Dead Island was a glitch-ridden shitload of fun and Riptide could have advanced that loveable formula. But it added the one thing that undid everything: Water. It added fucking water.
A trivial addition, it may first seem. A harmless new terrain packed with pockets of splash-happy fun with your friends. There’s boats, too, for zipping around the swamplands and flattening the undead. How we laughed as their bodies ground against the hull! How we cackled as their armless remains flailed in our wave trail! We felt unstoppable.
When From Software set out to make the thirteenth Armored Core title, they hired a creative director with a serious grudge against gamers. I’m not sure what Dudebro McFPS did – murdered his puppy? – but this guy wants revenge like a less emotionally stable Inigo Montoya. His master plan was to create a game the player could never fully grasp, that they struggled to make work, and that they weren’t sure if they were enjoying or not. Whether there were multiple people in on this scheme or whether the mystery director asked his team to make a good game and then pulled a Jason Jones, we’ll never know. All we know is that someone out there is getting sick kicks from knowing people are playing and have played this game, and if he knew that I inflicted this mess of convoluted controls and brown textures on myself for the sake of an eight-hundred word complaint, he would fucking wet himself.
Whilst you may expect a game like this to have a threadbare plot which justifies the shootbanging, it’s far worse. The game is written by somebody who cares. This rookie writer’s desperation for me to appreciate their self-proclaimed work of art is palpable. It leaks through the incessant babble of a ‘future voice’ (with obligatory slightly-robot-but-vaguely-human-tone) trying to establish an expansive backstory and complicated lore. The League of Ruling Companies, The National Dismantlement War, The LYNX War – three events and entities that create Armored Core’s lore, and three events and entities they cannot make me give a shit about.
AMY is a game that crawled out of the 90s, looting cliches from the surrounding graves of the Survival Horror Cemetery as it shambled its way out and back to market. “Tight corridors? I’ll take that.” “YOU ARE DEAD screen? Eh, it can be adapted.” “Key card puzzles? Great!” Classic Resident Evil’s grave was unrecognisable once it’d finished, despite Capcom’s graffiti still marking the headstone. AMY intended to plunder these graves lovingly, throwing together all its spoils to create the perfect pastiche to the classics of survival horror, but the well-meaning thoughts didn’t co-operate with its half-dead hands. While skipping fences it also managed to stop in the Action Horror Graveyard and grab Dead Space’s back-mounted health-light.
This amalgamation of 90s cliches is presented under the premise of a comet hitting Earth and causing a zombie apocalypse within seconds. I’m unsure as to where they dug up that idea from, maybe it’s their own creation, but it’s stupid. Lana and Amy, the two main characters, are on a train, Amy is given her Christmas present early so it can be used as a mechanic a few hours later, and then a comet hits and everyone is zombies.
It was dark. Very, very dark. I fiddled with the brightness until the symbol that should “barely be visible” was practically staring me down. But it was still dark. Not the kind of dark where you’re put on edge for fear of something pouncing out of the shadows, but the kind of dark where you can see fuck all and you’re bumping in to the zombies rather than killing them. It’s not helped by all six playable characters being cloaked in black, the weapons are black, it’s always night, and… everything’s black. We complain about Greybrown shooters, yet here I am, asking for a bit o’ brown.
Anyway, Operation Raccoon City – another four-person co-op romp given to the guy without even one friend who’d put themselves through this with him. You’re an Umbrella agent out to recover some research and eventually stop some classic Resident Evil characters you wish you could play as. Obviously your squad gets caught up in a few scraps along the way, but standard and set-piece battles alike are pretty uninteresting.
Little Red Riding Hood whips out a machete to defend Granny’s house, but a woodcutter beats her to the ravenous wolves. Jack (of ‘and the Beanstalk’ fame) shoves his hand up a chicken’s… up a chicken, and pulls out a golden egg. A villager plays a harp – slung around his neck like a bass guitar – and shatters Snow White’s glass coffin with the power of rock. And then the naked Emperor struts out onto a balcony and villagers flee at the sight of his uncommonly large areola.
And that’s it. That’s all the story you’re getting. Four character introductions, a bit of blood and you’re done before breakfast. Off you go into a fairytale land the Grimm brothers never even dreamed of to murder gingerbread men and ravage the locals. There’s a sort of guardian who periodically shows up to dump some information on you, but he looked like someone I wouldn’t want to get involved with.
Beautiful, picturesque, genius; three words that best describe Ubisoft’s latest addition to the failing Rayman franchise, Rayman Origins. Origins is the first ‘true’ Rayman title in many years, and with new French developers Ubisoft Montpellier at the helm, a new direction for the classic character. With Rayman’s absence from the modern market for over five years, the character, and his once renowned games have lost their relevance. But Origins undoubtedly puts Rayman back on the scene with one of the best platforming games I’ve played in years.
Origins has no story. It barely even introduces the game. It does however introduce the characters; vaguely. But, though it may seem like a poor, corner-cutting tactic, it’s actually incredibly intuitive of the developers. Origins’ story is told through its characters, and its characters don’t tell a story. Yourself, the player, creates their own story, interprets their own course of events from the character’s speechless actions. Rescuing Nymphs (including the original, head Nymph: Betilla) is the foundation, but beyond that, it can be whatever you want it to, which is why it’s so unique.