In which I contend that Game & Wario is less a product, more a state of mind.
Uncharted 2 is one of my favorite games this generation. It’s an adventurous shooter with sarcastic characters and bombastic setpiece moments; most of all, it felt like watching a fun summer movie. But Naughty Dog was also critiqued for the ludonarrative dissonance of the series: Nathan Drake will murder vast quantities of people then turn to the camera with a wink and a smile, the way only a likeable action hero can.
The Last of Us throws that entire formula out the window and creates something uniquely different, but not always successful.
I had fun precisely once in Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel. About three hours in, I started playing solo, and hopped in the driver’s seat of a jeep with a turret. My AI partner was going to pick off enemies from his elevated position, but I barely noticed. I slammed on the accelerator (in first-person, no less), running over everyone in my path for a good one to two minutes. Because of the game’s new “dismemberment technology,” bodies exploded and limbs flew around goofily. It was dumb, but it was different. Most of The Devil’s Cartel isn’t.
In another life, things would probably be different. In another life, we might be somewhere else, someone else. But we’re forced to live with the hand we’re dealt, and there’s no changing that. Or is there? It’s hard for Bioshock Infinite to cast itself away from the shadow of its predecessor, mostly because of how strong the narrative of the original Bioshock was in its day. Bioshock Infinite quickly relinquishes itself from the shackles of just “going through the motions” and carves out a unique place all its own.
A Raven lands in a war torn courtyard; faceless men clad in bulky armor and armed with chainsaw machine guns stand at the ready. A drab color palette completes the scene and confirms that Judgment is definitely a Gears of War game. The similarities stay concurrent throughout the game, but there are changes that make Judgment feel fresh and new, despite having a very similar aesthetic to the past games in the series.
I played through The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct in one sitting. It wasn’t because I was having fun with the game, or because I had a large amount of free time I could devote to it. I played it through in one sitting because it was incredibly boring, incredibly short, and I wanted all of it to end as soon as possible.
The Lara Croft of old was a snarky, athletic, rich girl, toting two pistols and clothing that any legitimate archeologist would chortle at if they saw. But the rebooted Tomb Raider’s Lara isn’t that kind of Croft; she’s a frightened, inexperienced, young adventurer thrown into a situation where she must fight if she has any chance of surviving. Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise is a high-stakes adventure that develops a character from innocence to murder – in a very abrupt and disjointed way – and creates a platform for further Lara Croft adventures.