Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

this entry brought to you by the subways, "rock & roll queen"

20 Spec Ops: The Line (2012) When I first started conceiving of doing this list, I didn't think Spec Ops would score so high. The game becomes a slog during its last third, with firefights against waves of enemies that never seem to end, and shooting that is solid but never excellent like Modern Warfare. But then I would remember the White Phosphorous scene, one of the most gut-wrenching, terrible moments in all of video games, one that has stuck burned in my head more vividly than many other games I preferred to Spec Ops. Or I would remember the scene where an angry mob corners you and your teammates, throwing rocks and demanding blood, leaving you with no choice but to fire on them. Or the moment when, faced with the choice of letting a truly horrible man burn to death under a truck that has fallen on or to shoot and end his misery, I, without thinking, let him suffer, when in every other game I compulsively choose the "good" option. Or the ending, where your clearly post-traumatic syndrome suffering character is cautiously asked by a group of friendlies to put down his gun he is desperately clinging to like a security blanket. Spec Ops: The Line is a perfectly enjoyable game to play that is bogged down by the designer's false belief that it can't be exciting unless you shoot through an entire army over the course of its brief seven or eight hours, but there has absolutely never been a military shooter that has as many soul-rending moments that have so stuck with me.

19. Bayonetta (2010) Bayonetta is, aesthetically, a very at-odds game. The main character is designed as if she is supposed to be a strong, sexual female, who has never actually seen a representation of a strong sexual female before. She is cool and always in control, smart and cocksure, yet there are so many gratuitous up-close crotch shots and pole dances that you feel you have to explain yourself when the wife, or worse, children happen to walk into the room while playing. Yet Bayonetta is a deliciously superb character-action game, simultaneously deeper, yet easier to get into than any other character-action game (Devil May Cry, God of War), while remaining a high difficulty. The character and enemy designs are brilliant, with a Japanese take on Western Christian mythology without looking too much like any specific anime. The action couldn't be more fluid, letting you improv combos essentially at will, but it's the dodge mechanic that really makes the game work. Dodging an attack slows down time for everyone else but you, allowing you to get in free hits, but nailing the dodge at the perfect time allows for a much longer slow down, plus a damage bonus, creating immense depth and, when it's executed perfectly, looks like ballet. It's kind of the opposite of Spec Ops: The Line; an abjectly idiotic story with almost nothing I remember, and the closest I've ever come to skipping cutscenes, with gameplay I could have played hours more of, despite a hefty length.

18. Geometry Wars 2 (2008) When people talk about Geometry Wars, they talk about the brilliance of that constant on-screen leaderboard that always shows you which of your friends is above you, constantly egging you on that if you press start one more time, you just might beat that son of a bitch. I have very, very few friends that play video games, and the ones that do inexplicably do not care about Geometry Wars, so when I'm playing, I'm playing against myself, and that has absolutely never gotten old. In fact, I put a good half hour into trying to beat my 3.15 million score on 3 minute just days before writing this, and cross my fingers that whoever owns the rights (Activision?) puts out a proper version of it on future systems.

17. Pacman CE: DX (2010) Ditto, Pacman. There's something about chasing that high score, especially in these retro games where score is tangible and directly tied to your skill (as opposed to scores throughout the 90s which meant nothing) that's still such an indescribable draw. I enjoyed Pacman Champion Edition, but there's something about all the tweaks and changes made to the formula with DX that is nearly perfection. If you watch someone play Geometry Wars, the skill is undeniable, but it also all looks like chaos. With Pac-man, it looks like mechanical precision-- watching a skilled DX player is like watching a computer that is programmed to do nothing but play DX. But after sinking hours into this game, I can tell that even the person with the highest score is still trying to achieve that perfect line.

16. Super Street Fighter 4 (2010) Out of every franchise of video games, if you asked me I have put the most time into, the answer would undoubtedly be Street Fighter, with SF2 Turbo on the SNES getting far and away the most amount of time than any game ever, and Street Fighter Alpha 3 being the most I've ever put into a game single player. Although I was probably never tournament quality, I was hands down the best player at my local arcade. I knew every nuance of every move; which moves had a frame of animation of invulnerability, which characters had standing, non special moves that were difficult to counterattack, exactly whose crouching roundhouses hit further than everyone else's. So when they finally released Street Fighter 4, it was with heavy heart that I realized I just didn't have the time to invest playing online to get good again, and yet that still didn't stop me from buying each successive version and an arcade stick-- Super Street Fighter 4 being the best all around version in terms of character variety. They nailed the feel and timing of the sprite-based games while giving it its own unique mechanics. They nailed the personality of the animations with a really wonderful art style. And, I wouldn't be me if I didn't also add that Chun Li, who looked odd and never felt the way I wanted her to in SF3 looks and feels perfect here, thank God. Street Fighter 4 is, as far as Street Fighter goes, perfect. If only they had given more to do for guys like me, who just don't have the time to invest in going online.

with love from CRS @ 12:56 PM 


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