Dragon Age: Origins was one of the best RPGs of the last generation. Bioware looked back to its Baulder’s Gate roots and crafted a new world. Dragon Age 2 is often considered a misstep for the series, an incredibly rushed product that reuses environments too often and fails to consider the breadth and depth of the world. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a direct answer to the complaints of Dragon Age 2 meshed with some of the design sensibilities of Origins. Bioware excels at telling character-focused stories in rich and detailed worlds and Dragon Age: Inquisition is no different. It’s a game of immense scope that still manages to be incredibly engaging and personal.
It’s still a sad fact of the video game industry that most games based on pre-existing licenses are terrible. For every Batman: Arkham Asylum or South Park: The Stick Of Truth, you get a Robocop or a Rambo. That’s because, usually, developers of these licensed games are not given enough time or money to actually make a quality video game. So what happens when you give a pre-existing license to Platinum Games, a developer that’s notorious for making good games even with a short deadline and a low budget? Well…
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.
Sunset Overdrive relishes the fact that it’s a video game. It feels like a complete shift from Fuse, Insomniac’s last game. At times it harkens back to their Ratchet & Clank days, but this is a much more mature and self-referential world. Sunset Overdrive has a decidedly punk rock, fuck-the-establishment vibe that never lets up. Sometimes that’s a good thing; sometimes Sunset Overdrive just needs to chill out, bro.
In Ridley Scott’s Alien, about half of the movie is spent going through the mundane lives of the Nostromo crew. You don’t see the titular alien, but you know it’s coming — the movie is called Alien, after all. The tension builds and builds, giving you glimpses and teases of what is to come, but always holding back for the big reveal later on. In James Cameron’s Aliens, the same rules apply. But this time the xenomorphs are on full alert and barrage the marines every chance they get. Alien: Isolation, from Creative Assembly, captures that same sense of dread and tension building from Alien and the relentless assault of Aliens. It is a terrific horror game that starts off too slowly before becoming one of the most terrifying video games I have ever played.
Ashgam the Ruinous raised his sword above his head as I laid on my knees before him. He wore a large steel helmet with four horns protruding out the sides. We fought for only a few moments before he took me down — I was filled with rage. Ashgam froze for a moment and lowered his sword before looming over my head and saying, “Too easy,” before sauntering away as his minions finished me off. Next time I would have my revenge.
Swery created something of a flawed masterpiece with Deadly Premonition. Despite being difficult to control, Deadly Premonition excelled in its weird and goofy storytelling with plenty of homage to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Swery’s newest project, D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, attempts to reach those same bonkers highs of Deadly Premonition while under the guise of a Kinect game. He pretty much succeeded.