Zero Punctuation

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Zero Punctuation is a series of video game reviews done by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, originally for YouTube, and later for The Escapist Magazine.

The Darkness

  • [Opening song: Superstition by Stevie Wonder]
  • The Darkness is a horror themed, first-person shooter, based on some comic book I've never heard of.
  • What I was supposed to do was go back to an easily-missed white spot on the ground, use it to summon an evil imp, and instruct it to move a thoughtlessly parked car out of the way of one of the cemetery entrances. Let me just reiterate that; the game literally has me summon a multi-fanged beclawed monstrosity from the depths of hell, not so I can make it enslave the innocent or lay waste to all worldly nations, but so that I could enlist it as my own personal breakdown service!
  • Personally, at this point I'd only consider buying the full version of The Darkness if it came down to budget price, and they threw in another, better game. And some cake. And Belgium.
  • [Closing song: Section 12 (Hold Me Now) by The Polyphonic Spree] [1]

Fable: The Lost Chapters

  • [Opening song: Gotterdammerung by Richard Wagner]
  • Fable is by Lionhead Studios, home of longtime auteur game designer Peter Molyneux, who has a tendency to promise the Earth and be ultimately crippled by his own ambition; see the big fat broken monkeyfest Black and White. During the development of Fable for example, it was promised to have features like rival NPC characters, plants growing in real time, and a system wherein your every choice of action changes your appearance and the world around you. What we ended up with was a buggy action RPG with a great big stiffy for itself.
  • The big selling point is that you can choose between being either a good character or an evil character so I of course set out to be the evilest bastard who ever lived and the best way to do this according to the game was to dress in black, grow a big moustache, draw all over my face and backhand the occasional passer-by.
  • I also set myself up as a magic user because I wanted to end up looking like Ming the Merciless but the starting spells were all so ridiculously piss-weak that I ended up having to use my sword half the time anyway and the game ended up dubbing me a "Spellwarrior", which made me feel like it was calling me an indescisive prick.
  • Eventually, I got to the final boss who didn't hold still long enough for my stupidly overpowered dark spell to be effective, so all I could do was whack it repeatedly over the head with my sword while it chewed constantly on my lower body. But I had so many health potions by that point that I could basically drip-feed myself with the stuff and after the boss popped its scaly clogs, I still had enough left over to throw a health potion keg party.
  • The game's big selling point is also its biggest flaw. In trying to give us choice, it tries to do too much and ultimately collapses under its own weight. Personally, I don't think there's anything inherently bad about linearity in games, but it seems that saying your game will be nonlinear will make people jump all over it like you said it gives you free blow jobs and pudding.
  • [Closing song: Heart Full of Black by Burning Brides] [2]

Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff

  • [Opening song: Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum]
  • Nariko then turns to some... thing sitting vacantly nearby wearing cat ears and makeup apparently applied by a Kiss fan with Parkinson’s disease and relays to it her intentions to slit up evil dudes. She then adds, with a completely straight face, "We may need you to play 'twing-twang'". My first thought when I heard that was, "I am so going to quote that out of context." But on reflection, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in context either. If the developers considered that I would buy the full game just to find out what "twing-twang" is, then mission fucking accomplished, I suppose. But I’m going to be very disappointed if it isn’t a cutesy euphemism for lesbian cunnilingus (yeah, I went there).
  • [on the perceived racism in Resident Evil 5] Capcom has rather shot themselves in the foot by making the peasants this time around being African, thus prompting the demented honking from the politically-correct. In our admittedly weak defense of Capcom, Resident Evil 4 wasn’t any less racist, really, what with all the Spaniard murdering and characters un-ironically using the expression “ay yai yai”. But poverty-stricken Africans are a somewhat different kettle of fish to greasy mainland Europeans. Still, the games are made by the Japanese, and everyone knows what a bunch of xenophobic dicks they are.
  • Part of me feels that from an artistic standpoint, there may be some merit in RE5 because the point of a horror game is to be unnerving, and forcing the player to do something that they find distasteful as well as frightening is a rather groundbreaking method of doing that. But then again, this is Resident Evil, the series that brought us “squeaky-voiced midget Napoleon”, and if there’s anything sophisticated in an idea of theirs, it’s probably a total accident.
  • There tends to be a knee-jerk reaction to perceive racism these days regardless of intent or irony, and I don’t think we need to start worrying about RE5 until they break out the fried chicken.
  • [Closing song: Turning Japanese by The Vapors] [3]

Psychonauts

  • [Opening song: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix]
  • I want you to take part in a little practical demonstration for me. I want you to find a pen or some other similarly dimensioned object in the Cheeto-scented detritus surrounding your computer keyboard. Pause the video and get one. Seriously, do it! Don't keep watching waiting to see where I'm going with this, just do it. Right. Once you've got one, insert it between the second and third fingers of one of your hands as shown. Now when I'm finished talking, pause the video again and use your other hand to squeeze your fingers inwards towards the pen. You may have noticed that this really fucking hurts and that you are now in a great amount of pain. Congratulations, you've just received your punishment for not buying Psychonauts. I'd like to know how you think gaming is ever going to adapt as an art form when people go out of their way to make original games, but fuckwits like you never actually buy them because they're too busy inhaling furious amounts of dick. (If you did buy Psychonauts, please disregard the preceding.)
  • The story goes that while working on Full Throttle for LucasArts, [Tim] Schafer envisioned a sequence wherein the main character underwent a peyote fueled psychological dream subconscious journey thing, but the big wigs rejected the idea because it wasn't family friendly enough. Incidentally, the released Full Throttle featured hardcore biker gangs, bludgeoning murder, and more than one person getting chainsawed in the face, so perhaps this was the early warning sign that LucasArts' big wigs were all a bunch of chimps with Down Syndrome. But that idea festered, and eventually it blossomed into Psychonauts.
  • It's kinda like if Tim Burton knocked up David Lynch in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and he did meth right up until the birth.
  • [on gameplay issues] The platforming handles a bit doggedly at times, the sidequests are all just scavenger hunts at various levels of unfairness, the combat is meh, and it has a really weird difficulty curve. Virtually the entire first half of the game consists of training missions and towards the very end, the difficulty suddenly jumps like you found a tarantula under your toilet seat and the last few levels are exercises in controller snapping frustration. But, I obviously like the game or I wouldn't have made you cripple yourself at the start of this review.
  • [listing the good points of the game] Firstly, it's something original in an industry that seems to be built on ripping off everyone else. Secondly, it's genuinely funny, while most video games attempting humor are like unanesthetized bowel surgery. Thirdly, every single character is well-defined with their own quirks and personalities, even the tiny, unimportant bit part players that get less screen time than Christopher Lee in the last Lord of the Rings movie. And lastly, it's fun. Remember that? Fun? What we used to have before gaming felt like a second job?
  • I'm just going to list out of context some of the things that occur in Psychonauts: A telekinetic bear, a dentist who harvests brains, a sequence wherein you become a giant Godzilla-style monster and terrorize a society of talking fish, and a shadowy, trench-coated government agent who disguises himself as an housewife by brandishing a rolling pin and talking disjointedly about pies. A game that features all of these things simply cannot be criticized, it's against the law or something.
  • [Closing song: I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly] [4]

Console Rundown

  • [Opening song: War by Edwin Starr]
  • We're currently living in the seventh generation of consoles if Wikipedia is to be believed, seven generations of feuding and inbreeding like the residents of some backwoods Louisiana swamp and this is around the time when the rather interesting deformities start setting in. So while we're on the subject, let's start with the Wii.
  • If the Wii's controller is supposed to be a universal motion sensor, then why do they keep bringing out attachments to turn the thing into a steering wheel or gun or guitar or milking machine or something? Somehow, I liked it better when it was asking us to fill in the blanks with the power of imagination. That sort of had a charming, Muppet Babies innocence to it.
  • The Wii’s game lineup consists of the typical Nintendo staples of Zelda, Metroid, Mario, etc. because the Nintendo policy seems to be that if you beat a dead horse vigorously enough, its constant twitching and juddering will at least give a semblance of activity. But of the big sellers, only Zelda is currently out and the rest of the available games are a cavalcade of mediocrity. As overused as the character is, it seems that a Nintendo console on the market without a Mario title is like a fat kid swimming without water wings.
  • The polar opposite to Nintendo’s bewilderingly-named modestly-powered little white cuboid is Sony’s unoriginally-titled monolithic black colossus, the Playstation 3: a shiny, chromed, Spiderman-typefaced thing about the size of a small car loaded with arguably the most powerful top-of-the-range hardware. But blinging out your console with such things creates the unspoken obligation towards opening up the games with top-of-the-range graphics, which puts production times and costs several months and several million dollars on the side of uncomfortable. This may explain why there are hardly any games out for the bloody thing.
  • Like Nintendo, the PS3 is largely selling on future potential because of the promise of Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII at some point, but if Final Fantasy XIII continues the tradition of most Final Fantasy games, then you could probably simulate it just as well by listening to the Star Wars soundtrack while huffing nitrous oxide and reading an Excel spreadsheet.
  • While Sony targets hardcore technology freaks and Nintendo targets gamers who are not yet old enough to cross the road by themselves, the Xbox 360 has its sights set on more of a casual-gaming beer-drinking frat boy demographic and reflects that with a stack of big, tough, manly games like Gears of War and Dead Rising, the latter being a game with a difficulty curve like running headlong into a brick wall.
  • The 360 also has the best online support with the Xbox Live malarkey, although the player base can charitably be described as lively and uncharitably described as a bunch of hooting dickholes.
  • And then of course, there’s the fact that the 360 hardware seems to be having a bad case of the gremlins. At the time of writing, the 360 in my household is bricked because we have the sheer gall to try and play games on it. It seems to recover for a while after some fiddling, but after that though, we were afraid to use it in case it returned to the land of the dead. In a few days, it was like Schrödinger’s Console in a quantum state of both bricked and un-bricked, until we decided to finally try playing something again and the waveform collapsed. So, it’s currently at the repair shop. So perhaps next month I’ll have to review Halo 3 by playing it on a microwave.
  • With the current generation of consoles, we’ve reached- or nearly reached– the point where graphics aren’t going to get much better and we can all stop rushing to top the last generation’s technology and concentrate on making games with some actual depth. Except, of course, that the console wars are ultimately futile because the best game ever, Fantasy World Dizzy for the Commodore 64, has already been made. Or perhaps all of gaming is pointless, just toying with the gravel on the side of the big road of life. But hey, at least there’s violence and tits.
  • [Closing song: In the Navy by Village People] [5]

Bioshock

  • [Opening song: Octopus's Garden by The Beatles]
  • If my Psychonauts review taught me anything, it's that nobody likes me when I'm being nice to a game, so let me quickly get the praise of Bioshock out of the way first. It's incredibly good-looking (but then again, what isn't these days), brilliantly written, masterfully atmospheric and resoundingly imaginative, even if thematically it has, at best, taken a few pointers from Fallout, and at worst, held it down and bloodily ripped it off. And even considering all the horrible things I'm about to say, it's still one of the best games of the year. Right, is that over with? Let's talk shittiness!
  • Bioshock is billed as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2 and I'm sure System Shock 2 will be very proud of its normal mapped Phong shaded bastard child because it takes after its daddy almost to the degree of George Bush. And I know what you're going to say; "Yahtzee, you charismatic stallion, what kind of complaint is that? System Shock 2 was brilliant and any game that's in anyway like it should be equally good." But that's the thing, it isn't like System Shock 2, it is System Shock 2! Oh sure, it looks different, and it differs in the fine detailing, and the character names are changed and shit, but once you strip all that out, the bad guy might as well be SHODAN with a waistcoat and a copy of Atlas Shrugged.
  • Every time you get a deceptively simple objective, like walk across the room, you can bet your biotic implants that a door is going to lock or the ceiling is going to collapse, and you have to travel to Mount Doom and back just to restore the status quo.
  • How exactly does a steam-powered gun turret differentiate between friend and foe? I wasn't aware that boiled water could form allegiances.
  • There are only two endings, a good one and a bad one, and the extreme contrast between them is rather jarring. In the good ending, you're a virtuous flower child with love and a smile for all the shiny-coated beasts of God's kingdom, and in the bad ending you're some kind of hybrid of Hitler and Skeletor whose very piss is pure liquid malevolence. I'm sick of games that claim to have choice, but that only come down to Mother Teresa [shows a picture of Mother Teresa] or baby eating [shows a picture of a baby with a bite taken out of it], all I'm saying is that a little middle ground is nice now and then [shows a picture of Mother Teresa eating a baby].
  • Maybe it's because my heart is a dried-up little rotten apple of cynicism, but when a game gets over-hyped, it's more likely to make me suspicious than excited, so I was fully prepared for Bioshock not living up to the claims that it would decend from Heaven in a silvery chariot and lead us to the promised land. Which is not to say that that it's bad, it's just... shallower than was advertised. Supposing you got the Xbox version and are used to insipid boom-fests like Halo, then Bioshock will seem like the shit, but if you're a long-time PC gamer spoiled by more complex FPS-RPGs, then you're in for a kick in the balls. Maybe a gentler kick in the balls than most; an extremely pretty, well-executed kick in the balls with the best of intentions, but at the end of the day, you're still walking funny.
  • [Closing song: I Can't Decide by Scissor Sisters] [6]

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

  • [Opening song: Going Underground by The Jam]
  • In reviewing Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I feel a strong temptation to rely on cheap laughs, but since I always strive to challenge myself, I've decided to solemnly vow to get through this entire review without making any references to female breasts. So with that in mind, let's get rolling.
  • The original Tomb Raiders were made by British developer Core Design, but after a while they weren't exactly treating the old girl properly. They basically just made the same game six times with each setting introducing broader and broader definitions of the word "tomb". And the series practically died with Angel of Darkness, but the publishers weren't prepared to let something so popular with sweaty thirteen-year-old boys with holes in their pockets die, so they handed it over to some cheeseburger-inhaling yanks who announced their intention to remake the first game and do it properly, which as insults go, is right up there with slapping you in the balls with your own dead dog.
  • Maybe it's just me, but the developer transition seems to have brought about a few changes in Lara. For example, in the original intro for Tomb Raider she responds to the advances of a big lumpy Texan vaguely flirtatiously, while in the new one, she has the bog-standard Hollywood tough gal coldness and threats of violence, because everyone knows action-oriented independent women munch more carpet than a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner.
  • But don't worry fans of the original because Crystal Dynamics have faithfully continued the tradition of having Lara handle like a cow in a supermarket trolley. Oh yes, Lara was no stranger to the five-story-splatter-death on this adventure. Half the time I take a running jump off a platform only to discover that I was a few degrees off and could only watch helplessly as Lara ragdoll-ized on jagged rocks. The other half of the time the game engine stubbornly refused to register Lara's grip on the next ledge and another unscheduled trip to jagged rocks country would ensue. It came to to the point that I actually became rather glad whenever it happened because I was enjoying seeing Lara receive just punishment for not following my instructions properly.
  • [On the game's tendency to pander to its audience] If you leave her for awhile, Lara does these shamefully erotic stretches and whenever she comes out of water, she's realistically wet and glistening. It kind of takes me back to when I was 15 and playing the original Tomb Raider and I'd back her up into a corner to get the best view of her juicy... thighs. [Text in review: Phew, that was a close one.]
  • [Helping game publishers with new ideas] Here's one: A genetically engineered Taiwanese chef teams up with a newt in a fez to rescue his large-bosomed girlfriend from mummies. There, you see? It's easy. A breast cancer specialist with large bosoms journeys through time to pay for a breast enlargement. A race of bosom people set out on an armada of bosoms to find a new bosom homeworld.
  • Bosoms, melons, milk factories, busts, funbags, knockers, ballistics, boobies, jugs, nipples, jubblies, STONKING... GREAT... TITS.
  • [Closing song: Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen] [7]

Manhunt

  • [Opening song: Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows by Leslie Gore]
  • Controversy and the games industry go hand-in hand like Ico and Yorda, if you'll forgive the incredibly nerdy analogy. And like Yorda, the controversy tends to stay focused for an average of about eight nanoseconds before getting bored and drifting off to do something else. But when it does get focused it can get very exasperating, such as when youthful paragons of self-control are called nasty names and decide that murder would be the wittiest comeback, and then is found to have stood next to a videogame sometime in the past. Then the media generally start drooling the usual uninformed questions as to whether wholesome, boyish pretend violence has any correlation with the real world. Short answer: No. Long answer: No, and go fuck yourselves, you ignorant, scaremongering cockbags. [Text in review: No, and I consider your argument misinformed.]
  • But sometimes, this can be a difficult position to take. Okay, pressing buttons to shoot guns in, say, Soldier of Fortune, is about as far removed from the workings of actual guns as my arse is from the dark side of Europa, but then you have games like Manhunt, which not only have the player viciously maim human beings with a variety of household objects, but also provides detailed and up-close demonstrations on how to achieve the most horrific results, and arguing the harmlessness of it all lacks credibility somewhat.
  • I was actually having fun. I know, it was a weird and frightening realization. [Text in review: What is this unfamiliar sensation?]
  • Manhunt has actually been banned in this country because the Australian government has this habit of trying pathetically hard to jump onto bandwagon issues that roll in from real countries.
  • I seriously don't know whose side to be on when it comes to the debate about whether or not games like Manhunt mess with the heads of underaged, impressionable thickies. There's a very clear certification indicating that twelve-year-olds aren't supposed to be playing it, but there's no denying that they play it anyway because no one other than twelve-year-olds are into this sort of thing. Gushing breathlessly about garrote wire decapitation and baseball bat cranial explosion is a good way to win friends in middle school, but around the office water cooler, it's a good way to lose them.
  • When you break it down, Manhunt is a game that doesn't excel, but is at least competent in most areas, and it's good for relieving tension which is really all you can ask for. It only stands out in the area of juvenile gore, so take this as a recommendation if you're the kind of person who needs to see a gushing, mangled neck stump before they can get it up.
  • [Closing song: Filmstar by Suede] [8]

Peggle

  • [Opening song: Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer) by The Four Seasons]
  • I hope you won't mind if I put on my new games journalism hat for a moment, but I was pretty thrown when my editor asked me to review Peggle. Peggle is one of the new breed of casual games, and like most casual games, there's not a lot you can say about it. Unlike normal games, there isn't any dreadful voice acting, or inevitable sewer level to take the piss out of. What I can say about it is that I started playing it around noon and emerged from my room sometime later to find that the authorities had declared me legally dead. If the whole 'casual gaming' thing has slipped you by, then let me hold your face under the putrescent waters of knowledge. At some point in the recent past, someone noticed that simple Flash-based 2D color-matching games like Bejeweled were making, frankly, embarassing amounts of dosh, and the reason for this is that as time has gone by, bored housewives stuck at home all independently decided that shagging the TV repairman is no longer appropiate, and have turned to video games to amuse themselves instead.
  • In summary, it's okay I guess. I preferred Bookworm Adventures, but then I'm one of those helpless mutants who genuinely enjoys playing Scrabble.
  • I don't know what PopCap's mission statement is, but I'm betting that it's something along the lines of: "Use pretty sparkly lights, encouraging sound effects and as few gameplay elements as possible to make the gaming equivalent of premium crack cocaine." And it seems to be working for them because they are now worth umpteen millions. MILLIONS! They exclusively make cheapo 2D games! What do they spend all that money on, ice cream?
  • You see, with their less complexity and lower production costs, casual games are an ideal starting point for new developers to get their name out and some cash flow going. But PopCap's big sacks of cash make it easy for them to buy the best talent and come up with more and more relentlessly addictive ball-bounce-a-thons that overshadow everyone else's efforts. It's unfair, isn't it? Once your funding hits the seventh digit, you're supposed to start making Gun Battle Slap Fight XXXVII for the Playstation 12 and leave the color-matching tile puzzles to the bedroom programmers.
  • Don't be fooled by the adorable fluffy animal facade that PopCap's games erect. Inside, they're a ruthless bunch. If this were an 80's sports movie, PopCap and the other large casual game developers would be the evil team, the snotty fabulously rich kids with tailor-made uniforms, the ones the shabby underdog heroes have to beat in the film's conclusion in a narrow but heartwarming victory.
  • [Closing song: Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd] [9]

Halo 3

  • [Opening song: Hello Goodbye by The Beatles]
  • It seems that all the other game reviewers in the world have been put me in an awkward position, bunch of cock-eaters to a man as they are. Most, if not all, of them seem to have played a jewel-encrusted golden gift from the treasure vaults of Xerxes, but I played a game that I probably would’ve only considered renting if it weren’t for those suckers at The Escapist paying for all my games now. Part of the problem may be that I’ve never actually played a Halo game until this one. Maybe you need all the back-story to get the experience all the other reviewers were apparently having, or maybe Microsoft was paying someone to stand behind them jamming needles full of dopamine into their spinal columns every half hour.
  • All I knew going into the game was this: there's some guy named Master Chief who's constantly wearing a suit of armour that's probably in dire need of some odor-eaters by this point and this series is apparently so good that Xbox owners have been tossing each other off with glee in anticipation for this third installment. I picked up a few things on my way through the game, like how the Earth has been conquered by evil aliens, only some of the aliens are good by some arbitrary designation, and there are those other aliens which are basically just the head crabs from Half-Life in disguise, and there are big rings in space that make things die somehow, and Master Chief has a friend who is basically the black guy from Predator.
  • If you asked me to summarize Halo 3 into one word, I’d tell you to stop being such a twat, but if pressed, I guess I'd go for "schizophrenic". It can’t seem to decide on a tone. At times it goes the horror route with the aforementioned head crab malarkey, but at other times you’ve got enemy midgets sounding and acting like retarded Ewoks making (finger quotes) “wacky” dialogue. And it’s hard to take things seriously when most of the guns look and sound like they were manufactured by Mattel.
  • The difficulty curve wavers up and down like the knickers of an indecisive whore before plunging dramatically into a Sunday stroll down Easy Street for the last hour or so. There were sequences really near the beginning that kicked my arse until I was wearing my buttocks like a hat, while the closest thing to a final boss fight is basically you versus a wheelchair-bound, cross-eyed hobbit and you’re armed with the BFG 9000.
  • I didn't pay... I mean, The Escapist didn't pay $100 Australian for a game that is only half decent, especially not one reviewers have been throwing perfect scores like bunches of roses to a bullfighter. A game that is supposed to be perfect wouldn't need anything to excuse it. "Quod erat demonstrandum", said Yahtzee like the big literary fag that he is.
  • Before all the Microsoft fanboys come to my house and take it in turns to whittle through my letterbox, let my qualify my statements by saying that Halo 3 is by no means bad. What it is, is average. Boilerplate. Run-of-the-mill. A competent shooter, its only remarkable feature being the degree to which it's stuck up its own arse. Everything it does has been done before, and better. It's definitely not as good as Bioshock. In fact, its made me look back on that 15 hours of objectivist fol-de-rol more charitably, so in other words, Halo 3 is what it took for me to finally make me lower my standards and I hope it's proud of itself.
  • [Closing song: Starship Trooper by Sarah Brightman] [10]

Tabula Rasa

  • [Opening song: It's the End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M.]
  • Tabula Rasa is a Latin term meaning "blank slate" and generally refers to the school of thought saying that humans are born with no inherent programming. For example, Richard Garriot is a nuttily demented game designer who wears a crown and insists that people call him Lord British. But was he born with the galloping crazies or was it a lack of appropriate social contact that caused him to descend permanently into an insane fantasy world?
  • My roommate tells me that Tabula Rasa is supposed to be a new kind of online RPG that has less of the repetitive grind that blights other MMOs. I suspect he was thinking of some other game, though, because Tabula Rasa is grind-tastic.
  • Mindful of the fact that the point of a Beta is to break the game I decided to test out Tabula Rasa's obscenity filter by naming my creation Gareth Gobulcoque (Pronounced: Gareth Gobble-cock).
  • Some people also find fat people sexy. I don't understand them myself, but then most people don't understand why I like putting lettuce around my cock and hiding it in other peoples' salad.
  • [Closing song: Fantasy by The Levellers] [11]

The Orange Box

  • [Opening song: Itchycoo Park by The Small Faces]
  • [about Half-Life 2: Episode 2] A new character is brought in without warning and everyone acts like we've always known him. It's actually quite perplexing. Valve had done a great job with making us empathize with all the major NPCs so far, so being introduced to a new one at this late stage is like coming home from school to find a walrus sitting at the family dinner table and you're the only one who seems to notice.
  • [about Team Fortress 2] There's a role for everyone, regardless of what sort of game you like. The Heavy for uncomplicated damage-soaking thickies, the Spy if you're a backstabbing stealth game dirtbag, and the Sniper for those who like point-and-click adventure games, although admittedly the only puzzle is Use Gun On Man.
  • Lastly, there's Portal, and if you're a regular viewer, you'll understand how insane these words feel coming out of my mouth, but I can't think of any criticism for it. I'm serious! This is the most fun you'll have with your PC till they invent a force-feedback codpiece!
  • Absolutely sublime from start to finish, and I will jam forks into my eyes if I ever use those words to describe anything else ever again. Yeah, I know it's not very funny to love a game, but fuck you! Portal's great, and if you don't think so, you must be stupid!
  • [Closing song: Tribute by Tenacious D] [12]

Super Paper Mario

  • [Opening song: Il Canto Degli Italiani by some dead Italian guys]
  • Japanese RPGs and me have this little understanding: I don't play them and they can suck as much as they like somewhere far away from me. I've always felt that if I wanted the kind of experience most JRPGs offer, I'd just watch a random anime series box set while pausing it every five minutes to fiddle around with the remote control. And eat some shit.
  • They earn so many points by removing turn-based combat that Super Paper Mario would have to release flesh-eating beetles into my house before I started seriously marking it down.
  • It's an enjoyable installment, but the developers just don't seem to be into it anymore, so perhaps it's time to put this particular franchise to bed. And then smother it to death.
  • [Closing song: Paper Roses by Anita Bryant] [13]

Medal of Honor: Airborne

  • [Opening song: Civil War by Guns N' Roses]
  • Every major civilization could agree that while all they're doing is trying to keep everyone fed and build enough triremes to fend off randomly spawning barbarians, wars are very annoying. Going to war generally means a lot of money getting wasted, a lot of people getting killed and a lot of bereaved young fiancées standing on top of cliffs wearing tattered wedding dresses, staring hopefully into the middle distance and going completely batty. But when a society has enough time to fester and become big, rich, and stupid enough it actually starts to enjoy a good war. War means an up-turn in weapons sales, the bloated government gets to feel like it's achieving something other than eating all the pies, and it thins out all those retard babies the working classes have been busily squirting out by the truckload.
  • Take the superpower du jour, the United States. They're into war like it's the last day of the January War Sales.
  • So why does the U.S. have such a fascination about a time that everyone else would rather just forget about and move on? Well, probably because that was the last war in which they did any good, when they had a clear win over an unambiguously evil villain that posed a genuine threat, rather than any of these wishy-washy recent wars where they just run in, stomp all over a developing nation and run out again declaring victory around the time the population have to start eating their own dead.
  • Fortunately a brace of friendly NPC-soldiers are dropped into the fun with you, but they're all about as much use as a cream slice - less in fact: at least a cream slice isn't constantly running in front of your gun while you're trying to shoot, and gabbing off like it's all your fault when a stream of hot lead ruptures their pastry.
  • And war stops being glorious and starts getting annoying when you're replaying the same fucking bastard section for the nineteenth fucking bastard time because you don't possess the bionic cybervision necessary to spot all fifteen hidden fucking bastard snipers who can draw a beam on and decapitate you before you can say Uncle Sam!
  • As evil as the real Nazis were, it seems they weren't evil enough for the developers, so the accuracy's a little skewed against them. And then it's skewed a little bit more. And then it's put into a thumbscrew until it resembles a slinky. I'm no historian, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't an elite unit of stormtroopers who wore gas masks, wielded miniguns, and could take three sniper bullets to the forehead before they died. And I'm also pretty sure the Nazis didn't have a gigantic armored concrete tower that can only be described as a doom fortress.
  • By the end, I wouldn't have been too fazed if Hitler would've appeared riding a giant robot spider.
  • [Closing song: America (Fuck Yeah) by D.V.D.A.] [14]

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

  • [Opening song: Slow Boat to China by Benny Goodman]
  • A world without Nintendo would be a far bleaker one than this, and yet there's something about them that I find incredibly infuriating. They've got enough money to buy Earth and all the heavens and a fanbase so devoted and rabid that they could release a game about a sewage-encrusted rapist and it would still sell like billy-oh. And while they sit in this position that many game developers worldwide with slews of new and interesting game concepts would happily hack off their wedding tackle to occupy, all they do is constantly remake the same games! Okay, so sometimes you've got an ocarina, and sometimes you're in a boat, and sometimes you're a werewolf getting repulsive erotica drawn about you by people on DeviantArt, but pick any one of the ninety billion Zelda games there have been so far and odds are good that you're the same bloody guy saving the same bloody girl with the same bloody boomerang.
  • Princess Zelda gets herself into a pickle and has to be unpickled by the hero who is called 'Link' on the few occasions I feel mature enough not to abuse the Enter-Your-Name feature, and 'Fagballs' at all other times.
  • Phourglass' other gimmick is that every time you complete a dungeon you have to return to the starting temple to find out where to go next, and while not wishing to sound confrontational, I say this aspect of the game can FUCK RIGHT OFF! [Hurls his DS into the air on the word "FUCK", pulls out a gun on "RIGHT", shoots the DS to pieces on "OFF"]
  • Here's an idea, Nintendo, free of charge. How about next time you want to make a Zelda game, you don't call it Zelda. Maybe instead of Fagballs, the main character could be someone else, like... a dog. And maybe instead of Hyrule, it could be set somewhere original, like Feudal Japan. And maybe instead of collecting tools to access new dungeons and areas, you could collect magic spells that are cast by, say, painting funny shapes with a magic brush. Hang on a second, I'm gonna write this down.
  • [Closing song: Dude (Looks Like a Lady) by Aerosmith] [15]

Clive Barker's Jericho

  • [Opening song: Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett]
  • Over the last few weeks, most of the games I've reviewed have been either good or at least not bad enough to justify what we in the ghetto used to call "getting my knickers in a twist", and since I've just received my modest tax refund, my tension has been slowly rising from not having enough to be angry or miserable about. So, thank you, Clive Barker! Thank you for this opportunity to unwind by calling your game a spunk-flavoured lollipop!
  • Clive Barker's Clive Barker's Jericho (by Clive Barker) follows the adventures of- and when I first read the plot synopsis this is the point where my eyes almost rolled straight out of my skull- An elite military unit specializing in the paranormal and consisting of four tough, manly men and three hot, sassy chicks of various racial backgrounds with only a wheelchair-bound man required to complete the spectrum of political correctness.
  • The plot is about as twisted and impenetrable as a granite octopus. And only serves to string together the endless identical gunfights and I-have-no-will-to-live-so-here-is-my-weakspot-please-shoot-it boss battles.
  • I'll tell you what this game reminds me of, and that's id Software's original Quake. This would probably have sounded like a compliment about ten years ago, but I'm sure with the benefit of hindsight, we can all agree that Quake wasn't exactly easy on the eye. Which was your favorite Quake level? The brown castle, the greenish-brown temple, or the other brown castle? Jericho shows us exactly how far we've come with the levels being, in order; brown ruins, more brown ruins, brown castle, more brown castle, and revenge of the brown castle.
  • Maybe some of this could be forgiven if the seven main characters weren't all completely unlikeable. There's so much black leather on display its like someone took the goth clique from a small town high school, pinned them down in front of a 24-hour Rambo marathon, then smacked them brutally around the head with a baseball bat made out of frozen stupid.
  • I could go on listing the stupid design decisions... so I will.
  • At moments when monsters spawn in by rising up from the ground, it turns the action into a gory, protracted session of Whack-A-Mole.
  • So in summary, Jericho can best be described as a hybrid of Gears of War, Hellraiser, and Scooby Doo with the contents of an abattoir slop bucket thrown over it. This is normally the point where the reviewer would say that it's for hardcore Clive Barker fans only, but to be honest I can't recommend it to them either. Maybe to someone who was really, really, creepily into cranial intrusion, but if that's the case, you'd probably have more fun sticking a pickaxe up your nose.
  • [Closing song: Blood by My Chemical Romance] [16]

F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate

  • [Opening song: Ghostbusters Theme by Ray Parker Jr.]
  • Perseus Mandate is the completely uninformative title of the new F.E.A.R expansion pack. This is the second expansion pack for F.E.A.R to come out since they are very easy to make. All you need to do is open the original game, randomly copy about half the levels and rearrange them tastefully in a new window. Add a new kind of enemy by reskinning an existing one and put a big picture of a main character on the box art lit from behind by an explosion and away you go!
  • I'm running down a corridor and the lights come down and now I'm in another different corridor only now there's a blurry filter on my vision and I can hear what sounds like a moose being strangled in a tin bath. Awesome! I open a door and it vanishes into nothing and now there's a door in the ceiling. Sweet! There's a corpse at the end of the hall, but as I get closer, it jumps up and yells at me like everything's my fault. Finally, I'm having a good time!
  • I guess if you're a huge fan of F.E.A.R., and I mean huge, like, if you play it twice a day and you have Jason Hall's face stenciled onto your toilet seat, and if you've got a love of repetitive tactical combat that borders on the fetishistic and if you really badly need to know what happens next to the faceless characterless protagonist of the ongoing storyline, then I heartily recommend Perseus Mandate. Maybe you can play it while you hang around the labyrinth with Theseus, because you're obviously a nonexistent creature of myth.
  • [Closing song: Yo Mama by Butterfingers] [17]

Assassin's Creed

  • [Opening song: I Fought the Law by The Clash]
  • In the time between the release of Assassin's Creed in America and its release in Australia, plus however much time it took for me to start giving a shit, I was inundated with literally two emails declaring its poor quality and asking if I was going to give it a sound thrashing for the rollicking amusement of all. So I braced myself for Assassin's Creed winning the gold medal at the pooh-pooh Olympics, but put away your bile umbrellas listeners, its not bad. Not great, but only taking home the bronze at most.
  • I'm not sure what it's done to earn so much ire from the community. It might be because Ubisoft is French, and therefore full of unwashed, cheesy pricks. Whoops, my mistake. "Assassin's Creed was actually developed by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs" as a rather perplexing opening screen is quick to remind us in what I presume is a weak attempt to placate the various religious groups who are depicted in this game as dirty and horrible. Admittedly, no more so then everyone else in the world, but then, atheists aren't as likely to burn your house down.
  • [A disclaimer] This video review was created by a not particularly multicultural person, but who really loves religious extremists a whole huggy bunch. [Text of disclaimer actually reads This video review was produced by a not particularly multicultural person but who invites religious extremists to suck out his farts and die.]
  • Assassin's Creed takes place in some weird parallel universe version of the 12th century holy land where all the major cities are within 5 minutes drive of each other and follows the adventures of Altair, a member of a secret order of assassins who possesses a rather anomalous American accent. Only that's a lie, the game is actually about some dickhead in the future kidnapped by a rival in the biggest dickhead competition who forces him to relive the genetic memories of a 12th century ancestor. All of which sounds like a soft-science nightmare, but as a device to drive the storyline, it does the job all right. Also it means that you never die, you just get desynchronized, in the sci-fi equivalent of the Prince of Persia's constant deaths in The Sands of Times being attributed to him having an atrocious memory.
  • [A] good way to blow your cover is to randomly stab innocent civilians, and trust me when I say that forcing yourself not to do so is a lot harder than it sounds. Those wacky, fun-loving lepers have this hilarious tendency to shove you with all their retard strength and send you flying ye olde mosh-pit style, which I feel makes me well within my rights to lamp them one, but then everyone turns against you because apparently it's not as funny when YOU do it. And then there are the beggar women who latch on to you like a lamprey eel and constantly run in front of you whining for coins in a manner scientifically designed to get on my tits. Then I give them a gentle, discouraging knuckle sandwich, and they run off yelling like I'M the asshole. It hits particularly close to home for me, because this is pretty much how all my relationships turn out.
  • [On the sword-fighting] It's like you're enjoying a nice, if rather bland, grilled-cheese sandwich livened up with intermittent lumps of Branston Pickle, when someone snatches it from your mouth and replaces it with a spoonful of watery ejaculate between two pieces of wood.
  • [Closing song: Yakety Sax by Boots Randolph] [18]

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

  • [Opening song: I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones]
  • [Guitar Hero]'s triumph is in following the philosophy that if you're going to make a game designed to humiliate the player, the least you can do is have some decent music in it. So while we all stand up there holding undersized squeaky Fisher Price plastic guitars as you'd hold a small yappy dog, we could at least close our eyes and pretend we were on stage with Joan Jett... holding a small yappy dog.
  • Don't believe the lie of Guitar Hero III. It's actually the fourth title in the series, the third being Rock the 80's, which I haven't played, but the day I fork out 70 bucks [Australian] for an expansion pack is the day I swallow razor wire, pull the other end out of my arse, and floss myself to death.
  • Unnecessary changes in lettering and graphics give an inscrutable feeling of unease as if a stranger has come into your house thinly disguised as your best friend and you're wondering if he intends to leave soon or murder you and cannibalize your body.
  • But the point I'm trying laboriously to get to is that Guitar Hero III made Guitar Hero stop being fun. Oh, it was fun for awhile rattling off the ridiculously long hammer-on sequences in Cult of Personality like the fretboard was the crotch of a loved one and I had only a vague idea of where her clitoris was. It was challenging enough to make me feel awesome for pulling it off.
  • But then I got to the last venue and the last group of songs on hard mode and came to a screeching halt because they are fucking impossible. [The game grabs Yahtzee's guitar off him and whacks him over the head with it] NO. STOP. Do not reach for your E-mail, client. I do not want to hear about how you five-starred Blood Rain on Expert, because if you did, you are a fucking freak. A freak with either three arms or a trained pet spider working the buttons for you.
  • Co-op career mode is a welcome addition, despite there being no faster way to have a falling out with someone.
  • Battle mode, though, feels a wee bit broken. The first time we played, the very first powerup either of us acquired crippled the other player and ended the match within five seconds, in a clear case of what is known as "Mario Kart Syndrome".
  • As for the whole 'Legends of Rock' thing, perhaps 'Legend of Rock' singular would have been less misleading because the only one is Slash from Guns N' Roses. Well there's some guy from Rage Against the Machine too, but wishing no offense to the man, if he's a 'Legend of Rock' then a grilled cheese sandwich is Haute cuisine.
  • Everything Guitar Hero III brings to the series is balanced by what it left out. For one, Co-op Career mode is nice but plain old Co-op Quickplay mode is out on its ear for no adequate reason. For two, the game has more product placement than the last Terminator movie and about as much dignity. For three, what happened to Clive Winston? He was my favorite character. For four, what the fuck happened to Clive Winston, you pricks? In his place we've got some multicolored giggly J-Pop... creature, and you can't play classic rock with that... thing, it's like cock-slapping the Mona Lisa.
  • On the whole though, it's just not as good as tonguing another man's balls. I mean, as it used to be. [Brief Pause] I'm not gay.
  • [Closing song: Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson] [19]

Mass Effect

  • [Opening song: A Little Less Conversation by Elvis Presley]
  • I've already covered in this weekly adventure in good-natured fond ribbing that I think JRPGs can all suck on the unpedicured toenails of a menopausal valkyrie. Western RPGs, on the other hand, I've had a more changeable relationship with. While JRPGs generally involve a bunch of angsty twenty-year-olds with stupid hairdos following a strictly linear storyline when they aren't standing in a row in front of dancing goblins arguing over who's on potion duty, Western RPGs tend to feature more variety and less skinny underdressed girls claiming to be men.
  • Someday, I want to make a list of all the games that feature as the protagonist a grizzled, generically handsome, short-brown-haired guy. I'm sure I'd end up with something populated by roughly 70 percent of all the games ever made ever. Mass Effect is gratifyingly different by letting you choose between various styles and shades of short brown hair and fully customize your generic handsomeness and grizzledom levels. Well, that's a little unfair, you can be a grizzled, short-brown-haired girl, too.
  • It's half past the future and humanity is on the galactic political stage having a dick-waving competition with a variety of alien races who all speak English in pleasant North American dialects for some reason, but I guess it's preferable to all those wookies in Knights of the Old Republic gargling in your face all the time.
  • The main guy, whose last name is Shepard and whose first name in my case was Titty, is a human soldier guy who gets a new job as a galactic peacekeeper guy called a Jedi- I mean Spectre. Soon enough the shit hits the hyperdrive and it's down to Titty to save the galaxy. Now pan out my last few statements until this paragraph is roughly the same length as Marcel Proust's A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu., then read this out loud to yourself while occasionally flinging the text across the room so you have to go pick it up again, and you'll have a pretty good idea of the Mass Effect experience.
  • People often say to me, "Yahtzee, you callipygian superman, how can you, a game writer yourself, complain about a game having too much dialogue?" I would reply for the same reason a hairdresser is entitled to complain when someone fills their car with shampoo.
  • Finally, the smartest idea that BioWare had was to leak the idea that there is sex in this game. That probably doubled the sales figures right there because the nerd is a tiresomely predictable creature. To him, the promise of boobies is like a bacon sandwich to a starving wolf.
  • You only get to see, like, one second of bare arse anyway, so it'll hardly make your "mass erect".
  • [Closing song: Spaceman by Babylon Zoo] [20]

Super Mario Galaxy

  • [Opening song: Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra]
  • A new Nintendo console has been dancing a merry jig in the international marketplace for quite a while now, so we're well overdue for another cynical attempt to make the Mario 64 lightning strike again and restore life to the lurching atrocity that is Nintendo's main franchise. I mentioned in the Phantom Hourglass review that the company has a terrible habit of treading old ground, but even by their standards the Mario ground has been trodden, bulldozed, and purged with fire and salt.
  • Don't be fooled, this is your standard fill-in-the-blanks framework. Mario's hateful emotionally retarded ball-and-chain has been kidnapped again, but before you can do the rescue you have to collect a whole bunch of stars, and it is always stars for some utterly arbitrary reason, and in the end Mario succeeds in rescuing the needy bitch who once again fails to put out, although frankly I've given up expecting any kind of actual human intelligent reaction from that clueless bint.
  • For me, the interesting relationship is the one between Mario and Bowser. I mean, on some days they fight to the death in fiery climactic showdowns, while other days they go go-karting together, play tennis, even team up in some of the RPGs! Sure, he kidnaps the princess a whole bunch, but no one seems to begrudge him for that anymore. It's just what he does. It's like begrudging a dog for licking its own balls.
  • Okay I admit it, Mario Galaxy is fun. It feels like a return to form; lots of interesting levels with a huge variety of settings, terrains, and challenges. Plus, watching Mario rocket through space at meteoric speeds while holding his little stubby arms out has a rather perplexing charm to it. It's cutesy and colorful enough to be kid friendly while challenging the adult audience. While some moments are appealingly fucked up when taken out of context, like force-feeding a guy sweeties so that he explodes and turns into a planet or crawling on the exterior of a giant woman picking debris out her rampant pubic hair.
  • All in all though, I'm left wondering where this series could possibly go from here. I mean once you go into space everything after that feels like a step backwards unless your next film teams you up with Freddy Kreuger. Maybe they could do Super Mario Universe, but that's really only postponing the issue. Of course, Nintendo always has the option to axe the franchise and start a new one with new and interesting characters, and then maybe they can start a snow shoveling business in hell!
  • [Closing song: Walkin' on the Sun by Smash Mouth] [21]

Silent Hill Origins

  • [Opening song: It's Oh So Quiet by Bjork]
  • Reviewers take every opportunity to fling their poo like angry chimpanzees, but don't think that ballistic shit is all I'm about. There are things that I love and one of them is the Silent Hill series. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if it loves me back, but like an abused spouse, I keep returning no matter how many times I get slapped about by his friends Mr. Frustrating Combat and Professor Dodgy Camera Positioning.
  • What I love about Silent Hill is its absolutely peerless storytelling, which compared to the standard writing of the games industry, makes it look like Charles Dickens joining a forum for Invader Zim fan fiction.
  • The series dribbled away with Silent Hill 4 which left me and many others with big old Silent Hill blue balls, but sooner or later it was inevitable that some prick would try to take my blue balls in hand and wring out some money to pay for his hookers, hence Silent Hill Origins, a new game exclusive to the PSP of all things, and outsourced to Climax Studios, a western developer that couldn't have missed the point worse if they fired in the wrong direction and the point was in a different country altogether.
  • You have one second to name any game in which weapon degradation's been a good idea. Time's up. That's what I thought. There's something very wrong about a katana that shatters after five or six hits, one that ostensibly isn't made out of glass or chocolate.
  • He's also got a dark secret and a troubled past, which is the equivalent of a Silent Hill season ticket
  • To me the Silent Hill series is over. And if Silent Hill V convinces me otherwise then I will remove three of my own vertebrae, curl my spine back and eat my own arse.
  • [Closing song: Just by Radiohead] [22]

Crysis

  • [Opening song: Island in the Sun by Weezer]
  • I know it's unusual for me to praise graphics when I'm usually down in the core working the gameplay and story gnomes to death, so understand how beautiful Crysis has to be for it to warrant a mention. Crysis is so pretty that were it an inmate in a male prison it would be the bitch of every motherfucker in that place before you could say Andy Dufresne.
  • Of course, with amazing graphics comes the inhumane treatment of processors. Crysis is apparently designed for some kind of hypothetical future computer from space. I played this on a brand new PC resembling the Monolith from 2001 constructed from magical obsidian by the proud dwarves of Middle Earth, but it still chugged when things got busy. But I guess this is what big PC nerds get big raging PC erections for.
  • But there is one section towards the end where you're forced to pilot a futuristic helicopter jobbie and... well, imagine that you'd just woken from a 20-year-coma, celebrated the occasion by drinking six bottles of Madd Dogg 20/20, then were called upon to pilot a light aircraft bearing a cargo of hippopotami. That's what controlling this section is like. And they expect you to enter dogfights in this thing. That's like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube with your elbows.
  • So basically what I'm trying to strain out like an uncomfortable kidney stone is a recommendation. It's not perfect, but who is, besides Columbo?
  • [Closing song: Dance Commander by Electric Six] [23]

The Witcher

  • [Opening song: Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) by The Offspring]
  • What would you get if you took the corpse of J.R.R. Tolkien, ground it into a fine powder, and snorted it off the doughy breasts of a prostitute suffering from Tourette's Syndrome? Well, first you'd get a throatful of dead writer, then the police would probably want to talk to you, and you'd no doubt make an enemy of Mrs. Tolkien. What you probably won't get is The Witcher, because it's a video game, and more easily acquired from your local electronics retailer, you idiot.
  • "The Witcher" takes place in the same time-locked period of medieval England that all fantasy takes place in as inevitably as the fucking tides and follows the adventures of an amnesiac platinum blonde named Gerald. Sorry, "Geralt". Gerald is a Witcher, a sort of demon-hunter-for-hire. Not, as you might reasonably assume, a witch hunter, since you run into witches fairly often and don't seem to care. You could make a convincing case for the word "Witcher" meaning "a bloke who has sex with witches a lot", since even in the short time I was playing, female magic users were queuing up to nibble on my +69 Staff of Penetration.
  • What quickly becomes obvious is that Witcher is very much a PC-exclusive game, which are typically designed to be as complex and unintuitive as possible, so that those dirty console-playing peasants don't ruin it for the glorious PC-gaming Master Race.
  • If disliking this sort of shit makes me stupid, then call me Retard McSpackyPants, but I'd rather be stupid and having fun than bored out of my huge genius mind.
  • One click combat? Endless trudging from place to place? Quests involving killing X amount of monster Y for lazy stationary cockhead Z? This is a mumorpuger! A single player mumorpuger with no Alliance dipshits tea-bagging your corpse, but a mumorpuger nonetheless.
  • You might say it's sexist to treat women like a baseball card collecting mini-game so you can ogle their luscious, rounded boobies and melt away between their smooth, milky thighs as the sweat runs in rivulets from their writhing, sensuous body, but... Sorry, I forgot where I was going with that.
  • The Witcher was not fun for me, but you might have a better time if you're incredibly boring and if it's been decades since your last sexual encounter. If that's the case, stop watching my reviews, Dad!
  • [Closing song: Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold] [24]

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles

  • [Opening song: Shoot Shoot by Dio]
  • Part of Resident Evil's charm is that it still takes itself seriously despite having the most atrociously written story and dialog of any human endeavor since Hulk Hogan took one too many clotheslines to the head and decided he could act.
  • Do you remember what the villains from Captain Planet were like? How they'd steal an oil tanker and deliberately run smack into a beach to teach all the sea lions a lesson in complacency? Do you remember wondering why they didn't just sell the oil at huge profit and not have to get beaten up by a big blue man in little red pants? Well, that's basically the Umbrella Corporation. It's controlled by a handful of people who in any sane world would have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act before they could even finish presenting their proposal to murder ninety percent of their research staff.
  • Umbrella Chronicles is a heavily cut-down retread of three of the major Resident Evil games; starring Johnny Bravo, a prostitute, an idiot, a mullet, a nine-year-old boy, a brick shithouse, and Carlos.
  • It's gratifying to see Capcom continue their proud tradition of unintentionally hilarious dialogue... "I have a bad feeling about this" announces Jill Valentine after having been repeatedly savaged by the undead, demonstrating her vital intuitive ability to sense danger about an hour after it has commenced. "Where did all these webs come from?" wonders Chris Redfield aloud whilst staring directly at a giant spider.
  • [Closing song: Runaway Train by Soul Asylum] [25]

Call of Duty 4

  • [Opening song: Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes]
  • The only time I review a game from recommendation is when it is simultaneously recommended by about four thousand bleating lambs, which was the case with Call of Duty 4. This game came more highly recommended than a triple-cunted hooker, and brace yourself for a shock, because it deserves the praise it gets... mostly.
  • I have this presumption about "serieses" like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor being same-y shooters with futile pretensions to realism, time-locked Bill Murray-style somewhere between 1941 and 1945, endlessly repeating America's sole moment of glory in living memory by punching out an endless stream of cackling Nazis with one hand and scarfing apple pie with the other.
  • The plot deals with a conflict in a middle eastern country that tactfully goes unnamed, undoubtedly because the state of that region fluctuates so much that it could be a water slide park by the time this comes out. [Yahtzee would henceforth refer to this country as "Unspecifiedistan".]
  • These changes of perspective in gameplay ensure that boredom is impossible, the controls are tight and intuitive enough to be effective however you have to apply them, and to balance the unentertaining seriousness of this sentence, BOINGO BOINGO WHOOPSY KNICKERS.
  • What I like about Call Of Duty 4 is that there's less of the smarmy, black-and-white, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" jingoism that turns me off most war games. While the US Marines act with shortsighted self-righteousness, convinced that they're the heroes in their own personal war movie (you know, just like in real life), their attitude eventually leads to them screwing the pooch so hard that the pooch has to lock itself in the bathroom for an hour with a tube of soothing cream. You spend most of the game with the British SAS, as they covertly fix things from behind the scenes, but they're depicted as a bunch of morally questionable psychotic thugs (again, just like in real life).
  • It always seems to be up to you to push forward because your allies are content to sit in their hidey holes shooting at endlessly respawning bad guys all damn day. Unless a grenade flushes them out, most likely dropped by me.
  • Oh yeah, and some guns take so long to reload, that it'd be faster just to send off for a new one by mail order, but now I'm just nitpicking.
  • All you need to know is this. There are two kinds of games: games that I stop playing because I've been bored or frustrated into a state approaching rigor mortis, and games that I stop playing because I just noticed I should have had dinner two hours ago. And Call of Duty 4 is in the latter category, a truly shining example of the genre that sucks me in like... well, like a triple-cunted hooker.
  • [Closing song: Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine] [26]

SimCity Societies

  • [Opening song: Living for the City by Stevie Wonder]
  • It's an idea that many people seem to latch on to that if we were created by some kind of god, then obviously he did it because he loves us so huggy-muggy much. Never are the holes in this theory more obvious than while playing god games because it seems when you place most people in the position of a god and give them responsibility over many tiny lesser beings, then their attitude towards them is usually less about beloved children and more about target practice.
  • I haven't played a SimCity game since the very first SimCity on the Amiga which I was never any good at. I remember wondering why no one wanted to live in the nice houses I built next to the nuclear power station. It made sense to me. It would mean the electricity wouldn't have to travel as far and as such would be less tired and more efficient. I also had difficulty grasping the notion that further away buildings had to be connected to the power station with wires. I just assumed that the little flashing lightning bolt icon meant that the people in the house were listening to AC/DC.
  • I set out to make a brutal, authoritarian dictatorship because it makes my balls feel big, so all my workplaces were things like thought-police headquarters and all the venues were propaganda theaters, and most of the gloomless fuckers were still content or elated. Christ, this must be how Nazi Germany started!
  • I suppose the clinching flaw in this game that revolves around keeping people happy is that the people provoke empathy in the same way Jeremy Clarkson provokes animalistic lust.
  • It's like baby's first SimCity with all the strategy reduced to that of a crossword with only two clues that somebody else already filled in.
  • Ultimately, you could have an equally fulfilling time just drawing a city in MS Paint. That way, you don't have to spend 60 bucks and you can get additional entertainment by drawing all the buildings with tits.
  • [Closing song: Highway to Hell by AC/DC] [27]

Yahtzee Goes to GDC

  • [Opening and closing song: The Entertainer by Scott Joplin]
  • [About the main character from Bioshock] No matter who you are, the moment you're compared to a magical hand that shoots bees, you're going to fucking lose.
  • All games are about realizing a fantasy, whether it be the fantasy of being a courageous war hero, or the fantasy of being a future space adventurer, or in the case of some Japanese games, the fantasy of possessing eight prehensile dicks.
  • Part of me wonders if, like how the invention of realistic virtual sex will wipe out the human race within one generation, simulated rocking will kill the real life music industry now that it's no longer necessary to actually learn to play an instrument, show up for gigs, stay up all night snorting drugs off people's body parts, and still being alert enough the following day to dodge casually thrown beer bottles. Bright young fellows with rock potential will instead use up their talent learning how to press buttons in the right order. Admittedly, you don't get the benefit of constant sex or embarrassingly large amounts of cash, but you also don't have to drop dead at the age of thirty-five from a combination of exhaustion, drug abuse, and bullets.
  • On the console battlefield, it was a significant year for the PS3 more than any other. At the start of the year, she'd been freshly kicked out on the stage to nervously dance for our amusement and it was hard to shake the feeling that she wasn't quite ready for prime time. Her shows were too expensive and she only knew two songs, but over the last year, she's been exercising and eating properly and I think it's fair to say that she's become a rival to her peers, the Wii, who only knows like four or five songs, and the Xbox 360, who frequently comes onstage drunk. Perhaps this decent competition will have some decent concerts in 2008 and perhaps I should stop laboring this analogy before its tits fall off.
  • But what could've been a better closing moment for 2007 than the release of a new Duke Nukem Forever teaser? Yes, it seems that 3D Realms have been doing something other than giving each other piggyback rides for the last ten years. In a stroke, all the anticipation we haven't felt since 1998 returned like a taser gun to the base of the spine. I just hope that 3D Realms understands that if this game doesn't turn out to be history's greatest contribution to human culture and the cure for at least one type of cancer, then I and every other reviewer on earth are going to saw its bollocks off. [28]

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

  • [Opening song: Gold by Spandau Ballet]
  • There are games for all kinds of people. There are games for rappers, and games for graffiti artists, and games for people who feel up girls on Japanese subway trains, but there have never been any decent games for white supremacists. That is until Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, a rip-snorting adventure in which a WASP-ish manly-man runs around slaughtering everyone who had the poor judgment to not be born white. Ok, so maybe I'm making too much of a big deal out of this, but I'm not kidding when I say that every minority on Earth is represented in the ranks of Uncharted's bad guys; a stream of Blacks, Asians, and Latinos brought together by their mutual desire to kill whitey. This is with the exception of the very British main villain, but he gets arbitrarily killed off about ten minutes before the ending in favor of a more ethnic final boss. Sorry to spoil that for you, but I assumed you could predict a plot point like the bad guy dies.
  • You play Nathan "Indiana Jones as written by Joss Whedon" Drake as he scavenger hunts for the inevitable lost golden treasure in the standard exotic locales as aided by the troublesome initially hostile blonde love interest and the elderly mentor-type figure who might as well wear a T-shirt saying "I will die or turn evil".
  • Before I twist the hatred valve, I just want to say the water effects in this game are really good. Water pouring from pipes actually shimmers like real water does and the main character's got this shirt that looks realistically wet after you've been swimming, but what's cool is it will only be partly wet if it was only partly immersed in water and... WELL, I THINK IT'S INTERESTING! Although it is odd how they put so much work into making his shirt look wet when his hair acts like it's held in place with polymer cement.
  • A major problem is that it's a very visually busy game, when at any given moment the screen's stuffed with more greenery than a dope fiend's window box, which drops leaves on both the gameplay train tracks. In the platforming there's sometimes little to differentiate the next ledge you have to jump on to and the meaningless background texture that will lead you only to good old jagged rock junction, and in the combat it's often hard to tell where an enemy is until they've already shot you - perfect aim at nine hundred yards, naturally - which doesn't strike me as good battlefield strategy.
  • The word that best sums up Uncharted is "safe". It takes no risks and pushes no envelopes - an envelope would move more if you'd put it in front of a glacier.
  • [Closing song: Ebony & Ivory by Stevie Wonder & Paul McCartney] [29]

Devil May Cry 4

  • [Opening song: Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones]
  • It would be very narrow-minded of me to say that all Japanese cartoons suck, that's like saying that all glam rockers are pedophiles. The fact is that there's bound to be at least one thing to your taste in all the different varieties of anime, whether you're into samurais or giant robots or serials about awkward young men very pointedly not having sex with a selection of eager women. But it would be fair to say that there is a certain selection of popular trends in anime that tend to set off my cynicism alert. I would list them, but now thanks to Capcom I don't have to. Now I can just point to Devil May Cry 4 and say "pretty much that".
  • Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some spectacle-adjusting model railroad enthusiast who cannot function without absolute realism at all times. Leaping eight times your own height, swinging swords the size of small cars around, and deflecting bullets with other bullets are all fine with me as long as it's entertaining. I'll even accept that getting a seven foot katana jammed through your torso is totally survivable, if a bit homoerotic. A game starts widdling on my chips, however, when it populates itself with smug self-satisfied dickspurts and starts neglecting gameplay because it's too busy letting them swagger invincibly about until I want to flatten their androgynous faces with a kayak paddle.
  • The abominably lengthy intro cinematic contained a total of three high-energy, bombastic fight sequences and my entire contribution to them was to sit on my arse, taking a drink every time someone defied the laws of physics. There's no reason why those fights couldn't have been playable, but the game seemed to fray that I would cramp its style. It's like Devil May Cry 4 invited me out to a bar, then left me alone in the corner nursing a Strongbow while he busily tore up the dance floor with a giggling society girl. Eventually, she was called away by her cackling friends and he came back to our table with fresh drinks and apologies, but I won't forget this betrayal, oh no!
  • Capcom seemed to be pulling the Hideo Kojima gambit with this installment, wherein the beloved established character is supplanted for most of the game by a whinging pubescent successor whose motivation can best be summarized as pussy-whipped.
  • It seems however that after all the hilarious fanboy rage that Metal Gear Solid 2 weathered, Capcom are trying to pull the wool over our eyes by making the new character Nero look, dress, behave, and speak exactly the same as the old character Dante. If you're having trouble telling them apart, remember that Nero is a pussy, while Dante is more of a cunt.
  • If you seriously don't find something entertaining about launching an enemy into the air, then keeping him afloat with a cushion of bullets then it's time to reassess your standards.
  • "Please," go the Devil May Cry team. "Please stop buying these games so we can can do something else! We have totally run out of ideas! I spent the last six months rendering the glisten playing off the greasy, exposed breasts of some athletic hip-cocking slut, and now I want to kill myself!"
  • The combat is all I can recommend, but it's hardly worth buying for that. You could probably replicate it by putting a wasp next to a spider, playing some Slipknot in the background and pouring red and green gummy bears on whoever wins.
  • [Closing song: Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim] [30]

Burnout Paradise

  • [Opening song: Crash into Me by Dave Matthews Band]
  • People often ask me, "Yahtzee, you herculean exemplar, you have so much to say about what makes a bad game but what is your measure of a good game?" Well actually, no one's ever asked me that, mostly they just ask retarded questions like when am I going to review 20-year-old Nintendo games like everyone and their dog. But it's the kind of question I'd like to be asked, so I'm going to answer it.
  • The game takes place in a strange post-apocalyptic future where advanced sat-nav systems have resulted in a race of murderous sentient cars and the only surviving human being is an insane D.J. calling himself Atomica who spends his nights running around setting up ramps everywhere and his days holed up in a radio station somewhere trying to talk the cars into destroying themselves so he might one day reclaim society. That's the only explanation I can think of for the total absence of pedestrians and why you never see any poorly strapped in children go hurtling through windscreens during one of the many, many, many high speed crashes.
  • Burnout is a game that hates players with a passion. If it were a fascist dictator it would build concentration camps for players, and what's more, he would lay every brick personally with cement mixed from his own blood. That's how much he hates you.
  • Every aspect of the game play is geared to make sure that you crash as often and as viscerally as possible. The streets twist and turn unexpectedly, the main camera angle has the back end of your car taking up most of your view like a mongoloid hippo, and the streets are densely populated with pupils of the local driving school for elderly sufferers of Alzheimer’s Disease. And when you do inevitably crash, Burnout's gloating satisfaction hangs thick in the air. Slow motion sets in, the color washes out, and the action switches to the optimal camera angle to watch yourself pirouette through the air, as if to say, "Hey everyone! Come and see Captain Crashes-A-Lot!"
  • Burnout Paradise's unique selling point is that it's an open world game, one of those games usually pitched with a sentence beginning "Like Grand Theft Auto, but..." In this case, "Like Grand Theft Auto, but a hell of a lot more broken."
  • But you have to judge Paradise by different standards. This isn't a game meant to be played all weekend, this a game that you play for maybe an hour or so to psyche yourself up for playing a killer rock guitar solo or punching out an angry bear. Yes, this is a game for cool people who like fast cars and don't have time to play games because of all the sex they have. And if all you can do is sit there gabbing off about the design and game flow then you probably missed the smirking, sideways-baseball-cap-wearing point.
  • [Closing song: Live Fast, Die Young by The Devotchkas] [31]

Turok

  • [Opening song: Jurassic Park Theme by John Williams]
  • Rather than do what I usually do, i.e. crucify the game with big, blunt rusty nails shaped like penises, let's instead use Turok as an example to go through a few of the mistakes first person shooters keep persistently making. Perhaps I could persuade developers to stop making them, and then maybe I can persuade the tides to turn back and ride a winged marshmallow to the sherbet kingdom.
  • What's so bad about health meters, anyway? Okay, so they're not what you'd call realistic, but I kind of thought we abandoned realism around the time space marines were stabbing dinosaurs on the planet Zog.
  • Three - Give grenades halfway decent splash damage. (Text in review: Make grenades more powerful than bunny farts.)
  • "Aliens" was a good film, I'm glad you're all in agreement there, but it seems you can't walk ten paces in today's first person shooter market without tripping over grizzled, sassy, multi-ethnic military types often wearing, or at least located somewhere inside, suits of powered armor each the size of four brick shithouses stacked together. Turok goes the extra mile by ripping off the entire cryo pod scene from "Aliens" verbatim except with Sigourney Weaver replaced with an overly masculine stupid haircut. No change there then! (har har har, raucous laughter) When you consider that the original Turok games were about a time-travelling red Indian, its new installment has had to work really hard to rip off "Aliens". They had to lock up the established setting and storyline in a wardrobe and throw it off a cliff. They approached ripping off "Aliens" with the same determination that most developers would approach making a game that's actually good, and that's sort of admirable I guess, in a retarded kind of way.
  • Out of curiosity, I went to IMDB to learn what amateur dramatics wannabe voiced this gobshite [Turok's partner] and found it to be none other than Ron Fuckmothering Perlman?! A Ron Perlman I can only assume realized early on what kind of dross he was working with and decided to bring that across in his performance, and if Ron Perlman thought Turok was shit, who are you to argue? Did you ever warm the frozen hearts of audiences worldwide in "City of Lost Children"? No? Well shut up then!
  • Most of these problems with modern FPSes can be explained with four words: "Let's be like Halo". But I remember a time when FPSes didn't all march in step behind an inexplicably popular festival of mediocrity, when FPSes weren't all about soldiers and space marines, when they could be about undead cowboys, or backwoods pig-rapists, or wise-cracking misogynistic wankers. I remember a time when FPSes had a sense of humor about themselves and included colors other than gunmetal gray and dog-shit brown. I remember titles like Exhumed and Chasm and Witchhaven II. Though on reflection, I'd rather forget about them.
  • [Closing Song: Through These Eyes by Social Distortion] [32]

Zack and Wiki

  • [Opening theme: Captain Pugwash Theme by Tom Edmundson]
  • Long ago in the mists of time, when main characters didn't need to have biceps bigger then their faces, and when bump mapping was just something cartographers did to their wives, there lived adventure games. This shy thoughtful tribe was known for its great story telling tradition and ruled the great PC gaming plains for many years before mysteriously dying out around the onset of the Quake era. Some blame the aggressive expansion of neighboring first person shooter tribes. But personally I think it's more to do with the fact that most of them were shit.
  • If you find the Japanese offensive, then you'll find this game offensively Japanese. The main characters are a brash youth with no voice and stupid hair and his aggressively cute monkey friend voiced by some painfully shrill harpy thing. And the antagonist is a hot angry girl in a miniskirt. Now all it needs to do is dispense used panties and oppress the Chinese.
  • And this is the point where the game shines, because the point where you figure out that you're supposed to put the key in the door or perturb the angry sloth with the frighteningly large dildo creates the same smug cock "oh look at me, I didn't have to consult GameFAQs" good feeling that I've always liked about adventure games. And the fact that there are only a handful of inventory items that you use repeatedly rather then a billion, each with one "UND PRECISELY VON" application, removes one of the major things I don't like about adventure games.
  • [Yahtzee's various names for Zack and Wiki]Wack and Ziki, Zim and Spacky, Wank and Sticky
  • Some people might find the characters' pseudo-verbal grunts and squeaks a bit annoying after the first few hundred times. I didn't, but my roommate said that it was like having his ear canals raped by a man wearing a sandpaper condom. Not in those exact words, obviously.
  • [Closing theme: Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones] [33]

Army of Two

  • [Opening song: Two Little Boys by Rolf Harris]
  • I'd be the first to admit that in my reviews, I tend to go straight for the gay jokes too much. Somehow, a burn becomes doubly funny when you've implied that the subject likes it rough from men with hairy bums. I've honestly been trying to cut down on them lately, but Jesus, look what I've got to work with! Two inseparable muscular men, one big and grizzled, the other young and spunky, running around in gimp masks, knocking down big missile erections, plainly sexually uninterested in the only woman of their acquaintance, and despite ostensibly making a lot of income as contractors, they can only afford one parachute between them which they're a little too eager to share.
  • We're quickly and frequently reminded that the military is shit and so is everyone in it, while mercenaries are unstoppable immortal badasses who make tons more money and like it rough from men with hairy bums- NO! Bad Yahtzee! I meant to say - and you get to wear funky skull masks like it's Halloween every day, except that it's you giving out the candy, and the candy is bullets.
  • In one shootout sequence, there was an elevated holdout position that I gave him [a partner] a boostie up to in a cunning higher-grounds strategy, but since my friend had trouble understanding that bullets were something to be avoided, he was taken down. When this happens, you basically can't move or get up until your partner comes over to stick a healing foot up your arse. But since there was now no one to give me a boostie up to where he was, all I could do was hop impotently up and down like a skull-faced bunny until his bad case of idiocy proved terminal.
  • I was being facetious earlier, I don't really get a gay vibe from Mr. and Mrs. Skeletor. They remind me more of a pair of eight-year-old boys running around the school yard kicking girls in the shins. The option exists to pimp out your guns with funky paint jobs and bling and if that idea appeals to you, then give yourself a nice saltwater douche because you're officially a cunt.
  • It's just a little bit tacky to combine juvenile power fantasy with real world politics, but I don't want to beat Army of Two with that when there's perfectly good bad game design I can beat it with.
  • If you can play Gears of War with one hand and Splinter Cell with the other, then you don't need to play Army of Two. And make sure you film it because that's a pretty impressive talent you have there!
  • [Closing song: You're My Best Friend by Queen] [34]

No More Heroes

  • [Opening song: No More Heroes by The Stranglers. Yahtzee cuts this song off prematurely declaring, "No no, that's a bit too obvious."]
  • No More Heroes is a Japanese game based around Jedi lightsaber fighting and starring as the main character a hopeless, pop-culture-obsessed social reject who spends most of his time whining, getting strung along by women, and generally being an unlikeable fuckbend. At least you can't fault him for understanding his audience. (predictable joke)
  • The game is brought to us by Suda 51, the fifty-first result of an illegal Japanese cloning experiment to create the world's most auteur game designer, Sudas one through fifty having perished after their minds failed to absorb the necessary level of pretentiousness.
  • Let's get one thing straight, I fucking loved killer7! There we were living our gray, predictable lives, playing our gray, predictable games when along came killer7 in a technicolor dream coat, leaving slightly perplexed joy in the wake of its huge motorbike, showing exactly could be done when you flaunt all established convention and just start exploring what can really be done with gaming as an art form.
  • ...and now we have No More Heroes, a Grand Theft Auto clone. "Shine on, you crazy diamond!" said Yahtzee, his voice thick like sarcastic Marmite.
  • You play Travis Touchdown, the aforementioned speccy narcissistic weirdo, characterized just a little bit uncomfortably close to home, who buys a lightsaber and vows to become the greatest assassin in the world. You know how it is; when you buy a barbeque, you throw a lot of parties for a while to fool yourself into thinking it wasn't a waste of money.
  • There's one thing about the combat that makes me want to slap Suda 51 across the face until his eyes switch places, and it's that after killing an enemy Travis has a random chance of screaming out the name of one of his favorite puddings and gaining superpowers for a bit, and when you put random chance into combat mechanics all strategy has been thrown out of the window, then scraped off the ground and used to pick up the broken glass. And then Sod's Law ensures that the enemy who finally gives you a super power will inevitably be the last one in the room, leaving Travis running around with glowing Dragonball Z hair for ten seconds seriously menacing the walls.
  • But the awkward thing about No More Heroes, or at least about reviewing it, is that like killer7, it was intended to be satirical, and when there are problems with the gameplay, I'm worried that it was intended to be that way as a satire of... I dunno, pretentious video games, and if I were to call it out on that, then I'd lose my credibility with the cool alternative crowd. But then I remembered that any game designer who sacrifices fun to make an artistic statement is obviously stuck so far up his own arse that he's in danger of choking on his own head.
  • Enough ragging, because in spite of the last eight paragraphs of petulant birdlike warbling, I enjoyed No More Heroes a lot. The unpredictable story and quirky aesthetic kept me fascinated enough to keep plowing through it just to see what happened next. So I'll say the same thing about No More Heroes that I say about killer7 and EarthBound and Branston Pickle; as flawed as it is, get it anyway because you will never experience anything else like it. God knows what would happen if you spread Branston Pickle onto No More Heroes. Possibly the universe would end. And it would be awesome.
  • [Closing song: Assassin by Muse] [35]

Condemned 2: Bloodshot

  • [Opening song: Ghost Town by The Specials]
  • Being British, middle class, and whiter than a snowman with a bukkake fetish, I'm no stranger to cultural guilt and have ambivalent feelings toward the homeless. On the one hand, they're all obviously the tragic victims of an uncaring society, but on the other hand they're also tragic victims who smell and shout at me in the street. So I admit to feeling a bit guilty about looking forward to Sega's newest working-class bludgeoning simulator, but maybe it's possible to worry too much about this sort of thing while you're caving in a teenage runaway's skull with a bit of old pipe. Thankfully, the guilt is assuaged this time around by the main character himself being a homeless rather than a squeaky clean federal agent, thus making the action seem more like a series of entertaining bum fights than a class war.
  • Condemned 2 is a textbook victim of "Indigo Prophecy Syndrome" (that's "Fahrenheit Syndrome" in Europe). It's a disease that chiefly afflicts games with a grounding in reality but with a slight supernatural element with sequels in increased risk. The main and most obvious symptom of Indigo Prophecy Syndrome is a plot which in the second half goes what is medically known as snooker loopy with lesser symptoms including total abandonment of subtlety, the introduction of ancient mystical cults, and the main character pulling hitherto-unknown superpowers out of their arse.
  • There's a final boss sequence in Condemned 1 in which you run through a dark, claustrophobic labyrinth with a serial killer in hot pursuit. It's really intense and genuinely terrifying, and part of what makes it so effective is that it takes place in a normal house exactly like, oh, say, for example... YOURS!!! Right down to the psychotic serial killer who lives under your bed and is standing right behind you right now, but don't look, 'cause that'll really piss him off!
  • Condemned 2, by contrast, ends on a stupid sci-fi tower thing resembling something the Combine would throw together if they were all drunk, and the piss-easy final boss fight, which you win by shouting at him so loud his brain explodes. I wish I was fucking kidding!
  • [Closing song: (Hit Me with your) Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury & the Blockheads] [36]

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

  • [Opening song: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor]
  • [Groaning audibly] I really haven't been looking forward to this. Last week, I accidentally left my copy of this game in a friend's console, and I was genuinely pleased. It meant I could review Condemned 2 instead, a game I actually had some interest in. But there comes a time when we all must pay the piper and eat shit waffles. I don't even know why I'm reviewing this game. Oh wait, yes I do, because you dipshits wouldn't stop crying about it!
  • So I was able to defy the ghettoization of Australian gamers and acquire an import copy of the game due to the charity of some guys at [booming voice] GAMETRADERS ROBINA. Which you should probably visit because GAMETRADERS ROBINA is your one-stop shop for games and the trading thereof...in Robina.
  • Now, I'm fully aware that SSBB is primarily a multiplayer game and that I can't get away with my usual routine of only playing the single player and attempting weakly to rationalize my fear and disgust of other human beings. So I took this game, which was indecently sent to me by GAMETRADERS ROBINA, over to MY FRIEND GUY'S HOUSE, to try it out with a bunch of other man-children with no prior understanding or interest in Smash Bros. to see how it held up. And the result, a resounding "EHH..."
  • I've never liked most fighting games, because I argue that there's got to be something wrong with a game in which you can spend fifteen years practicing and learning every slightest nuance and still lose to someone randomly smashing buttons.
  • At our grouping, for example, since maybe just under one of us was boring enough to read the manual, our deathmatches could probably have been faithfully recreated by hurling the controllers down a flight of stairs. But even if we had all got our PhDs in Wavebird bitch-slapping, the fights decended easily into incomprehensible clusterfucks. The characters are so small and the camera zooms out so far and most of the attacks are such particle effect maelstroms that they might as well just obscure all the action with billowing dustclouds, like in The Beano.
  • But maybe I'm approaching this the wrong way. Maybe this isn't a game intended to be played seriously. Perhaps I should just be embracing the spectacle. And I must confess, engineering a scenario in which Mario can brutally beat the stupid out of Princess Peach while the crowd screams for blood is very satisfying. And it would be pretty sweet to watch Solid Snake get Sonic the Hedgehog into an armlock and slit his throat. Oh wait! We can't, can we? Because those characters aren't unlocked straight away! I hate it when multiplayer games do this. You bring a hot new unreleased title to a party and you're the toast of the evening until you discover that half the fucking content needs to be unlocked in single player, and then the toast of the evening becomes a damp square of cold mush.
  • I mean, I know video game developers are all hopeless social rejects, but surely they've gone to at least one party in their life, even if it involved "Pass the Parsel". Get this: if you wanna be playing as everyone's favorte azure, attention-deficit woodland mammal you have to play for ten cunt-gargling hours?! Well we didn't have ten vagina-swilling hours, Nintendo! We had one vodka-fueled evening, most of which we wouldn't even remember the following morning.
  • Considering, lest we forget, how prominently Snake and Sonic featured in the fucking hype! There really needs to be a law against this sort of thing; preferably one of those maritime laws that lead to someone getting tied to a mast and flogged.
  • But I suppose if you're hosting the party and have time to prepare, you can embrace your pathetic friendlessness and go through the single player campaign, which a suprising amount of work has gone into, actually. It's a side-scrolling action platform EXTRRRRAVAGANZA with pre-rendered cinematics up the arse that play like visualizations of the top ten most sickening Nintendo fanfiction circle-jerks. And it goes on for bloody hours, mainly because they pull the old bullshit of making you go through all the levels twice, and considering that they're all pretty fucking same-y, it deserves some kind of prize for services to pointless repitition. Fuck Solid Snake, they should let you unlock Bill Murray.
  • Of course, the problem with playing it alone is that when you finally do get your mates around, you turn into that guy. Don't pretend you don't know what I mean, that guy who's so much better than everyone else at the game because he plays it on his own, the loser. Suddenly, you're not in it for fun anymore, and the ghoulish grins of your uncoordinated friends fill you with contempt. Soon you seek out other that guys for the sake of a decent challenge, but then you're lost! You're a fanboy! Congratulations, line up for your free T-shirt and cat ears! Actually, that doesn't happen too much with Smash Brothers Brawl, because as we've already established, there's only so good you can get at slapping your palm against the controller like a circus seal.
  • As I've said time and again, Nintendo is a company that does all together too much wanking off of its old franchises. That might be fine while the Wii is riding high, but all it'll take is a few more Virtual Boys and they'll wank the whole company away.
  • Some of it gets really obscure, too. Who the fuck is Marth, and why is unlocking him considered a reward? Oh and thanks, Nintendo, for putting in a character from Mother 3, a game you're never going to fucking release outside of Japan, despite the fact that I can fucking guarantee that more people will play it then Mario Kart Eleventy Billion: The Next Generation.
  • But really, reviewing Smash Bros Brawl is pointless. Chances are, you already know if you like it. There's a simple test: when the name "Nintendo Wii" was first revealed, did you ever seriously try to defend it on an internet forum? If yes, you will enjoy this game, whatever its faults, and you might as well start spamming my e-mail address with hatred right now, you miserable... fanboy... twat!
  • [Closing song: Minority by Green Day] [37]

God of War: Chains of Olympus

  • [Opening song: Kill Everybody by Stone Sour]
  • Chains of Olympus is a PSP-exclusive prequel installment in the God of War series, a bunch of games that combine an, at best, loose understanding of Greek mythology with a level of violence that hovers somewhere between excessive and completely off its tits.
  • If nothing else, there's no better series for working off frustration, which is handy because I certainly have a lot to work off after I've been playing with the PSP for a while; when my index fingers are locked into hideous hook shapes fit only for picking out the crumbs of filth that gather in the stupid analog pad thing that my thumb keeps slipping off like I'm clumsily trying to finger a robot prostitute. But I digress, there'll be plenty of time to beat on the PSP when I'm capable of making a fist again.
  • You play pasty historical misery-guts Kratos, a Spartan warrior with a preposterous jawline, who works as a sort of independent contractor for the Olympian gods, specializing in killing things that would need to go on a starvation diet for years before they could be classified as humongous.
  • Chances are good you'll die and go to Hades at some point. But it's okay, you generally just walk out again. In fact, Kratos does that with such reliability, they might as well install a revolving door.
  • You always end up at the Temple of Such-and-Such having to "prove your worth", which is another thing Kratos has to do with anomalous frequency. Makes me wonder why he didn't ask for a signed certificate after the first time.
  • I'm not really sure how I feel about the rigidly unchanging formula though, because while forcing the same minotaur to give your dagger a terminal blowjob does get old after a while, I'm always the first to cry foul when developers wipe their dicks all over a good thing just for innovation's sake. And there's nothing about God of War that really needs changing. It all fits quite nicely together, like furious blood-stained Stickle Bricks.
  • Well, OK, there are certainly more than a few nitpicks I could make, and I wouldn't be the critic I like to think I am if I didn't furiously pick nits like an amphetamine-fueled chimp. The fixed camera gets annoying when there are enemies off screen, at least half the spells and attacks you get loaded down with throughout the game generally prove to be bloody useless, around weaker enemies there's really no reason to use anything other than the instant-kill grab attack (or as I like to call it, the "Fuck You" button), and there's a terrible habit of having unskippable cutscenes just before really hard boss fights, because obviously after getting our gonads shoved down our throats, watching the same tedious dialogue play out a sixth time is just the kind of respite we need.
  • I've just realized I haven't even mentioned what kind of game it is yet, because I assume most viewers already know. But if you're one of those girlfriends of viewers, who don't actually play games but likes watching these videos anyway because they secretly want to fuck me, God of War is basically Devil May Cry meets Ray Harryhausen, but with less of the stop-motion plasticine of the latter, or the smirking buggercunts of the former. And like Devil May Cry, what we're really here for is the combat which, as I've already said, is satisfying to the point of eroticism.
  • But I think what I like most about the combat is that it fits the character so well. It's like after they finished animating a sequence in which the player bites off a minotaur's face, they thought to themselves, "Well, there's really no way we can characterize this guy as anything other than a brutal psychotic," so they just rolled with it.
  • Don't expect anything new, but it's still fun, especially if you picture all the monsters as your childhood bullies. Yes, how do you like that Brian Payne? We'll see how many dead leggys you can give me after you've had a priceless historical artifact sticking out of your bonce!
  • [Closing song: Angry by Matchbox 20] [38]

Mailbag Showdown

  • [Opening song: Please Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes]
  • Funnily enough, I don’t get irate hate mail as much as you’d think. I guess you’re all afraid I might ignore you to death. But the Brawl review brought in an unprecedented, and yet not entirely unexpected amount of negative feedback and I thought that rather than just dispense bile all the time, it would be nice to sample some for a change and perhaps also take the opportunity to respond to some of the slightly more valid arguments. So, without further ado, Go Team Retard!
  • [Regarding someone who said "F*** you."] It's all right, you can swear on the Internet, your mum's probably not going to read it. I know, because she's too busy being fucked by me.
  • It’s true, I didn’t like Brawl before I even started playing, but then the same is true for every game, object, animal and human being I encounter these days. Since the Internet is almost diametrically opposed to quality control, then in recent years it’s been a lot easier to just assume everything’s shit until it proves itself otherwise. I like to call it the “Guantanamo Bay” approach to reviewing.
  • I like the idea of a 'professional troll', though. Makes me think of a hideous creature living under a bridge, handing out business cards.
  • [After someone says that it must suck not enjoying anything in life and looking for things to hate] Yes, I suppose that would suck. You'll have to tell me what it's like sometime.
  • [After being accused of pointing out every little thing that's bad about a game and not using numbers to score his reviews] Okay, I’ll put my hands up, he has me there. I do point out every little thing that’s bad about a game, but then, I’m a critic, it’d be weird if I didn’t. If I put balls in my mouth for a living, I’d be a prostitute or possibly a GameSpot employee. But I criticize, so I’m a critic and I don’t believe in scores because I don’t think a complex opinion can be represented numerically. You like numbers? Well how about four, as in fourk you! Do you really need someone in authority giving you a simple yea or nay before you buy anything? Why don’t you roll over so they stamp on the other side of your face?
  • I’ve never really understood the almost crusader-like fervor that consoles attract. Most people would say it’s because your mum is only prepared to buy you one console and if it turns out you didn’t pick the winner, the best thing to do is go into denial until the very fabric of reality spontaneously changes, because God knows that’s more likely to happen than you admitting fault.
  • Speaking as a person who is white enough to afford all the consoles, this is probably the most balanced generation of all time with it all coming down to what you personally want in a console. The Wii is an excitable little yappy bastard, good with children, but a little exhausting. The PS3 is a big dependable black monster, slow but lovably bringing in your slippers every morning. And the 360 is just a good all-arounder that only occasionally pisses itself and dies.
  • [Closing song: Letter from America by The Proclaimers] [39]

Grand Theft Auto IV

  • [Opening song: Serbian National Anthem (Bože Pravde) by I don't bloody know (Davorin Jenko)]
  • About a million years ago, a company called DMA Design created Grand Theft Auto and discovered that the combination of controversy, wacky humor and vehicular homicide was a lucrative one indeed, so they made a whole bunch of sequels, threw some TVs out of some hotel windows and changed their name to Rockstar in a slightly over-compensatory effort to make us forget that they made Lemmings. Not that there was anything wrong with Lemmings, at least not until the franchise was rigorously milked to its last sour, lumpy dribbles.
  • Thankfully, GTA's teats seem to remain plump and fresh for now with the fourth installment, or at least the fourth one with a number on the end. Apparently, thematic indulgences like Vice City and San Andreas don't count, indicating that Rockstar subscribes to the "Because I Say So" school of sequel numbering, also known as "The Resident Evil Method".
  • Unfortunately, while steel lampposts snap off their housing when anything heavier than a kitten leans on them, Mother Nature continues to outdo human technology. My rampage was brought to an abrupt end by the world's toughest poplar tree, causing Niko to go hurtling through the windscreen in a manner as wincingly painful as it was fucking awesome.
  • Once you inevitably grow tired of the sandbox mayhem and start on the mission path, you'll find that GTA is initially about as fast-paced as a Jacob Bronowski documentary playing at half speed. The first hundredweight of missions are all tutorials, which highlights the inherent problem with incorporating so many gameplay elements that you have to spend half the game explaining the bloody things! You have to learn how to drive cars, how to drive trucks, how to drive geese, how to use your phone, TV, internet, how to fist fight, how to gunfight, how to shoot from cover, how to shoot from the back of a giant tyrannosaurus...
  • The game doesn't really kick in for me until you get to the second safehouse, and that's five to ten hours of gameplay depending on how sandbox-happy you are, so this is a game that requires a time commitment, and I mean a BIG one. If you have a day job, I recommend sticking a pillow up your jumper and claiming maternity leave.
  • Once it gets going, though, it's a roller coaster thrill ride - a roller coaster that stops dead every now and again like it's run by British Rail.
  • Then there's the mechanic wherein you keep friendly with characters by taking them out drinking, and to shows and shit. I'm not sure what, if anything, it's all in aid of, but what with most people in the GTA universe committing three murders before breakfast, I've been trying to stay friendly with everyone I can. And what that entails is, between every mission, I have to give someone a call, drive over to their place, pick them up, drive them somewhere else, pretend to enjoy myself for half an hour, then drive them back. It's just an irritating mindless chore; it's like we're getting off the roller coaster every five minutes to touch up the paint work.
  • But I think my biggest disappointment is that we're back in dreary old surrogate New York again, because all the way back to the GTA: London expansion pack, a lot of the appeal of the series has been the transplantation of the wacky gun fun into new settings like Vice City and San Andreas. Don't get me wrong; strip away the ancillary bullshit, and GTA IV is really good. I mean, I'm going to play with it some more after I've finished reviewing, and that's fucking unprecedented, but frankly, I'm going to reserve my enthusiasm for when they announce Grand Theft Biggleswade.
  • [Closing song: 18 and Life by Skid Row] [40]

Painkiller

  • [Opening song: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin]
  • Now that we've left GTA IV in the dust, and MGS4 is still an overly verbose speck on the horizon, we've entered a time of year known as "The Season of Bugger-All's-Coming-Out", too far from Christmas to be of any interest to publishers, so the flow of big-name titles slows to the point that Internet game critics can relax a bit, and indulge themselves with reviews of old games that interest them and no one else, either to bring exposure to an under-appreciated gem, or add a few bitch-slaps that have managed to escape the first time around, so let's talk about a game I found in a bin.
  • Painkiller is a first-person shooter from 2004 by Polish developer People Can Fly, perhaps best known for their previous title, E.T. for the Atari 2600. Not really, of course. Painkiller is the only game by People Can Fly, which makes it all the more amazing that Painkiller is fucking awesome and can kick the arse of most big-name mainstream titles and have them for breakfast afterwards. Which is a shame, because if the game blew goats, I could have made a funny joke like, "Painkiller: you'll certainly need one."
  • Some people refer to Painkiller as the unofficial Doom 3, since the actual Doom 3 tripped over something in the dark, banged its head, and forgot that it wasn't System Shock. I'm not about to shake my walking stick and say, "FPSes were a lot better before they started putting on airs", but it is worth remembering that sometimes all we want is the relentless catharsis of old-school action gaming, blended with the immersive greyish-brown of current-generation technology, and that's a niche Painkiller fills beautifully.
  • That's not to say Painkiller is nothing but murdering tons of dudes; there's a series of unlockable bonus cards that make it easier to murder tons of dudes, there's a soul-collecting gameplay element that results in a new and interesting way to murder tons of dudes... Okay, so maybe it is nothing but murdering tons of dudes, but it does it so well, what more could you want? You could explore the levels, and hunt for secret rooms and treasures if you really must, but if more than a minute passes without a dude and a murder, you're not playing it right.
  • The default melee weapon is the titular Painkiller, a rotating blade arrangement perfect for forecasting light showers of body parts and reenacting the lawnmower scene from the movie Braindead (that's Dead Alive, if you're American and fat).
  • As for the guns, I could mention the hugely satisfying penis-extension gun that pins baddies to walls with entire trees but all you really need to know is that there's a gun that shoots shurikens and lightning. I wish I could make something like that up. It shoots shurikens and lightning. It could only be more awesome if it had tits and was on fire.
  • Now, I'm one of the first advocates of games-as-art, so I like a good narrative, but any game in which you can make all of an enemy's limbs fly off in different directions is already a work of art.
  • There are certainly plenty of criticisms, aside from the fact that the storyline can go fuck itself; the criteria to unlock the bonus cards are obnoxiously difficult in some levels, souls take ages to emerge from the corpses so if you're trying to collect them, then you have to hang around your conquered foes twiddling your thumbs, which breaks the flow somewhat, the AI is pathetic, with enemies often getting stuck behind scenery while you throw bits of rolled-up newspaper and laugh, but any criticism I find is immediately quashed when I remember that one of the guns shoots shurikens and lightning.
  • So that's Painkiller, more proof that the best way to blow off steam is to blow off someone's nadgers.
  • [Closing song: Detachable Penis by King Missile] [41]

The World Ends With You

  • [Opening song: Dedicated Follower of Fashion by The Kinks]
  • I know what you're going to say. "Yahtzee, reviewing a JRPG? Perhaps I shall quickly look outside to make sure the sky is not falling and the seas are not running red with blood. Haw hee haw hee haw!" Well, you smarmy cunt, I heard that The World Ends With You does things differently to most JRPGs, and while I took that with mountainous piles of salt, I was intrigued when I noticed that it came out in the PAL regions before America, so I thought if the release dates are from Bizzarro World, maybe the entire game is too and will turn out to be the first good JRPG.
  • Sadly, this uncharacteristic optimism started draining when I saw the box art and noticed that all the characters are under-nourished teenage androgynes who do their hair in the morning by sticking their heads in buckets of lead-based paint and dress like they stepped on a landmine in a trendy clothes shop.
  • The major thing that turns me off JRPGs and a lot of games in general is when I don't feel that I, as a player, am contributing anything to the story. All I ever seem to do is wheel the characters from one whingy boring dialogue to the next. The events are driven by their actions, not mine. All I am is a little angry id who takes over for the combat, spending the rest of the time jumping up and down in the back of the main character's mind yanking nerve endings, trying to make him stop acting like a pillock.
  • I like games when the story and gameplay go hand in hand while in most JRPG's the story and gameplay are kept on either side of a wrought iron fence made of tigers.
  • There's also a fashion trend system that changes your stats a bit when you wear the right label clothing and badges in the right part of the city. I never really noticed any of it making much of a difference to gameplay, but I want to rag on it anyway because: A) Fashion victims are one step below nematode worms in the grand scheme of things and B) Like many ancillary JRPG elements, you need a fucking strategy guide spread across your thighs to make the most of it, and the only thing I like spread across my thighs is Marshmallow Fluff.
  • Now I have to go play an FPS before my body finishes absorbing my testicles.
  • [Closing song: It's the End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M.] [42]

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

  • [Opening song: Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks]
  • You know me, I'm a twitchy, instant-gratification kind of gamer; the sort who isn't happy unless there's a gun the size of a motorbike in his hands and a severed alien willy bouncing off the front of his space helmet. But every now and again, the planets will align and I'll be affected by weird cosmic rays and suddenly, all I want to do is play a nice fantasy RPG. Not a JRPG, god no! It's just space radiation, not the infinite power of Christ!
  • In Oblivion, you start in a dungeon in the Imperial palace, but you're never told what crime you committed. I guess you're supposed to fill in the blank for yourself, so I choose to believe I was there for shagging the Emperor's wife and daughter at the same time while playing a rock guitar solo on the desecrated corpse of God.
  • Anyway, then the Emperor showed up, played by Captain Picard, and I have to say I liked him a lot. He was the only character who actually seemed to know they were in a fantasy RPG. He took one look at me, noticed the camera floating behind my head and said "Oh, bugger! You're the protagonist, guess I have to die now!" And die he did.
  • Let me tell you about immersion. Immersion is when you go for a midnight walk after a weekend marathon of Thief II and you catch yourself looking for your invisibility gem. Immersion is when you're playing Condemned and your cat suddenly jumps on your lap, only to be immediately launched off by a reflexive cannon-like blast of terrified piss.
  • For a game that is obviously trying so hard, Oblivion is one of the least immersive RPGs I've ever played. The world map is huge, granted. If you intend to walk from one end to the other, you'd better pack a few sandwiches. But frankly, take one good look around the first time you emerge blinking into the daylight and you've pretty much seen everything. It's like they took 200 square yards of medieval English countryside, added a few wolves, then copy-pasted it until it was roughly the size of Yorkshire.
  • The root of the problem is that they simply tried too hard to impress us. So if nothing else, remember this; spinning a plate on a stick is impressive, but try to spin three at once and you'll end up digging porcelain out of your face.
  • [Closing song: It's Raining Again by Supertramp] [43]

Haze

  • [Opening song: Because I Got High by Afroman]
  • I think it's safe to say that very few people were madly trampling babies underfoot to grab Haze on launch day. I know whatever atrophied dregs of enthusiasm I had breathed their last when I glanced at the back of the box and saw that it was an outdoor first-person shooter about space marines. "Whoop-dee-fucking-doo," [text reads: "What an interesting premise"] I thought. "I look forward to the vehicle section with horrible steering and spending half the game hiding under a table waiting for my health to regenerate." But then, up popped the hateful little angel on my shoulder who spends most of his time talking me out of buying a Cornetto every time I pass a 7-Eleven. [Angel: You want to be a fat bastard or just a regular bastard] "Shame on you, Benjamin 'Yahtzee' Sebastian Godzilla Croshaw," spake he. "Have you forgotten Call of Duty 4 already? You should give every game a chance to surprise you or you're no better than those dipshits who never played Mass Effect but condemned it as some kind of child-corrupting boob-stravaganza." I had to concede the point. It's not like there are many other new games to talk about unless I want to start oiling up my thighs for Age of Conan. So: Haze.
  • There's this impossibly well-equipped corporate army thing (who don't represent the United States, honest!) who invade some South American country and hit upon the world-beating idea of making their soldiers fight battles in a jungle environment with a bunch of glowing yellow lights strapped to their bodies. You start off fighting for the camouflage-is-for-sissies crowd, but about halfway through, you realize that the huge faceless corporation who controls their infantry with addictive drugs might possibly be a teensy bit on the amoral side and decide that blindly following orders is a mug's game, whereupon you defect to the opposing guerrilla army to blindly follow their orders instead. An unusual plot twist, which would probably have had greater impact were it not given away on the back of the fucking box.
  • The overall message of Haze's story is that WAR IS BAD and there are no true heroes when death is on the menu, but combining that with whiz-bang shooty fun strikes me as trying to have one's cake and eat it, a phrase I've never really understood. I mean, I think it's perfectly reasonable to want to eat a cake that you have. There's not much else you can do with a cake except maybe hide in one if you're a stripper. Sorry, I lost my train of thought...
  • If you have a liking for Halo, a crippling fear of trying new things and a desperate need to get rid of all your money very fast, then you should probably think about getting yourself sectioned, but until then you might as well buy Haze, you mad bastard!
  • [Closing song: Idiot Drugs by White Rose Movement] [44]

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

  • [Opening song: Confused by Lenny Kravitz]
  • It's funny how things stop being funny the longer you live with them. Everyone in Britain stops sniggering at the name "spotted dick" by the time they turn twelve, I've almost completely forgot that Nintendo named their console after a bodily fluid, and it's funny how we can now hear the words "Solid Snake" without picturing the kind of throbbingly powerful erections you get from wearing skin-tight combat suits and hanging out with women who never do their shirts up properly.
  • The series sells itself right there in the title as Tactical Espionage Action, which implies a gritty, pulse-pounding, sneaky-bollocks run-around, and while that's certainly present, it always seems to be occupying the same space as a stiff and inefficient third-person shooter and the paranoid manefesto of an internet conspiracy theorist with several gunmen short of a grassy knoll.
  • Snake lives with his support character and "best friend" Otacon and the two of them have adopted a child together. That oozing sound you just heard was made by all the world's homoerotic fan fiction writers simultaneously emitting torrents of hot lady spunk.
  • The funniest part is, I was dilligently sitting through all the cutscenes and I still wasn't sure what was going on. Somebody once said that a politician is a person who can talk for hours and never actually say anything. If that's true, then Hideo Kojima could run for government and be Emperor of the Universe by mid-afternoon.
  • Metal Gear Solid is and always has been very badly written, in the same way that the world's largest pie couldn't honestly be called a good pie because it's uneconomical and probably wouldn't fit in an oven. So much of the dialogue is redundant that it's in dire need of an editor, preferably one armed with waders and pruning shears.
  • I think it's safe to say that if you're not already a fan, you're not welcome at the MGS4 party. The game assumes you know and have accepted all the bullshit that's come before and all the characters who haven't had a poignant death soliliquy yet show up whether we like it or not, including Mr. and Mrs. "Oh Christ, Not You Cunts Again" from Metal Gear Solid 2.
  • And since I hate redundant dialogue so much I won't redundantly say that fans should buy it, because if you're a fan you've already bought it, finished it, written a plot analysis guide for Gamefaqs and are now hiding behind my house trying to decide which window to break. As for the rest of yuz, play through the previous games first and then check it out, assuming they don't bore you so hard that even your unborn children take up tabletop gaming.
  • [Closing song: Old Before I Die by Robbie Williams] [45]

Webcomics

  • [Opening song: Centerfold by J. Geils Band]
  • The thought occurs that for all my banging at the "games are art" drum, art is only as good as the culture that surrounds it. A game could give the most extraordinarily emotional experience in the entirety of human culture, and bring tears to the eyes of a jaded war veteran with no eyes, but it's all for naught if it's not surrounded by self-important bearded tossers who read too much into things for a living, and since I'm one of gaming culture's alpha self-important bearded tossers, I thought I'd discuss the trend of Internet gaming humour. And by that I mean the trend of gaming webcomics. And by "trend", I mean "plague".
  • So you've looked at Penny Arcade, seen the massive amounts of money, prestige, and money those guys get for nine panels a week, and decided that you want in on that. Many gaming webcomic artists have thought the exact same thing - in fact, let's not beat around the bush, all gaming webcomic artists (except Penny Arcade, obviously).
  • If you don't know how to draw or write, are a functionally retarded quadruple amputee, and can only communicate by banging your head against a Wacom tablet, that's still no reason to quit; you can wipe your arse with a page of Mega Man sprites, and there'll still be someone on Comic Genesis who'll tell you that it's brilliant.
  • If you don't know much about girls, because your conversations with them don't last for more than a few minutes before the police are called, just use your Mum as a frame of reference, characterizing the female as a disapproving, eye-rolling nanny who tolerantly wipes up the whoopsies of the idiot man-children and chastises them with the occasional spanking. And since your ego should be swelling nicely by this point, she should also become the main character's girlfriend somehow, because she finds something adorable about the way he gets hypnotized by her breasts.
  • Fortunately the advantage of running a gaming webcomic is that gaming humour is incredibly easy. All you have to do is apply video game logic to the real world for comic effect. For example, in say, Gears of War, you have to push the analogue stick to move forward, when in real life, you have to continually put one foot in front of the other. This might not sound like "A" material, but trust me, phrase this right, and there's a fortune to be made in Cafepress shirts. If that doesn't work, go for the edgy crowd, and do a comic implying that Mario does Luigi up the arse. And if that doesn't work, just go on about the cake being a lie.
  • So, now your comic is squatting on the Internet like a sewage plant on the River Thames, but you're still not popular because you're competing with every other hack with a Playstation and a messiah complex, so how do you stand out against the crowd? Well, you're forgetting the most important ingredient: drama. I'm not talking about dramatic storylines, although that can certainly be part of it. Let's say, for sake of example, that you're sick of making Companion Cube jokes, and suddenly do a serious storyline about your female character having a miscarriage. Obviously, you'd need to have several blood clots in your brain to think this is a good idea; you're established as a wacky humour comic, so this is going to be an awkward tonal shift at best, and hugely disrespectful of the subject matter at worst.
  • [Talking about ways to deal with criticism] At this point there are many ways you can respond: "I don't see you doing anything better", "I can do whatever I want with my comic", "You're just jealous because I get more readers" [text in review: "You're just jealous because I've got balls in my mouth slurp slurp yum yum"], and other equally flawed arguments, but above all else, never admit defeat, because the bigger a douche you are, the more traffic you get as spectators line up to see you jump around the monkey-cage, screaming and flinging your poo.
  • Drama is the mortar that holds the webcomic community together, and there are so many wonderful ways to create it. Make absolutely no effort to improve your horrible drawing style, act like a prick at a convention, respond to constructive criticism with hostility, and just generally behave like the kind of monstrous egotist that blossom like mushrooms in the darkened trough of shit that is the Internet.
  • So your gaming webcomic package is compete. All that's left to do is gather it all together, and throw it in a fucking bin, because you're a talentless cultural pollutant who deserves to suffocate to death on a bag of porridge.
  • [Closing song: Pictures of Matchstick Men by Status Quo] [46]

Lego Indiana Jones

  • There comes a time when you have to stop ignoring something, a lesson that could well have been learned by those people who lived next door to Auschwitz and thought that all the smoke was coming from an unusually screamy pie factory.
  • I've been ignoring the whole Lego-LucasArts coalition so far, partly because, as you'll remember from my Psychonauts review, LucasArts is run by douchebags, but mainly because it sounds utterly retarded on paper. I mean once you accept Lego Star Wars, where does it end? Playmobil Battlestar Galactica? Duplo Firefly? Meccano Dune? Yeah, I'm done milking that joke. I guess at first I- WAIT I'VE GOT ANOTHER ONE! Stickle Bricks Babylon 5? Sorry.
  • I guess at first I'd filed Lego Star Wars in my massive brain database under the same heading as Barbie Horse Adventures and Bratz Hey Kids Let's All Dress Like French Tarts; cheapo toy tie-ins for harassed mothers to buy their shit-faced spawn every time they pass through a Wal-Mart in an ongoing quest to give in to their every demand and turn them into the kind of entitled, spoiled fuckspots who are virtually guaranteed lucrative acting careers in Hollywood.
  • Lego Indiana Jones is exactly what it says on the tin; a heavily summarized retread of the first three Indiana Jones movies, or should I say the ONLY three Indiana Jones movies and if anyone tries to correct me you are wrong and should be punched...
  • Obviously Indiana Jones is a different kettle of chips to Star Wars, though, what with all the death and face-melting and all that business with the monkey brains, so the most sofa-hiding moments in the trilogy are toned down to be kid-friendly, Lego characters being as unfazed by dismemberment as the drugged-up prostitutes in my van.
  • Depending on how charmed you are by the overall feel, the combat is either lackluster or a flaming pile of arse.
  • At this point the game says, "What's that? You favor bare fists? Well fuck you with great big handfuls of rusty nuts and bolts you consumer tart because you're going to use whatever tool you happen to be carrying as a melee weapon. Oh you want to know how to drop the tool? Well you can't, so suck it!" Then the game jumps around slapping its bum and laughing.
  • Multiply the Indiana Jones nostalgia factor by how much you enjoy adventure game scavenger hunts, divide by the number of times falling off the floating platform levels in Mario Sunshine made you want to slice your own face open with a broken Wavebird controller and you'll have a number which somehow corresponds to how much I recommend Lego Indiana Jones. I'm not a mathemetician, obviously, but I had fun with it and so might you. It'll certainly tide you over while we wait for the really hot release, Fuzzy-Felt Deep Space Nine. [47]

Alone in the Dark

  • I make a policy of never reading other people's reviews because it can taint my own recollection of a game and because I'm increasingly certain that I'm the only person on Earth whose brain works properly. But it's been pretty difficult to avoid the popular opinion of Alone in the Dark, what with it apparantly being the latest in a long line of WORST GAMES EVARR and responsible for the deaths of several of my correspondents' families judging by the way they tearfully e-mail me requesting that I verbally assassinate it. Well I thought, fuck those bereaved bastards who think I'm some sort of sweary ninja-for-hire, I'm going to play Alone in the Dark and damn well try to like it. A few days have passed since then, and you may be surprised to learn that sometimes even the majority can be totally, totally right.
  • [The main character] gets joined by a female sidekick who sweeps the Horrible Game Character Awards, taking Most Obviously Crowbarred-In Love Interest, Most Irritating, Least Useful to Gameplay, Least Necessary to Plot and Lifetime Achievement. The crowning moment of her hideousness is when she nearly dies and the game forces you to press a button sequence to revive her with CPR. Although the spiteful cow never actually dies no matter how many times you deliberately fuck up.
  • It's full of good ideas balanced by terrible execution which I will now illustrate using two hypothetical game designers I'm going to call Terry and Gonad. "Hey," says Terry. "Let's have a damage system where you actually see persistent wound decals on your character's body!" "Okay," replies Gonad. "But let's put them on the outside of his clothes so they look like someone glued slices of ham to his jumper!" "Hey again," says Terry. "How about a dangerous, gooey black floor that becomes neutralized by bright light?" "Okay again," replies Gonad. "Now let's make the flashlight incredibly ineffectual against it and make it a one-hit kill!" Then a broken and jaded Terry starts sniffing glue while Gonad goes into the fetal position and starts softly giggling to himself.
  • It could have made a good game fantastic. As it stands, it just makes a bad game pretentious.
  • As a series, Alone in the Dark has always been about subtle claustrophobic horror, as is sort of implied by the name. Now it makes no sense, because you're not alone, and it's not even dark, because everything's on fire. I knew Atari were idiots when they let Uwe Boll make a god-awful action movie out of the franchise, but I never thought they were big enough idiots to use that film as inspiration.
  • They've clearly been regarding Grand Theft Auto with envious eyes, hence the sandbox Central Park driving aspect which the linear story renders needless until they make you go hunting around looking for the spots where Satan's infernal willy is extruded from the ground and then set his pubes alight. The final straw came when I spent an hour driving laboriously around the park taking care of them all, and then after a brief puzzle sequence, thirty more popped up and the game told me I had to take care of them, too. "No," I replied. "No, I do not. I reject your stupid fucking arbitrary gameplay-lengthening World of Warcraft grind-quests, and I'm sick of putting up with your bullshit. I know you provide the option to skip to the next chapter, but I'm not going to use it. I've had enough." If someone serves you a dead dog for lunch, you do not stick around for the pudding.
  • I suppose I should have realized something was up when I saw that the chapter-skipping feature was proudly touted on the back of the box. Not only did the developers think that not having to play the game was a point in its favor, but there were apparently so few other selling points worth mentioning that they put it in the marketing blurb.
  • So, to summarize Alone in the Dark in a pithy newspaper headline sort of way: glimpses of brilliances buried in clipping issues and spunk. [48]

Age of Conan

  • This is the bit where the big nerds get to beat me up and take my lunch money, because I have to admit I don't know much about the Conan mythos, because I'm afraid that thinking too much about a muscley man in sweaty pants will make me a disappointment to my parents.
  • Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate mumorpugers. I hate what they do to people, turning them into nocturnal blobs of flesh and Cheetos who communicate entirely in mouth-breathing. And I hate looking back on my time with a mumorpuger and realize that I flushed away months of my life that I could have spent writing a best-selling book or raising a child or pounding nails into my face.
  • Your character has about twenty levels of largely solo questing to get through before they're even set loose in the big game world and there's this big story thread about you being the chosen one or some shit. But it's all somewhat undermined by that niggling knowledge that there are a hundred thousand other chosen ones running around; some lower level, some higher level, all of them dickheads who are plotting your murder.
  • Age of Conan makes the same mistake as the school system by telling everyone that they're special, thus turning them into entitled twat-donkeys.
  • I'd say the whole game is overburdened with unnessesary minutiae and the lack of variety or spark ultimately leaves it with little more than niche appeal, specifically the niche that sells replica swords at gaming conventions and secretly dreams of living inside a Boris Vallejo painting. [49]

The E3 Trailer Park

  • A cynic can be described as someone who doesn't hold out hope that anything in the future will be good, and frankly, I find it harder and harder to understand why any gamer wouldn't be a cynic at this point. Films starring Morgan Freeman would have you believe that hope is your magical shield against the tribulations of life, but the games industry has collectively taken that shield and shoved it up our arse so many times, it's probably time to start leaving it at home.
  • First up, Prince of Persia. Now, I thought the Sands of Time trilogy was the best series of the last console generation. I'll pause for a moment so you can all find your socks that just blew off.
  • Leaving aside for now that the music in the background sounds like someone teased a cat's bollocks with pliers for a few minutes while throwing ball bearings at a piano keyboard, the setting seems to have shifted from historical Persia to somewhere between Final Fantasy X and XII, and by the look of the character design, the concept artist has been spending more than a few holidays there himself. Maybe Prince of Persia's appeal lies in a grounding of reality dusted with elements of Arabian myth, BUT FUCK THAT! The kids are into anime these days, so let's all jump around on the ceiling dressed like twats!
  • Speaking of which, Final Fantasy XIII also has a trailer, and it looks good. Of course, it always LOOKS good. But my philosophy of game trailers is that pre-rendered cinematics don't count. So bearing that in mind, the actual length of the FFXIII trailer is somewhere around 0.3 seconds. The rest consists of androgynous twelve-year-olds running around being improbably awesome and giving absolutely no hints as to the storyline, but at an educated guess, I'd say that it involves some kind of evil authority, one or more heroes who were once associated with same, a half-baked anti-industrial hippie subtext, and all-in-all will resemble what you get if George Lucas' brain fell out and he made a new Star Wars movie with everything that was ever good about it replaced with dodgy CG and laughable angst. Oh, wait...
  • Now then, Fallout 3. Those of you who are paying attention will no doubt notice that all these games are sequels, and for all those who aren't paying attention, [claps twice] OI!
  • E3 was very much Sequel Boulevard this year which might be partly why it was such a damn squib. What, is there some type of virus that attacks creativity going around or something? Twenty years ago in the 8-bit era, games could be about French chefs riding giant stick insects while wielding a gun that shoots velociraptors. These days, a game's considered original if the gritty, well-armoured soldier protaganist has a moustache!
  • Finally, a brief mention of Gears of War 2. That was it.
  • So that concludes this little adventure in sport-spoiling. I'd like to clarify that in the flintsy pits of my petrified heart, I'm open to the possibility of all of these games potentially being fun (except Final Fantasy XIII obviously). But my intention is not to troll for once, but to argue that it makes the most logical sense to be pessimistic. After all, if the game's good, great! But if it's bad, you've lost nothing. Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you're cleverer than fanboys, which is right up there with winning a beauty contest against Steve Buschemi, but still, it's a good overall rule. Never let yourself get excited by trailers, unless it's the new one for the Watchmen movie. Oh yes, I can never get enough big, glowing blue men with their celestial lads hanging out! [50]

Ninja Gaiden II

  • Ninja Gaiden II is another graduate from the Resident Evil school of sequel numbering, in the latest in a series of similarly titled games stretching all the way back to the NES, which boldly depict ninjas with superlative historical accuracy as simple peasant spies mainly concerned with undercover espionage and guerilla warfare. Also, the Wii totally has lasting appeal, Atari have released some good games, and Cliff Bleszinski isn't an extremely sexy man! Har har har! Sorry.
  • The evil ninja clan, it seems, is now suffering from a widespread epidemic of leprosy, which causes their arms and legs to fly off if you so much as brush past them in a narrow corridor, and there's more than a few case of hemophilia popping up too. So the gore's been ramped up, and as always, hand in hand with gore, comes titties, his lovely wife and business partner. As the game begins, we're introduced to a delightful young lady whose skimpy leather top looks like it's trying and failing to contain some kind of watermelon landslide, and within literally one minute she's been arousingly chained up by baddies just in time for the hero, Ryu Hayabusa or however you pronounce that, to leap in and rescue her giant boobs and consequently the rest of her.
  • Turns out that the boobs belong to the CIA, although I'm fairly certain that dressing like you were ambushed by a lawnmower on your way to the S&M club isn't the sort of thing the dress code would allow at the CIA. Maybe the T&A...(Ba dum tish)
  • Anyway, this all kicks off a story of some kind along the lines of an evil ninja clan unleashing demons upon the Earth and the CIA deciding that one solitary ninja is a much more hopeful prospect than, say, a tactical nuclear strike. But, frankly, fuck you if you want a story. Here's your story, "Demons over there, kill they ass".
  • Among Japanese games, Ninja Gaiden II is almost unique in its immediacy. It has none of that Metal Gear Solid bullshit of cutscene dialogue that could fill a modest paperback. None of that Devil May Cry cockpiddle where the cinematics selfishly hog all the fun. None of that Zelda...erm... fafflesauce where you spend the first six hours on a starting island learning the subtle arts of waving a sharp stick around going "yah".
  • Ultimately, it's the gaming equivalent of a fat epileptic kid jumping up and down on his Thundercats bedspread popping Ritalin with one stubby hand and shakily masturbating with the other. [51]

Prince of Persia Retrospective

  • So it seems I might have let slip a few controversial statements about the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy, what with phrases like "best game series of the last console generation" dribbling out of the corner of my mouth. Since what I actually consider a good game is the eternal question that apparently keeps my correspondents up at night, and since the current state of new releases continues to be like staring into an empty bucket made of air, I figured it was time to dribble out a few qualifying statements on the subject.
  • The driving principle was that since instant-death traps are pretty much a staple of the series, then the player should be given an alternative to constantly smashing "quickload" with the speed of a pneumatic drill, and this was achieved with the power to rewind time. This served to make the hardcore platforming more fun than several barrels of particularly whimsical monkeys, when the irritation of a ten story drop-and-splatter death will turn into a surreally humorous aside in which the Prince's shattered bones instantly knit themselves back together and he's so surprised he leaps 300 feet into the air.
  • The sequel, Warrior Within, had vastly improved combat but unfortunately, everything else had been beaten with the angsty stick and forced to write poetry with a pen full of black eyeliner. It seems that Ubisoft decided that emo culture was in, so they went around the office one morning and fired everyone who was smiling. The Prince was suddenly staring out from under a Robert Smith fringe and growling angry threats at superscilious, badass action girls showing off more flesh than a surgeon's convention.
  • The tonal shift was so unnecessary and contempible that a critical paddling session followed, which was a shame because the environments were still nice and the gameplay was better than ever. It just goes to show, never stick your dick in a pudding. It might still be good pudding and you can spend all afternoon explaining that, but no one's going to eat it because you stuck your dick in it!!
  • And it was with rare wisdom that Ubisoft cocked an ear and wound the angst back in time for the third game, Two Thrones. On paper, it looked like everything we'd hoped for, the Arabian aesthetic and light-heartedness of Sands of Time combined with the refined gameplay of Warrior Within, but then a lot of things look good on paper, like the little blue dolphin pattern on my toilet roll that fails to distract from the issue that I'm wiping my arse with it.
  • Two Thrones' attempts to replicate the snarky chemistry between the Prince and his lady friend came across as forced and cynical, especially since the Princess had evidently been on the testosterone injections and turned into an- all together now- superscilious, badass action girl like every love interest and their dog. It's like watching the Hollywood film version of a favourite book, seeing beloved characters and themes boiled down to tired, marketable sterotypes until you want to rub Agent Orange into your eyes just to add a bit of colour into the dowdy, homogenized mess!
  • Between them, the three Sands of Time games have the ingredients for probably the best game ever, and I don't say that lightly. The first game still very resolutely sits in my top five games of all time, but it could have been better. Like a variant in the Uncanny Valley effect, the closer a game gets to Portal perfection, the more glaring the flaws become. And their attempts to correct those flaws in the sequels were akin to removing flecks of dirt from a birthday cake with a shovel. But we live and learn, so let's move on and hope the new Prince of Persia will be as good as Sands of Time. And that my arse will sprout wings and fly me into space. [52]

Soul Calibur IV

  • I don't really understand fighting games. I don't hate them, but I've never frosted my pants over any of them either. I just don't get them. And whenever I mention this, people say the same thing: "What's there to get? Violence is cathartic. It's like squeezing a great big stress ball, except you're kicking it in the face and you're a skinny Japanese schoolgirl in your underpants." If you want to relieve stress, you take a herbal bath or bang your head against a wall, neither of which cost ninety dollars at your local electronics retailer. There's got to be more to it than that.
  • I've been racking my magnificent brain going through all the ways a game can make itself fun and interesting to play and none of them seem to apply. First possibility, having a good story. Well that falls at the first hurdle with two broken kneecaps and a fireside poker lodged in its head, because the story mode is a joke. You pick a character, you're given a little scrolly-text backstory straight out of the what-not-to-do school of exposition, then you go through five disjointed fights in equally arbitrary locations before taking on the big baddie at the end. Then the character picks up the big swords and does whatever stupid bollocks they had in mind for them. You can go through a complete character's story in half a lunch break, and all-in-all it feels like a flimsy and vestigial addition included to mollify a sulking storywriter who spent six weeks working out a complex epic before anyone told him that it was a fighting game and the story had been mostly cut to make way for more hairstyles and tits.
  • So let's move on to the next way a game can be good: hay feeling hof haccomplishment; the satisfaction that comes with beating every challenge it has to offer and sitting back feeling faintly superior to all the names going past on the credit roll. But winning a round in Soul Calibur IV doesn't feel like much of an accomplishment at all, at least not as much as popping a difficult sheet of bubble wrap. Frankly, I'm amazed the game even comes with a manual, all you need is a picture of the throw button and big arrow pointing to it.
  • Which brings me to another reason why people might play a game: beacause Darth Vader's in it! Like the upcoming and inevitably awful Mortal Kombat vs. DC, two franchises are climbing into a nice, hot soapy bath together in a transparently cynical attempt to combine two fanbases into one beautiful pile of money. Frankly, it smacks of desperation, although I can't say which of the two parties involved is slumming it the most. Let's not pay it anymore attention, because like a small child putting the cat in a tumble dryer, that's exactly what it wants.
  • So by my calculations, I have mathematically proven that Soul Calibur IV cannot possibly be fun for anyone. When you get right down to it, it's more like a toolset than a game; a disjointed pile of game modes with no real structure, purpose or clear ending, a bunch of dollies and accessories that you pick up and smack together in pretend fights while doing the voices and throaty a capella sound effects.
  • But like I said, all fighting games bewilder me. I feel like someone took one single aspect of a complete game and tried to pad it into something else they could sell for full price. I wouldn't buy a big bag of icing and call it a cake, but then it seems like some gamers would buy big bags of abbatoir run-off and call it a cake as long as it has a picture of an attractive woman on the side with Yoda popping out of her cleavage. [53]

Braid

  • Sometimes I feel like I'm spending my entire life mining for gold in a septic tank. It seems like during the development process of most mainstream games, they make a specific point of extracting everything original about them and filling in the gaps with spackle and Havok physics. Oh, I'm sure many games start off with some bright-eyed creative director foaming at the mouth with great ideas, but before long, the stuffed shirts have fed his design documents to an angry dog and the sheer amount of time and manpower that has to go into just making one character walk across a fucking room in the top-tier graphics engines of this day and age have whittled away all the great ideas in direct proportion to the director's will to live! And me demanding quality from this process feels like rescuing someone from starvation, then demanding they give me a piggy-back ride.
  • And you know who I blame for all of this? You! Yes, you, the public. Especially you, Adrian! (That probably isn't your name, but it was worth it to mess with the heads of all the Adrians in the world) Ye unwashed masses who ensure massive profits for the same old cookie-cutter sequels because anything that isn't safe and familiar makes you want to dive for your security blanket! And since you spent all of Daddy's money on a next-generation console, you won't even give the time of day to anything that doesn't have environment-mapped reflective surfaces and you're more interested in buying Master Chief novelty condoms than actual gameplay innovation! In fact, I don't even know why I'm talking to you. Piss off! Close the browser and fuck off back to Gears of War! Has he gone? Good, I hate that guy!
  • There is a story, although there might as well not be. I've always said that the best stories are ones that merge seamlessly with the gameplay, but in Braid they're kept in seperate rooms with you in the gameplay room looking into the story room through a tiny hole in the dividing wall. Most of it is told through a bunch of disjointed text walls about some berk looking for a princess, except maybe she's his estranged wife or his dead daughter or maybe she's the atomic bomb, who knows? There's a glimpse of absolute genius in a really well-done endgame sequence, but it still doesn't explain much, and then it's back to obscurely-written text boxes for the epilogue which ultimately left me confused and unsatisfied, which is incidentally how my girlfriend feels most nights, and I refuse to accept that it's just because I'm thick!
  • Of course, with the gorgeous painted graphics and excellent soundtrack, Braid is proudly wearing the "arty game" label. But it's possible it might be taking refuge in that to avoid having to explain itself. Oh, people say it's open to interpretation and you're supposed to discuss it on forums and stuff, but I don't buy that. It's like when you tell a joke and nobody laughs; you then explain the joke and people go "Oh, that's pretty clever I guess", but they still won't laugh because you didn't tell the joke properly in the first place!
  • I've heard people complain that it's too expensive at fifteen dollars, and all I can say to that is, welcome to my world motherfuckers! I live in Australia and have been conditioned to blindly accept ridiculously big mark-ups on games. There was a time when paying twice what you hateful Yankee twats do would've pissed me off, but these days I think of it as the Having the Nicest Beaches Tax. [54]

Eve Online

  • The unspoken goal of exploration is to make the entire world boring. Life was at it's most interesting back when we still thought grass huts were a bit hoity-toity and when there could have been dragons made of raisin bread over the next hill for all we knew. Nowadays, everything's mapped out. We've even spent enough time on the moon and the very bottom of the ocean to know that firstly, there aren't any dragons there either, and secondly, we're definitely not in a hurry to go back and double-check. Now it's only the depths of space that remain unexplored and unboring. Plenty of gray area where any number of interstellar sparkle dragons could be hiding. Eve Online does the impossible by making deep space boring and demonstrates the best way to do that is to let nerds colonize it.
  • I was going to say, in jest, that Eve Online feels like a game that doesn't seem to want to be played at all, but on reflection, I think I might be on to something. My theory is that it's either a glorified space-themed chat room for the nerds who are to nerds what nerds are to normal people, or it's an executive toy for high-powered businessmen who are too busy to play a real game; something that you run in the background and occasionally mess with in between negotiating mergers, neglecting your spouse and becoming emotionally dead. But then again, there are apparently people who could stay awake long enough to join and run player corporations. Either they're all bizarro people who wear shoes on their heads or I'm underestimating the appeal of having a second job you have to pay for! [55]

Too Human

  • The root problem with Christianity is that their god is supposed to be all-powerful and benevolent. It sounds like an easy sell, but when life turns completely to shit, you have to come up with all kinds of whacked-out reasons for why kindly old Jehovah saw fit to run over little Timmy with a combine harvester and leave him in a state of vegetative, limbless agony for eighteen years. Ancient cultures didn't have that problem. They knew their gods were a bunch of drunken lunatics who ran around boning their close relatives and turning their ghoulies into fruit-bearing trees. Consequently, they tend to make for much more interesting stories, hence why many video game writers treat mythology as a free idea bucket. So here's Too Human, a game Silicon Knights have been making instead of Eternal Darkness 2, possibly out of a crippling fear of money and success. It's based on a sci-fi reimagining (A.K.A. copy) of Norse mythology.
  • The player takes the role of Baldur, who in mythology was the Norse god of being a total pussy who got his mum to call everything in the world and ask them to be extra-special-nice to him. Obviously, this would be an awkward character to carry a bad-ass action game, so the whole business with his mummy is carefully omitted while he's poured into the usual suit of magic power armor and turned into Space Marine Hero number five hundred and eighty billion.
  • I have to admit though, the story is to be congratulated for taking the fiery, thunderous personalities of the Norse gods and somehow turning them into a bunch of boring, self-righteous robotic twats with all the warmth and emotion of a glass of water.
  • Too Human is my favorite kind of game to review because it's bad. None of that wishy-washy mediocrity where I have to admit that the soundtrack was nice or that the gameplay was slightly more entertaining than lacerating my gums on the edge of a rusty tin. This just is all bad, all the time, to the degree where it starts getting rather worrying. It makes me wonder if anyone actually took time out to play it before release, because there seem to be more issues than pixels.
  • Baldur, it seems, buys his guns from the same shop as Dante, where the only available ammunition is peas and bits of tissue paper. The most you can do while the enemy is at range is chip away at the health of just one of the innumerable horde running up with intent to rape you in the nostrils. Now, enemy-spamming can make for barrels of fun- games like Painkiller and Serious Sam prove that- but take note that both of those games are first-person shooters. In a monster-spam sandwich, being able to aim at priority targets is vital. Too Human has to rely on an auto-lock-on system that considers a giant, missile-firing robot troll an equal threat to, say, an aggravated baked bean.
  • So, you'll die. You'll die a lot. And by Christ, does the game want you to know it. A valkyrie, who is clearly in no fucking hurry, slowly flies down, picks up your corpse, and ascends gently back into heaven, as if to say, "There, there, baby. It doesn't matter that you're a ten-thumbed cripple who literally can't fight to save their lives. Let's get you tucked into beddy-byes." Then you respawn fifty feet away with no penalties, scratching your head in bewilderment. And this happens every time you die! You can't skip it! No-one could look at this and think "Yep, this will never get old." The only remaining explanation is that this is some kind of test. Maybe if anyone defends this on a forum, they automatically get added to the government depopulation list because their minds are clearly deviant and must be purged.
  • Too Human is a game that carries the stink of the auteur. A pet project; something that was made for the designer's sake, rather than the player's. It proudly announces its intention to be the first part of an epic trilogy, which in terms of tempting fate, is right up there with a character in a horror movie uttering the words "Everything's going to be all right", then getting their tits out.
  • Too Human: Episode One (or whatever they end up calling it) has a measly four missions, each one fattened up into hours of endless waves of the same four or five baddies in huge, repetitive environments that only exacerbate the frustration caused by Baldur's toe-curlingly slow movement speed. (Or perhaps I should call it "Baldur's Gait".)
  • If there really is an entire trilogy of this worked out, a better idea would be to combine them into one game, cutting all the missions down to one-third of their intended length. But that won't happen, because an auteur developer would sooner take the trimming scissors to their own eyeballs than their beloved magnum opus, and you're left with a game experience that could be re-created by walking down a wide road in the middle of nowhere, stopping every five steps to crack yourself in the eye with a hammer. And the road is a million miles long. And the hammer is made of wank. [56]

Spore

  • If there's one thing history has taught us, besides not to piss off people called Genghis or put lead in your water pipes, it's that if you're going to make something incredibly good that becomes frighteningly popular, make sure it's the last thing you make in your entire life because you get to spend the rest of your creative life struggling under the weight of high expectations and bricks.
  • Will Wright created The Sims, a franchise which by shrewdly combining user-created assets, the powers of a malevolent trickster god and a massive amount of implied nudity, now annually makes about twice as much money as Belgium. So can his new game, Spore, possibly live up to that legacy? In short: No. In long: Noooooooooooooooo... [continues for fifteen seconds]
  • You also get to design your own buildings and vehicles further down the line, so if all you're after is some kind of 3D art program for eight-year-olds, Spore is definitely for you. If you're holding out for an actual game you get to eat shit, but never mind! You can always design a creature that looks like a huge cock and imagine it pounding you in the arse.
  • Will Wright is clearly no stranger to the odd cheeseburger, because playing as a friendly, celery-munching hippie race is a lot harder than being a bunch of aggressive, warlike megalomaniacs who communicate by biting each other's faces off. Once you move on to the real-time strategy tribal phase, if you eject the savage, meat-eating weapons-stockpiling lifestyle, you will quickly find that there are several tribes within convenient walking distance who didn't, and will make you their little whimpering bitches before you can even break out the tambourines. A stark and accurate portrayal of the development of human society, perhaps, but probably not the intended experience, that only gets more one-sided with the civilization stage, during which you either pay all the other cities to not kill you, or rampage around the world blowing up computer players who don't have the luxury of being able to pause the game and build fifty gun turrets.
  • Fundamentally though, Spore will never have the appeal of The Sims because of the excision of the human element. It wasn't simply controlling life that made The Sims popular, it was controlling life that resembles people we know, or optionally Batman. So I guess what I'm asking is, can brightly colored monstrosities really compare to Batman? Short answer: Noooooooooooooooo... [57]

XBLA Double Bill

  • Nostalgia is like stuffing your cheeks with cocaine-infused marbles in that it makes you say stupid things. Of course Fantasy World Dizzy isn't the best game ever made, don't be so bloody idiotic! It had, like, five colors and the main character was a blob on some kind of permanent caffeine buzz. The flaws of childhood amusements disappear behind an insidious rose tint because we associate them with a happier, innocent time before our first damning locker room stiffy.
  • First up, Bionic Commando Rearmed, a full 3D remake of an old NES game that I've never played because mine was a Commodore 64 household, but apparently, it's about Inspector Gadget battling Hitler, so presumably Nintendo was somehow getting their ideas from the things that I drew on the backs of my school exercise books.
  • Even though I've never played the NES original, I can tell that Rearmed is an utterly faithful remake because it's console-stompingly frustrating! Which brings me to the first counterpoint of nostalgia, that the majority of obsolete retro gaming tropes died out for a good fucking reason! The lives system seems like a good place to start. Lives are a hold over from the old days of arcade gaming when each one symbolized another shiny coin to be begged and whined for from your unfeeling mum. They were made obsolete when it was realized that it made for better home entertainment when any player could finish a game rather than just the obsessive psychotic ones.
  • Strangely for a 2D platformer, you can't jump, at least not from the start, so if you find yourself with a waist-high obstacle in view, you have to use your grappling hook to swing over it, which strikes me as a needlessly roundabout solution. I guess if you go to all the trouble of chopping your arm off and jamming a winch on the end, then you'd want to make the most of it, but you'll no doubt experience some regret when you're trying to hug your children or finger your wife.
  • Our second game is Castle Crashers, which isn't openly trying to ape any previous game but does nonetheless, specifically Golden Axe and everything from the same medieval fantasy sword-swinging, bikini-wearing sub-genre of 16-bit side-scrolling beat-em-ups, but this time coming to us by way of the works of Jhonen Vasquez.
  • Also, while Bionic Commando is a full 2D game presented in 3D for absolutely no bloody reason, Castle Crashers tries to pull the old fast one of fake 3D gameplay in 2D graphics. You have to be on pretty much the same vertical plane as the enemy to hit them and the game will often leave you furiously dicing empty air while baddies stand two pixels into the distance laughing and flicking peanuts into your face.
  • To paraphrase my first statement, nostalgia is a mouthfull of balls. Children will like anything, the stupid, diminutive cunts, and you weren't any different. Games, or should I say the potential for games, has only gotten better as technology advances in direct proportion to the worst thing of your memory. When the gaming kids of today become the hairy, winding twenty-somethings of the future, they'll be declaring that Halo 3 was miles better than a game of interstellar bum pirates on the astral thought planes of the universal overmind and they'll be just as wrong then as you are now.
  • I played both Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Sunshine before I played Ocarina of Time and Mario 64 and I thought the first two were better in every buggering way! Drink down that burn sauce, fat boy! Also, I think Hitler was right! [58]

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