I was reading Weird Dad Andy Astruc's loving look at Shadow of Mordor's menus, which is basically praise for Mordor's Nemesis system. The same system left our own Nic Rowen giddy and, uh, shitfaced. Nemesis' mechanics, with its ironed out Final Fantasy XII target lines and mind control induced revolt, ties neatly into Mordor's story as you set about rounding up an army and organizing a coup d'état.
And playing insurrectionist is fun. It's fun for the personal stories that can come of it, like Nic's. It's fun for the neatly designed system that makes you feel grand orchestrator parallel to individual acts of [Peter Frampton talk box voice] assuming direct control. But then you leave that cool little laser sight trisected screen and have to Assassin's Creed yourself over to the next random bit of Middle-earth, Red Dead some local fauna along the way, and then Batman counter a bunch of uggos. Because, as Chris Carter noted in his review, the Nemesis mechanic is the only original bit in an otherwise standardized, cannibalized game.
Yes; slick, competently made. Maybe even fun. But still cannibalized, standardized.
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, one of the writers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can imagine that mantra circulating the 2K Australia office as the team worked on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Gearbox had a huge hit on its hands with Borderlands 2, and there is not much reason to mess with a winning formula.
To be clear, a lot of what matters is new. The story, playable characters, environments, dialogue, and physics are all new. Despite that, it all feels very familiar. Where a number of core systems were significantly upgraded between the first and second games in the series, The Pre-Sequel's additions are much less pronounced.
One odd aspect of some of the new content that this entry brings to the vault hunting universe is that it feels more like Borderlands than Borderlands 2 in some ways, for better and for worse.
Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust.
Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.
It's really not all that long until Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes out, and you've already made a grave mistake. You didn't call dibs on Claptrap. Know how I know that? Because I'm writing this post right now. If you called dibs, I'd be doing something dumb like whatever dumb thing you're doing in your dumb life this very second.
Two years ago, Chris, Tara, Conrad, and Andy each called dibs on a Vault Hunter for Borderlands 2 before I ever could, and so I was never able to play it. All I could do was sit there looking at my copy, wishing I had called dibs first. I will not make that same mistake twice.
I have dibs on Athena. Simply put, Athena is the best. Don't worry, there are three other perfectly okay Vault Hunters for you to choose from. You should be all right, I guess. Anyway, here's why Athena is the best and I call dibs on her.
I'm easy. And I think you are, too. Those debut game trailers get me every time. It usually goes like this:
Stirring, slow beds of strings and woodwinds underlay a dramatic shot; an extreme closeup of some unknown character. Or, maybe a well-known one. Just the eyeball, or just the face. Pan out. Wide, lush landscapes that take the breath away. Maybe sunny and bright. Maybe foggy and mysterious. The music increases in tempo and loudness. Quick cuts! Sword slashes. All-white flashes. Strings crescendo as they build via agiato. The heart rate quickens. Fast. Faster! Then, boom. Quiet. Black screen. Some sounds, or maybe some dialogue. Slow, slow text. Subwoofers do something. Fade...
Mental illness is terrifying. Depression is a soul vampire that will suck the light right out of you. Obsessive compulsive disorder does not make you a supernaturally great detective like it does in the movies. It makes you paranoid and agitated, a raw nerve constantly scraping against a coarse world. The insidious, pervasive terror of mental illness can be far more horrifying than any chainsaw-wielding maniac could ever hope to be.
Which is exactly why Neverending Nightmares works.
They did it. Someone finally made an "idle game" that stuck with me and now here I am, almost two weeks later, still obsessing. Clicker Heroeshas succeeded where Cookie Clickerfailed.
Granted, it's the same basic premise: click on some things to accrue currency, then spend it on upgrades to make the money flow faster. It does not stop, not even when you close your browser because, shortly into playing, you'll no longer need to actively click. But you will anyway.
Clicker Heroes is progress for the sake of progress. But knowing that -- realizing you're not having "fun" -- doesn't matter. Any feelings of regret that begin to bubble up over wasted time spent playing this silly game when you could be doing literally anything else will be overpowered by how good it feels to buy that new upgrade, or beat a certain boss who's giving you trouble.
Toys For Bob has found some rather interesting ways to evolve the Skylanders franchise. While the conceit the first time around was simply interactive toys, the developer mixed things up with giants on the second go, and with a mix-and-match concept (my personal favorite to date) after that.
Trap Team is the fourth iteration of the series, and the gimmick this time around involves tiny plastic pieces that essentially function as little Ghostbusters tools to ensnare enemies. While the core game is still as strong as ever, the trap mechanic isn't all that exciting.
The original Costume Quest was a seminal game for Double Fine; it was the first game to come out of Amnesia Fortnight, a two-week period of experimenting with small-scale games. Costume Quest's success led the way for Stacking, Iron Brigade, and other download-only games.
Now, Costume Quest 2 is here just a few weeks before Halloween and it's delivering the same fun as the original. It may be a little too similar in some spots, but there are plenty of improvements to satisfy fans.
Driveclub was supposed to be a launch day title for the PS4, but it was delayed for a while, pushing back until now. We got our hands on it at the E3 following the PS4 announcement last year and thought it needed more time in the oven, so a delay was actually welcome.
But that was a long delay. So, how much of a difference has a year made?
It's bad enough dying a humiliating death at the hands of some random orc, but "Azdush the Dung Collector?" Really? He couldn't have been "Azdush the Shield Breaker" or "Azdush the Invincible?"
I could have taken a bit of consolation dying to someone with a straight-up badass name like that. But The Dung Collector? I knew I'd never live it down, and his constant taunting certainly made sure of that.
Natural Doctrine is a strategy role-playing game with a sadistic side. It's a brutal and uncompromising experience, one keen on taxing players and pushing them to their limits with its intense difficulty.
The architects behind the title invite comparisons with Dark Souls, and have certainly built a similarly steep hill to climb. Natural Doctrine is enigmatic and soul-crushing, but lacks execution and awareness. Simply being tough as nails doesn't make an experience rewarding.
Modern-day Paris is vastly different than the city that served as the backdrop to one of the most famous uprisings in history: the French Revolution. Some of the greatest locales of the revolution are now gone -- either on the cusp of being forgotten by society, or repurposed altogether. The exact spot where the guillotine was used to behead Louis XVI can be pinpointed by going to Concorde Square and counting one, two, three lampposts in. The Bastille, the prison that was infamously stormed and destroyed is, well, destroyed. It’s been reduced to a scant few blocks next to a metro platform where commuters mostly ignore it. What was the residence of royalty now houses other treasures such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.
Therein lies the challenge for developers of Assassin’s Creed games. How do they capture the mood and atmosphere of a city that’s so far historically removed from present time? The setting is always the star of Assassin’s Creed titles, no matter which installment in the franchise you’re playing. But, they have to tread carefully because a dull city makes for a dull game.