Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

GoldenEye 007 (1997)

Genre: Awesome as Fuck | Players: 1 – 4 | Developer: Rare

It’s hard to believe in the current gaming climate that a title based on a movie licence could be so damn good, but this one was and still is. I acknowledge the debt the FPS genre owes to Doom (1993) and Quake (1996) and the like, but, for me and many others, GoldenEye is the pinnacle and the epitome of the FPS. I don’t even like FPS games in general, but it has something special and that ingredient wasn't James Bond, because I don’t even like Bond very much either.

The single player story has you playing through events of the 1995 film of the same name. You have objectives to fulfil and access to level-specific gadgets to help achieve them. Some objectives are optional, but you're rewarded at the end for doing them and for the time taken.
Unlock the hardest mode (007 Mode) and you can even tinker with enemy attributes, increasing or lessening health, accuracy, damage and reaction time.

It finds a balance between linearity and player freedom that lets you do certain objectives in the order that best suits your playing style. You can go stealthy, choose to go all out with guns blazing, or more sensibly mix the two in an adaptive style that gives you the best of both worlds.

The quality of the game, the calibre of the developer and the sheer enjoyment attained from having 4 players onscreen at the same time, in the same room, with one-shot-kill turned on remains unsurpassed.
The Facility is the most perfectly designed level in a FPS that I've ever seen. The tight corridors and dangerous corners make every gaming session a tense, pants-shitting joy to play. It was so good they recreated it for Perfect Dark (2000).

It helps that I think the N64 controller is the best one Nintendo ever made, despite not having a second analogue stick. It fits in the hand beautifully, it has that satisfyingly responsive Z trigger and the additional, optional Rumble Pak gives it extra weight that makes it feel even more solid. If you're a real pro you can even have a controller in each hand and fire dual wielded pistols independently!

5 indicative barrel twitches out of 5

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)

Genre: Action, Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 3

When it comes to many console Zelda games there is a distinct formula at play: 3 dungeon items, Master Sword, more dungeon items, Light Arrows, Ganon(dorf). Zelda is stagnant in this regard. Still, I will offer the following defense: While dungeons follow the same themes they are outfitted with rooms and rooms of new puzzles and new items. You may defeat bosses with treasures found in their respective lairs, but even the series’ staple gear is usually given new features. New art-styles and radically different modes of travel occasionally crop up. None of this can be said of the Uncharted series or New Super Mario Bros.

It was Twilight Princess’s aesthetic that drew me to it. It isn’t as iconic as Ocarina, I will admit, but I have a soft-spot for the sepia strokes used to color the visuals and story. Midna is undeniably my favorite character in the entire franchise. She isn’t just an annoying tutorial given humanoid form. She’s manipulative and out for her own, yes, but she’s quite good at it and her association with Link is consistent food for thought. In addition to her, there’s a reliance on cutscenes which shift the story focus from simply the lore of Hyrule to the specifics of Link’s heroism in relation to a small cast of characters.

On the gameplay side, the first half forcibly alternates you between two distinct styles: as a human in Hyrule proper and as a wolf in the Twilight Realm’s shadow, which has been cast across the land. This focuses your early exploration on locations you wouldn't normally visit and prevents you from being distracted by items you can't collect until later, anyway. The game does make you put rupees back into chests if your wallet can't hold them, but this is to prevent grinding to fulfill the game's three investment schemes. Upon completion, you get a reward that indirectly remedies this problem.

The motion controls of the Wii version are admittedly slightly imprecise for the brief flight segments but this is handily outweighed by the logical movements (e.g., both types of fishing and shield bashing) and especially the chance to physically aim the bow, boomerang, and clawshot.

Quite simply, Twilight Princess is my favorite Zelda experience because it infuses the practiced puzzle-driven action-adventure gameplay of Ocarina with a highly cinematic, character-centric story. I can’t ask for much more out of a game.

Buyer’s Guide: Though it originated as a GameCube game it was released on both GC and Wii. The Wii version is far more readily available and affordable at this point, however. It should be noted that this version is completely mirrored to accommodate the right-handed populace.

5 Paths of the One, Made by the Many out of 5