The moment Journey came out, it was an instant success, with fans and critics alike singing praises for thatgamecompany’s new creation. Like with their previous hit, Flower, the main qualities pointed out in reviews were the unique art style, the sheer beauty of the scenery, and the minimalistic storytelling. Despite the short length (reviews mentioned 2 hours), people around the world loved it, fans drew pretty art based on the game’s world and characters, and word of mouth contributed greatly to its success. And now, it’s my turn to share my thoughts of one of the 2012 gaming phenomenons with you.
Platform: PlayStation Network
Original release: 2012
I got my hands on this game thanks to my girlfriend’s sister who gave her a PSN voucher as a birthday present, with the explicit instruction to buy Journey. The $15 price the game launched, and is still sitting at, didn’t seem justified to me, considering its length. I was going to wait for it to drop to at least $10, but, thanks to the aforementioned circumstances, I was apparently going to play it in the year it actually released.
In the beginning, I thought that people had praised this game for a good reason. The visuals, while not going into much detail, were really beautiful, much like in Flower. I spent a minute or two to admire the scenery before even starting the game. And this stayed consistent throughout the game – every new environment was as pretty as the previous. The atmospheric music and sound effects also impressed me… And the protagonist, with his strange clothes, long scarf, and Final Fantasy black mage-like face, seemed mysterious and cool. But we gamers know that all these things complement a game, they are the side-dish to the meat…
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The first Portal was one of the finest achievements of gaming in the last 5 years. Introducing the noble concept of portals and being a puzzle game that takes place in first-person perspective, it took the gaming world by storm. The humour was also top-notch, the story told in a unique way. Its relatively short length was a small problem compared to everything it gave to the player. It was universally loved.
It was clear that Valve couldn’t just let such a successful game remain without a sequel. The obvious (financial) reason aside, there was just so much potential and so much more to be done with the concept. There was much more to be explored in Aperture Science’s laboratories. And, four years later, Valve delivered. Portal 2. We were positive it would be a blast again.
Game: Portal 2
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Portal 2 manages to successfully reuse everything that made the original great and add more. The feeling of nobility may not be there anymore, the puzzles may feel easier because “we think in portals” now, but the entertainment, the feeling of satisfaction as you solve a puzzle and move onto the next one, is well worth it. The new puzzle elements – the bridges, funnels and gels, help the game maintain the feeling of freshness and not feel too much like “more of the same.”
Once again, like in the Wonder Boy review, the in-game screenshots are my own.
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One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.
Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.
Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.
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