March First Impressions Roundup

During the past month or so I’ve played seven games that I’ve never touched before and probably won’t play long enough to do a proper review of them. So, here are my first impressions of these titles. You can find the gameplay footage from the Videos page.

Rogue Legacy
rogue legacyI must confess I tried a demo for this game a long time ago. It seemed fun enough, but I felt like it didn’t have much to offer. The verdict in a nut shell is that the gameplay is lacking. It’s the best of album of random gimmicks that get old fast. The upgrades are a boring +X% grindfest and the game just doens’t hold interest long enough for me to really get invested in it. I liked the idea and theme, but execution was lacking.

Alpha Protocol
alpha protocolI had no expectations when jumping into this game and I was surprised at how much it reminded me of a role-playing game. I liked the idea of playing a spy and gearing up to different sort of missions. The humor was fun enough, but let’s just say that it helped that I was in a good mood. The problem, again, was that the gameplay was dreadful. Shooting in this game was horribly unsatisfying and I didn’t at any point feel like anything was at stake. I didn’t care. There was a lot of talking, too, so I wouldn’t really call this an action game. Interesting idea poorly executed.

Batman: Arkham Asylum
batman arkham asylumI don’t know what this game is supposed to be. Some people call it a brawler but I barely did any fighting in it. What little fighting there was, it was really boring and monotonous. I liked the idea of sneaking around like in thief, planning your next move, and then gliding in like in Just Cause 2. There could’ve been more of that even at the beginning. I like Batman just fine. I don’t really care about superheroes, but I don’t think there ever was anything “super” about Batman. Maybe that he’s super rich. The voice acting and script in this game were ridiculously poor and I didn’t see the point in running back and forth in the asylum. Very weak first hour. Maybe it gets better. I’m leaning towards giving it another go.

C&C: Red Alert 3: Uprising
command conquer red alert 3 uprisingWhat is it with strategy games and these survival missions with a handful of troops? I hate it. Give me structures to build. I didn’t feel like finishing the intro mission (if it even was that). Instead I jumped into a skirmish match. It was serviceable but I’ve seen it already and gotten bored of it. The acting was (as a juxtaposition to Batman) ridiculously hilarious and with the addition of awesome rock music they really had something going for them in this game. Too bad I never encountered anything interesting in the gameplay whatsoever.

Dragon Age: Origins
dragon age originsThe first hour to this game had me hitting the Snooze button several times. It was just so boring. If any book started like this then nobody would read it. They try to force a lot of random lore down your throat with a truckload of characters you should immediately be interested in. In addition the first steps of gameplay are like trying to run in a swamp. Nothing happens and your left to wonder why you should care about anything that’s happening. I kept playing and after the first hour I started to get into it a little bit. Maybe I’ll try this one again, since it might actually have something interesting happening in it. The game mechanics and all the loot are just there, too. It’s like the devs just expect you to be interested in whatever they put in the game. I’m not. I looted a small warehouseful of stuff but barely touched the inventory. Why should I? There was no incentive to do so. If you’re a game developer, this next one is for you: It is your job to make the player interested in the game! Don’t forget that.

EDGE
edgeA puzzle game with pretty much no direction to it. No planning required. No intelligence required. Just go and somehow you’ll end up at the exit from the level. I liked the fact that the controls in the game took some getting used to and actually required some skill to master. Too bad they didn’t focus as much in the level design.

SimCity 4 Deluxe
simcity 4What a disaster. People cried their eyes out with the new SimCity and how much worse it was than SimCity 4. Having now played both of them I have no idea where all of that was coming from. Sure the new SimCity had problems, but the game was like a dream compared to this piece of garbage called SimCity 4. Maybe you could make larger cities in it. Maybe it wasn’t always online. And maybe you could even drive a tank in the game and destroy your own city by shooting it to pieces. Fine! But that doesn’t make up for the fact that mechanically the game was and is a nightmare. Building anything in SimCity 4 requires just far too much effort to me to give a second thought to it after a while. And the popups made me feel like it was 1998, again! GUI design was like a brainchild of a 12-year-old and to top it all of the sound design made an extra effort to make the game as unplayable as possible. Give me the new SimCity any day of the week over this one. Thank you.

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Mirror’s Edge Review

mirrors edgeOh, Mirror’s Edge. Why do you have to be so painful? This is going to be short and sweet because quite frankly I don’t care enough to write properly about this game. Not that I do that with any game anyways.

Mirror’s Edge is an interesting idea. It’s a game where you don’t have to shoot anyone. But you can. If you want to. The idea is to run and do all sorts of cool parkour action in the way. The problem is that the action is horribly slow and boring, most of the time you have no idea where to go (even when the game has a specific button that shows you where to go), and the controls are god-awful. I like the idea. I like the graphics. The game has style. But that’s all it has. The plot made me fall asleep and… well I guess the level design was pretty inventive so we gotta give it points for that. If only there was a proper game you could play the levels through with.

Rochard Review

rochardRochard as an idea works wonderfully well. Guy with a gravity gun does some action puzzle platforming in different space stations. It’s just very mediocre, bland, predictable, and boring.  Don’t get me wrong — the controls are wonderful, graphics neat, and there are some very fun action-packed scenes that lift the energy level from its typical boringness. It’s just that a lot of the four-hour experience is filled with tedious cut scenes that drag on and don’t tell you anything interesting, puzzles that barely get you thinking, and jumping slowly from platform to platform without much of a challenge offered at any point. The last half an hour or starts to get a tad more challenging and just when you start to get into the game a little bit, it’s over. And of course you can’t even skip the end credits. It’s a mess. You want to like it, because it looks neat, but it just doesn’t offer you anything that fun to do.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review

the elder scrolls iv oblivionThe Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is my favorite out of all of the Elder Scrolls games. It has the most wonderful atmosphere, environments, characters, and the gameplay was a huge improvement over Morrowind. That being said, there are problems. The voice acting, though better than in Skyrim, is often very plain and delivered in a sterile manner. The main quest can get very tedious at times and many of the dungeons are dull to say the least. The game crashes often and there are some bugs that potentially prevent you from finishing the main story line. The dialogue was also stripped down compared to Morrowind because all of it was voice acted in this game (which in turn I consider to be a good thing). All that aside, I always love returning to the green and lush forests of Cyrodiil. This game, in my opinion, is a classic.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Review

need for speed hot pursuitNeed for Speed: Hot Pursuit was an arcade racing experience full of wonderful vistas and fast cars. It’s a fun game that doesn’t really leave you with much to say. The core gameplay is fantastic fun, the graphics are gorgeous, and the soundtrack is pumping rock and electronica goodness. That being said there are some really weird little snags that I could’ve lived without. The game loves its cut scenes. There aren’t a lot of them but they just play on and on and you can’t skip any of it. They even play advertisements for products that don’t exist! In the races the opponents drive slower if you happen to crash something and speed up when you drive well. Some of the challenges are also ridiculously strict while others let you crash time and again and still get the gold medal. I don’t understand those decisions but it doesn’t matter because the game was still one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in quite some while. It’s by no means realistic but then again you don’t need realism to have fun.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Review

the elder scrolls iii morrowindThe Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind shows its age. The mechanics and GUI are passable at best, dreadful at worst. The graphics don’t look quite as flashy as they appeared back in the day although they improved quite a bit with some appropriate mods. How about the gameplay and the plot? Well, they won me over eventually, but it did take some doing. I was mostly bored but then caught myself thinking about the game when I wasn’t playing it. I appreciate how the game demands your attention and how you need to remember names and places instead of just following floating markers on your screen. There were some really fun characters and the was some story sections were built was intriguing. For an example there was a task you needed to complete with several factions but the approach you had to take was always different depending on the people you were dealing with. The game has a ton of dialogue and lore and that is definitely its charm and strong point. On the other hand it quickly turned into just walking around in an empty world repeatedly killing the same enemies pestering you. My 50-hour-long playthrough had a lot of fun and captivating moments and the world of Morrowind had some really interesting places to offer. Still, those were just the highlights in a quite tiresome journey and I can’t help but wonder how much it had to do with the game’s age.

Far Cry 3 Review

far cry 3Far Cry 3 was an interesting experience. The core game mechanics were very fun and responsive but the problem of the game turned out to be the story. The game went the usual GTA sandbox route where you can just roam the game world doing various activities or engage in the story missions. Those story missions just weren’t very fun. The thing is that instead of building over the existing fun gameplay they seemed to constantly take away from it by constraining the ways the player could play the missions and filling them with quick time events. To top it all off the characters and script of the game were just ridiculously clichéd and uninspired outside of barely few fun exceptions. Even the missions themselves quickly boiled down to just following markers and watching cutscenes. The main character in particular was just not convincing at all and made me question if anyone in Ubisoft knew anything about human beings. As I said the core game mechanics were very good (if you don’t count the driving sections) and at best made me think of games like Fallout 3 and Just Cause 2. Lastly, I need to point out that people making Far Cry games seem to have an endless fascination with tropics and paradise islands. I happen to hate them. Here’s for hoping that the next Far Cry game will take place in some sort of Twin Peaks inspired setting.