Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R10T16- It Better Still Be Fearsome But Fuzzy

Awww, the Greeds are just so happy about being able to spread evil and terrorize humanit- I mean... Help the team. The Greeds are just so happy about being able to help the team!
And look on the bright side, Sharing, you're still one of a kind. You're like Content's collector's item!


Cyber Punk Hackery Double Feature

Quick Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
DEHR is the first game in the Deus Ex franchise that I've played. I never knew anybody with the first one and was introduced to the series through the smirking dick on the cover of the Xbox game and that scared me off. So if there's some element of DEHR that it shares with the apparently beloved original, feel free to send me the usual “you hate everything” comments because without a history with the series, this game is just silly.
DEHR hides something behind the first box you see so it's teaching you that boxes hide things and you should search everything to get loot. However, 99% of boxes for the rest of the game have nothing, so that was a terrible lesson to teach you at the start of the game. You also have to make the decision whether you're going to be violent or stealthy before you've had a chance to see or try any of the game's mechanics. I picked poorly and had to slog through the first mission with a terrible tranq-rifle that I never used past that first mission because the stealth is boring and enemies can see you through objects so you just wind up in gun fights anyway. Normal fights aren't much better because the combat is horrible, it has terrible controls (R3 to use sights?!), and you die in a few hits so you spend most of your time in gun fights cowering behind cover. The most effective way to fight is to hide behind things, sneak up to an enemy, use your super robot slaps to knock them out, then run away cowering behind boxes until your battery recharges and you can robot slap another guy. Talking enemies down is fun but you're only allowed to do that at set moments that are too few and far between. Even outside of the gameplay, Deus Ex continues the established video game tradition of hacking being the most boring, tedious task in the game and it's always a bummer when you're forced into it. Even when things should be calm and you're in an exploratory mode, you're not safe from all the combat. I hit a bug early on where after visiting a police station as part of the story, the cops outside the building automatically turned aggressive and killed me a second after walking through the door. Nothing bad happens in the police station so there's no story reason for that to happen, I didn't pick any fights, and every cop in the station was fine with me, but those two guys instantly turned aggressive as as soon as I walked through the exit. I had to load an old save and find some convoluted way out of the station through a back alley and the sewers to escape instant death at the main door and then every cop I walked by in the city after that paid me no mind. The game is super ugly with everything filtered through a piss-yellow lens and the hub world maps are so poorly laid out that I couldn't find my way around without the map in your pause menu, but that means you're constantly pausing and unpausing to check it. To exacerbate this problem, doors take a while to load in, so you'll get to the door and stand around until the game loads up the prompt that lets you interact with it, but unless you're certain you need to use that door, you might have walked away to try to find a different route and wind up lost again. So the whole experience makes for a very unwelcoming future.
Despite all the promise of customization, I never felt like the augmentations that I was upgrading mattered. The beginning is very hacking focused so I put a lot of points into that, but it quickly becomes so nonsensical that unless you completely devote yourself to it, hacking just isn't worth it. I'd upgrade one thing and then find an entrance that made me wish I'd spent the points on jumping or lifting or any skill other than what I thought might be useful. Your inventory is also extremely limited so you need to sink points into that too. Because my inventory was always so full, I had to abandon items I'd find in missions, which meant I didn't have anything to sell to the item trader, which meant I didn't have any money to complete certain mission or buy certain upgrades, which meant I always felt like I was falling behind and not getting more useful upgrades. By the time I upgraded super jumping and falling, they weren't very useful, so I just went back to sinking points into inventory space and making hacking so it was quicker to get through those tasks.
The story is kind of dumb and runs into the X-Men problem. The reaction to people having neural enhancements or cyber organs and limbs or the ability to fly or teleport wouldn't be to treat those people like monsters, the reaction would be that everybody would be super excited and constantly awed. As somebody with a prosthesis, the enhancements people get in the game are awesome but all anybody does is whine about it. The rest of it is your standard conspiracy theories and shadowy organizations using the news to alter the way people think, controlling the world from behind the scenes, etc etc. Once the Illuminati become involved, the game just gets laughable. There's an achievement for shooting a basketball through a hoop called “Balls” and the description is “Seems you like playing with balls, eh?”. That is the quality of writing you're getting here. Much like your upgrades being underwhelming, it doesn't feel like your choices or helping people on side quests matters. I kept expecting that the people I saved or helped would provide some kind of information or aide later in the game. In an early mission, you can save a janitor and his wife if you do multiple steps of a quest correctly, so I was expecting that later in the game he'd provide me with a key card or open a door or provide me some kind of secret information that a janitor would overhear or have access to when cleaning up the boss's office. But nope. I never saw or heard from that guy again. You do meet one of the bosses again if you talked him down from killing a hostage and he gives you some mostly useless information, but then he shows up again later and you unceremoniously kill him without any recognition or mention that you have history with him. The giant ominous corporation you work for turns out to be evil because it's a corporation in a video game and video game writers are generally kind of terrible, so aside from how silly the conspiracy stuff gets, the plot isn't very engaging.
The ending is just awful. The gameplay culminates in a totally nonsensical final battle with no alternate strategies or options other than to shoot a machine a lot, kill some probably innocent human hosts for technology, shoot zombies, and just stand around shooting guards for a while until some machine blows up (I'm not entirely sure what I was supposed to be doing for this part of the fight but I eventually won it whether I was having an impact or not). Then, you have to make the most forced idiotic "moral choice" I've done in a game. You choose to condemn all science and technology because a few corporations were led by dirtbags, give control of the world to said dirtbags, or just kind of... blow yourself up so you don't have to make a choice. Deus Ex winds up being disgustingly anti-science, technology, and progress. The game's message shouldn't be "Grrr, fire and science bad!" it should be "technology is pretty freaking awesome but there will be assholes that try to abuse it, no matter what that technology might be, and we should stop them from doing that". This would have been a far better and more interesting game had it been about removing the cancerous people from augmentation and letting the technology grow.
And, no lie, as I was saving my review out, a spam bot posted porn in the chat. All right, fuck it. Technology is evil. Screw everything. Destroy it all.



Quick Review: Syndicate (2012)
This is game made for a PC and it makes little effort to hide that from a console player. The aiming is awful and swimmy. It's either way too fast and you can't precisely aim or it's really slow and you get shot up because you can't turn around in time. Clearly, this was designed for a mouse and no real thought went into adapting it for a controller. Even when things do work, the shooting is so unsatisfying. It feels like it should have been third-person with more of a focus on the mind hacking ("breaching" in your fancy game terms) than gunplay. Your gun even takes up most of the screen, especially if you're near cover because your guy then holds it up, blocking even more of the player's view. There's also first person platforming. In a game made in 2012! You're so fragile but enemies are bullet sponges and the bosses are a hundred times worse. The first boss can run faster than you, teleport, make clones of himself that can still damage you (not entirely sure how that logistically works out), and he takes forever to kill. He's just some dude but he barely even reacts to the fact that you're shooting him in the face with hundreds of bullets, but you go down in three seconds of gunfire. The next boss is a giant gunship that just keeps spawning other enemies and also takes hundreds and hundreds of bullets to kill. Like with Deus Ex, I was expecting focus on your enhancements, but the powers are pretty crappy. You can make a guy commit suicide by grenade, stun enemies, or make enemies shoot at other enemies and eventually commit suicide. That's oddly suicide heavy.
I got to mission 8 out of 20 according to an FAQ and the game just kept throwing enemies with magic shields you have to hack before you can damage them and then they soak up tooooons of damage before the shield regenerates and you have to do it all over again, so I died a few times, accepted that I hadn't had a minute of fun for the whole time I had been playing, and quit. I tried to do a round of multiplayer but it was so laggy that players were warping around the map so it was fairly unplayable.
The future that games envision is so boring. And I'm starting to retroactively become bitter against Blade Runner for every future-based cyber hackery product focusing so heavily on Asian iconography. Why can't other continents ever rule the future? It's gotten to the point that it would be ground breaking for somebody to actually use a South American or African country in a cyber-punk dystopia. Sao Paulo has a growing tech sector rife for cyborg/android uprisings! I want to know what Cyborg Carnival is like! Doesn't that sound awesome!? Between Syndicate and Deus Ex, the future is just horrendous light bloom and amber with the potential for everybody to have super mind powers but all they use it for is shooting guns. That's basically... now. With a HUD.