Syndicate’s future world is about divisions; the divisions in the economic and political landscapes, between consumer and outcast where people are interfaced with the Datascape through neural chips that feed them a constant stream of data. That world is run by the mega corporations who plot, steal, manipulate and sabotage for the sake of patents, personnel and profit and each employs its own military and special agents to safeguard its bottom line. The original Syndicate from the mid-nineties offered a bleak, violent cyberpunk world- one perfectly suited to the brutal and creative skills of Starbreeze Studio’s.
Radical Entertainment’s 2009 release of Prototype was welcomed with open arms, even though it dropped a month after the fundamentally similar Infamous. Over 400 thousand people were happy enough to aid in its journey to reaching Platinum status (which it did fairly quickly) for obvious reasons. Being an open world game centered on a biologically enhanced anti-hero capable of scaling buildings and slaughtering entire military units in a fashion that brought to mind John Carpenter’s The Thing, none of this came as much of a surprise.
The aspects of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning that place it in everyone’s mind as an Elder Scrolls knock-off disguised in a bright, cartoonish atmosphere are probably the least important of all. Yes, you are in a rich fantasy world fighting typical fairy-tale type monsters. Yes, you can choose to play as a decent, upstanding individual or to roam the world looting what is not rightfully yours. In 2012, these are common facets in most great open-world games. It is the fully realized manner in which Big Huge Games offers these features here that make for a truly satisfying experience.
After he viciously slaughtered his way through the mafia family run by his Uncle Paulie, Jackie Estacado had vowed to never again use The Darkness. The demon had given him great strength, but had manipulated and twisted the young man. When we meet him again as he walks into a family run restaurant at the beginning of the Darkness 2, we see that he has prospered, the family is strong, its members loyal- and then they are attacked by an unknown group who want The Darkness for themselves. The scene acts as a well-designed introduction to the world and mechanics- Jackie’s leg is destroyed and he’s pulled to safety, nothing but a pistol to fend off his attackers. Where once he was an invincible god, he’s broken and dying, now just a man. It’s been two years since he’s given in to the Darkness.
Batman: Arkham City is an incredible sequel to a game with some of the most robust mechanics you’ll find anywhere in the medium.
Picking up six months after the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the inmates of that institution and the violent prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary have been rounded up after events that transpired in a comic series leading up to this game into a prison known as Arkham City at the behest of Dr. Hugo Strange. Strange, who came into possession of Batman’s true identity by unknown means, has thrown Bruce Wayne within the confines of the fences controlled by his TYGER guards to incite deployment of his shadowy ‘Protocol 10’. By its end, Batman will run up against many of his legendary enemies including The Joker, who is suffering from fatal side effects to his exposure to his Titan experiments from his previous takeover of Arkham Asylum.