Matthew Gatland

Old Games

June 24, 2014

I bought a new gaming computer so I could play some modern games.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)

It’s almost like Deus Ex had a funeral, and all its friends went along and told stories, and those stories turned into a new game. It’s your best memories of Deus Ex, with the awkward parts forgotten.

Gone is the bad AI, the wooden acting, the depressing first level that caused so many people to quit and never come back.

Instead, we have a polished, modern game. Combat works, hacking is fun, the conversation minigame is genuinely good! The modern touches (cover system, regenerating health and 3rd person special moves) all fit together and feel natural. It really is just a more accessible, less buggy Deus Ex.

The world is full of stories and little details. I often risked my life to read notes or emails, not for codes or experience points but because I wanted to hear about the people in this world.

I tried to play without killing anyone. It was hard, and I quickly started making compromises. But the fact that I wanted to avoid killing shows that the game world felt real to me.

It’s not perfect. Like Deus Ex 1 or Vampire: Bloodlines, the world feels lonely. You may discover stories and mysteries hidden in notes, but your character won’t mention them to anyone – there’s no closure and no answers.

Some of the pre-rendered cut scenes don’t match what actually happens in the game. Some of the character design seems just slightly racist or sexist. And while the storyline probably makes sense on paper, the writers expect you to recognise characters from the opening scene when you meet them 20 hours later – my memory’s not that good, and so some moments just seemed random to me.

Overall, it’s a great game. More importantly, it’s a great Deus Ex. It might even be better than the original.

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)

I grew up with GTA. Was it always this bad? How did I not notice?

Everyone you meet is awful. Every cut scene is unpleasant. I’ve been playing for 7 hours and I have no-one to root for. Nothing to look forward to. I get it, life sucks, but I got the point after the first 3 missions.

The missions are totally uninspired, and just exist to show off the game’s features. Example missions:

It feels like the world’s longest, slowest tutorial.

Speaking of dates, these are the worst part of the game. Your friends and girlfriends call you and ask you to go play awful minigames with them (pool, bowling, darts). You can refuse but you lose some kind of points.

It might be possible to have fun in this game. If I stopped going on missions and dates, maybe I’d find something. I remember riding a motorbike around the desert in San Andreas, or cruising around town listening to 70s music in Vice City. There could be fun, somewhere.

But everything the game encourages me to do is unpleasant. Why did Rockstar design a game that tries so hard to make you miserable?

Worst GTA ever.