Reviews Rate the game you finished/retired

Avern

Junior Member
May 14, 2020
103
310
63
Finished replaying Half-Life

I first got into PC gaming shortly after the release of Half-Life 2, and a lot of my early experiences on the platform were with the shooters of that era. When I went back to Half-Life 1, I was blown away. I liked it better than 2, and thought it was the best single-player FPS I'd played.

Fast forward a few years, and I fell into retro-shooters. Classic Doom, Build engine games, the growing wave of indie takes on the retro shooter. I love 'em. After playing all of those games and coming back to Half-Life, I'm realizing that what I loved about it had less to do with what Half-Life brought to the table, and more to do with the design elements from older games that it was still holding onto, like its fast movement, huge arsenal, and gamey platforming sequences.

Playing it now, my biggest takeaway is that the game is brimming with bullshit. You've got ambushes and traps that force trial-and-error gameplay (I remembered quite a few of them and still found it irritrating). Enemies screw you over with stuff like grunt bees hitting through walls, or vortigaunts placed to blast you with huge hitscan damage as you reach the top of an elevator. For all of their fancy AI, the thing that really makes the soldiers scary is how they are huge bullet sponges. Then there's all of Xen, just generally. Putting up with all of that was easier when I was still impressed by how great the guns and movement felt. In the wake of playing games like Doom, Quake, and Blood, Half-Life just doesn't feel that great anymore. It makes it harder to ignore the game's problems. Starting around Apprehension, the fun started to slip, and I found myself frustrated more regularly.

All that complaining aside, I still had a good time with it. With how few games commit to an unbroken experience, that aspect holds up. It really goes a long way to making Black Mesa feel more like a place than a series of levels, which is quite the accomplishment with how absurdly gamey Black Mesa's design is. While I'm not as impressed with the whole aresenal as I used to be, the Tau Cannon and Gluon Gun are still phenomenal. I was also surprised by how well the trip-mines functioned. I didn't remember using them much in the past, but they're great for dealing with Grunts, and I think that makes them the best mines in any single-player shooter I've played, since they have some utility. A lot of the levels are a ton of fun, especially early on, when the bullshit hasn't fully ramped up. Office Complex -> On a Rail is just a brilliant stretch of levels (and I still don't understand why people dislike On a Rail, I love that level).

It's still a great game, but I just can't see it as an unblemished masterpiece anymore. Its flaws are too obvious to me now.
 

Bonfires Down

Junior Member
Nov 18, 2019
192
450
63
Finished replaying Half-Life

I first got into PC gaming shortly after the release of Half-Life 2, and a lot of my early experiences on the platform were with the shooters of that era. When I went back to Half-Life 1, I was blown away. I liked it better than 2, and thought it was the best single-player FPS I'd played.

Fast forward a few years, and I fell into retro-shooters. Classic Doom, Build engine games, the growing wave of indie takes on the retro shooter. I love 'em. After playing all of those games and coming back to Half-Life, I'm realizing that what I loved about it had less to do with what Half-Life brought to the table, and more to do with the design elements from older games that it was still holding onto, like its fast movement, huge arsenal, and gamey platforming sequences.

Playing it now, my biggest takeaway is that the game is brimming with bullshit. You've got ambushes and traps that force trial-and-error gameplay (I remembered quite a few of them and still found it irritrating). Enemies screw you over with stuff like grunt bees hitting through walls, or vortigaunts placed to blast you with huge hitscan damage as you reach the top of an elevator. For all of their fancy AI, the thing that really makes the soldiers scary is how they are huge bullet sponges. Then there's all of Xen, just generally. Putting up with all of that was easier when I was still impressed by how great the guns and movement felt. In the wake of playing games like Doom, Quake, and Blood, Half-Life just doesn't feel that great anymore. It makes it harder to ignore the game's problems. Starting around Apprehension, the fun started to slip, and I found myself frustrated more regularly.

All that complaining aside, I still had a good time with it. With how few games commit to an unbroken experience, that aspect holds up. It really goes a long way to making Black Mesa feel more like a place than a series of levels, which is quite the accomplishment with how absurdly gamey Black Mesa's design is. While I'm not as impressed with the whole aresenal as I used to be, the Tau Cannon and Gluon Gun are still phenomenal. I was also surprised by how well the trip-mines functioned. I didn't remember using them much in the past, but they're great for dealing with Grunts, and I think that makes them the best mines in any single-player shooter I've played, since they have some utility. A lot of the levels are a ton of fun, especially early on, when the bullshit hasn't fully ramped up. Office Complex -> On a Rail is just a brilliant stretch of levels (and I still don't understand why people dislike On a Rail, I love that level).

It's still a great game, but I just can't see it as an unblemished masterpiece anymore. Its flaws are too obvious to me now.
Did you play Black Mesa too and if so how do you think they compare. I always hated the bullet sponge no hit reaction soldiers in HL and the inaccurate SMG.
 

Javetus

Junior Member™
Sep 17, 2019
430
1,311
93
Finished


Great atmosphere and with a dark story, controls can be sometimes a little iffy but the soundtrack, artstyle and overall design carries the game over to great heights.

It reallly plays into some childhood horrors and goes more to a general creepy and subtle horror instead of constant jumpscares, It's a great experience for fans of the horror genre.
 

Avern

Junior Member
May 14, 2020
103
310
63
Did you play Black Mesa too and if so how do you think they compare. I always hated the bullet sponge no hit reaction soldiers in HL and the inaccurate SMG.
I played it once, but it was a long time ago, before the Xen update. I don't remember the soldiers from it very well at all.
 

Mivey

MeatMember
Sep 20, 2018
1,454
4,267
113
Yes. they are kind of telegraphed so if you get caught by one it's your own fault.
That sounds nicer than TEW1, which had some far more annoying ones, like the ghost you had to just escape for a few minutes before the game let you continue, and which killed you instantly if you got caught. That was about the point where I gave up on the first game.
 
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Valdien

Junior Member
Mar 26, 2020
236
561
93
Sydney
Does it still have instant death moments? Those were pretty memorable in TEW1, in the "I'll never touch this stupid game again" sense.
I too hated those moments in TEW1. Personally, I'm not a big fan of either games, however, TEW2 is much more enjoyable than the first one. The presentation is fantastic.
 
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Virtual Ruminant

Junior Member
May 21, 2020
209
500
93
Finished Ghost of a Tale (SeithCG, 2018)

technically an action-RPG with a heavy dose of stealth gameplay, the genre mix here is a little hard to pin down and plays rather uniquely, owed to the fact that this game is mostly the brain-child of former Dreamworks animator and passionate life-long gamer Lionel Gallat and was independently financed through an IndieGogo campaign that raised some 48.000 Euros.

Pro:
  • This game is a late entry in a long line of French games that were developed from an "art-and-scenario-first" approach and unlike most of them, this one turned out to be a great game as well as looking really good. Perhaps the fact that it is obviously heavily inspired by the children's fantasy classic Redwall helped, too. Around three quarters of the game will be spent stealthily exploring the castle that the main character finds himself imprisoned in at the beginning of the game and I loved every minute of it because it's such a lovely crafted place and its talking-animal inhabitants are so charmingly done, too.
  • The game is surprisingly meaty. I managed to complete every quest and saw the credits roll after around 24 hours of net game time. That said: At some point in the game, thanks to some items, you can stop being stealthy and at that point, the pace of the game rapidly accelerates.
  • There's no way of saying this without sounding like a hack games writer writing a paid promotion, but I've never played quite something like this game. It just deploys all its design elements and mechanics in unique ways. There's the big, RPG-like inventory with items that modify the RPG-like stats of the player character, but the game controls like a modern 3D platformer. Unlike a modern 3D platformer however, it allows you a surprising degree of freedom of movement, and unlike any modern game, it doesn't go out of its way to give you a tutorial about every possible method of traversal. I had a real moment of surprise when at some point I picked up a little stool, carried it up a rampart, climbed on it, climbed onto a wall from there and discovered that the game, intentionally, lets you scramble and run along the roof and get from a to b that way, like the mouse that you play certainly would be able to. Unlike either the usual 3D platformer or RPG, you also don't get to swing an offensive weapon. The most you will ever get are a few projectile weapons, but usually the mode to approach enemies is to avoid or deceive (through costumes!). The lack of tutorials (or a quest marker) doesn't mean however that this game will make you look up everything online either - you can literally buy (almost) every map and solution to a puzzle from an in-game vendor character for coins you steal on your explorations. Unlike the vendor characters in much more well known games however, this guy has a reason to be there, as it turns out eventually. I could go on, but this paragraph is already out of control. Suffice to say this game will most probably surprise you, and sometimes this will be exhilarating, but sometimes it will also leave you dumbfounded for a bit.
Con:
  • Ref. the last paragraph in the Pro-section. If you're not in the mood for something new and just want to play a predictable genre title, this game will frustrate you at every turn. In particular, this isn't an RPG for the typical RPG fan.
  • The story ends on a cliffhanger pretty much the minute it really gets going and it could be a long time before there'll be a sequel with a resolution - if at all.
  • Budget restrictions notwithstanding: The fact that the player character is a minstrel and songs are an integral part of the game, but yet the game contains no voice-overs or vocals whatsoever is a bit of a miss.

Had a wonderful and unique time with this game, despite the fact that it isn't desperately trying to be original and wears its inspirations on its sleeve. I started playing in December 2019 and finished only now, so it was a very slow burn with long breaks, but it's a game I was always going to come back to and see through and I'd recommend anybody curious about it to do the same.

5/5
 

fantomena

MetaMember
Dec 17, 2018
5,467
12,859
113
Finished Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 +2 Remastered (PC)

First and foremost, it's a good remaster. It plays smooth and every park in the game(s) looks great and the graphics and music looks and sounds up to par with todays standard. Each game has a bunch of park you play through, like a "city" park, "streets" park, so each park has a different theme helping the variation. Each park has also a set of objectives to play through and you have to play through almost all of the objectives to unlock the next park (like grab all the letters, get a certain score by tricking, tricksing over certain objects etc.) The gameplay is fun and smooth so nothing bad to say about that, the game has also a catalogue that helps you find out what to press to do certain tricks. And the game has a park editor where you can make your own park and play other people's parks.

My problem with the game is that for me the main reason to keep going and keep progressing is to just do the "skate tour", as in, do all the objectives in each park, at the first few parks it was very fun, but later it got very tedious and monotonous to keep going, only thing that kept me going was the smooth gameplay, Im not good at skating so quite frankly me tricking was just me smashing different buttons in different directions unless there were objectives that had me do certain tricks. There is also a free skate mode that let's you skate as long as you want in each park, because otherwise you have only 2 min to do as many objectives as you can in the skate tour and then you have to start again (finished objectives will remain finished no matter what).

The more you score and more challenges you complete, the higher level you reach on your profile and more money you get to buy cosmetics (which I also didn't care about).

So overall a good remaster, smooth and fun gameplay, but the park mission objectives got tedious and monotonous too fast. After I was done with the skate tour (misssion objectives in the parks), the game was done for me, don't care for multiplayer, making parks or just skating without objectives, having objectives in the parks was what made the game truly fun for me and kept me going. Took me 8 hours to complete the skate tour in both games.

Score: 8/10
 
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fantomena

MetaMember
Dec 17, 2018
5,467
12,859
113
Retired Airborne Kingdom (PC)

So basically you build a flying city, you control where the city fly (there's a map) and you have to gather resources by having airplanes (you don't control these) to fly to the ground to get more resources and hire people to live on your city/kingdom. You also research for better technologies. It was fun during the first 30 min when I had to learn how to do things (there are tutorials popping up to), but the game got quickly repetive and boring. Nice art design and decent graphics and the different buildings you can build (storage for water/coal, hanger for more planes, houses for your workers and so on).

Score: 6.5/10
 
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Virtual Ruminant

Junior Member
May 21, 2020
209
500
93
Couple of retirements from Game Pass:

  • Forza Horizon 4 (Turn 10, Playground / Microsoft, 2018) - Despite the fact that they all review very well, Forza Horizon games aren't even racing games. They're driving games. You drive around, you collect cars, you listen to music and ignore the obnoxious voice-overs and brain-dead scenario of the "Horizon Festival", where it's never quite clear whether your virtual career is in driving or in social media influencing. Some of the driving pretends to be a race, but the game does its best to auto-tune the difficulty just so that you will keep winning without much of a strain. This one now has a damage model that you can optionally enable, but it's just an additional fail state, visually the cars will still come out of every wreck without a scratch. This one now also has seasonal paint jobs for the open game world, and the road conditions do affect the driving simulation, but to what end? The races are still boring and unchallenging. To top it all off, the online multiplayer is a step backwards from FH3, hidden in what the game calls "Online Adventures" and marred with lag-induced rewinds and long, loooooong loading times between events.
  • Wreckfest (Bugbear / THQ Nordic, 2018) - This is in many ways the polar opposite of Forza Horizon. Detailed soft-body car damage model, a sim-racing-capable physics engine and driving model, no silly scenario and cutscenes - the only nod to modern action racing tropes is the compilation of mostly metal / hard rock songs for a soundtrack. Weirdly though, the racing is very action-oriented - and in deathmatch mode, it's not even racing, it's "vehicular combat". I played it for three hours on a Sunday afternoon and I'm convinced I've experienced everything the game has to offer. Maybe it would be good for another ten hours if I was still twelve years old ... which incidentally seems to be the average age of the people playing it online now, too. At least on Xbox.
  • Machinarium (Amanita Design, 2009) - Amanita's first point-and-click that wasn't made for a web-browser and is "full-length" (approx. 8 hours). The art direction is great, graphics and animation are nice to look at and the music is good, too, but the gameplay is purist point-and-click tedium. I found myself using the game's built-in hint system constantly from the second screen onwards (which btw you have to unlock by playing and beating a little side-scrolling shmup, for which I couldn't figure out the right controls for some ten minutes) and eventually gave up. Thankfully Amanita makes much, much more interesting and off-beat games these days. Previously reviewed in this thread here.
  • Void Bastards (Blue Manchu / Humble Games, 2019) - On paper this game has it all, very cool art direction (the whole game is made to look like a graphic novel, even the first-person view-port has a panel-like border), features voice-over from the same voice actor that voiced The Stanley Parable, this time playing a sociopathic AI, and you get to board and loot derelict space ships. How could this possibly go wrong? Well, the ships and the game map that contains them are procedurally generated, and it's a rogue-lite, so you're expected to a die a lot. Put together, this makes the game get very predictable and, well, videogamey. But the actual FPS gameplay is pretty primitive and the extra weapons and abilities you're supposed to craft from your loot don't make it much more interesting either. Gave up some three hours in. Previously reviewed in this thread here.
  • Unruly Heroes (Magic Design, 2019) - Rayman meets Journey to the West. Probably good fun in co-op, too many move-sets and combos to learn in single player.
  • The Little Acre (Pewter / Curve Digital, 2016) - Hand-drawn and hand-animated point-and-click adventure. A for effort, but the characters and the character animation just look bad and dated. It even lacks some very essential point-and-click technology, like character sprites that shrink and grow relative to moving about in the perspective of the background image (first seen in The Secret of Monkey Island, in 1990!). Apparently the game can be beat in 2 hours, but I bailed out after just 20 minutes.
 
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OP
Ge0force

Ge0force

Excluding exclusives
Jan 12, 2019
2,646
8,244
113
Belgium
Finished Valkyria Chronicles 4


The original Valkyria Chronicles is one of the best games ever made in my opinion, and this one is VERY good as well. While the story and characters aren't as good as in the original game, the unique and addicting gameplay is better than ever. Additions like the mortar class and APC allow tons of new strategic options, and there's literally tons of content in this complete edition: a huge story campaign, unlockable squad stories for almost every character and tons of
skirmish maps. The DLC is excellent as well, especially the one where you're meeting the crew from the original game. Amazing game that everyone should play!

Score: 9.6/10


Retired Fe


Fe is definitely a beautiful and unique game, where you can use the help from animals to learn new skills. Sadly, both the platforming and the combat are rather mediocre and sometimes even frustrating, which prevented me from finishing the game.

Score: 5.4/10
 

Virtual Ruminant

Junior Member
May 21, 2020
209
500
93
Finished Spec Ops: The Line (Yager, Dark Side / 2K, 2012)

A badly aged third-person shooter.

Pro:
  • (Almost) ten years after the release of the game, and the same (almost) ten years further into the ongoing climate crisis, the scenario of Dubai, mostly abandoned and half-buried in sand due to colossal, permanently raging sand-storms, is the one thing in this game that still holds up and manages to make an impression.
Con:
  • The game controls clumsily and lacks everything you would expect from a modern shooter.
  • The graphics, animation and playable set-pieces, art-directed purely for realism without any discernible stylization, would have been fairly impressive in 2007, when the game's development started. By the time of its release, they were already overshadowed by Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty - Black Ops and Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 3. Add another ten years onto that and there's not much left to look at. The helicopter-based shooting gallery right at the beginning of the game is probably the part that holds up the best.
  • The story of the single-player campaign, a war-narrative with a psychological bent, which earned the game considerable praise at the time of its release, is a hilarious mess of tropes and borrowed ideas from various 20th century war and anti-war movies and literature. The ambition seems to have been to write the Apocalypse Now of video games, but in my opinion whatever points it tries to make about actual war fall way short of the achievements of the to-this-day excellent campaign of Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare from 2007. There is a bit of a meta-narrative in there as well that tries to make a point about military shooter video games themselves, but it really only lands when applied to the shooters of the first decade of the 2000s, another bit where the game was already outdated by the time of its release. The characterization of the player character and his two AI-controlled sidekicks also has lots of unintended comedy due to virtual over-acting and few relatable traits. Again, COD4 - MW, which doesn't exactly go for super-realistic personalities for its ensemble of characters either, just did a better job all around.

I had this one sitting in my library for ages, convinced that this was a game of historic importance that I should experience myself. Having played it now, I would like to encourage anybody to not make the same mistake.

2/5
 
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Mivey

MeatMember
Sep 20, 2018
1,454
4,267
113
Finished Spec Ops: The Line (Yager, Dark Side / 2K, 2012)

A badly aged third-person shooter.

Pro:
  • (Almost) ten years after the release of the game, and the same (almost) ten years further into the ongoing climate crisis, the scenario of Dubai, mostly abandoned and half-buried in sand due to colossal, permanently raging sand-storms, is the one thing in this game that still holds up and manages to make an impression.
Con:
  • The game controls clumsily and lacks everything you would expect from a modern shooter.
  • The graphics, animation and playable set-pieces, art-directed purely for realism without any discernible stylization, would have been fairly impressive in 2007, when the game's development started. By the time of its release, they were already overshadowed by Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty - Black Ops and Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 3. Add another ten years onto that and there's not much left to look at. The helicopter-based shooting gallery right at the beginning of the game is probably the part that holds up the best.
  • The story of the single-player campaign, a war-narrative with a psychological bent, which earned the game considerable praise at the time of its release, is a hilarious mess of tropes and borrowed ideas from various 20th century war and anti-war movies and literature. The ambition seems to have been to write the Apocalypse Now of video games, but in my opinion whatever points it tries to make about actual war fall way short of the achievements of the to-this-day excellent campaign of Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare from 2007. There is a bit of a meta-narrative in there as well that tries to make a point about military shooter video games themselves, but it really only lands when applied to the shooters of the first decade of the 2000s, another bit where the game was already outdated by the time of its release. The characterization of the player character and his two AI-controlled sidekicks also has lots of unintended comedy due to virtual over-acting and few relatable traits. Again, COD4 - MW, which doesn't exactly go for super-realistic personalities for its ensemble of characters either, just did a better job all around.

I had this one sitting in my library for ages, convinced that this was a game of historic importance that I should experience myself. Having played it now, I would like to encourage anybody to not make the same mistake.

2/5
Not to be an ass, but if your take after playing Spec Ops is that Modern Warfare 1 is the better version of it, then I don't really know what to tell you. Specs Ops is very much a deconstruction of the military shooter genre. That it doesn't play well is very much the point, it wouldn't work for what it's going. It's also questioning the very morality of having a game that's supposed to show how bad war is, but at the same time still makes a game out of killing people. Whereas the plot in every single COD game is "USA good, brown people in Middle East bad", this game also calls into question the very idea that a bunch of American soldiers with next to no understanding of the country they sent to, are a force for good.
I can see how it can appear, from 2020 eyes, fairly clumsy in what it's going for, but considering when and how this game was developed, as a game in a franchise known for fairly standard brown military shooters, I will always have the highest respect for its dev team, specifically the lead designer and writer. I think they left Yager after this game, and it shows that their newer games are nothing like Spec Ops. The Line.
 

Virtual Ruminant

Junior Member
May 21, 2020
209
500
93
Not to be an ass, but if your take after playing Spec Ops is that Modern Warfare 1 is the better version of it, then I don't really know what to tell you. Specs Ops is very much a deconstruction of the military shooter genre. That it doesn't play well is very much the point, it wouldn't work for what it's going. It's also questioning the very morality of having a game that's supposed to show how bad war is, but at the same time still makes a game out of killing people
Yes, that is the gist of most of the reviews that praised the game, too. Having played it now, I can say with confidence that every single one of these reviewers and appraisals is completely off the mark. What makes COD4 (note: specifically COD4 - MW2 and MW3 are very different beasts) so good in comparison is that it portraits the sociopathy of the participants with some exaggeration, but authentically. My favorite example of this is the "Death from Above" mission in COD4. The laconic commentary of the bomber's TV operator ("kaa-boom") as you mow down enemies by the dozens not only conveys the message of how far modern warfare removes the combatants from one another (and respectively, from their suffering), it's also been confirmed as accurate.

The Line on the other hand, tells a psychological drama around entirely unbelievable and inauthentic characters that do not in any way behave like soldiers, much less special forces operators. The closest the game's story comes to delivering a realistic portrayal are the CIA troops. All in all however, the story told in this game has no connection to the reality of actual war. If it had been more compelling in its own right as a psychodrama, it could have been worthy of praise for that, like the references it tries to mimic, but it isn't, so it's a dud all around.

Also, to clarify my "take": Neither COD4 nor The Line are "anti-war" games or ultimately successful subversions of the military shooter genre. But: COD4 comes closer to both, simply by delivering on the promise of portraying modern warfare with some authenticity. The Line on the other hand was meant to be both and fails at delivering either due to bad writing.
 
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Mivey

MeatMember
Sep 20, 2018
1,454
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Yes, that is the gist of most of the reviews that praised the game, too. Having played it now, I can say with confidence that every single one of these reviewers and appraisals is completely off the mark. What makes COD4 (note: specifically COD4 - MW2 and MW3 are very different beasts) so good in comparison is that it portraits the sociopathy of the participants with some exaggeration, but authentically. My favorite example of this is the "Death from Above" mission in COD4. The laconic commentary of the bomber's TV operator ("kaa-boom") as you mow down enemies by the dozens not only conveys the message of how far modern warfare removes the combatants from one another (and respectively, from their suffering), it's also been confirmed as accurate.

The Line on the other hand, tells a psychological drama around entirely unbelievable and inauthentic characters that do not in any way behave like soldiers, much less special forces operators. The closest the game's story comes to delivering a realistic portrayal are the CIA troops. All in all however, the story told in this game has no connection to the reality of actual war. If it had been more compelling in its own right as a psychodrama, it could have been worthy of praise for that, like the references it tries to mimic, but it isn't, so it's a dud all around.

Also, to clarify my "take": Neither COD4 nor The Line are "anti-war" games or ultimately successful subversions of the military shooter genre. But: COD4 comes closer to both, simply by delivering on the promise of portraying modern warfare with some authenticity. The Line on the other hand was meant to be both and fails at delivering either due to bad writing.
As a game, COD (including Modern Warfare) games fail to grasp me in any way. I do not believe they are realistic in anyway, and the commentary of soldiers that glorifies violence fails to be impressive when the game doesn't question this glorification and actively engages in it too. It's eating a cake and having it too. Spec Ops is actually trying to make the player reflect about what's going on, however successful or unsuccessful this ends up being. COD, on the other hand, is just obsessed with smooth action and flow, wanting you to stop thinking. Even it's moments of surprise, like the nuclear explosion, aren't really deep or interesting.

And Spec Ops is very much an anti-war game, for sure and I feel it's very good attempt at deconstructing a military shooter. Deconstruction doesn't mean it's subverting it, it means it's trying to question what this actually means and exploring the relationship you as the player can have with the material presented. And saying that Modern Warfare has better writing than Spec Ops, is ... certainly an interesting view. I do not agree with this. In anyway whatsoever. I can see, however, that we might be interested in very different things, I do not care in the raw "authenticity" of the portrayal of war. It's much more interesting to exaggerate and dramatise then try to present war "objectively". I do not think that can really be done, not without ignoring how much destruction and casual death modern warfare causes that we ignore very easily in the West. There's a reason the US has literally no idea how many brown people it has killed in Iraq, and it's not because their soldiers behave like perfect paragons. A game that looks at literature, like Heart of Darkness and its portrayal of the horrors of colonialism, instead of acting effectively as military propaganda is far more interesting to me.


Edit:

I actually remembered something. Due to the recent controversy around the game "Six Days in Fallujah", Spec Ops The Line got some interesting attention. The game actually portrays war crimes against civilians, namely the use of white phosporus. This actually, literally happened. And yet, no Call of Duty game will ever show this, nor any other literal war crime commited by the US. And forget the games set in the Middle East, even when tackling the Vietnam War, you won't see them use Agent Orange over villages, or Napalm a town or two, nope. No, sir, the US is only honourably fighting other enemy combatants. No civilian killed here.

And speaking of the writing of Modern Warfare. the game literally invents a reason for the US to invade "not-Iraq": an evil dictator gets their hands on a nuclear weapon. You know, as opposed to the totally real weapons of mass destruction that lead to a war that, as we mentioned, led to a whole bunch of war crimes. Also the Russians are evil again, I guess, because why not.
 
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C-Dub

Makoto Niijima Fan Club President
Dec 23, 2018
1,212
3,637
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33
Cardiff, Wales
www.playedthat.com
Spec Ops: The Line is quite the accomplishment. It was janky as fuck back when it came out, but the questions it asked and the morality of not only war but war games it portrayed really hit home.

But I have seen many people miss the point of the game, sometimes wilfully. It is what it is.
 
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Virtual Ruminant

Junior Member
May 21, 2020
209
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Retired (for now) Cave Story + (Studio Pixel / Nicalis, 2011)

An indie (some will say THE indie) retro metroid-vania pixel-art platformer, developed by a single person over the course of five years and originally released as freeware in 2004. This version adds higher-res graphics (which I didn't enable) and new versions of the soundtrack (which I did enable).

Pro:
  • Quirky story that keeps a good balance between being silly, lighthearted fun and a bit of a mystery adventure.
  • The tile-based pixel graphics are simple, but charming and so is the character design.
  • The music is great in all three variants ("original"/"remastered"/"new") present in this release and I don't think I'll forget some of the themes for quite a while.
  • Fantastic level design. You really need to get tactical when playing this game, unless you're prepared to repeat certain sections a lot due to avoidable deaths.
  • High replay value - the game has multiple endings with varying difficulty and secret items to find that can significantly change the experience of the whole game or parts of it. And also multiple difficulty settings, the lowest of which is already plenty challenging.
Con:
  • A large part of the difficulty comes from the controls, which are intentionally floaty. The player character has enough forward momentum that you need to counteract in order to successfully land on small platforms to make SNES-era Mario go "Mamma Mia!". Not my favorite challenge in a platformer.
  • The other difficult bit is the save system. You save manually at save points, and a bunch of them are very strategically placed - to give you a chance to die and play sizeable stretches of levels over and over again.
  • The aforementioned level design and high replay value do make the game much longer than the roughly 8 hours for the most common play-through, but it'll be time spent "gitting gud". Which isn't everybody's cup of tea, I'm not a huge fan either.

A classic I had missed out on for the longest time, glad I finally took it on. I'm putting this under retired because this is one of those games that really can only be considered finished after at the very least two playthroughs, but since it's not 2004 anymore and there's plenty of other games in my todo-list, this one goes on the play-again-some-day list for now. Since the freeware version is still available, there really is no reason to not at least give it a try and I'd recommend anybody to do so.


4/5
 
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fantomena

MetaMember
Dec 17, 2018
5,467
12,859
113
Finished


Great game, some of the best graphics Ive seen in a game, nice music, good story and great characters. Lots of ways to upgrade stuff and keep progressing forward. What I did not like much is the lack of boss variation and despite of the upgrades and stuff you can during a run, after 50 runs or so, the game got a bit repetive, which is something I wanna feel from roguelikes. However overall Supergiant did an amazing job on this.

I got almost all cheevos, but I did use Cheat Engine to speed up the game at certain points due to the repetivenes in later runs.

Score: 9/10
 

AHA-Lambda

MetaMember
Oct 9, 2018
1,568
3,507
113
Finished Haven (XSX, Game Pass)


At its core Haven is an exploration game. The reason I mention this is that the game got a lot of flack for onerous resource collecting which after beating the game I don't think is really deserved.
The goal of the game is to repair your broken ship; each repair you do requires a unique component and a host of other more generic resources you find in the world. The hard part that will take up more of your time is finding the unique components, not the more generic resources as you will get more than enough just by exploring the world naturally.

Anyway with that said, both the character movement system and exploration is satisfying, with a pseudo metroidvania aspect to it through its linear directed progression, with shortcuts being unlocked as you progress, plus gaining new abilities to access previously inaccessible areas.
The real gem of the game though is the relationship between the two leads though, there is some really good chemistry and banter between them. The actual plot of the game world is much more ho hum but the characters make up for this shortcoming imo.

Throw in a nice artstyle and a pretty good soundtrack, and I had a pretty good time :)

It took me about 7 hours to complete which I believe is a little bit on the shorter side, but by the time I had most of the ship repaired I rushed the rest as I wanted to just find the rest of the unique components rather than explore more fully, as the gameplay loop is after all exploration for exploration's sake, and I'm not convinced that will hold up over longer playthroughs.

7/10
 

Virtual Ruminant

Junior Member
May 21, 2020
209
500
93
Finished Rochard (Recoil, 2011)

a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer with gravity physics and a gravity gun. It's somewhat noteworthy historically as the first Unity Engine game released on PS3. I played the Steam version though, which I bought last year.

Pro:
  • Looks and sounds great despite its age. It also features Jon "Duke Nukem" St. John voicing the main character, hamming it up with a pretty thick Texan accent, the rest of the voice-acting cast isn't bad either.
  • Tight controls and straight-forward puzzling. The inspiration taken from Half-Life 2's gravity gun is obvious and it works great translated into 2D. In addition to moving heavy objects however, it can also shoot like an actual gun, so you have a choice whether to take on enemies straight-on with shooting or by using the physics against them. And you can switch between normal and moon-level gravity on demand, which enables additional movement options.
  • The level design of the story is more for fun than challenge, which I appreciated a lot. It's a straight 7 hour shot from start to the final boss, who isn't super-tough either. The real head-scratcher levels are all separately packaged in the DLC "Hard Times".
Con:
  • Stacking boxes is sometimes necessary, but can become fiddly.
  • The story starts out pretty well, but then quickly becomes entirely predictable and uninteresting. And the ending is particularly unsatisfying - probably intended to set up a sequel, which was never made.

Great little game that entirely holds up despite its age. Everyone should go and buy it next time it goes on sale - oh, hold on a minute - turns out, you can't.

Apparently Recoil Games has been in receivership for years now and no deal was made to take over the distribution rights, so the distribution contracts have now been terminated. The game is no longer available anywhere, neither on PSN nor on Steam. So, time to look at that motivational poster again - Don't be sad it's over, be glad that it happened! - or go find a decentralized backup-copy online. As of right now, they do exist and are readily available. Including the DLC. Yes, I checked.


4/5
 
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C-Dub

Makoto Niijima Fan Club President
Dec 23, 2018
1,212
3,637
113
33
Cardiff, Wales
www.playedthat.com
Persona 5 Strikers (Steam)


I don't believe in unbiased reviews, but I do believe in going into a game unbiased before playing. I can't say I did that with Persona 5 Strikers because I was so dang excited to play this game.

Upon finishing, I'm happy. Some people say this is a good template for future games, but they're wrong. This is a definitive and refined version of a Persona 5 sequel, but it lacks the emotional depth and sense of time that makes the mainline games so compelling and amazing.

But what Strikes does well is take the gang who you've already enjoyed a 70-110 hour adventure with, and take you on another adventure with them. This is a game for those of you who maxed the Confidants in Persona 5, spent a year in Tokyo stealing hearts, and decided you want just a little bit more.

I enjoyed the road trip aspect, as it feels like a more grown up theme than a growing up theme - one of my rites of passage into adulthood was camping and travelling without my folks, and Strikers captures that perfectly. This is a game that has grown up with people who played Persona 5 a few years back.

With that in mind, the writing is solid. Sometimes the characters feel like archetypes, but that's par for the course of a Persona sequel. I see it as more akin to the characters being more comfortable in their own skins, openly being parodies of themselves in a lighthearted fashion. It's also not as on the nose as, say, Persona Q was in this regard, so that's a good thing. I went along with it, at least.

My biggest reservation was that Omega Force were developing it. I hate Musou games, and I won't lie, when this was first announced I felt a pit in my stomach - would this be a Persona game I skipped. Thankfully, it's more RPG than Musou to its benefit. I still prefer the turn-based combat, and I miss the Confidants/S.Links, but the action RPG combat complements the more streamlined Persona experience in general, giving the game a sense of pace that isn't needed in a mainline release. I'm amazed that they pulled it off, but they did.

About the only flaws, for me at least, with Strikers is the bugs. When it works, the game performs a dream, but there are some visual glitches in All Out Attacks that are jarring, and the amount of times the game crashed or froze was, frankly, unacceptable. I'm hoping Atlus goes in and fixes them, but I can't help but feel it's tainted my experience.

Overall, this is a solid game. It's not a groundbreaking title, but it is a solidly made game that sets out to do a thing and does it. If you've played Persona 5 and wanted one more road trip with the Phantom Thieves, this is £55 well spent.

9/10