Final Thoughts: Alice: Madness Returns - Never ending

As low as some of the prices were, I made a conscious effort to buy games from the Steam Summer Sale that I knew I would actually play. I wanted to avoid buying games because of their ridiculously low price, since I knew they would sit in my Steam Library without even being installed. The first game I would buy under this wallet protection plan was Alice: Madness Returns - a platformer that takes a dark tone and surrounds the colourful Alice in Wonderland story.  Were it not for the different perspective on a familiar childhood tale, I would have never even considered giving it my attention. At the same time, I don't think anyone would have given Alice: Madness Returns a fair chance if it didn't ground itself in Alice in Wonderland. Strip away the aesthetic and attention to the littlest of visual details in the environments, and Alice: Madness Returns is an unevenly paced, tedious platformer that never seems to end.

Review: The Walking Dead: Episode 1 & 2 - Tough decisions

When people first spoke of Telltale's The Walking Dead, I immediately dismissed it and whatever ties I thought it had with the television show. Telltale's latest adventure game is an episodic guided narrative surrounding the idea of a zombie outbreak, which seems like the worst combination that any developer can build a game around. The AMC series is carried by a lot of action and flesh eating zombies, but the game is carried by the ethical and moral situations that require your best judgement to make multiple, increasingly difficult decisions. An emphasis on cinematics has led to many ignorantly dismissing it as another "interactive movie" as it lacks the level grinding, loot collection and combo chaining that a more traditional game has. Aside from a few annoying bugs and limited variety of traditional video game mechanics, Telltale's The Walking Dead Episode 1 and 2, provide some of the most engaging survival stories in video game form. 

Review: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - A desire to compete

Spending a decade doing anything is a very long time. May it be writing a book, getting a degree in school or developing a video game; you could do many different things during that duration. The nature of the real-time strategy genre and its heavy reliance on the fair balance of each unit is probably the reason for StarCraft II's lengthy development. The perfection of each unseen number calculation is all done in respect to the multiplayer portion of the game. During the development of an RTS, values and attributes of units are constantly adjusted; different scenarios are proposed and the game is extensively tested. And since so much attention is given to multiplayer, the solitary portions of RTS games are usually slapped together half-heartedly.  StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty will impress with the amount of effort that went into creating an equally enjoying campaign. But if you lack a strong desire to learn the competitive aspects of StarCraft, it will be difficult to eliminate the feeling that you are only getting a taste of the whole experience.

Now Playing: Final Fantasy III (SNES)

In between the uplifting, satisfying wins and the demoralizing losses that come with the Starcraft 2 multiplayer experience, I travel through the open landscapes of Final Fantasy III on my Super Nintendo. Even with the firm belief that no Japanese role playing game can persuade me to think that the genre is actually worth spending time with, I still remain curious. I have yet to see - despite multiple attempts with different games from different eras - why the Japanese RPG was ever relevant, or even somewhat still desirable in this generation.

I firmly believe that experimenting with a variety of games within the genre that I'll be able to understand the draw that has lured in so many people. So why did I spend ridiculous amounts of money on a 20 year old game for a genre that has consistently disappointed me? It was probably the reputation of Squaresoft's third game in the Final Fantasy franchise (really the sixth game if you want to be technical) being arguably the best Final Fantasy ever made. This ambiguous reputation revealed to me a sliver of hope that Final Fantasy III will be the game to spark a revelation, thus ultimately change my perspective about the genre. At around 13 or so hours into this highly regarded JRPG, my experience has been the most enjoyable and least painful of comparative ventures, but I have yet to see the brilliance that makes this the best Final Fantasy.

Now Playing: Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty

The extent of my experience with the RTS genre lies solely with the time I spent playing Age of Empires 2 and Halo Wars. The RTS genre has made its appearance on console platforms before, but always in simplified forms because of the limited buttons available on a controller. With the recent purchase of a new and powerful computer, my selection of games is no longer restricted to the console space. I bravely decided to begin my dive into PC exclusives with Blizzard's decade long developed game, Starcraft 2.

Expecting to have an experience similar to learning a completely new and unfamiliar language, I was pleasantly surprised by how strategically designed each mission of the campaign was in respect to helping new players. I was intimidated at first - how could I not be when Starcraft 2 is so popular within the competitive gaming community. Going from a game like Halo Wars, which didn't require much finesse or strategy (nonetheless I still enjoyed it), was a huge leap for me. Since the Halo Wars campaign was so painfully boring, I had to rely on brief tutorials and experience in matches to learn how to play.

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