Mass Effect [Steam store page]
The beginning gives decent gameplay and story - though it lacks a bit in the quest objective tracking, especially for the quest to scan 24 keepers. You just have to hope you run into them all during other objectives.

After leaving the initial station they give you far too many solar systems and planets to choose from, which gives the feeling that your choice doesn't matter. At least initially they should have limited it to a few important systems - and slowly opened up the galaxy. Navigation within galaxies themselves also seems unweildy, and it's annoying that you can click on planets which you aren't even able to visit.

The combat works fairly well, although your character doesn't return to cover quite as fast as possible - which can be annoyingly deadly at times. This probably has to do with the smooth animations - if you tap to move forward he takes a full step, unlike games like World of Warcraft where you can move in fractions of a step.

The skills and conversation menu are well thought out, and the ability to train extra skills that allow you to intimidate or flatter the person you're conversing with are satisfying. Overall the game has a few interesting aspects, but also a couple annoying flaws. It's probably still worth a look though.

Extremely inaccurate guns - worse than Counter Strike: Source - which makes it nearly impossible to kill anything at range without several clips of ammo. At close range it takes 2-3 head-shots from 4ft away, which is ridiculously bad. Decent story though.

Counter-Strike: Source [Steam store page]
More realistic and slower paced than some other shooters. The guns also tend to be less accurate than your normal video game for realism, and shooting while you run is nearly impossible. Still, a reasonably fun multi-player FPS.

The shooter aspect is okay, and the frights are good, but when put together it's an unsatisfactory combination. If you added the fright to something like Half-Life 2 it would be a much better fit.

Movement through water is so terrible that I once backtracked half a level trying to figure out what I was missing because my character wouldn't exit the water onto the appropriate ledge. The flashlight is also the worst I've seen in any game - running out of batteries every 20 seconds.

The audio is also so shockingly bad it's worth mentioning. You can't locate enemies by the direction of their voices - many times the sound comes from the opposite direction. Extremely poor for an FPS.

The slow motion feature makes combat like shooting fish in a barrel, yet when you're at normal speed the AI grenades are way overpowered - one hit kill if it's anywhere near you.

In the end it's entertaining for a couple levels - but after that it feels like a repetitive mess of hallways, ghosts, and soldiers.

The graphics are dated about 10 years, and it didn't support my resolution. Gameplay wise it uses lots of quick key combos and has fairly difficult AI - like a 3D Street Fighter II - not my cup of tea, but some may enjoy it.

The controls on this underwater side-scroller are decent, though I wish there was a way to bind songs to a hotkey. A way to quick-save instead of save points within the game would be nice as well.

Penumbra Overture [Steam store page]
The story seems okay, but the motion controls are atrocious - there's a reason normal games don't have you move your mouse to turn cranks or use a hammer. It made it very difficult to defend yourself against enemies (and enemies can break down doors)

Machinarium [Steam store page]
Nicely drawn point and click - but the puzzles are too obtuse for their own good. The hint button is hidden behind a long minigame with a key that shoots bullets (which the game doesn't mention and the minigame can't be completed without them)

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.

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

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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