I’ve never been very good at Counter-Strike. Hold your gasps of shock, please. Maybe it’s just the ridiculous level of skill reached by everyone else on the servers I seem to jump on, but I always find myself with a kill-to-death ratio of about 0.2. I just don’t have the drive to invest the time and energy required to really improve my twitch shooting skills. I do know people who are good at shooting heads from halfway across the map, however, and the majority of them seem to agree on one very important issue. Have you guessed it yet? That’s right – Counter-Strike players across the globe are near unanimous in agreement that Counter-Strike 1.6 is a far superior game to Counter-Strike: Source. Shocking, I know. For the better part, 1.6 is still used for professional play. That’s where Counter-Strike: Global Offensive comes in. The almighty Valve seem to have realised that they missed the competition-play boat with Source, and have released this budget-priced update to do what Source should have done.
As a somewhat mediocre games reviewer, the time-consuming part of the job is actually playing the games. Yeah, the review will usually take a couple of hours or so, but it’s generally getting the games completed that takes up most of my time. Not here. This review will still take an hour or so, but I played the entirety of Thirty Flights of Loving, as well as the included developer’s commentary and prequel, Gravity Bone, in just under an half an hour. This will, for obvious reasons, become primary talking point of gamers – I’ve seen a lot of moaning online from people who paid $4.99 for this on release and couldn’t quite believe it when theheist end-game only took fifteen minutes to reach, with a minimal amount of player interaction.
I think that I may have used this opening line in a review already, but video game titles are often vague. Deus Ex - what the hell kind of game is that going to be? How would you know without any prior knowledge? You wouldn’t. Every now and then, however, a game like this one comes along. A game like Alien Shooter 2: Conscription. A game in which all it takes is a quick look at the title to determine that it’s a spin-off of Alien Shooter 2, which is, in turn, a sequel to Alien Shooter. And do you know what you might do in Alien Shooter 2: Conscription? You shoot aliens. Lots of aliens. With lots of guns. Resulting in lots of blood.
If there’s one genre of video games that never fails to punch me right in the face with its fierce gloves of nostalgia, it’s the RPG. Forget those new fandangled KOTOR-esque Action RPGs, I’m talking Chrono Trigger, Legend of Legaia, Lufia II. Classic, time-tested, turn-based JRPGs. Sure, they had their flaws (fuck you, random encounters), but I love them nonetheless. I’m also a fan of the hit webcomic Penny Arcade, along with what seems like the vast majority of the internet. That’s why I was excited by the prospect of Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness 3. Despite having the longest title in my Steam library (never a positive), POD3 (as it will be referred to herein) boasts that it’s an “old-school RPG mixed with modern design sensibilities.”
There seems to be a general consensus among a large number of gamers is that horror games, as a whole, have been spiralling towards a slow death since 2002’s Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. Yep, looks like this is going to be one of those reviews in which I reference a whole bunch of other games. Apart from Condemned: Criminal Origins and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, horror fans really haven’t had all that much to satisfy their desires for the last decade; adding insult to injury is the fact that the period between 1998-2002 saw a huge number of blood-curdingly terrifying games released back to back. And now we have Lone Survivor. This strange amalgam of platforming, exploration and psychological survival horror (with an emphasis on the survival part) is the product of just one man, Jasper Byrne, and even if you walk away thinking you didn’t really enjoy it, you’ll be wholly unable to avoid the lingering feeling of despair that accompanies only the greatest of horror games.
A Virus Named TOM. What a strange name for a video game. Maybe I’m just to used to names like Painkiller, Max Payne, Dead Space, you get the drift, but A Virus Named TOM immediately grabbed my attention with its odd title. You’d be forgiven if you weren’t exactly sure what to expect when you read that one in the Steam New Releases list. However, as they say, a rose by any other name is just as sweet. This game could have just as easily been called DeathKiller 3000, yet it wouldn’t change the game in the package. It wouldn’t make sense though. But it’s not my job to waffle on (actually, it kind of is), so let’s get to the meat of the review.
It’s always nice to see indie developers show a little bit of creativity. McPixel is the result of that “little bit” of creativity growing to enormous proportions and stomping around the city that is Gameopolis like Godzilla through Tokyo. Essentially, McPixel is a point-and-click adventure starring the eponymous hero as he saves the day – a phrase which here means attempts (usually unsuccessfully) to prevent an explosion. Despite his attempts to save the day, however, 95% of what McPixel winds up doing is kicking, and 95% of what he winds up kicking is genitalia. Many of his methods involve inserting sticks of TNT up various orifices of other people. Oh, and according to the developers, “he’s also a jerk”.