Saturday, December 08, 2012

Top 50 Games - #37

Ho-leeeeee shit, I added to this list.  I've actually moved house now, so I might get this finished one of these days.  Not that I've written everything yet, but hey...

37. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Eidos
Year: 2009
Format: Xbox 360, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Top 50 Games - #38

38. WarioWare: Twisted!
Developers: Nintendo SPD Group No. 1, Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 2005 in USA
Format: Game Boy Advance

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Top 50 Games - #39

Apologies for the fact that any sort of update schedule has been unceremoniously chucked out the window.  I'm in the midst of attempting to move house, and having to look after my infant niece quite often in the mornings (I work afternoon/evenings).  So...yeah.

39. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Developers: Sora, Game Arts, a few other people they grabbed off the street
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 2008
Format: Wii

Friday, September 07, 2012

Top 50 Games - #40

40. Crackdown
Developer: Realtime Worlds
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Year: 2007
Format: Xbox 360

Monday, September 03, 2012

Top 50 Games - #41

41. Beyond Good & Evil
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year: 2004
Format: GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Top 50 Games - #42

42. The House of the Dead 2
Developer: AM1
Publisher: Sega
Year: 1999
Format: Dreamcast, Arcade, PC

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top 50 Games - #43

43. Pikmin 2
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 2004
Format: GameCube

Monday, August 27, 2012

Top 50 Games - #44

44. Resident Evil
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher: Capcom
Year: 2002
Format: GameCube

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Top 50 Games - #45

45. killer7
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Capcom
Year: 2005
Format: GameCube, PlayStation 2

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Top 50 Games - #46

46. Fur Fighters
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Publisher: Acclaim
Year: 2000
Format: Dreamcast, PC

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 50 Games - #47

47. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Developer: Silicon Knights
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 2002
Format: GameCube

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 50 Games - #48

Check it, I've worked out how to put breaks in.  INTERNET WOO

48. Soul Calibur
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Year: 1999
Format: Dreamcast, Arcade

Friday, August 17, 2012

Top 50 Games - #49

49. Red Faction: Guerrilla
Developer: Volition
Publisher: THQ
Year: 2009
Format: Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3

Most of the games on this list are things of elegance.  They demonstrate superior design, rabid originality, refinement and class.  Red Faction: Guerrilla is not one of these games.  Red Faction: Guerrilla wants shit to blow the fuck up.
   Guerrilla is the third in the Red Faction series.  The first two were first-person shooters on the PlayStation 2, PC and Xbox.  I haven’t played them.  I’m not convinced that anyone’s played them.  The cornerstone (pun kind of intended) to the Red Faction series is destruction.  The first two games were on systems that couldn’t handle what the developers wanted.  But come the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the tech was there for stuff to go boom.
   Guerrilla breaks from its predecessors by swapping into a third-person, open-world format.  (One of the admirable things about the series is Volition’s willingness to completely change the game style – the fourth game, Armageddon, switched things up again to a linear shooter a la Gears of War and company.  And there was also a spinoff between games 3 and 4 that was entirely vehicle-based, although apparently that was a bit pants.)  The plot, such as it is, sees you as builder Alec Mason (DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE DO YOU) drawn into an attempt to free Mars from the military chokehold of Earth forces and give the planet a fresh start.  You do this by breaking things.
   Guerrilla is entirely a showcase for GeoMod 2.0 – an engine that allows unrivalled levels of physics-based destruction.  Every building in the game can be destroyed, and it’s all carried out the way you would in real life.  Walls shatter before steel beams buckle.  You can take out a building in one go with a well-aimed sledgehammer swipe at a load-bearing area.  Use an explosive and bits of wreckage fly through the air and smash through other buildings.  No piece of cover is entirely safe, as it too could be destroyed.
   It’s astonishing.  Allegedly, Volition had to hire some real proper architects as the engine was so true-to-life that some of the more outlandish sci-fi structures they’d come up with wouldn’t take their own weight and would collapse as soon as they were coded into the game.  And it makes the primary act of the game – its core, its USP, its very raison d’ĂȘtre – exactly as enjoyable the five hundredth time as it is the first.  Smashing stuff up simply never gets old.  And the toolset you get for smashing up said stuff is highly pleasing.  Mason’s never without his trusty sledgehammer, and the limpet mines you get right from the start – chuck ‘em on to something, detonate ‘em when you feel like it – are so pleasing they’re unlikely to ever get left out of your inventory.  (Extra sadist points – stick a mine to an enemy soldier and cackle as they run around in a panic.)  Going up through typical weapons through to oddities like the electricity-shooting arc welder, sawblade-spitting grinder or the enforcer, with its homing bullets, is great fun.
   And great fun is basically what this game is about.  It’s not deep and meaningful, and it’s not trying to be deep and meaningful.  It just wants to entertain you.  When it gets it right, it’s like playing a cheerfully dumb action movie from the ‘80s or ‘90s – probably starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger – and is exactly as enjoyable as you’d hope.  (You even get a jetpack near the end.  And occasionally you get to run around in a big mech suit smashing things just by waving its arms about.)  Admittedly, it doesn’t always get it right: some missions are annoying, the last one in particular, and quite a lot of the sidequests are a bit rubbish.  But the good bits are so good that it doesn’t really matter.  Plus, it’s an American-made game from 2009 where you play as a heroic terrorist with distinct Communist undertones.  How likely is that?
MAGIC MOMENT: The mission that ends the second chapter, where you have to evacuate a town before the troops arrive, is breathlessly exciting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Top 50 Games - #50

 Right, here we go.  I wanted to get a decent backlog before I actually started posting these.


All publisher info, release dates etcetera refers to the European version of the game.  'Cos I live in Europe and buy European games.
For "format", I list the version I actually own first then the others in alphabetical order.  I haven't bothered to list every single machine you can get each game on 'cos with some games we'd be here all day - I've just noted the ones that the game was initially released on.  So there's no "Xbox 360" for Sonic 1 or whatever.
This is 100% personal preference, regardless of the game's objective quality, to such extent as objective quality exists.  So there.
The longlist is actually a couple of months old now so if I wrote one today it might be slightly different but whatever.

it begins

50. Psychonauts
Developer: Double Fine
Publisher: THQ
Year: 2005
Format: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC

No matter how generic and unadventurous gaming gets, there’ll always be a Tim Schafer or two.  In 2005, we were just coming out of the stealth game boom and warming up for the rhythm-action takeover.  Schafer’s Double Fine, meanwhile, were unleashing their first game – a free-roaming platformer with adventure elements.  Set at a summer camp designed to train psychic children.  Psychonauts tells the unlikely tale of Raz, a young acrobat with considerable mind-manipulation skills.  Running away from the circus and attending Whispering Rock Summer Camp to hone his talents and achieve his dream of becoming a psychonaut – a secret agent who can delve into others’ minds – he instead stumbles across a fiendish plot to steal his campmates’ brains.  As you do.
   The game lets you wander across Whispering Rock at will, taking the Zelda-style method of letting you enter one level at a time and locking off areas until you get the requisite ability to open ‘em up.  Once you actually go into a level, it’s a more straightforward 3D platform affair.  But that’s where the “straightforward” bit ends, because the levels are, as you’d expect from the plot synopsis, set inside people’s minds.  And good heavens do Double Fine take this idea and run with it as far as it’ll go.  Levels wrap around themselves, so you’re running on the floor, and suddenly the floor’s the wall, and then it’s the ceiling.  You sort out literal “emotional baggage” – crying pieces of luggage – by finding its lost address labels.  The people whose brains you’re running through might appear as themselves, or as a giant bull laden with symbolism.  There’s a secret room in one brain-level that completely re-evaluates one of Raz’s teachers – I won’t say more, but it adds a huge amount of depth to the character and is arguably the game’s most startling, affecting and thought-provoking moment.  And you could quite easily go through the whole thing not knowing it’s there!
   It’s the wealth of detail that makes Psychonauts, really.  The way that late in the game you get the ability to see through other characters’ eyes, so you can see how they view the world.  The pile of extra bits and pieces to find.  How Double Fine manage to come up with legitimate justifications for a couple of platforming’s most enduring bits of silliness – Raz can double-jump by telekinesis, and can’t enter water because his family are labouring under a curse that says they will all die by drowning, meaning that he becomes paralyzed with fear and imagines a hand coming up out of the water to grab him if you get too close.  
   The only major fault of the game is difficulty spikes – most people agree that the final level, the Meat Circus, is too hard.  Personally I didn’t have any major problems with it.  Instead, I got stuck on a boss fight barely halfway through the game – if I hadn’t found a toggleable invincibility cheat, I would’ve given up altogether.  Important note for game designers there – always provide an out.  If it hadn’t been for that cheat, I wouldn’t have got through the game, and it wouldn’t have taken its rightful place on this list.
MAGIC MOMENT: the utter genius of the level The Milkman Conspiracy.  Set in the mind of a near-catatonic conspiracy theorist, it presents a twisted view of suburbia where the streets twirl into loops and the classic mysterious men in hats and long coats are everywhere – except they’re trying to disguise themselves as members of the community.  And they’re absolutely terrible at it.  It’s completely hilarious.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Watch this space

This one, right here.

There, that one.    <-----

Yeah, anyway.  At some point in the near future, this blog will host my Top 50 Games Ever.  Because it's something to do.  And it'll provide some much-needed practice for my writing skills, which have got somewhat rusty due to the fact I haven't had any professional writing work for the best part of a year.

(Hi, Mr/Ms Writing Job Person!  You should totally hire me!  I can almost guarantee wacky hijinks!  Or at the very least punctually-filed copy!)

That's all for now.  MESSAGE ENDS

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

There's a-doin's a-transpirin'

I've just dived into the mysterious new world of Kickstarter to help fund Carmageddon: Reincarnation.  I'm a little leery of whether Kickstarter's the bold new future that some people have been claiming, but Carmageddon II remains one of my all-time favourite things of any sort and I couldn't resist the chance of a new one.

I hope they put in that forklift that was converted into a mobile guillotine.  I liked that.

Friday, March 02, 2012


I was just in Oxfam, and I saw that at some point someone made a direct-to-video sequel to The Fly, called The Fly II.

I'm very disappointed they didn't call it Fly Harder.

*bu-dum tsssh*

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deep pockets, 007

I was just playing the GoldenEye Reloaded demo on los Xbox - rather enjoyed it, I'd heard it was rubbish. (Although my enjoyment might be partly because I only played the N64 original for about two minutes fourteen years ago, so I didn't really have anything to compare it to.)

But something that amused me was that I got genuinely confused for a minute by the fact that Bondface could pick up more than two guns at once. Like, whoah. That odd little mechanic introduced by Halo has got so pervasive that it didn't occur to me that a recent major FPS release might not use it. I don't even like the mechanic! And yet I was startled by its omission.

It reminded me of the nice article in the Observer yesterday by Lucy Prebble - she pointed out that when playing L.A. Noire she was surprised by the fact that the player character, a cop in '40s Los Angeles, isn't corrupt and the game doesn't want you to play him in a corrupt way. It's a sign of how some tropes and concepts get so deeply ingrained for one reason or another that it's quite shocking when they're deliberately not used.

On a not-really-related note, I gave the Asura's Wrath demo a whirl too. Bit of a nutty game, eh? I'd like to have the ability to spontaneously grow four extra arms when I get really angry, mind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012