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Steam sale purchases part 1 by fabio 12/29/2013, 5:12pm PST
Max Payne 3

Better bullet time gun play ruined by atrocious story, visual design, level design. I finally realized that the reason it switched to a pointless 15 second cutscene every 10 seconds of gameplay was that it was loading the new "level". Jesus it's Deus Ex 2 teeny levels all over again.

Worth: The $4 price was about right.


Dragon Commander

There's a good concept to be had here. When someone finally polishes it, you'll have a great European mash up game the same way Witcher was polished into The Witcher 2.

I wasn't expecting any of the segments to be top notch genre examples, but I did expect them not to be completely broken. You can research battleships within 3 turns and then the RTS portion is broken. The Risk portion has a bunch of rules it never bothers explaining, you realize that gold is all that matters, cards aren't worth it, buildings aren't worth it (except gold mines), generals aren't worth it, and that population support doesn't matter at all. Support doesn't affect anything strategically or auto resolve battles. It only affects battles you command personally and even then it only affects your max unit count, which is never the limiting factor. So that means the political part is broken since it doesn't matter. Even if it did, it's still easy to max out every race's opinion since it's full of crazy proposals that only once race will support, so you vote no to those for a huge net gain across 4 out of the 5 races.

So you're left with the quality of the writing and acting. Voice acting is fine. The writing forgets that satire should be subtle. The only good satire is the newspaper slander by twisting every decision you make into a tabloid headline. Everything else is too blunt to be amusing. Although I did enjoy corrupting my traditional vegetarian elf wife into a voracious meat eater and drunken party ho, to the horror of her hippie elf brethren. You eat that meat and you LOVE IT, SLUT!

You get 5 races. Undead are the religious right. Elves are hippie college activists. Dwarves are ALEC. Lizards are democrats. Imps are....question mark? Even the game admits they forgot to give them character when they don't even bother with an imp princess.

One thing that sticks out is how it starts to come off as a completely witless gay rights PSA. The political topics range from unions to going green to taxation to genocide to terrorism, yet half of the proposals are about homosexuality. Gay marriage? Okay that's a hot button topic I guess. One of your generals is gay and doesn't want to tell? Uhhh...is that as important as genocide during wartime? Fanatics are destroying artwork by gay artists? What? Is that a thing? Fanatics are committing genocide against gays? That's like asking if I support puppy rape. Now your general wants to publicly come out? Dude whatever. They couldn't come up with a thin fantasy themed allegory for it, not even a medieval term for "lesbian"? The rest of the topics aren't brilliant satire, but it gets super blunt preachy when it comes to that. More than that, there's no dilemma because there's no negative consequence to supporting it. Every time you support gay rights, the opposed come back a turn later gushing how their eyes have been opened how could they ever have opposed such an obvious issue and now everyone supports it. The game shoots its whole concept of political pragmatism in the foot.

Worth: $10 max


Gone Home

I was mildly interested in the concept, but all the praise I read was sending up red flags as the "EMERGENT STORYTELLING" game reviewers are always blowing. Metacritic score comparisons seemed to say that this was definitely a game for the critics.

It's...a tad interesting. Your character comes home from a year abroad and you walk through an empty house first person trying to find out where everyone went. A note on the front door tells you to not try and find out what happened.

Professional reviews gush about how it brilliantly reveals the lives of these people through layered clues. Yeah, it's really not that deep. You'll find a note from a parent to a kid that they're doing something then find another note showing they lied. That's as layered as it gets.

I'd almost say it was worth $5 and 3 hours if it wasn't for the end.



SPOILERS

spoilers wrote:

The parents were in a troubled marriage and were away on a couples retreat, the younger daughter ran off with her high school lesbian lover. The end.


This game tries so hard to be a haunted house sim and make you think there's some supernatural aspect to it. Did the family die horribly? Am I a ghost? There are strange noises. Lights flicker. The uncle who owned it went crazy and it's now called "psycho house" by the locals. The answering machine has two messages by a frantic sobbing woman. You find books on poltergeists and notes of strange shadows. A crumpled note tells you not to tell the parents what you find in the attic before the writing is cut off. The hallway to the attic is bathed in creepy red light. You find another note telling you to expect the worst in the attic. The very end was tense as you found your way to the attic and made your way up. Reminded me of finally fixing the elevator in System Shock 2 and approaching the office of the chick you'd been talking to the whole time.

spoiler wrote:

You expect to find the younger daughter to have killed herself in the attic after her girlfriend left for Army basic training. What you find is a note. "omg she totally changed her mind and got off the bus to call me and I totally took the car to drive away with her!"


That's pretty much the game. The whole thing is an exercise in building false dread because if you took out all the tacked on spooky stuff, the plot would be really fucking dull. The father has a tough career patch, the mother almost cheated, two teens are dumb about a high school romance.

I have a theory that you can measure the progress of gay rights by looking at fictional works hailed as landmark acceptance for the time. The more demanding people were in the overall quality of a work about the plight of gays, the more progress has been made. Compare best picture contenders Brokeback Mountain to the awful As Good as it Gets. Gone Home takes place 3 years before As Good as it Gets, so it makes sense that it's worse and only hailed by posturing, stunted movie critics.

One of the dumb complaints about Brokeback was "I wouldn't care either if it was a straight love story," because then it would have been a totally different story. But that criticism easily applies to Gone Home. One girl was an unstable bad influence who wanted to join the Army to get her life together. The other girl was on track to get a full scholarship for her life dream of writing. They throw it all away to run off with money from a part time fast food job. The exact same thing could have happened with a straight couple, and everyone would rightfully call the kids idiots who should let it go and not ruin their lives for the sake of an 8 month high school romance that makes the ending to The Graduate seem responsible. But the game and critics hail it as a triumph of the human spirit over the forces of oppression by two shining Riot grrrl snowflakes who act more like 14 year old girls instead of 18. Maybe it was loved by people who thought Ghost World should have had a happy ending? Maybe some people want to badly peep in on tween girls' bedrooms? Maybe you're just supposed to be so relieved that the sister didn't commit suicide? Either way it's a lame story with manipulative ending made possible by artificially misleading.

The final reason this game is getting so much praise? 30 and 40 somethings squealing over 90s nostalgia bait. Answering machines! Cassettes (the loading screen is a cassette)! VHS tapes! Super Nintendo! Street Fighter! Riot grrrl! 90s TV guide lineup! X Files poster!


(The older sister was a real bitch not cutting her year long Europe sightseeing trip short by one week so she could make her sister's high school graduation.)
NEXT REPLY QUOTE
 
Steam sale purchases part 1 by fabio 12/29/2013, 5:12pm PST
    This actually seems like a reasonable skeleton of a plot by skip 12/31/2013, 1:00am PST
        This is a horror novel jk it's the Babysitter's Club Halloween edition NT by Fullofkittens 12/31/2013, 12:30pm PST
        It makes me sad defending this by fabio 12/31/2013, 2:02pm PST
            So you definitely made it sound more interesting that it was by skip 12/31/2013, 3:11pm PST
    part 2 by fabio 12/31/2013, 2:18pm PST
        State of Decay by Only Gets better 01/12/2014, 12:56am PST
            I love this game but should hate it by Roop 01/13/2014, 6:09pm PST
                I'll probably get back to it by fabio 01/13/2014, 8:28pm PST
                    Re: I'll probably get back to it by Roop 01/14/2014, 3:46pm PST
        Update: about to uninstall by fabio 02/05/2014, 12:03am PST
            Re: Update: about to uninstall by Roop 02/05/2014, 7:07am PST
                Re: Update: about to uninstall by fabio 02/05/2014, 2:16pm PST
                    Re: Update: about to uninstall by Roop 02/05/2014, 8:12pm PST
                    Re: Update: about to uninstall by Roop 02/06/2014, 7:37pm PST
    OF COURSE this game is from Portland by fabio 01/09/2014, 10:20pm PST
        *shudders* NT by Eurotrash 01/09/2014, 10:50pm PST
        Re: OF COURSE this game is from Portland by douche chills 01/10/2014, 5:14pm PST
        Gone Home: A True Story Based On Developer Experience NT by stupid newbie 01/10/2014, 7:14pm PST
        This game I swear to God gave me flashbacks of the late 90's NT by WITTGENSTEIN 01/15/2014, 5:26pm PST
    Hijacking this into general multi-review post by Rafiki 01/19/2014, 3:28pm PST
        Super Mario 3D World by Rafiki 01/20/2014, 12:33pm PST
        Little Inferno is a game made for reviewers by skip 01/20/2014, 8:11pm PST
            Tom Chick loved it NT by fabio 02/05/2014, 12:15am PST
 
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