Reviews by Discostink
Great moments marred by massive downtime.Discostink | Jan. 9, 2014 | Review of Mafia II
Mafia II has a lot of really great content in it. The writing is of high quality, the gameplay feels quite nice, and the in-game rendition of New York is absolutely beautifully crafted. Mafia II manages to create a great atmosphere tied to the mafia stories of the era, through both dialogue, visuals and music. The game is also quite long in comparison to most other modern games.
The problem however, is that the length of the game is made up primarily of rather tedious downtime. Mafia II plays like an open-world game related to the same vein as the GTA series and the like, and almost every time you finish a mission, start a mission or are between missions, you are tasked to drive through the city from destination to destination, often times from one end of the map to the other. By the time you get halfway through the game, this starts to feel very, very tedious, especially as it starts to feel more like padding than actual gameplay. It's rather tragic, as the missions in between the driving are very, very good. If you have the patience, or if you can derive enjoyment simply from driving through the city and enjoying the sights, then Mafia II is a fanastic buy. If not, it's still good, though it carries a risk of burning you out before the endgame comes around.
Gorgeous and fun, yet slightly uncomforting.Discostink | Jan. 9, 2014 | Review of Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider is a revamp of a long-running franchise from back in the age of the Playstation 1, which aims to repaint Lara Croft and her adventures in a more realistic, gritty tone. The game's main gameplay focuses are on the combat, which plays out as a competent, fun third-person shooter with interjections of stealth, and the exploration, which gives way to a very large amount of collectibles, hidden areas and interesting challenges. The game controls quite well, even on a mouse and keyboard, and while there are a decent amount of QTE events in the game, it's not nearly as egregious as some seem to believe.
Tomb Raider is quite gorgeous as well. The setting being a lush, forested island shows off the game's graphics very well, especially when you experience one of the occasional downpours, as the water looks quite stunning as well. Tomb Raider is also the first game I've seen that includes TressFX, which when enabled, allows for very fine details such as Lara's hair to turn from a low-polygon model to a realistic bundle of hair, with every single strand modeled on its own. Of course, this requires a slightly beefy PC, but if the hardware requirements are met, it's a quite lovely sight.
The game does have a few drawbacks, and what I personally saw to be the most off-putting was the developers' intent to make the game seem as gritty as apparently possible. Lara undergoes a -lot- of punishment, and it doesn't take many hours of playing before it all starts to seem a bit unnerving in a bad way. It almost gets a bit gross at times, and while the game strives to be very realistic at times, the realism is completely, conveniently forgotten at other times, which helps to break the immersion quite a bit.
Great game at a fantastic value.Discostink | Nov. 29, 2013 | Review of Call of Juarez®: Gunslinger
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger doesn't feel like a 15€ game. The amount of polish and enjoyment you get out of this game is much more than you'd get from quite a few 60€ games that have come out this year, and if you're a fan of westerns, this game is absolutely must-have.
Gunslinger has much more in common with the original Call of Juarez and Bound in Blood than it does with the offspin Call of Juarez: The Cartel, going back to the Wild West, and taking place over a 30-year timespan, covering the most vivid and interesting time in the cowboy era. The narrative structure is quite unique in that the game takes place as told in stories by the main character, Silas Greaves, recounting his history and all of the things he has done. The interesting part comes whenever his stories are called out on inaccuracies or unrealism, after which he'll redact statements or amend them, which actually shape the story in real-time, such as mentioning that he noticed a way to escape in a gunfight, whereafter the new passage will literally open up as if through divine intervention. It's quite charming, in a way.
The gameplay itself feels great, as well. The shooting is snappy and feels very accurate, you're very rarely going to feel like you're missing shots out of random chance, and if you're a good shot, you'll be rewarded with a great increase in experience. The leveling mechanics in Gunslinger consist of having three different skill trees tailored to different playstyles, whether you're an up-close shotgunner, a long-range rifleman, or you just wanna run in and empty two revolvers into a room as fast as possible. There's not a huge variety in weapons, but the weapons that are available are just fine. At times you will also be roped into duels against other gunslingers, which are unlike the regular gameplay, as you have to stare down your opponent, keep your hand as close to your gun as possible, and trust your reflexes to carry you through.
Once you've completed the main game, there is also an arcade mode to play. This mode does away with all story and focuses solely on your ability to shoot fast, shoot precisely and keep your combo going for as long as possible. In order to earn all stars possible you need to be damn good, so if the main game left you wanting a challenge, the arcade mode is there for you.
All in all it's a fantastic game for the money, especially if you're a fan of westerns.
Slightly flawed, but overall a great experience.Discostink | Nov. 29, 2013 | Review of LA Noire The Complete Edition
LA Noire definitely has a unique feel to it, and is a video game that you'd be very hard pressed to find anywhere else. It plays as a combination of an open-world action game and as an adventure game, and has two main styles of gameplay. The majority of the game is spent doing policework, which includes scouring crime scenes and related areas for clues and connections to the crime being investigated, and then confronting key players in the crime with your findings. The interrogation system is interesting, and is easily the most core part of the game, as it prides itself greatly on its very advanced face animations, which allow the player to tell a person's mindset and whether they're lying or not by reading their expressions. This is, however, one of the bigger shortcomings of the game as the interrogations at times don't feel like they make a ton of sense. When interrogating others, you have three different choices, which is truth, doubt and lie. Basically you choose whether or not you think they're being honest, whether you doubt them but have no evidence to support it, or you straight-up know they're lying, and you have evidence to prove it. The problem is that you never actually know what you're going to say until you've chosen one, and at times, the main character's dialogue doesn't follow your intentions at all.
That said, the game has a lot of upsides to it to weigh out the negative. The game is straight-up gorgeous, with specific mention to the characters' face animations. They do of course stride along the edge of the uncanny valley, but the detail in the animations really help convey emotion in conversation and cutscenes. The city of Los Angeles is very faithfully recreated as well, and the entire game's atmosphere and mood conveys the feel of the 1940's, both in the characters, the settings and the music.
The game plays out almost as a series of episodes in a televison series. Every case is more or less self-contained, except for a few that have an overarching plot thread running through them, and while the cases can be slightly hit-or-miss, the slightly uninteresting cases are greatly balanced out by the absolutely magnificent cases that follow.
Aside from the puzzle and adventure-style gameplay you're also liable to get into gunfights at times, mostly as a result of running into various random street crimes, and the shooting in LA Noire overall feels great. The shooting feels snappy and precise, and enemies are in no way bullet sponges that can take a shotgun hit to the belly and survive; mostly if you hit someone in the abdomen twice with just a pistol they're guaranteed out of commission.
All in all, LA Noire is a great experience. There's a lot of hours packed into the game, and the DLC for the game is well worth the money as well, as some of the DLC cases actually end up being some of the absolute best cases in the game.