Scribblenauts became an Internet darling after its highly successful showing at E3, and nobody could blame the Internet for being excited. 5th Cell, a studio that already had a history of amazing DS titles (Lock's Quest is a must-have), had managed to create a game where absolutely anything you could imagine is conjured simply by writing its name. The ambition was unmatched, the potential unchallenged. The final result? Unsatisfactory.
Scribblenauts wasn't terrible, but compared to its promise, it fell far below expectations. Sure, it was impressive that the game recognized so many words, but with so many re-used object renders, useless items and limited character interaction, not to mention the dreadful controls, Scribblenauts didn't work out as intended. Hopefully Super Scribblenautsl will fix all this, but it's a shame that it couldn't be done right the first time.
I write about Kane & Lynch a lot, and it's because the game is so very fascinating to me. In terms of its narrative, characters and inherent experiences, Kane & Lynch does some innovative and very clever stuff. Unfortunately, everything it ever did right has been constantly and forever overshadowed by the things it did wrong.
Kane & Lynch isn't very good. The shooting is mediocre, the difficulty all over the place, and the glitches abundant. Yet it's also full of truly fabulous levels that have not been done before or since in a videogame. The prison break and bank robbery stages stand out as examples of truly unique and epic game sequences, while the decision to cast two disgusting, reprehensible scumbags as main characters is something that very few games have had the balls to do. Then there are the hallucinations co-op players suffer when controlling Lynch. Outstanding stuff, and all hidden away in a bag of feces.
Remember a PS2 game called Area 51 that starred David Duchovny and Marilyn Manson? Of course not, you're all thinking about the arcade game instead. Hardly surprising, since the PS2 version was crap. It really shouldn't have been, however, because Area 51 has a freakin' stellar first twenty minutes. Scary, challenging, and littered with waves of deadly aliens, Area 51's intro is a great way to kick off a game.
Despite this strong opening, Area 51 gets more and more dreadful as it goes on. Bit by bit, the terrifying darkness is swapped for generic sci-fi corridors, the aliens replaced by frustratingly resilient space marines, and the horror elements replaced by a boring, unfinished, inexcusable FPS semi-effort that should have been scrapped. If the game had been released as a glorified demo disc for three bucks, it would have been a wonderful experience. Shame that the full game is a load of bollocks.
The latest and greatest example of a game with outstanding narrative but miserable execution has to be Square Enix's Nier. The game's eccentric cast of characters made for some superb dialog, surprisingly affecting scenes, and more than a fair dose of humor, while the main premise of a terminally ill girl and a father who'll do anything to save her managed to be more emotionally engaging than the plastic relationship between Ethan and Shaun in Heavy Rain.
Unfortunately, the game is full to the brim with insipid minigames, dodgy combat that lacks essentials like a targeting system, and a whole host of inexcusably lazy backtracking, fetchquests and repetition that permeates the experience on a scale that could only be classified as shameless. With competent gameplay that wasn't churned out with last-generation thinking and abhorrently idle filler, Nier could well have become one of the biggest surprises of the generation. Instead, it was the disappointing game that everybody had expected it to be.
For a game to shoot itself in the foot like that is almost disgusting, really.
Sep 10, 2010
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