Friday, May 13, 2011

Portal Wombat

Well then. Here we are again. It is late at night and I am bored and so I shall write some drivel about games. You are lost, possibly confused and/or on hard drugs, attempting to read this drivel. I commend your efforts, but I also question them. Surely there is something else better you can be doing.

Nevertheless ... games. I assume the reason you are here is to read my biased and sometimes confounded opinion on them, so here we go. First off the recent list would be Portal 2. Now, I wouldn't call myself a massive fan of Portal. The original was a good game, don't get me wrong, but I am not fanatical about the series. To me they provide an interesting but forgettable challenge that doesn't really invite me to go and replay them again. Or at least until I know I have forgotten all of the puzzles, because essentially that is what Portal 2 is. Puzzles involving portals with an interesting (and humorous) story thrown over the top. This time round, Valve have gone to great lengths to tell a compelling story exploring various historical aspects of the Aperture Science company and exposing its many abandoned locales to the player. These make for sometimes frustrating puzzle environments as you look for that one hidden bit of white-wall to put your orange portal on to walk/fly through to get to the next area. Certain new technologies and 'goo' types make for interesting portal useage which can be interesting to uncover the first time around. The coop is a bit more of a brain-buster than the singleplayer providing much more difficult challenges involving synchronization of player actions and using each other's portals appropriately. Still, not a game I think I will revisit the singleplayer any time soon. Interesting, entertaining ... but otherwise forgettable. I would love to see what the mod community comes up with though.

Crysis 2. I'm kinda scratching my head as to how I should approach this one. I probably think the best way to describe my opinion of Crysis 2 is like this: I hate cities. I hate them in real life and I hate them in games. They are visually unimpressive and unless designed properly, provide incredibly static, linear and boring game play, which Crysis 2 very much was in my opinion. Even if its New York. The overused, cliché of a city always being destroyed by a monster, aliens or crime overlord just really doesn't do it for me. It's not really even because it is a city. If it were Tokyo, Cairo or even Berlin I probably wouldn't have hated the environment so much. It's because it's an American city that I got pissed off with it. I don't believe I have made an Americanisation rant when it comes to games, and maybe I shouldn't, but to an extent it is true. Especially in recent times with military themed shooters. Oh yes, various American themed forces are here to save the world (i.e. Americans) from enemy X from taking over America ... in America. The rest of the world doesn't matter because America is the centre of the world. It is also partly because the environment is such a downgrade from the original game. In the original Crysis I was running Koreans over on beaches, stalking them through jungles and hiding from aliens in the snow. I was on a holiday! Now? Oh ... you are funneling me towards yet another subway. Walk in a straight line for 200 yards along this street, right. You want me to find another guy in another building? I swear this building is an exact replica of the one that was destroyed in the last 10 minute cutscene you forced me to watch, and you don't want to get me started on the cutscenes. We'll also leave out the whole console-isation and catering for the lowest common denominator (i.e. consoles) technologically, this time :). My overall opinion? Crysis was much better. Maybe not visually (pretty damn close) but singleplayer and multiplayer wise (Crysis Wars), it shits all over Crysis 2.


Finally, the most recent game I have been playing around with is in fact banned in this country. I'll save that topic for another time. In the meantime, I will say that Mortal Kombat is something I have looked forward to for awhile, and it was definitely worth the wait. I personally believe it is the best fighting game out in recent years and should help raise the bar concerning how lacklustre the genre has been lately. While it is true that fighting games are all really about the fight, the footsies, the dueling between two combatants (sif use a K), there really is no excuse for major titles being released to ONLY be about that. MvC3 is a classic example with very little to offer outside its raw game play. Needless to say, they get boring quickly, especially for the casual player. What MK does differently is add pretty much what every fighting game should have had in the past 5 years. Multiple game modes, a ... really good story mode (seriously), cooperative/tag team modes (which are incredibly fun), an enormous list of unlockables and decent tutorials to slowly break in new players to the genre. It is also a decent fighter, not as complex mechanically as something like SSFIV or MvC3 and not as memory game/buttonmashy as Tekken. It sits snugly somewhere in between. An example of this working effectively can be seen in the new X-Ray moves, which is basically an accumulation of bonus 'energy' from taking/dealing damage. It is similar to Street Fighter's Ultra/Super bars except for one distinct property: its execution. Two buttons, the same two for every character. Dead simple. Why is this good? Well, it means that everyone can get a chance to pull off impressive signature moves at some point regardless of the character they are controlling. How is this balanced? They are blockable, don't have high chip/guard damage, and like in SSFIV, are not so easy to actually get off on a smart player ... but at least you can 'perform' them without breaking your thumbs or brain farting. If you buy one fighting game this year I would highly recommend buying MK. How you go about doing that is up to you.

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