Beatdown

Happy Weekend TAY!

I hope everyone has recovered from the post-Halloween sugar coma and is set for a great weekend of gaming. Good luck to those who are taking part in Extra-Life this weekend and thanks for your contribution to such a great charity.

I finished off The Evil Within last weekend and from start to finish, I was very impressed. I’m eager to see what they have in store for the sequel when I play it sometime in the future.

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With that done, I needed another horror game to play as it was still October (and horror games must be played).  

I decided to play (and finish) Deadlight on PC. This Limbo-esque platform game impresses visually and almost hits all the right notes, unfortunately, most of those notes are flat.

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The Microsoft published Deadlight has slightly unreliable controls and moving around feels a little sloppy. The cliche story was probably alright when just in outline form on the writer’s desk, but the dialogue is terrible and the acting is even worse. I contemplated turning off the vocal track completely and just using the subtitles to avoid the acting, but I’m lazy and want my games to read to me.

Randomsome suggested (when I was complaining about The Evil Within’s terrible acting last weekend) that I try playing games with the vocal track in a different language while reading the English subtitles. This idea has been swirling around in my head ever since it was suggested. I don’t know if I’d ever do it, as I rarely play games more than once, but it would certainly make awful dialogue slightly more bearable. By listening to a language that I don’t understand, I could still feel the emotions of the scene without cringing while some poor actor has to fit their mouth around dreadful dialogue. (looking at you Metal Gear Solid 4).

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Deadlight’s biggest problem is the many perspective issues. A 2D platform game played over a lush 3D world always presents challenges, but Deadlight seems to have more issues with perspective than most games in this genre. I often found myself leaping for ledges that were not in my plane and missing objects that I thought were part of the background. I think most of my deaths in Deadlight were caused by misjudging the perspective.

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It’s a shame too, Deadlight looks great and you get the feeling that with a little more money and time that Microsoft could have had a winner here. Fixing the acting and the story would have helped my bleeding ears and more testing might have dealt with the perspective issues.

There are ideas in the four-hour long Deadlight that are interesting and worth checking out for the budding platform game designer, but time would be better spent replaying Limbo or Inside.

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My wife and I finished off Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and holy crap that was one of the best video game experiences I have ever played. It is super dark and deals with psychosis, so be warned. It is a game that assaults your senses and leaves you drained by the end.

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Hellblade’s simple combat was so much fun to control, it really is a very well designed fighter. It also might have one of the best visual feedback systems as to the health of your enemies. The game is able to remain hud-free by showing how wounded your opponents are by the way they hold their body and the changes in their gait.

Hellblade may suffer a little from a repetitive puzzle system, but there is enough variety in the story and locations that it doesn’t detract from the experience. I can’t believe what an impact that game left on me and my wife. If you haven’t played it and like walking on the dark side, then I can’t recommend it enough. Everything I’ve played by Ninja Theory has been amazing so far and I hope their new home at Microsoft bears sweet fruit.

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With all those games under my belt, I’ve decided to return to one of my all-time favourite games but for the first time on PC. In the past I was never able to get Condemned: Criminal Origins to work correctly for Windows but two mods have finally made my dreams come true. One mod overcomes the Human Interface Device issue that plagues the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. The other mod allows for 3D sound without a Creative EAX sound card enabling me to play with 3D sound at 4K. The sound is a major point of attraction for me towards Condemned and is up there with Quake for one of the best ambient soundtracks in games. Simple, but extremely effective. (these fixes also work for F.E.A.R. which uses the same engine)

Condemned still looks quite good given the age of the game (it was a launch title for the 360 in 2005) and I am so happy that the atmosphere hasn’t aged at all. Condemned continues to be a challenging and tense experience that is made of pure genius.

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I have a lot on my plate this weekend, but I’m hoping I’ll find some time to get more freaked out with Condemned: Criminal Origins. My wife and I have started watching Castle Rock and so far that has been fun (and extra cool for a rabid Stephen King fan) and I’m hoping we can squeeze in an episode or two of that over the next couple of days as well.

So, what are you playing this weekend?