Site Update – 08/01/10

January 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Just finished Batman: Arkham Asylum last night. Wow, what a game. Every aspect of it is so polished, so perfectly tuned and designed. If Modern Warfare 2 was my first choice for my favourite game of 2009, Arkham Asylum has to be second. It kind of feels like Resident Evil, crossed with Shadow Complex, then bred with a really slick 3D brawler. In every sense of the word, it is awesome and, at the bargain price of £17.99, an excellent deal.

I also completed Modern Warfare 2‘s Spec-ops missions the other day, with the full 69 stars now fully paid for with blood, sweat, laughter and some very bad language. I am, by no means, an apologist for Infinity Ward, but Modern Warfare 2 delivers so much, so well, that I don’t really understand how anyone who likes FPS doesn’t like the game.

Okay, so “No Russian” was an interesting, noteworthy but ultimately flawed experience. A couple of set-pieces – e.g., the Favelas chase sequence – just didn’t work very well, either because of the AI scripting or because of the level design. However, it is only in the context of a totally unrepentant, exhilarating, awe-inspiring Single Player campaign that just keeps on delivering one memorable moment after another, each one more fantastic than the last, that instances of crappy design pop out at you.

Some people criticise the game on the grounds that it lost some of the semi-realism of the first Modern Warfare; some people say that it’s now just some dumb Michael Bay epic, which implies that it deserves no merit for artistry. I just think that’s completely false. Michael Bay, for the most part, makes tiresome, boring films where he jizzes dollar bills over the celluloid screen for two hours and three-quarters. He’s a hack.

Modern Warfare 2, on the other hand, is fun, bombastic and a highly entertaining ride at, pretty much, every step along the way. It’s pulpy, alternate universe science fiction, and I love that kind of crap. It’s not some serious treatise about the nature of war; it’s your regularly occurring summer blockbuster. And that’s fine, to me. What’s wrong with a really well produced dumb, action/sci-fi movie, anyway? Because that is what this is.

I just think that people were expecting too much or something different. I agree that there are some tonal inconsistencies in the game that don’t fit in, but on most fronts it delivers a very powerful, impactful punch in its Single Player. I haven’t even talked about the Multiplayer, but that’s almost a separate game in itself, and it’s also superb.

Rant over.

I’ve also just received the Civilization: Revolution and Brutal Legend from LOVEFiLM. Since playing Halo Wars I’ve been curious to see what solutions developers come up with when attempting to make a competant control scheme for a console RTS.

Ensemble’s swan song, Halo Wars, was a good effort. It had impressive production values and a UI that worked. Despite those things, though, it was a fairly simple game, and even then, when things did get more hectic, there were occasions where the control scheme wasn’t precise enough to handle what was going on. I’m interested to see if Brutal Legend, which has a similar radial menu input, will be an improvement in that department.

Civilization: Revolution isn’t an RTS, but a TBS. However, it looks to be an interesting experiment in how to package a very PC centric strategy game and adapt it to a console. And by “adapt”, Firaxis seem to have done the right thing by completely re-scaling the game design around the limitations of a console, instead of just remapping the PC controls to a 360/PS3 pad. I’m honestly quite looking forward to checking it out.

Incidentally, I should have received Prototype through the post by now. Chances are I’m going to have to e-mail Gameplay and ask for a replacement copy. Seriously, that’s the second game in a row that’s got “lost in the post”. It makes me wonder if someone at the post office is stealing my games.

But that’s just paranoid, right? Bad luck, I guess.

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