This review originally appeared in E194, November 2008.
This review originally appeared in E190, July 2008. For much of an opening act which is arguably its best, Metal Gear Solid 4 is less a sneaking mission than a cowering mission. Alone on a new-age battlefield, made to take orders from a man he barely knows – himself – Solid Snake is scrabbling for a bearing, doing the best he can to keep his body upright, his mind intact. Trampled by athletic mechs, chased by nihilistic soldiers, and forced to ally himself with faceless militias, he is outnumbered and outgunned, but above all outmoded.
This review originally appeared in E189, June 2008. As you drive around Liberty City, flipping between radio stations, absorbing the inanity of their commercial messages and the bilious hypocrisy of their small-minded politics, you realize that the America of GTA IV is a country coming down from its trip. The humor – some crass, some clever – errs towards the absurd, as the series has always done, but never before has it been so cutting, so impassioned or so relevant.
This review originally appeared in E185, February 2008.
This review originally appeared in E184, January 2008. After the support act comes the headliner. Rock Band’s arrival has been trumpeted with huge hype, both from those looking to take the Guitar Hero experience to a new level, and from those who see the potential of an evolution for videogames: a multimedia project that can cement a new mainstream method of interacting with music, and of course be the harbinger for many new revenue streams in a market caught somewhat on the hop by digital delivery.
This review originally appeared in E183, Christmas 2007. So what, exactly, is a mass effect? Is it something to do with the outcome of elaborate physics experiments? Is it a time and space altering technology created by ancient aliens? (Apparently, it is.) Or is it what happens when BioWare, famed for Baldur’s Gate and Knights Of The Old Republic, decides to make its own version of Star Wars?
This review originally appeared in E183, Christmas 2007. Only Crytek, the studio propelled to the forefront of PC gaming by just one FPS, could make such a high profile game feel like such an unknown. The more you’re told of Crysis, the less you know for sure. The more features and components are announced, the more you wonder how anyone could wrestle with such a skulking beast.
This review originally appeared in E183, Christmas 2007. With his stalking gait and effortless run, his swift killing strike, his fearless parkour skills, Assassin’s Creed’s star, Altaïr, is a triumph of animation in videogames. Never before has a player character been depicted with such clarity: the responsiveness with which he turns during a run; the way he palms off a wall to recover from a shove – control is never impeded and his physical connection with his environment is continually reinforced.
This review originally appeared in E183, Christmas 2007. If you expect Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune to begin with a cutscene, you’d be right. If you expect to negotiate beautiful environments and fight mercenaries, shoot explosive barrels and scale ruins, you’d be right. In fact, you’d be right with almost any informed prediction about Uncharted’s content. But the fact that you’re right doesn’t begin to explain why, despite everything about it being a little predictable, Uncharted manages to get it right.
This review originally appeared in E183, Christmas 2007. Super Mario Galaxy is impossible. Don’t get the wrong idea – it’s not a particularly difficult game, although it does have its moments. What we mean is, it obeys no rules, contradicts everything you know, and has no right to exist.