Jan 192010
 

My review of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories went up last week at gamecritics.com, and I really regret that I had to pan it. The game had some good ideas buried in it, but the overall experience was just miserable, oscillating wildly between deadly boredom and screaming frustration. I covered most of the gameplay issues I had in the review, but I only lightly touched on the positives and negatives of the game’s storytelling. My reason for this is that it’s difficult to talk about what’s really going on in the story without revealing the game’s central twist. I think it’s [Read more…]

Nov 202009
 

Although it uses conventional horror tropes, Condemned: Criminal Origins takes an unusual approach for a survival horror game. Survival horror often generates tension through resource scarcity, limiting the player’s ability to fight or heal himself, but because of its melee combat focus Condemned is necessarily limited in this respect. The relatively plentiful checkpoints mean that the player usually isn’t punished excessively for failure. Yet Condemned is a frightening, tense game because it artfully keeps the player from knowing what is coming next. Condemned has a significant advantage when it comes to generating fear because of its visceral combat. While a [Read more…]

Oct 102009
 

Final Status: Game completed on Normal difficulty, some levels replayed on Hard. Put This on Your Box: It’s like Civil War medicine… in space! Most Intriguing Idea: Converting a third-person precision-shooting horror experience into a first-person precision-based rail shooter. Best Design Decision: Working the kinesis and stasis tools into the railshooter experience. Worst Design Decision: Long, pattern-based boss monster battles that devolved into tedious chores. Summary: Dead Space: Extraction is a prequel to Dead Space, which I found to be more interesting than Silent Hill: Homecoming, but hit some low points that eventually drove me off. Extraction introduces this story [Read more…]

Oct 282008
 

A writer takes a significant risk when he adds a plot twist to a story. In the best-case scenario, the secret that changes everything gives the audience a feeling of revelation. Everything clicks into place and suddenly makes sense. Laying the groundwork for that feeling is a tricky business, though. It’s very easy to sell the setup too hard, making what’s coming too obvious. In this case the twist merely bores the audience, which is not the worst thing that can happen. If the writer works too hard in the other direction, and does not give enough basis for the [Read more…]