775 Reviews liked by jobosno
Haven't completed it yet. It's pretty fucking good though. I will say though that actually purchasing it on the PS3 store is harder than any boss fight in the game. Their website will reject every form of payment, forcing you to drive to the fucking store to buy a PSN card for $25 for a 10 dollar game. Now what am I gonna buy with the remainder? Red Faction? Fat chance.
Anyway, Godhand? Really good.
Double Jump NFT
on one hand, this is a sub-roblox obby platformer game with incredibly generic art and physics that feel like ass. on the other hand, you do earn NFTs when you play, so its impossible to determine whether or not this game is good
i was the literal only person online playing this
Austin Powers Pinball features two tables. International Man of Mystery and The Spy Who Shagged Me. I remember watching an interview for Austin Powers 2 in a little Sky Interactive window about a hundred times. I would have been about 12 or 13 and very insecure about puberty. Hearing that Austin had lost his "Mojo" had me looking up the word in the dictionary, which told me it meant something like "sexual prowess". I didn't really understand and assumed the film was about Austin Powers being castrated against his will. I still have not seen Austin Powers 2.
When you first play Austin Powers Pinball, you will attempt to figure out which buttons are used to control the flippers. Pressing anything other than the correct ones will warn you that you have "tilted" the board and will lock you out of playing until your ball falls down the hole.
If you register your copy of Austin Powers Pinball with Take 2 Interactive, you will be entered into their free prize draw to win £100. Imagine what you'd spend that on!
There's no trackable achievement data to determine how many people have played through all of The Cartel with a full party of 3, but the Xbox tells me that only 1.55% of people who bought the game made it through the first level in co-op. Multiply that over some 15 progressively worse missions, account for maybe a half million sales on the generous side, and I'd be willing to bet there are less than 300 people on earth who played this game the way I did. My experience was one of the least vicarious, relatable, backloggd-review-write-about-able that I've ever had, but it leaves me wanting so badly to get someone else on board. I need to talk about these secret missions with someone.
Now, if you know about The Cartel, you probably mostly heard about how racist it is, and, yeah. You'd have to look through bottom-rung Newgrounds flash games or something made by actual hate groups to find much worse. This is a game where you play as US law enforcement and murder several hundred anonymous non-white "gangbangers" and "vatos" in an effort to save American women from cartel trafficking, while occasionally also hunting for cursed Aztec gold. Typo-ridden subtitles consist mostly of lines like [MEXICAN: Hey, cabron!] It is, plainly, foul. The mechanical framing for all of this bullshit is a woeful lump of a first-person shooter, the kind where they mapped the A button to a 1-inch vertical leap even though there are no required or even functional moments of "jumping" within the actual level design. Hours on end of reviving your teammate only to fall down immediately and need them to revive you, back and forth. But if this were the whole of the game, I wouldn't have made it into that club of 300 true gamers.
Between (sometimes during) the excruciating combat, the game will offer each individual player their own personal objectives, almost always in the context of hidden items or interactables. Because your characters are all trying to fuck each other over, these bonus missions have to be kept secret. You want the experience for that glowing brick of weed laying in the middle of this cemetery, then you better pick it up alone, without any teammates seeing you. If your homie is anywhere on your screen when they sneak a lil' secret, your camera swivels and zooms in on them and you poach their experience points, unlocking more identically awful guns. I cannot possibly overstate how much this stupid mechanic changed the entire game for me and my friends. It took over our brains for every single second of play. Boring gunfights became miniature The Thing stage rehearsals as we policed and eluded each other's every movement. My character kept receiving very obvious phone calls in front of my teammates, and the "I was just calling to hear my own Mr Brightside ringback tone" excuse almost never worked. I laughed until my face hurt more than once during this weirdly long campaign, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about the secret missions when I'm playing other games.
What is it that makes this mechanic, for lack of a better term, work? Well, at the base, nothing but exactly three players, 3D geometry, and first-person raycasting. Moving a camera around, having your sightlines obscured, reaching out and "touching someone with your eyes," to grossly misquote Cliffy B. With two or four players, it'd be too easy to buddy up and keep an eye on each other. With three, you're always worrying about that one other person scurrying around. It's stupidly simple (does not even require shooting in order to work!), and The Cartel isn't making any remarkable use of the concept. It's less inspired and more context-sensitive than something like The Ship. And yet this half-baked baby stealth had me completely entranced, pulled me through nearly 8 hours of some of the most Polish gaming I've ever borne witness to. This, this right here, is the cursed gold of Juarez. I see this game, and I see the first-person VR mode they're adding to Among Us, and I break out in a cold sweat. Gaming is going crazy places.
Paweł Marchewka, The Cartel's lead designer, has alternated (within the same interview) between calling the game a "mistake" and weaselishly claiming it as "not bad, just not finished." The guy runs literally Techland, so a little buffoonish confusion of intent is to be expected, but the quotes make me giggle nonetheless. Paweł, buddy, I cannot envision what amount of further development would've made your game a finished, good, non-mistake in the eyes of everyone except me and my other 299 online co-op soul warriors. You definitely did this on purpose, and we can all tell. Own your shit, dog. Take me to the Land of Tech. Stop wasting my time with Chris Avellone games and just give me more secret missions. Give me something so unplayable that I will receive a medal of honor for being the only one to finish the whole thing. I can take it.
The Bible Game
Absolutely incredible experience with a group of friends. The Christian pop punk and butt rock soundtrack is one of the funniest things in existence. At one point I failed a minigame and the overly enthusiastic announcer declared that God's grace had left me. Video games are art
Easily has the most dialogue and clear motivations among protagonists out of the trilogy and its to the game's benefit. The first two games generally involved plucky young girls trapped in unforeseen circumstances. Just walk out! You can leave! If it sucks, hit da bricks!
But The Tormented focuses on something human and commonplace: grief and how we cope with it. It gives the entire franchise's characters some focus to resolve their pain, while still telling a great original horror tragedy. This all-encompassing grief truly haunts the heroes, metaphorically and literally, and its much harder to escape. And it becomes much more relatable horror as a result. How do you fight GRIEF?
It just works! I don't think its as scary or tragic as 2 or as foundational as 1, but its one of the most rounded of the franchise. This trilogy should be celebrated.
In a bygone age where “See you in Rayman 4!” had yet to morph from an innocuous sequel hook into the cruellest lie since the Trojan Horse, Ubisoft were on a hot streak that few developers can claim to have had. It's not uncommon to scoff at them now, but much of the key talent that brought us so many instant classics of this era are still there, including Chaos Theory’s very own Clint Hocking. The personal touch of developers like him has become harder to parse with Ubi’s exponential growth and shifting priorities, but it’s hard not to retain a bit of goodwill so long as at least some of those who made Chaos Theory are still there, because it’s probably the best stealth game ever made.
Contrary to what one might think, Splinter Cell’s chief influence isn’t a certain other tactical espionage stealth action series, but rather Looking Glass. It’s not hard to imagine why – to this day, Thief has better sound design than any game that isn’t either its own sequel or System Shock 2, but the need for its state of the art reverberation system stemmed out of its first person perspective. If immersion is the name of the game, nothing sells it quite like having to track where enemies are through carefully listening the same way Garrett would, as opposed to having a disembodied floating camera that can see around corners do the work for you. How does Sam’s game measure up to that, given it’s in third person?
The answer is through a different kind of genius. In Chaos Theory, every individual part of Sam’s body is affected by light/darkness independently. You might not initially notice this until you arouse suspicion by peeking his head just a little bit too far out of a crawl space into a brightly lit area, or accidentally position him in such a way that his leg’s poking out from around a corner. Even now, it’s exceedingly rare for dynamic lighting to be anything more than window dressing, and yet Chaos Theory was making full use of its potential gameplay applications when N-Gage ports still existed. It goes further than this, too. Heavily armed enemies can not only light flares, but throw them in the direction they last saw or heard you, while others can flick on a torch that they’ll point at various angles as they follow your tracks. No other stealth game can match the anxiety Chaos Theory instils as you cling to a wall and hope that the guard a hair’s breadth away doesn’t turn in your direction with his flashlight out.
It’s important to note that despite its influences, Chaos Theory isn’t an immersive sim ᵃⁿᵈ ⁿᵒ ᴴᶦᵗᵐᵃⁿ, ᴹᴳˢ⁵ ᵃⁿᵈ ᴮʳᵉᵃᵗʰ ᵒᶠ ᵗʰᵉ ᵂᶦˡᵈ ᵃʳᵉⁿ'ᵗ ᵉᶦᵗʰᵉʳ ᵇᵘᵗ ᵗʰᵃᵗ'ˢ ᵇᵉˢᶦᵈᵉˢ ᵗʰᵉ ᵖᵒᶦⁿᵗ. It instead opts for a middle ground between their emergent problem solving and its own predecessors’ affinity for pre-baked scripted set pieces. This may sound eclectic on paper, but it works remarkably well in terms of pacing. Relax one moment as you clamber up and down several floors of an office block in any order and through whatever means you please, but be ready the next when you have to switch the power back on and quickly scramble out of the now gleaming room as a squad of guards floods in. Granted, there’s a slight degree of inconsistency in this respect. The bank level’s famously bursting with alternate pathways to accommodate more play styles than you can shake a stick at, while the end of the bathhouse level could drive even an actual Third Echelon agent to forsake his non-lethal playthrough, but this balancing of peaks and valleys overall allows for lots of creative, freeform solutions while still ensuring that there’ll always be segments which demand your attention even on repeat playthroughs.
The fact that Chaos Theory manages to stay so engaging from start to finish without giving you any new equipment along the way is a testament to this, but other areas of the game deserve as much attention as its level design. For instance, no matter how many people are aware of how much Amon Tobin outdid himself with this game’s music, it’s still not enough. This series of chords is Splinter Cell, as much as thick shadows and green goggles, and if it were distilled into a person they would assuredly be skulking about in the dark. The extra instrumentation which dynamically fades in and out according to enemies’ alertness level (my favourite example being this absolute tune) not only drives home his talent even further, but also acts as another way to communicate important information to the player if the increasingly copious sandbag checkpoints throughout the level hadn’t already clued you in. To put things in perspective, this may be the only example of Jesper Kyd’s involvement in a soundtrack not being the highlight.
Chaos Theory’s also a beneficiary of the time when different ports of one game would have exclusive features for no particular reason. I can’t speak for how it controls on console, but I can say that adjusting Sam’s movement speed with the mouse wheel is a fantastic alternative to the standard method of protagonists instantly becoming silent as soon as they crouch (to my surprise, it doesn’t work that way in real life). Combine it with a camera that gently shifts about to give you the best possible view depending on which direction Sam is moving in and the game feels like a dream to control. On PC you also have the added benefit of being able to toggle whether enemies speak in their native languages, a bit akin to Crysis’ hardest difficulty, which despite being such a minor feature seems like a really underutilised concept.
I’d be remiss not to mention the writing as well. While it’s fair to say that Chaos Theory probably isn’t a game you’d play for the story itself, it’s equally true that it wouldn’t be so beloved if its characters weren’t so charming, including the guards, whose responses to being interrogated are not just genuinely funny but also a glaring counterpoint to the notion that this series takes itself too seriously. Few voice actors understand their characters as well as Michael Ironside gets Sam Fisher. Every delivery of his is golden, whether grumbling in response to his support team constantly bullying him for being old or in the plot’s more cathartic moments. Given both that Ironside has now dabbed on cancer a second time and his recent-ish reprisals of the role in the form of Ghost Recon DLCs, one can only hope they get him to work his magic again in the first game’s upcoming remake.
Regardless of how that turns out, it’s nice to know that Splinter Cell has some kind of future again. Bringing back something old can have just as much value as creating something new, and while asking it to be as good as Chaos Theory is probably a tall order, all it really needs to do is be good enough to prove that pure stealth games still have a place in the mainstream. Sam has saved us from WW3 several times over by now, so hopefully he can also save his genre from the plague of waist-high grass.
Hedging my bets on this one – see you in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell® (TBD)!
40 Lists liked by jobosno