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.


The Darkness Demo[edit]

  • The Darkness is a horror themed first-person shooter based on some comic book I've never heard of. The game is by the delightfully named Starbreeze Studios, whose most notable previous title would be The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay in which players piloted the claymation Vin Diesel in his ongoing quest to masturbate himself raw in the faces of audiences worldwide.
  • ...What I was supposed to do was go back to an easily-missed white spot on the ground, use it to summon an evil imp, and instruct it to move a thoughtlessly parked car out of the way of one of the cemetery entrances. Let me just reiterate that: The game literally has me summon a multi-fanged beclawed monstrosity from the depths of hell, not so I can make it enslave the innocent or lay waste to all worldly nations, but so that I can enlist it as my own personal breakdown service!
  • Personally, at this point I'd only consider buying the full version of The Darkness if it came down to budget price, and they threw in another, better game. And some cake. And Belgium. [1]

Fable: The Lost Chapters[edit]

  • Fable is by Lionhead Studios, home of longtime auteur game designer Peter Molyneux, who has a tendency to promise the Earth and be ultimately crippled by his own ambition (see the big fat broken monkey-fest Black and White). During the development of Fable, for example, it was promised to have features like rival NPC characters, plants growing in real time, and a system wherein your every slightest choice of action changes your appearance and the world around you. What we ended up with was a buggy action-RPG with a great big stiffy for itself.
  • The big selling point, of course, is that you can choose to be a good character or an evil character, so I of course set out to be the evilest bastard who ever lived, and the best way to do this according to the game was to dress in black, grow a big moustache, draw all over my face, and backhand the occasional passer-by. I also set myself up as a magic user because I wanted to end up looking like Ming the Merciless, but the starting spells were all so ridiculously piss-weak that I ended up having to use a sword half the time anyway, and the game ended up dubbing me a "Spellwarrior," which made me feel like it was calling me an indescisive prick.
  • Eventually, I got to the final boss who didn't hold still long enough for my stupidly overpowered dark spell to be effective, so all I could do was whack it repeatedly over the head with my sword while it chewed constantly on my lower body. But I had so many health potions by that point that I could basically drip-feed myself with the stuff and, after the boss popped its scaly clogs, I still had enough left over to throw a health potion keg party. [2]

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. [3]


  • 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? [4]

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! [5]


  • Bioshock is billed as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2 and I'm sure System Shock 2 will be very proud of its 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. [6]

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. [7]


  • 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 shivved 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. [8]


  • 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? [9]

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. [10]

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. [11]

The Orange Box[edit]

  • I can't help feeling that Valve have missed the point of episodic gaming somewhat. The whole idea is to mix up the usual rigamarole of game publishing by having shorter games at lower prices released more frequently, and while they have aspects one and two down, they continue to struggle with three.
  • (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! [12]

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. [13]

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. [14]

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. [15]

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. [16]

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! [17]

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 '80s, 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! [18]

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. [19]


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. [20]

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 arse. [21]


  • 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. [22]

The Witcher[edit]

  • What quickly becomes obvious is that Witcher is very much a PC-exclusive game, which are typically designed to be as complex and unintuitive as possible so that those dirty console-playing peasants don't ruin it for the glorious PC-gaming master race. The first warning sign is that the manual is thick enough to beat goats to death with, and then once you get into the game the interface is just a few steps shy of Microsoft Access in terms of friendliness. 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. [23]

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. [24]

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.
    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.[25]
  • 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! [26]

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! [27]

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. [28]

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune[edit]

  • Okay, maybe I'm making too much of a big deal of this, but I'm not kidding when I say that every single minority on Earth is represented in the ranks of Uncharted's bad guys: a stream of assorted blacks; Asians; and Latinos brought together by their mutual desire to kill whitey. This is with the exception of the very British main villain, but he gets arbitrarily killed off about ten minutes before the end in favour of a more ethnic final boss. Sorry to spoil that for you, but I assumed you could predict a plot point like "the bad guy dies."
  • 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. [29]

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. [30]

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.[31]


  • 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. [32]

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. [33]

Army of Two - Yes, 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. [34]

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! [35]

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. [36]

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!
  • But really, reviewing Smash Bros. Brawl is pointless. Chances are you already know if you like it. There's a simple test: When the name "Nintendo Wii" was first revealed, did you ever seriously try to defend it on an Internet forum? If yes, you will enjoy this game whatever its faults, and you might as well start spamming my email address with hatred right now, you miserable, fanboy twat. [37]

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. [38]
  • 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.
  • "I'm not a fanboy - (yes you are!) - but you may have judged Brawl a bit harashly. Nintendo made it so that the players could have fun mercilessly beating the ever-lovi-euh-thuh-thuh-thuh-thuh-thuh-theh." Why am I reminded of the all-purpose theist cop-out argument, "God moves in mysterious ways?" Nintendo is a big boy now, he doesn't need defending. Small-time curmudgeons like me are not going to reduce anyone who works there to tears and they care even less about you. I've never really understood the almost crusader-like fervour that consoles attract. Most people would say it's because your mum is only prepared to buy you one console, and if it turns out you didn't pick the winner, the best thing to do is go into denial until the very fabric of reality spontaneously changes, because God knows that's more likely to happen than you admitting fault.[39]

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... [40]


  • 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.[41]

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. [42]


  • 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. [43]


  • 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.


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.



  • 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. [46]

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. [47]

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.
  • As a series, Alone in the Dark has always been about subtle, claustrophobic horror, as is sort of implied by the name. Now it makes no sense, because you're not alone, and it's not even dark, because everything's on fire. [48]

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.


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! [50]

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! [51]

Prince of Persia Retrospective[edit]

  • The one thing I hate about Sands of Time is that the combat is repetitive and boring. The weird foible of the series that it's always brushing up against perfection, but for every step towards it they take another step back. The sequel, Warrior Within, had vastly improved combat but unfortunately everything else been beaten with the angsty stick and forced to write poetry with a pen full of black eye liner. It seems that Ubisoft decided that emo culture was in, so they went around the office one morning and fired everyone who was smiling. The Prince was suddenly staring out from under a black Robert Smith fringe and growling angry threats at supercilious badass action girls showing off more flesh than a surgeon's convention. The tonal shift was so unnecessary and contemptible that a critical paddling session followed, which was a shame because the environments were still nice and the gameplay was better than ever. It just goes to show: never stick your dick in a pudding. It might still be good pudding and you can spend all afternoon explaining that but no one's going to eat it because you STUCK YOUR DICK IN IT!
  • 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! [52]

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. [53]


  • 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! [54]

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. [55]

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! [56]

Bow down to your master Southern Gering Valley of Nebraska


  • 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. [57]

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! [58]

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! [59]

^Bunch of Pussies paid to harm get that weak sauce out of here!!

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 Gerry 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! [60]

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. [61]

Silent Hill Homecoming[edit]

  • The trademark sense of isolation is another point the game misses like a champ, when you are given a spunky female sidekick. This is another peculiarly American habit that seems to always go unchallenged: why does a love interest subplot have to be shoehorned into everything? Imagine if there was some kind of parallel universe where every game and movie, regardless of genre, was required to incorporate at least one line dancing competition. We'd think they were all raving lunatics! And yet here's us forcing in an out-of-place, cheesy romance scene that's more agonizingly painful to watch than any of the actual horror the game is supposed to be about.
  • It's like they had some kind of generic Hollywood movie checklist to fill in. Which makes sense, because the game borrows heavily from the similarly overdone Silent Hill movie, to the point that I half-expected there to be a level where you play as Sean Bean doing something totally fucking irrelevant.
  • 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. Incidentally, why not buy a Zero Punctuation t-shirt? [62]

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. [63]

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![64]

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? [65]

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 magic 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 hiring the biggest name voice actors they can find, and having their character drop off the face of the earth before you've even picked a class. They did it to Captain Picard in Oblivion and now they've done it to Oskar Schindler in Fallout 3.
  • 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! [66]

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. [67]

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. [68]

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![69]

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!


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." [71]

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. [72]


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. [73]

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. [74]

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. [75]

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. [76]

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. [77]

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! [78]

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! [79]

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! [80]

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. [81]

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. [82]

Resident Evil 5[edit]

  • Your new sidekick feels she needs to be more than a nice ass bouncing around the room. Oh yes, now she feels has to be equal to men, isn't that cute? You have to look after her equipment too, so I let her have the machine guns because I wasn't gonna touch the bloody things, and there were moments when she was carrying five hundred bullets for them and was still using her fucking pistol all the time! She'd stand there pathetically picking away at the indestructible carapace of the giant crab monster of the moment, and when she was finished wasting pistol ammo she'd run off to break some crates and nick some more before I could. It's like watching someone beat their fists against a wall then running off to hospital before coming back to do it some more. And they used my medical insurance. And it's my wall!
  • (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. [83]

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.
  • [About his hostage units on Escort Mission disappearing after a timer ran out] "We lost contact!" went the character... BULL. FUCKING. SHIT. (the words "WHAT. ARBITRARY. SILLINESS." appear in synchrony with his swearing). All possible threats were dead! We didn't lose contact - I was looking at them - They were RIGHT. FUCKING. THERE! They were so close we could communicate by waggling our eyebrows at each other! What the fuck happened when the stupid arbitrary time limit ran out!? Did their Battle Royale collars explode!? Did they lose honor and disembowel themselves? WHAT?! And just to put the cherry on it, you know who they were? Absolutely bloody no one! Generic faceless pricks of the sort I'd vat-grown about fifty of that day alone! But we didn't make it in time, so they were going to make me do the whole fucking mission again! As the exasperated Chinese zookeeper said to the last male panda in the world, FUCK! THAT!


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. [85]


  • 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. [86]

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!? [87]

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." [88]

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! [89]

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. [90]

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? [91]

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. [92]

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! [93]


  • 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. [94]

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. [95]
  • 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 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! [96]

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. [97]

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 receive, 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. [98]

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. [99]

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! [100]

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! [101]

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. [102]

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! [103]

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. [104]

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. [105]

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. [106]


  • 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. [107]

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?" [108]

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? [109]

Darkest of Days[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. [111]


  • 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! [112]

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! [113]

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? [114]

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. [115]

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. [116]

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. [117]

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." [118]

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. [119]

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!"[120]

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!" [121]

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.) [122]


  • 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! [123]

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.[124]



  • 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. [125]


  • 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!" [126]


  • 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! [127]

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? [128]


  • 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! [129]

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! [130]

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!" [131]

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." [132]

Aliens vs. Predator[edit]

  • Aliens vs. Predator is one of those concepts you're probably not supposed to think too much about, especially not the title. Surely they're both aliens, and come to think of it they're both predators, too. Perhaps a more explanatory title is necessary, like Big Dribbly Black Thing That Likes Eating Lance Henriksen and Has a Head That Makes You Wonder About What Sort of Relationship H. R. Giger Had With His Father vs. Big Clicky Invisible Thing with a Crab for a Face That Always Seems to End Up Getting Beaten Up By Big Stupid Lads Wearing Dirty Pants. Really, any title would be better than Aliens vs. Predator, or at least easier on the filing system. Try not to confuse this Aliens vs. Predator with the Alien vs. Predator for the SNES from 1993 nor the arcade Alien vs. Predator from 1994 nor indeed the Alien vs. Predator for the Atari Jaguar from the same year, although feel free to confuse it with the Aliens vs. Predator released for PC and Mac in 1999, because it's the same fucking game!
  • 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?"
  • As usual, there are three story campaigns, and in spite of the title the Marine campaign is the longest, probably because of racism. It's also by far the weakest, a fairly generic FPS that at first takes the Doom 3 route to creating easy horror by putting you in dark rooms with a flashlight circle the size of a leprechaun's testicle, but after a while it gets bored and flicks the light on for the remainder in a spirited attempt for the generic gold medal. 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. [133]

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! [134]

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. [135]

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! [136]

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. [138]

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. [139]

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. [140]

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. [141]

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.
  • Note that Sam only finds out about the conspiracy after it sends thugs to kill him, so the baddies said to themselves, "Hey, the one guy who could threaten our operation is in a different country and isn't the slightest bit interested in our stupid conspiracy. Fuck that, let's go shoot at him!"
  • 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. [142]


  • ...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. [143]

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! [144]

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!" [145]

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. [146]

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. [147]

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. [148]

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! [149]

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? [150]

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. [151]

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! [152]


  • 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. [153]

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! [154]

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. [155]

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. [156]

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! [157]

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! [158]

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!
  • There's nothing fun about the game! No light relief, just one piece of nauseating unpleasantness after another, like a roadside café breakfast special by Jeffrey Dahmer. I know Io Interactive are better than this. Hitman: Blood Money was a baldy-headed barrel of fun. Since then, though, Io were bought out by Square Enix so I'm gonna blame them. Fuck off, Square Enix! Kane & Lynch 2 sucks so many dicks it now breathes spunk instead of air! [159]

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! [160]

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. [161]

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 in 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!!" [162]

Halo: Reach[edit]

  • ...Everyone in this prequel seems to be fully aware of their ultimately doomed status, too. 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 Eight 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 thrillingly and climactically gets a little bit hot? [163]

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-playing 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. [164]

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions[edit]

  • Shattered Dimensions plays like marketing material for Marvel Comics' range of alternate Spider-Man continuities. You see, every now and again, some writer at Marvel's creativity-fueled 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!" [165]

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow[edit]

  • Normally I spend the first paragraph of these little tonsil exercise sessions leading into things with some rambling spiel of only borderline relevance, like maybe in this case wondering aloud if one could improve every Castlevania game by replacing Dracula with "The Count from Sesame Street" -- although probably not Symphony of The Night, because you'd have to rename Alucard to, "Teerts emases morf tnuoc eth [sic]."
  • 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." [166]

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 reimagined 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. [167]

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 with 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 every now and again to make Fallout 3 more immersive. Maybe if you ground it into powder and dissolved it in a swimming pool, but it would probably only turn the water brown. [168]

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. [169]

Call of Duty: Black Ops[edit]

  • Could somebody, please, invade America? I know it's not exactly prime real estate, and can just about produce corn and shitty TV, but someone really needs to help them blow off some steam. It's hard not to look at all these war games about Russia invading America and not be reminded of fan fiction. America is a fat teenage virgin lying on her front on her bed staring up at her Edward and Bella poster, while crossing and uncrossing her ankles and dreamily writing creepy stories about having filthy monkey sex with the quiet Eastern European boy down the road. And the child psychologist hired by her concerned parents gives the following advice: "What this girl needs is a good hard dicking!" So come on, Russia, take the hint. World War III, let's do it! Yeah, lots of people will die, but it's not like the human race couldn't use a bit of a pruning now and then. What about you, China? You got loads of people to spare, you selfish bastards. I say, ram a few of them up America's rancid hairy funhole and maybe she can remember how to act like a grownup. And come like a howler monkey! Anyway, here's America's latest virginal howler monkey sex fantasy: Call of Duty Black Ops, another opportunity for the Call of Duty franchise to wave military hardware in our faces and go, "PHWOARR, eh?"
  • 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. [170]

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. [171]

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! [172]


  • 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. So it might as well have just been playing classic FM into Rick's ear the whole time for all the point the foreshadowing had! It and a momentously disappointing boss fight reek of yet another game rushing things towards the end as the deadline loomed. Seems there's an obvious way to avoid this: Make the intro first, the ending second, then everything in between. 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. [173]

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!
  • 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 because of the usual JRPG pedophilia subtext. Two child abuse jokes and we've barely started; that never bodes well!
  • And why do think every other console controller has two analogue sticks, Mr. Wii? Do you think it's just for symmetry or because they look a little bit like nipples? No! It's because in third-person games, the camera is like the working class; if you can't control it, it will plot to destroy you. [174]

Holiday 2010[edit]

  • Since you should know by now that I have the Christmas week off, and you showed up anyway, I guess we're all going to be sitting in silence for the next five minutes while you contemplate how much you appreciate me. (long pause) Oh, fine; here's some clips... [175]

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 letter and some chocolates. 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. [176]


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! [177]

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. [178]


  • 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. [179]

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. [180]

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!!" [181]

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. [182]


  • Do you want to hear something totally unbelievable? Some people say they have difficulty telling whether I recommend a game or not. I know, what morons! Yes, I exaggerate every slightest negative feature regardless of overall quality but how else would developers learn? It's like Chinese parenting but less nightmarish. I'll usually give a bit of a general summary towards the end but I guess people might have trouble concentrating that long when they're mesmerized by the sexy jiggle of the fat rolls on a passing close relative. So, in the name of keeping things nice and clear for you touchy sods, let me be as unambiguous as possible in this critique; Mindjack is fucking, fucking, fucking, fucking, bad, bad, bad, bad! Don't, don't, don't, don't, play it! And, if you kindly tell your cousin to go throw on a fucking bathrobe, I will tell you why.
  • Cover-based shooting is a little 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. [183]

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! [184]


  • 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 shamingly 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 roundly whipped into line, they and Epic Games can bring you Bulletstorm, a game about fat space marines. [185]

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 big 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 say I'm making too much of a fuss, but someone on the dev team at some point said to themselves, "We have a race whose every individual member is so morally bankrupt that players will feel perfectly justified in splattering them painfully against the scenery. Now how do we bring that across in a sort of vocal short hand"? And 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 after 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 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! [186]

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. [187]

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. [188]

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. [189]

Yakuza 4[edit]

  • The amount of modern Japanese culture that gets worked in makes me wonder if it's 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. [190]

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 on 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. [191]

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 actual puzzles were hiding; they're in the co-op campaign which I played through with one of my fat friends. With the addition of two extra portals to play around with, the puzzles are bigger and better and satisfying to solve through teamwork. If you need to swiftly make friends with someone, like a future father-in law or 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 again with another fat friend, you'd just 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. [193]

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 everyone is saying this game is a new release when Wikipedia quite clearly states that 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?! [195]


  • 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 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. That's like standing on a rake and the end of the rake has a grenade taped to it. [196]

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 clearly 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 TV actors to his Captain Scarlet puppets. [197]

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?!" [198]

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. [199]

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 off 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.
  • I guess I want it to be good because that's how the story's supposed to end. After fourteen years of sneering bullies making the Did Not Finish joke, the plucky, never-say-die Duke Nukem should finally turn around and silence those guffawing shits. Well, Duke Nukem has certainly put and end to all those jokes, if only because they're now more tragic than funny. Even as I played, that part of me that takes an almost sexual joy in ruining other people's fun turned upon myself and said, "Yahtzee, you and I both know that you have pushed games off subway train platforms where they had less problems than this." Oh, God, you're right! There's just no excuse for loading times this long unless you're a fucking removals van! [200]

Infamous 2[edit]

  • Ya' know, it's easy to let obnoxious socialites like Duke Nukem: Forever prance about grabbing headlines, but do we stop to appreciate all the non-squeaky wheels who 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 showed 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. [201]

Alice: Madness Returns[edit]

  • When video games have forged the new utopian society Bill and Ted-style, eventually there's going to be a war over whether to sanctify or demonize the bloke who figured out you could make cinematics by zooming in really close on the concept art... Oh! Hello! Didn't see you there! Who remembers American McGee? He was a bloke who worked on Doom and got a free ride, just 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 a bit over-reliant on creepy dolls. Yes, a porcelain doll's head with no hair or eyeballs is a creepy thing, but after the five hundred millionth one they kind of get devalued in the global creep economy, falling below sweaty Uncle Dan and the feeling of another person's bum warmth on your toilet seat. [202]

Shadows of the Damned[edit]

  • ...For a game that seems to have set out with the plan to bring three big names together and wait for the explosion, none of the three amigos brought their A-game. Akira Yamaoka randomly smashing at 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 Spaniard? And while enough of the disposable income of the alternative crowd glimmered invitingly in the eyes of publishers for the game to be marketed with the tagline, "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 throw horse giblets at a lingerie shop. [203]

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. [204]

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 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 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. What with N64 technology being emulatable only on dried leaves and bits of old twig, Nintendo were this close to having an entire generation who might never even have known Ocarina of Time existed, and Skyward Sword might have blown their minds. [205]

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! [206]

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. [207]


  • 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, shooting mercenaries, or fucking each other 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 unexpected 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?
  • ...It'd be fair to call Catherine a story-driven game. And I guess the biggest problem I have with the story is that Vincent is such a fucking tool! Catherine (that's psycho Catherine, not frumpy Katherine) basically bullies him into getting seduced by her; yeah, maybe her running around in a net curtain might have helped, but still. And if the dude could take five seconds to just explain things rather than stammer out more lies while sweating like James Murdoch at a government hearing, then he could probably sort everything out! But no, he just accepts guilt and whines about it incessantly to his mates, every single one of whom would be well within their rights to powerbomb his face into the nearest bollard. I think this is an anime thing, where they like their protagonists angsty and ineffectual and given to wanking off over unconscious women. I watched an anime once; dude pulled a gun at the start of the episode, fired it at the end, and everything in between was angst! I wouldn't mind, but he missed! [208]

Red Faction Armageddon[edit]

  • The title was the first telltale heart murmur. "Armageddon" is one of those words from the subtitle bucket, like "Chronicles" or "Resurrection," a word you stick on the end of your sequel name to communicate the fact that you have less creativity than a pencil sharpener. Red Faction Armageddon is the final game of a trilogy that started 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! [209]

Deus Ex[edit]

  • The year is 2000 the shooter was riding PC gaming like a trusted pony (a pony that you occasionally had to slap or replace with a completely different better pony, but trusted nonetheless). With Half Life ,Thief and System Shock 2 first person games have been steadily raising the bar, then a company called Ion Storm made Daikatana and made the bar tunnel right into the ground beyond the wit of spelunker. But then at the same time Ion Storm brought out Deus Ex which is widely considered the greatest PC game of all time. That may sound like incongruous behavior for a developer but the thing is, during Ion Storm's creation myth a bolt of magical lightning struck John Romero's hair and the fledging Ion Storm was split into it's good half and it's evil half. The evil half was Ion Storm Dallas that made Daikatana and devoured children who refused to eat their vegetables. And the good half was Ion Storm Austin which made Deus Ex and leaves chocolate buttons in the shoes of all the good little boys and girls.
  • 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 goes out, but I don't see how these days you can have a game with anything near as much depth and complexity as Deus Ex 1! And before all you people who liked The Witcher 2 start pounding your keyboards so hard that it starts snowing Cheeto dust, I meant 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! [210]

Deus Ex: Human Revolution[edit]

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution centralizes the debate surrounding transhuman augmentation. "Would you," it asks, "supplement your body with machinery?" What do you mean, would I? I already wear spectacles and a wristwatch, and I always carry a phone, which I'm currently in the process of duct-taping to the side of my head. Anyone who talks about technological development being "unnatural" deserves to be abandoned in the wilderness wearing nothing but a fig leaf. But even if I weren't biased, if there's a conflict growing between a group of people with ocean liner pistons for forearms and a group of people who insist that everyone should be forced to be as shit as they are, I know which side I'd rather be on. Hey, I've got a better name for the pro-humanity movement: The Sore Losers' Club!
  • 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, also maybe hacking some turrets to fight for you, or sneaking away 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 basically had to quicksave every time I successfully made it to the other side of the room before my internal organs did! [211]

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 consequence, 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! [212]

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. [213]

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. [214]

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 spellbinding emotional roller coaster from start to finish, none of you motherfucking fanboys would be saying the plot doesn't matter. You'd trumpet that from the fucking rooftops until someone asked you to leave. [215]

Hard Reset[edit]

  • It's true the game does 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 palette-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. [216]


  • 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. [217]


  • 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. [218]
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. [219]

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." [220]

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception[edit]

  • The game opens in London, with Drake walking off cobbled streets into an English pub with a motherfucking red phone box out the front where every single member of the clientèle looks like Grant Mitchell from EastEnders. Now, I've always assumed that the foreign locales in previous games were at least researched to some degree, but now I'm forced to call that into question, because the equivalent of this would be walking into Central Park and seeing a load of Prohibition-era gangsters feeding the ducks by shooting bread out of tommy guns.
  • 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 surrounding it that the bad guys want to weaponize? And that Drake will pull off the main villain's face and it'll turn out to be old man Withers! [221]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3[edit]

  • Modern Warfare 3 starts off with the advantage for being a continuation of the ongoing Modern Warfare plot and then it fumbles the advantage and serves directly into the umpire's flask of tea. Once again the action switches back and forth between the US military fighting off the sinister Russians and Captain Price et al in pursuit of some bastard who was apparently responsible. I love how that always works, don't you? Remember when they killed Osama bin Laden and now there's no terrorism anywhere in the world ever? Occasionally you also play as other characters who always have the life expectency of a rat in a homeless man's mouth, but more on that later. For me, Modern Warfare 3's plot makes its signature turn right around the bend when Russia invades Europe. As in, all of it. Simultaneously. Now I've never invaded Europe except for that one time, but I would think that's a project you might want to stagger out a bit if you haven't forged an alliance with any galactic empires lately!
  • 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. [222]

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. [223]

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 aboard any rocket-powered jet-bikes either. Saints Row 2 leaned wackier, with a slightly unhealthy fascination with spraying poo at things other people would rather you didn't spray poo at, but was still somewhat 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 po-faced aspects - it's when you're wearing full lucha libre gear, thwacking at zombies with a big floppy dildo as part of the everyday routine that it starts to feel less special. [224]

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! [225]

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. Her big thing is spurious rigour; she can't just say, "Go in the room and stab the big lad in the obvious glowing weak spot," it's always, "There is a 70 percent chance that you must stab the big lad in the obvious glowing weak spot." She sounds like a fucking laundry detergent commercial!
  • 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." [226]

Serious Sam 3: BFE[edit]

  • For the uninitiated, Sam Stone is a nineties action-hero graduate from 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. [227]

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. [228]


Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins[edit]

  • 3D Mario Land Super is a Mario game in which you jump on things in covetous pursuit of stars and coins, like you didn't already know that. How does it differentiate itself? Well, the standard policy with a new Mario game seems to be to write down every feature from every previous Mario game on Post-It Notes, stick them all to a wall, and throw a fucking dart. And in the case of Super Mario 3D Mario Super, it landed on the raccoon tails from Mario 3, a dart throw everyone was so fucking pleased with that they felt they had to base the whole game around it, handing out raccoon tails to half the enemies and stationary objects too. Although considering the original Japanese Mario 3 was more faithful in its depiction of the folkloric tanuki, I'm hoping there's a version of this game knocking around somewhere where every enemy has a big, hairy scrotum dangling underneath in which case it's the Thwomps I feel sorry for.
  • Okay, going to have to go back to Rayman Origins for a bit. It plays most similarly to New Super Mario Bros. Wii right down to the four players, two of which are named characters and two of which are passing woodland creatures that walked in the wrong door by mistake. Crucially though, players do not bounce off each other like they did in NSMBWii, so you can actually get through a level without disowning three friends or family members. Another difference is that Rayman ditches the lives system, a very stupid and outdated concept that Nintendo have to stick to because of an ancient voodoo curse that will make their bell-ends explode if they try to think for five minutes! [229]

Sonic Generations[edit]

  • ...It turned 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 want us to forget about Sonic 2006. Nobody liked Sonic 2006. 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 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." [230]

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'!" [231]


  • 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. [232]

Resident Evil: Revelations[edit]

  • I also have a problem with the dodge mechanic in that how it's supposed to work is vague at best. Sometimes my character nimbly sidestep a blow, and sometimes their ass would get 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 writing bomb defusal manuals? "Step 1: Use your hands. Step 2: Also maybe some pliers." [233]

The Darkness II[edit]

  • Ah, doesn't this take ya back! Around mid-2007, I was living in a drainpipe, licking the backs of Cornetto lids for sustenance, and one night I'd scraped together enough pennies to afford to spend the night at the YMCA. After agreeing to be viciously buggered in return for being allowed a go on the communal PS3, I played a demo for a game called The Darkness with a silly opening sequence and a slightly obtuse puzzle that I couldn't get past. So after Big Steve chased me off so he could play the new Ratchet and Clank, I scrounged up some yellow craft paper, made some figurines from stolen Burger King napkins, and produced a short Internet video explaining how I'm really clever and therefore the game must be dumb. Who would have thought that that event would lead me to where I am today? Now I have Cornetto lids beyond the dreams of avarice, and I'm the one paying to viciously bugger Big Steve. And I'm now professional enough to play a game for more than ten minutes before I attempt to sabotage its developer's retirement plans -- unless it's Final Fantasy. Or Monster Hunter. Or I'm bored, or in a bad mood, or it's Thursday.
  • In never leaving Jackie's perspective, the single-player campaign feels like a very personal journey, and there are even moments when the Darkness induces hallucinations to make him question reality. And the co-op undermines that, too. "Oh, I guess this is reality after all, 'cause there's a voodoo priest and a samurai summoning black holes and... Actually, let's double-check that." [234]

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 took a moment to stop and 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 smalles tweak of a core feature can have ruinous consequences, like prodding a tiger's bollock. [235]


  • 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!" [236]


  • 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! [237]

Mass Effect 3[edit]

  • A word, then, on the subject of trilogies: "Bollocks!" That was it.
  • The arrangement this time around is that there's a big fat bar graph representing what percentage of your arse will get kicked if you launch the invasion, and it goes up as you complete missions and gather troops and massive quantities of sandwiches to feed them with. It's sort of like the latter half of Fable 3, but not so much designed by a yogurt (no offense, Peter). [238]

Twisted Metal[edit]

  • And then there's my prowess with driving video games, in that taking my foot off the accelerator as I go around sharp mountainside bends is advice my brain just can't seem to absorb properly. And there's something about being in a sturdy, powerful machine and being forced to wait for pedestrians crossing the road in front of you pushing some stupid pram that makes me want to physically inform them of their place in the grand scheme of things, as I explained to the judge. Most of that came from playing Carmageddon back in the ironically bad pun period in the nineties (see also: Wargasm). I never got around to playing any of the Twisted Metal titles, but that's all right because the new one is just called Twisted Metal which obviously means it's exactly the same as the original, doesn't it, OH, FUCK YOU!
  • Fortunately, there is an optional training mode, and I would highly recommend going through it, because it was only there that I found out about the jump command, which would have been handy in the previous mission when my progress was being stymied by a chest-high wall on loan from the shooter next door... [239]
  • I find the single-player elements upsetting in many ways. I'm sure I needn't remind viewers that I'd rather hug the venomous quills of a tarantuhedgehog than a human child, but it's a shame when a game essentially about watching things explode at high speed with gurgling childish mirth tries to make itself all dark and edgy as well, like a Ferris wheel with the face of Stanley Kubrick painted on the side. Just seems like unnecessarily limiting the audience. I'm picturing Mrs. Stephens leaving her rosy-cheeked boys in the care of the latest electronic babysitter only to freeze mid cookie-baking at the sound of an f-word drifting through from the lounge, whereupon she storms in and wrenches the controllers away from her children so hard their little arms snap off at the elbow. Huh. Actually, on second thoughts, I'm down with that. Carry on, Twisted Metal.

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? [240]

Ninja Gaiden 3[edit]

  • It's like the series feels like it's lost so much identity from cutting out the leather-clad titty monsters that it's grabbing scrips and scraps from anything that it thinks people seem to like these days, 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! [241]

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. [242]

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. [243]

Fez and I Am Alive[edit]

  • As you may have inferred from my pain-wracked sobs throughout last week's video, I was at the time suffering from rather severe tonsilitis. So everything that passed me lips magically transmuted into an entire Mongol infantry unit the moment I tried swallowing it. Basically what I'm saying is, the back of my mouth looked like a bunch of incontinent seagulls had exploded in a cave. Basically what I'm saying is, it looked like a shoggoth had gotten cold feet while trying to use my epiglottis as a diving board. Basically what I'm saying is, you could have cut my tonsils out and hid them in a basket of fancy cheeses and no one would have been the wiser. Basically what I'm saying is, more painkillers! Yum-yum!
  • Fez is a deeply explorative game in deliberately retro pixel style, outwardly a 2D platformer, but it's kinda complicated. In broad terms, it makes me think of Nit if it had less direction, or Yume Nikki if it had actual gameplay (get a load of my indie penis, spurt spurt!). And it's all wrapped up in a bag that smells strongly of Super Paper Mario. You move in 2D, but can freely rotate the levels in 3D ninety degrees at a time to cross gaps and rearrange platforms with perspective tricks. So I guess we could also call it Echochrome if it had more colors. Blimey! If indie gaming was a country, Fez would be the ki... Well, Cave Story would be the king, but it'd be unwise to appoint Fez as the Grand Vizier, I tell ya that! [244]

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." [245]

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! [246]

Diablo III[edit]

  • You know, if any game 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 starts to carry this mindlessly addictive quality into 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 then 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 possibly 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 characters 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. [247]

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. [248]

Quantum Conundrum[edit]

  • So let me tell you about Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. I picked it up 'cos the back of the box said the Kinect had finally found its hardcore game and I interpreted that as a challenge. But I've always thought Kinect combined with the controller could work in the same way a man with no arms or legs could still join in everyday life if he were strapped into a luggage trolley. The tutorial went by alright; move the vehicle with the controller and use the Kinect to operate the cockpit levels but the moment I got into an actual mission, fucking Christ, it was like jumping to Expert Free Bird on your first morning at Guitar Hero lessons. Twelve or thirteen different characters shouted conflicting orders into both my ears as enemy shells slammed into the hull and the Kinect started getting bored and acting up to the point that holding the controller any further forward than lodged uncomfortably under my ribcage caused my character to repeatedly headbutt the windscreen. "The game is un-FUCKING playable!" I said aloud. "Shame on you", came a reply, "Playing games is your job regardless of their quality. If you have any self-respect you'll stick with it." *short pause* So anyway Quantum Conundrum is a game available on Steam that comes to us from Kim Swift, ex-Valve luminary who brought us the gameplay behind Portal.
  • 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. [249]

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... [250]

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 that the player has to get around like, say, helping a cat down from a tree. Then think of 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. [251]


  • 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?! [252]


  • Well, it's the lull before pre-Christmas and the game release schedule officially has its mouth hanging open and a thin line of drool running into its sippy cup, so at this point there's only one thing I can do: MASTURBA- I mean RETRO REVIEW!
  • I close now, reassured that Half-Life is indeed still good. Perhaps one could 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 of the comics in the '90s being about angsty people shooting blood out of tit-mounted pouch guns... and pouch-mounted gun tits. [253]

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 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. [254]

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 precisely 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! [255]

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. [256]

FIFA 13[edit]

  • "This week was a difficult one", I reflected from my hammock that I have set up between two naked ladies, and for once I'm not going to blame slow releases 'cos there were quite a few, it's just that they were all the kind of shit I don't touch with a ten-foot barge pole. There was Dead or A-Five Live and Tekken Tag Testicle Tourniquet and I've never gotten into one-on-one fighters 'cos they're like going to a job interview for a job you can't do and don't particularly want, except instead of answering questions you punch a school girl in the tits. Partially, I blame publishers not wanting to put out anything that might have to compete with Mists of Panderia, which incidentally I wouldn't touch with a twelve-foot sterilized barge pole being held by somebody else. So that leaves FIFA 13 and is there really anything insightful I can say about it having never played a football game before and indeed still never having done so? Some might say not having played the game and only glancing briefly at the cover art might preclude reviewing it as a rule but I didn't get to where I am today by following rules all over the place. Let's give it a crack! FIFA 13 is a game about- actually, has anyone played Mark of the Ninja on XBLA?
  • [After finishing his Mark of the Ninja review] But, anyway, on the subject of sex crimes let's get back to professional football. FIFA 13 is a game. In that respect, it's eerily reminiscent of Anna an indie first-person horror adventure on Steam that I also played this week, because after Amnesia the phrase "indie first-person horror adventure on Steam" makes my willy perk up and spin around like a tassle on a stripper's tit.
  • [After finishing his Anna review] Sorry, I don't what's wrong with me. I just can't stay on topic this week. I'm supposed to be talking about FIFA 13. I'll start again. *AHEM* Tokyo Jungle is a game on the Playstation Network set in a world where the humans are dead and the animals must retake the city in a rather simplistic survival game with environments that look like they were made from painted cereal boxes.
  • [After finishing his Tokyo Jungle review] Shit! Hang on, I got confused again. How long have I got left? EIGHT SECONDS?! FUCK! Er... FIFA 13 is a game in which you and your burly friends help a small leather sphere realize its dream of being in a net and I think we can all agree that that's basically a positive thing, nighty-night! [257]

XCOM: Enemy Unknown[edit]

  • XCOM traditionalists might moan a bit 'cos the original XCOM's tactical interface was about as intuitive as a control panel for a nuclear submarine but fuck those people! XCOM 2012 has some iffy design and it's glitchy at times. Soldiers on overwatch sometimes have an inexplicable ability to see enemies through walls, and these were the guys who came back negative from the psychic testing, shows how much that proves. But it basically hits the right notes. Like a first class bowel movement it's solid, it's lasting, and above all it's organic. One time I had a bunch of guys trapped in a crashed UFO's central break room with the alien equivalent of Hulk Hogan, and I only had actions left for one heavy and one sniper who were too far from the action to help. So what did I do? I got the heavy to blow a massive hole in the side of the UFO with a rocket launcher, thus granting the sniper a clear line of sight to double tap the problem right in that tash and win the mission. A masterstroke of unconventional strategizing of which I was so embarrassingly proud that I boasted furiously about it for the entire last thirty seconds of an Internet video. [258]

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. [259]

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 things 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 make it easier to complete the naval missions." Well, that's something, I suppose. What benefit do the naval missions provide 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?!
  • Don't be Farmville, Assassin's Creed, be Assassin's Creed. We've already got a Farmville, it's called Farmville. [260]

Halo 4[edit]

  • I feel sorry for 343 Industries, the company Microsoft brought in to do Halo because the company champagne fountain needed refilling and Bungie 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, sorry, 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 much of the acceptance speech about it. "Ooh, thank you so much for accepting us, o 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 fucking UN Secretary General. Stop trying to altar-boy me! [261]

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2[edit]

  • People fortunate enough to have randomly been 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 you 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 occasionally sympathetic portrayal of the villain and that whole chapter where you're called upon to defend a repulsively-decadent future city for rich people does show a degree of self-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! [262]

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! [263]

Far Cry 3[edit]

  • I am a banana! I say that partly because I like taking all my clothes off and hiding in bowls of muesli, and partly because like a banana I feel like I'm going soft as I get older. I've been liking more games lately, and I know saying that has just made someone who likes modern warfare shooters spit-take a mouthful of inexpensive supermarket whiskey, but the games that exist outside that particular cum bubble have been going from strength to strength. That could just be because absolutely fucking anything looks good alongside a cum bubble, or perhaps it means I actually do have the power to make things improve as long as I unceasingly bully and insult it for half a decade. Although that seems unlikely, because as has already been established I am a banana and the only influence I have is over one's potassium intake.
  • 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 look 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. [264]


  • So, I got myself a Wii U, and as with many 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 repeating "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 can legally drive home! [265]

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 you'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 to 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! [266]


Paper Mario: Sticker Star[edit]

  • I am very fond of the Paper Mario series, not just for being fun games, but for being my secret weapon. I say the Final Fantasy games are now 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 just 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! Mario games! Or fun!" But then I can 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 devastated argument on a crusty bap, Flipper! WHOPAH!" and then I dance in the rain at their exploded head. Or rather, that's how it used to go. More recently, they then get to say, "So does this mean you really 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. [267]

Black Knight Sword and Hotline Miami[edit]

  • 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. [268]

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, "flying 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 riding the fucking subway. All I knew was that it's by Sega, and the name is possibly intended to be ironic, because Anarchy refers to a situation in which nobody's reigning shit. It's like calling your game Dog Meows, or Margaret Thatcher Cares. But anyway, it turns out that Anarchy Reigns is a sequel to Madworld of sorts, except that it's not on the Wii, and it's not a spectacle fighter, and it's not in cel-shaded black and white. So yeah, this is 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?" [269]

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! [270]

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 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.[272]

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."
  • Another new feature is weapon crafting, which is part of EA's big scheme to get in on all that sweet FarmVille micro-payment action by letting you pay for more craftable resources. "Did you love blowing real money on flooding everyone's Facebook pages with news on your imaginary cows? Well, you'll love blowing real money on being able to win a non-continuous game with less effort and thus cheapen any sense of achievement!" I might be more indignant if I thought this would actually work! The scheme seems to be to walk into a bank with a gun and a ski mask on, put a bucket on the floor and say, "I'm going now, but if anyone wants to put some money in there, then you know, the option's open." And if anyone actually does put money in the bucket, then that person probably shouldn't have had financial independence in the first place.
  • "Tension? What's that? The thing that comes before elevension?" [273]

Aliens: Colonial Marines[edit]

  • "Oh Yahtzee, we're looking forward to hearing your opinions on this one!" trilled several correspondents this week, and then they ran away like they'd just lit a firework or pushed a friend into the girl's toilets or thrown an unwanted child into a pen with a scary dog. Oh, I see! No-one wants me around when the new Call of Duty is training you to ignore yet another quality recognition instinct, but the moment something comes along that offends what few atrophied taste buds you have left, then suddenly I'm your personal attack gopher! Well, how do you know I don't actually really like Colonial Marines?! I don't; it's fucking atrocious, but you'd have looked pretty silly if I had, wouldn't you?
  • 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 Alien-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! [274]

Crysis 3[edit]

  • Maybe I just don't have the genius brain for some good old hard sci-fi, the kind of hard sci-fi where the most significant new addition is a bow and arrow. Yeah, that's some real hard fucking 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 features prominently on the box art, and then it's introduced in the first mission with what sounds like a conversation from the fucking shopping channel. "Gosh, I just love exterminating my fellow man with the most advanced projectile weaponry in existence, but sometimes I think 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 ammo recovery, but it's also silent, can be fired without de-cloaking, and does about twelve 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!" [275]

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance[edit]

  • Sometimes, I think the Metal Gear franchise is 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, 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 saying, "EVERYONE'S TAKING THE PISS," but gets swiftly bundled out of sight by a dog walker and a Sony executive. [276]

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! [277]


  • 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 an outlet pipe and watch all the poo speed away on a wee-wee one-way system!" (beat) Fucking SOLD! [278]

BioShock: Infinite[edit]

  • Comparisons to BioShock are as inevitable as a bear shitting on a Catholic (or however that phrase goes,) and under that light Infinite falls kinda short. What's disappointing is that the villain is basically just a racist nutter who wants to blow up the world. I listen to him frothing about how his carpet made of black people should be grateful he hasn't trod in any dog shit lately, and he becomes hard to take seriously. The truly great villain is one who talks sense; Andrew Ryan had some weird ideas about sweat ownership, but he was articulate, dangerously intelligent, and wouldn't let someone like Comstock run the fucking hot tap.
  • 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. [279]

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!) [280]

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.[281]


  • 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 Jericho-style - Ew, I just thought about Clive Barker's Jericho! Thanks a lot, Fuse. [282]

Remember Me[edit]

  • That is a direct quote and I'm going to leave it dangling here like a corpse on a gibbet while we consider that someone charged actual money to write it. [283]

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 triple-A development all the more elitist and prohibitively expensive, the systematic erasure of console gaming history one 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 which artwork exists to serve a medium on which artwork is presented, as if the words of a great novel exist to serve 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... [284]

Animal Crossing: New Leaf[edit]

  • It's a very bleak experience. A life catching fish might seem idyllic, but do you think you're ever going to eat them? Have a little fish fry and 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 thoughtful gift of a lovely sofa, goose woman; doesn't go with my place but it would just look perfect 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! [285]

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 big-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! [286]


  • 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!
  • Every vampire story has different rules, of course. In the Dark universe for example, the super-secret weakness of vampires is bullets! And cunningly, the security guards of the world all carry guns, having figured out that your Achilles heel is any kind of physical damage whatsoever! So Dark is strictly a stealth game. Such is the aversion to bullets that Eric cannot carry a gun himself. So do the maths here, sonny: Melee-only attacks, plus large numbers of enemies with guns, plus large open environments with limited cover, equals: It's a shame you have such an aversion to bullets, Eric mate, because a lot of them are going to be trying to make friends with you! And your one attack can be blocked by aware enemies, so if you get spotted sneaking up on a dude, the action becomes a rather humiliating game of Patty-cake. I wanted Eric to go back to the club after the first mission and say, "Are you sure I'm a vampire and not just a Goth with a personal trainer?"
  • Hey, wait a minute. Killing someone from long distance while making a loud noise? Isn't that exactly the same super power as a man with a gun? [287]

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! [288]

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs[edit]

  • Quite a few game-play features have been stripped out, starting with 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." [289]

Grand Theft Auto V[edit]

  • There's nothing that excites me that I can point to and call 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!!!" [290]

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

  • I can only imagine the panic in Nintendo's HD remake department when they were given this job: "It still looks fine! What can HD possibly add? Make the GUI smaller so we can fill even more of the screen with featureless blue ocean?"
  • ...It's good! Because it's Wind Waker and Wind Waker was good! That's about the final word. Except for this one: "Mingegurgle!" [291]

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 at the start who immediately dies, one helicopter that spoke with a woman's voice, and a black member of the Ghosts unit who immediately dies. And, frankly, when that happened, 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!"
  • Incidentally, the Ghosts are well-fucking-equipped for a guerrilla unit. "Oh, no, America has been attacked and is weakened and there's no defenses except an inexhaustible supply of tank battalions and an army of killer robots. And we would've had a doomsday satellite if the rest of the world hadn't gotten all weird about it!" Which they were entirely right to be because when the player wrestles control of the satellite back at the end, they immediately use it to wipe hundreds of thinking, feeling blips off the map as casually as one would use a windscreen wiper on a rainy day. [292]

Ryse: Son of Rome[edit]

  • "But Yahtzee, the environments are pretty!" Oh, shit, I forgot. Ten out of ten! [293]

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 didn't make me titter like a schoolgirl riding a bicycle with a knobbly saddle. [294]

Super Mario 3D World[edit]

  • So the new feature is cat suits, meaning suits made to look like cats, not Luigi running around in a skin-tight... Sorry, lost my train of thought. There is something a little bit suss about it, though. Maybe it's the way characters in cat mode stick their bums in the air as they walk in a way for which only the word "presenting" feels adequate; or the "meow" they make at the end of the level that makes me uncomfortable. But maybe that's just 'cause I'm old and jaded enough to realize that someone somewhere must be getting off to this. And I have a horrible feeling it may be Mario himself. I've been burned before by allowing hairy middle-aged men to indulge in what they called harmless fun.
  • 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 by 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 a deadline the length of an average pull-out procedure before the level ends and the players who made it are showered with confetti and accolades, while everyone else harbors the kind of seething resentment usually reserved for Palestinians and bridesmaids.
  • Find me one case in which random user comments enrich an online experience. Scroll down now and read the first five comments under this video! You should start feeling a cold metallic sensation because you're now holding a gun to your head! [295]

Top 5 Best & Worst Games of 2013[edit]

  • I thought modern military shooters were bad a year ago, but it turns out we were still merely poised on the diving board above the frozen shit. Even Black Ops 2 now seems comparatively self-aware alongside something like Call of Duty: Ghosts, an experience coldly designed to appeal to the worst instincts of a sad majority of unpleasant fucks. I'm not sure the genre could get any lower but I've been wrong before. Maybe next year we can look forward to a game in which we stop all terrorism in the world by releasing a deadly virus that only targets people who aren't three-quarters white and one-quarter bald eagle. Now, I know what you're thinking: "What about that game, Yahztee? You know, that one?" Well, I was hesitant to place it even on a Worst Games list, 'cause it's not a game - it's congealed failure! I speak no hyperbole when I say that releasing every box with no disc inside would have been less of a mistake. So, for one time only, I grant the Zero Punctuation Lifetime Achievement Award for Total Abhorrence to Ride to Hell: Retribution, which it will hold indefinitely until a worse game comes along. That should roughly be around the time apes have retaken the earth. [296]



  • 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.
  • ...The level design is as bland as it gets. Corridor after corridor after empty room after empty room. You can design every single fucking level with one very long piece of string threaded through some ping-pong balls. I asked myself a short ways in, "Why do the words "Crash Bandicoot" keep crossing my mind?" 'Cos that's what it plays like! This is as far as we've come, people! Right back around to PS1 era gameplay: moving along a line and hitting things. Except Crash Bandicoot had colour and life and secrets and challenges and character and humour and squealing pigs you can ride on after looking at the camera with a slightly suspect look on your face. And what does Knack have? Twelve different varieties of rock texture! You spend more time in caves than a hibernating bear. [297]

Killzone: Shadow Fall[edit]

  • ...In future, if I review a game on 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 times I figure it can go without saying. [298]

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?! [299]

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. [300]


  • 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, kunais, 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. [301]


  • ...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 particular 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.
  • ...If you asked old Garrett why he stole, he'd answer "Because I need to pay rent and it's the only thing I'm good at. So shut up and let go of your wallet." New Garrett would, and indeed does, give the answer "Because it's what I do." No, Garrett, it's what you're currently doing. Hey, Yahtzee, why are you kicking new Garrett in the stomach? BECAUSE IT'S WHAT I'M CURRENTLY DOING! [302]

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 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 the 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, tossing expensive wine glasses aside 'cause he couldn't give two licks of a used tampon for whoever has to shampoo the carpet! [303]

Dark Souls 2[edit]

  • Full disclosure: I've not finished the game yet, because I've only been playing for about a 30-hour stretch at time of writing, or – as it's known in the Dark Souls community – a sample. [304]

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII[edit]

  • Was there much clamoring for a spin-off game about Lightning? I don't remember signing that particular petition. Although I concede that it's a good idea, because among the casts of the many Final Fantasy games there have been she's a real standout character - she's broody with a big sword and stupid hair and dresses weird. Talk about a round peg in a Square Enix.
  • The flimsy excuse given for nobody aging is that the world is ending. So, apparently the first thing that falls victim to entropy is entropy itself. Make the plot holes bigger, Final Fantasy, I don't think this train wreck's gonna fit through them yet. Lightning is then literally given a mission from God. God's building a new world with black jack and hookers, and Lightning has to save everyone she can on the dying one. In return, God will bring Serah back to life. Also, it is discussed in an early scene that God appears to have taken away Lightning's emotions, which explains why the end of the world can be six days away and she's not running around flapping her arms going, "MNEEENENEMENEEEMEE!" Hang on, though! God takes away her emotions and then motivates her with a chance of an emotional reunion with the dead sister?! Choo-choo! Now arriving at Plot Hole Station! [305]


  • 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!!"
  • While the voiceover in the briefing lobby droned on about all the cool story they had written for the next mission, I conducted a brief experiment by asking in the text chat if anyone knew what the fuck the plot was about. Most people said "Nope", some people said "War", and then started quoting Edwin Starr lyrics, and one rather odd bloke asked me if I was Jewish. [306]

FTL: Faster Than Light[edit]

  • It is interesting that the rebels are the bad guys for once. 'Cause, you know, the government might be oppressing your freedoms and shit, but they also run sewer systems and post offices, and things won't get better just because they've been overthrown, although there might be more poo lying around.

Child of Day-Light (Daylight and Child of Light)[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 occasionally going, "Is 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 had 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!" [307]

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 about in leotards. And lest we think Sony's generosity ends with Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Film, you don't have to go five fucking minutes without being reminded of Amazing Spider-Man 2 if you don't want to. You can wake up in the morning and go from Amazing Spider-Man 2 Toothbrush to Amazing Spider-Man 2 Happy Meal to Amazing Spider-Man 2 Nitrogen Asphyxiation Chamber. There's just one tiny little stumbling block in the whole system and that's the fact Amazing Spider-Man 2 is absolute wank, by most accounts. But I'm sure that problem will go away if they keep throwing money at it. Ethiopia doesn't strictly speaking 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 Spider-Man 2: The Game. So here goes... Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Game is absolute wank. D'oh! Better luck next time. [308]

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure[edit]

  • Tesla Effect is a brand new, successfully 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. [309]

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; would you like 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. [310]

Murdered: Soul Suspect[edit]

  • ...The story is competent as murder mystery goes: 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 publicity photo of Yahtzee, which depicts him wearing a fedora and a vest] ... Well I never said I wasn't a hypocrite! [311]

Tomodachi Life[edit]

  • If a game like, say The Witcher, wants to have a relationship system but slap 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 to disallow same-sex relationships in it is to tacitly deny that they exist in reality. Or at least to assume that no gay person or friend of a gay person could possibly be playing it, 'cause they're all off playing their special gay games for gay people that come 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'll want to seize the opportunity to finally enforce your will and make your community completely 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, too. [312]

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 Captain Planet of NES games: "By your powers combined, I will now bleep like someone doing squeaky farts in a tin elevator."
  • Five minutes ago, a bloke the size of a pregnant bus jumped down and hit me with a metal windsurfing sail that he seems to think is a sword, and that didn't even take off a whole health point. Now I'm being splattered across four dimensions 'cause my elbow brushed against the stucco ceiling. I'm a trifle miffed! [313]


  • It's a quirky game above all else. You name your character - standard JRPG practice - but you also have to name his favourite 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 'quirky 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. [314]


  • 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. [315]


  • 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. [316]


  • 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 mentally 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. [317]

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 in 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? [318]

Risen 3: Titan Lords‎[edit]

  • Risen may have more skills than the size of its world can support, distributing them rather unevenly among a dense population of same-y 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 they're 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! [319]


  • I was slightly surprised to find Daikatana available on Steam, but even more so by the feature list: "25 glorious weapons to collect and utilize", "Two highly-trained sidekicks to watch your back." I'd have said it was being sarcastic if I thought publishers had any self-awareness at all. But, realistically, everyone knows that its infamous reputation is the only reason this game is on Steam, and the blurb should have read, "Roll up, roll up, everyone! Come and see the freak!"
  • As negative press grew and grew concerning nepotism and mass resignations, and magazine ads informed a restless gaming public that they were John Romero's cellmate 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.
  • Today's faceless triple-A industry rarely indulges auteurism, as throwing babies out with bathwater is now so routine to big business that the babies have formed their own society in the outflow pipe. [320]

Lichdom: Battlemage[edit]

  • Oh, for fuck's sake! 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" (the playground beatings would be very character building)! Best of all, you feel like you can say it in conversation without having to prize the words through your teeth, like a stubborn Werther's Original.
  • I'm so sick of the endless colon-ization of new games that feel like they're too special to make do with one title! It's so mind-bogglingly self-important it makes me want to spit! So from now on, I'm going to pronounce colons as dry-heaves. Did you hear that, Beyond (HRUUH) Two Souls? Murdered (HRUUH) Soul Suspect?
  • Are we to take it that Lichdom (HRUUH) Battlemage is merely the first installment of an ongoing Lichdom series, not necessarily about battlemagery? Should we look forward to "Lichdom (HRUUH) Dishwasher," and "Lichdom (HRUUH) Tax Accountant?" No, of course we fucking shouldn't, because it's a game about battlemaging and essentially nothing else! I'm pretty sure there aren't even liches in it!
  • Our story starts with a literal moustache-twirling villain walking into your house, weeing on your carpet and licking 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 of your hands and tells you to go nuts. I suppose if you're making a fantasy game, there is no fantasy like power fantasy. [321]

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 cease to amuse, then burn their lives to the ground and laugh at their betrayed tears. But before you start assembling your psychotic single white female-esque campaign of torment, do bear 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.
  • I wonder if, in their snip-happy way, EA truly realizes how devastating to the core principle removing swimming pools really is. 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 always the first thing on my progress list when I play The Sims, after a second toilet and a TV bigger than my left bumcheek.
  • I suppose it might be shallow to pick apart every individual detail that has been cut down, and a broader perspective might appreciate the 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, as 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 gameplay features shows more blatant misunderstanding of its audience than the Black-And-White Minstrels tour of the South African prison system. [322]

The Evil Within[edit]

  • It plays like somebody said, "Hey, make a horror game!" And somebody else said, "Okay, what about?" "I've just told you, about horror." "No, I mean, what happens in it? What's the context? What are the major themes you want to work with?" "Horror, horror, and horror! Jesus Christ, just do it! Why are you so difficult to work with?" And so the result is this undisciplined mishmash of horror set pieces and imagery barely justified by a toilet-tissue-flimsy plot, populated entirely by stock characters. [323]

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare[edit]

  • CODAW starts off on the right foot when we're introduced to our hero taking off his helmet to reveal that he's a white dude with awful facial hair. We then turn to his best friend who takes off his helmet to reveal that he's the exact same, identical white dude with awful facial hair. Then they start talking about their dads because it's always dads, isn't it? There are no mothers in Call of Duty's world. Soldiers are birthed fully formed from the tail pipes of their father's restored Cadillacs.
  • Our friend, who's identical to ourselves, dies in a very heroic and insecure way, and at the funeral, we are introduced to his father, Kevin Spacey, who is the only white guy in the plot who doesn't have atrocious facial hair which I suppose means that he's the baddie. I'd spoiler that since he doesn't properly villain it up until a ways in the game, but come on! It's Kevin Spacey; of course he's the villain. He's got two faces: smart arsed and recently punched for being a smart arse.
  • Kevin Spacey essentially becomes a G.I. Joe villain. The usual anomalously well-organized terrorist strike cripples most of the world, so Kevin Spacey rolls in, takes the credit for ending terrorism, and becomes the most powerful corporation on Earth. And then, having essentially conquered the world with money and minimal force, Kevin Spacey decides his next course of action will be to invade the United States. Yeah, this is where I sort of lose his train of logic. I mean, he practically runs the world already at that point; but I guess conquest just doesn't feel like conquest 'till you've stuck a flag in someone else's shit. And he openly announces his intentions to take over the world in a speech at the United Nations, after which the world turns against him and I want to know what the fuck he was expecting would happen after he stopped talking - pyjama party? [324]

Far Cry 4[edit]

  • Where Brody became a killing machine out of desperate survival need and enough drugs to occupy Amy Winehouse for one lazy Sunday afternoon, Ghale only does it essentially because somebody told him to and he didn't want to make a fuss. He's just a dope who does nothing but agree with the last thing he heard. And everyone around him seems to realize it, you can tell from the way characters give him mission briefings. Every single time they make some token instructing noises, give him a little encouraging smack on the bum and close the door in his face and go back to the TV. Ajay's story eventually leads to his parent's dark secret that explains why the villain has an interest in him. But since Ajay reacts to the revelation like a St. Bernard being told he can't have another biscuit, my first thought was "Any chance we could play as your parents instead? They sound more interesting than you."
  • The main plot thread concerns the resistance being torn between two leaders, one old-fashioned and moralistic, and the other extreme but pragmatic, and you have to decide which one to support. They both have good points, it was a somewhat interesting dilemma and I put quite a bit of thought into my decisions. But what I wanted was some sodding payoff. And at the end of it all, you install you preferred dictator and they go "Cheers, for that", smack on the bum, close door in face. This must be what it's like to be the American secretary of state. And then you trudge up main villain's house and they're all like "Don't look at me, my ending's completely anticlimactic as well."
  • Riding elephants is one of those things I didn't realize I wanted until I had it. It's just fun to stampede into a ring of soldiers or, indeed, wolves and go "What's up motherfuckers? The elephant in the room is that you're all fucking dead." [325]

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric[edit]

  • The plot opens with Sonic et al., running fast and fighting Dr. Eggrobotmannik. Blimey, that's a bold stride in a new direction! No wonder we needed a fucking reboot! In short order, Sonic frees an evil snake monster from the past who claims that it was Sonic himself who imprisoned him a thousand years ago. And so the plot starts making time travel noises as Sonic is transported back to do the thing he already did. You might reasonably think at this point that we're setting up a Zelda-esque mechanic wherein we hop back and forth between two different time periods throughout the game, and you'd be all wrong and a bag of chips! We go back in time, imprison the poor bastard, and come straight back. It's never brought up again and we're not even a quarter of the way through the game!
  • No, I know what it is. It's an endurance test. You see how much of the dialogue you can listen to before you slice you own ears off with a paper guillotine. Or perhaps just turn the volume down, you spaz. "Getting sniffy about random quips not meeting your comedy standards again, are we Yahtzee?" (Referring to Sunset Overdrive) I would be if they were quips. They seem more like matter-of-fact running commentary. "Bounce pad!" announces Sonic as he touches a bounce pad. "It's bounce pad time!" he adds. "I'm bouncing off something with pad-like characteristics!" he clarifies. And when it's not that, it's the game weakly attempting to praise itself. "This is amsoewe[sic]!" cries a sprinting character as they face-plant into another rock. "This place looks amazing!" they say, taking in the boxy buildings worthy of a pre-analogue sticks PS1 game. But saying something isn't enough to make it true, unless you say something like, "Sega are attracting derision, the massive wankers!" And when the dialoge isn't awful quips or self-aggrandizement, it's just treating the player like an absolute cretin. (As Sonic Boom) "That wall looks breakable. I noticed you haven't broken it in the 2.7 seconds since I last mentioned that. That's cool. I'll check again in 2.8 seconds." What makes you think I'm this stupid, Sonic Boom? "You bought me." Touché. [326]

Top 5 Games of 2014[edit]

  • Well, this is about as late an entry as late gets, but you really would be hard pressed to find worse than the last game I reviewed. I say "reviewed," perhaps the better word would be "autopsied." Buggy, rushed, horrible design, and with dialogue as irritating as chicken wire across the plums, Sonic Boom can suck my fat cock! I'd think of a more roundabout way of saying that, but I refuse to put more effort in than the developers did.
  • [...] And, similarly, the worst game needn't necessarily be the most objectively badly made or frustrating one, but the game with the worst intentions. Sonic Boom and Spider-Man feel like the developers were all wearing oven mitts, but a game that has every advantage in the world, and then calmly, decisively, and deliberately puts its todger in a saucepan full of hot bleach, is somehow orders of magnitude worse - it's Thief! I will never understand the logic behind triple-A reboots. "Here's this game people used to like, primarily for its uniqueness! Let's reboot it and make it just like everything else! I see no reason why people could be anything less than delighted! Do you think my todger's clean, yet? I think the bell-end's fallen off!" [327]


Talos Principle[edit]

  • You are an unknown consciousness that wakes up in an unknown garden where an unknown intelligence forces you to complete puzzles for an unknown reason. It's like when your parents used to make you sit in the garden and untangle the Christmas lights and whenever you finished one you were allowed to come in and watch one episode of The Prisoner.
  • There are also a few obscure object mechanics that the game doesn't explain properly, but bases puzzles around regardless. It's possible, for example, to put the boxes on top of the roving proximity mines. It's not fair if you don't make all the rules clear. If I'm stuck in a puzzle game, I prefer it to be because I'm a big thicky-bobo who can't figure out where all the pieces go, not because one of the pieces was still in the box. Forgive me if it didn't occur to me to go near the bleeping explode-y death-ball and repurpose it as a dessert trolley.
  • [post-credits] Random documents and audio logs / We find them stuck to notice boards, we find them under dogs / We're gonna put them in a file and give it a review / And we're bored of all the gameplay, but we've nothing else to do. [328]

Dying Light[edit]

  • This ostensibly new IP plays a lot like Dead Island, I thought, before noticing that it comes to us from the same developer as Dead Island, which confused me for a bit 'cause I assumed they were working on Dead Island 2, currently represented by a pre-rendered trailer that, as always, tells us as much about the game as it does about freshwater fly fishing. But apparently that's being developed by Yager, creators of Spec Ops: The Line, a game about an American agent being inserted into a middle eastern city on an innocuous fetch quest and confronting death, horror, and violence while getting a lovely suntan. But I digress. Dying Light is a game about an American agent being inserted into a middle eastern city on an innocuous fetch quest and confronting death, horror, and OH, GOD, EVERYTHING'S SPIRALIING IN ON ITSELF! WHAT ARE THESE THINGS IN FRONT OF ME? JESUS CHRIST, THEY'RE MY OWN BUTTOCKS! [329]

The Order: 1886[edit]

  • In fact, The Order seems to be making eye-contact with Ryse: Son of Rome, as they both stare forlornly out through the fences of their respective death-camps. They are the stuff of the "spunkgargleweewee"-modern-shooter behind the thin disguise of an alternative setting; a "funkmarbleteehee" if you will. In fact, the moment that crossed my mind, I realized that the plot of The Order is point-for-point identical to the plot of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: We are "Sir Galahad"; a veteran, loyal member of the Order with the face of Al Swearengen from Deadwood and the vocabulary of a shaved bear, pledged to defend the land from evil terrorists -- I mean, werewolves -- but then finds himself having to fight off a civilian resistance, and in situations like this, you can put money down right fucking now on his high-tech, authoritarian big-boys club proving corrupt and him switching sides to a resistance movement surprisingly accepting of a dude who murdered two-hundred of their mates that morning.
  • In the run-up to release, I'd gotten the idea that The Odor: 1886 was a four-player co-op shooter -- going again by the teaser and the four characters on the box-art, arranged with equal prominence. I wonder if that might once have been the intention because, of the three characters on the box besides Galahad, none of them are still participating in the plot by the final level, as if in the original first draft they were supposed to have been tagging along with you. Although having said that, the main villain is also no longer participating in the plot at the end. To go back to the Advanced Warfare comparison: It's like if Kevin Spacey just flat out hadn't appeared in the final mission and the final boss fight was instead with Kevin Spacey's pet Staffordshire Terrier, with Kevin Spacey mockingly saluting from a hang-gilder with 'Sequel Hook' written on it. [330]

Battlefield Hardline[edit]

  • As for the actual plot, well, why don't you fill in the blanks yourself? You're a cop on the blank, you get blanked for a blank you didn't commit, and now you're out for blank and to clear your blank. The new modern shooter is officially the old detective thriller with gradual shift to heist movie in the second half. What confuses me, though, is that, even after you've been wrongly accused and are on the run, you can still arrest people. In fact, when the evil private cops show up to arrest you, you can arrest them back! What organisation is going to come around and pick those guys up?! The criminal police from Opposite Land who give talks to high-school kids on how drugs are really great and everyone should take them? [331]

Mortal Kombat X[edit]

  • I'm surprised by how many original characters are introduced in MKX. There's even a gay one, apparently, and it's not the one dressed as a cowboy (which I call a fucking missed opportunity). "Original" might be a poor choice of words, actually; one of the new characters is blatantly Master Blaster from Mad Max 3, and most of the rest are the younger offspring, cousins, and catamite love slaves of the returning old farts. I remember saying about MK9 that it was written like a subpar superhero comic trying to earn a tax rebate on red ink, and that comparison's only getting stronger now that everyone's got a fucking teenage sidekick! The trademark extreme violence feels rather incongruous combined with this whole Muppet Babies concept: You can play the story campaign and watch Johnny Cage complain to his ex-wife, Sonya Blade, that she never makes time for their daughter any more, and then you can go into one of the non-story modes and watch Johnny Cage snap his daughter in half lengthways like a giant Kit Kat. [332]

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[edit]

  • And now your regularly scheduled reminder that the new consoles are shit: The new consoles are shit. Thank you.
  • Meanwhile, the game watched uncomfortably from the sidelines occasionally shouting, "Hey, there's all these fancy oils you could be using to get this done about point-four percent more efficiently. Maybe you could craft some from the entire Hanging Gardens of Babylon's worth of random herbs and flowers you've got stuffed down your trousers?" "Got any upgrades for the basic healing potion?" I shout back. "Not presently, no," replies the game. "Then I'll stick with mashing quick-attack if it's all the same to you." "Well, if that's your attitude, your sword just broke again, haa-haa-haa." Oh, bloody hell. Rivery Gerald's oaths of fidelity last longer than his fuckin' swords. I think they just stuck a hilt on an unusually long Pringle.
  • ...I did engage with the characters, and felt sad when my choices led to their deaths -- although it's pretty fucking hard to predict where some axes will fall. One particularly nuanced character died as an eventual consequence of me turning an evil tree into a horse. Well, now it sounds obvious! [333]


  • So what other online content is there? "Other online content?" said Splatoon, bemused. "We've got a whole two maps! You can wear different shirts that no one besides you will ever notice or care about! What more you do want?" Two maps?! "No, of course not just two maps! We wouldn't be much of a multiplayer-focused game with only two maps, would we? We've actually got five maps, thank you very much. But we artifically restrict you to two and change them every few hours." Okay. Why? "What's with all the fucking questions?! You see anyone else complaining?" said Splatoon, pointing to the many player avatars standing around the lobby like Village of the Damned with Miiverse posts floating over their head saying things like: [in a droning monotone] "This is the best game ever," and, "Hooray for Splatoon," and, "My connection died again. Whoops, I mean: I love Nintendo," and, "Thanks to Nintendo and to local gaming retailer for bringing me this great game." That was a real message I actually saw. How many checks do you think that guy is cashing? [334]


  • We live in an age where mass communication has counterintuitively turned all attempts at verbal debate into a basketball game where the teams are on different courts, and stand around a basket racking up meaningless points and throwing shit over the dividing wall. The only way an individual can safely express their politics these days is to anonymously spend money. Hence why homophobic pizza joints can mysteriously accrue a million dollars in donations. Hatred exists merely as a maypole for those wishing to defy the cultural nannies who want to tell them they can't have it until they learn to wipe their bottoms properly. [335]

E3 2015[edit]

  • VR tech may finally be making its move. The claim that motion controls would enhance immersion was always about as believable as the claim that a sledgehammer can enhance a Fabergé egg, but I genuinely believe that VR represents the way forward for immersive gaming [...] But of course, Oculus already did its pre-E3 announcement that it was jumping into bed with Microsoft. Yowser! Could have broken that more gently, Oculus! You don't come out to your parents in a Christmas card. An Xbox One controller will ship with it, like a rich snot buying his way into the popular kids' club; and you can stream Xbox One games onto to it. There was a video of someone playing a third-person game on a screen in a virtual living room, which I'm guessing is their entry for the Piers-Morgan-for-President Total Pointlessness Award. And also, there's going to be a special two-handed controller that incorporates- No! That incorporates motion-se- Oh, GOD no! That incorporates motion-sensor tec- No no no! We were SO CLOSE! We were almost FREE! Why must we forever carry our failures around with us like a scrotum full of horseshoes!? Oh, you can pick up a virtual gun with your actual hand and fire it. 'Cause that's what I want added to the process of shooting an enemy, isn't it?! My noodly wrist groping for something that isn't there, like a castrated wanker! Hey, Captain Scott! How about we make sure we can actually get to the South Pole before we start making plans to erect the Statue of Liberty there?! [336]

Batman: Arkham Knight[edit]

  • The problem with super-hero movies is that they only have three plots: Villain endangers hero's loved one; hero faces villain who is dark reflection of themselves, villain threatens to cover a city in gas that will make everyone as petty as they are. Arkham Knight goes through all three, multiple times, with varying degrees of disconnect and all messily layering over each other like an orgy in a poorly-made lasagna. [337]


  • This game's shit! Oh, sorry, I usually do more of a setup than that, don't I? I'll start again: "Goodness, me, this game's shit!" [338]

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture[edit]

  • I suppose my first major problem with the story is that I assumed I was crawling through the village on my overloaded mobility scooter to discover the nature of the mysterious event that happened to it. It's rather swiftly established that everyone got disappeared by space magic; but after completing the game, I still didn't have any explanation better than, "Everyone got disappeared by space magic." Which raised the obvious question of what the hell we have been learning for the last three hours! Well, we know that scientist-guy is a complete douche-balloon because his mom is the Lord High Empress of The Busybody Cattlecunts, and we witnessed a bunch of other interpersonal conflicts that all ended rather anti-climatically when — you guessed it — everyone got disappeared by space magic. But you know what? Everybody Wants to Rule the World was never intended to be traditional story-telling: What with events playing out for us in essentially random order. So now — as well as being glued to the side of a gazelle — the book's being chewed up by the honey badger riding on the gazelle's back.
  • Maybe, rather than a linear mystery to be unlocked by the end, I should see it as immersing myself in the larger world of the characters. The problem with that is: I don't like any of the characters and I'd sooner immerse myself in a vat of cold Marmite! I think I'm supposed to sympathise with the American scientist lady, because this is rural England and the locals read the words "American scientist lady" the same way they read the words "Venusian ballerina crab". But she's hardly meeting them half-way; treating them like idiots and reacting hypersensitively to their blissful ignorance, like a cat that shares a litterbox with a hedgehog. [339]


  • Between Volume, V for Vendetta and Children of Men, I'm noticing that the world of fiction finds it curiously easy to believe that a near-future Britain would become a fascist dictatorship. It's like all British people are sitting on the edges of their settees watching Countdown just waiting for the economy to dip a few more points so they can gleefully fling their teacups aside and start taking the truncheon to the underclasses. And speaking as a British person, this never rings true for me. Now, I admit I haven't been in Britain for nigh-on ten years now so maybe Carol Vorderman founded a neo-fascist revolutionary movement while I wasn't paying attention, but most of the British people I know, if you invited them to truncheon an underclass for the greater glory of the superior British race, most of them would reply with, "Ooh, I wouldn't want anyone to think I was making a fuss", before apologizing for no reason. At the height of the Empire, maybe, but I just don't think there's anything the modern British care enough about to inspire violent dictatorships (except maybe football).

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain[edit]

  • ...Konami recently decided they're going to take everything they've built over the years as a game developer, arrange it nicely in front of them, and then pick up a big hammer and smash and smash and smash and smash and smash. "Sorry we had to cancel Silent Hills, but we kind of lost our interest in it around the same time we lost our fucking miiiiiinds! Here, have a pachinko machine instead. We like pachinko machines, 'cause it's nice to have something around that has some fucking balls. Also, fuck off, Hideo Kojima; you're too reliably bankable for our liking. We'd much rather stick our feet up our arse and bounce down the stairs making burbling noises with our lips! Brblbblbblbb!" Although Phantom Pain doesn't seem to have gotten the memo, 'cause Hideo Kojima's name is all over it, to a frankly quite psychotic degree. Christ knows why every individual mission has to have its own credit sequence unless Hideo's worried we've all got short-term memory loss. I know you're the director, Hideo; there's a mentally damaged woman over there with her tits hanging out, of course it's by you! [340]

Until Dawn[edit]

  • I have a soft spot for the slasher movie. Not that they're ever anything above god-awful. I mean; calling Friday the 13th "art" is like calling a face full of crusted shit "cosmetic surgery". But I like them because there's something very essentially cathartic about watching a bunch of complete twats get completely twatted. When the parade of out-of-work actors in their mid-to-late twenties pretending to be carefree teenagers with unfeasibly easy access to expensive holiday real estate seem to find no end of amusement in jumping out at each other ten million times across the first hour as the soundtrack shrieks like Sharon Stone just recrossed her legs in front of the violinists, Jason Voorhees is acting out the growing desires of the audience as he starts slitting them up like Christmas presents with good dentistry. Until Dawn is an interactive story of the David Cage school pushed through the filter of slasher movie, with the promise being that, if we make all the right decisions, perhaps we can keep all the out-of-work twenty-something actors alive. I don't think you were paying attention, Until Dawn! I will have made the right decisions if every single one of those gurgleburgs ends up upholstering the soft furnishings in Leatherface's man cave!
  • [Until Dawn] also owes something to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, in that it tries to psychologically evaluate you to an extent, albeit with considerably less subtlety. At one point, a character brazenly asks, "Say, which three of these things do you find scariest?" And lo and behold; the three you pick will show up later! That seems like an easy system to game: "No, really! I'm terrified of Magners Cider, Jaffa Cakes, and handjobs!" [341]


  • SOMA feels like a decent, melancholy sci-fi mystery story living next door to a sci-fi horror B movie whose dog keeps escaping and jumping in our swimming pool (what a little bastard), and you can really feel the game struggling to mesh the two, right up until the end when it blows a little raspberry and gives up trying. On the way to the final area, to conclude the Simon story, a new character literally appears from nowhere, pops his head around the door, and says: "Sorry to interrupt, player, but before you tie up the main plot, could we borrow you for five minutes to tie up the shitty monster plot as well?" So you follow him into a little room, press one button labeled, "Resolve Shitty Monster Plot," and then get on with what you were doing. I'm only slightly exaggerating! So I suppose if Antoine de Saint-Exupéry were here, he'd ask, "Would SOMA be improved if they took out the monster stealthing altogether and got by with exploration, puzzles, and environmental hazards? Also, didn't I die in 1944?" Well, I'd say so, Antoine, but if they took out the scary monsters, what else are the streamers and Let's Players supposed to obnoxiously overreact to? "AAAHHH! IT'S SO EXISTENTIAL!" [342]

Assassin's Creed Syndicate[edit]

  • I once described the Assassin's Creed series as a line graph and here's how it continues: From the point that Unity was at, draw a perfectly horizontal line. We've jumped 60 years and about 250 miles, but we haven't budged a fucking inch. I wouldn't say Syndicate is the worst Sassy Credo, but it might well be the laziest. Lazily written, certainly. We play as twins, Jacob and Evie Frye, one of them is brash and reckless and direct-combat-oriented, the other is smart and measured and more suited to stealth. I'll leave you to guess which one's the boy and which one's the girl, but here's a hint: Try to think like the laziest writer in the fucking universe.
  • Remember how Leonardo was a major character in Screedo 2, and the friendship between him and Ezio was actually firmly established? Well, the sideburns muscled that out, too, 'cause every meeting with a historical figure in Syndicate plays like something from a fucking kids' TV series: "Hello, I'm the famous Charles Dickens." "Hello, the famous Charles Dickens; we're stand-ins for the audience." "Hello, stand-ins. I guess that means I can inexplicably enlist you to solve my problems." "What problems, the famous Charles Dickens?" "It's all these random thugs stopping me from finishing the famous books I write. If only there was someone around here who could brutally stab them all to death for me."
  • Mind you, I said we haven't moved anywhere since Unity, but at least Unity tried to play a bit with the idea of Assassins and Templars not being a totally uncomplicated good-versus-evil situation; whereas in Syndicate, the best and only argument for opposing the main villain is: "Fucking look at the guy! He's like someone drew a Snidely Whiplash moustache onto a picture of Joseph Goebbels!" [343]

Halo 5: Guardians[edit]

  • Turns out Cortana's big dramatic death scene in the last game wasn't for realisies, but one could kinda predict that from the mere fact that there is a Halo 5 at all. It doesn't take a giant space-protractor to calculate that Master Chief and Cortana are the only marketable faces of the franchise; which is not even because they're good or interesting characters. It's only because Mr. Chuffy is the protagonist and Cortana flaps her big blue knockers about like a gelatin dessert on a merry-go-round. The funny thing is, even in-universe, everyone seems to realize that Mr. Chuffy and his little blue titty-monster are the only characters of any importance. So when Mr. Chuffy reports having a weird dream about Cortana being alive and calling him to distant planet, not a single person so much as hazards the possibility that it was just a dream and maybe he'll forget all about if they buy him a new wank-doll for Christmas. No, they're all like, "Ooh, this is serious! We better go to that planet, then!"
  • The action is split between the four Spartans trying to hunt down Mr. Chuffy and Mr. Chuffy himself, who also has three finger puppets with him for no better reason than because his bits needs to be four player co-op as well. Any potential that might have been here for some kind of tense or dramatic character interplay is lost by the fact that Halo continues to seem like it was written by a castrated slug. The crime for which Mr. Chuffy is being hunted is so completely fucking weak that the two parties can barley summon the effort to be cross at each other when they do meet. Two of them have a token punch-up about midway through that has more the air of two blind people trying to politely get past each other in a crowded restaurant. It might have helped if it had been playable! But Halo 5's attitude seems to be that nothing ruins an action sequence faster than players.
  • The game opens with the four members of the B-Team having a huge spectacular punch-up in a war zone, at which point I went, "HOLY, WOW! Look at that! The stain on the wall behind my TV is exactly the same shape as New Caladonia! If only this overblown footage of people I don't know fighting other people I don't know for reasons unexplained could be as interesting." After all, I know the backstory for that stain. It was left by an errant jet of spunk after I watched Free Willy for the first time. [344]

Fallout 4[edit]

  • Bethesda RPGs are always deeply explorative, but never immersive. They make for some great screenshots, but the moment it has to start living and animating, you find it full of blank-eyed computer programs who struggle to navigate a six-lane highway without a carelessly-placed dog turd making their path-finding bugger up, and who have a weird habit of mysteriously vanishing in front of doors, which the doors always find so surprising that they momentarily forget how doors are supposed to work. [345]


Devil's Third[edit]

  • The quickest possible description for [Devil's Third] would be, "Poor Man's Metal Gear Solid," and I mean really poor; like the kind of Metal Gear Solid that was brewed from ketchup packets in a prison toilet. You know how Hideo Kojima's approach to including real world politics and history in his games is to read the first line of the Wikipedia page and then get bored and set a whale on fire? Devil's Third somehow does even less, and seems to have gotten its understanding of the world from what could be barked at it through the door-hatch as it was passed its morning bowl of gruel. How's this for -- let's charitably call it -- misguided: The main character is an inmate in Guantanamo Bay, which in this reality is an underground prison by way of Beyond Thunderdome populated exclusively by white, American Metallica enthusiasts.
  • Anyway. I should probably tell you what genre of game Devil's Third is. Well, you can't pin it down as simply as that, as it drunkenly meanders between several different rooms of the Gameplay House like it just got in from a bender and can't remember where it left its kebab. It's a hack-n-slash, shooter, military, horror, character drama, bad fashion-sense simulator making the classic mistake that a bit of everything creates some kind of sumptuous buffet, when here in the real world one does not put cola cubes, live bait, and Mini Babybels in the same pick 'n' mix bag. Clearly, not enough of us gave our lives in the trenches of Ride to Hell: Retribution for everyone to learn that a brawler and a shooter don't get along in the same space. [346]

The Witness & Bombshell[edit]

  • The Witness is a new game by Jonathan Blow. Ironically, it sucks! Mneh-eh-eh-eh-obnoxious-laugh!
  • "Awww, the mean ol' puzzles hurt Yahtzee-Boo-Boo's fragile little gamey-brainy-wain. Perhaps you'd be more suited to the kind of puzzle where you only draw straight lines connecting a shotgun barrel to a foreign insurgent's left testicle." HEY! Twat-Finder General! I solved the puzzles. I just wasn't having fun doing so. I completed the whole island, turned on all the laser beams, opened up the mountain to what I suspect was the final climactic area, and then the game threw fifteen more line-drawing puzzles at my face, and, frankly, fuck that! "Congratulations on getting through that bowl of dog food, player. Here's your reward: another helping of dog food."
  • "Hey, Yahtzee," said Steam towards the end of the week. "Do you remember that announcement trailer you saw a while back for a game called Bombshell?"
"I do indeed! It was one of the worst trailers I've ever seen. I think they made it by gluing poser models together with cold spunk!"
"Oh... well, the game's out now."

Gravity Rush[edit]

  • I did hear the game was alright, but I wasn't gonna buy a fuckin' PS Vita to play it. That'd be like adopting an incontinent chimpanzee 'cause you fancy the lady who comes 'round to change his nappies. Thankfully, a remastered version of Gravity Rush came out last week for the PS 4, which I very much appreciate, because I'm sick of all this "mad people" privilege in modern society; they get all these exclusive games, they hog all the fun medications, and there seems to be a whole bunch of them running for president at the moment. [348]

XCOM 2[edit]

  • Twenty years have passed since the last game, the Earth has come under the control of an oppressive alien regime fronted by a dorky human collaborator, and when the silent protagonist gets released from suspended animation the resistance can finally get started. Because no one was willing to get off their ass and defend themselves without the presence of this one gormless mute. But enough about the plot of Half-Life 2; let's talk about XCOM 2 instead. [349]

Firewatch & Layers of Fear[edit]

  • As for Layers of Fear, like P.T., it's not much more than a showcase of spooky set pieces. But P.T. never claimed to be a complete game! Makes me think of Evil Within: you try to make an entire game out of a delusional nightmare sequence, and it gets boring 'cause it never lets up, and the nightmare becomes the norm. Bid us to sit down and pull the chair away as we do so, but don't keep doing it; do it once, then apologize, let us sit for a while, wait 'til we're calm, then throw spiders at our face and burn the house down! [350]

Far Cry Primal[edit]

  • You're in the wrong place if you're looking for an engaging plot, or indeed any plot. You might think the shit I described so far constitutes a plot, but you’d be wrong. The killer sabertooth tiger that sparks off the adventure we kill later on as one of the big hunt missions without even much prominence. I ousted both the rival tribes, who, I'll just reiterate, we aren't given much reason to oppose except that they'd also quite like to survive the winter. But the game still didn't end! This is the game that Ubisoft's sandboxes have been tacitly threatening to turn into for quite some time now: One where all sense of structural progress is kept as vague as possible for want of turning the game into a platform for a series of disconnected events and repetitive challenges, I suspect because it's easier for the inevitable fucking DLC to slot into like a bloodstained erection. But you know what, I'm with you, Ubisoft. Who needs some uppity creative trying to dictate to me how to experience their creation? I mean, where did the creators of Breaking Bad get off telling me I should watch season one before season two?! Oh, because I quote "won't understand what's going on?" You don't know me! And who does this Shakespeare motherfucker think he is, putting the pages in numbered order?! I am the master of my domain, I choose to shuffle them all up and read the text from right to left! [351]

Stardew Valley and Superhot[edit]

  • Stardew Valley is a retro-style farming simulator recently released on Steam that's somewhat reminiscent of Harvest Moon. Oh, sorry, I read that wrong. Stardew Valley is Harvest Moon. It murdered Harvest Moon, stole Harvest Moon's skin, and befriended Harvest Moon's parents under the guise of consoling them in their hour of grief.
  • The plot is, we play a big nerd sitting in front of a computer playing games (Whoa, slow down, Superhot! Give me a chance to get into character!), who gets sent the hot new game by their online friend, and the barriers between game and reality start to break down as a mysterious force within the game begins to mess with you, in a rather weak-sauce and desperate manner. "Ha-ha-ha! We're in control now! You cannot escape! Press ESCape and see what happens!" Could I just play the next combat mission, please? "Hit escape, you prick!" All right, fine. "Ha-ha-ha! It didn't work! As cat with mouse, I toy with thee! Now I'm going to make you quit the game and restart it again! What now, bitch!?" I dunno; maybe I'll get some work done. "Wait! Come back!!"

Tom Clancy's The Division[edit]

  • Whenever a new Tom Clancy game comes out, I always have to double-check his Wikipedia page to make sure he's still dead. He's prolific for a corpse!
  • We are a member of a secret government agency called "The Division", that consists of agents secretly inserted throughout the general population for... no particular reason, now being activated to go into ruined Manhattan and jolly well sort it out! 'Cause it turns out, Wayne LaPierre was right all along: the only thing that can stop a bad roving pack of murderous thugs is a good roving pack of murderous thugs. So let me see if I've got this straight, the corpse of Tom Clancy: We're a member of the secret police under no official scrutiny or accountability, and our job is to go into an area of civil unrest and murder dissenting citizens without trial, and it's not set in Stalinist Russia? "Now we can take these back to the people!" said my earpiece friend after a supply recovering mission. Sorry, which people were those again? Presumably not the people in whose corpses I now stand knee-deep? Oh right, you meant the "real" people; the ones that bowed and scraped when the government assassination squad showed up. See, the premise would have worked perfectly well if we'd just been some random citizen doing our bit to take back the city, Charles Bronson style, baby! The only thing the secret police thing adds is to make us less relatable and give hard-ons to the paranoid authoritarian lot, who want to believe that the government will finally sort out those intimidating young people who stand around outside their house talking loudly.
  • If you ask me, the overt RPG mechanics make the game even more frighteningly tone-deaf. I mean, there are moments when certain characters beam down from Planet Sensible and call out the whole "unaccountable secret police" thing, and the game does present it like he's making a valid point. But then the cutscene ends and we go straight back to "Oh boy, time to fight some Level 20 disenfranchised citizens! Watch out for the elite enemies, they get more health from being extra disenfranchised!" The tone's all over the place. One moment you find an audio log of someone using the mummified corpses of their children to get the campfire started, the next you're talking to one of those wacky section commanders who all have a single hilarious personality quirk, like they keep talking about their TV career or how they used to work at the zoo jerking off polar bears. It's a big fat indicator that the game had nine different writers who spent the whole dev cycle locked in different toilet cubicles. [352]

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End[edit]

  • Uncharted 4 is very decisively the final game in the series about exploring marvelous lost cities in many exotic international locations, while controlling an insufferable, murdering pillock whose dialogue is ten percent smug quips and ninety percent exertion noises. And Uncharted 4 has concluded that the insufferable pillock is the part we're invested in. I feel this is making the same mistake as the new Tomb Raiders, trying to focus on the protagonist of the adventure story rather than the adventuring part. Claim to be invested in Laura Croft's character all you like, but you know you'd rather watch her outrunning an avalanche than talking earnestly about her commitment issues. I mean, strip the adventure out of Uncharted 4 and it's just "People With No Idea How to Communicate With Each Other: The Game"! I know that's kinda the point when Nathan Drake creates a rift with his wife, by not telling her he is going on an adventure, but towards the end when they are together again and are having a big reconnecting scene, these people who've been married for years still can't fucking communicate! All they do is quip and talk into their shoes; it makes me fucking cringe! I want to step in, shove them aside, and do the dialogue myself with sock puppets. If you dropped a Shakespearian character into the Uncharted universe, they would stand out like a neon-pink Johnny in a cucumber patch: Come join me now/ ye gentles all/ and crouch behind/ yon chest-high wall!
  • You're out of luck if you're not interested in Nathan Drake as a person and would rather get on with the action and adventure part of the action adventure, cause before things kick off you've got two flashback chapters to get through and then a chapter in which Nathan Drake bums around the house being mildly frustrated. You know what though, I talk shit, but I was actually starting to like the bastard during that whole segment. I wanna see more of the boring, suburban life of the ex-douchebag adventurer; it's like Han Solo getting dropped into the middle of an Alan Bennett production.
  • I can't get up [Uncharted 4]'s ass too much, 'cause I know this is the kind of game I miss when I'm having to play shit like The Division and other games that one should be very strongly advised not to play prior to operating heavy machinery. I couldn't call Uncharted "boring", but it has now done all it can do, in which case: well done for ending it. And that's pretty conclusively ended, 'cause it's got the kind of epilogue you can't roll back from without a time machine or, more realistically, a particularly exorbitant check from Sony. [353]

Mirror's Edge Catalyst[edit]

  • The evil corporations are brewing an evil corporate scheme, and we can only hope that it's a scheme that can foiled by doing parkour at it. Yes, Mirror's Edge is a First Person Parkour-Em-Up, and the plot runs into the recurring issue that there are only so many situations that running somewhere very fast can assist with. The game's missions have many varied story reasons behind them, but in practical terms most of them are completed by running up to the right computer and mashing our hand on the screen. There's a memorable mission when Faith is working with the Resistance as they set out to kidnap some evil corporate type, a fairly significant development that drives most of what remains of the plot. But since at no point in the process of kidnapping someone does parkour become necessary, the whole thing takes place off-screen with Faith tasked to instead, open-quotes, "clear the path" by — you guessed it! — following a parkour path to a series of computers and mashing her hand on each screen. You get to listen to the kidnapping through your earpiece, as you gaze heavenwards and dream about what it would be like to be the main character of this story. [354]

Inside and Shadow of The Beast[edit]

  • ...For a moment this week, the spirit of Summer of Arcade returned when the Xbone coughed up a spiritual successor to Limbo, the depressed self-harming beach babe of the 2010 frolics. So let's take a look inside... Er, sorry, I meant to say: Let's take a look at Inside. And that's going straight on to my list of game titles that are needlessly awkward to Google, alongside Fuse and Wet and Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, which is very awkward to Google if your girlfriend ever looks at your search history. Inside opens with a small child lost in a dark forest, and you are given the implied instruction to keep moving right until something tells you to stop. Nothing wrong with having a comfort zone, of course, but one could be forgiven for thinking at first glance that Playdead Studios have merely slapped a sporty red top on to the protagonist of Limbo and left it at that. It's an atmospheric puzzle/platformer of the child-lost-in-scary-world genre that remains even after all these years the fast track to indie acclaim. You have a "jump" button, and a "pull things" button, and you will die like a Game of Thrones supporting actor demanding a salary increase. But while the similarity to Limbo remains stark, things feel a little different when you start getting chased by dogs and scary men with flashlights, and we discover there's slightly more of a plot going on inside... I mean in Ins... Oh, fuck it! I'm just going to call it "Thatcher's Britain" from now on, all right?
  • ...So it's a perfectly sound idea to try the recipe again with maybe one less cup of diarrhea and one more cup of God of War. And so, in Shadow of The Beast, we are the titular beast who resembles a purple dude wearing a Pokémon on his head. We were created as a living weapon by an evil sorcerer, we break free of their control, and proceed to murder our way through the sorcerer's minions to take up our list of grievances with the big baddie. So far, so good. Or rather, so far so God. Of War. Where the game tries to evoke the game that inspired it is in the combat, which is very much in the spirit of, "Keep pressing the 'punch' button." Enemies approach in single file from in front and back, and most of them can be instant-killed with one hit. What's the word for this strange feeling inside me, this cozy feeling of warmth and familiarity, that makes me feel like I'm in precisely the place where I'm most comfortable? Oh! I remember: Hatred. I hate this combat system. [355]

The Technomancer[edit]

  • Once the graduation's over, Zach starts work as a peace officer working with the evil ruling authority. So while I was at that point about as engaged as a dad chaperoning his daughter to a One Direction concert, I figured I was obliged to at least play as far as the bit where we get framed and the sinister authority turns against us, which anyone with the majority of their brain still inside their skull could see coming. Any game in which you start as a member of a sinister authority who interacts with poor people and suspiciously attractive revolutionaries will almost certainly contrive you to be no longer a member of the sinister authority before the second act, with the exception of modern warfare shooters, where you usually stay in the sinister authority and French-kiss assault rifles for six hours. [356]

I Am Setsuna[edit]

  • I'd like to take a moment to draw your attention to one of the user-defined tags that was attached to this game on Steam: "Story Rich." I take slight issue with it, because you don't get "Story Rich" just from mugging Final Fantasy X in an alley-way and nicking their wallet; Final Fantasy X itself is only story rich in Zimbabwean Dollars. Thankfully, I Am Setsuna only nicks the pilgrimage plot-device and not the rest of Final Fantasy X's plot, and the player character, as far as I know, isn't a ghost-footballer from the future.
  • Which brings me to the second user tag I want to bring up: "Female Protagonist", an outright stinking lie because the player character is a mercenary who becomes Setsuna's guardian. Setsuna's the important one, yes, and you can rearrange the party to put Setsuna in the vanguard if you feel you need a human shield, but it's still the mercenary whose dialogue we choose, when we make the recurring vital decision between agreeing with Setsuna or slightly sarcastically agreeing with Setsuna. Perhaps there's an argument to be made that the playable character needn't necessarily be the protagonist of the story, but if I'm honest I don't want Setsuna to be the protagonist because she's wetter than a fishing trip to Seattle.
  • Setsuna's so fucking sweet and forgiving she gives me ice cream headache, but there's a point where we go beyond naively trusting into the realms of mental handicap; when she insists on you joining her party the only thing she knows about you is that you're a hired killer, specifically hired to kill her. "Oh player-san, I feel so comfortable around your upraised dagger and coppery stench of blood money." I made myself laugh again by imagining Setsuna meeting a rabid grizzly bear. "Oh, I just know there's goodness in your heart, Mr. Tufty." RAWR! MAUL! MAUL! [357]


  • Quake was the last collaboration between Id Software's two Johns, Romero and Carmack, before Romero went off to make Daikatana out of mousetraps and semen and Carmack proceeded to craft Quake 2 out of stale Weetabix and paste. Quake 1 finds the happy medium and illustrates why they kinda needed each other. That lightning gun that murders you if you use it in water definitely smells of Romero, but at least there's some imagination on display. The colour scheme and repetitive levels were probably scraped up from the Carmack tarmac, but the gameplay is characteristically solid. I like that every monster is clearly distinct - from each other, I mean, if not from the background since everything looks like it just dropped out of a sewage worker's nose - and all have a different role in life. The knight harasses you in tight spaces and the fiend harasses you in the open, there's the floating scrag, whose job is the molest you in those troublesome hard-to-reach places, and then there's the ogre, whose job is to GET FUCKED! You think you're so great sitting up there spamming grenades with impossible to predict bounce trajectories, let's see who has the last laugh after I've quick saved another seven or eight hundred times!
  • As one of the first fully 3D FPSes, it's fun to look at Quake as part of gaming's collective learning process. "Mouselook? Why on earth would you want that on all the time? How often will people want to look away from the horizon, I mean honestly?" But Quake 1 was a pioneer in more than just the technical field. It's probably one of the first retro shooters to be entirely consistent in tone. A slightly laughable tone, I mean, this is a game that gives all its levels names like, "THE TOWER OF DESPAIR" and the map list reads like the first album from a high school goth metal band, but compare that to Duke Nukem 3D where pop culture references and monsters going to the toilet are right alongside the captured, violated women begging for death. Quake represents PC games maturing out of the in-jokey fucking about and into awkward, angsty pubescence, for better or worse. Later it would go off to college in Half-Life, join the military for Call of Duty, and get all its arms and legs blown off in time for Gears of War. [358]

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided[edit]

  • In the aftermath of the climax of the previous game, when someone drove all the mechanically augmented humans kill-crazy by doing the equivalent of posting an honest review of the new Ghostbusters on the Internet, humanity is reeling from the attack and the augmented humans are regarded with fear and suspicion on the off-chance that something might flip the crazy murderer switch again at any moment. So welcome to Episode 2 of the Clumsiest Racism Analogy in All of Speculative Fiction. You can't split humanity into augmented and not-augmented because having oven-hobs instead of nipples is not a trait unique to specific families (unless babies are having their legs snapped off as they emerge from the womb and replaced with shelf brackets) to say nothing of the fact that you can't make the "few bad apples" argument if literally every augmented person went off their hydraulic cyber-trolleys and a certain amount of fear might be justified if no one knows that the insane murderer switch isn't still lying around somewhere for some family dog to accidentally trip while rubbing his ass on the carpet. Hey, remember how in the original Deus Ex augmented humans were a pretty small minority and no one made much of a fuss about them because hey, turns out a bloke with JCBs lodged in his armpits is a useful thing to have in peace-keeping force or when some furniture needs assembling and that most of the conflict in the setting of that game was rooted in the divide between rich and poor and insidious population control orchestrated by corporate interests and the media? "Oh, no! Such themes would be completely irrelevant in the current climate, especially since triple-A game publishers haven't finished paying all the installments on their nuclear-equipped supervillain bunker on the moon. Let's just make it all about the people putting sandwich toasters in their kneecaps." [359]

Metroid Prime: Federation Force[edit]

  • Who the fuck turns to the 3DS for their online multiplayer-focused games?! I'd nominate a more suitable platform, but my list basically starts with "All of them!"
  • I have formulated a theory. From the things we hear in the missing briefings about how Samus Aran has been running around offscreen being the best at everything, Federation Force feels like The Darkness II-style co-op campaign running in parallel to the plot of the main single player campaign that isn't actually there. So maybe there was an actual Metroid Prime 3DS game being developed at some point that had the shitty multiplayer mode that must exist as part of the game industry's pact with Satan, but resources ran thin and something had to be cut out, so they cut the single player campaign because the crazy-pills salesman came around that morning giving out free samples. And then someone said, "Wait, people will be annoyed about this decision." And their boss popped another crazy pill and said, "You're right! We'd better put in a soccer mini-game to mollify them. After all, the kind of fanboys who wasted their tender years learning to speedrun Metroid on the slim promise of pixel tittie are also notoriously keen on team sports." [360]

Capcom Five[edit]

  • [Resident Evil 4] alone may well have saved the GameCube, if it had been an exclusive! But as we all know that turned into a pretty big "if". So, here's a smaller "if": Maybe everything would have still been lovely for Nintendo if Capcom had kept their mouth shut and hadn't announced the PS2 port two months before the GameCube release. Consequently, Resident Evil 4 sold 1.6 million on the GameCube and 2 million on the PS2; what should have been the laying down of a winning hand became the laying of a cruel fist upon the goolies.
  • The end result of the Capcom Five was that, what should have been a boost for the GameCube, turned into one broadcast after another that Capcom had zero faith in the console, and Nintendo wouldn't forget. In fact, rumour has it that the whole debacle is why there weren't any Capcom characters in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And if it's true, then that's the most pathetic attempt at revenge I've ever heard of! It's like telling the bloke who murdered your family and stole all your money that you've expelled him from your best friends' tree-house club. [361]

Mafia III[edit]

  • ...The game opens with a very Assassin's Creed-esque disclaimer to the effect of: "A lot of people are going to be saying very horrible racist things in this game, but please understand we had to put all that in to accurately bring the era to life. And when you think about it, not putting it in would've been even more racist. Right, now that we've gotten that out of the way: Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, coon, coon, spic!" I get that the 60's Deep South literally was more cartoonishly bigoted than a 2016 presidential candidate, but having granted themselves the all-clear to say the "N-Word", I suspect that the writer started slightly getting off on doing so. I'm not one to judge; I'm going to say the word "retard" right now for literally no reason. But don't get all hand-wringingly sanctimonious about it when your game also contains Italian gangsters with tommy-guns who talk like they're never more than three wise-cracks away from bursting into a song from Bugsy Malone!
  • By the end of the game, I was struggling to remember why we were supposed to hate the main bad guy. He killed about 0.01% of the people we've killed and had been running a bunch of naughty crime rackets (which we've proceeded to take over and not change in any way), but he also had an overarching, sinister, diabolical scheme! ...To set up a legitimate business, leave the criminal life behind, and create a future for his children. Oh, hang on, he does say "nigger" once or twice. Well, okay then, say no more: Let's drive his harmless, old ass to suicide to show how much more enlightened we are these days! [362]

Battlefield 1[edit]

  • World War I was a conflict without clear heroes or villains; just millions upon millions of young men being sent to tragic, pointless deaths in the name of nothing but an international game of political bum-bouncing, so there'll need to be a thoughtful, more morally complex approach to the storytelling. "What was that?" cries Battlefield 1 again. "Sorry, we were busy making a story campaign about rugged, English-speaking fancy-boys squinting heroically into the middle distance as they mow down dastardly, jabbering Krauts by the hundreds!" I wouldn't harp, but there's this whole bit in the introduction where an American and a German soldier lock gaze over a field strewn with bodies, and both lower their weapons in recognition of their inner humanity that can never be erased by a system that sees them as naught but expendable cogs; and then, five minutes later, it's back to "Phwor! Massacring expendable cogs sure is fun, 'eh lads?!" Even if you're playing as the German side of the multiplayer, the bloke on the briefing menu talks with zat very smug and efil German foice, ve vill punish zese stoopid Amerikan Kowboys for ze Glory of ze Kaiser! Mmmmmm... [363]

Final Fantasy XV[edit]

  • It must be said, though, that Anal Man-tasy XV or older is indeed distinct from its predecessors, in that I mostly understood what the fuck was going on. It's a nice straight-forward plot for once: We are Noctis, a prince who wears wellington boots and took his name from the instructional sign on the front door of the school for the mentally slow, off to get married to secure peace between kingdoms before a giant fruitcake-sized dump is dropped onto events when the The Empire invade our homeland. I wonder if these evil constantly expanding superpower nations have ever considered the PR boost they'd get from NOT calling themselves The Empire. I mean, the Federation from Star Trek does basically the same thing but everyone likes them because they're called the Federation and brush their teeth once in a while. [364]

The Last Guardian[edit]

  • Oh man, this is the end of an era. It's only Half-Life 3 left in the Infinitely Prolonged Sense of Vague Disappointment bucket. And after that, the industry's going to have to mishandle a whole batch of new long-term projects to tease us with, and that's just not gonna happen until hype for triple-A games becomes worth giving much of a shit about again. The Last Guardian was announced nine tongue-spunking years ago. An entire tonsil-jizzing generation of consoles has passed between it and its predecessor Shadow of The Colossus.
  • [on final end credits card:] Remember to spay and neuter your giant cryptofauna. [365]

Top 5 Games of 2016[edit]

  • I suppose the fact that the very first game I reviewed went straight into the bottom five should have been read as a bad omen for the year, more so than that fucking gorilla, anyway. Devil's Third was monumentally stupid and apparently designed by a schizophrenic with vibrators for thumbs, but it shall only skate at the edges of the bottom five for at least being weird enough to briefly distract one from, say, a recent bereavement or loss of limb.
  • "No Man's Sky"? More like "No Game"! "...That wasn't your strongest attempt at wordplay, Yahtz." No worries, I'll just patch something better in later. [366]


Let It Die[edit]

  • Let It Die kicks off with a skateboarding grim reaper wearing funky sunglasses, which is an image that leaps straight off the front cover of The Complete Dullard's Guide to Creativity. See, it's a traditionally grim thing acting in a lively and light-hearted way. That's almost as clever as putting a hat on a dog. "Shit on a midshipman's biscuit! A dog in a hat?! DOGS DON'T WEAR HATS! I hope the government are keeping a watchful eye on this dangerous subversive."
  • The game also assigns more than one command to some buttons like it's passive-aggressively trying to get them married. You throw your current inventory item by touching the trackpad, and eat it by touching the trackpad in a subtly different way. And I'm sure you can imagine there is very little overlap between "Things you want to throw at people" and "Things you want to eat;" the list starts and ends with, "custard pies," and there aren't a whole lot of custard pies in the Tower of Barbs. You also cycle your inventory by touching the trackpad in a third subtly different way. Blimey! This is like trying to seduce your lady friend in a darkened cinema, and discovering that all along you were fingering her bacon sandwich.
  • After my best character died and I had no continues, I needed to pay in-game money to resurrect him instead, for you see, permadeath is only a thing that poor people have to worry about. But to make that money, I had to grind with my second best avatar. But his stats were lower and I got him killed as well. So I had to grind up with my third best to bring him back so I could continue grinding up to bring my best one back. And that's when I knew I had to get out before I got caught in an inescapable vortex of failure. I learned that lesson from the Hillary Clinton campaign. [367]

Dead Rising 4[edit]

  • The first thing you need to know is that Dead Rising 4 doesn't have a fixed time limit or mission deadlines. You remember, that thing that every Dead Rising has and what makes them interesting, and is as much a part of Dead Rising as the sense of betrayal is part of getting kicked in the balls by your beloved horse! What it does have is a linear sequence of missions that will still be waiting for you, even if you sit down in the mud outside and make daisy-chains for eleven hours. You remember, the way every bloody sandbox game works. Dead Rising has taken the part of innovation that entails doing the shit that everyone else does; which is innovative in the same sense that the grey goo scenario is innovative. "Oh, wow! My legs have been harvested by a ravenous, unstoppable nano-swarm! This will add an intriguing new twist to the upcoming line-dancing tournament!" I shouldn't have to explain that the time limits were there to add a unique challenge! Yes, it could occasionally get in the way of trying on hilarious barbecue aprons and tricycling down the escalator, but isn't that cathartic fun all the more satisfying when we know we've parceled our time to allow for a quick barbecue apron session in between making progress and not just cocking about?
  • Now, doing nothing but comparing Dead Rising 4 to its predecessors would be a stubborn, churlish, and counterproductive thing to do; so let's keep doing it! Hey, remember how the boss-fights with psychos used to be elaborate and interesting with colourful characters and unique attacks? Well, instead of that, now you fight generic dudes in silly outfits with slightly longer health bars. Another wonderful "innovation" to the format! "Oh, look, the grey goo scenario has eaten my arms now as well! What a perfect opportunity to learn how to balance things on my nose!" Alright, fine! Dead Rising 4 introduces a couple of new mechanics. You can equip powered armour in order to continue doing the same zombie-splattering you've been doing all along, except with slightly more defense. And there are stealth mechanics now, and — holy shit — I just thought of another word that doesn't belong anywhere near Dead Rising! Stealth is for characters who aren't carrying around three dynamite crossbows and a giant, acid-spewing hammer, thank you very much! To me, stealth mode was just a "walk obnoxiously slowly" button that I only ever pressed because I forgot that it wasn't the sprint. [368]

Resident Evil 7[edit]

  • Our protagonist, Ethan Winters, drives to a scary place in the middle of nowhere because his wife, who's been gone for three years, sends him a message, asking him to— Hey, wait a minute! That's just Silent Hill 2! Fortunately, RE7 swiftly differentiates itself because, while James Sunderland gets drawn into a masterfully crafted atmosphere of dreadful symbolism, Ethan Winters gets a hand chainsawed off. Well, that's much more expedient! He finds himself at the mercy of a family of psychotic, super-powered Republicans who wants to make Ethan's bodily integrity great again, by sawing more bits off of it. Whoops! Bit political, that; better insult the other side to retain balance! In contrast to previous Resident Evil protagonists, Ethan is a normal dude with all the fighting skill of a Democratic Party election campaign. Although, having said that, he bounces back from traumatic injuries remarkably quick. Stuff gets shoved through his hand so often, he should start using the hole to store his biros and business cards. [369]

For Honor[edit]

  • Ah, the time-honoured playground game of "Who-Would-Win-in-a-Fight-Between..." So many youthful friendships abandoned to hair-pulling dirt wrestles over whether or not the Enterprise-D could take the Death Star in a straight fight. And then those same kids grow up nursing resentments, become video game developers, and create things like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, in which we learn that, yes, Sub-Zero could beat up Superman, if they're in an incredibly-contrived situation that makes things remotely fair and if Superman is being controlled by your mum. Or they create those pseudo-science TV shows like Deadliest Warrior, in which we learn that, yes, obviously a ninja would win against a pirate, because a ninja is a trained assassin and a pirate is a drunk sailor with an at-best slightly intimidating beard.
  • And it's the spirit of Deadliest Warrior that brings us Ubisoft's latest multiplayer-focused Skinner box, Foreigner, so called because it's about how people of different races and creeds will never ever get along under any circumstances. Specifically, it concerns a permanent three-way conflict between medieval knights, medieval Vikings, and, uh... Japanese samurai, which, from a geographical perspective, is kind of like King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans showing up to join in the Falklands Conflict; whatever, it's a fantasy. Three communities of knights, Vikings, and samurai all live within five minutes' drive of each other, and they smack the shit out of their neighbours all day because it's easier than learning the Norwegian for "Stop kicking your ball over my fence!" [370]

Horizon Zero Dawn[edit]

  • Horizy Zozy Dozy is the game you're probably more familiar with as, "That thing with robot dinosaurs and the archer girl from that one Disney film." In a post-post-post-apocalyptic future, really weirdly ethnically diverse tribes of future humanity live a subsistence lifestyle in the overgrown ruins of their forebears, and all knowledge of their history has become shrouded in myth. There are also robot dinosaurs for some reason. Although all of this does get eventually explained by the main plot, including the weirdly ethnically diverse thing. There was definitely a lot of thought put into the story of this one, which is gratifying. I do slightly get the sense that the explanation for robot dinosaurs was rather blatantly working backwards from, "Let's have robot dinosaurs, because they kick arse!" but I'm not complaining!
  • ...Horizontal Morning doesn't have very many original ideas in its head, but it admirably takes time out to justify the tropes it falls back on — like how it's subtly established that Aloy growing up as a shunned outcast is why she does the usual solo protagonist thing of constantly mumbling exposition to herself, like the homeless nutter she technically is! [371]

Nier: Automata[edit]

  • The first Nier pulled the old Planet of the Apes gambit, where the fantasy world turns out to be the post-apocalyptic sci-fi future, and now Nier: Automata is set even further into the future, when things have come back around to being sci-fi again. The main characters are human-like androids fighting a seemingly endless war to retake the ruined Earth from an army of primitive but highly numerous machines that all seem to be modelled on women's sanitary products. The androids are doing this on behalf of humanity, whom we never see, but we're assured they're all living on a secret colony on the Moon that we can't go to and from which we only hear general announcements that all sound suspiciously pre-recorded. Doesn't quite take Alfred Hitchcock to see where that's going, does it? But ere you smite me with downvotes for the looseness of my spoiler-riddled tongue, the game's not actually about that. What it's about is the purpose of being, and what it is that separates a machine from a human, anyway. The story begins when some of the machines start to display human-like behaviour and emotions, in contrast to the androids, who were instructed to remain emotionless, despite having been programmed with emotions, possibly as a prank.
  • ...The main character of this game about existentialism is 2B — 2B as in, "Or not to be," you see; it's not just a kind of pencil. 2B is one of several mostly identical female android warriors (or "gynoid" warriors; thank you, pedantry corner) who fight the machines with katanas and robot suits and dress up in french maid outfits. Thank Christ for that! I might have forgotten this was a Japanese game for two seconds and stopped loading my mouth with Pocky. [372]

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands[edit]

  • I knew [Ghost Recon Wildlands] was yet another Ubisoft Sandbox Game, and therefore another round of blandly visiting icons on maps like an overworked Uber driver, but I didn't expect it to be the Ubisoft Sandbox Game; the ultimate archetype at long last.
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands is a sandbox-shooter reminiscent of— Oh, blimey, that rabbit hole never ends! It might be quicker to list the games Ghost Recon Wildlands isn't reminiscent of. Well, it's not in the least bit like Jet Set Willy, because at no point do you have to travel down a toilet, except in, you know, the metaphorical sense. The first comparison that comes to mind is The Division, as both are flying the "Tom Clancy" flag and between the two we now have quite an insight into Tom Clancy's view of the world; or rather the view of the world of whatever creative director is currently holding up Tom Clancy's disinterred head on a stick. The message is: "Have another cheeseburger, complacent subjects, for the government has secretly inserted packs of trained killers into all the world's populations, and the moment our way of life is kinda, sorta, indirectly threatened they are ready to step up and start shooting the disenfranchised." Meanwhile, in the real world, the government can barely manage secretly inserting the President's knob into an intern! But I digress.

Mass Effect: Andromeda[edit]

  • And so in the spirit of exploration, our hero travels to strange new worlds, seeks out new civilizations, and offers to do their laundry. Let me ask you something: if an alien came down from space and walked among us as ambassador to beyond the furthest stars, would it ever occur to you to call him over and ask if he wouldn't mind bobbing down the shops to run you a couple of errands? Maybe that's partly why BioWare games always speed down the uncanny valley like a herd of autistic wildebeest. It's not just that all the characters look and act like department store dummies with snap-on plastic hairdos; the game feels like it was written by one, as well. Ryder finds himself thrust into the role of head pioneer and the promotion requires him to have part of his brain cut out and an AI put in that talks to him inside his head, does all the difficult adding up, and occasionally fucks around with his bodily functions. He takes this in his stride and reacts with bemusement when other people think that that's slightly fucked up. It does all rather come across as a plot written by someone who learned about human emotion from children's pop-up books.
  • The core gameplay of an RPG can also be character building: Making your character fit a role, a role that you are playing, as it were. But just about the only prior Mass Effect mechanic that has been slung in the bin is all that Paragon/Renegade business, and now, whether we respond to each dialogue with wit, with intelligence, with aggression, or like we've pounded ourselves between the eyes with a mixture of Botox and horse tranquillizer (trick question; that's every response) doesn't seem to matter one chafed mosquito nipple.
  • After the last game was popularly considered to have a worse conclusion than the fucking 1930's, I felt duty-bound to power through the story end in the limited time I had available; the result was a rather tepid "The Adventure Continues!" affair, but what's important is that, having skipped a large degree of the side stuff, there were three entire planet sandboxes I hadn't so much as set foot in! So what the hell is all this tedious side-bollocks for if I can do in the final boss perfectly comfortably without it?! To see the grateful looks on the quest-givers' faces? It's a BioWare game! They'd make the same face if I pissed on their shoes!


  • Twenty years ago, before real life started to feel like a late-night sitcom that got all renewed past the point any of the writers gave a shit about it and is now seeing what it can get away with, there existed the "mascot platformer", a staple of that weird transitionary period between 2D and 3D graphics when we hadn't quite internalized the fact that platforming is enhanced by 3D gameplay the same way bobbing for apples is enhanced when you've got a bear trap stuck on your head, and when most protagonists were big-headed cartoon mascots because the attempts at realistic characters looked like used toilet paper origami. A more innocent time; certainly a more colourful time before graphics improved and every protagonist became a short, brown-haired, white, middle-class dude, which would only serve as a mascot for the Kansas City Dullards.

Persona 5[edit]

  • The secondary portion of the game, the high school life simulator bit, will also infuriate the psychotic completionists, because you've got five stats to keep digging over and you've got all these friends and party members you need to spend time with to improve your Personas in their combat skills. But the rub is that most of your limited number of days only have two time slots, daytime and evening, and you can only do one thing in each slot. Can't leave with more than one friend at a time or just for an hour at lunch, no, because apparently, we exclusively befriend insecure twerps who couldn't be any needier if they were in a permanent vegetative state. And the game's also a little unintuitive about what constitutes time slot-filling activity; you can get the metro to the pawn shop, flog a bunch of loot from the last dungeon, take another metro to the bookshop in the red light district to buy a copy of Razzle, and no time will pass at all. But sit down at your desk to craft one fucking lock pick and there goes the fucking afternoon! And then sometimes the game goes into a prolonged story phase and several days and cutscenes will go by with no opportunity to do anything else, so if you've got rented DVDs due back, then you can piss up a chimney, Joe Titwank.
  • There's a comparison to be made with Mass Effect here — both games are about forming a Scooby Gang — but I like the Persona 5 Scooby Gang members because they're underdogs, they don't open up to you straight away, and they're expressive. They're not alleged Sci-Fi super-soldiers with the combat skills of a dead salmon, they don't blurt their entire character and backstory at you because you asked them to pass the salt, and they don't emote like the same dead salmon experiencing PTSD flashbacks.

Outlast 2[edit]

  • You are ace cameraman Blake Something-or-other, who comes with his wife to hillbilly murderer country to cover a story, and makes the rookie error of showing up in a helicopter, which, in video game intro sequences, hold together like a Jammie Dodger in the back pocket of a pair of jogging bottoms. So the inevitable happens, and he's got to rescue his wife from both a Christian death cult and a Pagan death cult that appear to be at odds, but seem to find plenty of common ground when it comes to doing horrible, horrible things to Blake's gormless ass. Again, maybe Resident Evil 7 ruined this with all that chainsaw-based overzealous manicure business, because I swear, Outlast 2 is trying to break the "horrible, inescapable torture in first-person" record. Fucking hell, it's like The Passion of the Christ: VR Edition!

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3[edit]

  • The game opens with a flashback to two brothers. The older: Brash, confident, and already enrolled in the military — the younger: more shy and troubled, and looking to the older with hero worship. Now, if you think you've guessed which of these brothers will be our underdog protagonist, then you've been misled by your basic storytelling instincts, you big stupid cunt. No, the protagonist is the older brother! And after jumping gleefully over about fifteen years of character development, we suddenly cut to the brothers on a mission to ghost warrior the bollocks off some fools, which ends with the younger brother being captured by some global supervillain group or other. We then jump forward again two years — what is this; the fucking summer Olympics? — when our hero, Mister North... I've honestly forgotten his first name; it was either "Jon" or "Rob", so lets just call him... "Oliver" — is deployed to Georgia searching for his brother, and finds himself up against a mysterious masked sniper conducting a reign of terror. Oh, goshington ballbags, I wonder who that'll turn out to be! Who will be behind that mask when we confront this person who snipes almost as well as we do, and seems to be interested in us personally? Will it be Whoopi Goldberg? Or Cardinal Richelieu? Charlie the Chipshop Man? Ooh, maybe it'll be the competent story writer who disappeared right before the game began!
  • "Hang on, Yahtzee! If the protagonist turned out to be a different brother than who you expected, that's a subversion of expectations! Isn't that a good thing?" It might have been, if the brother we got left with hadn't been an insufferable tosspot. I think his in-game character profile says it best: "North is a firm believer in America's role as World Police." Wait, what?! So our protagonist watched that Team America film, and didn't realize it was a satire?


  • I wonder how far they're willing to push this. I'm already having to call the sequel police every time they reboot an old game and not change the title, and now look: The first game to be named "Prey" isn't particularly old and, more to the point, is somewhere on the low end of "bugger all" to do with this new game called "Prey". Watch it, Bethesda! This is the kind of bullshit that brings down the sequel feds! Alright, both games are about alien invasions, but by that logic it might as well have been called "Space Invaders: Episode 973". This really goes to show how utterly allergic these bean-counting, creatively bankrupt loaves of chunky shite are to new ideas; they had a perfectly acceptable original IP, and still felt the need to slap whatever pre-existing name they could find clinging to the side of the rubbish chute.

Injustice 2[edit]

  • I think it is fair to say that the DC Comics Universe and its various adaptations could stand to take itself a touch less seriously. "Oh, it is easy to be an armchair cinematographer, isn't it?" snarks Johnny DC in reply. "You try getting in a cheery mood when your films need to break 400 million on opening weekend or your executives will have to take a pay cut and cause the collapse of the local pool-cleaning industry!" I'm just saying, Johnny DC, that Superman and Batman crying in the rain, smashing each other's faces in, and talking like pro-wrestlers with mouths full of cat-litter, might be drifting somewhat from the essence of those characters. That is to say; power fantasies for little boys who don't want to tidy their rooms.
  • Still, as I believe I said last time, the one-on-one fighting game and the superhero comics universe are a natural combo, as both are concerned with larger-than-life characters beating the snot out of each other for one incredibly contrived reason after another. The broad incredibly contrived reason running through the Injustice property is a falling-out between Batman and Superman over whether or not killing people is good. Batman takes the position that killing is the uncrossable line where all negotiation breaks down and vigilance gives way to tyranny, where Superman takes the position that "Wah, wah! I'm really sad and cross and I'm not gonna tidy my room, so there!"

The Surge[edit]

  • You see, what follows the prologue is a cinematic in which Warren gets all his new fancy cyber-bits drilled into his flesh, except they forgot the anesthetic, and he's awake and screaming the whole way through, as the camera zooms gratuitously in on the blood squirting out of his new shoulder-mounted shelf bracket. It's quite harrowing, and I'm not even sure what the point of it is. I'm sorry, The Surge; perhaps there's been a misunderstanding. I came here for some exciting sci-fi action, but you seem to be showing me cripple torture porn. "Alright, fine! Begrudge us a little fun. Bam! Now you're in a junk yard fighting robots. Go!" It's that abrupt! Maybe if Warren had interacted with another human being during the wheelchair prologue segment, we could have gotten a handle on some context. As it stands, for all we know, the torture porn cinematic and everything following could just be some kind of "How Not to Do It" occupational health and safety video they're making Warren watch. But this is another callback to Lords of the Fallen, isn't it, which also began with a pre-rendered intro cinematic that was largely cock-all to do with the rest of the game. So I guess this is Deck13's design philosophy: "Hey, do you mind watching this video we threw together for a laugh while we finish nailing bread-bins and bits of old pipe to the main character's armour?"
  • I've said this before, third-person games: Leave the right analog stick alone to its happy little world of controlling the camera. You force it out of its comfort zone, and it's just gonna piss on the bus seat and ruin the whole field trip. None of this was enough to bring out that hate I mentioned earlier. Frustration, yes, but frustration doesn't stop me from playing. It just means I'll need two Diazepam and a wank once I'm done. The hate only came when I was taking on the third boss. It's a big industrial machine with about nine things on it trying to kill you; fair enough. But for some turbo-cocking reason, every time you attack one, the game auto-targets it, leaving you staring blissfully into its eyes as its eight friends are winding up attacks where you can't see. Get past that, and I can start attacking the core. But if you target it... Fucking switches to a fixed camera, so I can barely see what I'm doing! What's got in to you, camera!? Is this about the pissing-on-the-bus-seat comment? Finally, after much frustration and about nine hundred attempts, I've gotten the core on the ropes and I'm moments from landing the final blow, whereupon I glitched through the floor and fall to my death. No! That's too much. That's gone right over the Tropic of Fuckabout on a JetSki full of dicks. I'm done! Fuck The Surge, fuck Deck13, fuck anyone who likes it. Blimey, that's filled my schedule out for the week.

E3 2017[edit]

  • In hardware news, Microsoft have updated Project Scorpio with a somehow even worse name: the Xbox One X. There's already two X's in "Xbox", you dozy gits; this name is starting to look like a defaced game of tic-tac-toe. And I feel bringing it out alongside the Xbox One S is practically inviting the "confused elderly relative on Christmas morning" nightmare scenario.
  • Old Man Nintendo had a better showing, although that "Mario vs. Rabbids" game makes you wonder if Ubisoft is trying to steal their pension checks. Fair play to them; Mario Odyssey needed a new angle, and it found one: they've done "Mario becomes a raccoon", and they've done "Mario becomes a cat", but they've never done "Mario becomes a tunnelling brain parasite". What is it about Mario Odyssey that screams Sonic 2006 at me? Must be the cartoon characters interacting with realistically-proportioned humans, which is always faintly sinister, like Christopher Lloyd's scenes in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.


  • It's a deliberate edification of retro-style game-play with a subtext of nudge-wink, self-aware irony, and it's published by Devolver Digital because of course it is! Even if it had tried to get published by something else DD would have burst in the window dressed as a highwayman and kidnapped it, because this is very much DD's shit. Devolver Digital breakfast every morning on a bowl of pixels and a tall glass of the piss it took out of something. [373]

Get Even[edit]

  • Get Even is an odd mish-mash of elements, the kind of game that can only be described with a sentence beginning with the words, "Sort of," and ending with the word, "thing." As in: Sort of stealth action-adventure thing. Or, sort of sci-fi psychological thriller thing. Or, I sort of pulled my trousers down to show you my thing. The protagonist is named — and you might want to hold a fishing net in front of you or something because, when you hear this, your eyes might just roll out of your head — Cole Black. He's a grizzled mercenary type bloke who sounds a bit like Sean Bean making out with a fat angry dog. He spectacularly fails to stop a teenage girl getting blown to bits and then wakes up in an abandoned asylum. (The world of videogames probably has special "Sorry to hear you woke up in an abandoned asylum" greetings cards; it happens so bloody often!) With the help of a mysterious voice, Cole must use a third-party VR helmet to explore his own buried memories and piece together the events leading up to him not saving a teenage girl from being blown to bits.
  • Oh yes, and then a prisoner begs me to release him. And a bit of text comes up to none-too-subtly inform me that My Actions Will Have Consequences. Of course they will! Walking across a room has consequences — the consequence is that I'm on the other side of the fucking room!

Hollow Knight and Dead Cells[edit]

  • Not only is Dead Cells in pixel art — which is slightly gross already, 'cause it makes everyone look like they've been fed through a chipping machine and reassembled — but the main character is a lump of snot on a corpse, which is what I call admirable commitment to the grossness doctrine. Well done, Dead Cells! Please don't touch me.
  • Dead Cells, if anything, seems to be trying to discourage meticulous exploration. There are doors to extra bonus areas that lock if you don't get to them fast enough. "Fuck you, door! Of course I couldn't get here in under three minutes. I passed by six tunnels on the way here and had to be extra certain that they all contained flashing red-clawed death!"

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy[edit]

  • Perhaps the relevant question is not how accurately the N. Sane Trilogy recreates the Crash Bandicoots of yore, but how well the Crash Bandicoots of yore hold up in this modern, spoiled age of quick-saves, auto-aiming, and online wikis providing access to an entire global network of big brothers to get past the hard bits for ya. [374]

Fifth Console Generation[edit]

  • The N64 had the power, the IP, and the good reputation; there was just one tiny little massive cargo container full of bat smegma sitting on the N64 railroad tracks, and it had the word "cartridges" along the side. Cartridges did have merits. They load fast and are sturdy enough to still work after you smack your brother with it for asking for their turn, but the same is true of an articulated truck, and you wouldn't pick up your dinner date in one. The age of the CD-ROM had come, which may well have been slower to load and stopped working if you used them as improvised weaponry. But in comparison, developing for cartridge was like chiseling the ones and zeros onto stone tablets, and third-party developers were turned off. Ultimately the third-party developers would be the king makers of this generation. Capcom gave their old pals Nintendo the cold shoulder and showed up to the Playstation's birthday party with Resident Evil. Squaresoft batted away Nintendo's attempt to hold hands so it could go behind the bikesheds with Sony and show them their knickers, aka Final Fantasy VII.
  • ...There were many factors leading to the Saturn's failure. Some blame the cancellation of its one and only Sonic game, Sonic X-treme, which would have been the 3D Sonic to counter Mario 64. And yes, I think it's a shame we didn't discover early on that Sonic and 3D meet the way the German invading infantry met the Siberian winter. Perhaps a lot of later unpleasantness could have been avoided. But if you asked me, banking on a console mascot is playing the game by old rules that the fifth generation was in the process of rewriting. Mascots were part of the world left behind, the one that would be compressed down into a little, comfortable nostalgic ball that Nintendo would wear on its head for the rest of fucking eternity, like a space helmet full of gummy bears.


  • Buckle up while I attempt to explain this: In an oppressive fantasy kingdom, literacy is banned, perhaps the most sensible response to the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey books, you (by which I mean the player character, not the greasy, unpleasant, serial masturbator watching this) are a scholar exiled to the wilderness below the civilized world who hooks up with a group of fellow exiles that need you to read a book they found that tells them about the secret rituals that have the power to free them from exile. For some reason, it turns out the rituals all involve going up against a similar group and competing to throw a ball into the other team's hole. If it seems like a rather contrived explanation for the three-on-three basketball thing, that's because it bloody well is! Oh, yes, and during your odyssey-cum-basketball tournament, you attract several more party members, each representing one of the sentient fantasy races in a case of what we academics call the traditional "Bioware Bro Buffet".
  • I wonder what the fucking target audience for this game could be. The overlap between people who like fantasy visual novels and people who like NBA Jam can't be the biggest niche in the world, but I stuck with it and after playing it all the way to the end, I think I'm prepared to say I like Pyre. Obviously I dropped the basketball difficulty to low 'cos obviously who gives a shit, but I should have remembered that Supergiant Games are pretty good at this whole interactive storytelling lark, and scratch my scrawny scrotum if I didn't genuinely didn't want to see what happened to these characters! We call it the "Bioware Bro Buffet", but between this and Persona 5, Bioware seem to be the worst at it. Again, I liked the Pyre Platter more than the Mass Effect Andromeda Burger King Kids Club, in spite of them only being still images that didn't make any effort to emote — or possibly because of.

Splatoon 2[edit]

  • As before there is a single player campaign, which looks like it was hitting all the same notes: hub-world, collect local equivalent of Mario star at the end of each level, profound sense of suffocatingly tedious repetition by the odd do-things-three-times boss-fight. I think it was the first boss that killed any interested I had in seeing the campaign through; it was a giant killer bakers oven containing murderous bread with angry eyes. I just don't see what it has to do with any of the established themes of the game, those being: ocean-going lifeforms and a slightly desperate air of 90's coolness. Octopi do not bake bread, nor could one picture Tony Hawk doing it. This, Nintendo, is why we don't design boss-fights right before lunch!

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice[edit]

  • What does work pretty well is the whole mechanic where a door won't open until you find a rune in the nearby environment by standing in a specific spot and looking at, say, a tree, a fencepost, and the post-mortem erection of a staggeringly well-endowed corpse so that they line up into a rune shape, That's a very fitting gameplay mechanic for the theme, because that's basically a sign of paranoia -- interpreting secret meanings and significance where none may truly exist, like when you hear a dog barking and take it as an instruction to gun down your neighbors (presumably given in a Scooby-Doo voice).
  • I died a bunch of other times, and actually came worryingly close to the limit. But that was from a very annoying section where you have to run from light to light, because hanging around in the dark too long makes you die of... erm... being extra-insane, somehow. Which is just as irritating a mechanic as it was when Metroid Prime 2 did it. I had no idea mental stability was solar-powered.

Mario + Rabbids[edit]

  • Nintendo, what the steaming cross-eyed fuck is this? I'm still trying to get my head around it. A crossover between Mario and Raving Rabbids using turn-based X-COM style combat? What is this, a fucking Mad Lib? Or did someone lose a bet? If only you'd won the beer pong tournament at the last game dev party, Sony would have had to develop a city management sim starring Crash Bandicoot and Pyramid Head. Look, I'm not ragging on you for doing something unexpected; I applaud that! If you only ever gave people what they asked for, every game would be an identical fucking multiplayer hero shooter with a range of unlockable nipple-tassels. But when you set out to partner up with Ubisoft, was Raving Rabbids honestly the best option to crossover with Mario? I mean the Assassin's Creed series is also frequently based around jumping on people and already has a bunch of comedy Italians in it. Tell me you couldn't picture it; Mario in a little Assassin-robe, jamming a wrist-spike in an unsuspecting Koopa-Troopa to make coins fly out?
  • There are eight playable squad members; Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi and Rabbid equivalents of each, and only three to a squad, so what if the player only uses Mario, Luigi and Peach the whole game? It wouldn't be Mario and Rabbids at all then, it would just be Mario murdering Rabbids, and we've been skating on thin ice with the racism thing ever since we gave Mario an outrageous comedy Italian accent. So the game flat out forces you to put at least one Rabbid character in your party. No explanation is offered, the game just greys out all the home-team Mushroom Kingdom lads if you've already got two, so if you want to team Luigi's long-range focus with Peach's short-range superiority, then you can eat feces fettuccine, my friend! This might be the first example of a gameplay mechanic introduced solely for the sake of the contractual obligations of its characters.

Destiny 2[edit]

  • Destiny 2 has quite a long Pissabout Deferment Index, or "PDI", which is the term for the amount of time a free-to-play or Skinner box game gives you to get settled in before it starts pissing you about. It only started when, out of nowhere, the next plot mission required me to grind up two more levels, which wasn't much; I only had to do a couple of side quests, or rather, "adventures", as they are called here, which I suppose is one way to make them sound interesting. "Ho, traveller! Are you a stalwart enough hero to 'adventure' to a place and shoot the lads?" But then, after the next plot mission, I needed to gain another four levels to proceed, and, yeah, I guess I see what we're doing here now, Destiny 2.
  • It was while I was following a series of objective markers in order to get to a place wherein might be found some lads to shoot; I paused about halfway down a corridor to take a break from the sheer roller coaster of excitement the mission was turning into and found myself staring at the wall texture. We were in one of the several hundred ancient alien temples covered in somehow-still-functioning LEDs that Bungie have made across their career and the decor had gone for an intricate pattern of narrow lines and right angles, but then I looked closer and saw there were multiple layers of lines, some in sharper relief than others. I got curious and looked around the entire surrounding area for where the pattern repeated, and I couldn't find it! Every part of the wall seemed to be a unique combination of lines and little glowy lights. Who were you, mysterious wall-texture-designer-person with whom I feel a strange kinship as I gaze upon your work? What ambition spurred you through the years of practice and higher education that brought you to this place? When you dreamed of your artwork being hung upon walls to be viewed by millions, is this precisely what you had in mind? I picture them heading back to their cubicle to touch up another series of functionally-identical-but-slightly-varied wall textures and passing a meeting room where they overhear some designers discussing how best to word the latest iteration of "going to a place and shooting some lads", whereupon they heave a weary sigh and add another few names to the workplace massacre checklist they know damn well they no longer have the balls to execute.

Metroid: Samus Returns[edit]

  • The exception, as always, is Nintendo, who do not need to be told that nostalgia pays off, because they already carved that into the forehead of every fucking employee. It's part of the induction day schedule now, right after biscuits and pointing out the toilets. Seems they accidentally put their name on something half-way original this month, and the balance needed to be redressed. So they spun the wheel of Nintendo policy, and it landed on, "Remake Old Game." Which shouldn't come as a surprise, as that option covers half the bloody wheel, with the other half split between, "Make low-effort unwanted spin-off," and, "Announce another fucking new console."

Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2[edit]

  • Knack, for it is his name, is also an unstoppable fighter and problem-solver with a very good speaking voice whose existence is shrouded in mystery, and yet despite being the player character, he doesn't seem to be the protagonist of the story. That honour goes to a drippy little teenage twat who hangs around with Knack to form a highly effective world-saving partnership: Knack provides the muscle, the intellect, the lucrative royalties from his side-gig recording audiobooks, and the kid provides, err, a nice, flat head for Knack to rest his beer on. And yet the game persistently focuses the story on the little bastard and his problems as he whines about no one taking him seriously; maybe that's something to do with the way he sits on his arse the whole time, letting his bucket of Rubik's Cubes do the work. Essentially, Knack, and by extension, us as the player character, are treated like the family dog, who's let off the leash at the start of each level to run ahead scaring off goblins and German holiday-makers so that the human characters can hang back and scoff all the pork pies, and I can't remember the last time I was so utterly "sewing needle under the fingernail to keep me awake" bored while playing a game. The Division, maybe, but at least The Division gave me a gun so I could compose satirical haiku on the walls in bullet holes.


  • See, the rub is that Cuphead is retro-style, but not in the usual sense, i.e., pixels the size of Plymouth; it's deliberately fashioning itself after retro animation, in the style of Max Fleischer or very early Disney, and pulls that off with quite remarkable success! The film grain, the scratchy audio, the big brass band soundtrack, the fluid, exaggerated animation where characters all move like warmed-up gummy worms caught in the spokes of a bike; it all feels so bloody authentic! And most importantly, what a lot of people forget about early cartoons — here, we very unsubtly waggle our eyebrows at Epic Mickey's forgotten grave-site — is that they could be really fucking dark. See, back then, it wasn't generally understood that kids needed to have their delicate sensibilities protected, as odds were pretty good they were all going to die in a European trench war before they turned eighteen, anyway. So thematically, cartoons were lighter on wholesome lessons about friendship and heavier on skeletons and racism. So there's something overtly sinister about Cuphead, which might be from subtly wrong things like the drinking straw in our character's head — I mean, the teacup-head thing I'd buy, but who the fuck drinks from a teacup with a straw? That's just pushing it. But I think it's the overall scratchy look and feel that makes me think the little girl from The Ring could push out of the screen at any moment and start making comical trombone noises.

Hob and A Hat in Time[edit]

  • (sotto voce) Okay, Yahtz, you can do this; one more week before the big releases start, and then you can stop pretending anyone gives a shit about indie ga... Oh! Hello there, viewers!
  • Hob does do a good job of executing what it sets out to do: The air of wandering adventure, of secret purpose, of boredom, of exploring the ruins of strongholds and cities once mighty if boring, atmospheric, boring, boring, boringly boring... Don't misunderstand me, Hob... "It sounds like you think I'm boring, Yahtz." All right, I guess you haven't misunderstood me, yes!
  • So I also downloaded another game later in the week that had some ominous red flags about it called A Hat in Time. Firstly, the title's rubbish. "A Hat in Time... A Hat in Time..." Just saying the words feels like I'm biting down on the side of a plastic cup. Also, it's a Kickstarted project that pledges to evoke the spirit of retro 3D platformers, and that rang particular alarm bells which sounded like this: "YOO-ka-LAY-lee, YOO-ka-LAY-lee..."

The Evil Within 2[edit]

  • Last time, my problem with the story was that the world had no physical coherence; you just randomly warped from horrible place to horrible place with no idea of how or if you were getting closer to victory. This complaint appears to have been addressed: it's established that the evil mega-corp has somehow built an entire coherent town in our kid's noggin, but parts of it are being corrupted by psychos. So now we do have a sense that our physical location actually matters, but the plot's still a mess: we establish our main villain, have a boss fight with him, then he goes, "By the way, I'm working for someone else who hasn't been mentioned or established in the slightest, but he's the main villain now. Oh no, I'm dead! Bleh!" Also, the relationship between real and virtual worlds confuses me. Everyone in the virtual world has a body in the real world, right? So why is Sebastian the only one we see in the plug-in room? Why doesn't our contact on the outside just go to the bodies of the troublemakers and stick an ice pick up their nose? We help one bloke escape the virtual world, but how did that work? They escaped, woke up in the real world facility, then politely asked the mega-corporation not to immediately shoot them in the face?

Super Mario Odyssey[edit]

  • Shortly, Mario is left in the dirt and meets the inevitable magical spirit character that basically acts as glorified mouse-pointer: the star child in Mario Galaxy, the butterfly thing in Super Paper Mario, the Roomba from the Rabbids thing. This time, it's a magic hat, and as has been well-documented of, Mario throws the magic hat at a living thing that isn't already wearing a hat, then Mario parasites their body and overwrites their free will like a Cordyceps fungus with a slightly racist accent.
  • Incidentally, the mayor of City World is Pauline, who may be the same one from Donkey Kong, but I'm not sure they ever directly admit that; probably a hard thing to bring up in casual conversation. "Hey, sorry if this sounds weird, but didn't I rescue you from a monkey?" This is the same City World that's populated with realistically-proportioned humans, by the way, which, for me, raises the question of what the fuck Mario is, if not a human like these lads. Some frighteningly malformed species of hairy pygmy?

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus[edit]

  • But the stealth is like a blatantly rigged carny game where the cans are glued together and the goldfish have all died, anyway. It's the shitty kind of stealth where every motherfucker on the map instantly knows your position (and least favorite place to be shot in) because you moved one quarter-inch out of cover to look around and were spotted by someone's hamster. Thus begins The Cock-Up Cascade, and I hate Cock-Up Cascade, because it feels like being unduly and continuously punished for making one tiny mistake. The commanders also instantly know where you are, and will continually re-spawn backup until you storm their office and chop all their arms and legs off -- like the exact opposite of the smooth, un-rattled secret agent you ostensibly are.

Assassin's Creed Origins[edit]

  • Triple A games are now merely platforms for blatant attempts to fleece money from colossal dimwits that somehow have financial independence despite not being able to open a tin of beans without losing an eye. And then the publishers will say, "Hey, just because we erected a giant sign saying 'Please jump off this cliff and dash yourselves to death on the jagged rocks below!' doesn't mean you have to do that!" Granted, but I object to the way most of the game takes place in the shadow of the giant sign, and the rest of it is spent perched astride the giant sign. What I mean is, Assassin's Creed Origins is one of those Triple A terminal cases where everything seems to have been built around the giant cliff-jumping sign as an afterthought. Firstly, it's got all the usual variables: Character levels and XP, in-game currency, weapon upgrades, crafting items; 'cause of course, the more things you can quantify, the more imaginary prizes you can put in a loot box, the more you can base the gameplay around making numbers bigger and hypnotize the players into wanting a weapon identical to their current weapon except with a whole two numbers bigger more than they want their next fucking meal! I can't think of what other purpose giving every character a level could possibly have. It's certainly catastrophic for immersion, when anything more than two levels higher than you will just mash you into a fine paste even if you do get a stealth attack on them; one would think a hidden blade to the windpipe would be a pretty decisive argument-ender no matter how many press-ups they did that morning.
  • Every now and again, you get to play as Bayek's missus doing ship combat missions, which I find mystifying. Does Ubisoft think we now expect Assassin's Creed to have ship combat, just because Black Flag had it and it was a little beacon of joy and light glimmering all too briefly from inside Ubisoft's churning mass? Because I don't want your ship combat if you're just cynically crowbarring it in like a nice ball of glittery tin foil to look at while we're getting sodomized over the recycle bin.
  • Look, I'm not mad at you, Assassin's Creed Origins; I'm just disappointed. And bored. Mostly bored. I might have had a better time if the game had let me speed through the story campaign instead of forcing me to grind up dull, repetitive side-quests to reach the minimum level for the next main mission. I don't like the feeling that the game is fighting with me to stop me getting what I want out of it. Actually, maybe I am mad at you, Assassin's Creed Origins! I'm so sick of all this; I'm sick of playing Triple A games that feel like they exist not because a creator had a vision and an idea that excited them, but because quarterly income projections needed to be met. It's like Blackbeard going into stock market fraud; yeah, it's more lucrative, but there's no freedom or adventure, and they won't let you carve tits on the figurehead!

Star Wars Battlefront II[edit]

  • I don't want to dwell on the prevailing loot box controversy because it's been covered to death elsewhere and I'm not a multiplayer guy; I was more pissed off about EA selling Battlefront I at full price with no single-player campaign and then sticking one in their second, equally full-priced game and expecting forgiveness. But then, this is an increasingly-popular strategy, isn't it? If you've done something shitty, follow it up with an even shittier thing and the first shitty thing will be swiftly forgotten and normalized. Take EA's advice: if you get caught cheating with your wife's sister, double down and fuck her guinea pig, as well.
  • We kick off playing as Iden Versio, a commando and true believer for the evil Empire with a name that sounds like a low-market electronics company from Eastern Europe. She flies around the galaxy doing commando shit with her two squad members: Del Meeko, a slightly nerdy bloke with the word "meek" in his name, and Hask, a sneering Imperial blue-eyed boy with the word "ass" in his name. So here are the things we immediately know for absolute certainty will happen: the Empire's going to get its shit pushed in, Versio's going to switch sides, kill Hask in a boss fight at some point, and some ghoulish recreation of Carrie Fisher's corpse will probably call her a "cool dude" and give her a fist bump.
  • I'd love to comment on Battlefront II's ending, but it doesn't seem to have one. You think it's going to have one, and then it just doesn't, but don't worry; a text caption assures us that the story continues in multiplayer. Well, fuck me for trying! There I was, giving the benefit of the doubt, only for the doubt to be farted on and thrown back in my face! I felt sorry for you, story campaign! I thought it was a shame you were forced to hang out with your ugly roommate who charges micropayments before they'll do the washing-up; I thought I could take you out by yourself and maybe we could all have a little fun and take our minds off your ugly roommate! Little did I realize he was setting up a fucking threesome!


PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds[edit]

  • I mean PUBG, which stands for PlayerUnknown's Bonanza Goldmine, the breakout hit multiplayer shooter based somewhat on the concept of Battle Royale, except Battle Royale didn't involve quite so many people running around in their undepants (not yet, anyway; don't put the idea in their head, you know what Japanese culture's like). One hundred players are dropped unarmed and helpless into a deserted sandbox map, everyone who owned property in the area apparently thought that a small pile of guns and supplies makes a lovely living room conversation piece, the playing area gradually shrinks over time, and the winner is the last person to get shot, fall to their death, or quit in disgust after listening to the voice chat. Because another thing PUBG could stand for is Players Unabashedly Backing Genocide. Seriously, the first thing I did was mute that shit 'cause I started my first game and immediately heard someone going, "Niggers, niggers, niggers, niggers," and I know that sounds like something I'd make up, but I swear they were. Hell, who needs to interact with the other players, anyway? I do usually avoid multiplayer games. After all, I Personally Understate the Benefits of Gregariousness. But I'm fine as long as I don't have to socialize and we can just mutely exterminate each other, like when I go to trivia night at the pub.
  • And in the year when loot boxes became a symbolic evil right alongside toothbrush mustaches and Ugg boots, PlayerUnknown's Burbling Grandma's cosmetic loot boxes are taking a pretty sizable amount of piss -- probably up to waist-deep at least. After my first boots adventure, I knuckled down and church-camped my way to my second loot box, dreaming of the next fancy cosmetic that would surely make me the belle of the morgue. And ya know what I got? A pair a beige trousers. Great. This'll be perfect camouflage if the next match takes place in an Ikea showroom. So I knuckled down again until I got my third loot box which contained a pair of white trousers. My fourth, which is about where I resolved to give up playing the loot box market, was -- brace yourselves -- a pair of black trousers. Well, at least I assembled a complete spectrum of trousers. Or to put that another way, I Painstakingly United a Britches Gradient.

Doki Doki Literature Club![edit]

  • The real turning point comes when the depressed girl commits suicide; that's the definite point of bollock descent into icy water. Although, her depression had been portrayed with a slightly uncomfortable authenticity, so it wasn't creepy in an enjoyable psychological horror kind of way; it was just really fucking sad. It happens regardless of what choices you pick, which, in itself, might be an effective premise for a game about depression: constantly reliving the same few days trying to save her and failing every time because her problems are too deep-seated to be fixed just because you accidentally felt her up on day three.
  • But I might as well give it away now, I think the game's already peaked by this point; it's already thrown its skirt up and flashed you its knickers with "Subversion of Dating Sim" written on them, and the game has been given away, so all it can do now is try to psych you out by drifting into the faintly lame territory of the video game creepypasta. So of course, graphics start fucking up and characters start bleeding from the eyes and doing that thing where their pupils go really small and they smile a bit too widely, which is, of course, anime shorthand for someone being two gratuitous panty shots short of a Sailor Moon episode. And if anything, this all made me less creeped out. "Phew, I'm glad you started bleeding from the eyes, 'cause things were getting a bit harrowing back there for a while with all that slightly-too-real depression and suicide business." And then there was all that anticipation leading up to it, playing the happy-clappy standard Dating Sim shit, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but now I can relax, because I see we've entered Silly Horror Town. Yeah, you go ahead and stab yourself, missy; couldn't hurt, could it?

The Inpatient and Doom VFR[edit]

  • The Inpatient is a prequel of sorts to Until Dawn, that branching-paths slasher movie game from a while back, and so it takes a few moments to remind us at length that our choices will have consequences; for example, if we choose to get bored and stop playing, that will have the consequence of a slightly more enriching afternoon.
  • I'm just going to spoil a lot of The Inpatient, because, trust me, missing out on this one is not going to haunt you to your dying days. The thrust of this and Until Dawn's premise is that if you eat human flesh, you turn into a wendigo, right, and the main diversion of the plot is whether you turn into a wendigo or your roommate does. Now, in the former, our roommate is absent — presumably 'cos we scoffed down their entire body with French fries and ranch — but I don't get why the roommate becomes a wendigo in the other scenario, because we're self-evidently not eaten; I don't remember looking down at any point and seeing that one of my legs was chewed off. Just a little plot hole, but there's so little plot, one hole turns it into a fucking engagement ring.


  • Lord, save me from all these fucking survival games. (There's an ironic joke in there somewhere.) They always start sensible with combining rock with stick to create stick with rock on the end. But sooner or later you end up mashing together two mushrooms and a piece of discarded tinfoil to create a magazine-fed 5.56mm Colt AR-15, which you then rub on a small pile of turds for a second to add the optional holographic sights. Still I understand why they appeal. Where most games revolve entirely around the player waiting giggling just over the horizon for you to step into the designated minotaur area so it can leap out and start flinging minotaurs, it's refreshing to play a game whose world feels like it couldn’t give a shit about you, that its environment and life forms could muddle along perfectly well by themselves and which will kill you stone dead if you go twenty minutes without sucking any hydration from the tear ducts of a passing sparrow. Anyway, we've done crafting survival games in most of the standard Mario level biomes -- grasslands, desert, jungle, ice world -- so until they bring out a crafting survival game set in food world where we have to make spears out of Twiglets, here's a crafting survival game set in a ocean level, Subnautica. You are Rex Handsome, faceless mute space adventurer with the superhuman ability to not go all wrinkly when they stay underwater too long. Sadly he got this power by trading in his ability to prevent spaceships from exploding, and his spaceship explodes over an ocean planet with only three survivors: Him, one escape pod, and the Mars bar in the glove compartment. Now our hero must find a way off the planet, but in the meantime do the usual survival crafting game stuff: Build a base, find food and water, explore, and remember to breathe every now and again, you dozy git. Subnautica is the kind of game that probably could have gotten away with procedurally generating the map and having no further plot beyond, "See how long you could last and maybe find yourself a nice crafting project, like building a castle with a fire breathing effigy of The Allman Brothers on the top." So I was surprised to see that it didn't do that. The world map is fixed and astonishingly there's a plot with an actual ending, where you get to leave the planet tearfully waving goodbye to The Allman Brothers as you go. HO, YES! That space ship disaster wasn't just a contrived setup; the massive wreckage is your principal navigation point for the whole game, and your first challenge is figuring out how you're going to loot it while it's on fire and pissing radiation like an incontinent dog from the Bikini atoll.
  • ...Subnautica always found a way to worm back into my interest pipes. I told myself I wasn't going to stick around long enough to want to mess around with the base building element much. I'd just build one scanning room to show me where the nearest Seven-Elevens are, and that needs power, so solar panel, but wait. What if I wake up in the middle of the night wanting a disgusting cupcake? Better have a bio-matter reactor as well, and now we'll need a little terrarium to feed it with... This is taking a lot of stuff; better add some storage. Ooo! there's a volcanic vent down there. I could probably extend the base far enough to build a thermal reactor, and if we're doing that, might as well add some more rooms... "Hey, Yahtz, you still playing that game?" WHO DARES TRESPASS UPON FORTRESS OCELOT ALPHA!?

Kingdom Come: Deliverance[edit]

  • After the death of the beloved Charles IV, his heir, Wenceslaus, of "Good King..." fame, proceeds to, in a very literal sense, fuck things up royally, until his half-brother Sigismund imprisons him and starts smashing up the countryside for giggles. At the outset, none of this means a whole lot to our main character, Henry, a peasant blacksmith's son who's more concerned about the day-to-day doings of a medieval peasant, which is to say, covering himself in shit. There's even a mechanic where certain speech and charisma checks are affected if you show up covered in shit, which is pretty fucking unfair, because it's medieval times, and the only thing that isn't covered in shit is the clouds, and only because no one's built a big enough siege tower.
  • I reached a point where I was supposed to join a big raid on a bandit camp with twenty other lads, which took six or seven tries because victory was hinging on all my NPC helpers pulling their weight, and that was like expecting a team of sled dogs to help with your maths homework. But finally, we managed to breach the inner camp and Henry decides he's going to fight the bandit leader by himself, in a fucking Thunderdome. And then, I had to give up on the whole game, because I could barely get one hit in before he wiped the fucking floor with me! Fuck "realism"! The "realistic" approach would have been to let me lure him out of the fucking Thunderdome and get my sixteen heavily-armed mates to pass him around for sweaty cock-slaps. But nope! Fuck player choice! Fuck your build! It's standard boss fights or into the bin with you!

Hunt Down The Freeman[edit]

  • The staggering thing about Hunt Down The Freeman is not that it exists. If we had to stop the presses every time someone made a shitty fan game, the presses wouldn't be running long enough to print a fucking Bazooka Joe comic. The staggering thing is that this is a fan game embellishing Valve's story using Valve's intellectual property being sold for actual money on Valve's own distribution network, and therefore carries an unspoken stamp of endorsement, despite being truly, madly, ovarian cyst-ingly bad on every imaginable level, in ways that only bad fan games can be.
  • The only reason I wanted to talk about [Hunt Down The Freeman] is 'cause of the depressing indictment of modern gaming it creates — not by itself; by Valve's apparent indifference to this waterfall of piss trickling down either side of its legacy's nose. Twenty years ago, Half-Life was a focal point in gaming's ongoing development as an artistic narrative medium. The next few years saw a slough of titles that combined triple-A game design with genuine emotional story. But what happened between then and now? Why are the games routinely rewarded with triple-A status and income exclusively loot box-infested live-service bullshit — games designed, not to inspire or stimulate our emotions, but to numb them and hypnotize us into lab rats mindlessly pawing the button that makes treats come out — while the games created with love and artistic integrity drown beneath waves of bottom-feeders like Hunt Down The Freeman that tear chunks of rotten flesh from the corpses of Valve's children, as Valve itself, once habitual founders of new ages of narrative gaming, merely waves them on, barely glancing up from their tax paperwork? What happened to you? What happened to us? To the people we were supposed to become? I don't know, but it's probably safe to blame John Romero.

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom[edit]

  • Now, I wasn't sure I was going to do this game, because you know what I'm like with JRPGs that aren't called EarthBound or Persona 5: I'll be rolling my eyes dismissively at the first sign of hairdos that look like they were crafted out of brightly-colored mashed potato by an extremely bored child who can't leave the table. But precisely thirty seconds into the plot, I had a feeling I was going to have to talk about this one, firstly in a review, and then maybe in some kind of inquest into what the fuck Japan has been playing at for the last thirty years or so. So here's how the story starts: the president of the United States is on his way to a summit of the U.N. when the city he's driving through gets hit by a direct nuclear strike. Don't worry, you didn't just turn over two pages at once; this is still Ni no Kuni II. Moments before death, the president is transported to a fantasy world; specifically, to the bedchamber of a little prince boy wearing cat ears. Well, that's one explanation, anyway, but maybe you should save it for the hearing, Mr. President. Also, he gets de-aged about thirty years for no particular reason except it's the law that JRPG protagonists can't look old enough to buy a health potion without getting carded.

Conan Exiles[edit]

  • I found a nice, quiet spot to set up base camp that was convenient for the river, the local spider cave, and the Rock, Tree, and Bush Emporium and started progressing my way up the tech tree. "Make a stone pickaxe: one bit of wood, five rocks." Gotcha. "Make a bedroll: one bit of wood, five leaves." That's done. "Now make a wooden storage box: 100 bits of wood—" Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! That was a fucking jump! I only wanted a foot locker, not a fucking Regency wardrobe with a complimentary portal to Narnia! "Now let's build a tannery; that'll be 240 rocks—" WHAT?! It's, like, three bits of wood with skin stretched over it! What are the rocks for?! You going to put it on a gravel driveway?! "Well, we're just making sure you get the full intended experience; that is to say, wasting hours of your life banging a rock with another, smaller, pointier bit of rock."

Detroit: Become Human[edit]

  • David Cage has only one tool in his storytelling arsenal and it is a giant sledgehammer with the word "MELODRAMA!" written down the side. His stories always play out like rampant human misery simulators as written by someone who's never met any human beings. Well, I suppose we know he's met [Elliot] Paige. Fucking hell, do we know that! He probably puts it on his business cards. And just because the story's "depressing" doesn't mean it's "deep" or "complex". There's a moment in Despair: Become Miserable where we literally watch an ugly man in a run-down house loudly explain to no one in particular how much he’s going to enjoy beating up his daughter in between puffs on his crack pipe. Half the characters in these games are like one-off villains from The Incredible Hulk TV series where they had to contrive an excuse for Bill Bixby to hulk out every episode, so they chuck a random, inexplicable asshole into the room to smirkingly give him nipple cripples for literally no reason.
  • What's sad is that there’s always a great deal of potential in David Cage video games: I look forward to the day when he actually creates one! Har Har Har. He doesn't make branching-narrative video games, this lad; he makes branching-narratives and then tries to tortuously squeeze a video game into it. I feel like he'd rather be making films. He doesn't appreciate the essential differences between the way an audience engages with a game versus a film. At the very start, we play weird-faced lanky detective android in a hostage situation and we're permitted, and indeed obliged, to bum around the room next to the hostage situation gathering intel on the perp before we confront them. This also gives us the chance to learn a bit about the world we're in, which would've been fine, but as I leafed through a jolly interesting magazine the hostage taker suddenly shot one of the SWAT guys and the game went: "WHOOPS! You bummed around too long! That's going on your permanent record!" I don't get it, David Cage. Did you want me to explore and immerse myself in this world you've created or did you want to maintain psychotic death-grip control of the story's pacing? 'Cos if the latter, then just make a fucking film! Or, perhaps more realistically, a choose-your-own-adventure book. Well, I say he should make a film, but he'd never hack it in films ironically because he's a hack. All his dialogue is clichéd and most of his ideas are nicked. I enjoyed Westworld too, David Cage, but you didn't have to enjoy it so bloody publicly!
  • I'd like to close this review by discussing one of the plot twists. [...] Remember that nanny bot who adopts the human child? Towards the end it turns out the child was also an android all along! Ooh, what a twist! An inadequately explored twist that adds nothing to the characters or story and may even be detrimental to it. I mean, "Can a robot mother truly love a human child?" was a question with some power to it in this context, but, "Can a robot love another robot?" Yes, they can! We know they can! We've seen like twelve of the buggers doing it already! It's just a twist for the sake of having a twist. In other words, it's a David Cage twist. Sounds like a dance, doesn't it? Hey, everybody! Do the David Cage Twist! Walk stiffly around the room for 10 minutes, then reach for the sky — and fall flat on your face.


  • Agony makes me think that the phrase "psychological horror" is getting bandied around a bit too easily these days. Psychological horror to me means something with more of an understated creeping dread about it — more "OooOOHoohhh" than "Eughhh!" and Agony is very much on the "Eughhh!" side of things. (Yeah, fuckin' transcribe that one, bitch!)
  • These basic mechanics aren't terribly well explained, and when I first saw the contextual icon for, "Take bag off head," I thought it was the icon for, "Push person over." And since the person was standing on the edge of a cliff at the time, I was like, "Jeez, there's no need for that kind of pettiness. This is hell, not a staff meeting at a failing start-up." Eventually I figured it out, but I suspect the basic mechanics weren't terribly well explained to most of the developers either. "We're doing a stealth game? I always forget what that means. I guess it means that, if you try to move quickly past the vagina-face monster, then it hears you and bites your face off, but if you carefully move slowly past it, then it will also hear you and chew your throat out." Um, no, I think you're missing some of the basic principles there, Agony... "Oh, right, about those 'hiding places.' I'm pretty sure I know how this works. You're running away from vagina-mush, you quickly get into a hiding place, then vagina-mush catches up, spots you instantly, and masticates your nipples off. Wait! I confused myself; what were we talking about?" [375]

E3 2018 Round-Up[edit]

  • Bethesda stepped up and said, "Who likes prerendered teasers that tell you fuck-all?" ...Nobody. "Well, nobody's going to like this, then!" And we proceeded to learn precisely fuck-all about Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and DOOM Eternal. We did get to see an only slightly less informative, painfully scripted Rage 2 video that I would only call "gameplay footage" because "suffocating yawn-fest" takes slightly longer to type. So someone at Bethesda must have said, "We're making sequels to scrotum-pulverizingly good DOOM and teabag-squeezingly forgetful Rage; which one would people most want to hear about?" "Well, I think that should be obvious!" "Ha ha! Yes, I suppose it is! ...Aw, fuck! Now I'll look stupid if I ask again!"
  • My goodness, Microsoft's conference showcased a lot of games! Cyberpunk 2077? Just Cause 4? Metro Exodus? Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Wow, are those all Xbox-exclusives, Microsoft?! "Um, no, none of those are, but you can play them on Xbox!" Yes, Microsoft, we could hypothetically do that.
  • I suppose I could mention Ubisoft, but that feels like mentioning the colour of the wallpaper; they're always hanging about in the background, putting out their samey sandboxes with the clockwork regularity of an explosively copious period. New Assassin's Creed, right on cue; set in ancient Greece, which makes sense, because the ancient Greeks were really into buggery. But what made me choke on my sherbet was when the bloke narrating the gameplay video said, "For the first time, you will be able to choose between a male and female hero." YOU WHAT?! Am I on crazy pills?! Assassin's Creed Syndicate did that! What is the fucking point of doing progressive and innovative things if you're just going to pretend they didn't happen two games later and try to score innovation points a second time?! It's not "progressive" if you're progressing to the place where we already fucking are, genius! I'm genuinely mad about this; I've got no more room to snark about Beyond Good and Evil 2 now, and it's Assassin's Creed: Odyssey's fault!


  • I went for the pacifist run because there was a distinct whiff of moral choice-driven story branching about all this, and my instinct is always to shoot for "best" ending, because it's usually the one that feels like an ending and not like I fucked something up. Vampyr may be an exception, however; it really wants to be a story about a broody vampire tortured by the clash between his urge to kill and his duty to heal, but after I didn't kill anyone, it becomes a story about a perfectly nice, if slightly intense, bloke who doesn't get enough Vitamin D. So the, quote, "good ending" was a bit of a damp squib; one of Reid's vampire pals try to get their melodrama on, going, "Ooh, we are nothing more than killers and our blood is cursed!", and Reid's all like, "Bollocks we are! I haven't killed shit!" "Oh, so you haven't. Never mind, then; let's get McDonald's." Now, when Reid says he hasn't killed shit, he is truncating a little; he should have said, "I haven't killed shit, except for the 500,000 vampire hunters I murdered in standard combat." Yes, this is the rather glaring incongruity of Vampyr; there's something a little bit hollow about Jonathan Reid's quiet nobility and pacifism when he's just had to murder twelve identical Cockney thugs on the way back from the chemist.

Octopath Traveler[edit]

  • What I find iffy about the whole presentation is that I rarely get a sense that my ragtag bunch of anime misfits are actually interacting with each other. The first part of the game, you tour all the home villages, randomly touching people until one goes, "Hello, random group of strangers! I'm about to embark on a very personal quest that will define the rest of my life! Why not tag along?" And that's your new party member, smilingly joining up with a group of what might be cannibalistic serial tax-dodgers, for all they know, accepting that they're going to have to mutely witness the personal bullshit of seven complete strangers before they come back around to sorting out whatever put a hair up their own arse. It's particularly jarring with characters like Primrose, doing the "I am dishonoured and alone and have nothing left in this world but my quest for violent, bloody revenge" bit, never acknowledging the seven colourful dudes in varying stages of adolescence with whom she shares a sleeping bag every night. It's only right at the end of the game that any connection between the eight stories is established; before that, it's eight separate stories rather than a story about eight people. Every time you go through a new chapter of one party member's story, everyone else just disappears up their butthole for the duration of the cutscene. Sometimes, after a cutscene, a little button prompt comes up, and you can teleport the relevant character and one other party member to the Interaction Dimension, where they discuss what just happened, but I don't see why they couldn't have worked that into the scene; made it look like some actual organic relationship-building was going on, not just a spot of post-match commentary like Statler and fucking Waldorf.

Chasm and This Is the Police 2[edit]

  • [This Is the Police 2] has pretensions to cinematic storytelling, but, well... Here's my impression of a This Is the Police 2 cutscene. I mean, I mean, this is me doing an impression of a This Is the Police 2 cutscene, right now. I'm doing it now. Can't you see I'm doing an impression of a This Is the Police 2 cutscene, viewers? Viewers? Viewers? Are you listening, viewers? You need to be listening to understand my impression of a This Is the Police 2 cutscene! I think they're going for an ultra-naturalistic dialogue style, but if realism was the intent, it fell flat, because, realistically, if I were stuck in a conversation like this, I'd stick my head in the nearest bread-slicing machine.


  • Marvel's Spider-Man is of course a new sandbox game about Spider-Man, a genre that has seen one exemplar -- Spider-Man 2 on the GameCube -- and a whole load of Spider-Manure since then. So let's get straight to the big question: Is Disney's Marvel's Spider-Man a better Spider-Man game than Spider-Man 2? The answer is: Yye-ees... And that incidentally was my entry for the 2018 Most Subtext in A Single Syllable competition.
  • So let me see if I've got this straight, Insomniac Games' Disney's Spider-Man: You're going to interrupt your high-octane big-balls web-swinging free-roam superhero power fantasy for the sake of some mandatory forced stealth sections playing as a mundane fuck going on a chest-high wall inspection tour. And you're doing this so that we don't get bored.
  • The exception to the "no origin stories" rule is Doctor Octopus. He gets origin story for days. There's like ninety million plot missions where you just hang around the lab so Dr. Octavius can drop another hint and make another weird face to camera, until you're going, "For fuck's sake! We know he's going to be Doctor Octopus!! Stop arseing about and bolt some Japanese rape tentacles to this motherfucker!" Marvel's Disney's Sony's Insomniac Games' Stan Lee's Steve Ditko's Giant-Size Man-Thing achieves that wonderful quality of Spider-Man 2 in which it was just fun and not a little Zen to while away the afternoon randomly swinging through the streets, stumbling on collectibles and little crimes to foil, which may ultimately be enough. But I feel like saying it's a really good game is like saying the Bible supports the ostracism of homosexuals: It's true, but only if you cherry-pick bits of it from the piles and piles of other stuff. [376]

Dragon Quest XI[edit]

  • The plot [...] is, you are in Generic JRPG Swords and Sorcery Fantasy World, east of Java; you are the last surviving heir of a deposed royal house who was found as a baby and adopted by peasant farmers. There's a weird birthmark on your hand that magic occasionally comes out of, and you grow into a strong, handsome lad with a girl's haircut, so when you come of age, your adoptive parent takes you aside and says, "Look, let's not beat around the bush; you couldn't be more obviously a destined fantasy hero if your high school graduation picture was painted by Boris Vallejo. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any global crisis going on at the moment that would require a destined hero, so why don't you just wander around the countryside for a bit, and destiny will presumably strike at some point?" I'm not being dismissive here; that's literally how we start! You go to the royal castle on the off-chance that a kidnapped princess needs rescuing, but get thrown in the dungeon 'cos the king's played too many Elder Scrolls games and thinks that's just what you do with destined heroes. You break out within minutes, and the plot becomes "go from city to city looking for the person who isn't one of the five or six endlessly-repeated NPC models, recruit them to your party, then do whatever they want to do until the next one comes along". By this method, we enlist to our cause a toddler, two hotties, an old man, a comedy stereotype of a homosexual, and an actual homosexual, and after the last party member joins, they say, "What do you mean, 'destiny hasn't struck yet'?! All right, let's just gather the six Destiny Balls; that'll wake the fucker up." I only had three or four days to play the game in, so I was under no illusion that I'd finish the fucking thing, and I dropped out after the third or fourth ball. About twenty hours in, and still no sign of a big villain; couple of "Darth Vaders", but no "Palpatines", you know?

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4[edit]

  • That was when CoD: BlOps 4 laid its knob across my porridge for the first time: "No single-player campaign." Well, Activision, as Milorad Petrović said in response to the Invasion of Yugoslavia, "...The fuck?!" "We thought you'd be pleased, Yahtz. Every story campaign of every CoD game you've played in years, you've called racist and overblown and taken straight from what insecure NRA members see when they close their eyes and touch themselves; at least we didn't hire Kit Harington this time!" Granted, but having removed the single-player, are you going to charge less for the game? "Ohohoho, Yahtzee! I can see why people say you're a funny guy!" A hundred-and-thirty bucks, the deluxe version costs!?! As the water treatment engineer said of his favourite outflow pipe: "That's taking a lot of piss!"

Return of the Obra Dinn[edit]

  • The premise is you are an insurance investigator -- Whoa! Slow the fuck down, Lucas Pope! This roller-coaster's off to a hot start! -- and you come aboard a hitherto lost ship that drifted into English waters with its entire crew apparently suffering from a bad case of not there.
  • A degree of general knowledge is required to identify people's nationalities, or what a topman does as opposed to a seaman. If it helps, topmen are generally concerned with the rigging and what goes on above decks, whereas semen is a white liquid that comes out of your penis when you think about Jenny Agutter too much.
  • It's weird that the music's so annoying when the rest of the sound design is fuckin' top-notch -- voice acting, ambient sound, and especially the little radio plays that accompany the death flashbacks. I couldn't say for sure if it accurately reproduces the sound of a bloke getting torn in half by a giant calamari platter, but it certainly made me cross my legs uncomfortably. [377]

Fallout 76[edit]

  • People ask me if I worry about the future of the interactive arts in this era of triple-A being a constant stream of soulless, exploitative knockoffs, but I'm not worried, because we've been here before. At the end of the 90's, games like Quake III and Unreal Tournament tried to convince us that we didn't really want artistic single-player PC games when we could just pay to run on hamster wheels all day, and look what the 2000s brought us. Deus Ex, Thief II, BioShock, Portal... It's always a phase. In the long run, the only eternal guarantor of success is a quality product well-made; ideally with tits on the front. The money to be made from knocking off what's popular and exploiting the stupid always dries up eventually, if only because the stupids die out from daring each other to headbutt the ceiling fan.

Red Dead Redemption 2[edit]

  • Frankly, RDR 2's realistic world only impresses me the same way I'd be impressed if you drank a litre of cooking oil, more so by the effort than the wisdom behind it, because so little of what you see and do in RDR 2 is actually fulfilling on a story or challenge level; the horse going "plop-plops" sums it all up nicely. I can't envision a scenario in which a lack of horse plops would knock a half-star off an otherwise-perfect score, but there it is, a drop in an ocean of pointless decadence. And this isn't one line of code, "Horse_plopplops = 1"; someone had to texture and animate it, and troll sound effect libraries for the ideal "plop-plops" sound, and they could've been using that time to cradle their children, or make something creatively fulfilling like Obra Dinn. The fact that someone had to do it for their job makes me think of a restaurant manager loudly humiliating a waiter 'cos he thinks it'll impress the customer; well, it doesn't, Mr. Rockstar, and now I'm going to have to be very cautious about ordering the meatballs.

Best/Blandest/Worst of 2018[edit]

  • So we go straight from worst survival game to best. Pay attention, every other survival game, because here's how Subnautica (title drop) stands out from the crowd: Not using a focus on exploration and crafting as an excuse to skimp on good story; a beautiful exotic world so utterly hostile that you'll want to keep surviving largely out of spite; and, most importantly, no other cocking human players! Human contact is like Joss Whedon's Firefly; I tried it once or twice, but it's not really my thing.
  • Rise of The Tomb Raider was my third most mediocre game of 2015, and now Shadow of The Tomb Raider has made it proud by hitting the number two spot. Now that the reboot trilogy has finished sandblasting the personality off Laura Croft, any chance we could go back to the old one? She might have been constantly pouting like she was trying to conceal an entire Portuguese man o' war in her mouth, but at least that was a facial expression of some kind.
  • The worst game of 2018 was, like the devil and weird sex practices, known by many names: The Seven-Hour Snore, Hunt Down the Refund, Shit Down the Piss-Shit... Call it whatever you like! Just never forget what Hunt Down The Freeman was and what it represented: A cringe-fest that unstitched its thoughtless patchwork of stolen assets to whip out its deseased knob and dispense blood-flecked urine all over a once-top-rate franchise with the tacit approval of its creator! Fuck, man, what else is there to say? I suppose I could say "fuck" again... No, that's the wrong attitude. It's a new year, after all. Let's move on from the past and focus on what the future will bring. [a copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate appears] ...FUCK!


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

  • So I asked myself how I would feel about a fighting game populated with all my favorite characters -- a game in which Modesty Blaise and Major Kira can team up to bring down Horatio Hornblower and the Arkhamverse Riddler. And yes, I suppose I would get a kick out of that, but I wouldn't expect anyone else to who didn't know the characters. It would only be the superficial appearance of Modesty Blaise with none of the nuances from the comic strip that make her a great character -- the personality, the backstory, the surprising amount of gratuitous nudity. Actually, Smash Bros. has a close equivalent to that with Bayonetta and, sure enough, little of that character's actual personality is conveyed. She's even depicted with realistic human proportions, which kinda threw me.
  • At its core, it's about the combat, and yeah, it's Smash Brothers. You mash buttons, and hope all those particle effects are coming out of them and not you. Every now and again, your tiny opponent gestures vaguely with a limb that's like two pixels big on screen, and you promptly get blasted into the cosmos and you're left wondering what the fuck that was and how you were supposed to predict it. So for a while, I was struggling along, not having much fun, but everything abruptly changed after I unlocked Donkey Kong, who I proceeded to exclusively play as. Why? Because A) He's big and cartoon-y enough that you can actually read his fucking movements; and B) he has this one attack that I like to call, "Fuck Off I Win (Ook Ook)," where he slaps the ground and everyone in a ten yard radius explodes. I ended up challenging myself not to use it, because I jerk off sailors for nickels and even I thought it was cheap. [378]

Gris and Ashen[edit]

  • And that's why it's time for the first indie double-bill of the year. Gratifyingly for my love of connecting themes, both games are named after a word that means, "grey." Not only that, but they're both words that mean "grey" that you might use if you're a pretentious twat. Or French... For all the difference that makes.
  • Gris is a platformer. There! I've just described the game about nine times more efficiently than the blurb on Gris's Steam page, which describes it as, "A serene and evocative experience about pain and an atmospheric journey through sorrow." It's a fuckin' platformer, all right??
  • It'd be a good scam, wouldn't it, claiming that we're playing co-op with uncommunicative humans indistinguishable from NPCs. It'd be like an inverse of the Dumbo's Magic Feather trick. "Maybe I could have beaten that dungeon if the other guy hadn't been such a fuck-up." "Ha-hah! Don't you see? There was no other guy! The fuck-up was in you all along!" [379]

Katamari Damacy Reroll[edit]

  • Hi, I'm Yahtzee Croshaw, super-casual game reviewer! What's that, games industry? No new games of interest? That's cool; we're all super-caj here. Have a fun-size Twix. Yeah, so I finally finished Celeste this week. I've been playing it super-caj style for about an hour every three months, and yeah, it certainly is a game. It was okay, I dunno... The way people were banging on about it all year, I was expecting it to fire streamers and ticker tape out of its nipples. It's just like the Senua's Sacrifice thing where the main character has a mental illness and therefore it's a masterpiece, and if you think otherwise, you're Hitler. Oh, you are Hitler! Well, that's cool; I'm super-caj. Have a Twix. Heyyyyyyyy...
  • Katamari Damacy's greatness lies in the simplicity of its concept and the unrivalled catharsis in its execution. You start out with pathetic laughable sticky balls that can just about pick up drawing pins and which get gleefully batted about by the cats that patrol the living room. But then a few minutes later, after you're done hoovering up the garden furniture, you come back, and there's something very rewarding about seeing an exclamation mark appear above the head of a cat that once bullied you. "I see you remember me, Mr. Whiskers!" After all, what good are sticky balls if you can't crush pussy.

Kingdom Hearts III[edit]

  • Here is my impression of a Kingdom Hearts character going to the toilet: "Ooh!" "What is it?" "I think I need the toilet!" "Hmm... Hey, look! Isn't that a toilet over there?" "Right! Let's get going!" Break into a sprint, bloke in a black trench coat appears, everyone stops dead. "I wouldn't do that if I were you." "What!? The Organization!? Why shouldn't we go to the toilet!?" "Simply because... I just did a very big poo in that toilet." "Huh!?" "Gawrsh, if he did a very big poo in the toilet, it probably still smells!" "It doesn't matter." "Hm?" "As long as we're together, we can take on the smell of any poo! That's what friendship is all about!"
  • I didn't expect to finish Kingdom Hearts III in the time I had, so I had just set out to play until I knew my opinion wasn't going to change, and that moment came at the Winnie the Pooh section. In-between two of the actual levels, it suddenly becomes important that Sora investigate why he's not on the cover of a Winnie the Pooh book; wasn't sure why he felt he should be, except his general sense of being the centre of the fucking universe, but then we go to the Hundred Acre Wood, and it turns out everything's fine and they just wanted to hang out, although they won't let you leave until you've played some insipid colour-matching games. Sorry, why was this important? Is the plot seriously being held hostage by Winnie the Fucking Pooh?!

Metro Exodus[edit]

  • [Artyom] eventually discovers the hidden truth that parts of the world besides Moscow are still inhabitable and inhabited. In fact, most of it is, apparently, and Moscow has just been deliberately isolated by paranoid militants this whole time. Now, I'd never be so hyperbolic as to say that this fundamentally ruins the Metro series, or pisses on it, or leaves its hollowed-out corpse in an alley with an asshole like a rusty tuba, but it does mean that if I get around to replaying the first two Metros, I'm going to feel pretty fucking stupid throughout as I appreciate the horrific, lonely atmosphere of a dead world and the uplifting moments of pure humanity in a seemingly hopeless situation, now knowing that there are fucking beach parties going on a half an hour up the motorway.

Far Cry New Dawn[edit]

  • The smug, charismatic psycho du jour, the Twins, are definitely among the least effective or interesting villains Far Cry has produced; they come across like former stars of a 90's children's sitcom that went off the deep end: certainly hateable, but with no complexity or agenda besides wanting to laze around, living off other people's hard work. (Bloody typical of young people today, am I right?!) The only reason the Twins have any power seems to be that people like the main protagonist keep getting inexplicable brain farts in their presence; there's one bit where we're headed to a building to confront the Twins, and the Twins give us a ring when we're outside and say, "Hey, put all your guns in that bag and then come in and handcuff yourself to the ceiling," and we're given no choice but to obey. Hypothesize with me, Captain Protagonist Person: what if we just didn't do that? What possible consequence do you think there would be if bursting in guns blazing? "Oh, no! They might say something very fucking sassy before I blow their jawbones off with an LMG and leave their tongues to waggle like used condoms on an extractor fan!"


  • I imagine that working for EA must be rather like living with a toddler, drunk person, or "President" of The United States. Imagine BioWare's plight: "Well, now that you spent all that money getting the Star Wars license, we did make Knights of The Old Republic back in the day, so perhaps we could..." "NO! hATe StAR WarS! sTaR waRS IS bOriNG! CANceL aLL tHE STaR wARS! I wANt THAT!" "You want what?" "i WANt tHAt!" "What, Destiny?" "YeS! I wanT ThING thaT LOOks LikE Halo wiTH sOmEHoW eVEn LeSS peRSonALiTY! "Well, you can't have Destiny; it's owned by Activision/Blizzard." "AaAAaGGgH-waAAgGgHH-WaaAGggHhh...!" "All right, all right! I suppose we could make something that's a lot like Destiny. I mean, mindless online-only looty-shootys aren't really our thing; we're more about character-based role-play... Oh, dear, please stop holding your breath, EA! Look! We made our own version of Destiny! It's called Anthem!" "UGH! HaTE iT! YoUR'e aLL fiREd! WHy diDN't yOu mAKE a StaR wArs gAME?"
  • Meanwhile, show up at Gameplay Land and ask if it would be possible to play single-player, and the game reacts like you sat down at an expensive restaurant and ordered a bowl of corn flakes. You go to the "Privacy Settings" - once you can find the fucking things, 'cos this game has a worse menu system than a McDonald's drive-thru after a major earthquake - What is it with ultra-AAA games having shitty interfaces these days? Is it the same principle by which Las Vegas casinos are laid out, to get you lost and unable to glimpse the Sun in the hope that you get confused and accidentally drop all your money? - and your options are "Public Match", as God intended, or "Private Match" for big stupid losers. Then, when you set it to "private" and try to start solo, a window pops up saying, "Hehehe, sorry! Someone's CLEARLY made a dreadful mistake! Surely, you don't actually want to play a solo private match? Just click here and we'll set it back to public play so you can rejoin all the NORMAL PEOPLE!" But I didn't click that, and then the tip on the fucking loading screen was something about how playing multiplayer earns more rewards and doesn't make the little baby Jesus cry. What the fuck is this, guys?! Am I on suicide watch?!
  • ...The gameplay clearly exists on sufferance, and yet the main story is still surprisingly short and padded out. The bit where you can't continue the plot until you complete a checklist of arbitrary gameplay grinds springs to mind -- a very poorly explained checklist at that. "Get five multikills." What the fuck's a multikill, Anthem? "Well, what do you think it is?" Erm... Killing more than two enemies with one grenade? "Oh, good guess! Wrong, though."

The Division 2[edit]

  • But as we settle in to the primary gameplay loop of The Devotion 2, we see precisely how it intends to carry on the series legacy of staring existential horror. As you connect with a safe house and a list of numbered objectives appear in the corner of the screen, knowing that all of them will entail the exact same thing -- walking into yet another exhaustively decorated large room full of chest-high walls, taking up position and waiting for another parade of identical generic bad guys to inexplicably leap out of cover in turn so you can pop them in the face -- and then you will grasp the true horror of your existence, that you willingly paid money to play what is essentially a right-wing gun enthusiast's version of Fifty-Two Pickup for potentially the rest of your life. And in that, The Devotion 2 is a true sequel to the previous... [Yahtzee impatiently turns to the imp who has just appeared] What!? What do you want? [*whisper whisper whisper*] Well, what is it a sequel to, then? [*whisper whisper whisper*] What, the boring one? [*whisper*] Actually, that does make more sense. Sorry, everyone, little misunderstanding; I'll have to start again. (*ahem*) Boring Tom Clancy Ubisoft Sandbox 2 is another The Division. Oh, bugger! I've confused myself.
  • You shoot bullets at the enemies to make their health number go down, so you can chip at your arbitrary number of objectives, and find gear to improve your numbers in rooms with very large numbers of chest-high walls... Some day they're going to refine this all down and make a game where all you do is press plus-one on a calculator until you reach the arbitrary point that makes a nearby person's chest cavity explode, and your calculator gets slightly bigger. It'll make billions.

Yoshi's Crafted World[edit]

  • I must confess, listeners, that I'm a little bit biased against Yoshi's Island and its present-day derivatives; of all the chapters of what we might as well call the "Original Mario Canon", I like Yoshi's Island the least, not just because listening to Baby Mario cry made me want to vaccinate him against continuing to be alive, not just because of the questionable way in which Yoshi would swallow enemies and then poo them out of his implied cloaca, not even because the aiming controls were shit (and still are shit, despite them no longer having the excuse that the controller isn't full of unused buttons and analogue sticks all hankering to muck in like a bunch of guilt-stricken white people at an African house-building project). No, the main reason Yoshi's Island sits poorly with me is that it introduced to a hitherto-perfectly straightforward series of platformers the idea that there can be degrees of success. See, in Mario World, you can crawl across the finish line as tiny Mario with shards of tortoise shell lodged in your face, or you can break the tape with the tip of your giant powered-up stiffy, and either counts equally as a win; you can find your own level of success. But Yoshi's Island doesn't tick the level off as "properly" done until you find all the invisible secret places and end it with full health, and thus began video gaming's dark history of exploiting the "obsessive instinct", something that set the path that led us all the way to our current apocalyptic age of live service loot box labouring; all it took was for one cunt to realize that that sense of fulfilment one gets from the "Level 100% Completed" jingle is something people might conceivably pay extra for, a cunt who will one day be remembered alongside the dude who fucked the monkey that gave us AIDS.
  • "Mummy, can I watch this funny Internet video about my favorite Yoshi game?" "Of course, darling! There's hardly likely to be a reference to the dude that fucked the monkey that gave us AIDS!"

Days Gone[edit]

  • Of all the video game protagonists I've been unreasonably obliged to identify with, I struggle to think of one I dislike more than Deacon St. John. Even Jeffrey Cuddletrousers from Hatred at least had some fucking ambition in life. At least he knew how to express himself, and didn't just mumble into his shoes all the time. He didn't sulk and whine every time someone asked him to do something, like a teenager when the bins need putting out. And he didn't passive-aggressively criticize them under his breath the moment their backs were turned; he'd mainly just stab them in the face and shit. But the developers apparently thought Deacon St. John's "dynamic" personality needed to be a constant presence, so he has to comment on fucking everything. "Oh, I picked up a bottle. Another Molotov is it? Yawn!" And another thing; stop second guessing my intentions, Deacon St. John! I walk two feet out of a zombie clear-out zone, and you go "Ooh, I guess I'll finish clearing it out later, then..." You'd like that, wouldn't you, you lazy bastard!? What was your job at that biker gang you used to be in? 'Cause I think it must have been taste tasting the crystal meth.

Close to the Sun[edit]

  • Frankly, I think Close to the Sun presents a cautionary tale. If you're going to knock something off, maybe pick something that isn't really good and made by more competent people than you. Why not try to make, say, Ride To Hell, but actually functional, and consequently infinitely less interesting? And then re-name it something like Days Gone.

Rage 2[edit]

  • So Rage 1 was a pudding-y fart in an overcrowded swimming pool, and Bethesda must've said to id, "All right, fine, just make Doom." So they made Doom, and it kicked arse, and then they were like, "Great! We've figured it out! Now let's make another Rage!" Why?! Why are we still bothering with Rage?! And why do you have a black eye? "I walked into a door. I mean, because it's a post-apocalypse story that desperately needs to be told, that's why! Now, let's make Rage 2, and they're definitely not making me say this!" Well, let's give Rage 2 a chance; I mean, there might be a few things that a shoot-y drive-y post-apocalypse sandbox can do with the color magenta that Far Cry New Dawn didn't already do this year.

E3 2019[edit]

  • Funny, isn't it, how whenever a game talks about being "over-the-top" or "tongue-in-cheek", it always seems to mean the same thing these days: that it's going to look like an irresponsibly violent version of Jet Set Radio? Probably cel-shaded, every character's introduced with a freeze-frame profile and dresses like a Tank Girl cosplayer with colour blindness, and a lot of things will be magenta. Oh, yeah, and there'll be a panda, for some reason.
  • But let's get on to some of the bigger stuff, like, for example, the giant dribbling cock that Square Enix tripped and broke its nose on, the one with "Avengers" written along the side. With Avengers: Endgame and the very distinct appearances of the main actors still fresh in public memory, wheeling out a game starring their stunt doubles left everyone a bit nonplussed, at best. "Oh, come on, Yahtz! The cost of the likeness rights for these people could've paid for four more years of mysteriously-silent Final Fantasy VII development!" Oh, fair enough, Square Enix; just show us how the Avengers game plays, then. "Mmmmmm... No."

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night[edit]

  • I hope Bloodstained realizes what it has done; all we needed was a few more disappointing fuck-ups, a few more Mighty No. 9s, Yooka-Laylees, Broken Ages, and maybe we could've all been completely soured to the Kickstarted retro callback. "Oh, maybe it isn't healthy to never want to leave our youthful comfort zones," we could've all said. "Maybe we should be open to new thoughts and ideas, for just as the gene pool requires variance, so too does art need a diversity of new concepts to avoid stagnation and producing nothing but the cultural equivalent of harelips and webbed toes." And you fucked that up, Bloodstained, by proving the system can actually work, and now it's going to be Kickstarted remakes of Custer's Revenge as far as the eye can see. If you want a picture of the future, imagine General Custer's lovingly-rendered shiny bell-end slapping a human face - forever.

My Friend Pedro and Sea of Solitude[edit]

  • I want to emphasize, though, that the core combat is really good. I smash through a window on a skateboard, kick the same skateboard into somebody's eye socket, backflip over his friend shooting two guys at once, kick a frying pan into the air and shoot at it so the bullets ricochet into three other guys who were in cover and apparently left under some mad idea that it was in their power to stop me, and then, for the first time since initially entering the room, I touch the floor.
  • It also does the thing where it goes, "Oh, look, a sewer level. How original." (*roll eyes*) And then proceeds to unironically have a sewer level, that goes on way too fucking long. If you know it's bad, why are you doing it? Surely the comedic subversive thing to do would be to pretend we're having a sewer level, and then go, "Oh, bollocks to this hackneyed shit! Let's have a level where you ride an ostrich through a bouncy castle!"
  • Sea of Solitude is one of those games that's either going to really speak to you, or completely leave you cold. It'll all depend on whether you personally relate to Kay or not, and the more I played, the more I disliked her. Not because she was an inattentive sister or any of the other reasons the game gives for why she's tormenting herself like this. It's because she's such a fucking self-absorbed drama queen, she'll craft a grand operatic scenario out of her interpersonal relationship issues. "Oh no! I didn't give my depressed boyfriend enough space! Verily must I be clothed in the rainments of the traitor and banish myself to the wine-dark seas of nothingness to dwell forevermore." JUST STOP TEXTING HIM SO MUCH, YA DIPPY MOO!

Acclaim Entertainment Hall of Shame[edit]

  • It started in 2002 when, in the run-up to the release of horror-themed action-adventure Shadow Man 2, Acclaim announced that they would pay the funeral costs of anyone willing to put a Shadow Man 2 advert on the headstone of a deceased relative, prompting public outcry and the Church of England basically telling them to piss off. Yes, Church of "Tea and Crumpets with the Vicar" England! Takes a lot to upset those lads; they don't even hate gays that much. Now, in my research, the name "Steve Perry" came up a lot; apparently, he was the executive coming up with these ideas, but I find it hard to believe that one person could be entirely to blame. Sure, I can see one executive descending from a cocaine-induced trance to announce, "Hey, I know what demographic we should target: the recently bereaved!"; what I have trouble picturing is the roomful of colleagues that then replied, "Yes, we agree! What a good idea; let's action it!" without subsequently making hasty, sarcastic eye-rolls at whoever was keeping the minutes. Later the same year, Acclaim promoted the resoundingly mediocre Turok: Evolution by offering a sack of cash to anyone who was willing to christen their newborn baby "Turok", apparently shifting their demographic focus to the other end of the scale.
  • Now, one might reasonably say at this point, "Surely, it wasn't a serious offer to let new parents cash in on their future bullying victims! Surely, these were just shock tactics to grab headlines, the way a graffiti artist just wants attention and doesn't literally want to fuck the police! I mean, to be serious, there aren't enough hours in the day." Well, Acclaim would always insist these were genuine offers when pressed, and therefore, they must've been by the Universal Law of No Take-Backsies, but they also claim that the baby name idea was taken from a marketing expert named Simeon Cantrell who, it turned out, didn't exist; who wrote a book whose ISBN number, in truth, belonged to a book of children's knock-knock jokes. All of which indicates that at least one person at Acclaim was treating this as a big, ironic gag that would send them laughing all the way to the bank, but Acclaim was still losing money, so it was more like a forced chuckle all the way to the dole office.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw[edit]

  • Back before Mass Effect finished itself off with all the grace and elegance of the last season of Game of Thrones wanking into a bin, whenever I played one of those games, it always struck me how you only ever saw that universe from the top of the social heap; from the perspective of a universally famous and respected galactic saviour who could swan about on the best ship ever, decking journalists with impunity and being extremely flighty about what his favourite store on the Citadel is. I always wondered what the Mass Effect universe was like to the average fuck, just about qualified to reverse their space van out of their own space driveway and deliver crates of flavourless nutrient paste to the worker cubes; how did they feel about Commander Shepard? Were they happy with the flavour of ice cream they got at the end of Mass Effect 3? Well, I guess we'll never know now, since after Mass Effect: Andromeda, more Mass Effect is about as hotly demanded as the Jeffrey Epstein Bumper Fun Activity Book for Kids.

Remnant: From The Ashes[edit]

  • Remnant (huurk) From the Ashes is a third-person action-adventure with a grim tone set in a dying world- it's a Dark Souls clone, isn't it? "Yes, Yahtzee, that's why we thought you would like it, since you feel about Dark Souls the way a starving tiger feels about something tigers particularly enjoy eating!" Yeah, but it feels like half the original IPs these days are Dark Souls clones. You're like grandparents, you are; I show up to your house in orange trousers one fucking time and now you get me a new pair of orange trousers every fucking Christmas. So come on then, what's this one's gimmick? "Well, it's Dark Souls, but with guns!" So, Bloodborne, then? "NO, SHUT UP! It's Dark Souls with a full-on third-person shooter: over-the-shoulder, iron sights, the whole steaming cow pat." So, it's Dark Souls but combined with the other 50% of every game that comes out these days?

Gears 5[edit]

  • Well, anyway, the war against the Locust, I mean the Lambent, I mean the Swarm, I mean actually I think it's the Locust again now, continues, and is showing no sign of clearing up because this game ends on an unsatisfying cliffhanger. I guess Microsoft are still paying off the death-ray satellite.
  • Want to know how to do a Gears of War witticism? Step One: Say something relevant but completely obvious, to stir the players from the latest trance the combat put them into. Step Two: Continue talking uselessly until I hate you: "We need to go over there, and by 'over there,' I mean towards that big scary building full of enemies." "Oh, great. So what's the good news?" "Well, the good news is that I'm very handsome and glib and..." SHUT THE FUCK UUuuUUuuUP!! "...Okay, but by "shut the fuck up," do you mean...?" OH, MY GOD!! Why can't you just accept that Joss Whedon will never hire you? [380]

Contra: Rogue Corps[edit]

  • Set after the alien wars depicted in the retro Contras, Contra: Rogue Corps is concerned with a mysterious alien city that rises from the ruins, which is supposed to be full of treasure that we assuredly want, but doesn't seem to be doing anything besides sitting there and having treasure and monsters, which is a classic example of a "non-plot." A depressingly common setting for live-service multiplayer video games: A plot with no active villain, or ticking clock, or clear solution, just an environment with a sense of permanent, non-specific peril that can never change or develop for fear that XxNobChopsxX might stop his grindy, 8-hour quest to make themselves able to grind 1.8% more efficiently.
  • Between missions, we go back to home base and have to deal with the "looty" half of "looty-shooty" by laboriously sorting through our latest crop of equips and weapon add-ons that apply completely mystifying upgrades. "+5% defence against generic damage"? What the fuck is "generic" damage? Damage that basically does the job but isn't focused on innovating at this time?

Ghost Recon Breakpoint[edit]

  • ...Let's not forget, you can buy what's termed "timesavers"; so first we buy your game, Ubisoft, and then you charge us more money to not have to play it? If I paid double price up front, would you just not give it to me at all? Take a step back, people, because this has all gotten way too fucking normalized. When you charge money for something you can produce infinitely at zero cost, like in-game currency, that's not a service; that is the fucking death of economics as a concept. How the fuck did we get here from basic principles of trade?! It's like walking up to a dude in the stocks in the village square and saying, "If you give me three turnips, I'll spit in your face."


  • The plot concerns the infuriatingly awkwardly-spelled Ajna, a spunky teenage girl in a Ni no Kuni-esque dog's breakfast fantasy world where forest villages and steampunk cities rub shoulders like slightly-acquainted colleagues in an undersized lift, who has been trained as a fighter from birth by her stern dad, and has only just established her protagonist credentials when she returns to her forest village to find it being forest pillaged by an imperialist army of baddies, and her stern dad has been made stone dead. Yeah, I'm guessing you weren't shooting for the "Creative Writing" prize, were you, Lab Zero? Shall I put us down for "Standard RPG Fantasy Package A-12", then? Please direct me to the first of the several teenagers we will be enlisting to aid us in murdering God. Still, we're thrown a bit of a curveball early on when, while fighting the Imperial soldier who stone-deaded our stern dad, said soldier inexplicably turns into a spirit and is absorbed by Ajna's consciousness, 'cause it turns out Ajna has a secret god power that lets her draw people into herself and then get them to fight for her; sort of like Pokémon, but with human beings, and therefore, somehow even more ethically questionable.
  • The problem is, there's a moment in the game - and it's remarkable how finely I can pinpoint it - where an invisible lever gets thrown and the bottom drops out, and it stops being fun. It's about the point when you meet the pirate lesbian, and the world opens up, and you know we're in trouble when a pirate lesbian marks anything but an upturn in events. The problem is in the numbers; I don't know if they were originally making another fighting game and just got bored, but that might explain the ridiculous number of party members you get. This is some Chrono Cross-level shit; the primest real estate in the world is a teenage girl's noggin, apparently, and Ajna's beating the tenants off with a stick. But the combat isn't very deep, and all that really matters is doing the most damage as fast as you can, so you might as well just find four guys you like and stick with them. And post-pirate lesbian, something goes horribly wrong with the enemy's stats; I went into battle with a small, unassuming frog, bum-bounced them between my four lads for twenty minutes, then in that awkward post-coital cigarette-break while I wait for everyone's bars to refill, I realized that the frog still had nine-tenths of their health bar left. I hit that frog 400 times! In a sane world, they would no longer have more than one dimension, let alone health points! And they couldn't do much damage to me, either, so now I'm just disinterestedly doing my super-combo six times to kill one fucking frog! I feel like Rachmaninoff playing for pocket change in a dive bar, and the crowd won't stop requesting "Free Bird".

The Outer Worlds[edit]

  • The Obsidian-brand depth of player choice is here; you can even side with the corporations if you want, but they are both evil and failing horribly, so it's like betting on the Nazis to win World War II even as Magda Goebbels is biting down on her suicide pill.

2019 Games I Haven't Reviewed Roundup[edit]

  • [Code Vein] is another Souls-like with combat that's generally FINE and boring level design, but it has one thing that makes it notable: it's the most anime game I've ever played. This is a game where the character customizer has 90 billion hairdos and two noses; a game where one of the facilities in your home base is a hot spring, and if you get in it, female characters will show up in skimpy towels. This is a thing that happens. It built a fan service hot springs episode into its fucking mechanics! And after the second main boss in a row was a giant demonic stripper with their juicy jugs flapping about, I made the decision to stop playing before my Amazon recommendations became too embarrassing.
  • [Outer Wilds]'s nice when you're roaming the skies with a song in your heart. It's less nice you're lost in an underground labyrinth trying to find a fucking outpost you found two loops ago, but couldn't finish exploring because you misfired your jetpack, fell, broke both your legs and then the sun exploded. It's a game that can simultaneously be very chilled out and very demoralizing. Like going bankrupt because you blew all your money on BBC nature documentaries.
  • ...Oh yeah, I've got tons of things to say about Borderlands 3. Wait here, and I'll go get them. *walks off screen followed by the sound of a car pulling away as Borderlands 3 awkwardly stands around in silence* [381]

2019 Best, Worst, and Blandest[edit]

  • And so ends the year Two Thousand Nineteen / What a cascade of failure and pain it has been / Out came the games to not that much cheer / But lots of hostility, and yawning, and sneers / That made all the publishers recoil in fear / And push back the games that looked good to next year / But no amount of pushback would have been enough / To lift our poor industry out of the trough / Of artless, 'sploitational, grind-a-thon guff / Of loot-box live service, and all of that stuff / But anyway, to close out Two Thousand Nineteen / The best, and the worst, and the blandest I've seen.
  • I was hesitant to reward Bloodstained just for being Castlevania: Symphony of The Night, but it isn't that, really. What it is is exactly what I wanted: For Castlevania to stop pissing about and pack all the good ideas it's had into one game that we can finally call good without qualification. "Okay, but I can I make the protagonist wear a silly hat?" Yes, Koji Igarashi, have all the silly hats you want. "I will!"
  • Anthem is mind-numbing live service tosh with fewer original ideas than a BBC daytime television commissioner, but that's not why it's topping my "blandest" list. The real reason? Because while I was writing down the obvious candidates -- Days Gone, Ghost Recon -- I suddenly noticed Anthem on the list of 2019 releases, and thought, "Huh. I completely forgot about that." And that, viewers, is what gives you the edge in a mediocrity contest. [382]


The 2010s' Most Significant Games[edit]

  • The history of gaming in the 2010s could theoretically be told entirely in open world games. If I were to pick that represents them all, I'd probably go for Far Cry 3, which was pretty good, but it was where an unpleasant trend was being to crystallise - the sandbox game becoming less "open-ended cathartic adventure" than "gigantic, three-dimensional checklist of busywork", its maps splattered with identical, copy-pasted challenges and collectibles designed mainly to torment the obsessive-compulsive, with a primary gameplay loop best summarized as "tidying up". Where the stories gradually devolved into withered strands of linear tutorial missions that don't even have proper endings, 'cos we have to go straight back to the sandbox afterwards to hunt for the remaining five hundred sliver pinecones.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries & Wattam[edit]

  • Wattam's blurb states that it's a game about friendship, but I don't agree that it is. What this game is really saying is that the only way to be accepted by society and your peers is to blindly follow instructions, and that if someone chews you up and shits you out you should just be grateful for the attention. So apparently it’s a metaphor for your first job after leaving college.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners[edit]

  • If I'm serious about VR being good and the way forward for immersive gaming -- and I should stress I do genuinely think that; people tell me they often can't tell if I'm being sarcastic because I have what's medically known as Resting Bitch Voice -- then, like the coronavirus, we'd all better get used to hearing about it.
  • The first area in which The Walking Dead: Baits & Switches exceeds Boneworks is story, because it actually fucking has one. The city of New Orleans has been classically zombie-apocalypsed, and catastrophically flooded as well -- although apparently that was unrelated. That was just, y'know, Tuesday.
  • But somehow they [the weapons] don't have the same satisfying feel. It's the little things. It's the sound; it's the slides being a bit more finicky. It's the way ammunition doesn't go in to the gun so much as disappear the moment it's vaguely near it: "GUN-TOR ACCEPTS YOUR SACRIFICE! (*om-nom-nom-nom-nom!*) YOU ARE GRANTED A BOON OF SIX MORE DEAD CUNTS!"


  • I made sure to leave a like on the small number of games that I felt got into the right spirit of things, offering nice straightforward gameplay loops, occasionally even original ones, and as I looked around at the colourful menus and the careful curation algorithms at work, I found myself thinking "Y'know, it'll be a real shame when this all gets taken over by perverts." These things always are, Media Molecule. The Sonic the Hedgehog fans are the warning sign. Now Sonic fans aren't necessarily perverts, basketball players aren't necessarily tall but it fucking helps. Sooner or later they bring in that one character who's a bat with tits and the furries have got a foot in your door. Remember Second Life? Once a lovely wholesome attempt at a community-created online world of pure imagination, now just zebra dicks and yiff piles as far as the eye can see. The earnest creators will all return or graduate to more efficient systems once the novelty wears off and then all your fancy 3D art tools are so much fantasy penis shaping equipment. What're you gonna do, screen all incoming content for the rest of your fucking life? Smarter and more dedicated people than you have tried to hold back the masturbators, and the masturbators always win, probably because they've got all the stamina.

Black Mesa[edit]

  • Black Mesa's Xen is three or four times longer than the original, which I'm not sure is the solution I'd have gone for. "Oh, you don't want your broccoli? Well here’s three times as much, bitch, and if you don't learn to like it I'm going to start pushing it up your nose." I suppose having worked on it for years they wanted to prove they weren't Duke Nukem Forever-ing that whole time, and that is most certainly proved. The cosmic vistas are spectacular, every inch of effort is on display, and while it is overlong and the quality has its dips, some bits are pretty forgettable and some chug along like the early morning hangover shits, there’s enough of a sense of wonder about it that I wasn’t unengaged. Trouble is, I don't think it addresses the actual issue with Xen – we just spent umpteen hours tactically combatting our way through an ever-evolving narrative about a research facility disaster and military cover-up and this Metroid meets American McGee's Alice bad acid trip at a children's ball pit full of tricky platforming and bullet spongey bosses doesn’t feel like a payoff for what was set up.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps[edit]

  • The usual indie arty platformer theme of small innocent child in big scary world is like the missionary position. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, some interesting things have been done with it, but when it's all you fucking do you'll swiftly be desperately hankering to break the monotony with just one suck job or nipple clamp. The thing about small child scary world though is that it rarely does sequels, because the underlying theme of small child scary world is coming of age and/or loss of innocence, and you can’t lose your innocence twice. Well, I suppose you could lose it in stages. Say, lose half when you find out that Santa isn’t real, lose the other half the first time you take it up the arse.
  • Once again the nebulous negative force we’re up against is "the darkness", which has no agenda beyond making all the nice people sad and the local boss monsters bastards, requiring that we help out through therapeutic beating the glowing snot out of them. Look, I know this isn't Tinker Tailor Soldier Cat Rabbit Thing and I shouldn't expect complex plotting from my fantasy animal platformers, but the mythic tone and sweeping soundtrack makes me think that it thinks its story is epic and profound, when it's actually kinda shallow. Drive out the darkness and restore the light? Ooh, good idea, maybe I wouldn't bump into things so much. The game's backed by Microsoft and there's a vibe of corporate committee thinking around it. It reminds me of how Hollywood pumps its most crassly gigantic budgets into movies with no more profound message than "it's bad to murder everyone with explosions" because any more controversial statement would offend the Chinese government.

Doom Eternal[edit]

  • Doom Eternal is the sequel to Doom 2016, in which we step back into the chunky, elephantine boots of THE DOOM SLAYER, and the plot picks up where Doom 2016 left off, give or take an explanation for how we escaped from Mars, and where we got a fucking spaceship from, or how demons have conquered most of Planet Earth. Okay, so maybe it doesn't start where Doom 2016 left off, although the "demons invading Earth" bit, we could probably have safely assumed. Ooh, what has humanity learned from the previous disaster? The usual amount: somewhere in the region between "bugger" and "all". How timely. But as for how THE DOOM SLAYER got here, maybe that was explained in the DLC or a comic book somewhere; and incidentally, I do appreciate how it's now canon that THE DOOM SLAYER does actually talk like he did in the Doom comic book: like an abattoir worker on enough coke to floor an elephant seal.
  • THE DOOM SLAYER is an unfettered, chaotic id who only wants to kill demons and find collectible Happy Meal toys; in other words, he's the player of a mindless shooter game. But the central gag of the character is that all the other characters in the plot are looking for meaning and cosmic/religious significance in his actions where none truly exists; he just doesn't give a shit. That's the joke; very funny, ha ha ha. But in Doom Eternal, when there are entire levels devoted to traipsing through empty hallways learning the history of THE DOOM SLAYER and the origin story for how he came to not give a shit, and we're beset by cutscenes and dialogue and codex entries filling us in on the Maykrs of Urdak and their history with the Sentinels of Argent D'Nur and their long tradition of shit and the not-giving thereof, then suddenly, the game itself is the one projecting unnecessary meaning onto the dude who doesn't actually give a shit, and the joke is at the expense of the story-writers!

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

  • It's odd to play a Half-Life game where the main character speaks and can tell the people around them to stop being such prannies, but it's still unmistakably Half-Life, with its trademark monsters, linear narrative gameplay, and weird emotional tone. I mean, humanity has essentially been enslaved by the Borg, who systematically subject them to gory, nightmarish body horror, but everyone's really cheerful and yucking it up with their pet headcrabs. Yes, I know humans strive to be upbeat during a crisis, but there's this one very Resident Evil-y chapter in Alyx where we have to sneak around an indestructible monster who's this hideously mutated human who will tear us apart if he finds us and looks to be in immense suffering, and then we're told that their name is Jeff, and everyone talks about him like he's the one asshole in the friend group who keeps hitting on waitresses. "Oh, that Jeff; Jeff sucks." "Hey, I trapped Jeff in a garbage compactor." "Sucks to be Jeff!" Sometimes, Half-Life's storytelling feels like what happens when an entire game has Asperger syndrome.

Resident Evil 3[edit]

  • I wasn't going to bring up the coronavirus thing again; I mean, the site's called "The Escapist", not "The Constant Reminders of Our Inevitable Hubristic Doom". Besides, it'll pretty seriously date the video in a month or two when the virus goes away forever and everything returns to normal and all the dead people come back to life and there's a rainbow. But now I have to talk about Resident Evil 3, a game about society descending into chaos because of a viral pandemic. It could only have been less fortunately timed if the zombies ate toilet rolls instead of brains.
  • I don't know if it's worth analysing for subtext of a game about a giant, muscular man refusing to leave alone an attractive, under-dressed lady and trying to penetrate her with his big, floppy willy of death; she is, at least, better-dressed than she was in the original, where she looked like an embarrassing single mother accompanying her daughter to a roller disco. But still, 3-make sometimes gives me a Tomb Raider-make vibe when the amount of shit that gets kicked out of Jill Valentine starts to border on the fetishistic. No, I don't think I sound disingenuous when I get finger-waggy about this kind of thing; it's not like I jerked off to it more than once.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons[edit]

  • Animal Crossing is an institution at this point, one that requires commitment, and as such I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who thinks they're ready to be committed to an institution. The setup this time around is that you and the predatory raccoon loan shark Tom Nook have come to a desert island wilderness in order to develop it into yet another wholesome capitalist paradise for animal-shaped random number generators. You know, the kind of setup where, if it were a film, you'd expect half the cast to be cannibalized by the end of act two, but don't worry, Tom Nook presumably massacred the native island population before we arrived. The process of developing the island largely entails for your part the transfer of ungodly amounts of Bells from you to Tom Nook's holdings account, and the usual Animal Crossing routine quickly sets in. You fish, you catch bugs, you acquire furniture, you sell it all to Tom Nook for money that you then use to pay off your loans to Tom Nook. It's the all-Tom Nook economy. When Tom Nook dies, this entire society will fucking collapse into anarchy where brightly coloured animal people shiv each other for pears.
  • As for how New Horizons compares to previous incarnations, there's a greater sense in this one that the environment is growing and developing as time goes on. At first it's all tents and temporary housing, no shop, no museum and most of it's locked behind impassable rivers and cliffs, but with time, several large payments to Tom Nook and enough inevitable fucking crafting to soak up more PVA glue than any unsupervised schoolchild could consume in a lifetime you gradually turn this mysterious exotic wilderness into yet another Animal Crossing consumerist hellhole identical to the last one. Tom Nook is the living embodiment of the grey goo scenario!

Final Fantasy VII Remake[edit]

  • If you saw the title "Final Fantasy VII Remake", and from the words "Final Fantasy VII" and "Remake" are now expecting a remake of the game Final Fantasy VII, then you might be disappointed; Final Fantasy VII Remake ends at the bit where you leave the first city, or about one-third of the way through the first disc of the original PS1 game, although it takes about forty more hours to get there, 'cos it's padded like an A-cup on School Picture Day. So there's been some contention over whether this is false advertising or a new take on the subject matter with better character exploration. I think a lot of this could've been cleared up if they'd titled the game "Final Fantasy VII Remake: Episode One". But maybe they didn't want to commit; I mean, at the rate they're going, by the time they get to the last episode, it'll probably get pushed back by the heat death of the universe. I hope they are doing more episodes, 'cos the plot, as it stands, is painfully unresolved; the bulk of what we get might as well be re-titled "Cloud Strife vs. The Manic Pixie Dream Girls".
  • I was having fun when I was in the gambling town and Cloud had to dress up as a lady and becomes somehow irresistible to men, despite looking like a frumpy Amish spinster who spent last night sleeping with her head in the feeding trough. But that's a cultural thing; I'm English, and therefore, the funniest things in the world to me are men dressing as ladies and the concept of social mobility.
  • I guess 'spectacle' is all that matters in JRPGs these days, that's why half the time in combat the deep shadows and particle effects mean I can barely tell what the fuck's going on. You know what was really spectacular, viewers? An epic three-disc adventure on the PS1 that was long because it had lots of stuff in it. And Final Fantasy VII Remake only managing to be as long as it was because a lot of it's copy-pasted like a suspiciously well-written undergraduate thesis feels like a slap in the face to those of us who remember a time when we could have nice things. And isn't that the story of my fucking life right now. Hey, remember when games had actual depth? SLAP! "No you don't!" Hey, remember when you could go out to that frozen yoghurt place you like? SLAP! "No more of that!" Hey, remember when you could get off on light BDSM? "No slap!" Oh, you tease! [383]

Cloudpunk & Streets of Rage 4[edit]

  • Through a linear series of encounters with unique characters, Cloudpunk builds a well-realized world of human-A.I. tension, inequality, corporate oppression, and all the usual bollocks cyberpunk goes on about, and at various times, Rania has to make moral choices which have the usual long-term effect on the story, i.e., little, if any. But the story really falls flat for me around one major central point like a six-inch nail in a soufflé: I just don't like Rania as a character. She's come to this city she knows little about and openly hates from some kind of small nation of hipsters that you probably haven't heard of, but trust me, it's much better; half the characters she meets are obnoxious in some cartoonishly overdone way just so she can get all judge-y at them, and they keep foisting important missions and major life decisions onto her because they watched her drunkenly banging into lampposts and doing very unpleasant things to the handbrake for two minutes and decided she had the wisdom of the ages. I might've preferred Cloudpunk if it were Euro Cyber Truck Simulator and just had me randomly deliver stuff while I listened to podcasts, and it told its story more covertly through background details rather than make me sit and listen to what Rania thinks about something that's none of her sodding business.
  • My problem with Shreets of Shrage Shfour is that it's a game designed for confident people; your devastating special moves cost health to use, but you get the health back if you can land the next few hits without getting hit yourself, meaning that you become more effective the more confidence you have in your skills, and I doubt that this is the arena for a breakthrough where several years of therapy and alcohol abuse has fallen short. But I'd replay the level enough times, memorize enough encounters, and dodge enough devastating enemy attacks by move-walking six inches downwards, and I'd eventually struggle through and defeat the boss, whereupon the status screen would usually very grandly award my performance a "D" rank, which is always a buzzkill; it's like I finally collapsed into my tent after a long day of successful Arctic exploration, whereupon one of the huskies trotted over and pissed on my head. And this was only Normal difficulty! Talk about a skill ceiling; this is the Sistine Fucking Chapel!

World of Warcraft: The Corrupted Blood Incident[edit]

  • If you enlightened viewers in the modern age of less blurry screenshots are seeing some eerie parallels between the Corrupted Blood incident and certain real life current events, you aren't alone! In fact, academics took an interest in the incident for what it might tell us about real-life pandemics, particularly the sociological effects. But others argued that it taking place in a video game with zero real-life consequences limited the usefulness of the data. After all, it's not like people in the real world would just casually blow off an official quarantine order when there’s honest to goodness life and death on the line. Dear me, no! And as for the people who'd get the infection and try to pass it to others deliberately, why that would require nothing less than a fundamental breakdown of education and governance. Surely people understand that there are no hard resets in real life... unless you count tactical nuclear strikes. Yes, I suppose this episode was more of a "let's all laugh at a humanity that never learns anything, tee hee hee," but for me it's nice to see something confirmed that I could have told these academics at any time - that if they want a case study for the most irrational behaviour of which human beings are capable then a good place to start might be the people who willingly pay a monthly subscription to waste their free time scraping up imaginary Murloc bellends.

Desperados III[edit]

  • You remember "Cockup Cascade", right? The term I came up with for an unfortunate feature of many stealth action games where the slightest misstep means getting caught in a pile-on of escalating fuck-ups, so you might as well just reload the instant you get spotted? Well, Desperados III is the patron saint of Cockup Cascade; the cocks barely have a chance to come down again. The enemies all have visibility cones spread wider than your mum's legs when she hears a bottle opener, and you can only see one guard's cone at a time; on top of that, a lot of guards who look like they're staring straight ahead are, in fact, glancing back and forth like a nervous gazelle at a tennis match, covering an area the size of a conservatively-proportioned aircraft hangar. So half the time, you'll settle into the nice, long "slitting a throat" animation, and only then be informed that someone offscreen is looking at you from their table at a delightful Parisian-style street café on the surface of Mars. And thus, the cascade begins. Everyone on the map is alerted and rushes your position, more guards spawn in on top of the existing ones; it's like the fucking fight scene at the end of the original Casino Royale. And while you do have a gun, you fire it once and then can't fire it again until you've remembered all the lyrics to "The British Grenadiers", and your special power to pause the game and queue up your next few actions, at this point, provides nothing besides the chance to take a moment and really drink in just how completely fucked you are. So don't kid yourself about making a stand; you're just going to fucking quick-load. It's not so bad in the early game, but before long, levels are absolutely packed with enemies and overlapping patrol routes, and it turns into a sort of ultra-violent puzzle game, where the objective is to figure out the precise sequence of actions to pick off every enemy in ascending order of gregariousness, quick-saving with every inch of progress. An experience like untangling a huge ball of Christmas lights, turning it over and over, picking on loose bits, occasionally pulling on the wrong thing, getting electrocuted and making all the children scream.

The Last of Us Part II[edit]

  • Here's the plot: protagonist of last game gets murdered by group seeking revenge for thing protagonist did in last game; adopted daughter of protagonist goes to group's home base to get double-backsy revenge, which happens to be in a really shitty holiday destination, and no, it didn't escape me that this is the same plot as Silent Hill 3. Now, Joel in the last game was a basically relatable gruff hairy dad learning to love again who made one very questionable decision at the end, but Ellie in Last of Us II seems to be of a mind that the best way to commemorate Gruff Hairy Dad would be to beat his "questionable decision" speed record as many times as possible. And already, I hear the same people who gave me shit about not liking the last game slithering out from behind the fridge to make the same argument: "You're not supposed to like or agree with the characters! It's complex and challenging drama!" Yeah, thanks, Professor; I got we weren't supposed to be entirely on Ellie's side around the Dr. Sniffybum incident. But the message is muddled by everyone in Ellie's conventionally attractive mumblecore support group assuring her that revenge is the tops and totally justified, and the villains' equivalent act of revenge against Joel for doing something a lot worse was totally not justified because they hadn't had nearly enough screen time. Which is presumably why, just as the plot is starting to look like it's wrapping up, the game suddenly flashes back and makes us play as the main villain for way, way too fucking long: to show that, ooh, they have redemptive qualities as well and, from their perspective, Ellie is basically a less eloquent Jason Voorhees.
  • Can I do a spot of disabusing here? The kind I always have to do whenever they put out a DAVID CAGE game, or anything else presenting a façade of dramatic depth? The following things do not make a character deep or compelling: 1.) Getting hurt a lot (Looking at you, Tomb Raider reboot.); 2.) Being sad; 3.) Doing morally questionable things; and we might as well tack on 4.) Being a member of a minority, just 'cos I've already given up hope for this video's comment section. What does matter is the characters at least be interesting to watch, and these aren't; the banter between Ellie and her girlfriend as they adventure together sizzles like a flask of slightly tepid water because they're too similar in personality, background, and motivation to have good chemistry. But the most important thing is growth. Walker in Spec Ops: The Line slowly becomes a monster as he's twisted by the constant backfiring of his good intentions, and that's why it's compelling; Ellie has no character development. Villain Lady does, a little bit, for stupid reasons, along the lines of suddenly realizing that the enemy faction she's been genociding unquestioned for months are also human beings with families and would rather not be genocided, thanks, but Ellie just sets out to do something shitty and remains a shitty person; in fact, the game keeps droning on for about two hours after you think it's finally ending just to continue establishing Ellie's shittiness!


  • So while the general quality could be a problem, I fear the main one, my little velvet fucksocks, is games. I know, it's such a bore, isn't it, having to sucker people into a subscription service and provide them content? It's like, running a dairy farm would be so much easier if you didn't have to keep feeding the cows and making sure they don't die and shit. Right now, there's just a limited selection of AAA titles that everyone stops talking about around the same time they stopped talking about Russia annexing the Ukraine, and as for the all-important exclusives, there's little more than what meager scraping of indie titles could be snuck out of the Epic Store's shopping basket.

Ghost of Tsushima[edit]

  • It's official; you're getting too old if you can remember any of the following: Jerry O'Connell, pop music where they don't sing like they just banged their foot on a coffee table, and tentpole games by Western AAA developers being capable of more than one genre. I'm so fucking sick of open world stealth action games with crafting and collectibles! Remember when Far Cry was a shooter, Tomb Raider was a precision platformer, and God of War was a high-octane hack and slash? All of them have now been pulled into open world stealth action with crafting and collectibles, like paper boats to an open sewer. I'm so fucking bored of squatting in a bush like a hiker who didn't go before he left, of having to nose around every shelf and drawer hoovering up crafting materials so I might one day make a new man-purse that can hold more than four paper clips. So if you're waiting for the next electrifying sea change in AAA games, Ghost of Tsushima ain't it, mate. It's the same shit with new wallpaper; nice wallpaper, granted. None of your "default Sims house" rubbish; this is the classy stuff you put behind a respected historian in a documentary about the Renaissance, but wallpaper nonetheless. Felt like I should put that up front, along with this: the standard crafting resource in this game is "supplies", and every time I saw that word while on shelf safari, I'm ashamed to admit I kept thinking about a very racist joke I once heard about a Chinese person at a birthday party.
  • The combat felt a lot better some ways into the game, after you unlock a few different stances, as it turns out that certain stances are very specifically intended for use against certain enemies, and if you're using the wrong stance, you might as well be dusting off their health bar with a pastry brush. So the combat is better once you've unlocked the things that make it work, almost like they should've been unlocked from the start, but no, everything has to be unlocked through one of the nine different upgrade systems, because that's what the template says to do, and we outsourced all our independent thought to Eastern Europe.
  • All the cherry-picked good bits in the world can't separate Ghost of Tsushima from the usual issues of committee-driven big-money development. Yes, there's some great Kurosawa-esque boss fights, but there's also an optional grainy black-and-white video filter named "Kurosawa Mode", which is the sort of idea that probably sounded cool to a committee room full of Danish pastry-fueled sub-producers, but in practice comes across a mite flippant.

Carrion & Beyond a Steel Sky[edit]

  • I'm most let down by [Beyond a Steel Sky's] visuals. It's got that Borderlands-y "cel-shaded but in an open relationship and can still see other graphical styles" thing that looks like arse and chips, and the animation is very jank; every time the engine has to none-too-subtly glide Foster into place to interact with something, it's like he's standing on a tea tray on a string. The real tragedy here is that, back in the days of 2D art and animation, Revolution Software were fucking killing it! Beneath a Steel Sky, Broken Sword; for their time, they were like tongue kisses for the eyeballs. Then, suddenly, they decided they had to do 3D graphics like everyone and their greengrocer and it was like a master violinist feeling like they had to take up the ukulele. I mean, fuck me, Dave Gibbons worked on Beneath a Steel Sky! A really good 2D artist; the artist of Watchmen, for fuck's sake! They brought him back on for this one, and then did most of the game in 3D; that's like hiring Professor Stephen Hawking to make YouTube essays about how Rey should've porked Finn.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout[edit]

  • One time, I was in the final round, and someone got declared the winner when everyone else was still halfway up the hill; don't tell me people are actually hacking this fucking game, or finding physics exploits? That's like rigging up a sophisticated concealed vacuum device to cheat at Hungry Hungry Hippos; seems like a lot of misplaced effort to win something that other people win fairly reliably just by flinging themselves at the controls for long enough.


  • And I thought it might be educational to list some things [Spiritfarer] didn't do to grab me, Games Industry. It didn't put out a pre-rendered trailer six years before release showcasing all its crazy characters with magenta-colored partial buzzcuts. It didn't use an aggressive leveling system to increase engagement the way a drug dealer "increases engagement" by cutting the blow with laundry detergent. And: It doesn't have Batman in it! No. What it did was: It made me emotionally engage with it. I play a game like Gears of War, where I'm in constant life-or-death struggle with snarling monsters that want to exterminate humanity, and I'm more emotionally engaged with the cheese and pickle sandwich I'm taking sneaky bites of between reloads. It kills off a main character; I feel more remorse when my wife notices pickle stains on the dog. In contrast, I played Spiritfarer, got to the part where an old hedgehog with dementia remembers who I am in the brief moment before she disappears, and I cried. (I actually did; fuck you.)
  • We play as Stella, a constantly smiling young girl with a hat slightly larger than she is, and a second player can optionally play as Stella's cat. "I'll take Completely Unnecessary Multiplayer Modes for 200, Alex. Ooo! 'What is Mario Odyssey?'"
  • I'd also group Spiritfarer with Gris and Sea of Solitude under the sub-heading of very-metaphorical-arty-indie-games. But here's how it doesn't fuck it up, like those two did. One: It never beats you around the head with its underlying meaning ...Sea of Solutude. Two: It has a deeper and more poignant underlying meaning than, "Main character is a bit sad" ...Gris. Three: It treats its gameplay as a way to establish its themes and add greater weight to its emotional moments, rather than a bunch of meaningless checkpoint flags to fill the space between the metaphors ...Gris and Sea of Solitude. And Four: Meta-meta-phor. The main point is: Spiritfarer has both underlying and surface meaning. If you want, you can forget all about the metaphor business. I'm certainly fucking sick of saying the word. If you want, it can just be a story about a little girl on a magical adventure, making a bunch of animal friends, hanging out, doing their side-quests, hugging them with the dedicated "hug" button, then icing them in the woods. And then you feel sad because you're actually sad about never getting to see your friend again -- not because there's a huge symbolic statue of the main character telling you to be sad ...Gris! Again!

No Straight Roads and Battletoads[edit]

  • Sometimes, I like to picture game developers watching these videos. "Ooh, look, everyone! That weirdo on the Internet did one of ours! Let's all gather 'round to good-naturedly laugh off his exaggerated criticism and bask in the occasional qualified praise. Come on, Steve! Bob! Fiona! Adolf! Lionel! Big Smelly Janet!" I wonder if the developers of Battletoads are doing that now? Well, developers of Battletoads, here's the thing: I hate your game. In fact, I don't think I've ever realized I hated a game quite as fast as I realized I hated yours. I'm trying to avoid swearing here, so you understand how totally sincere I am when I say I played five or six levels into Battletoads and decided I would rather spend the afternoon cleaning out the shower drains. But hey, I don't hold it against you; at least it didn't waste my time, and I've got a really clean shower now.

Marvel's Avengers[edit]

  • You know, Robert Downey Jr. deserves more praise for his portrayal of Tony Stark in the Marvel movies; yes, I know he's made more money than a glazier in the Gaza Strip, but he did a really quite impressive job playing a character who could be simultaneously abrasive, charismatic, and sympathetic. I was thinking about this while watching Tony Stark as portrayed in Marvel's Avengers, Square Enix's new, shiny chrome-plated hamster wheel for the micropayment masses, because if all of his dialogue lines had been cut out and been replaced by Tony Stark getting clipped around the ear by whoever was standing closest to him, then that would've earned the game at least another star. It's still confusing to me that this game that is obviously trying to crib off the success of the Marvel movies deliberately replaced all the leads with their poorly-received spinoff low-budget TV show versions, but maybe it's easier on the kiddies this way; they don't have to watch their heroes repeating an infinite cycle of copy-pasted combat missions and resource grinds and ask their parents, "Mummy, why is Iron Man trapped in a hypothetical tenth layer of Dante's Hell?"
  • Marvel's Avarvels puts an almost admirable degree of effort into not resembling a live service game for some ways into the campaign. [...] These first few missions mostly play like running down one corridor after another, but hey, they're nice corridors; there's an actual story focus, and at the end of some of the corridors, there's colorful boss fights against Marvel supervillains like Taskmaster (registered trademark) and Abomination (registered trademark). But then the live service shit starts insidiously to creep in. [...] The lovely, approachable face flakes off bit by bit to reveal the cold, eyeless skull underneath. "You unlocked the confusingly laid-out mission hub area! You unlocked the gear-crafting station! The cosmetic-crafting station! The faction missions! The storage lockers! Your next mission objective is to talk to all the gear vendors; we will literally hold up the plot until you fucking do that!" And every single one of them has a line of dialogue specifically designed to guilt you if you leave without buying anything. "Oh, you don't want any new emotes? Welp, better tell the kids that it'll be sawdust porridge for dinner again." Then all those story-focused corridor missions are replaced by missions in which you go to one of a handful of pocket sandboxes, are directed to a specific location, and all the way there, copy-pasted side objectives appear all around us like we're dodging mortar shells in fucking no man's land. "There's a treasure box nearby! There's a group of bland copy-pasted enemies nearby! Why not kill them before you kill the group of bland copy-pasted enemies you actually came here to deal with?" It's like being trapped in the IKEA showroom when all you want is a fucking egg whisk!


  • Ah, ancient mythology: the wonderful gift from our ancestors that ensures pretentious writers will never be shy of a free idea bucket. Hey, is there any reason we can't make up more mythology? Like, if I wanted to invent Maurice, the God of Consumer Electronics, or Rumblecrag, the God of Small Utensils That Get Jammed in the Kitchen Drawer; can I do that, or do I have to paint them on a vase and wait a thousand years for it to count? Video games have always gotten a lot of mileage out of mythology, but it's disappointing how it only ever seems to fall back on either Greek or Norse. I already know way too much about Greek and Norse mythology; why don't you ever make games about Zoroastrianism? I don't know anything about Zarathustra; I know that he spake once.
  • Hades is about Zagreus, the son of the titular deity, who has gotten sick of kicking around the depths of Tartarus playing Halo - and very deliberately pretending not to notice the pamphlets of vocational schools his dad rather unsubtly keeps leaving on the coffee table - and so he decides to pull what's known as the "reverse Orpheus" and journey out of the Underworld for the first time in his life. "And there's nothing you can do to stop me, Dad!" "Um, I literally rule over legions of immortal warriors with nothing to do all day but try to stop you, Zagreus." "Shut up! You never bought me a car!"

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time[edit]

  • It must feel weird when somebody else makes a sequel to your franchise, like when the babysitter insists on being called "Mummy"; it must be doubly weird when you thought your franchise died years ago and the babysitter has just shown up at your door in the dead of night with a shovel and a weird smile. I think it's fair to say that Crash Bandicoot didn't exactly leave loose ends untied. It wasn't the fucking Wheel of Time; it was pretty thoroughly explored out as a concept. You don't bring out a fucking kart racing tie-in game when you can't see the bottom of the idea bucket. And yet, here comes Toys for Bob twenty years down the line, clutching its big, shiny shovel going, "Don't worry, Naughty Dog! We will continue the great work in the original spirit you intended!" And meanwhile, Naughty Dog moved on years ago, and are now more concerned with making terribly serious and important games about very unpleasant people fucking each other on smallpox blankets.
  • The main problem that has always stuck out of fixed-camera 3D platformers like a traumatically botched nipple piercing is depth perception; sure, Crash Bandicoot gets a nice obvious shadow under him, but why doesn't anything else? So if I'm trying to land on a hovering crate or enemy, I'm once again playing bottomless pit Russian roulette. If you're going to demand consistent perfection from me, it'd be nice if the mechanics could be fucking consistent in return, is me point. Tawna's unique mechanic is a grappling hook gun (because of course it fucking is), but it's contextual, and more than once, I was in midair and the grapple prompt apparently decided I was a couple of nanometers off for its tastes, and so I was cordially invited to eat shit. "Man," I thought, "if I'd been going for the 'no deaths' run, then I'd be frothing like a poorly supervised coffee machine right about now; fortunately, I long ago came to terms with my own mediocrity, as, it seems, have most of my viewership!"

Amnesia: Rebirth[edit]

  • Minor spoiler alert: one of the central plot elements concerns a couple trying for a second child, which I suppose you might call a "rebirth", if you're a robot from space. It's just about the only rebirth on offer, as rebirth implies evolution, and this is mainly a return to the gameplay of the first Amnesia: The Dark Descent in that it actually has some gameplay; you explore spooky environments while using your limited supply of oil and matches to minimize the amount of time you spend in pitch darkness, where you run the risk of suffering a major trouser accident and lethally bankrupting yourself with dry cleaning expenses, and you have to balance all that while solving inventory puzzles and hiding from gribblies, which it turns out you're only in actual danger from about 5% of the time. But you don't know which 5%! Wooo! And of course, there's still that trademark Frictional Games physics interaction where you open doors by clicking the mouse and then moving the mouse and realizing you should've moved it the other way, dumb twat. None of which should be a deal-breaker if you did like the original Amnesia; this game even features the triumphant return of the jam that comes out of the walls. But at the same time, Dark Descent is ten years old; it'd be in middle school by now, swapping its asthma inhaler for Pokémon cards. It was one of the progenitors of the first-person atmospheric survival horror mystery subgenre that has since evolved to new heights with games like Resident Evil 7 and P.T., and simultaneously devolved into new shit-smeared depths with the 900 million horror walking simulators out there that still think that the door you just came in now leading to somewhere else like we're in Willy Wonka's fucking chocolate factory is the height of clever mindfucks, and Rebirth hasn't really moved with the times in either direction. I think it's on the same engine as Dark Descent; it's certainly quite graphically dated. And the physics are still rife with issues; it'll stop you dead in the middle of walking just because it's scandalized by the sheer audacity with which you're attempting to navigate a gentle slope with a small cardboard box on it.
  • I can tell from my pristine trousers that the monsters just don't command the same terror that they did in Dark Descent. Probably because in this case, you get a good look at them enough times that you can see they're just generic zombie dudes, and suspense only lasts as long as the mysterious, snarly thing lurking in the dark could be anything from a gelatinous cube to a hungover Orson Welles. The general problem is one of demystification, I think. In The Dark Descent, we only learn scrips and scraps about an evil Lovecraftian other dimension that's causing all the problems, but in Amnesia: Recalcitrant, Tasi gets to physically go to one; in fact, she pops in and out of it every ten minutes like she's never quite convinced that she locked the doors properly the last time she was there. At one point, she takes the public subway train in the evil Lovecraftian dimension and misses her stop because the map was confusing. No, really, this happens; it's one of the things that draws out the run-time like your mum's waistband at the cock buffet.

Watch Dogs: Legion[edit]

  • I do think there's a lot of fun to be had with Watch Dogs: Legion; it's just that a lot of it might be at the game's expense. Its expansive array of systems and dodgy A.I. mean that it's got a lot of potential for finding your own entertainment, probably more so than most Ubisoft sandboxes. As I said, the lack of strong characterization does hurt the story - I mean, I'm pretty sure most real people would respond to complete strangers asking them to join their "best-friends-no-oppressive-regimes-allowed" treehouse club with either bafflement or a faceful of commercial-grade pepper spray - but it does mean it's easier to amuse yourself by making up your own stories for your characters. The game forces you to recruit a construction worker as part of the tutorial, and I ended up using that dude to complete the final mission, because fuck, from token member hired only 'cos we wanted to play on his rideable drone to champion of the resistance; this dude's had a motherfucking arc! Also, for the sake of extra challenge, I decided that he refuses to use any form of transport other than riding on top of double-decker buses, because of a childhood trauma involving a model train set and a crab. Also, he strictly avoids violence while on missions because the sight of blood reminds him of Cheltenham F.C., and when combat is required, he defers to his teammate, Crazy Mildred the Elderly Nail Gun Murderer, who has to knock down every lamppost she sees to raise awareness of child leukemia, and who wears a... really stupid hat.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla[edit]

  • Ah, Vikings. Who doesn't like Vikings? "English monasteries?" Oh, right. "Anyone who's ever been forced to listen to Norwegian black metal?" Yes, thank you. The point was, in the games industry, it seems to be only a matter of time before you go full Viking. God of War did it; Assassin's Creed are doing it; that new Elden Ring thing that FromSoftware are doing isn't strictly full Viking, I know, but it's definitely giving it some funny looks. Fair play to Assassin's Creed; it held out longer than a lot of series would. I mean, it did the fucking American War for Independence before it did Vikings; that's like forcing yourself to eat all the party napkins before you can have any of the birthday cake. But there's no putting off going full Viking forever; it's one of the points on the graph: ninjas, pirates, Vikings, and I guess maybe cowboys. Hey! Is that a Ubisoft drone? Oh shit, it's taking notes. Sorry, everyone; don't know how they keep getting in here. If they announce Assassin's Creed Deadwood next year, I guess you can all blame me.
  • The initial spark of getting to play a burly Viking can't be sustained through the subsequent 40 hours of trudging through mud and dealing with political squabbles between people dressed in earth tones in the name of Assassin's Creed's trademark historical accuracy. I was getting sniffy about the ethical ramifications of monastery-pillaging earlier, but if anything, the game should've learned more into that; let us tear shit up, swinging a giant "fucketh-off" hammer as our muscles bulge like mating walruses, and seduce all the hot monk chicks away from their inadequate monk boyfriends. It's this "trying to hit all the points at once" thing that muddles the tone, trying to make out like we're some kind of freedom fighter while we laughingly set all the pigsties ablaze and hunt down the usual laundry list of Templars that we are assured are evil, but who seem to be mostly minding their own fucking business.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales[edit]

  • Peter Parker takes under his wing a freshly spider-powered-up Miles Morales and swiftly forces him to use the same codename and wear the same outfit, which, let's be blunt, is a bit weird and narcissistic and not a little gatekeeper-y. Peter Parker goes on his holidays and leaves his new Mini-Me to defend the city alone, but Miles finally proves worthy of Peter's crusty Spider-Man pajamas when half the people he knows turn out to be supervillains. Turns out you can only make it as a supervillain in New York if you've been to at least three of Spider-Man's birthday parties; nepotism, I call it. These days, Spider-Man probably gets more thrown if supervillains DON'T turn out to be someone he knows; he wrestles them to the ground and the mask falls off, and he goes, "<GASP!> No, it can't be! I have no idea who you are!"

Cyberpunk 2077[edit]

  • [Cyberpunk 2077 is] the hot new immersive sim conveniently, if unimaginatively, named after its genre; the genre of choice for people who hate capitalism, but love looking like a member of Dead or Alive after they stepped on a landmine. I say "immersive sim"; I feel that description hinges on the game being, in some way, immersive. I was playing the Steam version, which might more accurately be termed a "buggier than a party sub that got left on the floor of a motel bathroom" sim. The bugs were ceaseless; mostly non-game-breaking animation fuckups and voice lines not playing, but every now and again, I'd have to reload a save because I accidentally crossed a cutscene trigger while grabbing an enemy, and I'd come back from the loading screen with my head jammed up their arse, like the result of some Cronenberg-esque teleportation accident. It's a shame, because when I looked up at the dizzying neon towers of Night City, and the crowds of NPCs where no two were the same, and they're all uniquely dressed in some way like a cross between a character from LazyTown and a Cenobite, I thought to myself, "Man, this game would probably be really immersive if my trousers hadn't just turned invisible again!"


Bugsnax and Super Meat Boy Forever[edit]

  • Ah, 2020: the Jimmy Savile of years; only after its passing can we take stock and truly appreciate the flood of hushed-up sexual assault accusations.
  • You know, every time I take a stab at summarizing Bugsnax, I feel like something important has been left out; it's like writing a real estate profile for a nuclear bunker on Mars where eleven people died of asbestos poisoning. If I were to say "It's a first-person adventure sort of thing where you come to a hidden island full of mysterious creatures that are all a hybrid of an insect and an item of snack food like a fucking bag of chips with wings and shit, and there's influence from Pokémon 'cos they all have a cutesy hybrid name that is the only thing they can say and catching them is the main gameplay activity, but unlike Pokémon, you don't battle them; you just watch them get mercilessly devoured as they scream their own names in distress," even that summary fails to mention the significant fact that all the sentient characters in the game are furry puppet monsters that look like novelty butt plugs based on Sesame Street characters. "Oh, so it's a kids' game, Yahtz?" I DON'T KNOW! It's bright and colourful, and none of the characters would look out of place flogging nutritionally bankrupt breakfast cereals, but at the same time, all the characters have these fairly complex, adult relationship issues, with several overtly established to be banging their featureless furry midsections together. And besides that, I get a faintly sinister vibe as I watch the adorable Bugsnax disappear into the cheerful gullets of big-toothed furry monsters with an upsetting crunching sound, and then one of the monster's limbs turns into a Snickers or whatever, which adds a little sprinkling of body horror to the mix; it's like Fraggle Rock as directed by David Cronenberg.

Hitman 3[edit]

  • [These] so-called "mission stories" are, frankly, the worst parts of the game; I think that's the revelation I finally came to after speeding through all the missions, getting hand-held through a linear sequence of objectives where I follow my intended victim around for a while until the moment they say, "All security guards, leave the room so I can have some alone time with my new best pal. Would you like to admire my new pit full of rotating knives? I thought it would make a nice centerpiece." It feels like Mum and Dad doing our homework for us, and it makes the bottom drop out of all the tension and immersion, especially since they very often hinge on Agent 47 disguising himself as someone famous or who the victim has already met, rather than a random background employee, and them somehow not noticing that this person they know is suddenly built like a gravedigger's shovel leaning on a tombstone and keeps responding to direct questions with veiled references to being an assassin. "Can I tell you a secret?" "Oh, I guarantee it won't leave this room." "Do you recommend the soup?" "I'd have to say it's... to DIE for." "Blimey, my verrucas are playing up!" "Perhaps you'd like to LIE DOWN... after I murder you completely to death?" Yeah, it was funny the first couple of times, but when it's pretty much the same routine for every mission story, things get a bit silly, and at odds with the story's tone when the cutscenes are full of slick behind-the-scenes manipulators controlling the world through growly phone conversations in huge, twilit offices, and then you meet them in gameplay, and they're standing over the shark tank at SeaWorld demonstrating their new line of tuna-flavored aftershave.
  • I think Hitman finally clicked for me after I made the conscious effort to resist my usual instinct; that is, play through to story end as fast as possible and then use the rest of the work week to practice throwing chocolate raisins into the air and catching them in my mouth. No, this time, I decided I would go back to the missions and embrace the sandbox malarkey by inventing my own assassinations; switch from the strict musical education to improvised jazz, as it were, and often with equally disastrous results, because Hitman gameplay is still a slave to the Cockup Cascade. There's often no way of knowing if strangling a dude to the ground and ripping his trousers off is going to be out of view of his mates until you try, and they all spin around and act like they caught you shitting on the carpet; it's a lot like shitting on the carpet because even if you get caught, you've got no choice but to finish doing it while furiously maintaining eye contact.
  • Generally, I was having a lot more fun seeking opportunities rather than being handed them by the mission stories; shame you kind of have to do a mission story on your first attempt, 'cos these environments are really dense and sprawly, and with no direction, it's like looking for the one un-horrifying toilet cubicle at a BART station. You have to play a mission a few times and get a lay of the land before you can start really having fun with planning custom assassinations, and that means immersion takes another fatal hit. I mean, you don't get second tries in real life; Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't run up and go, "Sorry, I was going for no alerts; could we scoop your brains back up and have another crack?"

The Medium[edit]

  • You know what, Konami? I don't even care about Silent Hill anymore; you make all the pachinko machines and arcade shooters and Pyramid Head-shaped suppository kits you like. I loved Silent Hill once, but you know what? Getting us attached to name franchises is how they get you; that's why Disney can sell haunted Zyklon B canisters just by sticking C-3PO on the front. I don't want a new Silent Hill; I want interesting, new horror games that benefit from Silent Hill's influence. I like bands influenced by Nirvana, but I wouldn't like it if they nailed Kurt Cobain's body to the front of the drum kit.
  • This might sound weird, but it took me a while to figure out that this fixed-camera survival horror game with a gloomy atmosphere about exploring both a decrepit real world and an identically laid-out scary netherworld that looks like it's made primarily out of ham was supposed to be Silent Hill-inspired; talk about missing the otherworld for the crucified bodies on spikes. I guess I just wasn't picking up the same vibe; it reminded me more of Dark Seed, that old point-and-click adventure game about exploring an H. R. Giger-designed parallel dark world as the protagonist struggles to overcome the horror of their mustache. Silent Hill feels organic and visceral and wet; The Medium felt more dead and dusty and as dry as a newlywed Baptist who doesn't believe in foreplay.
  • The Medium has good visual design and atmosphere, but I wasn't thinking about those during my suddenly much freer afternoon; I was wondering why "violent ballistic death" leapt that quickly to the top of Marianne's proposed solutions list. Just felt really out of nowhere; failure of characterization, I suppose. The suicide ending made sense in Spec Ops: The Line, and Silent Hill 2, and my last school reunion.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood[edit]

  • WereThePocBlood concerns Cahal, a gruff, hairy dad who looks like the breakout character from a popular reality TV series about gay motorcycle repairmen; he is a werewolf in a setting that's basically the premise of Captain Planet, except with werewolves instead of diverse, go-getting teenagers, and where all issues are resolved by turning into a monster and tearing the enemy to coleslaw instead of summoning a demigod far too smug for someone wearing tiny red pants. I mean, the writing's certainly about as complex as Captain Planet, pointlessly excessive gore aside, because it mainly centers around an evil polluting corporation who are ravaging the Earth, not for wealth or to meet the needs of an ever-growing, ever-complacent humanity, but because they are being literally controlled by an evil monster and are actively trying to destroy the world. So yeah, the story's about as nuanced as hammering a six-inch nail through your forehead.
  • All janky design and dull, repetitive levels aside, it just feels like a game really at odds with itself. "Well, how would you fix it, Yahtz?" Well, I'd have added some kind of consequence for using Frenzy Mode too much, like reduced XP or a bad ending. Or, focused on cathartic combat and chucked the humanity-questioning stuff in the recycle bin. Oh, wait! Even quicker solution: chuck the whole fucking game in the recycle bin and play something else! "Be serious, Yahtz." Sorry; I meant to say "compost bin".

Little Nightmares II[edit]

  • Longtime viewers will know we've had a lot of fun here at the Zero Punctuation Combination Waterslide Park/Sewage Treatment Facility with the running gag that virtually every arty indie game is basically about a small child being lost in a scary world, probably because they're frequently made by tech nerds new to the industry, having to face the fact that it might finally be time to get a real job and figure out how to do their own laundry. Which also explains why the games are usually highly unsubtle metaphors for something from the standard list of tech nerd mental health issues: anxiety, depression, isolation, the fact that nice girls don't want to touch them. In the past, I've occasionally stretched the criteria for "small child, scary world" to include indie games like Bastion, Braid, and Ori and the Blind Forest in order to continue claiming to be right, in my adorably small-minded way, but absolutely no stretching is necessary for this week's subject; oh, dear me, no! Little Nightmares wears "small child, scary world" like a set of custom-fit pajamas, throws a big, comfortable duvet of oppressive atmosphere over itself, and goes to sleep. It uses all the tropes, even the really on-the-nose ones like "main character wears a hooded coat" and "soundtrack featuring sad children singing like the evil landlord just sold all their gruel vouchers". I might go as far to say that it officially takes Limbo's crown as the ur-example of "small child, scary world", since Limbo's pseudo-sequel Inside kind of gave it up when it transitioned from "small child, scary world" to "GIBBER, GIBBER, NONSENSE, NONSENSE, WEETABIX WITH LEGS!"
  • [The] "challenge" aspect of the game is basically a sequence of traps where the objective is generally "make exactly the right movements or die and start again" which, in the abstract, is about as fun as playing Operation in a Parkinson's ward. There are chasey bits, where the monster catches up and stuffs you into a pita bread if you're not immediately sprinting in the right direction when it starts; there are combat-y bits, where you have to swing a melee weapon at precisely the moment an enemy is pouncing or get your head caved in on a floorboard; and stealthy bits, where you get spotted and eaten if you so much as startle a flatulent aphid, which leads to some moments having to be replayed and replayed, and dread gives way to boredom, gives way to anger, gives way to quitting, gives way to the right at a mini-roundabout. I don't know how one fixes this. It's the classic horror game paradox: the threat of sudden death is necessary for creating the feel of being a little ant postman trying to deliver mail to Mrs. Trapdoor Spider's house, but the moment that sudden death actually happens, all the tension disappears, and each subsequent death as you struggle to get past the challenge is like the game continuing to stab an already-stabbed balloon. I suppose, ideally, you'd want to design it so the player escapes by the skin of their teeth each time, but that's a tough balance, because some players have slower reflexes, or are trying to play while hiding behind the sofa cushions.


  • It's the time of year when AAAs are put to bed to dream restless dreams of middling Metacritic ratings and rampaging seven-headed Twitch influencers, and we have to keep the nightlight on with midrange jank and the usual indie survive 'em ups. It's not that I dislike survival crafting as a genre; I just don't feel like it's taught me any practical survival skills. I head out to the wilderness, gather some wood and some stone, pack them together and tuck them under my scrotum for five seconds, and the result is not a makeshift axe, but an awkward conversation with my prostate specialist.
  • This week, I've been playing an indie survival craft 'em up called "Breathedge", which is Subnautica, but in space. "Why yes, I am that very thing, Yahtz; in fact, I contain multiple direct references to Subnautica to acknowledge its influence." You know, you're really sucking the fun out of dismissive know-it-all assholery, Breathedge! But yes, take Subnautica and remove all the water so that nothing remains but cold, forbidding vacuum, and that's Breathedge. And while you're at it, remove the interesting story and any particular reason to engage with its base-building mechanics-- Wait, I liked those! You removed too much, Breathedge! "Ooh, sorry; guess I'll fill in the gap with fourth wall-breaking humor that, over the course of the game, gradually, almost imperceptibly, moves over the line from amusing to insufferable."
  • So it's definitely got that Subnautica-brand majestic beauty crossed with terrifying hostility, like a sultry, attractive woman