Sunday, November 18, 2018

RetroDEX: The Timeless Design of "God of War" (2005)

Many games hold up over time. Specifically, many games from the 8 and 16-bit eras, whose usually linear and polished design makes them easy to pick up and play no matter how much time passes. What's truly rare, however, is to find a game so carefully and meticulously designed that not only does it stand the test of time, but outright doesn't really age at all.

This wasn't my first time playing through the original God of War, but my first crack at it on the Playstation 2, over a decade ago, had failed to impress me. I wager I was looking for a different kind of experience back then and my understanding of video games was far less than it is today. This probably explains why in revisiting the celebrated title so many years later, God of War left me equal amounts of satisfied and blown away by its stellar design.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

RetroDEX: My experience with "Killzone 2" & "Killzone 3"

I had no interest in Killzone on the Playstation 2; I only played it, because I had the sequels and I needed context for the series. The game was underwhelming, but ultimately kept me entertained enough. It was still forgettable and it seemed like a rough "first draft" of a series still in its infancy.

I was sure the next two games would be infinitely better. The consensus was that Killzone 2, in particular, was one of the best games on the Playstation 3 and with Sony's backing, developer Guerilla Games would have spent a lot more resources on the series past that original attempt.

I rushed through both Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 and I've had diametrically opposed experiences with the two games.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A word (or several) of warning about "Defiance 2050"

The open-beta for Defiance 2050, Trion Worlds' MMORPG/Shooter, started in June 22, with the game launching officially on July 6, 2018. I jumped in, played a little and I have a few thoughts that I think I should share.

Full disclosure: I'm a major fan of the Defiance IP. Defiance started out as a game by MMORPG maker Trion Worlds. They got into a deal with the SyFy network to produce a TV show based on the game. The game and the TV show would cross-over with references to events taking place across both media and connected storylines. The deal fell through, but the show ran for three seasons (2013-2016, it was cancelled for budgetary reasons) and the game survives to this day with a small, but dedicated fanbase.

The original Defiance game (much like the show) is a title I whole-heartidly recommend. It's a persistent online shooter with MMORPG elements, Destiny and Anthem years before either of these games were even conceived. It has a low skill ceiling, but it's challenging at the appropriate moments, it has decent-enough gunplay and tons of content backed by interesting lore (the TV show helps in this regard).

Defiance 2050 is a "relaunch" of the original game. This means that it's not a sequel or a reboot, it's literally the exact same game, with somewhat higher-fidelity textures and effects and several gameplay tweaks (particularly in regards to leveling and character progression). This isn't a terrible thing in and of itself, but Defiance 2050 is the laziest, most obscene cash-grab I've seen since the last time Todd Howard tried to sell me Skyrim for the umpteenth time.

Friday, May 18, 2018

RetroDEX: "Killzone" (2004) should have been more

Whenever I go back and play Playstation 2 games I missed the first time around, I view them as little oddities; most of them don't play like the PC games I'm so accustomed to and those that do are still outdated in terms of mechanics and core design. It's a process I usually go through for "encyclopedic" reasons, so to speak. I get in, play a couple of hours to get a sense of what the game is about and then lose interest and switch to a different game.

There are the games I already love (e.g. Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3) and will see through to the end, of course, but there are other exceptions as well. When I purchased the PS2 Classics version of Killzone on the Playstation 3, I knew I'd stick with it. Part of that was because I intended to go through the entire series for the first time and I needed context. Primarily, however, I've been trying to get into console shooters, seeing how the genre flourished on those platforms in the last fifteen years and there's a lot to see.