Similar to Flow, but frustrating since you give up part of yourself to move - rather than being able to steer naturally. Later levels are mostly luck - the first 30 seconds determining whether you have any chance of completing the level

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne [Steam store page]
The story seems okay, but isn't integrated well. It feels like a relief from hordes of enemies shooting you at close range and eating painkillers (health). The dream sequence levels are the highlight of the game, an example of what it could have been

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl [Steam store page]
It has potential, but feels like a game that hasn't yet been play-tested. There is a general lack of instruction about controls and the little that is given is as entertaining as reading a manual.

The open world seems interesting at first, but your character gets exhausted quickly and soon you're trudging at a snails pace across the vast terrain. The pistol you've been equipped with has terrible accuracy, and to hit anything you need to be right on top of it. This is an impossible feat when your opponents have assault rifles and your character dies with a couple bullets.

Twenty quicksave/loads later you've finally been lucky enough to run up and shoot your opponent in the face before he can reload. Yet the gun you just picked up wasn't automatically equipped, and as you switch to the unweildy menu to activate it the game doesn't pause and you are mowed down once again. Eventually you survive and get it equipped, but you have to press the reload key to actually load the gun.

Now due to invisible areas apparently high in radiation one of the missions in the starting zone seems impossible to reach, much less complete. Not to mention that once you have slight radiation poisoning you might as well just reload a quicksave instead of wasting large amounts of vodka and bandages.

The AI itself is decent and manages to put up a fight while not being godlike - though it does cheat by omnisciently knowing your location. AI enemies only show up on the map temporarily after they shoot, like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, which puts you at a bit of a disadvantage. Bushes can also be annoying - not obscuring your location to the AI, yet making it hard to aim.

It's a pity they didn't actually play their own game. It could have been fun, but there are just too many rough spots to make it worth struggling through as-is. Realism is fine, but not when it interferes with the game being fun/entertaining.

Borderlands [Steam store page]
This is a weird mix of MMO leveling and FPS, and in a certain aspect it works okay, but at other times it can be frustrating.

The beginning of this game includes a lot of scripted sequences, which can be a bit annoying if you play through multiple times, as was intended (you reach level 35 or so on the first playthrough, 50+ on the second). The first time playing it seems incredibly smooth and well paced, teaching you all your necessary skills painlessly.

The game itself isn't hard - I was level 13 before I died the first time - but after a while it gets annoying to take headshots and not actually kill the enemy, like a normal FPS. This is due to the level mechanic - killing an enemy one level above you is difficult, and two is nearly impossible. The exception is playing the tank/melee character, who has a special ability that flattens higher levels with ease.

There is also a melee enemy class known as Psycho that has an annoying tendency, when injured, to run full tilt at you holding a hand grenade above their heads. Many times when this happens they are inescapably close, which results in your instant death.

Lastly, the bosses tend to take 3-10 minutes for a solo player to slowly tear through their massive health pools - almost like fighting an MMO raid boss on your own. Almost every boss also has a group of annoying normal enemies to dispatch during the beginning of the fight as well. These encounters are probably much more suited to the co-op gameplay.

Overall a mixed bag, fun in certain aspects, but also one of the few games that makes me feel angry when I play it. That's a sure sign the enemies aren't quite as balanced as they should be.

This is a fun but easy Diablo style dungeon crawler. It features quick travel via portals and spells, as well as a pet to sell items while you continue killing. Additionally there is a shared chest to transfer valuable items between characters

Age of Empires III: Complete Trailer [Steam store page]
A marked improvement over Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion, AOE3 doesn't just add fancier graphics, they also added a number of new features to make the game less rock/paper/scissors. That shouldn't discount how satisfying the new animations are, with ship masts falling over and pieces of buildings flying in the air.

Your infantry units spread out nicely and block opponents from reaching ranged or artillery units behind them, something that was hard to accomplish in the previous game. Some units now have useful special abilities as well. There is also a new XP/Development Card mechanic that allows you to get free upgrades and units as you progress through the game, which breaks up the monotony of gathering resources and building units.

My only complaint is how cliche Act II of the scenario series turned out to be, but overall it seems like an even better RTS than its predecessor.

World of Goo [Steam store page]
I'm not madly in love with this game, but it's a decent way to pass the time. The puzzles are usually fairly easy, though sometimes it is hard to execute them because of the way the AI makes goo run around the structure

Age of Empires II HD [Steam store page]
One of my favorite RTS - though it does suffer from the rock/paper/scissors syndrome once you know the game well enough. Age of Empires II: Conquerors Edition was a great expansion to the original game, and it's bundled into this HD remaster.

The main benefits are that this runs nicely on high resolution - the original was locked at something like 1024x768, and this also has a few tweaks like allowing higher unit maximums - raised from 200 in the original to 500 in this remaster.

I'm normally not a huge fan of re-releasing old games, but this one was such a classic, and the small tweaks they made improve the experience without ruining the nostalgia.

Deus Ex: Invisible War [Steam store page]
Fairly good story for a FPS, but doesn't even compare to the original Deus Ex. The missions give it a much more structured feel, compared to just one general objective in the first game.

The gameplay itself also leaves a bit to be desired. On 'normal' a headshot will kill a standard enemy, yet when you reach the last few levels the armored enemies take three shots from the most powerful gun in the game. Since the game uses a single ammo type for all guns (more powerful guns use more ammo) it is extremely easy to run out. This leaves you with melee weapons and grenades.

The mods your character can install are much more powerful and useful than the original game though, and you can get them maxed out by the middle of the game. Bot Domination + Thermal Masking lets you bypass/control turrets, bots, and cameras with impunity. Health Regeration lets you trade energy for health and win impossible fights.

Lastly, the game allows you to apply two mods to each gun, which results in cool combos like a silenced pistol that can use electromagnetic shots to disable laser tripwires. Very cool

In the end the game is just okay because it isn't balanced nearly as well as the first one. You get tons of money, mods, multitools, and grenades - but not enough ammo and a plethora of hard to kill guards on the last few levels.

Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition [Steam store page]
One of the best FPS I've ever played - fantastic story and detail. Each play-through you'll find new areas, people, and story that you missed before. Highly recommended

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