Computer Aficionado James Sheppard goes on some wild adventures…..
The action adventure genre of games is probably the broadest and cluttered in the history of computer games. From the first entry, simply titled Adventure all the way through to the Tomb Raider franchise and beyond. Many combine platforming, stealth, survival and huge wide-open expanses for the player to explore. It’s a bit like the Krypton Factor, but with more shouting and an obstacle course that’s trying to kill you.
Actually, it’s exactly like the Krypton Factor. Those army officers were scary as hell. I think I’d rather face a murderous mass of Xenomorphs than shouty Sergeant Major Hartman. I know I run like a blind fish out of water, but there’s no need to be so mean about it.
All in all, though, these games are usually quite easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Their accessibility is their greatest selling point, along with fast paced action and storylines of epic proportions. They pull you back in when you want to waste an hour or two immersed in a fantasy world that makes you feel powerful and a gaming god.
One of my favourites is the critically acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, an original story based in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium featuring Talion, a ranger who sees his family brutally murdered by the Black Hand of Sauron before being killed himself and having the wraith of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor bonded with his body. With his new half-life comes a burning desire for vengeance which is welcomingly catered for by hordes of cockney Orcs, insane parkour runs and wild animals to ride off cliffs swinging your sword crazily.
It possesses all the standard tropes of the genre; button bashing combos, a timed parry button and grisly insta-kill abilities that are gorily glorious in HD. You can sneak, you can climb, you can perform slow motion headshots with a wraith infused bow, but one of the best parts of this game is its Nemesis system. As well as a multitude of Orcs roaming the map, some are led by Captains; mini-bosses that have random strengths and weaknesses and can prove to be very challenging to defeat, especially when you accidentally come across three at once like I did – the term epic fail springs to mind. If they kill you (I died horribly), they get more powerful and more difficult to defeat, and obviously paint a huge target on their heads as you go out seeking revenge.
Well that’s the idea; Latbag destroyed me so much, he went on to kill several other Orc captains as he usurped power from all those around him. Rather than vengeance, I should have sought a job as his PA.
Roaming around the expansive maps can sometimes be a chore, which is why many action-adventure games offer transport alternatives, and none are as intrinsic as in Mad Max. I’m a huge fan of the franchise, especially the latest Tom Hardy vehicle, which is one constant adrenaline pumping action sequence filled with weird characters and a fire-spouting electric guitar. It’s pure, joyful madness. And the game is no different.
The first friendly character you meet is called Chumbucket. This sets the tone for the rest of the gleeful car on car carnage as you smash into convoys, run crazies into the dirt and spew clouds of dust behind you as you take in the bleakness of the post-apocalyptic world. You collect scrap from the vehicles you destroy, and Chumbucket, an always helpful idiot savant engineer, upgrades your Magnum Opus to fire a harpoon, set fire to boarders with side burners and generally look like the type of car Jeremy Clarkson would love to take through rush hour traffic.
I wonder if James May is his Chumbucket? I can imagine him riding on the back of the car shouting obscenities at passer-by’s. Maybe not obscenities, maybe just witty quips about the good old days. Actually, he would just be asking Jeremy to slow down.
But even this boy racer joy can be beaten for exploring these huge worlds; I take your spike covered, oil slicked car and raise you a twenty gun ship.
Assassins Creed as a franchise has had its ups and downs over the years, but it has always been a staple of the genre, from simple combat, to leaping stealth kills and climbing as high as you possibly can. And though arguably, Black Flag is not really a true Assassins Creed game, by god it is fun due to one amazing word that has never seemed to get enough use in games nowadays: Pirates.
The whole game is one big sandbox of pillaging and plunder, finding where ‘X’ marks the spot, and chasing down fat merchantmen for rum and gold. The overarching Assassins Creed storyline is almost secondary to the fun to be had on the open waves as you plough through storms, pick up sailors lost at sea, and generally give in to all your Black bearded fantasies. Even though the gameplay pulls you back to being a land-lubber time and again, it is at sea that this game truly excels. It has all the normal collectibles seen in every modern game, but one set shines above the rest; Sea shanties.
I spent an hour or two collecting these simply because, at the press of a button, your entire crew will launch into song as you ply the ocean waves, lost in the time and place of the golden age of piracy.
I found myself singing along to Drunken Sailor, Good Morning Ladies All and Billy Riley with the worst pirate accent this side of the Caribbean. Johnny Depp would have gorged me on rum in an effort to get me ship shape, but to no avail, then forced me to walk the plank. I’m a land-lubber through and through, but my dreams are filled with gold, loot and the open sea.
If you need me, I’ll be in the brig until I’m sober.
Doing terrible, terrible pirate impressions.