Where did the last two weeks go? What even happened? I totally wasn’t paying attention. Really, this weekend was just a blur, between Free Comic Book Day on Saturday and Star Wars Day on Sunday. Too many holidays at once, amirite?
Well, I guess the Star Wars cast got announced. That was pretty big. But we here at Tap don’t have time for motion pictures based on older motion pictures. We only like games here. Games only!
Dark Souls 2 Redux
Developed by FromSoftware | Published by Namco-Bandai | PC | 2014
The PC version of Dark Souls 2 arrived last week. Since I’m a consumer whore first and a PS3 owner second, I now own two copies of the game, and I’m inching my way through it on two platforms. My opinion of the game? 100% positive, but nuanced, and we try to keep On Tap brief. Instead, here’s what my brother Marcus said. It’s relevant because people who don’t play don’t understand.
So you know what I just realized about DkS2? We’re the bad guys.We were in the first too…nobody kills that many beings, over and over again, just to scrabble to the top…but this one is way worse. We infest. Like locusts.In a forest made of the bones of giants, we find the last…chained and skeletal…we beat the shit out of [him]…then we lend ourselves out to strangers to beat his ass again.
Developed by Gearbox | Published by 2K |2012
Yes, I’m still playing – 187 hours by Steam’s estimation. We played last night, actually, after scheduling forced a couple weeks away. You should have seen it, four grown men bumbling around Fink’s Slaughterhouse trying to remember which button is “use ability” and which button is “grenade.” We’re in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode now, the Borderlands equivalent of NG++, and it is kicking our asses. Maybe we got too complacent, or maybe none of us want (or know how) to minmax our way to dominance, which in Ultimate has so far eluded us. —Steerpike
Batman: Arkham Origins – Cold, Cold Heart
Developed by Warner Bros. Games Montreal | Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment | PS3 | 2014
Arkham Origins did not get off to a great start with DLC when “Initiation,” the earliest DLC pack which had been advertized since before the game itself released, ended up being mostly a reskin of the challenge mode and not a real narrative DLC about Bruce Wayne’s training days. Cold, Cold Heart is another animal entirely. Taking place a week after the game proper, on New Year’s Eve, it features Batman’s first encounter with Mr. Freeze. Maybe it’s a little hard to get excited about this bit of prequel content, especially since we’ve seen Freeze in the series already (in Arkham City) and we know Arkham Knight isn’t that far off. But taken on its own, Cold, Cold Heart is a pretty good DLC, offering a solid four hours or so of play, mixed between moving around in new interior environments – including Wayne Manor – and some parts of the city from the main game. It makes use of just about every gameplay feature of Arkham Origins, and introduces some new gadgets, including a new, heavily insulated batsuit designed to survive extreme temperatures.
Did you know that Mr. Freeze really wasn’t a staple Bat villain until the early 1990s? He existed, sure, but for decades he was just a mad scientist with a freeze ray. The Mr. Freeze we know – “we” being anyone who has seen or read the character in anything in the last twenty years, including movies and video games – was reimagined by Paul Dini for Batman: The Animated Series as the tragic figure he is, striving to save the life of his cryogenically preserved wife by any means necessary. Maurice LaMarche, perhaps best known as the Brain of Pinky and the Brain or as a handful of different Futurama characters, reprises the role (he was Freeze in City), doing a pretty solid take on the late Michael Ansara’s character-defining performance. Cold, Cold Heart does not reinvent this origin, but it does use it to hang some competent gameplay on, including a pretty good evolution of the Freeze fight from City to cap off the DLC. -Dix
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse
Revolution Software | PC | 2014
I’ve mentioned Broken Sword 5 a few times, and – full disclosure – I did back it on Kickstarter, which is part of the reason I’m not giving it a full review. As has become popular to do with these independent releases from semi-major studios, The Serpent’s Curse released in two parts. Although the game clearly wasn’t designed to release that way – the first part found a decent midpoint to end on, but the transition between the two is clumsy – that’s no longer really an issue for anyone who hasn’t played it, since now they’d be getting the full game at once. Basically, it’s Broken Sword. It’s fairly old school when it comes to point-and-click adventures, which is good, since Broken Sword 3 and 4 fell victim to that era when everything had to be in 3D no matter how ill-suited the game was to it. The game is mostly inventory puzzles with some amateur codebreaking thrown in for good measure, and fans of medieval conspiracy narratives founded in some actual fact (and artistic license) ought to find something to like here. Coming to Broken Sword 5 from the first two games in the series feels like coming home again, albeit to a slightly more refined version of the formula. The 3D cel-shaded character models look great on the hand-painted backgrounds, creating an excellent throwback look without some of the pain of having to animate the characters by hand.
As a backer, I was pleased with what I got – another chapter in the series more in keeping with the original two games than the more recent ones. -Dix
What have you been playing lately? Let us know in the comments!