6 Reviews liked by Khalifa

Honestly quite disappointing.
The characters we love are still here, and they are given a lot of meaningful development throughout. The new characters of Thor, Heimdall, and Odin are also interesting and make for interesting antagonists.
However, the quiet, introspective narrative that made the first game so impactful has been replaced with a Marvel-esque plot and the tight-knit cast has been expanded tenfold. Not all of these new characters are interesting, necessary, or well-acted, and the plot often feels tangential and contrived. 'Ragnarok' also features very little in this game; when we come to the final battle, it only lasts around 20 minutes.
I feel like this game suffers from just being more for the sake of more. We could have spent more time with Odin and Thor but a lot of time is spent introducing new, irrelevant characters and areas. The combat feels worse and a lot of the boss fights (berserker especially) are phoned-in and ganky. The menus are somehow even worse than in 2018 and the RPG elements feel increasingly unnecessary.
I don't want to take away from the effort Santa Monica has put into this game and the love they've put into this God of War reboot, but I feel like God of War III did nearly everything this game tried to do (except from the characters), but better.

Going into BioShock Infinite, the only thing I really knew about it was how it was very different from the first two games and also much more polarizing. I had a general attitude of "How bad could it be?" when I first booted this game up, and I had no idea that I was going to play a complete mess of a game that falls flat on its face with almost everything it sets out to accomplish. Before I get into all of that, though, I will give credit where credit is due and talk about how great and detailed the setting is. Not only is Columbia gorgeous to look at, but the floating city's steampunk elements mesh pretty well with the 1912 setting. That was the only thing about BioShock Infinite that I actually liked, though, as I found the rest of the game to be dull in terms of gameplay and frustrating in terms of plot.
In BioShock, the player pretty much had to use weapons and plasmids together in order to stand a chance against Rapture's Splicers and Big Daddies, and this was expanded on in BioShock 2 by placing a greater emphasis on mixing and matching genes in order to let the player experiment to see what worked and what didn't. Pretty much all of that was thrown out here in BioShock Infinite, because even with the occasional puddle of water or oil showing up in some of the game’s levels, the best strategy in every encounter is to just shoot the enemies. The guns do feel slightly better than they did in the other two games, but rendering plasmids (or vigors, as this game calls them) useless through the effectiveness of standing in one place and gunning everyone down made the gameplay loop of BioShock Infinite feel easier and more boring as it went along. The only vigor that I got any use out of was Return to Sender, and that was unlocked at the very end of the game, so you might as well never bother to upgrade or even use your vigors up to that point.
On top of the gameplay feeling much less engaging than the first two BioShock games, BioShock Infinite was a complete disaster from a storytelling perspective. The most egregiously stupid point that this game tries to make would be its attempts at making slavery and segregation seem double-sided, and that concept should be self-explanatory in how ignorant and irresponsible it is. Everything that the story tried to do involving timelines and "tears" just ends up making it feel even more bloated and incompetently told than it already was, and that especially includes the moronic ending that essentially exists to make Ken Levine feel really smart. I had zero fun with BioShock Infinite, and I find it really funny how the only real legacy that this game has would be how its fanmade porn apparently caused breakthroughs in 3D animation.

Deathloop is the logical endpoint of the genre of Immersive Sim when it comes to how we tell stories using it.
Before that, we have to talk about Immersive Sims or at least one of them,
Hitman is a series of games that some would categorize as an ImSim, I say some because I know for a fact that even just stating that is going to piss some people off massively because the terminology of Immersive Sim is vague and undefined with a very niche fanbase of very dedicated people who are willing to discuss it for hours on end. Just know, I do not care. I’m mainly referring to it as such because a similar group of mechanics, ideas, and goals appear between Hitman and other ImSims
Agent 47 is literally a blank slate character, he is a person developed to just do his job and that job is sleek and quiet murder of any number of targets in a given level, so it’s interesting to note that in Hitman, you are still required to basically live up to the role of a Hitman, rather than place yourself in those shoes.
The way the narrative is signposted throughout the series and all of the surrounding elements of the games paint the player character as a silent assassin who plans every minute detail to a tee so they can slip in and out, murdering their target before anyone even realizes something has gone wrong. This is pretty much guaranteed to not be the way you actually play the game starting off.
To get to this point, you have to go through these maps multiple times, learn their secrets, their layouts, their enemy placements, and everything else before you can be the person the narrative tells you you are. This essentially makes most of the gameplay as it pertains to the story disconnected. Agent 47 as a man cannot physically turn back time, he cannot Save Scum, and he, nor anyone else in the game has any knowledge of the countless previous runs that it took to get to the point where you can actually be Agent 47. Death is an explicit fail state which has no direct place in anything outside of the gameplay.
Deathloop is different.
Deathloop, as a game, is deeply fascinating to me, because even with its own elements separated, they’re great. The Shooting is Punchy and all the weapon types have their own little quirks and feel that make them completely distinct, the level design has so many different paths to destinations and areas that can change based on your actions, that just learning to get around is a blast and the way powers intersect with combat and exploration through all of that makes a game that is so immensely satisfying to play and learn, again and again, and again.
But the real thing that makes Deathloop not just good but Transcendent is how it takes the defined rules of the games it’s inspired by and the traditional player response to those rules and exploits them.
The way it does this is through the idealization and mechanical canonization of:
Colt, unlike 47, is much more of a defined character, he had a place in the world before the story and he will continue to exist once it is over. Despite this, it is much easier for a player to put themselves in Colt’s situation because the narrative and gameplay of Deathloop come together in a way that I have not seen another game with these design philosophies before (to my knowledge).
In Deathloop, Colt’s goal is learning the maps, scouting out locations, experimenting with systems, and discovering secrets, everything you do in gameplay and discover is canon within the story, putting you in Colt’s place much more directly, despite not being a self insert.
The mythologized nature of going through and beating levels, streamlining your run, and getting to a point where you can quickly and efficiently kill all of your targets is the end goal, even death in the game, while still a fail state that can halt your progress and be an effective punishment for failing, is just a reality of the game, something that in-game characters will comment on and react to.
Even in failure, the ability to make hard progress, even in runs that don’t go how you planned creates a gameplay experience that finally feels like it scratches an itch I’ve had for a good while. I’ve never been too up on ImSims previously, the stress of perfectly good runs being failed in an instant or the pinpoint accuracy needed to get through them, while not a direct criticism of the design itself, more a personal issue, scared me away from games like Dishonored or Thief because quite frankly I just wasn’t very good at them. Even the new Hitman games to a degree would have lost me if it wasn’t for the new accessibility features basically telling you exactly what you need to do to succeed but even then it never felt exactly right in the end.
Deathloop, in creating an experience where failure and learning from your mistakes are contextualized in the story as just a natural part of growth and getting towards the end, rather than a hurdle to become what the game is acting like you are, spoke to me in a way these games have never done before for me without throwing out the complexity or difficulty that ImSims are lauded for. And for that experience, I cannot be happier with the game.
TL;DR How I Learned to Stop Caring and Love Immersive Sims

i mean, it's fine i guess? there's something of a solid core to be found here and there's room for improvement but this game was never gonna be for me. the open world design focus was a death sentence. i can see why people like it even if i think they're clowns don't agree.
still some variety in interior aesthetics for shrines and dungeons at the very least couldn't have hurt...

Like Bandersnatch, but better, but still bad

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