Game Review: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

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Like all game reviews on this blog, this one assumes you’ve played the game in question, and so it will contain spoilers for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. If you want to view my playthrough of the game, you can do so here.

For all its uniqueness, the original Mirror’s Edge was a product of its time. Released in 2008, just a year after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it was a first-person action game with linear levels, shooting, and setpieces. Similarly, the sequel/prequel/reboot, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is also a product of its time. It’s an open-world game stuffed to the gills with side activities, featuring a character progression system and online leaderboards.

I point this out become people often attribute the series’ failings to its tendency to follow trends. It’s a sensible narrative, and it allows gamers to pin the blame for them on the clueless behemoth that they believe EA to be. But, as I’ve pointed out before, the reality is a lot more nuanced than that when it comes to the original Mirror’s Edge, and the same is true of the sequel. More

Game Review: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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Disclaimer: Like all game reviews on this blog, this one assumes you’ve played the game. Therefore, it may contain spoilers for all four main-series Uncharted games. This review is only about the single-player portion of the game. I didn’t play the multiplayer at all.

Uncharted 4 made me reconsider the way I think about video games. That probably makes it sound like I’m overselling the game, but I mean it quite literally. The things that Uncharted 4 does well aren’t things that I typically say I look for in interactive entertainment. And now, having played the game and enjoyed it, I wonder if the things I say I look for are really what make for a great experience.
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Game Review: Firewatch

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As is the case with all game reviews on this blog, this review is intended for people who have already played the game, and as such, it will contain spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Firewatch is not a game that thrives on individual moments. Sure, the plot has twists and turns, and there are plenty of surprises, but the game isn’t an exercise in setpiece-hopping. Most of the player’s time is spent walking through the Wyoming woods, conversing with the protagonist’s supervisor on a two-way radio. It took a lot of guts for developers Campo Santo to make walking and talking the foci of their debut game, and for the most part, they succeeded. More

Game Review: The Beginner’s Guide

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As is the case for all game reviews on this blog, this review is intended for people who have played the game. As such, it contains spoilers. You’ve been warned!

I haven’t written a game review in a long time, and that’s mainly because I’ve been slow to complete new titles recently. But I wanted to write this review if only to push back against some weird misinterpretations of the game that I’ve seen floating around.

On Friday afternoon, I posted a comment to the A.V. Club’s Gameological section asking what games fellow commenters would redesign from the ground up. By sheer coincidence, later that day, I played The Beginner’s Guide and realized that it would fit well in that category. It’s tempting to play the part of backseat game designer when reviewing a game, and since I’m not a professional reviewer, I’m going to give into that temptation. The Beginner’s Guide has a kernel of a good idea in it, but it’s utterly misguided in execution and needs to be redesigned from the ground up. More

Game Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

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This review assumes you’ve played Batman: Arkham Knight, as well as all previous main entries in the Batman: Arkham series. Therefore, spoilers abound. You’ve been warned!

It’s impossible to assess the Rocksteady-developed Batman: Arkham Knight independently from the controversy surrounding its release on Windows, the platform on which I played it. It’s also impossible to assess Knight independently from the previous three games in the series, each of which is worthwhile in its own right. Knight, in many ways, is the culmination of the series, at times playing like the most refined version of what a Batman game can be. But in other ways, it tries to be its own beast, and it’s usually in those instances that it fails. The end result is a competent but mediocre game whose flashes of brilliance come from shining the series’ long-established mechanics to a diamond sheen, and whose flashes of originality are misguided at best, downright hilarious at worst. More

A Review of Every Album That Came Out This Week

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It’s been a busy week for music. Canadian progressive rock group The Tea Party released their long-awaited reunion album. Tiny Engines labelmates Cayetana and Mannequin Pussy dropped their debut full-lengths. U2 and Weed Hounds both released free albums. (Yes, I’m aware that the former is much more famous than the latter.) Heck, even post-punk revival trio Interpol got in on the fun. Now, if you’ll allow me, I’m going to write a brief review of each of them. More

Album Review: Dikembe – Mediumship

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Gainesville, Florida quartet Dikembe was birthed in the emo revival of the past few years, but their debut EP, Chicago Bowls, and full-length, Broad Shoulders, owed more to the frenetic, upbeat post-hardcore of Moneen than the moody indie rock of Brand New. They seemed more carefree than their peers and labelmates, The Hotelier and Little Big League, with fast tempos and jokey song titles.

The band’s sophomore effort, Mediumship, sees them slowing down a bit and becoming more serious, trading in their pre-The World I Want to Leave Behind Moneen for some post-Your Favorite Weapon Brand New. The end result is very good, but I think it’s missing a little something. More

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