Archive for November, 2013

XCOM: Enemy Within

25 Nov


Can’t… blog…. Playing….

That’s how good it is!

This is how DLC is done!

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The Last of Us

18 Nov


Last week I’ve finished “The Last of Us”… and (shocking surprise) it’s amazing!

First impact: the graphics… gorgeous rendering, very nice effects all around, the interplay of light and surfaces is amazing, a great work by Naughty Dog!

Secondly, the story is great… gone are the usual clichés, every single time you thought the story was going cliché, it subtly made a smooth turn that made complete sense (instead of the jarring plot twist that makes no sense whatsoever) and navigated to less-mainstream themes…

The characters are amazing, and Ellie is actually a character that instills a sense of protection, without being the normal overbearing entitled child present in too many games, TV shows and movies…

Joel is a more “common” character, but it’s well written and very believable.

When I started playing, I thought “ok, this is pretty and is well made, but why is everyone so in to it?!”… well, after 3 or 4 hours (the game is surprisingly big for a AAA game nowadays: I clocked in at 17 hours, just for the main campaign), I noticed that I actually cared about the characters… and I’m not a very "”lovey-dovey” guy, I don’t usually don’t get hooked on characters that much…

The only thing that detracts from the game (and it’s not really its fault, maybe it’s the medium’s fault) is the gameplay doesn’t shine as much as everything else… While it plays well, it’s secondary to the amazing story, and besides some key points (very good key points, I admit), it was just getting in the way of me getting my next “story fix”… The gameplay wasn’t simply as interesting as the story, which means that either the story was so good I wanted to focus on that (entirely possible), or the gameplay wasn’t that interesting, which might also be true – the stealth component seemed too random (sometimes the enemies would spot us through crates and walls, sometimes we’d be just next to them and they wouldn’t see us) which made the whole stealth experience a bit trial and error… The shooting was a bit hard and ammo was scarce (which is a good thing, it gives the game that feeling of post-apocalyptical shortage everywhere, and really poked the player to search around for stuff)…

So, sorry Mike Bithell, but “Thomas Was Alone” was just supplanted as my game of the year… it’s still amazing (and the gameplay is probably better), but this one is so nihilist that it speaks into my very soul! Smile

Good job, Naughty Dog, forget about Uncharted and go for this kind of titles all the way… Or do both, I don’t care! Smile

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Devil May Cry

11 Nov

2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1

Devil May Cry is a household name in games… It’s known for its over-the-top style, explosions, extensive combo system, and horror-based storyline. And the newest installment (DMC) does not break a winning formula!

The good part of this new game is that the basic formula is untouched: action oriented shooting, fast passed combat, very deep combo system… Just general fun to be had in the gameplay part.

The problem starts when the game starts: action in the beginning is scarce, being interrupted with exposure cutscenes that do little to add to the game (to the contrary, they detract from it, for reasons that I’ll explore later). And even when the cutscenes stop, the game drops into a “weak-enemy, weak-enemy, weak-enemy, strong-enemy” pattern that after a bit gets old.

The closest match on this approach would be God of War, but even that one made up for it with huge boss fights and more interesting deaths/enemy patterns.

Anyway, that’s not my main gripe with DMC… The characters are.

Dante was never a good character, very flat, almost unlikeable, and surrounded by a world so over-the-top that identification with the character was almost impossible… On this installment, the problem got a bit worse: the character is REALLY annoying… He seems like a stereotypical representation of a brooding, angsty teenager written by someone who did all his research from sitcoms on TV… The character is not believable from the start, and its growth happens in a way that makes you believe it even less!

Add this to the fact that the game doesn’t break cannon that much (even if it is a reboot), so there’s no surprises about Dante’s past that me as a player want to explore.!

All that’s left is four characters that are as archetypes as they can be, with terrible writing that seems straight out of a nerd kid’s diary, a power-fantasy in which he rebels against his bullies (personified by the demons in the game)…

Don’t get me wrong, the game is fun, and it has excellent moments (some plays with camera field of view, and environmental morphs are really good!), but the writing is so terrible at times, it makes me want to cringe in pain!

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