The 10 Best Mech Games of All Time - Target Locked

Before we begin, let’s get something out of the way. There’s literally no one on the planet who hasn’t dreamed of waking up one day, receiving a holographic phone call from a hot secretary who tells you “The world needs you. Now!” as you smirk out of bed, put on your suit, head over to the bay and strap yourself into a 40-foot machine built for absolute destruction. I mean, words and diplomacy can solve a lot of problems, without a doubt. But sometimes, you need to pilot a badass mech and just… Blow. Enemies. Away. Mech games are a lot of fun. When they’re done well, it’s almost too much fun. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best mech games of all time. Note that these aren’t in any particular order, they’re all awesome games. Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. Full Boost – PS3/Arcade Extreme Vs. Full...

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The Benefits of Choosing A Male or Female Gaming Character

A lot of role-playing games (RPGs) new and old let you pick the sex of your character (male or female) before you start. Which is awesome. I’ve played Mass Effect with both Maleshep and Femshep characters and got two games’ worth of quality voice acting for the price of one.  (We could have a similar discussion about choice of race or species in RPGs, but that’s an article for another day.) But aside from just letting you have more options for what kind of character you want to create and role-play, So how does allowing both male and female protagonists affect story, gameplay…and meaning? You might be surprised at how far—and how subtly—the effects go beyond simply choice of romantic partners. Choosing the sex of your character goes back at least to Resident Evil 2, which gave you the choice not to create a character from scratch but to play as either Chris...

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Grand Theft Auto V Storyline is a Brilliant Achievement - GTA

I recently finished a fifty-five-hour playthrough of Grand Theft Auto V. It’s a ridiculously fun game. It’s also can be a very disappointing game.  Unlike Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto V is a flawed masterpiece worth playing, thinking, and talking about whose good will never erase its bad and whose bad doesn’t, for me, overwhelm its good—it just cheapens it.   About ten hours into my Grand Theft Auto V playthrough My wife said to me, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you giggle as much as since you started playing this game.” And she was right. So many of the things that Grand Theft Auto IV almost got right were beautifully executed in Grand Theft Auto V. Driving (and piloting) was fun in its own right, and the different handling based on vehicle and terrain kept it exciting and strategically interesting. The quantity and quality of random things...

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Do You Like Playing Video Games w/ Karma & Morality Systems?

Is there a revenge element to the plot?, so there aren’t any direct plot spoilers here. You only need to avoid reading the post if you don’t want to know whether a character or game’s situation is morally ambiguous or complicated. In the early days of games, when narrative wasn’t much of a concern for most games Plot structures were generally like Super Mario Bros or Doom – you play the good guy (usually male, then as now), the game points you at the bad guy, and off you go. No one plays Pokémon and wonders if they’re the bad guy.  As games and game narratives got more complex, we began to see some anti-heroes, player-character protagonists whose values and actions are morally problematic. Max Payne is after criminals for justified revenge but, in classic noir fashion, doesn’t concern himself too much with keeping his hands clean. Kratos in God of...

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The Reasons XCOM'S Story Works Perfectly in Video Games

Partway through XCOM: Enemy Within (the expanded version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown), I realized that its video game story would never work in a movie.  It wasn’t that the premise wouldn’t work – alien invasions are hardly confined to video games—it was the way the story was being told. There was absolutely no attention being paid to characters’ personal lives. What you learned about the main characters Central Officer Bradford (whose name I had to look up just now), Dr. Shen in Engineering, and Dr. Vahlen in Research—is confined to how they do their jobs. The tension in the narrative comes not from a love story, a personal trauma overcome, or a motley crew of misfits learning to work together despite all odds, but from the choices that the player makes as Commanding Officer. Will you prioritize the right research and engineering projects to keep from being overrun by the technologically superior alien...

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Balancing the Old and the New in Video Game Sequels

I started playing Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for GBA yesterday, and while on the Fire Emblem Wiki I glanced over the summary of the game’s reception, which went something like this: “This game isn’t different enough from the previous Fire Emblem game on the Game Boy Advance, but it’s still good overall because the first one was good.” This got me thinking about the weird task game developers have when making sequels. Because audiences for sequels largely want them to be different, yet the same, right? So, you know, that’s all you have to do, game developers – make it different but the same. Playing through The Sacred Stones, I can see exactly what they mean – I basically needed no refresher whatsoever after having played the previous game, Fire Emblem, last December – the combat system is pretty similar. There’s a World Map that gives you a little freedom...

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What is Interconnected Game Play? And does it Work?

In the last couple of years, interconnected games in which player actions in one game affect options or situations in another have started to pop up more frequently than usual. Mass Effect: Infiltrator launched for mobile platforms simultaneously with the console and PC release of Mass Effect 3, and the Intel collected in the mobile shooter could be used to increase a player’s Galactic Readiness score in ME3 (which helped open new ending options), rewarding players who checked out the spin-off title. Mass Effect: Datapad was also released as a free iOS app, which let players/users read up on various elements of their Mass Effect 3 situation and the ME universe, get messages from characters, and play mini-games that also improved their ME3 Galactic Readiness score. Cloud Gaming & Interconnection How Cool is This These interconnected cross-platform experiences allow players to take Mass Effect with them and engage that world on...

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Diamonds in the Rough: Awesome Parts of Awful of Games

I played Thief the other day for the first time. Thief is not a great game. It’s mostly a pretty mediocre game, especially if you’ve played the far superior Dishonored. The story is dull, poorly paced, often incoherent, and not particularly well voice acted. The gameplay is only okay, and the design of certain areas and sequences is a poor match for it. But level 5 of the game—the asylum—is one of the scariest levels in gaming that I’ve ever played. It made the time I sunk into the rest of the game (20+ hours) worth it. It is truly a diamond in the rough—a brilliant moment in a morass of mediocrity. If you start playing Thief and feel the way I did about it, I recommend that you do what you need to do to get to chapter 5, then decide after that if you want to just turn the game...

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Grand Theft Auto IV Review: A great game...but with a catch

I recently finished a play through of the amazing (if flawed) Grand Theft Auto V. It got me thinking about why my experience of it was so, so far away from my disappointment with Grand Theft Auto IV. This post is about why, despite my desire to like it, Grand Theft Auto IV finally drove me away. A follow-up post will explain why Grand Theft Auto V won me over as an amazing, if still sometimes maddening game. For Some Reason, I’ve never been a huge fan of Grand Theft Auto. I remember watching someone playing one of the early top-down entries years and years ago and thinking it looked alright, but not particularly exciting. Then I remember watching my 14-year-old cousin playing Grand Theft Auto III at my grandma’s house over Christmas of 2001. Within three minutes of my watching, he was showing me that open world’s most infamous allowance...

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Enough is Enough - When to Throw in the Towel Mid-Game?

When it comes to games with stories, I’m a completionist. I’m a story completionist rather than a gaming completionist—once in a long while I’ll aim for 100% completion in a particularly great game, but mostly I’m content to do the main content and a selection of the side quest-y stuff.  But I almost always finish the main campaign of games I start. Or at least I used to. In the past couple of years, I’ve found myself giving up on games halfway through more and more often. Which puts me in decent company, as recent studies suggest that even among dedicated gamers, about 10% reach the ending of a given title and only about 1/3 of gamers finish even the most successful games. As I’ve gotten older and face more demands on my time, I’m more likely to put down a game that’s sort of fun but a big time commitment....

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