When it comes to video games, I seldom cry. In today’s market, over-saturated with emotionless shooters, it’s a rare event that any game can move me to tears. Not that I don’t enjoy shooting foreigners in the face. Every now and then, however–and by every now and then, I mean once or twice in my life–a game will bring together every element so perfectly that my eyes start to water. To the Moon, an adventure game from Freebird Games, did more than that. I sobbed. And I’m not embarrassed to admit it, because when you play it–and you will play it–you will sob too. Hell, I sobbed not once, but twice, during the 4 hour, 640×480, one-man, pixellated game.
Warfighter. Before we go any further, I would like you all to stop for a moment and take another look at that name. Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Isn’t it just the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard? “Yeah, the players will be in wars… and they’ll be fighting… I’ve got it! Warfighter!” And everyone in the office threw their hats up in the air and cheered, as they’d just came up with the name of the second butchering of the Medal of Honor franchise.
THQ have been churning out yearly WWE games since 2000 with a lot of hits and misses along the way. Some of the earlier PS2 iterations such as 2003’s Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain were known for a more arcade style approach to gameplay making them easily accessible. They didn’t require memorisation of long button sequences to pull off wrestling moves. Since the introduction of the Smackdown vs. Raw series in 2004, THQ has focused more on a more realistic approach to wrestling games. Somewhere along the lines of this more realistic gameplay, the fun of a fast arcade style fighting game died and the series’ greatest qualities only seemed to be implemented to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Each year a new feature would be tacked on only to justify releasing a new game and the series went through a 7 year period of some very similar and average games.
One of the most important factors for any game developer to consider is that of quality versus quantity. Some would argue that an uncharacteristically long campaign is the mark of a good game. Others, such as myself, point those people towards Portal without saying a word. Recently, however, games have often been criticised for having alarmingly short and uneventful single-player campaign modes, and Assassin’s Creed III seems to have been designed with directly avoiding that critique in mind. Here we have a long, long game. While some parts of it might be fun and well-crafted, for the most part it feels alarmingly bloated, leading to a disappointingly inconsistent overall experience.
Dinosaurs. Despite being the coolest, baddest motherfuckers to ever walk the Earth, our reptilian ancestors (well, not technically) have been alarmingly absent in contemporary video games, especially following the downfall of the Turok series at the turn of the century. The recent popularity of zombies in games has made sure of that. However, following their meagre attempt at a comeback loaded with weaponry and ridden Nazi troopers in Dino D-Day, new studio Lukewarm Media have released their own attempt at dinosaur-laden, asymmetric multiplayer madness in the form of Primal Carnage. Let’s remember that asymmetric multiplayer gameplay is a feat that very, very few developers can pull off while retaining all-important balance. Are our prehistoric predecessors able to tick all the boxes?
Football Manager. There are very few games as close to my heart as that hard-as-nails gaffer simulator. Since booting up Championship Manager 00/01 and thinking “hang on, I don’t get to control the players?”, the series has roped me in year after year with its promise of new features and updated rosters. If there’s one game that I know will always be there for me when new releases have dried up, it’s Football Manager.
If there’s one genre that has been modified and bastardised almost beyond recognition since its golden age, it’s that of adventure games. No longer are we in the early 90s, when Sierra On-Line and LucasArts dominated the arena – with the turn of the century, the pure adventure game all but disappeared from store shelves. This year, however, we’ve seen a bit of a resurgence of the classic genre, and this resurgence continues its assault on the video game market with Deponia.