Archive for fun

Favorite Games of 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by caseystorton

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-2013 was an interesting year for gaming. While I’m not exactly the perfect person to do something like this, I’ll give it a try. Before we begin though, I want to explain what I mean by “Favorite Games.” These games’ inclusion on my list is based on the amount of fun I had playing them, not necessarily how innovative they were, or even really so much about the plot, although a well-told story will help a game’s chances. In a controversial move, I won’t be giving any of the games an exact number on the list, as I don’t really feel like I should. Instead, I’ll just tell you what I enjoyed and why. With that said, I do have a favorite picked out, so feel free to complain about that to me on Facebook. Anyway, before the actual list, I’ll mention some other games that won’t be making the list. Not because I didn’t like them, but because as of this writing, I haven’t finished playing through them, and I don’t think it’s right of me to pass judgement on a game that I haven’t fully experienced yet.

Grand Theft

Auto 5

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-Even if I did finish this one off, I’m still not entirely convinced that it would have made the list. It is a pretty fun game, but I do have a few issues with it, namely with some of the character writing, sluggish story progression, and counter-intuitive control scheme, that I’ll give more attention to if and when I eventually pick it back up and finish the story mode.

Assassin’s

Creed IV:

Black Flag

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-I’ve had a lot of fun with this game, but the main reason I’m not finished is because there’s so much fun outside of the story missions that I find myself spending way too long playing it. It’s got a learning curve for anyone new to the series like me, but the combat is interesting, the gameplay is fun, and the story is engaging, when you can pull yourself away from the awesome pirate ship battles, that is.

Papers,

Please

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-A nifty little Indie game developed by exactly one person, Papers, Please is one of the most fascinating gameplay experiences of the year. The basic premise has you playing a guard at a border crossing checking people’s passports and such to make sure they are clear to enter your country. It sounds simple, but really comes into its own once extra documents, terrorist attacks, kidnapping schemes, and other obstacles add some surprising variety to the game. You’ll get a full review once I play it some more, but Papers, Please is not a game to be missed out on.

The Last of

Us

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-Heralded as one of the greatest games of the year by just about everyone that played it, The Last of Us is part of the reason that I bought a PS3, and now that I’ve played some of it, I can safely say that I don’t regret my purchase. The gameplay is intense and nerve-wracking as the characters have to contend with increasingly ferocious enemies with their very limited arsenal of weapons. It also has a great story, with some of the most human characters of any game I’ve ever played. This is another one that I’ll hopefully finish soon, but don’t wait around for my review, as everyone else seems to have been right about it.

Shadow

Warrior

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-This one kinda slipped past a lot of people, which is a shame, given how enjoyable it is. While I haven’t played all that much of it yet, Shadow Warrior is one of the most fun times I’ve had playing a game this year. It’s got tons of blood and guts to give impact to your gunshots and sword strikes, as well as some incredibly varied combat for a Shooter. I’d say give it a go if you can get it on sale.

-Now that we’re done with those, let’s get to the ones that I actually did finish.

Bioshock

Infinite

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-While certainly not my favorite game of the year, I did enjoy my time with Infinite. The story was interesting and engaging, if a little confusing, although I suspect that this was the point, the gameplay was fast and frantic, even with the limitations on your arsenal at any given time, and the characters of Booker and Elizabeth were both genuinely interesting to experience. I’ve already wrote a lot about this game, so check that out for a more detailed opinion.

Tomb

Raider

-Tomb Raider represents a nice trend in gaming that started last year with Spec Ops: The Line and Far Cry 3 of video games where the focus of the story is put on the main character. While the world Lara exists in is populated by other characters that are a driving force of many of the things that she does, she is on her own for a very large portion of the game, and is left with only you, the player, to watch over her and guide her through the impossible situations that she winds up in. This combined with the fluid controls and fun gameplay makes Tomb Raider one of 2013’s best.

Injustice:

Gods Among

Us

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-I’m not exactly an expert on fighting games, but Injustice was a fun time for me. It had a character roster that was extensive without being overwhelming, a fun and balanced combat system that only had one or two overpowered characters, and a story that, while a bit silly at times, gave a pretty decent context to all of the action. Definitely worth checking out for anyone that enjoys fighting games.

Far Cry 3:

Blood

Dragon

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-While far from the lengthiest entry on the list, Blood Dragon’s approach to comedy is a huge step in the right direction for gaming, and hopefully the start of a great new trend with AAA releases. As the great philosopher Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw explains it, “Someone wants to unwind after a big AAA project by taking all the tools and making a funny little ancillary game that appealed to them, because they didn’t have to take it so seriously. And then low and behold people like it because it’s fun and got a bit of heart that makes it stand out among the usual AAA releases.” I really hope this continues, mostly because it’s not too late to make “The Last of Us: Robot Monkey Space Adventures.”

The Stanley

Parable

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-While I’m still having trouble allowing myself to call The Stanley Parable a “game” in the traditional sense, I figure it’s at least close enough for me to put it here. If you still aren’t familiar with the phenomenon of The Stanley Parable, go play it for yourself.

Pokemon Y

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-I’ve been playing pokemon games for a long time now, but after Diamond and Pearl, I was skeptical as to how much they could really add in the future. I skipped out on the Black and White games, but decided to give this one a go to see if the change in platform would bring about any cool new features. One of the biggest advancements in the series’ history, X and Y add a ton of new things to the formula without sacrificing the familiarity that endears the franchise to its fans. Anyone that’s ever enjoyed a pokemon game really owes it to themselves to give this one a try.

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The Casey Storton Reviews Game of the Year for 2013 is…

Saints Row

IV

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-Was it perfect? No. Is it the best Saints Row game ever made? Maybe, still not sure if it beats SR2. Are there plot holes? Yeah, sure? Does that matter? Absolutely not. Saints Row IV easily the most fun I had in a game released this year. The gameplay is tight and well-designed from years of practice from developer Volition, the story is fun while still providing a clear goal, the characters are entertaining, and all-in-all, it’s just a damn fun time to play. Get some background information from the earlier games before you start, but don’t miss out on Saints Row IV.

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Saints Row IV

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2013 by caseystorton

 

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-I’ve been majorly excited for this game for quite some time now. While Saints Row The Third had a bit of a mixed reception as some enjoyed it for what it was, a silly, over-the-top action romp, others criticized it for what it wasn’t, a game with a bit of wackiness sprinkled over a serious plot, much like what I’ve heard about Saints Row 2. The fourth entry in the series looked to be continuing the silliness trend from its predecessor, but with a well-needed dose of hindsight with how to improve itself after the last game.

-We start off with a basic tutorial mission that has you teaming up with Shaundi and Pierce from the past as well as MI6 agent Asha Odekar in the field and Matt Miller back at base. Matt being the leader of the cyber-punk Deckers gang from SR3 now having done a bit of growing up and moving over to join the good guys. You run through a basic assassination operation where you have to stop commander Cyrus Temple from launching a nuke at Washington D.C. Afterwards, you land in the oval office and put up your feet. Five years later, you’re the president, with plenty of friends, old and new, to help you out with your new duties as Commander in Chief. As president, you really only make a couple of major decisions, some important…

Image-…and some world changing.

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-That doesn’t really last long, though, as not long after the earth is invaded by aliens. After a brief bit of you fighting them off, you and all of your on-hand crew (the four from earlier plus Benjamin “Motherfucking” King from SR1, Kinzie from SR3, and famous actor Keith David, who’s also your Vice President) are abducted by the evil alien overlord Zinyak. Next thing, you wake up in a 50s sitcom called “Leave it to the Saints” complete with a new outfit, although my previously created character kept some souvenirs from the outside world.

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-After messing around a bit, you break what turns out to be a simulation, and Zinyak drops you into a simulated version of Steelport from SR3, only now the Saints have no presence, and he runs the show. You soon gain the ability to escape and reunite with Kinzie and Keith. Then Zinyak blows up Earth. You may call that a spoiler, but it happens about two hours into a game that I spent about 19 hours on, so whatever. Now, your job is to use the simulation to mess with Zinyak’s systems and join up with the old crew again to avenge the Earth. Considering the not all that impressive narrative of SR3, 4 is a very pleasant step up. The story sees you fighting the Zin Empire any way you can as you attempt to reunite with your crew to show Zinyak why you don’t fuck with the Saints. There’s some very cleaver and well-done writing all throughout the game that actually sells you on the experience, rather than just being the glorified framework that we were given in SR3.

Image-The gameplay in Saints Row 4 is easily its greatest strength, and it’s easily one of the most raw, no bullshit, straight-up fun games that I have ever played. Through a bit of sci-fi technical jargon, Kinzie is able to harness loose pieces of code in the simulation that give you superpowers. Yes, superpowers. It starts off simple with just super speed and the ability to jump really high, but progression and upgrades net you some really awesome powers, from freeze blasts, anit-gravity ground pounds, mind control, running on water, telekinesis, and so many more.

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-The rest of the game has so much variety that I don’t even know where to start. There’s a few mainstay activities, but plenty have been added or at least altered to fit the new play-style more appropriately. There’s Crackdown style orb hunting for the code clusters that let you upgrade your powers, there’s destruction-derby style mayhem missions like before, but the new powers and vehicles make them feel fresh and new again. Then there’s the biggest source of variety, the side missions with your crew. Much like Mass Effect, once you acquire new crew mates, you can take them on loyalty missions to give them new abilities, in this case giving them superpowers when they join you in the simulation. Including *drum roll please* JOHNNY GAT!!!! Now, I haven’t played Saints Row 1 and 2, so I wasn’t quite as broken by his death at the beginning of SR3 as longtime fans were, but that awesome motherfucker saved my life in that game, and having him on hand to kill some aliens and avenge planet Earth felt completely right. 

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-Before you can do the loyalty missions, though, you have to rescue your friends, which is done by jumping into their personal simulations and breaking them out, which is usually completely different from anything else in the game. You see, each simulation represents the person’s worst fears realized, and each nightmare is presented in totally unique ways, from an old school text adventure

Image-to a battle with a giant monstrous soda can

Image-to a sidescrolling beat-em-up, with plenty of others making due with just giving you new things to do with the normal gameplay engine

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-Before I drift too far away from Mass Effect, there’s also a hilarious take on the Mass Effect “Romance” system, that allows you to have hilariously varied, and on exactly one occasion, an actual emotional personal encounter with the other members of your crew.

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-There is so much that I could talk about with this game, if I go on too much longer we’ll be here all day, so I’ll try to wrap things up. Saints Row 4 is absolutely fantastic. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s lasting. There are some minor complaints, like the lacking difficulty if you pursue the super-power upgrades and the uselessness of vehicles once you get the super speed and jump, but it’s a great game with tons of value for your money. You will most certainly need to be familiar with a lot of the Saints Row back-story to “get” some of the finer points of the narrative, but that really doesn’t matter when the game is this much fun.

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Tomb Raider (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by caseystorton

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-I’d like to personally dedicate the following review to the Steam Summer Sale. Good times were had, plenty of money was spent, and at the end of it all I had 11 new games to call my own, 13 if you count everything included in Doom 3 BFG Edition. Anyway, I’ve played a little bit of most of them, but Tomb Raider was the first one that I kept playing. Well, second actually, but I still need to play all of the DLC for Fallout New Vegas and there’s this annoying bug that’s halting my progress, so I won’t play that game again until it’s thought about how its action have consequences and decided to stop being such a little shit.

-Anyway, Tomb Raider is meant to be an origin story for the character of Lara Croft, taking place while she was still a young, bright-eyed, innocent archaeologist just out of college on her first real expedition. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, her expedition shipwrecks onto the island she was looking to explore and Lara is separated from most of the crew. It’s up to her to find her friends, fend off the evil pirates that inhabit the island, and figure out how to get everyone home safely. For a story that initially comes across as nothing more than “we’re stuck on this island and we’d really rather not be,” Tomb Raider shows a surprising amount of depth, with some solid writing complemented by some good voice-acting to make the experience feel much more meaningful than it otherwise would.

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-While there is plenty of story to be had with the other characters and the conflict with the island’s inhabitants, the main focus of the story is developing the character of Lara, as much like in Far Cry 3, we can see her slowly change from an innocent, civilized person just like anyone else into a hardened warrior, molded by her constant exposure to violence in its most raw and devastating form. I’ve heard complaints that Lara’s development feels wrong, as she’s supposed to be innocent and inexperienced, but can already climb and jump incredibly well, but again, Far Cry 3 made similar assertions, but Jason Brody was really good at firing automatic weapons and impaling people with a machete, so there are certain instances where the story must take a back-seat to the gameplay, but this is only meant to be in service of the player, so I don’t mind.

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-On the gameplay side, Tomb Raider is certainly one of the most varied games I’ve ever played. Gameplay flows smoothly between climbing and platforming through the jungle, solving puzzles to find the way forward, and dealing with enemies. Combat in Tomb Raider works pretty well, but the fact that the enemies often far outnumber you coupled with your not all that substantial health bar, even with regeneration, direct combat is often not the way to go. Stealth is usually the best option when dealing with enemies, and I like that the game doesn’t force you to kill the enemies if you think it would alert the others to your position, occasionally allowing you to sneak past potential threats to save your ammo for later. Also, here’s something that I really wish more games would do. You know how most third-person action games have you press a button that slaps your character against the wall when taking cover. You know how rigid and robotic that all feels, almost like you’re just fulfilling an obligation? Well, in Tomb Raider, you can take cover by simply walking up to it, and when enemies aren’t around, Lara won’t even bother. It’s little, but I really like it. It’s almost like this in itself is another angle of characterization, where Lara is learning to be more diligent of her surroundings and takes it upon herself to hide from potential threats.

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-There’s the by now pretty standard progression and upgrade system that has you using limited resources scavenged from the environment to upgrade Lara’s weapons and using experience points to upgrade abilities. It’s pretty typical stuff, but it manages to not feel forced, so while I could have done without it, I don’t begrudge it for being there.

Image-Overall, Tomb Raider is a great game. It’s looks great, it sounds great, and it plays great. Some of the combat instances can be a little frustrating, and the quick-time-events are a bit annoying at first, but it’s still a great deal on the whole. 

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Gears of War Judgment

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2013 by caseystorton

Image-After I was sufficiently disappointed with the way Gears of War 3 turned out, I was pretty apprehensive about how Judgment was supposed to work, especially with it being a prequel that basically spoils its own ending to anyone that remembers a few minor details from any of the first three games. That said, I had some time and disposable income last week, so I found it for $40 and gave it a whirl.

-Our story follows the previously unseen Kilo Squad, led by Lieutenant Damon Baird, the whiny engineer guy from the other games. And there’s your spoiler right there. The story sees Baird being accused of war crimes, and his current rank of Lieutenant puts him above Sergeant Marcus Fenix, the guy that he had to take orders from in previous games. Anyway, the rest of the squad consists of Cole, sadly much more quiet and less funny than before, and newcomers Paduk and Sofia, respectively a former member of an anti-COG resistance army that’s joined them for the sake of killing the Locust, and a new recruit to some kind of COG special forces, who also serves as further proof that for all their silly macho-man heroics flying everywhere, Epic Games is surprisingly competent when it comes to writing female characters. For a prequel that any series veteran with half a brain already has figured out, Judgment manages to achieve a decent level of engagement with its plot, as the writers wisely made sure that the final verdict of the war crimes tribunal is far from the only thing that we need to concern ourselves with.

Image-As for the gameplay, Judgment sticks to the tried-and-true formula of previous games.  It’s a third-person shooter with emphasis on using the game’s cover system to avoid the worst of the punishment being doled out by the Locust. Every new installment has brought with it new weapons and enemy types, and with this being a prequel, they actually justify the new stuff by saying the new stuff is left over from the UIR, the army that Paduk used to serve. Unlike Gears 3, however, the new weapons are actually really good, with a new kind of sniper rifle, a bolt-action rifile of sorts, a semi-automatic redesign of the Hammerburst, and a new grenade launcher. The fact that every one of these guns had me excited whenever I found them already puts them way ahead of the disappointments that came with Gears 3. In addition, new “Declassified Missions” have been added in campaign. They’re basically optional objectives that make the game a little harder in exchange for a higher yield of experience that can be used to unlock new modes and multiplayer characters.

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-The competitive multiplayer is relatively standard stuff. Playing Free for all mode is a bit of a joke, since the weapon system basically forces everyone to use the shotgun, but other modes allow more flexibility, and are actually pretty fun. It’s nothing too revolutionary, but fun nonetheless. On the co-op front, the entire campaign can be played with up to 4 people, and there are a couple new variants on the Gears mainstay Hoard mode to keep things feeling fresh.

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-Overall, Gears of War Judgment is a fun little game from a franchise that has lasted much longer than I thought it would. It’s hardly a masterpiece, but it’s a fun time with some badass guns and interesting enemies. 84/100

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Saints Row The Third (for real this time)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by caseystorton

-Yes, I know I sort-of reviewed this already back in January, but at that time, I was too busy plowing through the game as fast as I could, still working on figuring out how to use the PS3 controller I was playing on, and dealing with my cousin’s dog to really get a good look at what I was playing. Also I only finished about half of the game, which I feel is a little lacking. Feel free to write that little adventure off as a first impressions, and consider this one the full review.

-Basically the Third Street Saints have become massive celebrity media whores, and mostly just sign autographs and make movie deals because they can. Eventually, though, a new gang moves into their native Stillwater and forces them out, forcing what’s left of the Saints to regroup in the city of Steelport. While it initially seems as though you’ll have to start from the bottom and slowly work your way up to get anywhere in this town, in about five missions you go from a shitty apartment and a starting pistol to a massive penthouse and a full arsenal of weapons, so the game makes sure that the audience isn’t bored, which fits with the game’s tone pretty well.

-The thing about Saints Row The Third is that given the absolute stupidity the game puts on display, I really shouldn’t like it as much as I do. To counterbalance the overly serious story about taking control of the city and avenging your dead friends and stuff, everything in-between is down-right insane. There’s a ton of different things to do as the game goes on, and it’s a genuine pleasure to see what ridiculous new thing the game will tell you to do next. You might have to cause mayhem from a tank, drive around some prostitutes, protect your tech-savvy ally on a run to some hacking spots, or shooting up mascots in “Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax.”

-The thing that keeps it all flowing is consistent variety. Mission types rarely repeat, and even when they do, you typically have plenty of other options to keep yourself busy if you don’t want to do those missions just yet. The fact that the developers could make a game this absurd and still be able to make the rest of it work as well as it did is actually pretty amazing, and it makes for a very entertaining experience. Side-note, I didn’t really appreciate this as much when I first played this game, but it’s something that I’ve been craving for a long time. In Saints Row The Third, your character has their own voice in both gameplay and cut-scenes, and has some sharply written dialogue that varies based on which gender your character is. With games like Borderlands 2 where your character is pretty much just told what to with no option to argue about it or even voice anything resembling an opinion, and games like Mass Effect providing little to no incentive to customize your character when they’ll just say the same lines in their same voice anyway, it’s incredibly refreshing to see a mainstream action game take this step and make the player an integral part of the experience.

-Overall, Saints Row The Third is much better than I initially gave it credit for. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s chock full of all kinds of juvenile humor that most other outlets won’t allow you to indulge in.  It’s currently on sale for $15 on Steam. So yeah, go for it. 86/100

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