Average User Score: 6.1Dec 28, 2012'I didn't know Zynga made themed boxed sets?' Having been a tragic fanboy of this series since way back at instalment #1, I found myself at a loss as to how to feel about this game. Even from the outset. YES they changed my beloved control setup, and YES the new animus interface is less intuitive than before. But then I wonder how many people would be whining about the lack of innovation in the new title if everything had stayed the same in that regard. I don't think the writing is the problem, because from the outset I LOVED Haytham, and I found myself drawn in to Connor. He may be a bit of a blank slate, but I don't think he is an especially WOODEN one. No. What bugs me about this game didn't really hit me until just before: it's all the mini-games. Granted AC#1 had an exceptionally simple set-up, (triply so if you played it on a console), and the AC2 trilogy addressed this by adding additional things to do, a few mini-games, and some interesting one-time mechanics in the odd side-quest or story mission. I started to get wary of all the extra padding though in Revelations with the new territory mechanic, and the tower-defense game, but THANKFULLY they weren't necessary to the completion of the game. There was still enough assassination to get you through the game without having to worry about it. AC3 though. The mini games aren't mini games anymore. It's as though someone's taken all the content of SPORE and made us play all the stages simultaneously. In Brotherhood or Revelations I could send recruits out on a mission and so long as there were enough of them with enough skill, they would succeed. In AC3 if I send a wagon to market and it gets attacked I have to track it down and defend it or lose the shipment. What happens if I'd rather just stab people than play farmville? Then there's the Naval part of the game. Bloody brilliant, but I need LOTS of money to upgrade that boat of mine which means lots of grinding away at babysitting caravans doesn't it? I could always try my luck at gambling but the use of games common to the era means I can LEARN the rules but they will take a longer time to master well enough to consistently beat the AI and make it viable. So the problem has become one of time... and I don't have time to play Assassin's Creed: Farmville the way it wants to be played. To completion, grinding away my life behind a keyboard playing an imaginary man's dead ancestor. Even with all the extra mechanics the game was fine (I actually loved the new mechanic for opening fast-travel spots), fine that is right up until I had a house and harbour to get up to spec. Then the game slows right down becoming instead of a quest for vengeance, it's a quest to be the richest man in colonial america, in what I can ONLY assume is some ridiculous attempt to pad out an ALREADY long game. I'm assuming at least. The previous titles were all certainly long enough without farmville attached. Imagine if Bioware had decided to pad out ANY of the Mass Effect titles by forcing you to engage in a spotlight stealing mini-game (and I use the prefix MINI loosely in this context) between story missions just so you can survive the next one. The game is simply too complex, and not in any good way. The story is lost under acres of clutter and would be much better served by some simplicity. It's telling that the more complex these games have gotten, the less I have replayed them. I played the first Assassin's creed to death waiting for number 2, and it wasn't levelling up my reputation with the thieves guild or having a guild den in every major port on the Mediterranean that did THAT, it was the context-dependent combat and the flawless execution of a mission that kept me coming back. NOT wanting to see how many wagons full of lumber I could get running back and forth to market (okay maybe there were SOME flags involved...).… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7Dec 25, 2012Not as good as the original. I LOVED the original Alan Wake, not even a horror fan but the game rung so many bells for me that I was left deafened by the overall performance. But, a few hours into this "sequel" and I'm already enjoying myself less, plodding through this game like so many others, and that's precisely how it SHOULDN'T feel. The original Alan Wake (even the special episodes) had a sense of danger, of the hostile environment all around, but with American Nightmare it's as though they've taken all the teeth out of the enemy. There's too much ammo, killing enemies is too easy, and the story and immersion suffer as a consequence of that. Also: American Nightmare breaks its own rules set out at the very start of the original with Alan's opening Monologue: 'Keep the audience in the dark, don't give too much away, make them wonder, don't rely on logic, don't make sense, do the unexpected, challenge the audience's expectations and especially their hope.' The opening few minutes of the game give us all of these things, and it is too much. It kills the dark magic, OVERkills it with a flare-gun to the face. The beauty of the storytelling in the original lay in its uncertainty, until the big reveal in chapter four we were never entirely sure if Wake was sane, and even after, the ending felt like a theft but also RIGHT. But in American Nightmare the cat's out of the bag the first time we see a TV. We know the who, what, when, and where, and from there, the WHY is obvious. All of this could have been fixed with the villain NOT taunting wake, simply teasing him SILENTLY, or even giving him Amnesia again. Granted that would be clichéd by now, but still not as bad as the alternative. And it goes without saying the opening sequence DEFINITELY could have done without the TV show (HINT, HINT). Because of this we know the result even without spoilers because in every way possible the horror in this story has absolutely no teeth. I don't think one can blame the Narrative failings of this game on the scale of the production when the original was so tight. What American Nightmare needed was a second draft, with a stronger focus on keeping us guessing, keeping us confused and scared and looking for movement in the shadows until the very end. It's a worthwhile game if strictly run of the mill, and also if you want to follow the franchise, but we've seen much better work from Remedy in this regard, so I hope they lift their game on the sequel.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Dec 22, 2012Alan Wake is proof positive of the point that a story, properly told transcends all media and genres. A game that could be EASILY adapted for film or TV, Alan Wake is a game that is, in actuality, an interactive novel, and one that is just BEGGING for Star Trek's holodeck. Even in the intro sequence I found myself enjoying the game on a level that I have not enjoyed any other game before. Does that mean it's my favourite game? No. But even still it is a wonderful experience nonetheless. Even the fairly standard horror pacing and formula can't detract from this game, and so intricately tied to and interwoven with its plot the game really manages to tell a story while you battle shadow monsters with a Christmas light wearing sidekick (I am NOT making this up). While I am not a fan of the horror genre, and have never really read any Stephen King (to whom the tilts it's hat many times), the game was nevertheless thoroughly enjoyable. The only down-side to this interactive novel is that like a novel it is not immediately replayable. When you get to the last chapter, you don't feel any pressing need to start over again from the beginning, because what you have really enjoyed is not the thrill of the chase, being hunted by an insidious Lovecraftian shadow-demon, but the content of that story. But I think that is one negative we can all bear if games of this ilk were to become more common in the future. And really that actually makes the gameplay longer lasting easier to savour. Please Remedy, and ALL developers, give us more interactive novels, and less psychotically emotionless space marines killing freaking zombie demons from outer space.… Expand
Average User Score: 3.8Dec 21, 2012Why is it that games set in the ocean even when few and far between correlate so strongly with bad design? Hydrophobia: prophecy, Deadly Tide, and now Deep Black: Reloaded. I suppose I should have been warned LONG before I even made it to the register with this tome after all the game's unique selling point, right there on the front of the case was the fact that it 'supports nVidia's 3D technology!' But even after the install, I was leaning far, FAR back in my seat from the intro sequence when I was given a set of bullet points in lieu of an ACTUAL introduction. Then the dialogue started. Oh my god. No the voice acting isn't terrible, and no it's not as bad as sitting through Space Marine, but if there wasn't a 13 year old kid with ADHD and an obsession with burning things on the production staff of this game I will be surprised. There's the hispanic mission ops lady with the predictible accent and poor grasp of enlgish aphorisms, the over-testosteroned banter and deadpan delivery in the face of certain death and the enemies who not only spout the same three lines at you, that often make no sense: 'Unloading Grenade!' What grenade? The only truly immersing part of the dialogue is the assortment of 12 or more death screams... Yeah. When you put MOST of your effort into how people sound when their shattered bodies finally give out I'm gonna want to keep you away from the sharp things.
Oh and when it comes to certain death... Oh god the gameplay! What the hell were they thinking? I've never been a fan of Third-Person Shooters but this one is capital B.A.D. BAD. You run about 15 degrees to starboard of where you shoot and zooming in just exacerbates this disparity, if it wasn't for the auto-regenerating health it would be an even bigger headache. Even the underwater movement feels clunky. And in a game suffused with chest-high walls, only SOME of them are useable as cover, generally in combat areas, but even still that's yet another black mark against this game. The even MORE annoying thing about this cover mechanic is that the cover key is context dependent. Pressed when you're not taking cover you will do a roll in the relevant direction you happen to be moving. Wouldn't be so bad if the roll actually DID something, you move a total of about three inches while being completely exposed to enemies all over the shop. Also, why is there no jump key? Chest-high walls aside, it would be SUPER handy to be able to vault over cover and jump the odd railing. But obviously this was removed from the game to cover for the level design which features MANY areas which a player with a jump key could easily fall into and not get out of (unless someone invented say, a ladder), and the game would lose about HALF of it's ridiculously short key-quest style stair lowering 'quests' which amount to crossing a single room while facing maybe three or less braindead AI enemies.
That aside, with a proper amount of polish this game would actually be quite good, but the big problem is EVERYTHING needs polishing. The control system is half-finished, the level design--while it flows okay-- is still too simple and suffers from the aforementioned puzzle mechanic, the AI is boring, and predictible resembling space invaders more than current-gen shooters, and the weapons are bland, uninspired and look like they were picked out of Master Chief's weapons locker. The writing needs a lot more flesh on it before it can be called a story, and the truly sad part here is someone OBVIOUSLY had an idea, had a coherent sequence of ideas which did in fact resemble a chain of events and not just a few footnotes hastily scribbled on a whiteboard somewhere. Were it not for the fact that this game apparently has its own proprietary engine I would have said that Deep Black resembles an indie game done by a bunch of high-school kids, but the fact is that someone sank a lot of money into what amounts to a giant turd, and not a very polished one at that.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3Oct 19, 2012I read a few reviews before I even started playing Dishonored, and I wished I hadn't. I was expecting some top-shelf title that once again is touted to produce ecstatic experiences in the media blitz, but only manages to produce nausea once released. While Dishonored is not carved wholesale from diamonds rent from the earth by Vestal Virgins, it is not a bad game. I didn't get what I expected going in, but after a steady diet of Assassin's Creed titles for the last four years my view of 'stealth FPS' had been greatly skewed. Dishonored has much more in common with titles like Hitman or Thief, where one is much better off staying hidden, picking off guards one at a time, than leaping from the shadows in a flurry of steel a-la Ezio Auditore. The more I played the more I found myself enjoying this Predacious style of gameplay. It is both challenging and fun. Not in the human blender style of Assassin's Creed but more the patient planning and observation of Hitman or Thief. Sadly, where the game falls down, hard, is in the writing. The setting and set-up have the makings of an excellent novel but the execution is quite basic. Without preamble, without the chance to get into the skin of your character (Say with an introductory mission) you are told that you are the Empress' personal bodyguard, that you are a formidable swordsman, and it is hinted that you are secretly (or not so secretly) in love with the empress. My first gripe here is that the swordplay is incredibly basic, it is shot through with some glorious animations, but none of them are within your control. The second is, that I am being TOLD what to think and feel. Before I even have a chance to meet the empress I am being told how to feel towards her, a few extra minutes of dialogue, an extra scene or two could suck me right in here, but alas I am left wanting. If you liked Thief, Hitman, or Deus Ex Dishonored is a welcome addition to the genre, but go in for fun, not world-changing ideas.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3Sep 24, 2012When I heard that FTL had achieved it's kickstarter goals and been released I was actually thinking of another kickstarter project with a similar focus that I had donated to months earlier. I hadn't heard of FTL before this point, but I'm glad I bought it. The game is basically Nethack in space, although while I find nethack frustrating to the point of wanting to throw my computer out the window, FTL, while still being hard as nails doesn't frustrate in the same way. Yes it's going to take you a while to have a game where you make it to the final sector. Yes it's going to take you even longer to beat the game, but each and every journey you find yourself telling the stories of your crew, living through their little pixelated lives and it really tears at your heart to lose your captain to a pack of killer spiders, or that engi slave you freed to a pirate boarding party. Deep under all the repetitive scenarios and mechanics there is this tiny little random heart beating life into the game in a way that even big-name titles seem to fall short of, and if you're a perfectionist, or a completionist there are some difficult unlockables to catch but even though I've basically seen all the game has to offer I keep going back, because it's easy to get into and hard as hell to master.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.1May 8, 2012This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Having loved Mass Effect from the first instalment so many years ago, the denouement to this story feels as though I've just watched someone give the performance of a lifetime on stage and at their second curtain call, fall over into the orchestra pit and impale themselves on the entire woodwind section. The story in ME3 is book-ended by bad writing and shot through with wonderful, funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, but it seems that Bioware got the ratio of good bits to bad bits the wrong way 'round. Part of this is the scope of what they have tried to do. For one: keeping the gameplay balanced in a computer RPG when your choices should in theory remove certain elements from the game (e.g. the Rachni queen) is difficult. Secondly: RPGs are meant to have a MASSIVE scope for player choice, and providing all of that for a computer game on less than 10 DVDs--in an era where everyone expects full audio for every line of dialogue--is going to be close to impossible. Let's not forget the game already had oodles of content for characters who could have died as far back as ME1: Ashley/Kaidan, Wrex, Everyone from ME2, and so it goes... Now that's a lot of data right there. Consider that the Kasumi and Zaeed DLCs for ME2 were over a gig a piece then probably a third of the data in the game itself was stuff some play throughs would never see.
Could Bioware have done better? Hell yes! Were they fighting uphill against technology in terms of what they were promising to deliver? Yes again.
This is one of the biggest problems with ME3's writing and it is that at present you cannot deliver a truly varied and unique experience in a Role-Playing game on a PC. You have two choices in that regard. You can make a story-driven game that will sacrifice openness and variability to a degree (like Mass Effect) Or you can create a gigantic sandbox which the player can explore but not really touch (like Skyrim). Trying to deliver something that retains game balance, has fully voiced dialogue and actually registers all your past actions in a meaningful way is impossible without some form of procedural generation. They definitely could have done the writing better of course, which by means of segue brings me to...
The ending, which just REEKS of the 11th hour rush. The Citadel and Crucible are just two pieces of a giant MacGuffin designed to give organics a way to end the cycle of harvesting. Something started by some inscrutable AI who lives in the citadel? REALLY Bioware? There's a reason MacGuffin is seen as a pejorative term nowadays. Much of the game is like that apart from those wonderful shining moments, good and bad... Mordin's death, Femshep's date with Garrus, watching Joker and EDI talk, Legion's goodbye, Miranda confronting her father... Shades of brilliance from ME2, but it's almost as though the writers had something better to do and handed it off to the work experience kid. Hat's off to him for trying, but he's gonna need more training.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Mar 3, 2012If Ubisoft ever make an assassin's creed game with a grappling hook, civilisation as we know it will be over. People will lock themselves in their houses and refuse to leave because the combination of close-quarters contextual combat with the ability to pin enemies to the environment and turn them into viscera-filled pinatas will be like cartharsis on a stick to anyone who loves to play sandbox games.
Funny way to start off a review about Just Cause 2, but I feel that this is the major misstep that the game makes. As a sandbox game it follows in the footsteps of GTA, the trigger-happy titan among sandboxes. Just cause 2 does everything I've seen done in the GTA franchise and it does it smoothly and cleanly. But as a sandbox game trying to do something different it should've cast a wider net in looking for inspiration. Because while it is a sandbox, it is NOT a GTA game. The grappling hook changes all the rules, but I don't think the folks at Avalanche really cottoned onto that because the hook feels underused, and under-developed. Some more combo/contextual moves coupled with the ability to upgrade it and streamlining of certain manoeuvres (like dragging enemies behind your car, or holding a grappled enemy so you can fling them OFF of things etc.) would elevate this game beyond simply being a 'more interesting GTA clone' to something truly exceptional.
That is not to say that Just Cause 2 is not fun. It is, and more fun than the last GTA game I played in fact (San Andreas for those of you keeping score). The vehicles while nowhere close to real-world accurate in terms of handling are massive fun to drive, skipper, and fly. The slingshot mechanic which turns your parachute into a paraglider is a stroke of brilliance, and the gunplay, while not stellar still manages to perform better than other sandbox titles. I just find myself wishing that the developers hadn't stopped on the threshold of greatness.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Feb 28, 2012You can look but you can't touch...
I will get this out of the way right now: Skyrim is an awesome game with a breathtaking scope and an ambitious storyline with a few foreshadowing elements in its main plot (perhaps Bethesda is working up to throwing ITS lit match at WoW?)
However in many respects, Skyrim doesn't actually understand that it is a GAME, or even that it is telling a story. To be fair however, Bethesda have always suffered from this disease to varying degrees but this is possibly the most-jarring instance of it that I've seen from them.
To clarify what I'm talking about: in your average game (and 99% of the memorable, engaging stories in the world) there is a sense of arc, of progression, as the plot unfolds. Characters evolve, personalities and relationships change, and at the end of the story, the state of things is changed (however subtle). With Skyrim however one gets the sense that the world is simply a matte painting into which the plot elements are tacked on. The dynamism of that place is completely invulnerable to our presence as the protagonist which makes all those positives about plot and characters and depth ring hollow. One gets the sense that the game doesn't need us and that robs even the supposedly most engaging moments of the game of any sense of reality. For example: The main side-quest in Markarth.
After a while, when the shine has worn off the game, that's all Skyrim has left to offer: An uncomfortable sense that it is tolerating your presence even though it feels you are sullying its pristine vision of Tamriel.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Sep 16, 2011Don't believe the hype: this is EvE Online without the flowcharts. What X3R tries to do has been done better a thousand times before with more realistic everything. I actually bought this game when it came out many years ago and when the computer I intended to play it on died it sat in a box for many years waiting for a machine that could run it. I dug it out recently (being a space freak) and thought it'd be worth a bash... but was I ever wrong. The learning curve is beyond vertical with no tutorial and no introductions, Just an endless list of email spam the first time you do something new, and if you can't find your ingame inbox you're out of luck anyway. There doesn't appear to be any way to plot a course, you've got to do it from memory and if you happen to forget one of the totally generic and forgettable names along the way you'll get lost or dock at the wrong base, and forget about issuing orders in a hurry if you're flying with an automated ship.
Trading is completely inscrutable, prices don't fluctuate nearly as much as the game claims and the only useful profits are small-potatoes on short hops for minimal returns, add to that the fact that there is no easy way to gain freelance work and no real money to be made off contract and the only sane choice left seems to be piracy. But even then it's such a huge grind-fest the game box may as well have contained a pepper mill instead of a DvD.
The interface is BEYOND disgusting, flight is fine and the addition of inertia to the turns and acceleration is nice, It's not actual newtonian physics but it's nice, but doing everything else that requires doing in a space sim seems to have been made MUCH harder by way of compensating. Navigating the menus seems to require its own manual, and the context dependent keypresses mean that if you're in a menu screen and need to stop in a hurry or turn off the autopilot you're SOL. I have gotten lost in the menus more times than I care to count and it took me half an hour to figure out how to buy stuff, even with help from the game forums.
The storyline is instantly uninteresting. You're dumped into the middle of a universe sometime after the last instalment, your father in a coma after an encounter with the bad guys, and no reason to care about either his plight or their motivations. You're expected to know how to fly (fairly straightforward) but everything else is left inscrutable and unless you do some reading you'll never learn how. the game has some wonderful innovations (like an economy-tracking device) but they're not worth holding out for. I have seen better work done on every facet of X3s gameplay some of them by indie firms producing free software. This game SHOULD get a 1 just for being a space sim, but what it's doing is poisoning the well by the fact of its every existence. If people think 'X3: reunion' when they think of space sims then the game has done a disservice to the genre.… Expand