Archive for May, 2013

PS3 review: Vanquish

May 24, 2013


To feel let down by the opening hour of Vanquish is completely natural. Coming from Shinji Mikami, the action-game auteur responsible for Resident Evil 4 and God Hand, a certain level of finesse is expected, and Vanquish seems to miss the mark. Granted, the graphics are stylized and detailed, the controls responsive and on-point, the enemies sleek and smart and varied. But there’s a sense of malaise – would the gaming god of up-close action really make such a me-too cover shooter, one in which players hide rather than approach, taking pot-shots at enemy A.I. over waist-high cover?

Of course not.




May 19, 2013


There’s been a fundamental change in the way we talk about videogames. Mechanical and graphical discussions have been ever-present since the medium’s inception, but lately they’re taking a backseat to discussions about deeper themes, undercurrents that go beyond a game’s scripted story. Players are willing to think about what games are saying implicitly.

That’s a really important change – we’re allowing games to flaunt their artistry.

We’re engaging with the content, asking ourselves if there’s something more being said. It’s not the game’s inherent qualities that have changed, but rather the audience’s willingness to connect with those qualities to pry out and explore deeper themes, to allow games to resonate with them. We like to think that games are advancing, and that one day they might be art, but the responsibility is on us to respect the stories they’re telling, and frame them within our cultural consciousness.


PS2 review: Devil Summoner 2

May 15, 2013


Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon tells the story of Raidou, a devil-summoning detective tasked with peacekeeping in Japan’s capital during the early 1930s. The game begins as a wave of bad luck sweeps the city, and Raidou and his feline mentor Gouto are tasked with helping a girl find her lost brother, Dahn.

It’s a fairly small-scale opening, quite unlike what I’m used to seeing in roleplaying games. But the story setup works great, allowing plenty of opportunities for Raidou to interact with the rest of the Narumi Detective Agency, and letting players work at their own pace as they choose to engage in or ignore the various side-quest case files.

Devil Summoner 2’s humble opening acclimates players to the mechanics without pressuring them to rush ahead. And those mechanics are incredibly enjoyable, with some of the best hack-and-slashing around complementing Shin Megami Tensei’s ever-addictive demon fusion system.


360 review: Tomb Raider

May 10, 2013


Tomb Raider isn’t buggy, broken, or bad. It’s not unplayable or unenjoyable. There’s a solid game here, and the core mechanics are some of the better third-person shooting mechanics around. I really appreciate its fluid cover system, and Lara’s bow is an interesting and versatile weapon.

But Tomb Raider radiates wasted potential. There’s a spark here of something unrealized, a lack of foresight that makes the game fall flat. It’s a problem of authorship. Tomb Raider makes its central theme incredibly clear before bungling it in the worst way, creating an incredible disconnect between what the story’s saying and what’s happening in-game.