Spec Ops: The Line Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Spec Ops: The Line RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network 5 MORE Unconventional Horror Games To Play This Halloween https://www.gameskinny.com/zpay9/5-more-unconventional-horror-games-to-play-this-halloween https://www.gameskinny.com/zpay9/5-more-unconventional-horror-games-to-play-this-halloween Tue, 31 Oct 2017 18:30:10 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

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That's the list! Thanks for reading!

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I hope you've all enjoyed our selections, and hopefully you've found at least one good game to play this Halloween thanks to us! If you'd like to let us know what you thought of the list, or maybe suggest some other games for a future list, feel free to let us know about it in the comments! I'll see you all next year; have a happy and safe Halloween!

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We also did a list like this last year, and if you'd like to take a look at it you can click right here. 

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Spec Ops: The Line (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) 
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You came here to feel like something you're not: A hero.

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Spec Ops: The Line is a game that plays you. It's a game that seems like a standard shooter game from the outside -- but that's what they want you to think. It's a game that wants you to get drawn into the modern day fantasy of being a war hero, of being the good guy in a sea of moral degenerates, and of doing what you do because the ends justify the means -- only to rip the rug out from under you with an emotional gut punch. 

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Spec Ops: The Line is a shooter game meant to strip naked the war hero fantasy provided by most modern war shooters. It takes inspiration from both the novel Heart of Darkness as well as the film it inspired Apocalypse Now, and places the player at the front of a number of war crimes and amoral atrocities that you are constantly made to debate on your own as to whether you are doing the right thing or not.

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It's a game that deals with real moral dilemmas such as the use of white phosphorus in war time, civilian casualties, the disassociation of ethics from reality than can come during large-scale tragedies, and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. You never know where the game will take you next, whether or not you can trust the character you are controlling, and whether or not what's happening in front of you is even real or not. 

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The game is rife with psychological horror that weaves itself in and out of both the narrative and the gameplay, creating a seriously unnerving and abrasive experience crafted with the expectations of the average FPS player in mind just to subvert them. Like Doki Doki Literature Club! it's a slow boil, as it tries to convince you that it's just a normal shooter for around the first hour, but then the creeping suspicion that all is not well rears it's head and the slow descent into madness begins.

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Spec Ops: The Line is an exploration of wartime ethics, ethical cognitive dissonance, and of deconstructing the power fantasy perpetuated by modern video games in a manner that may just mortify you. If you think you're a good person now, then play Spec Ops: The Line and tell me if you can say that with certainty anymore.

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Do you think you're ready to cross the line? Then watch the trailer right here and start your descent:

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Night in the Woods (PC, PS4)
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Night in the Woods is the tale of Mae Borowski, a 20 year-old cat girl who drops out of college for reasons that aren't immediately apparent, and returns to her small hometown of Possum Springs, a former mining town in the mid-western United States that is slowly being neglected by the rest of the industrial world. Some things have stayed the same in Possum Springs, but many others have stayed the same.

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Night in the Woods has you playing as Mae spending most of her time exploring her home town after years of her absence have made it almost new to her, and the rest of her time trying to reconnect with her old friends from before she left. There's an odd mini-game here and there to break things up, but it's mostly reading and learning more about your friends.

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It's a game that has gameplay take a backseat while the narrative drives it forward most of the time, which is forgivable due to the very strong writing and cast full of likable, believable characters dealing with very human feelings and themes of self-discovery and fear for the future that most of us can relate to. It's narrative doesn't have too much of a clear direction at the start, and it takes a while for the dark mystery aspect of the plot to really get going, but the strong writing and the chilly, somewhat unnerving atmosphere at times keeps you invested and on your toes until you reach whatever climax you've earned in around 8-10 hours. 

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Since it's such a narrative-heavy game, we won't be jerks and spoil Night in the Woods for you, but we want you to know what quality fear lurks inside of it. Not fear of the potentially supernatural forces that show up later on in the story, no, but rather fear for yourself and your future. It's a game that expertly captures what it's like to feel trapped by circumstance, afraid of your own failures or tendencies to fail, and wondering just what you can do to fix yourself and the world. Even without overt danger resent most of the time this game can be very tense, emotional, and rel in it's subject matter, which makes it more horror than any monster or evil force ever could.

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Night in the Woods may not be all that scary for the most part, but it's highly dramatic and believable character writing, it's autumn setting and melancholy atmosphere, on top of the slow-building mysterious intrigue make it perfect for this time of year, and Halloween especially. If you're ready to hang with the old squad, then check out the game's trailer below:

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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS, Mobile)
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Okay, this is about as far of a stretch as I think I'll ever put in one of these lists. I could barely in good faith say that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is really anything like a real horror game. But it does have a suspenseful atmosphere, a twisted murder mystery plot and death around every corner, so I guess that's just enough for it to count. Also ghosts are present, so that has to count for something.

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Plus, I really just wanted to talk about how cool this game is. Ghost Trick is a narrative-driven puzzle game directed by game designer Shu Takumi, the same guy responsible for the Ace Attorney series, and revolves a man named Sissel who finds himself dead and unable to remember almost anything about himself. He then learns that he has until sunrise the next morning until his spirit disappears from the world, and he has a single night to solve his own murder. 

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In order to get around in the mortal world, Sissel must move from stationary object to stationary object and manipulate their movement in different ways like some sort of low-level poltergeist, manipulate time itself,and set-up and solve a series of makeshift Rube Goldberg machine style puzzles in order to get the answers he needs.

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The game also sports a vibrant and fluidly animated 2.5D style that has rotoscoped 3D models operating on a purely 2D plain, all with the same bright color palette in both it's artwork and characters that you'd expect from the guy behind Ace Attorney. The comedy is definitely there, but the story is mostly serious and straightforward, but still with a few surprising twists and turns on top of the likable characters and involving gameplay that juggles time management, timing, and deductive reasoning in order to save lives and discover the truth.

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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective was a late release on the DS back in 2011, so not that many people got around to playing it, which is a shame considering it's quality and pedigree. It's a simple game at it's core, but it's a solid core, and it's gameplay is used to prop up and interesting story told well with unique presentation, which is what really matters.

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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is an amusing and unique puzzle game enhanced by it's charming characters, engaging narrative, and slick presentation. Check out the trailer below for more details:

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Doki Doki Literature Club! (PC)
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WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS 

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Don't let the cutesy exterior and pleasant music fool you. Hiding underneath the surface is a game that wants you to worry. It wants you to worry about how much it loves you so that you give in and love it back out of fear.

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Doki Doki Literature Club! is a free-to-play psychological horror game that disguises itself as a dime-a-dozen dating sim visual novel game. It's a slow-boil, but the gradual build-up into a highly jarring and out-of-left-field payoff is completely worth it. There's little else I can say here without spoiling the game heavily, but just know this; Doki Doki Literature Club! is not what it appears to be. It is a game that will invade your privacy (both in game and out of game), subvert your expectations greatly, and won't care how uncomfortable it's making you.

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If this idea appeals to you at all, then check out the game as soon as you can. It takes about an hour for the game to really show it's true colors, but after that you'll never be the same. You'd never be able to tell by just looking at the trailer:   

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Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut (PC, PS3)
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Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut is a very strange game to be recommending. It's not on this list because it's that great a game - as most people either seem to dislike the gameplay itself or just think it's mediocre - and it's not on this list because it's all that scary either - many parts of this story are just outright silly. It's on this list because it's one of the weirdest, most lovably flawed, bizarre mish-mash experiences of a game that could ever call itself a game. 

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Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut is an improved version of the original game that tweaks the combat, updates the graphics and controls, and adds more to the overall narrative. But at its core, it's still the same goofy, wonderfully weird game it always has been warts and all.

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Deadly Premonition stars special agent Francis York Morgan - but everybody just calls him "York" - who is sent in by the FBI in order to investigate some strange goings-on in the town of Greenvale, Washington related to the death of 18-year-old Anna Graham. If you're thinking this sounds a lot like Twin Peaks, then you'd be both right and wrong, as the game's now renowned director Swery claims that he had never seen the show before making the game, which seems unlikely but I'll let it slide.

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Deadly Premonition is a 3rd-person survival horror game that is loaded to the brim with bizarre and memorable moments, Whether it be the slightly demented fun-house reject monsters, the dime-store David Lynch style story, or the alien yet still somehow endearing characters, there's something new and strange around every corner.

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It really does feel like a foreign low-budget remake of Twin Peaks, but with that specific style of Japanese sandbox-game gameplay reminiscent of games like Shenmue and the Yakuza series. Deadly Premonition is like the playable version of a "so bad it's good" movie, and it does so in such a manner that all the negatives about it collapse into a singularity that somehow make it great.

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You may like it, you may hate it, but it you play Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut for any length of time then I can guarantee you this; you will not forget it. If the trailer sparks any intrigue, then you can flock to Steam to get a taste of the FK in the coffee: 

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WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS NSFW

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It ain't quite Halloween without a few good horror games, am I right? 

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Horror games have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. It seems every year we get some new mainstream horror game that everyone is talking about, making videos on YouTube about, and even writing songs about. But that usually pertains to the the really popular stuff.

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Today we're going to be talking about a few "unconventional" Horror games. The kind of games that you may overlook or not come to mind when you think about the genre. Most of these games are not Horror games by definition, but have something spooky or unnerving about them that makes them perfect for this time of year.

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These are some horror games that for the most part shun the norm, take chances on some bizarre, intriguing new premises, and generally just feel like a breath of fresh air in an industry filled with clones and copycats. Let's appreciate the weird, the creepy, and the different.

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It's about to get spooky in here.

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The 5 Most Stressful Video Game Moments https://www.gameskinny.com/yn8t7/the-5-most-stressful-video-game-moments https://www.gameskinny.com/yn8t7/the-5-most-stressful-video-game-moments Fri, 01 Sep 2017 09:44:54 -0400 Extra Wordinary

Games are a great form of entertainment. They allow us to relieve stress and forget about our daily struggles. In video games, we can be anything from superheroes to superdads. 

But along with making our fantasies come alive, games can also make our worst nightmares come true. In fact, some games are ruthless -- and will put the player under loads of pressure. Here are the five most stressful moments in video games.

Of course, there are spoilers to follow, so continue with caution. 

Annihilating People Using White Phosphorous in 'Spec Ops: The Line'

white phosphorous death

In Call of Duty, you are the hero. In Spec Ops: The Line, you are the monster. And in one of the most memorable scenes that demonstrates this, the player is forced to obliterate the enemy with white phosphorous. 

Without going into too much detail, white phosphorous burns the skin and lungs, while the smoke stings or burns the eyes -- and those aren't the only horrific things it does to the human body. In short, white phosphorous is a terrible weapon of war. 

And as we walk through the fields of fallen enemies in Spec Ops: The Line, not only do we realize the horrors we've committed, but we discover that along with the enemy, we've killed nearly 50 civilians in the process. 

There are many games like this which put the gamer under a lot of stress through their immersive narratives and gameplay, but nothing makes us feel more troubled than this horrific scene in Spec Ops: The Line.

Being Unable to Find Any Food in '7 Days to Die'

In 7 Days to Die -- and other survival games with hunger mechanics (e.g. Day Z, Project Zomboid, and Don't Starve) -- players are forced to ditch all other priorities and look for food.

In 7 Days to Die, being hungry means you'll die a slow, painful death -- as your health ticks down by the second. It'll force you to do whatever it takes to find that scrap of food that'll keep you going for a little longer. Sometimes, it'll even force you to eat whatever atrocities you can find: old ham sandwiches, moldy bread, zombie meat, or rotten flesh.

Being thirsty is even more stressful. While you'll live longer if you're just hungry, once you reach 0% thirst, you can die at any second. The game won't tell you when you'll die, just that you know it's coming soon and you'll do whatever it takes to prevent it (sometimes even drinking water from toilets).

Those who have been in this situation will know how stressful it is to watch your character's life tick away as you search every cabinet for food or water.

When You are Defusing a Bomb in 'CS:GO' and Hear Footsteps

While no-one knows exactly why the terrorists plant bombs in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (supposedly it's to destroy something important), the player knows that they are tasked with an important mission -- defuse the bomb. And in CS: GO, doing so can be very stressful. Here's why: 

  • It means you can't fire your weapon, making you defenseless
  • It limits your field of view because looking too far away from the bomb will stop the entire process
  • It means you might be blocked into a corner or stuck in a trap since crafty players like to place the bomb in awkward positions

Regardless, there are also several tricks the bomb defuser can do make things bit less stressful, such as pulling the pin of a grenade before starting to defuse the bomb. This allows the player to throw the grenade (usually a flash grenade) while defusing the bomb.

In CS:GO, defusing the bomb only requires holding down the E button and waiting 10 seconds. In other games such as 'Dark RP,' when you try to hack a security lock, a menu pops up (filling the entire screen) and forces you to play logic mini-games. Not only do you have to be worried about your surroundings, but your focus must also be on solving the mini-games.

Startling the Witch in 'Left 4 Dead'

Startling the witch is a lot more stressful than startling a screaming zombie.

The Witch is a special infected in Left 4 Dead that can instantly incapacitate any player who startles her. She runs extremely fast and getting too close or shining a flashlight on her will cause her to startle.

Accidentally startling the witch is a death-sentence -- and even in groups, players tend to avoid her by sneaking past or waiting until she wanders away. If you startle her and you're alone, then you're probably dead meat.

When You Make a Mistake in 'Papers Please'

In Papers, Please, you play as a border-control guard where you must reject or accept immigrants into the state based on a certain criterion (which changes day by day). Each day, you must work against the clock in order to support your family who are starving and freezing. 

The more immigrants you correctly admit or reject, the more money you will make -- but you only have a certain time limit to do so each day. Making even a few errors will almost certainly result in financial problems including: inability to buy medicine for your sick family, not having enough warmth, and not having enough food. Things like these will eventually lead to the death of your son or wife.

Making too many mistakes will also result in you losing your job or being unable to pay your rent. In this game, you are put under a lot of pressure to perform at a high speed with minimal errors. You will certainly feel the stress building up with each mistake you make.

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Overall, games have a pretty diverse way of making us experience stress. Whether it be through making us realize the dark side of human nature (as in Spec Ops: The Line) or making us anticipate danger (as in CS:GO), many of these games show that stress is as much a part of video games as it is in daily life.

What have been the most stressful video game moments for you? We'd love to hear your stories! Share them in the comments below!  

 

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Apocolypse Now- the Game is being Kickstarted https://www.gameskinny.com/ex4ep/apocolypse-now-the-game-is-being-kickstarted https://www.gameskinny.com/ex4ep/apocolypse-now-the-game-is-being-kickstarted Thu, 26 Jan 2017 08:53:54 -0500 Unclepulky

In 1979, director Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was released to near universal praise. Inspired by Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella, Heart of Darkness, this film served as a harsh commentary on the Vietnam War.

Now, 38 years after its release, Apocalypse Now may be getting a video game adaptation.

 "A cross-disciplinary team of AAA game developers, motion picture professionals and Interactive creatives are coming together to create a truly unique experience. For the first time, fans can experience this psychedelic vision of Vietnam as originally presented by legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola."

 Apocalypse Now- The Game is being directed by Montgomery Markland, executive produced by Lawrence Liberty, and written by Rob Auten. Other members of the team have worked on games such as: Fallout: New Vegas, The Witcher, DC Universe Online, and the Planetside games.

 

 

 Francis Ford Coppola has given his approval to the project, which he has described as a "Psychedelic Horror RPG." He's hopeful that a whole new generation will experience his story through this game. 

In order to maintain the creative freedom and integrity that this daring and intense tale demands, the project is being financed outside the traditional video game publishing system. We want the support of backers like you to make this vision a reality.

 Many have already pointed out how the themes of Apocalypse Now are very nearly the same as those of the acclaimed third-person shooter, Spec Ops: The Line. While this is true, the descriptions given on the Kickstarter page make it clear that this will be a very different gameplay experience.

 

There are many awards available for backers of this game. The smallest award-netting pledge you can make is $35, which will get you a digital copy of the game. The largest award level is for those who donate $10,000. While an incredible amount of money, at this level, you get dozens of rewards, ranking from an abundance of copies of the game, to a backer exclusive military jacket, to even an actual prop from the movie.

With many award levels in between the lowest and the highest, backers have their pick of how generous they'd like to be.

For the game to be funded, the developers need $900,000 by February 24th, 2017. However, should they get more than that, there are several extension goals. The most notable of these is the final one. Should the developers raise three million dollars, they will create a fully immersive VR version of the game.

If you'd like to support or simply check out the KickStarter, click here.

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Quotes & One-Liners That Will (Definitely) Put A Smirk On Your Face https://www.gameskinny.com/fhql2/quotes-one-liners-that-will-definitely-put-a-smirk-on-your-face https://www.gameskinny.com/fhql2/quotes-one-liners-that-will-definitely-put-a-smirk-on-your-face Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Shark Tank Gaming

Video games (just like movies) tell elaborate stories, build characters and use dynamic effects and shots. It's an immersive medium and before long, you're emotionally invested. You're right there in the game. Dialogue is such an important part of said immersion and (again just like movies) video games have fired off some awesome and memorable one-liners/quotes. Most of the time they're generic action and dramatic one-liners but every now and then, a little piece of gold finds its way out...

With that said, here are some of the funniest one-liners and quotes that are sure to put a smirk on that face of yours!

Duke Nukem Forever

The Duke

*Looks in the mirror*

"DAMNNN, I look good..."

Don't deny it. Whenever any of us played as the Duke, our inner narcissist couldn't be kept down for long and a smile slowly creeped its way across your face. How could it not after hearing that line? Then again, now that I think of it, I laughed at A LOT of his one-liners...

Portal

Portal P.A Announcer

"If you need to go to the bathroom after this next series of tests, please let a test associate know because in all likelihood, whatever comes out of you is going to be cold. Only temporary so do not worry. If it persists for a week though, start worrying and come see us because that's not supposed to happen."

Portal is jam-packed with sarcastic and humorous quotes/one-liners. It was hard to narrow it down but the P.A Announcer made me smile first. While GlaDos always holds a place in my heart, she won't be seen on this list.

Assassin's Creed II

Ezio Auditore da Firenze

"Your sister seemed quite satisfied with the 'handling' I gave her earlier."

Ahhh, the good-old mum and sister jokes. For being as old as they are, still pack quite a punch when used. Seriously, it hurts. Just look at how easily the Pazzis are angered when Ezio uses the above line on them! Ubisoft know this too and young Ezio is a typical, "your mum" kinda guy...

Left 4 Dead

Zoe

"Free copy paper? Sweet!"

What else could put your mind at ease when facing a zombie apocalypse? Guns? Water? Food? Defendable shelter? No! COPY PAPER! Left 4 Dead's Zoe shares STG's enthusiasm for the little things in a zombie apocalypse when she yells out her one-liner, in the copy room. Bless Zoe, you go girl.

Postal

Player

"Hey I'm just exercising my second amendment rights here, you fuckin' communist."

This insane game made absolutely no sense but who cares? The violence and gore made sure you never had a chance to think about that. What I did notice, however, was the player's one-liners. Most notably, the above one. My drink nearly came out of my nose when I heard this gem. Yep, apparently shooting and killing people is just exercising your right to... shoot and kill people? Otherwise, you're just a filthy communist aren't you?

South Park: The Stick of Truth 

Cartman

"If you have a fucking better name for them then fucking say it Clyde!"

There's something about Cartman spitting the dummy at people that's just so damn funny. He's everyone's favourite, evil, little shit. Stick of Truth was (finally) a fantastic South park game and the entire game made us here at STG lose ourselves laughing but when Cartman gets angry and says this to Clyde during the tutorial, it's hard not to laugh let alone smile.

Spec Ops: The Line

Robert Darden (The Radio Man)

"Geez man, where's all this violence coming from? Is it the video games? I bet it's the video games."

Yeah, I'm totally sure it's the video games and not the fact that you play as a highly trained, special forces soldier, trained to kill, dropped into unknown, enemy territory, are constantly attacked and have some tough decisions to make along the road. Definitely the video games...

Brutal Legend

Eddie Riggs

"Oh man... don't tell me I've been slaying hot girls this entire time!"

Eddie Riggs is your average, mediocre roadie who gets transported to a heavy metal dimension. Using his extensive knowledge of 'the metal', Riggs leads the inhabitants of this heavy metal heaven turned hell in a revolution against the dastardly General Lyonwhite. After seeing the face of one of his foes, Eddie immediately pauses mid-fight to ask himself the same question every man would. 

Marvel VS Capcom 3

Deadpool

*Everything he says in this game.*

We couldn't narrow it down with everybody's favourite merc, Deadpool. He's just too damn funny so instead we decided to just tell you to go out and play the game already! The great thing is when he actually talks to the player through the game and mentions the fact he knows he's in a fighting game. Absolute gold...

Sonic Colours

Sonic the Hedgehog

"No copyright law in the universe is going to stop me!"

This one made the list because it was unexpected, yet also feels personal. It transcends the game and touches on a real issue many gaming channels and platforms seem to suffer. You tell em', Sonic...

Uncharted 2

Nathan Drake

"Yeah good luck pal. That's almost impossible to... Oh, you did it... nice."

Nolan North is a great voice actor and the most recognised voice in gaming today. He does a fantastic job as Nathan Drake and can even get his disappointment and envy across the microphone. Being proven wrong is never funny but when you are, at least give the person credit. Real, genuine credit. Don't be like Nate, the jealous douche.

Assassin's Creed II

Mario Auditore

"It's a me, Mario!"

This joke is so old now but it seems to continue to get used. This one-liner was made famous by the super plumber himself and has been seen/heard/used almost everywhere in the world! It comes to no surprise that Ubisoft threw this little piece of chuckler homage in. I feel like I've heard this somewhere before...

Bulletstorm

Trishka Novak

"Yeah!? Go fuck yourself! You shit piles give chase, I WILL kill your dicks!"

Bulletstorm tough girl Trishka is a Final Echo mixture of sassiness and, well, extreme violence. You meet up with Trishka as she is getting sexually assaulted by one of the planet's denizens. Trishka can definitely take care of herself , as she proved as your companion in Stygia. You get the feeling she's got something to prove though and the one-liner she fires off above tends to prove it. Time to start working on your trash-talk Trish...

Conker's Bad Fur Day

The Great Mighty Poo

"I am the great, mighty, Poo and I'm going to throw my shit at you."

Now the line itself isn't actually that funny, but if you really want laughs then turn to a classic comedy method; turn it to song! The Great Mighty Poo serenades Conker on his Bad Fur Day (see what I did there?) and scored an ashamed little giggle from me. Guys really don't need much for comedy, do we?

Mortal Kombat

Boon & Scorpion

"Toasty!"

And:

"Get over here!"

The two most iconic one-liners that came from Mortal Kombat way back in the 90s secured their place in pop-culture, still being referenced and used today. These two quotes will ALWAYS wrestle a sub-conscious smirk from your face.

The Wolf Among Us

Bigby Wolf

"Urggh. This shit will kill ya'."

*Takes puff of his cigarette*

Bigby Wolf is the protagonist in Telltale's The Wolf Among Us. He's the tough, emotionally withdrawn, whiskey drinking, cigarette smoking, wise-cracking, bad-ass tasked with solving a series of murders of fairytale characters in 1986 Fabletown. Again, Bigby (short for Big Bad Wolf) has a lot of great one-liners that made us smirk. Soda will kills you but your cigarettes won't, eh Bigby? Classic fairytale irony at its best.

Far Cry: Blood Dragon

Sgt. Colt

"I fucking HATE tutorials and this one is TERRIBLE!"

The 80s have made a comeback everywhere and Far Cry: Blood Dragon is no exception. Blood Dragon is an 80s-induced trip back in time to Hollywood's sci-fi and action films. Sgt. Rex Colt is a cyber commando in the near future of 2007 in which a nuclear war has destroyed the globe. One typical 80s best friend betrayal later and a revenge plot is set in motion. We all dislike most video game tutorials as much as the next guy (or gal) and Colt confirms this notion. You go Rex...

That's it for this listicle! We hope you enjoyed the article and found a few things to entertain you. Please leave a comment with what you think is your favourite quote in video games and don't forget to check out our channel and links!

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Can You Love an Irredeemable Villain? https://www.gameskinny.com/6fxsi/can-you-love-an-irredeemable-villain https://www.gameskinny.com/6fxsi/can-you-love-an-irredeemable-villain Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:00:01 -0500 Unclepulky

It’s a common misconception that a villain needs to be sympathetic in order to be interesting. While there is certainly a place for sympathetic villains, villains who don’t give you a reason to care about them can be far from boring.

There are several reasons why an audience can love an irredeemable villain. The first reason is that some people just like to see how “deliciously evil” the antagonist can get. Be it in video game villains like Kefka from Final Fantasy VI, or anime villains like Ragyo Kiryuinn from Kill la Kill, there’s a certain appeal to seeing villains gleefully do increasingly horrible things.

Another reason people are drawn toward flat out evil characters is because they’re curious over what made them that way. This comes back to the classic argument of nature vs nurture. While some villains were seemingly born psychopathic and sadistic, such as Alex from Stanley Kubrick's “A Clockwork Orange” and Dalia Hawthorne from the Ace Attorney series, others, like Freeza from Dragon Ball Z and Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda series, are the way they are for specific reasons.

Ganondorf turned to evil because of the racism his race, the Gerudo, faced from Hyrulians, and Freeza was specifically raised by his father to be just as cruel as he is.

Continuing with Freeza, we move on to the next reason people love irredeemable villains: they love to hate them. When villains like Freeza, Joffrey Baratheon from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, or Flowey from Undertale commit a despicable act after despicable act, the audience loves to see them every time they show up, because they can’t wait for the moment when they get their comeuppance.

And with examples like Joffery, the most cartoonishly evil character in a book series with mostly realistically written characters, the author, George R.R. Martin, made sure to have his death be as embarrassing and degrading as possible. Other examples of heinous villains dying painful and satisfying deaths are Edgar Ross from Red Dead Redemption and Uberto Alberti from Assassins Creed 2.

Beyond all of these though, there’s the trickiest type of irredeemable villain to write. The villain protagonist. Most of the examples people list as villain protagonists, such as Lelouch from Code Geass and Kratos from God of War, are actually anti heroes, although to much different degrees. Even true villain protagonists like Wander from Shadow of the Colossus, at the very least, have reasons for what they do which some people can get behind.

Some villain protagonists though, are straight up monsters, who you’d think most people wouldn’t root for. Sticking strictly to videos games for this, since it's the medium that creates the strongest ties between the audience and the media, let’s look at Spec Ops: The Line.

The protagonist Walker, while initially an anti hero, develops a more violent, sadistic streak as the game progresses. By the end, it’s hard to feel sympathy for him, but people still like him for one simple reason: He’s interesting. Like the protagonists of classic literature such as Macbeth and Odysseus, he is a good man, whose fatal flaw, in this case, Walker’s inability to let go of his dreams of being a hero, results in him becoming something he hates, and his eventual downfall.

Another similar, yet as the same time, completely different example, is Travis Touchdown from the No More Heroes series. While the second game develops Travis’s character and performs an act similar to Spec Ops: The Line by criticizing the player for committing horrible acts as a power fantasy, Travis still had a rather large fan following after the first game. For those unaware, in the first game, he was a mass murdering assassin whose primary motivation was to have sex with an attractive woman.

So why did people like him?

It wasn't because he was particularly interesting, but because he was relatable. Outside of the killing, Travis is a lot like many of the people who’d probably play his game. He’s lazy, he’s an otaku, he’s a gamer, he loves his cat, and yes, he’s openly horny.

A villain, even an incredibly evil one, doesn't have to be defined by said evil. They can, and often do, have outside interests and traits.

All of these are reasons why people love irredeemable villains.

NOTE: Special thanks to Red Angel for the help with this article.

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10 Games You Can Finish In Just One Weekend https://www.gameskinny.com/o3pfz/10-games-you-can-finish-in-just-one-weekend https://www.gameskinny.com/o3pfz/10-games-you-can-finish-in-just-one-weekend Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:47:48 -0400 Brandon Morgan

A lot of gamers don't have the time to devote to 100-hour single-player campaign, which is what we see in a lot of recent role-playing games. (We're looking at you, The Witcher 3!)

Thankfully, there are plenty of titles out there in the world with relatively short campaigns. You can complete any one of these ten games in just a single weekend! If you marathon the story mode, then perhaps you can finish two or three in the same time span.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

If you're looking for a truly heartwarming, fantastic tale that revolves around two brothers traversing a mystical world filled with giants and other creatures, then A Tale of Two Sons is what you're after. The game can be completed within 3 or 4 hours, which makes up a single sitting for most people these days.

Basically, the left and right joystick on a controller will control one of the brothers, respectively. This particular mechanic may be a little disorienting at first, but once you get your bearings, the gameplay is a breeze. A few small puzzle are also scattered throughout, but they're pretty simple to beat.

Journey

Journey, a PlayStation exclusive title, is the type of adventure game most people can get behind. The story mode will take anywhere between 3 and 5 hours to finish.

Throughout the gameplay, the player will climb and evade various dangers, make a few new companions, and explore the wonderful world that appears to be in a state of flux.

A single light shining in the sky will guide you to the top of the mountain.

Deadlight

Deadlight is an interesting indie game about a man on a quest to find his wife and daughter in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The game is set in a 1980s version of Seattle, and allows the player to focus on an exploration style of gameplay instead of hardy combat like most zombie games.

The 2D/3D mixed game will take between 4 to 5 hours to finish in its entirety. Some puzzles may give you a bit of trouble, but overall the game is really streamlined and easy to pick up and play.

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is a personal favorite in the adventure genre. You, the player, have total control over the movements and direction you take. The story is quite philosophical, and has plenty of comedy interjected within the dialogue.

While you may not be in total control of everything that happens, the ride to the end is well worth the time it takes. You can usually see all of the endings within 1 to 4 hours, though that may vary depending on how long you take to move through the stark office hallways.

Of course, there are multiple endings to discover, and some will simply lead to your demise. So be wary of your choices or what turn you happen to make early on.

Portal

Sure, you could play Portal 2, but the original is just something special to enjoy. This 3D puzzle game is best played with a buddy or your significant other, but make sure they have anywhere between 3 to 5 hours to sit down and complete the puzzling story.

There are multiple mazes, a few logic puzzles, and a quirky robot to contend with. Be sure to power up your portal guns beforehand!

Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami is a violent thrill ride fueled by drugs, sex, and more than a little splattering of blood. The 8-bit top-down title should make you cringe on more than one occasion -- and not just because of the difficulty, which can get downright mean sometimes. If you have a good 5 to 6 hours to spend, invest that into this violent rabbit hole.

The player has no idea why they are being given these missions, but you will require a quick trigger finger to accomplish each of them. 

If you tend to rage-quit video games easily, then perhaps you should skip this particular game.

The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us is probably one of the best choose-your-own-adventure titles released by developer Telltale Games. The title is split up into five different episodes, each one ending with a little cliffhanger to pull you into the next. You can complete all three in anywhere between 10 to 14 hours.

While the end-game tends to be a bit scripted, the choices you make to get there are totally dependent upon you and how you're feeling at that particular moment. Each choice generally comes in the form of a dialogue option or a quick-time event.

Mirror's Edge

The first Mirror's Edge is a wonderful first-person platformer that focuses solely on free-running, which is often referred to as parkour by the French crowds. The single-player game focuses on nonviolent confrontations, which means you won't be wielding any firearms or swords to topple. There is no Mature content included, so even a teenager can take some time off from school and beat it within 10 hours.

Some of the gameplay tends to be on the tough side, so be prepared for a few difficult spots here and there. 

If you enjoy this one, you can also pick up the recently released reboot, Mirror's Edge Catalyst.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Silent Hill is an iconic survival horror franchise, so it is safe to say this is not for the faint of heart. For those with an iron stomach, however, you can beat Shattered Memories within 7 to 8 hours, depending on how long it takes to complete a few puzzles and run away from enemies. Trust us, you won't be fighting them all.

This is a psuedo remake of the original game, with familiar characters and a plot line that is pretty similar overall.

If you're looking to reinvigorate your love of the survival horror genre within the span of just two days, then this is a great start.

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is one of those shooters that simply makes you think about the actions portrayed. While you have no direct control over what happens to the characters or the civilians in the game, you will receive a front-line ticket to this wild ride.

The psychological mechanics within the single-player campaign should make anyone stop and wonder for a second or two. The shooting is overall pretty simple and fluid, though it can feel clunky depending on the weapon you're using at the time.

Overall, you can complete the game in around 7 to 8 hours.

While there are plenty of video games you could complete within a weekend, you certainly couldn't do better than these ten. Each one should leave you with a memory or two.

What are your favorite games to beat in a single weekend? Let me know down in the comments!

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Icarus: a new kind of Video Game Magazine https://www.gameskinny.com/xihxr/icarus-a-new-kind-of-video-game-magazine https://www.gameskinny.com/xihxr/icarus-a-new-kind-of-video-game-magazine Wed, 15 Jun 2016 17:22:58 -0400 Charly Mottet

For those of you who absolutely adored Spec Ops: The Line, this Kickstarter could be interesting to you. Aurélien, founder of the video game magazine Icarus (Icare in French), is looking to fund a special edition of the magazine dedicated mostly to the third-person shooter. 

Although considered a magazine, the layout will very much resemble an art book. It will cover several themes such as war and religion, explore Spec Ops: The Line in depth, and leave room for several other collaborations, themed articles and interviews. All of this is brought to you with no adverts. 

A religious game of war

"What I'm proposing is an unseen dive into the heart of one of the most fascinating games I've ever played." -Aurélien

Out of the 188 pages the magazine has to offer, 93 of those will be dedicated to analyzing, deciphering and reflecting on Spec Ops: The Line as well as war games in general. Aurélien will go into the depths of war and psychology, as well as Christianity. 

Although the magazine commits 50% of its pages to Spec Ops: The Line, its founder promises that the tone remains analytical and critical. 

On top of the "well documented" articles he has to offer on the game, Aurélien proposes a "tale of the game's creation", as told by François Coulon, the co-lead designer and executive producer for Spec Ops: The Line

Collaborations, themed articles and more

Within the rest of the pages Icarus has to show, readers will be able to find Sheldon Pacotti's (scenarist for Deus Ex) vision of the 21st century and "a piece by Jordy Rodriguez", creator of indie game Micy Roll

"We spent more than 11 hours on Skype to come up with this result." -Aurélien

Several themed articles about religion, war and other related topics also fill up these pages. As well as the in-depth analysis of the third-person shooter, Aurélien offers 33 pages on Alessandro Taini, former Ninja Theory Art Director. A very long interview of the artist allows readers to "learn about his career and vision". 

The money raised for this Kickstarter will serve several purposes: it will not only help Aurélien print and ship his magazine, but it will also help pay for the translators' work (it is being translated from French to English). If this Kickstarter works out for Aurélien, his next project will be to work on a magazine dedicated to Deus Ex and transhumanism. 

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The Best Moments When Games Break the Fourth Wall https://www.gameskinny.com/fa6uk/the-best-moments-when-games-break-the-fourth-wall https://www.gameskinny.com/fa6uk/the-best-moments-when-games-break-the-fourth-wall Fri, 10 Jun 2016 11:25:01 -0400 Brandon Morgan

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So, there you have it. Five games that managed to break the fourth wall in highly unique ways. These five experiences managed to stick in our heads long after playing them -- and not only because they truly pulled us into the game world, but also because they broke out of it.

\n

These developers know all about making unique experiences. What fourth wall-breaking game stands out for you, though? Let me know in the comments!

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/6d53681ab3010dff07c60d839ed9fa94.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/6d53681ab3010dff07c60d839ed9fa94.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8759","description":"

Borderlands

\n
Undead Ned
\n

Borderlands was a fantastic game in terms of a cooperative experience in a zany first-person world. Partnered with all of the content released after launch and everything already there to complete in-game, and players were treated to a pretty significant package.

\n

As for breaking the fourth wall, the end credits took care of that. An undead version of Dr. Ned appears, crashing through the scrolling credits for one final boss fight. The player thought things were over, and then Ned was calling them back for one more stomp.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/154351b49c315cfa119e65ea83282dd5.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/154351b49c315cfa119e65ea83282dd5.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8758","description":"

Spec Ops: The Line 

\n
Konrad's Speech (Ending)
\n

Spec Ops: The Line was pure genius. The game ensured players felt like sick, demented individuals for partaking in the sequences throughout -- all the while telling an interesting, compelling story of the darkness that ensues during wartime. 

\n

One sequence, however, stands apart from the rest. The end speech brought to you by Konrad literally calls the player out for empowering themselves by playing video games. Granted, the in-game character was originally speaking to Captain Walker, but the developer ensured it felt fourth wall-breaking, too.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/e97ae245de6fa0381d37f4e710421965.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/e97ae245de6fa0381d37f4e710421965.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8757","description":"

Batman: Arkham Asylum

\n
Game Crash
\n

Rocksteady certainly made a name for themselves with the Arkham games set in the Batman universe. Some were better than others, but a significant point in the first game really set the standard for fourth wall-breaking experiences recently.

\n

The point in question relates to the scene where Batman becomes the villain for a time. Joker then slaughters the hero. Players are told to use their middle stick to dodge the gunshot, but due to Scarecrow's drugs messing with the controls and mechanics of the game, we are unable to do so.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/90bc303434e08543f00c7c52529f5224.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/90bc303434e08543f00c7c52529f5224.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8734","description":"

Tomb Raider 2

\n
Shower Scene
\n

Tomb Raider has a come long way over the past few decades -- what with new graphics, a new story, and even a new character model changing things up. Almost everyone was a pervert when it came to the curves of Lara Croft, and the shower scene in the second game was easily a highlight of the experience of the tomb explorer.

\n

In this particular scene, near the end of the game, Lara acknowledged the camera being within the bathroom with her. She then told the player watching that they had witnessed enough before pulling her shotgun on us.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/79df413553bae8253e70cdc848198ad0.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/79df413553bae8253e70cdc848198ad0.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8733","description":"

Assassin's Creed 2

\n
Minerva's Reveal (End Game)
\n

Assassin's Creed 2 is often considered one of the best games in the franchise, as it made a pretty darn good sequel to the first release. There were some faults, sure, but what game doesn't have issues?

\n

When it came to the ending, however, things took a different turn. Minerva made an appearance, but instead of speaking directly to Desmond Miles, she walked right up to the camera and spoke to the player, essentially breaking the fourth wall down entirely. She is addressing a future version of Desmond through the player.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/1/7/5/1757599072d5e85.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/1/7/5/1757599072d5e85.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121159","description":"

Breaking the fourth wall within a video game is certainly not a brand new concept these days. We've witnessed it done in the right way for decades now -- with some games performing this feat better than others, of course.

\n

Sometimes, however, breaking the fourth wall can be a decoy tactic for when your video game is not quite clever enough. Other times, it is a witty way to include the player in just one more aspect of the experience.

\n

In any case, breaking the fourth wall is relatively interesting. And here are a few prime examples of how great it can be when it's done right.

"}]]]>
PlayStation Now adds enough new games to overfill a hard drive https://www.gameskinny.com/i81pi/playstation-now-adds-enough-new-games-to-overfill-a-hard-drive https://www.gameskinny.com/i81pi/playstation-now-adds-enough-new-games-to-overfill-a-hard-drive Tue, 07 Jun 2016 07:09:41 -0400 Lisa Filmer

PlayStation announced that tomorrow they will be adding 50 new games to PlayStation Now. With the addition of these games, the PlayStation Now subscription service will have more than 400 games total in its catalog.

Among the 50 new games added are: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, The Darkness II, Spec Ops: The Line, and Duke Nukem Forever. Details about these games can be found here.

PlayStation now is a cloud gaming service, so you don’t need hard drive space to play its games. But, what if you did? How much hard drive space would you need for these new games?

The average PS4 only has a 500GB hard drive. And, according to ExtremeTech, the average PS4 game download is 13.08GB. Which means if you wanted to download all 50 of these new games, it would take 654GB of space!

But, what if you wanted to play more? With PlayStation Now having more than 400 games in their line-up, it would take 5,232GB on average to download them all. That means you would need a portable hard drive of over 5TB connected to your PlayStation!

But, you can stream PlayStation Now games, so you can have them all -- and for less money at that. Starting tomorrow, PlayStation Now is offering 33% off the 3-month subscription service. This drops the price for a 3-month subscription to $29.99, from the normal price of $44.99.

This discount will be available until July 11, 2016. During the promotion, the discount only applies to the first 3-month subscription purchased. If you're not sure whether you want to buy it, there is a 7-day free trial of PlayStation Now available here.

Be ready to play over 400 games in the PlayStation Store. Including these 2K titles: Borderlands, Borderlands 2, BioShock, BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite, XCOM: Enemy Within, and NBA 2K14.

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10 Decisions That Suck No Matter Which Side You Choose https://www.gameskinny.com/nup9p/10-decisions-that-suck-no-matter-which-side-you-choose https://www.gameskinny.com/nup9p/10-decisions-that-suck-no-matter-which-side-you-choose Tue, 24 May 2016 06:58:49 -0400 Justin White

Games and media in this day and age are all about choice and the moral grey. Is this the right decision? Is it the wrong decision? Is it neither--with a negative outcome either way? This top ten list explores those latter types of decisions and choices, like having to choose which member of your squad will live or die, or whether or not to side with a particular group in a dispute--either way, the outcome will suck for somebody.

WatchMojo.com's top 10 list of the hardest gaming decisions they've had to make will contain spoilers for the following games:

  • Dragon Age II
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • Fable II
  • Mass Effect
  • Infamous 
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Deus Ex
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • L.A. Noire
  • The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series

Which choices you had to make haunted to you?

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How games use instinctual fear against us https://www.gameskinny.com/taw26/how-games-use-instinctual-fear-against-us https://www.gameskinny.com/taw26/how-games-use-instinctual-fear-against-us Mon, 02 Nov 2015 11:57:28 -0500 Clint Pereira

Psychologists tell us that there are five fears that everyone shares: extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, and ego-death. These are fears that have plagued human beings since the dawn of man.

But how do video games, specifically, use these fears? There's more to spooking someone than jump scares.

Extinction

What is it?

The fear of no longer being. The fear of complete oblivion. You no longer exist. You are no longer conscious. You have returned to a state of emptiness.

Games that do it well

Most games don't pull this off very well. After all, death is usually just a minor irritation. It's games like Limbo and Mirror's Edge that really make the act of death terrifying. That spider's leg through the chest or that whooshing sound before hitting the ground is terrifying.

Arcade games were probably the best at scaring their players, though, but not in the way you might think. Game over screens, like the ones in Ninja Gaiden and Final Fight, were designed to get people to feel like they were letting their character die, all so they could put more quarters into the machine.

Mutilation

Games that do it well

Losing a limb is extremely traumatic. People who have lost limbs will even experience phantom pains. Mutilation is closely related to extinction, though you can be mutilated without dying. We'd all like to live our lives in one piece, and even just seeing a person with an amputation can be unnerving for most people.

Games that do it well

Dead Space and Outlast are two games that come immediately to mind. In Dead Space, the loss of limbs and eyes is often preceded by death. In Outlast, you get to watch your character's fingers brutally amputated before escaping the asylum.

Loss of autonomy

What is it?

You are trapped. Whether in a literal space or not, your freedom and choices are limited. Like an animal, it is your instinct to go into fight-or-flight mode when you feel cornered.

Games that do it well

This is one of the most common fear exploits in games, often employed in games that have jump scares. P.T. and Five Nights at Freddy's are two games that restricts autonomy by limiting player movement to one (neverending) hallway. The fear is in the feeling of being trapped; the jump scares are just there to trigger the fight-or-flight panic.

Some games will use game mechanics and graphics limitations to their advantage. Silent Hill, for instance, has a constant fog or darkness around the player character. Resident Evil uses fixed camera angles and tank controls to keep the player from feeling too powerful or in control.

Separation

What is it?

You are alone. There is nobody around, at least nobody you can relate to. If there are any people, they are empty shells or alien personalities. You can't touch them or talk with them or relate to them at all. You start to feel less human...

Games that do it well

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has characters, but they all seem off and inhuman. Silent Hill, too, uses vaguely inhuman characters to its advantage. The town's fog also acts as a way of making the player feel isolated and alone. Additionally, Yume Nikki and Silent Hill 4: The Room, create a feeling of isolation by having a bland room be the only solace from a nightmare world that you have to traverse. In both games, dealing with monsters becomes a relief when confronted with the stark isolation of your apartment.

Ego death

What is it?

You are not the person you thought you were. A rift forms in your psyche. You can't tell right from wrong, the truth from the lie. Ego death is often considered the first step in a spiritual transformation, but it is in itself not beautiful or radiant.

Ego death is the death of one's identity. And if one cannot find a way to cope, it may as well be a real death.

Games that do it well

This is notoriously difficult to pull off, as players see themselves as separate from the character. Unless first completely immersed in the character identity, there's little the game can do to cause any kind of ego-death.

Still, some games are able to use the player's feeling of heroism and power against them. Spec Ops: The Line and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater are two such games in which the player starts out as the hero but turns out to be the villain. Both the player and player character have to face the fact that they made bad choices and are not really the person they thought they were.

Summary

Games don't have time to condition new fears for players. Instead, they have to tap into instinctual, or sometimes cultural, fears.

All of these fears are survival mechanisms, to keep us from dying, from losing ourselves into the dark unknown. But in spite of the dehumanizing nature of these fears, sharing them through stories or games does one miraculous thing.

It makes us feel human again.

Image sources: Alien: Isolation via kotaku.com; Ninja Gaiden via youtube.com; Dead Space via en.wikipedia.org; P. T. via anthonyvecch.com; Silent Hill 4: The Room via venturebeat.com; Spec Ops: The Line via everydaygamers.com

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7 creepiest fourth wall breaks in video games https://www.gameskinny.com/nhb97/7-creepiest-fourth-wall-breaks-in-video-games https://www.gameskinny.com/nhb97/7-creepiest-fourth-wall-breaks-in-video-games Mon, 02 Nov 2015 12:27:52 -0500 Clint Pereira

Hello, reader. I'm sure you know about the fourth wall. If not, it's the imaginary "wall" between us that I'm breaking right now to address you directly.

Games often break the fourth wall to give tutorials or make a self-referential joke. But fourth wall breaking is at its best when it's used to take players out of their comfort zone. In horror games, it can be used to terrifying effect.

7. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Before you realize Batman has been injected with Scarecrow's neurotoxin, the screen starts going out of focus, as if there is something wrong with the game itself.

But that's not the last of it. Even after you find out what's happening, the game gives you a fake game over screen. Way to hit the player where it hurts.

6. Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a game about the mental breakdown of the protagonist, Martin Walker, as he tries to complete his mission against all reason.

As Walker slowly loses his mind, loading screens begin to address you, the player: "This is all your fault." "How many Americans have you killed today?" "You are still a good person."

5. Dead Space 2

Dr. Nolan Stross is going mad. He sees things that other people don't. And while this is reason enough to be cautious around the man, he becomes even creepier when he directs his mad ramblings at the player.

"He's staring at me, Isaac. Through the... holes... in his head. Stop staring at me! Stop it!"

Before this scene happens, you get a good view of the room. There's nothing Stross could be screaming at except for a wall. That is, the fourth wall.

4. Bravely Default

If you don't want spoilers for Bravely Default, it may be time to scroll past this section.

A revelation comes right after you begin to suspect something is wrong with your fairy partner, Airy. The game immediately confirms your suspicions by giving the message "airy lies" in the US version or "lying airy" in European and Japanese versions.

The once-familiar menu screen is permanently branded with this haunting revelation.

3. Undertale

Flowey is one of the creepiest fourth wall breakers in games, hands down.

If you kill Toriel at the beginning of the game and reset, he will know what you did and will mock you for feeling bad about killing her.

During the genocide run, Flowey will mock not you but all of the people watching on YouTube who don't have the guts to play through a genocide themselves.

Flowey has everyone's number.

2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

This Gamecube game really went directly for the jugular of the player. There were jump scares and spooky things, of course, but losing "sanity meter" in game also meant that the game would appear to reset itself, mute the television, unplug the controller, or erase your save file. Brutal.

Even when you caught on, it was unnerving to see this happen for the first time.

1. Metal Gear Solid

This is the moment that everyone remembers from Metal Gear Solid. How does Psycho Mantis know I play Castlevania and Suikoden?!

It may seem silly now (the game reads off your PlayStation memory card), but at the time it was a mindblowing event.

After all, a voice actor had to read these lines off. How many games could he possibly know?

Well, as it turns out, just those two Konami games. It kind of loses its steam once you know more about it.

 

Maybe developers can push horror so far out of the game that it turns into comedy again. After all, the games at the top of the list are only there because they did it first.

Surely you can see, reader, that breaking the fourth wall means less when it is overused. This is a difficult technique to pull off, which makes the games on this list all the more impressive.

Image sources: Batman: Arkham Asylum via smh.com.au and gearnuke.com; Spec Ops: The Line via cdn.cdnmagonline.com; Deadspace 2 via deadspace.wikia.com; Bravely Default via finalfantasy.wikia.com; Undertale via steamed.kotaku.com; Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem via pauseyourgame.com; Metal Gear Solid via castlevania.wikia.com

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The 7 parenting skills I developed by being a gamer https://www.gameskinny.com/iwxes/the-7-parenting-skills-i-developed-by-being-a-gamer https://www.gameskinny.com/iwxes/the-7-parenting-skills-i-developed-by-being-a-gamer Mon, 20 Jul 2015 08:32:24 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

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It’s interesting what parallels that one can correlate between parenting and gaming after some thought. While there are other parenting skills gaming has influenced and sharpened, I found these the most interesting and important. Now if you’ll excuse me, I probably have some fingerpainted dogs to clean off the walls…

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Loving Something that Isn’t Perfect

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We all enjoy games, but we know there is no such thing as a perfect game. It is impossible. Every game is flawed in some way. While we may be able to overlook the flaws even the greatest games have, some of gamers even enjoy games that have issues. We know they are far from perfect and they have issues, yet we still love them and hold them dear to our hearts. Now how in the world can that apply to parenting? Rather easily, it turns out.

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The most important thing you can do as a parent is love your child. You could provide your child with everything they could ever want or dream of, but without loving them, they would not be content with their life. While there are other important skills tasks you have as a parent, few come close in importance to loving your child.

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A parent’s love is dumbfounding, terrifying, and stronger than adamantium. However, children are far from perfect. Hell, kids are basically little adults with no life experience. They will make mistakes, they'll have 'bugs', and they'll frustrate you sometimes. The thing is, no matter what our children may do, we parents will continue to love our children; just like we gamers will continue to cherish our flawed, but enjoyable games.

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Organization is Awesome

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I tend to be a bit anal with some things. My movie, music, and game collections are all alphabetized. I have also somehow organized my colossal Steam and GOG.com libraries by genre. No easy feat, I assure you.

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I have also organized my book collection as well as my shoes, clothes, and my MMO inventories, and our Guild Bank, and you get the idea…. Having games organized allows you to easily find the game you just have a hankering to play, otherwise you are stuck rummaging through a pile of assorted games with no clue as to where that elusive game is! I've learned a thing or two about organizing damn-near everything.

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As a parent, being organized is a must for everyday life as well as when you want to go somewhere. Organized clothes ensures you aren’t dressing your child in winter clothes in the heat of summer (you’d be surprised what happens when you aren’t awake yet). Having your child’s toys organized allows you to easily lay hands on that particular toy when they ask, “Where’s my favorite action figure block?!” While it may not always be easy, staying organized is a great skill for parents and gamers alike.

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Ignoring the Haters and Dealing with Bullies

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Like many people, I have had my fair share dealing with bullies, harassers, and those mean-spirited haters. Thankfully, dealing with people like this will allow me to help my daughter when she encounters these toxic creatures. While I hope and pray she won’t encounter them, it seems an inevitable passage of life we all must face.

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We’ve all been there before. Playing our favorite game when someone decides to take it upon themselves and be the ugliest person they can be, usually in the form of sexist, hateful, and derogatory remarks.

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Believe it or not, dealing with these people online helps determine how you will deal with similar people in real life. The exposure to meanies and bullies online will help you to deal with future incidents in a positive manner, and help you teach your kids how to rise above the negativity.

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Shrugging Off Critics and Their Unwanted Advice

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I’m convinced the moment you become a parent you gain an invisible bulls-eye for unwanted advice and criticism. I am all about useful, helpful, and constructive advice, but useless and hyper-critical advice from random strangers or even people you know? No thanks, mate.

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Once I was walking towards my daughter with a bag of chips I was snacking on in hand. Someone told me, “Don’t feed that baby chips!” The joys of parenting! Thankfully, due to countless backseat gamers, I know how to shrug off this sort of uninvited backseat parenting.

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The above story is probably also familiar to anyone who has ventured into the realm of online multiplayer. How many times have you been minding your own business fulfilling the role of your character only to receive criticism? “Why are you going top with Jinx?!” “Don’t use your abilities yet!” "Don't heal that baddie!" And so it goes.

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While some of the things said online might be more akin to harassment and bullying (which we will get to), a lot of it is in a similar camp to the unwanted, not very helpful advice. By being constantly exposed to it, you learn how to deal with, ignore, deflect, or whatever it is you do. The important thing to remember is to not let it get you, either when playing games or parenting.    

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A Willingness to Try New Things

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As a parent, it can be difficult to get your child to try new things. “It looks gross! I don’t like the way it smells. This place is different!” And so on. Kids can be very picky, especially when it comes to food. Thankfully, my daughter is a miniature vacuum cleaner at the moment and rarely finds something she will not eat. (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.) As parents, we want to ensure our child experiences things they might not otherwise. Great things can arise when you leave your comfort zone. Variety is the spice of life after all.

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Fellow players also know how important trying new things can be. Some of my favorite games include Spec Ops: The Line, To the Moon, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. All three games are drastically different and stretch across multiple genres. Without being willing to try something different from my usual taste, I would have probably never played these amazing games. How many times have we played a game we thought was strange because our friend or a critic we respect recommended it?

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By trying new things, we allow ourselves to be open to a wide variety of experiences and whatever may follow. Sure, you can play the same yearly iterations of Madden and Call of Duty, but you miss out on great games such as Brothers, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Transistor, and Bayonetta.

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By being a gamer who embraces variety and is willing to try a wide variety of titles, I know the importance of variety and hope my daughter will grow up appreciating variety as well. Hopefully she will never be a picky eater too! 

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A Thrifty Gamer is a Thrifty Parent

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If you play games, chances are you are a bargain hunter, even if only a small amount. We are always hunting for deals and steals in order to play as many games as possible for as little money as it takes. Steam Sales, Humble Bundles, bargain bins, and yard sales are just some of the tools in our repertoire we use to get those cheap deals! (I even wrote a guide on how to be bargain gamer for consoles.) Many players shop smart, are frugal, and know how to do as much research as they can to find the best deal possible.

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Having a child can be quite expensive. Car seats, beds, clothes, diapers, and the many other necessities add up quick. However, being a thrifty gamer absolutely transfers into being a thrifty parent.

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I could buy that brand-new Graco carseat for $300 (these things are expensive), or I can get this other one someone returned, in like-new condition, for only $100! I have found myself constantly calculating the cost of individual wipes, diapers, and more in an effort to make the best buy and stretch my funds as much as possible. My constant bargain-hunting for games has allowed me to find great deals on things for my daughter. Stay thrifty my friends! 

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Patience is a Virtue

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One of the most important qualities you can have as a parent is patience, especially with younger children. Kids are curious and will get into EVERYTHING. It’s just a fact of life. You can turn your back for an instant and turn around to discover your child has fingerpainted animals on all of your walls. While kids will always do things they are not supposed to and they will disobey, we still must remain patient with them.

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Anyone who has played any game has had to learn patience. Those of us who grew up playing the frustratingly difficult games of the NES generation know what I mean. Most games require some degree of patience in order to be successful. Players who are fans of notoriously difficult games such as Super Meat Boy and the Souls series, among many others, are well acquainted with our friend patience. Now if you are constantly breaking your controller in frustration, you might want to work on that… 

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I have been playing games for my entire life so far with no end in sight. Over the years of playing games, I have learned many things about myself and the way I experience media, as well as what genuinely affects me on an emotional level (among countless other things). I recently discussed the benefits kids acquire from playing games.

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Now imagine my surprise when I realized all that time playing games has actually taught me to be a better parent. Crazy, eh?

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Believe it or not, there are certain skills you can develop by being a member of the gaming culture at large. While not all of these develop strictly from playing games, per se; they are all interconnected and have developed in some way through the years due to my time with games and the culture. So, how can your game time now possibly translate to being an awesome parent later? Let’s find out!    

"}]]]>
Second Chance: 10 Underrated Games You Need to Play https://www.gameskinny.com/hzurx/second-chance-10-underrated-games-you-need-to-play https://www.gameskinny.com/hzurx/second-chance-10-underrated-games-you-need-to-play Mon, 25 May 2015 11:52:53 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

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These ten titles are only a handful of underrated and overlooked games out there.

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What are your overlooked favorites? Sound off in the comments below!

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Second Sight

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Imagine playing a stealth title where you had the powers of telekinesis, astral projection, and more instead of gadgets and guns. Welcome to Second Sight! While the player does have firearms at their disposal, the game strongly emphasizes stealth and smart, tactical decisions to stay undetected. Ever wanted to pull a guard’s gun from their hand with telekinesis and then use a tranquilizer gun to subdue them? Here you can! Sam Fisher has nothing on John Vattic.

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The game follows John Vattic, a skeptic to psychic abilities who awakes without his memories and psionic powers! The player helps guide Vattic on his path to regain his memories, and stop an evil plot which seeks to use human guinea pigs bestowed with psychic powers as military weapons. Developed by the team at Free Radical Design, the game was a welcome departure from their fantastic FPS Timesplitters series.

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Contact 

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You have to love Grasshopper Manufacture and Atlus. Grasshopper develops some of the most bizarre games and Atlus seems to publish something for everyone. If there is a niche, Atlus has ya covered. With that said, I am not sure which niche the developers had in mind for Contact. The game is an RPG, but it is so different from every other RPG I have ever played.

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The game follows Terry, a young boy who is enlisted by a professor to help repair the professor’s spaceship. However, there are two separate plots at work here. The game follows Terry and his adventures, but the game also includes a separate storyline for the player themselves as well. The professor actually directly addresses the player on multiple occasions and aims to keep them a secret from Terry. Needless to say, it is a different tale, and the fourth wall has never been shattered this much sans Deadpool’s presence in a game. Another interesting aspect to the game was how experience was gained instantaneously whenever an action was performed. Took a hit? Your defense increases and so on. It was not uncommon to grow stronger during a battle, gaining an edge on your foe.

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The game can be difficult to track down, but if you are interested, it is one of the most unique games you can find to date.

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El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

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This game is absolutely stunning. No really. Watch the video above you and see this game in action. Words do not do this work of art justice. With its anime-inspired, watercolor art aesthetic, the game looks like a painting come to life. With a combat system revolved around taking your opponent’s weapons and armor and utilizing it against them, it made for a different tempo from other games.

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I do need to include this disclaimer though. The game is inspired by the Book of Enoch. So if you are sensitive to religious content, themes, etc., you might not enjoy this as much as I have. However, if that does not bother you, you are in for one gorgeous treat!

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Bulletstorm

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Ah Bulletstorm, the definition of glorious excess and irreverent. This is a game that turned heads for its great, arcade-inspired shooting and kept your attention with one of the most gleefully puerile scripts in all of gaming; it’s terrific stuff. Hell, there’s a female in the game who tells the main character, “I will kill your d***.” Since the developers are based in Poland and English is not their first language, they asserted they did not realize how crude the game was, and they added the gratuitous language because it sounded funny, hearing Steve Blum using language that would make a sailor blush while sliding to get that skill shot makes for a great time.

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By using a point-based system to unlock upgrades and weapons, the game encourages experimentation and originality when dispatching foes rather than simply having another boring game of Whack-a-Mole with guns. With tight controls, guns that are fun to use and have a sense of power, the shooting in Bulletstorm never gets old. Did I mention you get to set a giant, mechanized fire-breathing lizard upon your foes? Oh yeah, that happens. And Steve Blum! What else could you possibly want?

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Hard Corp: Uprising

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Sigh. What the hell Konami? Besides canceling Silent Hills and Kojima leaving after MGS5 is finished, Konami has also allowed Hard Corps: Uprising to be the last entry in the Contra series for four years now with no signs of another entry. Hard Corps delivered what we have come to expect and love from Contra: lots of enemies, gigantic bosses, challenging gameplay, and tight controls. What Hard Corps added was some maneuverability to the player’s repertoire of tricks. With the addition of double jumping, dashing, and projectile deflection, the added mechanics allowed the players to do more than previous entries. The addition of co-op made for double the fun and double the deaths. Any fan of Contra and side-scrolling shooters should give this one a try!

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ilomilo

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Let’s get this out of the way: this game is doggoned cute! There I said it! Happy now? I never thought a game could be considered “cute”, but here is the perfect example. Your task is to reunite Ilo and Milo, two friends separated by various obstacles and complications. It’s harder than its cute, patchwork visuals let on. With multiple characters to control, crazy physics, and wide playing areas to traverse, the game certainly scratched the cerebral itch. Now give it a shot and get sucked into its adorable world!

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To the Moon

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I recently mentioned how To the Moon was one of only two games to ever make me shed a tear. Boy did it! The tale of two scientists helping a dying man to achieve his dying wish is one of the most touching narratives in gaming and is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks in the business. I really don’t want to talk about the game too much in fear I’ll give something away. Just devote the three to four hours it takes to complete the game and enjoy!

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Condemned: Criminal Origins

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Launching for the Xbox 360, Condemned was a unique title for Microsoft’s new console. The game followed FBI agent Ethan Thomas on the trail of a serial killer. What made the game stand out, besides the crime scene investigations, was the combat. First person brawling has been done before, but has rarely been done well or turned out enjoyable. Condemned was one of the few that managed to be well done and enjoyable to play.

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By having the combat unfold in first person and in melee range, the fighting felt visceral and intimate. You weren’t detached by using a firearm to snipe hapless enemies from a distance. You were fighting tooth and nail for your life while wielding whatever weapons were found in your environment. You also were usually locked into combat with less than four enemies, further adding to the intimate feel of the brawling. Monolith really delivered something great with this one; just skip the sequel. It jumped the shark three times in a row and then circled back to eat the shark after it had finished its aerial acrobatics.

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Spec Ops: The Line

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Spec Ops: The Line has one of the best narratives in gaming. Period. The game was a brilliant subversion of military games and our obsession and voracious appetite for them. The strange thing is critics and people “got” Hotline Miami’s message about violence, yet the underlying meaning in Spec Ops seemed to go largely unnoticed, despite both titles releasing a mere five months apart from one another. In fact, many reviewers focused on the lackluster multiplayer instead of the narrative or mechanics at work. 

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Spec Ops: The Line is not a game you enjoy. In fact, it is a demanding piece of art to endure, yet it is worth it in the end. There are four endings to the game, but one of the developers was quoted as saying a fifth ending was possible when the player cannot take any more and simply stops playing. Sunshine and lollipops this is not, but rarely do we play games which actually ask us hard questions and force us to examine ourselves.

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The Darkness

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Released in 2007, The Darkness was an adaptation of the popular comic series published by Topcow Comics. Developed by the talented team at Starbreeze Studios, The Darkness delivered a slick, dark shooting experience with some satisfying demonic powers to utilize against your enemies in the mob. What really makes the game memorable to me is the character of Jenny.

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She is the main character Jackie’s love interest in the game, but is actually more than a cliché female character. The relationship between the two also manages to elicit emotions from the player other game romances cannot. There is a part in the game where you are at her house and have the option leave. If you leave, nothing happens, and the plot and game continues. If you opt to stay however, a special moment occurs. However, rather than anything sexual occurring, Jackie and Jenny cuddle on the couch and make convincing small talk while To Kill a Mockingbird plays on the television. It is something far more intimate than loyalty missions and countless conversations have ever done. The game is also a great shooter too; so it’s a win-win!

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Did I mention Mike Patton (of Faith no More, among countless other projects) did the voice of the titular Darkness with no sort of voice software or editing? You know you want to play it now.

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We all know some underrated games. Games we feel did not get the attention they deserved or a fair shake at the time of their initial release. With that in mind, here are ten games you really owe it to yourself to play if you have not. I guarantee you will not regret it!

"}]]]>
What It's Like Reviewing Games with Synesthesia https://www.gameskinny.com/s4io7/what-its-like-reviewing-games-with-synesthesia https://www.gameskinny.com/s4io7/what-its-like-reviewing-games-with-synesthesia Sun, 10 May 2015 13:02:35 -0400 Elijah Beahm

A few weeks back, I sat down with G.B. Burford to talk about game critiquing. One of the things we touched upon was reviewing with synesthesia. In the interview, G.B. even admitted he couldn't really nail it down how it felt to feel this way, but Marvel's recent Netflix series Daredevil actually captures a lot of what it feels like.

Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon that triggers multiple sensory responses from stimuli.

Each of us with it just genuinely feel things on a different level than the average person. When most people look at a number, they only see a number. But when someone with synesthesia sees a number, they might also feel an emotion or see a different color in response to it.

For the longest time, I merely described as like almost tasting a game, song, TV show, or movie. I often found if something was (in my opinion) good, it would impact me on multiple levels, almost like an adrenaline rush. If I ever felt something wasn't good, it would feel like white noise, or like I was being aggravated on multiple levels.

I tried to get a better grasp on what this meant and how it informed my reviews, and it took several years to get even an implicit idea of what it was about. Explaining it briefly has always been a struggle as a result. But in the Daredevil episode "Stick", when we learn how Daredevil started his training, there's a scene that perfectly encapsulates how it feels.

The titular mentor Stick and a young Matt Murdock (i.e. Daredevil) are sitting on a park bench, eating some ice cream. Stick asks Matt about the ice cream, wanting him to describe it. Matt just says it's vanilla. Stick then tells him to look deeper, and Stick dissects what makes it up.

He talks about how there's tons of chemicals in it, along with a hefty amount of sugar and cream. He notes the hint of dirt from the ice cream man, who likely was doing gardening before going to work. He uses his sense of taste to detect multiple aspects all at once. He extrapolates the sensations and divines a meaning. It's more than paying attention to details -- it's figuring out how they connect and what your brain is telling you.

This is the closest I think anything has come to explaining what it is like for me when I am reviewing a game.

Let me give you an in-depth example: When I was playing through the Halo saga for a retrospective, I spent a good hour or so trying to figure out why the weapons in Halo 4 seemed less satisfying than in the original trilogy. On a superficial level, the guns felt more powerful, but they also made me feel hollow, like as if there was an echo chamber in my body that would ring slightly with every shot. It didn't matter if the Covenant died faster, there was still something missing. I wasn't just hearing the gun sounds, I was feeling them too. 

I found myself favoring weapons that felt more like the ones in the old games did. This was particularly confusing since firing a shotgun in Halo: Combat Evolved felt almost therapuetic. The gun would move, and it felt like I was performing some graceful motion. I'd reload and it felt like a clock was ticking down in my head, and like my mind was counting every second before I could fire again. Firing was like ramming a truck through a solid wall and coming out the other side perfectly intact.

The sensation of using a weapon in Halo was amazing. So why did Halo 4 lack this? Because my synesthesia allowed me to notice all these things, I realized that 343 Industries favors a lighter, almost Tron-like feel to their equipment. You don't notice it at first because most guns and enemies look the same, just shinier. I had at first thought the difference was because of the rebalanced combat, but it wasn't. Halo: Reach did the same thing with a lot of the combat, and it worked fine. Except Reach still had the right kind of sound design and animations to make it all click together and trigger the same response. 

And that wasn't the only thing I felt while running through it. Playing Halo 4 was almost like a woosh of air behind my ears, alongside that echo chamber effect. Everything was so clean, so smooth, it almost felt like a completely different entity. It's such a different animal that you wouldn't even need to point out to me that a different team besides Bungie made it. It's written everywhere, if you stop and observe it.

I try to look this hard at every game, and it's why I often take issue with some games other people like.

Once you start doing that, you realize there just isn't an equal amount of focus, execution, and effort that universally makes a game good. Sometimes a game can have amazing stimuli triggers and great ideas, but its execution is a mess. It can be a beautiful mess that sends your brain flying, but it is still a mess. Likewise, a beautifully executed game can feel like eating bad McDonalds food. It has nothing to say, nothing to do, it just feels so artificial and forced that you can hardly force yourself to bother with it.

Believe it or not, this actually really sucks, and is not something I take pleasure in. "Ignorance is bliss" is no joke -- I can't ignore it when something's off. It's like a siren to my ears or a blinding light. It's why I might take a controversial stance on a game. Yet, while I can't ignore what I feel, I know a lot of people aren't going to feel the same. This has been the case with several games.

I mean, back during my days amongst the Game Informer user blogging community, I would catch a lot of fire for some things I'd say. Like, saying I found Borderlands boring, dull, and kind of dry. It genuinely was like eating stale toast for me. I think I got told to die in a grease fire over that. (Or maybe that was for giving Uncharted 2 a 6.25 out of 10.) 

Despite all the negativity, I still feel the stimuli no matter what, and try to take it into account. Here's another example: the cover movement in Spec Ops: The Line. When I first looked at it during the tutorial sequence, it seemed manageable, but not spectacular. Yet, as I grew accustomed to the game and started to absorb it all, I was perplexed by it.

The more rigid feel made my own body become tense. Like I was in the firefight. I felt like I had to be ready to move when I popped out, and be headed right for where I needed to be. But the added clumsiness of popping out of cover would unfortunately pull me out of my immersion, dulling the impact. It was like a duel between a great feeling and a mediocre one.

The heavier weight added so much to the movement experience for me, but when I had to do the weird "walk backwards to leave cover" thing, I felt like I was being pushed out into line of sight. Instead of it permanently bringing down my experience though, it encouraged me to always to try to stick to mobile cover and be more precise with my aiming so I'd have less enemies trying to drop me. A negative stimuli actually improved my playstyle. That is how unpredictably helpful synesthesia can be at times.

It's not always helpful though.

If a game can truly incur no response to your synesthesia, then it's like a deafening silence. To date, I can only name a handful of games that have given me little to no response: Army of Two: The 40th Day, the Sinbad tie-in game (kids make bad game purchases), Avatar: The Last Air Bender (I was naive once upon a time), and the Timeshift demo.

Most games, at worst, just leave me feeling incredibly empty and bored. If a game can't even conjure up that, then I honestly start questioning why I'm even bothering with it. The lack of triggers is almost unsettling. It's almost like losing your sense of smell or taste. The world becomes that much less colorful, whether it's good or bad.

It is impossible to imagine a world (or a game) without my synesthesia, and honestly I don't want to.

Synesthesia is very rarely discussed in the forum of critiquing art and media. It can be an eye-opening wonder (even if it comes at the cost of sometimes driving you to controversial opinions), and I for one am glad I experience it.

I don't expect everyone to feel the same way about games, and I wouldn't want them to. I am happy whenever someone gets pleasure out of a game, but I also can't just ignore what is a very core part of how I experience the world. Ignoring the stimuli is like ignoring the taste of food or the pain from a bruise.

Does that make me better as a critic than anyone else? No. It's just different. 

It took me years to understand what my responses meant and how to tell when it was a positive or a negative. Sometimes something I thought was good would actually turn sour, or an aspect I'd hate about a game would start to trigger a different response and I'd start to like it.

However, it does heavily inform certain opinions and what aspects I focus on with a game. It makes me dig heavily into the details and start to think hard about a game. I honestly don't think I personally would put as much thought into some games as I do, if it weren't for the synestheia. So while it doesn't make me a "super critic", it makes me try to do my best, and for that I am genuinely thankful.

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The Most Engaging Villains in Gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/egwna/the-most-engaging-villains-in-gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/egwna/the-most-engaging-villains-in-gaming Mon, 11 May 2015 10:17:33 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

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Do you agree with my picks? Can you think of any engaging villains I missed? Sound off in the comments below!

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AM - I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

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“But now... to show my kindness... I'll give you a present in return for all the hours of pleasure you've given me. I'll finally allow you to kill yourself.”
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I would be remiss if I did not mention the first homicidal computer in gaming. The main antagonist of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, AM makes the rest of these villains look like harmless cartoon characters. Based on Harlan Ellison’s short story, AM kills off the whole of humanity except for five people. He artificially extends their life and then proceeds to spend the next 110 years torturing them for his pleasure. He is pretty messed up.

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Seeing AM brought to life is simultaneously petrifying and magnificent. Ellison himself performed the voice work for AM, even though he had no experience as a voice actor. The writing alone is enough to send chills up even the most seasoned horror fan’s spine, and the delivery sells the experience. Ellison brings a sardonic, belittling edge to the sentient A.I., which makes his atrocious actions all the more unnerving. GLaDOS and SHODAN both owe a great debt to AM.

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SHODAN - System Shock 2

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“Prepare to join your species in extinction”
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SHODAN is the epitome of a diabolical machine. While GLaDOS may be the new standard for homicidal computers and Fontaine is the standard for traitorous allies who become the main foe, you have to recognize the lady who did both, first.

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Like GLaDOS, SHODAN constantly harangues the player during their quest. While GLaDOS is amusing in her antics, SHODAN is downright terrifying. “The Polito form is dead, insect. Are you afraid? What is it you fear? The end of your trivial existence? When the history of my glory is written, your species shall only be a footnote to my magnificence.” She constantly refers to the player and humans as insects and cockroaches she seeks to exterminate.  And her voice will haunt our dreams for years to come.

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You’d think we would have learned our lesson with A.I.s by now.

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GLaDOS - Portal series

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“Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death.”
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Homicidal robots. Is there anything better? What makes GLaDOS so special is the voice acting and the writing. Sure, villains threaten us all of the time in gaming, but how many make you genuinely laugh or promise you cake and a party? Her persistent insults to your intelligence may annoy, but you cannot help but chuckle at them either. During cooperative play in the sequel, she will even tell players different things in an effort to get the players to turn on each other.  

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The presence of GLaDOS elevates what would be another puzzle game into something more memorable and special. She is full of personality and vibrant and shames most other characters in gaming period, protagonists and antagonists alike. She will always have a special place in our hearts, no matter how much she insulted us. She also gave us “Still Alive” which is more than you have done. You monster.

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Kane - Command & Conquer series

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"Oh, and congratulations on your promotion"
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Ah Kane. Despite being a man who manipulates people by their faith and is a remorseless killer, he remains a loveable rogue. Kane has appeared in nearly all Command & Conquer games and for damn good reason.

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Like Vaas, Kane is largely defined by his actor. Joseph Kucan brings such charisma and terrifying edge to the character, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the murderous despot. He acts without remorse and no regards to the consequences of his actions. Despite all he does, we cannot look away and eagerly await to see what he does next. We love to hate him.

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Hail Nod! 

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The killers in Hotline Miami and you

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“Do you like hurting other people?” 
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Hotline Miami was a neon-saturated, blood-drenched, and gore-filled arcade romp. While the game seemed shallow, the narrative had a surprising amount of depth and subterfuge to it. The player encounters the main masked killers several times in what appear to be trippy hallucinations. The killers make allusions to future events and ask direct questions about the violent acts committed by the player’s character.

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The catch is the game is asking YOU these questions.

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“Do you like hurting people? You’re not a nice person are you? Why did you came back here? You're not a nice person, are you? You make me sick!”  The game itself is a commentary on video game violence and our perceptions about it. The developers themselves made an appearance and address the player as well. There aren’t many games where the developers themselves tell you how terrible a person you are. Too bad the sequel went all-out in the opposite direction…

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All the villains of No More Heroes

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"Don't die on me too quickly now, I want to gorge myself on the sense of fulfillment until I vomit." 
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The assassins who stand in Travis Touchdown’s way on his quest to become the top-ranked assassin are a colorful and memorable bunch. Every one is distinct and engages the player in their own way. 

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Dr. Peace is the second assassin you face in the game, and he makes for one hell of a memorable adversary. When you meet him, he tells you about a dinner he had with his family and he utters this line, "Unfortunately, the atmosphere was a facade. Not once did my own daughter looked me in the eye. Oh, the food? Tasted like blood..."

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Destroyman is a postal worker who cosplays as a character from a cult film who also fights dirty and resorts to cheap tactics. Holly Summers fights with a prosthetic leg which can fire ANTI-AIRCRAFT missiles. She will also beat you with a shovel.... To each their own. Harvey Moiseiwitsch Volodarskii is a stage magician who uses several tricks of his trade in his attempt to do you in. Bad Girl is a demented young lady who spends her free time bludgeoning cloned men clad in bondage gear while she is garbed in Lolita attire. Dark Star is a parody of Darth Vader with a crazy beam katana (lightsaber) which can project dragons and might have an A.I.? Like I said, they are an interesting bunch.

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The fact that you have ten of these wild characters to encounter in just one game makes for one unforgettable game, and I did not even touch on the sequel. 

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Colonel John Konrad - Spec Ops: The Line

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“The truth, Walker, is that you're here because you wanted to feel like something you're not; a hero”
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Spec Ops: The Line is one of my favorite games of all time and boasts one of the best narratives in gaming. Seriously. Play it if you have not. Your character, Captain Walker, is sent with his squad to Dubai to find Konrad, a former commander of Walker’s. What follows is a descent into Hell and one of the most gut-wrenching games you can play. If you don’t feel something after playing this game, you may want to seek help.

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Largely inspired by Joseph Conrad’s (clever eh?) Heart of Darkness and Colonel Walter E. Kurtz from the classic Apocalypse Now, Konrad is an enigmatic and shadowy figure. Like Colonel Kurtz in the film, Konrad is not seen much until the end of the proceedings, but his presence is felt everywhere. He talks to you over the radio; he leaves messages for you; he tests your resolve and character; and he causes you to question your actions. But when was there a gaming villain who was right in the end and also made you think about your actions? Cue the existential crisis. 

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Psycho Mantis - Metal Gear Solid

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“From the moment we're thrown into this world, we're fated to bring each other nothing but pain and misery”
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All of Metal Gear Solid’s foes were engaging and memorable in their ways, but Psycho Mantis is undoubtedly the most beloved. The psychic warrior’s emaciated appearance belies the nature of his abilities and his true strength in battle.

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What makes Mantis so engaging was not only his dialogue but the constant fourth wall breaks during his fight. He reads your mind (memory card) and can even make your controller rumble. To defeat him, players had to move their controller to another port thereby “confusing” the psi-warrior. From the moment he appeared on screen until he leaves, you can’t help but be absorbed in his amazing (for the time) tricks and shenanigans he pulls on Snake. Tricky blighter. 

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Vaas Montenegro - Far Cry 3

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“Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?”
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Oh Vaas. How we love to hate you. The antagonist for most (the good part) of Far Cry 3,¸Vass has made a huge impact despite only starring in one game. When Ubisoft was developing the game, Vass was actually a character named Bull and looked nothing like the man we love to fear. After the fantastic Michael Mando auditioned for the part though, the team took inspiration from his physical appearance, and eventually made Vaas Mando’s digital doppelganger.

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Sure, Vass certainly has memorable dialogue, however, Mando’s performance is what makes him so engaging. Mando brings to terrifying life a man who is grasping at the final straws of his sanity. He is highly unpredictable with a violent nature he is not afraid to show off or commit heinous acts. Despite all of the atrocious things he does, the player cannot help but be enraptured with him whenever he shows up on screen. When Vaas does make his exit (still wondering who thought this was a good idea), the game loses a LOT of steam, and I would not blame you if you did not finish it. The fact people would hesitate to complete the game without him speaks volumes to his presence on the game. 

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Frank Fontaine - BioShock

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“Would you kindly?”
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While Ryan may be the more memorable of BioShock’s adversaries, Fontaine is the more diabolical of the two. Fontaine deliberately manipulates and deceives you into doing his evil bidding like an overlord’s minion. While he is ultimately out to get Ryan, he is out to get you as well.

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Fontaine is the exact opposite of Ryan. While Ryan has ideals and morals, Fontaine has none and is simply trying to accumulate wealth and power, even in the hellish remains of a utopian city. Fontaine gains your trust by appearing as a fellow lost soul in Rapture and giving you helpful advice via the radio, which makes his betrayal all the more unnerving. “Nice work, boyo! It’s time to end this lit­tle mas­quer­ade. There ain’t no ‘Atlas’, kid, never was.” Backstabbing b******. 

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Andrew Ryan - BioShock

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"A man has a choice... I chose the impossible."
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BioShock was a hugely influential game with great atmosphere, strong writing, and a terrific narrative to boot. While the game technically has two main antagonists, Andrew Ryan commanded the most respect and was the more charismatic of the two. Ryan was a man of unimaginable wealth and power with a dream he was passionate about to bring to fruition. Ryan was the driving force behind the undersea city of Rapture.

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What makes Ryan engaging are his misguided beliefs and ideals that Rapture were founded upon. He stringently believes in a hands-off approach to civilization and regulation of any sorts. Even when Rapture devolves from a wonderful utopia into pure murderous anarchy, Ryan prefers to stand back and watch from safety at the world he has created. You can’t say the man is not committed to his ideals. After all, he refuses to resist his death merely to prove a point.

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“A man chooses, a slave obeys.”

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Villains are a dime a dozen. Memorable villains are rarer, but engaging villains are the most elusive of all. So what makes a villain engaging and lands them on this list? An engaging villain is more than memorable, terrifying, notorious, or well-known (although several on here are all of those). These antagonists are engaging to the player. They connect to us on some level, and we cannot take our eyes off of them when they appear on screen.

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We hate them, and we love to hate them. In some cases, we even feel regret or sorry for them if we defeat them in battle. They represent something about us or something we desire to see, even if we are not aware of it. With that said, let’s see who made the list!

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The Problem With: First Person Games https://www.gameskinny.com/ox1fz/the-problem-with-first-person-games https://www.gameskinny.com/ox1fz/the-problem-with-first-person-games Tue, 17 Mar 2015 07:41:22 -0400 Farrel Nobel

The other day, I was playing some Far Cry 4 on the PS4. In fact, I wrote an article about it not too long ago.. A few weeks ago, I was playing Call of Duty, and not long before that, Far Cry 3. I seemed to be putting myself on some sort of FPS marathon or something.

The only other game that I've played recently, aside from a FPS, was Assassin's Creed Unity. I've played so many more shooters than other genres, and from all my years of experience playing them, I've found one central problem with them. At least, most of them. 

 

So much for being "immersive"

It's just that FPS stories lack variety and depth. 

In terms of narrative, FPS games are supposed to let you see through the eyes of the most important person in the whole game, you, the main character. FPS games are notorious for having some very mediocre plotlines that just fail to get players emotionally invested in their game. Think, Call of Duty or Battlefield. Those 2 titles are arguably the biggest first person shooting games in, well... first person shooting. Every year they release a new installment and without fail, they sell like hotcakes. And I don't blame the people who buy them. Battlefield and CoD are without a doubt some of the most fun shooters out there in the market.

It's just that FPS stories lack variety and depth. We don't care about the characters enough; there's nothing that make us care about the characters, especially the player we're controlling. 

This is not to say that all their stories aren't up to scratch. Throughout the long line of CoDs, Black Ops has stood out to me as the one with the best story, and I think other gamers can agree. The surprise twist at the end of the solo campaign brought something fresh in a stale, generic gaming genre. Hell, ever since the success of Black Ops' plot, there have been other shooters with similar plotlines that have done it better than Black Ops did. Mainly, Spec Ops: The Line and Bioshock Infinite.

But here's why their stories are usually not up to snuff

In CoD's defense (and Battlefield's too), maybe there wasn't enough time to put together a nice plot because the plain simple (and harsh) truth to games like Call of Duty is this:

Not many gamers care about the story, so why should developers care about making a good story to tell? Cardboard games are still bought in excess and the feedback loop continues.

I might start to sound crazy here, but I think you guys can see the sense in what I'm trying to say. 

The best plot that I've ever played in a FPS is in the Bioshock series, especially Bioshock Infinite. Irrational Games did a fantastic job on that one and crafted the characters with effort to make us invested into their cause. You genuinely care about Elizabeth, and you can feel the oppression in the floating Utopia that is Columbia. It's very rare to see FPS games that keep you so interested in the storyline like Bioshock: Infinite did. 

 

 

Even the best games aren't perfect

I really loved Bioshock: Infinite and Spec Ops: The Line. I love them just as much as I love the Call of Duty multiplayer, maybe even more. But even the games with some great stories have flaws in them. 

In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that FPS games are suppose to let you see through the eyes of the main character. That's just the problem isn't it? You, as the main protagonist, are just there to watch. 

You don't feel like you're making any special connections with the supporting cast (which are usually much more fleshed out than you are). I don't think there has ever been a first person shooting game where I actually cared about the person I'm controlling. And I'm talking about caring-about-Joel-in-Last-of-Us kind of care. 

At the end of the day

But... When you think about it, there have to be some games with good stories while others don't. It's simply because there's a different focus in the development. How come Call of Duty never has a good story? It's just too much of a gamble to invest money and time into it, I guess? They have a great thing going with their super-popular multiplayer; there's no reason to shake things up.

Call of Duty and Battlefield will probably never have a great story for the same reason Bioshock: Infinite doesn't have multiplayer: there is just not enough time or resources to make them in while still meeting their deadlines.

But sometimes it's just nice to think... What if? 

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Pay What You Want: Bioshock, XCOM, and More in Humble 2K Bundle https://www.gameskinny.com/njh96/pay-what-you-want-bioshock-xcom-and-more-in-humble-2k-bundle https://www.gameskinny.com/njh96/pay-what-you-want-bioshock-xcom-and-more-in-humble-2k-bundle Wed, 09 Jul 2014 03:02:17 -0400 Yasmin Curren

Is your bank account still crying out in pain from the Steam Summer Sale even though you're already craving new games? Have no fear, the Humble 2K Bundle has come to the rescue with one of Humble's most enticing game offers to date for pay-what-you-want.

Pay at least $1 and you'll recieve:

Pay over $7.39 for:

Finally, if you're feeling generous, pay over $20 for:

As always all of your money, be it $1 or $100, will be divided between the developer (2K), charities (American Red Cross and Action Against Hunger) and the humble tip jar under your choosing. Each of these games come with Steam-redeamable keys so don't worry, your achievements won't go unnoticed! 

I should probably add that Bioshock comes with a DRM-free version, so now you can kick back and enjoy Rapture in all its Splicer-filled glory without interruption! All of these games are available on Windows with a few available for Mac and Linux too. 

In my personal opinion bundles like this one don't come often, with such popular games being sold for the price of my daily coffee! I've always been intrigued by Darkness II, something about being able to ravage my enemies with supernatural Demon Arms really excites me... I'm already a massive Bioshock fan but there's no harm in having more than one copy right? If you already have it, you can gift it to a friend.

This bundle will be live until 22 July 2014 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Enjoy!


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8 Unique Games You Probably Missed Last Gen https://www.gameskinny.com/so5u3/8-unique-games-you-probably-missed-last-gen https://www.gameskinny.com/so5u3/8-unique-games-you-probably-missed-last-gen Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:44:29 -0400 Elijah Beahm

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Warhammer 40K Space Marine is a game that sounds too good to be true. A game that beautifully hybrids brawling mechanics with third person shooting that works great in single-player and multiplayer. Not only all this, but a game accurately representing the Warhammer 40K universe, and it was developed by a studio known only for strategy games before it's release. Yet somehow Relic pulled it off.

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Despite being critically lauded, retaining an active fanbase, and some decent DLC expansion packs all seemed to be in the game's favor, most players I meet haven't even heard of the game or expected it to be "just another shooter". It is anything but ordinary.

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You can transition from brutal melee kills to shooting off all manner of weaponry from Heavy Bolters to Laser Cannons with an ease and grace that contrasts perfectly with the otherwise grim and gritty science fiction setting. Warhammer 40K was one of the dark science fiction settings that existed long before Gears, and owns it's distinctive take on the setting with sincerity. This is a world of eternal war and insane scale as men in hulking suits do battle with thousands of space hill-billy like Orks and demons from nether regions of Hell.

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The art direction is just like the miniatures from the role playing game, the voice acting is Hollywood grade, the characters all feel like they belong in this world, and the levels inspire awe in the scale of their designs and the game's many attempts to break the traditional "running down a corridor" shooter mold. There is a clear style and tone to the world that it just revels in it.

This is a game that loves it's universe and wants nothing more than to be the epic power fantasy of being an Ultramarine. This even transitions to the game's numerous multiplayer options, giving both Marine versus Marine combat and Marines versus Environment combat options for every fan. The multiplayer features three distinct classes with each filling a distinctive role and their own weapons to choose from. The game gives a huge leg up in accessibility by letting you copy any player's loadout, regardless of your level, if they kill you.

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Once you've had enough fun beating on opposing teams of marines, you can take your friends into the game's dungeon crawler -inspired horde mode. Four marines enter, no Orks are left alive as you rely on team tactics and powers to hold back the unending waves of enemies across multiple linked maps that have different environmental bonuses and layouts. If you survive until the final map, the game ups the difficulty again and gives you bonus waves of Chaos Marines that will push you to the limit.

There is so much on offer in a single package, it's disappointing to realize that with THQ's closure, the planned sequels will never see the light of day. The one major negative as a result is that the game ends on a cliffhanger for the campaign's progatonist Captain Titus. The multiplayer has an unfortunate amount of progression padding as some levels don't even unlock new equipment for no reason. Regardless though, it is a worthwhile game and not something you want to overlook as a fan of either brawlers or shooters.

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Here's one that really slipped you by unless you're a frequent browser of Steam's indie offerings. Gunpoint, is "A 2D stealth game about rewiring things and punching people". Imagine Inspector Gadget as a crime noir with just as much camp and silliness but with the added bonus getting to make chain reactions and a wealth of hilarious dialogue choices between missions.

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The game has a demo that lets you try the first few missions freely, and the final game comes with a level editor. While the rewiring mechanic can take getting used to, the game feels very natural and offers an experience you really can't get elsewhere. It can run on basically anything, so if you have a computer, it's worth checking out. It should be noted though that the level editor doesn't have Steam Workshop support yet, so you have to manually get new levels from fellow fans of the game, but otherwise it's a great time.

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Horror games often have trouble keeping players afraid when sequels arrive. FEAR 3 all but gives up on being a terrifying game in it's singe-player, but Day 1 Studios managed to craft something special with it's multiplayer. Despite most horror fans being doubtful of genuine horror working well in multiplayer, FEAR 3 managed to deliver thanks to it's tense modes. While Soul King was just a twist on Deathmatch, every other mode is built around some super natural element beyond the player's control while utilizing aspects such as mid-wave pauses to build tension. 

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Contractions took horde mode but added visual blocking fog, unyielding enemies, limited means of acquiring supplies needed to survive, and Alma's spirit meddling with players by blinding them and teleporting them across the map.

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F***ing Run prevents players from retreating and makes every shot count as you desperately attempt to escape the coming wall of death that grows louder and makes your screen turn grey the closer it gets.

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Soul Survivor turns one of your own against you and as they eliminate your squad, your former allies become new enemies. By the end of a match, there can be only one player remaining, fleeing from three player controlled spirits possessing enemies and trying to consume the player's soul.

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It was an innovative approach to multiplayer with fresh ideas. Similarly the game's cooperative play added in a number of new ideas to traditional shooters by letting players be the ghost of Paxton Fettel, letting you toy with levitating enemies, possessing foes, and guarding your partner as he slows down time for you.

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While the campaign lacked the genuine intensity of the other multiplayer modes, it still took a number of risks with the franchise. Abandoning some of the traditional systems didn't pan out as well, but the new ideas presented took the series otherwise standard TDM, CTF, KOTH style multiplayer and spun it on its head.

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It was exceptional for all the things you wouldn't expect a horror game to stand out for, but sold so poorly that Day 1 is now all but a skeleton crew. While the game's public servers are fairly vacant, the game has a loyal cult following, and is definitely worth looking up for co-op fans and those who'd like to see more experimental attempts at creating horror games.

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In case Metro 2033 wasn't bleak enough a game for you, there's one option sure to both test your trigger finger and your moral stamina. Spec Ops: The Line is one of the darkest shooters available on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. 2K took a leap of faith that gamers would appreciate Yager's reboot of the Spec Ops franchise. However, sales barely broke one million, and even after being released on Playstation Plus, the game still hasn't reached a lot of gamers' radar.

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You'll survive through a sandstorm plagued near-future Dubai as Captain Walker, a member of a Delta Force squad that gets pushed to the brink as they go to hell and back. What starts as a recon mission turns into all out war as your morals and skills are both put to the test. Do you choose to kill a fellow soldier to keep yourself hidden or do you let them live? Is it the civilian or the corrupt soldier who pays the price for justice? Are you even human anymore? Is this even reality?

Those expecting a traditional shooter experience need drop those expectations by the door upon entering Spec Ops: The Line. Beyond the brooding narrative, it offers a far more tactically styled control scheme. The shooting puts emphasis the player's aim over auto-aim assisting every shot while strongly encouraging assigning targets to your squad so you can focus on the most pressing hostiles.  The campaign, while short, has branching choices decided by gameplay preference over simple "good or evil" decisions. Failing one style of play may result in total failure for the alternative as well but the game continues on all the same. The game's multiple endings also give you a dramatic level of control for how the finale plays out. Last but not least, the game features a brilliant PC port that can scale to many different rigs.

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The multiplayer was a wash due to the cumbersome nature of progression and the lack of content for both competitive and cooperative missions, but did feature the unique focus on using line of sight and squad tactics to succeed over super human abilities and magic knifing moves. If you had the right mindset, it could be a rewarding if still completely average experience, sitting somewhere between a squad shooter for co-op and a stealth shooter for the competitive multiplayer.

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I have to give full disclosure for this one: I am actually in the "Thank You" credits for this one (right at the end, I'm "Paradigm"). I was a fan of it back when less than a thousand people knew it existed in ModDB. So if that at all worries you about my bias towards this, fear not, it's actually become fairly popular on it's own right (and was even reviewed by Game Informer), and I'm still openly critical of the things it could have done better. With that out of the way...

Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers will remind you of the time when game developers just took an idea and ran with it. It is an unconventional game looking purely to it's own designs rather than trying to fit in any particular genre. At it's most basic, it's a puzzle platformer, but with three core mechanics instead of just one gimmick.

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You can cut almost anything with your laser, you can drag almost anything with your hook claw, and you can propel almost anything with a rocket. You can make your own bridges, platforms, or knock aside walls in your way to progress. With a custom made physics engine built for the game, it's almost a miniature sandbox of options. Despite a linear progression through the campaign, every level hides secrets and can be solved multiple ways. At one point near the game's end, I was able to just use my knowledge of the game to bypass a puzzle and it all continued to run properly.

Tiny & Big: Grandpa's Leftovers is the sort of game for people who really want a fresh experience, even if it's still got bugs and little slip ups due to the nature of it's freedom. Checkpoints can sometimes be unforgiving, your response time can be pushed to the limit in some boss fights, and the physics can get wonky if you do something -really- off the wall.

It's also a great game for indie music enthusiasts. One of the things you collect in the game is the game's excellent soundtrack, with some songs hidden in places most games wouldn't even let you access. Combined with a more meta-story about ancient gods you can only uncover through thorough exploration and some hilarious moments the developers have for certain playstyles, there's a hefty amount of replayability for collectors.

If any of this catches your interest, it's worth at least a try of the game's Steam demo. Considering the fairly low requirements for playing it on PC, Mac, and Linux, it's probably the second least stressful game on PC hardware on this list, so even primarily console gamers can give it a shot.

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While Metro: Last Light has taken the post-apocalyptic franchise to new heights, a lot of gamers (especially those on PS3) missed out on the original Metro 2033. It's got more bugs and some serious design changes than Last Light, but it also offers are far more genuinely harrowing experience for 360 and PC gamers. Even on Normal, there are some scenarios that reach Silent Hill level of "oh my gosh how am I going to survive this?"

Stealth options are more problematic so those who played through Last Light first on a stealth run will have problems here depending on whether you used silenced weapons or knives. Despite those issues, the game feels far more visceral and far less cleanly handled like Last Light. It feels genuinely like you are clawing for every inch of life, so those wanting a more authentic, less shooter-y experience should definitely try the original.

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First person shooters have run out of ideas, you say? Well, not in the case Syndicate's 2012 reboot by Starbreeze (also known for The Darkness, Brothers, and Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay). Instead we got a distinctive cooperative shooter experience that presented one of the most aggressive shooter/RPG-lite games for 360, PC, and PS3. It could have been another break out title for EA; except for the small problem that almost no one played it.

A combination of way too limited marketing, a lackluster (and altogether unnecessary if still fairly polished) single-player campaign, the removal of the competitive component due to time constraints, and angry fans  of the normally isometric shooter series all combined to make Syndicate's release more of a silent puff than an explosive hit. Rumors have also swirled that the title was originally considered as an open world title, suggesting even more changes in design and development. Despite all these problems, the game was received average to above average reception from critics.

The strength for Syndicate lies in it's multiplayer co-op mode. It features nine missions from the original Syndicate, rebuilt with modern tastes in mind. In addition to highly aggressive AI, the game gives players an armory of breaches, tactics, and fully upgradable weapons to play around with.

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Perhaps you want an armor piercing semi-automatic sniper rifle with a virus that damages and spreads amongst your opponents while you raise an overshield on each of your teammates. Maybe you go with the burst fire pistol, self-revive ability, and EMP so you can swoop in, grab an objective, stun all enemies, and be gone before they can even hit you. Instead of requiring players fit into traditional Tank/Healer/DPS/Buff roles, you use what works best for you and your allies can make up the difference. The game's various difficulties also change enemy spawns and behavior instead of just giving your opponents larger health bars.

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One other notable aspect for those tired of Gears of War style of grit is the game's attempt to combine Mirror's Edge's high contrast color palette with an almost Goth-like sensibility to character design. Instead of war torn cities and grunting military men, you're in slick high rise corporate buildings fighting UAV drones, automated turrets, and riot police. Every location is made to be distinctive and features it's own specific theme.

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While the PC community is all but dead, there are still active fans on PS3 and Xbox 360 who play the multiplayer. There has been no DLC released for the game, although Starbreeze is still apparently working on a new Free to Play experience called Cold Mercury that may take some inspirations from Syndicate. While singe-player fans have only average fair to look forward to, co-op fans would benefit from giving this title a look before EA cuts the plug on the servers.

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Jetpacks are fun, aren't they? It seemed inevitable we'd finally get a game built around flying free as a bird. That game came in the form of Dark Void, developed by Airtight Games (also known for Quantum Conundrum and the upcoming Soul Suspect).

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While a number of the game's weapons and assets changed over the course of development, the core focus on dogfights similar to Star Wars: Rogue Squadron remained the same.

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Dark Void was the harshest critically received game on this list, receiving a mediocre scores from most news outlets, many criticizing the bland on-foot sections, limited campaign, and lackluster storytelling. One thing most critics agreed on though was that the actual jetpack mechanics and all combat scenarios utilizing the jetpack were outstanding experiences.

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With the added bonus of the Survivor Missions DLC pack that adds a challenge mode focused purely on the best parts of the game, it's still worth consideration if you want to see what could have been. The flight mechanics are still impressive to see in action, and hopefully the ideas behind them will be revived by another developer for PS4 and Xbox One.

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Spec Ops: The Line - Violence With Feeling https://www.gameskinny.com/zii8j/spec-ops-the-line-violence-with-feeling https://www.gameskinny.com/zii8j/spec-ops-the-line-violence-with-feeling Mon, 13 Jan 2014 16:20:36 -0500 Coatedpolecat

Rarely does a game translate the drama of cutscenes into the actual gameplay. Some games are scolded for meaningless violence. Spec Ops: The Line gives weight and brevity to every pull of the trigger. With emphasis behind dialog and choices, Spec Ops presents an unforgettable story.

The premise behind Spec Ops: The Line, is you and two other soldiers get assigned with finding any survivors of a massive sandstorm in the city Dubai. This mission doesn't include just rescuing the citizens, but trying to find any remaining members of the 33rd Infantry. The 33rd was originally tasked with evacuating Dubai, but command has only a distress signal after 3 days.

Upon entering the city you meet the hostile locals, only to find out they're fighting with the 33rd. From here you're met with a barrage of information that's a bit overwhelming at first. It crams the story between the protagonist and the villain along with other tidbits of information that flew over my head in the moment, only for it to make sense hours later. Once the tutorial-like parts are over, the game holds nothing back. The battles grow ever more epic as you progress, as do the difficult choices you're forced to make.

You're met with various moral decisions throughout the campaign. These choices are not delivered in a traditional fashion. When given a choice there are no button prompts, the cutscene ends and your decision begins. In many cases it's a matter of walking away.

At first, the choices don't seem like there's much of an option. With a seemless transition from narrative to gameplay decisions, it's hard at times to distinguish what you're supposed to do. An example would be when walking underneath an overpass, the villain has suspended two people from a rope. It is your choice as to who lives and why. You are given both backstories for the people in question. What isn't apparrent is you can simply walk away, shoot one of the men, or choose to attack the snipers watching the two dangling people.

As you further your journey, you begin to see those choices carry over throughout the story arc. Your two squad mates will even banter and have discussions, both in and out of cutscene, about the choices you've made.

As you continue to move throughout this destroyed city, you begin to notice how the locals and the military have taken shelter under the city. This results in some creative battle-scapes. They may take place indoors, underground, or in completely open areas, all of which are varied and detailed.

In each of these environments sand is a key element. As enemies are bombarding your location with bullets, a few blind fire shots to an above window means sand will pour out, devouring your foes. Every battle gives the sensation you are a true underdog, which is something not felt too often in games. A lack of patience and timing will result in many, many game over screens. Your targets are numerous, tactical, and aggressive.

You're always reminded those foes, like you, are U.S. soldier's. The enemies come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You have your traditional soldier with an assault rifle or some type of machine gun. Then you have the knife wielding wackos that chase you down, to the fully plated heavy trooper with a light machine gun. The game presents you a good mix to keep you on your toes at all times.

Each and every one of those enemies were fast, smart, and flanked... a lot. Every time a soldier went down from my bullet, it felt weird. For some reason not knowing why fellow soldiers were firing stayed in the back of my mind, each and every time.

In no other game have I held on to the fact I was actually killing people. The game even breaks down the third wall a few times to point out how "it's just a game" and "it doesn't matter." I found myself many times thinking the same thing my two squad mates were, "we're just killing for no reason." At one point, which I won't spoil, you realize you're indeed going too far, even in a digital world.

Spec Ops: The Line crosses the threshold of "just another shooter" by having such a fundamental emphasis on story. One that takes a drastic change at the end, leaving me wanting to replay the six-hour campaign another time or two. The multiplayer on the other hand left me with bitter taste in my mouth. Though the game is on the Unreal Engine and plays something similar the Gears of War series; the multiplayer just doesn't fit.

The notion that multiplayer needs included in every game is incorrect. Spec Ops: The Line's multiplayer is a shining example of that. With maps not fully thought out, unbalanced combat, and a lack of polish, the multiplayer seems like a wasted effort from the studio.

Despite the lack of a fun multiplayer, Spec Ops has one of the best single-player campaigns I've played in a long time. Which is an experience not had with many shooters. Despite the genre this game falls into, the sheer fact the developers were able to so seamlessly intertwine story, gameplay, and choices so well is incredible. The way violence, both in-game and in real life get conveyed is an amazing feat.

Spec Ops: The Line is a diamond in the rough. With so many games attempting gimmicky approaches, Spec Ops nails what it intended to do. It tells a compelling story in which your conscience keeps reminding you about the digital atrocities you've committed on-screen. Even in the wake of such a heavy toned story, the gameplay is fun and challenging, and one that everyone should experience.

@Coatedpolecat

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