Reviews by cannibalwombat

94

Highly engrossing and utterly refreshing

cannibalwombat | June 10, 2014 | Review of The Walking Dead

I've never been one for point-and-click adventure games, but boy did I love this one. The interactive elements are very simple and not executed with particular panache, but that doesn't matter!

This game is all about the story and the characters. It's paced incredibly well, and not just by virtue of its episodic structure. I played the whole game from start to finish once it had all been released and it was gripping. I found myself really caring what happens to the characters, and whilst I gradually realised that actually the decisions you make don't make a massive difference, I still thought carefully about each one I made.

The events are constantly surprising, the losses hit hard, it even brought me to tears at one point towards the end!

This game is a real experience and one I would recommend to anyone with the vaguest taste for video games and the capacity to use a computer!

92

One of the finest games I've ever played.

cannibalwombat | June 10, 2014 | Review of Alan Wake

One of the few single player games I have deemed worthy of re-play. Indeed, one of my favourite games ever.

Alan Wake is, I find, a unique achievement. The balance and interplay of light and darkness (which is the crux of both the story and gameplay) is so simple a concept, yet so well fleshed-out here. As a horror/thriller game it really succeeds, and the constant threat of the darkness and the intermittent relief of the light keeps your emotions in constant flux. It isn't a 'scary' game, but the tension it creates through the frenetic gameplay and limited means of mitigating the threat of darkness, is very impressive.

It's hard to explain how the game grips you. The story is a self-aware (and self-professed) homage to Stephen King's style, and it's a lot of fun to follow. The autonarration, episodic structure and even the Night Springs episodes really add to this, and it is truly charming. The ending is a little confusing and leaves you thinking that perhaps the writers of the game over-reached a little, but that said I haven't played the Specials so perhaps it all ties together a little better.

The game certainly has its quirks and, in some cases, immersion killers (such as poor lip-syncing, terrible jumping mechanic, occasionally bad voice acting). However, they don't change the fact that most of the time you will forget that you're playing a video game and not actually living Alan's life. This is helped by the 100% glitch-free status this game has achieved (for me).

Just a couple of simple points to add. The game is absolutely beautiful, and that's even by modern standards (since it originally came out in 2010). The sound design is also fantastic, so realistic that you find yourself noticing the little things like believable floorboard creaks and rustling of leaves and grass. A good pair of headphones is highly recommended. I find very little to criticise in the gameplay, particularly in how Alan controls. Yes he is slow, not agile and lacking in stamina, but that is wholly believable - he is a writer! I even enjoyed how terrible a driver he is! It is simply a joy to play.

The more I write the harder I find it to rationalise why the game impressed me so. I guess it will be for me to work out the more I think about the game, which I can see myself doing!

72

Good (flawed) fun

cannibalwombat | Jan. 29, 2014 | Review of Tomb Raider

First Tomb Raider game I've played since the PSX days. Gotta say, I enjoyed it a hell of a lot. Gorgeous game, generally plays well and the sound design is particularly good in my opinion.

The story is pretty predictable at times, which is a shame, but it's generally exciting. The set-up is really interesting and I think Lara's vulnerability early-on leads you to believe that you're in for a challenge. Struggling through the terrain to that first base camp got me thinking that just surviving would be tough. However, the game is mostly very easy (at least on Normal difficulty). As soon as you get a couple of weapons and upgrade them a bit (which is possible early on), you can breeze through the rest of the game.

The 'puzzles' don't really amount to much, with several core mechanics being re-used over and over. Even the secret tombs, though great to look at, offer little resistance and even less reward (the same chest in every one, from which you get experience, not even any cool treasure!) which is a shame since the game is called Tomb Raider! The relics, GPS caches etc. are throwaway and offer little added flesh, only serving to remind us how much better they're implemented in Uncharted games! The ones that are dotted around seem incongruous, leading the player to ask (as they so often do in games these days) "why has this just been left here?". The documents, however, do add to the narrative and are interesting to read/listen to.

The enemies and NPCs are, unfortunately, really uninteresting. The former are just faceless bullet sponges and the latter are poorly developed and wholly unendearing. The terrible Scottish and northern-English accents were especially frustrating; why can't studios hire native voice actors? Even the main antagonist (Matthias) is barely a fleeting threat. You see him so rarely and never fight him. The said, the character that really matters - Lara - is believable and expertly portrayed.

I could go on forever. This game has its flaws and there are a lot of things that are disappointing about it, but I can't deny that it was really addictive. Most of all, it is one of the best looking games I've ever played. Certainly gives the scenery of Uncharted 2/3 and The Last Of Us a run for their money! Each terrain is distinct and (usually) a pleasure to navigate and the guns/shooting mechanics are brilliant. It is, generally, a lot of fun to play.

p.s. don't bother with the multiplayer. It sucks. Not as much as Bioshock 2, but it still sucks.

90

The epitome of TBS.

cannibalwombat | Jan. 28, 2014 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I'm generally not a fan of turn-based strategy games. It certainly took a lot of recommendations for me to give this one a chance. I can't believe I waited so long! This game is incredible in every way.

The set-up is brief; aliens are attacking Earth for some reason and you have to lead the mysterious XCOM initiative to combat the extra-terrestrial threat. Now off you go! Once you're in that driving seat though, you don't want to get out until you're done.

Everything shines in this game: the base building, the research and engineering systems, the UFO battles, the squad development and skill trees. You really feel like each squad member is unique, each research advance or satellite will make a difference, each enemy kill is a small victory. Most of all though, the gameplay during encounters is so, so satisfying. There's nothing quite like getting a successful critical elevation headshot with a plasma sniper rifle on a Berserker! The animations are fantastic, both allies and enemies.

I love this game and had a great time playing it through. The only thing that really disappointed me was the ending. The final alien base mission was actually really easy, when all the other big build-up missions had gotten progressively harder. The final boss was a particular disappointment. The ending narrative was brief and somewhat cryptic, leaving you with a big information black hole, and when it came to taking him down, you could count the number of moves it took me to do it on one hand.

Final boss aside though, this game is a triumph. Whether you've played another XCOM game, any turn-based strategy game or nothing like this at all - it doesn't matter. This game will not disappoint you.

95

Beautiful, touching and utterly engrossing.

cannibalwombat | Jan. 28, 2014 | Review of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Wow. What a game. I don't think I have played anything that has had quite the effect on me that Brothers did.

You play as two brothers on a quest to find a cure for their father’s illness, in a Fable-like universe. You control each brother with one side of a gamepad and, though I’d never seen this before, it works SO well. Despite there being no spoken English in the game, they somehow manage to tell a story through the interactions of the brothers and other characters.

The quest is exciting, the graphics are gorgeous, the soundtrack is quality and most of all the story is moving (to say the least). Very, very close to shedding a tear at the end. Play it.

N.B. I got it first on PS3 and it looked absolutely awful. Re-bought it on PC and it’s sublime. I’d recommend downloading it on PC if you have a gamepad with your rig.

82

Epic cyberpunk romp

cannibalwombat | Jan. 28, 2014 | Review of Hard Reset

Enjoyed the sh*t out of this game. If you accept it for what it is (a linear cyberpunk FPS) and don't get preoccupied by the marginal story and short campaign (though most reviewers criticise the brevity, it actually took me a respectable 10 hours) then you'll have a blast.

The weapons and cyber-metropolis setting are absolutely awesome. You can really feel every shot and the widely destructible environments and enemies make the game feel so tactile, so... visceral (pretentious language, but you know what I mean). If you just want to blast robots with futuristic laser guns, and you've already played Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, then I heartily recommend this game.