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.
More than any other medium, videogames possess the ability to immerse people in worlds, of giving them a sense of place, one that can be populated, filled out and come alive before our eyes. But great worlds contain memorable characters with their own personalities- Pokémon has long had one of those worlds. Pokémon Snap is built around this singular idea- it puts would-be photographers on a Safari in a Pokémon nature preserve and equips us with a camera to witness, interact and record.
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.
For as much as they’re capable of expressing complex concepts in ways no other medium can, videogames as a form have a long history of telling their narratives using techniques and styles found in traditional film. A rough portmanteau of ‘machine’ and ‘cinema’, machinima is a branch of film built in virtual worlds, often consisting of digital art and engine assets, greatly reducing cost in two mediums that are often defined by it. With close ties to animated works, machinima started with humble beginnings but deserves to be critiqued among the standards of the medium.
When it was first released several years ago, I gave Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden a wistful, sideways glance but never played it. I think, as I have been strangely fixated on it lately, that the time has finally come to download the free copy.
As a fan-made sequel to 1994’s very real Barkley: Shut Up and Jam for the SNES, this turn-based RPG is quite a departure from its humble basketball game beginnings.
When The Darkness came out in 2007 it was an enigma of a game. While it was received extremely well and was successful enough commercially, it was almost immediately evident that it would quickly exit stage left and fall into the realm of the occult.
I hate boomerangs. I hate boomerangs with all my soul. They’re incredibly stupid. You throw a boomerang, it comes back. Great. Thing is, they’re not just for fun and games. There have been historical instances where they were used as weapons and they’ve definitely been used for that purpose in videogames.
Originally released on Japanese MSX2 and PC-8801 machines in 1988, Snatcher is a cyberpunk adventure dripping in dark themes and dystopic style. In many ways, Snatcher is a classic Adventure game- but this one was designed and directed by Hideo Kojima, his second after Metal Gear. Continue reading “Snatcher: A Cyberpunk Adventure”
Hydrophobia: Prophecy is the third downloadable version of the original subtitle-free ‘Hydrophobia’ by Dark Energy Digital. Incorporating a water physics mechanic as a pillar of its design, the game finds Security Engineer Kate Olsen on The Queen of the World, a humanity saving cruise-ship colony as it’s besieged by the Malthusian’s, a terrorist group set on saving the Earth from overpopulation through the mass genocide of its citizens. With gameplay heavily inspired by Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise, Kate climbs, swims and shoots her way to save the ship and humanity.
UPDATE: Included the full Spike VGA trailer that had been edited for time, now with Japanese-language subtitles.
At E3 2009, Hideo Kojima stepped on stage at the Microsoft press conference to announce the latest installment in his legendary Metal Gear Solid series.