The premise of snapshot is that the player can move around objects by capturing them with a camera to make them disappear and then pasting them back into the world. It is a neat game, both how the mechanic is implemented and the visual quirks, but – and maybe this is just my personal preference – it is a lot longer than it manages to be interesting.

For starters, while you sometimes have to consider the physical state of objects the majority of the puzzles use the photography mechanic as a simple inventory system. A new mechanic is introduced every three levels, some work really well and return in later levels but a lot of them are a hassle to use or very closely resemble mechanics used in earlier levels. Some puzzle elements are re-used over and over throughout the game. Finally, a lot of the levels are immensely frustrating – all levels give you the mostly tedious task of collecting a bunch of stars, but some contain an abundance of instant-kill traps that force you to restart from the beginning.

The levels are never bad, and if you don’t mind most of the challenge being in navigating the levels rather than figuring out the puzzles there is a lot of gaming to be had in Snapshot. With Quantum Conundrum and other similar games, I am beginning to suspect I am in a minority that prefers them to lean heavier on the puzzles than the platforming. Still, while I did have some good times with Snapshot it also felt like it wasted my time just as often.

Posted on Sep 22/12 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

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Spec Ops: the Line

Spec Ops: the Line is an unusual game to talk about. It does the Bioshock thing where the premise and absurd gameplay elements are actually means to strengthen the narrative, but Spec Ops takes it further and is less of a game and more of a narrative expression. As such, I would guess the people to appreciate it most are the people who appreciate when people try to expand the scope of AAA games to tell more complex stories. I don’t know how many of us there are but I am guessing a lot of people will dislike Spec Ops for the derivative gameplay and others will dislike it for not doing a better job of being a videogame adaption of Apocalypse Now or Deer Hunter.

Personally, I liked how the game got me into habitually mowing down virtual soldiers and then called me on it. The disconnect between story and gameplay is kind of absurd, but due to Spec Ops’ superficial similarity to other military shooters it was easy to buy into anyway – I belong to the camp seeing this more as a commentary on military shooters than a commentary on war itself. I did dislike it when the narrative became too explicit, and the blatant remarks aimed at the player during the loading screen occasionally ruined it for me, but overall the narrative delivered some really strong moments.

The game has nothing new in terms of gameplay and while some environments are very pretty it more or less looks and plays the same all the way through. And even considering that absurdity itself has a point in the story, the narrative has some sections that feel out of place. It is still a game well worth playing for the unique experience.

Posted on Sep 03/12 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »