When I was younger, Duke Nukem 3D had a "parental lock" option with a passcode. Naturally, as any inquisitive child would do, I backed up my save files, uninstalled the game, re-installed it, and set up a new jibberish password that way my parents would assume they forgot the code or there was an error with the game.
With or without the adult content, Duke was one of my most cherished shooters. Although it is decidedly dated by today's standards, its massive 10-weapon loadout featured a ton of diversity, and the environments contained some of the best hidden areas in the genre, even today.
It's a bit of a relic, but Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is an endeavor worth pursing if you have any interest in first-person shooters, and can deal without a handful of modern conveniences.
Don’t let the name fool you -- this is by no means a Batman game. The Dark Knight may grace the box, but underneath its bat-enameled shell lies a Justice League game at heart. A menagerie of DC heroes and villains combined steal the show in this installment and take us far away from the streets of Gotham.
Despite this identity shift, the game still manages to provide a decent amount of content, features, and unlockables -- perhaps at the expense of more crucial mechanics.
In my years as a freelancer and staffer at various videogame outlets, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a ton of great games. In fact, this year I had the privilege of reviewing pretty much every “AAA” game that hit stores. I also review a lot of garbage, or games that are fundamentally broken in one or more aspects. Games that only through providence made it out of QA.
I always try and remember though that every game, whether it’s an EA blockbuster or a one-man indie project, was someone’s baby. No matter what game you talk about, there is at least one guy or gal out there who put their all into it, even if the rest of the team couldn't be bothered to exert much effort. So I always try to approach criticizing a game from that angle. Escape Dead Island is a special case though.
The visual novel has been ubiquitous in Japan since the early ‘90s, but in the West they've never truly caught on. Whether it was the U.S.’s love for its own home-grown adventure games like Sierra’s King’s Quest, the SCUMM games by LucasArts, or the absolute pain it is to translate games from Japanese that can be over 450 English pages long, it's never been clear as to why that is. In fact, it wasn't really until the early 2000s that they finally started catching on. The Nintendo DS was the platform many English-speaking gamers experienced their first visual novel on, through none other than Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
A lot of the kids who grew up with Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda are now older than than their creators were when those legendary Nintendo franchises were first released. Some of those kids are now videogame developers themselves. Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid is one example. He created Xeodrifter in five months, fueled by financial stress, time constraints, and a raw love of Super Metroid. You can read about his process here.
Showing your Metroid DNA on your sleeve is a blessing and a curse. It instantly communicates to the relatively large Metroid fan base that your game was made for them. It also sets the bar incredibly high. Begging for a comparison to Super Metroid is a dangerous thing. As we saw with the reaction to Other M, a disappointed Metroid fan can be an intensely spiteful force.
My guess is Xeodrifter won't inspire that kind of caustic reaction in the Metroid faithful. If it were an official Metroid game, it would rank near or above many of the other games in the franchise. As long as you go into it expecting something short and sweet, it's hard to imagine that Metroid fans will be disappointed.
A great racer to me doesn’t focus on an abundance of customization options or entire garages of cars. It doesn’t even serve up solid multiplayer modes or an interesting soundtrack. It keeps me playing.
And let me tell you, unless it’s Mario Kart or a stupidly solid racer that entrances me from its opening credits, that doesn’t happen very often. I don’t care about winning a tournament and I have no interest in being a professional race car driver like Jerry.
Games built around co-op have always had a place in my life. When I was younger, I had a lot of friends who were gamers, which made it easy to pick up and play multiplayer titles. As I grew up, I attended college, met more gamers, and then met my wife, who also plays games.
As such, I almost always have someone who is down to co-op. Thankfully, Kalimba not only has one of the best cooperative experiences around, but it also has a strong single-player element.
I've spent many late nights with Guilty Gear. Week-long tournaments, money-matches between friends; it was the perfect series to play around with, and one of my most competitive. But as time went on, the franchise started to get a little stale. We saw the same exact character models, the same movesets, and not much in terms of innovation.
Guilty Gear Xrd changes that significantly with a complete overhaul of the visual style on top of everything that made Guilty Gear so great in the first place.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a surprise hit for me. I had never been a huge Tomb Raider fan, but its focus on puzzles, asymmetric cooperative multiplayer, and replayability drew me in. It's hard to believe that was already four years ago.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (abbreviated as Lara Croft: TOO, which any word nerd will appreciate) picks up the torch from Guardian of Light, adding four-person multiplayer, new puzzle mechanics, and updated visuals. It has a great formula for success, but it slips a little in execution.
The odd concept of melding a host of characters from Square Enix’s seminal Final Fantasy series, Disney’s perennial film favorites, and a cast of original personalities, seemed as though it was destined for failure. I mean, who would want to hear Donald Duck’s honking lisp while sharing the screen with the likes of Cloud Strife or Sephiroth?
Being a Square fan, I had to try it out though, and not only did I fall in love with the games, but I rediscovered my love for the Disney franchises of my youth. Although it took almost four years for a sequel to be released, Kingdom Hearts was and is a series that has stuck with me. Then, when Kingdom Hearts II was released in early 2006, I bought it immediately.
Having basically played the new Destiny expansion The Dark Below nonstop since launch, I've experienced everything it has to offer. That in itself is an issue, because although I have played more than the average person, to exhaust the content this early isn't a good sign.
While Destiny feels just as great as ever, perhaps even more-so due to the design of a few mechanics herein, I can't help but feel underwhelmed just like I did back in September.
Destiny was released earlier this year, and like many hyped games, it failed to deliver on its promises. The good news? It was still a well crafted shooter, and practically everything involving the actual gameplay was excellent. In fact, I find it hard to go back to other shooters now -- that's how good Destiny feels.
Unfortunately, the folks over at Bungie made a number of design choices that prevent players from consistently having fun. There was also backpedaling over the past few months -- some of which led to changes to the raid -- that brought even more glitches alongside of the update.
So far in my testing, The Dark Below plays out similarly. The core of the game is still intact, but there's a lot of weird choices that prevent it from reaching its potential.
During the first fifteen minutes of Ultraworld, I was blown away by how bad it was. It was "you have got to be kidding me; this must be a joke; one out of ten" bad. The gameplay was trite, and it was matched with some of the most inane, pseudo-intellectual drivel in recent memory.
Fortunately, it gets better. After a fourth wall-breaking twist, the game opens up and becomes more enjoyable as a relaxed exploration game through its sharply colored world. However, better than terrible can still be pretty bad.
While playing The Talos Principle, much of my time was spent sitting at my desk, chin in hand, deep in thought. I can only imagine the puzzled look on my face as I considered options, ran scenarios in my head, and generally did a lot more thinking than most games ask of players.
The Talos Principle consists of two largely separate interactions: physics-based puzzles and philosophical discussion. The real strength of the title is that while each could reasonably exist without the other, both elicit the above response in equal measure. The demand that the player really think is the thread that ties the whole game together.
My criteria for enjoying a game with microtransactions is simple -- am I having fun, and can I consistently have fun without feeling like I need to pay out? Unlike some people who hate microtransactions on sheer principle, if I can play through an entire game without having to indulge or otherwise pay attention to them for one moment, they naturally don't detract from my enjoyment of said game.
If a game entices me to want to pay, I'm generally okay with it, as long as I can play the core game unfettered. See Path of Exile for this model. It works.
Peggle Blast on the other hand is a travesty that attempts to subvert fun at every turn. Shame on you, EA.
I'm loving how much easier it is to bring indie games to consoles this generation. With tons of nasty hold-ups like WiiWare sales thresholds, lengthy and expensive certification and patching processes, and a general negative attitude towards indies by big publishers, every console manufacturer has made strides in that department.
In the case of Secret Ponchos, Sony actively helped developer Switchblade Monkeys bring their game to the PS4, by offering up development kits and additional assistance. That partnership paid off as Ponchos has just launched by way of the PlayStation Plus program.
It turns out that it was an endeavor worth pursuing, but I'm hoping there's more meat on its bones down the line.