The ground zips by, alternating between crumbled blacktop and unchecked sand dunes. The deformed hunchback riding in the back of my rusted out car babbles incoherently about holy relics of chrome and greased Gods. I body check the car next to me, the rusted out nails on my rims tearing his tires to shreds. Flames shoot from the sides of the enemy, roasting my and my ride. Our collective health drops, a timer begins to count down from 5. I have to bail out. And fast. But first… Time slows to a crawl and I fire two shotgun shells directly into the opposing hot rod’s gas tank, a giant barrel sitting in what used to be a car trunk. 4 seconds now and it catches, fizzles then exploding, hurtling dozens of feet into the air tumbling end over end. 3 seconds when I begin to open my driver’s side door, bailing out now my only option. 2 seconds is when the car runs over the approaching ridge at the side of the road and begins to bounce back and forth in a swaying motion, disobeying the laws of physics and beginning to glitch. At 1 second left I escape the burning wreck only to be flung like a propeller hundreds of feet into the air as the physics continue to wreak havoc on my smoldering ride. I made my escape, and it was cinematic as hell. Read More
There was a time when first person shooters were simple. You played the infallible hero, and almost everything in your world was against you. This simple setup carried you from beginning to end, with an increasingly devastating arsenal leading to an exponentially rising body count. Level layouts were complex, hiding many divergent paths that often led to dead ends, where hidden goodies were stashed for the most thorough of players to benefit from. Treasures ranged from keys necessary for progression, ammo or health which was always in short supply if sticking to the main path, or often treasure itself adding to a post-level score. Everything was in the name of fast paced fun, and no one dared to mess with the winning formula.
Then Half Life was released.
At the start of Shadow of Mordor, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the game. After a brief tutorial and story focused video, I was suddenly in the world. I dropped from the shining tower, and wandered around a bit. Having no graceful entry point into the open world itself was off putting. ‘So has the game started?’, I wondered. I decided to take a look around where I was.
The world looked great, with muddy puddles, foreboding mountains and a thick brown haze over the orc defiled land immediately surrounding the Black Gate. Orcs could be seen patrolling and whipping human slaves at various points around me, so it wasn’t safe to say the least; hostile even. I snuck off in the direction of the lone mission marker. The controls felt great, having an ease to the dynamic movement inspired very much by the Assassin’s Creed series. Simply point in a direction and the player character can handle the in between bits himself. Half way there, I came across a set of command huts set in the middle of a shallow canyon. As I rounded the corner of the last hut, there in front of me was my first captain. Read More
The first Bioshock was a seminal release. Having missed the much lauded System Shock series, it ended up being my first foray into the ‘Shock’ series. The combination of a beautiful setting, solid shooting mechanics with a dash of rpg customization, and a sprawling narrative complete with an unreliable narrator, shook the foundations with which I had based the concept of a narrative-based first person shooter. Never had an interactive work felt so guided by the hand of a creator before. A single vision was present in all aspects, from the dialogue in the audio recordings to the set dressing of decaying Rapture, even to the small touches in how plasmids would have incredibly cool and creepy idle animations. I was immersed immediately and wholly, and to this day it remains one of my favorite gaming experiences. Read More
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the more visually impressive games I have played. It would have to be, as the engrossing world is the main reason to play the game. The stunning visuals, lack of almost any user interface and subtle soundscape really lend themselves to the overall experiential narrative. Read More