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Friday, Feb 27, 2015
Valiant Hearts wants to show us that war isn’t caused by super villains, and their defeat changes nothing in the grand scheme of things. However, the presence of a super villain in the story still detracts from the harsh reality the game wants to explore.

Valiant Hearts and Never Alone are what I would call docu-platformers—puzzle-platforming games that seek to educate the player on some aspect of history or culture. As such, they share a striking similarity in approach. They purposefully avoid being literal or realistic, instead cherry picking certain aspects of World War I or Iñupiaq culture that can be easily integrated into the typical puzzle-platformer gameplay. They then use collectibles to expand upon those gameplay moments.


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Friday, Feb 20, 2015
Constant momentum in games like Alien: Isolation means I'm always engaged as a player, but that engagement comes at the cost of fear.

It has been months since I played Alien: Isolation and going back to it now feels strange. It’s still the most impressive big-budget horror game to come out in recent years, but compared to Resident Evil HD Remaster, it also fails to live up to the horror standard of 1996.


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Friday, Feb 13, 2015
Our frame of reference for talking about games often lags behind the reality of their development.

In my review of Resident Evil HD Remaster, I made a point about how the game feels like the next evolution of the series. Part of that, which I wrote about in the review, is based on a comparison to Resident Evil 6 and a consideration of how that game was received by critics and fans and what Capcom might do as a response. But as I played Remaster (and can we give Capcom credit for not calling it REmaster?) I was also thinking of another game: Dark Souls.


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Friday, Feb 6, 2015
In this mansion, even when you're fine, you still feel like you’re dying.

Returning to Resident Evil has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve come away with a better appreciation for the game’s design and pacing, but also, unexpectedly, its writing. Resident Evil is a better written game than people remember or give it credit for. That might be an odd compliment to give a game that’s mostly remembered as a cheesy B-movie at best, what with its classic lines like, “You were almost a Jill Sandwich” and “Here’s a lockpick, it might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you.”  I’ll admit that dialogue has never been its strong suit, but I’m not talking about the dialogue. What impresses me is the text descriptions that pop up when you examine things in the game’s environments.


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Friday, Jan 30, 2015
Give a person lots of options and picking just one becomes difficult. Remove some options and the choice becomes easier.

We all like choices, we all like options, but too decisions to make can be overwhelming. One of the big complaints about Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the “icon glut” on the map. It’s saturated with icons of collectibles and quests and points of interest, so saturated in fact that the icons actually block the map when you zoom out. I’ve heard similar complains about Far Cry 4. After you take over an outpost, it will then be populated by people shouting side-quests at you. The result of this over saturation is that most people ignore the quests and collectibles, deeming them too daunting or too annoying of a challenge to take on.


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