Wolfenstein Critical Analysis: TLDR: It’s aight

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

Reviewed on PC using an Xbox 360 Controller

I’m not sure whether this was addressed pre-release or not, but as someone that has played a great many of the previous titles in the Wolfenstein franchise, it certainly appeared as though The New Order was going to be a reboot. Pretty much every aspect of the 2009 Wolfenstein release by Raven Software has been shed, including the occult aspects, the trans-dimensional medallion, and especially the fact that Deathshead’s army appeared to be left in a state of crippling defeat at the end of that game. So, I went into Wolfenstein: The New Order expecting an absurd, alternate history reboot of an ancient and storied over-the-top action franchise. And I mostly got that. However, there is an overwhelming sense of strangeness and intrigue to the entire game that exists in the forefront of your mind long enough to mask many of the game’s issues for several hours into its surprisingly lengthy campaign.

Since I’ve already mentioned it, let’s go ahead and deal with this oddity up front. This game, while masquerading as one, is not actually a reboot. At least, not really. A vast majority of the events from the previous games go unmentioned aside from in the most vague sense. Deathshead returns, of course, and BJ mentions in a monologue that he should have killed him when he had the chance, no doubt a reference to the events of the last game, but it does not become wholly apparent until a character present in 2009’s Wolfenstein returns as a major character a few hours into The New Order. Of course, none of this is really a problem. Without having played the previous title, one would never even know about this fact, so it really doesn’t even matter. That said, throughout the campaign I was expecting a reveal that would tie the game to its occult roots, however, that never really happened. Instead, the game chose to stick to a more pseudo-scientific approach to all of its unnatural technological advancements, which is sort of preferable. It just makes no sense that the Nazis would abandon a cultural obsession that seemed to be quite ingrained in them in the past. You’d also think that they would want to use any and all advantages that they could in order to ensure total victory, but fuck it, man, I’m tired of nitpicking.

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Witchmarsh is the side-scrolling action RPG set in the 1920s that you never knew you wanted

News, Video Games

By William Chandler

Kickstarter and I are really not cool with each other. On the one hand, it can be a great tool for developers to bring projects to life that may not have otherwise found sufficient funding. For instance, I am quite stoked about the new Amplitude game. Even some of the best independent games from the past couple of years were crowdfunded; games like FTL, Broken Age, and The Banner Saga. That said, an absurdly large number of the projects that were successfully funded either produced less than stellar results, like the Ouya, or became forever trapped in development hell. However, sometimes it’s really hard to not be optimistic about a Kickstarter project. Witchmarsh is that project.

Set in the drastically under-explored time period of the 1920s, the game follows a team of detectives as they search for twelve missing townspeople in rural Massachusetts, and features a healthy dose of action RPG standards like loot, character customization, and even branching dialogue choices. But the real treats are in the ways that Witchmarsh differs, like its uniquely grim, pixelated art style, and jazz age stylings. It even has a lovingly crafted Jazz soundtrack from dope as fuck composer Francisco Cerda, who did great work on the soundtrack for Gunpoint.

Even my cripplingly jaded, black heart can’t help but hope that this game will be fucking amazing. But I refuse to give money to Kickstarter projects because that hurts my journalistic integrity or something.

Shadow of Mordor is totally shaping up to not be shit

News, Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

Confirmed for using severed heads as weapons

Against all odd, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor looks like an absolutely quality production courtesy of the folks at Monolith. The evidence of this is even in the title. The fact that it is called Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor rather than Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor means that this is much more than an overt attempt at abusing an extremely recognizable franchise. I like that.

Also under the category of shit I decidedly do like resides extreme violence (which the game has in spades), serious weapon customization, as well as Nolan North and Troy Baker. They even managed to take something I don’t like, that being politics, and turn it into an awesomely unique gameplay mechanic. Trust me, this isn’t C-Span. In order to shift political allegiances away from leaders in the Orc army and to your own side, you must intimidate them or fool them into doing your bidding, which creates something of an Orc army of your own to use against the vast armies of Sauron.

Here’s to hoping we can finally get another good game set in the Lord of the Rings universe. Look for it on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, as well as the 360 and PS3, on October 7th.

Metro Redux is yet another re-release of a game for next gen consoles

News, Trailers, Video Games

By William Chandler

Metro Redux is a packaged re-release of both Metro: 2033 and its sequel, Metro: Last Light for next generation platforms, joining Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and many others in what is becoming a disturbing trend. I suppose they’re really trying to fill out the sad libraries of these new consoles, but it just seems so pointless. I really doubt that too many people who own a PS4 or Xbox One either did not own one of the previous gen consoles, or simply skipped these games the first time around. This means that a lot of their market are just bored consumers who want to see what the same game they’ve already played looks like with better lighting and shadows. And that is a really fucking sad thought.

Either way, I like the Metro games. I think the developers’ hearts are in the right place and that they’re trying to do some pretty intriguing stuff with FPS level design and storytelling. Of course I think people should play these games, it’s just hard to get behind such obvious attempts at cash grabs.

Remember, not so long ago, when everyone bitched constantly about remakes of games that were actually fairly old? Fairly old, as in more than five years at least. Now we’re getting remakes of games from two fucking years ago. What a strange time to be a gamer.

Evolve releases on Oct. 21st, stands as a grim reminder that I can hardly get any of my friends’ schedules to sync up for a co-op game

News, Video Games

By William Chandler

Remember Left 4 Dead? Sure you do. I mean, I know it has been quite a long time since Valve actually produced any video games, but they were all pretty memorable ones. What was that one with the crowbar guy as the protagonist? Man, that game was pretty darn good. Did they ever release the third part?

Anyway, Turtle Rock Studios, best known as the creators and primary developers of Left 4 Dead, have been hard at work on their new cooperatively competitive monster hunting bonanza, Evolve. In similar Turtle Rock fashion, four players work together cooperatively as hunters in an attempt to survive in and triumph over a hostile environment, however, this time around, there is only a single major enemy. A massive, player controlled beast roams the environment, and the four hunters must track it down and kill it. The title of the game stems from the fact that the massive beast is capable of increasing its power by performing certain actions, like devouring local wildlife, and then subsequently evolving.

But you probably already know all of that stuff. What you may not know, is that the game has finally been given a concrete release date. On October 21st, Evolve releases on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It seems pretty good so you should consider playing it with some of your friends. My friends are probably all working opposite schedules and, therefore, will be unable to play. I will likely manifest this frustration in a highly negative review of the game, so look for that in October as well.

One less thing to feel left out of: Steam In Home Streaming comes out of beta today

Gameplay, Video Games

By William Chandler

Steam In Home Streaming came out of beta today, conveniently coinciding with the closed beta release of PlayStation Now streaming. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I’m just sayin’, man. Open your eyes. Coincidences don’t just happen like that.

Anyway, it allows Streaming of any game between two computers on the same network, regardless of OS. So you can now build that micro ATX PC you always wanted, plug it in to your TV, and actually have a use for it.

Miyazaki, President of my heart, now also President of FROM Software

News, Video Games

By William Chandler

Hidetaka Miyazaki, best known as the director behind Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls 1, has been appointed President of FROM Software. Not to be confused with Hayao Miyazaki, retired animated film director who made such classics as Spirited Away and Grave of the Fireflies. I don’t really know what he’s up to.

There honestly isn’t much of a news story here, but it’s just exciting when cool people in the industry succeed, especially considering that the appeal of the Souls franchise is far from mainstream, yet it still affords FROM all this success. And besides, I can report about whatever I want.