Brut Awards 2013, PART 1: Honorable Mentions and Cool Indie Stuff

Boy, what a year 2013 was. We’ve learned a lot this year, and because of that this industry grew…along with Activision’s bank of endless greed. However let’s not dwell too much on the negativity here, plus Infinity Ward and Treyarch do have plenty of opportunities to break out of those gold shackles. By the way those shackles are also exclusively melded by Kotick himself.

Bobby Kotick

Courtesy of all the money spent on Call of Duty DLC.

There were  several predictions I made this year, and in the most humble way I can say it, I was fucking right. First off, there would be more sharks in videogames and I would hate the living shit out of their existence even more because of it. Second, Ellen Page would clone herself just to confuse Brutuxan’s arousal meter. Third and most importantly, some of the best developers in this business would utilize the strength of the current-gen consoles just to make something beautiful. Or in other cases, they would just make God of War: Ascension and Gears of War: Judgement.

But this isn’t the worst of the year, dammit! This is the best of the year!

Before I start, let me give out the rules here for those who are unaware how I do this.

  1. This isn’t a ‘Top 10’ list.
  2. This isn’t a list in any sort of numerical order.
  3. I usually try to deliver some poignant message or some shit at the end.
  4. Every game is a winner!
  5. I’m separating my ‘Best of’ list into two parts.
  6. I DON’T GIVE A FUCK!

Now with that said, let’s move on into…

Honorable Mentions –

Splinter Cell Blacklist Award

Splinter Cell Blacklist:

While the writing isn’t anything fresh here, hell it might as well be called NCIS: Splinter Cell, the game does surprisingly shape up very well. Not that I probably should even reference the story for these games anymore, hell how many times has Fisher’s daughter been kidnapped? Like 5 times?

The reason why Blacklist is considered a valid entry in this series is that while it isn’t as formulaic as Conviction and not as slow-winding as Chaos Theory, the game does find a solid middle ground. Even better is that you’re given multiple play-styles to tangle with, such as going the panther, ghost, or full-out ‘murderous psychopath’ route (Pssst…I couldn’t remember what the last one was called.) Regardless of which way you want to play, the game accommodates whichever chosen playtsyle by giving you cover, pipes to climb on, and wait for it…non-linear paths! Wow, its almost like the game got better because you weren’t forced to go down a singular path, how shocking.

There’s also a lot of other content on the side as well such as spies versus mercs, co-op missions, challenge missions, and horde mode type missions. All of this is accessible through the control center of this stealth unit called the ‘Fourth Echelon’, which added a really neat element to the campaign. For example all of the missions are accessible through a single map menu, however this layout is in the middle of an interactive aircraft where you can talk to your teammates, attain upgrades, and even talk to your daughter through a speaker. Who surprisingly never gets kidnapped in this game. I was seriously waiting for that moment to happen.

Even without Michael Ironside and the switch to a much more action oriented experience, the game is still pretty damn solid. Though seriously, how many times are we going to have the annoying computer hacker who wears a silly sweater? That needs to stop, at least wear a jacket!

Deadpool Award

Deadpool The Videogame:

I remember a lot of the critics being pretty harsh on this one. Saying that the gameplay is repetitive, the mechanics are clunky, and the writing is just…’stupid’. Granted, I am quite a huge fan of this potty-mouthed vigilante and his wacky antics, so maybe that’s why I wound up digging this game. In fact while some of the mechanics were a bit iffy, most of it was actually not that bad.

Let me explain,  Deadpool the Videogame is essentially about the merc-with-a-mouth trying to create a script for his first ever videogame. That’s pretty much it, that’s what you’re getting.
This could either be the best or the worst thing imaginable pending on where you sit with this character. I for one, loved the living hell out of it because High Moon Studios does so much with an idea that sounds like it was processed through a board of lazy videogame business-men. The jokes are more often hit than they are miss, and not to mention Nolan North does a great job with this character (but then again, anything’s a step-up when you’re voicing Desmond.) While the fighting mechanics do get frustrating at times and the camera is a bit ‘wonky’, the overall experience you’re getting here is pretty good.

I do have some main issues though with some of the complaints railed against this game. First off I heard somewhere that the game’s a bit hypocritical because while it is satirizing modern videogame tropes, the gameplay itself dismisses the legitimacy of that element. My main problem with this complaint is that the game itself was never going to be a ground-breaker, even more-so is that what it is satirizing/making fun of are mostly games outside its genre. You never see one jab at Devil May Cry or God of War despite those games being in the same genre as this one (which I’m sure I just pissed off a lot of hardcore hack & slash fans by merely mentioning Deadpool in the same realm as Devil May Cry, too late it happened fuckers!) Plus, personal preference here, the gameplay isn’t a complete shit-fest like I was expecting it to be, it isn’t perfect, but it’s suitable for the character’s given chaotic nature.

The other common complaint I heard was that some critics really did not care for the writing, Again, this goes back to whether or not you’re a fan of this character, but I still feel like I should mention this since we’re living in an age where apparently all videogames should be taken seriously and can never be ‘silly’ again. That’s not the type of lunacy that goes on in this industry! No sir!
When you’re writing a character whose main abilities involves being able to regenerate health, is known for saying crazy shit, and has a sensational appetite for burritos then go nuts. The only restriction here is that you have to find a flow within all this mayhem that this character is doing or saying, and once again Deadpool nails this. Unfortunately I feel like some critics don’t take that into consideration and thus decide that the game was made specifically for morons or people who are fans of this character. I happen to be both, so that fits perfectly within my spectrumzzz dawg!

Injustice Gods Among Us

Injustice: Gods Among Us:

Hey, you got my Mortal Kombat into your DC superheroes! No wait, you got my DC superheroes into your Mortal Kombat! Guy’s, regardless if you’re a fan of people in dumb costumes or a fan of people in dumb costumes, Injustice is a game for everyone! Well, not really, but still it is a lot of fun. This was essentially the game that Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe should have been, except without the Mortal Kombat part because DC ain’t quite a fan of having Scorpion decapitate Superman. Or let alone let anyone outside of the DC even combat Superman!

The good news about Injustice is that the logic behind having someone like Batman being able to beat the crap out of Superman makes sense, even when the explanation behind that aspect of the story is a bit flimsy. In fact let’s get this over with, the story mode for Injustice is actually not as bad as to be expected from these sort of games. It works mostly because first off, it’s written by people who are fans of DC comics, and secondly it’s told through the perspective of each character that progresses the story along. It definitely has its plot-holes and idiocies when it comes to certain characters, for sure, but NetherRealm Studios still manages to execute this mode properly. That is all I will say about the story, because considering this is a fighting game I think it’s more important to highlight what makes Injustice so much fun.

Each hero/villain in this game has a meter that allows you to perform special moves, and if you max that meter to its fullest you can perform a ‘super special move’. Doesn’t sound too enthralling considering you can do this in mostly every other arcade fighting game, however what makes it so cool is the cinematic that follows afterward. Like, I don’t know, Superman essentially performing a piledriver from space or Doomsday clobberin’ some poor fool into the center of the earth, Dig Dug style!
Although the main highlight of the game is the level interactions. Each level has a certain set of transitions that allow your fighter or your opponent to land some serious hits. And what occurs in some of these transitions is pretty insane, like being thrown out into space near the Watchtower or getting smashed to pieces by the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Plus depending on which character you play as, you can either pick up vehicles and throw them or dodge enemies projectile attacks by utilizing the environment to jump out-of-the-way.

To put it bluntly, it’s fucking over-the-top and I love it.

While I can’t quite put it in my best of the year list, it isn’t because it doesn’t deserve a spot. It’s just because with every fighting games comes a lot of work and practice, and unfortunately that’s something I don’t have the time for these days when it comes to fighting games. But don’t let that discourage you, this is a competent game worth getting if you’re a fan of DC superheroes, fighting games, and causing large amounts of mayhem in general. And there’s even a ton of neat DLC that’s already out for the game, still no sign of a Mister Mxyzptlk challenge mode though. Really miss that ‘Great Gazoo’ looking bastard.

Crysis 3 Award

Crysis 3:

This series has always seemed to me as just one continuous demo to show off the prowess of what modern PC’s can do. It’s also one of those games that’s seems to be begging me to put my current PC out of its misery in order to buy a new and better one to play this game. Sorry Crysis 3, but I ain’t performing an Old Yeller this year! I will say this however, the game does still manage to look pretty good on a console.

If you don’t know what’s happening in Crysis 3, here’s the gist of it. Cut to 24 years later after the events of Crysis 2, New York has been encapsulated in a nanodome where the entire city has been turned into a luscious jungle. Prophet has awaken to not only realized that the city has changed, but that CELL has become fairly dominant. So now it’s up to Prophet to find out how this happened, but to also eliminate CELL and the rest of the Ceph forces.
Here’s the truth, reading that description almost put me to sleep, it’s that generic of a plot. Although after playing the game I do have to give kudos to James Vincent Meredith for doing a pretty good job as Prophet, and to some of the writers who managed to also inject a bit of humanity into what could have been another boring sci-fi story. You actually do kind of feel something for these characters, including from a side character named Psycho who is going through some pretty tough times.

What caught me off guard with this installment though was the fact that you got to choose how you wanted to play. Did you want to be stealthy, a melee fighter, or did you want to shoot at every living thing in sight? Well it’s all there through a special perk system that works right on the spot, literally, like you can just go through a quick menu and select which set of perks you want to use. The perks aren’t just restricted to class though, you can also choose which three you want to use at any time as well.
Another thing that I was happily surprised about was how these levels felt open, but also in the sense that they support your own playstyle. It really sounds like I’m repeating what I just said for Splinter Cell: Blacklist, but it is the truth. Both of these series managed to avoid falling into the trap that so many other shooters do, which is linear level design and repetitive gameplay. That’s why playing Crysis 3 was a breath of fresh air, because it wasn’t restrictive nor dull at any point to play.

If there is any downside to this game, the campaign is fairly short and the multiplayer, while solid, isn’t doing anything new. Hence why I didn’t put it on my ‘Best of the Year’ list, but as it stands it’s still a fairly solid shooter. I still don’t like the design of the nanosuits in this game though, it just looks like the Michelin Man except on steroids.

Indie Stuff –

Gone Home award

Gone Home:

The less said about Gone Home, the better. If only for the fact that the mystery behind this empty, yet mysteriously trashed house is so fascinating that I personally think it would harm the experience. So let me say this if you want to remain spoiler-free. Gone Home is an experiment that manages to excel beyond expectations and leaves behind a message that I think will resonate with a lot of people.

There, now for those who want to know…

SPOILER TIME! Gone Home is about a woman named Kaitlin Greenbriar who has returned home after a year-long trip. When she enters this luscious abode, she  realizes that not only is the house empty, but that a lot has happened since her departure. Throughout the entirety of the game you’ll be spending your time investigating what has happened to her parents, and especially what’s been going on with her sister. Although you’re playing as Kaitlin, the game is mostly centralized around her sister, Samantha Greenbriar.
Gone Home has accomplished several things that some prolific videogame personalities like David Cage could never seem to accomplish. It tells a well done coming-of-age story that doesn’t steer off track with ridiculous QTE’s, and even more impressive is that it tells its story through notes and tape recordings. It’s really a testament to how brilliant the writing is, and how much attention to detail that The Fullbright Company has put into this game. And because of its short length, the experience is actually that much more memorable since its allowed the developers to really flesh out each key moment. It’s not the most lavish game, but considering its low production qualities it sure does manage to achieve more than most of the schlock that’s out there now.

Still, it would have been cooler if Slender-Man was there…as the housekeeper!

Papers Please Award

Papers, Please:

Who would have thought that running a border inspection post in a country run by communists would be so much fun? I couldn’t tell if the developers of this game wanted to strictly deliver a message about immigration and the harshness behind the policies that go with it, or make a time attack mode with a European aesthetic to it. Whatever the case may be, Papers, Please is worth the coin that was pitifully given to you by a dying mother. Sorry, I’m energetically grim right now and it’s really showing.

As I stated, the game is about an immigration officer working in a border post on the Eastern side of Arstozka. A made up fictional country that in no way bears any resemblance to another European country that existed, ever. The game starts out fairly simple as you’re given the task of either denying or allowing these feeble peasants to tremble their way into Artstozka. However as the days go by, the game becomes more complex as you’ll be asked to check documents for false identification, do body searches for explosives, and more tricky objectives. Luckily the game gives you the tools in order to thoroughly check each person, the problem is that you’re also on the clock here.
So less reading, more telling poor families to fuck off and jump off a mountain! Whoa, that was very un-Artstozkian of me. I do apologize, they should jump off a tower instead.

As dark as this game can be, it is something I strongly recommend people to play it. Regardless of whether you’re a big gamer or not, this one easily sucks the time right out of your day and you even learn something! It’s a perfect way to teach kids about how measly immigrants are and why they should always bring in their goddamn passports! Oh boy, that one just slipped right out like a  greasy  Kolechian…oh Jesus, I should probably stop here. Go play the game dammit!

Kentucky Route Zero Award

Kentucky Route Zero:

In terms of indie games, Kentucky Route Zero is about as indie as they come. Though don’t mistake that as, “We didn’t make anything profound here, but we’re going to pretend that it is.” This game is actually an old school text adventure, but done with modern pixelated visuals. There’s also no facial features on these characters, and no dialogue as well. So why should this game interest you at the very least?

Well let me explain, Kentucky Route Zero follows the story of several people. The main one being a truck driver named Conway who is followed around by a silly dog in a straw hat. Conway’s goal is to make a delivery to 5 Dogwood Street, and in order to do that he has to go through a mysterious route called Kentucky Route Zero. Along the way he meets other characters, including a woman named Shannon Marquez who you do get to control as well.

The game is very strange, and the story is told through acts rather than episodes (because, I don’t know, indie.) However its strangeness and its minimal time-consuming structure is what I really like about Kentucky Route Zero. There’s a lot of text to read in this game, no mistake about that, but they give you enough fascinating imagery to where it feels like you’re reading an interactive novel at points. Plus the break in between acts allows you to digest more information, rather than cram a ton of exposition into your noggin in order to understand the story.
What caught me off guard the most with this game though is how it pushes forward and experiments a lot in interactive narrative. As I mention, you control different characters in this game, but you also get to choose what dialogue they can say. It sounds confusing, but they do this in a way where if there are two characters that are both playable, they’ll just have one character choose what to say. I’m also not sure where they’re going with the choices in this game, but I’m instantly hooked with the game’s presentation. Who knows, maybe by act 5 I’ll think this entire thing was complete garbage and I’ll be plagued with why I put this game on my best of the year list.

For right now though, if you’re type of person who loves old school text adventure games and don’t mind pixelated art-styles, then by all means give this one a shot. However if you do not like to read, want everything explained to you right away, and want Crysis 3 level graphics then stay as far away from this as you can.

The Stanley Parable Award

The Stanley Parable:

I’ve played this game for almost three hours, and now I smell like a sitcom pilot for the BBC. I never even knew what those smelled like! From the outside, you would assume that The Stanley Parable would be one of those games that aimed to rip off Douglas Adams writing. Although as it turns out its more in the same vein as something like Portal, and luckily it never tries to recreate the same hilarious moments from those games. In fact you’ll probably be taking away a couple pretty humorous moments from The Stanley Parable itself.

At its barest, the game is about a simple man named Stanley who works in a bland office building. Everything goes normal as usual, until one day he realizes that everyone had disappeared inside the building. So it’s up to Stanley to figure out what happened to everyone, well, that’s if you choose to. Because on the other side of this story is a narrator constantly breaking the fourth wall, multiple endings that play a part in the game, and a strange fixation with arrows. I should probably mention that this game’s plot sounds fairly complex, and should require another playthrough in order to fully understand it.
Just like Gone Home, the less said about the game, the better the experience will be. Or in my case, the less you know, the more you’ll be hearing ‘WTF” over and over inside your head.

The Stanley Parable deals mainly on the idea of choices and what they mean to the player. Though if you’re just not in the mood for very in-depth discussions about modern videogame tropes, then the quirky and witty dialogue should at least appease you. You insignificant and feeble-minded fool!

Alright, that’s it for the honorable mentions and the indie category. Check in about a week or two to see my opinion on some of the best DLC and finally the best games of this year, along with my GOTY pick. Also coming soon is my ‘Worst of the Year’ list, which I’m sure will make readers wonder, “What’s Brutuxan’s worst game of the year?” I’ll give you a hint, it’s Fast & Furious: Showdown.

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Brut Awards 2013, PART 2: DLC & Main Grub

I sure hope you enjoyed part 1 of the Brut Awards. If you didn’t enjoy part 1 of the Brut Awards, well allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine named, “Ramirez the Psycho Badger.” Say hi Ramirez!

Badger!

I’ll fucking gut your eyes out!

Oh Ramirez, you wacky badger! So if  you haven’t read part 1 yet, I suggest you do. Otherwise you would get a visit from Ramirez. And nobody wants to be visited by Ramirez.
As you can tell, we’re getting close to the end here. Except we still have a few more unrelated titles to touch on before we transition. So without further ado, I give you the best DLC and the best games of this year. Enjoy, because I certainly had fun while I randomly began plucking scales from the back on my head for this one. I can literally create a billion necklaces for my local knickknack store now, it’s ridiculous.

DLC Awards –

Mass Effect 3 DLC Contender

Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC:

The last piece of Mass Effect 3 DLC turns out to be the best one. In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, you’re sent on shore leave to a private bachelor pad (it’s a captain’s cabin, but we all know it’s a fancy as shit bachelor pad) on the Citadel. The reason for this? Shepard just needs to get some down time, and maybe some space tail on the side.
All goes well, until a mysterious terrorist group attacks Shepard at a sushi restaurant. With as little information as to who was behind this attack, Shepard and his crew (and Wrex) must find out who did this and put an end to the terrorism. While along the way probably downing a couple drinks, and maybe some illegal gambling on the side.

Right off the bat you can tell that this was written by the core writing staff based on the strong interaction between the characters. It’s also the one that made me realize how much this series was missing Drew Karpyshyn’s sharp writing. If you aren’t aware, Drew Karpyshyn was one of the original main writers for the Mass Effect series, but departed right before the release of 2. While I think the current writer in charge of the series Mac Walters did a solid job, with some missteps here and there, the third installment was missing that light-hearted touch that Drew gave to the series. It makes considering the context of Mass Effect 3, but for the most part it was a missing certain element that I think was present in the previous installments, until you get to this DLC.
The immediate first reaction for those who play the game may be that the package is entirely nothing but fan-service, in actuality it’s more of a love letter to the fans. A good majority of every Mass Effect squad-member, yes including you Vega fans, has a shining moment. It’s also some of the funniest writing I’ve seen in a while. Where you have moments involving certain members of your team giving you shit for ruining one of the best sushi restaurants in the galaxy, or ordering pizza before a major mission. It’s not going to be another Leviathan or Omega DLC that’s going to add anything to the lore, however it’s a sweet finishing touch that really sends the game out on the right note rather than a convoluted one.

It won’t make me forget the ending, that’s for sure, but at least it leaves me feeling relieved and slightly teary-eyed. And that’s all this humble dinosaur can ask for.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon Contender

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon:

Every impulse in my body is telling me to make this my game of the year. But unfortunately whatever shred of sanity I have left is telling me there are other games that deserve the spot. Oh well, twas was nice thinking that I could make Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon game of the year even though ‘Best of the Year’ lists don’t goddamn matter. But who am I to say what numbers and bullshit are legitimate to put on a list anyway?

So…Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is awesome!

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon takes place around the far-away year of 2007, where the U.S. and Russia are still suffering under a nuclear fallout from the war. In the game you’ll be playing as Sergeant Rex Power Colt, a super cyborg solider who has to investigate this island and a rogue agent named Colonel Sloan. Unfortunately when you arrive on the island things don’t go as planned, and even worse, the island is native to giant neon lizards that shoot lasers! I don’t now if that’s the most scariest thing ever or the greatest!

Right from the beginning, the game is extremely self-aware of all the menial tasks you go through in most modern action games. Including the notorious long-winding tutorial, which they manage to turn it into one of the funniest highlights of the game. Despite some moments of forced jokes, which are very minimal to be fair, the game manages to keep throwing more hilarious jabs and 80’s references at you. What’s great is that not only will you find some of the best jokes in the game’s cutscenes, which are formatted in a vintage sort of way, but you can also find them in the game’s world. Such as on crates or the descriptions for the side quests you can unlock.

The gameplay itself is straight up Far Cry 3, but layered over with an 80’s aesthetic to it. Meaning make sure to expect colorful lasers and cheap Casio keyboard noises to be around every corner. Hell, even the weapons are references to 80’s sci-fi or action films! There are upgrades for your weapons, forts you can take over, and savage animals to hunt! It all adds up to a nostalgia ride that’s fun even on its own, plus it has one of the best end-credits songs I’ve ever heard.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, I wish I knew how to quit you!

The Main Contenders –

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag Contender

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag:

If there’s one thing I’m getting tired of, it’s the Assassins Creed series. And honestly I shouldn’t be considering that, this should be one of my all time favorite videogame series. I mean it does have some great characters, some cool gameplay mechanics, and apparently a good multiplayer mode. But when you keep releasing installments, year after year, no matter how much side content you put in, it’s still going to get stale. And yet Black Flag is on this list, which does says a lot for this latest entry.

Black Flag follows one of Desmond’s great assassin ancestors, Edward Kenway. A swash buckling pirate who aims to be the best pirate he can be, but struggles to be a true assassin. Edward’s goal in life is to become wealthy, and return to his wife with plenty of riches. Cause you know, maybe Kenway wants to gets his future children into pirate boarding school. However just like with most pirates, you start to realize that they’re kind of flawed.
That’s ultimately why I dug Edward, he’s not a good person, but he aims to try to be one. His character arc isn’t anything new we’ve seen in pirate movies or literature, but the writers still manage to inject a lot of great character moments in this installment. By the beginning he’s just some pirate scum, but by the end he’s become a matured adult who tries to correct the wrongs of his past. He’s not as suave as Haytham, but Edward does make up for it with some great character development.

As you can guess, the main thing Black Flag has going for it is that it’s an open world pirate game. Thus you get to board enemy ships, plunge for treasure, and hijack cargo from plantation farmers. It’s Black Beard’s wet dream, and hell he’s even in the game too!
What the gameplay does right is that you’re never always on foot in this game, and that you’ll be spending half the time in a ship. Granted while it’s not the most biggest ship in the world, with enough upgrades you can beef that baby up. Plus you also have plenty of neat side content based around the ship combat in the game. Including battling these legendary ships that just made me want to tear my scales out! Seriously, I think the hulls on those ships were made out of adamantium!

There’s plenty of other neat stuff you can do too, that’s  if you’re getting tired of sailing on a ship for several hours. As I mentioned there are deep-sea troves you can explore to get more treasure, and get attacked by sharks. Then there are harpooning objectives that you allow you to kill whales, and also get attacked by sharks.
Can I just say fuck sharks in general? Seriously, why are sharks so obsessed with gold and Edwards glistening half-naked body? I swear the next game better allow me to barbecue sharks on a ten to twenty-foot wide grill. At least that would give me the illusion of devouring my worst enemy. Please make that happen Ubisoft.

Now where was I at with Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag? Oh yeah, the game itself would have been just decent if it weren’t for the emphasis on ship combat. However because it manages to smooth out the gaps between missions with different objectives, along with a really fascinating story, I think the game still manages to be very entertaining. It could have possibly been even up with there with my pick for game of the year, but I still can’t discredit the fun I had from this pirate adventure that also oddly enough happened to feature not as many burning huts and villagers being raped as possible. Now that’s non-traditional for pirates.

Enemy Within  Contender

XCOM: Enemy Within:

I’m not gonna lie, I had no idea where to put this in terms of category. It’s an expansion pack, but I can’t label the game as DLC or put it in the indie category. It would especially be funny to see the reactions if I were to put it in the indie category, or hell even make up the description:

XCOM: Enemy Within is about a romantic relationship between a man and an alien. But one day their relationship gets caught in the middle of a firestorm as the leaders of the alien empire demand that the humans stop expressing love! Now its up to the wacky couple to save humanity, and protect the true meaning of love! Also it’s turn-based.

Put that on the back of the box!

But at some point you just have to say, “fuck it”, and go on talking about one of the greatest things ever. Sorry, I meant the most perfect thing ever!
For those don’t know, XCOM: Enemy Unknown was my favorite game of last year. The premise behind  Enemy Unknown was that aliens were invading the earth, and it was up to the XCOM division to prevent the invasion. It was a fairly complex turn based strategy game, but still managed to put you on the edge of your seat at most times. You never knew who was going to die on your team, and when they were going to die. It was an unforgiving game, but goddamn was it fun.

With that said, there were some issues with Enemy Unknown. Some maps became repetitive and didn’t offer as many tactical positions for certain classes. When leveling up characters, it became easy to choose which perks you wanted for your soldiers. There were other issues too, I think. It’s very hard to pick out problems when it came to Enemy Unknown. But boy did Firaxis correct the shit out of those issues and gave you more toys to play with!

For starters, you have a new class at your disposal which is the MEC trooper. A hulking mass of metal with titanium punching gloves, and a boner for dead aliens!  Or depending on where you stand with close combat, you can either stick with the metal fists or attach a wicked flamethrower. Then you have the new modifications that allow you to give your soldiers super abilities. These abilities can range from jumping on tall buildings, enhanced envisioning, and utilizing a stealth cloak.

What’s great is that Firaxis has found a way to not make these new additions not undermine the games overall difficulty. It’s more options for the players, and they don’t make the game feel less like an XCOM game because of it. Plus the AI has been improved as well, each previous existing alien has been given more refined stats. Along with a couple new aliens to fight, you’ll also be fighting some of your human brethren known as EXALT. Expect a lot of challenges in your way, and let me just say it gets even more difficult than Enemy Unknown.

The new maps feel great, and have a lot of strategic opportunities that are just lingering in all of them. The visuals haven’t been vastly improved, but you can tell that Firaxis has sharpened them quite a bit.
In some ways the game has been slightly accommodating toward new players, but in other ways there are more opportunities for the game to screw you over with the council missions. I cannot praise this game enough, once again if I had my way this would also be game of the year. Although being sensible to other contenders is a bitch.

I should just have two categories, the ‘Not XCOM‘ category, and the ‘XCOM category’. There, now I can die happily!

GTA V Contender

Grand Theft Auto V:

I life to refer this game as, “Ten reasons why Trevor is awesome.” However there is a game here to discuss, so I guess I can hold that off for a little bit. At least until I get to the very end.

So from first glance, GTA V looks like the same ol’ thing except with really polished graphics. I was like that too for a while until I saw some footage for the game, then I actually played the game and was like, “What the hell is this shit?” Kidding of course, the game is really great and manages to feel fresh again by adding a couple new things.
The first major change here is that you’ll be controlling three characters: Michael Townley, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Phillips. Throughout the game you’ll be switching between them constantly, unless you prefer to play as one character. As a matter of fact if that’s the case, how the hell were you able to progress in the game?

Since it’s GTA, of course you won’t be playing as heroes here. Michael Townley is a retired bank robber who now is living under witness protection along with the rest of his family. Franklin Clinton is a repo man who works alongside his trusty ol’ sidekick Lamar. Then Trevor is a psychopath who was once a cohort in Michael’s bank schemes, and now lives in a trailer park. Eventually all these characters come together, but in a way that makes a car crash look less eye-catching by comparison.
For a game that tries to put a bad light on all the central characters, there are some pretty endearing moments in the game. Michael constantly throws tempers tantrums, but wants to try and be a better person. Franklin is stuck in the hood, but no matter how much he tries to move up, he still gets dragged down to the bottom. And then Trevor, well, let’s just say Trevor can be really generous toward women. You can’t completely define them as assholes, because that would inquire that they’re just one-dimensional characters. Also I should note, has Rockstar really been known for writing one-dimensional characters?

The gameplay itself is more tightened than with previous entries. Shooting feels more precise, and the camera doesn’t feel as pulled out as with other Rockstar games. So you now have more of a focus on all the murder and mayhem! It’s slightly easier to ride vehicles, but only slightly. The character models are more detailed, and when they aren’t looking funky, they can mesh really well with the world.
Speaking of which, Los Santos looks gorgeous and the amount of detail work here is incredible. At points it forget that I was playing the game on my Xbox 360 and not on an Xbox One. There’s also a lot of stuff you can do in Los Santos like partake in triathlons, golf, tennis, and take random strangers on crazy rides. Rockstar has done a great job on making Los Santos feel alive by not only the aesthetics, but with what you can do whenever you’re not being chased by cops.
However the biggest takeaway for me, aside from the perspective switching, is the bank heists. Most of the bank heists in the game involve choosing how you want to approach them. Either through some sort of secretive way, or a full-out assault that’s sure to catch the attention of every cop in the city. Regardless of your choice, you’ll also get to choose who you want on your team (aside from the three main characters). These factors add up to what is one of the game’s biggest strength, and why it’s on this list.

If you manage to pick up the game now, you’ll be seeing GTA Online at its least buggiest. If you’re not familiar with GTA Online, think of a scaled-back MMO except by Rockstar. You can either cause mayhem with friends in Los Santos, or do one of the other multiplayer modes. The only bummer about this though is every time you die, a good portion of your videogame wallet gets emptier. It’s got disadvantages when in comparison to the Red Dead Redemption online mode, but it is still a ton of fun.

Last but certainly not least, this game has perhaps one of the best characters of this year. That character is Trevor Phillips, a lovable psychopath with a heart of gold and at most times made out of pure rage. What makes Trevor such a delight to listen to is the way his dialogue is written, which is like what if a mental patient from an insane asylum escaped into the real world and would drink like an eight-pack of beer every 30 minutes. The description’s a little exaggerated, but so is Trevor in all the right ways.
Across the board, the character of Trevor has garnered a lot of attention from people who’ve played the game. Regardless if its good or bad attention, he leaves a lasting impression on you even more than the other two knuckle-heads. At times he can be scary, at other times he’s just crazy, but at rare moments he can be seen as gentlemen. Usually whenever this type of character is written, he’s just a blatant asshole that no one likes, but with Trevor he’s written very carefully to where you feel a mixture of emotions from him. I could keep going on about Trevor, but I will say that he actually may be my favorite videogame character of this year.

GTA V manages to be a huge hit, not only among the fans, but also among the children of said fans who should really know better than to let their child play this game. For shame.

Bioshock Infinite Contender

Bioshock Infinite:

One of the most anticipated games of this year was definitely one of the most memorable. Bioshock Infinite managed to not only undo the ‘lameness’ that Bioshock 2 was, but it also injected some really inventive ideas. Also it reminded me that even up in the sky, racism is still very popular. In general, I just see large cities in the sky as nothing but KKK rallies just filled with members who do nothing but play Bioshock 2. Okay that last part I added on, but it’s still fucked up!

Bioshock Infinite follows Booker DeWitt, a hard-boiled detective looking to find a girl and to “Wipe away the…obligation that was given to him”. I think that’s the right quote.
From the get-go you realize that this is indeed a Bioshock game. The button prompts are similar, the audio cues are pretty much the same, and I think I saw some reused sewage piped from Rapture as well. However beyond that, what you’ll find is a unique world up in the sky that’s just brimming with very artistic designs. It wasn’t quite as eye-catching as Rapture, but Columbia does definitely have some great sights to see. And when I mean ‘sights’, I mean Elizabeth’s…necklace.

Elizabeth is this mysterious girl who you’re sent to find, and once you find her the game becomes more fascinating. Not only in terms of story does she offer some good banter between her and Booker, but her role as an AI partner is surprisingly not that annoying. She doesn’t get in the way during combat, and while she can’t pistol-whip those Handy-Men into oblivion, she does offer a lot of assistance. Maybe too much assistance at times, like I do appreciate the hundreds of bottles of vigor you’re throwing at me, but…how the fuck did you find all this stuff? Is Ken Levine insinuating that Elizabeth is also a dumpster diver?

The shooting part itself, from what I can remember, was actually the least interesting aspect of the game. If I were to say though what the coolest weapon of the game is though, it would have to be the hook blade, er, the grappling hook. It’s a two-in-one accessory, not only can you climb onto magnetic rails, but you can also decapitate your foes! Even though it’s primarily used in sparse moments, it’s a lot of fun just to slice up enemies and watch them fall off the city. So why need firearms, when you have that?
Speaking of magnetic rails, there are brief moments in the game where you’ll be on a Six Flags roller coaster ride, except with racist (or is that a common thing at Six Flags?) There’s even integral moments where you’ll be facing off against large waves of enemies and carriers while dangling from these rails, so you’re literally playing the game ON-rails! Despite how little they’re used in the overall game and the lack potential that was seized there, those moments in the game were definitely the most fun.

Though I bet everyone is waiting for that moment where I talk about the ending. Sadly it’s been a long time since I last played the game, so I may just be spouting a lot of details that seem fairly inaccurate. So instead of describing what exactly happened in the ending, I’ll just go ahead and say my feelings on the ending. Alright, also…

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

The ending to Bioshock Infinite is a perfect example of how to do a twist ending without harming the integral structure of the story. Furthermore, there are clues in the story that lend itself to the justification of that conclusion. Because of that, the game instantly becomes far better than it should have. Throughout the game you’re uncovering secrets of what makes the colorful city of Columbia such a twisted and rotten place to also be at. Elizabeth herself is also affected by the violence and treachery that plagues the city, and arrives to the conclusion that she is kind of like her father (Comstock).
Booker himself also has given into the city by having to be baptized in order to proceed past the entrance. What happens to Booker, Elizabeth, and the city winds up making sense at the end. It doesn’t pretend to be smarter than it is, because it already had set-up everything in advance to make the conclusion feel like a gut-punch. And boy does it punch hard, and even better is that it cuts off at a perfect moment to where you have no choice but to let it fester inside your head. That’s what makes Bioshock Infinite one of the best games of this year, and one of the best written ones within the past generation.

*END POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

I wasn’t exactly as fanatical about Bioshock Infinite as some people were, but if one were to remove expectations after playing the first Bioshock, then the game becomes a lot of fun. There’s a lot for your eyes to gander at, and then there’s moments where you’ll feel something for Booker and Elizabeth. Irrational Games and Ken Levine really hit it out of the park on this one, and for that it deserves a spot on this list. It also is one of the few games that has a Cyndi Lauper song in it, so it’s even better than expected!

Tomb Raider Contender

Tomb Raider:

Laura finally hit it big this year with the reboot to Tomb Raider. A game that said, ‘fuck the blue tank top and booty shorts, we’re going down a brutal path with this reboot!’ Also missing in that made-up statement are the gore-y death sequences and the wide assortment of uses for a bow & arrow. Needless to say, this wound up being an incredibly solid experience.

The story here begins with Laura on an expedition to the mysterious island of Yamatai, a very ominous destination located within the Dragon’s Triangle. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle, except with samurai’s and possible near-rape scenarios. As you can tell from the trailers, the ship breaks apart in the middle of an erupting thunderstorm, and the crew washes up on a mysterious island. The crew isn’t having a good time, Laura isn’t having a good time, not even the savage islanders are having a good time! It’s the worst vacation ever!
With the entire crew missing and stranded on this ‘unknown’ island, it’s up to Laura to figure out how to save everyone and get off this rock!

Plot-wise it isn’t too complex, it’s a template that has been applied before to heroes of Laura’s type, but I’d say its done very well here. This mostly has to do with Laura’s well written character arc and the voice actress behind her, Camilla Luddington. What makes Laura one of the most memorable videogame characters of this year is that unlike other female characters in the medium, she’s not bogged down by boyfriend problems or idiotic nonsense that only businessmen would assume that women are into. Her goal is simple and straightforward, rescue her friends and get off the island, that’s it. No bullshit, no punches being withheld, it’s a story of survival with a female protagonist.
Unlike most other videogame protagonists in general, Laura grows more formidable as the plot progresses. To a point where she truly becomes a badass, and actually earns it.

In my review earlier in the year, I compared this game to Uncharted mostly due to similar themes of survival and treasure hunting. For me what makes Tomb Raider more of an entertaining experience than Uncharted is its non-linearity and how it rewards you for it. The game manages to pull this off through mapping out its levels to where if you decide to go off path, chances are you’ll be rewarded. Those rewards can range from finding salvage or upgrade blueprints.
Speaking of which, you’ll also have a host of weapons in your arsenal. Ranging from the game’s iconic bow & arrow to an amazing shotgun that I never wanted to stop using. Each of these weapons have upgrades to which you can acquire by having enough salvage, and even cooler is that each weapon looks noticeably different each time you upgrade it. For the most part I never had a problem with the weapons, each of them felt balanced and had their own unique uses. Some weapons like the bow & arrow can be used to reach across rivers, and the shotgun can break down barricades.
The rest of the gameplay itself is really tight, and well focused. Cover can be accessed by simply walking up to it, which makes the transition to the gun-fights very smooth. Stealth has also been nicely integrated into the game thanks to the bow & arrow and the option to equip silencers to some of your weapons. There’s plenty of ways to take out enemies, and despite which way you feel like duking it out, you’re going to have a great time.

Visually speaking, the game is gorgeous and has a lot of great scenery.The attention to detail not only with the island, but with Laura herself is pretty amazing. Small details such as the cultural findings and remnants of previous stranded islanders are what make this game so immersive.
The games presentation, the gameplay, and the revitalization to one of the most iconic videogames characters ever (for some reason, can’t imagine why) is why this game is on my list. Oh and there’s a decent multiplayer mode there, but who really cares? Go play this game now!

However I’m a bit weary of traveling on a ship now, maybe its the whole I don’t want to get eaten by a group of cannibals vibe I’ve gotten from this game.

Metal Gear Rising

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance:

Revengeance isn’t the most complex game, no it certainly is not. However what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for with crazy over-the-top-action that will keep your eyes on the screen. Trust me, I tried this. I never was able to finish playing Bioshock Infinite on time, but was lucky enough to avoid the Star Trek videogame. Thank you epilepsy!

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance tells the story of Raiden, the naked cart-wheeling dude from MGS2. These days Raiden is doing less silly stunts while in the nude, and is more of a cyber-samurai guy who protects prime ministers from evil terrorist acts. However one day some Desperado operatives show up and ruin all the fun by killing the prime minister. I don’t know if you could make Raiden anymore angst-y, but boy was I proven wrong.
It’s a Saturday morning cartoon, except with a lot of insane stuff thrown in. Although in a way it’s also kind of charming because of how the game thinks its making philosophical points. In actuality though, as laughable as those moments are, it creates sort of this well-formed air space between all the chaos that ensues on-screen. The combination between its saturated violence and its honest intentions at trying to make a deeper story is what actually makes this work, despite the latter half not working at all.

The game’s main attraction here is its maniacal, yet very challenging, gameplay. You have your basic hack & slash moves, which of course you later get the hang of, or not if you’re the type who really has never laid hands on a hack & slash game before. Although while combat moves fine just the way it is, one of the best things I may have seen in quite some time is the ‘blade mode’. A frenetic slow-motion action that allows you to slice enemies into a million pieces as a reward for your good/skilled behavior. It’s the epitome of getting a delicious cookie for all the hard work you did in grade school, except with cutting up cyborgs with a katana.
I also mentioned that the game can definitely be challenging, and it really is, but in the best way. Each of the enemies have their own weaknesses and advantages over each other, and sometimes the game will put you in a spot where you’ll face-off against a mix of annoying-as-fuck enemies. However this is great, because unlike other games where they’ll flat-out tell you every single mechanic from the get-go, this game forces you to experiment and disfigure each enemies strategy. This especially applies to the boss fights, which can range from somewhat challenging to incredibly challenging. Oh, and it gets way worse with the final boss fight.

It sounds like what I’m telling you is no different from what you see in other hack & slash games, but in all honesty Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is one of the best experiences I had this year. I may hate having to pronounce its name, but I can definitely forgive it for all the bloody fun it gave me. All the cyborg-samurai slicing fun!

Best Game of the Year –

The Last of Us Contender 2

The Last of Us:

Wow, you mean to tell me a game made by Naughty Dog was game of the year? Color me shocked, yet slightly aroused for some reason. I don’t know, I can’t register how every person reading this might feel about my decision. So I’m gonna say it was a mixture of excitement, disappointment, anger, and being aroused.

In all seriousness though, I do feel like this game does merit ‘game of the year’ on pretty much all accounts (except multiplayer, cause who gives a shit.) Visually its super impressive, gameplay-wise it manages to outdo Uncharted, and as for the writing, well, do I need to say? Just to briefly summarize the game, the story is about Joel and Ellie, a duo of survivors who must course their way past the infected and ruthless bandits to pursue their goal. I’m just going to leave it at that for right now since the game has a lot of tense moments that I prefer not to spoil for any who decide to play the game.

For a super in-depth analysis of the plot along with my feelings on the ending however…

*SPOILERS BEGIN HERE*

At the beginning of the game you’re controlling Joel’s daughter, Sarah, who waits for her father to come home. Once Joel puts her to bed, she suddenly wakes up and realizes that Joel had gone missing. Even more disturbing are the alarming news report and the loud explosion that happens outside which sets the tone from here on out. However once Sarah finds Joel, things become more dire as she finds him being attacked by her neighbor. The two then decide to dip-out and escape the house via motor vehicle while also being accompanied by Joel’s brother, Tommy.
Once they reach the city, they see people fleeing and being attacked by the infected. After failing to pass through the city, Joel, Sarah, and Tommy wind up being chased by a mob of infected and have no option but to run. By the end things take a turn for the ridiculously grim as Sarah gets shot by a soldier, and dies in Joel’s arms.

Cut to a couple of decades later, we see Joel hanging out with a woman named Tess. The two realize that their weapons had been stolen and need to retrieve them back. So they hunt down the man responsible and realize that they were given to a cult known as the Fireflies. Although in order to get back these weapons, they must escort a young girl by the name of Ellie outside of the quarantine zone. More-so, it’s revealed that Ellie is immune to the disease and may wind up having the cure.

Sadly, the party gets a little thin due to the death of Tess, but luckily her message about keeping Ellie alive manages to stick with Joel. So Joel and Ellie go on a long depressing journey to find a Firefly research camp, and along the way encounter some interesting folk.
These people range from survivors trying to cope things through, friends who’ve changed for the worse, or travelers who are more ominous than they look.

By the time Joel and Ellie arrive, the Fireflies take Ellie to a hospital, but also knock-out Joel. Later Joel finds out how they can extract the cure from Ellie, but it’s at the cost of her own life. This upsets Joel immensely, and he pursues to find Ellie by tearing through Firefly guards. Luckily Joel finds Ellie before the operation had started, and attempts to escape.
The ending gets interesting as it turns out Joel had not only killed Ellie’s care-taker, had ruin the opportunity for the Fireflies to obtain a cure, and lied to Ellie about the whole mess he had gotten into just to save her.

What makes the ending so impacting is not only Joel’s action and what he tells Ellie, but where it cuts off. It climaxes at the right moment to where it lingers in your mind, and asks you the same question. Do you sacrifice Ellie for the greater good, or keep the only thing that matters to you in the entire world? Although the biggest takeaway may be the way you think about Joel, do you sympathize with him for what he did or say what he did was a grave mistake?
This is what make The Last of Us not just a typical zombie game, and propels it something greater. It leaves you with questions and troubling thoughts, rather than giving you an all tied-up story. The writers at Naughty Dog knew what to tie-up, and what to leave loose. Plus the journey to get there was just as memorable.

*END OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

What really makes The Last of Us work so well is how naturally the story flows together with the gameplay. Rather than constantly letting you know how things operate or where to go, the game will instead leave as much information as possible outside of the HUD in order for you to be sucked into this world. It’s a lush post-apocalyptic world that doesn’t suck up too much grit, but instead just leaves it hanging like the way the doctor said it was supposed to be. Wow, well that got dirty and kind of specific.
Anyway, the writing here is top-notch along with the performances by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. Aside from feeling like these are real characters, they are also certainly not without their flaws. The subtle interactions in the world also add some depth to these characters in certain ways, and makes you want to play the game again just to see what you missed out on. And with this being a Naughty Dog game, you’ll rarely notice a whole lot of awkward character model moments. The writing, acting, character interactions, and amazing detail work on the character models are what truly makes one-half of this game brilliant.

The other half of this game is a third-person action game, and yeah it’s just as great. You’ll be spending most of your time either constructing strategies as to how to move past enemies or blowing them up into chunks of melting flesh. It’s similar in a lot of ways to Tomb Raider, except where Tomb Raider’s focus was on the action, The Last of Us‘s focus is on the suspense. However that mostly depends on what enemies you’ll be facing.
There are three enemy types in this game, and each group have their own unique ways of trying to eliminate you. First off are the infected, which is composed of sprinting zombies and a one-hit kill enemy known as the Clicker. Second are bandits, who are vicious and will try to weed you out by spreading out across levels. Third are the soldiers, who operate like SWAT teams and will not be afraid to bust out in the middle of an open area with a shotgun. While not too original on the concepts here, infected aside, all three of these groups have really sharp AI to them (except when it comes to noticing your partner) and will do whatever they can to hurt you!
So in order to prevent yourself from dying, you’ll need some weapons. Another thing that makes The Last of Us work as not only an action game, but a survival-horror game is how they balance the weapons. Each weapon automatically starts out like a piece of shit, as it probably should be since you’re not a sharpshooter, but throughout the course of the game you’re given upgrades to better them. And no, don’t expect ‘damage’ to be one of the things you can upgrade on your shotgun or rifle. Like I said, it’s the perfect balance for this type of game without making any dumb decisions that hinder your character, and even without the upgrades these weapons can still function decently.
My favorite aspect about this game though, and this is no surprise, non-linear levels! Most of these levels feel open and offer quiet moments in between the tensity. If you decide to explore some houses or maybe that small area behind the mini-store, you’ll wind up be reaping some serious rewards. Or maybe a bum filled to the brim with syphilis, that right there isn’t a reward.

I could keep going on and on about this game, but ultimately to me this is a near perfect game. Yes I know the enemies apparently don’t notice the AI partners in this game, yes I know it’s something that’s been done before last year with The Walking Dead, and lastly yes I know I have a thing for Ellen Page! Leave me alone, you don’t know how much her…uh…performances mean to me!
The Last of Us truly is a magnificent game that perfectly captures the essence of what the Playstation 3 is capable of, but continues to push forward. It brings back old mechanics we missed, while reminding us that we have come a long way since the days of Crash Bandicoot. It’s not some tech demo, it’s not a mindless shooter, it’s a great game that really is innovative. So you can shove that artsy speech I made down your throat, and not even chew on it before you swallow!

Final Word –

Dammit, I knew I was forgetting something. I’ve spent so much time writing this list that I forgot what exactly I was going to say at the end! Maybe if I just whack myself with this hammer…nah, hammers can’t cure memory loss, but drills can! Actually I take that back, I think I remember now.

If 2012 was the year in which games can be proven to have smartly written stories, 2013 was the year that proved how far we’ve come since the launch days of the PS3 and Xbox 360. It’s also the year that’s about to usher in a new age, but I’ll get to that soon, maybe.
With games like The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and Tomb Raider we’ve really seen just how much the last generation evolved. Trust me, it did, if you were to compare footage of Call of Duty 3 to Call of Duty: Ghosts there would be no competition between which one looked better. It’s crazy though, because we already had seen games that looked amazing back when they first launched on previous consoles. However now it seems like they would be perfectly suited on either an Xbox One or a PS4. Unless you own a high-powered PC and haven’t been paying attention regardless, because everything already automatically plays better on there.

I guess the bigger question is, have we reached the apex of visuals in gaming? No, but I’d say we’re getting really damn close. I’d say actually that the games I’ve already played like GTA V and The Last of Us look almost just as good as the current-gen games, which goes to show how these publishers were able to push the limits of the previous generation of consoles. Now imagine what Rockstar and Naughty Dog were able to do for this previous generation, and how much things can drastically change once they really get to work on current-gen? It’s mind-boggling to imagine how games can look even better than what they look like already, but it is indeed possible.

Visual aren’t everything however, in fact while I’ve spent time talking about how the visuals could be improved, there is so much innovation that lies elsewhere. But only if the publishers would get their shit straightened, and would allow developers to move onto something ‘new’. I’m willing to forgive Sony for green-lighting another Killzone and inFamous game, but we’re at the point now where there should be less sequels to previous gen-games and more original content. It’s what harmed a good portion of the last generations software, and it could plague this generation as well.
A good example of how the game industry should flourish creatively is what happened during the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era. Where you had many different and unique games coming out, but for the most part you didn’t see certain genres dwindle into obscurity like you do now. And how you prevent genres like shooters from over-saturating the market is by letting the developers do what they passionately want to do. It’s what will make more people drawn into the medium, and it’s what will keep the market going.

For example, I love Shigeru Miyamoto, I really do. He’s one of my favorites developers of all time, maybe even my most favorite. But you can tell that even his work has suffered due to publishers wanting to go the safe-route, rather than let him work on some vastly innovative and creative project.
Games like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy were all made with the insight of Miyamoto. However games like Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario World 3D World felt like products that were banked on fans nostalgia rather than creative originality. They’re definitely fun games, but it’s not that same original creativity I can easily expect from Miyamoto. Hence why its part of the reason Nintendo has been falling behind, and why his work within the past 5 years summarizes perfectly what’s wrong with the videogame industry today.

Like I said, let the developers do what they want to do. It’s at the point now where you have to take risks, because going the safe route will just hurt franchises like Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, and others even more. Take breaks, look at Crystal Dynamics did with Tomb Raider and what Naughty Dog was able to do with The Last of Us. Trust your developers and, as bluntly as I’m putting this, you’ll earn a shit-ton of cash!
But seriously, now is a great opportunity for a gaming renaissance. Don’t lose it.

***

That’s it for my list! Phew, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Oh wait, is that the ‘Worst of the Year’? No, no, NO!

COMING SOON – WORST OF THE YEAR!

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Dog Olympics, A Call of Duty: Ghosts Review!

Call of DogFamous Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Holy shit, people still play Call of Duty?”

I replied to him, “Yes Plato, also how are you still alive? Aren’t you suppose to be dead?” He gave a stern look at me, and then ran off. It was very weird.

However he does have a point though, it’s impressive that to this day people still play Call of Duty. I don’t know how those voodoo spiritualists at Activision do it, but I guess they must be doing something right. Within 24 hours, this game had made over a billion in sales and continues to make more money than you and my reptilian ancestors (RIP you remnants of the past) will ever make.

So ultimately, what is there to say anymore about this series? It’s annual releases have made it harder to critique each installment since everything has already been said about it, and not to mention after Modern Warfare 3 there ain’t much more room for gimmicky giant explosions here. So where does this series take off from here with Ghosts? I don’t know what you’ll receive from my answer, but boy did this game frustrate the ever-living hell out of me with trying to find one.

I guess if I were to begin this, it would be with Black Ops 2. The reason why I bring up Black Ops 2 is because that was Treyarch attempting to inject creative energy into a series that desperately needed it after Modern Warfare 3. Despite some hiccups along the way, I felt that it indeed succeeded and felt like the series (in terms of  the story campaign) should have stopped there. Ghosts on the other hand was Activision telling Infinity Ward, “Well don’t stop there, this money train ain’t got no time to stop on its tracks!”

Call of Duty: Ghosts is the corpse of Modern Warfare 3. While on one hand it shouldn’t exist and should be put out of its misery, however on the other hand you’re reminded of how much fun beating up a corpse can be. That’s right kids, if you want an authentic Call of Duty: Ghosts experience just dig up your old folks graves and give them a good ol’ knock to the noggin! Then say, “Why do you still put campaigns into your games?!

And their response will be, “Because fuck if I know!

If you thought you’ve seen some pretty unnecessary campaigns, then man are you in for quite a ride with the campaign for Ghosts. The story here, as loosely as I like to call it, is about this secret US special operations force called Ghosts. Essentially Ghosts are like these legendary heroes that go above and beyond the ‘Call of Duty‘ (Ha! I want to kill myself now) and protect humanity from terrorists. The main villains in this game are an organization known as The Federation, which is just a bunch of South American nations who have a fetish for oil. In the game you play as Logan, who is one of the two sons of retired U.S. Army Captain Elias Walker. You’ll basically be following these two sons, and their doggy which is named Riley.
Also something interesting to note, Logan’s brother (Hesh) is played by Brandon Routh of Superman Returns fame. That’s a shame too, considering I couldn’t tell it was him the entire time I was playing the campaign.

The idea behind the Ghosts sounds interesting, and the game seems portray them as this mystical and unique military force that has a specific code they have to follow. You don’t really see that in a lot of modern military shooters, mostly because they just revolve around some operation in the middle east (including hearing the same military jargon, over and over again). The problem with an idea like this is that it’s in a Call of Duty game. Meaning every chance they have to expand upon it or flesh it out, it gets painfully undercut by pointless spectacle. Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some pointless spectacle, but there’s a limit to how much pointless spectacle I can accept. As a matter a fact, I’ll pretty be saying that about a good majority of the campaign.

However there’s more to it than simply ‘I got tired of looking at pretty colors’. The campaign for this game has begun to show its age, and it does not look good. The linear level designs with false pretenses for alternate pathways, the questionable AI, the same high-tension story beats, the same health regenerative system, all of this and more are what’s wrong with this game. Remember when I brought up Black Ops 2 and how that tried to progress things with the campaign? Well this one takes a huge step backward by not integrating those features, and just keeps chugging along with its sameness. This game is a strong argument as to why annual releases are more harmful than good to a series reputation.
Let me also just say that this game has one of the worst add-on endings I’ve ever seen, to a point where it made me legitimately angry. Because the developers honestly think people give enough of a shit about their campaign that they want to see the continuation of these characters into the sequel! That’s right folks, Call of Duty: Ghosts 2 is on the way!

It’s so frustrating that by the time I played multiplayer I…totally forgot about it. In fact the multiplayer still maintains some of the changes from Black Ops 2, and has enough small changes in it that prevents it from feeling as stale as the campaign. Changes involving your loadout, character classes, and the ability to choose gender – which was pretty cool to inject. While these are the weakest maps here in the entire franchise, personally saying, they’re vast and are brimming with tactical opportunity. Like I said these aren’t major changes, but they added enough to still make it entertaining.
I do have one nitpick, and it’s that while I can understand wanting the make the maps bigger, I think some of them are too big. If you’re the type of person who prefers a close-quarters style of combat then I think you’re going to be disappointed here since it’s much more difficult to take out targets. Great for snipers though, judging by the billions of times I’ve been shot by their camping asses.

For the first time, Infinity Ward decided to integrate their own version of ‘zombie mode’ into the game. The mode is titled Extinction mode, and it’s pretty much almost the same thing except with loadouts and level-up perks. It’s hilarious though, the aliens strike a clear resemblance to the Ridley Scott ‘Aliens‘ and I’m fairly sure the designers had to have been aware of this. Hell, they even pop out from pods and dispense acid! Anyway, it’s a decent mode that I’m sure a group of friends can enjoy, nothing much beyond that.
Then you have this new mode called Squads, which allows you to play either solo or with a group of friends by integrating your customizable characters. You can either do this through sqaud vs. squad, Wargame, and a horde type mode called Safeguard.

If you add the crappy campaign, the fun multiplayer, and the ‘just-okay’ Extinction mode then you get an average game. I had intentions of finishing this with an infuriating attitude, but decisively I couldn’t do that if the rest of the game was just alright. I mean I will say it’s the worst in the series, but that’s not saying it’s a terrible game, just a minor…disappointment? Eh, this is why I mentioned that my answer was going to be frustrating, but point is don’t expect a completely bad game when picking this up.

Man, if only my essays about world starvation were as this complex…and involved less robots.

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Uh, A Batman: Arkham Origins Review?

Arkham Origins

Fellow Brutlounge-ians, all two of you, I kind of have a problem here. About a week or two ago I got my copy of Arkham Origins. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it, but hey it was another installment in the Arkham franchise so at least I was going to have a decent time. Problem was the game stopped working after the two-hour point, and thus I was stuck with a loading screen that soon said afterward ‘downloadable content missing’. Even though I didn’t download a damn thing for this game. I didn’t get the Deathstroke DLC, the exclusive map pack DLC, not even the Batmite Whorehouse DLC!

The result of this was that I was left with a broken game and a broken heart. Since Warner Bros. Interactive apparently doesn’t want me to finish this game and review it, I guess it’s up to me to assume what happened after the game crashed. That’s right, I’m going to not only finish this review, but I’m also going to finish the story! This isn’t amateur over here, when I intend to finish something – I intend to fucking finish it!

Alright, Batman: Arkham Origins! Here we goddamn go!

The game starts with a young Bruce Wayne, Batman, fresh off the ninja school! He arrives at Blackgate Prison after receiving word that something sinister was afoot. Once there, ‘The Batman’ finds the culprit behind all this mayhem and terror…Black Mask. Batman tries to catch up to Black Mask, but is suddenly caught off guard by Killer Croc and easily defeats him. After managing to retrieve a robot computer chip thingamajig, Batman now knows Black Mask’s true scheme which is to gather the worlds deadliest assassins and put a bounty on the Bat’s head!

After a comforting break in the bat cave and a nice chat with Alfred, Batman is back on the case and searches for the Penguin! Once he finds the monocled fiend, he then kindly asks him, “Hey man, what’s up with all this assassins stuff? And who the hell is Shiva?” The conversation leads him nowhere, and Batman winds up punching the Penguin into a Slurpee machine where he shall discover the true meaning of the term ‘brain freeze’.

Bruce hears chatter on his communications device, panic was spreading across Gotham city! Through sheer means of luck he tracks down Deathstroke who was buying a hot dog at a very popular hot dog stand. Batman wanted a hot dog too, but he couldn’t because Deathstroke was in the way! So he sneaks up behind him and throws him to the ground. Batman starts yelling, “Where did you get the ketchup and mustard packets?!”

Deathstroke then laughs in an evil manner, and Batman knocks him out. He buys a hotdog at the stand and saves a buck or too by bringing a coupon, “I didn’t even know I had one!” He says with his gruff voice.

Realizing he was just left with a regular hot dog and was freezing out in the snow, because apparently it’s Christmas Eve every goddamn day in Gotham, he tries to find the condiments for his hotdog. He searches at the local Gotham Burger joint just down the street, and asks for ketchup packets. The cashier says to him, “Sorry, but you’re going to have to order something if you want condiment packages.”

Batman replied, “What the hell kind of restaurant makes Batman have to pay to get ketchup packets?! Fine, I’ll order the ‘Damien Wayne Chest-Impaler Burger’ along with some ‘Leg-Snapping Barbara Gordon Fries’.” After a ten minute wait, Batman finally gets his food only to realize that…there was no salt on his fries. He goes back for a refund, only to realize that it was Copperhead who gave him the salt-less fries and was the cashier the entire time! Batman does the first thing any humane person would do in this situation and reaches for the register to get his money back, but oh no he got his hand caught in the cash drawer!

Copperhead says, “I hope you like my permanent-glue trap Batman!”

Batman rips the cash register from the counter and bashes the register into Copperhead. Throwing her into the fryer. Batman then turns around and then sees Firefly dressed as one of the cooks. “Ready to order Batman?” Said Firefly.

“No thanks Firefly, I’m more into ‘not-evil’ cuisine myself.” Firefly lights up his spatula and starts wailing at Batman with it. He misses each time and destroys more of the kitchen, to a point where he sees nothing but smoke. Suddenly a cape wraps around him and he gets tossed into the water fountain. Batman rings the bell near the counter and menacingly says, “Order up.” With a slight chuckle, Batman grabs a handful of ketchup and mustard packets from the kitchen and escapes through the back door.

Out of nowhere a group of masked men kidnap Batman. An hour later he wakes up in the middle of a shady warehouse, strapped to a chair, being interrogated by none other than Bane himself. Bane sits down in a chair and asks Batman, “Dude, did you really have to throw Copperhead into a fryer?”

“Well, she was kind of doing evil things.”

“But dude, the fryer? Why not just use your knockout gas or your bat-taser?”

“I didn’t have knockout gas or did I even invent the bat-taser…not yet anyway.” Batman and Bane kept going back and forth about how inconsiderate Batman’s actions were. Off on the side Batman noticed that his hotdog was about to get eaten by one of the goons, so he rips the rope off and tosses the chair at Bane. He sprints toward the goon and smacks him down, retrieving his tasty hotdog in the process.

Bane yells, “Get him and his hotdog!”

Batman yells back at Bane while eating his hotdog, “This is my hotdog!” Gun shots start pouring across the warehouse, through the crates. and not a peep was heard afterward. That was until Batman took down every henchman including Bane who he was holding by the neck.

“Hey man, It would be a real bummer if you punched me.” Said Bane.

“I’m gonna have to punch you pal.”

“Don’t do it! Don’t you punch me!” Batman punches Bane and knocks him. Crawling across the floor, Batman noticed a breathing henchman and had to do two things: interrogate him for information and then break his legs.

He walks toward the henchman and asks him, “Hey, so where’s Black Mask at?”

The henchman says, “He’s at the Gotham fair! Please don’t hurt me!”

“Oh I won’t hurt you, I’ll make you do something worse.”

“What?” The henchman gets sent back to Wayne manor to do Bruce’s laundry, while Batman heads to the Gotham City Fair.

Batman became fascinated with the fair and all its neat things. Cotton candy, games, and not-dead parents! It was a wonderland, until Batman saw Deadshot near the hunting range game. The host shouted, “Step right up and play our quail hunting game, you’ll love it just as much as I love wearing pinstripe suits!”

Batman was excited to face off against Deadshot, “So are you ready to play or what ‘Bad….-shot’?”

“Wow, did you really just say that?” The slightly offended Deadshot took the first shot, but Batman easily kept hitting quail after qauil. Finally, Batman won the game and Deadshot started to cry all over the ground.

The game host says to Batman, “Congratulations! You win an exclusive passage to Black Masks secret hideout.”

Batman says, “Sweet.” And goes underground to the Black Masks secret hideout. After going through several dark passages, he winds up at the Black Masks lair which is filled with gold bricks and hookers.

“Hello Batman.” Said Black Mask.

“What’s up.” Said Batman.

“I hear you managed to take out all of my assassins. Quite impressive.”

“I thought I was supposed to fight Shiva at some point?”

“No one cares about Shiva! Gawd, why do you make this difficult?”

“Well I’m not the one who hired obscured assassins, speaking of obscurity how’s it feel being the main villain in a game in which you’re actually a threat?”

“Screw you Bats!” Black Masks starts shooting at Batman with his pistol, but easily gets overtaken by him. “Hehe, you think I’m a threat? Wait till you get a load of Deathstroke!”

“Deathstroke is out dude.”

“Well shit! There goes my plans…uh…how was your day?” The game then cuts to credits and no more further questions were asked. None. As for gameplay, nothing has changed and nothing has been improved.

And there you go, that’s my Batman: Arkham Origins review as told by someone who clearly stopped caring once the game stopped caring as well.

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Avengers Reassemble, It’s The Lego Marvel Super Heroes Review!

Lego Marvel Superheroes

You hit that point with all these Lego games that you’re basically just talking about the same game, over and over again. Not that it’s a terrible thing, I mean it should be considering that these games continue to lack a certain amount of innovation nor branch out into anything that different. But hey, as a series made mostly for children? Perfectly acceptable, and even more fun for parents who happen to be huge Marvel fans with this latest installment. Basically whether you’re a fan of the movies, comics, or the Lego property its a game that the entire family can enjoy!

So review over, get the hell out!

Oh I kid of course. There are some interesting elements to cover with this game, more than you would expect. Not a whole lot to make a 10,000 word review, but just enough.

Being that this is a Lego game, the plot’s going to be very silly. Basically the Silver Surfer has been sent by Galactus to find another planet for him to devour. Once Surfer arrives, he gets blown up and kidnapped by Doctor Doom. Nick Fury investigates and finds out that something has gone wrong, and sends out a wide roster of superheroes to fight Doctor Doom and his cohorts. Very simple premise, but injected with a lot of puns, silly banter, and charm.
If it didn’t have that, I would be questioning why would I be playing this and shout disingenuous things at my Lego playset. As I do regularly from time to time.

The gameplay is as you would expect from a Lego game, but for those who are unaware let me explain. When playing a Lego game you will be smashing a lot of shit, encounter tedious or confusingly difficult puzzles, and constantly would fight the other Lego people on your team for no reason. Like what happens when I go out on a Friday night, except a lot less fun and the limbs don’t re-attach.

The major draw for this game though will be the superheroes you get to play as, and there are a lot here. Ranging from the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the construction workers who clean up after the superheroes! While most of them do have similar abilities, their playstyles do actually differ from each other. Like the Hulk and The Thing aren’t just tanks, they both have different styles in terms of one’s a wrecking machine and the other is an aggressive brawler. They even have their signature moves from the movies, which is a neat touch. If you’re worried that these superheroes will just be limited to specific levels, don’t worry because this is also a sandbox game.

Funny thing is if you didn’t have a Wii U and wanted to play Lego City Undercover, just wait several more months and you’ll pretty much get the same experience here with Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Yep, along with roaming around New York city, you can also jack cars and mess around with pedestrians. What I found delightfully surprising was that not only were there more secret levels to play, but most of these levels are narrated by Deadpool. In fact, Deadpool has a room on the helicarrier where you can input cheat codes and do other fun stuff. That’s this games ultimate strength, there’s a lot of stuff to do!
Races, sidequests, revisiting levels to collect more superkits, unlocking characters, the fun never stops! Unless you get pulled over by the Lego police, though it’s actually easy to break out of those plastic cuffs, so it’s probably not that big of a deal.

I can’t really criticize the dialogue or writing in general, because while the puns can get annoying there’s nothing really offensive about it. Aside from the million Schwarma and Clobberin’ Time references, there are some pretty funny gags here. Half of them involve the characters in the background, or pointing out the absurdity with villain lairs. This game also has some of the funniest Stan Lee cameos, and use of him I’ve probably ever seen in a Marvel game.
Overall, it’s charm will most likely get to ya rather than the aggravating puns. And if you’re a kid, you couldn’t tell the damn difference. Don’t argue with me!

If you’re debating about picking this game up for your kid or if you’re a huge Marvel fan and want to check this out, I got two answers for ya. First off, I would suggest waiting until the price drops and then buy it for your kid. Second, try renting the game first and see if it’s worth actually buying. Because while this game is fun, it is indeed made for a very young audience and older siblings/parents who are really into this universe. However if you do buy it, you may be left wanting more, but it won’t be a borefest at least.

You know what? I think I realized what my superpower is, to let people know when to buy Lego videogames! Oh man, here I come world!

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Prequel-Schmequel! How Prequels Have Become The Final Word of This Generation

I’ve begun a hunt, not a literal hunt, but a theoretical hunt. The closest I went out on an actual hunt was when I was playing Duckhunt, it ended badly. Trust me, that cackling dog is in an 8-bit cemetery after I was through with that game.

Anyway, three major titles were released this year that happened to be prequels. The first one being about a man who’s clearly getting too old for this Greek shit, God of War: Ascension. The second being about a sassy side character who was the star of his own game, Gears of War: Judgement. And finally a comic book game that started from the broodiest of brood roots, Batman: Arkham Origins. Three installments, all of them part of huge series that have had quite a following. Along with the fact that the characters for these games have dazzling good chins, that’s quite a feat I would say.

However before I progress, let me bring up something that I think some would ask. Why are these prequels the ‘final word’ on this generation rather than these individual titles for each of the three main consoles? For example, some would say that The Last of Us was Sony’s ‘swan song’ for the PS3. It was definitely an incredible game that captured the spirit of old-school  Playstation titles along with the excitement of what was to come with the PS4. This could also be said for GTA V as well since it was giving one last push with the hardware before the jump to next-gen.

I believe these are fine points, but regardless of the quality and care that’s been put into those titles there was something else even bigger brewing in the industry. A bunch of publishers thought simultaneously, mostly Sony and Microsoft, that they should at least exploit some of their key series just one last time. One last time! It was just a smidgen of a game that took place before the actual games, you know, plus if the campaign’s aren’t lengthy enough lets slap some multiplayer in there! That oughta’ do it!

Unfortunately for them, things didn’t quite workout in their favor. Both games debut with a low 425,000 and 360,000 number of copies sold. Keep in mind, these games were both part of a series that made millions of dollars (with Gears of War 3 selling 3 million its first month, and God of War 3 selling a million within a few days after its release). It’s like that old saying, if your pimp hand ain’t strong then she ain’t gonna rake in that dough. Or maybe it was just something I heard randomly on the streets, damn hot dog carts and their ability for me to overhear unpleasant conversations…during the night…when no one’s around…I don’t even know if that was a hotdog I ate.

So why did Microsoft and Sony not reap the benefits they expected to receive? Well it’s rather simple, because they got greedy and impatient. So basically they acted like…publishers.

It was also too soon if you asked me to release another Gears of War, God of War, and even another Arkham game only for the sole purpose of one thing. We’ve played enough of these franchises in their current stages that it becomes harder to get even more excited for the next installment. Especially when that next installment is coming from a different studio and is not next-gen. That’s what’s killing these software sales, they’re released too early and are in the hands of someone else.

Not that they completely deterred the quality of these games, hell I give props to People Can Fly studios for at least making the necessary changes to make the multiplayer in Judgement entertaining. But it’s sadly only either ‘passable’ or just ‘good’, not ‘great’ or ‘incredibly entertaining’, but just those two categories.

Here’s something I also think that’s important, what were so special about the plotlines for these games that they couldn’t have just been translated to DLC instead? Regardless if whether you’re a fan or not of these games, there weren’t a whole lot of memorable moments in their main story modes. Also I’m gonna go on a slight tangent here, we don’t need to hear more of Kratos back story! I’ve had plenty of games, mostly PSP ports, where they explain everything about this character. Hence why the idea of making a prequel is pointless, and why for the most part these games have added barely any interesting development to their  universes.

Oh sure we learn more about the Kilo Squad and the Furies, but they matter little to the overall structure.

Earlier in the year I’ve said my piece on Gears of War: Judgement and God of War: Ascension, although I can hardly remember them now. Will the same be said for Batman: Arkham Origins? I’d say probably yes since not a whole lot of innovation has been seen and not as much trust is placed on this new studio, Warner Bros. Montreal. It’s also following the same pattern as Ascension by adding multiplayer, which I think could be a huge mistake if they invested too much of their resources into that feature. The game is due this Friday, and I’m going to see how it plays out because I’m fair and understanding like that.

However I cannot lie, I foresee a sad possible fate for this game. Remember kids, only Satan prefers prequels. Think about that, because I said it.

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Our Treasured Ellen Page, A Beyond: Two Souls Review!

Ellen Page

As I live and heavily breathe because I’m slightly overweight, it’s a Brutlounge review! Hell not only that, it’s one of the first posts I’ve constructed since June. I can’t tell what’s worse, the fact that I haven’t made an update since then or that I’m actually returning with a review for a David Cage game. It’s like coming back home only to see a bunch of weeds sprout in the front yard, and then to top it off your wife is making out with some French dude who watches Amelie or some art shit on repeat. I don’t even want to think about that, I’ve had enough cheap metaphors and artsy pretentiousness with this game already.

Let me explain real quick here for those who aren’t aware, I loathe Heavy Rain and I despise David Cage’s philosophy. And that philosophy being, “Why do games have to be…games? Why not turn my scripts for movies into videogames?!” That’s not just the only problem I have with him though. He calls himself the director for these games, but seems to bestow that title like he’s on the set of some motion picture drama. Furthermore, he seems to be approaching most of his games without a sense of love for the medium.

Now that’s out of the way, what do I think about Beyond: Two Souls? Where exactly does this ‘game’ lie in the middle of this vortex of quick-time event software? As it turns the more I think about it, the more complicated my answer becomes. I don’t have any disdain nor did I consistently facepalm throughout this entire game, but it’s weaknesses seem to originate from my own definition of what I think ‘makes’ a videogame. And I don’t think this fits that definition.

If only Ellen Page could solve this mystery. Quick, use your sass and ironic behavior to get me out of this puzzle! Sadly, she never seems to answer.

Just to actually get into the game itself, I will say this: Ellen Page and William Dafoe do a great job in this game. They do as best as they can with a script that dwells too much on excessive character behavior and sappy lines that can make any tree barf. Ellen Page plays Jodie Holmes, a unique individual who has psychic ties to an entity named Aiden. William Dafoe plays as Jodi’s doctor who looks after her and is named Nathan Dawkins. Along with maybe that one dude who played Ethan in Heavy Rain or the rapist in that game who also played a rapist in this game, I think.

Believe it or not, there are several fascinating story moments in this game. Such as Ellen Page doing an undercover military operation in Africa where she’s sent to assassinate an essential figure and befriends an African child who carries around an AK-47. No I shit you not, that actually happens.

This is one of the games blessings, but also probably one of its biggest weaknesses. There are too many ideas thrown in here, and only a couple manage to mesh well with the story’s theme which is Jodi’s struggle with trying to live a satisfying/normal life. It’s Carrie, no wait its Ellen Page: Psi Ops and now it’s Ellen Page: Spirit Detective. It’s full to the brim with unfulfilled potential, and that’s a damn shame considering David Cage could have had a winner here.

However it would be implied that was the only thing that was wrong with this game. Heh ‘game’.

As I mentioned before, the dialogue is clumsily written and showcases one of Cage’s biggest faults which is his incapability to write villains. Every villain or bully in this game is exaggerated beyond belief and barely have any smooth development. At one point Jodi goes to this birthday party and gets randomly bullied by a group of teenagers, there’s no hint or suggestion that these were the type of teenagers that would abuse an innocent young girl. Even more hysterical is that one point during her childhood years she’s playing snowball with a group of children, and out of nowhere gets smothered by a boy with a snowball. Is everyone out to kill Ellen Page, what the hell?!

If at this point you’re asking yourself, “Why are you talking so much about the story? Get to the game itself.” That’s because there is barely a game here!

There are points where this ‘thing’ thinks it’s a game by allowing us to make choices and go through quick-time events. But here’s the problem with that, you don’t get to make that many choices and the quick-time events are even more annoying here than they were with Heavy Rain. What made Heavy Rain at least fascinating with its quick-time events was the absurd scenes that were happening in the background. Although with here since the writing isn’t as terrible or flimsy, it just makes the game more dull to play. Not to mention since you can’t screw up or start over, the need to actually successfully perform a good majority of these prompts don’t become important at all.

The choices element does come back around at the end, which I was satisfied with since it does make sense within the context of the plot. Okay, this is leading to something I want to get into real quick. It’s just something I want to make my point on, leave, and then wrap up this review.

Sound good? Alright…

Games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us have been classified by some as not technically games but more as interactive stories. I don’t have any strong disagreements with that, however here’s why I say that those are games. They keep the player easily invested with the timed dialogue choice system, and adds a more personal touch to the narrative. Along with moments of adventure style mechanics that while aren’t too deep, add some nice variety to these games. Plus these games have a defining art-style that help separate  them from the overly realistic titles.

You see what I did there? I basically explained not only why those games work, but why games like Beyond: Two Souls don’t. It’s a (barely) interactive movie that feels unnecessarily translated into an interactive format where the goal is for ‘you’ to understand Jodi’s pain through David Cage’s point-of-view rather than your own. That’s ultimately his downfall, he puts too much of his ideals and ego into his stories. Oh and his scripts aren’t that well written either, that doesn’t sound as eloquent as what I said before but there you go.

Heed my warning, if you buy this game at full price you will regret that decision. Because since the game isn’t that interactive to begin with, you can catch most of these scenes on Youtube without feeling any regret of immersing yourself in this story. Trust me, it’s quick-time event Armageddon here, and nobody should endure that much boredom and suffering by waving your PS3 controller like a goddamn monkey. Although that monkey could probably write better characters, just have to pay him in bananas and that’s it.

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