- Resident Evil 4
- Bushido Blade
The turn-based stealth gameplay is empowering, but fraught and fleeting each time you dive deeper into one of the world's least architecturally sensible corporate buildings, rooms budding off rooms, some empty, some dangerous, all necessary. It's a fight to stay equally matched with your enemies and make it to the end. Things can and will go wrong. Sometimes life-saving maneuvering just delays an impending, inevitable loss as you bring the full weight of the guard down on your head. And it's almost always your own damn fault, which is why you'll try again.
My normal difficulty run through, save for some exasperation at the final two titans, did make for good pacing. Death or victory come quickly because, for the most part, the titans are designed to leave you few opportunities to win. Running around and staying alive isn't an impressive feat because you're no closer to winning. The moments of opportunity are designed to put you in harms way -- surely killing you should you miss the shot -- doubling down on an intense thrill. The quickness with which these things kill you leaves you always feeling unsafe. That you often have to stare down these charging killers, like drawing an arrow against an oncoming train with a baseball-sized weak point, is exhilarating.
The discounted PS3 and Vita versions might be more dollar valuable as more transparent roster updates, provided you don't mind the technical limitations. MLB 15 The Show is still good by virtue of the systems laid down over the last decade, but it has no ambition. Produced on third base thinking it hit a triple, it wouldn't even bother running in a sac fly.
S: That's it. This is fun because Forza Horizon is fun and it is nice that it's free (until April 10), glorified demo that it is, but it makes me yearn for an actual Fast & Furious game with a "Press F to drink a Corona" prompt and a Han lives retcon.
There's also an amusing two- to four-player competitive multiplayer mode that pits robot Pixs against once another. You collect eggs to use as single-shot ammo to stun your opponents and make a point by dashing into them. The Arena rounds out a varied package that, some looseness to the controls aside, manages to be fun in a few different ways.
Madden NFL 15 brought to you by the NFL's classist, uncaring, voracious appetite for profit and general moral failure as a multi-billion dollar business built on the backs of broken, mostly forgotten workers™ takes its existing defensive framework and makes it not suck. This lets me hit quarterbacks more and release the aggression that wells up when I see any of the in-game advertisements. The rest is Madden 25, but less hideous.
CounterSpy nails its style. The angular art, the tight animation. Even the 2.5D cover mechanic stuff, the over-the-shoulder shooting, looks cool. But there is a weird tonal inconsistency to the whole thing that leaves it feeling unfinished despite the polish. The absurdist premise meant to invoke Dr. Strangelove is half-heartedly written with laziness that pretends at deadpan while the stealth is undercut by the stitched-together rooms used instead of careful design.
Ether One nails its puzzles, atmosphere, and sound (ambient and voice acting). It also nails its story -- whether or not you decide to fully unravel its world and its mysteries -- culminating in a, well, refreshing, smart finale that will stay on my mind for years to come.
Cloudbuilt is frustrating. It's frustrating to play and frustrating to recommend. I like the style, I like the parkour mechanics overall, but there's a lot of junk to contend with. The antagonistic design (minefields everywhere) is one thing, but the unforgiving checkpoints and limited lives lead to a lot of repetition. Meanwhile, the combat ends up about as unsatisfying as Mirror's Edge, with worse enemies that either absorb too many bullets or deflect them with shields anyway. If you want something that is going to fight you every step of the way as you shave seconds off of run times (and you have a strong pinky finger), this is for you.