Portal by Valve Corporation

Of Portals, Karts and more

Yo! So I was thinking of writing about the game I’m developing at the moment, but I’m gonna leave it for another moment. The truth is, working and developing games (even if they’re little shitty prototypes, yeah) is kind tough. Specially because I spend my whole day at work coding, reading code and solving issues. I’ve been obsessing about it for the past week, and writing about something else will help me clear my mind.

Anyway, I thought it’d be nice to just do a little review of what I’ve played lately. That way I won’t have to do a mega-post at the end of the year. So far I finished a few games, five to be exact:

  • Super Mario Kart DS (NDS): I got this game in 2006 or so. I was in my first year at uni, and we we’re spending a crazy amount of time playing Mario Kart on multiplayer. I have to have played dozens if not hundreds of hours to this game through the years, but I never really payed much attention to the single player mode. Truth is, the game is outstanding on every level. The game is a true gameplay bomb. Fun, entertaining and with lots of contents. It has 32 circuits plus a mirror mode, 9 different drivers, 16 karts… It’s one of those games that are easy to play, but difficult to master. A must play for anyone that likes videogames at any rate.
  • Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII (PSP): Another game that I’ve had for a few years. The game acts as a prequel to the most famous (and highly overrated) Final Fantasy VII. The game runs away from the classical concept of a FF, offering an action-RPG with a good combat system. Zack, the main character, is quite charismatic and stands out from the rest of the cast. The story has some non-sense and weird stuff, but is something common in the series. If you can overlook that, you will get hooked to the battles and the high rhythm of the adventure. I highly recommend the game if you own a PSP. Just 2 last quick notes: the graphics are incredible and I hate Aeris, one of the dumbest characters ever.
  • Assassin’s Creed (Xbox 360): yup, the first one. Good game overall. Still looks amazing 10 years later, thanks to a great art direction and a great use of t Xbox 360 hardware. Also, I think the work they put in recreating that time is truly over the top. The game is full of good ideas but with some problems. The first and most important is the combat system. Putting it short, it sucks. Also they designed 5 different quests and they decided that to repeat those exact same mechanics, without any variation whatsoever, would work to make it fun. And it doesn’t. The 10th time I got to a pickpocket mission I couldn’t take it anymore. On the other hand, the parkour mechanics, the silent killings, atalayas, jump of faith, etc. are mechanics that work and are fun. It’s not as good as the press said when it came out, but not as bad as the internet says.
  • Heavenly Sword (PS3): I like Ninja Theory, the game study behind this game. Enslaved is one of the games I liked most and connected better on my 360. But Heavenly Sword is flawed at so many levels that I can’t recommend it. The idea behind the combat system is good. Three different types of attacks (soft, strong and long range), combined with with three different types of guards and two attack buttons gives the system a lot of variety. But it’s so poorly implemented that you feel like you don’t control what’s going on. The animations of Nariko are too complex and ‘flashy’, and that affects the gameplay. Another issues are very poorly designed quick time events and shooting phases. I had some fun playing it, but unfortunately an interesting setup, great art, and a very good protagonist can’t save the game. Only give it a chance if you’re a Ninja Theory fan.
  • Portal (PC): one of the best games I’ve ever played. Plain and simple. Portal get’s the concept of teleportation and constructs a whole set of gameplay mechanics around it. The game gives you a gun that can create to portals. Portal A and B are connected, and you have to use them to solve the levels. The game looks like a shooter but it’s nothing more than a puzzle game. The thing is, level design is so genius that you’ll be constantly amazed through the 3 or 4 hours that the game lasts. I have no doubts that this is one of the best games ever made. Just something to have in mind, everyone says that Portal is just a demonstration of what Portal 2 is. Can’t wait to put my hands on the sequel.

So that’s it. I’ve played some other stuff during this few first months of the year, but not enough to mention it here. I will tell you about them on my Q2 gaming post. Have you played anything lately that has marked you as Portal has done with me? If so, let me know, I’m always looking for great games to play 🙂

P.S. Buy Portal, you can thank me later

2 thoughts on “Of Portals, Karts and more”

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