Michael Thomsen


34 games reviewed

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Feb 26, 2018

'Metal Gear Survive' turns survivalism into a theater of the absurd

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Nov 6, 2017

In the same way, "Call of Duty: WWII" feels like a game in which the prospect of moving on is somehow scarier than staying in the battlefield for one more tour.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen

South Park: The Fractured but Whole is a game that's too eager to laugh at cruelty

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Unscored - Polybius
Jul 12, 2017

If too many games today entangle the mind with ceaseless complications, proliferating differences with only superficial distinctions in outcome, "Polybius" provides the feeling of having one's mind washed clean for a few moments, shaken free of clutter. Its biggest reward occurs in the moment when the headset is removed and the screen goes dark, a moment when it feels possible to see everything with what feels like new eyes.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
May 4, 2017

"Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" feels like the most complete game in the series, with 23 remade tracks from earlier games and 25 originals, yet the racing feels like it's been tamed by the mild courses and gentle drifting system.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Unscored - 1-2-Switch
Mar 21, 2017

Another game asks players to re-attach the controllers to the side of the Switch console, remove it from its television dock and cradle it like a crying baby, complete with a crudely animated infant tossing its head back and forth on the console's portable screen. It was perhaps the most uncanny moment of all the experiences in the game — a human child used as a skeuomorphic wrapper for a software simulation.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Unscored - Final Fantasy XV
Dec 12, 2016

"Final Fantasy XV" is at its best when treated as an act of tourism. It's gratingly intrusive when it tries to keep you busy, and transcendentally comforting when it settles for just keeping you company.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Nov 10, 2016

“Infinite Warfare” is arguably the most imaginative and wide-ranging game in the series, and yet every new idea it tries feels hamstrung by the conventions that have made the series so successful. There are a few interludes of space dogfights, but these feel strangely similar to on-foot levels, but with fighter ships that can come to a full halt and hover before zipping off again to chase a new enemy vessel.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Unscored - Battlefield 1
Oct 26, 2016

It’s a gratifying to play for a few hours, and the overlay of experience points and weapon upgrades offer formulaic but still effective reasons to keep coming back. Yet, all of it feels like it’s speeding further away from its source material.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Oct 11, 2016

‘Paper Mario: Color Splash’ makes a game of dragging the past into the present

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Sep 27, 2016

The latest in the series is proof that ‘Destiny’ will never end

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
May 12, 2016

"A Thief's End" is less a conclusion to Nathan Drake's story than an affirmation of the inconclusive wreck it has always been.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Unscored - EA Sports UFC 2
Mar 31, 2016

“EA UFC 2” is an effective tribute to of professional sport fandom, the spirit that causes the crowd to roar to life not in appreciation of another person’s actions but because they believe it means something for them to have witnessed it.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen

I found "Twilight Princess" to be even better than when it was first released. It felt like coming home to one's childhood bedroom, revealing the impermanence of "home" while affirming the life-giving importance of having such shelters to return to from time to time.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Dec 29, 2015

In hindsight, many of the game's grueling lessons feel remarkably anti-climactic. Getting to the end feels like a definite achievement though the relative uselessness of its rewards make it hard to feel anything but stunned remorse for having gone to such lengths to achieve something of so little consequence. This kind of ego-centric delusion is essential to the spirit of video games, works that are often as terrifyingly wasteful as they are wondrous and energizing. "Xenoblade Chronicles X" manages both in equal measure.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Dec 9, 2015

Games like "Siege" flatter these desires by letting them play out in simulation, endlessly repeating on the screen. Stripped of the vanities of many other shooting games "Siege" is both unforgivably callow and inarguably satisfying. Like parades or fireworks, it's a vision that's only fun if you can forget where it comes from and where it points to.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Nov 20, 2015

In good moments, it feels like you're heading somewhere promising, halfway to getting a gun you really want. In bad moments, getting what you want is a pleasureless anti-climax, that leaves you even further away from the next upgrade milestone.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Nov 11, 2015

In a way, "Black Ops 3's" landscape of weaponry and corpses and layers of upgrades and economics signal the game's disposability, something meant as kindling in a bonfire of collective obsession and forgetting. Nothing this big and loud is meant to last, but nothing meant to last could bring this many people together.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen

There's an echo of this sentiment in the sweetly childish tones of "Minecraft: Story Mode," a game that uses the mimetic architecture of storytelling to produce nodes of contemplation and self-inquiry. It's a subtle and sweet work made with an awareness that the best part of a journey comes when you realize that you are the story.

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Washington Post
Michael Thomsen
Sep 15, 2015

"Super Mario Maker" feels like the antithesis of this spirit. "Mario" levels begin to feel like traps that can't be escaped. As with many digital tools that seem to liberate us from the laborious demands of creation, "Super Mario Maker" is primarily an engine for circulating bad ideas and broken gimmicks as if there weren't already an overabundance of them.

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