Monthly Archives: July 2010

Alpha Protocol (Mass Effect 1-2)

Alpha Protocol is Mass Effect 2.  No, not that Mass Effect 2; Alpha Protocol is the other Mass Effect 2.  The one that we all expected after the original Mass Effect, before BioWare took a sledgehammer to genre conventions and broke all the rules of what an RPG “should” be.  Or should I say, schooled us all on what and RPG “should” be?  Either way, Alpha Protocol is Mass Effect 1-2.  Depending on your perspective, Alpha Protocol is either an artifact of the past or a fondly imagined vision of where the sure-to-be influential road paved by Mass Effect 2 could have taken us. Continue reading

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Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim

2000’s Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, developed by Cyberlore Studios and published by MicroProse, was a unique entry in the RTS genre. While the game achieved a small cult-hit status, its sequel was only briefly in development before getting the axe. I guess publisher Paradox Interactive and developer 1C:Ino-Co were fans, because they picked up the dead franchise to deliver the long-awaited sequel. While Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim continues to run with the original’s concept, it’s marred by some debilitating AI issues and a downright unfair difficulty curve. Continue reading

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Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2

In case the name didn’t give it away, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a spin-off of the Dynasty Warriors series using settings and characters from the Mobile Suit Gundam series of anime. The first entry in the new series was released in 2007. It was a rather mediocre game, even by Dynasty Warriors standards, and appealed mostly as fan service. Now that Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is here, one thing is certain: This game is karmic retribution for my belief that the series had nowhere to go but up after the first game. Continue reading

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Machinarium

I love adventure games. I love Monkey Island; I love Grim Fandango; I love The Longest Journey; I love the Sam and Max Episodes; I even love Indigo Prophecy. It stands to reason, then, that I wanted to love Amanita Design’s indie adventure title Machinarium.

As a fan of the once-dying point-and-click puzzlers, I was content with the series resurrections, remakes and episodic content that have marked the resurgence of the adventure genre. But after a few years of playing the new versions of the same games I grew up with, I find myself pining for something more — something original. What made all those old adventure games so great was the chance to explore so many brilliant, imaginative and, most importantly, new worlds. Arguably, there’s no genre better suited for rich narrative world building.  I wanted to love Machinarium. If only it wanted to love me back. Continue reading

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Mario Endures Because He’s There For You

I’ve had a pretty lame couple of weeks. Struck with a sinus infection, I wasn’t able to enjoy Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Red Dead Redemption the day they both arrived at my front door. I know that for many, being sick is prime gaming time. But I’m not that guy. The congestion that I can feel all throughout my face and chest, like a Venom Symbiote trying to burst out of my body and take over; the demon DJ who uses my skull as a subwoofer, producing a constant, pounding bass rhythm of agony; the slow, vitriolic drip down the back of my throat that robs me of my voice and sends me running to the sink every 15 minutes to cough up horrors I dare not describe. Continue reading

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An Open Letter to Suikoden Character Recruitment FAQs, c.2000-c. 2006

Dear Suikoden Character Recruitment FAQs c.2000-c. 2006,

I’m writing this letter to you now, many years after the fact, to express the final, lingering, spark of deep-seated adolescent aggravation. Despite the numerous gaming message boards and Suikoden fansites I frequented as a lad, I never expressed my frustrations. I can’t say why, really. Between the ages of 12 and 20, I wasn’t adverse to expressing my teenage anger over the internet, protected by a wall of impenetrable anonymity. But because this one issue — trivial to many but paramount to my precious (and abundant) youthful free time — slipped by, I feel it needs to be addressed. Continue reading

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Din’s Curse (Daily Routine)

The Diablo clone is a constant in the world of games. In the intervening decade between the second and third installments of the seminal franchise, many developers have attempted to fill the gap. Unfortunately, for all their admirable attempts, few manage to scratch that elusive Diablo itch. The question always remains: what makes Diablo so addictive? Din’s Curse is developer Soldak Entertainment’s latest crack at an answer. Continue reading

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