With the recent release of Valve and Hidden Path’s latest update of the excellent Counter Strike series; Counter Strike: Global Offensive, I thought it might be interesting to revisit each major installment in the series and recount my memories of them. In small ways I think they made lasting impressions on my outlook of gaming. I’ll say right off the bat that I never played any of the beta releases or even 1.0 for that matter and my experience with Condition Zero (CS:CZ from here on) was an hour of watching my friend play it so I won’t bother touching on these editions and instead I’ll focus on 1.6, CS: Source, and end on a review of Global Offensive. Continue Reading
As I write these words I’m listening to the soundtrack of last year’s isometric hack ‘n slash indie hit Bastion. A superb game in many areas, musical score being just one of them but I mention right off the bat because I happened to be listening to it and then thought ‘I can’t believe I haven’t written a review of this yet’ and promptly whipped out the keyboard and set to it. The game came out last year courtesy of SuperGiant games. It was one of those lucky few indie games that managed to get the attention of a big name publisher, in this case Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment who jumped in and published the game, in doing so, giving it a lot of marketing clout along the way which is one of the reasons Bastion sold well. It’s a sad reality that although there are indie games which go all the way by themselves and manage to achieve critical and commercial success, a great many go unnoticed because they didn’t have the budget to spend on marketing and no one ends up hearing about it. This is indeed a great shame for some games, thankfully Bastion wasn’t one of them. It managed to get widespread attention on both XBLA and on PC. It actually came out recently as part of that wonderful entrepreneurial enterprise ‘the humble bundle’ as part of its 5th installment so I picked it up for about £7, an absolute bargain and on linux no less (I always try to buy games from the humble bundle on linux if possible, good to encourage developers to make games for open source operating systems). That said, playing the game on Ubuntu 11.10 I did run into a bug early on which many others have where moving the mouse causes the game to crash…a fairly important one I think you’ll agree. Thankfully there’s a very easy fix for it here so don’t let it dissuade you. Anyway on to the review. Continue Reading
Ahhh Okami…poster child of the inventive, ambitious ‘underdog-that-never-gets-the-commercial-recognition-it-deserves’ school of game design. Originally developed for the PS2 by Capcom’s now famously defunct (but brilliant) ‘Clover Studio,’ Okami was one of the gems of the PS2’s vast library, right up there with Metal Gear Solid 3, Killzone, the Team ICO games, and God of War. Okami is often the subject of articles that focus on critically aclaimed games that ended up flopping when it came to sales. In fact Okami couldn’t be a better representative of this phenomenon; it released to near universal acclaim with a meta score of 90 on metacritic and yet it only managed to shift a combined total (Wii and PS2 versions) of under 600,00 units worldwide. Of course those who played the game don’t give a shit about all that, we know that it was a damn fine game and worthy of more than a hand full of revisits and what with the recent announcement of a HD remake coming to the PS3, what better time than to review this classic?
I had an odd sense of anticipation for Max Payne 3 shortly before it’s release early last month. I haven’t played a Max Payne title for almost 10 years, revisiting the first game way back in 2002 and I confess I never actually bothered with the 2nd one in the first place. I had a good deal of fun with the first game and remembered it for its dark and sinister plot line and its extremely cathartic, action oriented gameplay. This was back when 3D games were generally less structured, when developers couldn’t necessarily put the resources into games that they do nowadays and make them a rigid experience, totally tunnelled and making sure you experience the game the way they want you to. Back in those days you could still do things that the devs just hadn’t thought of, it was fun to explore and this combined with the riveting bullet time gun play made for a fun experience. That having said I didn’t exactly hold a candle for the series and although interested, I wasn’t all that bothered when the 3rd installment was announced. It was only after seeing some press material on it about 2 weeks before its release that I thought ‘you know what, I could really go for diving through windows killing 25 people at once as a fat bald middle-aged guy.’
I said in the beginning when I started writing reviews for Re-play that the blog would be focused on games which were a year or two old, not brand spanking new ones and not retro games either. Well this is the first review where I’m afraid that edict must be broken (although technically I’m reviewing the Xbox Live Arcade version so I don’t have to feel too guilt ridden).Both the original two games in the series, Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie, have now received sort-of-HD-remakes that were released on Xbox Live Arcade not long ago. The orignal games came out on the good old N64 in 1998 and 2000 respectively. I’ll always remember this as the golden age of 3D platformers with such gems as the two games above, Donkey Kong 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day (both also made by Rare, the makers of the Banjo Kazooie games), Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon on the Playstation, etc… this period was also part of developer Rare’s golden age (although admitedly towards the end of it). From the NES up until the launch of the Nintendo Gamecube they had produced a string of consecutive hits that I think is probably still unmatched to this day (comment section arguement commence) in the industry. The end of the SNES to the end of the N64 era was when the studio was at its pinnacle. Continue Reading
Change…it’s always been slowly slowly, softly softly for Nintendo hasn’t it. Well, at least when it’s concerning changes that Nintendo themselves didn’t initiate anyway. Earlier this year, in preparation for the E3 reveal and eventual launch of the Wii U, Nintendo announced they were getting serious about online. With improved online functionality for the 3DS, along with the eshop, a robust online infrastructure for the Wii U including downloadable full on retail games, an app store, and regular DLC. I’m as happy with this as any Nintendo fan but at this stage I’m taking the ‘believe it when I see it’ approach. However, the first developer to jump off the DLC starting block has turned out to be WayForward technologies with add-on content for Mighty Switch Force. They’ve been kind enough to release 5 new levels (going some way to addressing my one real gripe with the original game) along with an improvement to the 3D effect. What’s more, this will be the first of a series of add-on packs and…it’s FREE! Let’s see how they’ve done with installment number one. Continue Reading
For anyone with any experience of Nintendo’s online attempts, you’ll know that my use of the word ‘attempts’ as opposed to ‘triumphs’ is no accident. They’ve just never really grasped the importance of having a strong online presence both in terms of multiplayer components to games and having a large, extensive, intuitive download service (though I should point out I’ve actually defended Nintendo’s lack of online multiplayer in their key franchises, chiefly because I’m a lonely bastard who doesn’t care about multiplayer!). Wii ware is something of an inside joke amongst the indie game community, especially with developers. For those that aren’t aware, Wii ware has a 40Mb size limit…no wonder devs hate it! However, with the 3ds, and with the Wii U on its way, Nintendo seem to be learning their lesson.