July 7 2015
Rocket League hits home with punchy action, streamlined mechanics, and more polish than you’d expect from a game so humble
Nothing really prepared me for how much I would enjoy Rocket League. I remember watching the trailer for the game when it was announced as a free game for PS Plus subscribers back in July and thinking “that might be fun.” More than fifty hours in and I can now say that I definitely stand by that initial statement.
Rocket League does almost everything right when it comes to competitive online games: it has a system of suspiciously simple mechanics that can be pushed to the extreme to pull off stunts a beginner would have previously thought impossible. On top of that, the game is extremely polished and, despite providing a consistently even playing field, gives you character progression on top of that.
When I moved in with my girlfriend, I warned her that I was hooking my PS3 up to our TV. She said “that’s fine as long as you don’t mind me hogging it!” I soon realized that she was joking and that the last console she’d played on was the Sega GameGear. Still, that statement stuck with me.
Last winter, I started gushing about how great this game Don’t Starve was. Because I often played on my Vita.while we were watching TV, she had plenty of opportunities to glance over to see what was so great about these little 2D sprites waddling through forests and cobblestone paths. I eventually convinced her to chop down a few trees herself, guiding her through the process by looking over her shoulder. Within minutes, she was hooked.
Far Cry 4 does a lot of things well. It does driving well, it does badass knife kills well, it even does a pretty good job setting up combat scenarios. Probably the best part of the entire game, though, is the inclusion of tons of different animals and, subsequently, the inclusion of animal bait. It was the specific uses I found for these living elements that made me look more into the term “emergent gameplay.”
A while ago I heard some podcasters complaining about the use of the term when it came from PR reps who worked for big publishers. The podcasters were arguing over whether or not the term was being overused to the point where it was starting to sully the reputation of games even before the game was released. Of course, instead of looking into the term myself, I took this to be true and taught myself to hate the word “emergent”. I have now come to realize that there’s more to the concept than I previously thought.
Shadow of Mordor was definitely not a game I was planning on buying. I had played Assassin’s Creed and I had played the Arkham games; there was no reason for me to play a game that conflated the two. But, as time went on and reviews rolled in, my interest started to grow, especially since no one seemed to be able to really pinpoint anything unique about the game despite loving it so much.
The Nemesis system was lauded at first as being something interesting that draws you in but people were really fawning over the minute-to-minute gameplay loop. I didn’t get it. So it’s parkour from AC and fighting from Arkham Asylum? It’s been done! Turns out there was more to it than that.
It’s kind of crazy to think that, ten years ago, when I was paying for my N64 with my hard-earned allowance, I was actually a little sad. I wasn’t upset because it took so long to save up that the GameCube was practically already released; no, I was upset because it would be yet another six months before I could actually afford to buy any games for it.
Now, in light of my recent PS4 purchase, I found myself thinking back to that moment with a smile when, as soon as signed in to my PSN account and navigated to the “Library” tab, I saw that I already had a plethora of games to play. Some were old favorites cross-bought from my PS3 and Vita, some were new that I had gotten for free through Playstation Plus. All were welcome.
I’ve never played Dark Souls. I’ve heard its praise sung on pretty much every major news outlet (not to mention tons of podcasts and blogs) but I’ve always kept my distance. This is due largely to the warnings reviewers gave when each new game in the series came out: don’t play this if you’re not a hardcore gamer cause it’s really hard.
I don’t really like hard games. I mean, I DO like to be challenged, but some games have always seemed hard for the sake of being hard (or maybe “obtuse” is a better word). The Souls games–by which I mean Demon Souls to Dark Souls II–appeared to be one of those series that I was just doomed to hear about but never actually enjoy. Until Bloodborne.