Valve recently overhauled Steam’s review system, putting a larger focus on recent perspectives. The move made sense. Games are no longer static works. They constantly evolve thanks to updates and programs like Early Access. The system is, by and large, very useful, providing percentages that give narrow and wide snapshots of games. But numbers only tell part of the story.
For a time there Uncharted 4 feels like little more than a familiar, obligatory sequel. Thankfully, after a few chapters, the game dramatically improves and hits a great stride for much longer. By the end, it justifies the creation of a sequel in this nearly decade-old series beyond the need to check off the box between Ratchet & Clank and Wipeout on the PlayStation franchise list.
These days, it seems like Valve will let just about anything on Steam. Programs like Greenlight and Early Access make it easier than ever to get a game on the preposterously popular PC storefront. Some of these games are very bad. How does this happen? What is the process actually like?
Dying Light: The Following is just what an expansion should be: more of the the same great game, with a number of refinements and small, interesting tweaks. In one respect it’s altogether different: You have an automobile now, and an enormous new explorable area that requires the use of it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider tells the story of young Lara Croft, alone in a dangerous place, exploring ruins, solving puzzles, and shooting lots of guys with flaming arrows. This is an enjoyable sequel and the reason it's very fun is because it feels upgraded in nearly every way.
In The Witness, a magnificent new puzzle game from from developer Jonathan Blow you come upon challenges by wandering, in a first-person perspective, through the most beautiful island I’ve ever been to in a video game. The island is densely packed with puzzles, some propped up for you to solve, many others masterfully hidden.
I think it's happened to us all at some point or another: a game you've idolized from afar finally comes out. You boot it up and brace yourself for magic. Hours pass. Magic still hasn't happened. This is... unexpected. That is when you begin your Dante-esque multi-stage descent into a very unique sort of madness: disappointment.
#ThrowBackThursday Building a gaming PC can be time-consuming and stressful. There are a thousand things that could go wrong, and any one of them could wind up costing hundreds of dollars. And yet we do it anyway. Why? Because building PCs is totally awesome.
Unlike the other gaming platforms we’ve been evaluating here at the end of the year, the PC’s been around for decades. Recently, the PC’s long legacy of openness and customization has come into conflict with a mainstream that’s finally—finally—realized just how big of a deal PC gaming actually is. By and large, the PC is in a great place in 2015.
With Legacy of the Void, StarCraft II multiplayer is in a better place than it’s ever been. Competitive matches are faster and more interesting. The new co-op mode is an unexpected delight. There appear to be balance issues but this is a living game that will be patched and updated for years to come. Amid new ideas and changes it's clear that Blizzard is not afraid to experiment.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate takes us to Victorian London in 1868. The historical setting mixes painstakingly accurate architectural renderings with entertainingly campy and counterfactual cameos from figures like Darwin and Dickens. Interactively and narratively Syndicate is a mixed bag. But it's also the best entry in years for a series that's seen some high profile misfires.
As Steam has expanded over the years it’s also taken on an infernal-machine-like quality; it’s become this cacophonous conglomerate of bells and whistles, many of which are buried under other bells and whistles. It’s hard to know everything it is capable of, so here are a few lesser-known Steam features I’ve come across.