Video Games

Beauty and the Best


Heart of Darkness PSX

blogEntryTopperDo you have fun while seeing a little boy being stabbed, crushed, drowned, poisoned or chewed up by wild animals? You sick bastard! I have a game for you. A game called Heart of Darkness.

Heart of Darkness is about an African river boat captain named Charles Marlow at the turn of the twentieth century who, wait that's not right. Different Heart of Darkness, sorry let me start again. Ahem, Heart of Darkness is a 1998 video game released by Infogrames for the original Sony Playstation/Windows based PCs and created by French designer Eric Chahi of Out of this World as well as 2011's indie darling god simulator, From Dust.

This Heart of Darkness is about a scientific prodigy named Andy, who while at the park with his dog Whiskey, witnesses a solar eclipse. During this solar eclipse however, Whiskey is stolen away by unknown aliens so it is up to Andy to go get his home made spaceship from his tree house and fly off in the direction of the creatures on a quest to save his dog.

I know what you're thinking, dog questing, pretty epic stuff huh? BUT it's also filled with fantastic creatures and the struggle for control of an alien planet. This all unfolds by guiding Andy through, what we in the biz like to call, a "cinematic platformer". In a style similar to the original Prince of Persia, Heart of Darkness plays from a 2D perspective and involves careful thought, precise control and a lot of trial & error to pass enemies or solve environmental puzzles.

Even with those however, you'll see poor Andy meet his end again and again and once you've bought a new controller to replace the one you smashed, a couple dozen times after that. They can be pretty gruesome too so is it wrong that I get as much of a cheap thrill from watching those as I do from actually progressing into a new area? Yes, absolutely, I need help but the the visuals and sounds are so stunning that I just can't help myself.

Like all cinematic platformers, the animation in this game is superb, as is music & ambient sounds. So much care went into the presentation that it took six years to finish. But they kind of have to have that in order to keep people entertained and coming back for more despite the slow pacing and constant failures.

It worked on me but because of this, along with its niche style, Heart of Darkness isn't going to be for everyone and even for those of you for whom it is, there is no digital release for it as of yet. However, if you can track down a copy of the Playstation version, it can be played through the backwards compatibility of PS3s. So if you find one, pick it up. You won't regret it most of the time.

Bookmark and Share


AGT Mini Review - The Orange Box

Orange Box Cover
To this day, one of the absolute best values in gaming is Valve’s offering of The Orange Box on Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Mac. This is a video game compilation including Half-Life 2 (the full game), Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Team Fortress 2 and the first introduction of Portal. Any one of these games by themselves is probably worth more in pure entertainment value than most first person shooters on the market, even at of the time of this mini review’s posting.

Since the introduction of the Half-Life series in November of 1998, Valve took skeletal animation and enemy A.I. to a completely new level and drew gamers into the engrossing underground Black Mesa facility. Players took control of Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist and MIT graduate, armed with a Hev suit and an array of incredibly cool weapons. What’s probably most endearing are the companion characters Gordon is always happy to either battle along side or convene with after a series of intense firefights. From the mysterious Vortigants to the enchanting and tough Alyx Vance, Valve has gone above and beyond to create one of the most memorable experiences in video game history.

Then there’s Portal. I had no idea what to expect when I started playing Portal because I’d been deep in production and hadn’t done my research to even know what it was. Hadn’t even seen a preview video. I was immediately addicted to the first person puzzle gameplay based on the use of the portal gun. By the way, Portal 2 (not part of The Orange Box) takes it to an entirely new level if you like this type of gameplay. One warning though – it’s not a shooter. It’s about using your brain - in the same way some of the original Tomb Raider games were about entering a room and figuring out what was needed to escape and avoid certain death. And if nothing else, Jonathan Coulton catchy song, Still Alive, will be nearly impossible to get out of your head. By the way, he’s not a one hit wonder. Coulton’s got lots of other great songs written in his signature sardonic tenor that are not related to Portal but equally is witty.

And last but not least – Team Fortress 2. For those of you who can’t get enough multiplayer action, this cartoon-styled shooter dishes out a healthy dose of capture the flag and base defense modes to appease even the most jaded gamers. As sequel to the original Quake mod, they just amp it up another level.

Unlike movies, games have the daunting task of trying to predict various potential interactions of their audience, which often leads to scripts splinter out into 500 plus pages. With Half-Life 2 especially, Valve manages to guide the player through a world that feels open while simultaneously building a narrative that’s more engaging than most feature films. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, horror, dimensional riffs and rebel skirmishes against fantastic alien and cybernetic organisms, the Half-Life series is for you. And Portal and Team Fortress stand well on their own as more than the icing on the cake.

Bookmark and Share

Site logo
© 2012 All Good Things Privacy Policy and Terms and conditions Contact Me