Tag Archives: Videogames

Doom 3: A Masterpiece in Horror FPS

11 Aug

This has been a long time coming, because after Doom Eternal, and how it broke two perfectly new controllers, I had very little reason to return to the Doom franchise. Doom Eternal is probably easier to play on a mouse and keyboard, but it’s my disappointment in not being able to play the game repeatedly is what made me give up on playing Doom Eternal. After playing through the Bioshock trilogy, and finding the subtlety and perfection in the stories, I decided to give Doom 3 a try. There are so many things that people got wrong about Doom 3. It’s not just that it’s a reboot, but you can put the timeline of the Doom Marine in Doom 3, as another Blazkowitz living his best life. People will say “it’s too slow” and others argued, “Why can’t I hold the gun and the flashlight?” In the Nintendo Switch version (9.99 on the Nintendo E Shop, at the time, some sales might apply at certain times of the year) I played, this is added, as it was on Doom 3: BFG edition. I decided to give it a go, and see what I thought. 

            Doom 3 is genuinely creepy game that follows a melodic beat, and if you are into atmospheric shooters, this is probably the only game in the series that is trying to take itself seriously with survival horror roots, with very entertaining gun play. The Doom Marine is searching for Dr. Bretruger on the planet Mars as his lab is being shut down on the UAC base for nefarious practices. The lab assistants are on edge and they request for transfers. It’s the genuine creepiness that makes Doom 3 “the Resident Evil of first person shooters” and it makes sense. The dread and possible death around every corner, as it’s incredibly dark, as most of the time you have to choose, in the original release, to use a flashlight or a weapon, which would be an inconvenience on both the player and making the world more believable as a survival horror franchise. 

            The player and the Doom Marine are not afforded a choice to leave the mission, and you are there to stop the forces of hell from awakening and invading the world. The graphic may seem dated, but it adds to the sensation of choosing to fight or plight, which is not Doom’s forte as a game playing experience. 

            It’s a nice game to play after burning so many hours into Doom Eternal that it feels plotted but less grandiose and over the top than Doom Eternal (2020), and while it has divided many, it provides a soft brilliance of dark textures to each dimly lit room where the gameplay is as immersive and foundational to where plotted video games in 2004, used to be. Not surprising that it divided fans, I was genuinely creeped out by the game, and now, rather embracing abyss, chose to give the game another chance. 

            The beauty of taking a chance on DOOM 3 is that the movie seems to follow in its footsteps, and the direction it gives seems more inventive now than it was. The only drawback of DOOM 3 is the jumping mechanism, which is odd and often frustrating. 

            Not since Doom Eternal had Id decided to add cutscenes, but now since Doom Eternal has embraced the cutscene aspect of story telling in Doom 3, and it’s worthy to be apart of the Doom franchise. What makes Doom 3 intense and frightening is the conviction of the atmosphere that stands the test of time, and while it may seem outdated, the charm and the real scares are fun to play.

            The negatives are simple. The jumping is atrocious. This was before more advanced climbing mechanisms were put into games, but it’s a sore spot in the game. The automatic save checkpoints are ill timed and they ruin the pacing of the gameplay, which is to make the player keep going, but the disappointment is learning after you die, to nearly go back and cover half of the map again. This is maybe deliberate, but maybe Id was trying to find its footing in the pacing of the story’s progression.

            Opinion: The Doom movies are better than you might realize after you play Doom 3, and it follows a logic that they couldn’t replace. If a movie version can be done, it would have to be like Hardcore Henry. It would be maddening, but we are a long way from getting a great Doom movie. 

            Pros: graphics still hold up, atmosphere, charm, satisfying gun play, and creepy story.

            Cons: The jumping mechanic is awful. The loading screen at some points are downright insulting to the player, but it’s probably done for a reason.

            Final Opinion: 10/10

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

25 Jul

When Horizon: Zero Dawn came out, it was a game I originally wrote off after I played a few hours of it. Again, this was because of personal issues with the game, but as I came to realize, I was not playing the game on Story or Easy mode. Normal was a lot harder than I gave it credit for. The robot dinosaurs were far worse than I thought. It’s hard to process what a game is when you are playing the game on a high difficulty. I encourage anyone to play a game on its story or light mode first, to get the trophies and finish it for the story. This was my mistake and I’m not the best person to recommend most games. 

A budget and a bias exist in my purview. There are a lot of games and books I pick up later that allows me to give the book a “classic status” or even recommendation. The problem is that I gave up on Horizon: Zero Dawn too early because even on Normal, the game is extremely tough. The first play through of a game, for me, now, is on a fun easy playthrough, but always in a moderate level, unless it’s really demanding. Playing a game and reviewing it is new for me, but I am always improving on reviews or essays about games and my experiences with them.

With Horizon Zero Dawn, the problem is very clear. The voice acting is awful, and the delivery on what should be very impactful writing is undersold, and some delivery is well done, but it’s very off when it comes to being angry. The graphics are amazing and truly set a bar I didn’t expect to appreciate. The story is a mixture of all the games that have come before. Assassin’s Creed (open world and parkour), Last of Us (female protagonist), and a bit of spooky woo of a villain, Hades, that could have had a better more creative name and it would have worked perfectly on its own. Also Disney’s Brave. Aloy’s father dies too, but an argument could be made that he died more heroically, but then again, it has been quite a few years with games that have studied the father and daughter schema.  

The story is about Aloy, who is given the task of stopping the villainous machines, Hades, as she finds out that she is a clone of a character, Elizabeth Sobek, who stopped the machines 350,000 years ago. After she stumbles on a small Focus, an ear piece like device, that teaches her about the world. The mainline story is interesting as the quest to avenge her fallen Nora at a proving were attacked, a tribal ritual for the young Nora to be apart of the small tribe, is forced by her father to join, even though she is an outcast by the village for not having a mother. This seems like it was borrowed from other material to make a story that was already told before, but the rest of the quest seems like it falls in line with other campaigns from other games. 

The open world and graphics are the reason to play the game, but the dialogue deliver can be easily changed (and Aloy gets bristly in the DLC pack, the Winter ). It’s a game that follows in the skills of many other better games, but the lack of a charisma in Aloy, even in her most angry moments, reminds me of the days when Master Chief had more personality than her. Granted you can make the character as complex as you like, and that is rather stunning for an open world RPG. The choice to make Aloy a total shit person or a good person, has a nice flair to it, but the voice delivery is the weakness that cripples the game play. You can skip past it or hear it, but if Sylen’s is more calm than my character, I immediately thought he was the villain. Villains can help out hero’s too, but why did it feel so predictable by the end of the game. Sylen’s is the best character out of everyone, including Aloy. 

Maybe Guerilla has a thing for red heads or was wildly fucked by one and this is their interpretation of Disney’s Brave in a sci-fi world? Again, this would be a great game if it didn’t have a rather bland voice delivery in Horizon: Zero Dawn. The good news is, there is a sequel and it needs to find a better villain or the series won’t survive. Is it a masterpiece? No, but the world can help the future of the series survive. 

If you buy the complete edition, you get the Frozen Wilds DLC. As it turns out, there are varied other machines that Aloy finds as she moves through the wintry wilderness, the quests in it already feel the same like the rest of the story, and it seems like they didn’t even try to make it different. It’s hard to like this game when it doesn’t seem to want to try anything new. This is what I came to realize now once I replayed it and finished the game. I don’t like to give out opinions on games that I don’t finish. People work on artistic endeavors and it’s hard to just say, “Maybe I just didn’t get this.” It’s happened to me when people reviewed my work, and they over analyze it.  

The final verdict: Graphics and open world do not save this game when the voice delivery in game play is far more as important as writing. The writing is very well done, but the voice acting is atrocious. Even when Aloy is angry.

Final Verdict: 5/10 

Last of Us Part II: Regeneration through Violence

22 Jun

It has been seven years, since the Last of Us came out, and times have changed, but my curiosity toward finding out every piece of information of development was always in the back of my mind. Dreaming about scenes of the future game were always in my head, and the first game got me through dark times. It’s hard to see so much hatred for the Last of Us, due to controversy with Youtubers and copyright strikes, the review is not based around the politics of Naughty Dogg. The game is what I was waiting for. During the week, it has been severely overcast in Richmond Virginia. It seems to set the stage for when I am going to play the Last of Us 2. The haunted feeling of having to dream of the game for seven years is coming to a close. The waiting has been years in the making.  

            What should be said that hasn’t already been said in reviews. What has to be said is the voracious anger replaced by the love of the first game. Four years later, Ellie and Joel live in Jackson, and they have built a life together. The first hour and a half of the game cuts back and forth between Ellie and the secondary character, Abby, who are intertwined from the first game, through different series of events. Abby’s father was the doctor who Joel stabbed as he took her out of St. Mary’s Hospital. Abby murders Joel out of cold blood, but Ellie has no idea how or why Joel is killed. What then begins is Ellie and Abby’s journey through different days, as each section for the characters are named after the same day, Seattle Day 1, which is confusing at first, because the stakes are raised. Ellie is chasing after Tommy, following his bread crumbs of violence against the WLF. As Maria says to Ellie, “Bring my dumb ass husband home in one piece.”

            Ellie’s journey comprises the first three days, as she moves through a hostile world, trying to make sense of her complicated history with Joel through flashbacks. The flashbacks, which is called in literary terms, in medias res, or in English, into the middle, without preamble. Many youtube reviewers don’t know about this term, and most consumers of entertainment only like linear stories. The flashbacks are rather invigorating due to the constrast of the dark overtones. (This is also seen with Abby’s journey as this technique shows the similarities and differences between the characters). What Ellie has wandered into is a city that is about to erupt in a civil war between the Washington Liberation Front, a private militia based in Seattle, and the Seraphites, or SCARS (due to the scars made to there faces) a group of religious fanatics who use bows and arrows and worship a woman who made a religion after Outbreak Day occurred. 

            Abby, who is muscular and built, training with the Washington Liberation Front, after the Fireflies are destroyed by Joel’s hand, Abby and her boyfriend Owen, who Abby lusts over “finding a lead” toward Joel and Owen says, “It’s this isn’t it?” which if they find Joel, it will only mean Joel’s death. The distinction is that Abby must face up to the facts that most of the characters despise Abby, except for Manny, after she is saved by two Apostate Seraphites, Lev and Yara, and she starts to overcome her own “prejudice” toward the Scars, and then stakes her entire life to help Yara after she is hurt. The two character intertwine at the end, and it is certainly a game that took from the “regeneration through violence” themes in most literary textbooks.

            The themes of fanatical hatred course through all 34 hours of the game, keeps the quiet moments filled with tension as you explore for secrets, weapons, and parts to upgrade your weapons. Fanatical hatred is inhabited in every character, as Ellie becomes less of the “good guy” and more into the “anti-hero” and that’s a good thing. A society is disarray is not going to understand how people feel and what they believe after that is “inconsequential.” The textbook “Regeneration through Violence” by Richard Slotkin seems to be the guiding inspiration for the game, and what loss and grief can do to rational people.   

            The Pros: Stunning gameplay, voice acting, harrowing story, and the risqué quality of the nonlinear format. (FYI, open world games are not my forte, but Naughty Dogg has always been good at internalizing all the tropes of a genre, making them a “trendiest trend setter” but not the originator, and that’s okay). The upside is the relationships that the characters have, which show how obsession can drive people to the brink of death. A lot of the game can be very funny in places where it didn’t intend to be, adding a lightness to the overall weight of the drama in tow. It’s fun, exhausting, so be sure to play it in bursts, if you can. The safe combination parts were fun and adds more depth to moving the safety lock. If you put the sound on a bose system, you will hear everything. It’s that immersive. 

            Con: They should have made the death of Joel apart of the flashback as she has to become the grizzled “anti-hero,” much like Joel. Another con is the monster reveal, that didn’t seem to let the player know what it was going to be through the Artifact hints, but after you see Alien, you know how someone can craft a truly ingenuous species with originality. The monster, which MckFireandIce labeled it the “rat king” which almost to some extent does look as though it’s a rat, but it seems to me like people that were pooled in a collective mass, or a blob, that couldn’t escape when the hospital was filled with “infected.” It’s a tank of a creature that has to be destroyed with every last bullet and bomb. It almost feels like a boss battle out of the Resident Evil series, and while it is fun, the first impressions of it feels slightly off for the Last of Us part II.  

            Opinion: The whole “gay relationship” with Ellie and Dinah doesn’t surprise me, because I’m oblivious to it, but again, this is 2020, much of the relationship is “human” when it doesn’t concern the love scene. My opinion is that the love scene was too fast, which did take people off guard, and in all due respect, all I said was, “Hasn’t anybody at Naughty Dogg watched a porno?” Here’s what most people will say when it comes to something original, “If the structure of the work was in a book or television show, it would be accepted.” As a writer of fiction myself, that’s completely untrue. Anything new is immediately mislabeled once it comes out. I have done it, and nobody liked it when I did it, so Naughty Dogg must feel the same criticism too. What I do think is contentious, is the ending, because it will sell you the happy ending, but it feels very dreamlike and it doesn’t really belong with Ellie’s world. The ending could have been differently. If she had the happy ending but woke up, and ended the fight with Abby after she was left, it could have felt like a good pay off.

            Final Opinion: The game is definitely a must play for any fan of the original, and it is a dark and very angry game, but it is more prevalent with the times we are facing in the pandemic of Covid-19. I am excited over what they do next with the very ambiguous ending.

            Score: 8/10       

Adendum (July 27th 2020): After upon further speculation, there are some cases as to why this game is a ten out of ten, and while my 8 still stands, there is very good reasons for giving this a ten out of ten. After such careful consideration, that is the first passing review, but a video here gives a perfect reason as to why Last of Us Part 2 deserves a ten out of ten. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB79L0Qtk5U

Otherwise, I have given this a ten out of ten on my Metacritic score, after some careful thoughts, because it meant to condense what I thought into a shortened view. What is important is that I don’t have the same impressions of the Rat King as before, but it can be frustrating on the first play-through, but the controversy surrounding Metacritic made me consider the score, because the review bombs weren’t giving it the chance to help them like the game based on biased viewpoints of people who didn’t play the game. Apparently there are more features in the game that can help make it easier to play, like having a slow motion button that’s very reminiscent of Days Gone slow motion zoom. What can be said is that we must consider the context of the game before judging something based on the merits of a leak, and not the game itself. I have been on the end of people’s blade when it came to being misinterpreted by readers, and it does make the review harder to consider honest and people thinking “you are a shill.” Trust me, I haven’t been paid for this review, and anyone who wants to suggest that, can go join the lemmings off a cliff.