Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
I’m not sure if it’s due to inclement weather on behalf of Irma or what, but this week has been relatively slow on the college front — a most welcome surprise. I took advantage of that by figuratively murdering my backlog, while also managing to sink a bit of time into the newly released Destiny 2 and World of Warcraft’s 7.3 content patch. I’m also pulling an all-nighter in an attempt to regulate my atrocious sleeping schedule, so yayyyyy!
I tossed around the idea of reviewing the older games I just completed, but rather than sinking hours into writing I decided to just briefly wrap them up here in the weekend post and instead apply those hours toward other games. It’s not for a lack of desire to write, but I got in a groove and didn’t want to disrupt the momentum.
But then I started writing this post and easily reached 500 words, so fuck it. Reviews are incoming.
The first game I knocked out was Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on PS3, whose review just went up about thirty minutes ago. It’s a far, far departure from the stealth focus the series is known for, but the hack and slash spin-off was definitely a rad way to spend 8 hours. PlatinumGames excels at crafting stylish action games.
Afterward, I played through the criminally underappreciated cover-shooter Binary Domain on Xbox 360. This is a pretty messed up game from the Yakuza developers, which takes the core gameplay of Gears of War and gives it a meaningful, thought-provoking story with an emphasis on character interaction and over-the-top setpiece moments.
Essentially, one of the top two robotics companies has violated a clause that prohibits them from manufacturing robots that could pass for human beings. It’s not just that these flesh-suit robots are being created, but they’re being implanted with false memories that cause them to be fully unaware of their robotic nature — to them, they’re 100% human until their “big reveal,” which leads to some pretty gut-wrenching narrative moments.
The U.S. government points the finger at Japan’s Amada Corporation, which is where you come in. As a member of a Rust Crew (a multi-national military group who specializes in tracking and eradicating robots), you and seven others band together to extract Amada and bring him in for questioning.
Of course, things are never that easy. There are loads of plot twists, fucked up cutscenes where these “Hollow Children” have mental breakdowns and rip the skin from their face to reveal a Terminator-esque robotic skeleton, and plenty of interaction between your squadmates.
Earlier this morning I finished off Ninja Theory’s action-adventure game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which was pretty incredible. That developer sure has a knack for character development, world design, and storytelling, and Enslaved delivered each of those in spades.
It’s a post-apocalyptic, futuristic re-imagining of the novel Journey to the West where you play as two escaped slaves begrudgingly relying on each other for survival. The player only controls Monkey, the brutishly strong muscle of the pair who dukes it out with robots while doing all the heavy lifting. Trip, his new female companion, is nearly afraid of everything, can’t fight, and plays a supporting role in combat by distracting enemy fire, healing Monkey’s wounds, and disabling enemy movements with EMP shocks.
In a rather shady turn of events, immediately upon escaping their captors Trip enslaves Monkey with a headband that she can send fierce, painful pulses of electricity to unless he agrees to accompany her back home — 300 miles away. The headband is synced to Trip’s heartbeat as well, so if anything happens to her, Monkey will die as a result. Yeah, it’s incredibly shitty.
The two eventually grow on each other and their banter, protectiveness, and mannerisms are incredibly endearing. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West reminded me so much of Beyond Good & Evil and Ico (two games I absolutely adore), in that it’s a martial arts-inspired adventure game on a grand scale where the non-combat exploration and platforming segments are heavily reliant on teamwork instead of skillful timing. Monkey can throw Trip to high, out-of-reach areas to flip switches, hack terminals, scout ahead using her mechanical dragonfly companion, and draw enemy fire, while Monkey must protect her at all costs.
Enslaved’s narrative is equally selfish, heroic, and tragic, and I’m glad I finally doubled back to see the game through after all these years. It’s truly an incredible experience with very minor flaws, showing full well what Ninja Theory is capable of. Sadly, game sales didn’t meet expectations and it’s unlikely we’ll see Monkey and Trip together again anytime soon.
Outside of those three, I’ve been dabbling in Destiny 2 with my girlfriend. Our sleeping schedules are all out of sorts, so we’re essentially ships passing in the night. Since we only have a few hours together outside of homework, we haven’t delved much into Destiny 2 yet. I think we’re both level 7. Hopefully we’ll get to play around a bit more over the weekend once homework and tests are out of the way.
What about you, folks? Got any gaming plans this weekend?