Friday, January 27, 2017

Shadow of Mordor: "Eh, It's Aight"

I didn't like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor at first. In fact, there were times when I actively disliked it. For the first two hours I was so confused and overwhelmed that I just wasn't having fun with the game, and so I stopped playing for a couple weeks. I came back to it later, put another two hours into it, and started getting the hang of things; I could see some of the game's appeal, but it still wasn't catching my interest. I stopped playing for a few more weeks, then came back for another two hours and decided that I just wasn't interested in finishing the game. I was ready to start writing a negative impressions review, but after giving it some sleep I decided to give Shadow of Mordor one last chance. That's when everything finally clicked for me, and I finally started having some fun. I finished the game two days later.

It's safe to say that I liked Shadow of Mordor overall, but I'm certainly not on the "best game ever" hype-train that a lot of people were riding back in late 2014 and early 2015. Shadow of Mordor definitely has its problems, and although the core gameplay is really satisfying and addicting (if you can get into it), it proves to be awfully shallow and repetitive. This is an open-world game where the open world doesn't even matter, and where all you ever do is kill orcs. This is a mechanically-solid game that successfully blends the Assassin's Creed-style free-running parkour and stealth-action systems with the Batman: Arkham Asylum-style attack/counter-attack combat system, that unfortunately doesn't have much character or soul beneath those mechanics. It could've been great, but the end result is a game that's just a little bit better than average, and ultimately still kind of disappointing.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Impressions of The Last Guardian

I had the opportunity over the last week to play several hours of The Last Guardian, the third and latest game by Team Ico set in the same world as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. I wasn't able to finish it, unfortunately -- I was out of town playing on a friend's PS4 -- but I made it a little more than halfway through, which I feel is sufficient to write a partial review of the game.

The Last Guardian feels a lot like Ico, with you playing a young boy trying to navigate his way through dilapidated fortresses while escorting an NPC-ally through the environments. Except, instead of escorting a helpless young girl around, you're working together with a giant beast named Trico who needs your help as much as you need his in order to progress. Working with Trico feels, at times, like playing Shadow of the Colossus, because of how you often have to climb and manipulate Trico in order to get around. As the third game of this quasi-series, The Last Guardian feels like a pretty good mixture of everything that came before it. And if the first two games were good, then The Last Guardian must also be good, right?

The answer to that question is, of course, a bit of "yes and no."