Upon its release in 2005, Psychonauts was given great praise and several accolades from the gaming press – the most notable of these awards however were the ones deeming Psychonauts to be the ‘Best Game That No-One Played’. By the end of the year, less than 100,000 copies had been sold, and the publisher Majesco quietly withdraw from the market. Thus, the game earned a cult following and stayed quietly in the background…until it was included in the fifth Humble Indie Bundle and consequently sold more copies in a few hours digitally than it had done at retail. And it is through these means that I have recently been able to play what I consider to be one of the most well rounded platformers I have come across. Continue reading You’d Be Brainless To Miss It – Psychonauts Review→
SUPERBROTHERS: SWORD & SWORCERY EP EDITION (2011) – CAPYBARA GAMES
What a strange little game Superbrothers is. When I acquired the fifth Humble Indie Bundle earlier this year, I will admit that Sword & Sworcery (hereafter referred to as S & S) wasn’t especially high on my list of things to play – a port of a game originally released on iOS devices didn’t exactly seem the most enticing prospect compared to the likes of LIMBO and Bastion. However, I recently gave the game a go, and found its surreal charm to be quite amusing and intuitive. Continue reading Dance In The Moonlight With a Grizzly Boor – Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Review→
If you are searching for a Tolkien-esque narrative in a game, then LIMBO is not the title for you. Similarly, if you have a fondness for relentless action, then you would probably not give it a second glance. You see, LIMBO is about 1% story, 2% controls, 7% puzzles and 90% overwhelming style. If ever an argument was to be put forward for a game being a piece of art, then this would surely be at the forefront. Continue reading A Game Worthy Of The Tate Gallery – LIMBO Review→
World Of Warcraft, or WOW for short, was not the first MMORPG. Many would argue that it’s not the best either. I haven’t played it personally, but even I can see that even now eight years since its initial release, it is still the MMO by which all other MMO’s have to be judged. Entire subcultures have been created around the WOW universe, and it has permeated into popular culture more times than I can remember. Despite a few fluctuations every now and again, the playerbase has consistently stayed near the 10 million mark for years now, an astonishing number for a subscription based gaming service. Few games have ever managed to achieve that sort of popularity or longengivity. Even with threats from the likes of the recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic, World Of Warcraft continues to draw in new players.
16 – HALF LIFE 2 (2004) – VALVE
Did you know that Half Life 2 was the first game released online that required product activation? Oh, you did? Bugger…well how about the fact that it won 39 ‘Game Of The Year’ awards? Oh…you knew that as well? It’s hard to find anything new to say about Half Life 2 that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before; but I’ll have a go.
The key to the success of this game is the Source engine, a new game engine which allowed Valve to produce a game with physics and artificial intelligence that was light years ahead of anything else. The core dynamics from the original Half Life, including the complete lack of cutscenes (everything happens in real time through the eyes of silent protagonist Gordon Freeman) were enhanced with fantastic puzzles using the shape, weight and buoyancy of certain objects, as well as adding new vehicle segements. Half Life 2 also gave the world quite possibly the greatest weapon ever in the form of the Gravity Gun, which could be used to pick up and manipulate objects – suddenly, you could kill enemies by cutting them in half with a saw blade or launching a toilet at them. On top of this, graphics, gunplay, story and setting were all pitch perfect.
It wasn’t just that it was a great game – Half Life 2, with the power of the Source engine behind it led the way for the opening of the Steam distribution service which has drastically altered the way that people purchase games online, and also led to the creation of several other great titles such as Counter Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead and Portal. In my mind, it remains the most influential first person shooter of all time.
The idea of playing God has always been an alluring concept – the power to essentially do what you want, when you want also happens to translate to a very popular gaming concept. Before the turn of the millennium there were quite a few games (all of them noticeably using the superior logic and processing abilities of the PC) that had cashed in on the stratagem, including the likes of Populous: The Beginning (1998), Sid Meier’s Civilization (1991), and Sim City (1989). The designer of the latter game, Will Wright, created The Sims in 2000; a game with no perceivable end point and no objectives to complete. Instead, The Sims gives you complete dominion over a small neighbourhood and the individuals that live there. You can make them eat, sleep, get a job, pay taxes, get married, or even let them die. Alongside this, you can fashion the houses they live in, and shape the relationships with other Sims. It’s a virtual dollhouse that you can alter at will.
The Sims captured the imagination of the public in a way that few other games had done so before, and achieved the status that all games pray for – it became a mainstream phenomenon. Two years after its release it became the best selling PC game to date, and after seven different expansions it would shift over 16 million copies – noticeably, it was estimated that near to 60% of the audience for the game was female, making it one of the first games since Pac-Man to get the attention of the female market in a industry dominated by male orientated games. The Sims changed the playing field by demonstrating that you didn’t need flashy graphics or an Oscar winning plot to succeed; sometimes simply tapping into subconscious ideas can do the trick just as well.
14 – GTA III (2001) – ROCKSTAR NORTH
Seeing GTA III running on a PS2 for the first time was nothing short of a revolution. The GTA series, which had formerly featured cartoonish violence from an overhead 2D perspective, made the jump to 3D and pretty much single handedly created the sandbox genre. Whereas games before held your hand and pushed you in very obvious directions, Rockstar gave players the city of Liberty City to explore at their own will, and the tools to cause utter mayhem in the process.
It wasn’t just the freedom that impressed; it was the way that Liberty City felt like a fully functioning world inside of your television. Travel from one side of the city, and people will be living out their normal lives, driving to work and chatting on street corners. Commit a crime and the local authorities will be hot on your tail. Hop inside a car and you can tune the radio to listen to real life tunes. And when you got bored of the world, you could engage in the mission based structure of the game that let you go about completing things the way you wanted. GTA III spawned many clones, but none managed to perfect the formula until Rockstar released outstanding sequels in the form of ViceCity (2002), San Andreas (2004)and GTA IV (2008). Every sandbox game since the start of the millennium owes its dues to GTA III for taking the great leap in the first place and getting so much right at the first attempt.
Welcome everyone, to the first of what I hope will become an annual event on this blog – my review of the gaming industry in the year that was 2011. On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to have consistently updated this blog throughout the year, and thank you to everyone who has supported it via constructive criticism, or even things as simple as comments and views – I hope to continue in a positive form next year. But alas, the world is bigger than myself, and that is what the focus is in this article.
It wouldn’t be a massive exaggeration to claim that this has been the biggest year for games in ages, certainly since the release of the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The overall calibre of games has been on a notable rise this year, with a handful becoming instant classics, and the industry as a whole has advanced even further to consolidate its place as a genuine rival to the other great entertainment mediums such as film. That is not to say the year has been devoid of mistakes and mess-ups; amongst the success stories, there are a quite a few cock-ups that are well worth mentioning. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2011→
SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION IV (2005) – FIRAXIS GAMES
As a general rule of thumb, I tend to avoid strategy games. I have never really been one for wanting to plan an attack in a game world situation – I play games to escape the planning of real life, and would much rather jump off some platforms and swing a sword around in my virtual world. All this considered, it makes my opinion on Sid Meier’s Civilization IV all the more surprising. I picked it up two years ago from a bargain bin in my local Morrison’s for just £6, and it may well be the best deal I have ever found, because there is so much game tucked away in Civilization IV’s disc that it beggars belief at times.
The Civilization series has long been seen as one of the kings of the strategy genre, alongside other heavyweights such as Age Of Empires. I like to think that a good deal of the appeal derives from the games relatively simple concept – starting in the year 4000 BC, you choose one out of a variety of historical leaders (ranging from the likes of Montezuma to Gandhi and from Julius Caesar to Queen Victoria) and have up until 2050 AD to rewrite history and become the greatest civilization the world has ever seen. Standing in the way of your noble quest are such challenges as politics, keeping your population healthy, raising education, and of course defending your empire from the other leaders on the map trying to create their great societies. Continue reading “History As You Know It, Is History” – Sid Meier’s Civilization IV Review→
Once upon a time, there was a time that the Internet didn’t exist. Crazy, I know, but its true. Since the World Wide Web really picked up its stride in the late 1980’s, it has revolutionised pretty much every part of human life, from the way we communicate and get our information, right down to the small things…like writing gaming blogs. Games have of course also been dragged through time by the Internet, and while console gaming still absolutely dominates the market, that is not to say that there haven’t been a few gems available for free via your humble internet browser. I am personally very grateful to them, because it made IT lessons at school much more interesting. To try and cover the millions of games available would be impossible – instead, I simply aim to highlight what I think to be some of the greatest games that you can play on the internet right now. Continue reading The Best Internet Browser Games In The World→
If I had to sum up my experience of The Last Remnant in one word, it would be ‘frustrating’. At the core, this has the potential to be a great little RPG, but there are some massive mistakes that prevent it from ever getting anywhere near excellence.
Example number one: the plot. The Last Remnant starts out pretty well, as you take control of Rush Sykes, a teen who gets caught in the middle of a battle while looking for his kidnapped sister. He survives, and befriends the leader of Athlum, Lord David (yep. Lord David. Although it is pronounced Da-veed to prevent him from being common), who promises to help Rush search for his sister if he helps investigate a local occurrence. The plot then spreads out onto a larger scale, and focuses on Rush and his compatriots attempts to stop The Conqueror (yep. The name of the villain is…The Conqueror) from taking control of the Remnants, massive structures that help to defend the cities. The problem with the plot is that after a quite solid opening hour or so, it suffers from great inconsistency: for example, you meet a mysterious figure early on of whom you know nothing about…and yet the very next cut scene Rush knows his name and his motives. And the supposed ‘twist’ in the plot becomes obvious before you even move onto the second disc. Its quite a poor narrative to be honest. Continue reading Promised So Much, Gave So Little – The Last Remnant Review→
Now that the summer is here, the gaming world is really starting to pick up the pace; in the last day or two we have heard a big announcement from Sega about their next project, a beta opened for what will be one of the more popular titles of the year, the release of the first ‘AAA’ game of the year, and more rumours about Nintendo’s new console…
So then, lets start off by looking at Sega. In order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sonic The Hedgehog, they have announced a new title, to be called Sonic Generations: and the major selling point is that CLASSIC SONIC IS BACK!!! Yep, pot belly, button nose and everything. The main plot of the story is that an unnamed villain has opened up rifts in time or something stupid, meaning that Classic Sonic and New Sonic have to team up to defeat him. What is interesting is the gameplay that has been revealed; the game will feature old school 2D offerings for Classic Sonic with a basic moveset (directions, jumping and spin dashing), while offering 3D inventions of the same stages for new Sonic to combo and dash through. All the stages will be taken straight from Sonics 20 year history, with the only one revealed at the moment being the iconic Green Hill Zone. The trailer for the game looks brilliant; Classic Sonics 2D run through the graphically improved zone looks much more…well, classic, than it did in the poorly received Sonic 4 Episode 1, and New Sonics breakneck speed run through a 3D environment will no doubt please modern fans of the series. No word has been given yet on whether other characters from the series, such as Tails, Knuckles and Shadow, will receive a similar treatment. Continue reading Classic Sonic Returns, Gears 3 Beta Is Opened, And Portal 2 Gets Its Release→