#12 – Civilization 5 (PC)

Okay, this one is kind of cheating because you can’t really finish Civilization 5, but I did finish one game of Civ 5 and it took me over 8 hours to do so. I hit the “play now” button and I got the Iroquois on a small world, continental map with five opponents on “prince” difficulty. I ended up on my own isolated continent (except for two city-states) while almost everyone else ended up on a much larger continent. The exception was another civilization that was just to my south, whom I quickly annexed. My people were mostly unhappy as I had too many cities, too many people, and not enough happiness to go around. Because of my isolation, I had a hard time fighting other countries on the big continent, but they also had a hard time getting to me. I lost a lot of land units in transit, and I ended up bombarding a lot from my ships off the coast. Not effective at taking cities, but plenty damaging to units on land. I spent the early game a little behind in technology, but when it mattered, I was ahead. I finished off with a space victory about 30 turns before the end.

The city-states make an interesting addition, and the “one unit per tile” rule means my attacks were made in waves rather than one pile of units hopping around. Cities seemed rather more difficult to take than Civ 4, and I clearly did not pay enough attention to happiness. I went with a space victory because I was strong on research late in the game, and couldn’t muster the culture for a policy victory, no one liked me enough for a UN victory, and conquering everyone would have been a serious slog.

4 out of 5 mohawk warriors

Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare at North Point

If the Zodiac Tournament was a kung fu movie, Nightmare at North Point is a cheesy horror movie, steeped in Chinese mythology. An evil spirit kidnaps your date, and you have to fist fight demons and possessed people to get her back, with the help of some mystical tea, and peachwood swords. There are hell money, yaoguai, restless ghosts, jiang shi, and no police so you can run over and stab whomever you wish! It exists outside of the main game, so it goes rather bonkers at times, with possessed people attacking you at random, and the world constantly raining and night time. It’s not the most exciting piece of DLC ever, and it’s kind of short, but it’s cheap. If you want more Sleeping Dogs, or more Chinese myths, go nuts.

#11 – Sleeping Dogs (PC)

I picked up Sleeping Dogs shortly after finishing Saints Row the Third. I’d heard that Sleeping Dogs was really good, and I was in the mood to give another open world game a shot. I can’t say I was disappointed; Sleeping Dogs is fantastic. The driving is arcade-y and fun, the fist fights are Batman: Arkham style, and the shooting is competent enough. It feels like a good cop action movie, which is what it aims to be. There’s plenty of side content and they make decent distractions. Most are centered around punching guys in the face or chasing them, but there are also races and betting on cockfights. The story is rather good as you play an undercover cop in a Chinese triad.

4 jade statues out of 5

Sleeping Dogs: Zodiac Tournament

I’m back on Sleeping Dogs, and I felt like I was at a point where playing The Zodiac Tournament would make sense. Being an open-world game, there was nothing stopping me from starting the Tournament from the start, but I figured I should level up a few times first.

Zodiac Tournament is heavily influenced by old kung fu movies. It’s got the film grain cutscenes, and the sound of punches and kicks are replaced with the over-the-top kung fu chops. The Tournament is very short. You meet seven other fighters with no more backstory than what you get from a one minute conversation. Then you fight! If you’re any good at fighting in the main game, you will breeze through the tournament like I did.

It’s an enjoyable hour of running around a very small island and fighting guys.

#10 – Killzone 3 (PS3)

Killzone 3 picks up immediately following Killzone 2. The story is kind of bad, and it ends very abruptly. It’s not really an ending at all. But the rest of the game is pretty great. It’s easily one of the best looking shooters I’ve ever played. The amount of detail in every level is absolutely nuts. In some of the later levels, when stuff is really going down, it’s a beautiful sight.

The game plays pretty much the same as it did in the second game. If anything, the controls are slightly less floaty. The music also improved between the two games. I’ve embedded the title theme, which is pretty amazing. I don’t have much else to say about it. It’s very good.

4 out of 5 war profiteers

#9 – Section 8: Prejudice (PC)

I finished this one on accident. I mean, I meant to play Section 8: Prejudice, and I fired up the campaign that I had in progress from the last time I played it, but I didn’t realize it was so close to the end. As in, it was the last level. I steamrolled it because I found out afterward the difficulty for the whole campaign was set on easy. I can’t remember if that was the default or if I even had a choice in the matter.

Anyway, Section 8 is a lot like the Tribes games. You have a jetpack, a couple of weapons, selectable loadouts, large maps, lots of players. The single player is nothing like the multiplayer. It’s just a linear tour through some level geometry. One of the neat things about it is that everything drops out of the sky rather than materialize out of thin air. Kind of like Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, which was an amazing game. It’s a little ugly, but probably on purpose because of the intended high player counts. I just browsed a few of the game modes, and I saw 9 players on a 32  max map, and that was the most populated server.

3 robot men falling out of the sky out of 5

RE5: Desperate Escape

I feel like I’m on a roll here and didn’t want to lose momentum so I blasted through Desperate Escape too. Desperate Escape is the opposite of Lost in Nightmares. It’s a straight action shooting gallery. It also fills in a spot in the plot that wasn’t really needed. No boss fight, but plenty of Majini to shoot to pieces. There’s one new enemy but it’s another slow bullet sponge. It’s really interesting to see how hard the game and its designers are willing to swing between slow paved tension and frantic action.

RE5: Lost in Nightmares

This doesn’t count because it’s DLC but I want to post about it anyway. So this is a weird thing. You play as Chris and Jill, you’re in a mansion, it looks an awful lot like the mansion from RE1, but it’s not. Even the layout is pretty much the same as the mansion in RE1. There’s one enemy type and a familiar boss fight. It took me less than 48 minutes to complete, but it felt way more Resident Evil than RE5 itself. You’re creeping around in a spooky mansion. There’s plenty of tension. There’s even an “itchy… tasty…” reference. The “story” (there isn’t much of one) fills in one specific blank in the plot of RE5, and that’s about it.

#7 – Resident Evil 5 (X360)

What do I have to say about Resident Evil 5? When I left off last time, I was halfway through the game and couldn’t be bothered to finish it. I recently got the Resident Evil 6 Archives, so I felt compelled to power through this one so I wouldn’t be lost in 6.

Resident Evil 5 feels like it jammed together Resident Evil 4 (totally fucking awesome) and Resident Evil Zero. I’m one of the few people who actually enjoyed Resident Evil Zero, so it would make sense that I would enjoy Resident Evil 5, but it’s not that great. The enemies are somehow stupider than most RE enemies. The friendly AI partner is mostly competent but not great. The biggest offense it commits is poor choice of weaponry. When I give it a rifle and a pistol, it’ll use the pistol until the ammo is depleted before using the much more powerful rifle. This isn’t much a problem fighting normal enemies, but it’s very annoying when you’re fighting the mid-range to boss level enemies. I mean I gave the AI partner the rifle for a reason.

There are also some tonal changes in Resident Evil 5. The game is more action-y, even more so than RE4. You still can’t move and shoot at the same time, but you can sidestep, and there are even enemies with rifles who shoot at you. The story is your basic Resident Evil nonsense; someone has a virus, it turns people into monsters, they want to use it on a lot of people, the end. There’s a “shocking twist” 3/4ths through the game that is absolutely obvious well before you get to it.

But Resident Evil 5 isn’t really a bad game. It’s quirky, for sure, but it’s competent.

3 tentacle snake monsters out of 5

Ne Cede Malis