I know. I know. All of these games have been released. And you already know not to buy a single one of them. In my defense , I’ve been doing something much, much more important than writing about videogames no one should ever under any circumstance ever buy-- playing Dues Ex 2: Human Revolution.
It’s a great game; albeit strangely frustrating for how much of my free time it’s consumed. I’d like to finish my (first) play-through sometime over the Labor Day weekend and writeup something about it later, but here are a few offhand observations from I’m guessing 3/4ths of the way through:
- Load times are inexcusably long for a game that it’s so incredibly easy to die in. This is doubly frustrating when you’re attempting to stealth your way through an area-- one overlooked guard can lead to a cascade of reloads, any one of which can easily take 30 seconds or longer to complete. This is all the more annoying when you realize that the areas aren’t exactly that big to begin with. There’s a lot of stuffed packed into any given are and there’s a lot of vertical space to clamber around in, but none of the city sections take longer than a minute to traverse.
- DE:HR is probably the most rewarding stealth game I’ve ever played, and all the more so for allowing the player the “easy” way out of simply shooting up a room in an ugly mess of dead goons. Sure you can just murder every single living thin in a given facility, but you feel really dumb for doing so once you wander through the silenced halls and see the stealth options that the level designers gave your character should you have explored the area to any degree. Eidos Montreal is supposedly working on a followup to Thief next and if DE:HR is any indication that thing is going to be amazing.
- This game provides a strong argument against traditional boss battles. You’re presented with the game’s equivalent of Cobra Unit some 10 minutes into the game and these fights clash badly with 2 of the game’s usable play styles, forcing the player to exploit environmental gimmicks if they’re not playing combat-focused builds.
- DE:HR blurs the line between “action game” and “RPG” to an even greater degree than Mass Effect 2. Not that this is a detriment; the story and gameplay are still fine; it’s just annoying that by the late game character builds are essentially meaningless thanks to an abundance of skill points. There’s no real customization to your character aside from the style in which you choose to play. This feels very much like a design decision however, and not a design failing. There’s not even a real karma system in play-- you’re given options, but they’re mostly limited to how you play the game, not how you build your character.
- In regards to the above point, this feels very much how western RPGs will be developed going forward. We’ve all joked that the character you play in Call of Duty’s mulitiplayer game feels like an RPG character based on it’s exp system and selectable perks; Mass Effect and DE:HR flip this idea around and takes an action game and sets it inside what feels like an RPG universe. Again, I’m not saying this is bad, but we’re either going to have to accept that the traditional WRPG is left to Bethesda and random Soviet Bloc devs or give these games their own genre.
It’s still an outstanding game, as evidenced by the fact that the first thing I”m going to do once I finish this play-through will be to restart with a different build.
Anyway on with this (last) week’s games, all of which you now know come with a strong advisory to never ever play under any circumstance.
Air Conflicts: Secret Wars Developer: Games Farm
Publisher: Kalypso Media USA
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
On one hand it’s neat that there exits a secret European community of dedicated arcade combat flying games, on the other hand it’s annoying that this market exists and it has nothing at all to do with Crimson Skies.
I can’t find anything interesting about this game, and clearly neither could Games Farm, as the Destructoid review reveals that planes routinely reach levels of absurd damage
to no ill effect. Which would be pretty cool if Air Conflicts: Secret Wars were some surreal deconstructionist view of war as seen through the lens of videogames but no, it’s just a dumb arcade shooter on the same level as that Snoopy Flying Ace game that came out on XBLA a while back, only somehow less realistic. Now I regret ever researching this stupid game as I find myself desprately wishing that Hideo Kojima were in charge of Birds of Steel instead of Gaijin Entertainment.
Developer: Codemasters Studios Gilford
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Bodycount is billed as something of a spiritual successor to 2006’s Black, its development being overseen by Stuart Black of "Black" fame and newcomer Johnny Bodycount.
Bodycount is no doubt highly anticipated for anyone who's not already pledged allegiance to Modern Warfare 2, or Black Ops, or Battlefield 3, or
Rise of the Triad
Unreal 3, or-- okay, this mainly guy:
Jacob Edgehill of Danbury, Connecticut. Not to put a lot of pressure on you Jacob, but a lot of families are going to go hungry if you don’t buy several million copies of this game.
Bodycount’s hook is the promise that virtually every object in the game is somehow destructible; a promise one can assume extends to shareholder confidence in Codemasters stock. On the plus side, the sooner this thing dies the sooner Codemasters can get to work on GRID II.
DeathSpank: The Baconing
Developer: Hothead Games
Publisher: Hothead Games
Platforms Playstation Network
If you needed to be convinced to buy the third DeathSpank game, I want you to go back and think about your impressions of the first two DeathSpank games. Go ahead, I’ll be right here.
STOP TRYING YOU NEVER PLAYED THE FIRST TWO DEATH SPANK GAMES EITHER.
Junior Mystery Stories
Developer: Uacari Games
Publisher: Maximum Family Games
Platform: Nintendo DS
Oh, absolutely not.
Madden NFL 12
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Microvision, Atari Lynx, Sega CD, iOS, A Shoe.
I was genuinely concerned about this year’s Madden as it looked like NFL team owners and the Player’s Union would not come to terms in time for the season to start and I’d be forced to buy a Madden game in order to experience football for the 2011 season. Now that that specter is no longer hanging over my head I don’t have to be interested in this horrible series for at least another 3-4 years.
It’s sort of disappointing though, in that we never got to see EA Tiburon’s reaction to an NFL-less season. It’d be hard to figure out a scenario where EA could manage to get the rights to player’s likenesses without the Player’s Union itself not existing; I was badly hoping we’d get at least one year of Mutant League Football HD out of this mess, or at the very least the spectacle of EA scrambling to sign the Arena Football League to a year-long license in exchange for forcing EA to resurrect the plastic guitar genre for Rock Band: Bon Jovi.
Also Peyton Hillis’ ACL would get to stay intact for at least another year.
Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection
Developer: Other Ocean
Publisher: Warner Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Okay look, I full well realize my love for the original 2d Mortal Kombat series is irrational and wholly inconsistent given my lust for chunky 16-bit sprites, so you’d think I’d be all over this Arcade Kollection deal-- I mean, this works out to $3.33 per game for three games that practically defined my high school and early college years. But it becomes less of a deal when you realize that Mortal Kombat 2 is the only game of the three anyone would reasonably want to play-- Mortal Kombat 1 was horrible and while MK3 is still a good game it absolutely pales to MK2, which is legitimately a classic videogame and every bit the equal to any 2d fighter of it’s era.
Ten bucks for MK2 isn’t all that great, but this is also the only way to get MK2 running on modern hardware. This is a horrible situation to be placed in to be honest; I’d much rather just have a complete MK2 for five bucks with a full suite of MK2 achievements rather than 2/3rds of those achievements spread over games I’d rather not play.
Worse, nothing here is as fully fleshed out as last week’s Street Fighter III Third Strike, and even if the MK Kollection is five bucks cheaper it’s still not as good a value. The translation to XBLA and PSN itself probably won’t be awful; Other Ocean was responsible for Dark Void: Zero, so they “get” the sort of retro love MK deserves; you just have to imagine the metrics for this release worked out a lot better before Warner realized this release would come on the heels of the most anticipated retro downloadable of the Summer.