Hello reader! How are you doing? I hope you’re well. I know what you’re thinking – has it really been another week? Yes. Yes it has.
Here we are heading towards Halloween and even I – legendary scaredy cat that I am – seem to have been looking at (and writing about!) more scary stuff than I can usually handle, though last Sunday’s post didn’t start the proceedings off on a particularly scary note. Unless you count the masks the main characters wear…
Another entry in my Bargain Bin series, in which I re-evaluate old games, usually available very cheaply, often looking at forgotten or long-dormant series (or which didn’t get a sequel in the first place). Army of Two features some jarring shifts in tone, wanting to have its cake and eat it with a game about two lunkhead Private Military Contractors, in a story about the evils of…Private Military Contractors. Set in facsimiles of real world conflicts, its finger wagging and pearl clutching is somewhat at odds with mostly unfunny attempts at wisecracking and bro banter.
Nevertheless, I found the mechanics to be unusual and still pretty unique, with some crunchy combat – if you can ignore the terrible AI of your constant companion. Worth a shot for the low price it currently sells for.
Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary Edition
Game Pass is allowing me to check out an awful lot of old and new games for a great price – and the Master Chief Collection is included. I had a few issues with Halo’s level design on the Library level when I first played it all those years ago, but revisiting the game on the Xbox One has shone a light on how bad the interior level design is in general by modern standards. Confusing layouts with little in the way of signposting make things dull and needlessly confusing at times; however, what’s important is that the freedom and emergent nature of the enemy behaviour means that the exterior levels still retain much of their magic; and the story itself, if a little awkwardly told, is still compelling enough to see you through to the end.
Though it’s not aged well in some ways, I still managed to complete Halo again and I’m keen to progress through the series once more.
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
A change of pace for me following a brief exchange on Twitter (which has happened more than once this week, as you’ll see!), here I covered Daft Punk’s astonishing animated musical – the unwieldily titled Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Still as fresh and engaging as the day it was released, Interstella 5555 is a mostly silent movie set to the entirety of Daft Punk’s timeless second album, Discovery.
Neatly skipping the ‘difficult second album’ woes that many bands face, for me Discovery remains their best overall work – and I think some of that appeal is due to Interstella being so powerfully intertwined with the album in my mind.
Kicking off three days of articles with a horror theme, my Call of Cthulhu review went into detail on why – despite a low budget – I’ve enjoyed the Lovecraftian horror of Cyanide Studios’ game. It’s not without faults and the official RPG licence feels like a bit of a waste given how invisible much of the mechanics are (though this could also be a positive, given that the mechanics are so unobtrusive), but the original story based on a number of different Cthulhu Mythos concepts is brilliant and makes up for the few missteps in the gameplay and presentation. Personally, it’s a game I feel has been criminally underrated – and I’m glad I didn’t listen to the mostly negative critical reception it’s received.
The second article this week to be inspired by a somewhat throwaway comment on Twitter, here I took a look at Robert ‘The Walking Dead’ Kirkman’s brilliant comic book mini-series, Marvel Zombies. Kicking off a sequence of mini-series that never quite captured the magic of the first, Marvel Zombies boldly starts with the zombie infection having already claimed the vast majority of the Marvel Universe’s Earth-based superheroes – who have eaten their way through their world and are rapidly running out of food. Well worth checking out!
Finally this week, terrifying jump-scare fest Dark Veer on Switch. Played from the viewpoint of a child left alone to deal with a horrific creature with no adult present, it’s a scary set up and one that really gets inside your head – with some brutally effective scares. The graphics style is deliberately lo-res and the gameplay simple, but it’s very good at what it does – and it’s cheap too, if that helps!
So, the week ahead promises an equally varied set of articles, with some very exciting stuff on the way – here and on other sites too! I’ll be sure to link to any work featured elsewhere on my blog. I can’t wait to share my new work with you, as always. Thanks for reading!
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