Ever played Painkiller? God Mode is exactly like People Can Fly's first offering, if only in third-person. It's essentially arena combat, which involves facing wave after wave of enemies with little to no context or plot considerations. The object is to outlast this rather gruelling gauntlet, or at least to survive as long as you can.
To help in this, most of the arenas are littered with colour-coded power-ups. Red for health, blue for armour, yellow for ammunition and gold pickups. Green is bad. Stay away from the green stuff, seriously. Most enemies also drop temporary versions of these same items. Being that the game purportedly takes place in Hades, however, and that you're just one of several wayward souls to pass through here (unsuccessfully), each of the stage's distinct arenas confers one of several random buffs or debilitating effects, a bit as if you'd spliced in Unreal Tournament's Mutators and shoved them through a randomizer.
As you can imagine, some buffs will make your life considerably easier (Yay, random applications of actual God Mode!) to markedly worse (you do less damage but your rechargeable ability takes less time to reload?! Dafuq? How is that useful?!). You have no control over which effects are applied and when, which adds to the unpredictability of the basic package. No two games will generate the same items or apply the same stat modifiers, and I'm told the game scales relatively well in multiplayer. The end result is something that plays like a breeze one moment, and that kicks your little heinie to the curb the next. Expect absolutely wild difficulty spikes, considering this – not so much within a single game, but from game to game in general. Considering, your best bet is to learn how to ply your two-weapon loadout as effectively as possible, and to upgrade it as you progress.
Otherwise, God Mode comes with a few customization options in the strictly aesthetic area. You've got a few basic heads, a few basic torsos and thematic variations of each for good measure. This is where the game's very incisive but somewhat superficial sense of humour enters the picture. Wanna play as a cowboy zombie in a camo vest with jeans who also happens to wield a laser pistol? Put in some time, and you'll learn enough gold and levels to unlock extra parts.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much the be-all and end-all of God Mode. You're throwing yourself into nightmarish gladiatorial matches so you can gain more cash so you can customize your loadout so you can throw yourself into yet MORE nightmarish gladiatorial matches without dying... It's a vicious cycle that only seems vicious, because it has one pre-planned way out; that being the levelling up of every single piece of gear in your possession. Once you've unlocked and buffed everything up, then what?
As the game doesn't answer that question, I'll settle with giving it a warm, but cautious endorsement. This is a great quickie for the summer doldrums, folks. Boot up, clear one or two arenas, spend some gold... That's it. No need for serious investment. The guys at Old School obviously know their nineties' FPS gore and splosion-fests.
My advice? Buy this absolutely right away if you're an unconditional Painkiller fan. If you're not and prefer your shooters more slower-paced and tactical, save ten bucks for a rainy day and give it a whirl.
While the main media outlets' coverage of the game has been universally stellar, a quick jaunt over to Enemy Unknown's Game Hub shows that the fan response is actually polarized.
This is a game that will convert new people and comfort some players of 1995's UFO Defense with its similar structure and design conceits – but it's also a game that has the potential of severely disappointing whoever has grown to consider the original formula as being a benchmark by which other squad-based strategy games should be judged.
You have to come into this with a single thing in mind : this is its own beast. Enemy Unknown is not trying to be UFO Defense, it's trying to magnify those parts of the original game that made the experience so memorable and to eliminate some of the things we've forgotten were pure and simple cruft; essentially design-based clutter that had no real purpose or place in the grand scheme of things. The inventory is simplified, the action point system is replaced with a two-move system that turns the on-field missions into games of high-stakes and live-ammo chess, and the interface is made friendly and digestible to new players of the franchise.
Rest assured, this is still tactical combat at its finest, and the base management segments are as meaningful as ever, even if the younger generation might consider them to be something of an unneeded lull between missions. The truth is these moments of introspection are absolutely vital, as they allow the player to experience the game's admittedly simple narrative – Roland Emmerich would be proud – and to graduate from a desperate band of surviving soldiers and scientists to the world's first, best and last line of defense against the alien threat. The difficulty curve can be rather surprising, things turning steep once Commander Bradford lets you loose in the first of your truly randomized missions, but this inverted approach creates a sense of rising potency and power that's unlike anything any recent strategy game has managed to deliver in recent memory. Everything you do paints a bit more of the bigger picture, with your usually matter-of-fact scientific, military and engineering-related advisors sometimes waxing philosophical in the face of the sheer devastation.
I don't advise you buying into the associated DLC, however. At five bucks a pop, it's a lot to ask for an extra hairdo and helmet and a new uniform color. If the game's visuals were any more central to the experience, I'd almost make a comment about a certain horse armor pack..
If you liked Fallout 3, New Vegas is more or less a no-brainer. Several of the shallower mechanics have been deepened, and the universe being revisited by some of its original creators is a nice change of pace. New Vegas reinjects humor into the franchise after the fairly bleak affair which was Fallout 3, and you'll be surprised to see just how welcomed that return to form is.
Of course, no game is perfect. This being an Obsidian production, there's a whole lotta love and not a lotta QA in this little baby; so expect the occasional crash and yes, a few game-breaking bugs. So long after release, however, it's safe to say this still is a very stable product that's more than deserving of the praise it's received.