Reviews by wiper

60

Interesting stealth game... woeful Hitman game

wiper | June 29, 2013 | Review of Hitman: Absolution

The Hitman series occupies a unique space in gaming - offering a freeform approach to execute your target, they offer up characterful open environments filled with NPCs leading their own little clockwork lives for you to dodge, distract and deceive. With Blood Money IO proved they'd finally mastered the formula, ironing out the kinks and level design issues that had negatively impacted the first games in the series, and hopes for the sequel were high.

Only for them to throw it all away. Absolution's levels are predominantly linear A:B stealth missions, with only a handful of sandbox missions thrown in. These few sandboxes are easily the game's highlight, and yet none reach the highs of even the worst missions in Blood Money - they are comparatively small, limited in scope, and make the player's options so obvious as to remove any fun to be had from replaying and re-imagining your approach.

Gone too are the clockwork worlds to explore - a handful of NPCs per level may have patrols to follow, but gone are the little tableaux of characters going about their lives that would occur, whether you were there to see them or not, replaced by completely unsubtle sequences scripted to start when, and only when, the player lands in the right location. Hitman has gone from a game about interfering with a world that isn't aware of you, to being a game in which every actor is only there for your benefit.

What's left is, in fact, a perfectly reasonable stealth game. With your ability to disguise yourself vastly diminished from previous games, you find yourself jumping from cover to cover to get anywhere, staying out of the line of sight of others at all costs. If this were a Splinter Cell game, I'd call it perfectly reasonable. It's just a shame that the developers felt the need to cull a game series that happened to be the only exponent of its particular genre in order to make it.

A massive shame.

90

Criminally Overlooked

wiper | June 9, 2013 | Review of Binary Domain

Incredibly satisfying combat, which sees you tearing your robot opponents apart in brutal fashion; a squad loyalty system which rewards you for finesse and personability, combined with some of the most outlandish teammates you'll ever come across. Far more interesting than the Gears series, this game - like stablemate Vanquish - was cruelly overlooked for having sensibilities that are all too Japanese. Just not enough big, macho men for players to ogle, I suppose :(

An absolute classic of its genre, Binary Domain also happens to run fantastically well and look beautiful on any modern PC. Well worth a punt.

80

Linear, simple... and compellingly beautiful

wiper | June 9, 2013 | Review of Remember Me

Remember Me is about as straightforward as they come - a straight A-B story, with straight A-B level design. Its brawling is basic, but satisfying; its plot never more than passably told, but compelling nonetheless. And yet it manages to be more than the sum of its parts, thanks largely to it featuring absolutely wonderful art direction, and one of the strongest, most interesting female leads in a computer game.

I only wish the developers had had the budget to be a little more ambitious - in terms of narrative flexibility, freedom to explore and/or the mechanics of combat - as improvements on any or all of those fronts could easily have led to this being a modern classic, rather than just a decent game with excellent frills.

90

Nothing like the original... but brilliant nonetheless

wiper | June 6, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown dns

UFO: Enemy Unknown is an absolute classic of the strategy genre. It's also incredibly hard to get into for a modern player - opaque controls, lengthy battles filled with micromanagement and, of course, dated visuals make it a challenging experience. Persevere and you'll soon understand its charms, but it's understandable that with XCOM, Firaxis wanted to change things up a little.

Gone are the overlong battles, in are tight affairs featuring small numbers of troops, where every decision is important, every moment tense. You lose a little of the freedom of UFO, but what you gain is an accessible but challenging game, designed to be played as a single, irreversible campaign in Ironman mode.

A few niggling bugs bring the game down a peg, but it's absolutely worth any strategy fan's time.