SONIC GENERATIONS (2011) – SONIC TEAM
It was the best of Sonic, it was the…BLURST OF SONIC?!?
The Sonic series has always struck me as a curious oddity – I started playing games a bit too late to experience of the glory days of Sega’s famous mascot in the early 90s on the Mega Drive/Genesis, and growing up with a PlayStation meant that I had a litany of other characters to worship instead. Then as time has progressed, Sonic has always been in the background more as a running joke (no pun intended) than a character to take seriously – the likes of Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 and the most recent games, Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric & Shattered Crystal, while extreme are also prime examples of a once proud franchise falling on particularly hard times. However, even my unfamiliarity and large indifference with the series didn’t stop me snapping up a bunch of Sonic titles on the cheap during a Humble Bundle sale last year, one of which was Sonic Generations.
The 2011 entry, which combines the gameplay styles of both ‘classic’ and ‘modern’ Sonic into one package, proved to be a handy entry point into everything I’ve missed over the years – both for better and for worse. Continue reading
DARKSIDERS (2010) – VIGIL GAMES
The character design for War is pretty much spot on – imposing and frightful
As far as Doomsday theories go, the arrival of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is one of the cooler ideas – a meteorite crashing into the earth would be boring, and a giant flood would be kind of predictable. The image of four deities riding across the sky dragging Armageddon in their wake (or if you’ve read Terry Pratchet’s Sourcery, seeing them stop off at a county pub on the way and having their horses nicked while they get drunk) simply sounds that much more impressive. It surprises me then that it took so long for a developer to have the inspired idea to put the player into the shoes of one of the Horsemen. Enter Darksiders, one of the brighter lights to shine during the long drawn out demise of THQ. Continue reading
FAR CRY 3: BLOOD DRAGON (2013) – UBISOFT MONTREAL
I wasn’t even alive at the time (child of the 90s), but I know full well that the 1980s were terrible. In the United Kingdom, the miners brawled with the police as Thatcher’s Britain took form, the stocks fell and the yuppies arrived. Everyone wore hideous clothing, sported big hairstyles and awkwardly shuffled around to Blue Monday, and all the while humanity cowered at the ongoing prospect of nuclear Armageddon as the Cold War escalated for the final time.
Fortunately, no one cares to remember the real version of the 80s and instead reminisce about the TRUE 80s – a time when synthesizers were king and new fangled computers called ‘Nintendo Entertainment System’ & ‘Commodore 64’ stole away many a childhood afternoon. A time when people draped themselves in hot pink and danced madly to the latest pop sensations. And a time when an average conversation was made up entirely of quotes from Miami Vice and an endless number of action and sci-fi films such as Die Hard, The Terminator, Aliens and Predator. Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit and basing my knowledge of the forgotten decade entirely upon Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but my point is that people now see the 80s, particularly those latter films, as a cool thing to emulate.
Enter Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – while the game may share its name with the excellent open world title from 2012, that is where the similarities end. Continue reading
STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC (2003) – BIOWARE
Darth Malak never looks anything less than menacing…
Given the immense popularity of the Star Wars franchise, it is perhaps inevitable that over the years there have been many games looking to cash in on the stories of a galaxy far, far away. Trouble is though, the balance of hits and misses when it comes to Star Wars games veers worryingly towards the latter. After very strong origins with the Star Wars arcade game replicating the Trench Run from A New Hope, the quality of tie-in games has generally plummeted, perhaps reaching the bottom of the barrel when Vader and Palpatine had a dance off to Deadmau5 in Star Wars Kinect. When the hits do arrive however they tend to be excellent, and for many fans three games stand apart from the rest; the Lego Star Wars series, Battlefront, and the subject of this review – Knights Of The Old Republic (KOTOR). Continue reading
BRAID (2008) – NUMBER NONE INC.
There are no menus in Braid…from this evocative splash screen to the end, it’s you on your own
Originally released in relative obscurity on Xbox Live and later ported to PC, Braid is regularly credited as one of the trailblazers for the independent gaming revolution that has typified the 7th generation of consoles. The game was an unexpected success story, quickly becoming one of the highest rated games on the Xbox Live Arcade service; five years later on, it retains much of the magic that made it a hit. Continue reading
POKER NIGHT AT THE INVENTORY (2010) – TELLTALE GAMES
The Inventory was founded to house card games when prohibition came into force…allegedly
On first impression the game of Poker is an activity that is ill suited for the format of videogames – after all, the best part of Poker is the interaction with other players; bluffing, playing mindgames, wearing sunglasses indoors and acting visibly smug when you win a hand. Playing against generic computer controlled characters feels very cold in comparison; single player card games like the evergreen Solitaire can get away with it, but without other humans to pit your wits against, quite frankly Poker isn’t much fun.
Poker Night At The Inventory is TellTale Games’ attempt to remedy the problem somewhat. Continue reading
AUDIOSURF (2008) – DYLAN FITTERER
The highway goes on and on…until the song ends at least
If you’ve ever found yourself staring at the visualisation on Windows Media Player while a song is playing in the background and thought to yourself ‘this would make a really cool game’, then AudioSurf is right up your street. This beautifully simple title, available via Steam, subverts the usual routine of rhythm games by not offering you a soundtrack to play along with – instead, you supply the music. Continue reading
THE WALKING DEAD (2012) – TELLTALE GAMES
No internet for downloads? Not a problem – Telltale released a retail version with all five episodes on one disc
Point-and-click adventures have never really been my forte in gaming. Aside from a short demo of Broken Sword 2, I can’t say that I have come across too many of them over the years; which I think says a far bit about the tough times the genre has had since its heyday in the early 1990s. It seems now though that the genre is having something of a renaissance through the efforts of Telltale Games, and in particular their game which picked up several Game Of The Year accolades in 2012 – The Walking Dead. Continue reading
ALAN WAKE (2010) – REMEDY SOFTWARE
When an episodic game feels like it could be good TV, you are generally onto a winner
The announcement of Quantum Break, the latest project from Max Payne creators Remedy, was intriguing for the reaction it created – a day later, creative director Sam Lake appeared in a video and apologised that the team was not working on a sequel to its last game, Alan Wake (which received critical acclaim but did not sell enough on the Xbox 360 to encourage a sequel). The side effect of this was that Alan Wake was offered as part of a weekly Humble Bundle; it was through these means that I recently played through the game for myself to see what I missed out on three years ago. Continue reading
METRO 2033 (2010) – 4A GAMES
In their final days before bankruptcy, THQ were giving away free codes for this game
First person shooters are ten to a penny these days, so in order to standout each one has to have its own little quirks: Battlefield has destructible environments, Halo has space combat and Call Of Duty has dogs – you get the picture. Metro 2033 took a different approach and crafted an FPS around a book, written by Dmitry Glukhovsky in 2005. The result is a shooter with more atmosphere and a deeper involvement in plot than most other titles on the market, albeit one crippled by its gameplay mechanics. Continue reading