The State of Gaming/What I’m Playing Right Now

As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, gaming is dead. Gaming remains dead. And we have killed it.

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Image Credit to Youtuber UMadBroYolo

Here’s the sorry state of the industry and why you virtually never see me reviewing games anymore: everything, literally everything, is some shitty rehash or sequel of a genre that’s already been explored to the brim. This year’s E3 only confirmed that.

Gears of War 4? Who gives a fuck. Forza Horizon 3? We’ve already had 2 of those. Battlefield 1? Ooh, another military first person shooter, such innovation. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare? Basically Halo for Halo‘s gap year. God of War 4? Literally Ryse with a Kratos skin and tacked on Brothers kid dynamic. Spider-Man PS4? It’s going to be a Beenox-grade movie tie-in developed by Insomniac. Watch Dogs 2? Looks like an expansion pass for the insurmountably disappointing bundle of corporate deception that was Watch Dogs 1. Mass Effect Andromeda? You know a whole bunch of corporate bullshit by EA is going to sully what was already destined to be a run of the mill sci-fi RPG trilogy’s sequel.

Noticing a trend here? Virtually everything is a sequel of something that didn’t need one in the first place. The racing, shooting and generic hack ‘n slash genres are so fucking oversaturated yet triple A game publishers just don’t care, as the sheeple who buy this shit are funding their own medium’s stagnation (cue the quote from the beginning of this post). I’ve had every experience they showed at this year’s E3 a million times over already in games released throughout the past decade, and as such, I’m more or less done with fresh off the press gaming. I’ll fill my time with movies and music and mediums where at least an INKLING of creativity is injected into most new releases.

What I’ll be reviewing in the way of somewhat new/relevant 2016 games:
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Not very hopeful for it, but I remember having a silky smooth time with the first one so why not give the only unlikely sequel being released this year a chance.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. To be honest, the more they show of it the less I’m excited. It looks like they’re trying to incorporate the verticality of Dishonored‘s maps minus the actual maneuverability moves that made upward traversal so fun in the aforementioned game. This is problematic. The Illuminati-busting story should be fun, though.
-Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th anniversary game. If it comes to PC, you bet your sweet nickers I’ll be hopping on for some break-neck speed platforming goodness.
Dishonored 2. Again, feeling kind of apathetic about this one as it does seem to display some of the annoying sequel trends mentioned above. BUT. But. It’s got purple death vine monster powers. So yeah, definitely considering it.
-Potentially Quantum Break and Killer Instinct (PC versions).

But that’s it, frankly. I know how every other tired game listed in that fat sequel-rant paragraph will play out, exactly how each will feel and since I can imagine it all, why pay money to verify my gaming clairvoyance. These industry giants have robbed the word “innovation” of its meaning with how many times they spew it in blatant press release lies.

To wrap up the post: taking time off from the stagnant hell that is 2016 gaming, I ventured back into a game that I previously couldn’t stand. That game was Darksiders 2. This time around, I played it in its entirety and wow do I love it now. Seriously, after experiencing all three DLC missions (Deathinitive edition), finishing the Crucible and beating Wicked K, I’ve gained a lot more respect for this game than I had in my initial review. Not to mention the soundtrack is fantastic. In short, go experience some oldies but goodies for cheap if you too cannot stand the slew of current sequels devoid of artistic merit or creativity.

Gamerrob’s Top 5 Games of 2014

While it’s been a pretty bad year for games overall, a few quality titles did manage to slip through the cracks. So, let’s see what five games I found to be the most enjoyable from the lacking selection pool of this year’s releases.

Honorable Mention – Valiant Hearts: The Great War – PC

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For all the shit Ubisoft pulled this year, the release of Valiant Hearts was a breath of fresh air. It’s using the same gorgeous engine that the recent Rayman games used, which means it also has an amazing art style. While it’s weak by gameplay standards, it has a good story with a good message.

5.) Murdered: Soul Suspect – PC

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If you wanna talk about underrated and unappreciated games, look no further than Murdered: Soul Suspect. The game sold so poorly that Airtight Games went out of business after developing it, for crying out loud. Not to mention that critically it did poorly thanks to mainstream media shitting on anything that’s different. In short, it is an awesome point and click murder mystery game with a good plot, fun enough gameplay, wonderful graphics and a chilling atmosphere.

4.) Ryse: Son of Rome – PC (it’s a 2014 release for PC so it counts)

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I can understand why some wouldn’t like Ryse, considering almost the entire game consists of the same under-baked combat from start to finish. But what I think some are overlooking is the fact that the core combat is fun, and that doesn’t change no matter how much you play it. Couple that with a VERY cool campaign with lots of awesome set-pieces (think God of War but mildly more realistic) and an extremely addicting cooperative arena mode, and Ryse is a game that allows for some of the best mindless fun of 2014. Not to mention you can wear the Crysis nanosuit in multiplayer.

3.) Bayonetta 2 – Wii U

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While Ryse was more of a guilty pleasure of hack ‘n slashes, Bayonetta 2 is the supreme leader of the genre. Featuring one of the most intricate combat systems in modern gaming, a wealth of content and an over-the-top universe to be absorbed in, Bayonetta 2 is the absolute pinnacle of button mashers. Whether you want quirky Japanese story telling, precision combat or a masterful mix of both, this is the sequel for you.

2.) Titanfall – PC

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Titanfall was 2014’s comet of gaming: it shined so bright for so brief a time span. A mere two months after it launched the community was on life support, but for those two months it was the absolute acme of online first-person-shooter fun. The movement felt fantastic, the guns were satisfying and the titans were glorious fun. While it might be too late to enjoy this game for yourself considering how hard it will be to find a match, just know that it was definitely worthy of all the hype it generated.

1.) Alien: Isolation – PC

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If there is one game that oozes quality, hard work and love this year, it’s Alien: Isolation. Every single minute of the game is packed with tension, agony and everything that made the original movie so engrossing. Every mechanic within the game is fully explored and gives the player a wide range of options to use against a downright genius AI, and the atmosphere is second to none coupled with the best graphics and best sound design of 2014. Alien: Isolation is a technical masterpiece and a trophy as to what can be accomplished when you give the right team the right source material.

Alien: Isolation First Impressions

Having only experienced two hours of Alien: Isolation with no plans to rush through it, I feel that now is the opportune time to give my early opinions on it while they’re still relevant.
alien-isolation-screenshots-7-alien-isolation-tips-to-help-you-survive-the-xenomorphAlien: Isolation does something that no other horror game does, making you feel both safe and completely exposed simultaneously. The feeling of safety comes from the rock solid controls and overall mechanics of the game, making you feel secure in your movements and actions. On the other hand, the nerve-wracking exposed-feeling is almost always around because there’s a Xenomorph on your trail for a good chunk of the game. But you’ve heard this all in the pre-release press blurbs and advertising stuff, so I’m here to say a few things that haven’t already been hammered to death via gaming website propaganda.

One moment early on in the game (forty minutes in or so), you’re traveling with a companion, who, during a cut-scene, gets impaled by the Alien’s tail. This is pretty standard fair, as in horror games almost always the protagonist’s companion gets killed at some point. So, after that boring intro-to-the-alien cut-scene, you are then tasked with running to a shuttle transport. Obviously, now that you know the Alien is lurking around things are more tense, especially with the added dramatic piano tremors. But what made me nearly piss myself is the fact that if, when the train pulls into the station, you wait more than five seconds to move to the next area, the Alien will come charging towards you (and you have nowhere to run at that point so…). That is an optional scare, the scariest kind of all. Most will go through the game and never experience that, being all the happier for it. The fact that during the cliche hunter introduction sequence you actually run the risk of being hunted against all video game norms makes Alien: Isolation a bundle of surprises. alien_isolation_6-100371845-origEven standard encounters with the Alien are near-piss inducing, as when you see him carving up humans on the other side of the room and you realize the only way to advance is by going over there and accessing an elevator out in the open, it’s one of the most heart-thump inducing experiences in gaming. Overall, if I wrack up the courage to play more than the two-plus hours of Alien: Isolation that I soldiered through, I have no doubt that the game will give me more memorable moments to shit myself over. And in that respect, I can already name it the best horror game I’ve ever played. No cliches, no safe assumptions, just one intimidating AI Alien with no rules.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ISN’T Fun?

When I first played Skyrim on the Xbox 360, it completely blew my mind and shattered all the barriers I had previously associated with gaming. Hundreds of hours of unique content? An end-game that never ended? Limitless opportunities to become the ultimate mage-warrior-assassin killing machine? Skyrim seemed pretty sweet during that initial one hundred hour playthrough. Skyrim-Dragon1

Fast-forward a little over two years later, I decide to pick it up on PC in the form of the Legendary Edition, so I’d have access to the Dragonborn DLC I’d never had the opportunity to play. Well, being a busier person than I was then, I realized that another one hundred hour playthrough just wasn’t happening. So, I decided to do a little modding (PC master race benefits apply) and got myself back to where I was two years ago on the Xbox inside of around thirty minutes on the PC. I was already up and running around as a vampire lord, one of the things on my to-do-in-Skyrim list that I never accomplished on the Xbox, but once I had my shits and giggles force-choking people, I started to wonder: Is there anything inherently FUN about Skyrim?

When I had to work my way up the absurdly long food chain to becoming a master mage with one thousand plus magicka back on the Xbox, the thrill was in seeing those stats rise, slowly but steadily. Having the ability to turn yourself into God instantaneously on the PC, well, it reveals an upsetting fact about Skyrim: the core gameplay isn’t fun. Since I’m not really an RPG guy most of the time, some of you might already understand that the fun is in the stat increases and not in the gameplay itself, but that pains me. I had such fond memories of Skyrim, and within thirty minutes with the PC version all of that love and nostalgia is gone, replaced by a sense of boredom at my omnipotent modding powers. 

I’d go so far as to say modding might very well be the thing that ruined Skyrim on the PC for me. If it weren’t for the ability to overpower myself in the time it takes to make a good sandwich, I probably would be stuck on Skyrim like a fly caught in molasses. Alas, it seems that with great power comes minimal attention spans.

Review of Watch_Dogs for PC

The next few paragraphs you are about to read can be summed up in one word: disappointment.

At least the promo material for the game was cool.

At least the promo material for the game was cool.

Ubisoft fooled everyone in 2012, hinting that they might actually make a unique game worth loving. Then, as time went on, we began to see that it was just a cyberpunk copy-and-paste open world Ubi game in the vein of Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. At that point, we still had hope that at least it would have the pretty E3 graphics to assuage our preemptive disappointment. Ubisoft then decided, three weeks before release, that it would be a good time to delay the game six months and in that time downgrade the PC version’s graphics (and possibly the consoles’ to achieve a reasonable frame rate) and maximize sales potential as the GTA V hype died down.

And after all this fuss, the game ended up being bland, uninspired and technologically unimpressive.

While the game is inoffensive in terms of entertainment, it’s not even close to what it was presented as. What might have passed itself off as innovative, revolutionary game play from an E3 demo stage boils down to a never-ending quick-time-event when played from your couch, and it’s just not all that entertaining.

Watch_Dogs excludes a lot of popular open world features such as airplanes (GTA) and the ability to shoot from cars (Sleeping Dogs, where you could also suicide leap at cars which was REALLY cool) in favor of reliance on the player’s smartphone. While the “tap X to make big boom happen” gimmick works early on in terms of entertainment, it eventually dissolves into just another boring way to get Aiden Pearce from point A to point B. Even the more visually striking powers in the player’s arsenal, such as the blackout ability, doesn’t really feel all that special due to the game’s shoddy graphics.

The characters in the story all get a decent amount of screen time, but only the protagonist gets any actual character development. He goes from lost middle-age thug to vindictive douche bag. That is the one real character arc you get. Not to mention, he shows sympathy for the weirdest and most unworthy characters. In short, he’s a mentally ill protagonist who goes from unlikable placeholder to an actual character who is still extremely unlikable. And everyone else gets to remain in the realm of “we got as much character development as anyone in the recent Transformers movie” category.

The online aspect of Watch_Dogs is the only portion of the game that I can say rises slightly above abysmally average. It’s got neat concepts, and the ability to hack other players and objects in real time to disrupt other players’ operations is actually pretty cool. Sadly, the community for any of this died within the first week, so have fun with the unexceptional single player.

In short, if you aren’t into open world games that much, I recommend actually SKIPPING Watch_Dogs just so Ubisoft can’t use your player data to add to their bullshit statistics. If you really love sandboxes, get the game used or however you can without directly supporting Ubisoft. Between misleading advertising, deliberate downgrading of their product (at least on PC), season passes before launch and a sub-par game in general, this publisher has committed just about every crime you can in this industry. Fuck you, Ubisoft.

Gamerrob’s Top 5 Sonic the Hedgehog Games

Having bothered to get a Wii U just to play Sonic Lost World and the reversely compatible Sonic and the Black Knight, I am no stranger to the franchise, and could even be considered a fan of the speedy hedgehog. So, since I’m sick of reviewing sub-par movies and “hardcore” games (Watch_Dogs review incoming), this will be a fun one-off entry where I can discuss my feelings on what I believe to be Sonic’s top 5 gaming adventures.

5.) Sonic Lost World (Wii U)maxresdefault

Sure, it wasn’t traditional speedy Sonic fair, but it was a mechanically sound game that got a lot of shit for no reason. The controls were tight, the levels had solid difficulty curves, and most of the complaints stemmed from people not willing to learn the basic mechanics. It’s underrated and under-loved, and deserves some attention here.

4.) Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii)Secret_Rings_Promo

Maybe not the most secure control scheme given the Wii Remote’s initial flaky nature, but the environments were among the best in the entire series, the sheer quantity of content astounding and the sundry assortment of modes and unlockables was second to none. This game could keep you playing for months if you adjusted to the control scheme. Not to mention the speed felt much more gratifying than any other modern Sonic game.

3.) Sonic 3 and Knuckles (Genesis, bitches!)S3k_title

Three playable characters, all with the same basic ingredients but with mildly different flavors. Not to mention SEGA’s feat in successfully handling the seemingly quixotic ambition of pairing two separate games into one via cartridge-lock. The levels were top notch, the special stages had the perfect difficulty, and the multi-tiered final boss felt satisfying beyond compare.

2.) Sonic Rush (Nintendo DS)Sonic_Rush_Coverart

Some handheld gems never get proper notice, Rush being one of them. Introducing the boost mechanic and emulating Sonic 3 and Knuckles in the best of ways (a slightly different alternate character and amaaaaazing end-game content) made this the proper continuation and evolution of 2D Sonic that the fans had been clamoring for.

1.) Sonic Unleashed (Xbox 360)Wallpaper_sonic_unleashed_01_1920x1200

This felt like Sonic Team’s last hurrah, when they didn’t know whether they’d get the funds to make another title in the series. It featured the best production values, absolutely gorgeous locales and above all else, the revolutionary 3D boost gameplay that changed how gamers thought about Sonic the Hedgehog as a character. This game redefined speed as a whole. While it certainly has more faults than any of the other titles on this list, its successes are so astounding that it deserves the top spot by far.

Review of Thief for PC

Time to steal five minutes of your time ('cuz it's Thief). Eh? Eh?

Time to steal five minutes of your time (‘cuz it’s Thief). Eh? Eh?

Formal reviewing format out the window, I’d rather just address what critics have complained about and whether or not it’s justified:

1.) Critics say it’s a linear obstacle course rather than a proper multifaceted stealth game.

This is true. There are usually only one to two paths at your disposal for any given mission, and odds are that you’ll only have the equipment to use one of them, most of the time. The fun of dodging guards and their patrol routes is present, and the sensation of ducking past an entire area completely unseen is a rush, but ultimately it is little more than an obstacle course. A very stealth-oriented obstacle course.

2.) The frame rate and graphics are bollocks.

Some people actually believe this. It’s completely false. If you play on the PC version and have the necessary setup, you can have a stellar frame rate and have every visual setting maxed out, no problem. I do hear that the PS4 and Xbox One versions have crappy frame rates though, so choose your system wisely.

3.) The boss fights are utter garbage.

This is semi-true. I mean, they shouldn’t exist in the first place for Thief, but considering they’re nowhere near as bad as everyone says they are, the fights aren’t a deal-breaker. The penultimate fight is a hassle but far from horrible if you come prepared with super sharp arrows, and the final fight is piss easy if you have some health-food stuffs with you.

4.) Thief just isn’t fun whatsoever.

Almost every review of this game that was negative said it’s because the game is just piss poor. I’d like to respectfully disagree. The game is divvied up into eight chapters, and while I can only say I had fun with the latter half, it was enough fun to justify a purchase. The first four chapters are so absurdly linear and anti-intuitive gamer that I could barely plow through them, but chapters five through eight made up for this (by and large).

Pros:
-Cool “swoop” mechanic, makes you feel like a real thief speeding through the shadows
-Nice mechanics/tools, allows for limited improvisation
-Very grounded approach to a stealth game
-Gloomy atmosphere (once you play the game you’ll see the pun I just made)
-Decent boss fights
-Visuals and framerate (tech specs) are downright gorgeous on PC
-Combat is horrible

Cons:
-Half the game is rubbish
-Not a lot of creative level design present, few optional paths
-Boring characters
-Garrett’s corset
-Combat is horrible

I got this game back when it launched and had yet to finish it until today, to give you an idea of how compelling Thief is. If you can nab it for thirty dollars or less, power to you. Get it if you absolutely love the stealth genre.