“Any excuse to dive back into more pressure-cooker multiplayer pew-pew in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a welcome thing for me. As with its predecessor, I largely ignored the single-player campaign for many months in favor of a steady drip of online killing action, and it wasn’t until just recently that I even bothered to revisit the game’s solo offerings. Don’t get me wrong, the campaign is all good fun too, but the potent combination of adrenaline, frustration, and raw excitement that comes from a well-played round of deathmatch or domination just can’t be beat.
So with the intensely competitive multiplayer underpinning remaining as absorbing and murderous as ever, the real strength of Black Ops 2′s frag-focused add-ons hinges on the quality and diversity of their maps. Apocalypse — the fourth and final run of map pack DLC to launch before CoD: Ghosts snags our trigger-happy attention — doesn’t quite deliver the flash bang finale I’d hoped. But battling zombies beneath the stomping feet of a giant steam punk robot? *That* grabs my attention like a live grenade to the drawers.”
“Darkness is a powerful force. Not knowing what lies beyond the safety of the light can be absolutely terrifying to those with an overactive imagination. But fearful fantasy turns deadly in the bucolic town of Bright Falls, Washington, where the whispering shadows hold untold horrors that reach out from the darkness. Alan Wake spins into an intensely atmospheric psychological thriller that bends the barrier between reality and fiction until it snaps, delivering a chilling story-driven experience without leaning too heavily on schlocky gore. With a beautifully updated graphics engine and free pack-in downloadable content that fills in some of the gaps left by the original’s cliff-hanger ending, the PC version is worth the long wait.”
“It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, many folks in the gaming industry were yet again ready to write off the PC as a platform on the verge of extinction. A perennial argument that seems to sprout up every few years, “the death of PC gaming” couldn’t be more exaggerated. Despite ongoing issues with piracy and lagging sales at the retail counter, the oldest and most flexible of video game platforms continues to thrive. And that’s because the game is changing.”
This month’s installment of my indie-gaming developer spotlight column over at GameSpy highlights the insanely charming and quirky Zombie Cow Studios. Much of the feature discusses some of the behind-the-scenes stuff from their recent game Privates – a bizarre educational game revolving around blasting STDs inside vaginas and anus (anuses…ani? What’s the proper plurar for an arse-hole?) while providing important info about the nasty stuff.
Check out the column here at GameSpy, and stay tuned for a new installment next month!
“When I first met the guys from indie studio Gaijin Games not too long ago, we bumped into each other in a packed warehouse in Brooklyn that was hosting Blip Festival 2009 — an annual celebration of wild new music being made by artists using homebrew software running on old-school gaming devices like the Game Boy, NES, and Commodore 64. The evening was filled with high energy 8-bit audio revelry cranked out at maximum volume by chip musicians like Nullsleep, Bit Shifter, Bubblyfish, and many others. Gaijin’s presence was no coincidence; these guys dig quirky retro-tinged music, and it’s one of the core driving forces behind the games they create.”
“The warmer season is ramping up into full swing, prompting many folks to venture outside for some fresh air, T-shirt temperatures, and pleasant sun. But when the inevitable rainy spells and cold snaps put a damper on the many delightful outdoor activities that summer brings with it, there’s still plenty of downloadable gaming fun to explore. This month we ride along with rocket-powered possums, shred carpet in tiny remote controlled race cars, go jogging with Commander Video, and bust out some silly kung-fu moves.”
“Once a grand metropolis full of thriving commerce and industry, Grant City has long since fallen under the thumb of numerous gang factions bent on causing havoc and mayhem throughout the darkened streets. Retribution re-imagines the original plot and gameplay of the original Dead to Rights on modern consoles. As Jack Slate, an ex-marine turned vice cop, you’ll get sucked into a personal quest to strike out at the numerous gangs and other scum responsible for dragging the city into the toilet. You’ll also pursue your goals with the help of Shadow, a large, powerful, and lethal dog who accompanies you throughout the game.”
Check out the full feature here at What They Play.
“With the glut of pre-holiday retail releases finally beginning to subside and pocketbooks slowly recovering from their recently empty, threadbare state caused by the big annual splurge of massive gift purchasing, it’s a perfect time to get caught up on some of this month’s top digital game downloads. Your wallet will thank you. We get a little zany this month with a fun medley packed with marching muscle heads, rocket-propelled pixel men, turn-based RPG adventure, and warring puzzle nations.”
Check out the full installment of my column here at What They Play
Now that the Feb. 2010 issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine is finally out, I supposed I can talk a bit about my new steady gig. I started doing some sporadic freelance work for PTOM last year with a few reviews and a feature that I was particularly excited about. After a brief lull for an issue or two, I’m happy to be back in the game. Not only that, I’m super stoked to be heading up the PlayStation Network Games section with a two-page spread of downloadable game reviews each month starting with the latest issue. My first installment tackles Braid, Star Trek: D-A-C, Peggle, Gravity Crash, Military Madness: Nectaris, and more. Stay tuned, because we’ve got some great stuff coming up in upcoming issues. Thanks!