Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
Mirror's Edge screenshot
THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMING - NOW PLAYING:   MIRROR'S EDGE
THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMING - NOW PLAYING: MIRROR'S EDGE
Mirror's Edge screenshot
THE BEST OF
SINGLE PLAYER
PC GAMING
NOW PLAYING
MIRROR'S EDGE
ACTION, PARKOUR
RECENT POST-RELEASE REVIEWS - SEE FEATURES FOR BEST SINGLE PLAYER GAME REVIEWS
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MARS WAR LOGS
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THE WOLF AMONG US
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VANISHING OF ETHAN CARTER
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ARTIFEX MUNDI GAMES

THE FUTURE OF SINGLE PLAYER GAMES

Are single-player video games really dying? A few years ago all the so-called industry experts were predicting its death and the development of online-only multiplayer games surged. However, a few years later in retrospect, the poster-child failures of Evolve, and to a lesser degree Titanfall and Star Wars: Battlefront, points to a major disconnect between these developers and the people who play their games. Obviously, the creators did not expect their games to fail so quickly post release and given that these titles won all sorts of critical awards and received high praise in graphics and design, that leaves something vastly wrong with their assessment of what gamers really want. When you're talking millions of dollars in production costs, that's one serious miscalculation. Although the newest gen games can be very pretty to look at and use all the latest, greatest technology, eye candy is fleeting whereas the age-old aspects of what makes people tick is not. A sure fire formula for a quick demise is this trend toward lack of enough content on Triple AAA priced releases, price-gouging on DLC, lack of options, unstable servers and most importantly of all, failing to keep the player emotionally invested. As to advertised single-player modes, many of them are generally just challenge maps and not story-driven campaigns. Add to that list that although social networking plays a big role in today's gaming, to bet the farm on this one aspect is to turn a blind eye to many gamers who just don't want to be connected to other people day and night, nor play with total strangers in what is often a toxic environment.

Although some people would scoff at Call of Duty as an example of a winning formula that encompasses both modes, you can't argue with commercial success, although they too have been fumbling around with this in recent years. Single-player and multiplayer offer two very different emotional experiences and people want strong contenders in both modes. The typical argument has been that users don't play the single-player content and therefore it's a waste of resources to develop it. However, this assessment may be intentionally disingenuous or may not be based on good analyses. When primarily single-player games toss in under-developed multiplayer modes, they die quickly and perhaps the opposite is true. Multiplayer games with tacked on poor single-player modes, could result in the same effect and lead to the conclusion that people don't play these. There's also an underlying psychology to consumer mentality and perhaps the most glaring example of a failure to recognize this is a game called The Flock. It's premise of a world population that depletes until no one can play it was an unique idea that went horribly wrong. Every player death contributes to the reduction of a set number of spawns until the game dries up and becomes obsolete. One of the justifications for this premise was that most multiplayer games dry up anyway. Although it's no more than a statement of fact that most multiplayer games will eventually die, to hard code this into a game with a price tag was not wise and was doomed to fail. What's more worrisome is that the developers had zero understanding of the psychology behind planned obsolescence. Many consumers do not want to pay good money for games that don't give them the option of replaying them at some point down the road, or games that are unplayable if the servers are down, or worse, if they are officially shut down. It's immaterial whether gamers will play them or not, they want that option to remain open regardless.

Of course, as mentioned above, there are other factors besides the lack of a single player mode that will determine the success or failure of a game, but it's interesting that on this one point, Titanfall 2 and Battlefront 2 are slated to include single-player campaigns, which basically points to an admission that the developers didn't get it right the first time around. However, it remains to be seen just how much effort will be put into the mode. Additionally, as of July 7 2016, Evolve went Free To Play in an attempt to save the game. The next few years should prove interesting as developers and publishers try to figure out how to offer the best of both worlds. Fortunately, some in the industry recognize there is profitable room for diversity and the astonishing success of some single player games released in recent years prove that they won't be dying any time soon.

PLAYING MY PC GAMES BACKLOG: NOW PLAYING - MIRROR'S EDGE

MIRROR'S EDGE close

Mirror's Edge is a particular type of game that focuses on a free-running style called parkour, which is a training discipline that defines any type of movement required to navigate through an environment without the aid of devices. Although many games might utilize some form of parkour, Mirror's Edge differs in that the main attraction is the parkour. Although there are some combat options thrown in, the game is designed around evasion being the best tactic. That makes it rather a niche game for people whose main interest is the challenge of mastering the art of "parkouring" your way out of trouble.

For the most part though, the developers have done a very good job with the parkour mechanics. A lot of the difficult jumps are a case of timing. I found this game a little different in that regard as usually long jumps require going past the point you think you should jump. In this game, it's a case of jumping sooner rather than later. However, mastering the runs really follows a pre-determined path and veering from them usually does not pan out. A lot of the survival rate relies on finding these correct routes while being chased. As much of the timing is tight, you could be replaying these areas till you become familiar with them.

The graphics are actually fairly basic. The characters are comic book style in the cut-scenes and the ingame interior environments are fairly sparse with lots of vivid lime green and yellow coloring. The exteriors are more detailed, but use a lot of whiteness that can actually be quite blinding at times, obscuring your vision. Red colored objects are clues to interactive areas and indicate jumping off points or climbable pipes. You can turn this aid called runner's vision on or off.

In an interview, the producer talked about the great story and our character Faith's view of the dystopian world. However, although I don't fault developers for being enthusiastic about their creations, having insider understanding of the character and plot is not the same thing as doing a good job of conveying that understanding to the audience. In this I feel the game failed.

Regardless, Mirror's Edge is fairly unique. Although other games use parkour as one element of gameplay, Mirror's Edge turns this mechanic into the game itself. The story is fairly thin, but the main focus of the game is not about the story, but all about how you get from A to B. The story is only a venue for giving you a reason to go there in the first place.

box cover
MIRROR'S EDGE
EA DICE - Action, Platform
EA DICE, a Swedish game developer, has been a subsidiary of Electronic Arts since 2006. The company was founded in 1992 under the name Digital Illusions and are probably best known the highly successful Battlefield franchise that began with the release of Battlefield 1942 in 2002.

Mirror's Edge was a big departure for the studio and although it was considered a risk, the studio wanted to create something new. They opted for a first-person view in the belief that seeing the world through Faith's eyes would make the player more connected to the character. The story portion, however, is told in cut scenes through 2D cartoon animation.

In an interview with Gamasutra, the producer outlined some of the thinking that went into development stating that the whole concept was to build a game around movement and to make a first-person game that was unique and outside of the typical genre.

Although Mirror's Edge ended up selling fairly well, much of that came from purchases long after its release. Therefore, there was a lot of uncertainty about the viability of a sequel. Although intentionally eschewing an open-world concept in the first game, its successor, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, embraces it by offering the player side missions and activities. However, the story is still purposely linear based. Unfortunately, the game received mixed reviews being praised for the parkour, but generally found unfavorable in most other aspects with many users deeming the game a step backwards in an otherwise unique IP.

THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMES

Of course everyone has their preferences, but I personally prefer single-player, story-driven games. As strictly a hobby site, the games featured and reviewed are geared to my tastes and are all ones that I personally own and have played to completion. In terms of approximately the 9,000 titles listed on Steam alone, it's a small collection, but it's also a good collection of the best single player PC games barring a few missteps. It's also dedicated to what some might call cheap gaming, but what I call affordable and still relevant gaming. Most of the top gaming sites will give you all the news on the latest and greatest games, but as they age, they quickly fall from the radar and current information on older games gets harder to find. And yet, SteamSpy, a site dedicated to Steam game statistics, shows that millions of PC gamers are still buying and playing these games.

So, I guess it's a pretty odd concept to have a current PC gaming site that deals with non-current games, but as a person on a limited budget, I count myself amongst the silent majority of bargain hunters. And as one of them, I want the latest information and updates on running those games. I don't like to forget the newbies either as I was once one of them, coming to PC gaming late and so the site also offers some advice and general information on the industry and the latest trends. There's also a section on understanding gaming system requirements, a section on how to install games and mods, and an often asked question regarding reputable distributors and third-party clients. As to the list of single player PC games in Features, for the most part, I can feel comfortable in recommending them. However, with literally thousands of available games, I only choose what I think will give me the best gaming experiences in their single player modes.

Each individual review page also provides screenshots, a trailer and lots of other information and quality links to issues like bug fixes, patches, other reviews, mods and which distributors are carrying the game. In addition to the hours spent playing, this all requires a lot of research, especially on older games where current information is often hard to find. That is why adding a review to the list takes time. Please check back often to see if a game you are interested in has been reviewed. This home page features a short preview commentary and screenshots of the next full game review that will be added to the Features list. You may also want to check that list for news on games you already own as any important game updates, such as remastered versions or announced sequels are bulleted and added to the end of the review. I try to update the site every two weeks with a new game, but sometimes life gets in the way and it could take a little longer.

ABOUT THE REVIEWS

Binary Domain screenshot
game box art
Recommended: Binary Domain
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Modes: Single Player, Multiplayer
PC Release: Apr 2007
Developer: Yakuza Team, Devil's Details
Steam Rating: Very Positive

You will find my reviews somewhat different than the mainstream as they concentrate on single-player, how the game looked and played for me, and what I enjoyed and didn't enjoy. They are based on complete playthroughs and targeted toward those who, like myself, just want to know if the game is relatively bug free, can be played on my system, and has a story or theme I like. Like books and movies, games we like are subject to personal tastes and all a reviewer can do is give you an idea if the game has features you might also like. Scores can take you only so far as they can be influenced by outside factors. The latest trend is to completely trash new releases on day-one before the game has been patched, resulting in very low scores that might never get reversed (although some of them deserve it). I usually play these games much later after most of the patches and improvements have been made. However, all game review pages include convenient links to a ton of information so that you can explore areas that are of interest to you such as system requirements, other reviews, forums, achievements or even mods and modding tools.

Another significant difference is that the mainstream reviews were done at the time of release, but GAB's reviews are written when played, which could be years after release. This impacts on how the older games look, feel, and run after technology has made vast strides in graphics and play. If you fine-tune your own gaming likes and dislikes, you will be less likely to be swayed by either hyped or overly negative reviews.

THE PC GAMING COMMUNITY

With the gaming industry constantly changing, Basics is an overview of the stuff every PC gamer should know about getting the best value
Visit  Install and learn how to download, install and uninstall your games, patches and mods. Install 2 will highlight an outstanding mod.
PC gamers are a community and actively interested in keeping it alive and healthy. In order to do this we need to help each other overcome problems that some may initially find intimidating. I have therefore included several tutorials that deal with the practical issues of PC gaming. Basics covers what you should know about gaming in general, and how to develop personal strategies that will avoid disappointments and give you the best bang for your buck. TechTalk explains the ins and outs of all the components listed for a PC game's system requirements, and Install shows how to install games or mods from discs or downloads. Features is a master list linking to individual game pages that provide a review, screenshots, specs and details about the game. In response to people asking about safe and reliable digital distributors and their client programs, a section has been added called GameClients that includes a short bio and how each site handles the downloads. The challenge in covering PC gaming lies in its versatility. Everyone's system is different and what works for some doesn't work for others. In conclusion, the more we assist each other, the better PC gaming will be! You've no doubt heard the expression that there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers and many gamers are quite happy to help.
With the gaming industry constantly changing, Basics covers what every gamer should know. Avoid errors, frustrations and disappointments
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