So, I’ve finally done it. Almost devoid of ideas and convinced that the ones I do have are far too pretentious, I find myself writing a ‘What Are You Playing?’ column. Lynch me now if this sort of thing offends you, or feel free to funnel praise up my willing arsehole if you dig it. I might find myself at the bottom of this particular barrel on more occasions than I’d like.
Originally I wanted to call this ‘Five Reasons To Still Give a Shit About Gaming’ – inspired as it was by my own amazement that I’ve found a handful of games lately that I’m both currently enjoying and looking forward to enjoying in the coming weeks. If you also find yourself a bit jaded by endless dong-enhancing gun sequels and games about cars you can’t even afford to smell, then this may be to your liking. So, as a self-appointed authority on the subject, here are some games worth playing at the moment.
The Last of Us (PS3)
Set after humanity’s downfall you, playing as Joel, find yourself struggling against infected creatures and humanity itself in blahblahblahblah survival apocalypse blah. Yeah, you’ve heard this one before, I get it. Usually, I’d be with you. Hell, I’ve experienced the End of Days so many times now that I’m almost entirely convinced that it’ll be fun. Looting, joining gangs, cruising the wasteland for some post-apocalyptic booty: sign me up! But, what The Last of Us lacks in original set-ups, it seemingly makes up for with every other element. With 10/10 review scores promising the kind of narrative-driven gameplay and atmosphere that this entire console generation has been striving towards, it’s easy to see why there might be more than just a clichéd survival experience to get stuck into. If, like me, you get turned on by phrases such as ‘lack of ludonarrative dissonance’ then you may be looking at your game of the year. As you travel through the overgrown urban areas of Boston and return to nature, The Last of Us is promising to pit you against the elements in new ways as your forage the non-linear levels for scrap and find yourself dealing with the decision to use your supplies to forge either weapons or health-restoring items. It’s a neat trick and one that I hope comes off well when I finally get it to play it later this week.
Lets also not forget that this is the latest game from Naughty Dog – the team responsible for the Uncharted series and many of my fevered wet dreams. They know what they’re doing and if that isn’t enough for you, put that luxury money down on Uncharted 2 and 3 this weekend instead. Afterwards, once you’ve completed them and reconstructed your genitalia, buy The Last of Us. If it’s even halfway as impressive as Naughty Dog’s last two games, then it’ll be exploded sex organs all-round.
I always make a conscious effort to restrain myself from talking like someone with even an ounce of street credibility. Fuck, I doubt anyone with it actually even says ‘street cred’. What the fuck am I even on about? I’m just looking to excuse myself for writing the phrase ‘I fucks with Gunpoint’. Because I truly do. I love this game. It’s smart, funny and thoughtfully constructed. It’s a jaded, aging game nerd’s dream.
What at first seems like a slowly paced cyberpunk action-platformer, quickly transforms into an ingenious, measured experience that tests your problem-solving skills to the maximum. The game’s main draw is its unique re-wiring mechanic that allows you to change the functions of light switches, doors and power outlets, to name but a few. Most of these are twisted to your evil design in order to assist with a hacking objective or infiltration, but as you acquire the ability to re-wire guns and figure out just how lethal a swinging door can be, the game gives your genius an altogether more malicious flavour.
There’s a simplicity beneath Gunpoint’s complex hacking that reminds me of the power of lateral thinking. It’s good old-fashioned puzzle solving with dashes of cyberpunk, witty dialogue options and a pleasingly noir-ish soundtrack. Do not miss.
The Swapper takes the best bits of Dead Space – desolate, abandoned space stations hulking and creaking their way into controlling your bowel movements – and replaces the Carpenteresque monsters with loneliness and guilt. The loneliness, however, is fleeting, as you soon gain the ability to clone yourself into precise locations – aiming your device much like a gun. You can take control of your clones directly by swapping into them, or indirectly by just allowing them to mimic your actions. It’s a playful mechanic reminiscent of the Portal games, but the guilt of dealing with your clones leaves a poignant sense of remorse.
I suppose it depends on how cruel you are, but for someone with as guilty a conscience as mine, there’s little escaping the feeling that I’m doing something bad when I watch my helpless mirror image plummet to his death. It’s a sensation that I have a suspicion the narrative will play on further down the line, but in its opening stages, the game is fantastic, regardless. The puzzles are well-designed and in another Portal-mimicking move, satisfy that primal urge for hands-on, smashing-that-square-peg-in-a-round-hole style problem solving. Also, who doesn’t love poorly lit, lonely space stations?
Far be it from me to call myself a cop-out but I’m a total fucking cop-out for writing this. But, what would my self-loathing be without massive doubts over my taste and credibility? Simply put, what games am I missing out on? Tell me already: I’m so lonely and needy.- The Faux Bot