Home > Game Overdose, Gaming > Game Overdose 05: Cut Cocktail (Alice: Madness Returns, Infamous 2)

Game Overdose 05: Cut Cocktail (Alice: Madness Returns, Infamous 2)

Monday, 19 September, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

So part of the problem for loving video games is the cost.A bigger problem is the time it tends to take to complete one. Couple this with me wanting to keep things fairly topical (i.e “News”) and then take into consideration that I have no money, which means that I have no time as I’m spending every spare minute looking for some tiny scraping of a job.

My point is really that the only game released recently that I’ve had the oppurtunity to play fully has been Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and as these articles are meant to be “in depth analysis” of games the actual completion of the game takes a lot of time… So I figured I’d do a quick “cocktail” of stuff. Nothing that would constitute a true article, but one that could be either a quick synopsis or even a basic skeletal structure for a future one… So I’m going to take a look at Alice: Madness Returns, Infamous 2 this week, and there might be another one of these for next week. I’ll try to find something more interesting to talk about soon!

Alice: Madness Returns

For a game that’s come about 11 years after the original, I can’t help but feel that not a lot of thought has gone into it… So here’s 5 quick points about what didn’t work. Overall, it’s a bad game, but it had some OK ideas.

1) Combat became boring

Having played (and given up on) the previous game, I can happily say that the combat is an improvement… However it crams far too many boring sequences into it. There’s no fun involved, you’re just trying to get through it to the next plot point

2) Platforming became boring

This is a proper 3d platformer. Nearly the whole time is spent jumping from point to point, which was ok for about the first half an hour of each stage. It gave you an opportunity to look at the pretty scenery and look at the cool art direction, but due to copy-pasting this became very tired very quickly.

3) Storyline felt too thin

For every second of story there was 20 minutes of gameplay. And this was exacerbated by the subtlety of the story, the psychological aspect that meant you had to empathise and connect with the characters involved, work things out. Snippet by snippet was revealed… This was doubley depressing because looking back on it, the storyline and freaky moments were actually quite interesting, and the voice acting was rather good.

4) Numerous pickups – too many!
There’s multiple different pickups in the game. Memories, that give snatches of Alices past, Teeth, which were used to upgrade weapons, Conch Shells, which led to mini side areas to unlock health boosts, Bottles… which did nothing. There were also Snouts, which could be found and defeated to unlock… more teeth.

The problem I have is that the process of collecting them felt over-bearing, and mostly pointless. Teeth were given out sporadically, bottles served no incentive, and memories were so far and few between that I felt as if getting them was like a tiny amount kindness shown by an abusive parent.

5)Mini-games felt annoying, pointless, padding

Again, mini-games were just a further annoyance. They weren’t interesting side-steps from the main game, just another thing to be bored of. The game thankfully had a skip button, but that seems to remove the point.

My solution?

Golden Bullet: Make the game shorter.

The biggest problem the game has is that it feels too long, whether by padding, poor design choices, or plot-points being too-sparingly sprinkled. Half of the reason why the story felt so un-engaging was because I couldn’t remember who the characters were, and the wonder of each new location was speedily quashed under the boredom of over-exposure.
Remove bottles, shorten levels. More story elements, more frequent memories, mini-games wouldn’t feel like ANOTHER obstacle in getting to the meat, and the repetition of the combat and platforming would be lessened too.

This game would have done well to be an indie title.

Infamous 2

Infamous 2 is a good game, and is technically better than its predecessor. But that’s the thing that gets me, it’s “technically” better.

For instance, the whole game felt a lot more stream-lined, from the powers to the world.
Getting around was made infinitely more fun, New Marais (the game’s Equivalent to New Orleans) had slightly more vertically challenged buildings that Empire City (new york) meaning that Cole could get to the top more easily. Better still were the inclusion of just a few things to make ascent more accessible. Vertical power-lines that let him shoot up quickly, powers like the ice launch, car jump and even a spiderman-like zip-line move all helped in getting around. Enemies would follow you around more so you had to be faster on your feet, rather than just taking groups down on different roof-tops.
There was even a much better design in the good vs. evil power-paths. Good Cole mostly hung at the back, freezing enemies solid or stunlocking one with a stream-move that also refuel energy. Evil Cole was more of a scrapper, knocking enemies down and draining their bio-electric energy, and he had a lot of moves for blowing around large groups of enemies and keeping them scattered.
There was one major hiccup in the powers however. In the original you technically only had the one power per button, and this one power was upgraded with new abilities as you bought them (with xp). In this you swap-out powers willy-nilly, with only a few universal passives karma-dependant. One of the powers would detonate enemies with a headshot, causing them to explode with electricity hitting nearby enemies. This was great in the original, but in Infamous 2, it essentially meant you had the default move with an extra circumstantial benefit, meaning I stepped over that move almost immediately for a much more useful multi-shot. The ability to upgrade individual moves, or moves of a type would have gotten around this.
Even the plot is pretty interesting and involved, turning some parts of what you expect on your head (and potentially opening up plot holes, but for another time). No, there’s 2 big issues I really have with the game, and they’re entirely plot based.
1) “The final choice”.
Before you can continue with the end of the game you have to choose pretty much whether to kill off humanity, and allow the few x-men like conduits to continue on, or to sacrifice all conduits for humanity to have a chance. It’s kind of morally ambiguous, with “kill most” and “kill few” being the only real point for being good or evil. But that’s not really the problem I have with it, if they want to call me evil for a slightly bigger death-count of genocide then fair enough. The problem I have is that you have to be of a certain Karma level before you can make a certain choice. This is just lame padding, meaning you’d have to grind if you wanted to go the other way.
What’s more is the that your two helper-women choose the opposite side to what you expected. Nix, the evil killer would rather kill all conduits, and the game has the audacity to give them that freedom over you. Maybe my evil Cole sees humanity as having more worth than conduits? Oh wait, no. I’ve gotta grind back up to good. Laziness.
2) Unrealistic. The previous game set the scene for an epic climactic and apocalyptic battle. This sequel? Yeah, it’s “technically” better, and I actually loved the character stuff, good deep writing from Sucker Punch. However, in the first game you were fighting giant telekinetic robots made from trash, and defeating a woman that could cause hallucinations across all the populace, all in a New York-esque setting. In the sequel there’s only really 1 super-powered evil dude, and this is the epic struggle? The apocalyptic end? Decided in New Orleans?
I was expecting an epic sequel, something akin to Uncharted 2 that improved on the original formula massively. Instead I got more of a Dragon Age 2. Still fun, but infinitely less epic than its predecessor. I just hope it’s not the end to the series, and that they SOMEHOW pull something else out of it.
 That’ll have to do for this week! See you all soon!
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