Tag Archives: Borderlands

The Three E’s

Humans of the World. Earthlings. Terrans. Pitiful specimens of homo sapien kind. Set aside your differences and come hither; revel and bask in the mighty, unifying glory of the mother of gaming events. The Electronics Entertainment Expo. E3.

This year was, as usual, a jolly good show, (their 20th anniversary dontcha know) and this here edition of my pointless and irrelevant ejaculation of words will give a brief précis on what caught my eye from afar, bearing in mind of course that I’m not a journalist, so wasn’t actually there, at the LA Convention Centre, in LA, Los Angeles California, USA. No, I was here. In London. Alone. Watching with a hundred million other similarly sad, wet, lonely, empty husks of what-could-have-been valuable members of society……*sigh*……

Anyway, games then. So these were the things that I was interested in. There’s no point highlighting all the games that were there otherwise we’d be here until the Sun finally puts us all out of our misery and blows the fuck up, so this is strictly the shit that in some way fish hooked my interest. So here goes, in no particular order.

Dead Island 2

2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1

A funny one to mention given that the first Dead Island was an almighty waste of my fucking life and easily one of the most disappointing games in recent memory. So why include it? Well, just in case, that’s why. 4-player campaign co-op. Zombie shit. What’s not to like on paper. Plus Techland who developed the first one have all but handed over the reins to Indi German outfit Yager Development who were responsible for the widely acclaimed Spec Ops: The Line back in 2012. File this under the “convince me” header.

Dying Light

dying-light-banner

OK, yes, despite me coating off Techland’s Dead Island not moments ago, Dying Light is their current triple-A which is – if I’m honest, and against my better judgement – possibly my most anticipated title of next year. The free-running, zombie killing, melee focused open world game not only looks utterly sublime visually speaking, it also just…well, it has a certain something that makes me want to stand up and beg for buttermilk. I admit, on paper it looks like all the elements of some of the most disappointing games I have ever known: Free Running (Brink), Zombie Melee (Dead Island), Techland (err, Dead Island again)….OK I’ll stop now before I change my mind. But it’s also 4-player co-op and has the whole dynamic day/night thing where instead of just zombies you get mental crazy other shit going on when the sun goes down. It was due for release in 2014 but that has now been pushed back to March 2015, which I should mention, in my opinion, doesn’t have the same connotations of ‘troubled development’ as it once did. What can I say, genuinely excited about this.

Evolve

Evolve-Goliath-Title

Gameinformer’s best in show, and it’s easy to see why. Turtle Rock Studios – the team who developed Left 4 Dead for Valve before they split away to form their own band – certainly have pedigree on the co-op thing, and this game looks quite simply mouth watering. Just like L4D, it’s all rather simple. 4 players, 4 classes, each with their own skills. All use a variety of BFG’s to hunt ‘The Monster’ on an alien world. Monster in question can – if you so wish – be played by another Hoomuun Bean, or else let the AI take control. Monster starts off teeny, and ‘hunted’ and needs to feed and avoid being slaughtered before it can ‘evolve’ through different stages into an eventual goliath (literally, one of them is actually called a goliath). Then hunted becomes hunter and can start kicking seven shades of shit out of those pesky Earthlings. Check out numerous vids all over t’interweb to see what kind of innovative toys and weaponry Turtle Rock have thought up to help you all enjoy the bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter. Pre-order…check.

Far Cry 4

Far-Cry-4

Well. I’ve barely got over the sad day that I finished Far Cry 3 – one of the best games I can remember in some time – and now this? As long as Ubisoft don’t fuck up and just go with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ attitude we should be on track for another epic, immersive and outstanding piece of gaming. This time we are set in the Himalayas – complete with elephants and the like – and if the opening 5 minutes is anything to go by we should be in for a treat come Christmas. This time they have included full 2-player campaign co-op which quite frankly is almost too much for me to take and I may just have to curl up into a whimpering foetus and cry myself to death. How they are going to top FC3’s Vaas Montenegro – one of the all time great gaming villains – I don’t know, but they are giving it their best shot with weirdo fuck chops Pagan Min who enjoys helicopters, pink suits, and stabbing employees to death with pens.

Alien Isolation

alien-isolation

Don’t start getting all “oh for fooks sake mun, not another tossy Alien game”. All I can say is; this ain’t like them. Check out some vids and you’ll soon see this is ALIEN Isolation, not ALIENS. If James Cameron’s undisputed classic was a tackle-out action fest, then Ridley Scott’s masterpiece was surely the birth of survival horror in space. That’s what this is; survival horror. 15 years after Ellen Ripley pushed the red button on the Nostromo, you are her daughter Amanda trying to piece together what happened. You find yourself all but alone on the scarily empty space station Sevastopol. Just you and a big fat fucking Xeno for company. No M41A Pulse Rifles, no sonic electronic ballbreakers, no sharp sticks. Just you, a motion tracker and your wits. I nearly shat my knick-knacks just watching a walkthrough vid so I am aching for its October release. Developed by Brit outfit The Creative Assembly with some silly-good high end graphics, this could be the Alien game we all need to convince us all Alien games aren’t shit.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

borderlands-001

If you need me to talk about this you haven’t read any of my previous blogs and probably shouldn’t be here. Borderlands = one of the best games ever made. Gearbox handed this one to 2K Australia so if it’s rubbish it doesn’t matter. But it won’t be. It’s fucking Borderlands.

Tales From The Borderlands

Tales_from_the_Borderlands_Teaser-pc-games

Speaking of which, the other Borderlands game is Telltale Games episodic adventure type deal a la The Walking Dead. Having currently not played The Walking Dead (Series 1 or 2) I have no point of reference but I have heard nowt but splendid stories about it and it is currently sitting un-played in my Steam Library awaiting my attention. Anyway, hopes are high for this.

Elite: Dangerous

elite

If you are unfamiliar with Elite and need an explanation for this little beauty you really are reading the wrong blog. Suffice to say that current-gen graphics, a billion solar systems, 3 friends and a ‘flight system’ joystick/throttle that costs more than a Faberge Egg make for something potentially so good you may wish to sell everything you own, say your goodbye’s to loved ones, and see out your days trading platinum in space. Bring. It.

Hellraid

Hellraid3

Techland again, and they loooove their 4-player co-op stuff. Which, to be honest, I can only applaud. Hellraid substitutes zombies for medieval supernatural shit, with skellingtons, mages and the like twatting each other senseless. It’s melee and magic Vs the armies of Hell. I’m hopeful this will be what I hope……hence ‘hopeful’…….forget it.

Homefront: The Revolution

homefront

This was an unexpected one and no mistake. For those not in the know, Homefront was a Call of Duty rip-off developed by Kaos Studios and published by THQ in 2011. It was well known for the following. A) Being a bit shit. B) Sending THQ bankrupt and C) ‘Maybe’ being written by Hollywood screenwriter John Milius. Maybe, because though he’s billed on the credits it is widely believed that actually he didn’t write a single word, and whilst he certainly did write Apocalypse Now, Conan The Barbarian and Dirty Harry, he’s also a self proclaimed right-wing extremist, so there’s that. Anyway, the premise was pretty cool; a unified Korea basically invade and occupy the US. Much savagery ensues. The delicious Crytek have picked up this IP now though and appear to be adding their own brand of special sauce to turn this into more of an open world type resistance shooter. Which, one cannot deny, is exciting.

The Division

the division

Again, this is one I’ve not been shy about talking about. Ubisoft’s open world, 4-player co-op shooter with a seriously next-generation-level of environmental detail thanks to the brand spanking new Snowdrop Engine. It looks quite simply epic. I’m trying to keep myself in check with this given Ubisoft’s track record with….erm….almost everything and not least Tom Clancy games (of which this is one). Having said that, when they get it right, they REALLY can get it right. Let’s just hope their PC version is more than just after birth, and that the vids and walkthroughs I’ve seen do the finished article justice. Guess we’ll find out next year.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

tomb raider

Lara Croft is at it again with Square Enix’s next instalment in the Tomb Raider franchise. For anyone not au fait with my previous blogs, Tomb Raider was one of my favourite games that I played last year and I am thoroughly looking forward to this next offering. Plus, y’know, Lara’s blatantly hot as fuck.

No Man’s Sky

no-mans-sky

The contender to Elite’s crown perhaps? Hmm, I have to say I am definitely intrigued. From what I can gather we are talking full, galaxy exploration, which includes the planet surfaces themselves. What I mean is, picture this: You are swimming in clear blue waters, you climb out onto a golden beach among lush, bright vegetation and the varying wildlife of a given planet, you climb into your fighter, you take off, fly about for a bit, breach atmosphere and you’re in orbit, then hyperspace, then another solar system, then you pick another planet and do it all over again. The word ‘potential’ doesn’t even do it justice. Details appear to be thin on the ground when it comes to actual purpose of the game and the mechanics of it, but it’s definitely got the gaming community wanting lots more.

HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age.

hunt_horrors_of_the_gilded_age

Crytek once again getting my saliva glands all moist. This particular morsel is full 4-player, 3rd person co-op, set in the early 20th Century. Priests, cowboys and similar people of the time are the characters – all with their own skill trees and the like, and all hunting various supernatural monsters and creatures from folklore around Europe and the America’s. Expect crazy nuts cultists and supernatural crazy shit to be fodder of the day which may give some juicy variety to standard enemies. Shotguns, pistols and rifles seem fairly welcome, if expected, but reports of them mixing it up with the odd special ‘weapon’ such as a Bible (which is a book, apparently) which a priest can read verses from causing some enemy types to die or whatever as their demons are exorcised. That kind of shit sounds rather spunky if you ask me. Characters also apparently have a large variety of customisable gear as well if you care about such things. Reports are that this will be free to play. Crytek seem to be big advocates of that model, so maybe I’m just having trouble moving with the times when I say I still have reservations about F2P titles. It never makes me think ‘yay’ – it always makes me think ‘oh’. What can I say, I need convincing that free games aren’t second rate games, so maybe this could be the one to turn me.

Rainbow Six: Siege

rainbow

With Rainbow 6 Patriots still currently AWOL, this is going to be filling the Six void for now. But rest assured this definitely doesn’t just look like filler. This looks good. Back to basics Rainbow Six tactical shooter stuff. Made for co-op. The gameplay vid had me going back half a dozen times as Team Six raided a large domestic property with a dozen goons inside and 1 poor wickle hostage. Destructible environments, customisable load outs, everything you would expect from a classic R6 game but with all the mod-cons too including aerial pre-siege overlook to help you plan your entry-points (which are entirely your own choice) and cheeky little drones and spy cams to give you the heads up on those pesky terrorists. Obviously Ubisoft comes with a warning, but this definitely looks the part.

The Evil Within

the-evil-within

Now that Resident Evil games are basically a bit shit, and at best a shadow of their former selves, it’s easy to forget what they used to be. Unrelenting masterpieces of survival horror, that’s what. And that is largely down to one single man. Shinji Mikami. Well, he left Capcom long ago and Japanese developers Tango Gameworks snapped him up and set him and his brain loose on the world once more. The result is The Evil Within. Think old school resident evil in a modern era, complete with current-gen graphics, oodles of post-Hostel gore and all manner of horrendous and disturbed nasties conjured up in the nightmares of this clearly damaged brain. Watch the first 5 mins on Youtube to see just how fucked up this shit is going to be. Have fun kids!

So, Aside from those main players there were other games that got my attention for various reasons, but don’t quite warrant a full piece of pie to themselves. Batman: Arkham Knight and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor both made me want to go back and catch up on those respective, critically acclaimed series. Mirrors Edge 2 made me want to pick up its predecessor and see what all the fuss was about (which I did). Mortal Kombat X can’t help but awaken the nostalgic teenager in me and I can easily see myself picking this up on a whim just to satisfy his blood lust. And Sniper Elite 3 has been written about by me enough and will surely be another splendid Nazi killing game by Rebellion.

Assassins Creed: Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo 5, Destiny and Battlefield: Hardline were all hugely covered at E3 as you can imagine. Those titles alone probably account for a large percentage of the entire cash flow of the gaming industry. But they excite me not, I’m afraid, and it would be disingenuous of me to start mouthing off about how the world finally gets to see Destiny or what colour underpants Master Chief will be wearing in Halo 5. I don’t even know if the dude’s alive, didn’t he die? Anyway, who gives a shit. Not me.

So, just like England in a World Cup, it seems over before it had started. E3 gone for another year.

By the way, as I write this there is a Steam Summer Sale on so go and buy a load of good games at silly process.

That is all. You may leave.

Oh, one more thing before I go. Doom. That is all.

The Future is Now…..or soon….or at least ongoing.

2014 is a go ladies and gentlemen, we are rolling. The Earth continues to complete a single revolution on its axis roughly every 24 hours AND simultaneously orbit our Sun at around 67,000 miles per hour. Mash those to astronomical factoids together and you get science, apparently. But you also get time, or more accurately our method of measuring it. Anyway, what was I talking about? Ah yes, games…..

So as we stride forth into the 2014-shaped yonder, your Bioshock Infinite’s and your Shadow Warrior’s are but distant memories, replaced instead with things in the shape of Titanfall and Dying Light. Yes folks, let us look forward to what meaty juices the rich world of games, gaming and gameage has to offer us lucky monkeys this coming 365 planetary revolutions (which is a year, I’m reliably informed).

I won’t do a list of most anticipated titles – only idiots do lists. Besides, there are too many games I’m interested in to do any kind of meaningful list, so I’ll spit my words and see what comes out.

So, not a list, and in no particular order.

Thief-Logo

One of the first games dropping this year which has got me reasonably flustered is Eidos Montreal’s reboot of Thief. The first in this series came out back in ’98, with a sequel in 2000, both of which were great games (I didn’t play the 2004 instalment). They almost, sort of, started their own sub-genre in the First Person arena, with the onus almost entirely on stealth, plus as I recall the medieval steam-punk setting was pioneering at the time. I can’t help but feel like this reboot is somehow competing with Dishonoured which in many respects actually felt like a reboot of Thief in its own right, or at least was surely heavily influenced by its legacy. Various reports of a troubled development is always the sort of thing to set the nerves on edge (first announced back in 2009 but reworked from the ground up thereafter) however Eidos Montreal did a pretty good job with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so here’s hoping.

titan

There’s no doubt Titanfall is personally one of my most anticipated titles of the year. This bad boy is the first game from Respawn Entertainment, but fear not, those guys are seasoned vets, with co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella both coming from Infinity Ward and can claim to be chiefly responsible for arguably some of the best titles in the Call of Duty franchise. This game looks to be First Person Carnage at its finest, with the added dynamic of jet packs enabling you to scale buildings in a single bound thus adding literally another dimension (that being vertical) to the battlefield. Oh, and there’s also huge fuckoff mech suits (Titan’s in fact) for you to climb in fight against and oooh it’s all exciting. Please be as good as I hope.

346536-1.png

The other title REALLY tickling ones floppy bits is Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments) which I’ve written in detail about before. Strange thing this, because it seems as if my gaming family and I are the only human beings on the face of the frickin’ Earth who are in the slightest bit excited about it. How exactly is this possible? I have trawled a dozen “Most Anticipated Games of 2014” run down’s and not a single one gives it a mention, not even Games Radar’s 100 Most anticipated…… I mean, are they seriously saying there are at least 100 other games scheduled for release this year which they are more excited about? Really? Elite was nothing short of pioneering and changed the shape of gaming forever, so why aren’t people getting giddy about the reboot, especially when the Alpha release looks so saucy? What irks me more is the fact that games like Star Citizen (Cloud Imperium Games) and No Man’s Sky (Hello games) are both similar in theme and are both regulars on said lists. OK, the comparison isn’t entirely fair but you get my point.

star citizen

As it happens, Star Citizen does look pretty sweet. From what I can gather it’s a kind of double-release in that the game is actually comprised of ‘Star Citizen’ which is an MMOG, first-person, space-combat game with trade elements (like…er, Elite) but also ‘Squadron 42’ which is more of a single-player/drop-in drop-out co-op campaign typa’ thing (and we looooooovvveee co-op campaigns in these quarters).

no mans sky

No Man’s Sky also looks tasty, but in all honesty I’ve only seen a wee taster trailer from VGX and from what I can gather it’s still early days, although the ability to explore the universe from the deepest oceans right through to the furthest reaches of the galaxy is certainly a USP to keep an eye on.

Dying-Light-logo

Dying Light is another title high on my list for 2014. Techland have a lot to answer for after the woefully disappointing Dead Island, and Dying Light could – could – right those wrongs. All the elements are there; zombies, fluid free running, day/night dynamic, co-op (although presently un-specified what co-op elements it will offer) and although the above sounds like a mash up of Brink and Dead island – two awful, awful games – I have hope for this game.

mad max

Mad Max from Avalanche studios is next up. Big fan of George Miller’s first two films that follow ole’ Max Rockatansky in a post apocalyptic down under. I’ve often thought it’s the basis for a good game setting and indeed I would wager id Software were influenced more than a bit when they made RAGE a couple of years ago. Open worldy, survivaly, post apocalypticy; what’s not to get excited about?

the-evil-within

Let’s talk horror. More accurately, survival horror from the Godfather of the Genre himself Shinji Mikami. The gameplay footage and trailers from The Evil Within (Tango gameworks) look suitably unbelievably-horrific with all manner of totally effed up shiz  going on. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say it, when I saw the gameplay trailer showcased at E3 it was dark and late and I was tired and yes fine it made me feel reasonably uneasy and getting to sleep that particular night wasn’t a pleasant experience. I look forward to many more nights of equally uneasy sleeping experiences this year.

wolfenstein

Wolfenstein: The New Order (Machinegames) will hopefully be a solid FPS with B.J. Blazkowics back in the saddle, this time in a mech-infused alternate reality future where Ze Pesky Nazi’s won the war or something. This is the first instalment since waaaaay back in 1992 that doesn’t have id Software involved although Machinegames are using the id Tech 5 engine, so there’s that. What can I say, I can’t help but get excited for this, and the teaser trailer set to Jimmy Hedrix’s All Along the Watchtower just set the moody mood. Plus, I mean, Nazi’s, big guns, c’mon.

Sniper-Elite-3-Logo

Sticking with Ze Nazi theme, Sniper Elite 3 developed once again by Rebellion has us in North Africa doing the obvious. Sniper Elite V2 was an awesome game which included full 2-player co-op campaign and then went and upped the stakes with Nazi Zombie Army 1 and 2 to the oh-so-brilliant 4-player co-op. There’s been no official statement on just how co-op SE3 will be but I think Rebellion will have missed a trick if they don’t make it 4-player drop-in drop-out. Plus I’ll be pissed off with them, which I’m sure they will be devastated about.

TheDivision

Ubisoft had to make the list didn’t they? Will this be another year, with yet another disappointment from them? Let’s hope not. The Division, like soooo many Ubisoft games before it is brimming with potential. Don’t get me wrong, Ubi do make some brilliant games (Far Cry 3 a case in point) but they also have a habit of doing the worst console ports ever and just lazily dumping out PC versions without a care in the world and ruining what could be such amazing games. I am currently in the throes of wrestling with the PC port of Splinter Cell: Blacklist which has all the frustrating hallmarks of a Ubi port. I hope hope hope The Division isn’t the same because it looks like one of the few titles which could be considered ‘next gen’ (even though that phrase doesn’t apply to PC’s, but you get the idea). Plus it’s co-op and…..well, need I say more.

tales from the borderlands

I may have mentioned once or twice in previous posts that I’m a Borderlands fan. Have I? Well I am. A big fan. To say the least. Whilst we don’t have a new Borderlands game as such, we do have an episodic game ‘series’ in the vein of The Walking Dead and in fact developed by the same guys over at Telltale games. Tales from the Borderlands should begin sometime in 2014. Yay.

evolve

A recently announced title has immediately registered highly on my excitometer – Evolve from Turtle Rock Studios pits 4 players (in co-op, of course) against 1 almighty alien (also player controlled should you so desire). Said alien starts off in an almost infant like state while the 4 players try and hunt it down and murderlise it before it grows (or ‘evolves’….see) into its adult form. A sort of hunter-becomes-hunted element is one of the games strong suits, but also the idea of every level kind of revolving around ‘a boss’ in some way is intriguing. Not to mention the possibility of having a human in the shoes of the boss in question. All very delicious.

alien_isolation_2

Another recently announced title also sounds and looks like it has absolutely ooooooodles of potential. Alien: Isolation from The Creative Assembly. I don’t need to go over the history of Alien related games and how they have on the whole fallen so very, very short of their potential (the wounds of Colonial Marines are still raw for me…..) but this looks…..different. Whilst we are still looking for a worthy successor to Rebellion’s 1999 masterpiece Alien Vs Predator in the form of a James Cameron-a-like action-fest, Isolation appears to be taking a different approach and is instead taking its lead from Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 horror-in-space. Still early days on this but it looks like The Creative Assembly have nailed the atmosphere (which is exactly what I said about Gearbox and Colonial Marines prior to its release). Please don’t be shit.

metal gear

Rounding off the list is kind of an also-ran for me but I do have the odd pang of excitement when seeing some of the visuals. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (Kojima Productions) serves as the first instalment in a double-release comprising Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. All that doesn’t really interest me if I’m honest, the Metal gear games have been solid console performers since day dot but always felt very frustrating and repetitive for me, however early gameplay footage from ground Zeroe’s and an impressive film-like cinematic trailer just about gets it on the list.

So that’s it really. Or at least that’s the bulk of it.  There are other games which I am GAGGING to know more about and if they aren’t released this year then hopefully we will at least get some news on them. Such titles include Rainbow 6: patriots which underwent a root-and-branch creative overhaul after most of the senior players were ‘let go’ from Ubisoft. Rainbow 6 games always have potential and the premise for this looked outstanding, so let’s see what happens.

Furious 4

Gearbox has been schtum on Furious 4 for a while now but hopefully they will be ready to get the ball re-rolling on their 4-player co-op Inglorious Basterds-esque Nazi-killing romper stomper.

Among The Sleep is an indie-title I blogged about many weeks ago from Nordic Independent developers Krillbite Studios. I haven’t heard anything on this for a while but now that I have schooled myself in the world of non-violent first person games I am more eager than ever to get my hands on this.

Talking of Indie-games, The Dead Linger is a kickstarter project from Sandswept I’ve been backing and once again has so much potential.  Currently in its Alpha state, it’s a full-on, open world, 4-player co-op zombie survival game in the vein of Day Z. Who knows when this will be ready to hit shelves, but when it does, let’s just hope it’s good.

Lastly, and not leastly, this one is for Valve. This could be their year what with the imminent arrival of Steam OS and the Steam Machines, but must we go another year without any news on Half Life 3? What about Left 4 Dead 3? Will we see another sequel to possibly the best co-op series of all time? Do something amazing Valve. You know you want to.

And so that’s that. What more will the year of gaming offer us mere mortals? Hopefully lots of lovely stuff for me to play and write about.

You may now return to your lives.

P.S. I have never forgotten about Hidden & Dangerous, I just dare not utter the words…….

This One’s for Doom

In celebration of Doom’s 20th anniversary I am completely copping out and doing the laziest bit of blogging I can get away with short of leaning on the letter G for 8 pages.

I hereby present my top 10 bestest FPS shooters. None of these, I’d argue, would exist if it wasn’t for el Doomerino.

doom

The Rules: As with all lists, there must be rules dammit, otherwise the whole Godforsaken thing turns into a chaotic shitstorm and we all end up just crying and dribbling in a corner, defecating into a bucket and shovelling cold, ‘own-brand’ beans into our faces straight from the tin. No? Ok well anyway there needs to be rules.

First up, no Doom. This is a legacy list, so the Godfather itself can sit this one out on its mighty, bloody throne and survey the proceedings.

Next, this is strictly FPS in the truest sense of the word. You won’t find games like Hidden & Dangerous and Skyrim on here because although these games and more display elements of FPS in them to varying degrees, they aren’t considered FPS Proper. Counter Strike also isn’t counted because it’s strictly multiplayer, otherwise it would be in.

Also, I have blatantly cheated in that I have grouped up certain franchises to a) free up space on the list and b) ensure I don’t have to pick between more than one game in a series which may be too close to call. Just to add to that blatant disregard for standard list rules, this particular cheat is used on an ad-hoc basis, so it may go for one franchise, but not another…….you’ll see what I mean.

Nothing released this year can qualify. Games need time to settle.

Lastly, this is MY list. This isn’t the BBC so everything you will see is how these games affected me and my personal opinions on them, there’s no impartiality here.

So, in no particular order….

Half Life (Valve)

Lambda_logo
It had to be, didn’t it? A towering masterpiece in gaming history which has been arguably as influential in the genre as any other game next to Doom itself. This goes for both Half Life and Half Life 2. Gordon Freeman’s silent protagonist is as iconic as they get, and not only did game mechanics take a step up for this, but so did story. Half Life 2 went on to do the impossible and equal it’s predecessor’s brilliance, this time setting the bar in terms of depth of story and character development. Half Life 2 was released in 2004 and though many games have reached up to try and equal or better those dizzying heights in terms of story, in my opinion not a single one has succeeded. 2 masterpieces in 1 franchise, plus a couple of extra episodes which are excellent in their own right. Half Life 3 will be with us one day……please.

Goldeneye (Rare)

goldeneye-logo
This remarkable game was reason enough to own an N64 (notwithstanding the other classics on that brilliant console). For a film nut like me this was a rare (see what I did there) beast, a game that was as good as it’s movie counterpart, and the recreation of various film locations gave this game plenty of replay value. The zooming sniper rifle was nothing short of a revelation and this mechanic very quickly became standard issue in any FPS worth its salt – whether it existed before Goldeneye or not, who the fuck cares, it was this game that made it a requirement in all other shooters to follow. The roster of guns was impressive and the multiplayer was one of the first times I can really remember feeling like a boss owning all my mates as they struggled to defeat me. Hahaha, noobs.

Duke Nukem 3D (id)

Duke-Nukem-3D
If we’re talking gaming icons, we’re talking Duke. A cigar chomping, world saving, Pig Cop slaughtering, womaniser cracking wise in his unique, smarmy way. It was Doom on steroids with a bad motherf*cker leading the charge. Released 3 years after Doom it helped kick the FPS genre in the nuts and ensure its continued rise to dominance. The levels were a little more open if I recall and slightly less linear which kept the explorer in me and other gamers happy, but there was no shortage of mental carnage, tough enemies (suck it down!) and of course mighty fuck off boss fights. And as if defeating them wasn’t reward enough, id gave you the added bonus of a little cut-scene which had The Duke desecrating the monsters corpse with something debasing like ripping off its head and taking a dump down its neck. That always made me giggle.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2015, Inc.)

MOH AA
American spelling aside, this instalment of the MOH franchise will always be the one that sends shivers down the spine. Before Call of Duty was all conquering, the Medal of Honor series was THE FPS franchise that threw you head first into World War 2. Steven Spielberg was directly involved with Allied Assault (among others in the series) and it’s no accident that the game recreates some of the most visceral and harrowing moments form it’s unofficial film counterpart Saving Private Ryan which was released in 1998. The D-Day landing is one of the single most memorable moments I have had in my gaming life. As well as the big stuff which it got so right, Allied Assault took some of those little details from Private Ryan which for me made all the difference; things like the authentic report of the weapons. I’ll never forget hearing that tommy gun and thinking it just sounded…..real. The multiplayer was also outstanding, and I remember chewing up many, many months of my life on this before the current Call of Duty sprouts were out of nappies. I think it’s undeniable that the Call of Duty series – at this time very much the lesser of the two rivals – learned a lot from MOH games like Allied Assault on its journey to world domination.

Bioshock (Irrational Games)

Bioshock
Of all the games on this list, this is perhaps the hardest to write about. Why? Because to summarise the depth, the detail, the authenticity, the sheer, utter splendour of Rapture – The City in the Sea, in this short paragraph is an exercise in futility. Rapture drew me in like almost nothing else has before or since. For me, Bioshock is the first example I give to highlight how only gaming can combine the level of immersion AND interaction like no other medium can. It was sublime. The gameplay too was just completely satisfying and serves as one of the greatest examples of the genre. Weapons aplenty, tons of them with secondary fire modes and varying ammo types, not to mention Plasmids which were in themselves a hefty and satisfying variation of killy shit. The atmosphere was tangible, with asylum-mad residents wearing animal masks and chatting utter shit to each other which echoed through the corridors. Big Daddy’s; tough-as-nails brutes, but which also possessed something, somehow sad about those poor lumbering beasts, sentenced to a life they never asked for, forever bound to their haunting ‘Little Sisters’. Instantly iconic. And the major players too were brimming with character (helped in no small part by the plethora of audio reels you picked up along the way). All this plus so much more, it incorporated RPG elements in the form of skill upgrades, plus a bunch of peripheral extras like research cameras, hacking mini games, ‘U-Invent’ rigs which made weapon upgrades and the such like from spare parts you picked up along the way. See, I’m rambling…………

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Infinity Ward)

COD MW
Unarguably a seminal moment in gaming came with the arrival of this. Possibly the most recent game changer we have seen. 2007 saw the arrival of this mighty and amazing thing. Modern warfare….why the fuck hadn’t anyone done this properly before? Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t, because Infinity Ward nailed it. For a gun nut like me I hadn’t had this much fun since Counter Strike. M4’s with Eotech sites, M14 EBR’s, M82 Barrett fifty-cals, and that was just the tip of the iceberg (don’t get me started). It felt so fresh and exciting. Set largely in the Middle East at a time when there really were boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, this game felt authentic and relevant. The character-hopping between SAS, Navy Seals and US Army Rangers et al gave an excuse to skip around the globe and utilise a ridiculous array of weapons. It had all the console-heavy Call of Duty hallmarks, regenerating health, ultra ‘on-rails’ linear levels, all of which I would usually be the first to scoff pompously at, but it didn’t matter. At all. Having to constantly move under fire kept the blood up, and levels like ‘All Ghillied Up’ that had you crawling through a deserted Chernobyl marked this game (and that level in particular) as an all time great. And then there was that mushroom cloud. Crawling out of the downed Chinook and witnessing post nuclear destruction as you drew your last breath….epic isn’t even the word. All this plus a multiplayer system that got the masses shouting obscenities down their Xbox headsets at one another. Aaaah gaming……

Left 4 Dead (Valve)

Left-4-Dead-2-Hand
I’m big on Co-op. Let me just try and articulate how big. I’m BIG on co-op. Nope, can’t do it. Co-op gaming at its best is pretty much the pinnacle of gaming in many respects as far as me and my clan are concerned. With Left 4 Dead Valve got things so exactly, precisely, effortlessly right it’s actually hard to comprehend. It pulls of that trick of being almost so perfect it appears simple. 4 players. Zombies. A few guns. A few melee weapons. Medkits. Pipebombs. Molly’s. Push Mechanism. Revive Mechanism. That’s pretty much it. Oh, except it’s not is it. No. Left 4 Dead is simply one of the best games I have ever played, as is its sequel which did everything exactly right in that it changed almost nothing. As long as Valve keeps making these games, or levels for them, we will continue to play them and fall in love with them all over again and again and again. Mixing up the madness with some crazy Special Infected mutated fucks each with their own unique way of killing your face off helped to make sure it wasn’t just the ole zombie hoards that you were fighting. But oh what hoards they were. The first time our group was rushed by a hoard was something I know for a fact will stay with each and every one of us as long as we live, and ensured that every time thereafter we heard that music rise we got a chill running down our spines all over again. The inclusion of The Director which essentially just randomised pickups and special infected throughout the level every time you replayed it meant that there was never really a time during Left 4 Dead 1 or 2 where you felt anything was predictable or by the numbers. An absolute masterpiece.

Alien Vs Predator (Rebellion)

avp
The 1999 one released for the PC, not one of the other billion Alien/Predator games released throughout the 90’s and 2000’s. I think in all honesty this was the last Alien game to get it right….in fact, this might be the ONLY Alien game to get it right. Colonial Marine. Predator. Alien. 3 for the price of 1. And this wasn’t 3 games each of which was a third as good as a standard single player FPS is, no, these were 3 solid games in their own right. Each of them lengthy and meaty enough to stand on its own two feet. Each character had their own particulars. Marines had guns and kit, plus backup (at times), but kept you on the ground, and drenched you in the feeling that you were always being watched. Predators had oodles of kit, plus stealth, and the ability to extend your playing field vertically by giving you a fat jump capability meaning you could stalk your prey from the rooftops or rafters. Aliens had raw and uncompromising stealth, moving freely like a shadow through air ducts, on ceilings, and up walls. All of it executed so well and authentically to their film canon counterparts it is a wonder how Rebellion got it so wrong for the 2010 reboot. Perhaps the thing that was done so well in the ‘99 version, the thing that set it apart from all the others was the fear it provoked in you during the marine missions. This game scared the shit out of me like none had before and few have since. When people talk about scary games, I think of AvP. Back peddling blindly as fast as I can down corridors firing my pulse rifle into the relentless Xenomorph-shaped shadows crawling at me on the floor and walls and roof faster than I can escape. That memory will stay with me forever.

Borderlands (Gearbox)

borderlands
Borderlands isn’t a game. Borderlands is my other life. Pandora is my other home. I live there. I love Pandora. Mordechai has become like a member of my family. Like Bioshock above, I’m not sure how I’m going to say all the things I want to say about Borderlands without writing an epic tome. I could easily do a top ten of ‘Things I Love About Borderlands’. I remember during the run up to its release seeing various things about it, the four-player co-op aspect caught my eye, and I thought it looked OK, but it was never really hugely on my radar. Then, due (if memory serves) to the unexpected disappointment of another 4-player co-op game, one of my clan said “Why don’t we give that Borderlands a go, it looks pretty good”. So we did. Nothing was ever the same again. We didn’t just play Borderlands, we merged with it. Each of us independently bonded with this game, this world, our characters, to such a degree that it was almost a spiritual awakening. This in turn meant that our bond as a team was equally enhanced. We share this thing. This precious thing that others know not of. We would speak in hushed tones when we socialised in the real (boring, less shooty and looty) world “When are we going back……I need that new gun”. Yes indeed. I don’t need to break down the mechanics of what makes Borderlands so good – I shan’t highlight the array of weapons, the looting, the critical-hit satisfaction, the skill trees, variety of enemies, DLC’s….no, I shan’t go into detail. The point of Borderlands is, if you need someone to explain why it’s so good then you either haven’t been or shouldn’t be there. And if the latter, and I catch you, I’ll blow your fucking head off with a Jakobs.

Unreal Tournament (Epic Games)

UT
This one is personal. Despite me proclaiming at the beginning of this list “…in no particular order….” this could perhaps be me subconsciously saving the best ‘til last. Unreal Tournament is possibly my favourite game of all time. There, I said it. Ok, so it’s not as simple as that, catch me on another day and some other games here present in this list and some which aren’t could claim that crown, but when people ask me “what’s your favourite game” (a stupid fucking question I know……ahem) this is usually the first thing that pops into my head. For me, Unreal Tournament is the very pinnacle of hardcore, adrenaline fuelled, out-of-breath gaming. The kind of thing that makes you sweat. It’s like an extreme sport, making you gasp for air when it’s over and 40 minutes of your life has just evaporated in the blink of an eye. I have probably put more hours into this game than any other. From the very moment I played the demo and rinsed it over and over and over I was hooked. It is the very apex of First Person Shooters. Carnage. Mayhem. Annihilate, kill, kill, destroy EVERYFUCKINGTHINGTHATMOVES. The satisfaction of topping the leader board is unrivalled. It makes Call of Duty look and feel like an embarrassing joke. You do not know gaming until you have ventured into this world. Defeating Malcolm in single player mode was like a badge of honour among me and my kin. The array of weapons was among the best of all time (Flak Cannon…….Mummy, hold me). Achieving Godlike status, racking up a M-m-m-m-monster kill, hearing that announcer hail you as UNSTOPPABLE and even getting the odd ‘Flak Monkey’ all go toward making this game possibly one of the greatest achievements in mankinds history……ok, maybe that’s too much……..is it?

I Guess Disappointment Can Be Pretty Disappointing Sometimes.

There are two things in this world that tickle my dirty loins and get the sweaty juices flowing like little else on the Earth. Films is one. Games be the other. The reason I mention the films thing in this ‘gaming-only’ zone that is The Mighty G-Blog, is that there’s a curious paradox that has becometh between the two; very curious indeed. There are oodles of similarities between the two mediums which I shan’t go into here (oodles of differences too of course), but as they both sit atop the list of my ‘preferred things’ in this life there is one notable oddity which exists – or rather, has been created – by my lumpy old brain, and which one cannot apply any known forms of reason or logic to.

Anticipation, and the way my head manages it.

Image

Both mediums have the capacity to easily give the ole oblongata a stiffy, but with film I have – through years and years of painful education at the school of Bitter Disappointment (featuring such classes as ‘trailers can make anything look good’, ‘watching a remake is almost never a good idea’ and ‘Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace’) – learned that there are so many variables, so many marketing tricks, so much that can go wrong (and so easily) in film, that I can usually overcome those initial, primal pangs of giddy excitement when I hear of a project in the works or coming soon, fairly easily. Although the road was a long and difficult one, you are more likely to hear me use phrases like “has potential” and “looks interesting”, and other such grown up things when looking at films on the ‘coming soon’ roster.

‘Games’ however is a different bucket of clams altogether. When it comes to future games on my radar I still not only get the ridiculously optimistic buzz, like a kid with ADHD waiting for Christmas morning, but it doesn’t go away; it lingers. It hangs around like the sickly sweet aftertaste you get from drinking too much coke. I know it’s wrong, I know it’s not good for me, I know it will invariably lead to the familiar taste of bitter disappointment and at best simply not live up to the overhype I’ve created in the flappy meat-box I call my head. It’s not like I’m new to gaming, it’s not like I haven’t been stung – oh so painfully stung – by this time and time before (more to follow on that…). You’d think the bits of my brain that deal with anticipation and logic would be tickled in the same way by the expectation of both films AND games, but clearly there is some alternate path that the ‘games’ bit journeys on throughout the squishy pink shit behind my face and somehow gets lost on the way and ends up in the “wow look a shiny thing” section. This anomaly can only be explained by my messed up brain head not making thinking happen proper.

Let’s take Brink for example – let’s just take a fucking minute here everyone, and have a good, hard think about that, shall we? I know it’s not easy, and I know it’s not pleasant, but Jesus on the fucking cross if we don’t confront this shit it’s just going to eat away at us.

Image

Brink. Developed by Splash Damage, published by Bethesda. It hit the shelves in August 2011. 12 months or more I’d been lusting over it like some dirty, middle-aged peeping tom fiddling with his junk in the back row at London fashion week. I’ll never forget the build up. The initial teaser trailer which started on the macro shot of that eye, then the slow zoom out that followed. Outstanding graphics and animation. 2 factions. 4-player co-op. FPS mayhem. The customisation; skins, weapons, masks, kit. Jesus I’m starting to get a semi just reliving these memories for fucks sake. The free-running element, that un-fucking-believably good cinematic trailer which went from one character to another as they sniped and shot and mowed down and hacked and grenade each other in a bullet ballet of free running, gunning, blood splattering cacophonic mayhem.

Then it came out. And we played it. And it was a Greek fucking tragedy. It was basically Team Fortress just with more punk. And let’s be brutally honest here shall we peeps, if I wanted to play a really decent Team Fortress style game I’d play Team fucking Fortress wouldn’t I. What a fucking shit shame. And lo, the unwelcome and ungodly feeling of disappointment poured over me like a bucket of warm cum.

Brink is still a word met with a painful silence in the gaming circles I inhabit. So as the Slaughtered Lamb fell as silent as the Yorkshire moors at the mention of a pentangle, so my Clan and I fix a thousand-yard stare at the mention of Bethesda’s greatest tragedy. Regret. Pain. Disappointment.

This is true also of Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Oh the potential. Such awe inspiring potential. The gun-customisation was a wet-dream for gun-nuts such as myself. The kit and the tech. It’s a tactical shooter. We followed its development even when for sooo long it was announced it wouldn’t even have a PC release. But we kept the faith. God how I wish we didn’t. They clearly just waved a magic wand and cast a cheap little ‘console-porting’ spell on it, stuck it on a DVD or 2 and shipped it out. Disappointment. Again. From Ubisoft. Again.

Image

[Dead Island is nothing like this ^]

Dead Island. Techland’s survive-a-zombie-infested-island, 4-player co-op published by Deep Silver. Now who remembers THAT trailer? One of the all-time great gaming trailers. And what did we get? We got heavy on detail, low on gameplay. Boring, easy, lame. The trailer was a lie; a marketing ploy. It represented neither the atmosphere nor the ‘survival’ feel of the game (and by that I mean the actual game had neither). Disappointment.

And then there was Aliens: Colonial Marines. Where the fuck do you start with that? I followed that game, and I do mean closely, for 3 years. Some poor fucks out there paid the whole 6 year ticket. It was the perfect set up, perfect. Colonial Marines, y’know, from Aliens. 4-player co-op. Xenomorphs. Like in the FILM!! Gearbox Software. GEARBOX people! The legendary developers that brought us Borderlands! This couldn’t fail, it was simply too easy to get right. It was a sure thing. It couldn’t fail! Shows what I know. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a disaster, but it was just ‘alright’. 6 years in development, 3 years of scraping the internet and the forums for tiny morsels, any hint that it hadn’t been canned. Developed by Gearbox software. ‘Alright’ just doesn’t cut it. I still blame Sega for that clusterfuck rather than Gearbox, but hey, that’s just me. Disappointment.

The list goes on. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (Tethering…WTF!?), Duke Nukem Forever, Arma II, Fall of Cybertron….etc etc. Disappointment, disappointment, disappointment.

Of course, there is the opposite too. The games that you hoped would be good but were actually absolutely Earth shatteringly brilliant. Payday, Left 4 Dead, Crysis 3, Sniper Elite, Max Payne 3. Then there’s your very, very rare beasts; the ones that you were so excited about and so hyped that they could only fail – but didn’t. Bioshock Infinite springs to mind. These last two lists are all too small though. Such is the way of both game and film, it probably won’t be as good as you think. But I suppose that’s OK if your brain works properly, and can manage the expectation. Like mine does with film. Not like mine does with game.

Maybe it is all down to Star Wars: Episode 1. Maybe that is the kind of life-altering blow of hyper-disappointment that forced the film-side of my brain into taking a step back – “I will never be hurt like that again”, sort of like some bitter defense mechanism. Maybe I should stick to the Safe bets; the games you know won’t be absolutely groundbreaking but will fill a gap and be decent enough and hey, maybe even surprise you a bit. Things like your (modern) Resident Evil’s and Dead Space (usually console games) and the like.

So what does the future hold? Take Down: Red Sabre, Shadow Warrior, Thief, Titanfall, Metro: Last Light (still not played), and further on Wolfenstein, The Dead Linger, Elite, Dying Light, Hellraid, shit even the Steam Machines……to name but a few hopefuls. I’m sure there’ll be some disappointments in there. But hopefully some class acts as well.

The question is, will my brain learn? Can I force it to? Or will I be destined to have disappointment in gaming as a haunting mistress for the rest of my days.