February 26, 2012

Game Reviews Again

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Almost exactly six months ago I wrote a review of some modern computer games. All were well known, and I said they were all excellent. I even suggested that computer games were in a golden age – better than ever before. Now I have completed 3 more well known, highly regarded, recent games. How did they do in comparison? Not as well unfortunately.

First up I played Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the original 2007 Modern Warfare game which spawned the incredibly popular series of first-person shooters of the same name. At first I was impressed with the intensity of this game. However, the fast pace quickly slows with realisation there is essentially no penalty to getting shot. Death is a mere slight pause. I felt like I was on rails, being led through the action. The game was just a reaction speed test. Multiplayer is probably better, but I didn’t play that – I doubt my reactions are fast enough. The story is ok, nothing special. Although I did detect a possible subtle satire on war – but that could just be me. The story is most notable for a couple of impressive famous scenes (the nuke level and the gunship level) that do work very well. This game is probably too linear and twitchy for me.

Next up I played Assasins Creed: Brotherhood. I was particularly looking forward to this game because of its open world setting in medieval Rome. Certainly the graphics are beautiful and I enjoyed wandering around the ruins of Rome. But the controls! This game was incredibly frustrating – it was hard to get my avatar to perform as intended. I tried for many hours (28 total), but still found myself often shouting at the computer and cursing the clumsy controls. Eventually I just raced to finish the main story. Incidently, the story is very silly and not worth discussing. This game could have been so much better, but is just annoying.

Just a few days ago I completed Bioshock. This is an excellent game, restoring my belief in modern gaming after the previous two disappointments. The Ayn Rand-gone-wild underwater setting is incredible. The art-deco and slightly cartoony (but I think that was the point) graphics are decent. I often found myself just walking around looking at the banners and architecture. Most importantly the controls were super smooth. The game was also quite intense, particularly at the start and end. Sometimes I jumped at a surprising action or went looking for someone I could hear nearby. It is interesting that both this game and Mass Effect 2, give the player some small choices that make minor differences to gameplay, as opposed to the lack of agency in Modern Warfare. A little choice (even if it is fairly inconsequential in plot terms) goes a long way in making the player feel involved.


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