Friday, June 30, 2023

Alan Wake Review (PC)

A Sign of Things To Come

I played the regular PC version of the game released on Feb 16, 2012 (according to Steam). I understand that this game is beloved by many, and I am not trying to be a contrarian. I enjoyed Alan Wake, but in my opinion, the only thing great about this game is the atmosphere. For a game that is released over a decade ago, the visuals hold up very well. I played this game on an ultrawide display (3440x1440) and I had absolutely no issues whatsoever. Fantastic.

Everything else is average at best.

The combat is the weakest part of the game for me. I don't know how Remedy went from the smooth combat of Max Payne to the clunky mechanics of Alan Wake. Shooting feels weak, movement is awkward, and enemies are boring. The game even gives up on the enemies and just starts throwing furniture at you - literally. The slow motion dodge got very repetitive and very annoying. I went into this game expecting something akin to Max Payne and I got this clunky mess instead.

In addition to this, their idea of creating an atmospheric game is to make visuals blurry to the point where it caused eye strain at times when I light a flare. Is this a deal breaker? No, but when combined with all the other things, it certainly doesn't help.

The developers try really hard to draw your attention to whatever it is that they want to show you, which results in taking the control away from the player, and showing you an in-game cinematic. As I said, this is a sign of things to come for their next game - Max Payne 3, which takes this annoying mechanic to a whole new level of awful.

I know I am 10 years late to the party, but it doesn't change the fact that there are things about the game that are annoying.

I would recommend this game if you can find it for under $5. I think anything more than that would be overpaying for it.

+ Fantastic atmosphere
+ Voice acting
+ Technically competent

- Boring combat
- Repetitive enemy design
- Very clunky movement
- Weak weapons
- Blurry visuals at times

Verdict - Average game.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Review (PC)

I did not like Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. This review is going to contain mild spoilers.

Let me talk about the things I liked about this game.

Some of the level design and art work is absolutely amazing. It truly captured the essence of Star Wars.

From a technical perspective, there are no issues whatsoever, other than the fact that there is double DRM to have to deal with - Steam and the horrendous EA App. There were no issues running the game at 3440x1440 resolution in borderless Window mode (excellent), and I was consistently getting over 120FPS on the highest settings.

Platforming is quite well done, especially in the good levels of the game.

I should have loved this game but I don't.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is a Souls like game, and this is the first of its kind that I ever played, and this concept is completely new to me. What I realized after playing this game is that for a Souls like game to be enjoyable, at least these two things need to happen -

  1. The level design has to be very good. This is because there is a lot of backtracking involved. Under usual circumstances, one or two bad levels can be overlooked, but in a Souls like game, this problem is compounded because the player will end up revisiting the level more than once, and this can be very frustrating.
  2. Enemies should be fun - not to be misinterpreted with easy.
The biggest problem with this game for me is that the game fails at both - the level design on some planets is not good, and the enemies are not fun.

There are a total of 6 planets in the game, and two of those planets are fun, and the rest are not. Less than 50% of the game that did not appeal to me.

  • Bogano - Decent.
  • Kashyyyk - The absolute worst.
  • Zeffo - Excellent.
  • Dathmoir - Could have been great, but ruined by enemies.
  • Ilum - Decent.
  • Nur - Excellent.
It felt to me that I spent most of the game fighting bugs, spiders in particular. As someone who has arachnophobia, this was pure torture. It got so irritating that I played these levels at 1920x1080 in windowed mode, without sound.

Just to give an idea, one of the objectives on the wookie planet is to climb a tree, and you get to fight bugs on the way to the top. It felt like Avatar Fallen Order. To drive the point home further, you even hitch a ride on the back of a bird. It absolutely did not feel like a Star Wars game. Add to this, there is a part of the game where you play without the lightsaber. It really made me question the intent behind this design.

After trudging through these levels, you get to play in a sci-fi setting with a dual lightsaber and it just reminded me how much fun this game could have been. I kept asking myself why the entire game wasn't like this. Is there a mystery audience out there that want to fight bugs and zombies in a Star Wars game?

Exploring a planet and looking for collectibles was out of the question because of the tedious design. Also, this game has the worst map screen I have ever seen in a game. This over engineered mess is truly a marvel of awfulness.

In addition to the bad level design there are very annoying things about the UX, for example, saving the involves mediating, which will is a painfully slow process of waiting for animations to complete. Its cool to look at twice, and then it gets very old.

The story felt weak and contrived. Nothing about the voice acting felt convincing and the cliche dialogue did not help. The game suffers from plot armor, a character that should clearly died does not because of this kind of lazy writing.

I should have loved this game, but the bad level design, and enemies made me not enjoy it. If none of this bothers you, then you will have a lot of fun, as it is a technically competent game. I paid $4.79 for this, and I am not upset about that, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn't buy this game, but I did not have fun.

Verdict - I don't like it.