After almost a year of ignoring the service (no thanks to the dashboard update), I finally went back to the Xbox Indie space to binge on demos and dollar games. There are quite a few excellent and interesting games there. Here are three of them that stood out.
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Revolution Software recently started a Kickstarter to raise money to make a new Broken Sword game. It has been five years since the last official game, and as a relatively new fan of the series, I’m glad I didn’t have to wait those five years. But neither did any other fan, not really, not if you were dedicated/obsessed enough to find the fan-made Broken Sword 2.5.
I like Hybrid, the new downloadable shooter for Xbox LIVE, but from the very beginning, something about it bothered me. The shooting mechanics were fine, the equipment was interesting, the various modes were all fun and different, but there was something about it, something at its very core that just nagged at the back of my mind and made it hard to play for an extended period of time. It was only after trying to explain this feeling to a friend that I was able to finally latch onto the issue: Hybrid combines the controls of a cover-based shooter with the pacing of a first-person shooter—an awkward combination since the two genres encourage conflicting behavior.
This post contains spoilers for Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is a pretty great game. The story challenges traditional shooter tropes, raising some disturbing moral questions in the process, and—most importantly—the ending doesn’t cop out. It follows through on the promise that it sets up and forces the player to confront issues of violence that we normally take for granted in games. It has been criticized for being generic, and there’s no denying that it plays like a typical shooter. However, that’s actually what makes it so effective at times. Its adherence to standard shooter tropes allows it to evoke memories of other shooters while casting those memories in a new, more disturbing light.
This post contains major spoilers for Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is a military-themed, cover-based, third-person shooter. You’ve played this game before, many times over. However, it’s still a game worth playing. It offers a different kind of story than the one normally attached to such shooters. Rather than revel in the power fantasy of shooting guys, the characters in The Line are so disturbed by their own actions that they slowly unravel over time. Based on this description, there’s an assumed “payoff” that should come at the climax: these guys should go insane; they should cross that metaphorical line.