Mar 272013

ME3OmegaMass Effect 3 concludes with two final downloadable add-ons: Omega and Citadel. Both are engaging, fun additions, even if neither expands the story in an essential way.

Any Mass Effect DLC missions must be compared to the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC for ME2, which not only served as a bridge between ME2 and ME3, but also ME3Citadeldrew from story threads first introduced in the original Mass Effect. It also filled in some of the events around Shepard’s death and return in between ME and ME2, and built on Shepard’s relationship with Liara in a satisfying way. Skipping Shadow Broker would detract from many story points in ME3 and make Liara’s brief appearance in ME2 feel like a strange dead end.

Neither Omega nor Citadel fill in gaps the way Shadow Broker does, so if we judge them based purely on their contribution to the overall narrative, both come up lacking, even in comparison to earlier DLC releases for ME3. Leviathan, the previous DLC, added some significant Reaper backstory, and the first add-on, From Ashes, offered an additional squad-mate, Javik, whose story fills in some nice background about the Protheans, the Reapers’ penultimate foes.

However, Omega and Citadel are both nicely written stand-alone adventures. Citadel in particular is a worthy addition, and suggests that Shepherd and crew would do nicely in a sort of Ocean’s 11 in space spinoff series, in which Shepherd has to crack wise and infiltrate parties before jumping around darkened warehouses.

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Oct 262012

Dead or Alive is the lecherous uncle at the family reunion of fighting games. This is not to absolve your Tekkens or your Street Fighters from any charges of sexism; it’s just to make it clear that DOA is, by reputation, the fighting game most concerned with how its fighters look in bikinis. (See the bikini spinoff franchise Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball 2, which LGR found unnecessary to review, for reasons obvious.)

LGR is not prepared to pass judgment on DOA5 in terms of how it ranks among other 3D fighting games because we simply lack the background and interest. Fighting games are a complicated world all their own, and I find the control schemes too high a barrier to entry. Shooters dependably use a more-or-less identical way of moving and shooting from game to game, and the main elements (joysticks move you, triggers shoot guns) are basically intuitive. If you’re like me, you find that you get better, or at least equal results from more or less mashing the punch and kick buttons while trying to play a game like DOA5. I do get much better the more I play, but it’s all basically guesswork and I feel like I’ve really accomplished something when I switch from “easy” to “normal” mode. (DOA5 has four levels of difficulty higher than “normal,” in case you were wondering.)

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Sep 042012

Left Gamer Review decided to take a look back at Electonic Arts’ 2008 release Mirror’s Edge mostly as a consequence of Anita Sarkeesian’s obvious enthusiasm for the game. And indeed, there is lots for a feminist (ie, civilized) gamer to appreciate, especially the tough, intelligent, and non-objectified female protagonist. But the game is hard. Hard hard hard. So hard, in fact, that unless you’re willing to invest a lot of time learning the game’s funky mechanics and memorizing its levels, expect all the fun to be sunk in an ever-rising sea of controller-throwing frustration.

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Aug 182012

[In anticipation of our forthcoming review of Sleeping Dogs, we reproduce here our review of Grand Theft Auto IV, the father of all modern run-around-doing-crimes games.]

So let’s admit from the get-go what you’ve already figured out: there’s really no point in “reviewing” Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IV, a game that’s been out for over two [er, four –ed] years and sold over 17 million copies. It is by most accounts the highest-rated game ever–and deserves to be. Since the modern capitalistic review basically boils down to one question–should you exchange money for it?–we can boil down the answer to one word: yes. (Especially since it’s been declared a “Platinum Hit” and currently sells new for $20.)

The same goes for Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City, which includes two excellent expansions, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, that introduce new characters and gameplay that ably fill out the story introduced in the flagship title. (Downloading the two expansions will set you back $40, but Episodes is available as a stand-alone disc going for less than $25 on the used market.)

Having thus dispensed with our vulgar reviewerly duties, we can spend the rest of the article yakking about the remarkable cultural significance of GTA IV, which is perhaps the most brutally satiric and cynical representation of declining American society in any popular medium.

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Aug 112012

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to work for Kixeye

So you’ve just graduated with a baccalaureate degree in Computer Science. Congratulations! After a long purgatory of being an awkward dateless loser, and assuming you’re not dumb enough to enter graduate school, you’re now on-track to being a decently well-paid professional. And who knows? Maybe with a little luck and the kind of haircuts you’ll soon be able to afford, you’ll even become attractive to the opposite sex.

But above all else, you’re about to have one of the sweetest experiences that come with a technical degree: that wonderfully vengeful feeling of superiority over the “popular kids” who tortured you in high school, who majored in Business, Communications, or (sigh) Business Communications, and now march, dense and aimless as they ever were, into a quiet, desperate life of skill-free paper-pushing for nominal remuneration.

Or you could apply to Kixeye, and work for those assholes.

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Aug 102012

Grasshopper Manufacture’s Lollipop Chainsawis sort of like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only for idiots, plot-wise, and playing like a series of rejected arcade games. This is not a very good game. It manages to be fun on occasion because it’s fun to mash buttons and see sparkly things happen on your TV, but beyond that, it’s hard to recommend. Despite being self-consciously over the top, Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t so much satirize any game cliches as wallow in them. This makes it feel something like a terrible children’s TV show, as conceived by a director whose only prior credits were Miller Lite commercials.

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Jul 312012

This essay is inspired by the great Feminist Frequency and its redoubtable host Anita Sarkeesian, who just struck an awesome blow against gamer sexism with the smashing success of the “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” Kickstarter campaign. If you’re not familiar with FF, Left Gamer Review strongly recommends you check out the YouTube channel, especially the brilliant two-part series on “LEGO and Gender” embedded below. (We’ll wait for you to come back. But, um, please promise to come back.)

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Jul 182012

WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers for Max Payne 3.

Rockstar’s Max Payne 3 follows the adventures of the titular protagonist after a nine-year hiatus since the first two titles, which were developed by Remedy Entertainment. Left Gamer Review did not play the Remedy games because, well, it doesn’t inspire confidence when the title character has an “ass-kicking” name. Eg, Duke Nukem.

As it happens, though, Max Payne doesn’t just dish out max pain; he’s in max pain. That’s right, a guy who can literally waste fools in slow motion just by jumping is hounded by crippling depression. Ain’t that some sad shit? Talk about the metrosexualization of the American male.

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Jul 062012

[With the recent departure of Adam Sessler, G4 has lost the last finger in the anti-stupidity dyke. (Note to G4 viewers: this metaphor does not mean what you think it means.) So we thought this would be a great time to look back in anger at television’s most systematic attempt to make video games look stupider than itself.]

I always get a little nervous when other Asian people start talking about how Asians are underrepresented in the media and so on. That’s true of course, but the problem with the American media is that it can’t represent you; that is to say, it can either underrepresent you or misrepresent you, and I think the former is probably the lesser evil. It doesn’t really have much to do with race, either–even white people get portrayed as having hip, expensive lifestyles that have nothing to do with the average hapless whitey. (My housemate is white, and I was appalled to discover his living conditions were roughly similar to mine.)

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