Quite early in the game, the player is forced to make the decision, which one of two characters has to die. I thought that was quite odd. For one, it’s the sole choice of this nature the player can/has to make during the entire game AND it’s so close to the beginning of the game, that the player can’t possibly be already rooting for one of the characters, which thus made me pick someone at random. So every event after that is then called “timeline x”, where x is the name of the surviving guy. Was this done to add more replayability?

I’m one of apparently only ~5 people on earth who really like id tech 5, it feels so refined. IMHO it gives this game the right stuff. It’s all very slick/responsive all the time. There’s this moment when you instantly know which engine a game was created in when you start playing it, even without reading about it beforehand. I like it when that happens. It’s a little bit like coming home. I also didn’t encounter a single bug in my playthrough, which is an incredibly rare event.

The rest of the game does everything I expect an FPS to do. It’s a well oiled machine and it reaches a grade of perfection, where I’d say that it’s no longer possible to still significantly improve the game without redefining what a shooter is and ending up with another/new genre or a more severe mix of several.
The gameplay already contains mechanics like character progression based upon playstyle, which forces players to either adapt new tactics throughout the game or miss out on many abilities. That’s a really interesting concept, because that made me realize that I usually “learn” how to play a game and then stick to it. Games that reward experience points, that can be distributed freely, for completing whatever, never make me switch my habits. Wolfenstein’s system did. Sometimes I would use stealth and another time a gun I had neglected so far (which is more fun ingame than I make it sound here).

Exploration is also very much a thing in this game, because levels usually offer more than just these narrow paths, too many games are now cursed with and hidden collectibles reward observant players. The ride is complemented with (optional) “dreams” of the first Wolfenstein with fitting throwback graphics and it all ends in a scene hat didn’t really satisfy me, but William “B.J.” Blazkowicz probably has to be back anyway, because… the show must go on! The New Order was also the first game I played in some time, that didn’t have a scene after the ending credits, so yeah… don’t wait (unless you want to see all the names, of course). ;)

Now I know, graphics aren’t everything and so on and I often find myself not caring at all, especially if there’s a good story/characters and the like, BUT:

If I’m playing Witcher 2 (2011) it looks like this:

witcher2

If I’m playing Watch Dawgs… DOGS (2014) it looks like this:

Watch_Dogs 1

If I’m playing Crysis 3 (2013) it looks like this:

If I’m playing Watch Dogs (2014) it looks like this:

Watch_Dogs 2

(Yes, you are guessing the pattern by now :P) Far Cry 3 (2012)

And AGAIN: Watch Dogs (2014)

Watch_Dogs 3

Now, seriously any other “random” game like Bulletstorm (2011)

BioShock Infinite (2013)

or Batman Arkham Whatever (2009-2013)

compared to Watch Dogs (2014)

Watch_Dogs 4

Watch_Dogs 5

Watch_Dogs 6

Please note that all these games, except Watch Dogs (1280×720), are on 1920×1080 on (partially) OLDER HARDWARE (swapped my CPU since then, same graphics card). Watch Dogs is also the only one among these games that requires 1 GB VRAM as a minimum (that’s the texture setting I played it on) all the others can make do with 512 MB or even less. Medium WD settings require 2 GB VRAM and 3 GB for highest. Obviously I couldn’t try those.

Here’s a screenshot of Max Payne 2 (2003)

I can’t stop myself from thinking that it sometimes looks better (or at least the same) than my experience with Watch Dogs. Its system requirements are a graphics card with 32 MB VRAM.

But on the bright side, after moving on to another game, everything else then looks like:

After the less then perfect Origins, I had no expectations for Cold, Cold Heart, especially when considering that it was an already well-known story. I think I saw Mr. Freeze’s origin story the first time in Batman: The Animated Series. And surprise: This version is pretty much identical.

The previous games covered so many things to such a degree, that it doesn’t really feel as if they’ve managed to do anything new since then. I liked the beginning of Cold, Cold Heart, that has the player control Bruce Wayne (without his suit on), when I realized after a few seconds that this was exactly how Arkham City started. It didn’t spoil the fun, but it did reinforce the feeling that too much now only feels like a rehash.

This DLC has enough nice bits despite all this, and it’s certainly not one of those DLCs that make you feel like an idiot for buying them, because they only contain recycled parts. This adventure feels a little bit planed from the start though, there is this rather nicely designed location, “My Alibi” – a bar that was already accessible in Origins, but not much was going on there. It felt like a waste, to have such a cool location and then it’s hardly used. Cold, Cold Heart certainly remedies this.

I liked the new suit and the burning batarangs sure look swell. It was great to see Batman adapt to the new situation. Sadly I forgot to check how long it took to complete it, but it felt like a proper adventure, a nice mini-arc. What disappointed me, is that some of the same bugs are still in the game, the original had (sometimes during “flight” Batman’s cape starts flapping around like crazy, I wish I had made a video of this, because sometimes it’s a lot worse than this). At least it’s nothing too bad that happens a lot…

At the end, other than in the Harley DLC from Arkham City, the area stays accessible to still collect the items that can unlock certain gadget abilities, but with nothing left to do to use these tricks on, it wasn’t motivating enough for me to actually do it (so I guess it officially lacks the pull City had, that made me collect everything). I wish they had managed to simply include this DLC into the existing map of the main game, but given the little bugs every here and there even without such stunts, it probably wasn’t in the cards. If they ever come around to release a GOTY version, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to merge this DLC with the main campaign, like The Missing Link was merged with Deus Ex: Human Revolution when the Director’s Cut version came out.

I’m so proud of myself, that I managed to cut the screenshots of Trip by about 75%, because that initial amount would have been totally creepy! So, with that out of the way…

Originally, I had already given up on ever playing Enslaved, because for some reason it was only available for consoles and I always leave it to Mr. Moneybags, to get every single system out there just to have access to every interesting game. Imagine my joy when it – totally out of the blue – was ported. Like, for no reason. This joyous boost was easily enough, to carry me through the few parts I didn’t like that much. :P

A major plus of such “late” ports/releases, is that they often come complete with all DLCs/expansions included. Enslaved is no exception. There is a rather lengthy campaign about Pigsy, taking place before the events of the main game. Pigsy’s Perfect 10 is to Enslaved, what Burial at Sea Episode 2 is to BioShock Infinite. It’s not just offering a different playable character, it also has new gameplay mechanics. They made an effort, is what I’m saying. It’s always easier to simply offer more of the same. But their work paid off. A little too melancholic for my taste, but maybe that was the only way to stay true to the material they were working with.

Although the story of Enslaved kinda wrapped up, I don’t think I fully understood it (assuming there are no holes in it). Given that Pyramid wants to enslave all the survivors, why are the mechs attacking and killing anyone they encounter? The mechs at the end were clearly working for Pyramid. Are there several competing groups of mechs? And who controls those? Are the mechs that attack all humans automated “leftovers” from whatever event that destroyed civilization? But even if that is the case, why isn’t Pyramid then fighting those adversarial mechs, that clearly endanger his plans of putting all survivors into his simulation? It should be his goal then, to protect all humans, instead of allowing them to be slaughtered.

I’m kind of doubtful that this port will help in making a sequel a reality (if that was even in the cards), but at least this cool game might thus reach a larger audience. Would be deserved.

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