Tag Archives: games

A 20 Year Old Gaming Mystery, Solved At Last

While I don’t have a hard and fast date for an anniversary, this year feels like it’s roughly the point at which I’ve hit 30 years of playing video games. (Having just passed my 33rd birthday, this is a rather large amount of my life.) In that time, I have played countless games across most every platform ever released, and I have a surprisingly good memory of nearly every game I ever played.

Or perhaps I should say, every game, save one.

Continue reading A 20 Year Old Gaming Mystery, Solved At Last

Always A Lighthouse, Always A Man, Always A City

infinite-street

So Bioshock Infinite came out yesterday.

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While I generally try to save all my praise for games until the end of the year, I’m going to make an slight exception for this one to tell you, in the present, that it’s really, really fantastic.

infinite-forward

If you’re not already playing it, you should push everything else onto your backlog so you can go play it. (Preferably the PC version, if you can.)

infinite-sky

What are you still doing here? Go play it.

Disclaimer: My wife works for Take-Two Interactive, parent company of both the developer (Irrational Games) and the publisher (2K Games) of Bioshock Infinite. This recommendation would still be coming even if she didn’t work for them.

Games of 2012: The Rest

Here’s a shocker: despite there only being 26 games in my blog post series, I played more than 26 games this year. A number of these games didn’t warrant a full blown post, but I did want to at least recommend them or give them their due. So here’s a big list of 30 games that didn’t make the list that might be worth a look (or a pass) – in three sentences or less per game.

Analogue: A Hate Story (Steam): A well-written interactive fiction game that has you digging through an abandoned space ship’s computer to figure out what happened to it. A lot to dig into, and the interactions with the AIs are well scripted. Originally on the list for this year, but left off because other games took its spot.

Chip Chain (iOS): A pretty recent title that sort of plays like a match-three game, but with some unique mechanics I hadn’t seen before. Good style and polish on it, although just slightly hampered by some IAP pushing. Worth a look for iOS gamers in need of a puzzle game fix.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Steam/PSN/XBLA): I’ve always felt I should’ve gotten into Counter-Strike, and this is the first one that felt accessible enough that I could. Plays really fast, runs well – perhaps this can finally bump CS 1.6 off the throne. Need to spend more time with this.

Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten (Steam): Puts some deep RPG elements on top of tower defense games, and tries to put a story on top of it as well. Tower defense lovers should give this a look.

Double Dragon: Neon (PSN/XBLA): I wanted to hate this game for coining the phrase “bro-op”, but it overcame that. Really amazing soundtrack by Jake Kaufman that serves as both an homage to the original series and to 80’s pop.

Dyad (PSN): Trippy as hell tube racer/shooter/puzzler/something. One of those games that just seems to fit on PSN. Really hard to describe, obviously.

FIFA Street (PS3/360): When I played soccer as a kid, I loved indoor, so a game that focuses on the smaller version of the game seemed like a great idea. But of course the execution was flawed and I forgot about it after two weeks. Left off the list because I already had enough soccer games and enough counter-example games.

Football Manager 2013 (Steam): It’s the first year for FM where they’ve actually tried to make the game more accessible to newcomers, and that’s a big deal – those looking for a robust sports sim should get in the door now. I should be happy I haven’t lost my soul to this game yet.

Gasketball (iOS): Good physics puzzler that has you making trick shots with a basketball. Frustrating at times given the game’s unforgiving nature, but nailing a shot feels really good.

Gotham City Impostors (Steam/PSN/XBLA): Got slogged in the press, but I actually liked what this was trying to do. Team based shooters have gotten pretty same-y, and GCI at least tried to change up the formula. It’s free to play now on the PC, so it can’t hurt to try.

Hell Yeah! (Steam/PSN/XBLA): A really bizarre Sega release that feels like they were trying just a little too hard to channel Disgaea into a platformer. Still, it’s not bad at what it does, and the humor isn’t unbearable. I like seeing Sega take a chance on a new franchise rather than rehashing Sonic again.

Iron Brigade (Steam/XBLA): Doublefine’s take on the Tower Defense genre, with a fun cross of early 20th century war and sci-fi trappings. Probably a ton of fun in co-op, but I barely spent any time with it beyond the tutorial levels (mostly for lack of friends with the game).

Karateka (iOS/PSN/XBLA): I adored Jordan Mechner’s original game, and I’m so glad to see it back on modern platforms. Feels right on iOS, although I haven’t tried the console versions. Just came out on December 19th, so it was a little too late-breaking to make it into the list.

Knights of Pen & Paper (iOS): This has become my renewed addiction over the past week: a mobile RPG that works in short bursts. The concept, which is that you’re a group of people playing a tabletop RPG, gives it a good sense of humor and place missing from a lot of RPGs. Had my addiction came weeks earlier, it would’ve been a lock for a post.

Legend of Grimrock (Steam): I am so glad someone finally did a modern take on Dungeon Master. I missed crawling around chunky grid-based dungeons. Cheap during the Steam sale this week, so if you have nostalgia for dungeon crawling 80’s style, get on it now.

Little Inferno (Steam/WiiWare): I burned through this (hur hur) in one afternoon, and while I loved what it was trying to do, I didn’t really like how it did it. Not quite enough of a game to warrant the $10 asking price.

Lost Cities (iOS): From the same team that did Carcasonne comes a great port of a modern card game. As fully featured and well polished as one can want in a card game. Exemplary stuff for other iOS developers.

Mark of the Ninja (Steam/XBLA): Got a ton of love from XBLA enthusiasts, and I have not gotten enough time with the Steam version. Definitely seems to have the stealth gameplay down cold, though.

Orcs Must Die! 2 (Steam): Loved the first one, and the second seems like a good refinement on the formula. Half over-the-person shooter, half tower defense. Also, co-op!

Puzzle Craft (iOS): Draw-to-match tile puzzle mixed with town building and upgrading? Would have been pure digital crack were it not for performance problems and bugs. Should be safe now, though.

Retro City Rampage (Steam/PSN): Suffers from “references overpower the gameplay” syndrome – too many jokes, not enough original ideas. Wanted to like this but ended up just feeling let down. May give it another shot since the PSN/Vita version was recently free.

Sleeping Dogs (Steam/PS3/360): Impressed by Squeenix’s take on the GTA formula. World seems pretty nicely realized, enough so that I’m looking forward to getting back to it. If you’re waiting on pins and needles for GTAV, give this a look.

Sound Shapes (PSN): Such a cute, smart, well built platformer. Great art, great music. Just felt way too short in exchange for a level editor – community can’t replace solid game design.

Spaceteam (iOS): Absolutely love the concept: all your networked iOS devices show controls and instructions, which need to be shouted so someone else can fidget with the dial to avoid your ship exploding. Always a big fan of interactive group games. My only issue: I haven’t played this with anyone yet.

Spec Ops: The Line (Steam/PS3/360): I’ve been told there’s an amazing twist and writing waiting beneath the surface of this. But the couple of hours I spent with it just felt like a really janky third-person shooter. Will return to it in the future.

SSX (PS3/360): I need to stop getting my hopes up for SSX games, as EA has broken my heart more times than they’ve won it over. The endless array of equipment and stats tinkering here lost me. A shame, because the snowboarding itself was pretty fun in the right circumstances.

Tokyo Jungle (PSN): Again, a quirky title that feels like you would only find it on PSN. I enjoyed running around the abandoned streets of Tokyo as a pomeranian – until I was attacked by a rhino. Lovers of quirky titles should not pass this up.

The Walking Dead (Steam/XBLA/PSN/iOS): Has won so many damned end of the year awards, I felt like re-iterating that I hadn’t had a chance to play it yet. Have just dipped my toe into chapter 1, and I can tell there’s quality here. Probably a safe bet if you like point-and-click adventure games.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Steam): If there’s any game I regret not spending more time with, it’s XCOM. Loved the demo, but the ongoing issues with my Windows install took me away from it and I desperately want to play it again. Expect to see me logging series time on this on Steam the minute I can install Boot Camp again.

Zookeeper Battle (iOS): Competitive Match 3, with cute blocky Japanese style. Gets surprisingly tense when you can’t make matches or when you wait to see how the rounds resolve. Online live play only, but it’s free, so give it a try.

Games of 2011: Sleep No More

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. This is the last post in the series. See all Games of 2011 posts.

Surprise: my Game Of The Year isn’t a video game. (I never said they were all going to be electronic.) And yes, it’s Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, which I’ve talked about on this blog twice before, and is perhaps the closest thing to a real life video game I’ve ever found, and perhaps ever will.

Those of you who follow me on social networks have probably missed out on the incessent gushing about the show I tend to do in person. It has become an all-consuming experience; I have made a somewhat absurd four visits to the McKittrick Hotel for performances, including one just over a week ago. Some might feel this is three times too many. (Others might argue it’s four times too many.) I am fully and well hooked on this thing, and I won’t be surprised if I notch a fifth trip sometime in 2012. The friends who have been tend to be understanding and share a desire to go back. Here’s why:

People who have played games for a significant length of time have certain behaviors become hard wired into their play style. If you grew up with Wolfenstein and Doom, you become accustomed to pressing on every wall, hoping for a secret passage to open. RPG addicts know to search every container in the hopes of finding something useful or interesting. Stealth-action gamers are used to slinking along behind characters, hoping to figure out their secrets. And so on.

These skills are generally not acceptable to use in real life; most of us don’t spend our days exploring strange spaces, investigating someone’s bedroom, or following strange people about their business. This is where Sleep No More fits in perfectly – it’s a meticulously designed playground where you can make use of these habits and skills. This is a space where you want to be looking, touching, feeling, and exploring at every turn.

There’s no way to win this game, of course – the show ends after three hours, and you are gently ushered out of the hotel space. There’s also no way to see every last thing that happens during the show in a single visit. But you may have pieced together how some characters interact, or found a secret passage, or even helped run messages between characters.

Punchdrunk has designed the show to allow the audience the freedom to indulge in anonymity and voyeurism – the masks, the mandate that there is no talking inside the space, the use of light and shadow. The experience makes it easy to detach from yourself and become your own avatar, so long as you can break down some of the psychological barriers that tend to prevent people from doing the things you should do in this world. (More on these later.) The cast has a trick up their sleeves, of course: they are fully allowed to interact with you, and will choose to do so with those that are clearly engaged and unafraid. As you are told in the elevator, fortune favors the bold.

This is not a world for the faint of heart. The company now warns that the audience may experience “intense psychological experiences”. There is violence (multiple murders), nudity (both genders), and absinthe served at the bar. There are strobe lights, smoke machines, and in one scene, some incredibly loud drum and bass music. There is running up and down flights of stairs, and the slight-but-ever-present danger of being hit by one of the staff as they perform their dances (as Katie learned when she was kicked in the arm during our last visit). The show lasts at most three hours, which may be more than those with low stamina can withstand.

But no matter how much my feet hurt when I exit back into the streets of Chelsea, there is nothing else like it I’ve ever experienced in my life. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to go as much as I have, and yet I always want to go back as soon as I can. Everyone who enjoys games as a hobby should make a point of going before the show ends its run, whenever that may be.

The remainder of this post, as some sort of twisted holiday present, are essentially my complete set of notes about the show – how it’s structured, how to plan your visits, and even a set of imaginary achievements. The information in that section is extremely spoilery, and I agree with the common wisdom that you should take in your first visit to the show essentially blind – it’s more fun that way. So save the details in the rest of this post until you’ve gone once.

Sleep No More is currently extended through February, and may continue to extend as Punchdrunk sees fit.

Continue reading Games of 2011: Sleep No More

Games of 2011: Bastion

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2011 posts.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether or not you’re going to love a game. Ain’t so hard with this one. I knew within five minutes.

Supergiant Games’ debut title, Bastion, is extraordinary by every measure.

The art style: lush and meticulously drawn watercolors gives the many worlds of Caelondia a unique feel and personality. It’s not just the art, but also the animation, as many of the worlds within Bastion are either forming or disintegrating before your eyes.

The gameplay: Bastion is a well refined twin-stick action RPG. Multiple weapons, skills, and abilities allow you to adapt to your play style. The combat is not quite twitch combat, but certainly not slow by any stretch – it feels real and substantive.

The voicework: Logan Cunningham’s voice work as Rucks, the narrator, is unforgettable. Not just his voice, or the style in which he tells the story as you play through it, but the multiple versions of each line recorded, ensuring that even the slightest change in attack plans is accompanied by an appropriate monologue.

The music: Darren Korb’s beautiful, haunting soundtrack rounds out the performance, and is easily the most memorable soundtrack I’ve come across in years. I’ve embedded two tracks below to show the range of what Darren called “acoustic frontier trip-hop”:

This is a game that oozes love from every pore, and yet they chose to release it at a $15 price point via digital channels. If youve been reluctant to download games – if you’re the sort of person who only shops at Gamestop – Bastion is the game that will change your mind.

Do not miss this game, under any circumstances.

Bastion is available on Xbox Live Arcade, Windows, and somehow also through Chrome.

Games of 2011: Skyrim

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2011 posts.

A lot of the games I’ve feature in this series this year have been small titles, ambitious in their vision towards a single idea or aesthetic. It’s no secret I have great love for tight, well-crafted experiences over sloppy games that try to be everything to everyone.

The general lack of the big-budget games from this list should not be taken as me rejecting epic, sweeping games out of hand. I play many of them all the same – the problem is that many of them fail to live up to their aspirations. I had big hopes for some epic games this year – titles like Uncharted 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and RAGE all had my interest piqued. But they each failed to hook me or came out the door in such a broken fashion that they were practically unplayable.

One epic scale game did manage to pull it off for me this year, and that is Bethesda’s wonderfully rich Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. [1. Kean-eyed gamers may notice that two of the games on my disappointing list – Fallout: New Vegas and RAGE – are also Bethesda titles. Their reputation was so shot with me late in the year that I nearly passed on picking up Skyrim. I am glad I came around.]

If you’re unfamiliar with the Elder Scrolls series, it’s best described as a giant medieval fantasy world with more backstory than one person could ever appreciate. This is a game with so many in-game books that you can read, people have converted them to eBooks so they can be read outside the game. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. In any case, the game plays as a first person RPG – you can explore the world, plunder dungeons and caves, get quests from people in towns and cities, and generally get in a lot of fights. Combat is real-time and characters tend to either use melee, ranged, or magical attacks.

Skyrim has one main plot line, but as is traditional with the series, you should leave it till later, as there’s no real reason to finish it early. The best course of action is largely to meander and explore, getting wrapped up in some of the meaty side quest strings, and using them to help launch you into even more adventures. Most players will pick out one of the main four guilds (fighters tend towards the Companions; magicians find brotherhood in the Mage’s School; the sneaky will fall in with the Thieves Guild; the cold-blooded killers join the Dark Brotherhood) and run through their quests. I say, why choose one? Do them all – they don’t conflict with each other, and the storylines are enjoyable. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve completed all but the Mage’s School, and found worthwhile twists and turns in all (but especially the Dark Brotherhood).

One of the things Skyrim gets very, very right is the balance of exploratng a huge world versus the pain of navigating it. The world is dotted with points of interest, but many you’ll have to trek to the vicinity of to get them to appear on your map. Once a point is found, you can “fast travel” to it, rather than having to slog it out on foot. But because a quest could take you potentially anywhere on the map, there’s a subliminal benefit to indulging in some wanderlust.

The world is also packed full of quests, even beyond the above mentioned storylines. The game reportedly has a random quest generator, which gives you a seemingly endless set of missions helping out townspeople. But there’s plenty of well defined, structured quests as well, which can sometimes sneak up on you. In one town, I stepped into a tavern and was soon approached by a guy looking to challenge me to a drinking contest, with a nice looking staff the reward. After accepting (and promptly blacking out), I awoke to find myself in the Skyrim equivelent of The Hangover, as set out across the land to piece together the events evening and right the wrongs I had made.

The game isn’t perfect by any stretch. There are plenty of bugs and glitches, most of which manifest themselves in hilarious ways. The inventory system, very console-like in nature, leaves a lot to be desired ( looks like a compelling option for PC players). And the PS3 port continues Bethesda’s long history of not being able to properly program on Sony’s platform. But the game transcends the niggling concerns and makes a strong statement that when a big budget game goes right, it truly can be epic.

Skyrim is available for Windows, the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3.

Games of 2011: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2011 posts.

iOS gamers are this year’s gaming community scapegoats. With Nintendo and Sony’s handheld platforms under siege, there’s a certain level of disdain that generally comes up when discussing the ascendancy of smartphones. “Touch controls are terrible!” they shout. “Angry Birds is a terrible game,” they whine. “The App Store is full of garbage,” they blabber.

Should anyone take a step back and look at the library of any mobile gaming platform, there’s always a lot of poorly written garbage. The DS has been predominantly shovelware and the PSP has been a graveyard for the last few years. The key, as with any system, is to find the diamonds in the rough.

There are plenty of great games available for iOS, but generally the gamers who complain are looking for a critical success: something arty, something with a stark art style, something with a deep and symbolic story. In short, they’re looking for a game that can be put on a pedestal.

Beyond all other iOS games this year, that game was Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. It won seemingly the most superlative praise of any game this year.

Kill Screen:

> It manages, with reverent deftness, to evoke and honour the influences of its creators, while simultaneously providing a multisensory experience that feels novel and groundbreaking today. A landmark achievement, it raises the bar for independent game design much as the Washington Monument did for independent obelisk design.

The Wall Street Journal:

> If Roy Lichtenstein were weaned on things like 8-bit games, “Kid A” and the iPhone, these would probably be his Benday dots. Yes, in the end, “Sword & Sworcery” is just a game, but in its own meta way it’s also a kind of pop art for the digital age.

MSNBC:

> Steve Jobs may have promised all you Apple fans some magic … but it’s the Superbrothers and company who are delivering it.

Wired:

> It’s a game that will make you believe.

Destructoid:

> Gaming doesn’t need to find its Citizen Kane, but it may have discovered its Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead without even trying.

I can vouch for it being a beautiful and absorbing game, but like many other titles I’ve played this year, it was one I failed to make much ground in. I have placed it in this list not only because it’s won widespread praise from critics and friends alike, but also because it represents that iOS can indeed have those critical-smash titles that gamers so deeply value when measuring the worth of a platform.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is available as a universal iOS app.

Games of 2011: Gemini Rue

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2011 posts.

I’ve always been a big adventure game fan. The first serious PC games I ever dove into (Maniac Mansion, King’s Quest I and II, Space Quest III) all fell into that genre. I probably had more Sierra 5.25″ floppy disk sleeves than plain white ones.

There’s been a big resurgence in the genre as of late – which has generally been great. I hedge that with “generally” because there’s a common theme through nearly every adventure game series that has reappeared that didn’t used to be the case. Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Back To The Future, Hector, and Strongbad[1. I realize I’m probably picking on Telltale here, but seeing as they’re mostly the ones doing this revival, I’m going to allow it.] all are humor-focused games. What I’ve missed are the adventure games where the focus is storytelling, and narrative, rather than puns.

It probably comes as no surprise that the first time I fired up Gemini Rue and watched the opening – a man only referred to by his captors as “Delta-Six” has his memory erased, and seemingly not for the first time – I let out a huge sigh of relief.

Gemini Rue is one of those games that I haven’t spent enough time with yet. I have only made it through the first five chapters or so. But what I’ve seen so far reminds me so much of those old Sierra titles – the pacing, the atmosphere, the interface design. It’s a welcome reminder of some of my gaming roots.

People who fondly remember Sierra’s best work should give this one a look.

Gemini Rue is available for Windows.

Games of 2011: Mortal Kombat

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2011 posts.

When it came to fighting games, I have always been more of the Mortal Kombat type than the Street Fighter type. It wasn’t the blood or the violence (although as a teenager, that was certainly a lot of fun), but more that the games felt more accessible. They took themselves a little less seriously. Or maybe it was just that I could never pull off the 360 rotations necessary for some of the Street Fighter moves.

Regardless, Mortal Kombat as a series fell on hard times after MK3 was released. Practically every title since 1997 disappointed, bloated both the gameplay and the world in which it takes place, and messed with a formula that didn’t need messing with. Weapons in Deadly Alliance? The start of a bad trend. The terrible quest mode in Deception? Laughable. The kart game that was inserted for no reason into Armageddon? Ugh. And how about the neutering of vs. DC Universe, taking what promised to be a dark gritty game and making it rated T for Teen?

The franchise has needed a massive kick in the pants for nearly fifteen years, and I am relieved to say that this year’s release of Mortal Kombat (named just that, no modifiers afterwards) is a pitch-perfect return to form.

No matter where you land in relation to fighting games, it feels like Mortal Kombat has something for you. The story mode is surprisingly well written and seamless jumps between cutscenes and battles in a pretty impressive manner. The game looks fantastic and the sound design is excellent as well. There’s a whole range of competitive modes – tournaments and online battles and such. People who like objective-based progression can find relief in the Challenge Tower, which throws 300 different challenges at the player. Those who are into unlocking things will be relieved to still find The Krypt allows unlocking of plenty of concept art and other content. And those who don’t like to take things seriously will love Test Your Luck mode, where a slot machine gives random modifiers and can make fights completely ridiculous in the blink of an eye. Broad appeal is pretty much guaranteed here.

It’s been great to see increased attention given to fighting games over the last few years, with the rise of competitive gaming and the fighting game community really carving out its place in the world. While I have nothing but respect for Capcom giving Street Fighter renewed love for the last few years, to see Mortal Kombat get such a well done revival this year sent me into sheer levels of joy. This was the fighting game I’ve been waiting for all generation.

Mortal Kombat is available for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Games of 2011: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2011 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. Instead of my usual end-of-year game recommendations, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2011 posts.

The original Deus Ex hit the market in 2000, and it was a revolution unto itself. It combined the first person shooter with role playing elements and strong writing. It offered the player real choice and branching story lines. Adversity could be worked around, fights could be diffused peacefully. The game brought with it an implied promise: first person games didn’t need to adhere to a formula.

Sadly, that promise wasn’t met. The 2003 sequel Invisible War was garbage, the franchise was shelved, and few developers wanted to try and replicate the Deus Ex experience.

But like other historic franchises, this was finally the year that Deus Ex was booted back up. After four years in development, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released in August. From the moment I touched the game, I felt that familiar rush again. The stealth, the conversations, the gunplay, the lock picking, it was all just so brilliant. I started to mentally mark it down as a clear frontrunner for the best game I played that year.

Then I hit a boss battle, and those thoughts evaporated.

Much has been said by press and players alike about how out of place the boss battles felt. This is a game where you can specialize in stealth and subterfuge, building your character so that you can slink through each level without killing a single enemy guard. And yet this same game forces you into a guns-blazing do-or-die battle with an overpowered enemy. Players who went in with stealth-heavy builds were severely disadvantaged in these fights.

Player choice is a dangerous tool to wield. For every dimension of character construction you allow, you open yourself up to players working themselves into a position where it is difficult to advance. Regular adversity isn’t a problem – players need a challenge, and there shouldn’t be a build you can just blow through the game with. But games should never make it practically impossible for standard builds to advance, and sadly, that’s what the boss fights in DX:HR did.

Eidos admitted a month after release that they had outsourced the boss battles to another company, one that “didn’t know much about the Deus Ex world before the project began.” What a statement that is: to not only add gameplay that people generally disliked, but to farm it outside of the core team working on the game, to people who didn’t understand the history or vision for the game.

Developers, remember this: make the best games you can. Don’t compromise. And don’t add boss battles if they don’t fit into your game.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.