It takes consistently satisfying gameplay to offset the aggravation of dying in a video game repeatedly, but Vlambeer’s post-apocalyptic top-down shooter Nuclear Throne delivers that in spades (despite being technically unfinished at this time). From the moment you’re thrown into action as one of 8 mutant avatars, you’ll shred wasteland beasties with gratifying weaponry while customizing your play style using a creative selection of “mutation” abilities. You’ll die often, yes, but it’s all the more opportunity to try another weapon set or mutation build and come back deadlier than ever. The action’s so fast-paced and visceral that you’ll often want try something new anyway.
I wrote this Torchlight II guide while playing and replaying and playing again.
Contact me for permission to use it. No one has permission to copy or share it otherwise. It’s here in full so you shouldn’t need to steal it anyway.
Video game testing is the kind of job most people automatically assume is wonderful. Getting paid to deathmatch, teabag co-workers, and overdose on free caffeinated drinks for at least eight hours a day sounds like a raucous good time, many might say. People seem to forget that game testing is still a job and, like any job, it comes with its fair share of mind-numbing objectives and office drama. Sure, game testing is chest-slappingly easy and arguably more fun than a typical job, but don’t convince yourself that you’ll love it until you’ve tried it.
In fact, as a lifelong gamer, I’ve come to fucking hate game testing. Having worked for a few different companies on more than 10 titles (mostly uncredited), it’s left me with a distaste for monotony and pure, boiling hatred for inefficient policy. Many great things about game testing exist, but they come with a price that, for irritable people like me, far outweighs the benefits. So, in the spirit of the holidays, here are my top reasons working as a game tester suckles moist cat balls.
It’s sometimes surprising if not downright amazing what social networking can do for you. I really only joined Twitter to compliment fortytwo points with some real-time updates and I never thought it would actually lead me anywhere I cared to be. This part’s not surprising, but I was wrong.
As I investigated my few followers in an effort to determine how crazy they must be to have taken an interest in my Twitter account, I found that one of them (at least) probably isn’t an individual. Instead, they turned out to be a gaming service.
Despite the toll spent reading CSS, Windows networking and Eckhart Tolle books, I’ve managed to squeeze in some video gaming recently. When the Battlefield Heroes servers came down for maintenance recently however, my routine was interrupted and I had to find something else to enjoy. Along came X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and I was relieved.
It’s good to see Raven Software’s kept their standards of quality consistent over the years, and Wolverine does not fail to deliver in the quality department. Thanks to the action-paced gameplay, you really get a feel for what being Wolverine could be like, and holy shit is it awesome (most of the time).
Klei Entertainment’s Shank is an ultra-violent beat ‘em up about a man driven to vengeance after being betrayed by his own gang. It’s a tale that often feels one-part spaghetti Western and two-parts Tarantino/Rodriguez flick, and that is no coincidence considering they were core inspirations for the game’s style. The similarities don’t end there though, as the soundtrack sounds like it was written and performed by Robert Rodriguez himself. Like his work, it is constantly building by way of guitars of Spanish influence, and it sets a rhythm that is always motivating you to gut just one more bad(der) guy.
Each track of the album speaks for a segment of Shank’s story. Acoustic guitars lay the groundwork for the return of the titular character after his misfortune and suspense is somewhat erratically heightened by the sparse wails of an electric guitar. The pace of the drums subsequently quickens as new songs follow and emotional impact elevates dramatically with each confrontation. Whether playing the game or enjoying the music by itself, one can’t help but conceive notions of combating your own foes by any means necessary, and while this may not be the healthiest mentality it certainly is an invigorating one.
The pacing of the whole is seamless and if you sit alone listening to just this soundtrack, it seems to defy the necessity of an accompanying game or graphics. There is a rich tapestry of instruments and minute flourishes here that brings you alongside the protagonist even without a controller in your hands, and perhaps that’s what makes this soundtrack stand so well on its own. Even without the elements for which it was created, the music of Shank can tell a terribly intriguing story.
The best part comes last though; all 13 tracks are available entirely free at ShankGame.com thanks to a deal offered by the developers and the 3,000 Facebook fans who fulfilled their end of it. Each song can be downloaded individually or as part of a compilation file for ease, or even streamed straight off the site itself if you just want a sample. While you’re there I highly suggest you check out some of the fantastic artwork and game trailers as they do a great job of setting the mood even when you are not playing.
Literally my only complaint is that on their own, some of the songs can seem fairly similar, however in the context of the game it is not noticeable in the slightest. This is not only one of the best looking, most fun, and ludicrously violent games available today, it’s also accompanied by an excellent soundtrack that any fan of ambient, Western, or rock music should enjoy.
The Shank soundtrack is available now on the Playstation Network ($14.99) and Xbox Live Arcade (1200 points), and will allegedly be available “very soon” for the PC via Steam. – Score: 4/5