Over the weekend I put a decent amount of time into Sniper Elite 3, Rebellion’s latest foray into the realm of shooting a lot of Nazis (and Italian soldiers!) in the face and testicles in slow motion, and I have to say I’m digging it quite a bit.
I’d describe Sniper Elite 3 as a “rough diamond” of sorts. The folks at Rebellion have done a great job of making a fun stealth title and if you like sniping then this is definitely the game for you. Just be aware that there are a few hiccups that might detract from your experience. Continue reading The Visible, Violent Deaths of Sniper Elite 3
About a month ago I got gifted a copy of Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2 on Steam and I didn’t bother playing it until this past weekend. I didn’t expect much from it, but I was surprised at how fun it ended up being.
If you’ve played Call of Duty’s zombie mode, then the set-up will sound very familiar: four WW2-era soldiers battle the Nazi zombie horde while searching for a way to end the onslaught. The difference here is that Sniper Elite is very much focused on long-range combat, so you’ll mostly be pulling sick headshots on a lot of shambling zombies. Unlike CoD’s version, the zombies (for the most part) in NZA2 are the slow, shuffling variety so you always have a fighting chance. There are a few “super” zombies like the machine gun guy or the summoner, but as you progress the zombies don’t get faster and more resilient, which I greatly appreciated.
Nazi Zombie Army 2 is by no means perfect, as I found that actually controlling your character was fairly sloppy and the cover system was basically useless. What NZA2 does well, however, is giving you slow-motion shots of your bullets destroying undead Nazi skulls and in the end, isn’t that all we really want?
A friend and I played this for a couple of hours on Saturday and I had a blast. The fact that it was free definitely helped, but it was much better than I expected and it got me interested in the Sniper Elite franchise in general (which has a three-quel coming out, wouldn’t you know it). Has anyone played any of the Sniper Elite series? What do you think of it?
It’s been a good ten years since we last saw a Mario Golf game, but longtime Nintendo sports collaborators Camelot are at it again with Mario Golf: World Tour, a 3DS title that came out on May 2.
The Mario Golf games have either been strictly arcade-like or had some light RPG aspects and World Tour seems to straddle both of these disciplines. Playing as your Mii in the “Castle Club” mode, you use the tried-and-true power bar to control your shots and for each course you complete (whether it’s a practice round or a tournament), you unlock a new piece of stat-altering gear in the pro shop which you can put on your golfer. Continue reading Taking a Swing at Mario Golf: World Tour
This post was written by my girlfriend, Laura, who is a long-time gamer. She mostly plays on Nintendo platforms, but enjoys the occasional iOS title as well. She’s currently working as a web developer and enjoys many nerdy things including Doctor Who. You can follow her on her Twitter account, @euphorialjc.
Monument Valley is a charming iOS puzzle game from a London developer called ustwo. It was released last Thursday (April 3) and features levels inspired by MC Escher drawings.
The game is fairly short, with a very minimal story and only 10 levels, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for with beautifully crafted sound and crisp, colorful visuals that feel almost reminiscent of TGC’s 2012 hit, Journey. Each level could easily stand alone as a fantastic piece of art for your living room, and there is something very smooth and serene about how the levels move and shift as you work your way through its puzzles and optical illusions. Continue reading The Impossible Architecture of Monument Valley
I was enjoying Killzone Shadow Fall in spurts. Sometimes, I would tolerate its mundane tasks and other times, I would actually lose myself in the gameplay for a bit. I wasn’t having a bad time, per se, but I wasn’t exactly overjoyed every time I booted the game up. But with only 9 missions, I figured I could manage my way through. The graphics were really quite nice, actually, with blue as the new brown, a refreshing change from last-gen.
So I trudged my way through, having already lost the narrative, something about a Cold War and experiments and weapons and using my drone companion to hack a lot of consoles. But then the free fall sequence slammed into me, halting my progress entirely. So I tried it again, thinking that it was my unfamiliarity with the controls that were hindering me. After all, it was a free fall through a city of collapsing skyscrapers and buildings, so this was clearly a big set-piece in the game, one that the developers wanted gamers to see. So I tried again. Continue reading Killzone Shadow Fall and the First Rage Quit of 2014
I made it through this year’s Steam sales largely unscathed, if only because I already own most of the games that went on sale. I did still pick up a few things (because I have no willpower), but the one game that has captured my attention the most is Spelunky, a “procedurally generated” platformer that is maddeningly difficult, occasionally cruel, full of cheap deaths, and surprisingly addictive. I’ve already put in more than eight hours of playtime, and I’m starting to wonder why I do this to myself.
Spelunky has a lot of mechanics designed to make you throw your controller at the wall. Health is limited and hard to refill. Dying means starting over completely. Checkpoints are non-existent and short-cuts require beating every world multiple times under specific conditions. Half the monsters in every level can kill you with one hit, and most of the traps you come across cause instant death. Sometimes the levels are dark or under water or full of the undead and oh if you take too long a giant ghost starts chasing you around until you die or manage to escape. You get the picture.
Continue reading Spelunky Makes Me Want to Stab But I Can’t Stop Playing
Sometimes after your interest in a game has waxed and waned and you think you’ve plumbed the depths of the value you can get out of it, occasionally it’s a good idea to reinstall or boot up old titles to see if there’s anything you missed out on the first time around.
This happened to me recently with Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Relic Entertainment’s foray into third-person character action games. I liked the game quite a bit when it first came out (you can read my review here), but in the intervening time Relic added a co-op horde mode to the game called Exterminatus, which I missed out on the first time around. It follows the usual horde-mode set-up of allowing you and three friends to battle through 20 waves of enemies with occasional objectives, but what makes it shine is Space Marine’s solid gameplay.
I had forgotten how fun and satisfying Space Marine felt to play. Considering that your average Space Marine is built and looks like a walking tank, it might be easy to forget that the melee combat in the game is fast and fluid, and the shooting benefits from the combat-roll ability which is basically your “get out of jail free” card when you’re being mobbed by Orks and don’t have a chainsword handy. Add in two or three friends backing you up against insurmountable odds and throw in a bunch of frenzied yelling when you’re up against the wall and you barely manage to pull through and win a round and you’ve got yourself a really good time, especially out of a game that I had pretty much given up on a couple years ago.
Has anyone else experienced this? Have your friends ever dragged you back to an old game that got some post-launch content that you originally passed up on, only to find yourself having an awesome time?
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the “hurry up and wait games” on iOS. Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes (both by NimbleBit) sucked me in for a couple dozen hours each time. I’m not so impatient that I feel the overwhelming need to buy premium currency in these types of games, and they usually have something to do while you wait (such as Tiny Tower’s elevator).
Just recently my girlfriend turned me on to Pixel People, a game released earlier this year by Lambda Mu and Chillingo, the latter of which you may recognize as the publisher of Angry Birds. Pixel People sees you as the mayor of a floating space city that expands by splicing clones of a different profession together to create a new one (for example the first splice you do is of the mayor and the mechanic clone, which gives you the engineer profession). Every time you splice together a new profession, you get the opportunity to make a new building. Different clones can be combined together, and overall there are about 306 jobs to discover. You assign the clones a job and sometimes the buildings will have a special effect for your city. Continue reading Pixel People Is a Scarily Addictive Mash of SimCity and Tiny Tower
I have an admission to make: I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIII all the way back in 2010 (paid almost full price, too!), played it for about an hour and twenty minutes that March and then proceeded to leave the game untouched for more than three years. Even still, when Final Fantasy XIII-2 came out, I went ahead and bought a shared copy with my brother. He beat it immediately, and I let the game sit on my shelf unplayed until just recently. Why did I put off playing these games for so long? A combination of things, really: I tend to avoid long games until I’m in the right mood for them, and a lot of people were super-critical of FFXIII when it first came out. It sounded like a disappointment and a time-sink, and I wasn’t in the mood for either.
However, after I recently knocked out Demon’s Souls, I found myself craving more good RPG experiences. The FFXIII games were the most logical place to look, if only so that I might finally clear out my backlog of 360 and PS3 games in preparation for trading in one or both systems. I started out with XIII-2 because conventional wisdom is that it corrects all the missteps of XIII, but even though the game was a lot of fun, the story was convoluted and confusing. I felt like I was missing something, so I decided to give XIII a shot after all. Much to my surprise, I’m really enjoying it – the battles are a lot of fun once you can paradigm shift – and I’m already a good twenty hours in after just a few days.
So why was everyone so hard on the game? Was it just a case of preconceived notions, or is there something genuinely missing?
Continue reading Late to the Game: Final Fantasy XIII and the Siren Call of RPGs
As much as I loved this past generation, I think one of the worst things it’s left behind is the idea of progressive unlocks in multiplayer. I hate to lay the blame at just any one game’s feet, but let’s face it, everybody pretty much took this from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now every franchise from Halo to Assassin’s Creed is borrowing the idea, and multiplayer suffers for it.
Last week and over the weekend, I ran into a lot of this with Battlefield 4. While I enjoyed what I played of the game, I couldn’t help but get frustrated that all of the things I really wanted to do were behind a wall of arbitrary XP unlocks. These requirements dictated that I get a certain amount of XP before getting better weapons—which is extremely difficult to do without better weapons. Continue reading The Grind of Progression in Battlefield 4
Listen, I like The Legend of Zelda as a series, I really do, but Skyward Sword was…well it wasn’t the worst thing ever, but let’s just say it was fairly average. If anything it really displayed that the Zelda franchise needed a bit of a shakeup.
For A Link Between Worlds, the newest entry in the series on the 3DS, Nintendo is changing things up a bit. For instance, the introduction for Between Worlds in incredibly short as opposed to the lengthy tutorial of Skyward Sword, and the game no longer relies on the typical Zelda progression of slowly unlocking a large number of items that are more or less exclusive to the dungeon they come from (something that was fairly rampant in Twilight Princess). You can now rent any item in the game at any point from the merchant who moves into your house, but you lose them if you die (you can also buy them permanently later on, although this is expensive). The dungeons can also be tackled in any order as well. Couple that with the fast travel and this is the Zelda game with the most sense of exploration and freedom since, well, A Link to the Past, which this game is a direct sequel to.
The isometric presentation works great too, and this game runs at a speedy 60 frames per second even in 3D so the action is nice and crisp. The music is also fantastic, and features an updated remix of the classic Dark World theme from A Link to the Past. While Zelda games on the Nintendo handhelds have by and large been pretty good, they usually haven’t matched the caliber of a full-fledged console Zelda. A Link Between Worlds blows this notion out of the water and gives us a pretty good look at how Nintendo is planning on making Zelda a different beast for future games.
Has anyone else played A Link Between Worlds? What do you think of it?
To give you a peek into the inner workings here at GamerSushi, we recently discussed the fact that there are several prominent games out there that we haven’t actually reviewed yet. Like, for example, Grand Theft Auto V, which landed a solid #12 in our list of the top 20 games of the last generation. We are aware of the oversight, we are, and we hope to make amends soonish. Personally, I planned to start my attack on un-reviewed games by diving into one of my recent purchases, The Stanley Parable by Galactic Cafe. I figured it’d be both quick to play and reasonably timely. It’s still a fairly new game, after all.
Accordingly, late one night I sat down with The Stanley Parable and played it for about an hour and a half. I think I beat it. In fact, I may have beaten it several dozen times. I’m honestly not entirely sure. I am sure, however, that I haven’t experienced everything the game has to offer. It’s hilarious, confusing, surreal and nearly impossible to summarize. Part of the reason summaries won’t do it justice is that the experience is built entirely around the fact that you are playing a game and bringing certain expectations to the table.
Continue reading This is Not a Review of The Stanley Parable… or is it?
The Wii U got some flack, and rightly so, for launching last year without any games. Well, it had Zombie U and some third-party cross-overs, but what I really mean is that it didn’t have a recognizable Nintendo title outside of New Super Mario Bros. U.
Flash forward a year later and the Wii U has a game that is not only a potential system seller but a game of the year contender as well. Super Mario 3D Worlds, a console-sized semi-sequel of the excellent Super Mario 3D Land available on the 3DS, brings four-player co-op to a 3D Mario game.
While a year is a long time to wait for a 3D Mario title, Super Mario 3D Worlds absolutely nails it in every aspect. The game looks gorgeous in a way that New Super Mario Bros. U never managed to, despite also being a high-definition game. From sun-dappled beaches to lava-ensconced castles, Worlds is one gorgeous game. Although the Wii U might be a little behind the Xbox One and PS4 in terms of horsepower, you wouldn’t know it looking at this game. The level design is clever as well, with this game boasting some of the most memorable Mario levels. My personal favorites are a Mario Kart-inspired course or a level that opens up into a huge savannah. Continue reading The High-Def Charm of Super Mario 3D Worlds
Much like my fellow GamerSushi editors who have made the jump to the next-gen, I’ve been sinking my teeth into the latest Assassin’s Creed game, Black Flag, over the past few days, although I am playing the PC version.
While the mouse and keyboard controls took a little getting used to, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag looks amazing on PC and is a spectacular return to form that the series needed after 3.
While I was originally pretty down on the meta-narrative for AC4, in which you are a game designer playing through Edward Kenway’s memories to turn them into a video game, it’s actually a good way to get players to stay inside the Aniumus for as long as they like without breaking them out periodically to remind them that there’s another story going on. Sure, playing through Edward’s memories because of Desmond Mile’s “generous” donation of his genetic lineage to turn them into a video game is pretty goofy, but it serves its purpose for getting you into the Animus and letting you stay there as long as you like. Continue reading Getting Back to the Basics with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Battlefield 4 launched last Tuesday on current generation consoles and the PC and it’s been kind of a bumpy ride. There are things I really love about the game that will still persist after all of the instability has been patched, so let’s cover the bad stuff first.
When Battlefield 4 came out last week, it was virtually unplayable, and that didn’t change until the evening of November 3. To start there were severe rubberbanding on every server and more often than not the servers or the game itself would crash. This is frustrating considering that Battlefield 4 has a very deep unlock/ranking system, even compared to the previous games in the series. When you lose essential unlocks like the defibrillator and have to unlock it five more times before the game actually lets you complete a round and save your stats, it gets pretty annoying.
Fortunately, that has pretty much been ironed out. The netcode is still wonky, what with enemy players killing you while you’re behind cover or even before they round a corner and the rubberbanding still persists when flying air vehicles. In short, DICE and EA are continuing their sterling legacy of making every Battlefield game virtually unplayable for about a week. Even though they’re working hard on it (there have been about six server-side patches in the last week with more to come) having to wait a week to play a game is always a demoralizing experience. Continue reading The Rough Launch of Battlefield 4
Pokemon X and Y, the first of the series to be released on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, dropped a couple weeks ago and since then I’ve been playing the junk out of it. I’m currently at the sixth gym, so I feel like I’ve got a good handle on all the changes Game Freak has made.
For the first time in a long time this feels like an honest upgrade for the series, instead of just incremental tweaks. The new art is gorgeous, especially with the enhanced polygonal Pokemon models. Sure, performance suffers some times (the frame rate drop is most noticeable during battles), but leaving the sprite-based graphics of the previous games behind was a good move. The camera perspective changes can also be a little jarring at times.
Pokemon X and Y removed some of the grind from the series by giving you the EXP Share very early on and having it apply to your entire team instead of just two Pokemon. This is a great boon, because you no longer have to spend a lot of time making sure your team is around the same level; with an equipped EXP Share, it just happens automatically. I am finding that my team is somewhat over-levelled, but the Pokemon series was never too difficult to begin with. Besides, I’m always free to turn it off. Continue reading The Evolution of Pokemon X and Y
Telltale Games just released the first part of their follow-up to our favorite game of 2012, The Walking Dead, and I think it’s safe to say they’re still in the zone and only getting better. The Wolf Among Us is a prequel to Bill Willingham’s long-running Fables series, which focuses on the lives of creatures from fables, stories and legends who escaped from their home world into the “real world” and are hiding their true identities from the “mundies” around them. The main character of the game and comics is Bigby Wolf, formerly known as The Big Bad Wolf, now reformed and working in human form as sheriff for the Fables community. He’s gruff, dangerous, and chain-smokes his way through the entire game.
Knowledge of the comics isn’t necessary to enjoy The Wolf Among Us, but reading them will help you catch a few references here and there. Readers of the comics may also be interested to know that the game is considered canonical. The first episode sets up a noirish murder mystery occurring about twenty years before the start of the comics, in the sleazy, neon-filled 1980s. The art style and music are pitch-perfect for the material; as soon as the game loaded up, I already knew I was going to love the music, and by the end I was ready to drop money on a soundtrack album (not that one exists right now, of course). It took me just over two hours to finish the first episode, and I’m already considering replaying it so that I can try different options.
In some ways I think I might actually prefer this first episode of The Wolf Among Us to The Walking Dead. Shocking, I know. Part of it is that The Wolf Among Us builds on and refines the style first perfected in the previous game. The same tense dialog choices are there, as are the split-second decisions and visceral quick-time events, but the art and music are even better, and the world of Fables is far weirder than anything in The Walking Dead. That extra bit of oddity piled on top of a gritty mystery is right up my alley. Several reviews I’ve read call out the fact that Bigby doesn’t have a moral compass like Clementine to influence his decisions, and it’s definitely true that this makes Bigby’s world that much more of a moral grey area. If you liked The Walking Dead, you should definitely check out The Wolf Among Us.
Last week the Battlefield 4 beta launched, featuring the map Siege of Shanghai with the modes Conquest and Domination. Being the outspoken Battlefield advocate that I am, I selflessly took it upon myself to dive headfirst into the beta and bring you a report from the dust-choked battleground of Shanghai.
I’m playing the beta on PC, and thankfully I haven’t been impeded by the weird technical errors that seems to have stymied some users. Battlefield 4 looks absolutely gorgeous on a decent rig as DICE has done away with most of their weird aesthetic choices from Battlefield 3 (like the super-nova sun and the blue tint). The war torn streets of Shanghai have a lot of interactive features as well, like the ability to close store shutters to keep enemies out or raise bollards to stop a tank from rolling across a bridge (at one point I was able to use a blinking metal detector to locate an enemy that had rounded the corner and escaped my line of sight).
Continue reading The Highs and Lows of the Battlefield 4 Beta
Guys, I have a confession.
You see, in the last couple of weeks I’ve developed a bit of an addiction. Every day at work, my mind is driven by thoughts of drugs, violence, theft, mayhem and destruction. At night my actions are guided by these impulses, and I disappear into the dark underbelly of my psyche to participate in grotesque fantasies, some of which leave people bloodied and battered.
Of course, I’m talking about Grand Theft Auto V here, Rockstar’s record-breaking new game that puts you in the shoes of the retired thief Michael, the up-and-coming gangster Franklin and the maniacal, homicidal addict Trevor. I can’t get enough of it. Continue reading Getting Addicted to Grand Theft Auto V
The original Payday had a solid idea at its core – co-op heists with bad-ass masks – but the execution was kind of lacking. It felt a lot like Left 4 Dead with its waves of cops, but instead of progressing through a level, you were left standing in one spot waiting for a drill to open a safe, or something.
Payday 2 actually took some steps to improve this, but unfortunately the developers shot themselves in the foot with Update 11. While the game has since been patched to fix some of the things that went wrong with Update 11, the game took a step back that will be difficult to recover from. Continue reading Payday 2 and the Perils of Over-Patching