Death of the Critic

Open World Games

The Backlog - Homefront: The Revolution

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

The first
Homefront was forgotten rather quickly, another in a long line of generic modern shooters that everyone forgot about. I, like many others, thought that it would be a forgotten piece of video game history, a curiosity that somehow got made. So, when it was revived as a semi-open world, first-person shooter, I was baffled, to say the least.

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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There are so many things that should have been great about Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Having a four-player co-op game set in an absolutely massive open world with free-form mission structure and tactics based combat? It sounds like the perfect storm, a game to suck up all of your time. And while it can very much eat up your time, the way it does feels cheap and unearned. There was too much to do and no real reason to do any of it, and more than once I found myself questioning why I was even playing.

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The Backlog - Sleeping Dogs

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my
backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

I’ve made my feelings known about open-world games before, but I just can’t stop playing them. It has been a few years since Sleeping Dogs came out, which still surprises me given the troubled lineage of the title. It was warmly received, finally giving a GTA-style open-world game a satisfying combat system. It made the game fun to play in a way that few open-world titles manage to be. By making combat fun, it made the inherent experience of playing the game better.

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands - First Impressions

Written by: Tom Blaich

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The beta has ended and in one short week
Ghost Recon: Wildlands will be in everyone’s hands. So we sat down this weekend and tore through all of the content that the beta had to offer, both solo, and together in co-op. There was a huge amountof content to be found, and more than a few baffling decisions made. I don’t know if it feels like a Ghost Recon game, but it was damn fun. You can clearly see the influence that other open world games have had on its design. It’s an amalgamation of different ideas and tones that come together surprisingly well.

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Super Mario Odyssey

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Super Mario Odyssey
continues to baffle me. I don’t always fully understand the decisions that Nintendo makes, but somehow they generally work out for them. So when they released a trailer for the new Mario game for the next real generation of Nintendo consoles, I was actually excited in a way that I don’t usually get about Nintendo products. This is how we got Mario 64 and Galaxy, and the entirely-less-cool Sunshine. New Nintendo consoles ideally drive innovation in gameplay and graphics, so the first real new 3D Mario in years enticed me. Read More…
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The Backlog - Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my
backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

There are a few games that I am really sad to still have sitting in my backlog, games that I felt that I needed to play and I never got the chance. Shadow of Mordor has been a part of this shame pile since it came out. Finally a good Lord of the Rings game, which is something that I’ve been missing for a long time. It took elements from so many other games that were successful and crammed it all together and somehow it worked. From the “Batman combat” to the Ubisoft tower climbing in a nice open world. But what really sealed the deal was the “Nemesis System” and its possibilities in the future of games.

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Dishonored 2 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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There is a lot of stuff that I really love about the Dishonored series. They nailed down stealth gameplay in a way that few other games have ever managed, allowing you to be either brutally efficient killing machine or stealthy, nonviolent avenger. There are so many great things that start to add up to make Dishonored 2 a great game. In many ways it’s better than the first, giving you options that you never knew you wanted until they were presented to you. But in two crucial ways it falls short for me. I like the way that this game plays but the story itself does nothing to pull me through the worlds. It feels like a flimsy excuse to put your characters back into the same situation as they were in during the first game.

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Skyrim and Individual Experiences

Written by: Tom Blaich

I want to talk about Skyrim. Well, I guess not just Skyrim, but I recently dove back into the game and it really started to make me think. When I first played the game back in 2011, I had an experience similar to many others who picked up the game. I ran through the giant world, stealing everything I could lay my hands on, murdering everything in sight, and grabbing every piece of loot I could find before finally putting it down, 200 some odd hours later without ever having completed the title. Read More…
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Let's Talk About Fallout 4

Written by: Tom Blaich

Let’s talk about Fallout 4. I’m a pretty big fan of the franchise, and while it might be sacrilege to some to mention, my favorite game of all time is Fallout 3. It really made me love games like none other, and it got me into this whole criticism thing. It’s the first game I ever marathoned, playing it for seven hours straight the first day I had it, as a weird thirteen-year-old sitting in my basement in front of my TV.
So when I heard that a sequel was coming out, I was a little bit excited, to say the least. From the announcement to the release I could barely contain myself, and when the day came I kicked my friends off of my TV so I could play my preloaded copy. And as I first dove into the game it was amazing. It controlled so much better, and I didn’t have to rely on the crutch of V.A.T.S to make my way through encounters anymore.
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A Case Against Open World Games

Written by: Tom Blaich

It’s not often that I argue against adding features. It’s counter intuitive. It goes against everything I normally stand for, and everything everyone else normally stands for. We want more. We want our dollars and cents to be giving us a tangible experience, as massive as possible. We want the cost benefit analysis to be as positive for us as possible. To be able to milk every single last hour and minute out of a game. Read More…
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Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
has one thing going for it. The world isn’t engaging, the characters are lackluster, the story is cookie cutter, but you have a rifle, and an uncanny ability to shoot people in the face from very far away. And that is what you do. Start a mission, mark targets, and snipe people. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It isn’t a bad system so much as it is a well-trodden and forgettable one, but luckily the novelty of shooting people in the face with high-powered rifles from hundreds of meters away lasted a while for me.

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The Backlog – S.T.A.L.K.E.R. : Clear Sky

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my
backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

There always been a big deal made out of hard games. To play and beat one was to somehow prove that you are better than more “normal” players, who somehow couldn’t handle the difficulty. The oft derided “casual” gamers speak to this phenomenon. Every time that someone picks up a copy of
Dark Souls, a forum user somewhere tells you to “git gud”. But often the games that we idolize for their difficulty really aren’t that hard. S.T.A.L.K.E.R is.

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Prey - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I loved the original
Prey, as there was something about the science-fiction shooter that just clicked with me. It was weird, wacky, and broke new ground with its gameplay mechanics while at the same time being something very familiar. And while the reboot is something completely different, separated entirely from the original title, it does evoke many of those same feelings within me.

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