Some of my favorite Series and/or Works

Hey everyone, here’s my weekly (sort of) update yet again. Nothing so game related or general update related. Just a little explanation of some of my thoughts upon what exactly some of my favorite literary works are.

First up is a classic Spider Robinson novel based off of the manuscript of some classic Robert Heinlein notes for one Variable Star. The book, while receiving some good, some great, some bad reviews from 2006 until now, is in my mind a fitting tribute to Robert Heinlein and also a fitting addition to the ranks of Spider Robinson’s own novels. It is a modern classic on its own, a healthy mix of space-time continuum and fun filled sojourns across the universe.

Next up is a favorite series of mine dubbed the Incarnations of Immortality series. It was written by Piers Anthony, also writer of the long-running Xanth series of convoluted and odd topics. The books in the series 1-7 are excellent and although an eighth was written back in ’07, nearly two decades after the previous title’s publishing, I do not honestly consider it as a mainstay in the series as quality goes. The series, as with many Anthony novels, is filled with provocative content at times, however it has several interesting concepts and whatnot as well. My particular favorites are books 1-3 and 6- On a Pale Horse, Bearing an Hourglass, With a Tangled Skein, and For Love of Evil. The first deals with the Incarnation of Death, the second Time, third Fate’s three aspects, and the sixth Evil. The mere concept of there being offices of these Aspects is intriguing enough.

Going back to Robert Heinlein, I’ve got several other books (actually his) that are enjoyable reads as well. Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Assignment in Eternity. And how could one forget the novel that spawned a movie series as well? Starship Troopers was written by the sci-fi master as well, and fared much better than the movie counterparts.

Isaac Asimov also has written several excellent titles over the years as well. Some of the more notable are in fact series that have even had modern feature films created from some of their concepts. The Foundations series has excellent concepts and writing beyond its time, the Robot series- including the titular I, Robot as well as other novels such as The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, and my favorite Robots and Empire. Other excellent novels and works include The Gods Themselves- another especially favorite title of mine.

Arthur C. Clarke is another favorite of mine and many others, and also of Stanley Kubrick and many movie industry goers- as he is credited with crafting the wonderful tale of a certain space odyssey… He has also written other excellent works I have thoroughly enjoyed such as Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood’s End, 2001-3001: A Space Odyssey, The Garden of Rama, Rama II, The Sands of Mars, The Food of the Gods,  and Dog Star.

Along with these titles, I also enjoy pretty much every book and work by Stephen King, Harlan Coben, George RR Martin, Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan,  Ray Bradbury, and much of the (until now) recognized Star Wars expanded universe. Now, here are a few more titles I’ve always enjoyed as well. Might I also mention that HG Wells, Tom Clancy, and pretty much every fictional writer of some sort have written fanciful and realistic writings that I have heartily enjoyed.

The Woods by Harlan Coben, Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster, The Planet that Wasn’t by Isaac Asimov, The Once and Future King by TH White, Mindkiller by Spider Robinson, The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell, The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, and Ted Dekker’s Circle series.

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Time Check

[As Read on GIO.]

A Now Customary Blog Update

Hey there folks- another short-ish blog on the menu for you all today. Sunday’s a slow day anyway normally. So I’ve been doing a few different things lately, as is customary for my thus far always busy schedule. As the summer slump ends it looks like I’ll be even busier than I have been as well! I can almost audibly hear the groans from here, but maybe that’s just my stomach growling (it’s lunchtime already?).

Regardless, it’s time to fill you in on the progress of some of my blogs that I’ve been working on, as well as some of the slightly worked on reviews of mine- as per my promise(s). I’ve gotten behind on reviews lately, but hopefully will have the chance to release some of them on the weekends every now and then if not during the actual business week. As for blogs, my Top X Blogs of the Generation (number tbd) is coming along quite fairly at the current time. It’s getting there anyway. I’ve also got another spate of Skyrim themed blogs- better late than never I suppose, and a few extraneous blogs as well. Hopefully enough for you all to enjoy reading.

In other news, I’ve been getting back into writing and editing more of my less than stellar works- ranging from fanfiction to actual good material, mainly for fun but who knows something may come of it after all. I’ve been reading a lot more science fiction works lately, or rather re-reading other ones I’ve already enjoyed simply for fun factor in my downtime- what little I have.

In gaming news I’ve been playing a few new titles but also habitually sort of slipping up and playing some Black Ops 2, considering it’s double experience and double weapon experience weekend and I may as well put that towards something of semi-good use. Plus, I was bored and didn’t feel like partaking in some long adventure roleplaying game or something requiring much actual thought or strategy- *cough Divinity. Jokes aside, I’m playing here and there but nothing like any sane individual should be- meaning I’m going through the occasional withdrawal of sorts (heh). Nothing I can’t survive though.

I’ll hopefully be able to post a few things here and there every now and then, but don’t count too heavily upon my answering of questions in a very timely manner as- although I will occasionally check, I won’t be around much for the foreseeable future, even though I know I’ve already slacked off for the past year enough. I apologize, but you all will surely understand what happens when life gives you lemons, or even worse- a job. Yeah, I made that distinction awhile ago, and fine line or not, it’s a difficult one to get a grip on. Working till the grave- that’s me.

Anyway, I know this isn’t anywhere near my normal blurb length or anything, but that’s honestly all I’ve been up to lately- aside from miscellaneous activities such as trolling the local interwebs, praying that net neutrality does not actually come to pass, paying bills hither thither, and obnoxiously playing music because I need to vent at times. Yep- my inner petulant college student or teenager is coming out again, funny how that happens about every five years after you’re actually in that particular group of humanity. Oh well. I shall speak with you all again sometime (hopefully) soon. Until then, peace.

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Level Review: Treasure Hunter (Papaya)

Veteran designer Papaya (formerly Papaya255- yes, I have good memory some days) has crafted yet another masterfully pieced together treasure collecting adventure, not to be confused with several other excellent levels of note so far released on the constantly erratic Atmosphir downloadable client the community has resurrected. This review, as with the others I’ve so far concocted at the behest of community members seeking feedback is for- you guessed it, purely feedback and critiquing of the selected levels. If you’d like to request a review of a level (preferably of your own creation or of the designer’s own volition) then by all means shoot me a message or post on the hub thread in the reviews section. And now that this much has been established, let’s actually talk about the treasure trove of goodies we find before us today! The aptly titled Treasure Hunter features- you guessed it, treasures upon treasures! Wow, you guys are a really perceptive bunch out there today!

Jokes aside, allow me to earnestly begin. Upon starting Papaya’s level, I noticed immediately that it took several design cues as environmental design goes from both Protector II and Ascension- two of Pap’s other excellent titles. This being said, I also particularly enjoyed the erratic sense of ‘randomness’ and yet equally present sense of ‘purpose’ with the design of the overall environment- both inside and outside the sections of the level I explored, although I’m sure there are plenty of hidden catacombs and sideways paths I’ve yet to delve deeper into. The level’s usage of hidden areas and religious use of treasure also of course provides plenty of motivation to explore deeper and deeper, and as there is no play clock the only thing stopping you from having free reign is your own skill level…and the one life you are given to waste or use to your advantage. As promised however, you can’t possibly not finish the level unless you rage-quit, as you’ll spawn upon death in the finish area, unlocking any achievements you may have earned along the way as well and collecting still more treasure from those. Enjoy the icing on the cake- this one isn’t a lie.

The best thing about this level is that- even with all of its semi hidden areas the entire thing feels like one big hidden mineshaft of pleasure and pain (contradictory as those might sound, it’s quite accurate I assure you). I had a pretty good chance to explore what I believe to be the majority of the level for this review, although I wasn’t going for much of a score run and therefore didn’t really focus on treasure much- or so I tell myself anyway. I especially enjoyed the thought put into each achievement, as well as the encouragement of replayability- not only to see new areas you may have died before entering, but also in order to get different achievements since it’s pretty difficult I’d imagine to get all of them in one go. So excellent work in that respect Paps- so far you’ve gotten full marks from me where environmental design and overall replayability are concerned.

This review is going to be a bit shorter than some of the others have been, and that is mainly because unlike the other more linear levels, since this one is a lot more open to exploration I’m hesitant to thoroughly spoil all of the goodies for those who have not yet been bathed in the blood of steeped in the full immersing nature of the level in question. So ha- not too many spoilers here today! I particularly enjoyed the thrill of platforming through specific areas- mainly when attempting to obtain the various masks throughout the level, as well as some bonus bombs and whatnot. The sense of achievement I got from each piece of treasure I did painstakingly collect highly dwarfed that of surviving in Protector II even though there were absolutely no checkpoints here as opposed to II’s one main one. Regardless, I felt falls here- short of fatal ones, were a lot more forgiving. And the difficulty not being on the level of Ascension’s was a godsend as well. Good call Papaya, good call.

So now for the endgame notations, and then my final, final remarks and whatnot… Thankfully, unlike some other levels that have otherwise been good (recently) but littered with sporadic glitches thanks to physics or other issues, I found no such complaints within this adventure. The concept, while simple, is fun and doesn’t get old as you can simply end it (quite literally) at any time with minimal regret since you’ll still finish with whatever you’ve thus far collected. Again, the environmental work was above average by far, the general aesthetics pleasing and enjoyable, and the level a blast to continually replay. Few others can really say that and mean it. Now, here are the final pros and cons I’ve found for the time being…

Pros: Environment, Concept, Achievements, Fun, Replay Value

Cons: Lolwut cons? Umm… Too easy to beat? 0_o

Play Browser Score: 5 Stars, Intermediate Challenge

Official Rating: 9.5/10.0

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Re-Working Some Things

Update: I recently began re-editing and working on more of my ever-ongoing AtmoPhage thing. Check it out here and on Wattpad if you want. The dates still say 2012, but I’m doing that so there isn’t a major time lapse in between chapters on the site, and so I can publish about as many as I want per day ha ha. Enjoy, if you’re into crappy fanfics and those sorts of things. Enjoy it even if you’re not. Enjoy it dammit! ;-) Still, good day folks.

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The 30 Worst Games of the Past Generation

[As Read on GIO.]

On a Scale of 1-Duke Nukem Forever, these are Worse

And then Some…

Hey there folks! I’m posting this terrifyingly terrible blog because I am also compiling a list of the most classic cult classics as well as the best games of the past generation. So, without further ado, I hope you all enjoy this list of the 30 worst games (FOR CONSOLES) of the previous generation of gaming.

30 | Clive Barker’s Jericho (2007)

Allow me to start off with this particular musty gem. While it is true that the game could’ve turned out a lot worse than it did, and it did manage to incorporate some interesting concepts and an odd and eerie story, it is a failure of this generation. Poor gameplay, a story lacking depth and addled by twists and turns, and some egregious and grievous errors in character design and animations bog down this horror title and make the worst terror of all the game itself.

29 | Kinect Star Wars (2012)

Although I could tell right away that it wasn’t going to get any awards for being the greatest Star Wars game ever, I thought Kinect Star Wars looked interesting enough and at least had some potential. So naturally, when I actually saw it in action being played, I was horrified. It has a few redeemable concepts- as few and far between as they are, but one thing utterly destroys it in a fell swoop: dancing. Well, and other horrible mini-games. It looks alright graphically, but that’s about at that was done right. I should’ve expected that though from a Kinect title… They would’ve had better success marketing it as Dance Central: Star Wars though honestly…

28 | Two Worlds (2007)

Cult classic essentially though it is, this game was an obvious shoe-in for the list here. All in all, it’s actually not that bad of a game if you can stomach the pretty bad everything and get past the fact that it is a worse version of Oblivion essentially, aside from the story being different. The sequel was actually a truly decent game, and markedly better than the original, but this one is where it all began- sadly. A host of glitches and assorted maladies plagued the game and I assume still do, but it still managed to endear itself to some.

27 | Velvet Assassin (2009)

Velvet Assassin isn’t the worst of games, as it obviously is not at the very bottom of this list, however it is very, very far from the best of them as well. The game has an interesting premise although it revisits the cliched and overused World War II Europe setting. However, it doesn’t even  manage to put together an interesting ensemble with the assassin chic or setting, as a convoluted plot, poor environmental design, and stale gameplay keep the game from being anything particularly special at all.

26 | Call of Juarez: The Cartel (2011)

Call of Juarez as a series has a spotty career track- a good first game, a decent second, a poor third, and then a decent arcade reboot. If you couldn’t guess, The Cartel is the third title in the series. While originally the series took place in the wild, wild west during pre, post, and during Civil War times, Cartel takes place in the present. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, join the club. As a shooter and cooperative title, the game has its flaws but manages to be at least passably bearable. As far as story, graphics, and anything else go however, it fails on most accounts.

25 | Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai (2011)

While the game doesn’t have as ridiculous a story as that of Dangerous Hunts 2011, Shadows of Katmai will leave you questioning the direction Cabela is going in, as well as why you even purchased the game at all. Having branched out of the shooting simulations market and into other territory as well, this so-called survival game forces you to fight poor area design, bad graphics, and heinous glitches more often than actual enemies and assorted wildlife.

24 | Bodycount (2011)

Bodycount is the spiritual successor to Codemasters’ 2006 insta-classic shooter Black, features a high level of environmental destructibility, and has beautiful graphics. So what went wrong to earn it a spot on this list? A combination of things, as it turns out. The convoluted and pretty much pointless story, generic dudes with guns and character models, some less than stellar AI at times, and the simple fact that what was awesome in 2006 is mostly standard now kept the game from being anything spectacular. It isn’t the worst game on this list, but the dramatic letdown alone earns it a spot below some of the other titles.

23 | Avatar: The Burning Earth (2007)

This particular game is a classic play for many people simply for the fact that it is a quick and dirty way to get 1000 gamerscore easily on the Xbox 360. Seriously, you can earn all five achievements in under ten minutes, as they are all combo-related ones. As far as the story goes, it coincides with the Avatar television show. As for the gameplay and much else in the title, they pretty much suck and are extremely boring at times (most times).

22 | Dark (2013)

Now, this one here had several interesting concepts going for it, although sadly none of them panned out. Dark is a modern day vampire story, a stealth oriented action game, and also a cell-shaded adventure with looks very similar to the art direction of the Borderlands series. Sadly a combination of glitches, boring gameplay, and very faulty and finicky controls landed this game nearly universal disdain and terrible ratings. Best left in the dark, I guess you could say.

21 | GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Unlike the movie of the same name which was at least passably enjoyable, if not genuinely or accurately well-done, this game was better left unspoken of and not made. As with most if not all movie-tie in games, it sucks. The graphics are bad, the gameplay repetitive and bland, and the story very poorly thought out- even with the events of the movie to guide it along. So yeah, I hope you didn’t waste your money on this one for some reason.

20 | MindJack (2011)

As with many games on this list, MindJack isn’t utterly beyond help in terms of enjoyability, and isn’t completely terrible for the most part. It employs interesting mind “hacking” concepts as well as decent third person shooting mechanics, although nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Aside from that, the story is laughable and the graphics generally range from bad to FUBAR and off-kilter throughout the game. Also, mind-controlled silverback gorillas. Ahem, yes.

19 | Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007)

Oh Spider-Man, 2007 just was not a good year for you at all, was it? Friend or Foe turned the webslinger into an even more kid-friendly guy and his game into a poorly designed and poorly executed mess. The only good part of the game was the numerous shoutouts to comic book references ranging from Madame Web to Carnage, and that’s about it. Literally everything else, from the poor graphics display to the less than superb gameplay and story suffered though.

18 | Star Trek (2013)

Yes, this game was pretty bad, however it was surprisingly not for the reasons I thought it would be. Although poorly explained at times, the story was probably the strongest aspect of the entire game, as the gameplay and graphics obviously took a back seat. Good job getting Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto’s likenesses in the game however! That must’ve been really, really easy… (I jest). A new threat doesn’t seem so new however in the game, as there are obviously recycled elements from the first movie such as the diving towards the giant drill part, but aside from that I suppose the game is a solid ‘meh’ on a scale of ‘ermm’ to ‘what the flying space monkeys’. So…yeah.

17 | The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (2013)

Survival Instinct is a pretty bad game, but that isn’t for lack of trying. It’s concepts at zombie apocalypse survival are actual quite decent, however few are executed properly or as intended. The main things that keep it down are boring and repetitive gameplay and very poor graphics. Aside from that, it actually boasts a passing story and two semi-likeable protagonists in Merle and Daryl Dixon from the television show. However, it is a prequel, so it thankfully treads thus far unexplored territory as far as the two brothers stories go.

16 | Balls of Fury (2007)

Yes, just what I’ve always wanted! Another movie-tie in game to add to the list of really bad games out there from this past console generation! Oh, and yes- although it may not look it at all, this game was made on Wii…in 2007. So ignore the fact that it looks like it’s from 1990. How a single console can have games that look like this and then Xenoblade is beyond me. Poor art direction, poor story originality or even passable copying of the movie’s plot, and poor everything else bring this title down to gaming hell.

15 | NeverDead (2012)

This game really should’ve stayed dead and just been hushed up. While it looks decent as far as graphics go, which is probably the only good thing that can be said for it, the game plays very, very, very poorly at everything else. The concept is neat enough although it feels overused about ten minutes into the game, and you eventually tire of exploding apart every time you get hit and having to do the humpty dumpty to get put back together. Just do yourself a favor and go play Too Human instead- even it is better than this game.

14 | 007 Legends (2012)

James Bond hasn’t had the best of luck in terms of games since Goldeneye to be honest, and with this game, we now know exactly why it seems- he hasn’t learned his lesson(s) still. Quantum of Solace may have been pretty meh, but Legends easily apes it by outdoing it in nearly every way, poorly that is.  Including random missions from each of several movies may have sounded interesting and made for an interesting concept, but it tears the fragile story asunder as well. Oh, and the graphics look bad, the gameplay is poor, and most everything lacks quality except voicework as it features many actually talented actors- see Judi Dench and Benecio Del Toro for example.

13 | Beowulf: The Game (2007)

Well, this game could’ve been worse, but not much worse. It’s only saving grace is a decently intriguing story that continues on even after the movie (yeah, remember that one?) ends and follows the rest of Beowulf’s life as King of the Danes- as legend would have it as well. Aside from that, poor gameplay, graphics, and a generally unpleasant atmosphere suck the life and fun out of the rest of the game, if there was any to begin with.

12 | Clash of the Titans (2010)

This game has been described as a hack and slash style game, which I feel is at least marginally accurate. It has also been described (as per Wiki) as a game having no plot, since the plot segment of that page is empty. I feel this is also extremely accurate, as with the poorly crafted 3D monstrosity of a movie released to (wait for it) the same name. This isn’t simply another movie tie-in game however, as this game’s poor quality goes well beyond that of the movie’s. No story, low quality visuals, and poor design choices make the gameplay irrelevant and it wasn’t worth it anyway, so don’t play this, please.

11 | Crash of the Titans (2007)

Oh how the mighty have fallen… Well, both Sierra and Crash Bandicoot it seems anyway… Whereas the Crash games used to be pretty good and interesting and unique, the later iterations traded all of that for a quick cash and grab and sub-par, mediocre gameplay. Crash of the Titans is no different, what with its short length, lack of any truly ‘new’ substance, and low quality of gameplay and design. Therefore, it earns the spot right under the very similarly titled Clash of the Titans.

10 | Eragon (2006)

What a shame- a pretty good book series not only ending on a sour note, but spawning both a movie and game that were both equally abominable in their own ways. At least for the game’s side of things, we know that to be because it had poor graphics, gameplay, and story. And the fact that it followed the story of the book and movie makes that all the more unforgiving. I mean, just look up reviews of the thing- they’re atrocious for a reason! Also, curious that the name Eragon is one letter away from dragon, and the series concerns…dragons. Hmm…

09 | Iron Man (2008)

I guess it’s a good thing this game wasn’t called Invincible Iron Man, because nothing about it is in any way invincible at all. The graphics are way below standard, the gameplay sad, the story hard to describe even though it follows the movie’s plot, and the rest of the dreary misadventures would make fans cry harder than Iron Man 3 and Mass Effect 3’s ending put together- it’s that bad. I hope you didn’t decide to purchase this Robert Down-Under of a crap heap. The rust bucket flies better than this.

08 | Jumper: Griffin’s Story (2008)

Decent story, bad movie, really bad game- Jumper sure knows how to jump about on the spectrum of bad to worse in terms of media it seems. I think Reiner will agree with me in saying that this game gives ET a run for his money- it’s that bad, enough said.

07 | Blackwater (2011)

Score wise, Blackwater may have been beaten by Jumper (in terms of a lower score), however the fact that the developers crafted this game and then boasted about it being better than Modern Warfare in some ways earns it every bit of this spot on my list. You really thought it could even compete?! The graphics are laughable, the story laughable, the gameplay nowhere near passable, and the entire thing taken together is a trash pile worth of crap. I hate to break it to you, but this thing is as close to broken as it gets. It’s BAD. Also, apparently on-rails shooting mimics real-world scenarios. Yeah, um okay.

06 | Hour of Victory (2007)


2007 was a rough year but it also had some good games as well, this not among them. Hour of Victory is well-known for being a broken and completely buggy game for a good reason- it is. It’s received some of the lowest overall scores of all time, and thereby earns its place here easily. The graphics are poor, the gameplay still poorer, and the rest of it- from sound to story is virtually nonexistent. So it’s pretty victorious if those were the main goals.

05 | Vampire Rain (2007)

Even a game about it raining vampires would be better than this terrible mess. The game is literally a bad joke, as it can’t do anything right, or so it seems. There are no redeemable qualities to this “stealth” title that pits your poorly armed team against invincible vampires who defy convention and can come out in daytime as well. If they find you, you die, if you move, you die. Basically, you die. And that’s not because the game is difficult, but because it sucks- pun intended.

04 | Rogue Warrior (2009)

What seemed like an interesting premise conducted by a well-known veteran turned out to be a terrible travesty of video game justice. Something definitely went rogue in the process of making this game, as it’s very poorly crafted- by Bethesda too of all people! Not only did I expect better, but I was in fact surprised at just how truly horrifying the game is when it comes to sound, mechanics, and graphics. They’re pretty darn bad.

03 | Conflict: Denied Ops (2008)

It may not have received the worst average review scores of the games on this list, but do not let that fool you- this generic romp is definitely one of the worst. The title itself spouts generic all over the place and sets the tone for the type of game to follow. Not a single trope taken is original, and each aspect of the game is poorly crafted to begin with. It has some higher up ranks beat in terms of graphics, if just, but they easily outweigh it in gameplay and all else, sad as that is.

02 | Ride to Hell: Retribution (2013)

Somebody needs some retribution for creating this game, or allowing it to be created… This misogynistic game- and it is, oh it is, portrays women poorly, as to be expected of that. It brutalizes most sentiments found in any sensible game, makes too many “jokes” for its own good, and generally sucks. Remember GI saying it would be a contender for worst game of the generation? Well yeah, it’s really far up there- and close to the worst. Seriously though, like- you have fully clothed sex in your game and you expect to be taken seriously? No, just no.

01 | Sukeban Shachou Rena (2009)

This game barely sold 100 units in the first week, was recognizably terrible, and therefore banned from ever being sold again outside (by Japan) and never imported to the US to be continually sold because of that. It’s BAD. Cat mini-games may sound alright, if they work, which these don’t.

Honorable Mentions | Two Extras I Couldn’t Fit In

Damnation-

Bullet Witch-

 

I hope that you guys have enjoyed this lengthy blog! I know you’re probably suffering right alongside me, having had to witness these terrible games at work in the brief explanations, but I promise you it can’t get any worse than this…this past generation anyway…on consoles… Until the next time!

 

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A Day Late, or a Dollar Short?

[As Read on GIO.]

Tackling Moral Ambiguity in Video Gaming

Yep, me again. I know it’s only “Day Two” of this whole being back thing, but I feel it is only fair to go ahead and break out the bigger guns and tackle a few different topics every so often like I used to do pretty regularly. So what better time to start doing so than now? However, do not think I have completely forgotten my promises to bring more of my series related blogs back to the forefront of my blogging pages- such as my Spoiled and Ruining Skyrim ones, to name a few specifics. No, today’s topic covers a much more broad and less specifically defined theme emerging in many narrative-based and role-playing games today: moral ambiguity.

The very definition of ambiguity alone is the “doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention,” and morals of course refer to one’s fiber of character or actions representing thereof. So I think it’s safe to assume that this refers to that area of character we generally associate with all things George RR Martin and similar concepts such as Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead- those morally grey worlds and their survival of the fittest mentalities. However, not to simply be limited to media such as television and movies, the moral grey zone is also easily applied to the video game hemisphere- look no further than open-world epics such as Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and Red Dead Redemption to name a few excellent series/projects.

To be morally grey does not make a character or setting entirely neutral, rather it means that they can a) play “both sides” of the game or b) generally adhere to their own moral code of ethics (an ethos) and not to the scruples and stipulations of modern society as we see fit- or their own society either. Oftentimes, they do what is necessary for survival (see The Walking Dead) or what is necessary to put them in the greatest position of power or caste in order to survive or maintain (see A Song of Ice and Fire). So, in many cases, moral ambiguity itself can boil down to three main parts- survival, ethos, and unknown.

In games such as the aforementioned Fallout saga, survival in the post-apocalyptic wasteland populated with equal amounts black humor and cannibalistic raiders and other foul creatures is your main goal for the better part of the game, with other festivities making side-appearances along your journey. Sure, there is a main questline and story to be told, but can you really doubt that the final goal isn’t about survival? The mere day to day “frivolities” you take part in prove this point- blasting heads off of shoulders and constantly fending off attacks from ranging raiders, stocking up on supplies, and hunkering down to get a well-rested bonus every once and awhile. Just because something has a plot doesn’t mean it can’t be simplified where moral ambiguity is concerned. As it goes, ambiguous settings are rarely ambiguous and hard to read in their actual entirety, but rather in their ambiguous characters- making the plot and their own aims that much more difficult to decipher.

As far as ethos go in video games, you can usually refer to games such as Skyrim (of Bethsoft’s Elder Scrolls fame). Although you have the opportunity to take part in your fair share of shenanigans- it is a Bethesda game after all, for the better part of your quest, the Dovahkiin adheres to his or her own moral standard, as light, dark, or grey as it may be. The power of player choice in morally ambiguous settings is, after all, what oftentimes makes these things that much more ambiguous. And then of course there are already dark and grey settings such as Tomb Raider 2013’s island of Yamatai and Far Cry 3’s equally oppressive and dark setting (also on an island). Back to the Dovahkiin however- you’ll also note that other equally grey characters react as would be expected or even unexpectedly to this moral fiber, commenting throughout on the choices of the player and the possible retribution or reactions that could always ensure. For every action, there is an equal or greater reaction- a saying which is often accurate here as well.

And then finally there is what could possibly be the littlest or largest category of all- that of the unknown reasoning for a character’s moral ambiguity. Not every character has such a strong conviction or motivations as that of ASoIaF’s Hound or Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard. No, some fall into the unknown potential and unknown reasoning categories- although they may also happen to possess a rigid moral ethos or survival instinct of their own as well. Such an excellent example of this particular category would be Lee Everett from Telltale’s TWD episodic series (Season One). You shape his past as you see fit, Telltale only provides the bare details, and honestly- by the end you’ve still got a few more questions than answers. That is often the best thing and worst thing regarding ambiguity in the moral and theatrical sense- the questions. Lee does have his own moral code, or at least the one you provide for him, and he also has a strong will to survive the zombie apocalypse. However, he also has other unknown and indescribable qualities that make him that much more ambiguous and enigmatic at times. And that’s the glory of it all.

So, all in all, that’s my brief talk concerning some of the broader facets of moral ambiguity in both media and games- generally tailored more towards games, as would be expected here. This is barely the tip of the iceberg and there’s much more hidden  beneath, however this is all I will talk about for the time being. I may or may not return to the subject once more at a later date, time will just have to tell. Until that time however, I’ll continue to blog about whatever I see fit to theorize about and scrutinize, as well as to review as many gems and flunkers as possible as game releases go. So I’ll see you all around.

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Living in a Post-6/20/14 World

[As Read on GIO.]

Pewds Strikes Back

Oh, hello there people. You may be wondering why I’ve summoned you all to this blog this evening… I know that would be the natural reaction to the surprising fact that I am releasing a blog today of all days, however I assure you this is no fluke (I think). I’ve had a sporadic run at best these past two months, and really since the beginning of the year, due to my insanely busy schedule. I honestly haven’t even been in town for most of that time, and even when I have, haven’t been able to make time to blog properly and so therefore haven’t blogged at all- not wanted to diminish my general standard of blog worthiness in any way with last minute updates and crap posted quickly.

Well, to answer your queries regarding your summons, I must simply say that I’ve called you all here- as The Crooked Man inadvertently summoned Bigby Wolf to his abode, in order to witness something marvelous: the return of my less than daily blogs. Now, things may still not be entirely back to normal, and quite possibly main remain this way for a long while, however I hope to no longer abstain for more than a month’s time and leave you all wondering as to my very whereabouts and safety. Not that I don’t appreciate the sentiments.

So, for starters, I’ve decided upon a relatively conservative blog for the evening- think of it as a slightly sweet glass of white wine following a main course meal at a five-star restaurant, a dessert wine of such quality so to say. That is the taste this easily palatable and softly, delicately served blog should leave in your mouth or minds rather as I depart hastily into the shadows as a crooked and shady thief does after a night of heists well wrought and fortunes gratefully earned. Heavy handed metaphors- check. And now we shall rightfully begin!

Tonight’s blog concerns my exploits for the previous two months of time, wherein I found time to produce a few reviews but nothing much more in the way of blogs. I was, however, also able to make some excellent progress on specific manuscripts for some long-term projects of mine (and my buddies) and generally work my behind off as well. Not to mention travel to some cool places doing both recreational and recruiting/working business as well- a win/win if I do say so. I’ve been so caught up in all of this that I’ve only periodically checked up on the video game world in terms of news and this site- as with others (my once bustling blog included) about once a week or so, watching but not saying very much here and there. Thankfully, although the world continually moves on, I’ve not completely lost my way yet.

Despite not being able to share many details, I would like to state that my exploits in the writing of said manuscript have continued well so far. On another note, I got to mess around in several beautiful cities, hang out with some neat people I met or had previously known, and somewhat play games on top of that- finishing up the final episode of The Wolf Among Us and even getting some thoughts squared away for reviews for other games as well. So it was a profitable month I suppose in general, gracefully balancing the general nothingness of the one prior to.

And I was able to carefully select my targets for assassination and make a few notations to myself along the way as to what sorts of future topics to blog about, what series’ I need to actually continue in blogging terms, and generally how to maybe cut down the procrastination to manageable levels as well. You could say I’ll be changing things up just a little bit, hopefully if all goes well. It’s all fair game I suppose, so why not? Anyway, that’s today’s fair little blurb. I know it’s not much more than a drip in the water, but a blog with some words is better seen than no blog with no words that is not. So hey, bite me. Until the next time folks, I wish you all well.

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The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Three: In Harm’s Way Review

[As Read on GIO.]

Putting Clem into the Frying Pan Yet Again…

Just in Time for a New Fire to Start.

Clementine’s very character is definitely one of the most enjoyable I’ve witnessed transition from stuttering and semi-meek (not weak though!) little child to stout and brave kid, and her life post-Lee is equally depressing and action-packed as ever. In the zombie apocalypse, action isn’t necessarily a good thing most of the time, but surprisingly (although always hinted at) the majority of the threats do not stem from the Walkers themselves- although they remain a large part of the background, but rather from the other humans roaming the now desolate world. As much as Season Two has been a coming of age story and a fight for survival between Clem’s crew and the scavengers, murderers, and other oddballs they’ve thus far encountered, it also has boiled down simply to actions versus words and whose speak loudest and clearest at the end of the day. You’d be surprised just what you may find yourself able to do at the end of the day, and what Telltale will allow Clem to do as a result…

There is the ever-present issue of mortality- how little of it makes its way into and through Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse of choice, as your allies constantly have the ‘opportunity’ to die on your watch right and left, although admittedly sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. One of last year’s most desperate and depressing factor’s and moments in gaming was definitely not being able to do anything but choose between one of two friends or companions- a la Kaidan/Ashley from Mass Effect 1, and as much as it killed me (and everyone else usually) it was a rush and definitely eye-opening. Telltale still doesn’t hold the punches back even now, having reach Season Two’s halfway mark, and there is still so much more to be seen of the dreadfully brilliant story and conflicts continuing to emerge. Sure, some actions and reactions available to a child no more than ten or so seem a bit on the ridiculous side, but after all it is a game revolving around the apocalypse, so some leeway is to be expected and given rationally. If you thought Season One’s ending was bleak enough, there have been many moments already in this one that put it to shame and up the ante in several ways, although I won’t ruin them now.

That all having been said, please also bear in mind that as dark as the road has already gotten and as twisted as things are, it is surely going to get worse- as it definitely does for the duration of this particular episode in terms of story and actions. I know there’s supposed to be a silver lining to most things and that nothing is ever truly impossible or insurmountable, but if it isn’t now it’s getting pretty damn near unbearable for Telltale’s cast, and it’s going to be all the more interesting to see who cracks next. The questionably sane Carver character makes an appearance of course yet again, with the plot definitely revolving for the most part around his Darwinistic and methodical approach to cruelty and ‘survival.’ Just like the ending episodes of Season Four of the television show counterpart in which the cannibalistic inhabitants of Terminus are obvious brainwashed into following the orders of their leaders, so too are Carver’s followers- pretty much mindlessly heeding his sadistic orders (although also probably out of fear for their own well-being and lives).

Survival is a theme that has run deeply throughout the series for good reason- it’s the apocalypse, and that theme definitely resurfaces here more-so than it has in the last two episodes, making Clem’s trials and tribulations for the sake of becoming or remaining strong all that much more real and scary. As scary as it is to see the girl battle with various demons that she shouldn’t have to deal with at such a young age, and scenarios she is placed in- often thanks to Carver’s pretty much evil ways, it would be so much scarier if she did indeed crack as others have and not only die, but worse- find herself indoctrinated into the ‘cult’ which the madman/villain runs. Constantly throughout the episode the gambling grows riskier and the stakes increase, only starting with dangling some things you (and as a result Clem) hold dear before you, so tantalizingly close, and ending up who knows where by the end of things… That is the scariest bit of all. Imprisonment and trials (or tribulations) are two major themes throughout the episode, as well as of course the hinted dangers always present- even mentioned in the title itself. Others react in a variety of believable ways to this imprisonment- if they’ve made it this far, and it is interesting to see how returning and new characters alike respond to the situations.

I think one of the most interesting factors about the episode is the further portrayal of the series’ characters, both newly introduced and already known or heard of. Some 400 Days characters make appearances- assuming they survived those events of course, as well as the other familiar and/or constant faces, alongside naturally, new and semi-intriguing specimens as well. Also naturally, some people seek escape above all else while others mull things over and actually think things through instead of simply cracking under pressure or the sadistic choices which Carver presents from time to time in return for ‘progression’ or even the tantalizing possibility of freedom. As aforementioned, Clem is far from unaffected- and although things could’ve been a lot worse by the end, I’m still reeling over the possibility that she is becoming more and more Carl-like every day and her scarily calm demeanor is fairly similar to the borderline sociopathic mentality that the other child of the Walking Dead possesses. Hopefully however, this is just something Telltale has done in order to preserve some semblance of reason in an insane world or to make things not so dreadful for Clem and players, but as with anything here…I’m not entirely sure, and that bothers me.

As with the majority of the second season’s formula, and that of the series thus far as a whole, the gameplay remains pretty much unchanged and works as well as it ever has. Choices, character to character relationships, and the tense, fragmented action sequences are all present in this episode in varying quantities and are also pulled off quite well. At times the story may seem rushed in order to cram as much as possible in, however the pacing still comes away as working correctly and never jams too much in your path- aside from times when this is purposely done in order to send signals and messages of overwhelming despair or insurmountable danger the player’s way. Something that is all-too scary and a valuable tactic in Telltale’s ever-evolving arsenal, it would seem. Many of the choices here are presented with little to no reaction time besides instinctual button presses and you may find yourself surprised as to the results in their turn as well, often for ill and rarely (never, honestly) for good or for another being’s good anyway. Sometimes it may be as ‘simple’ as saying the right or wrong thing to somebody at the right or wrong time whereas many other times it will be giving you the opportunity to possibly save a friend or frenemy, or not. Amdist the chaotic zombie apocalypse, these were by far some of the best (and most dastardly) choices yet presented in the season and series.

This next portion may seem petty in more ways than one, and very much so could be recognized as such, but please hear me out for now. Since Telltale’s last playable character was a grown man named Lee, and therefore a very different character from the child-like (in body and stature anyhow) Clementine, many things have changed throughout the game’s formula that make its believability more difficult to bear at times. For example, many action sequences are tougher because Clem can’t fight most of her enemies straight up and is often forced to simply evade them or outsmart them, sort of like Ellie in The Last of Us (at odds with Joel’s similarly Lee figure). I’m not complaining about this at all, but it does build up to a certain point I’m about to arrive at. What does annoy me is the fact that a child- even one as experienced as Clementine, would be asked to perform all of these different tasks by her companions. Sure, many are relatively believable, and naturally everyone must step up in such hard times, but some are downright sadistic in their own right- I mean, seriously! Sure, it’s for the sake of story progression and the game, but because Telltale couldn’t come up with many other ways to progress the story in the same directions, it sort of kills the mood and setting for me, and often Clem’s growth cycle as a character is nipped back a bit as well because of it. However, all in all, this is a very minor gripe in my mind as much else is handled excellently or at least better.

As is often the case, it hasn’t been desperation that has been the worst thing Telltale has crafted in their story thus far, but ironically rather it has been hope. Giving us that hope and then more often than not crushing it, yet still having us dogging along beside the equally dejected characters could be called sadistic if it weren’t a game, and probably still is, but I’m certainly ‘loving’ it- if that’s even that right, related word for matters such as this. I’m hardly enjoying myself or Clem’s trials and troubles, but you know what I mean, surely. As much as I don’t doubt that Telltale could or would kill Clem given the opportunity, I hardly think it would be at the end of this season- although we’ve been shocked before so anything could happen. That having been said, as much as I want to murder Carver and many of his cronies myself, or give the other NPCs a piece of my mind, or see Clem triumph in the end, I know that inevitably and sadly so, there is always going to be at least one human and one zombie out there, and that distinguishing which is the true monster in specific circumstances may be more difficult than anticipated as well. As Christopher Nolan’s Batman said… “Which is worse- being a hero or living long enough to see yourself become the villain?” After this particular episode, I’m drained, but I still remain hopeful against all odds and can’t wait to see into what dark, far reaches the series travels next…

Concept: Continue the desperate tale revolving around Clementine and her interactions with both enemies such as the dead walking and other human beings, as well as her so-called friends and companions- an unknown and unexpected variable or three being inserted along the way.

Graphics: As usual, the same visual scheme can be seen, however for what it is worth the animations did seem somewhat smoother this time around, so maybe there is at least some small improvement to be had thus far as well.

Sound: A dark tone is easily established thanks to the chilling and oftentimes haunting melodies utilized, and the characters’ voices all fit accordingly in with their very looks, actions, and general tones as well which is definitely a plus.

Playability: As with the rest of the series, the controls are never really an issue, although they do always take a little while to get a grasp on for newer players.

Entertainment: This episode definitely featured more fastballs and curveballs than any slow pitches, although it remains to be seen if Clem and Telltale have hit any homeruns just yet, despite getting what is undoubtedly a great start already as the story has progressed thus far.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.75

As a final note, which I do not often include in my reviews, I would like to say that thus far- especially apparent in my spate of reviews for this Season alone, the series has definitely continued to improve both in gameplay pacing and storyline. Simply put, look at the progression from Episode One to now- I gave the first an 8.0, the second and 8.5, and this one has elicited a very close series high (for me) of an 8.75. I’m excited to see if we can continue to reach new heights and what highest highs or lowest lows the story will dive or fly to. Until next time, I’ll leave this here review for you all to peruse.

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Temporary Hiatus

Upcoming: See Twitter for details. I may have some updates and blogs/reviews each weekend but otherwise will be traveling until mid-July.

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Watch Dogs Review

[As Read on GIO.]

Ubisoft has tried their hand at crafting their fair share of open-world romps within the past few years- most recently Far Cry 3 among them, and has performed fairly well. As you’ll soon gather from my review here, Watch Dogs isn’t the greatest game out there to do it, nor the best looking next-gen title, however it more than adequately gets the job done. We’ve seen more than our fair share of demo videos for the game since two E3s ago, and the final product lives up to some promises and falls down on others, a result often found in today’s industry as developers find themselves pressured more and more to get more done than they originally intended, and end up either axing content or crafting sub-par content in specific areas here and there. On the whole, Watch Dogs is a fairly impressive new IP as well as a potential future money-maker for Ubisoft should they get their act more together and craft a truly quality sequel worth of this new generation and the hardware it offers up. The delay of the game’s initial release- postponed until May 27th of this year, did not add or detract much from the game’s final product and ultimately skeptics may have been the more correct of the two areas of thought in the format of the released product, it being slightly worse for wear than what was initially showed off.

It should come as no surprise that players take up the trench coat, phone carrying cowl of hacker and disgruntled wayfarer Aiden Pearce in this particular Ubisoft revenge tale. In fact, despite the vast differences, there could be many parallels drawn between Watch Dogs’ and Assassin’s Creed II’s revenge stories. Utilizing the citywide operating system that Chicago now runs on, Pearce is able to systematically hijack and take down many digital systems in order to rid himself of pursuers, kill foes in innovative new ways, and generally cause mayhem in his quest for vengeance and retribution for his deceased niece. Of course, when all else fails, he’s more than able to pick up a gun and use that to his advantage as well, even in combination with his hacking expertise. The story itself may seem like something out of one of those movie cliches, as it deals with an obviously corrupt corporation with far-reaching powers and influence. Pearce is pitted against said company which apparently had his niece murdered, and after many twists and turns throughout the decent story, he finally comes out on top…well sort of I guess, but that’s for another day. Also, let’s talk for a minute about who thought it was a good idea to put the entire city on one operating system- that’s pretty outlandish, but of course completely created for the purpose of this particular story, as otherwise it would’ve been a lot harder for Pearce to accomplish all he does. That’s beside the point however.

Watch Dogs is a pretty well designed open-world romp, even if it doesn’t feature the best of stories or specific gameplay elements. It is very strong in some areas and particularly weak in others, but its too late to really avoid that right now of course. Your time is split locomotion wise pretty evenly between traversing the environment on foot and in the variety of vehicles available for hijacking- including cars, boats, and motorcycles. As Watch Dogs isn’t a racing game, the vehicle controls could be much better, but they are far from terrible. I particularly enjoy the cars in Rockstar titles such as GTA and LA Noire, but Watch Dogs’ work as well for what you’re given. The other good thing about the way that the vehicles do handle is the fact that you can smash through just about any breakable environmental object and not have to deal with getting thrown out of or off of whatever it is you’re driving- like in GTA (the infamous no-enter poles and beams) or other open-world titles such as Mercenaries. In this respect, one could easily compare the level of possible environmental destruction to something out of a car crushing game such as Burnout or Full Auto or something of a similar sort, which is never a bad thing in my book. Of course, bear in mind that your foes have similarly god-like abilities in vehicles and will definitely use this to their advantage. Also, unlike GTA, you cannot equip weapons whilst driving- you can however hack environmental objects to cause mayhem, which may be even more fun.

Now, if you choose to approach things from an on-foot perspective, which is completely viable in most instances, you’re privy to quite a few more enjoyable hacking features than you may encounter the use or need for in vehicular segments. Hacking, being an integral part of the game of course, is also integral in combat and general locomotion and encounters. You can watch foes on camera in order to get the drop on them or give them the slip. You can use your hacking abilities to activate environmental traps and cause mayhem and you can also change the environment as well- much like you can in vehicular chases, by raising or lowering items and performing other helpful tasks. Watch Dogs is by no means an FPS or TPS but the shooting mechanics shine when they are employed as well, although to anybody playing I would heartily recommend a more cautious, stealthy approach to combat if it can’t be avoided, as it feels much more meaningful and is more fun that way. Sort of like something out of FEAR, but not to that particular extent (but think BulletTime), you can temporarily slow time and use it to either avoid bad guys, hide, or line up the perfect shot and take out a few foes. Thus, combat feels satisfying and is quite effective both in all-out shootouts and stealth approaches in the game, making for a fun open-world experience as well as a down-to-earth shooter when the occasion calls.

Talking more about the matter of hacking in-game, there are plenty of opportunities to do so, as well as to implement the new hacking abilities and upgrades you are constantly learning as you advance through the game. The classic approaches as shown in the tutorial and demo videos are always viable and versatile options- from overloading steam pipes to raising guard posts, however there are also several other abilities to be learned such as changing traffic signals, hacking into characters’ phones, and causing citywide sirens and alarms to distract essential personnel and cause general chaos to cover an escape or infiltration. The city is your weapon, here more literally than in any other game that has promised it. Hacking during car chases works well, but it is much more limited than on-foot hacking in that you must actually pass the hackable objects and you must begin the hack as the game prompts you to, otherwise you’re liable to have to circle around and start over again. Also, as you must level up your hacks and learn new ways to hack into systems, not all of these objects will initially be open to you. This can be frustrating, however it also translates well into adding to the feeling of steady progression of skills throughout the game, and pays off well later.

I’ve given you a glimpse at some of the general gameplay of the title- focusing of course of hacking and hijacking systems and vehicles, but lets go to a broader, graphical glimpse of the game and see how it shapes up as well. Depending largely on what system you get it on, Watch Dogs can look pretty good or pretty average. Obviously it looks the best on the new-generation consoles, specifically the Play Station 4. However, it doesn’t look too terribly different on PC or the previous console generation. This having been said, don’t expect the visual hype at least to live up to the grand expectations presented several E3s ago, as the game looks good, but no better than a lot of titles we’ve already seen before. It has its moments and doesn’t look bad, but particular textures can be muddied and torn at times which is never a good sign. For this reason, it is easily noticeable that Watch Dogs is indeed a cross-generation title and not a truly next-generation one alone, because it was built to conform to current standards and not so much to utilize the entirety of the potential tech available on new platforms. On the bright side however, Chicago is represented as an excellent open-world hub, the interactions with the environment and new areas that you travel to are seamless about ninety-five percent of the time, and on the whole- despite some degrading moments, the game looks and feels great and flows well.

For the most part, Ubisoft does a great job of making interesting campaign missions and side activities, giving characters a variety of ways to complete tasks and to broaden their play styles as well. As with any open-world title, there are plenty of repetitive aspects to be found in Watch Dogs’ content, however there are also several unconventional missions and encounters that will stick with you- from busting up your enemies’ “parties” to guiding NPCs that actually, surprisingly take orders well and don’t completely screw things up every chance they get. All of these encounters come off as fast-paced and fresh thanks in most part also to your skills as a hacker, and not necessarily because of your shooting prowess, although that doesn’t hurt either. Don’t think you’ll blow through the game in one sitting however, because despite some of the repetitive action, there is plenty to be found in the way of collectibles and experienced a la side content similar to that of Grand Theft Auto V. Heck, Ubisoft even managed to incorporate some interesting multiplayer elements into the main game itself, as other players can spawn in-game and hack you, chase you around and terrorize you, or even sort of assist you from the shadows. Of course, it’s even more fun to turn the table on an unsuspecting victim of yours as well, and it certainly beats preying on the completely oblivious AI as well, so going after truly human targets is much more of a challenge and thrill ride.

I’ve talked (mostly) about what Watch Dogs does well or at least marginally well at, so now it is only fair that I talk some more about the areas that the game could realize use some work on- for one reason or another. As previously mentioned, repetitive mission structure is a large issue, and many times missions that start off interestingly boil down to the same chase scenes and hacking tutorials, which can really put a damper on the overall experience. There are several cheap opportunities to extend the gameplay so to speak which Ubisoft also takes, opting to produce foes with an insane amount of padding to make fights more drawn out, as well as scripted tailing and pursuing missions that generally just aren’t fun at all in most cases. Ubisoft also bounces around the board as far as a story goes and doesn’t really convey it as meaningfully as they could or should have, leaving me not really caring about many of the characters and simply wanting to enjoy the sandbox open-world moments presented- which is fine, thankfully in a game such as this. Aiden Pearce’s character doesn’t have the greatest set-up, but it works, as you’re able to really make what you want out of him and craft the experience as you wish- one of the finer points of the title, despite the general failings in the character department elsewhere. Talking more about the story, the vast majority of it- while not necessarily forgettable, is often stupid, sardonic, and crass to say the least. I get that other games like GTA do this as well, but at least they can pull it off and the tone fits- here, it just didn’t click quite as well as I would’ve liked.

Now, despite its numerous failings in both story and at times graphics and overall visuals, as well as its failure to deliver on several early promises, Watch Dogs is far from a bad game. It is a really enjoyable and replayable experience, even if it is a highly flawed one as well. As with many similarly flawed titles of its genre and caliber, the main attraction and the main thing that works the most in Watch Dogs is in fact its open-world setting and the relative freedom players are allowed in deciding what they want to do or where they want to go, as well as when and why or why not. Choice and hacking capabilities alone make this a worthwhile title to play, even if it isn’t quite the hit they were looking for. I for one certainly enjoyed my time with this game, as well as the fact that it retained similarities to their other recent titles- such as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, without going overboard into those territories at all. If there’s one thing that can be said about it, it’s that Watch Dogs is certainly one of a kind- even if it isn’t because it’s sailed into uncharted territory, and is only because there hasn’t really yet been a game quite like it in conceptual terms. If they do choose to make it a series, which seems viable considering it sold pretty well, I’d be interested to see the hopefully improved sequel and to compare its rights and wrongs to those of this title as well.

Concept: Explore open-world Chicago as the revenge-seeking, trenchcoat and ballcap clad hacker Aiden Pearce. Enjoy some cheap thrills and spills, laugh at the mostly overdone story moments, and torment the people of the city with environmental chaos and hijacking of the citywide OS employed by a corrupt corporation.

Graphics: The game looks good on most consoles and devices, however there are times when it is visually muddied, and it doesn’t like up to the frame rate or overall graphical awareness originally promised as well.

Sound: There are several tunes in-game that work and several that don’t. The accompanying score works in most instances where the licensed content doesn’t.

Playability: With the exception of the odder than not vehicle controls, the other mechanics handle fantastically. Naturally, because of the vehicle controls, pretty much any of these mechanics being used during chases are more frustrating than not.

Entertainment: It’s in its own class and genre thanks to the exceptional hacking abilities afforded to your character, and overall it’s quite an enjoyable experience. Also, there are some doge jokes to be made about and in the game. I kid you not. Seriously.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.0

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