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by adam mathes
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Video Game Consumption, Q4 2016

Shadow Warrior 2

I love Shadow Warrior. The original, the reboot, all of it.

I’m not proud of that, and I wouldn’t say they are good or even appropriate to like anymore.

But fuck it, they’re great. The reboot was just amazingly great fun.

This one, however, I abandoned after a few hours.

Why would you take the pure adrenaline, dumb fun of Shadow Warrior and add a complex inventory weapon upgrade system? It tries to bring in some of the random loot addiction style of Borderlands but also – I hate that. I just want to slice and shoot stuff! Why am I ever looking at a fucking weapons status screen and futzing about with gems I’m fucking Lo Wang! I’ve got the touch! I’ve got the power! Why am I talking to this merchant!

Ugh, could have been so great but I feel like it was ruined.

Policenauts

I’m not sure why I waited for the Saturn version to be translated instead of just playing the translated PSX version years ago but whatever. I finally got around to this.

It’s pretty great. I don’t like it as much as Snatcher, but I think part of that is Sega-CD era graphics actually aged better than the PSX/Saturn ones (also, I liked the writing in Snatcher better.)

★★★★

Owlboy

A love letter to pixel art, and exploration platform games that took nearly a decade to create.

It’s a treasure.

It’s emotionally resonant in the exactly the way that writing, gameplay and subtle animations of pixels can and should be.

Outstanding – highest possible recommendation.

★★★★★

Titanfall 2

I skipped the original Titanfall because it was multiplayer only and I’m fundamentally antisocial.

When I read resoundingly positive reviews of the single player campaign here (and the lack of buzz on the other AAA FPS’s of this season) I decided to break my prohibition against EA’s Origin platform and play it since everyone was panning the rest of the big releases this season.

It’s actually great! I mean, they make giant mecha combat fun, while balanced and contrasted with the parkour fast-paced out of suit combat.

The mission structure, pacing, and timing is great. It feels cohesive, tight, satisfying, and enjoyable. Nothing is wasted, there’s little to no repetition, and there’s significant variety.

Just, well executed and great overall.

(A bit too short, wanted like, twice as much campaign since I have zero interest in multiplayer.)

★★★★

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

The real reason I decided to use Origin again was to play the new Mirror’s Edge.

The original is a masterpiece – a unique gem of an experience, combining parkour, speed, and clever levels as three dimensional puzzles. Also: terrible combat.

This reboot is not a masterpiece.

Unlike the linear, finely crafted levels of the original, this is in an “open world” giant city thing, and has plenty of little side-quests and missions.

They are boring.

The characters and writing: also boring.

Combat: still terrible! And more of it is forced upon you in contexts that don’t really make sense.

The heart and soul of Mirror’s Edge was not exploration or combat but speed and using the environment – the combat was ok only when the opponents were obstacles to be used as you sped through an area.

This game feels like it missed the whole point of Mirror’s Edge. It’s slow, un-fun, and lacks the visual distinctiveness that was part of the original’s charm.

Disappointing.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

It’s like, Call of Duty, but in space, but also Wing Commander? And also Battlestar Galactica?

Which sounds like a bad idea and is a bad idea but also is the best idea. A genius idea.

If you spent hours of your youth thinking, I really want a Wing Commander or X-Wing game that also lets me get out and be a space marine, well now that’s a thing, and it’s like a 100 million dollar AAA video game, because a bunch of other people also thought that and now they can make it happen.

Yeah the writing is meh and the space combat doesn’t really work that well but it’s fun as hell. I had a great time playing it.

★★★★

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