The good, the bad, and the very ugly games

It’s an ugly time of the semester. The adrenaline and rush of making new friends and RSO groups is over, the week’s ‘hiatus’ is marked by angst ahead of the exam crisis two weeks ahead, then it’s either a sigh of relief or a bigger sigh of defeat when those results come back .

Since we all freeze to death trying to memorize half a semester of vocabulary and formulas, there’s no better place to suffer than your local library. While Misery can keep you company in your search for quiet spots and tables not littered with the entire interior of a single student’s backpack, you can also explore the various materials you can borrow – including video games.

I’ve used student libraries to borrow games, more specifically retro titles (since a significant portion of the titles offered in the main decks are pre-Obama administration) that are much cheaper to rent and consume than collect them in shops. Well, cheaper in the immediate sense, without thinking about tuition and all.

All of these games are available for rent from the main library (as well as the various dorm mini-libraries) and all of these games are ugly. They are also pretty bad, but also very good in some departments.

Above all, they were very memorable experiences that I would not have played if they weren’t from the main library at the University of Illinois.

“Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days”

The Kane and Lynch games are quite notorious in the gaming review scene, with the origin of various high profile journalists and an entire news site accidentally coming from this series.

The sequel, which remains the only game preserved through Xbox’s backwards compatibility program, follows two middle-aged hit men on a mission to China to close a deal, but they accidentally kill the daughter of a mafia boss and find themselves on a violent Try to escape from Shanghai alive again.

Ugly would be the defining term of this game, set in a genuinely disgusting aesthetic of dingy urban decay, with morally bankrupt protagonists constantly cursing and blowing the heads off of everyone they meet. The game opts for a 2000s shaky camera direction, censoring blood and blinding the camera during shots with lens flares.

If you want a B-movie die-hard clone that you can beat in an afternoon, this seems to be the case the only game in your alley.

“Hitman Absolution”

Prequel to the franchise’s excellent 2016 reboot, Absolution is an odd middle ground between a 2010 Gears of War knockoff and a budget Splinter Cell. Ugly is the name of the game as all of the characters are grotesque, with a weird grunge aesthetic that belies the slick, stylish visuals of previous Hitman titles.

The plot, as well as the artistic direction, deviates from the Agent 47 norm by having a linear story of 47 trying to protect a little girl who has been genetically engineered to be a superweapon. Trying to find a storyline in a game series that’s iconic for its gameplay is a mistake learned from Doom 3, and this fared no better as it unfolded in a predictable boredom.

Still, the creative violence of “Hitman” is here, with unique means of eliminating targets and overcoming obstacles that remain, and the firing feels more responsive and viable than the restart – given that it’s almost mandatory in certain sections. It’s still fun to use, and it’s backwards compatible too.

“Silent Hill: Downpour”

The most interesting of the collection and probably the rarest of the PS3 games available outside of the physical Yakuza titles: Silent Hill: Downpour.

Silent Hill: Downpour is the last American Silent Hill game to be released as it ruined the franchise for years until a remake of Silent Hill 2 was announced this year. It’s a survival horror game from 2012 that came out when the whole genre was going through a very ugly phase where games like Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6 were trying to pack as much action as possible into their horror ‘ games pushed and all failed, almost killing their streak.

Downpour is no exception, as it features a lot more combat than traditional Silent Hill games, but it offers an unforgettable experience as it attempts to actualize the iconic world of Silent Hill in a way that doesn’t go down.

The game is an open world with side quests littering the town and monsters casually roaming in the fog, the atmosphere is really tight for such a dated looking game. The PS3 version suffered from frame-rate issues, and its lighting can go from stellar to junk depending on the wear and tear of the camera position. The game is in third-person perspective, a big step, but also loses the unique perspective to the fixed camera perspective from which survival horror games emerged.

The storyline tries to have a similar depth to the previous games and manages to maintain an interesting storyline of a convict being thrust into the nightmare city and having to face his guilt – although it ends up being a storyline that falls apart after thinking about it for a few minutes. Why doesn’t he leave town? Nothing prevents him from running away.

Either way, it remains a must-read for series fans who’ve been starving for decades, as well as gaming enthusiasts looking for franchise-killing entries.

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