Monday, June 27, 2011

Don't Diss Duke

Hey there,

Been awhile - for the little few of you that actually read and/or care. I've had a lot to do lately, plus I've been sort of lazy, so I haven't really gotten around to actually writing anything. I just moved into my new apartment in the St. Louis area and started my new job. No more university homework, so I can just come home now and play games. Between the moving and off-hours, I've recently played 3 games that I think deserve talking about. I'll be honest and say that I rented all 3 of these. This one will be a three-part wall of text so brace yourself. I'll try to make it quick and concise.

Duke Nukem Forever

In case you haven't heard, Duke Nukem: Forever finally came out. No really, it did. It's been getting absolutely atrocious ratings, however, which I feel that are wholly undeserved. I don't consider myself an oldschool Duke fanboy, but some things need to be said here. I've seen ratings of 2/10, 1 out of 5 stars, 10 out of 100, etc etc, so on and so forth. You get it. People are reaming Duke with terrible scores. I think it's because of one major reason alone, coupled with a few other contributing factors. That reason, dames and dudes, is high expectations. Sure, it may seem normal to expect something that has been in development for over 12 years to be worth it's weight in shat-out golden bricks that line the fountain of youth, but lets be realistic here... You would only expect that if it was the exact same product being worked on from start to finish. Let's all understand this - Duke: Forever has had several story rewrites, several graphic engine overhauls, and has even been tossed to a different development team. They weren't working on the same monster for 12 years straight. By the time Gearbox got the rights to the King, the graphics were about 2008 quality, and most of the content was whatever they inherited. Gearbox didn't make the entire game - they simply finished it. There's no way anything could ever live up to that kind of expectation and deep-down, they knew it. And let's cool it on the graphics gripes - honestly, I think the game looks better than CoD: Black Ops (which reminds me of PS2 days), and I'm not one to even judge a game purely on its graphics anyway. So, yes, I played it. And I actually enjoyed it. Was it freaking amazing, capable of inducing gamer-gasms? No. Was it fun(ny)? Yes. I don't think it deserves all the heat it's taking. Seriously, a 2 out of 10 would mean that a game is utterly unplayable garbage that a 2 year old could code out in a week. I've played *WAY* worse games than Duke: Forever that had better ratings. I think the "professional" reviewers were just really butt-hurt that it didn't live up to their wildest dreams. Sure, there are some parts I can gripe about, such as the over-use of the mini-duke levels, but for the most part, the game mechanics worked, and it was fun to destroy alien scum in a purely blast-through-em mentality. I played Duke Nukem: Forever with a beer in hand, knowing full well that every bit of it wasn't about being taken seriously - it was about college toilet-humor and slapping wall-boobs, and more importantly, Duke himself.  Don't drink the haterade til you've given it a go yourself, after having pulled the stick out of your arse. Worth playing? Yes, but maybe not buying. Give it a rent. I'll leave it at that.

Child of Eden

Short and sweet. That's Child of Eden for you in 3 words. This is a game that, whether you play it with a controller or with the 360's Kinect (my chosen method), sucks you in visually and musically. Overall it was a very enjoyable experience, and I felt more connected to a game while playing it than I had in quite a long time. Maybe it's the fact that while I was playing it, I didn't have a controller in my hand... or it could have been that while in the beautiful digital levels, there's barely a noticeable HUD to distract you. Musically and visually, this game couldn't have done better. It's a shame that its just so damn short. You can beat it easily in a day, but there's a ton of replay value to be had. The achievements and collectibles in Child of Eden are extremely challenging to obtain and, if you're into whoring yourself out for achievements, you'll have plenty of fun. Because I only rented it, I didn't get to do much whoring, myself.  Worth a buy (which I plan on doing after a few paychecks settle in maybe), especially if you own a Kinect. Fun to play, easy to approach, but difficult to master.

F.3.A.R  (aka FEAR 3)

This one is fresh in my mind, so I figured I'd review it. I've had a love-hate relationship with the FEAR series. Each game was very enjoyable, but always had one or two things that it could have done to make it better. The story arc among all 3 games has gotten progressively more complex and confusing. The first game focused more on being scary than the following 2 sequels, but the latter added more solid game play in a nicely wrapped package. F3AR, I'll say, wasn't nearly as scary. It had its moments of tension, but they were always kind of a letdown. I wouldn't even bother to call it anything close to a survival-horror shooter anymore. It was more of a thriller than horror. The game starts off rather quickly, assuming you totally understand the previous 2 games and hoping that you ignore some of the plot-holes it leaves. You play as one of 2 brothers, either Point Man, from the original FEAR, or Paxton Fettel, who you shot in the head at the end of said first game. Does it bother to explain how a psychic-him is still floating around? No. Does it bother to explain why the main character (Point Man from the first game) was captured and imprisoned? No. There's a pregnant ghost-girl mother who's having FEAR2's Daddy's baby. If you've ever played any of the FEAR games, you'll know what I mean. They assume you come into this knowing you're getting into some paranormal stuff they don't have to explain. It just has one gear, and that's *GO*. So other than those gripes, how was it? Pretty good actually. I'm considering buying it soon when I can, so I can replay it as the other brother and get into the completely reworked multiplayer. For this review, I just played through the single-play instead of the 2-brother-co-op, which the game was quite obviously designed for. I owe it more time, but I liked it. They improved on some let-downs from FEAR2, and actually brought in characters we care about again. The gameplay was really solid. I can't really complain about the shooting bits, because there's really nothing wrong there. I just wish it were scary again... that's part of what sold me on the original. F3AR constantly takes you out of the game by throwing tons of stuff on your HUD reminding you that you're playing a video game and that you're not actually in some horrific setting. Take me back to the creepy bits please - I actually like games that make me hesitant to go into the next room. I felt like I blazed through this without much worry at all. I digress...
If you like shooters, put down your Halo and your CoD and give this iteration of FEAR a whirl. It's a welcome change of pace from the typical crap that the FPS market is churning out, and is definitely worth playing through if you've had any experience with this game's predecessors.