Zero Punctuation

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Zero Punctuation is a series of video game reviews done by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, originally on YouTube, and later for The Escapist Magazine.

Contents

Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff[edit]

  • Nariko then turns to some...thing sitting vacantly nearby, wearing cat ears and makeup apparently applied by a Kiss fan with Parkinson's disease, and relays to it her intention to slit up evil dudes. She then adds, with a totally straight face, "We may need you to play twing-twang." My first thought when I heard that was, "I am so going to quote that out of context," but on reflection it doesn't make a whole lot of sense in context either. If the developers were hoping I'd consider buying the full game just to see what "twing-twang" is, then mission fucking accomplished, I suppose, but I'm going to be very disappointed if it isn't a cutesy euphemism for lesbian cunnilingus (yeah, I went there).
  • Part of me feels that, from an artistic standpoint, there may be some merit in RE5 because the point of a horror game is to be unnerving; and forcing the player to do something that they find distasteful as well as frightening is a rather groundbreaking method of doing that. But then again, this is Resident Evil, the series that brought us "squeaky-voiced midget Napoleon"; and if there’s anything sophisticated in an idea of theirs, it’s probably a total accident. [1]

Psychonauts[edit]

  • One of the themes running though Schafer's humor is the juxtaposition of a mundane situation in a bizarre or fantastical setting (see: Grim Fandango), and Psychonauts continues this tradition by being set in a summer camp for psychics. The story follows the adventures of Raz, a child acrobat who, in deference to tradition, runs away from home to escape the circus rather than join it, and whose natural psychic talent allows him to insinuate himself into the camp without paying tuition fees. Shortly however, karma bites him in the ass when he finds himself embroiled in a sinister plot and having to explore strange ethereal worlds based on the subconscious minds of those around him. It's all kind of like if Tim Burton knocked up David Lynch in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and he did meth right up until the birth.
  • [listing the good points of the game] Firstly, it's something original in an industry that seems to be built on ripping off everyone else. Secondly, it's genuinely funny, while most video games attempting humor are like unanesthetized bowel surgery. Thirdly, every single character is well-defined with their own quirks and personalities, even the tiny, unimportant bit part players that get less screen time than Christopher Lee in the last Lord of the Rings film. And lastly, it's fun. Remember that? Fun? What we used to have before gaming felt like a second job? [2]

Console Rundown[edit]

  • With the current generation of consoles, we've reached or nearly reached the point where graphics aren't going to get much better, so we can all stop rushing to top the last generation's technology and concentrate on making some games with actual depth. Except of course that the console wars are all ultimately futile because the best game ever, Fantasy World Dizzy for the Commodore 64, has already been made. Or maybe all of gaming is pointless, just toying with the gravel on the side of the big road of life. But hey, at least there's violence and tits! [3]

BioShock[edit]

  • Bioshock is billed as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2 and I'm sure System Shock 2 will be very proud of it's normal-mapped, Phong-shaded bastard child because it takes after its daddy almost to the degree of George Bush. And I know what you're going to say: "Yahtzee, you charismatic stallion: What kind of complaint is that? System Shock 2 was brilliant, and any game that's in any way like it should be equally good." But that's the thing: It isn't like System Shock 2, it is System Shock 2. Oh sure, it looks different and it differs in the fine detailing and the character names are changed and shit. But once you strip all that out, the bad guy might as well just be SHODAN with a waistcoat and a copy of Atlas Shrugged.
  • But there are only two endings, a good one and a bad one, and the extreme contrast between them is rather jarring. In the good ending, you're a virtuous flower child with love and a smile for all the shiny-coated beasts of God's kingdom, and in the bad ending you're some kind of hybrid of Hitler and Skeletor whose very piss is pure liquid malevolence. I'm sick of games that claim to have choice but that only really come down to either Mother Teresa or baby-eating. All I'm saying is that a little middle ground is nice now and then. [4]

Tomb Raider Anniversary[edit]

  • The combat's also been upgraded for modern times, and by that I mean they've chucked in the tired old God of War/Simon Says button mashing sequences which every action game has to have now by law. And someone on the design team (you know who you are) thought it would be a great idea to have the player constantly press R1 to fire repeatedly rather than just hold it down. But the R1 button is not positioned for comfortable mashing and when you go up against enemies who can take ten million bullets before dying (like say, for example, most of them) then your fingers cramp up like you're playing Guitar Hero but without the nebbish rock star fantasy.
  • [helping game publishers find ideas] Here's one: A genetically-engineered Taiwanese chef teams up with a newt in a fez to rescue his large-bosomed girlfriend from mummies. There, you see? It's easy. A breast cancer specialist with large bosoms journeys through time to pay for a breast enlargement. A race of bosom people set out on an armada of bosoms to find a new bosom homeworld. Bosoms, melons, milk factories, busts, funbags, knockers, ballistics, boobies, jugs, nipples, jubblies, STONKING... GREAT... TITS. [5]

Manhunt[edit]

  • Let's get something straight, all right, third-person action game developers? Left analog stick for movement; right analog stick to rotate camera around player. How is it that, when you see something that works perfectly well, you immediately decide to try and improve it and cock the whole thing up? In Manhunt, the right analog stick changes to the first person camera, which may seem reasonable in theory, but it means that, when you're hiding and trying to see a nearby guard patrolling behind you, you nudge the stick and end up staring at a brick wall. And half the time when you've finally wrestled the camera into the right angle, you'll see the guard has patrolled right up to you and has now shived you in the bollocks.
  • But I seriously don't know whose side to be on when it comes to the debate of whether games like Manhunt mess with the heads of underaged, impressionable thickies. There's a very clear certification indicating that twelve-year-olds aren't supposed to be playing it, but there's no denying that they play it anyway because no one other than twelve-year-olds are into this sort of thing. Gushing breathlessly about garrote wire decapitation and baseball bat cranial explosion is a good way to win friends in middle school; but around the office water cooler, it's a good way to lose them. [6]

Peggle[edit]

  • What I can say about it is that I started playing it around noon and emerged from my room sometime later to find that the authorities had declared me legally dead. If the whole "casual gaming" thing has slipped you by, then allow me hold your face under the putrescent waters of knowledge. At some point in the recent past, someone noticed that simple Flash-based 2D colour-matching games like Bejeweled were making, frankly, embarrassing amounts of dosh; and the reason for this is that, as time has gone by, bored housewives stuck at home have all independently decided that shagging the TV repairman is no longer appropriate and have turned to video games to amuse themselves instead.
  • In summary it's okay, I guess. I preferred Bookworm Adventures, but then I'm one of those hopeless mutants who genuinely enjoys playing Scrabble. That's it. That's about as far as I can review Peggle because that's the entire extent of the game. I don't know what Pop Cap's mission statement is, but I'm betting that it's something along the lines of, "Use pretty sparkly lights, encouraging sound effects, and as few gameplay elements as possible to make the gaming equivalent of premium crack cocaine." And it seems to be working for them because they are now worth umpteen millions. Millions! They exclusively make cheapo 2D games! What the hell do they spend all that money on? Ice cream? [7]

Halo 3[edit]

  • The difficulty curve wavers up and down like the knickers of an indecisive whore before plunging dramatically into a Sunday stroll down Easy Street for the last hour or so. There were sequences really near the beginning that kicked my arse until I was wearing my buttocks like a hat, while the closest thing to a final boss fight is basically you versus a wheelchair-bound, cross-eyed hobbit and you’re armed with the BFG 9000.
  • But really, I don't know what I hope to achieve with all this. Halo 3's already more popular than God and nothing I can say is going to stop Microsoft making enough money to buy Switzerland and reinforce the notion that all gamers want is brightly colored dross with the depth of a spoon. So if in the future we all find ourselves playing "Captain Bland's Monotonous Adventure" in what moments we can spare between toiling in the Microsoft overmind's off-world mining complex, then I want you to know that I fucking called it. [8]

Tabula Rasa[edit]

  • Tabula Rasa is a Latin term meaning "blank slate" and generally refers to the school of thought stating that humans are born with no inherent programming. For example, Richard Garriot is an utterly demented game designer who wears a crown and insists that people call him Lord British. But was he born with the galloping crazies, or was it a lack of appropriate social contact that caused him to descend permanently into an insane fantasy world?
  • Talking about removing grind from MMOs is all very well until you think about it, because grind is the only thing that keeps people playing MMOs for so long and removing it would be like removing the crazy from Richard Garriot. Besides, every MMO so far has grind right up the bum and it doesn't seem to stop people playing them. Some people just like that sort of thing, I guess. Some people also find fat people sexy. I don't understand them myself, but then most people don't understand why I like putting lettuce around my cock and hiding it in other people's salad. [9]

The Orange Box[edit]

  • (On Half-Life 2: Episode Two) Episode 2 does suffer a little from being the middle child. There's no real beginning and no real end, so the story tends to meander around and it's difficult to shake the feeling that we're just killing time before the next episode wraps it all up. A new character is brought in without warning and everyone acts like we've always known him. It's actually quite perplexing. Valve have done a great job making us empathize with all the major NPCs so far, so being introduced to a new one at this late stage is like coming home from school to find a walrus sitting at the family dinner table and you're the only one who seems to notice.
  • (On Team Fortress 2) ...For all its insubstantiality, it's incredibly well-balanced now. There's a role for everyone regardless of what sort of game you like. The Heavy for uncomplicated damage-soaking thickies; The Spy for your backstabbing stealth game dirtbag; and The Sniper for people who like point-and-click adventure games. Although, admittedly, the only puzzle is, "Use gun on man."
  • (On Portal) ...If you're a regular viewer, you'll understand how insane these words feel coming out of my mouth, but I can't think of any criticism for it. I'm serious! This is the most fun you'll have with your PC until they invent a force-feedback codpiece! I went in expecting a slew of interesting portal-based puzzles and that's exactly what I got, but what I wasn't expecting was some of the funniest pitch-black humor I've ever heard in a game. Okay, it's only two to three hours long, but that's a good length for it - it means it doesn't outstay its welcome and it narrows the gap between you and the balls-tighteningly fantastic ending. Absolutely sublime from start to finish, and I will jam forks into my eyes if I ever use those words to describe anything else ever again! Yeah, I know it's not very funny to love a game, but fuck you! Portal's great, and if you don't think so you must be stupid! [10]

Super Paper Mario[edit]

  • During the second chapter, Mario is required to work and earn money to pay for some of the mindless vandalism that comes naturally to action RPG players. And the best way to do this is to press "right" to run around in a giant hamster wheel for -- no joke -- somewhere around a quarter of an hour. That's if you're thick. If you're smart (like me), you weigh down the D-pad with one of your roommate's figurines and go off to amuse yourself. That's right. You have to amuse yourself while playing a game -- a game being something ostensibly designed to amuse. And if the player is doing this, then something has clearly gone wrong. [11]

MOH Airborne[edit]

  • The Medal of Honor series has been going on since 1999, meaning that it has officially been going on longer than the actual second World War did. And if you put together all the games, films, and TV shows that have depicted it, the Normandy landings alone probably lasted somewhere within the region of six months. So why does the US have such a fascination about a time that everyone else would rather just forget about and move on? Well, probably because that was the last war in which they did any good, when they had a clear win over an unambiguously evil villain who posed a genuine threat -- rather than any of these wishy-washy recent wars where they just run in, stomp all over a developing nation, and run out again declaring victory around the time the population have to start eating their own dead.
  • As evil as the real Nazis were, it seems they weren't evil enough for the developers, and so the accuracy's a little bit skewed against them. And then it's skewed a little bit more. And then it's put in a thumbscrew until it resembles a slinky. I'm no historian, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't an elite branch of stormtroopers who wore gas masks, wielded miniguns, and could take three sniper bullets to the forehead before they died. And I'm also pretty sure the Nazis didn't have a gigantic armored concrete tower that can only be described as a doom fortress. [11]

Zelda Phantom Hourglass[edit]

  • A world without Nintendo would be a far bleaker one than this, and yet there's something about them I find incredibly infuriating. They've got roughly enough money to buy Earth and all the heavens, and a fanbase so devoted and rabid that they could release a game about a sewage-encrusted rapist and it would still sell like billy-oh. And while they sit in this position that many game developers worldwide with slews of new and interesting game concepts would happily hack off their wedding tackle to occupy, all they do is constantly remake the same games! Okay, so sometimes you've got an ocarina, and sometimes you're in a boat, and sometimes you're a werewolf having repulsive erotica drawn about you by people on DeviantArt; but pick any one of the ninety billion Zelda games there have been so far and odds are good you'll always be the same bloody guy saving the same bloody girl with the same bloody boomerang.
  • For the most part the movement feels natural, and there's something about being able to scribble all over my maps that I found very therapeutic. The reverse effect is offered, however, by the blatant shoe-horning of the DS's other exotic functions into gameplay, such as when you have to yell at the top your voice into the microphone. Doing such a thing while out and about (which, I remind you, is what handhelds are for) would probably cause your own major organs to physically tear themselves from your body to escape humiliation. [12]

Clive Barker's Jericho[edit]

  • The game is just littered with bad design choices, like Worthy Farm after the Glastonbury festival. Just as an example, in the second level I was faced by a number of wartime pillboxes that diced the entire team to festive confetti the moment they came within fifty yards. Eventually one of those helpful hints that games flash up when they feel sorry for you for being so obviously retarded appeared and told me that one of the girls would run up behind the pillbox and drop a grenade in it if I pressed a certain button while in a certain position. Excuuuuuuse me, Jericho, for not possessing the kind of clairvoyant space brain necessary to instinctively know something that has never until this point been mentioned and indeed will never be used again!
  • Maybe some of this could be forgiven if the seven main characters weren't all completely unlikeable. There's so much black leather on display, it's like someone took the goth clique from a small town high school, pinned them down in front of a 24-hour Rambo marathon, then smacked them brutally around the head with a baseball bat made out of frozen stupid. [13]

F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate[edit]

  • Every now and again, F.E.A.R. remembers that it wants to be a horror game, too, and makes the lights flicker or throws down a random bloodstain like there's someone with the world's most copious nosebleed about fifty yards ahead of you. But I have to admit, when the game does descend into sheer balls-to-the-wall mindfuckery for a few minutes, it's the only time the experience really comes alive for me. I'm running down a corridor when the lights come down and then I'm in another different corridor, only now there's a blurry filter on my vision and I can hear what sounds like a moose being strangled in a tin bath. Awesome! I open a door and it vanishes into nothing and now there's a door on the ceiling. Sweet! There's a corpse at the end of the hall but as I get closer it jumps up and yells at me like everything's my fault. Finally I'm having a good time! Then everything simmers down and you return to boring predictable normality, wishing you were back in the nightmare.
  • I guess if you're a huge fan of F.E.A.R., and I mean huge, like, if you play it twice a day and you have Jason Hall's face stenciled onto your toilet seat, and if you've got a love of repetitive tactical combat that borders on the fetishistic, and if you really badly need to know what happens next to the faceless characterless protagonist of the ongoing storyline, then I heartily recommend Perseus Mandate. Maybe you can play it while you hang around the labyrinth with Theseus, because you're obviously a nonexistent creature of myth. [14]

Assassin's Creed[edit]

  • Another good way to blow your cover is to randomly stab innocent civilians, and trust me when I say that forcing yourself not to do so is a lot harder than it sounds. Those wacky, fun-loving lepers have this hilarious tendency to shove you with all their retard strength and send you flying ye olde mosh-pit style, which I feel makes me well within my rights to lamp them one; but then everyone turns against you because apparently it's not as funny when you do it. And then there are the beggar women who will latch on to you like a lamprey eel and constantly run in front of you whining for coins in a manner scientifically designed to get on my tits. Then I give them a gentle, discouraging knuckle sandwich, and they run off yelling like I'm the asshole. It hits particularly close to home for me, because this is pretty much how all my relationships turn out.
  • First you have to walk all the way down from your home base at the top of a fucking mountain at the start of every fucking mission. Then you have to make your way through the target city (pausing occasionally to nut the lepers Glaswegian-style). Then you're forced to do a few errands around the place which are basically the same three side quests over and over again. And when you do finally get to stab someone up, it's all bookended by long wordy unskipable cutscenes. Even after the stabbing, you have to sit through a prolonged conversation with the victim. You'd think having a spike shoved in to the throat would impede one's ability to soliloquize, but you just can't shut these twatmouths up! [15]

Guitar Hero III[edit]

  • Don't believe the lie of Guitar Hero Three. It's actually the fourth title in the series, the third being Rock the 80's, which I haven't played, but the day I fork out seventy bucks for an expansion pack is the day I swallow razor wire, pull the end out of my ass, and floss myself to death.
  • Then I got to the last venue and the last group of songs on hard mode and came to a screeching halt because they are fucking impossible. NO. STOP. Do not reach for your e-mail client; I do not want to hear about how you five-starred "Blood Rain" on Expert, because if you did, you are a fucking freak, a freak with either three arms or a trained pet spider working the buttons for you! [16]

Mass Effect[edit]

  • People often say to me, "Yahtzee, you callipygian superman: How can you, a game writer yourself, complain about a game having too much dialogue?" I would reply, "For the same reason that a hairdresser is entitled to complain when someone fills their car with shampoo."
  • Mass Effect is like an incontinent who just drank six bottles of Mountain Dew, so full to bursting with dialogue that it leaks out at every turn. Characters will spout their life stories at the slightest provocation like you've got a documentary crew with you. A mere glance at a computer screen or starship component will dump an entire Reader's Digest into your journal. To the game's credit, you're never actually required to read any of this, but not doing so leaves you the strange feeling that the game somehow resents me for it. [17]

Super Mario Galaxy[edit]

  • But don't be fooled; this is your standard fill-in-the-blanks framework. Mario's hateful emotionally retarded ball-and-chain has been kidnapped again, but before you can do the rescue you have to collect a whole bunch of stars - and it is always stars for some utterly arbitrary reason. And in the end, Mario succeeds in rescuing the needy bitch who once again fails to put out, although frankly I've given up expecting any kind of actual human intelligent reaction from that clueless bint.
  • Initially, Mario Galaxy gets an easy ride because it has to be inevitably compared to Mario Sunshine, the last "proper" Mario game (disregarding all that spin-off bullshit). And you could transplant the head of Joseph Goebbels on to the body of a praying mantis and it would still compare favorably to Mario Sunshine. [18]

Silent Hill Origins[edit]

  • ...You have one second to name any game in which weapon degradation has been a good idea. Time's up. That's what I thought. There's something very wrong about a katana that shatters after five or six hits, one that ostensibly isn't made out of glass or chocolate.
  • To me, the Silent Hill series is over. And if Silent Hill 5 convinces me otherwise, then I will remove three of my own vertebrae, curl my spine back, and eat my own ass. [19]

Crysis[edit]

  • Of course, with amazing graphics comes the inhumane treatment of processors. Crysis is apparently designed for some kind of hypothetical future computer from space. I played it on a brand new gaming PC resembling the monolith from 2001, constructed from magical obsidian by the proud dwarves of Middle Earth. And it still chugged when things got busy.
  • ...There is one section towards the end where you're forced to pilot a futuristic helicopter jobbie and... well, imagine that you'd just woken from a 20-year-coma, celebrated the occasion by drinking six bottles of Mad Dog 20/20, then were called upon to pilot a light aircraft bearing a cargo of hippopotami. That's what controlling this section is like. And they expect you to enter dogfights in this thing. That's like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube with your elbows. [20]

The Witcher[edit]

  • There's your inventory screen, your character screen, your alchemy screen, your glossary, your quests, your map, you have to switch between combat mode and stand-around-picking-your-nose-while-enemies-carve-you-like-turducken mode. And once you're in combat mode, do you fight in strong, fast, or group style? And if you'll be wanting to mix potions, then I hope you've gone through the necessary eight week correspondence course. If disliking this sort of shit makes me stupid, then call me "Retard McSpackypants". But I'd rather be stupid and having fun than bored out of my huge genius mind.
  • As I progressed through the starting village a set of red flags came up that brought me to a sinister realization. One-click combat? Endless drudging from place to place? Quests involving killing X amount of monster Y for lazy stationary cockhead Z? This is a mumorpuger! A single-player mumorpuger with no Alliance dipshits teabagging your corpse, but a mumopurger nonetheless. [21]

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles[edit]

  • Part of Resident Evil's charm is that it still takes itself seriously, despite having the most atrociously written story and dialogue of any product of human endeavor since Hulk Hogan took one too many clotheslines to the head and decided he could act.
  • It's gratifying to see Capcom continue their proud tradition of unintentionally hilarious dialogue. "I have a bad feeling about this," announces Jill Valentine after having been repeatedly savaged by the undead, demonstrating her vital intuitive ability to sense danger about an hour after it has commenced. "Where did all these webs come from?" wonders Chris Redfield aloud whilst staring directly at a giant spider. And then there's the recurring series baddie and backstabbing enthusiast Albert Wesker, whose every line of dialog is solid gold because he sounds like Lloyd Grossman with throat cancer. [22]

Call of Duty 4[edit]

  • [with disdainful sarcasm throughout]
    Never let it be said that I'm an impressionable twenty-something-gaming-media prick. If I reviewed every bloody game people told me to I wouldn't even have the free time to mainline the heroin necessary to keep me from putting a gun between my teeth; so for the most part I let requests go fuck themselves. The only time I review a game from recommendation is when it is simultaneously recommended by about four thousand bleating lambs (which was the case with Call of Duty 4). This game came recommended more highly than a triple-cunted hooker and brace yourself for a shock because it deserves the praise it gets.
    ...Mostly.
    I was surprised because I have this presumption about "serieses" like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor being samey shooters with futile pretensions to realism time-locked Bill-Murray-style somewhere between 1941 and 1945, endlessly repeating America's sole moment of glory in living memory by punching out an endless stream of cackling Nazis with one hand and scoffing apple pie with the other.
    Call of Duty 4, conversely,is set in the present day which inevitably means that the enemies will either be Arab insurgents, Russians, or both, and the plot will involve the theft of nuclear weapons. And while this turns out to be right on the money it's executed in a very compelling way.
    The plot deals with a conflict in a Middle East country that tactfully goes unnamed (undoubtedly because the state of that region fluctuates so much that it could be a water slide park by the time time this comes out), and your perspective shifts twitchly between a number of different participants in the conflict, allowing you to experience various different environments and combat styles. The U.S. Marines posted in "Unspecifiedistan" whoop their way into open warfare with their guns balanced on the ends of their massive erections while the stealth-based British SAS scurry around in the bushes like cockney weasels. These changes in perspective in gameplay ensure that boredom is impossible. The controls are tight and intuitive enough to be effective however you have to apply them and to balance the unentertaining seriousness of this sentence: "Boingo boingo whoopsy knickers."
    What I like about Call of Duty 4 is that there's less of the smarmy, black-and-white "My Country 'Tis of Thee" jingoism that turns me off most war games. While the U.S. Marines act with short-sighted self-righteousness convinced that they're the heroes in their own personal war movie (you know, just like in real life), their attitude eventually leads to them screwing the pooch so hard that the pooch has to lock itself in the bathroom for an hour with a tube of soothing cream.[23]
  • All you need to know is this. There are two kinds of games: games that I stop playing because I've been bored or frustrated into a state approaching rigor mortis, and games that I stop playing because I've just noticed I should have had dinner two hours ago. And Call of Duty 4 is in the latter category. It's a truly shining example of the genre that sucked me in like - well, like a triple-cunted hooker. And now since this review has left me with a lot of surplus bile, let me close by requesting that if any more of you would like to tell me how to do my job, then please get hurled out of a plane and land anus-first on the spire of Winchester Cathedral! [24]

SimCity Societies[edit]

  • It's an idea that many people seem to latch on to that, if we were created by some kind of god, then obviously he did it because he loves us so huggy-muggy-much. Never are the holes in this theory more obvious than while playing god games: because it seems that when you place most people in the position of a god and give them responsibility over many tiny lesser beings, then their attitude towards them is usually less about beloved children and more about target practice.
  • I set out to make a brutal authoritarian dictatorship because it makes my balls feel big. So all my workplaces were things like Thought Police Headquarters, and all the venues were propaganda theatres, and most of the gormless fuckers were still content or elated. Christ, this must be how Nazi Germany started! [25]

Yahtzee Goes to GDC[edit]

  • All games are about realizing a fantasy, whether it be the fantasy of being a courageous war hero, or the fantasy of being a future space adventurer, or, in the case of some Japanese games, the fantasy of possessing eight prehensile dicks. [26]

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune[edit]

  • You play Nathan "Indiana Jones as written by Joss Whedon" Drake as he scavenger-hunts for the inevitable lost golden treasure in the standard exotic locales while being aided by the troublesome, initially hostile blonde love interest, and the elderly mentor-type figure who might as well wear a T-shirt saying, "I will die or turn evil."
  • I'm being overly mean. The gameplay is quite adequate. Of course it is; it's been blanketly ripped off. Not a single element of it hasn't been tried and tested in at least three popular previous games. Even the story has been nicked bodily from at least five adventure movies that I can think of -- seven if you let me count all the Indiana Jones films. [27]

Devil May Cry 4[edit]

  • ...It would be fair to say there are certain popular trends in anime that tend to set off my cynicism alert. I would list them but, thanks to Capcom, I don't have to - now I can just point to Devil May Cry 4 and say, "Pretty much that." Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some spectacle-adjusting model railroad enthusiast who cannot function without absolute realism at all times. Leaping eight times your own height, swinging swords the size of small cars around, and deflecting bullets with other bullets are all fine with me as long as it's entertaining. I'll even accept that getting a seven-foot katana jammed through your torso is totally survivable, if a bit homoerotic. A game starts widdling on my chips, however, when it populates itself with smug self-satisfied dick-spurts and starts neglecting gameplay because it's too busy letting them swagger invincibly about until I want to flatten their androgynous faces with a kayak paddle!
  • But the lone shiny gold star I stick on for the combat is almost immediately torn off for some truly obnoxious level design. Jumping puzzles? Fine. Timed jumping puzzles? Fair enough. Timed jumping puzzles with fixed cameras? Now we've dropped into the ocean of shittiness. But then they hit us with a timed jumping puzzle with a fixed camera where enemies spawn in every time you fail. And now the ocean of shittiness has closed in over our heads with no rescue boat in sight. [28]

Burnout Paradise[edit]

  • People often ask me, "Yahtzee, you herculean exemplar: You have so much to say about what makes a bad game, but what is your measure of a good game?" Well, actually, no one's ever asked me that. Mostly they ask retarded questions like when am I going to review 20-year-old Nintendo games like everyone and their dog. But it's the kind of question I'd like to be asked, so I'm going to answer it. One of my measures of a good game is one that teaches me something. Burnout Paradise, for example, teaches me that if Princess Diana honestly couldn't survive a trivial little crash like that, then the girl must have been made out of wafers.
  • (discussing the game's open world:) My point is, that the reason why racing games traditionally feature closed circuit tracks is that the fun in a street racing game comes from driving really fast and breaking things. That's a winning formula. Then you throw map reading skills into it and it's the metaphorical shot of Baileys, overpowering all the other flavors.[29]

Turok[edit]

  • I'm actually rather glad that a really, unequivocally bad FPS has been shat out in front of me because there are a lot of problems with first-person shooters these days and Turok plays like an itemized list of them. So rather than do what I usually do (i.e. crucify the game with big blunt rusty nails shaped like penises), let's instead use Turok as an example to go through a few of the mistakes first-person shooters keep persistently making. Perhaps I could persuade developers to stop making them. Then maybe I can persuade the tide to turn back and ride a winged marshmallow to the sherbet kingdom.
  • When you consider that the original Turok games were about a time-traveling red Indian, this new installment has had to really work hard to rip off Aliens. They had to lock the established setting and storyline in a wardrobe and throw it off a cliff. They've approached ripping off Aliens with the same determination that most developers would approach making a game that's actually good. And that's sort of admirable, I guess, in a retarded kind of way.
  • Most of these problems with modern FPSes can be explained with four words: "Let's be like Halo." But I remember a time when FPSes didn't all march in step behind that inexplicably popular festival of mediocrity, when FPSes weren't all about soldiers or space marines, when they could be about undead cowboys, or backwoods pig-rapists, or wise-cracking misogynistic wankers. I remember a time when FPSes had a sense of humor about themselves and could have colours other than gunmetal gray and dogshit brown. I remember titles like Exhumed and Chasm and Witchhaven II — though on reflection, I'd rather forget about them. [30]

Zack and Wiki[edit]

  • Long ago in the mists of time, when main characters didn't need to have biceps bigger then their faces and when bump mapping was just something cartographers did to their wives, there lived adventure games. This shy, thoughtful tribe was known for its great story telling tradition and ruled the great PC gaming plains for many years before mysteriously dying out around the onset of the Quake era. Some blame the aggressive expansion of neighboring first-person shooter tribes; but personally I think it's more to do with the fact that most of them were shit. [31]

Army of Two[edit]

  • We're quickly and frequently reminded that the military is shit and so is everyone in it, while mercenaries are unstoppable immortal badasses who make tons more money and like it rough from men with hairy bums — NO! Bad Yahtzee! I meant to say: and you get to wear funky skull masks like it's Halloween every day, except that it's you giving out the candy, and the candy is bullets.
  • Having grown tired of my AI partner's insect-filled brain, I tried playing co-op split-screen with a friend. In one shootout sequence, there was an elevated hold-out position that I gave him a boostie up to as part of a cunning higher ground strategy. But since my friend had trouble understanding that enemy bullets were something to be avoided, he was taken down. When this happens, you basically can't move or get up until your partner comes over to stick a healing foot up your arse. But since there was now no one to give me a boostie up to where he was, all I could do was hop impotently up and down like a skull-faced bunny until his bad case of idiocy proved terminal.
  • It's repetitive and broken and nothing you haven't seen before. If you can play Gears of War with one hand and Splinter Cell with the other, then you don't need to play Army of Two. And make sure you film it because that's a pretty impressive talent you have there. [32]

No More Heroes[edit]

  • [Suda 51's] last game was killer7, and let's get one thing straight: I fucking loved killer7! There we were, living our gray, predictable lives, playing our gray, predictable games when along came killer7 in a technicolour dream coat, leaving slightly perplexed joy in the wake of its huge motorbike, showing exactly what could be done when you flaunt [sic] all established convention and just start exploring what can really be done with gaming as an art form. I still don't know how to classify it: puzzle, action/adventure, rail shooter... well, whatever it was, it was a preciously unique amusing cartoon whale in an ocean of second-hand bong water. Now we have No More Heroes, a Grand Theft Auto clone. "Shine on you crazy diamond," said Yahtzee, his voice thick like sarcastic Marmite.
  • So, I'll say the same thing about No More Heroes that I say about Killer 7, Earthbound, and Branston pickle: As flawed as it is, get it anyway because you will never experience anything else like it. God knows what would happen if you spread Branston pickle onto No More Heroes, possibly the universe would end. And it would be awesome! [33]

Condemned 2: Bloodshot[edit]

  • There's a final boss sequence in Condemned 1 in which you run through a dark claustrophobic labyrinth with a serial killer in hot pursuit. It's really intense and genuinely terrifying, and part of what makes it so effective is that it takes place in a normal house, exactly like, oh say for example, YOURS! Right down to the psychotic serial killer who lives under your bed and is standing behind you right now but don't look because that'll really piss him off! Condemned 2, by contrast, ends on a stupid sci-fi tower thing resembling something the Combine would throw together if they were all drunk, and a piss-easy final boss fight which you win by shouting at him so loud his brain explodes. I wish I was fucking kidding. [34]

Super Smash Bros. Brawl[edit]

  • As I've said, time and again, Nintendo is a company that does altogether too much wanking off of its old franchises. That might be fine while the Wii is riding high, but all it'll take is a few more Virtual Boys and they'll wank the whole company away! Some of it gets really obscure too. Who the fuck is Marth, and why is unlocking him considered a reward? Oh and thanks, Nintendo, for putting in a character from Mother 3, a game you're never going to fucking release outside Japan despite the fact I can fucking guarantee that more people would play it than Mario Kart Eleventy Billion: The Next Generation! [35]

God of War: Chains of Olympus[edit]

  • Chains of Olympus is a PSP-exclusive prequel installment in the God of War series, a bunch of games that combine an, at best, loose understanding of Greek mythology with a level of violence that hovers somewhere between excessive and completely off its tits. [36]
  • Around weaker enemies there's really no reason to use anything other than the instant-kill grab attack, or as I like to call it "The 'Fuck You' Button."

Mailbag Showdown[edit]

  • It’s true, I didn’t like Brawl before I even started playing; but then the same is true of every game, object, animal and human being I encounter these days. Since the Internet is almost diametrically opposed to the notion of quality control, in recent years it’s been a lot easier to just assume everything’s shit until it can prove itself otherwise. I like to call it the "Guantanamo Bay" approach to reviewing. [37]

Grand Theft Auto IV[edit]

  • About a million years ago, a company called DMA Design created Grand Theft Auto and discovered that the combination of controversy, wacky humor, and vehicular homicide was a lucrative one indeed. So they made a whole bunch of sequels, threw some TVs out of some hotel windows, and changed their name to "Rockstar", in a slightly over-compensatory effort to make us forget that they made Lemmings. Not that there was anything wrong with Lemmings, at least not until the franchise was rigorously milked to it's last sour lumpy dribbles.
  • Once you inevitably grow tired of the sandbox mayhem and start on the mission paths, you'll find that GTA4 is initially about as fast-paced as a Jacob Bronowski documentary playing at half speed. The first hundredweight of missions are virtually all tutorials, which highlights the inherent problem with incorporating so many different gameplay elements that you need to spend half the game explaining the bloody things! You have to learn how to drive cars, how to drive trucks, how to drive geese, how to use your phone, TV, internet, how to fist fight, how to gunfight, how to shoot from cover, how to shoot from the back of a giant tyrannosaurus... [38]

Painkiller[edit]

  • The weapons are a bold effort to escape the usual lineup of melee, pistol, shotgun, machine-gun, rocket-launcher, overpowered-exotic-thing-that-you-never get-ammo-for-and-only-use-in-boss-fights-anyway. The default melee weapon is the titular Painkiller, a rotating blade arangement perfect for forecasting light showers of body parts and reenacting the lawnmower scene from the movie Braindead. (That's Dead-Alive if you're American and fat.) As for the guns, I could mention the hugely satisfying penis-extension gun that pins baddies to walls with entire trees, but all you really need to know is that there's a gun that shoots shurikens and lightning. I wish I could make something like that up; it shoots shurikens and lightning! It could only be more awesome if it had tits and was on fire.
  • So that's Painkiller, more proof that the best way blow off steam is to blow off someone's natches.[39]

The World Ends With You[edit]

  • A major thing that turns me off JRPGs, and a lot of games in general, is when I don't feel that I, as a player, am contributing anything to the story. All I ever seem to do is wheel the characters from one whingy boring dialogue to the next. Events are driven by their actions, not mine. All I am is a little angry id who takes over for the combat, spending the rest of the time jumping up and down in the back of the main character's mind yanking on nerve endings, trying to make him stop acting like a pillock.
  • What I'm saying is that I like games where the story and gameplay go hand in hand, while in most JRPGs the story and gameplay are kept either side of a wrought-iron fence made of tigers.
  • Is TWEWY a good J-RPG? I have absolutely no idea. I feel like I'm on the edge of a frightening world I don't understand, treading water on the surface of a deep, deep lake full of weird-smelling creatures with completely alien concepts of fun and a tolerance for boredom to rival the Man in the Iron Mask. [40]

Oblivion[edit]

  • You know me; I'm a twitchy, instant-gratification kind of gamer. The sort who isn't happy unless there's a gun the size of a motorbike in his hands and a severed alien willy bouncing off the front of his space helmet. But every now and again, the planets will align and I'll be affected by weird cosmic rays, and suddenly all I want to do is play a nice fantasy RPG. Not a J-RPG, God no; it's just space radiation, not the infinite power of Christ. But a western RPG, something with goblins and swords and men in loin clothes going on about wenches.
  • In Oblivion, you start off in a dungeon in the imperial palace. You're never told what crime you committed; I guess you're supposed to fill in that blank for yourself. So I choose to believe I was in there for shagging the emperor's wife and daughter at the same time while playing a rock guitar solo on the desecrated corpse of God. Anyway, then the Emperor showed up (played by Captain Picard) and I have to say I liked him a lot. He was the only character who actually seemed to know they were in a fantasy RPG. He took one look at me, noticed the camera floating behind my head and said, "Oh, bugger. You're the protagonist; guess I have to die now." And die he did.
  • For a game that is obviously trying so hard, Oblivion is one of the least immersive RPGs I've ever played. The world map is huge, granted. If you intend to walk from one end to the other, you'd better pack a few sandwiches. But frankly, take one good look around the moment you first emerge blinking into the daylight and you've pretty much seen everything. It's like they took 200 square yards of medieval English countryside, added a few wolves, then copy-pasted it until it was roughly the size of Yorkshire. [41]

Haze[edit]

  • I think it's safe to say that very few people were madly trampling babies underfoot to grab Haze on launch day - I know whatever atrophied dregs of enthusiasm I had breathed their last when I glanced at the back of the box and saw that it was an outdoor first-person shooter about space marines. "Whoop-de-fucking-doo," I thought. "I look forward to the vehicle section with horrible steering and spending half the game hiding under a table waiting for my health to regenerate." But then up popped the hateful little angel on my shoulder who spends most of his time talking me out of buying a cornetto every time I pass a 7-11. "Shame on you, Benjamin Yahtzee Sebastian Godzilla Croshaw!" spake he. "Have you forgotten Call of Duty 4 already? You should give every game a chance to surprise you or you're no better than those dipshits who never played Mass Effect but condemned it as some kind of child-corrupting boobstravaganza."
  • The overall message of Haze's story is that WAR IS BAD! And that there are no true heroes when death is on the menu. But combining that with "whiz bang shooty fun" strikes me as trying to have one's cake and eat it -- a phrase I never really understood, I mean I think it's perfectly reasonable to want to eat a cake that you have. There's not much else you can do with a cake, except maybe hide in one if you're a stripper... Sorry, lost my train of thought.
  • If you have a liking for Halo, a crippling fear of trying new things, and a desperate need to get rid of all your money very fast, then you should probably think about getting yourself sectioned. But until then, you might as well buy Haze, you mad bastard.

[42]

Metal Gear Solid 4[edit]

  • I'm going to recount as much of the story as I can before my brain starts to hurt: Solid Snake is a cloned mercenary who is suffering from premature aging due to a planned obsolescence scheme worthy of Microsoft. He lives with his support character (and "best friend") Otacon, and the two of them have adopted a child together. (That oozing sound you just heard was made by all the world's homoerotic fan fiction writers simultaneously emitting torrents of hot lady-spunk.) Anyway, Solid Snake is tasked with the assassination of his evil clone brother, who is dead, but lives on through his possessed arm, which was grafted onto the body of - OH CHRIST, I can't go on; this shit is bananas! Play the games themselves if you want to know what's going on, although I can't guarantee that that will be enough - to truly get into the mindset of Hideo Kojima, you'll have to do something pretty drastic, probably involving experimental brain surgery and a complete X-Files box set.
  • Somebody once said that a politician is a person who can talk for hours and never actually say anything. If that's true, Hideo Kojima could run for government and be emperor of the universe by mid-afternoon.

[43]

Webcomics[edit]

  • Drama is the mortar that holds the webcomic community together, and there are so many wonderful ways to create it. Make absolutely no effort to improve your horrible drawing style, act like a prick at a convention, respond to constructive criticism with hostility, and just generally behave like the kind of monstrous egotist that blossom like mushrooms in the darkened trough of shit that is the Internet. [44]

Lego Indiana Jones[edit]

  • I've been ignoring the whole Lego-LucasArts coalition so far, partly because, as you'll recall from my Psychonauts review, LucasArts is run by douchebags, but mainly because it sounds utterly retarded on paper. I mean, once you accept Lego Star Wars, where does it end? Playmobil Battlestar Galactica? Duplo Firefly? Meccano Dune? Yeah, I'm done milking that joke. I guess at first I've-- Wait! I've got another one! Stickle Bricks Babylon 5? ...Sorry.
  • There's this undercurrent of parody about the whole experience which I find rather cathartic. I guess it's because we're taking a film series which prided itself in unexpectedly traumatizing me as a child and totally emasculating it, like if there were a puppet show version of The Ring. [45]

Alone in the Dark[edit]

  • I make a policy of never reading other people's reviews because it can taint my own recollection of a game and because I'm increasingly certain that I'm the only person on earth whose brain works properly. But it's been pretty difficult to avoid the popular opinion of Alone in the Dark, what with it apparently being the latest in a long line of "worst games evaar" and responsible for the deaths of several of my correspondents' families judging by the way they tearfully e-mail me requesting that I verbally assassinate it. Well, I thought, "Fuck those bereaved bastards who think I'm some kind of sweary ninja for hire. I'm gonna play Alone in the Dark and damn well try to like it." A few days have passed since then, and you may be surprised to learn that sometimes even the majority can be totally, totally right.
  • What's tragic is that the Good Ship Alone in the Dark can see Port Good Game without a telescope, but they were apparently in such a hurry to get there that they accidentally landed at the Cock-Up Peninsula. It's full of good ideas balanced by terrible execution, which I will illustrate using two hypothetical designers I'm going to call Terry and Gonad. "Hey!" said Terry. "Let's have a damage system where you actually see persistent wound decals on your character's body." "Okay!" replies Gonad. "But let's put them on the outside of his clothes so they look like someone glued slices of ham to his jumper!" "Hey again!" says Terry, "how about a dangerous gooey black floor that becomes neutralized by bright light?" "Okay again!" says Gonad. "Now let's make the flashlight incredibly ineffectual against it and make it a one-hit kill!" Then a broken and jaded Terry starts sniffing glue while Gonad goes into the fetal position and softly giggles to himself. [46]

Age of Conan[edit]

  • Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate mumorpugers. I hate what they do to people, turning them into nocturnal blobs of flesh and Cheetos that communicate entirely in mouth-breathing; and I hate when I look back on my time with a mumorpuger and realize that I just flushed away months of my life that I could have spent writing a bestselling book, or raising a child, or pounding nails into my face. But I have had fun with mumorpugers at the time, or rather a mumorpuger, and since comparison is going to be inevitable, let's just get the fucker over with: Age of Conan is not World of Warcraft. Some people might say, "Ooh, maybe it's not trying to be," but those people are going to Hell for lying because all MMOs are trying to be World of Warcraft: same controls, same terminology, same arduous blocks of motherfucking grind, same interfaces right down to the quest-givers with big golden exclamations marks growing out of their heads like they just spotted Solid Snake shuffling through the undergrowth.
  • There's nothing wrong with being a small part of something bigger than yourself. That's how an MMO should work -- solidarity, teamwork, joining forty friends to go stomp on a night elf's face. Age of Conan makes the same mistake as the school system by telling everyone that they're special, thus turning them into entitled twatdonkeys.

[47]

The E3 Trailer Park[edit]

  • I'd like to clarify that somewhere in the flinty pits of my petrified heart I'm open to the possibility of all these games potentially being fun (except for Final Fantasy 13 obviously). But my intention is not to troll for once but to argue that it makes the most logical sense to be pessimistic. After all, if the game's good, great! But if it's bad you've lost nothing, plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you're cleverer than fanboys, which is right up there with winning a beauty contest against Steve Buscemi but still, it's a good overall rule: never let yourself get excited by trailers, unless it's the one for the new Watchmen movie. Oh yes, I can never get enough big glowing blue men with their celestial lads hanging out! [48]

Ninja Gaiden 2[edit]

  • But frankly, fuck you if you want a story; here's your story: demons over there, KILL THEY ASS. Among Japanese games, Ninja Gaiden II is almost unique in its immediacy. It has none of that Metal Gear Solid bullshit of cutscene dialogues that could fill a modest paperback. None of that Devil May Cry cockpiddle where the cinematics selfishly hog all the fun. None of that Zelda... erm... applesauce where you spend the first six hours on a starting island learning the subtle arts of waving a sharp stick around going Yah! [49]

Prince of Persia Retrospective[edit]

  • Between them, the three Sands of Time games have the ingredients of probably the best game ever, and I don't say that lightly. The first game still very resolutely sits in my top five games of all time, but it could have been better. Like a variant of the uncanny valley effect, the closer a game gets to Portal perfection, the more glaring the flaws become, and their attempts to correct those flaws in the sequels were akin to removing flecks of dirt from a birthday cake with a shovel. But we live and learn, so let's move on and hope the new Prince of Persia will be as good as Sands of Time. And that my ass will sprout wings and fly me into space! [50]

Soul Calibur IV[edit]

  • I don't really understand fighting games. I don't hate them, but I've never frosted my pants over any of them, either. I just don't get them. And whenever I mention this, people say the same thing: "What's there to get? Violence is cathartic. It's like squeezing a great big stress ball, except you're kicking it in the face and you're a skinny Japanese schoolgirl in your underpants." But if you want to relieve stress, you take a herbal bath or bang your head against a wall, neither of which cost ninety dollars at your local electronics retailer. There's got to be more to it than that.
  • Frankly, I'm amazed the game even comes with a manual. All you need is a picture of the "throw" button and a big arrow pointing to it. [51]

Braid[edit]

  • And do you know who I blame for all this? You! Yes, you, the public — especially you, Adrian! (That probably isn't your name but it was worth it to mess with the heads of all the Adrians in the world.) Ye unwashed masses who ensure massive profits for the same old cookie-cutter sequels because anything that isn't safe and familiar makes you dive for your security blanket! And since you spent all Daddy's money on a next-generation console you won't even give the time of day to anything that doesn't have environment-mapped reflective surfaces and you're more interested in buying Master Chief novelty condoms than actual gameplay innovation! In fact, I don't know why I'm even talking to you. Piss off! Close the browser and fuck off back to Gears of War! Has he gone? Good, I hate that guy! [52]

Eve Online[edit]

  • The unspoken goal of exploration is to make the entire planet completely boring. Life was at its most interesting back when we still thought grass huts were a bit hoity-toity and when there could have been dragons made of raisin bread over the next hill for all we knew. Nowadays, everything's mapped out. We've even spent enough time on the moon and the very bottom of the ocean to know that: firstly, there aren't any dragons there either; and secondly, we're definitely not in a hurry to go back and double-check. Now it's only the depths of space that remain unexplored and unboring, plenty of gray area where any number of interstellar sparkle dragons could be hiding. Eve Online does the impossible by making deep space boring, and demonstrates the best way to do that is to let nerds colonize it. [53]

Too Human[edit]

  • I have to admit, though, the story is to be congratulated for taking the fiery, thunderous personalities of the Norse gods and somehow turning them into a bunch of boring, self-righteous, robotic twats with all the warmth and emotion of a glass of water.
  • So you'll die. You'll die a lot. And by Christ does the game want you to know it. A valkyrie who is clearly in no fucking hurry slowly flies down, picks up your corpse, and ascends gently back into heaven as if to say, "There there, baby, it doesn't matter that you're a ten-thumbed cripple who literally can't fight to save their lives; let's get you tucked into beddy-byes." Then you respawn fifty feet away with no penalties, scratching your head in bewilderment. And this happens every time you die! You can't skip it! No one could look at this and think, "Yep, this will never get old!" The only remaining explanation is that this is some kind of test - maybe if anyone defends this on a forum, they automatically get added to the government depopulation list because their minds are clearly deviant and must be purged! [54]

Spore[edit]

  • If there's one thing history has taught us (besides not to piss off people called Genghis, or put lead in your water pipes), it's that if you're going to make something incredibly good that becomes frighteningly popular, make sure it's the last thing you ever make in your entire life. Because otherwise you get to spend the rest of your creative career struggling under the weight of high expectations and bricks.
  • You also get to design your own buildings and vehicles further down the line; so if all you're after is some kind of 3D art program for eight-year-olds, Spore is definitely for you. If you're holding out for an actual game, then you get to eat shit. But never mind; you can always design a creature that looks like a huge cock and imagine it pounding you in the arse. [55]

XBLA Double Bill[edit]

  • (On Bionic Commando Rearmed) But the question this all raises is whether a remake should just blithely parrot the gameplay mechanics of the original, or take the opportunity to improve upon them with our enlightened future space technology? Well the second one obviously, you thick berk. There's nothing inherently sacred about game design from the olden days. They're just old, and wrinkly, and fat, and no one but the utterly depraved wants to sleep with them.
  • (On Castle Crashers) While the little big-headed characters are fun to look at, in big fights with lots of similarly sized chaps, it's easy to lose sight of the one you're controlling. And this becomes doubly unfair in big boss fights when the big boss's main strategy is to conceal your character's location behind their mountainous flab. At least in Golden Axe you could play as the amazon lady and navigate by her unfeasible boobies. This is like watching midget identical twins wrestling and trying to remember which one you put money on.
  • Nostalgia is a mouthful of balls. Children will like anything — the stupid, diminutive cunts — and you weren't any different. Games, or should I say the potential for games, has only gotten better as technology advances in indirect proportion to the worsening of your memory. When the gaming kids of today become the hairy, winding twenty-somethings of the future, they'll be declaring that Halo 3 was miles better than a game of Interstellar Bum Pirates on the astral thought planes of the universal overmind, and they'll be just as wrong then as you are now. I played both Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Sunshine before I played Ocarina of Time and Mario 64, and I thought the first two were better in every buggering way! Drink down that burn sauce, fatboy! Also, I think Hitler was right! [56]

Mercenaries 2[edit]

  • There's an insidious thought that frequently goes through the minds of gamers; and I'm not talking about the ones you get when Ivy from Soulcalibur's pants ride up, and which are perfectly natural for growing young men. I mean the thought that goes, "But I might need it later" — the niggling little doubt that prevents you from using all your most powerful insurance policies in case there's some kind of no-claims bonus at the end of it all. So we have scenarios where you're sitting on a nuclear stockpile to shame North Korea and are throwing peas at a giant robot crab on the off-chance that there might be a bigger giant robot crab just around the corner. No game illustrates this phenomenon better than Mercenaries 2 or, as I like to call it, "Airstrikes 2: Hooray for Airstrikes."
  • Actually this is something I've been meaning to bring up, miss: Why does the C.E.O. of our private military company have to do all the missions personally with no backup except for an Irish chopper pilot who abandons his mission when the enemy chuck anything larger than a scone at him? Actually, working alone might be for the best. The A.I. is so thick, it might as well be living in a cave. On one occasion, I called down a platoon of soldiers from a friendly faction to help me take over an enemy base. Every single one of them stepped right off the edge of the helipad, fell six feet and died. Unhelpful, but fucking funny! [57]

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed[edit]

  • Apparently the plot is supposed to tie the Star Wars prequel trilogy to the original series, which raises the obvious question: WHY WOULD WE WANT TO DO THIS TERRIBLE THING? It's like tying your breakfast to a plague rat. The grubby fingerprints of George Lucas are all over the story in that none of the characters are in the slightest bit relatable. That, however, could be because of the Wii graphics limitations making them all look like Jerry Anderson puppets of stroke victims.
  • The Force Unleashed on the Wii did not endear itself to me. I don't blame the developers, and I'm not just saying that because they're based in this city and might kill me. I blame the Wii for being tightfisted with its hardware upgrades; I blame myself for failing to research the different versions; I blame Michael Atkinson, the attorney general of South Australia, for quite a few unrelated things; but most of all I blame George Lucas, that hirsute chinless git, pummeling his own franchises with such ham-handedness you could put a piece of bread around each of his mitts and call them BLTs! [58]

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky[edit]

  • I don’t think I would do very well in a real-world combat scenario. I hate being shouted at and I can’t run very fast while wearing a backpack the size of a cow. Before I would willingly enter a gunfight, the enemy are going to have to strap big glowing red arrows to their heads and promise to stand next to windows, loudly vocalizing every thought that crosses their minds. And by the time my comrades have persuaded them to do that, I’ll have remembered that I’m a massive coward and legged it.
  • You know how in most FPSs you're some kind of hybrid of man and refrigerator who can take an entire munitions dump to the face while the enemy all have armor made of whipped crème and skulls made of cake? Well it seems going in to this game everyone got their character sheets mixed up. The player can't survive more than a measly handful of bullets ripping through their flesh while the armored enemies can take so many rounds to the torso you'd think there'd be nothing left but a spinal column and the cornflakes they had for breakfast. They can spot you in pitch darkness even with your flashlight off, and they can shoot you from halfway to neverland because their guns have magic accuracy that evaporates the instant you get your hands on them. [59]

Silent Hill Homecoming[edit]

  • Maybe if the original creators of something don't want to continue it then you should listen to them, because otherwise you're only making it to please the fans. And why would you want to do anything for fans? I mean, I'm a Silent Hill fan and I've just spent the whole review whining like a broken motor. Fans are clingy, complaining dipshits who will never ever be grateful for any concession you make. The moment you shut out their shrill, tremulous voices, the happier you'll be for it. [60]

Saints Row 2[edit]

  • It just struck me that whenever there's a sandbox crime game, it's always the same gangs: Italians, Yakuza, or street gangsters. You're always either going on about respect, honor, or wearing your belt around your thighs. Y'know what there needs to be? A sandbox crime game where you play a Batman villain! You run around doing dastardly crime equipped with freeze rays and jetpacks, completing story missions that lead up to you building a giant brightly colored doomsday machine shaped like a top hat or something. Then Batman comes along and beats you up because you forgot to strap him into your overly-elaborate, slow-moving death trap, then you mysteriously evade capture in order to come back and do it all again next week. Sadly mankind has yet to recognize my genius, which is incidentally the title I have mind for this project.
  • Saints Row 2 shows a much better understanding of its audience: it is fully aware that most gamers are dickheads and if you give them any kind of freedom, their first instinct will be to abuse it. If you give them guns, they will shoot old ladies. If you give them cars, they will run over old ladies. If you give them aircraft, they will ascend to the highest possible heights and hurl themselves out onto an old lady. And if you give them customizable outfits, their first instinct will be to take off their clothes and run around the streets hip thrusting in the faces of old ladies. If you try to stop them doing all this, they'll hate you for it. Not only does Saints Row 2 not stop you, but it keeps score. [61]

Dead Space[edit]

  • Just for once, I'd like to see a spaceship in a horror game that actually seems like it might have been a nice place to live. You know, tasteful light fittings, elegant laquered wood panels, or at the very least, throw a fucking carpet down now and again. At least that way, it would almost be a surprise when it gets invaded by a horde of flesh-eating mutants. Frankly, if you paint your spaceship gunmetal-gray and fit it with about half as many flickery-ass fluorescent lights as are necessary, then you might as well rename it the USS Kill Beast Buffet!
  • I've heard people praise how scary it is, but really all it does is startle, and that's not difficult. I was startled when a possum jumped into my window; that doesn't make it the marsupial answer to Stanley Kubrick![62]

Fable 2[edit]

  • The first thing you're gonna need is money. Questing doesn't pay as well as it used to, so you have to get a job. I guess I missed the short story where Conan the Barbarian took up bartending but-- No! Bad Yahtzee! Life simulator! Life simulator! Adjust expectations! Okay then. You know how in The Sims you could get a job as a mailroom clerk? You remember how you had to go into the office every single in-game day and play a little mini-game where you fling envelopes into pigeon holes? Of course not! Because it would have been really fucking boring!
  • Then you have the option of marrying someone, although why you'd want to is a question the game skillfully avoids. Everyone has the same voices and endlessly repeated dialogue lines, so you'll run into nine clones of your beloved down any given street and none of them will get their tits out when you're bonking them. These are just a few of the excellent reasons why I grew bored after around twelve minutes of happy marriage and decided it was time to murder my entire family. This was the point when I discovered you can't kill children, of course. So much for total freedom, eh? What, so it's all right for someone else to shoot me in the face and throw me off a building when I'm a kid; but the moment I try to spread the love, then ooh, suddenly we're getting off message? And while we're on the subject, why can't I marry my dog? [63]

Fallout 3[edit]

  • If I had Liam Neeson's phone number, I'll tell you what I'd do: I'd nervously call him up and blurt out something about how Darkman was all right before slamming the receiver down and running away. But hypothetically, if I wasn't an idiot and talked him into doing voices for my video game, I'd have him voice a character named Captain Dynamite, who has the face of Frank Zappa and nuclear missiles instead of legs. He'd fly around the player in a magical space buggy for the entire course of the game sprinkling rose petals and friendship. What I'm saying is I'd make the most of the talent. Bethesda seems to be in the habit of finding the biggest name voice actors they can find and then having their characters drop off the face of the earth before you've even picked a class. They did it to Captain Picard in Oblivion and they've done it to Oskar Schindler here.
  • Games have spent the last twenty years ingraining into me the instinct that being the stalwart hero of the land basically overrules society's petty ownership laws. Rather an objectivist philosophy on reflection, but I'll be buggered before I unlearn that for one fucking game! [64]

Guitar Hero World Tour[edit]

  • The first problem we ran into was that no one wanted to sing! This is less a problem with World Tour specifically, and more an inherent problem with the original concept, and possibly with the people I hang around with. You see, people who like pretend guitar are introverted nerds who picture themselves as the aloof, crazy-skilled lead guitarist whose hands rattle away at the strings like nervous little crabs while he stares into the middle distance pretending to have forgotten he's holding it. Whereas people who like pretend singing are either screechy center-of-attention types or a normal person who has rendered themselves massively drunk and stumbled upon a jukebox full of 80s power ballads. [65]

Mirror's Edge[edit]

  • For most people, a demo for Mirror's Edge colored their expectations a shimmering gold, only to realize once they bought the full game that they had been seeing the light reflecting off a stream of piss.
  • And yeah, maybe it would be realistic for all that white scenery combined with bright sunlight to bleed together into a big blinding blob, but it doesn't help you avoid dropping off a building for the umpteen bazillionth time. "Oh," says Mirror's Edge, here manifesting as a designer with a bicycle pump embedded in his skull. "Well, since that's your problem, I guess I'll just set half the game in linear claustrophobic tunnels that undermine the very concept of free running, and then fill them with excessive bloom anyway!" So he did. And then he ate his own shoes. So, essentially flawed concept, dodgy detection, indecisive design, muddy story, unlikeable characters, shocking brevity: put them all together and you get essflawcondodgeckindesimudstorliketersockity! And of course Mirror's Edge. [66]

Left 4 Dead[edit]

  • It's my observation that zombies are second only to ninjas, pirates, and monkeys in the list of things that nerds like and need to shut the fuck up about. They watch movies about them, they dress up like them and wander around irritating commuters in major cities; and it seems every time a hot new engine comes out, some craven optimist will try to make a zombie mod for it, post up one gun model and a piece of concept art before the level designer remembers he's only worked in Lego and the whole thing falls apart. I guess it's just that the breakdown of society is attractive to people with absolutely no social skills; and while you may have to hide from slavering mutants your whole life, at least the big boys will never again tape you into a bin and kick you down the stairs.
  • ...The repetition is eased by the so-called "AI Director" -- an omnipotent figure watching silently from the shadows, who creates dramatic tension by conjuring health and ammo at the points when you need it, and a billion zombies whenever he's bored (which is all the time). Anthropomorphizing the system was probably a shrewd idea, because when cocks rocket skyward, everyone likes having someone to blame who can't defend themselves. I saw someone pray to the AI Director once; this is probably how cults get started![67]

Sonic Unleashed[edit]

  • Sonic the Hedgehog is sort of a rock star of the video gaming industry. He fronted a succession of extremely popular titles, made enough money to buy St. Paul's Cathedral and grind it into a fine snortable powder, hung around with a lot of suspiciously effeminate young boys, abused a number of forbidden substances, spiraled downward as inevitably as Al-Qaeda Airways, weathered a few very embarrassing attempts to regrab the spotlight, and now his shows are attended only by people's dads, who can only shake their heads in despair at the unshaven drug-addled spaz on stage whose pathetic spurts of activity masquerading as entertainment only serve to highlight both his and his audience's mutual decline into inexorable piss-dribbling old age. All he needs to do now is hang himself on a doorknob while having a wank!
  • It's a fairly safe assumption that anyone who ever had any actual talent at Sonic Team has long since abandoned the company to an invading force of leprous retards who create design documents by flicking fountain pens at a pile of shredded paper.
  • This isn't the game for you if you like jumping right into the action. Come to think of it, this isn't the game for you even if you don't! I'm not sure what kind of person could consider this the game for them, but they probably live in a cave and subsist on raw fish!

[68]

Prince of Persia[edit]

  • The Prince of Persia series as it stands can best be equated to a man who owns a goose that once, when the conditions were exactly right and after being fed a particular kind of food, laid a golden egg. He then spent the next few years experimenting with the goose's bedding and vitamin intake hoping to recreate the ideal conditions, and after nothing more than a couple of bronze and silver eggs plopped out he went the scientific route of chopping it into fritters looking for the secret. And after that didn't work he hastily stitched it back together, dressed it up in glittery fabric and attached some googly eyes. And that's the new Prince of Persia, an appealingly gaudy appearance that fails to disguise the fact that the old bird is dead inside.
  • To utterly misquote Benjamin Franklin, "He who trades pacing for gimmicky open-world freedom deserves neither." [69]

Awards for 2008[edit]

  • The Turd in a Chocolate Box Award for Surprising Poor Quality: Grand Theft Auto IV

    Mirror's Edge was a hot contender for this award, until I remembered that the game's badness didn't come as any surprise to me because it was by EA, and I am apparently more skilled in pattern recognition than most. So the award goes to none other than Grand Theft Auto IV, which decided that the best way to bring in specialty madcap sandbox fun into the new console generation was to dip the graphics in filthy dishwater, construct all the vehicles from depleted uranium, and break up the gameplay every five minutes to make you wheel your fat cousin to places and shovel burgers into his gob. Congratulations go out to all at Rockstar, as soon as someone wakes them up. [70]

Tomb Raider: Underworld[edit]

  • Tomb Raider Underworld's story goes as follows. Lara's looking for her mum, who is dead, only she isn't really; she's just stuck in the afterlife, so maybe she is dead, I dunno. And there's this evil lady who blows up Lara's house because... er... I guess she really doesn't want Lara to find her mum. The story follows on from Tomb Raider: Legend, which I haven't played, so I spent the whole game trying to figure out what was going on and who I was supposed to care about. The answer to that last question I eventually discovered: Absolutely bloody no one! Especially not myself. [71]

Far Cry 2[edit]

  • You see, for sandbox gameplay to work, you need a deeply varied world that calls for exploration (a la Saints Row 2) and/or some kind of clear ultimate goal hovering overhead (a la Assassin's Creed). Far Cry 2 has neither. Its approach is to plunk us without instruction in the middle of nowhere and knock off for lunch. It brings to mind an animal rights activist freeing a captive bunny rabbit into the wild, only for it bewilderedly sit on a daisy for several hours before a predator comes along and bites its entire body off. [72]

Gears of War 2[edit]

  • ...This is a game for big manly men with pecs like paving slabs. Anyone who shows any emotion besides grim determination or detached gallows humor is going to either die or get his balls kicked so hard that they blast out of his ears. Other ways to tempt fate in this universe include wearing a helmet, not having a sense of humor, and basically being anyone but the kind of person who'd replace their genitals with a minigun if they thought they could get away with it and found something else they could piss out of!
  • It's worth remembering that sometimes popular things are popular for a reason -- because they're good, or because Will Smith is in it. [73]

Little Big Planet[edit]

  • I feel there's a fundamental difference of philosophy between me and the developers of LittleBigPlanet. They believe that every single person is an extra-special god-child with a bud of creativity aching to burst out into a single perfect flower; and I believe that every single person is a tosser, and any flowers that pop up are going to be buried under garbage, fiery penises, and countless reproductions of levels from Super Mario Brothers, all of which the moderators hastily delete along with anything that looks at them funny. [74]

Thief: The Dark Project[edit]

  • So it was left to Thief to have strange and deviant thoughts like, "What if there was a first-person game where you were trying to achieve something other than genocide, where even one or two measly deaths would have the game slap your hands away from the controls and yell, 'What the fuck?'" And thus was born the stealth-em-up.
  • Not that a reasonable person could profitably ogle the guards and civilians in Thief. This was still early days of full 3D, so they all looked and moved like badly made origami polio victims. But there was nothing more impishly entertaining than hiding in a shadow listening to a pair of thicko guards discuss nose picking strategies. Then when they heard your stifled giggling, there was nothing more tense than standing stock-still with breath caught as the aforesaid thickoes peered searchingly into the shadows, so close you could practically see their polygonal nostril hairs quivering, as you pray to a god you never believed in that they'll turn around and facilitate a nice swift bop across the bonce. [75]

Skate 2[edit]

  • The main character is a faceless, voiceless, nameless jerk who is incarcerated in a prison whose entire inmate population consists of skaters and whose friends instantly assume they'll want to start skating again once he gets out -- which you can't refuse because you can't fucking speak! -- lending credence to the theory that, rather than being heaven for skaters, this is some kind of hell for people who call skaters masochistic twats.
  • I dunno; I can see how Skate 2 would be fun and satisfying for someone who knew what the hell they were doing, but the path to becoming that sort of someone is so arduous and frustrating you're more likely to just yell, "Fuck it!" and go back to Rockband. Maybe today will be the day I finally complete Green Hills and High Tides [sic] on expert.
  • Personally, I felt more sympathetic for the police than the skaters in this game no matter how often they were depicted as power-tripping authoritarian toolbags diabolically infringing upon our personal right to fling ourselves at top speed down a busy pavement and knock somebody's mum into the path of a Fiat Bravo! [76]

Fear 2[edit]

  • And of course there's F.E.A.R.'s ongoing pretensions to being horror games. Amusingly there are several occasions when a scary set piece will rely upon you looking in a certain direction at a certain time, which in many cases you won't be. So, while a ghostly vision farts about off-screen, the soundtrack will give a sudden violin shriek while you stare at a menacing window sill.
  • Now I want you to imagine something with me. Imagine a world where sequels are banned. Would this not be a beautiful place? Sure, we'd miss out on genuinely good sequels like Thief 2 or Half-Life 2, but I think that's a small price to pay. Every story would have to be fresh, so the writers would have to work extra hard to make the characters relateable. With no sequels there are no franchises, so there'd be less fandom, so all the nerds will go off and become doctors and scientists and rid the world of all known diseases. And best of all, endings would have to have some fucking closure! Under this regime, ending the game with ambiguous "to be continued" bullshit, when you have no idea if you'll even make a sequel, will be punishable with prison time! Cautions will be issued for recurring themes and metaphors, and remakes will carry the death penalty! [77]

Spiderman: Web of Shadows[edit]

  • I know that Spiderman's flaws and humanity are central to his character -- great responsibility, Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, clone saga, derpy derpy doo -- but I'm sure there's a way to bring that across without making him a whiny little bitch! I don't know who they got to do the voice but he badly needs to make his balls drop, with pliers if necessary.
  • Web of Shadows makes the high-speed web-slinging stay in mopping the floors while the combat goes out to beat up faggots. And combats are never going to be unique again. Fists, chains, ropes with spikes on the end, guns, swords, guns that are also swords - these are all roads well traveled. If I want to hurt people I'll play God of War, or prowl the homeless shelters with a knife and garrote wire, but if I want to swing around on webs very fast I'll play Spider-Man! [78]

House of the Dead: Overkill[edit]

  • House of the Dead as a series has long been the butt of jokes for its atrocious stories, disastrous translation and calamitous voice acting; but at the same time it's also got a history of canny self-parody. House of the Dead 2 was re-released as a surprisingly hilarious typing tutor in which the guns were replaced by magical keyboards that blew off zombie limbs and heads with deadly shuriken-like nouns and verbs, and which I heartily recommend to anyone who feels that zombie massacres need not be precluded from the development of secretarial skills. [79]

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand[edit]

  • You know what? A society where anyone can make jokes about anyone else and everyone laughs is a truly tolerant society. Political-correctness-charged censorship only serves to engender resentment and distance between social groups. Besides, gangster rappers don't need defending, they've got guns for that!
  • All the other characters talk and act like they're in a rejected Indiana Jones plot; eloquently soliloquizing their motivations while 50 Cent swaggers about slurring thick urban dialect, sticking out like a sausage roll in a soufflé. But if this were deliberate, it would imply some level of sophistication on the part of the writer, which I can't accept. If it were an Indiana Jones plot, it'd be one dictated by a Phantom Menace era George Lucas to a secretary who doesn't speak English.
  • Remove your presumptions and we find ourselves playing a game about an extremely rich man, who wears two hats for no adequate reason, destabilizing a developing nation in order to steal what little wealth it has for himself -- presumably to spend on fur coats made of diamonds to wear on stage while singing about how great he is. [80]

Resident Evil 5[edit]

  • (on the game's inventory system) And here's the really fun part: If you want to wear armor, that takes up a space, too. You're carrying your armor in a pocket of your armor! It's all such a fucking unintuitive nuisance, and whoever came up with it should be sent to a special hell where he has to pack shopping for crotchety old women! ...Or perhaps just punched in the stomach.
  • But let’s close this review with a revisit of that lovely matter of racism that’s been hanging around like a bad smell. RE5 actually does a lot to defer that accusation. Your partner is black (a bit), quite a few whiteys are scattered throughout the early hordes, and real effort has been put into a somewhat realistic and sympathetic depiction of modern Africa. And then... Halfway through the game, we suddenly find ourselves in a succession of mud hut villages fighting crowds of jabbering black people in loincloths and war paint, chucking spears. Oh, dears. Talk about sidestepping a pothole only to fall off a bridge, but one really shouldn't worry about this sort of thing unless there's genuine hatred behind it, and I don't get that impression. Capcom aren't bad people, they're just idiots. [81]

Halo Wars[edit]

  • The story so far: I'm embarking upon an occasional quest to play games belonging to genres I've never really gotten into; a campaign I thoroughly expect to wholeheartedly regret the next time a big JRPG comes out, but mostly due to my excremental boredom with the procession of identical powered-armor space marines that clog up mainstream action gaming like so much hyper-masculine mildew. As part of this venture I've been playing Halo Wars, which may come across as a curious choice because it's a game about identical powered-armor space marines — GYAAARGH!
  • The business of selecting units is also a right ass, and that may sound like a small complaint, but small things can lead to big problems, like a tiny piece of broken glass lodged in a urinary tract. Games that evolved in PC waters have trouble adapting to a non-mouse controlled environment and RTS is no exception. Lacking click-and-drag, all you can do is select one prick, select one prick and all his prick friends standing within a fixed diameter, select all the pricks on the current screen, or call a great big all-map prick hoedown. So if you just want to, say, select all your flying pricks for a strategic insertion, then you're going to have a bit of prick trouble beyond the might of any soothing cream. [82]

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars[edit]

  • The DS meanwhile is not a turd (and good thing, too, with all those sharp corners), it's just that it kinda does its own thing, It does it well, but GTA is from a different world. Chinatown Wars is therefore the bastard offspring of two forbidden lovers from two warring families, tragically shot dead while trying to elope by a hired gun (played in this drama by myself), too late, sadly, to prevent the child being born and coming out a little bit malformed.
  • It seems that the weird thing about Chinatown Wars so far is that all its faults are balanced by its other faults. Stupid enemies compensate for shitty controls, the easiness of trading compensates for its banality — all the foulness mixes together to create something halfway decent in the middle. It's almost prodigious in its retarded genius. [83]

MadWorld[edit]

  • There really needs to be a name for this sub-genre, so I'm going to make one up: spectacle fighters - games in which most of the standard baddies are about as effectual as a panda's love spuds, and the emphasis is less on them being challenges to get past and more on them being squirty punching bags to be dispatched in the most spectacular ways. Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand and arguably Manhunt are the foamy-mouthed horses that already populate this rowdy stable. [84]

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.[edit]

  • Now I'm no expert on this (or indeed, anything except dick analogies) but I do know that modern military jets are very fucking fast things. By the time you see one it's already over there, so combat in such a thing would usually amount to pressing a button and watching something half a mile behind you burst into flames, and that's not just idle fact it's cold hard speculation. But real life makes not for entertainment, so for this game we're all just going to dogfight in jets like it's nineteen-forty-fucking-five, okay?
  • The PMC point out that the U.S. can't stop them doing private business dealings with whoever they want, and that's probably true. But then! They invade Washington, bomb the White House, and try to shoot down Air Force One. I'm pretty sure the US are within their rights to stop them doing that. Who the hell's running this company!? Scaramanga? Why would a PMC invade the US? What were they going to do after killing the President? Declare themselves king? And where were they hiding all the soldiers and hardware you'd need to wage war on a global superpower? The fucking moon!? [85]

Siren Blood Curse[edit]

  • Survival horror is what I might call my "pet" genre, a pet I keep in the tool shed and feed broken glass, and in my awards for last year I accused everything that claimed survival horror status of being nothing but a parade of action games where some of the enemies jump very suddenly out of cupboards. But some viewers took issue with that: "What about Siren Blood Curse?" they cried. "While you were blindly clinging to the hope that the new developers would recover Silent Hill from the dustbin with the baked beans and fish heads cleaned off, the PS3 was enjoying a true original survival horror game full of all that Japanese-style horror you hold in such high esteem, watashi wa baka gaijin, etc. etc." So, all right, I guess I'm going to have to put my hands up to that one. Yes, there was at least one survival horror game last year - it's just that it was rubbish.
  • That's the other major problem I have: When you play Siren, you do things it's way. It has that adventure game problem of every challenge having one and only one solution. "You will step in line, motherfucker, and if you don't like it, you can fuck off back to your sandbox." [86]

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena[edit]

  • My theory is that Dark Athena consists of two mission packs that were inexpertly mashed together, after it became clear that the second one was too short and too shit. It's in this chapter that we're introduced to the "spider turret", a small wall-mounted enemy that is very hard to spot and which can knock off all your health in two hits from two continents away -- an enemy which can only have been designed by some kind of sinister conspiracy of sixteenth century puritans working to eliminate the very concept of fun.
  • Riddick in Pitch Black had some personality, a sense of humor, actual flaws and ambiguous morals — you know, like what us tiresome human beings have. But now he's just an infallible cardboard cut-out who does nothing but growl threats and pretentious bullshit one-liners that are supposed to make him sound like a warrior poet but more give the impression that he has fortune cookie papers glued to the inside of his goggles! [87]

Valkyria Chronicles[edit]

  • Work has been put into giving every soldier a distinct face, personality, and one-line back story, which is probably just intended to make us give a shit, but was really useful in helping me remember the useless fatheads. There was this one guy, a sniper, looked like he was suffering from reverse aging and he just felt his testicles being absorbed into his body, seemed to hit maybe one out of every ten shots, and every time I brought him along, the enemy would always aim for him first. It was uncanny. It was like he was so dense that his gravitational pull sucked every passing bullet right into his face.
  • Valkyria Chronicles helped me come to two distressing realizations about myself -- firstly, that I might technically be a Nazi sympathizer; and secondly, that turn-based strategy is something I might be able to get into. Here and there in battle, I caught myself getting slightly entertained. but Valkyria Chronicles messes itself around too much. Aside from the action being outnumbered five to one by cutscenes and muddy menu-driven micromanagement motherfuckery, enemies should not be able to shoot you when it's not their fucking turn! It's like an opponent in chess flicking elastic bands at your pawns while you're trying to think. [88]

Velvet Assassin[edit]

  • So it's a third person stealth game with a Splinter-Cell-crossed-with-Hitman-crossed-with-Schindler's-List sort of feel, with a dash of Thief's atmosphere and a sprinkling of Metal Gear Solid's confused vaguely anti-war bullshit message.
  • I have a special little black hole in my cold obsidian heart for stealth gameplay, but it's like owning a tiger. It's very impressive if you know how to look after it, but if you don't you're going to be cleaning massive dollops of your former children off of the kitchen floor. Instant game-overs the moment the guards so much as smell your farts are an example of bad stealth. And while Velvet Assassin does give you the opportunity to fight back or evade when you're spotted, they have assault rifles, you have a pistol, they have several friends, you have a bad haircut, so they might as well just dump you to the load screen to try again for the sixteen hyperbolillionth time.
  • One thing's for sure: This definitely wasn't an American production because, if it was, it would have ended with Hitler's volcano doom fortress sinking into the ocean while Violet watches from the deck of a nearby submarine with the orphan children she rescued from the underground genetics lab. Out of curiosity, I looked up the developers, and they're actually German! Which surprised me because I heard that if you even mention the Nazis in Germany then the government come over and set your house on fire. Between this and Valkyria Chronicles, what's with all the World War Two games being developed by the Axis forces? What is this, community service? [89]

Duke Nukem Forever[edit]

  • My one criticism for Duke Nukem Forever is that it comes on fourteen DVDs, but I'd expect nothing less from a game with such a long development time! And every second is on display, and a good thing too. I mean, hypothetically, if 3D Realms hadn't used the time to put together a titanic super-game and had merely been jerking off for twelve years, then it raises unfortunate implications. It means that not only can a studio be staffed entirely by howler monkeys, but there are also investors (who probably consider themselves to be quite serious people) who will pay them to jump about and wee on things for over a decade while talented people with great ideas for games are snubbed because they've never had dinner with John Carmack or whatever. And then when the monkeys present nothing more entertaining than a fistful of poo on a tray and they get sued for all their bananas, a bunch of extremely thick people who still genuinely believe that something half-decent could come out of this rigmarole would say, "That's tragic". NO IT IS NOT TRAGIC! If you get sued because you were paid to do a job you didn't do, that is not tragic, that is how the world should be! And you are a magnificent retard who should have their brain taken away by Social Services. But anyway, the point was, I'm just glad I don't live in a world where such scenarios exist. Now I'd better stop here, because I promised Jimi Hendrix that we'd go pony trekking under the sea. [90]

Bionic Commando[edit]

  • The bionic commando, a character so lasting and dynamic that I completely forgot his name, is on death row for... being a bionic commando apparently. But then a group of radical bionics nuke a city to make everyone realize what harmless and level-headed people they are, so the government give our hero his arm back and send him in, but they call him up every five minutes to call him a tosser so at least they're not hypocrites. Also, there's a subplot concerning his missing wife, and the twist that resolves that subplot is officially the most retarded thing I've heard since I called the walrus hotline! Whatever, I don't give a toss about no wife, bitch - I'm here to make my little bionic monkey swing on shit! [91]

inFamous[edit]

  • In my FEAR 2 review I made the point that government supersoldier projects are a flawed premise because any death machine with free will will inevitably notice that there's something iffy about taking orders from cabals of aging generals when they could beat bears to death from across the room using only their prostates. If superpowers are to be had handing them out to random passers-by seems as good a system as any, because then we could all ask ourselves whether we'd use the gift to help people or blow up the entire world. Of course I would ask why we can't have more options. Can't I just help people as a day job and destroy the world on the weekends? Or maybe I'd just fuck the whole complicated business and go back to working at Wal-Mart, using my powers to jump-start the little carts the fatties ride around on.
  • Anyway, everyone knows that a really evil person would take the good options to create a facade of benevolence while slowly building their power base and public confidence until, just when you least expect it... BAM! Off-world slavery. And even then the Republicans would probably still vote for them. [92]

The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre[edit]

  • Project Natal! I know they pronounced it "Nat-ahl", but I'm going to keep calling it "Nay-tal" because that's what it looks like, and it's a really fucking creepy image. The only thing creepier would be a grown woman flirting with a dead-eyed CG ten-year-old while Peter Molyneux stands in the background gushing about it. It may be an amazing bit of technology, but all these motion sensor concepts have to eventually face the fact that people play games to unwind, and no one "unwinds" by coming home and waving their arms about like an air traffic controller covered in beetles. [93]
  • Sonic All-Stars Racing! First thought: "Why the fuck does Sonic the Hedgehog need a car?" Second thought: "Why the fuck does Sonic the Hedgehog need to still exist?"

Prototype[edit]

  • Prototype still wins, though, because a sandbox is only as good as the method by which you get around it, and Cole has a tendency to get bogged down with climbing, while Alex can shoot blood out of his wrists at jet engine velocity and fly like emo Peter Pan. I'd say it was, "Made of win," but if I did I'd have to strangle myself.
  • Again, zapping people in the balls is really the only schadenfreude to be had in inFamous, and Prototype absolutely skull-fucks it in the dicking around event: Eat an old man, take his appearance, run all they way up the tallest building, then elbow-drop two hundred stories directly onto his confused and frightened wife. Then sneak up behind two soldiers and eat one without his friend noticing, then when the two of you get back to base, accuse your friend of being you in disguise. Then when all the other soldiers are distracted shooting him, EAT THEM, TOO! [94]

The Sims 3[edit]

  • Truly, my objection comes because what I am is a critic of games, not a critic of computer programs that you just fuck around in!
  • This may sound a little bit hysterical but The Sims is probably the most evil game in the world. It's not the Manhunt kind of evil that convinces children to put each others' heads in plastic bags - that's pussy evil. It's not even the World of Warcraft type of evil that turns millions of people into mindless zombies, doomed to walk the earth devouring pizza and Cheetos. No, The Sims is evil out of a sense of underlying wrongness. Despite physical appearance every character feels the same, a facade of wholesomeness stretched over a dead empty interior, a hive-like community of beings who make an effort to imitate human behavior but don't quite grasp the subtleties. And you just know that if you peel their skin back you'll find reptilian scales or a black chitinous exoskeleton. [95]

Ghostbusters: The Video Game[edit]

  • People or properties more commonly associated with famous movies, books, birthday card messages, etc, decide to grace the video game industry with their presence and everyone's all like, "Ooh, show us how it's done great sensei, because we've honestly just been guessing up to now!" It belies not only the endless disrespect video games recieve, but also gaming's collective self-esteem problem. If something worked as a movie, then that qualifies it to work as a sequence of amusing lights and sounds that hold the average scumbag's jaw slacked for around two hours. Whereas a video game has to stand up to about ten hours of unpleaseable nerds like me turning over every rock looking for stuff to complain about. My point is, asking a filmmaker to make a game is like asking a sausage maker to suck off a pig. You can sort of see the logical connection there, but it's a completely different skillset and the effort will just leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. [96]

Overlord 2[edit]

  • Overlord 2 plonks you in the usual generic fantasy world and into the big Renaissance Faire booties of some guy who at least subscribes to the same magazines as Lord Sauron, and your task is to use an army of giggling imp minions to... Actually that's a good point; what the fuck are we doing here? Taking over the world, probably, not that they ever tell you that. I guess once you put your big spiky helmet on over your glowing eyes and raised an army of demons to do your bidding, you can't exactly go back to business school.
  • Also, is there a specific imp who has died and for whom you had a particular fondness? No there isn't, you fucking liar, they're all identical! But just in case there is (if you're the kind of person who assigns personalities to their dining room chairs), then you can resurrect specific ones for a small price, you weirdo. You see, the imps fail to endear themselves to me, which could be because they control like ass! A fat one to be precise, sitting on a pair of stilts with roller skates on the end.
  • You see, while it is true that people enjoy being a dick in games, it stops being fun when the game actually wants you to be a dick. It's less about dickishness itself and more about defying the rules. That's why it's more fun to be a dick in, say, Half Life 2 because the game is desperately trying to make you out as the hero even while you're jumping on someone's head throwing broken bottles into people's eyes. [97]

Red Faction Guerrilla[edit]

  • After that a load of boring plot happened, and I was let into the real game and still brimming with Viking rage, my first instinct was to see what effect Mjöllnir would have on the nearest human being. For the first blow they just told me to stop arsing around, and on the second their spine snapped neatly in half. Hah! Teach him to tell me what to do. But then a little message came up saying that my morale had gone down. No, it fucking hadn't, Red Faction Guerrilla! Now get out of the way so I can break all your stuff! [98]

Wii Sports Resort[edit]

  • Wii Sports Resort is mostly functional and you could probably have a lot of fun playing it with friends or some children you intend to molest. But I oppose it because I see what it represents: a dead end. Your motion sensor could have full 1:1 control and incorporate a twenty-two function Swiss Army knife, but that won't change the fact that without physical feedback, motion controls are unimmersive! In the long run, they can only hope to sucker in casual gamers with teaspoon-shallow minigames like Wii Sports, the gaming equivalent of the cartoon cinemas used to play before the film. I say stop buying the Wii, fuck Project Natal up the arse, and maybe this whole motion sensor trend can fuck off and make room for the next innovation. Like cyberspace! Or a controller made of fruit! [99]

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood[edit]

  • At the start of each mission, you choose which of the two effectual brothers you want to play as, and the AI will control the other. As Thomas, you can shoot more accurately, throw lassos, and climb ledges; and as Ray, you can open the pause menu, restart the mission, and choose Thomas instead, you fucking idiot!
  • They could even have had three-way co-op, let the third guy play as "Wee-um". Press X to hide, press triangle to quote bible, right trigger to poo pants. [100]

The Conduit[edit]

  • I read in the gaming journals that The Conduit uses special technology that makes it look as good as games on the PS3 and Xbox. Then I waited a few minutes for the punchline, but apparently they were serious! To put it charitably, the game is fucking ugly! This isn't even because of the Wii. I've seen better-looking Wii games and even Gamecube games - this is more on the level of a PS2 that someone's trodden on. I can't remember the last time I saw a game depict a skyline by painting one on a wall and erecting it a few feet away from the window. That's shit I'd expect from a Tex Murphy game, and Christ, this is turning into a good review for obscure references, isn't it?
  • The sole element The Conduit can claim as a unique gameplay mechanic is a glorified flashlight that reveals invisible locking mechanisms, essentially doing nothing but an extra phase to the "press button, open door" routine. Don't worry if you're not keen on scavenger hunts, though, because the presence of a nearby invisible thing is helpfully indicated by the soundtrack going, "BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP!" while you're still trying to clear the room of those fucking insidious scuttlefuck spawners. "BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP BDEEP!" And then when you think you've cleared the room and put your weapon away to shut the fucking thing up; Lo and behold! There was another monster spawner on the ceiling you couldn't see because you can't look up! [101]

Silent Hill 2[edit]

  • You see, Silent Hill 2 isn't just a game I think is good. Silent Hill 2 is the game I replay every now and again to remind myself that, for all the shiny brown/quick time event/RPG element/space marines, gaming is still worth defending. If I were Batman, Silent Hill 2 would be my murdered parents, if you see what I mean.
  • Silent Hill 2 is very good at telling a story without words. Everything is drenched in symbolism, the basic monsters are all suspiciously effeminate, with the exception of Pyramid Head (in his first appearance before he totally sold out) an uber-masculine powerhouse repeatedly seen plunging his massive throbbing knife into the other monsters' moist quivering bodies, which obviously symbolizes...neo-conservative imperialism. You start to think that James' nightmare might be entirely of his own creation, as if the town is just handing him a set of jump leads and watching as he sticks them on his balls. It's a fascinating voyage of pain and despair that leaves you emotionally drained and satisfied, like fucking a burning dolphin. [102]

2.5D Hoedown[edit]

  • 'Splosion Man puts me in mind of N+ crossed with Portal, and then crossed with Portal a few more times until very little of N+ remained. It's set in a futuristic laboratory like the one in Portal, but it doesn't get suspicious until you find your first cake. There's one on every level you can get for extra points, which is obviously way better than Portal which just had the one, and even that one was of questionable status. And you remember how Portal memorably featured a jaunty song with quirky lyrics? 'Splosion Man has three. I appreciate that you have to do whatever it takes to stand out in the indie market, but 'Splosion Man really is trying too hard, like an insecure man who goes to work in bright green trousers so the people will pay attention to him, if only for long enough to tell him to change his stupid green trousers. [103]

Tales of Monkey Island[edit]

  • Monkey Island was part of my childhood. I had the first two on my Amiga - don't suppose you embryos would remember those times when a game like Monkey Island 2 came on twelve floppy disks and playing it was like operating an old-fashioned switchboard? The first two games are still timelessly imaginative, sparkling, and very very funny, and therefore have no place in this review. The problem with the later installments is the usual one that occurs when a series has been in cryogenics for a few years in that the new developers are almost always fans who, in their eagerness to show "respect" for their beloved franchise, prefer to lavish it in tongue baths in place of any significant evolution. In the second episode of Tales of Monkey Island, a character whistles a snatch of music from Monkey Island 2, which might have been kind of cool if he had not then said, "GEE I WONDER WHERE THAT MUSIC'S FROM, HMM?! HMM?! Wink-wink! Slurp-slurp! Tongue bath!" I'm reminded of a cat showing affection to its owner by gobbing a dead bird onto his rug. [104]

Wolfenstein[edit]

  • You know what future historians will say about us, right? There were two very different games within the same twenty-year period, both called Wolfenstein and the second one was not strictly speaking a remake of the first. From this we conclude that the people of the early 21st century were taking the piss! It feels weird to call it generic, since this is the franchise that practically invented the genre, but Wolfenstein (the new one that is) subscribes to so many of the cliches of current generation action games that it's like The Spy Who Loved Me of FPSs. It's so obnoxiously safe and committee-designed that any attempt to critique it in my normal manner would be equally as dull. That's why I've decided to review it... in limerick form!
  • In the tumultuous time before D-day / There once was man named BJ / With chocolate box hair / And a face like a bear / And a jacket he picked up on E-bay.
  • Your gun is of course your best friend / On which you must always depend / When you get into fights / You can look down the sights / And bullets come out of the end. [105]

Batman Arkham Asylum[edit]

  • I had my doubts about Arkham Asylum because it looked like a dark, gritty game with scary horror elements, and how can you have scary horror when you're Batman, ostensibly the most capable fictional character since Jesus? (Ooh, edgy!) And how can you have dark grittiness when you're Batman, a man who swishes about in his underpants and a fabulous cape? This does feel like reaching for the low-hanging fruit - and Batman is nothing if not a low-hanging fruit - but I just love that bit in The Dark Knight when Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart are talking about bringing down the mob, and it could almost be a scene from The Departed, until Batman flounces in wearing pajamas and a bucket on his head and no one bats an eye.
  • Also, it's amazing how I only really care about auto-run after it's been taken away. If I fail to hold down "X" every single time I move, Batman marches ridiculously around like a pompous sergeant major with a broom stuck up his ass. I thought we perfected this technology! Push the analog stick to run, push it half way to walk. This would have also freed up a button that could have been used for... I dunno, the "bat spank?" [106]

Beatles Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5[edit]

  • Rhythm games are a bit of an indictment of our generation, aren't they? Why yes, I would like to clarify that position! We've never had a decent war to give us any sense of mutual achievement or confidence, so we place anyone with the slightest talent or notoriety on ridiculous pedestals and tell ourselves we could never reach them because we're just so shit! And then Rock Band and Guitar Hero say, "Yes! You are shit! Real guitar's not in your league; all the shit will come off your shitty fingers and clog up the fretboard! But never mind; here's something that isn't much like playing real guitar but kind of looks like it, and that's the best you could hope for, isn't it, you empty, hopeless turd?!" Let me ask you something, Guitar Hero: Do you really want to create a generation surfing across mediocrity on a wave of plinky-plonky plastic? And when the fuck are you going to license Stairway to Heaven? [107]

Darkest of Days[edit]

Scribblenauts[edit]

  • I feel sorry for people who are god, and I shouldn't because that's like feeling sorry for Paris Hilton.
  • Don't ask how I got into this situation but, on one level, I had a truck hanging Italian Job-style over a lava pit with a star embedded in an ice block sitting on the end. I had an ice pick and all I had to do was carefully move along the truck, smash the ice and get the star. Even if I fell into the lava, if I had the star, I'd still win, with an agonizing, flesh-vaporizing victory dance. But as I tapped on the block to break it, it shifted slightly and I clicked the background. And fuck! it was like my character had been waiting all day for me to do that! He flung his pick into the air and started jumping up and down like he wanted to be a clown when he grew up. I'd call him a fucking drunken spastic, but apparently those words don't exist.
  • If I were feeling charitable, I'd liken it to having infinite amounts of Lego and only being allowed to access ten blocks of it at a time. But it's not even that. It's more like no-clipping through Doom 3 with all the lights turned up; all the content with no structure or entertainment value; not so much a game as a developer showing off. Congratulations guys, you've proved that you have a fuck-load of free time and a dictionary. Come back when you've looked up what "fun" means. [109]

Wet[edit]

  • There's a school of gaming that thinks games need to be more cinematic -- a school where they have to put padding on every solid surface and none of the students are allowed near anything sharper than a crayon.
  • The main character is Rubi, a tomboy-ish assassin who's about as likable and sympathetic as a deep-sea angler fish in an SS uniform. She's arrogant, rude, surly, psychotic, selfish, greedy, joyless, and really rather dim; and this may be a cheap shot, but she looks like a fifteen-year-old boy wearing a dirty mop head and a corset. The only way she could appeal is if your name is Russ Meyer and you built an entire film-making career around the same masochistic fantasy in which domineering women bite your knob off. Also, she seems to confuse swearing with wit. That's MY thing! [110]

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story[edit]

  • I don't have a problem with aiming games at kids, although I do despise kids. Seriously, I don't think you quite grasp how much I loathe children. Given three wishes, I'll ask for a puppy, a decent chip sandwich and for every child-bearing womb on the planet to pop out and fly away like a cheery parade of greasy red balloons. But while kids are pretty fucking stupid - I mean, even with all the crayons in the world, they still can't draw a fucking house - that doesn't mean you can't try to challenge them. When I was a kid, we played games where you had one life and every bird, insect and blade of grass was trying to murder you! Kids today get their hands held so hard their fingers turn white and drop off! [111]

Brütal Legend[edit]

  • It's difficult to put down in words my opinion of Tim Schaffer but, basically, if I had access to a doomsday machine, I'd reduce the entire population of the world to me, Tim Schaffer, and maybe a woman (if she promised to wear a Tim Schaffer mask).
  • I ask you now: How many more genres have to be sacrificed to the sandbox monster before we remember the importance of specialization? We've already lost the RPGs, the racers, the shooters, the brawlers, the bakers, the candlestick makers - all stouped together into games of all trades, masters of none. And now we're losing real-time strategy; where does it end? Will I one day be refused the straight-line block in Tetris until I've journeyed to the Sargoth Plains and recovered the fifty sacred horse-bollocks? [112]

Washington D.C.[edit]

  • Yeah, that raises the question: If you have sex with a clone of yourself, is that incest or masturbation? If you got, like, Siamese twins... who share the same, like, downstairs parts, and one of them consents and the other one doesn't... is it rape? I mean, if the other one consents? It's like a... it's a timeshare vagina. [113]

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves[edit]

  • [Uncharted: Drake's Fortune] wasn't awful, but it had fewer original thoughts than the BBC program planning department. It had one ball from Gears of War in its mouth and another from Tomb Raider and was sucking for all it's might. The plot was removed by cesarean section from an Indiana Jones movie so sloppily that doctors were unable to save any of the relatable characters or coherent motivations; and also took a lead from the Dan Brown school of puzzles. i.e. present the viewer some ancient riddle, then immediately solve it for them because if they were smart they wouldn't be watching this piss.
  • Like a supermodel who was considered ugly because she wears a baggy sweater, Drake is generically handsome beneath the strategically-placed grime and inexplicably green designer stubble; supernaturally athletic despite his ceaseless grunts of exertion and retarded, gibbon-armed-flailing jumping technique; and constantly spouts appalling wit and panicky self-effacement in the hope that you don't notice that he is a remorseless career thief who kills more foreigners than malaria - although having rid the world of blacks, Asians and Latinos in the last game, he has now moved on to non-American whites. [114]

Dragon Age: Origins[edit]

  • Dragon Age calls itself a "Dark Fantasy". It's rather cute, really, like a D&D nerd getting his ear pierced because he fancies the goth girl who works at Starbucks. Dragon Age isn't Dark Fantasy, nor is it Light Grey, Avocado, or Caffeine-Free Fantasy -- it's just straight Fantasy Classic; it's a straight-line Tetris block wiping out four big, fat rows of demand for traditional single-player RPGs. Its got elves, dwarves, dragons, it's got a title screen depicting a sword sticking out of the ground, and the world map looks like a fire-breathing coffee drinker's been sick on it. We're talking 100% commitment here, where every individual element could be taken out of context and every single one could make your girlfriend legitimately call you a sad bastard.
  • I remember hearing somewhere that Dragon Age contained nine novels worth of text, which didn't really sell it to me. Who the fuck sits down to read nine novels at once, if they don't live in the fucking Bastille?! So about seventy five percent of your playtime is spent making rather creepy loving eye contact with NPCs as they talk about the weather, the political situation, and the small group of ogres who are standing behind you and who will stove in your head with lead pipes literally the very instant this conversation ends, all in the same placid tone of voice, even when you're freshly battled and your body is spotted with blood splatters like a menstruating leper, which makes everyone in the world seem a little bit mental. [115]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2[edit]

  • "Unimpressed by our controversy, are you?" says Infinity Ward. "Well suck on this: Russia invades America. Bam!" Remember how, in my HAWX review, I said that in today's enlightened times modern-day war games never tie the baddies directly to a foreign power when there are loads of perfectly good terrorist groups and PMCs that no one cares about offending? Well, MW2 skullfucks all that with an American flag wrapped around a baseball bat, and the whole thing plays like the violent delusions of a Cold War fantasist with his head stuck in a lathe.
  • At the point when I was ramping a snowmobile over a sixty foot abyss, I realized that all pretense of realism had been savagely dropped and they had opted to write some demented and confusing James Bond story where James Bond gets murdered half an hour in to be replaced by a bloke called, "Bames Jond." [116]

Assassin's Creed 2[edit]

  • Being European, there's an old saying I'm quite fond of: In Heaven, the food is Italian, the police are British, the platformers are French, the shooters are Croatian, and it's all run by two international software giants and an electronics corporation. In Hell, the food is British, the shooters are Canadian, and I forget the rest, but basically the gist of the saying is that Italians are all tossers. About the only important things Italy ever did were the Renaissance and murdering Jesus - deicide and a whole bunch of painters running around being gay. But it's in that gay painty period of history that we find the setting of Assassin's Creed 2, or to use its other name, "Ubisoft's 20-hour Assassin's Creed 1 Repentance."
  • Yes! Someone at Ubisoft thankfully started taking practicality pills, and Ezio can actually run at full pelt down a street without guards getting suspicious, because this is Renaissance Italy, where it's more suspicious to not dress and act like a complete bell-end. Also thank fuck there's a fast travel system now, and you don't have to take lengthy horse journeys between every fucking mission. Unless you want to. Like if you've got a lady friend 'round and you want to hypnotize her with the sight of a horse's ass bobbing up and down for half an hour. [117]

Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros Wii[edit]

  • Nintendo's Mario team really don't seem to have any ambition besides subsisting on bits of crust they can scrape from the pimply underbelly of nostalgia, lest anything as dangerous as a new idea appear in their brains and give them a fucking seizure! But as the disbelieving friend said to the inventor of the feces-powered helicopter, "This shit will not fly!"[118]

Demon's Souls[edit]

  • Eventually though I got through the first dingy castle full of jerks and found the first demon, which was a giant slow-moving cowpat. Probably fitting for the very first tier but I was starting to think the game was making fun of me. Anyway, some helpful prior player advised me via the medium of floor to use fire-based weapons, so I opened the menu to put some fire on my sword, whereupon I was cowpatted to death because opening the menu doesn't pause the game. "Pause?!" it seemed to say. "What kind of faggot are you? I don't care if you need to answer the phone, real gamers have no friends!" [119]

Holiday 2009[edit]

  • Oh, what the fuck are you doing here? It's Christmas! Haven't you got families to resent? This is my one week off, I'm going on holiday! ... (That's summer holiday, by the way. Hope that Northern Hemisphere weather is workin' out for ya.) [120]

Saboteur[edit]

  • I think I've realized the problem with World War II games: It's that everyone already knows how they're going to end! A load of fascists with hard-ons for sausages and hanging big red banners on everything take over continental Europe, spread themselves over too many fronts like a single-cunted hooker filling in for her triple-cunted friend, Hitler kills himself just in time for some Russians to come and laugh at his mono-bollock, and an entire sub-genre of alternate history fiction is born.
  • Paris is one of those old European cities where the roads have been built up over the centuries from the ancient dirt tracks where some proto-Frenchman long ago left a sickly goat out in the sun to create the very first disgusting cheese. So that leaves us with a lot of narrow, twisty roads inhabited by lots of nuns, poodles, and strolling lovers in the brief moments before they all get tangled up in your wheel arches.
  • I've honestly lost count of all the ways I've killed Nazis in my life as a gamer. I've killed them in linear first- and third-person, sandbox first- and third-person, I've shot their planes down in flight sims, I've invaded their installations in RTSes, and in the Indiana Jones adventure games, I've point-and-clicked their lights out. Now The Saboteur has let me beat the Nazis in a go-kart race, so all I have to do now to have the full collection is smack a Nazi to death with a Guitar Hero controller! [121]

Awards for 2009[edit]

  • The Everything-Proof Shield Award for Most Obstinate Refusal to Die: Michael Atkinson

    After Super Mario Bros. Wii was just an NES Mario game with four times the bullshit, I was tempted to give this award to Mario, but frankly, it's a little too obvious, and complaining about Mario's undying nature is like using a shield and claymore to take on a speeding train. So instead I'm giving it to Michael Atkinson, a South Australian attorney general who continues to ensure that half the games get banned or censored and whose ancient, black, dried-up little heart still manfully strives to keep him alive in the face of the searing waves of hatred that are broadcast to him from all over the nation and the world every second of every day. Well done, you miserable old fuck. [122]

Torchlight[edit]

  • I have a lot of respect for the fantasy peasant village economic model. It seems like those guys have got a good scam going on. First you accidentally build your settlement within easy walking distance of the local gnoll encampment or dragon cave or directly on top of a gateway to Hell, then all you have to do is build a big fat checkpoint in the village square and keep giving birth to potential kidnap victims, and your storekeeper, your blacksmith, your tailor and your innkeeper, they'll all be set for fucking life! Okay, someone's pretty daughter gets dragged off by kobolds every other night, but hey, you've cornered the lucrative adventurer market. Just buy another one! I bet this is why NPCs in RPG peasant villages never move from a single spot directly in front of their place of business; if they move, all the adventurer money in their pockets will pull their trousers down. Presumably, they pay a helper gnome to come along every morning to shovel breakfast cereal into their mouths. [123]

Darksiders[edit]

  • Here are the combos you will need to know to master Darksiders: The Chump Chop (square), The Double Chump Chop (square, square), and The Whipped Cream Genocide Brouhaha (square, square, square).
  • War has absolutely no personality; he's a great big brick that gets in fights, going about things with an air of cold, angsty dispassion. He doesn't seem to give a toss about anything he does, so why should I? And what right does War have to be angsty about his life? He's fucking War! He's never had to queue up at the job center or pine after ex-girlfriends who left him for a surfer; he just breaks things! If I were War, and I'd just hoisted a seven-foot demon into the air and chopped him in half with a single swing, I wouldn't stand there scowling; I'd go, "Fucking hell! Did anyone see that? I am squirting machismo out of my nipples over here! I am a monster truck that walks like a man!" [124]

Bayonetta[edit]

  • I strongly advise not trying to follow the story on your first run-through, there are some things for which the human mind just isn't equipped. Bayonetta was found at the bottom of a river twenty years ago and now works with demons from Hell to kill angels, who are apparently evil because they keep attacking Bayonetta because she keeps attacking them. The baddies or possibly the goodies are trying to resurrect some big evil god thing which is linked to some ancient clan of witches and rival clan of sages and some associated evil corporation who presumably felt a bit left out. And there's this guy in a Harry Potter scarf who wants to either kill Bayonetta or bone her silly, and there's this little girl who's either Bayonetta's daughter or a younger version of herself - AAAARGH! Sometimes I miss the old Pac-Man storytelling method: eat pills, avoid ghosts. That's it. Only sometimes you can eat ghosts as well if you - AAARGH! [125]

Dark Void[edit]

  • After two years of this, I thought I was immune to being disappointed by games. Whoops, that's my entire opinion on Dark Void given away in one sentence, isn't it? But stick with me, there's more to this! It's not that I went into Dark Void thinking it would be good, because I don't go into any games thinking they'll be good. If I have to search through a dumpster for a lost wedding ring, I could try to convince myself that the dumpster will be full of cakes and freshly-picked flowers, but I'll only be fooling myself. Dark Void is a dumpster that appeared to be full of rusty dog food tins, but once I got in I realized they were actually delicious novelty cakes made to look like rusty dog food tins. But then once I started eating them, I discovered that the icing was made from wallpaper paste and cyanide, and that's why I feel it let me down. I wonder if the Geneva Convention covers torturing metaphors? [126]

Borderlands[edit]

  • Alright! Fine! For fuck's sake! I'll review Borderlands if it'll make you shut up! Except it won't, will it? We both know nothing can do that short of surgically removing your fucking jaw. And even then you can still drool down my ear.
  • I suppose this is geared to the mumorpuger crowd, who are well known for putting up with all the samey grind in the world if it means they get experience points and fancy weapons with blue names at the end of it. I've had a great idea for a game these people would love. It comes with a special USB glove peripheral and you get one experience point for each time you punch yourself in the face!
  • And it might be true that it becomes tolerable if you do it with some friends around, but so is dying of bowel cancer. And that way they might even feel obliged to take you sky diving! [127]

Mass Effect 2[edit]

  • The writing's solid, but then Bioware don't score points for that anymore. Birds fly, fish swim, Michael Attkinson molests dogs, and Bioware games have good writing. But when the characters deliver the dialogue, they always come down with the "Bioware face" -- that uncanny valley-esque look of oddness because the voices and the physical movements are created separately. You can almost see them going over their stage directions in their heads: "Hello, Commander Shepard (wave hand). I heard you might show up today (nod head). How about those freaky aliens, eh (shake fist, grr grr, slightly racist undercurrent)?"
  • So Mass Effect 2 is very well-written and epic and immersive and all that, but gameplay-wise, it's still flailing around like a neurotic twenty-something checkout girl trying to find the right combination of hats and dresses. They discarded the ugly yellow sunhat of vehicle sections, and tried on the frumpy brown frock of resource mining and it's still not quite working. For Mass Effect 3 - and I know there will be a Mass Effect 3 because the loading screens rather unsubtly remind you to hang onto your save games - they should try bringing back the planet surface exploration, but let you navigate the terrain with jetpacks! And populate it with giant wolves that shoot lasers out of their mouths! If I wanted to be a space quantity surveyor, I'd play EVE Online! [128]

Dante's Inferno[edit]

  • The Divine Comedy really does paint God as a little bit, "Two choir boys short of a molestation racket," if all that Old Testament business didn't already tip you off. "Hey!" says God, "I've made it so it feels really really good to stick certain body parts together and jiggle them around, and hard-wired your brain to want to do it pretty much twenty-four/seven between the ages of thirteen and seventy. But if you actually do it without a special permission slip from the church, then I'm going to light you on fire! And that's just in purgatory. If you also didn't spend every Sunday reminding me what a level-headed and, if I may say so, strikingly handsome fellow I am, then I'm also going to staple your cock shut and feed you to a wolf."
  • You have one set of upgrades for holy experience and one for unholy. "Ah ha ha ha ha ha!" you might say. "Moral choice system, hmmm?" "Well, not really," I would reply. "More a violent option or equally violent but better spirited option." "And I suppose," you would continue, "that since holy points are slightly harder to get that holy upgrades would be slightly better, and that it all might be leading toward some alternative ending scenario where too many damnations land you a big, fat, steaming two-bedroom apartment made of poo and sawblades on the Ninth Circle?" "No," say I. "I presume that was the original intention, but I guess they used up the ending cinematic budget rendering Dante's hairy bum (spoiler alert) and the upgrade tracks are pretty much equivocal." "So what's the point of having two separate experience levels?" you ask. "Well, it's like my right hand on a Sunday night," I say. "Why is that?" you ask. "It beats the fuck out of me!" [129]

BioShock 2[edit]

  • So the wallpaper paste-squirting bean counters from 2K asked themselves what was a popular aspect of BioShock 1 we could focus on in the sequel in order to wring as many pennies as we can out of the property, and someone said "The Big Daddies of course! I think you should get to play as one." "What?" said someone else. "Those haunting monstrous things that trudge around as if they can barely support their own weight? Those tragic figures reduced to single-function robots with no trace of humanity left that seem to embody the downfall of the city as a whole? That's a stupid fucking idea, it'd be like a sequel to Half-Life where you get to play as a gun turret." [130]

Aliens vs. Predator[edit]

  • This is Aliens vs. Predator, though, so there are Predators too, who show up now and then to a chorus of "What the fuck was that?" from nearby human NPCs. And I'm waiting for someone to reply, "It's a fucking Predator, you moron; the human race has only encountered them like fifty times. Did no one document anything? Didn't at least one survivor put an entry on his fucking LiveJournal? Or did we use up all the data storage media recording all these fucking audio logs?"
  • It's not even that scary because, current generation graphics being what they are, the Aliens all have this wet glisten effect that make them easy to spot, like they're adorned with Christmas lights. That's when they even bother to show up. There's a fine line between atmospheric pacing and just having fuck all happen. Half an hour in, I'd gone to three or four empty control rooms to press magic plot continuation buttons, and was starting to wonder if the Aliens hadn't gone to the wrong address or something. The side quest is to collect audio logs, and they're all the usual suspects: Passive-aggressive man who complains about how the guys running the place are all evil and stupid, hysterical man in a cupboard who gets abruptly cut off by grisly noises, and that one very credulous fellow who starts worshiping the aliens as gods, and who will probably end up deliberately sucking on a face hugger, nature's communion wafer. [131]

Heavy Rain[edit]

  • Heavy Rain is the spiritual sequel to Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy, aka Baron Von Teapot's Fucking Ludicrous Adventure) and is presumably an attempt to make this particular brand of brown, drippy lightning strike twice. Now, say what you like about Fahrenheit - thank you, I think I will; it was a pretentious river of quick-time events with a plot that got its head caught in a bucket of doolally halfway through, but say what you like about Fahrenheit - at least stuff happened in it! Game starts: BOOM - you stabbed a bloke, you've got thirty seconds to wash off the blood and stuff the corpse into a bin, and you haven't even pulled your socks up. Meanwhile, Heavy Rain starts: You wake up, have a shower, get dressed, slap yourself in the face, have a drink, go sit in the garden for a while, your kids come home, you play with your kids, then you stab your kids with a knife! (Oh no, wait, that was just me stabbing an electrical socket to make something interesting happen.)
  • Now I've said before that QTEs sometimes work if they're a core part of gameplay, and in this case they're core, flesh, seeds, branch and the entire fucking apple tree! [132]

Battlefield Bad Company 2[edit]

  • With the Battlefield series being so snipe-happy, gameplay becomes akin to crouching behind a desk trying to read a Where's Wally book from the house across the street. And every time you raise your head to look at it for longer than two seconds, you're savaged by a flock of vampire bats. And occasionally you fail to notice that the truckasaurus has chewed a perfectly square-shaped hole in the wall of your house that has permitted the ingress of a raging panther.
  • Perhaps "Realistic Shooter" isn't the right term for games like Bad Company 2. In a truly realistic shooter, you'd get shot once, then laid up for six months before the hospital you're in gets blown up by an IED and you're forced to crawl to safety with half a leg missing before getting shot by twitchy border patrolmen. All of which is preceded by about six months of doing push-ups with a load of sweaty people you're not allowed to make love to. A better name for the Modern Warfare thing would be: Deranged Paranoid Power Fantasy For Right-Wing Shut-ins Who Would Blow Their Own Nuts Off The Moment They Were Handed An Actual Firearm And Probably Already Have Done...shooter. [133]

Final Fantasy XIII[edit]

  • It seems we're already assembling the usual Final Fantasy character archetype pick 'n mix. There's Angsty Spice, Serious Spice, Manly Spice, Ethnic Spice, and of course the inevitable Kooky Spice, who deserves special mention because the kookiness of the prerequisite kooky character has now reached some kind of singularity. Her actions don't seem to have any connection to sentient thought or social context. It's like she's got Alzheimer's or something.
  • Some people have told me that FF13 gets good about twenty hours in. You know that's not really a point in its favor, right? Put your hand on a stove for twenty hours and yeah, you'll probably stop feeling the pain but you'll have done serious damage to yourself. The story is paced like an ant pushing a brick across a desert, the characters are either completely unlikeable or act like they're from space, and the art design is like a painting of a fireworks display - lots of garish colour and flash, but take one step to the side and you'll see it's completely two-dimensional. I played Final Fantasy XIII because I am an unbiased critic (shut up I am!) and I must give everything a chance to surprise me. After five hours, the only thing that surprised me was how I managed that much without chewing off my own face! [134]

April Fools[edit]

God of War III[edit]

  • I've always liked Kratos, although I suspect he wouldn't like me because I'm alive. In a medium saturated with generic, dark-haired, clear-skinned, hypocritically violent, self-righteous white boys assigned the role of hero by virtue of being the handsomest guy in the plot - usually voiced by Nolan North - it's nice to play an admittedly ugly hate-ridden fuck with no heroic qualities and who crushes people's skulls against jagged rocks as a form of greeting. I'd like to see Nathan Drake get locked in a room with Kratos, see how far smug wisecracks get him when his head is getting sandwiched between a concrete floor and a foot that kicks so much ass that it permanently smells of farts. [136]

Red Steel 2[edit]

  • I've got to admit, this is probably the best motion-control combat I've seen on the Wii. Of course, it still isn't very good. It's like being the best at jerking off to your sister in the shower, you only won because no one else entered and you probably shouldn't have been doing it in the first place.
  • Now it must be said, Nintendo really don't think much of you. The fact that they actually released Wii Music rather than, say, murdered the creator and burned all his writing speaks well enough to that. Not only does Red Steel 2 insist upon making you play a tutorial for every single new move you learn, but it won't be satisfied until you can demonstrate it five or six times! And it shows a little video of a non-threatening attractive young white person doing the motions in case you jammed a sensor bar up your nose and forgot what words mean. [137]

Just Cause 2[edit]

  • How To Be a Video Games Journalist, Lesson 37: Using Game Titles for Puns and Cutting Swiftian Jibes. A game name like Just Cause is absolute gold for the reviewer since it can mean both "a just cause", a righteous agenda, or the phrase "just because", a dismissive explanation of whimsical or reckless behavior. The opportunity for puns is obvious. Why would you steal a passenger jet and fly it directly up the bum hole of a sunbathing prostitute? Just cause! Praise and large quantities of gamer pussy will swiftly follow. However, this pun is so obvious that every game journalist and their cat and their cat's squeaky toy will have used it, so you may have to post-modernly draw attention to that fact at the start of your review so everyone assumes you're using the joke ironically. Remember, the ironic gamer pussy is just as soft and lovely as the regular kind. Next week on How To Be a Video Games Journalist: Digging out your higher brain functions with the end of a ball-point pen.
  • Just Cause 2 is a game for fucking around. You unlock story missions by doing the side missions, and you unlock side missions by blowing shit up. So the fucking around is what holds everything together, like the chocolate around a Twix. [138]

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories[edit]

  • The unique feature of the game is that it psychologically profiles you as you play, altering itself to fuck with your head better, which I was dubious about. Who you are in a game is a very different person to who you are in real life, a sort of high-functioning autistic you probably wouldn't want to leave your children with. If I go into a ladies lavatory for example, in real life it would be to sniff the seats for some illicit sexual thrill, but in a game it's because I want to make sure someone didn't leave first-aid kits in the cistern.
  • At the end of the game, you also get a little analysis of your personality that I'm not convinced is not just a random selection of newspaper horoscopes. After my first playthrough it declared I was, "Fastidiously clean and tidy," which is true, that when there are three garbage bags in the kitchen waiting to be taken down to the bins, I can't rest until they've been diligently ignored; "Family oriented," with explains why I live twelve thousand miles away from anyone remotely related to me and never write; and, "Possibly crap in bed." ...Moving on. [139]

Splinter Cell: Conviction[edit]

  • Speaking as a foreigner, who the fuck would want to take over the United States? It'd be like trying to keep a giant, diseased ape in your apartment that eats money and suffers from life threatening obesity and constant diarrhea but viciously savages you every time you try to give it free health care.
  • Here is a brief list of things that these professional soldiers, guards and career mercenaries have never been trained not to do: stand facing each other and jabber about how much they hate democracy and apple pie and the smiles on little babies' faces instead of guarding the fucking room; give away their position every five paces by screaming out personal insults at the professional killer they can't see but know for a fact is in the room currently training his sights at their big flapping potty mouths; after catching a glimpse of said professional killer unload every clip they have in the spot where he used to be with their backs to about twelve different entry points; and walk around in circles repeatedly checking for the professional killer in the same square yard of floor space, loudly announcing their discoveries with each revolution. Of course none of this eclipses the stupidity of going up against Sam Fisher in the first place, when he's the one who got most of the solitary brain cell that everyone had to share. [140]

Nier[edit]

  • ...I must say, it's gratifying to see that the game is named after the sound I make when asked to describe it. "Neeeeyyaaar" is in actuality the name of the main character, the guy on the box who looks a bit like Emmett Brown wearing his underpants on his face. I only found this out later though because, before the game tells you his name, it asks you if you can come up with a better one. And thus began the adventures of "Twattycake," defender of the innocent.
  • You know how in some RPGs you start off in your lovely idyllic green-grass home village where smiling neighbors bid you how-do-you-do and which is virtually guaranteed to get Hiroshima-fied before the second act? Well, Nier is like that but never quite gets as far as the second bit. Frankly I wish it would. Here we have a stalwart fighter who, in between fighting cosmic death beasts from beyond the veil of time and space, has to repeatedly run back home to water his melons, spend quality time with his child and see if anyone needs him to run down the shops to buy them a healing potion and a Mars Bar. It's one of those games that seeks to challenge the notion that gamers need to get a life by attempting to simulate one. [141]

Dead to Rights: Retribution[edit]

  • In case you never played the first game, here's a Dead to Rights Recap: BANG! PUNCH! BANG! PUNCH! BANG! PUNCH! WOOF! It's the kind of over-the-top balls-to-the-teeth action that I honestly can't tell if it's being deliberately camp or if it was written by a paranoid NRA member shaking off a debilitating addiction to horse tranquilizers. You play the preposterously named Jack Slate, a cop so close to the edge he has to wear a safety harness who surgically implants rare steaks into his muscles and who missed a golden opportunity when he chose policing rather than opening a roofing business. Someone murdered his father, so he's out searching for answers, and he's letting his gun do the talking, and his gun only knows one very loud word! [142]

Monster Hunter Tri[edit]

  • Actually, speaking of the title, we should probably drop the word "Monster" as well since you usually just kill blameless wildlife that only attacks because you're invading its territory or you just pushed a sharpened stick down the ear of its favorite child. But I guess calling it "Hunter/Gatherer of Innocent Young Dinosaurs Pathetically Mewling Their Last as the Memory of Their Mother's Warmth Drifts Away to be Replaced by the Unforgiving Coldness of..." Oh fuck it, let's just call it "YOU BASTARD!" [143]

Alan Wake[edit]

  • The environments do a good job of building atmosphere with eldritch light illuminating the mist that coils around the trees, flickering shadows making an innocent mulberry bush momentarily look like a round-shouldered murderer with an axe and a massive erection. It's just that the game is fully aware that it does dark spooky forests best but little else, so every half hour it has to contrive a new reason for Alan to be lost in a spooky forest at night. It's like a crime drama about a detective who can only concentrate when he's around pastry, so every week the crime has to conveniently take place in a bakery or within walking distance of a pie shop.
  • But I suppose there are lots of horror stories that wouldn't exist at all if people never made bad decisions in them, and Alan Wake is certainly all about bad decisions; bad combat, bad narration, good atmosphere. Picture an elegantly decorated house through which soft classical music plays and occasionally an obese man in a Halloween mask charges through it swinging a football rattle and screaming at the top of his voice. He's weirdly fascinating for the first few laps, but then he pulls down your curtains and shits on a doily. [144]

Red Dead Redemption[edit]

  • You know Rockstar, you don't have to keep bending over backwards to please me. When I said that all the cars in GTA IV handled like there was a fat baby attached to the steering wheel, they brought out The Lost and Damned which centered around a motorcycle gang. But that was even worse, because characters in GTA always seem to hold onto motorbikes as loosely as possible in case they catch crotch rot from the seats, and the graphics are so murky that riding down a busy road at high speed is making a foolish wager with the quintuple-somersault head injury fairy. "Alright then," said Rockstar. "Here's The Ballad of Gay Tony, where every other mission is helicopter-based." But the helicopters handle worst of all! It's like you're constantly airlifting a fucking merry-go-round with a hippo on one side. "Alright then motherfucker!" said Rockstar. "Let's just set GTA a hundred years ago so you don't have to drive motorized vehicles at all! Are you happy now?!" To which I reply, "My horse appears to be lodged in a wall!"
  • It's so easy to overshoot, you have the most tremendous difficulty walking up six inch steps, and even turning around is arduous. I lost count of how often I'd slam into the side of a doorway, turn around, try again, and slam into the other side. It's like I'm controlling someone who's riding a fucking unicycle -- or, more appropriately, drunk! And when your character is drunk, it's like controlling someone who's drunk on lead-based paint, fired into their face with a shotgun. [145]

Alpha Protocol[edit]

  • ...What's important is that, however you play him, Mike Thorton is the ponciest ponce that ever ponced past a poncing parlour. The dialogue system lets you switch between three attitudes - a professional by-the-book sort of ponce who wouldn't emote if the Angel Gabriel blew off in his face; an aggressive ponce who sounds like he's five seconds away from snarlingly flipping the global crisis onto its front and pounding away at its nether hole with a Franchi SPAS-12; and the suave ponce, who might as well just save time and mace himself every time he opens his fucking mouth. Best of all, even if he only ever talked about his favorite breakfast cereal, he'd still sound like a wanker because the voice actor delivers every line in the level, smug tones of a high-brow film critic archly dismissing the latest superhero blockbuster as he spoons himself another helping of baby seal. [146]

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands[edit]

  • Overall, there's just something terribly cynical about Forgotten Sands that makes me uneasy. It's all so by-the-numbers - when the large bull-like enemy was introduced, I instantly paused the game and announced, "This enemy will charge at me but, if I dodge out of the way at the last second, it will run into a wall and stun itself." Then I unpaused the game and thus were proven my powers of clarivoyance. It seems like, if you've completed a trilogy and, lest we forget, rebooted the fucking thing, going back to mine the last game you were sure was good just isn't very classy, like stealing leftovers from the bins outside an upmarket restaurant and serving them to your dinner guests. Plus it was brought out to capitalize on a film, and films are a load of old cobblers. See, Roger Ebert, that's what it feels like! [147]

E3 2010[edit]

  • Let me make my position clear - gaming should be about games, not about controllers. Controllers as they stand are a perfectly adequate conduit for connecting man to machine by way of thumbs. It doesn't matter if A Tale of Two Cities is printed on the side of a horse, or if every other word is in Greek, what matters is that Sydney Carton sacrifices himself for Charles Darnay at the end (spoiler alert). Delude yourself all you like with videos of happy families in pastel-coloured shirts spending quality time with bouncy-castle simulators, but in the long term people want to play games the same way they want to read books or watch TV: slouched on the settee with a big bag of Malteasers. How on earth do you think forcing them to do a sit-up every now and again is going to revolutionize entertainment? [148]

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle[edit]

  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has finally gotten past the border patrol of the PAL territories and having played through it I can confidently state that there is absolutely no worry of Suda 51 getting more mature. At some point between Nomeroes 1 and Nomeroes 2, someone introduced him to the concept of jiggle physics and thus has begun a friendship to last a lifetime. The fact that all the women in the game wear fetish outfits and are either in love with you or have to be bloodily murdered with your giant throbbing sci-fi memorabilia does feel a little bit backward. I wouldn't usually have a problem, but I thought I'd express disapproval so I don't get stabbed by Rebecca Mayes. [149]

Super Mario Galaxy 2[edit]

  • Okay, so Bowser kidnapping the princess is sort of traditional, like hanging drawing and quartering. And when Mario Galaxy 1 did it, I figured, "Well, fair enough, they're introducing the concept to all the new audience of casual gamer shitheads that the Wii suckered in -- each of which I am prepared to personally seal away in some kind of medieval oubliette -- but whatever, we play the cards we're dealt." But Mario Galaxy 2 doesn't have that excuse. It seems reasonable to me that the chief audience for Galaxy 2 is people who played Galaxy 1, but the game seems to assume you didn't, or at least it sincerely hopes you didn't. Mario himself seems confused on the Wii menu: "Super Mario Galaxiiiiiiieeeeeeee!" he shrieks, omitting the incremental digit.
  • I guess the fanbase will get the franchise it deserves, but is this really all you want? Yes, there are games I like, games I love, do I want to play a new installment of the same thing every few years? NO! The fastest way to spoil your pleasures is to make them routine. Variety is the spice of life and status quo is the starch. The star that shines brightest is all the more glorious for its brevity, or to bring this metaphor down to a broader cultural level, The Simpsons has been running for 21 seasons and hasn't been good since the fifth. I would rather see things evolve, and before any defenders of motion controllers get in touch, evolve in ways that aren't stupid! [150]

Singularity[edit]

  • Let's face it: Real history is boring. It's just a load of idiots eating too much of a cow and killing each other over which nostril Christ was breathing out of on the cross. So I can understand the appeal of alternate history fiction. Imagine if the Persians had won the Battle of Salamis, the present day would be almost completely the same! Or if King John had signed the Magna Carta while wearing bunny ears! The possibilities are endless! So why in the name of bollock burgers do we keep coming back to the same alternate history where the Cold War escalated!?
  • ...Naturally, the plot ends up with more holes than Blackburn, Lancashire. If all the history up 'til 1955 gets changed, than why am I still in the present? How do all the other characters know that history was changed? Actually, they do explain that -- someone left a note. Now I don't know about you, but I'd like to think of myself as credulous enough to not form international secret societies at the behest of time-travel conspiracy theories on random pieces of paper. It'd be like seeing some bathroom graffiti and forming a religion around "Big Hank".
  • Stripped of its rather pointless gimmick, Singularity is a game that can't decide if it wants to be Bioshock, Half life, or Timeshift, and is inferior to all three. Bioshock is probably the game it was sitting directly behind in the exam room; with audio logs and the RPG elements and E99 instead of ADAM as all-porpouse plot dietary fiber. It's even got those cute 50's public information cartoons that Bioshock ripped off from Fallout. It's like a magnificent human centipede stretching though gaming history. [151]

Crackdown 2[edit]

  • I've got nothing against multiplayer as a concept, but you shouldn't try to make it carry a game because there are logistical problems. Me and my friends have enough trouble splitting the bill after pizza, and navigating labyrinths of lobbies and servers is rarely worth the effort when everyone would rather just stick Guitar Hero on. And joining random online gaming is like walking into an aviary full of nitrous oxide and trying to play Scrabble with the kookaburras while they stand around having sex with your mum! [152]

DeathSpank & Limbo[edit]

  • The final question I suppose is which of the two games I recommend most. Well, if you're rich enough to patronize the arts now and then, put on your tuxedo, uncork some pricey Chablis, and experience for yourself an evening of Limbo. But if you're more in the market for a bulk-buy economy-brand kind of entertainment, then order out for a barbecue Meat Lover's with a two-liter Coke and try DeathSpank. Alternatively, if neither option appeals and you'd prefer something bland and unchallenging, then why not try eating a dick. [153]

Shadow of the Colossus[edit]

  • Shadow of the Colossus is usually filed under "action-adventure" like everything else that's hard to classify, but really it defies genre. The gameplay is divided between adventuring alone through the silent wilderness and the sixteen tussles with monsters so large you could hollow out their carcasses and repurpose them as low-income housing. In the former, everything is peaceful and contemplative with no combat and no puzzling besides navigating the occasional mountain that sits obliviously between you and your destination like a fat guy at a cinema. And in the latter, everything is noisy and intense like you're playing Hungry Hungry Hippos backstage at a Dragonforce gig. It creates an effective contrast, like riding a bike down a long and peaceful country road and every other hundred yards the bike turns into a bear. [154]

Split/Second: Velocity[edit]

  • Which brings me to Split Second: Velocity, or rather Split Stroke Second, 'cause that's how it's written. So what the fuck does that mean, Disney Interactive Studios, Split or Second? Do we have to pick one? Or does the game alternate being themed around standard units of time measurement and serving suggestions for bananas? Anyway, it's an extreme racing game... you do know the hyphen is the horizontal one right? Look down, it's right next to the zero. I know it's hard to focus when Mickey Mouse is badgering you for results, but honestly! [155]

Transformers: War for Cybertron[edit]

  • What I don't get is why people are so protective of Transformers when literally the only reason it existed was not to enrich or inspire you but to sell you gimmicky toys. Hey, fanboys! Transformers only loved you as long as you had limited control of your parents disposable income. It's like you were all hooked up to milking machines, but instead of complaining you all painted you milking machines different colors and put stickers on them and argued over whose milking machine was best! But I suppose these days the entire entertainment industry regards most individuals as nothing more than a bit consuming mouth wearing designer jeans full of money so, what the fuck? Transformers: War for Cybertron gather around and consume away, you big jeans wearing mouth cattle things.
  • People will say I didn't like the game because I don't care about Transformers - well, the point is this was the game's chance to make me care about Transformers and it cocked it up! Tie-in games in the past have been good enough on their own merits to make me interested in the subject matter. All I'm seeing here is a bunch of tumble dryers bumping into each other under overblown disco lighting! [156]

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days[edit]

  • ...Reflect on what huge masochists the developers of Kane and Lynch must be, famously having gotten Jeff Gerstmann fired from Gamespot for not realizing that the Gamespot Super-Sellout Saver advertising package included a free happy ending on the review table. Solidarity therefore was the main ingredient in my root beer float of reasons why I didn't review Kane and Lynch 1, with a hefty scoop of the ice cream of "couldn't be arsed." But now Kane and Lynch 2 is out, I sincerely hope the publishers don't intend to follow the same policy as last time because, if they do, there will not be a reviewer left employed by the end of the month! Or to put that another way, Kane and Lynch 2 is worse than deep-fried tampons! [157]

Mafia II[edit]

  • Why does society insist on demonizing organized crime? We all agree Prohibition was a stupid law, right? So why is it socially acceptable to crave a nice cup of tea in the morning or a cigarette after a nobbing but the moment I try to pound half a kilo of smack into my eyeballs everyone thinks there's something wrong with me?
  • I'm not sure why Mafia 2 and indeed Mafia 1 felt they needed to be open world because they're both heavily story-based linear sequences of missions, and largely the only activity available between missions is schlepping to the next one through the same dull scenery. People have suggested to me that this is to build an atmosphere of realism and highlight that life in organized crime was really just a sobering routine day job, to which I would say, "Piss off!" This is a game. Games are fun. I want to knob prostitutes while singing songs from Bugsy Malone, and say "Fugged abahd it" without irony! [158]

Metroid: Other M[edit]

  • Of the many expressionless drones robo-Samus excretes from her mouth pipe, roughly a hundred percent of them are clarifications of things that a narcoleptic retard could have already guessed. [in an expressionless drone:] "From Adam's stern expression, constant swearing, and repeated kicks to my face and stomach, I realized he must have been a bit upset about something."
  • Oh, yes, and there's this murder mystery plot set up early on. Six different members of a military squad are introduced and established with names and slightly anemic personalities. But then it transpires that there's a traitor among them, picking them off. You even have a boss fight with him, his face cunningly concealed by camera angles and bits of scenery. So, do you want to know who the traitor turns out to be? ...So the fuck would I, because the game kind of forgets about this whole subplot and hopes you do, too. "Hey, wasn't there some intrigue from the first half of the game we were supposed to be resolving, Metroid Story Writer A?" "Doesn't ring a bell, Metroid Story Writer B. Now let's make Samus' suit fall off again so everyone can see her bum." On an educated guess though, the evil guy was probably the one with the evil mustache. [159]

Amnesia: The Dark Descent[edit]

  • You see, there are three kinds of horror games: First there's the kind where you're in dark room and a guy in a spooky mask jumps out of a cupboard going, "Abloogy woogy woo!" That would be your Doom 3. Then there's the kind where the guy in a spooky mask isn't in a cupboard but standing right behind you and you just know he's gonna go "abloogy woogy woo" at some point but he doesn't and you're getting more and more tense but you don't wanna turn around because he might stick his cock in your eye! That would be your Silent Hill 2. And then there are horror games where the guy in the spooky mask goes, "Abloogy woogy woo," while standing on the far side of a brightly lit room, before walking slowly over to you, plucking a violin, and then slapping you the face with a T-bone steak. That would be your Dead Space.
  • It's quite a while before you even glimpse a monster, and let me just transcribe my thought process at the time: "Dum-de-dum, well, this isn't very scary. Oh, look! Physics. I can throw chairs around like a removal man who's completely stopped giving a shit. Doors suddenly blowing open in the wind? Yawn-a-rama. Guess I'll just look around upstairs and then might as well play Halo: Reach for a bit. Nope, nothing much up here, either; I'll just go back and... Whoa, what was that thing I just glimpsed running down a hallway? I don't know, but it looked cross about something, so I think I'll go down this other hallway instead. Oh, it's blocked. Guess I'll turn around and WHERE DID YOU COME FROM!? AAGGH, RUN RUN RUN I'M SORRY I DIDN'T MEAN TO MESS YOUR CHAIRS UP, OH PISSING BLIMEY, THERE'S JAM COMING OUT OF THE WALLS!!" [160]

Halo: Reach[edit]

  • Everyone in this prequel seems to be fully aware of their ultimately doomed status. No one's particularly surprised when the Covenant do show up (with incidentally all human characters immediately being totally familiar with the operation of Covenant weapons and vehicles, you'd almost think they'd just built this game off the engine of a previous one or something) and the story is focused on a small commando unit whose members spend the entire game having a prolonged "Who can have the noblest death?" competition. Oh come on, this isn't a spoiler! They wouldn't characterize this many NPCs if they weren't going to pick them off like after-dinner mints. The very first image in the game is a brief flash-forward depicting your helmet lying discarded in the dust of battle-scarred terrain, what the fuck do you think happens in the end? Your character climactically and thrillingly gets a little bit hot? [161]

Dead Rising 2[edit]

  • What I like about it is that it's a true watercooler game, and I'm not talking about all that Facebook game bollocks where you can boast to all your friends because you stuck a radish up an imaginary cow's arse. You get together with your other Dead Rising 2 mates and you can discuss for hours what combos you found, boss-fighting tactics and where to find the chainsaws and mankinis. Perhaps a romance could blossom that will last a lifetime if you discover similar tastes in weapons and women's clothing, but what we don't want to know is what you'll do on the first date. [162]

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions[edit]

  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions plays like marketing material for Marvel Comics' range of alternate Spider-Man continuities. See, every now and then, some writer at Marvel's creativity-fuelled dream factory gets bored of repeatedly typing the words, "Spider-Man punches the villain in the face", and transfers the characters to a different setting or time period, so they can instead type, "Spider-Man punches the villain in the face... in space!" [163]

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow[edit]

  • Usually I begin these little tonsil exercises leading into some sort of rambling speel of only borderline relevance. In this case wondering aloud if you could improve every Castlevania game by replacing Dracula with "The Count from Sesame Street". Although probably not Symphony of the night, 'cause you'd have to replace Alucard with "teerts emases morf tnuoc eht".
  • Stop me if you've heard this one before: beefy bloke with poor coping skills gets a big nark on after something kills his wife and takes it out on mythological creatures, with a weapon on the end of a chain that can do light attacks and heavy attacks. But before I can bring down my well-used 'Like God Of War But' stamp like the terrible hammer of judgment that it is, the game dodges my swing and goes "Wait! Here's something original! Every now and again you have to have thrilling boss fights with monsters so big you have to ledge-climb all over their bodies, pausing to hold on when they try to thrash you around like a little murderous nipple tassel, and chip away at their health by picking at glowing weak spots." "Say," I reply, "Another word for 'giant monster' is colossus, isn't it?" "I know what you're thinking," retorts Castlevania Lords of Shadow of the Colossus, "but we're not like that game at all! That game had sixteen colossi and we've got three! That's a completely different number!" ..."So where do you want this 'Like God of War But' stamp?" I ask after an embarrassed cough. "On my face, please." [164]

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West[edit]

  • If you said to me, "Sci-fi reimagining of another culture's mythology mostly concerned with robots," I would immediately think, Too Human! and punch you in the bollocks for reminding me of it. But wait! There's a new sheriff in sci-fi reimagining mythology town! Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, a post-apocalyptic action-adventure inspired by the classical Chinese epic called Journey To The West, in which the monkey king is replaced by a sweaty white guy with neck muscles like mating dolphins. Hopefully this will keep us going until someone makes Space-Pilot Jesus Christ vs. Mecha-Pontius, but don't delude yourselves - Enslaved isn't inspired by Journey To The West, is it? That is something I find considerably difficult to swallow, because the game takes liberties with the original story in the same way that Jason Voorhees takes liberties with cheerleaders. [165]

Fallout: New Vegas[edit]

  • And then I made it! I stepped out into the glittering lights of the city, the towering buildings noisy monoliths to the sheer potential of... why the fuck can't I move? The game froze up! I mean, my life froze up! I mean, all that radioactive toilet water must have given me some kind of paralysing... oh, bollocks to this. Roleplaying in Fallout 3 is difficult enough without the interface and the terrifying fixed eye-contact conversations without it bugging out as well. And it'll take more than having to stop for a sandwich and a piss to make Fallout 3 more immersive. Maybe if you ground it into powder and poured it into a swimming pool, but it would probably only turn the water brown. [166]

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II[edit]

  • You've got to feel sorry for Star Wars fans in this day and age - when you're not mocking them or kicking them down flights of stairs, I mean. They haven't exactly rolled a double-six in the great game of life to begin with, and now the one thing that has made their existence marginally less wretched is crumbling before their very eyes like old pastry in a dishwasher. Between movies, games, books, and tea towels, the shit of Star Wars now vastly outweighs the good, which consists of the first two movies and arguably Knights of the Old Republic. Not that they'll ever admit that. It's quite entertaining to watch the level of denial die-hard Star Wars fans operate on as they try to convince you that the romance in Attack of the Clones was totally believable. To say Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman had chemistry in that film is like saying that a chair stacked on another chair is a sizzlingly erotic love scene. So I look forward to seeing how the fanboys justify The Force Unleashed II, because it is the most grossly offensive and mishandled application of intellectual property since the Schindler's List Easy-Bake Oven.
  • So: Here are all the ways you can kill people in this game, like a bullied teenager with a semi-automatic and an Oedipus complex. You can hit them with the lightsaber if you're some kind of watercress-eating spod with no imagination; you can reflect their blaster shots back at them; you can throw your lightsaber at them; you can microwave them with force lightning; you can force-push them into walls; you can lift them off their feet and throw them at their mates; you can lift them up, microwave them, throw your lightsaber at them, then throw whatever mess remains at their mates. And you can Jedi mind-trick them into fighting each other or hurling themselves off bridges, which is incidentally hilarious. And yet, none of the enemies seem the least bit afraid of you. It's like they all went to the wrong briefing by mistake and, somewhere in the universe, a platoon of terrified SWAT officers with riot shields and machine guns are facing off against a single confused ewok. [167]

Call of Duty: Black Ops[edit]

  • And there are many moments when I just want to yell, "Time out!" and demand someone explain what the fuck's going on before another thing explodes. Because the thing about all the Call of Duty games I've played lately is that they all seem to be hooked up to I.V. drips full of Pop Rocks. Black Ops just can't calm the fuck down. If five seconds ever pass without a gunshot or an explosion, then it's probably because you just passed out from an epileptic fit. The game's like a nagging spouse slapping you 'round the back of the head every five seconds: "GO THERE! KEEP RUNNING! TAKE COVER! NOT THERE, YOU'RE GETTING SHOT! THERE! SHOOT THAT GUY! NOT HIM; HE'S ON YOUR SIDE! CAN'T YOU TELL? HE'S WEARING A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT HAT! QUICK! PICK UP THAT GRENADE AND THROW IT BACK! I DON'T KNOW, OVER THERE SOMEWHERE! Oh, there, see? If you'd thrown it sooner, that wouldn't have happened, you stupid cunt!" You only get a break on the loading screens, which will generally helpfully remind you that grenades explode, and you should probably avoid getting exploded in future. [168]

iPhone Games[edit]

  • Completing the iPhone game chart top 3 at time of writing is Fruit Ninja by Halfbrick Studios. This is about as simple as games get, there isn't even the paltriest context for what you're doing. You're not exacting revenge on limbless pigs or feeding your pet bitch lizard: you're a ninja, fruit is flying up in front of you, and fuck fruit! Sitting around all smug on trees and in pies. [169]

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood[edit]

  • My understanding was that Asscreed as a series was about exploring various historical settings with future Desmond as a framing device. But as much as I like Ezio, my concern after two games is that we're getting bogged down with our spaghetti-scoffing friend. I hate to say it, but maybe it's time for the inevitable game entirely about future Desmond. He's still got the personality of a damp fish (which might explain what his fish-lipped girlfriend sees in him) but the other characters in the Scooby gang are actually quite appealing, especially the snarky sarcastic misanthropic British man. He really rubs me up the right way. Can't think why! [170]

Splatterhouse[edit]

  • Once you're mentally tuned into the Caligula mindset, the gore swiftly starts to feel repetitive and unsatisfying. One of the posters I saw for this game bore the tagline "He'll rip your head off." This is at least accurate, but it would be even more so if it were followed by the words "...and that's all he'll fucking do." In classic Wad of Gore fashion, you can grab weakened enemies to do finishing moves, and most of them just involve pulling off the closest thing it has to a head. How about a little creativity my man? That one fellow you killed by shoving your hand up his arse and pulling his rectum out was original, or at least it was before you did it fifty fucking times.
  • That's it? Absolutely nothing between rick and the mask gets resolved. It might as well have been playing classic FM into his ear the whole time for all the good the foreshadowing did! It and a momentously disappointing final boss fight both wreak of yet another game speeding towards the conclusion as the deadline loomed. It seems to be an obvious way to avoid this; make the intro first, the ending second, then everything else, that way if anything feels rushed or cut down, it'll be one of the bits in the middle no one cares about. While the ending is what people will remember.[171]

Epic Mickey[edit]

  • You know, as a child, I used to have a phobia of theme park mascots. Emotionally repressed even then, I was suspicious of their instant friendliness, fixed grins, and eagerness to take me into the gents to show me Herman the Hairy Snake (the secret mascot who only comes out for good little boys and girls with weak gag reflexes). The point is, I hadn't gotten over this problem by the time I got taken to Disneyland, and the day became a tense and fearful avoidance game at the first sign of oversized cranium - culminating in paroxysms of torment when the parade rolled around. The grins! A sea of grins! Staring. Judging. Winnie the Pooh doing some foul, perverted windmill dance with his exposed forearms. No, Goofy, I don't want to taste Herman's special milk!
  • Disney, having long been as artistically bankrupt as a vending machine, care less about interesting new reinterpretations than their copyrights being depicted in the slightest negative light, so the specter of compromise hovers around Epic Mickey - sorry, Disney Epic Mickey - like a bad smell. There's this one vintage Mickey Mouse comic in which he breaks up with Minnie and spends the rest of the comic attempting suicide. I swear this is true, and it was way edgier than this! Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers was edgier than this! Fucking Kingdom Hearts was edgier than this, if only for the usual JRPG pedophilia subtext. Two child abuse jokes and we've barely started, that never bodes well! [172]

Top 5 of 2010[edit]

  • But to the yin must come the yang, to the cream must come the cheese, to the giddy high of new love must come irritable bowel syndrome. The worst game of the year, a game less substantial than a fart in an lift but no less unpleasant for those caught in its wafting cage, a game that killed its franchise so thoroughly that the only acceptable sequel would be a box containing nothing but an apology note and some chocolate. I refer of course... to Halo: Reach. BURN! Had you going for a second there, didn't I - actually it's Fable 3. BURNED again! No, seriously now - a game I found literally as headache-inducingly unpleasant as impacted wisdom teeth surgery in the middle of a rave, step forward, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days. Step onto your first place podium, and then put a rope around your neck so we can kick it away. [173]

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm[edit]

  • I asked someone who raids "Why do you raid?" "To get the best items," they said. "What do you use the best items for?" I asked, to which they could only answer "To raid with!" But it's not about items, is it? You don't honestly care if your new crystal nethersword is going to clash with your elite boss-clogs, it's about the numbers! You want the items with the best numbers so you can use your numbers to decrease the enemy numbers until your numbers are the best in the land, and all the other guilds flock to regard your numbers with jealous awe! And before you argue that lots of games are about numbers when you get down to it, no one ever ruined their lives to get 100 percent items in Super Metroid! [174]

Fable 3[edit]

  • I think I've realized what I don't like about Fable: it's essentially fascist. Heroism, rather than a quality that anyone can exhibit, is reduced to some kind of inherent biological thing unique to a single genetic line of handsome white people. All the support characters who do the actual organizing of the revolution take it as read that you will be king because you're the only one with the king genes, despite being an embarrassing out-of-touch mostly silent privileged fop who fucks his dog! And I'm not even being disingenuous - when you pet your dog it strongly resembles making out. Especially when you dip it and stick your tongue down its throat like you're teaching it Dirty Dancing. [175]

Minecraft[edit]

  • This is one game where there's officially no shame in looking up the FAQ. A tutorial wouldn't go amiss. "See those trees?" it would begin by saying. "Chop them down with the flat of your hand. Now make a workbench. Now make a pickaxe. Mine some stone and make a better pickaxe. Now find some coal. If Lady Luck consents to smile, you'll find some in a wall somewhere - no, I don't know how you were supposed to figure all this out. And while your workbench is open make a shovel, because the sun's going down and now you're going to dig a big hole and cry in it until the exploding bush monsters go away." It's like their only reason to live is to ruin other people's artwork. There but for the grace of God go I, suicide hedge. [176]

A Shadow's Tale[edit]

  • One late game mechanic is magic archways that let you temporarily turn back into a physical object, but I'd noticed several of those archways on various levels before you acquire this power. Oh, you're going to make me backtrack aren't you, you little bastard? Sure enough, after however many samey boring levels it took to get to the top of the tower, I then had to go back through some samey boring tedious levels to gather some items to open up another set of samey boring tedious interminable levels, which I thought would be the end but then some more samey boring tedious interminable prosaic levels started up, and even reading this sentence is becoming samey, boring, tedious, interminable, prosaic and when does this fucking game end?! There are many ways to analyze a game, but uttering that sentence aloud never shines a positive light. [177]

Dead Space 2[edit]

  • Now if I were a paranoid man (which I'm not, whatever people have been saying about me), I'd say Dead Space has started deliberately trying to provoke me. The very first thing that happens in Dead Space 2 is a bloke turning into a Necromorph, fully illuminated and literally six inches away from your face, then it grabs you by the lapels and screams at you while his eyes pop out. This is the horror equivalent of a small child banging its head on a wall so you pay it attention. "HEY LOOK AT ME, ARE YOU SCARED YET?! WHAT IF ALL THE SKIN ROLLED OFF MY FACE, ARE YOU SCARED NOW?! AAAAAAHHH!! DOING THIS REALLY HURTS ACTUALLY!! AAAAAAHHH!! I CURRENTLY REPRESENT A THREAT IN AN EXTREMELY UNSPECIFIC WAY!! AAAAAAHHH!!" [178]

DC Universe Online[edit]

  • Just for fun, let's examine the premise as if we don't know who any of these characters are. A bunch of poorly dressed motherfuckers have a great big apocalyptic punch-up until only one survives, whereupon aliens invade, so said survivor travels back in time (no they don't say how, put your arm down!) and brings a warning to two rodeo clowns and a prostitute. Then he does a weird thing that bestows superpowers upon a whole bunch of random civies, his assumption perhaps being that if the entire world consists of poorly dressed motherfuckers having a punch-up then perhaps the aliens will just get freaked out and quietly leave. [179]

Mindjack[edit]

  • Cover-based shooting is a little bit dry and overdone, even if it's perfectly executed, and the only way to perfectly execute Mindjack would be with a lethal injection. Once you've persuaded little Jimmy Meathead to take cover rather than perform roly-polys in front of the chosen wall, he has a terrible habit of firing into it, and at one point I couldn't see where I was shooting because the ammo counter on the side of the gun was in the way. Can't see the killing for my gun, how philosophical. [180]

Two Worlds II[edit]

  • As is fairly typical of western RPGs, once you actually start playing, the establishing plot gets swiftly dog-piled under a labyrinth of side quests and intermediary objectives. And within a matter of hours I paused to reflect while escorting an old man into the sewer to make a trade with some underground organization on behalf of a crime lord so he'll eventually tell me about some tower that the orcs seemed really keen for me to visit, and realized that I'd completely forgotten how any of it related to the overarching possessed-princess/dark-lord motivation that I still don't get what was going on there! This is always the part of western RPGs I have difficulty with because I always lose the sense of flow. After a few quests and a particularly financially ruinous trip to the armor shop, I find myself floating around a peasant village dressed like a dandy cutlery drawer with no smegma-chugging idea of what to do next! [181]

Bulletstorm[edit]

  • Thank Christ for companies like Epic, for games like Gears of War, that popularized fat space marines trundling between chest-high walls like they're in wheelchairs. But in 2004, a company called People Can Fly shirked modern trends to create Painkiller, a fast, frantic and shamelessly fun evocation of the bygone age and one of my favorite shooters of all time. "Wow!" said Epic. "You really showed us how it's done, People Can Fly. Why don't you step over here for a second? Come on, don't be shy, we're not going to hurt you... NOW! DROP THE NET! HIT THEM WITH STICKS! Phew, nipped that one in the bud!" So now that People Can Fly have been whipped into line, they and Epic can bring you Bulletstorm, a game about fat space marines. [182]

Killzone 3[edit]

  • Pardon me for being detestably predicable, but I'm now going to complain about how all the bad guys in Killzone are British. Because someone should get pissed off about this, and it might as well be me, I stood up for the Russians when I reviewed all those cold war fantasist wank games, and I don't even know any Russians! I'm fine with that thing where the main villain is a posh British guy, because let's face it, cooing at rainbows sounds evil when you do it in a posh British accent. It's only when you make all the evil soldiers cockneys that you enter the prejudice parade. Cockney doesn't sound evil! It sounds honest and cheeky chips loveable! You couldn't picture Dick Van Dyke hiding in the bushes in a park, popping children's balloons with a blowpipe! You might think I'm making to much of a fuss about things but someone on the dev team at some point said to themselves " we have a race who's every individual member is so morally bankrupt that players will feel perfectly justified splattering them against the scenery. Now how do we bring that across in a sort of verbal short hand"? But the most bitter pill to swallow is that they look like Nazis. We helped defeat the Nazis! Maybe we won't next time, America. Maybe when China buys you and puts you all to work in the sweat shops and you crawl to Europe for help we'll go; "Hmm, well, we would but apparently we're evil so hands tied".
  • Anyway, let it never be said that I'm some ignorant Loom-smashing Luddite, because I started playing Killzone 3 not only with the PlayStation Move controls but also with the 3D option on my new massive 3D TV that I bought with all my ad revenue money, much obliged Internet! The motion controls didn't last ten minutes. After calibrating (Calibrating, fuck! Starting up a game these days is like starting up a fucking cruise liner) the aim was wavery and difficult, I didn't know where they'd moved all the buttons to and my big red glowing controller was reflecting in the screen and giving people hilarious clown noses! So after getting sniped silly for a while that went out the window and I took up a nice sensible sixaxis which didn't stop the game from throwing in motion-controlled turny switches whenever it could get away with it. The 3D held out a bit longer - yeah, things in the foreground were getting all prominent and shit but everything from the middle distance on looked like a big flat matte backdrop like the game was taking place in a puppet theater. After a while I turned it off and suddenly I was astounded by the detail in a nearby wood texture now that I wasn't wearing those stupid glasses. Things ten feet away stopped popping in all the time and my dog came back to life! So fuck modern technology right in its cutting edge! Ow! [183]

Kirby's Epic Yarn[edit]

  • Obviously the game starts about as challenging as a polystyrene prison, but over time it remembers its heritage and gains a few teeth. A Meta Knight boss fight in particular - and I haven't played a lot of Kirby games, but the whole Meta Knight thing seems rather glaringly out of place, in a game where the principal antagonists are a fat penguin in some knitwear. It's like an episode of the Care Bears where they all climb into giant mecha suits and sword fight over the last Jelly Baby. [184]

Dragon Age II[edit]

  • Before a subtitle can be thought up we need to determine exactly what Dragon Age II is about. Much like the first one, it's all about the representative messages, and can't go five minutes without someone being really heavy-handedly racist against mages, elves, dwarves, goldfish et cetera, which is why I find it somewhat ironic that you're only allowed to play as a human this time around. When the first game let you pick from an entire Burger King Kids' Club of races and backstories, here you're always a human with the surname "Hawke," so to compensate for the lack of choice other characters can actually address you by name. Whoop di fuckin' do. And I'd just like to point out that this is quite a long game, so being a male character with the first name Ethan is going to stop being funny very fast. [185]

Pokemon White[edit]

  • In an alternative world in which the school system is regarded with universal contempt, children are encouraged to roam the wildnerness siccing wild animals on every motherfucker who crosses their field of vision. You know in the intro to Syndicate Wars where the lad who lives in the dystopian nightmare city has this chip in his head that makes him think he's living in picturesque small town America? I like to think the protagonists of Pokemon all have the same chips and in reality are exploring various murky basements with a sack full of rats and mangy attack dogs. [186]

Yakuza 4[edit]

  • The amount of modern Japanese culture that gets worked in makes me wonder if this is not actually aimed at foreign tourists. The equivalent would be a British game in which you play a Bobby in ol' London town, healing up by eating fish 'n' chips and using a fighting style that mainly employs rugby tackles. [187]

Crysis 2[edit]

  • An aspect of the plot I actually liked is that Alcatraz is basically a collection of broken bones and ruptured organs held together with spit, and the suit is acting as some combination iron lung and wheelchair and is the only reason he's still upright, and nowhere is this more apparent than when you've run out of suit power in the middle of a pitched battle, and are trying to waddle behind a bit of wall like you've just caced your pants. It's refreshing to see an unstoppable action protagonist who also comes across as vulnerable and tragic. Nathan Drake could perch his rectum at the top of a flagpole and wisecrack all the way down to the floor, and he still wouldn't be an ounce as sympathetic as a silent protagonist who has essentially been reduced to a load of beef stew in an thermos flask. [188]

Nintendo 3DS[edit]

Portal 2[edit]

  • Portal is the only game I've been unable to find a fault in. It's like Ahab and Moby Dick, if Ahab regarded Moby Dick with asexual lust and Moby Dick's owners once invited Ahab to come visit their ivory tower and flick cashew nuts at poor people. In the time since then and the release of Portal 2, you'll be pleased to hear that I eventually did come up with a criticism for Portal 1: it's got the worst fucking fans in the world. Nothing ruins a good thing quite like knowing you share your opinion with mindless little tits who bray like mules if you so much as mention the word "cake," and the good thing in question can never be the same again. This is technically known as the "Knights Who Say Ni" Effect.
  • Fortunately I eventually found where all the other puzzles were hiding; they're in the co-op campaign witch I played through with one of my fat friends. With two extra portals to play around with, the puzzles are bigger and better and satisfying to solve through team work. If you need to swiftly make friends with someone like a future father-in law or an armed burglar, then you couldn't find a better ice breaker. I just don't think it has any replay value whatsoever. If you played it with another fat friend, you'd get sick of lugging the ball and chain around and they'd resent you for not letting them figure shit out on their own. So, make doubly sure that your armed burglar isn't an avid PC gamer. [190]

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night[edit]

Mortal Kombat[edit]

  • I am frankly flabbergasted that a game like Mortal Kombat can seriously be considered relevant in this day and age, at a time when fighting games are thought to have humiliated themselves if they don't show up with their roster filling at least two school buses, Mortal Kombat should by rights have been kneecapped for showing up with only seven playable fighters, two of which being the same guy wearing different coloured jumpers. And while fully-rendered graphics might be a little overkill for a 2D fighter, using photo cutouts of people in costumes has got to be the most ghetto-fucking solution short of cutting out pencil doodles on the sides of milk cartons. And what I understand least of all is why people are calling this a new release when Wikipedia clearly states it came out in August 1992...oh, do you know what I've done? I've got Mortal Kombat, the 2011 release, confused with Mortal Kombat, the game from 20 years ago with the same exact name! Do you see how confusing this gets?! [192]

Brink[edit]

  • Incidentally I'd like to invite fans of Brink to take a shot every time I mention Team Fortress 2 - hopefully by the end of this video you won't feel so poorly disposed towards me. You know how Team Fortress 2 (take a shot) introduced optional hats and unlockables that did nothing but mess with perfectly good visual design like a bunch of jelly beans sprinkled on a wedding cake? Well, Bethesda saw this and cried, "Valve will never outdo us when it comes to making bad decisions! Fully customizable outfits for everyone! You won't even be able to fucking see the wedding cake behind all the jelly beans!" You want to know the ironic thing though? Even with this feature every character looks exactly the bloody same. That's failing to a new level, like standing on a rake and the rake has a grenade taped to the end of it. [193]

L.A. Noire[edit]

  • Mind you, it's not exactly a brain-melter to deduce whether someone's lying or not. This is the inherent problem when you tell your mo-cap actor "Look like you're lying, and I know you're acting and therefore lying all the time, so this time exaggerate it," so of course they're going to spin their eyes like fruit machines and shift around like someone's trying to work an ant farm up their bum. The much-touted realistic facial animation is indeed very impressive and you can often recognize the real-world actor who did the mo-cap, such as TV's Greg Grunberg! But while the faces are very realistic and well-animated somewhat less attention has been afforded to the bodies, with the usual game problem of weird-looking joints and cardboard clothes. So a rather eerie effect is created, and some characters look like Gerry Anderson finally snapped and started taping the decapitated heads of jobbing work actors to his Captain Scarlet puppets. [194]

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings[edit]

  • Amongst the 700 subcategories of inventory items you can gather like a bum with a shopping trolley are mutagens and weapon upgrades. But if you ask how you're supposed to equip them then you're committing a social faux pas again. Why do I even have an inventory screen if double-clicking on every single item makes the game slap you across the wrist and say "No, we do that from a different screen! No we won't tell you which one! And put on a fucking tie! Where were you raised, Azeroth?!" [195]

Hunted: The Demon's Forge[edit]

  • The first boss fight is the most disheartening moment. Through a lengthy network of caves and dungeons (some sections of which were so fucking murky I literally ended up resorting to casting fireball everywhere just so I could see where the fuck I was going), I was buoyed by the ongoing promise of a boss fight with a giant spider that kept appearing over the horizon like the bedroom eyes of a courtesan peering coquettishly over her fan. Although it very clearly only had four legs, so I don't know why everyone kept calling it a spider. For tedious multitudes of chambers the game went "Ooh, it could be in the very next room! I guess you'll only find out if you keep going, won't you?" And then finally the giant spider found a window in its meeting schedule and chased me through a big cave for a bit before I lobbed two bombs at it and dropped a rock on its head. "Exciting!" said I, "Can I fight it now? What do you mean it's dead? What, we're just gonna move on?" I felt like I'd queued for hours to get on a roller coaster that went down one dip and then dropped you off at the gift shop. [196]

Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time)[edit]

  • The interesting thing about Forever is that you can practically cut it in half and see the entire fourteen years of shooter evolution it's tried to keep up with, like the rings in a tree stump. It starts out campy and colorful in a SiN/Blood II: The Chosen kind of way, then it moves into the dark, sweaty unpleasant Doom 3/Prey/Quake IV period when you go into the alien hive (and incidentally, this section contains about as jarring a shift of tone as you can get without splicing five minutes of The Human Centipede into the middle of Mallrats). And by the last mission Duke has finally embraced the FPSs of today, meaning you run around a grey/brown industrial area for a while and then get a shit ending. [197]

Infamous 2[edit]

  • Ya' know it's easy to let obnoxious socialites like Duke Nukem: Forever prance about grabbing headlines, but do we ever stop to appreciate all the non- squeaky wheels that just work efficiently? Without needing development cycles longer than the average natural lifespan of a saint Bernard ? Everyone longs to catch the eye of that ditzy straight line block in Tetris but no one stops to thank the workaday T-shaped block for it's diligent and efficient service.
  • I know inFAMOUS is kind of stuck with the whole moral choice thing since the game's pretty much named after it, but no fairy godmothers have shown up since the first game to wave her wand and have it start making sense. Look, if you have two equally viable, equally difficult solutions to a problem - say, humanely suffocating your costly vegetative wife with a pillow or digging through to her femoral arteries with a cheese grater - than the evil option (which if you're having trouble keeping up is the second one) is just irrational! And you can't relate to a character whose actions don't make any fucking sense! Surely the evil option is supposed to be the more convenient but riskier one that would appeal to someone weak-willed. You could spend a lot of time and effort sprucing yourself up and trolling the bars to find someone to romance and settle down with, or you can just fuck a cow and risk angry farmers with paparazzi connections. That's a moral choice.[198]

Alice: Madness Returns[edit]

  • When gaming has formed the new utopian society Bill and Ted style, eventually there's going to be a war over weather we should sanctify of demonize the bloke who figured out you could make cinematics by zooming in on the concept art- Whoops didn't see you there. Who remembers American McGee? He was a bloke who worked on Doom and got a free ride, like everyone else who worked on Doom. I think the bloke who made the tea for the Doom team got to make his own game. His name was John Romero-No!
  • Even the trademark creepy imagery seems a bit phoned in and over-reliant on creepy dolls. Yes, a porcelain doll head with no hair or eyeballs is a creepy thing, but after the five hundred millionth one they get kind of devalued in the global creep economy, falling right below creepy Uncle Dan and the feeling of another person's bum warmth on your toilet seat. [199]

Shadows of the Damned[edit]

  • For a game that seems to have set out with the plans to bring three big names together and wait for the explosion, none of the three amigos brought their A-game. Akira Yamaoka randomly smashing his banjo strings suited the disquieting surreality of Silent Hill but not so much a quirky action/horror game that seems to be mouthing along to a squealing heavy metal soundtrack that it doesn't have. On the gameplay side, where was the Shinji Mikami who once made a game where dozing off for one second led to you getting your head chainsawed off by a mad Spainard? And while enough of the disposable income of the alternative crowd glimmered invitingly in the eyes of publishers to be marketed "A Suda51 Trip," for all Shadows of the Damned's demon skull nobstitutions, this is probably the most grounded Suda51's ever been. Killer7 was a trip, this is more like a bank holiday day out to go watch someone fling horse giblets at a lingerie shop. [200]

FEAR 3[edit]

  • You know, publishers, when you replace a letter with a number for your clever douchebag sequel name, it only means that other douchebags like me will just insist on pronouncing it that way when they read it out loud, as in Sesevenen and indeed Fthreear. Still, I prefer both of those to whatever the hell Thief 4's logo is playing at. When the fuck has it ever been acceptable to replace an "E" with a "4?" If you let that kind of bullshit scoot by too many times then our daughters will all be shagging Communists by this time next year. [201]

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D[edit]

  • I remember Twilight Princess being too easy because it was compensating for the Wiimote being as friendly as an attack dog that's been trained to administer Chinese burns. Then again, I've been trained by all the more recent Zelda games that have really just been building on Ocarina of Time, so playing Ocarina of Time now is like a surgeon that's been re-training as a fishmonger. I know that you should look to the side missions to replace that rat scrotum you call a coin purse, but 1998 audiences didn't. Is it fair to say that later Zelda games had better gameplay and characters with actual story arcs and more personality than a lungfish in a moist bath towel, when Ocarina of Time was the template from which all those games arose? Probably not. But if you ask me, Nintendo has shot themselves in the foot. With N64 technology being emulatable on dried leaves and bits of old twig, Nintendo were this close to having a new generation who wouldn't have known Ocarina of Time existed, and Skyward Sword might have blown their minds. [202]

Call of Juarez: The Cartel[edit]

  • But the AI don't go after collectibles; they usually just stand there staring at you with gormless uncomprehending eyes. They were also never programmed to drive, so in the occasional vehicle section, if you perhaps would rather take riding shotgun to its literal heart, then fuck you and your haughty airs. The AI will pile into the back seat without a word and just look at you like a dog with its leash in its mouth. And as I said, they can't aim for shit. But after you've single-handedly cleared out an entire room, they'll unfailingly say the one of their four or five endlessly repeated lines that goes, "You don't have to do this all by yourself, you know." THERE IS NO MIDDLE FINGER BIG ENOUGH! [203]

Bastion and From Dust[edit]

  • So enough with these iron-sight examination simulators, I'm going where the worlds are bleak and the heads are large for my third XBLA double bill! And with characteristic convenience, the XBLA has recently chundered up two games that both approach the theme of world-building from vastly different directions. Perhaps this speaks to some larger trend within society today, or a prevailing desire on the part of indie designers to recreate the entire world into one where you can charge more than fifteen bucks for your game design degree course work. [204]

Catherine[edit]

  • Video games seem to be a little bit frightened of relationships, in a curious reflection of their predominantly male and sweaty customer base. Oh, there are plenty of games that depict the commencement of a relationship, generally as a consequence of Party A rescuing Party B from a giant fire-breathing lizard thing or an evil general or their own virginity depending on the genre. Very few games are about a relationship that's already going on except when one half of it exists solely to get murdered at one point so that the other half can seek revenge without someone constantly asking them how they think jumping over turtles or shooting mercenaries or getting fucked all day in the butt is going to bring in enough money to raise a family. Well, now the balance is being restored by Catherine, a Japanese game centrally about the difficulties of relationships such as unexplained pregnancy, the impetus of commitment and being chased up an infinite staircase by a giant monstrous girlfriend trying to eat you with her butt. Did I mention it's Japanese? [205]

Red Faction Armageddon[edit]

  • The title was the first telltale heart murmur. "Armageddon" is one of those words from the subtitle bucket, along with "Chronicles" and "Resurrection," a word you stick on the end of your sequel name to communicate you have less creativity than a pencil sharpener. Red Faction Armageddon is the final game of a trilogy that began with Red Faction Guerrilla (don't worry, you didn't just turn over two pages at once). You play Darius Mason, the grandson of Alec Mason from Guerrilla, who is engaged in conflict with an evil cult leader who was apparently defeated once before by Darius' dad. And everything indicates to me that Darius' dad's actions were the events of a second intervening game that wasn't actually made. In which case, what frightens me is that someone at THQ looked at Darius and Darius' dad and decided that Darius was the more interesting one! Mason Sr. must have been a geography teacher who defeated the cultists by diligently doing his taxes at them! [206]

Deus Ex[edit]

  • Having deliberately avoided any exposure to Human Revolution up to the time of writing I sincerely hope to be dining on these words with tartar sauce by the time this video comes out, but I don't see how these days you can have a game with anywhere near as much depth and complexity as Deus Ex 1! And before all you people who liked Witcher 2 start banging on your keyboards so hard it starts snowing Cheeto dust, I mean the kind of complexity that I like! A plot where people can reference philosophy and G.K. Chesterton in really, really bad accents! And that has intuitive inventory sorting, and a health system where you can get all your arms and legs blown off and have to slither over to a health station using only your lips! [207]

Deus Ex: Human Revolution[edit]

  • I don't know how many more times I have to say this, but I guess at least once: a boss fight is not just a random enemy who's eaten three times as many protein bars as everybody else! A boss fight is supposed to be a final exam for everything we've learned up to that point! Ideally, Human Revolution would have given the option of gunning the boss down, or maybe hacking some turrets to fight for you, or sneaking up into the rafters to drop pianos on their head - but no, all you can do is shoot them. And considering I was going for the non-lethal pussy run, my tranq rifle and stun gun were a fat lot of good against a bloke who appeared to be occupying the same space as a combine harvester armed with a gun that shoots exploding furniture that kills you in two hits, so I had to basically quicksave every time I successfully made it to the other end of the room before my internal organs did! [208]

Driver: San Francisco[edit]

  • Switching instantly to any car anywhere is the main gameplay gimmick that's woven nicely into the storyline. John Tanner, cut as he is from the generic white bread wise-cracky douche hero template, starts getting pretty likable when he has the Groundhog Day revelation that he can now live life without consequences, immediately possessing a driving student and speeding through the oncoming lane just to make the dick instructor mess his corduroys. Serve and protect, ladies and gentlemen! [209]

Dead Island[edit]

  • One day I'm going to make a zombie game of my very own. It'll be an apocalyptic survival game in which you and a small group of desperate survivors with complementary skills must navigate a deserted city without being crushed under an avalanche of zombie games, movies, and reinterpretations of classic literature. I'll call it "ENOUGH WITH THE FUCKING ZOMBIES ALREADY!" Honestly, at this point you people just won't be able to cope if civilization ends any other way, will you? If the fucking Daleks invade or the entire world gets covered in carnivorous jam, you'll have to make papier-mache zombie facsimiles just to get through the day! Except let's face it, however you might imagine zombie apocalypses giving you a new lease on life we all know most of you would start talking suicide pacts if the Internet went down for more than a week. [210]

Resistance 3[edit]

  • So here we go, another bloody brown shooter for the current age with two weapon slots, cover mechanics and regenerating health. Wait, what are these glowing green things lying around everywhere? Medkits, you call them? What an intriguing novelty! Yes, Resistance 3 does not have regenerating health! Holy bum-nuggets, I'm having to desperately seek aid under fire while hopping around on my last remaining limb and things are actually tense and exciting! Oh, but it's small comfort if I can't carry ten weapons at once... I can carry ten weapons at once. Huh. And there's a freeze ray and a lightning rod and a thing I like to call "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" because it makes people puke themselves to death. They're quite fun to use, and there are no cover mechanics because the game assumes you can strategically use a wall without having to rub yourself on it and give it kisses. Erm... Sony, are you all right? I'm not complaining or anything but I'm kind of feeling how the Greeks might have felt if the Trojans had just surrendered before the wooden horse was finished. [211]

Gears of War 3[edit]

  • Now, before any of you Gears of War fans rush off to humiliate yourselves in the comments section by posting something along the lines of "What did you expect, Gears of War is about chainsaw bayonet vasectomies, plot and character is for girls and people with sensibly proportioned necks," I'd like to preemptively tell you to fuck off, and here's why. If I had said that Gears of War 3's plot was a spellbindingly emotional roller coaster from start to finish, none of you motherfucking fanboys would be saying that the plot doesn't matter. You'd trumpet that from the fucking rooftops until someone asked you to leave. [212]

Hard Reset[edit]

  • It's true they do the Painkiller thing, making multitudes of monsters to mob you mercilessly, but as with the environments they forgot the whole variety thing and you only ever seem to fight two kinds of aggressive Roomba and a few pallet-swapped wheelie bins. There's really no way of saying this without giving ammunition to conservative anti-game campaigners, but there isn't as much fun to be had in shooting robots as there is in shooting organic lifeforms. When I fire a rocket into a cluster of charging monsters, I like to know that the cleanup will have to be done with a mop rather than a broom! It's hard to explain but surely we can all agree that the lawnmower scene from Braindead just wouldn't have been as memorable if it had been taking place in the audio/visual department of Harvey Norman's. [213]

Rage[edit]

  • Call me a cynic (please, it's my only sense of identity), but when some resistance movement shows up demanding I dress up in a sheep costume and jump through some hoops making suggestive baa-ing noises before they'll let me fight the evil government who I have yet to actually fucking see, there's only one organization I feel I'm being oppressed by here! Especially when they all seem content to sit around in the base eating pancakes while I'm sent off alone to slaughter saucepan-wearing bandits du jour. [214]

Kinect[edit]

  • First of all, I tried out Child of Eden, the polygon murder spree from the creators of polygon-murder-spree Rez, essentially a rail shooter about the internet being under attack by an amassed army of forgotten screen savers. Certainly a spectacular display, but even a cosmic dance with a hundred large-breasted space fish loses something when you have to replay it for the third time because you weren't clear on what you were supposed to be doing. Yeah, I know, game, "Use my left hand to shoot down the purple projectiles before they hit me." Now in what specific way did you envision me using my left hand, 'cause that could mean anything from waving it to sticking a bowling pin up a gorilla's ass. Eventually I figured out that "use" meant, "Do the same thing you do with the right hand to use your normal weapon, but keep your right hand pinned to your side because I might think you're trying to strangle me and go in to a panic." And even then, the usual delay motion sensors have before registering your action led to several frustrating game-overs. And every now and again, the game would pause itself right as it was getting excited, because it assumes that any ambiguity of motion on your part means that you have suddenly been abducted by space monsters. But doing panicky improvised t'ai chi to amuse graph paper is not gaming. It's more like therapy for geometry-phobics. [215]
Male voice Only on Kinect for Xbox 360 2010-2013

Batman: Arkham City[edit]

  • Arkham City isn't getting out of here without a recommendation, but it's worth remembering that when you go straight sandbox you lose control of a certain amount of structure. A word of warning: if you're like me - handsome, talented and secretly longing for death - you'll want to finish the main story first and do the side missions in post-ending fuckabouts, because you need all the gadgets to find all the secrets. And then like me, you'll end up flapping back and forth like a confused magpie at the aluminum foil tennis championships trying to trigger the side missions that your quest log says you haven't found yet. And like me, you'll eventually look it up and discover that some but not all of the side missions get locked off if you don't finish them by the story end. And then like me, you'll probably make a noise that's somewhere between a sigh and a gnash, and then like me you'll say "How does that make any donkey-boffing sense?!" And like me you'll maybe jump up and down a few times, and like me you should probably stop padding this video out. [216]

Battlefield 3[edit]

  • Battlefield 3 was built on the Frostbite 2 engine - I know this for a fact because it can't go five minutes without banging on about it. This is a game that isn't trying to sell an engaging experience or even the military lifestyle, it's trying to sell destruction physics and the lighting engine. This becomes clear around the second time a building collapses with the camera angled in such a way as if to say "You may now appreciate this. A minimum level of appreciation is required to continue." [217]

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception[edit]

  • In one of the behind-the-scenes featurettes, the developers flat-out admit that they think up the spectacular set pieces first and then come up with the plot around them. And by Christ does it show, because these games are getting as formulaic as a Scooby-Doo episode. Who wants to bet the lost treasure at the end will turn out to have been deliberately lost because there's some negative effect around it that the bad guys want to weaponize? And that Drake will pull off the old man's face and it'll turn out to be old man Withers! [218]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3[edit]

  • The driving plot point of Modern Warfare 3 is tracking down the Russian president who was kidnapped on his way to working out a peace treaty with the West. Now, if the Russian government was committed enough to peace that he was already on the plane puckering up for some imperialist bottom-kissing, who the hell gave the order to invade Europe?! Because when the president finally does get into that meeting with the Western powers, there are going to be some fucking awkward items on the agenda! Full-scale chemical weapon attacks on civilians, that's a hard thing to blame on a few bad apples! I think the problem might lie with the orchard, Mr. President - you might want to stop watering it with liquidized children. [219]

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim[edit]

  • Nitpicking is unhelpful, however, and I'm in the kind of mood that I'm prepared to overlook a lot of flaws in Skyrim, which is good, because there are a lot of flaws in Skyrim. But I'll applaud it if it means we can have less games that treat me like a child stuck in a pipe, Games Industry. I will applaud it as hard as you like. I will slap at my palms until my future children suffer masturbation guilt. No I don't know what I'm on about; go away. [220]

Saints Row: The Third[edit]

  • Now, the first Saints Row game was comparatively straight. It wasn't exactly Homicide: Life on the Street, but you weren't going to climb on board any rocket-powered jet-bikes either. Saints Row 2 leaned wackier, with a slight unhealthy fascination with spraying poo at things other people would rather you didn't spray poo at, but was at least slightly grounded in reality at least. Saints Row: The Third drinks wackazade from a clown shoe. This is a trilogy progression we academics call "Evil Dead Syndrome" and I'm not sure I like it. The funny parts of Saints Row 2 shone all the brighter alongside its more stone-faced aspects - it's when you're wearing full lucha libre gear, thwacking a zombie with a big floppy dildo as part of the everyday routine that it starts to feel less special. [221]

Assassin's Creed: Revelations[edit]

  • The cynic is an isolationist beast but can always recognize one of their own, and the Assassin's Creed series is getting very cynical. I like the games but I feel my like is being exploited for coin, and at the risk of devaluing one of my favorite words, it's now faffing about like it's never faffed before and the faffing is getting out of hand. All of this bullshit - the Championship Manager human resources management games, the Templants vs. Zomsassins - all of this is just more and more layers of flaky pastry between me and the succulent meat of the Assassin's Creed Cornish pasty: one bloke in a bedsheet hopping about on the rooftops, carefully planning a stealthy guerrilla assault, to surgically strike like a thumbtack in a McChicken sandwich! [222]

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword[edit]

  • Speaking of Wind Waker, spiritually Skyward Sword feels quite reminiscent of it, except you're exploring an ocean of clouds rather than the more traditional ocean of water. But if the surface world is supposed to be so completely covered in clouds that you and your ivory tower friends aren't even sure it exists, then why when you're exploring the surface world is it always a bright sunny day? I found a plot hole! Nurse! So obviously Zelda ends up in an embuggerance, and Link has to pick up a magic sword and sort her out. This time the magic sword comes free with a standard-issue support character, who deserves special mention because, besides a twitchy enraged badger that points out important quest items by breaking wind at them, I cannot imagine a worse assistant.
  • First you "prove your worth" for the Master Sword, then you "prove your worth" for the three Sacred Flames, and then "prove your worth" a few more times for the Song of the Hero. If I were Link, I'd throw the sword down and yell: "Do you want this motherfucker dead or what?! I feel like I'm trying to arrest the person burgling your house and you keep telling me to fuck off until I've put on some nicer shoes."[223]

Serious Sam 3: BFE[edit]

  • For the uninitiated, Sam Stone is a nineties action-hero graduate of the Duke Nukem correspondence course with some kind of unclear role in the military, and who started showing up to work one day in a customized t-shirt and jeans. And no one wanted to complain in case he blew cigar smoke in their face, or shagged their mums. [224]

Top 5 of 2011[edit]

  • Interestingly enough, the crown of greasy brambles and throne of compacted garbage to be awarded to the worst game of 2011 are in this case two crowns and perhaps some kind of chaise lounge affair, because I can't decide which creepy, masturbatory, lead you by the nose, flimsily justified violence upon vastly inferior enemies, open-quotes "realistic" shooter with a 3 on the end I despise the most: Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3. I don't hate them because they're poorly made or fail in what they set out to do, I hate them for what they represent. Modern Borefare and Twattlefield not only show that people should stop making realistic shooters, but also make a convincing case that people should stop existing generally and perhaps we should save time, form a big circle and on an agreed signal all cap the person to the right. Oh, Happy New Year by the way. [225]

Sonic Generations[edit]

  • It turns out Generations only updates one classic level per game. Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1, Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2, et cetera, and this led inexorably to a brain-scouring moment when I was faced with a level based on part of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006! I mean, there's no way of making a game like this without coming across as self-congratulatory, but it wouldn't matter so much if you're congratulating yourself for something good. I'd have thought Sonic Team would have wanted us to forget about Sonic 2006. Nobody liked Sonic 2006. And if you think you did, you're wrong. It's like saying you enjoyed listening to someone singing completely out of tune or reading a book whose pages are completely covered in brown sauce. I know it's your opinion, but your opinion is just wrong. And yet here it is, presented unironically in this alleged celebration of Sonic's greatest moments. If I were a diplomat I'd call it "misplaced conceit," but I'm not so I'll call it "frothing bug-eyed self-delusion." [226]

Star Wars: The Old Republic[edit]

  • Every time I play a MMORPG I have a moment of self-realization at some point when I say, "What the fuck am I doing?" and go back to being a productive member of society. In some games it comes earlier than others, but to Old Republic's credit, it did take a while. It was right after my character got the Schmillenium Schmalcon back, and the game universe opened up. My heart leaped when the space battles were introduced, but they're basically just pseudo rail shooters, in the Nova Storm or Microcosm style, and aren't much more than a gimmick. What really made me lose interest was that, in emphasizing the story, the game unwittingly sealed its downfall, because once my smuggler had reclaimed the Thousand-Year Albatross, he suddenly didn't have a story anymore. Some hideously contrived development about a pirate treasure was yanked from a butt-hole lubricated with desperate sweat, but all I could think was, "Why the hell would I want a treasure?! I've got 25 grand in the bank gathering dust because the stores don't sell anything worth shit, and I peel all my equipment off dead tosspots! At least provide a beautiful princess for me to put my cocksure leg over. I spent a lot of cold lonely nights in the captain's bunk with my right hand and some racy holograms, thinking, 'So this is why they called him Han Solo'!" [227]

Amy[edit]

  • Using the word, "Escort," to describe core gameplay is like using the words, "Bloody and viscous," to describe a urine sample, but Amy pulls her weight by having the power to heal you, create cones of silence, and telekinetically blast things aside. Obviously. I'd have been rather put out if she didn't. In horror circles, small mute autistic girls are second in power only to Jason Voorhees listening to people fucking. [228]

Resident Evil: Revelations[edit]

  • I also have a problem with the dodge mechanic and that how it's supposed to work is vague at best, sometimes my character nimbly would sidestep a blow and sometimes their arse would be played like the bongos. I checked the manual which said "to use the analog stick as you're about to be hit." "Use it" eh? Thanks. "Have you guys considered ever writing bomb defusal manuals? Step 1: Use your hands, Step 2: Also maybe some pliers." [229]

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning[edit]

  • I've called Kingdoms of Amalur a lot of things - "Single-Player World of Warcraft," "Fable With a Shriveled Willy" - but I think I've found the soundest comparison: it's "Baby's First Skyrim!" Pretty much the same gameplay features with substantially less complexity and with boring, claustrophobic environments, or at least that's what I thought. When I stopped a moment to take a good look around me I realized that the environments were actually quite expansive, epic, and artfully designed. It just didn't feel that way because the camera is angled slightly downward, so at any given moment of gameplay 60 to 70 percent of the screen was taken up by the floor texture. If I'd been in charge of designing ceilings in this game, I'd be out for fucking blood right about now. Just goes to show how the slightest tweak of a core feature can have ruinous consequences, like prodding a tiger's bollock. [230]

NeverDead[edit]

  • The best constructive criticism I could offer would be to travel back in time to the first gameplay planning meeting with a large Hessian bag and some day-laborers with cricket bats. "Hey!" said one developer looking up from his Lego set, "If our character's immortal, then there's not going to be much challenge, is there? Why don't we put in another character he has to escort..." And that's as far as he gets before disappearing into the Hessian bag, and his pig-like squeals are drowned out by the grunts and thwacks of the day-laborers at work. "And," says another developer sticking whiteboard markers up his nose, "Let's constantly put some monsters around that can instantly game-over you if they suck in your disembodied head, but you can avoid it by completing a quicktime even..." "Get in the fucking sack!" "You know what I hate?" interjects a third developer emerging from underneath his pillow fort, "Using nice convenient button presses for sword attacks when we could be rattling the right analog stick back and forth and up and down like a clumsy teenage boy's first time at third base." "Thank you for sharing," I would say. "You know what I hate? You not being in this fuckin' sack right now!" [231]

Syndicate[edit]

  • Mostly though, the agenda I sympathize with the least is the publishers. What is the point of slapping a 90s tactical shooter's name recognition on a generic modern shooter if most people who like generic modern shooters won't remember the name, and the people who do remember the name will want to set your office on fire? You won't endear yourself offering to rape my mum for fifty bucks! [232]

Yakuza: Dead Souls[edit]

  • To stop beating about the bicycle, the shooting controls are a load of piss. If you go into aim mode -- that's the second aim mode; for some reason there are two aim modes, one slightly less aim-y than the other, so why the fuck would you bother? -- then the camera angle switches to where your character is facing, rather than the character turning to face the camera angle, like how the regular boring well-designed shooters work; and I wish I had a sewing needle for every time I got teeth marks in my mauve blazer while intimidating a wall two feet to the right of the guy I was trying to aim at, because I'm going to shove them all under my fingernails. Also, when you're not aiming, you use the right analog stick to look around. But that's what it's good at; it's like a faithful hound trained to fetch the grouse and nothing else. That's why in most shooters, when you go into aiming mode, you continue using the right analog stick to adjust your aim, because you're still looking at things, but now in an edgy, masculine kind of way. Yakuza is of an innovative mindset, however, so adjusting your aim in aiming mode is done with the left analog stick. Why the scrambled eggs on fucktoast would anyone do that? [233]

Ninja Gaiden 3[edit]

  • It's like the series feels it's lost so much identity from cutting out the leather-clad titty monsters that it's grabbing scrips and scraps from anything it thinks people seem to like nowadays, trying to find a new niche before it throws up its hands, gives up, explodes all over the bedspread and you spend the last few moments fighting a giant city-destroying naked woman clutching a broadsword. Well, good try Team Ninja, you almost held out! [234]

Silent Hill: Downpour[edit]

  • So it's got the right survival horror combat and the right survival horror exploration, all Silent Hill: Downpour needs now to earn a great big fat tick at the bottom of the page is to be scary! ... Oh. This always ends up being the sticking point, doesn't it. Fear being a purely emotional response, it's difficult to say precisely why something is or isn't scary, but as I said earlier the essence of it lies in subtlety. And because I know that word disappeared from the vocabularies of triple-A game developers some time ago, no it is not the name of a small village in Derbyshire. [235]

Kid Icarus: Uprising[edit]

  • In all seriousness, it's true that I'm petty and bitter about a lot of things – I'm the guy who went 50 miles out of his way to burn down Lee Drummond's house – but I honestly have nothing invested in pointing out Nintendo's recent failings. Unlike their entire fucking target audience, I wasn't raised on Nintendo so I have no sense of wounded betrayal. Maybe if I express not having enjoyed a Nintendo product, it's because I didn't enjoy it, rather than because I was seething with jealous, impotent rage at its undeniable splendor. Okay then, now that's covered, here's Kid Icarus, a shit game for twats.[236]

Prototype 2[edit]

  • Games like this and Skyrim and Just Cause 2 really are the sort of thing triple-A development should be making all the time, because it really is the only thing they do best anymore. They badly need to understand why they should stop piling all their resources into designing glorious skyboxes and elaborate set pieces and other things that fall solely under the category of "looking at stuff," when you cannot possibly compare "looking at stuff" to "blowing up stuff," "running to the top of stuff" and "skiing back down stuff with two still bloody scalps attached to the soles of your shoes." [237]

Risen 2: Dark Waters[edit]

  • Things are operating on a sort of Pirates of the Caribbean level, where there's a bunch of all-powerful god-like entities threatening generic destruction all over the place, and a loose coalition of bad-smelling toothless seafarers have to stop them by acquiring four cans of spray-on all-powerful godlike entity repellant. Well, four magical treasures, but basically that's the gist of it. It really is strongly reminiscent of the plot writing in the later Pirates of the Caribbean films, in that there is no problem in the world that doesn't have some convenient bullshit magical artifact kicking around somewhere, specifically designed to deal with it. Either the Ancient Ones didn't feel like they were doing their jobs properly if they didn't enchant every last fucking thing in their trophy cabinets, or someone's making shit up as they go along! [238]

Diablo III[edit]

  • You know, if any company is likely to be secretly headed by a James Bond villain, it's Blizzard, because all their games put me into a fucking hypnotic trance, and levelling carries this mindlessly addictive quality in which they could easily insert some subliminal instruction to raid the nearest plutonium storage facility. Ultimately I confess I still don't get the appeal of dungeon crawlers. Seems like I could recreate the essential experience by opening Microsoft Excel, scrolling down ten thousand pages with the down cursor key, and typing, "THE MOST SPLENDID TROUSERS OF THEM ALL!" What I really don't get is the appeal of randomly-generated dungeons. Surely that could only pay off during a second playthrough when/if the player realises that this small handful of barren rooms manaically copy-pasted and then arbitrarily stapled together seems to have been arbitrarily stapled together slightly different to before. If a book randomly rearranged its chapters with every read, then every chapter would have the character doing fuck-all, because the plot wouldn't make sense otherwise. So the end result will always be a fucking boring book. It's not just missing the forest for the trees - it's missing the forest for the trees in another completely different forest. [239]

Lollipop Chainsaw[edit]

  • What with Juliette being built like a collection of sofa cushions strategically nailed to a lamp post and her fondness for skirts the length of an information pamphlet on feminist theory, one could reasonably take this as yet more proof of the rampant objectification of females in the media. But the more I considered it, the more I regarded Lollipop Chainsaw as comparatively progressive, and isn't that a depressing thought. Juliette is always in control of the situation, has a healthy devoted family life, and the developers would never suggest that the players should feel motivated to protect her from rapists. (Seriously, that's pretty fucked.) But importantly at the same time, it's never suggested that she is something women should aspire to be, either: her bubble-headed obliviousness is constantly played for laughs and there's a strong undercurrent of psychological damage as she chainsaws up her former schoolmates while remaining as innocently upbeat as a cruise ship entertainer teaching a pensioners how to line dance. It's almost a parody of the standard improbably skilled impractically dressed pouting hotties of video gaming, but then again, I'll say the same thing I said about Bayonetta: just because you're being ironically fetishistic doesn't mean people aren't gonna jerk off to it. [240]

Quantum Conundrum[edit]

  • So the puzzles are driven by a handheld device called a Portal G... Oh, wait. Actually a sort of power glove thing that allows you to shift between four alternate dimensions (read screen filters) that alter the physical properties of the objects around you. It's kind of like a glove-mounted cocktail dispenser, except that it alters the physical properties of things other than your own legs. There's the Piña Colada dimension where everything is light and fruity; the Black Russian dimension where things sit much more heavily and you start clutching your head complaining about your ex-wife; the Absinthe dimension where everything floats off into the sky to come crashing apocalyptically down the following morning; and the slow-motion dimension where this analogy kind of breaks down. [241]

Spec Ops: The Line[edit]

  • In some ways, it's a rather grim exploration of the relationship between player and player-character. Are we really in control of Captain Walker, or do we merely represent the last vestige of self-awareness in his increasingly damaged mind as he railroads us into committing atrocities, and our distrust and fear of him grows in parallel to that of the men in his command as he weakly tries to rationalize to both them and us until we feel as disconnected from him as the rest of reality and... (*weary sigh*) Do you remember when shooters were about killing demons from hell? Those were good days... [242]

Walking Dead[edit]

  • If you're thinking of having a go at making your own point-and-click adventure game, here's my hot tip: first, think of a problem the player has to get around, like, say, helping a cat down from a tree; then think how a normal sensible person would solve the issue with the objects that would be close to hand; then seal your head inside a half-full vat of boiling chlorine for about twenty minutes; then write down another way you'd solve the problem that at that moment makes perfect sense to your probably fatally poisoned mind. Repeat this process until you've discovered the most circuitous possible solution, maybe hiding a spider under the sunshades in Old Man Withersteen's car, so that he crashes it into the tree trunk, dislodging the cat and allowing you to catch it in a bucket of rose petals you found on the Moon. "Why?!" Because adventure game developers can't cum unless they're picturing the frustrated tears of people who used to trust them. Actually, that could just be me. [243]

Inversion[edit]

  • Cover shooting is fine if it serves the game; if it's the glue connecting the actual interesting bits of the model aeroplane. But when the interesting bits only exist to serve the cover shooting, then you're grinding up the model aeroplane components to help beef up the glue. You give us mastery over one of the fundamental forces in the universe and then suggest we just use it to make it slightly easier to shoot things behind cover? Not really a big picture sort of thinker, are we? I'm glad you were never given a Green Lantern ring. You'd probably just use it to conjure a magical green credit card to pay for a second-hand spud gun. Couldn't we use our gravity powers to, y'know, fly?! [244]

Half-Life[edit]

  • I close now, reassured that Half-Life is indeed still good, and perhaps one can partly blame it for some of today's shooter problems, like aggressive linearity and cut-scenes, but that was just dipshits aping something popular without grasping the subtleties. You can't blame Watchmen for all the comics in the '90s being about angsty people shooting blood out of tit-mounted pouch guns... and pouch-mounted gun tits.

Wreckateer and Deadlight[edit]

  • [Deadlight] is a game that looks like someone at Castle XBLA who I imagine resembles J. Jonah Jameson said "Where are the indie-spirited unrelentingly grim platformers?! Take this checklist and find me a game with more tics than a mangy dog!" It's like something that the XBLA spontaneously generated one day when it had enough titles rubbing together. So it's a linear silhouette platformer like Limbo that controls kind of Shadow Complexy with the merest hint of 'Splosion Man and a story channeling I Am Alive narrated by a bloke with a voice that sounds like he smokes entire rolled-up carpets. Oh yes, and it's set in a zombie apocalypse, which is the point that the Indie-O-Meter starts ringing bells and emitting confetti. [245]

Darksiders 2[edit]

  • I was surprised to see a 20 hour play time on the save file, because it had felt a fuck-load longer than that. It's that most tedious of game plots where you have one goal, that never wavers or updates in any way, and they fill the time by putting a fucking parking barrier every fifty paces that you can't move past until you've gotten three of something from the local dungeon. And it's always three of something! In fact, more than once I'd be asked to find three of something in exchange for one of another set of three things I was already looking for! It's not just padded, it's fractally padded! [246]

Borderlands 2[edit]

  • Anyway, we return to to the planet Pandora, or, to give it its full name, the planet Pandora – no-not-that-one – with four vault hunters of varying skillsets different superficially from the four vault hunters of the previous game, but not in any practical sense. And after the vault that drove the first game's plot was revealed to be short on treasure and long on tentacles, it turns out that there's actually more than one legendary treasure vault on Pandora-no-not-that-one, some of which actually do have treasure in. So that means that everyone in the game gets to keep calling you Vault Hunter. Phew. Thought we'd have to change our stationery. But now your quest is to end the tyrannical regime of one Handsome Jack, who lured you out to Pandora-no-not-that-one and then tried to kill you because he hates vault hunters, oh no wait actually he wants to manipulate vault hunters, but then why would he try to kill you? Oh, stop thinking about it and kill some more Jasons, Mr. Picky-Pants. [247]

Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition[edit]

  • After I declared Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare as The Twin Bollock Lords of Shit Mountain, there were dissenting voices dismissing my opinion on the basis that I just don't like shooters. Oh you ignorant little bastards! Stick your balls up your arse and clench yourself castrated! I was into shooters while you were sucking on Wii-motes, you cover-loving, health-regenerating murderer-come-latelies. You don't even know what a shooter is! A shooter is fast-paced, circle-strafing, wits-about-you, rocket-jumping, last scrap of health, toodly fuckpies organic excitement in a fancy hat! It is not riding a conveyor belt to the next chest-high wall and resting your head on it until you get lulled into a lovely little sleep by other people's gunfire. [248]

Assassin's Creed 3[edit]

  • The sandbox map gets absolutely bukakke'd with collectibles and side-quests, but what's it all in aid of, Assassin's Creed 3? "Well, at your home base, there's this ongoing thing where Connor enlists specific craftsmen to recreate his own personal theme park version of Little House on the Prairie". So? "You use the money and recipes that it seems every activity in the game rewards you with to craft everyday goods and items, and the friendlier you are with the craftsmen, the more you can craft". Alright, I have successfully crafted a sofa. What do I do with the sofa? "You sell the sofa for money!" Ok, now I am a millionaire East Coast sofa baron. What do I DO with the money? "Well, the most expensive things in the game are upgrades for your ship which makes it easier to complete the naval missions". Well, that's something, I suppose. What do the naval missions provide for me? "More trading routes for you to sell sofas on!". Sorry, when is this going to get back to stabbing people? "What is it with you and stabbing people?" What is it with you and NOT stabbing people?! [249]
  • Don't be Farmville, Assassin's Creed, be Assassin's Creed. We already have a Farmville, it's called Farmville.

Halo 4[edit]

  • I feel sorry for 343 Industries, the company that Microsoft brought in to do Halo because the company's champagne fountain needed refilling and Bungie had escaped from the basement. It's always awkward replacing someone everyone's gotten used to, isn't it? This must be what it's like for new popes. "Oh, the old pope always preferred golden syrup in his porridge. No, it's alright, the old pope and me had this little understanding - I'd fuck altar boys and he'd hush it up!". Still, you can't say 343 aren't grateful for the opportunity. Funny how Halo 4 was released on election day, as part of some sinister Republican conspiracy to make people who write game FAQs stay at home. 'cause at the start and end of the game, there's a little personal message from the new developers that has as much of the acceptance speech about it. "Ooh, thank you so much for accepting us, you handsome and wonderful consumer! We promise not to completely diddle Halo over a doghouse, slurp-slurp, fawn-fawn!" It's just a fucking aging shooter franchise, 343 Industries, you're not the UN Secretary General. Stop trying to altar-boy me! [250]

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2[edit]

  • People fortunate enough to have been randomly born white in the first world are the most privileged motherfuckers on this unequal fucking planet, and Modern Warfare games are basically those people complaining about how tough life can be when everyone's jealous of you. It's like when white dudes complain about being victims of racism 'cause all the people they used to enslave are making fun of them. Or when Christians cry about being persecuted because the government wants to recognize that men can be into the cock. Just to underline it, the villain is behind an organization of the world's underclasses, so now we can add the poor to the growing list of peoples the audience of Black Ops 2 feels threatened by. But perhaps I shouldn't dwell on the politics. The occasional sympathetic portrayal of the villain and that whole chapter where you're called upon to defend a repulsively-decadent city of rich people does show a degree of awareness on 'Blops 2's part. I honestly can't be arsed to speculate what level of irony we may or may not be operating on, so let's just judge it by the gameplay: It's boring and stupid! Give it a miss! Fuck, that could've saved a bit of time! [251]

Hitman: Absolution[edit]

  • If you're unfamiliar with standard Hitman gameplay, they're basically adventure games for the impatient. Missions take place in open-ended environments, and you can either engineer an accidental-seeming death with obscure inventory puzzles, or you can just stove their head in with a brick 'cause you've got shit to do! [252]

Far Cry 3[edit]

  • One time, I was carefully scouting an enemy base and had just about decided on the best angle of attack when a fucking tiger lolloped into the base and fucking cleared it out with strategic maulings! What a right wally Mr. Pussycat has made me feel like, but it's the sort of thing that'd never fucking happen in Call of Duty, isn't it? Not unless Mr. Pussycat was a programmed setpiece with ties to Al-Qaeda. [253]

ZombiU[edit]

  • So, I got myself a Wii U, and as with most Nintendo products these days, the startup process feels like you're joining a cult. With the constant music that one might hear in the elevators of a methadone clinic and the crowd of Miis staring up at you as if to say, "Come and join us! The master will be home soon!", and I had to mute the fucking tv during the update process, 'cause that fucking "widdly-wee" noise felt like it was implanting hypnotic suggestions. With a drill. Here's a fun drinking game I devised for the Wii U - take a shot every time the little controller screen is doing something that couldn't have just been put on the tv screen without sacrificing anything. It's the best drinking game, because afterwards, you get to legally drive home! [254]

Top 5 of 2012[edit]

  • Yes it's confirmed, "Warfighter" is actually a word used by the actual military, but I don't see how that makes it any less dumb! Or Medal of Honor: Warfighter any less obnoxious, incoherent and boring. In the year I started referring to schizophrenic, overly linear modern military shooters as 'spunkgargleweewee' with the good taste and maturity we've come to expect, I felt it would be remiss of me not to represent the genre here - a genre I would've been tempted now to put alongside one-on-one fighters, real-time-strategy and train simulators as shit that's just not for me and not worth opinionating on. If it weren't for... Spec Ops: The Line! And thanks a fucking bunch, Yager Development, `cause now I have to keep playing modern military shooters just in case they turn out to be the most exciting thing to happen in video game narrative for fucking years! [255]

Paper Mario: Sticker Star[edit]

  • I am very fond of the Paper Mario series, not just for being fun games, but also for being my secret weapon. I say that the Final Fantasy games are essentially the same as glueing kaleidoscopes to your eyes and spending twenty hours in the queue at a Brazilian sex-change clinic, and then, say, a dolphin or a stoat materialises behind me and goes, "BWAAA, you just don't like RPGs!". Or I point out that ever since Galaxy, the entire Mario franchise has been rolling back and forth on the floor of a public bathroom trying to catch spiders in it's mouth, and I get, "BWAAA, you just don't like Nintendo! Or Mario games! Or fun!". But then I go, "Have I mentioned how much I like the Paper Mario series? They're RPGs that are also Mario games developed by Nintendo and are FUN! Eat your deriscated argument on a crusty bap, Flipper! WHOPAH!", and then I dance in the rain at their exploded head. But that's how it used to go. More recently, they get to say, "So does this mean you like Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the 3DS?", at which point I have to fall upon my secondary masterstroke, which is to smash a bottle over their head and run away. [256]

Black Knight Sword and Hotline Miami[edit]

  • ...an informative, if grammatically iffy title, 'cause it's about a knight in black armour who uses a sword. If only other games were willing to wear its colours so prominently in the title - it'd certainly make cataloguing them a lot easier. Like, "Orange Nerd Crowbar", or "Brown Sweaty Racism", or "Red Dead Revolv-" oh wait. [257]

Anarchy Reigns[edit]

  • I've had the same conversation n times this week. "I've been playing Anarchy Reigns!", I'd say to a friend or favoured bartender. "Never heard of it.", they'd say, to which I'd reply, "You know, I've had this exact same conversation n-1 times this week.". There's "sneaking under the radar", but with zero hype and sneaking onto shelves in early January, Anarchy Reigns isn't so much flying under the radar as it is riding the fucking subway. All I knew was that it was by Sega, and the name is possibly intended to be ironic, because Anarchy refers to a situation where nobody's reigning shit. It'd be like calling your game Dog Meows, or Margaret Thatcher Cares. But anyway, turns out Anarchy Reigns is a sequel to Madworld of sorts, except it's not on the Wii, it's not a spectacle fighter, and it's not in cel-shaded black and white. So yeah, it's starting to sound like a pretty big "of sorts", isn't it? The one connecting element is the main character Jack, 'cause you know, there's such a fucking shortage of grizzled, macho badasses voiced by Steve Blum in gaming that we have to start recycling them now. And then they say, "Are you buying a fucking drink or what?". [258]

DmC: Devil May Cry[edit]

  • So the first controversy is that Dante, the cocky, swaggering, well dressed man in a bleached moptop has been supplanted by Dante, the cocky, swaggering nine-year-old who throws on the first wife-beater and dressing gown that he could be persuaded to peel off the kitchen floor, with short dark hair, no less! Why don't you just come over here and put your cock through the middle of my Devil May Cry PS2 disc, Ninja Theory? Seriously though, I suppose if you're messing with canon, it's better to go forward with confidence and rip off the waxing strip all at once than to ask if we're okay with it for every uprooted pube. But what we could do without was that one scene near the start, where a mop contrivedly falls onto Dante's head and he stares at himself in the mirror for just long enough for it to not be funny, before smirkingly dismissing the look. There's going forward with confidence, and then there's a developer whipping the tip of my nose with its big, pleased-with-itself stiffy. Not that I think the original quippery doucebag Dante is sacrosanct; I thought he was an absolute knobend. But all you need to do is establish that new Dante is an equally big knobend and then we can all move on! [259]

The Cave[edit]

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch[edit]

  • At times, Wrath of the White Privilege pleasantly evokes the old 16 bit JRPGs I can actually tolerate, like Earthbound or w:Final Fantasy VI with its actually coherent plot and random monsters occasionally smart enough to scarper if you're over-leveled, but the actual combat sucks a fat one. I find I'm more tolerant of turn based combat than I used to be because it is nice for a game to constantly pause itself in case you happen to be playing it while fighting a panther, and of course real time combat would be chocolate smeared all over a consenting biscuit. But it's these hideous hybrid systems that modern JRPGs tend to have that piss in my radiators, 'cause you end up with the worst qualities of both. We find ourselves having to cycle through an option menu while simultaneously running around avoiding the hits, and I've got this lovely big controller here just covered in buttons, any one of which could be a dedicated 'defend' command. But no, I must instead wrestle my way to the 'defend' option in the half second it takes for the enemy to brew up another devastating fart.[261]

Dead Space 3[edit]

  • You know what? I fucking give up. I give up just like the bloke who said, "Hey, EA, let's make a horror game," at the start of all this must have given up. He was still around for Dead Space 2 saying, "Look! I made a crayon drawing with blood on it! Maybe you could leave it lying around somewhere in between all the ridiculous action sequences." But now at the time of Dead Space 3, that man has resigned, or been eaten, or maybe the parasitic brain worms that control EA's upper management got to him as well. "Yes, of course Dead Space should be an action shooter; more people buy those. Heaven forbid that we actually provide for an underserved niche or hold out for sleeper sales. It's not like we make the kind of money that could support an occasional risky investment with any actual integrity. Why should we stick our necks into the scary outlying territories when we could be tucked up all safe and warm in the comfortable grey dough of mediocrity that is EA's usual output? What's that? You're getting hungry? Okay, I'll just put some cat food down my ear. Yes, I know you like the chunky kind." [262]
  • "Tension? What's that? The thing that comes before elevension?" [263]

Aliens: Colonial Marines[edit]

  • So, Colonial Marines is pretty much a wash. But without meaning to absolve the developers, they get all the blame for this fucking trainwreck as soon as they figure out how to divvy it up. What gets me are the Aliens fans who have been declaring it the final betrayal. Have you seen literally anything Aliens-related post Aliens the film? Your sweetums has been putting it about for decades, guys. The betrayal ship has sailed, circumnavigated the globe, and returned to port laden with exotic spice![264]

Crysis 3[edit]

  • Maybe I just don't have the genius brain for some good old hard sci-fi, the kind of sci-fi where the most significant new addition is a bow and arrow. Yeah, that's some real fucking hard sci-fi right there! It really illustrates how desperate they were to find a new feature to trumpet - the amount of fuss that gets made about a fucking piece of string tied to a bendy stick. First it's featured prominently on the box art, then it's introduced in the first mission with what sounds like a conversation from the fucking shopping channel. "Gosh, I love exterminating my fellow man with the most advanced projectile weaponry in existence, but sometimes I wish that if I could pick the bullets out of the ruined bodies of my victims, put them back into my guns and use them again, then I'd just be so much more productive! But there's no way I can do that, is there?" "Well, Prophet, have you tried 'Bow And Arrow'?" "Bow and Arrow, you say?" "Yes! Not only does Bow And Arrow allow for ammo recovery, but it's also silent, can be fired without de-cloaking, and does about 12 times the damage of a bullet for some reason!" "Gosh, Psycho! Bow And Arrow sounds so convenient it almost makes you wonder why they were completely supplanted by guns fucking centuries ago!"[265]

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance[edit]

  • Sometimes, I think the Metal Gear franchise is kind of like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. It's this loud, wacky dipshit in dire need of an editor who lives in a little world of his own surrounded by people reassuring him that, no really, Metal Gear Solid 4 was totally a touching, emotional character drama, especially when the funny man did a big poo in his pants! And every now and again, someone tries to parachute in wearing a t-shirt that's saying, "EVERYONE'S TAKING THE PISS", but gets swiftly bundled out of sight by a dog walker and a Sony executive.[266]

Tomb Raider[edit]

  • Lara Croft manages to convince a small team of ethnically-diverse archaeologists who all seem to be wearing digital clocks on their heads counting down to the point where they are unwillingly made part of someone else's character development, to investigate a mysterious island where they find a storm preventing them from leaving and a mad cult of bearded castaways who have for years been using inflated shopping bags tied to sticks as substitutes for female companionship. So all the pieces are in place for Lara Croft to get the absolute shit kicked out of her for ten hours. Oh, I see! When Lara Croft gets beaten up, we're supposed to admire her strength and character, but when the same thing happens to Nathan Drake, we're supposed to point and laugh? Why do you hate men so much, games industry? Nah, obviously that was sarcasm, because Nathan Drake has never been the subject of a controversial attempted rape scene. Although if you miss the quick-time event to fight off the attempted rapist (Which I did, because the timing is really annoying on those things), then it turns out he only wanted to throttle her to death! Phew, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to misjudge these hairy cultist murderers! [267]

SimCity[edit]

  • So tell me, little finger puppet, assuming that multiplayer elements are about as enticing to me as the sight of a dog sniffing another dog's bum (An easy thing to assume, because they are), are there any new features SimCity can offer me? "Well there's a poo map!" (beat) I beg your pardon? "We've got a special map that lets you see all the poo forming in big piles under people's houses! Then you build a big pipe and watch all the poo speed away on a wee-wee one-way system!" (beat) Fucking SOLD! [268]

BioShock: Infinite[edit]

  • It is, however, hairy space hopper levels of pretentious. It comes and goes in and out of its own butt the whole way through, but the ending is the point of maximum own butt penetration. It wallows in a bit of abstract meta-narrative - wanky wanky word word - that doesn't really serve the essential plot points, and I found myself thinking: "If this ends with us meeting God and God looks like Ken Levine, then I'm gonna fucking punch someone." But you know what? If it isn't boring and gives us something to talk about then it can't be bad. And Infinite isn't bad, it's good, perhaps even great. You see, sometimes it's kinda nice to be up somebody's butt if it's cozy and warm and they've put some interesting conversation pieces up there. [269]

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon[edit]

  • I think I see how the Nintendo flowchart works. Question 1: Are you an entirely original property? If yes, sod off. Question two: has your franchise gone unacknowledged for a long time? Or are you Pokémon? If yes, welcome aboard the uncomfortably sharp edges of the good ship 3DS! Hope your audience likes having sore palms! (Masturbation joke in there somewhere!)[270]

Next Gen Buyer's Guide[edit]

  • So far, it has been like watching the most retarded game of Texas Hold 'Em ever played: Where everyone just sat and eye-balled each other for six months before someone finally called in the most wheezily, non-committed way possible, in the hopes it would make some else show their hand. Whereupon the flop cards were revealed to be: A joker, a get-out-of-jail-free, and a Magus of the Vineyard from Magic The Gathering.[271]

Fuse[edit]

  • There's something slightly surreal about playing a game single-player when it's obviously designed for co-op. It's like getting through an average day with your wallet, phone and keys tied around the necks of three dogs who hang back and stare at you gormlessly while you clear out the room, at which point they all run over to the door to the next room waggling their tails in anticipation of walkies. Although one way the single-player gets spiced up a bit is that you can switch between the four characters, Clive Barker's Jerico-style - Ew, I just thought about Clive Barker's Jerico! Thanks a lot, Fuse. [272]

E3 2013[edit]

  • The author wishes it to be known that the bulk of this video was written before the Microsoft DRM backtrack, and he now thinks that games exclusive to Xbox One are no more tainted by original sin than those exclusive to other consoles. He regrets now having to fall back on less popular arguments against next-gen consoles such as their blind insistence on empty spectacle above all else to make all triple-A development all the more elitist and prohibitively expensive, the systematic erasure of console gaming history one console generation at a time, the flagrantly anti-consumer culture of artificial exclusivity that has created a world in which games are expected to support consoles in a world in which artwork exists to support the medium onto which artwork is presented, as if the words in a great novel exist to serve the paper, or a great film exists to serve a piece of wall onto which it has been projected, and so on, and so on, and so on... [273]

Animal Crossing: New Leaf[edit]

  • It's a very bleak experience. I know catching fish might seem idyllic, but are you ever going to eat them? Have a little fish fry and a piss-up on the beach with all your pals? No. The moment your inventory's full, it's straight down to the pawn shop to flog the lot. Oh, thank you for this lovely gift of a sofa, goose woman. it doesn't go with my place but it would just look lovely at the PAWN SHOP! Oh, what a beautiful butterfly, the morning dew beading like perfect jewels on its multicoloured- DON'T CARE, PAWN SHOP! Give me my bells, I'm in deep to the raccoon mob! [274]

Ride to Hell: Retribution[edit]

  • Ride to Hell is the kind of bad that leaves me with a smile on my face. It's a little retarded child with its head stuck in a cereal box and a massive great dump in its boy pants going "I'm a real game now!" Of course you are, Ride to Hell. And that's why I think everyone should buy it, just to fuck with some heads! This could be our Plan 9 from Outer Space! We should have mass screenings of it, get everyone to dress up, put upside down pedal bins on their heads and then beat their wives! [275]

Dark[edit]

  • I'm pleased to report that I've done at least one review for every letter of the alphabet! Thank Christ for XCOM! But if there's one letter that's over-represented, it's D. And that's because roughly 100 percent of game titles starts with the word "Dark", as in Souls, Void, -siders, -ness and -est of Days. So the subject of today's review gets refreshingly to the nub of the matter. Perhaps this represents a final culmination of the entertainment industry's long-held notion that the epitome of cool is sitting around being miserable with the lights turned off. Pity the actual game is cajun-cooked walrus dribble, but never mind. They could always patch things up with a sequel which would logically be named "dead", as in Rising, Island, Space and -pool! [276]

Saints Row IV[edit]

  • You see, it takes a lot of care to make a game that looks completely carefree. Yeah, fucking write that one down, Wikiquote!

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs[edit]

  • Quite a few game-play mechanics have been stripped out, like the Sanity Meter, which was probably smart. I don't like when a game tries to tell you how you feel – "You are scared, this number says you are scared, pull a scared face" – when it could just be, y'know, scaring me without trying to keep score. It's like when a game introduces a lone female character who you talk to for five minutes and then it says, "You love this person, go rescue her." [277]

Grand Theft Auto V[edit]

  • There's nothing that excites me that I can point to as the defining moment. It's just a whole load of people doing stuff, which I admit is a fairly weak argument. World War II was just "a whole load of people doing stuff," but at least getting your leg blown off gives you something for the next letter home: "Dear mum, remember when my dance instructor said I had two left feet? Well, I've managed to redress the balance somewhat. P.S. Fucking hell!! Aaaahhhhh!!!" [278]

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD[edit]

  • It's good! Because it's Wind Waker and Wind Waker was good! And that's about the final word. Except for this one: "mingegurgle"! [279]

Call of Duty: Ghosts[edit]

  • The Ghosts, as the name might imply, are ostensibly a legendary stealth unit that specializes in taking down larger forces through sneaky guerilla tactics. So obviously, one of the first things you do in the game is ram-raid an enemy base in a burning truck and start gunning down every living thing from the dandelions on upwards. Yeah, that's some good ghostin' there, lads! Truly, thou art akin to the flicker of a candlelight shadow as you waddle around an open field being shot at from nineteen different directions!
  • [South America] attack America by hijacking America's orbital missile weapon. OK, gonna stop you there again, Ghosts! Firstly, so much for the enemy being "superior" if they can't make their own superweapons and gotta pinch 'em like safari park baboons nicking the windscreen wipers. And secondly, orbital fucking missile weapon!? This invasion is sounding more justifiable by the second!
  • Just for fun I kept a running tally of all the characters in the story campaign who aren't burly white dudes and you are under no obligation to shoot. The final total was three: a female astronaut right at the start who immediately dies, a helicopter that spoke with a woman's voice, and a black member of the Ghosts unit who immediately dies. And, frankly, when that happens, the main characters displayed less emotion than when their dog got shot. "Dammit, the black guy died!", they seemed to say, "Now we can't claim to have tons of black friends while arguing on the internet!" [280]

Ryse: Son of Rome[edit]

  • "But Yahtzee, the environments are pretty!" Oh shit I forgot, 10/10. [281]

Dead Rising 3[edit]

  • Hey, Capcom villains, zombie viruses do not make good superweapons! What's easier to occupy: a city full of people shopping and mowing the lawn, or a city full of murderers with a bite-transmittable virus and no ambition in life except to bite things?!
  • I should mention there are combo vehicles now, and I'm not so proud that I can't admit that plowing through uncountable hordes of the undead in a motorbike steamroller made me titter like a schoolgirl riding a bicycle with a knobbly saddle. [282]

Super Mario 3D World[edit]

  • I played a bit of it co-op, but cooperative it is not; it's more competitive than fucking Bushido Blade. All possible enjoyment was replaced with stress and bitterness because at the end of the level whoever got the most points is given a fucking crown, and with that largesse on the table camaraderie was only the first thing to drop off the map as we both tried to sprint ahead, snatching up coins. And once one person touches the flag at the end the other has the length of an average pull-out procedure before the level ends and the players who made are showered with confetti and accolades, while everyone else harbors the kind of seething resentment usually reserved for Palestinians and bridesmaids. [283]

Knack[edit]

  • People tell me most consoles aim for being loss leaders these days. Well, I don't know about that, but they certainly are dross leaders... Leaders in the field of dross... Y'know, I got paid money to write that. [284]

Killzone: Shadow Fall[edit]

  • In the future, if I review a game for the X-Bone or the Piss-Poor, every time I say something in the slightest bit positive I want you to mentally append the phrase "...but it doesn't justify forcing us to buy a clunky new console with no backwards compatibility." I've banged that drum with my raging hate stiffy so many time I figure it can go without saying. [285]

Broken Age[edit]

  • Maybe I should judge it by its own merits and stop dragging in comparisons to older games. Maybe. But the game was fucking funded on nostalgia for those older games. It's like saying you can't expect a racehorse to run as fast as his dad did. Then why did you charge so much for his spunk?! [286]

Dark Souls[edit]

  • Now, I never reviewed Dark Souls because other titles were out and my play time was limited, and every time I sat down to it, it was like walking into a dark shed full of rakes, immediately treading on one and getting blatted in the face. Other people with more time on their hands started telling me it was the greatest thing since tummy rubs. So I'd go back in the shed thinking, "Well maybe there was just the one rake," before *blat* in the face again. So I left it for a while, but this week with plenty of free time in my schedule, I thought to myself, "Last chance; I'll just keep tanking the rakes and maybe I'll somehow become really psychotically into being rake-faced just in time to be prepared for the sequel." And I'll be blatted in the face with a rake if that isn't kinda what happened. [287]

Strider[edit]

  • It's always a good sign when, by the end, you're actively seeking out difficult fights because the last time you cleared a room with minimal hits using a combination of slashes, knives, and generic ninja flip-outs, you felt like your bollocks sprouted pins and turned into little grenades (if male). Otherwise, your clitoris extended six feet and flew the American flag. [288]

Thief[edit]

  • Thief is a reboot of a series in which a bloke steals money from people with too much disposable income because he doesn't feel like putting any effort into working for a living, so it's good to see the creators of this new one taking that attitude on board, if nothing else. I wondered if it might be better to assess it by its own merits rather than how it differs from the originals, but on the other hand that's like wondering whether to use a fish slicer or a butterfly net to get shit out of the trifle. [289]

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2[edit]

  • It is a nice idea to be able to play Dracula. I look forward to the game that allows us to do so, rather than the shirtless, mopey pantywaist that's presented for us here. Despite constant lip service to him being the Prince of Darkness, all the creatures of Darkness are trying to kill him as well. Dracula does not tussle with the groundlings, like a terrier at a bear baiting; Dracula does not do mandatory stealth sections; Dracula does not fetch quest! Dracula is the guy at the far end of an army of minions, slouched on a throne, carelessly tossing expensive wine glasses aside because he could give two licks of a used tampon for who has to shampoo the carpet! [290]

Dark Souls 2[edit]

  • Full disclosure, I've not finished the game yet, because I've only been playing for a 30-hour stretch at time of writing, or – as it's known in the Dark Souls community – a sample. [291]

Titanfall[edit]

  • Well, this may surprise you, but I've been making more of an effort to do the multiplayer thing lately, partly for therapeutic reasons. Dark Souls helped; that game feels like it's trying to wean you on to social interaction. First you find someone's note advising you to be wary of fatty, then you hire stalwart fellows to help you out with the boss fight (none of whom have headset mics so close to their mouths that you feel like their every utterance is trying to beat your ears to death with racial epithets). The turning point came when I was invaded, but the attacker bowed upon seeing me, a gesture of recognition to mark a duel between equals. "You know what?" I thought, "Maybe I don't need to be so afraid of people all the time." So while he was bowing, I ran up and stuck my halberd up his ass. "MAYBE IT'S PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE AFRAID OF ME!!" [292]

Child of Day-Light (Deadlight and Daylight)[edit]

  • And look, that whole twist where the main character has a secret history with the horror? That only works if they have a character, besides a disembodied voice going "Is there anybody there?" or squeaking like a rusty hinge! We need to have made some assumptions about them before you can start subverting our assumptions! All I have to go on is that I'm a squeaky lady in a haunted house! So I turned to my brain and asked, "Why are we in this haunted house?", and my brain goes: "Well, presumably because we've got a secret history with the place." "Brain! Fucking spoiler warning!" [293]

The Amazing Spider Man 2[edit]

  • It's hard not to feel spoiled when the film studios take enough money to solve all of the developing world's problems and pour it all into a portrayal of your favourite nancy boys prancing around in leotards. And lest we think that Sony's generosity ends with Amazing Spiderman 2: The Film, you don't have to go five fucking minutes without being reminded of Amazing Spiderman 2 if you don't want to. You can wake up in the morning and go from Amazing Spiderman 2 Toothbrush to Amazing Spiderman 2 Happy Meal to Amazing Spiderman 2 Nitrogen Asphyxiation Chamber. There's just one stumbling block in the whole system and that's the fact the Amazing Spiderman 2 is absolute wank, by most accounts. But I'm sure that problem will go away if they keep throwing money at it. Ethiopia - strictly speaking - doesn't need all those schools, do they? In all honesty, I haven't seen the film, but that's good. That means however absolute the wank situation it can't possibly taint my view of Amazing Spiderman 2: The Game. So here goes... Amazing Spiderman 2: The Game is absolute wank. D'oh! Better luck next time. [294]

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure[edit]

  • Tesla Effect is a brand new, Kickstarted Tex Murphy adventure, boldly bringing its signature FMV style to an age of HD. Although it does mean that a little lighthearted, niche adventure game ends up clocking up 12 sodding gigabytes of space. But what else besides HD video could do justice to every line that Chris Jones' face has acquired since he last played Tex Murphy in 1998? Sorry, that was needlessly cruel. We can't help how we age, nor, indeed, can game mechanics. [295]

Wolfenstein: The New Order[edit]

  • One of the many advantages of Nazis is that you don't have to justify shit. "Hey, this guy's a Nazi, want to drown him in his own piss?" the game might ask. "Sorry, did you say something? I was busy drowning a Nazi in his own piss," we might reply. But despite that, New Order puts the effort into making hating Nazis feel fresh again. One of the first things we do is watch a soldier shoot a room full of hospital patients before we stab him right up the lebensraum, and the principal villains only need to smile and play card games to become infinitely hateable.

Murdered: Soul Suspect[edit]

  • The story is competent as murder mysteries go: you're wrong-footed by obvious suspects; events recontextualize as the facts unfold; and some people get murdered in it, which I always think is crucial to the genre. And the supernatural elements throw a few curve balls, but at least remain internally consistent, unlike the fact that a man who wears a fedora and vest somehow managed to convince someone to marry him without choking on their own vomit during the vows. [An imp holds up a publicly available photo of Yahtzee, which depicts him wearing a fedora and a vest] ... Well I never said I wasn't a hypocrite!

Tomodachi Life[edit]

  • If a game like, say The Witcher, wants to have a relationship system but slaps the player's knuckles whenever they reach for the sausage-platter, then fair enough. Even in branching fiction, the creator is entitled to declare some things to be out of character. Tomodachi Life, meanwhile, encourages you to populate it with the Miis of real-life friends and family, and in disallowing same-sex relationships it simultaneously denies that they exist in reality. Or at least assumes that no gay person or friend of a gay person could be playing it, 'cause they're all off playing their special gay games for gay people that comes in pink boxes adorned with chest-hair.
  • Let's not dismiss the relationship system, for it is one of the few ways we are granted agency. When someone wants to make a friend or take a friendship to the next level they must request your approval, like you're the stern, overseeing patriarch of a Jonestown-style death-cult. Maybe you'd want to cease the opportunity to finally enforce your will and make your community racially segregated to appease Lady Hitler. But personally, I just allowed whatever, except when a love triangle arose between two strapping, young fellows and an obese, elderly woman, which I swiftly put a stop to. I'd given these character enough shit in their respective works without letting some game turning them into granny-fiddlers.

Shovel Knight[edit]

  • If genealogy is your thing, Shovel Knight lies at the bottom of a family tree more rampantly incestuous than the fucking Lannisters, combining DNA from Super Mario 3, Zelda 2, Castlevania, DuckTales, and a big, eager, sticky mouthful of Mega Man. It's like the fucking Catain Planet of NES games: "By your powers combined, I will now bleep like someone doing squeaky farts in a tin elevator. [296]

Earthbound[edit]

  • It's a quirky game above all else. You name your character - standard JRPG practice - but you also have to name his favorite food that appears in dialogue a whole bunch. And if your first instinct is not to enter something along the lines of "cock" then you simply do not possess a soul. You use baseball bats and frying pans as weapons and fight animated STOP signs and hippies, so the 'quiky random humour' thing runs along the surface like baked beans sliding down a clown's face. But there's a dark surrealism running under it as well, as indicated by a soundtrack that alternates between fun, jaunty melodies and weird electronic ambiènce, like someone left a theremin in Buffalo Bill's house. [297]

Transistor[edit]

  • When I said the game is, "hack and slash," it might be better described as, 10 HACK; 20 SLASH; 30 GOTO 10. You're given numerous "functions" that can either be assigned to a button as an attack, or assigned to an already-assigned attack as a modifier, or assigned to a passive slot as a buff. That probably needs clarifying, so let's say you have a function called Tits (bracket, close brackets), assign it to the X button, and pressing that button will launch a pair of big sweaty baps that will smash a single enemy's head around like a chickpea in a ball pit. Or: You can assign SoapyWank (brackets, close brackets) to the X button and then modify it with Tits(), so that an enemy hit by SoapyWank() will suffer the additional effect of soapy tit wank. OR: Assign Tits() to the passive buff slot to give your character higher defense against incoming mammary-based damage. And like a big lovely pair of sweaty baps, this also took me a while to get my head around. [298]

E.T.[edit]

  • Atari were of a mind that giving game designers credit for the games made about as much sense as crediting the office carpet or venetian blinds, and a bunch of designers disagreed and split off to form Activision. Essentially, this blew the starting whistle for 3rd-party development, flooding the market with badly-made, derivative garbage by inexperienced companies. The enormous letdown of such a hugely anticipated game as E.T. merely caused the scales to fall from the eyes of the buying public: "Hey! All these overpriced, bleep-y games with pixels the size of Post-It notes are actually kinda shit!" Yeah, seems obvious to us, but cut them some slack. It was the '80s; they still thought Bananarama was good. [299]

Firefall[edit]

  • Firefall has a plot. And frankly, after a bunch of hours playing, that's all I'm prepared to state with certainty. From what I remember, Earth's fucked. A dice was rolled on the usual "Fuck the Earth" table and on this occasion it landed on Big Asteroid. But wait! Firefall plays its "Roll Again" card with a +1 modifier and the Earth gets fucked a second time when the dice lands on Misuse of Miracle Element. Slow down, intro cinematic, I'm still digesting the first round of fucking! Thankfully, neither fucking is the kind that means we don't get to fly cool spaceships or wear glowing armor, so we boldly step into this bleak arena now the backstory's been hurled at us like a fucking custard pie. [300]

Sacred 3[edit]

  • You know, what pisses me off is that all the things I'm good at are things that everyone assumes they could do if they tried. Playing the bassoon or fluffing a walrus people respect, 'cause there's a specialist skill goes into those, but writing? "Pah! I learnt that in school! Fucking aced it! They made me start doing it all in joined-up letters just to give everyone else a chance! And that, Mr. Croshaw, is why I felt my background production made me qualified to rewrite all the story copy you did for us to be more like a recent popular film." "Well, you know what I say to that, Mr. Producer? Fifty dollars an hour, please." Blimey, I wonder how people with integrity get through life. [301]

Risen 3: Titan Lords‎[edit]

  • Risen may have more skills than the size of its world can support, distributing them rather unevenly among the dense population of samy NPCs. And the necessity of having to converse with every single one of the dreary fuckwits to determine the quests they can give and the skills they can teach gives Risen a little bit too much trough and not enough peak. It's all rather monotone, converse with one white dude with brown hair and a regional British accent, conversed with them all. Even the first three recruitable crew members are all white dudes with brown hair and regional British accents. I'm not asking for the Mass Effect thing, where there are all different species: one human, one goblin, one pistol shrimp, nor am I asking for achingly politically correct diversity until it resembles fucking Sesame Street. Just more ways to tell the fuckers apart would be nice! [302]

Daikatana‎[edit]

  • As negative press grew and grew concering nepotism and mass resignations, and full page magazine ads informed a restless gaming public that they were John Romero's cell mate and he'd claimed the top bunk (as it were), outright hostility was brewing. At this point, the universe takes two paths, one in which Romero spearheads a bold artistic movement in game design as a misunderstood genius, burdened with the egotism that often strikes the auteur; or Romero is forever lambasted as a boob, so massive that even the most determined baby would struggle to get its gob around it. And which universe we ended up with hinged on one thing: Daikatana not being a pile of execrable garbage. Better luck next time, universe. [303]

Lichdom: Battlemage[edit]

  • Oh, for fuck's shake! Why didn't they just call it "Battlemage"? That's a really fucking good title; punchy, memorable, gets the point across. I'd call my dog "Battlemage", fuck it, I'd call my kid "Battlemage" too (the playground beatings will be very character building)! Best of all, you feel like you can say it in conversation without having pry the words through your teeth, like a stubborn Werther's Original.
  • Our story starts with a literal moustache-twirling villain walking into your house, weeing on the carpet, licking on all the doorknobs, and then walking out while everyone laughs at your stupid, sad face. Whereupon a mysterious man in a hood grants you the power to shoot fire out your hands and tell you to go nuts. I suppose if you make a fantasy game there is no fantasy like power fantasy. [304]

The Sims 4[edit]

  • So presumably, you know what The Sims is by this point, it's the best possible argument against the existence of a benevolent interventionist god, in which you direct small groups of dollhouse residents until they seize to amuse, then burn their lives to the ground and laugh at their betrayed tears. But before you start assembling your psychotic single white femalesque campaign of torment, do bare in mind that there isn't any swimming in Sims 4. So you can no longer lure them into the pool and delete the ladder, which was so iconic to the series, they might as well have removed the green diamond thing.
  • What The Sims is is a consumerist middle class fantasy about walling yourself off from the real world and reducing all measurement of human development and personal success to one's possessions. Your dragon's hoard of crass, suburban decadence. And in that game of Top Trumps, the swimming pool is a kingly crown. It's almost the first thing on my progress list when I play The Sims, after the second toilet and a TV bigger than my left bumcheek.
  • I suppose it might be shallow to pick apart every individual detail until it has been cut down, and a broader perspective might appreciate formula being streamlined a bit. But on the other hand, it's the fucking Sims! It's the poster boy for shallowness. It's about smooth-skinned Stepford Wives competing to have the nicest wallpaper, 'cause they willfully ignore the emaciated children sucking on a rat's armpit for nourishment, somewhere outside the pastel walls of their gated community. And to start removing the flatscreen tellies and power showers of game features shows more blatant misunderstanding of its audience than the black-and-white minstrels tour at the South African prison system. [305]

External links[edit]

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