What We’re Playing – January 20th
The weekend is upon us and it’s time to play some videogames. Here are a few games we’ve been playing away from the office this week. What’s on your agenda? Share what you’re playing!
After all these years, Gears of War remains one of the best-playing franchises I know. There’s still a natural kind of satisfaction in it – an emphasis on movement and weight, stressing the series standout features. But this time my excitement for the beloved mechanics and refinement that makes it an Epic game has been dampened slightly by the tonally groan-inducing storytelling. There’s a wide chasm between the enjoyment gained in actually playing Gears and trying to sit through one of the game’s emotion-peppered cut-scenes. It’s just not very good writing and as contrived as it all gets, Gears of War 3 easily comes off as the least impactful of the series. Thankfully the core pleasure of eviscerating some Locust with a shotgun nearly makes up the difference but all said I’m plenty ready for something new from Epic.
Alone in the Dark: Inferno
Lately I’ve been drawn to games with a bad rap, and ever since playing Alpha Protocol last year, I find myself rewarded for my curiosity. Inferno is mostly the same game as the vanilla Alone in the Dark for 360 and PC, though the game supposedly got a lot of bug fixes, an extra sequence and a brand new control scheme. Having not played the previous iteration I can’t speak to the ‘upgrades’, but what I can say is, this game is still phenomenally broken throughout. And the characters look like they’re made of leather. But, it’s also fascinating for all the things Eden Games tried to do with it. It was doing the DVD style chapter select and previously on… a few years before Alan Wake, and it has a huge open world comprised of Central Park – though there isn’t too much purpose to it. I wish the writing was better, which would help offset the sloppiness of most of the gameplay, but as it stands, Eden has created a largely different horror experience. Alone in the Dark as a series is largely tied to the PC and Inferno channels that heritage in the inventory driven action puzzles that litter the game. It’s not great but it’s certainly interesting, and I’ve been glued to it for days.
I’ve yet to play a Metal Gear Solid game I actually liked, despite trying my best to find whatever qualities other gamers and critics find so endearing about it. The exact same things I hated from the previous games are back along with an emphasis on clunky third-person action better suited to Gears of War and the latter Resident Evil games. Metal Gear Solid‘s bread-and-butter has always been stealth, but I’ve always found those elements to be cumbersome and flat-out boring. The setting isn’t even tailored to Snake’s skillset as sneaking across a battlefield seems rather pointless. Why bother to hide bodies? It’s a battlefield, no one’s going to know the difference.
But none of the gameplay matters since the bulk of the experience is still made up of abominably lengthy cinematics, something I truly loathe in the pit of my stomach. I fall firmly into the camp that believes games should be played and not watched. It occurs to me Hideo Kojima has the most enviable position out of every single videogame director. No other director has the opportunity to not only have complete control over their projects, but to be able to indulge themselves at every possible turn.