Backlog Project: Middle-Earth – Shadow of Mordor

Don’t you just love the feeling of having your expectations blown out of the water? When you experience something that completely blindsides you, and surprises you with how enjoyable it is? It makes something that’s just “good” feel so much better, and that essentially increases the entertainment value of the product. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor surprised me with how fun it was, and I know I wasn’t the only one – this game was certainly what I’d call a “sleeper hit”.

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Backlog Project: The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim

Some games in my backlog are ones that I have actually played quite a bit, but it wasn’t until later that I started to care about Trophies and felt like going back to some of them. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not a new game to me, as I got it the day of release and played it extensively, and even got it again later on PC, which is where I really got my money’s worth by utilizing the vast selection of mods available. I went back to it on PlayStation 3 after realizing I was pretty far along in Trophy progression, and decided to tackle it one last time, after years away from the game.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: Player-Influenced Narratives

With the exponential evolution of narration and story development in video games since the turn of the millennium, the gaming community has grown more sophisticated and demanding in terms of storytelling. Arguably, the most severe criticism hits games where there’s more than one possible way the game can play out – in other words, games that feature some sort of choice available to the player. Continue reading

Agoraphobia: The Decline of Open World Games

Over the past decade or so, the Open World format has steadily increased its penetration of the video game scene; starting with role-playing games whose nature included such vastness and openness in the game world like The Elder Scrolls series, eventually the number of new games with Open World sensibilities increased noticeably, and existing series began to adopt those features as well.

More linear games like Metal GearFar Cry and the Arkham series of Batman games developed from being fairly straightforward, guided experiences into what we saw in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PainFar Cry 3 and 4, and Batman: Arkham City and Arkham Knight. The reason should hardly surprise anyone – it’s the supply to the audience’s demand. My argument, however, is that the tide is well on its way to turning around, changing the landscape of Triple-A games in the next few years. Continue reading

The Forgotten Game of the Year: Pillars of Eternity

As the end of the year draws nigh, the discussion about the best game of 2015 is becoming more relevant by the minute. The gaming community now has a pretty good feel on what the year has to offer, ranging from spectacles such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain to apparent disappointments like The Order: 1886. It’s curious, though, that the favor of the general audience appears to lean a bit towards games released late in the year – as if their memory can’t quite reach as far back as last spring. Continue reading

Rat Races: Oddball Character Species in Role-Playing Games

A couple days ago, I felt like I wanted to play Guild Wars 2 after a hiatus of over a year. I had tried returning before, but it never lasted more than a day – I found it difficult to jump right back in, when I had once been quite good at the game, but now all my skills were rusty and it felt like I was playing for the first time, only with level 80 characters.

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