It took four hours and thirty-three minutes, but I was done. After hours spent slowly strafing around corners so I could safely shoot enemies, all the while futzing with unintuitive controls; after getting blown to smithereens by yet another enemy missile that seemed like it shouldn’t have even affected me; after multiple attempts trying to complete the same stage, learning enemy layouts and just what it was the game wanted me to do, I had had enough. Codename: Tenka had been on my radar for years, ever since I read about it in an older issue of OPM or PSM in the early 2000s, but I couldn’t justify playing it anymore.Continue reading Codename: Tenka [PlayStation] – Review
Red Steel was… fine. As a first-person shooter on the Wii, especially a launch title, I was surprised by how competent it was; the system’s unique controller really was a good match for the genre! Moving my avatar with the Nunchuk and aiming at the screen with the Wii Remote was accurate, responsive, and most importantly, fun! Now, this setup wouldn’t be suitable for every FPS, but for a single-player campaign, or even the split-screen multiplayer Red Steel offered, it was pretty good. Red Steel also had sword fighting, and you’d think the Wii Remote would be a perfect match for swordplay… but it wasn’t, at least as implemented. Half the time, it seemed like my swings weren’t recognized accurately. And when they were, well wouldn’t you know it, the enemy blocked my attacks! Sword fighting was a real bummer, and dampened my enthusiasm for the game. Still, when I finished the campaign, I wanted to give the sequel a whirl. Continue reading Red Steel 2 [Wii] – Review
Craving another Wii game following the completion of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, I turned to Red Steel, for some reason. Up until recently I’d never even tried it, but as one of the most publicized games in the lead up to the launch of the Wii, I’ve long been familiar with it. The trailers from that era, with gratuitously animated actors showcasing the capabilities of the system’s unique controller, are hilarious, and Red Steel’s are some of the best. There are a handful of these pre-release trailers floating around, and while they showcased how you interact with the game pretty accurately, they’re just so over the top. When the actors mimic their avatar taking cover by jumping behind furniture themselves, or pause to eat sushi while strolling through a sushi restaurant in game, I mean, c’mon.
This one, apparently from E3 2006, is especially novel now that I’ve completed the game, as it seems like it may be an original proof of concept trailer. First off, the visual fidelity is much too good; richly detailed environments and impressive character animation give off the aura of a pre-rendered trailer rather than actual gameplay. Then there’s the fact the actor is using what appears to prototypes of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. And, of the scenes portrayed, I believe only one appears in the final product. The three other trailers I’m familiar with were clearly produced closer to the game’s launch, and one of them even serves as the game’s attract mode. They retain the exaggerations of the first trailer, with interstitial gameplay sequences lifted directly from the released game. Continue reading Red Steel [Wii] – Review
A couple of months after starting F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon in an effort to play something spooky around Halloween, my experience with the series is now complete. Although I’d always wanted to play that game, I didn’t think finally doing so would take me down the rabbit hole of playing every entry. But here we are. F.E.A.R. 3 brought the series to a close with the return of the Point Man, his evil brother Paxton Fettel, and their strained relationship with Alma Wade. The shifting trend of the series, to a more action-orientated horror affair reached its culmination with new gameplay mechanics, which made this the most enjoyable entry.
With F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, I thought Monolith Productions developed a sequel that was more focused on action than horror. It was a fine game, and enjoyable for many reasons, but I still found it somewhat disappointing compared to the original. Unsurprisingly, the expansion F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn continued down this path. Released on September 3, 2009, roughly seven months after the base game, Reborn had a novel premise but was too brief to serve as anything other than a narrative introduction to F.E.A.R. 3.
Instead of controlling the Point Man, or another member of F.E.A.R., I was actually put in the shoes of Foxtrot 813, a Replica soldier. This offered a unique perspective since the Replica soldiers were one of a few groups of “bad guys” I had faced off against. With a runtime of about an hour though, there wasn’t much time to explore this role reversal. On a routine mission, Foxtrot 813 was telepathically coerced by Paxton Fettel to turn on his squad. Fettel, of course, was one of Alma’s offspring and an antagonist from the first game. He didn’t really feature in the second game, but following his commands, Foxtrot 813 eventually made it to his puppet master. Fettel then assumed Foxtrot’s body and was, ahem, reborn.
There were many differences between the first and second entries in the series, but one I failed to mention in my previous review is the way gunplay was handled. It was an FPS released in the wake of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and it showed, specifically when aiming down a gun’s sights. Pulling the right trigger to look down the sights with an enemy in the vicinity locked me onto that enemy, quickly and efficiently. This allowed for more precise gunplay, but offset with limited aiming speed adjustments and the plodding movement speed of my avatar, I couldn’t fine tune the controls to find a sweet spot that felt “right.” I made due, continuing to fiddle with the controls every now and then, but to no avail.
Between F.E.A.R. 2’s insane ending, Fettel’s appearance, and Alma’s attempts to prevent his return, I’m interested to see what happens in F.E.A.R. 3, the final installment in the series. Reborn, while offering a novel role reversal, brought little else of note to the series. The brief campaign had new environments and some exciting gunfights but was merely a proper explanation of Fettel’s return. At ten bucks, it’s hard to recommend to anyone other than zealous fans or achievement hunters.
As I engaged with allies, enemies, and explored the first few missions of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, I couldn’t get over how good it looked. The visual detail present in character models and environments floored me. It was a remarkable improvement over F.E.A.R. and its two expansions, which released upwards of three-and-a-half years prior. Monolith Productions developed the first game during a transition period between console generations, while this entry was put together firmly within one, and it showed. That further familiarity with development tools and the platforms of release resulted in visual improvements isn’t surprising, however. But, personally it was a reminder of how good games of the previous generation could look, and how much improvement had been made in just a few years. Continue reading F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin [Xbox 360]- Review
Exclusive to the Xbox 360, F.E.A.R. Files is a compilation of Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate, the two expansion packs for the horror-themed first-person shooter F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon. Unlike the original game, which was developed by Monolith Productions, these expansions were handled by the now defunct TimeGate Studios, based out of Sugarland, Texas. Extraction Point debuted on PCs in October 2006, a year after the base game. It picked up immediately after the end of F.E.A.R., directly continuing the story of the Point Man, that game’s protagonist. Perseus Mandate followed in November 2007, releasing simultaneously on PCs and the Xbox 360. The exploits of a separate F.E.A.R. team, acting concurrently with the Point Man’s, were detailed in this expansion. As was the case with the base game, it was ported to the Xbox 360 by Day 1 Studios and published by Sierra Entertainment.
As I mentioned in my review of Rain, one of the reasons I decided to play that game was my thinking it may tie into the Halloween season. My preconceived notions were that it dealt with ghosts, but that wasn’t the case. It did turn out to be a little spooky, but the other game that made my shortlist was a lot spooky. F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon was that game. Continue reading F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon [Xbox 360] – Review
It was big news when Jason West and Vince Zampella, two of the three co-founders of Infinity Ward, were dismissed by Activision back in 2010. After all, the pair was instrumental in creating the Call of Duty series, and genre-defining entries such as Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Following their departure, they co-founded the aptly named Respawn Entertainment, and with a few dozen of their former co-workers, began development on Titanfall. The multiplayer-focused first-person shooter was highly regarded when it released in early 2014, and remains one of the noteworthy Xbox-platform exclusives of the generation. It wasn’t until the follow-up that Respawn captured my attention: they included a single-player campaign.
Half-Life is a game I’ve probably started a half-dozen times, yet never completed. It was one of the first video games I owned for a computer and I can still recall, quite vividly, when my mom bought it for me at a garage sale. Around this time – middle school – I had a burgeoning interest in video games, just as my enthusiasm for soccer waned. I had never heard of the game before but upon seeing the acclaim advertised on the big box Game of the Year Edition, I decided I needed to know about it.
Following an awkward period acquainting myself with mouse and keyboard controls, I assumed the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman and did my best to escape Black Mesa. At some point, struggling to overcome the odds, I burned out. Every now and then, as the years passed, I’d revisit the game, start a new save file, and proceed down the same path. Despite my inability to get very far, it’s remained on my to-do list ever since, especially considering its heralded status as a first-person shooter. Well, like I’ve done with many other games this year, I can finally mark it complete. Continue reading Half-Life [PlayStation 2] – Review