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Users with accounts on the HonestGamers site are able to contribute reviews and occasionally other types of content. Below, you'll find excerpts from as many as 20 of the most recent articles posted by tomchick. Be sure to leave some feedback if you find anything interesting!
In Call of Duty: Black Ops, you play an Australian actor named Sam Worthington doing a bad American accent while the serial killer from Saw forces him to yell stuff about the exposition, with occasional breaks to play through overloud overscripted overblown shooting galleries in which you get captured no fewer than three and a half times.
Storytelling aside (those are two words that this narrative-heavy game can't afford), Dead Space 2 is a serviceable two-trick pony. The main trick is the contrived dismemberment mode. Headshots are so passe. So the Dead Space approach is to encourage severing crab-like limbs, conveniently extended as if the monster was going to make a snow angel. They're loud, they writhe, they splorch out a lot of blood, and when you fail, they treat [sic] you to an elaborate animation of the lead...
Combat is still solid when it's one guy fighting a handful of enemies polite enough to hang back and wait their turns. But when Ubisoft tries larger encounters, which they do frequently in Revelations, Assassin's Creed combat looks suspiciously like Dynasty Warriors. That's not something to aspire to. When a riot breaks out, it looks unintentionally hilarious, with characters shuffling and bumping uncertainly. It looks more like a high school dance.
The campaign, which has no time limits and almost no fail states, is just a primer. The core of Anno 2070 is the continuous scenario, which you can set up to be as competitive, goal-oriented, and punishing as you want, or as peaceful, open-ended, and forgiving as you want. This is the epitome of the sandbox game. Just start it up and build your little heart out. And the longer it goes, the longer you'll want it to go.
This is when Skyrim will reward you most richly. Not when you're trying to win, or beat it, or get to the end, or level up, or earn the achievements. Not when you're playing it like a stat-based RPG, or a single-player MMO, or a challenge. Skyrim is putatively a game. More accurately, it's a narrative loom.
Game: Halo: Combat Evolved - Anniversary (Xbox 360)
Posted: November 20, 2011 (08:00 PM)
When the rocket launcher and shotgun appear later in the game, they appear for specific situations and not because your arsenal has been lacking up to this point. And from the early appearance of grunts on the Pillar of Autumn all the way to the grand reveal of the Flood and the Sentinels, Halo is a textbook example of how to gradually unfold enemies in a meaningful way. Are you prepared to fear a cloaked elite with an energy sword for the very first time, all over again?
It is immaculately paced because it loves you. Most games can be insensitive clods with occasional rough patches. You get stuck for a while, or it's slow to start, or you cruise through some filler, or certain design choices are clunky, or the characters are flat and you don't care about them, or you know exactly what's going to happen next and therefore when it happens you don't care. None of this happens in Saints Row 3, which is a textbook example of how to keep me into a game from beg...
More than any other graphics engine today, it's a complete package, featuring scale, scope, spectacle, on-foot detail and in-airplane elbow room, multiplayer, meaningful destruction, and absurdly good animation. Absurdly good. The animation is so good you probably won't even notice it. Of course the characters move this way because that's how real dudes move. What's the big deal? You almost have to go back to another game with the usual animation to appreciate what Battlefield 3 does...
Game: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PlayStation 3)
Posted: November 02, 2011 (12:11 AM)
Uncharted 3 is mostly filler without gameplay. It's the modern equivalent of those full motion video games folks made back in the 90s when new CD-ROMs afforded all that storage space. So developers shot video footage, grafted it onto various games (usually puzzle collections), and a genre was born. Who cares whether there was an actual game in there?
Has a virtual place ever been such a canny combination of story backdrop, richly atmospheric graphics, and thrilling playground as this walled off section of Gotham City converted into a prison? Arkham City is densely packed with things to see, things to hear, and things to do. Gliding over the rooftops can be as rewarding as strolling along the streets. Rocksteady's city is a spectacle through and through, even more beautiful than Ubisoft's Assassin's Creeds for how it's so true to its f...
Despite some subquests and optional grinding, itís mostly a long winding trip down an inevitable path, and often times back along the inevitable path. Expect to do a lot of walking. This is a hallmark of the Dungeon Siege series, so it should be no surprise that it hasnít changed. But developer Obsidian has tried to infuse it with a choice-and-consequence system. In theory, this seems like a great idea. But in practice, itís the difference between an attack rating of 142 and an attac...
The inspiration is, of course, the venerable Duke Nukem 3D, a groundbreaking over-the-top comedy shooter that had actual gameplay when it came out 15 years ago. But in Duke Nukem Forever, it's tough to use the word "inspiration". When you come across a nod to the original game, it feels like it was chucked in carelessly. Here's a trip mine. Here's a holoduke. Here's a pigcop. Here's something like a boss fight. Here's a gun that shoots blue lasers. Here's a stripper.
Have you ever had to take a road trip with people you can't stand? Early on, a couple of characters introduce the story and the gameplay progression by giving each other glowing doo-dads. Literally. Here's a glowing doo-dad for you. And here's one for you. That's an indication of the level of coherence and dramatic tension that will drive Infamous 2. And it just goes downhill, with sidekick Zeke as pointless as ever, a toughened Cole now gravelly voice like a Martin Sheen who won't take a...
What eventually passes for core gameplay in LA Noire is a bad guessing game in which you have to decide whether people are lying and which bits of evidence from your inventory confirm the lie. It's all very vague, and you'll feel like quite the schmuck when you're sure you've cornered a suspect, only to realize that the game's writer was on a different page. Not that it matters, which is a terrible thing to say about core gameplay.
Like Quake Wars, Brink has excellent bot support, which makes it a viable single-player game. Or, even better, a game you can enjoy with a small group of friends playing among bots. It's remarkable how well the AI can handle this relatively complicated game, making use of different weapons, different class abilities, the movement system, and various elements of the maps. In fact, one of the best ways to learn a map is to follow a bot. When it comes to competent bots making mult...
So we get a corridor shooter with a bunch of set pieces. These will do in a bind. The early bits are the best, on the crowded streets of Shanghai, chasing a pantless couple, or pinned down by the cops in a video rental store, or gunfire shredding the flimsy wooden panels of a gaudy restaurant, or threading through a stretch of jammed chaotic freeway. Expect a lot of filler between these cool bits, usually in a warehouse or parking garage or something.
When taken together, the campaign and single-player scenario missions offer a lot of variety. At their best, they show Bohemia Interactive's flair for the dramatic. During a commando raid to rescue hostages held in a factory, you come down a hill overlooking a local village. Friendly forces are launching an assault on the village, which ends up sending a swarm of enemy troops in your direction. What could have been a simple shootout is situated in a larger context. You get front row seats, ...