Call of Duty: Ghosts was a boring, by-the-numbers game with a rote story and stifling multiplayer. It showed the fraying edges of a vast empire and a team seemingly fed up with making iteration after iteration of Call of Duty; but each year a new release must come. Sometimes those games are marginally fun or have interesting ideas with a stale framework, like Black Ops II. That story had multiple branching paths and the setting took us to the (near) future for the first time in the series history. But Black Ops II still didn’t manage to capture a better framework to challenge the concepts of the stagnating franchise. It was time for a new idea, something to liven up the series and introduce mechanics that change the basic Call of Duty formula, while keeping the structure intact. Sledgehammer Games, a new development studio for the franchise, has found that idea with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
This is not a review of The Evil Within. I didn’t finish the game and I most likely won’t, so obviously no score will be attached to this post (if I had to give it one, a 1 or 2 out of 5 seems reasonable). I played until I became infuriated and realized I have much better things that I can be doing with my time. That was about 11 hours in. I felt pretty shitty about the game for basically all 11 of those hours. It’s not good.
All of the pieces are there to make Destiny a great game. The world is gorgeous, with some of the best art and design in a game to date. The combat is fun and fluid with weighty weapons and clever abilities. The music is beautiful and the sound design screams perfection. Yet Bungie doesn’t do enough to tie together all of Destiny’s fragments, leaving behind a hollow husk of what might have been.
“There are plenty of targets worthy of a bullet; men who need to die. Time for find more work.”
The final lines of Rebellion’s newest release resemble an apt view of the game as a whole. It is a power fantasy of the highest order; a hyper violent, marginally fun trek through orange and brown landscapes of Africa, looking for Nazis to kill. There are plenty of targets for you to shoot; plenty of men who die by your hand. But, Sniper Elite 3 is a one-note gimmick that will leave you longing for different work.
To say I enjoyed High Moon’s take on the Transformer’s franchise would be an understatement. Having played Fall of Cybertron in preparation for this game, my expectations were heightened by just how much I truly enjoyed that game. It looked good, played well, and told and interesting story. Edge of Reality’s Rise of the Dark Spark, on the other hand, tries to do everything Fall did, but does it much worse from every angle.
War never changes, especially in video games. Countless number of games set you in the heat of battle, gunning down hundreds of enemies with reckless abandon. We never understand the pathos of those stories; we never hear of their struggles; all we ever see are moments plucked from action movies. Valiant Hearts: The Great War tells a touching story of a handful of soldiers in the midst of World War I — it’s just a shame this story needs to be a video game too.
Outside of sequels to games I’ve really enjoyed, I typically only get excited for games that sound conceptually interesting. And if nothing else Murdered: Soul Suspect has a good conceptual hook. you’re cast as a ghost detective who has to solve his own murder. Now this sounds like an idea rife with potentially compelling mechanical and narrative possibilities (last I checked, “Ghost Murder Mystery” isn’t a super populated genre). Unfortunately, Murdered: Soul Suspect doesn’t really explore these to any meaningful extent. It’s a largely pleasant time for its eight hour duration, but my main take-away from Murdered: Soul Suspect was disappointment.
Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn’t make a great first impression. In its opening level, which takes place during an assault on Castle Wolfenstein in 1946, The New Order feels sluggish, looks underwhelming, and seems overly linear and generic. It also seems to fall into the tired loop of set-piece, gameplay, set-piece that colors so many modern day shooters. At that point, I wasn’t feeling hopeful for the rest of The New Order, but fortunately this opening was an anomaly; the invasion attempt fails, and the series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz is sent into a 14 year long coma. He awakes to a world where the Nazis have won World War II, and now control much of the planet. It’s at this point that MachineGames reveal their desire to make The New Order heavy on both pulpy thrills and sobering World War II-era realities.
Burial at Sea is a weird piece of downloadable content. It’s as much fan service as it is Levine telling a different kind of story than Bioshock or Infinite that bridges two games. And now it is seen as a swan song to Irrational Games as a full-team studio. It’s weird. But there’s still something incredibly compelling about it that kept drawing me inward, closer and closer to my screen. My arms were tired and my back was sore, but I just had to know what was coming next.