I’m going to be honest: I’ve never been a fan of Nintendo’s TheLegend of Zelda series. As an avid video game fan — and I’ve been one my entire life — I can understand how that’s borderline sacrilegious in this community. Nintendo as we know it today was perhaps built on Mario’s shoulders, but Link’s numerous adventures in the fantasy world of Hyrule have been arguably just as important to the company’s success as his plumber counterpart. Since the series’ first outing in 1986 on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Zelda has been one of the most influential franchises in gaming, spawning dozens of sequels and spinoffs that have come to each of the latest and greatest* iterations of Nintendo’s many consoles over the past 31 years. (*latest, sure, but we all know Nintendo has stumbled a couple times over the years with some of their consoles. But hey, this Switch seems pretty great!)
And through each stage of my life, I’ve tried to play another entry in the Zelda series, some of which are considered the absolute best the franchise has to offer. As a child, Ocarina of Time was my introduction. Then as a teen I found the before-my-time entry A Link To The Past. And most recently, as an adult, I thought the acclaimed A Link Between Worlds would finally be the one that converted me. And although these games are widely praised as being among the greatest games of all time, I’ve never even made it halfway through any of these; at one point or another finding myself bored by the gameplay and putting it down in favor of another game. This has all changed with Nintendo’s latest offering, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
It’s been a little more than 20 years since the release of the original Resident Evil changed the landscape of video games forever. It’s a game series I literally grew up with, as it saw its original American release mere months before I was born. My initial encounters with the game were through watching my older brother and cousins play it for countless hours, all before I even had any idea how to handle a controller in order to experience it myself, which I later would many times. It, along with some of its sequels, are among my favorite games of all time, and it’s safe to say that Resident Evil holds a special place in my heart. While I was eagerly anticipating Resident Evil 7, I did so with bated breath following several missteps among the series in recent years. But, I’m glad to say that Resident Evil 7 is the game that fans of the series have been waiting years for.
Resident Evil has been one of gaming’s most successful, important, and influential franchises, having introduced several groundbreaking ideas to the medium throughout its storied existence. With its latest iteration, developer Capcom hoped to revitalize their survival horror series after some not-so-stellar efforts that have come as of late. Resident Evil 7 incorporates a perfect mixture of ideas both old and new, effectively re-introducing mechanics that the earliest entries were originally built upon as well as instituting entirely new concepts that, for the most part, work, including the major shift from a third-person perspective to first-person.
2013’s Xbox-exclusive Titanfall seemed to come and go with relatively little fanfare despite the incredible hype it garnered prior to its release. With Titanfall 2 (available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC), Respawn Entertainment aims to revitalize its series in hopes of providing an experience that makes good on the original’s monumental expectations. Titanfall 2 delivers in nearly every respect, becoming one of the absolute best games of 2016.
Whereas its predecessor contained only multiplayer offerings, Titanfall 2 includes a remarkable single-player campaign that stretches about four or five hours, as well as a robust multiplayer component you can easily spend dozens more hours enjoying.
Titanfall 2 is a first-person shooter where, almost 100% of the time, your objective is to shoot stuff. This should sound relatively familiar to anyone who has had any exposure to modern video games. But where Titanfall 2 stands out is in its stellar controls. This is simply put one of the best feeling shooters I’ve ever played.
This post focuses solely on the original BioShock, recently remastered for PS4.
It’s been nearly a decade since BioShock was initially released, simultaneously garnering vast critical acclaim and considerable fandom, as well as becoming a landmark of video game storytelling, atmosphere, and art design. Of course with its success came sequels, and so BioShockeventually grew to be a three-game series with BioShock 2 following in 2010 and BioShock Infinite in 2013. 2K Games has recently re-released the series in one complete package with updated graphics for PS4, Xbox One, and PC — but is it worth revisiting Rapture?
BioShock is a First-Person Shooter (FPS) from 2007, and until a couple weeks ago when I played through it again, I fondly remembered it as being one of my all-time favorite video games. I hadn’t touched it since its initial release, though, and while I still find many things to love about it, it’s in its gameplay that that old age really begins to show. BioShock’s gameplay didn’t blow people away back in ‘07, and it definitely won’t be turning any heads now.
But no one ever praised BioShockbased on its gameplay, and that’s not the reason it’s so well-regarded. The setting; the characters; the story — that’s why people love BioShock. All of these aspects hold up just as well today as they had nine years ago.
In Playdead’s Inside, you’ll spend your short time with it roaming a side-scrolling, dystopian world that’s quite alien to the one that we live in. It’s a world that’s almost entirely devoid of color, and entirely devoid of friends, in a game that is at all times captivating, horrifying, and breathtaking.
You control a faceless young boy, whom you’ll soon find out is being hunted by similarly faceless men — men who will not hesitate to gun you down on sight if you are to make the wrong move as you venture into a mysterious facility and progress towards the game’s awe-inspiring climax. The story here is vague, the color-palette minimal, and the sound design champions silence, but all of this heightens the superb atmosphere that is perhaps Inside’s best trait, all making for an entirely original experience that’s quite unparalleled within the medium.
Inside is a 2.5Dpuzzle-platformer, so, naturally, you’ll spend the majority of the game working your way from the left of the screen to the right, all the while completing increasingly tricky puzzles, and attempting harrowing leaps across rooftops along the way. Inside is in many ways very similar to Playdead’s previous release, 2010’s Limbo; another one in which you played as a faceless young boy journeying through a (mostly) monochromatic world with little to no outright explanation as to what is really going on. And like Limbo before it, Inside’s gameplay is broken up into two distinct styles: one being the puzzle bits, and the other the platforming sections.
2015 has been an incredible year for video games, and even the horror genre has seen its fair share of great games, too. The latest game to join the ranks is SOMA, a sci-fi first-person horror game for PC and PS4 from the folks at Frictional Games. The developer is known for being responsible for creating what’s typically thought of as being one of the scariest video games of all time, 2010’s Amnesia: The Dark Descent. After five years, Frictional Games is releasing their follow-up right in time for Halloween, and it may well be the scariest video game released all year. [early story spoilers ahead]
SOMA grants the player first-person control of the main character in its story, Simon Jarrett. Simon has recently been in a tragic car accident that killed his girlfriend and left him with a condition that has rendered him only a couple of months left to live. On a whim, Simon decides to attempt to save his life through an experimental brain scan procedure. As the brain scan starts, Simon blacks out and awakens in an entirely different room in what appears to be a futuristic station of some kind.
This “futuristic station” is soon to be discovered as being an underwater base called PATHOS-2. Not only does Simon have no idea how he ended up here, but he has no idea where he is or when in time he is. As you travel through the halls of the Upsilon base of PATHOS-2 as Simon, a woman named Catherine begins to communicate with you. She tells you to travel to Lambda; another branch of the PATHOS-2 underwater facility. Upon arrival at Lambda, two things are revealed: Catherine is an AI replica of someone who once worked at this station; and every other human on Earth is dead.
The summer is behind us and school is back in session, but that’s actually good news for fans of video games! For those of you who don’t follow the video game industry, the summer season is a period during which basically no new big budget video games are released. It’s basically the opposite of the summer blockbuster period in the film industry. Usually, the release of the latest edition of Madden reigns in the fall, when most big games are released (October and November can be especially overwhelming). This year, however, Madden 16 was not alone in its late summer release date. The Playstation 4 exclusive horror title from Supermassive Games, Until Dawn, is what I see as the first great game in a fantastic looking fall lineup this year.
Until Dawn tells a fairly simple story over ten well-paced chapters, although there are a handful of interesting twists along the way that keep things engaging and somewhat unpredictable. The plot starts out in typical horror movie fashion: eight teenage friends gather at a remote ski lodge, which is the site of the disappearance of two of their friends, twin sisters Beth and Hannah Washington. The ski lodge is owned by the parents of Josh, who is the brother of Beth and Hannah, and he’s invited the other seven friends back up to the mountain on the one year anniversary of their disappearance to commemorate his lost sisters. Unfortunately for them, and unsurprisingly to the player, there’s a shady figure stalking the group.