February 6 – February 10

Aaaaand, we're back!

It's been a while since I could go into this weekly update without wondering how I was going to manage to fill three to four paragraphs with words. And, let me tell you, if you've ever got me wondering how to BS through 300 words of content, then you have found an especially dark void of activity. You're usually lucky if I don't drop 300 words in the description field of a personal check.

For my money, this week, I'm going with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, because when it comes to creating epic role playing action, I think of Hall of Fame MLB pitchers. All kidding aside, I've been intrigued with this game for a while, and not just because of the Day 1 DLC flap, but really from the moment someone said it was going to be like God of War meets Oblivion. As far as strong pitches for my interest go, that's pretty much the skyrocketing over my bar for success.

I also really want to be interested in Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, but so far I'm just not confident in what I've seen. I love games like X-Com, Fallout Tactics and Silent Storm when done really well, and I'm hopeful that my gut feeling on Jagged Alliance is off base.

As if that weren't enough, The Darkness II comes out for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 this week alongside Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS and Gotham City Imposters on XBLA, PSN and PC. So, welcome back video game industry from your too long slumber. Never leave me again!

PC
- The Darkness II
- Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
- Jagged Alliance: Back in Action
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
- Gotham City Impostors (download)
- Shank 2 (download)
- Cell: emergence (download)

Xbox 360
- Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and The Darkness II
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
- Cell: emergence (XBLA)
- Gotham City Impostors (XBLA)
- Shank 2 (XBLA)
- The Darkness II

PS3
- Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
- Jax and Daxter Collection
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
- The Darkness II
- Shank 2 (PSN - $10)
- The House of the Dead 3 (PSN)
- Gotham City Impostors (PSN)

Nintendo 3DS
- Resident Evil: Revelations
- 40-in-1 Explosive Megamix (eShop)

Nintendo DS
- Jewel Link Chronicles: Mountains of Madness
- 40-in-1 Explosive Megamix (DSiWare)

Comments

Reckoning for me. I'm just hoping it doesn't turn out to be Darksiders for me where I allowed myself to buy into the (hyped) design, but never meshed with me while playing.

I've thus far avoided any information on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Not because I want to go in blind, or because something about it triggers my haterade, just that I haven't really known anything about it and don't care to.

This year I'm working on tackling the pile, so very few games will slip past my defenses like years past.

That said, Capcom had me intrigued at the possibilities of Resident Evil: Revelations being like the older games, and the demo snagged me with its rusty and bloodied hooks. So that'll be coming in the mail this week. Hurray!

I'm expecting good things from Reckoning, but Resident Evil : Revelations earns it's place on my top games of 2012 list (for now, at least).

It's pretty much all I've played all last week and it's brilliant. More than makes up for the lack of content in that mercenaries one they released earlier - there's a TON of stuff in here. Right now I'm still working my way through the RAID mode (a gauntlet run through chopped up levels from the campaign which mixes in levelling, loot drops and co-op play for those inclined). VERY addictive.

One caveat though - I played through it with the circle-pad pro, which turns the controls into Dead Space versus RE4/5. So results with the normal controls schemes may vary.

also...

- Jewel Link Chronicles: Mountains of Madness

Wha? Match three Elder Signs to avoid death by Shoggoth?

Hmmm... got the Kingdoms... demo sitting in my 360 but haven't gotten around to playing through it.

Depending on how that feels, I may just add it to my wishlist.

I played through the 360 demo of KoA: Reckoning, and it felt pretty generic action-RPG for me. Maybe it opens up a bunch later, but it didn't seem particularly different from stuff I've played bunches of times before.

I'm far more interested in World of Midguardia: Revenge, Empires of Generica: The Returnening, and other titles from the Random Fantasy Action RPG Name Generator.

It's interesting how there hasn't been much love for Reckoning. Lots of "meh" opinions. I hope it's one of the first surprises of 2012, and I'm planning on picking up a copy.

Kill Screen has a pretty withering review of it—it's not snark and mockery, but more disappointment in an apparent total dearth of creativity. But with a title like that, and knowing R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane are involved, it could have been designed by Jesus Christ Himself and I still wouldn't be able to muster any interest. The best I can do is think about re-playing Fable.

It is a Thomsen review; he tends to overlook the pleasure of playing a game over the failings of interactive fiction not quite up to par. I get the feeling that he would be a lot happier if he were born Japanese.

LarryC wrote:
It is a Thomsen review; he tends to overlook the pleasure of playing a game over the failings of interactive fiction not quite up to par. I get the feeling that he would be a lot happier if he were born Japanese.

I think the first paragraph will tell you everything you need to know about the review:

It's sometimes said a writer spends her life writing and rewriting the same story in slightly varied forms. The same could be said of players who spend their whole lives playing and replaying the same videogame. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a model example, requiring selective amnesia to appreciate as anything more than a hollow repetition of old ideas in a slightly new configuration. It's a simulacrum of other games' parts, whose borrowed limbs are stitched to the carcass of a Crayola-colored fantasy world.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Anton Ego of video game reviews. "I don't like video games, I love them. If I don't love them, I don't press start."

The grand innovation in Reckoning purports to be its combat system, which borrows the carnivorous slapstick of Devil May Cry and God of War, wherein particular combinations of button presses can be strung together in cartoonishly exaggerated attacks, punctuated with a moment of slow-motion spatter. Traditionally, medieval role-playing games like Reckoning have had to dilute these kinetic pleasures into a weak tea of dull, mechanistic axe swings, largely a consequence of wanting to create large worlds where simply wandering alone in the wilds was its own satisfaction.

Carnivourous slapstick? You mean like when Moe bites Curly's finger to comic effect?

Reckoning presumes that combat has always been the weakest part of role-playing games and addresses the issue by, perplexingly, adding even more combat to the experience. There is something ridiculous about pretending you have a role in a fairytale civil war, the conflicts of which are regularly reduced to missions where 10 trolls must be killed in a particular cave. Reckoning has been designed as if this ridiculousness was not a result of mathematical kill quests existing alongside conversational melodramas—in which players listen to villagers recount local histories while periodically getting to ask a follow-up question—but instead a result of the kill quests' lack of combo strings, animation timing, and slow-mo spatter effects. Instead of embracing the challenge of building on the strongest parts of a role-playing experience—its lore and the allure of seeing a story revealed in fragments from all its participants—Reckoning mires itself in the most retrograde and awkward parts, giving its cartoonish combat an elaborate spit-shine to distract from the ludicrous contrast between mechanistic killing and the prolonged attempt to sympathize with fictional characters who can talk back to you.

Maybe Reckoning figures Oblivion with better combat is something the market wants because Oblivion with better combat is something the market has been asking for since Oblivion came out? I don't know, just a theory. It doesn't seem implausible or laughable to me.

I love the term "mechanistic killing." Why, it's almost like we're playing a video game or something.

I'm not going to parse through the entire review, because you get the point by now. This is a review written by someone who was determined to not like the game from the get-go. It almost makes me want to buy the game just to tick the author off.

I haven't had much experience with Kill Screen. Are all of their writers this unbearably pretentious?

What a pompous review.

I haven't checked Kill Screen in a while, but when they started they weren't doing reviews. They were formed by a number of writers for things like The Daily Show and other non-game related news outlets, in tandem with a few more well known games writers (I believe Leigh Alexander had some hand in it). Basically, an attempt to make games writing something more than just marketing and elevate the vocabulary up with other writing professions.

It's a noble endeavor, but I just haven't had the time or resources to put money into their magazine. That they're doing reviews kind of comes as a surprise.

While I think that the review has a ton of great points, as I can see most of the criticism from having played the demo, I can't help but feel that the writing obfuscates the intended meaning by attempting to write the most fastidious review imaginable. Instead, the perfunctory use of syllogistic colloquialisms come off as pedantic instead of voraciously veracious and in truth I find the review can be labeled as nothing other than fallacious to a fault.

Or, it's just their opinion, man, but why does it read like a English major's crowning achievement?

ccesarano wrote:
I haven't checked Kill Screen in a while, but when they started they weren't doing reviews. They were formed by a number of writers for things like The Daily Show and other non-game related news outlets, in tandem with a few more well known games writers (I believe Leigh Alexander had some hand in it). Basically, an attempt to make games writing something more than just marketing and elevate the vocabulary up with other writing professions.

It's a noble endeavor, but I just haven't had the time or resources to put money into their magazine. That they're doing reviews kind of comes as a surprise.

They've branched out to include a website that does a variety of shorter-form stuff. I think they came to the conclusion that, although their focus was on revitalizing long-form work that escaped the hype cycle, they needed something more frequently updated to keep themselves in the minds of potential readers.

For what it's worth, I think they struck a fairly reasonable compromise.

garion333 wrote:
While I think that the review has a ton of great points, as I can see most of the criticism from having played the demo, I can't help but feel that the writing obfuscates the intended meaning by attempting to write the most fastidious review imaginable.

Whoa there, cowboy. We don't hold with that "intent" talk 'round these parts.

garion333 wrote:
why does it read like a English major's crowning achievement?

Evo wrote:
What a pompous review.

I think this is a place where KS has a harder time finding the sweet spot (and it's a harder spot to hit). They're trying to elevate games writing, but it's hard to do that without swinging past the mark and falling into pretension.

garion333 wrote:
While I think that the review has a ton of great points, as I can see most of the criticism from having played the demo, I can't help but feel that the writing obfuscates the intended meaning by attempting to write the most fastidious review imaginable. Instead, the perfunctory use of syllogistic colloquialisms come off as pedantic instead of voraciously veracious and in truth I find the review can be labeled as nothing other than fallacious to a fault.

Or, it's just their opinion, man, but why does it read like a English major's crowning achievement?

ccesarano wrote:
Basically, an attempt to make games writing something more than just marketing and elevate the vocabulary up with other writing professions.

There are many problems with modern games criticism in comparison with other forms of entertainment reviews. One of which is the fact that it feels like it is written by a rather intelligent fifth grader.

Of course, no level of vocabulary will make a review entertaining. I find that to be the more difficult task when discussing games criticism. Be enlightening and/or informative, have a rational argument for all your points, but above all entertain the reader.

It's troublesome.

wordsmythe wrote:
garion333 wrote:
While I think that the review has a ton of great points, as I can see most of the criticism from having played the demo, I can't help but feel that the writing obfuscates the intended meaning by attempting to write the most fastidious review imaginable.

Whoa there, cowboy. We don't hold with that "intent" talk 'round these parts.

garion333 wrote:
why does it read like a English major's crowning achievement?

Evo wrote:
What a pompous review.

I think this is a place where KS has a harder time finding the sweet spot (and it's a harder spot to hit). They're trying to elevate games writing, but it's hard to do that without swinging past the mark and falling into pretension.

I was mostly writing that tongue in cheek. As far as intended meaning, good point, that was a poor choice of words from me. I meant that the language was a bit overbearing and may have clouded the message.

I get what Kill Screen is trying to do, and I like the magazine, but that's the first review I've read from them and it seems like an ill fit. At least this review felt that way. It's a work in progress, I hear ya.

I tend not to conflate the magazine content with the website content. They're vastly different and aimed at different audiences.
The magazine I recommend.
Otherwise, while I can see where the man is coming from, and he's entitled to his opinion, I get the distinct feeling this was an ill-matched pairing of reviewer to content. You don't get an indie-film lover to review the latest Michael Bay flick. The conclusion is foregone.

I think that review gets lost in its own language, seemingly saying a lot but actually very little in the process.

I haven't bought Kingdoms of Amalur yet, but I'll stick with navigating GWJer impressions to decide if its a game I want to play.

Huh, didn't expect all that. I can see where Thomsen is coming from—the game is called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning after all, which isn't off to a great start. But then The Witcher is great so what the hell do I know.

Actually, what do I know is that Kill Screen has this one reviewer, Bob Zachny or something—the worst.

ccesarano wrote:
Of course, no level of vocabulary will make a review entertaining.

The only time I've found reviews entertaining were the old PC Gamer reviews of games with scores around 20 and below. Those were hilarious. I think Extreme Paintbrawl was one of them.

Gravey wrote:
Huh, didn't expect all that. I can see where Thomsen is coming from—the game is called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning after all, which isn't off to a great start. But then The Witcher is great so what the hell do I know.

Actually, what do I know is that Kill Screen has this one reviewer, Bob Zachny or something—the worst.

I hate that guy. If he was ever on a podcast (or two!) I would NEVER listen.

Yeah. He'd just kill whichever podcast he was on. God forbid he'd actually post here. I'd have to quit the forums for sure.

wordsmythe wrote:
garion333 wrote:
While I think that the review has a ton of great points, as I can see most of the criticism from having played the demo, I can't help but feel that the writing obfuscates the intended meaning by attempting to write the most fastidious review imaginable.

Whoa there, cowboy. We don't hold with that "intent" talk 'round these parts.


I think you missed garion's intended meaning.

I actually never buy games new, let alone pre-order them, but for me, Reckoning all the way.

I have an enormous pile, including about 7 big honking RPGs and I was super excited for Reckoning after hearing about it on the Bombcast.

Last night I played the demo and I am somehow, simultaneously more and less excited for it. How does that work?

The Kill Screen review does seem pretentious, much like the reviews I read in EDGE. Depending on the day of the week, I can really appreciate the 'elevated tone' of this kind of writing or be supremely irritated by it. When it does grate, this style of writing comes across as far too precious and even amateurish... like an eager undergrad trying really hard to impress his English professor.

As for Kingdoms of Amalur... looks solid, reviews are solid. I'm just a touch RPG-'d out until ME3 next month perhaps.

Irongut wrote:
I think that review gets lost in its own language, seemingly saying a lot but actually very little in the process.

Isn't that all "serious" critical reviews in a nutshell?

Thanks, I'll be here all week.

I preordered Reckoning today. It wasn't even on my radar until this thread. I have Skyrim to finish, have barely put a dent into FFXIII-2. I was really up for Darkness 2, but I'm going to have to leave that for a while now. Of course, Mass Effect 3 will have dropped by then!

Maclintok wrote:
When it does grate, this style of writing comes across as far too precious and even amateurish... like an eager undergrad trying really hard to impress his English professor.

Frankly, while I haven't read the whole review, the quotes that doubtingthomas posted sounded like the guy wanted to show off everything he got at the Adjective Store that morning. ("Buy 11 adjectives and get the 12th for just one penny!")