Columns, Reviews & Short Stories
This is where our dire writers share the secrets of the universe with you, without having to rely on so-called "artists". In addition to short stories, you'll find our videogame and movie reviews to be direct and honest, free of the obfuscating conventions of mainstream media "journalism". Explore the history of videogames in our Retro Gaming section, or follow Arturo as he guides you through the idiosyncrasies of the World Wide Web.
List of All Game Reviews by Developer
Please excuse the dearth of content at the moment. Give me a chance to catch up, and Direman Press will have reviews for every Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and PC game that might be worth playing. This means that I'll simply be skipping the vast majority of crap which you shouldn't waste your time or money on anyway. I'll be continuing the style of review I used to post under the The Adventures of Dave the Direman comic strip - sticking to the point and informing you why you should or shouldn't play the game in question.
I also refuse to employ some nonsensical numerical system for evaluating games. What the heck does an 8.3 really mean? Is a 7.9 game not worth playing? Direman Press employs a viscerally simple grading system.
Paul Yim's film reviews will also feature the same grading system.
Rank S - Landmark games that should immediately go in your "must play" pile.
Rank A - Excellent games that are wholly recommended.
Rank B - Good, but either flawed in some way or not particularly outstanding. If the positive elements in the review appeal to you, don't hesitate to check them out.
Rank C - Competent games. There's nothing special about these games, and you won't be missing anything if you skip them.
Rank D - Simply bad. Skip these. Like I mentioned above, I usually won't even write up a review for these.
Rank F - Truly awful. These might be worth checking out solely for the comedic value of their atrociousness.
2008 Game of the Year
Winner - Grand Theft Auto IV (360, PS3, PC)
It later got a ton of backlash from wannabe-indie-cool-hipster gamers who get off on hating anything popular, and from juvenile chuffs who didn't want the series to grow up. But grow up it did. Grand Theft Auto IV created a massive and believable city to serve as the backdrop to the most emotionally dramatic narrative in the series thus far. This is a step forward for videogames.
Runner Up - Rock Band 2
Here's my wannabe-indie-cool-hipster pick. I realize most people don't consider this a "proper" videogame, but its impact on operation and sales of the music industry, and the new means by which we are able to digest the ancient art form warrants recognition.
Honorable Mention - Metal Gear Solid 4
The first honorable mention is somewhat hard for me to swallow. I constantly compare Metal Gear Solid 4 to Jabba the Hutt with Bikini Slave Leia. It makes me simultaneously want to vomit and rub one out. At its best, MGS4 transcends the medium to provide groundbreaking gameplay. At its worst, it's a self-indulgent regression into everything that's wrong with videogames. Regardless, this game is the best in the series and a monumental effort to push videogames forward as an art form. In the past, I've compared it to Birth of a Nation, a primitive and horrendously flawed movie that was nevertheless instrumental in the development of film as an art form. Or maybe Metal Gear Solid 4 is that very first lungfish to haul its ass out of the water onto dry land. That pathetic, gasping, flippered vermin must have been completely useless, yet a critically important landmark in the evolutionary chain. (Assuming that evolution was indeed the mechanism for the propagation of life ;)
Honorable Mention - Braid
And that makes two wannabe-indie-cool-hipster selections. The game's creator, Jonathan Blow, may be a pretentious blowhard, but he created a true masterpiece. This is the first downloadable game to earn a Rank S, and makes me a firm believer that the smaller downloadable space is capable of producing much more than throwaway arcade games.
2007 Game of the Year
Winner - BioShock (360, PC)
No other game this past year has done more to advance the cause of videogames developing into a legitimate art form. If you invest yourself in BioShock's atmosphere and storytelling, it delivers an experience rarely seen in the medium. Couple that with the flexible underlying game mechanics, toss in technical mastery, and BioShock is an absolute landmark.
Runner Up - Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (360, PS3, PC)
The single player is a traditional corridor gauntlet with lousy A.I. But it's still awesome. Between the technical expertise and the scripted events, Call of Duty 4 is the closest you can get to playing a fun action film. The multiplayer is outrageously good. By simply adding an RPG-esque leveling system, which unlocks weapons and perks, Call of Duty 4's multiplayer might be my favorite ever, delivering an utterly narcotic addiction.
Honorable Mention - The Orange Box (360, PC, the PS3 version shipped late and was less than optimal)
You get Half-Life 2, HL2 Episode 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2 in one package. This is stunning simply from a value proposition. Half-Life 2 is a few years old, but it's a legendary title and completely new to many console gamers. Episode 2 might be the single best portion of the Half-Life saga (truly high praise), tightly combining organic game design and storytelling. Portal is the single best three hour game ever. Team Fortress 2 (now that it's working on the 360 version) is awesome, but sadly drowned out by the glut of awesome first person shooters.
Episode Two and Portal seriously gave me pause as to where The Orange Box belonged on this years' list, but ultimately, the bulk of the content isn't new. And as great as Portal is, if I was buying it individually, I wouldn't want to have paid more than $20 for such a haiku of a videogame.
Honorable Mention - Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Remember Super Mario Brothers on the NES? Super Mario 64? Galaxy has the same pick up and have a blast factor. Every inch of this game is jam packed with a variety of pure fun. You can also pick and choose what to do. If one level doesn't float your boat, you'll be sure to find tons that do. If you only have 30 minutes to play, you can enjoy that small portion as a satisfying gaming experience. If you want to go hardcore and pursue all 121 stars, you'll enjoy the best "pure" videogame in the...geez, past decade?
2006 Game of the Year
Winner - Gears of War (360)
Gears of War knocked off Halo 2 as the most played game on Xbox Live. Between the cover system, military grittiness, gorgeous graphics, and the ability to fucking chainsaw your enemy into bloody halves, Gears of War was the best gaming experience all year.
Runner Up - Company of Heroes (PC)
What? Innovation in the Real Time Strategy genre? Players are rewarded for combat orientated tactical play instead of hyper-managing peon driven economies?! First person shooters have been embracing the "find, fix, and flank" basic military doctrine, but Company of Heroes is the first RTS to deliver it in any meaningful fashion. It's filled with incredibly deep strategic and tactical options that are delivered by great A.I. and a resource system that doesn't overpower the gameplay.
Honorable Mention - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC, Wii)
I consider Ocarina of Time to be the "greatest" game of all time, and Twilight Princess is, in essence, a bigger and better remake of Ocarina. If you play only one Zelda game ever, this is the one. Nintendo packed it to bursting in terms of quantity and quality of dungeons (the savory nutmeat of any Zelda game).
Honorable Mention - Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
This series went to shit after FF VII, bogged down in unpleasant game mechanics and even more unenjoyable thematic rehashes. FF XII is finally a true sequel to this once great franchise that feels fresh, from the mechanics to the story and characters.
2005 Game of the Year - Call of Duty 2 (360, PC)
Call of Duty 2 wins for being the first title to deliver on next-gen promise. It's gorgeously cinematic and the best World War II shooter from the developers that also brought you the second and third best ever WWII shooters (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and the original Call of Duty).
Runner Up - Resident Evil 4 (GC)
This is how you reinvent a flagging franchise. Resident Evil 4 overhauls the clunky control scheme and immerses you into an unrelentingly tension-filled audiovisual masterpiece. This game is simply exciting from beginning to end.
Honorable Mention - God of War (PS2) and Ninja Gaiden Black (Xbox)
Fun with attitude. These are among the best third person action games to ever be published. The action is accessible, allowing God of War's Kratos (one of the coolest game protagonists) to majorly kick ass. I personally prefer Ninja Gaiden's hardcore gameplay, because I love being punished until I'm awesome, but I couldn't deny God of War's mainstream appeal.
Honorable Mention - Civilization IV
The greatest strategy game of all time is back with more options and refined game mechanics.
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