Review: Sniper Elite V2

 

In Sniper Elite V2, sniping people is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap.  Sometimes, you might miss a bubble because you have to account for things like bullet drop, wind direction, air in lungs, etc.  It’s not that the game is hyper-realistic, but it gave the illusion of “realism” enough that you felt good as you popped all the bubbles as if you were a professional bubble popper.

Sometimes when you pop the bubbles, you get to see inside the bubbles, and the trajectory of your bullet as it shatters ribs/skull/arms/legs/balls.  It felt like those “cutaway anatomy” science books that I used to love reading as a kid.

I liked how hyper-focused this game was on popping bubble wrap, that trying to run-and-gun it like it was Call of Duty would be the fastest way to get yourself killed.  The machine gun and Welrod silenced pistol are very hard to use because of how inaccurate they were made to be, so you were always forced to rely on your sniper rifle.   And it was cool that you could lay traps like tripwire and mines for the bubbles.  This is good restrictive game design.

The bubbles were really dumb most of the time but that didn’t stop it being fun to pop them.

What’s even better, is if you popped bubbles with a friend.  Sometimes you’d coordinate it such that your friend would flank the bubble wrap, throw a grenade in to distract the bubbles, and then you’d storm in from the other side and pop them all.  Sometimes you’d coordinate popping bubbles simultaneously or compete to see who could pop the bubble that was furthest away.

But most of the time, it was slowly creeping around corners, crawling in destroyed ruins, covering each other’s backs and popping bubbles across war-torn Europe together that was most fun.  Sometimes the bubbles would fight back, and it’d be challenging, but we managed to finish the whole game co-op.

This bubble wrap is highly underrated.

Review: The Wolf Among Us Season 1 (Spoiler Free)

 

Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us is like a competent murder mystery drama TV show.  It’s got enough in place to make it intriguing, but it couldn’t really be called edge-of-your-seat stuff.  The mystery isn’t really the centerpiece anyway, it doesn’t matter whodunit – where it excels are the characters involved in this “world” like the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Bluebeard, the Tweedle bros, the Little Mermaid and other such familiar children’s stories characters.  That’s cool.  It’s like if you wanted to know what happened to Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk after that adventure was over – well, he became a low-life grifter.  Everyone in this world is either sour or douchey.

The story is atmospherically dark, gritty, and violent, and sometimes a character would say “Fuck” or rip off someone else’s arm and I would go, “Whoa, this is atmospherically dark, gritty and violent”.  For a cel-shaded cartoon-esque game that is.  The artwork is tight though – dig those opening credits, man.  The controls feel a bit janky at times, especially walking around in the world, but the clicking stuff is alright.

As this is an adventure game with multiple paths, you get choices.  The choices are not bad, you get to say some cool stuff, but for the most part, this is a self-contained story so the outcome at the end of the five episodes is not a groundbreaking gamechanger, just some “I learnt some deep shit about the characters of this world and myself”, and a “nice job Telltale Games for bringing the Fables series to life.”  The final “puzzle” to the mystery at the end of the final episode feels a bit confusing and throwaway though.

Look, The Walking Dead Season 1 is the best shit ever for a reason (and won Game of the Year – which I predicted).  The story was crazy good, it didn’t use characters from the main canon series, so Telltale Games could fuck ‘em up if they wanted to.  And then your choices in that game had deep implications moving forward into Season 2.  The Wolf Among Us had to be a self-contained story because it is supposedly a prequel to the comics series.

But you should play this game because 1) it is better than a lot of the other shit out there 2) the Fables world is cool, and 3) Telltale Games is legit.

Review: Gone Home – Dissonant Horror, Perfect Empathy

Gone Home is a game that you should play.  There you go, that’s my review of it.  There’s really nothing else quite like it right now, it’s a highly refreshing experience.  It doesn’t have any guns, macho military men, explosions, or cutscenes with overblown dramatic plots.  It’s just you in a big old house – uncovering a quietly moving story.

I tried writing a lengthy review of this game but changed my mind, it didn’t really need one.  If you’re undecided as to whether you should play it though, I’ll say this: It has really nice first-person controls with real-world physics that make you feel more immersed in the very detailed, realistic home setting.  I would consider it a nice palate cleanser to all the bombastic triple-A titles today.  It feels like Myst, if Myst wasn’t weird, abstract, didn’t have any puzzles and just a wonderful, surprising playthrough all the time.  Take what you will from that.

There is however one thing I would like to talk about though, but it’s only worthwhile for you to read this after you’ve finished the game.  Not only because there will be spoilers, but also because you wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about anyway.  So go, shoo, play the game, and then come back later!

Continue reading

Review: Saints Row IV – A balls-to-the-wall fun time of awesomeness

In a few days time, the godfather of open world games, Grand Theft Auto V launches.  When it does, it will overshadow anything and everything that has come before, including the recently released Saints Row IV which I think is a shame, because SRIV is an awesome open world game in its own right.

So before that other game descends upon us, let me do this game justice and tell you why you should even bother with SRIV in the light of GTA V’s impending arrival. Continue reading

Review: Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn – A worthwhile hard reboot for the Square Enix MMO

Neither Jun Shen nor Pearlyn play MMOs, so they enlisted intrepid MMO gamer Hung Wei to give us the lowdown on the new Square Enix MMO Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.  Is it everything that FF fans and MMO gamers wanted and more?  Or will this hard reset of the dismal original prove pointless?  Read on to find out. Continue reading

Junch does the STARING AT SCREENS podcast – The Last of Us Spoilers Edition

David from Staring at Screens was kind enough to have me again on his wonderful Singapore-based video games podcast.  This time, the two of us burst at the seams eager to talk about what we loved and not so loved about The Last of Us.  We deal with a lot of the narrative, so this is definitely a spoilers-heavy discussion.  But once you’re done with the game and like to join in the conversation, feel free to check out what we had to say and then add your two cents in the comments below or in a letter to the kind folk over at SaS.

Listen to the podcast here.

Seriously though, The Last of Us, what a whopper of a game.