon hours.

It’s like building a shack out of scrap metal, or modifying you Fat Boy to carry more nuclear payloads; all it takes is some time and work.

That’s it for Fallout 4. Next I will be finishing a long overdue coverage of last year’s South Jersey Geekfest, and maybe a special article about a Fallout 4 perk that personally offends me. Hold my calls.

Update

Go figure. I update my Xbox One, and the game loads like a dream. Remember kids; always update your consoles!

The time has come

A fact’s a fact

It belongs to them

Lets give it back.

mario-bros

Yes, crappy 80s lyrics for a less then crappy video game, to say the least. Super Mario Bros is the game you had to play if you grew up in the late 80s or the early 90s, you had to play Super Mario Bros. It was essentially the COD 4: Modern Warfare of days gone by. It’s influence never went away, and can best be seen with the indie hits Super Meat Boy and Braid in 2010. If you ask any gamer older then the age of 25 what game helped them become infatuated with all things fun and electronic, they will more then likely cite the little red plumber that could.

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So what was it about the first Super Mario Bros. game for the NES that not only made the console a success, but the resurrection of console gaming successful as well? Many things. For one, it pioneered just about every kind of commonplace trick in the game development handbook; teaching the player though design, multiple paths to the same goal, secret levels, warp zones, power-ups, coin collecting, and even the common boss battle all started with Super Mario Bros. It didn’t just save the game industry; it made it what it is today, and will continue to spread its influence on games, gamers, and game makers as a whole. If you want to design video games, I would say it’s just about paramount to get some hands on time with this game. If you have a Wii, try to find it on the virtual console in the Wii Store. If you don’t have any of the nintendo systems, get on Ebay. Or better yet, look up the Nintendo website or watch videos like this one.¬†Good sources on the material at hand.

super-mario-bros-nes

 

I will be reviewing this game like any other; complete with the Good, the Bad, and the Summary. Like all my retro reviews, this will be more about what the game did then wheather or not you should buy it. If you are reading this article wondering if you should buy Super Mario Bros, I will save you time and effort by saying this; go buy the game, and don’t tell any of your gamer friends you were unsure. They will smack you upside the head for your perceived ignorance.¬†Just buy it. It’s worth it. Here are a few reasons why, in the form of a review.

To be clear; Super Mario Bros for the NES is a…

Very Fun

 

Somewhat Punishing

 

Genre Defining Platformer

Again, click on any line for more details. In case you were wondering, this format did work well for me and I might just climb out of obscurity yet.

Next week, we delve into another classic, but Unlike Super Mario Bros, you might not be immediately familar with it unless your a die hard Zelda fan. That’s right; next review is…

Zelda_II_The_Adventure_of_Link_box

 

 

 

It’s July, and for a gamer that means three¬†things.

  1. Less and less excuses to stay inside and play games.
  2. Less and less holidays for gamers to give or receive new games.
  3. Less and less and even less reasons for publishers to release brand spanking new games to retailers.

These are the ingredients to the ever dreaded summer draught that plagues the industry annually like¬†a migrating flock of money eating locus. True, the vast majority of gamers are no longer teenagers and children, but until the big players in the current industry mold adjust their business models to compensate for that, most of the big budget games aren’t going to be released until at least October. That includes the vast majority of the titles I showed you on my E3 bulliten¬†are in that pile, and on top of that, the last PS4 contest I ran left my wallet bone dry. So here I am – no games to buy and no money to buy them with. At least not from the triple A world. That’s why I’m going to do something different this summer; Today, on the first day of July, I will begin what I like to call¬†Retro Month. From now on, every July, I will be unearthing games that have been out for a while and reviewing them based on both their historical merits, and how they stack up to today’s standards. August, meanwhile, will from now on be¬†Indie Month. The theme there will be nothing but reviews of Indie titles; games that have a low budget, come from a small, obscure team, and/or can be found on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstaion Store, Steam, or App store exclusively. I might even be able to get an interview with an Indie dev with insights on how to break into the industry. This way, I can save my earnings by playing games I already own and¬†then¬†buying games for cheap quickly and swiftly.

Let Retro Month…Begin!

 

2011-11-12 16.50.28

If the title of this article and the big picture wasn’t enough of a hint, we are going to review a certain kind of system for you today. It’s the system that resurrected the game industry from what was then certain extinction. The crash of the 80s was a kiss of death for companies like Atari, Colecovision, and the likes of which you will never hear of because they died before they went public. To this day, they are unearthing the remains of¬†E.T. for Atari, a game so bad that they literally took all the unsold copies and buried them in the desert. Such stories are not only common then but are common in the now, and history would repeat itself had the people who changed it for the better not become the kings of the new world.

For you see, after the games market collapsed, mainstream america and it’s media declared video games a dead fad. A reasonable estimate at the time, since fads that come and go have pretty much illustrated both the latter half of the 70s and the early 80s (Pet Rock, anyone?). It was the general consensus of just about every pundit on 1984 prime time that the video game fad had come and gone and the world was ready to move on to more important things, like computers. The fact that computers usually had interactive games on them was rarely discussed. What was normally discussed was the booming economy of Japan and the corporate powerhouses whose imported goods were quickly flooding the US markets. Products that came from the land of the rising sun were quickly starting to outnumber American made products, and no more was this apparent then the arcade. Among them, a great and ambitious game called Donkey Kong was king of the pizzeria, and was making a killing for the toy company that made it. You may have heard of that company; they call themselves Nintendo these days.

To make a long history lesson short, the designer of the game Shigeru Myamoto wanted to try something ambitious, CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi (died fairly recently) went along with it, and one extremely clever Market campaign and 60 million sales later, the game business was back and made Nintendo it’s king.

2011-11-12 16.50.28

DSCF0497

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This little system that could is what started it all; the Nintendo Entertainment System. NES for short. For many of you, it was probably your first real taste of what video gaming is all about. Join the club, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t¬†mind the crowd. My professor for video game design Ryan Morrison said it best when he described us as the Nintendo generation. Like generation X, we proud ourselves on being different and often define ourselves by our entertainment choices. We also tend to have our views shaped by the technologies that made our generation possible, and which continue to affect our world. The ballads of Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda have repeated themselves throughout the ages, and they all had their first adventures on our TV with this little cartridge machine.

I won’t lie to you; unearthing this thing from my mother’s basement was a blast from the past. Games I fondly remember playing over and over again in the days of yore resonated within my mind as I search through each cartridge. I had it hooked up to my room fairly easily, and it took a lot of patience just to get the thing working. Not surprising, since the game is almost as old as I am. For the record, I turned 27 this year, and I started playing this thing when I was two years old. As Gabe from Penny-Arcade once said, this system is old enough to drink.

God, that was a long introduction. Is everyone still with us? Good. Lets begin the review then.

Real quick though; this isn’t about the quality of the system. Period. For it’s generation, this machine was a revolution in gaming. The review is more for what that revolution was, and how it might affect you if you get the same nostalgia bug that bit me and decide to unearth your own. Enjoy.

 

Beautifully Simple

 

Often Unreliable

 

Gaming History Piece

 

That’s it. If your wondering where the rest of the review is, know that this time I’m trying something different. I have a seperate article linked to each line of words on the Seven Word Synopsis, and all you need to do is click on one to see a better description of what I mean. If the hits come off this thing pretty well, I will model all my reviews after it.

Next review will be about the game that made this system a legend. That’s right; a retro review of

 mario-bros

 

I was wondering when this would happen. Seems inevitable; new consoles come out, new games come out for it. Plus, since Call of Duty is considered the game among games by publishers, it’s no surprise that Activision would launch one for next gen. Given the rising emphasis on future tech in the franchise itself, it’s even less surprising that they named it what they did and have it take place in the future. To top off this move by Activision’s PR machine, we have Kevin Spacey as… Some business guy who might wanna become a dictator? Whatever. He’s obviously going to be the “bad guy”. In a game that isn’t particularly good at making memorable¬†bad guys.

Yeah.

Kevin Spacey

Cynicism aside, this does look like it will at least be another festival for the eyes. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has¬†next generation graphics that shine like diamonds on the surface of every object. The special effects flare up like sparks of nova on the sun. And the animations, even on the face, look not only detailed but are rendered both realistic and expressive. Somewhat. Kevin Spacey seems to be the core of this games star power, and will more then likely get the lions share of the acting. While his body movements are fluid enough, his face seems to be stuck in one place, at least in the trailer above. The E3 trailer that debuted ¬†recently suggests better animations for the face of the soldiers; a good thing, since even with Kevin Spacey as star, we will most likely see a lot more high tech soldiers then him. Speaking of which…

Soldier

One thing that actually does have me at least a little excited is the new weaponry they introduce in the game. They are making it even more high-tech then before, since this takes place in the year 2054. They seem to take a hint from the GI Joe movies nobody loves so much and gives the marines of 2054 mechanical exoskeletons that make them stronger. A little gimmicky, but it serves the purpose of simplifying melee and allows you to manipulate the environment more. They already ripped out car doors to use as a shield and kick open doors that are barred. I’d like to see what that kind of strength can do to a person’s head-or a robot’s arm. Confirmed is a battery powered rifle with infinite ammo; assuming you don’t overheat it. Also confirmed are grenade that can change their function with a push of a button. Such functions include the classic frag grenade, a thermal image device that shows the position of every enemy in bright neon, and a neat concept called a smart grenade, which basically makes the grenade rocket propelled and home in on a nearby target. That could be useful for throwing around corners. You also get boosters, which are like a limited jet pack that soften your fall. This will probably annoy veteran gamers, but my favorite feature showed thus far would probably be the shield drone. Apparently, you can link yourself somehow to ¬†drone, and control it as you move around. The shield drone moves right in front of you, blocking enemy fire, highlighting targets, and even lowers it defenses when you aim your weapon, so you can fire back when you have the shield on. Definitely a better option then the old riot shield of yore.

Heavy Gunner

It’s not confirmed completely what the main story is, but from viewing the source website, it is strongly implied that it has heavily to do with private military corporations, or PMCs. Call of Duty wouldn’t be the first game to do this, as Metal Gear Solid 4 comments heavily on their usage and was published more then half¬†a decade ago. I would bet good money that the scene with Kevin Spacey is at the headquarters of a major mercenary corporation, and the backstory has something to do with his character’s company becoming a national threat in some way. How remains to be seen exactly, but I bet most of the guys shot up in the E3 demo were mercenaries of a rival corporation.

High Tech

IN closing, this looks to be a fun game for the average adrenaline junkie, mediocre for the narratively inclined, and another staple of the COD franchise to all parties involved. I could get into detail about how it recycles the Michael Bay zeitgeist of american white guys saving the day from something scary and different for the umpteenth time, but that is another article for another time.

If that kind of trailer didn’t make your mouth water, you aren’t a fan of Batman or the Arkham video game series. I happen to be both, and as a word of warning, I am pretty excited about this new game based off of this trailer alone, so don’t expect me to be %100 percent impartial.

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Then again, any nerd worth his word is going to recommend this game based off of Facebook hearsay alone. Memes expressing positive emotions ranging from satisfaction to pure ecstasy are littering their comment boards, and the trailer above was released only recently.

The excitement is not without reason, either. Rocksteady studios, the guys who make the Batman Arkham series¬†the Batman Arkham series is back in the game. Literally. They are the original studio that made the first game Arkham Asylum and the legendary Arkham City. The only Arkham games that haven’t made its mark was its last game Arkham Origins and the Blackgate game for handheld systems, and that was when Rocksteady took a hiatus. Having the team back along with Kevin Conroy as Batman puts most of my misgivings as ease right off the bat. Add an in game Batmobile with amphibious assault capabilities and your golden. I sure as shooting am not the only person who feels this way about it either.

This is, of course, the industry hype machine hard at work. Actual gameplay footage have not even been released yet, and already people are ready to camp outside to wait for their copy. Hundreds of thousands of people. We probably won’t see any actual gameplay until E3 shows it off to the public. I’ll be sure to update when that happens.

What I will say about both the trailer and the screenshots included herin is that they are beautiful. Gorgeous. Trickles of rain practically sparkle on the reflective shield plates of the Bat mobile as the glowing headlights shine through the front wheels. Harley Quinn’s color scheme is as bright¬†and well contrasted as ever, and her smile is practically photogenic. While it is easy to dismiss pretty much the entire trailer as a non interactive cut scene or movie reel, the game is only launching for PC and both the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which have the technology to make this look possible. This is probably going to be the most graphic intensive Arkham game of the series, and if the hype is to be believed, the final one.53152bdca7a36

From a Narrative perspective, it makes sense to make this the last hurrah for the trilogy, although I have a nagging suspicion that if this game does as well as they hope, Warner Bros. is going to make at least five more games in this series with or without Rocksteady. It happens all too often; A game completes its story, goes gold, and to make even more gold the publishers milk it for as many publications as possible, with plot lines that jog in place. They do this to make money, secure the brand, and keep the interest alive long enough for the team to possibly come back to make lighting strike twice. That’s why they¬†made Halo 4.

A bigger concern then the possibility of the Arkham game mill churning long after the series finale is the the villain they made for the game. While the prospect of a super creative team like Rocksteady adding a new villain to a franchise that is famous for having some of the best villains seems promising, the concept they are pitching us seems to be more then a little lack luster.

He is literally called the Arkham Knight.

They are basically just making a Dark Knight Doppelgänger. While the comic book and video game industries are no stranger to having heroes literally face themselves, the fact that they pretty much just redesigned the character slightly seems a bit lazy if not repetitive. Whats more is that if the screenshot below is any indicator, they might have an even simpler premise for the new villain that is even less original then you might think

6ae1aaaebab011e3bc39120ce0231231_6

That’s right; he’s got a gun in his hand. While being anti-death and anti-gun is almost at the core of Batman’s being as a character and a central part of his moral compass and internal conflict, this scenario has been played out before again and again in comics and animated movies. Ever hear of the Red Hood? If you have, you probably are already seeing a bunch of parallels stack up with him and the Arkham Knight. If you haven’t heard of the Red Hood, all you really need to know is that he is a resurrection of an older version of Robin who rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket and Red Hood/Helmet, fights crime, and isn’t afraid to kill criminals with guns. WB even released a straight to DVD animated feature starring him and the Joker as primary antagonists. The center conflict was why didn’t Batman kill the Joker even after the Joker killed Robin. Yeah; that kind of thing actually happened in the comics. The resolution was that once you kill a person, you can’t take it back, and that Batman always finds a way to solve problems and fight crime without killing anyone. If the Arkham Knight turns out to be Robin, and they end up arguing about how to protect the city without killing people, the fans are gonna roll there eyes, and I will be the first in a very long line to do so.

But frankly, even if the game’s storyline is a little hackneyed, it will have shine to spare and plenty of side missions and amusement to more then make up for it. I already am seeing some good design decisions being made, and most of them revolve around the brand new mechanic that much of it’s PR is centered around-the Batmobile.

53150f9a07e68

The way they made the Batmobile seems brilliant. While it is cool that you can basically drive over water, that speaks more of a smart design decision then simply a cool mechanic; it solves the problem of crashing the car into the water and negates the need for invisible walls outside the game’s world border. Plus, it would make sense that a billionaire vigilante who wants the best tactical advantage over the worst of the worst super criminals to invest in a vehicle that can double as both a performance car and a speedboat. Chasing criminals over multiple kinds of terrain should be a breeze. It also seems to incorporate a pretty standard feature in the Batmobile that works both as a game mechanic and a way to avoid design problems. It uses AI to control itself and come back to Batman. This has been done before, with things like Epona’s song in Zelda, so it shouldn’t be hard to execute it. Plus, giving it commands like a Titan in Titanfall makes sense both from a development point and from the story mode. Batman is always controlling his car remotely in all his iterations, often to good dramatic and tactical effect. I look forward to speeding over the water, ejecting from my Batmobile, gliding over the bridge, and letting my trusty vehicle take most of the damage while providing cover fire as I dive down on a sniper. Genius.

Plus, even if the core villain seems a little weak, the central plotline holds some promise. The voiceover at the beginning of the trailer more then likely30e3662ac42f11e3b4b60002c955ec9a_6 belongs to the Arkham Knight, and it may very well be him/her declaring martial law. The villains seem to be taking the city by storm in a way that seems less stilted and preachy then the end of Dark Knight Rises. Plus, having multiple gangs cooperating and arming themselves suggests some kind of truce to their power struggle suggest something big is going on. That, and the mass evacuation over the bridge, plus the armed gunmen chasing down cops rather then vice versa. The Joker is rumored to reappear in this game despite the ending to Arkham City, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his ugly face under the Arkham Knight’s helmet (Spoiler alert!). Rocksteady made great plot twists and drama in the past, and they might do it again one last time.

The website says it will be released in 2014, but rumors are starting to circulate that there might be a delay in its release to 2015. They are unconfirmed at the time of this post, but in the event they are true, I would actually be thrilled. Yes, I hope they do delay the game another year and so should you. Why? Because good games take time, and great games take a lot of work and a lot of time. The Sistine Chapel wasn’t built in a day, and if it was, it wouldn’t be the Sistine Chapel. Rocksteady would be wise to put their labor, their love, and some TLC into this project, and if they need another nine months to give birth, so be it.1c5bbed8a3f911e3b7650e1e7e7c6e3f_6

I will be reviewing this game as soon as I can.

 

 

Ah, Watch Dogs.

If you’ve been watching video game review sites other then mine, you more then likely saw trailers similar to the one above. If you have, you may also be aware that Watch Dogs was scheduled originally for last Christmas but was delayed up until its current release on May 27th this year. That may be a good thing, since it might mean that Ubisoft is going the extra mile to polish off bugs and nuances in the game before its finished. Then again, it could also be due to the fact that they found something that broke the game and they needed a deadline push to get it sorted out. That would imply the original beta was a horrid abomination and we will get to see the stitches popping out right before summer. Or worse yet, someone with a lot of weight to throw around at Ubisoft wanted to make some “last minute changes” and Watch Dogs was pushed back to accommodate his or her wishes. This is the worst case scenario, since it implies that instead of fixing the game, they needed more time to ruin it. To extend the previous analogy, it would be like taking another six months to let the lead doctor jam in some weird and unworkable contraption after the game’s open heart surgery. Take it from a game dev; stupid ideas that don’t work kill a game faster then anything else. That’s why companies like EA have such a good reputation (word to the wise; they don’t).

Cynicism aside, Watch Dogs does look like an interesting game, despite flaws already popping up. Fun fact; unlike most game journalists who salivate over the upcoming game trailers and fall for their publisher’s PR campaigns like a Halo game on a stick, I tend to try and find flaws first and then save any potential butt kissing that’s left for when the game is already out. That way if a game really is good, it’s a pleasant surprise, and if it’s bad, no one’s disappointed. As much as I want a press past for next years E3, I would be dishonest to say they didn’t cater to this kind of pandering that most game reviewers fall into, and only greats like “Yahtzee” from the Escapist seem to have the guts to go against it. I like to think I provide a more balanced view by putting my Cynicism toward the hype and my praise toward the game. After all, which matters more? The Watch Dogs promo pieces, or the quality of the game itself? I beg to differ.

Instead of bombarding you with excitement, fanboy drool, and biased favoritism, I will instead give you a look at two other trailers straight from the Watch Dogs youtube channel that depict the game itself in action, followed quickly by my analysis.

If you can describe to me where you’ve seen this kind of talk before, kudos to your game rep. If not, be warned that this is the same kind of push trailer released for:

  • Red Dead Redemption
  • LA Noir
  • Assassin’s Creed 3
  • Fallout 3
  • Skyrim
  • and Grand Theft Auto from 3 all the way up to 5 and beyond

The only game on the list actually made by Ubisoft is, at least from that list, the worst. People constantly criticize the poor character quality of its star lead, the gameplay was more then a little stilted, and the “Open World” concept didn’t venture very far AT ALL. These are the guys making Watch Dogs. Yikes. These trailers are harder to find then I first thought, and in the interest of being topical, I will post them in a later Update of this post.

Moving on; While the “Open World” angle has easily become the new cliche’, One thing I will give Ubisoft credit for is approaching the concept differently-at least in a purely mechanical game design capacity. Instead of merely stealing cars and blowing the police away in between network hacks, you actually play in a dynamic environment that has as much people traffic as it does for vehicles. What’s more is that everyone seems to have a computer and/or a smart phone, and you can hack their Wi-Fi space to actively profile them, track them, steal from them, or rescue them. This is really interesting, since it makes the world a lot more detailed, and has the capacity to tell not just one story, but tens of thousands. It tends to oversimplify the actual act of hacking by basically giving you access to CTOS, which is basically the chief surveillance program of “the man”. In short, you become a surrogate big brother every time you tap their systems.

The Way you do tap into their systems is obviously inaccurate, and the dev team missed an opportunity to put a great character from real life into their story, but to get into that is an article in and of itself. To see what I mean directly, here is an extend gameplay trailer that might illustrate a few of my points.

To be clear, the idea of government surveillance and loss of privacy to digital distribution is an awesome high concept. It is the zeitgeist of our times, the thing that is most controversial today in the decades following 9/11. Watch Dogs seems to be grasping feverishly at this concept, making you both a vigilante taking on the system, and a hacker who can be a surrogate big brother unto himself. The stories that come from simply peering into other peoples lives is staggering, and no doubt players will spend just as much time exploring the inside of peoples homes as they will the streets of near-future Chicago.

Thing that worries me thought is that not only would you need a high number of writers to make the narrative of all the NPCs work, but a high number of¬†good¬†writers. Writers who know their craft almost as much as the medium they are writing for. Unless you work for a great company like 2K games or Naughty Dog, both of which have games that are legends in Video Game Narration, you are likely to see a very limited number of writing talent in your studio, and most of them will be hired from¬†outside mediums. While Ubisoft has a fairly good history of making interesting backstories and decent enough writing, as far as character writing goes, I will remind you again that they invented Connor. People hate Conner, mostly because he’s as bland and as boring as you can get. If you watched the trailer I started this article with, you’ll see what amounts to a less moral, much more trigger happy Batman. Batman is a good character, but they seem to be cutting out most of his redeeming qualities and to be frank, his character archetype has been done TO DEATH! If you think I’m wrong, name ten video games that have a vigilante as a main character. Now name ten movie characters that are also vigilantes, and also dark and brooding. Case closed. The fact that they already stuck with such an overused and increasingly unredeemable character makes it hard to care about him. Plus, if they botched the¬†center piece of their story that badly, I shutter to think what would happen when they need to write voice acting or text messages for the 10,000+ minor characters whose privacy we will be invading. If I see more then 100 lols and ttyls with little to no context in between, I wouldn’t be surprised.

To end this first look with a silver lining, I will merely list a number of things it did right. Very right. I look forward to reviewing this game intensely, and will either skewer it for what it’s worth, or be pleasantly surprised. I hope you are too.

List of Good things

  • Excellent Cinematography. That scene with the shopkeep sounding the alarm over you had the perfect camera angle. Lets hope they keep up the good work
  • Awesome Graphics-Not surprising, since it has such a high budget and powerful platforms.
  • Cool reactionary ¬†karma system- having the consequences affect your actions as directly as they did was something that could only be carefully planned.
  • Again, awesome high concept-If indie devs don’t follow the same rabbit hole these guys did, I will be dissappointed.
  • Intuitive hacking system-this is almost a flaw, since it might not challenge some gamers enough, but its perfect for the casual market
  • Good exploration of choice-I can be a gung ho shooter or an unseen hacker. Awesome
  • Interesting upgrade possibilities-I think this will appeal to me more then anyone, since I’m a sucker for RPG stats. Might seem too “skinner box” for some.
  • And Finally, the idea of “tapping” into someone elses game online to hack them is a stroke of genius. That system alone is worth the 70 bucks you will have to drop for this game. I guess online multiplayer is the new playground for AAA games

That’t it for now. I will be updating this post yet again when the Active Critique, review, and adjoining articles are done. Look for the links below during the next two months.

 

Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.37.42

Yes, that is a picture straight from my Macbook. Yes that is Google Chrome. ANd yes… I am reviewing a game on Newgrounds that you can play for free.

Why?

Because if you are the kind of person who reads my reviews, then you know that they deserve the traffic. If you haven’t heard of Newgrounds.com and you like computer games, you are missing out. Go to it. I will wait.

You back from Newgrounds.com? Good. If you are confused as to what it is, it is a website made exclusively for flash animations. Many of which are interactive to one degree or another. It was essentially the pet project of Tom Fulp, the same guy who helped make Castle Crashers. If you haven’t heard of Castle Crashers don’t worry; I’m here to help.

The above game on the above desktop screenshot did not have a fullscreen version, so please forgive me if you happen to see my url among other things. Truth is, though, I won’t have to many screenshots. Mostly due to the fact that technically, this game doesn’t even need a screen. The Blind Swordsman lives up to its title.

Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.37.50

That’s not a botched screenshot; Blackness is literally all you see. You hear plenty though; ¬†the sound of laughter, footsteps trotting along, your enemies taunting you, and even the twirling of a spinning flail. You really are the blind swordsman, and you have to fight blind.

The plot is pretty straightforward; you are a renowned sword master who lost his sight, and seeks the aid of a mysterious warlock who could heal your blindness. But you reputation precedes you, and you have a number of armed assailants who stand in your way. Each level is essentially an armed duel to the death between you and a ever growing number of opponents. You can’t see them, but you can hear them, and you cunningly let them come to you. You use the arrow keys to turn, block, and attack. If you don’t time your attack or parry well enough, you die. You will never see it coming.

Best way to play this game is either with surround sound that you probably have hooked up to your TV and not your laptop, or just use headphones. I tried playing it with my Macbook speakers, and I could barely get past the first level.

This review will not be for the purpose of whether or not you should buy this game. There is no buying; its free on the internet. Rather, I am reviewing the concept, how well it is executed, and why you should be as impressed with this game as I was. Yes, I am pandering to indie devs yet again, but why not? Evil-Dog Studios and Sick Death Fiend (really) had the balls to do something new and exciting. Lets give them a review that they will remember, and you will to.

Here it goes

Simply Revolutionary

It’s a crime that no dust has been raised over this game. IGN should be doing an exclusive interview. Only website I seen that seems to promote it is Newgrounds itself. For the first few days, it was a banner on the front page. One of the biggest things holding this game back isn’t even a part of the game itself, but the medium that has to carry it.

You could program this game on an Ipod. One of the little nano-ones without a screen. Just replace the arrow buttons with the ipod buttons and your good to go. This game could be an MP3. You can hear a lets play over the freakin radio. Yeah, this is my budding game designer talking more then my inner gamer, but when you create something that only needs a pair of headphones and a controller, you are not just thinking outside the box. You are making the box obsolete. That is a direct analogy for the TV monitor of course.

Not that it wouldn’t work just as well for console gaming. The game proves that the screen can be useful even when you don’t use it directly. They put some instructions on theres. What if we had a menu on a blind swordsman Xbox game that affected your inventory or allowed you to map out your course. A visual metaphor for the non-visual memory. Heck, you saw my Thief video; with a vibrating controller, I can feel the lock pick with my eyes closed. Imagine having a similar mechanic for a blind man’s walking stick? You feel a slight stutter of the controls every step you take. Your stick bangs into something, the controller shakes fiercely. You then feel the object with your stick. Is is a friend? A wall? Or a monster? Survival horror gold!

I could rant and speculate on the possible mechanics for days. Hell, this game gave me an idea for a Daredevil franchise that wouldn’t suck. When I get Ryan’s Video Game Prototypes up and running (coming soon!), I’ll have to fire up Unity and see what I can crank out.

But until then, I should also consider the game itself rather then just praising the absolutely brilliant high concept behind it. How does the actual game play.

Well… to be frank, it plays out more like a

Prototype Phase

game then anything ironed and finished. I hate to give such a brave and industrious indie project a bad rap, but one needs not look past the Newgrounds Reviews to see where I’m coming from.

Screenshot 2014-04-08 00.41.31

 

Save for the one 0 stars that is obviously a troll, they all seem to be on the same fence post I am; they love the concept, but feel the game needs tweaking. ¬†The parry and attack system requires too much timing, there is no tutorial to help you adjust to its radical differences, and quite often, the voice acting tries too hard to announce where the bad guys are. I can hear footprints, and mad women cackle rather quietly. The obnoxious sword guy saying “die Blind Swordsman!” is just redundant.

In my last review of the game Thief, I compared the game’s flaws to that of the Disney movie John Carter, both of which defined their mediums but made the mistake of sticking to their original and overused formulas. I liken this game to the movie The Purge, in the sense that it takes a brilliant high concept but doesn’t run with it as far as they could have. To be fair, the Purge movie was a multimillion dollar hollywood project, and Blind Swordsman was programmed by one guy. Most games need at least two or three. Plus the game, at least in my opinion, seems to have the best excuse a developer could have for screwing anything up.

It’s Experimental.

The game dev community has a special saying. One that becomes Game Design 101 to all but the least experienced game designers. Fail Faster. Blind Swordsman was a cautious step into the dark with no torch and barely any footing. Now that it gained some publicity (and some press :3), we are likely to see these two guys charge forward with gusto once Blind Swordsman 2 comes out. I will be there to review it.

So overall, it basically plays like a…

Combat Audio Game

Pop quiz ladies and gents; what’s the difference between a computer game and a video game? Answer; computer games are on the computer, and the other on the TV console. You know, like a video that you play. Remove that big Plasma box, and you only got sound. Music. Speech. Like an audio file.

Audio games could become our future. Games are getting smaller and smaller as it is. Take out the visuals, and you got little more then an interactive MP3. Small, portable, easily downloaded on your phone. And the fact that someone made the most generic and common type of game with it-action/adventure-means that it has potential to pierce the industry. Even with its quirks, the game is a great challenge for experienced gamers who need to try something different. For the low low price of nothing.

The ironic part by far is that even though the current game isn’t completely workable as such yet, it caters to the same demographic it perpetuates. The last clientele you would ever consider for an electronic program. That’s right; with verbal instructions and a braille keyboard, this is the first game that can actually be played by the blind.

I actually have more fun and an easier time playing with my eyes closed. It’s a process of¬†hearing¬†the distance of enemies. You even have to anticipate arrows coming your way at one point. The whoosh of a flying projectile is your only indicator to react. Your blind cousin would feel like a ninja playing this game.

In fact, screw it. I am throwing down the gauntlet.

If you have a blind friend or family member, show him this game. It’s called Blind Swordsman, its online, and its free. In the comments below, post a link of a youtube video of said loved one playing this game, and I will post the video right under this text.

I mean it too. I wanna show the world myself the possibility for good games have, and what a little innovation and hard work can do not just for an industry, but for humanity. I wanna see more games like this. Make a game with no sound for deaf people. Have a game for austic savants that help sooth their nerves and ¬†develop their social skills. Make a game for PTSD patients who need closure for the horrors they were forced to face over seas. Games aren’t just about entertainment; they are about the people who play them.

This is a good as place as any to end this piece. I leave you with the Synopsis.

Blind Swordsman

Simply Revolutionary

Prototype Phase

Combat Audio Game

I’ll see you around. So to speak 0_0

 

Thieg Logo

Almost seems redundant writing a review I made a two hour video on.¬†But not everyone has a super fast computer to run youtube videos on, and I feel that the game’s lackluster performance warrents further observation. Especially since it’s somewhat of a trend lately.

If you didn’t see the Active Critique¬†I had yesterday, I’ll break it down for you quick and dirty; It was a game that took Stealth games into the FPS zone in the 90s, had three games before this one, and is about a Thief in a weird alternate renaissance that clashes with both medieval Europe and steampunk. You are of course a thief; more specifically an ex-rebel turned klepto who steals from the rich for his fence and with his portage’. Spoiler Alert; she doesn’t stick with you for long, and I’m pretty sure if I played all the way through, I’d have to rescue her. You and her basically spring in on a magic ritual that blasts her into oblivion and you into a coma in which you wake with “flow” vision. Basically gives you superpowers not unlike the one’s in Dishonored. You then go right back into doing jobs while unraveling the mystery behind what happened to you and your partner. If I ever play this game again, I’ll have another broadcast for it. Update on that another day.

I won’t waste your time and convince you not to waste your money with my review. As always, we start with the good.

Faithfully Adapted

 

Thief-Game-2014

I won’t lie to you folks; I had a hard time coming up with positive things to say. If you saw my video (seriously, see the video!) you probably saw this coming. By reading this, you might also see a bad review coming. Before you put Thief back on the shelf, I suggest you keep reading and hear me out on this. There is a silver lining that I was pretty oblivious to that took a small bit of research to confirm¬†After looking up the history of the game and only watching ten minutes of someone’s documentary, two big things occurred to me.

  1. Thief, while revolutionary at the time, was not the first stealth game. Metal Gear was. Thief was published in the 90s while Metal Gear was an old MSX2 game from 1987. MSX2 was a failed console that competed with NES. If you knew that, wear your indie hat with pride. If not, rest assured, cuz I didn’t know that either until I Googled it.
  2. That many of the features I labeled “unoriginal” and “hackneyed” started with Thief to begin with. Loss of visibility in the darkness? Thief started it. Pick pocketing? Thief Started it. Shooting a light source to create darkness? Picking lock mini game? All Thief’s original idea. Splinter Cell didn’t start with these things; Ubisoft just adapted them to their own game. For it’s name, the Thief series is a standup original game that is only affect by age and not much else.

So yeah; if you are a fan of the Thief series as a whole and have followed it since it’s inception or soon after, there is something for you hear. Playing the game and seeing how Thief: the Dark Project plays, it’s obvious that they took almost all the mechanics from that game which works and gave the rest of the game a much needed upgrade. Fanboys, rejoice!

Now that I gave you something to chew on that didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, let’s address the issues that will no doubt affect those of you who, like me,¬†didn’t play Thief since the beginning. Here is the Bad.

Boorishly¬†Cliche’

John Carter

 

I am feverishly entrenched to the idea that video games are not only comparable to but must exceed the standard of blockbuster movies in terms of narrative and presentation. When they don’t, they prove to all the idiot pundits who ostracize our medium that not only are they right, but they are better for being right. That is why game devs need to stress the quality of their games more then anything, and stop using stuff that was only revolutionary in the 90s.

Okay, stepping off of my soapbox for a minute, I can safely say that Thief is a victim of its age. To go back to the movie analogy, I would compare the game Thief to the recent live action Disney movie John Carter. For those of you unfamiliar, it was originally a pulp novel about an astronaut who went to mars and saved the planet due to being immortal, plus stronger and faster due to low gravity. Superman 0.1, basically. It was because of this that the long awaited movie adaptation didn’t do so well at the box office. Even though John Carter was the original Superman, Superman and others like him have been repeated through the Hollywood business so many times that the original no longer outshines the competition. They say imitation is the best sort of flattery, but it sure doesn’t make you stand out. ¬†Thief encounters the exact same problem; the traditions it started have been adapted throughout the medium. Splinter Cell took it’s Darkness mechanic, Dishonored had a dark Steampunk vibe, FallOut 3 had the lock-picking mini-game, and knocking people out from behind is almost a universal standard not just for stealth games, but games period. Plus, the only things that come into the Thief game that it didn’t invent decades ago was things like Mirror’s Edge parkour system and Dishonored and Batman: Arkham series’ detector vision. So even when they try to catch up with the modern world, the lack of originality shows. I like the classics as much as any nintendo generation nerd, but game mechanics do not age like fine whine. They grow stagnant like sour milk, and Thief is a walking testament.

Now let’s wrap things up here.

Lame Franchise Reboot

Thief-Game-Indoor

You might be a little surprise to see a negative word placed in the Summary. But the truth is, where this game failed to tow in the mechanics and systems and gameplay that made Thief a legend to begin with, it makes all the same mistakes all games make when they don’t take risks. Uninspired cutscenes, lame voice acting, juvenile plot, laughably one-sided perspective, wooden character models, and to boot even a poorly choreographed music score. Square Enix wasn’t trying to resurrect the series, they were using the brand name to make another quick buck. Its the kind of thing that makes schlock like Transformers 3 and the new RoboCop movie in the movie business, but it happens all too often in the game business with little to no one batting an eye. Even guys like me didn’t look twice until games like Uncharted 2 showed us what the industry now was capable of in terms of narrative.

Thief had potential to pick up the slack its outdated mechanics left us with by giving us a fresh look. It’s about as fresh as a rotted corpse with the gloom. While I firmly believe you can teach an old dog new tricks, it seems like our corporate masters in game land didn’t even bother to try. Unless you are a DIE HARD fan of Thief, and want to play a game that hasn’t collected dust in your basement for that fix of Thief’s original greatness, this might be worth at least renting. To anyone who wants to see what video games are capable of being, I recommend Bioshock:Infinite instead. Way better everything, plus its cheaper since it came out a while ago.

To recap:

thief-4-logo

Thief: $25(PC)

 

Faithfully Adapted

 

Boorishly Cliche

 

Lame Franchise Reboot

 

Since I am thoroughly pissed at the video game industry, it is time for me to review something original. This game should fit the bill just nicely. Next review is for a game called

Blind Swordsman

it doesn’t have the best graphics, and it never needed them. It is something you have never seen before! Pun intended ūüôā