Displaying articles written by

Brad Johnson

who has written 85 posts for Gamesugar.

Review – Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone

Review Zombie Apocalypse Never Die Alone
Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone is the tale of four annoying wankers who join forces to survive the eponymous apocalypse in yet another entry into the top-down horde-blaster genre.

The core concept of the title is simple, and in the end, the core concept is really all there is to it. Mow zombies, keep moving. There’s little nuance and little window dressing, and the title makes no effort to disguise this fact.

The hokey, tongue-in-cheek story features the grown-up equivalent of a 13-year old Call of Duty player, Ned Flanders with a shotgun, the obligatory angry rapper and doubly obligatory hot girl, all making bad jokes as they stroll through the blackened streets of an anonymous city and paste zombies.

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Review – Batman: Arkham City

Review Batman Arkham City
There’s a certain vocabulary in the Batman fan community, a dialogue made up of stories that everyone recognizes, with an acknowledgment of common reverence that need not be spoken.

Few need to explain what they thought of The Dark Knight Returns, or ask about The Long Halloween. It is simply understood that one should know of these stories and their significance, as such tales are the seminal books of Batman.

It’s not often that outside media enters in to this exclusive lexicon, where respect and adoration are implied merely through reference. If one talks about Burton’s 1989 film, it is not simply assumed that he speaks of it with approval.

Those outside properties that have entered this elite class, such as The Dark Knight and Batman: The Animated Series (so revered that its original ideas bled into the comics for years) succeeded in the same way that Arkham City does: by being more than a mere cipher for the source material.

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Review – Rochard

Review Rochard
Rochard is the story of burly asteroid miner John Goodman Rochard, his accidental discovery of an ancient alien artifact, and his quest to protect it from his nefarious corporate employer. It’s a story of lasers, gravity, physics, and boxes dropped on the heads of badguys.

Rochard begins the game with naught but his G-lifter and somewhat preposterous jumping height for a man of his, uh, build. The G-lifter will snatch items from anywhere on the screen (assuming an unblocked line of sight) and pull them to Rochard, whereupon they can be set down or launched as projectiles for both puzzle and combat applications.

Rochard later acquires the ability to create zones of low gravity and fire a mining laser at enemies, alongside a handful of other offensive and puzzle-based upgrades. In true Metroid-fashion, these upgrades enhance Rochard’s ability to explore and navigate the world, while skipping the backtracking that characterizes that series.

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Review – Driver: San Francisco

Review Driver San Francisco
Before I begin discussing Driver: San Francisco, I feel it’s important to mention that I have an issue with driving games. There’s a conversation that happens between myself and any such game I sit down to play, and it goes like this:

“Use the handbrake for sharp turns, Brad!”

“Okay, driving game—oh, I made the widest possible turn, spun out and crashed into a wall. Thanks.”

As a result of my crippling deficiency, driving isn’t usually a lot of fun for me. The driving games I play are invariably the ones where I can mitigate my incompetence with offense. That is to say, there’s a gap between me and the amount of skill necessary to win a driving game, and I close it by shooting other drivers. Mario Kart, Extreme-G, Blur—these are the games I can contend in (just barely), because I can leverage missiles and mortars and heat-seeking koopa shells against my fellow racers.

Driver: San Francisco doesn’t have any of that—but it does have something even more unusual.

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Review – Gears of War 3

Review Star Fox 64 3DS
So, here’s Gears of War 3 in a nutshell: somewhere on the battlefield, a Locust drone fell to his knees, and out I ran—because it wasn’t acceptable that he might just bleed out. I had to get to him, so that I might ram my flamethrower into his chest and burn him from the inside out.

Yeah, that’s a thing you can do.

I think what makes Gears of War special, as a franchise, is its unique aptitude for making me want to do things like that, and, more importantly, for making me need to shoot monsters.

That’s the impetus of any shooter, of course, but the focus here is notably more pure. Every asset is leveraged toward this end. Whether it’s brutish dialogue that can only rightly be answered with a shotgun, the satisfying kick of the rifle, the suffering atmosphere of the world, or a story that demands good old-fashioned revenge, everything in this game compels me to shoot monsters, and fashions that need into the most satisfying experience possible.

It’s the art of the shooter, and Gears of War 3 is a symphony on the subject.

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Refresh Rate – The Darkness

Refresh Rate The Darkness
Next year, developer Digital Extremes will revisit The Darkness—after a significant four year gap since the original Starbreeze cult hit. The gap of time was long enough that it was fair to think the sequel might never materialize; after all, though The Darkness was well regarded critically, it did not seem to strike pay dirt with audiences—much like Mirror’s Edge, the future of the franchise seemed doubtful before it ever really got started.

With The Darkness II delayed into February (having been originally slated for an October release) after having mercilessly teased me with brutal gameplay footage, I had to satisfy my need for more Darkness by revisiting the Starbreeze original.

The Darkness was one of the first handful of games I played for this generation of consoles (I was something of a late adopter), and it seems like an obvious game for me to play: as a super-powered shooter based on a comic, it covers most of my bases. I picked the title up based on those very virtues, but truth be told, when the game began, I thought that maybe I had made a mistake.

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In The Year 2027

Deus Ex Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is in the wild, and if you familiarized yourself with my review, you know I had a few words about the narrative and what it offered me. Since then, and in light of some of the opinions that have since filtered onto the Internet, I’ve felt that line of thought deserved an even greater number of words.

It’s been suggested that Deus Ex doesn’t have a story, but merely a plot; that is to say, it is a piece driven by events, not characters, whereby the actors within contribute little to the proceedings. This is a common enough ailment in the circumstance-driven videogame medium, and maybe even a reasonable assessment of Deus Ex, but perhaps not a fair criticism.

It’s curious to me that Deus Ex is the title to elicit this response among some far more serious offenders; perhaps it is that the title makes so much of its story that any supposed deficiency is more vividly felt. The condition is most apparent in the main character of Adam Jensen, a man who has no character arc, and indeed, little emotion about, opinion of, or even response to the whirlwind of events that encircles him.

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