Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Written on July 4, 2012 – 9:21 pm by Ding

Why yes, I did just post a review for a game that’s three years old. That’s either post-modern games journalism or post-relevant games journalism.

This review originally appeared on X, a site I now pretend I never created. You can read my full review below the fold.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Dark Knight in almost all his forms. That Batman has seen so many variations baffles and intrigues me.

Although my taste may indeed have been tempered by the fact that I was a teenager and didn’t know any better at the time, I would highly recommend the No Man’s Land series of graphic novels. They have an interesting if not far fetched setup with Gotham City cut off from the rest of the states and being carved up by the wide variety of Batman villains, it puts well known characters under unusual stresses, and the ending…well, it’s disappointing. The point is there were some great moments there, some extraordinary artwork, a few gems of good story telling and the first two volumes were probably what pushed me off into the deep end of trying to draw my own comics, be that for good or ill.

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Saints Row: The Third Review

Written on November 28, 2011 – 11:38 am by Ding

I very nearly wrote off Saints Row: The Third after about an hour.  Had I not been reviewing the game and possessing the professionalism to play through to the end, it might have been consigned to the shelf of ‘things I might come back to.’

 

Short version:  I’m glad I kept on playing.

 

Long version:  Hit the ‘read the rest of this entry’ button to read on.

 

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Review Scores in Gaming

Written on November 16, 2011 – 12:48 pm by Ding

In quiet moments over the last few weeks where I have been reading through parts of the gaming press, my brow has become furrowed over the furore concerning complaints about the review score system.

 As a brief background to anyone who has missed the mess, Eurogamer gave Uncharted 3 an 8/10 score and were internet-crucified by a series of commenters claiming that Eurogamer were attention seeking, trying to get extra hits, and generally saying that they were wrong and irresponsible to give it any less than a 9/10.  Incidentally, most of these often incredibly harsh and unrepeatable-before-the-watershed comments will have come from people who hadn’t played the game yet.

 

That doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but then I could chalk that up to the fact that I barely understand the desire to leave comments in general. I do however think it’s fair to say however that it’s insane and sadly not existing in a vacuum.  The issue has been discussed and dissected in other places, most recently by Jim Sterling at the Escapist and by Checkpoint on PATV a while back, both worth a look if you are equally perplexed about the issue.

Game journalists complaining about game journalism is actually becoming a bit of a cliché now and is nothing new.  The complaining about review scores has been bubbling away for ages.  One of the main issues is the conflict of interest that can arise in the course of the symbiotic relationship between PR and journalist with the PRs under no obligation to send review copies of games and journalists needing copies of games in order to review them and maintain a readership. I’m sure most establishments could afford to arrange a game-buying budget to circumvent this but regardless, it can make it a little awkward when it comes to reviewing an absolute stinker.

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iPad/iPhone Game: Squids

Written on October 12, 2011 – 11:56 am by Ding

Title: Squids

Developer/Publisher: The Game Bakers

Price: 69p

The phrase ‘Turn based RPG’ can send a shiver down the spines of many gamers.  Some hate them for the predominant use of clunky menu systems, a relic from a bygone age that has somehow survived into the modern era of gaming, some dread how compelling they can be and have fevered nightmares of the amount of time they have sunk into them, and some love them so much that they have become frustrated that it’s a relatively under-served genre.

Whatever you think of them, the turn based RPGs of this world can display an awful lot of depth and complexity and the right one can compel even those not traditionally fans of the genre to sink many hours in to them.

Enter Squids.

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review

Written on September 15, 2011 – 11:51 am by Ding

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a third person action shooter / brawler which does exactly what you would expect in that you play a Space Marine in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  This is a very simple premise the bellies a much more complicated background.

You take control of Captain Titus of the Ultramarines as you attempt to liberate a forge world from an Ork invasion with the help of two of your battle-brothers by murdering as many invading aliens as possible.  The plot then opens up into the investigation of a doomsday-like device that the Inquisition have been working on in secret that harbours powers of the warp.

There will be parts of that last paragraph that you will not understand unless you are familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 setting, something that I think THQ are going to have a hard time with because there’s a problem here.  The Warhammer 40,000 setting is weird.  Brilliantly weird, but still weird none the less.  There will also be more than one person giggling that the big blue space marines are called Ultramarines.

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Legitimate Critic

Written on September 8, 2011 – 12:58 pm by Ding

I have a problem whenever I review things.  There is an inner monologue that I seem to maintain that repeats the phrase “Who am I to say this?” over and over again driving me into a guilt spiral if I’ve been asked to review something that I deem to be not-very-good.

As far as I am concerned, the best critics have a deeper understanding of whatever it is they are critiquing.  As my field at the moment is predominantly games, I have a wide range of peers to look to for inspiration or despair.   As an example of a good critic, Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation is someone I appreciate not because of his oft hilarious turn of phrase but because I always feel he has a grounding of knowing what he’s talking about.  He can be pedantically critical, but that’s the best way to help a medium improve and it is always very clear just how much he loves the games he reviews.  Most importantly for me, his understanding has come from his contribution to the Indie games field and he has self published several titles and following his blog will reveal that he often works on several more that never see the light of day due to a mix of inertia, lack of time, or a realisation that the idea was better on paper.

Other reviewers also tend to read better in my opinion when they have game design experience.  The Rock Paper Shotgun reviews are always solid because they are also written by people who not only have a passion for games, but also have some experience with designing games or mods.  Likewise the Bit-Tech reviews (and yes I am a little biased here) are generally good because the guys that write them have dabbled in game design as well.  In this day and age, if you are interested enough in games to write about them, it would be crazy if you hadn’t dabbled in a little hobby-coding at some point, even if it’s playing around with a level editor or something.

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iPad/iPhone Game: Quiz Climber

Written on August 4, 2011 – 11:30 am by Ding

I own an iPad and I always find it difficult to find good recommendations for games.  It is one of the fastest growing gaming platforms, coming second only to the mighty and diverse PC (which of course any moron can release a game on) and so it can be a bewildering place to look for decent titles.

Today, we have Quiz Climber, a game about general-knowledge-question-answering squirrels climbing trees.

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