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Game Review Roundup

This is just some notes on games I've been playing recently.

To start, Steam has crazy bargains on a regular basis, so much so that it can be a bit dangerous if you're not careful. They're mostly games at least a couple years old, but still, I got Limbo for $2.50, Braid for $5, Grand Theft Auto 4 for $5, and Bioshock for $5. Easy to go overboard, but that's a lot of game for $17.50. Anyway—

Torchlight 2: This is an exceptionally well-executed Diablo clone. Everything about it drips Blizzard influence, from the art design to the quests to the loot to the generic fantasy story. Luckily it also has Blizzard's trademark perfectionist execution as well, and the result is clean, well-designed and very fun to play. It's not surprising or innovative really anywhere, but it is highly polished.

I did regret though that there wasn't more than a halfhearted, generic story. For a game with such a high level of execution, it's a shame to have such an afterthought of a story. I just watched Wreck-It Ralph, and though that was pretty much paint-by-numbers as far as the plot structure, the characters were well acted and fleshed out, and the screenwriter snuck in some great class politics here and there, and the film was a lot better for it. I always like it when game developers take story as seriously as play mechanics/

Braid: This is a 2D indie platformer with splendid art design, a somewhat pretentious story and a very cool time-control mechanic. Some of the puzzles are devilishly tricky, but don't give up, they're all doable. Highly recommended.

Limbo: This is another 2D indie platformer that is one of the creepier games I've played. You play a nameless boy lost in a forest full of horrifying dangers, and die over and over and over trying to figure out the puzzles. Superb atmospherics, and a very good ending. Highly recommended.

Bioshock: This one is quite old, I know. Shooter with RPG elements. The part I liked most was the Ayn Rand tie-in, which remains relevant today. Recommended.

GTA 4: Seems they've patched most of the horrible bugs that plagued this console port—though it still takes 30-45 minutes just to sign up for all the Windows Live et al bullshit without which you can't save your game—but it's damn near broken using the keyboard. Most of the minigames are flat unplayable, and driving isn't much better. Where if you are driving with a controller you can access all points on the steering continuum using the analog stuck, driving with keys you can only steer by slamming the wheels from lock to lock like a crazy person, and as a result you crash, a lot.

GTA 4 does support the $25 USB Xbox controller, and allegedly other ones as well, but I couldn't get it to work with my crappy South African knockoff controller after trying for a few hours. This one will have to wait for another day.

Finally, I just discovered this guy, probably now my favorite game reviewer of all time:

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