Twelve hours deep into ME3, I feel as though I've only dipped my toes into this giant pool. Everywhere I turn, familiar faces remind me of my past successes, my past failures, and my future fate. It's rare that I care so much about characters or the choices that I make in a game. I'll be bummed when this one's over!
RAmpersaND's forum posts
Journey is the first game in as long as I can remember that I've played from beginning to end in one sitting.
It offers such an ephemeral experience that any preview would be pointless; any review would spoil too much.
Thus, instead of directly discussing Journey at all, I'd like to say only this:
Does the question "What if Jason Rohrer joined Team Ico?" get you giddy?
If so, then Journey is probably worth your $15. Go in blind, and enjoy the ride!
The Good: The protagonist's progression through a series of alien powers (such as "Warp", "Frag", and "Echo") is fun and impressively organic. The game's antagonist, reminiscent of several Metal Gear Solid bosses, is surprisingly memorable. Level and sound design are terrific. And the game only costs $10!
The Bad: Gameplay relies perhaps too heavily upon trial-and-error. Most challenge rooms are unnecessarily difficult, set in environments where it's too dark to see the action clearly. Power-ups require too much of the game's collectible currency. And the whole experience ends less than four hours after it begins!
The Stand-out Moment: "You imbecile! I said make a death trap, not a fucking obstacle course!"
The Verdict: 8.5 (out of 10)
One final note on the game's difficulty: Judging by Warp's leaderboards, about 25,000 people have played the game. Of those 25,000, only about 2,500 - or 1 in 10 - have managed (or bothered) to complete the game. And of those 2,500, I land at about 500th place for "best clear time". That suggests that I rank among the top 2% of all Warp players in the world... and even I found the game to be frustrating at times! (But if it had been easier, it would have been even shorter!)
It's been a long wait since I first got my hands on a demo of Warp back at last year's PAX East. I'm still not sure how best to describe this "puzzle-based stealth action game", but any title that can remind me of Shadow Complex, Portal, and Metal Gear Solid all at once must be doing something right!
The Good: I don't think I appreciated this back in 2001, but Ico remains a superb study in opposites and the effects that can be achieved by contrasting them: panoramic camera angles make it clear from the outset that our hero is a tiny cog in a gigantic machine; this weak and lonely human protagonist is faced with a legion of monstrous enemies; he ventures back and forth between sprawling, sun-soaked courtyards and claustrophobic dungeons. With simple controls, simple rules, and a simple goal, Team Ico's first and eponymous effort maintains both its elegance and its effectiveness more than ten years after its release.
The Bad: As I noted earlier, Ico's beauty and originality are no worse for a decade's wear. Nevertheless, the title's few blemishes continue to hold it back from perfection. When Ico gets knocked down, it takes too long for him to pick himself up again; it's excruciating as a player to be forced to complete lengthy puzzles all over again just because some shadow demon bowled Ico over at the worst possible moment. Minor pathing issues and animation glitches persist. And sadly, the entire experience ends just a bit too soon; even without rushing through the game, it isn't difficult to reach the end credits in under seven hours.
The Stand-out Moment: Making the connection between holding R1 and holding Yorda's hand.
The Verdict: 9.5 (out of 10)
I first played Ico in September 2001, when a demo for the game was included on Official US PlayStation Magazine's first-ever PS2 disc. Back then, Ico's gorgeous environments and unique gameplay took my breath away; more than a decade later, the re-mastered PS3 version has me stunned all over again!
@laserbolts: I loved collecting all of the Riddler trophies, too. Re-visiting all of Arkham City's areas to collect them after completing the main storyline reminded me of re-exploring all of Super Mario Galaxy 2 to round up its 120 Green Stars. The Mr. Freeze boss fight was a real favorite of mine, as well. I just didn't want to mention it in my review in case that might spoil the fight for anyone else who waits even longer to play Arkham City than I did!
@killacam: In my opinion, Rocksteady did a truly amazing job of developing a game in which an open world sustains a compelling narrative!
The Good: Virtually everything? No, seriously.
Arkham City is not only the best Batman title, but the best superhero title of all time. (Only its predecessor, Arkham Asylum, even comes close.) Batman and his enemies look and sound just right; every encounter between the Dark Knight and his super-villains satisfies, whether facing off against the Joker with his fists, the Riddler with his brain, or any number of other rogues with both. As the main playable character, Batman also moves like a dream; whether grappling between gargoyles, gliding over rooftops, or simply lurking in the shadows, the Caped Crusader and his gadgets fit Gotham like a glove!
With all of that said, even if I hadn't already been familiar with Batman and his world, Arkham City would've blown me away. It offers the best combat I've ever experienced in an action game. Its controls are perfect. Its score is evocative. Its voice acting is top-notch. A wealth of unlockable character bios and audio recordings make even Gotham's lesser-known deranged denizens come alive. If I hadn't already been reading Batman comics, Arkham City's sheer level of awesomeness would've compelled me to start, and that's the highest praise I can conceive of bestowing upon any superhero title!
The Bad: Just once, I needed to turn on "hints" in order to solve a counter-intuitive environmental puzzle. A couple of the optional cases became frustratingly directionless midway through. The third-act plot points involving the al Ghuls didn't make much sense. And some of the Catwoman gameplay felt tacked-on. But in the grand scheme of things, none of that mattered; I didn't rest until I'd completed every side mission, and I'd gladly do so again!
The Stand-out Moment: Paying respects in Crime Alley.
The Verdict: 10 (out of 10)