Friday, September 30, 2011

[REDCATED] and Dead Space 2... DOUBLE SNOOZE!  


Games: I was quite surprised when a copy of [REDACTED] showed up at the office the other day. Totally unrequested and arriving out of the blue, it was a real treat to open the envelope and see what was inside… My excitement didn't last long, though.

Since the game is still under embargo, I can't share any specific info, but I will say that the way [REDACTED] turned out isn't really a surprise considering some of the comments made by people involved in its development.

Honestly, I put about an hour into it before booting it out of my 360 and calling it done. I won't be reviewing it, and I'm pretty glad about that. The thought of having to put more time in is not appealing at all.

I suppose most I can say about it is that it starts off on the wrong foot, the story is quickly shown to be an ignored afterthought, and the general design feels free of inspiration and totally by-the-numbers. If [REDACTED] had shown up two or three years ago, I probably would have been more impressed. As it stands (and based on the hour I played) it seems extremely late to the party.


After putting [REDACTED] aside, I moved on to Dead Space 2. It wasn't high on my list of things to play this year, but I've heard several people say that it was a serious contender as their GOTY, and several more say that it's going to be on their top ten of 2011. After getting through about a third of it, I can’t imagine why anyone would think so highly of it.

Of course, it's quite beautiful and very polished. Based on looks alone, it's certainly impressive. However, I've never been a critic that's been easily swayed by graphics. Once the pretty is pulled away, it's basically a predictable corridor shooter that relies heavily on jump scares and back-attacks to get the best of players.

If you read my Dead Space review, then you'll know that I wasn't too high on the first game. However, in comparing the two, I'd have to say that I think I actually prefer the first one over the sequel. Dead Space 2 (so far, anyway) feels like a retread that's heavier on the combat and doesn't significantly change or improve anything.

Like I said, I've only seen about a third of the game so my opinion may change as I get further in, but... I kind of doubt it.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why my 4 is your 9 – A little piece on the unspoken three-tier review system.  


So... reviews and review scores. It’s crazy stuff, right?

Anyone who plays games has their own opinion on the right and wrong way to do a review, and oddly, it's tougher than you’d think to find two people who agree on what a good review is -- or how it should be scored. Anyone who spends five minutes on the Internet knows this to be true, but if there’s ever a need for further proof, just get a group of gamers together, pick any review, and an argument will break out in a matter of moments.

Reviews, scores, opinions, and biases... what does it all mean, how can we wrangle all of these things together into some coherent form that will make sense -- and why does talking about the subject get so many people worked up?

As someone who’s been writing game reviews and other random stuff over the last twelve years, I think it's fair to say that I've been thinking a little bit about the subject. I don't claim to be an expert by any means and I'm not trying to assert that I have the "right" answer, but I've seen the same themes and arguments brought up time and time again, and in my view, they often boil down to one common issue:

A review is not a review… except when it is.

What could that possibly mean? Well, there’s a lot of games-oriented writing out there, and it seems to me that too much of it is lumped under the catch-all category of "reviews." However, that's not a very accurate term in light of the reality, and putting apples and oranges in the same bag leads to a lot of friction when discussions arise. While I think human nature and subjective opinion play a large part of that (and always will), I think an even larger part is the fact that there are many ideas about what a review actually is, what one should be, and what the ratings numbers represent.

So, what is a review?

Looking at the types of writing that fall under that umbrella, I think "reviews" can be divided into three broad categories.


Category 1: Consumer Advice.

This is a standard list of features that most reviewers start with when they begin their writing career, and it's the sort of template that many people look for when trying to decide whether or not to purchase a game. Consumer Advice pieces tend to break themselves up into categories like Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, Replayability, and so on, each with their own score.

This is the kind of writing that I tend to call the "laundry list" because its reason for being is to act as a long-form checklist of features and content. I don't notice much critical examination in pieces like this, outside of brief, unsubstantiated judgments like "the graphics here are awesome" or "the sound effects of the guns really blew me away".

At the end, there’s usually a cumulative score which may or may not be a numerical average of the previous categories, or some sort of buy/rent/avoid summation.

Category 2: The Critique.

The Critique concerns itself with deciding whether or not a game is successful based on its own merits. This is done by examining various parts of it, why they work, or why they don't. Comparing a particular title with others in the same genre is common, and writers in this category tend to be quite knowledgeable about specific development studios and/or the developers themselves.

Critique pieces often select certain technical aspects to discuss, but they aren't burdened with the obligation of mentioning every single part of the game. Additionally, non-technical elements are often woven into the text, such as the merits and quality of characterization, overall themes in the story, and so on.

Critiques are meant to judge the success of the game itself, and are not a strict buy/don’t buy metric for purchase. These types of pieces often have numerical scores, but most authors in this vein will say that they'd rather not have them.

Category 3: The Think Piece (a.k.a – The Meditation)

Think Pieces are a different sort of beast than the previous two categories. In general, they are pieces of writing that often exist to illustrate a personal experience, or to communicate how the author related to the subject material without getting into the minutiae of framerate comparisons, number of features, multiplayer options, and so on.

These types of pieces often have some sort of intellectual conceit or trickery to them; one might be written in the voice of a character from the game being discussed, one might exist as a first-person player narrative describing a particularly emotional scene, or the author may relate a personal anecdote from their real life and draw comparisons to issues raised in what they're playing. There is a much wider range in the form and structure of a Think Piece than the previous two categories, and they are not limited to the examples I've outlined here. As a way of further illustrating the kind of free-form structure of these pieces may take, I think this piece on Infinity Blade or this one on LA Noire are great examples.

Authors who are thoughtful and creative enough to thrive in this category are usually clear in insisting that their work is not meant as a "review" or evaluation, but there are certainly times when such pieces end up with numerical scores at the end and make their way to one of the review aggregate sites. Ideally, these pieces should not carry a score.


I freely admit that the categorizations I'm putting forth here are painted with extremely broad strokes, but the conversation has to start somewhere and I see this as a first step.

If for the sake of argument these categories can be accepted as a given (at least for the time it takes you to finish reading this piece) then all the disagreements and rancor that spring up from conversations about review scores and "good" or" bad" reviews start to make a little more sense... after all, someone in need of Consumer Advice will be totally dissatisfied with a Think Piece, and someone wanting to sink their teeth into a Critique might see a Think Piece as capriciously weightless, or a Consumer Advice breakdown as ignorant of deeper examination. With these three types of writing lumped together and all of it called a "review", is it any wonder why no one can agree to a proper scoring system, or how to use one?

(…And of course, these issues are apart from the abuse of Metacritic by tying compensation to numbers, or of the pressures placed on reviewers by publishers or their employers with revenue at stake – not to mention the pervasive mindset of many that a score of 8 is ‘average’. All of these are entirely separate discussions.)

So what’s the point of all this?

The point is to say let's start acknowledging (and accepting) the fact that the giant rootball of “reviews” is actually comprised of distinctly different styles of writing catering to distinctly different audiences. They all serve their own purposes and none is inherently better than the rest, so let's stop using the word "review" to describe all of them and start operating with different expectations – under such a way of thinking, it would make total sense (and be explainable) for one game to score a 9 for a Consumer Advice breakdown and a 4 if Critiqued.

Maybe once we get our foundations laid properly, we can start to clear the air about how to properly discuss games, and in what context… In my view, any sort of action towards that goal is long, long overdue.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back in action  


Well, it's been quite some time since I updated the blog... my apologies go out to all of my regular readers. I try my best to post something at least every two or three days, but the last couple of weeks have really been pretty crushing. I've heard some people say that "life gets in the way", and I suppose that's been true as of late.

Anyway, thanks for tuning back in after so much dead air. I'm hoping to get back on track and begin posting regularly again, so here we go!


Games: I just finished Dead Island a day or two ago (playing on 360) and I have to say that I had a  fantastic time with it.

I'm currently in the process of finalizing my Second Opinion review, but here is @GC_Danny’s take on it in the meantime. Personally, I think he's a little too hard on it, but I see where he's coming from. My breakdown will be much more positive, and the game will absolutely earn itself a spot on my year-end Top Ten. In fact, I liked it so much that I completed every single sidequest in the entire game, and that's not something that I do very often...

In other games news, I spent some time with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron today and I really did not like it.

Well, I suppose I should explain... the graphics were fantastic. The level of style and imagination was superb, and every minute spent in the worlds of that title felt like some kind of trippy hallucination. Words cannot describe the kind of visuals happening there. On the other hand, no game can exist on the quality of its visuals alone, and El Shaddai is a perfect example of that.

I have a very hard time understanding how the developers thought the overly-simplistic gameplay (one button for attack, a small number of repeated enemy types) would be enough to carry a full retail game. Within an hour, I was already tired of fighting the same opponents, and there's nothing entertaining at all about pounding on the X button to perform the same combos over and over again. Throw in level designs that are little more than long hallways and platforming that's twice as difficult as it needs to be thanks to the surreal visuals, and you've got a formula for unhappy times.

The game is stunningly beautiful, but there's just no excusing such shallow play.

Coming from the ‘OMFG’ department, I was quite excited to see that Treasure’s Radiant Silvergun finally became available for download on XBLA.

Younger players have probably never heard of it, but it was one of those "holy grail" games back in the day… it never got localized for the United States, so people in shmup circles were grief-ridden that they were missing out on what was allegedly one of the best shooters ever made.

Of course, it was available as an import for a little while, but prices soon skyrocketed and it quickly rose beyond the reach of the average gamer, including myself. Back then, it was quite common to hear of the game going for between $200-$400, and a quick peek at eBay shows that there are several copies still in that price range. At the time, I figured that it would get localized sooner or later, and being patient would pay off.

...Of course, I had no idea that it would take THIRTEEN YEARS to get localized, but hey, it's here now!

After putting a couple of hours into it, I definitely think that certain aspects of it are utterly brilliant. It's also hard as hell, and it's been quite some time since I've had to use my shmup skills in any meaningful way. I am quite rusty, so I haven't made much progress. I plan to keep at it, though.

For those of you who plan to check it out, I was tipped off by GC reader Sleeveboy that playing in Story Mode and saving to the same file lets players level-up their weapons and earn extra lives as a way of dealing with the stiff difficulty. His tip was on the money, and I would suggest that anyone else do the same.

Finally, just a quick reminder to everyone that Dark Souls will be launching on 360/PS3 on October 4.

After much back-and-forthing and a couple of check-ins with my Twitter people, I decided to go PS3… it really sucks to have to choose which console to get a game for, since no matter which one I choose, there will inevitably be a number of people who I would like to play with but won't be able to.


Anyway, game looks amazing, etc. etc. Can’t wait!


Comics: I haven't forgotten about the second part of my comics update, but I had to put it on the back burner for the moment. If everything goes according to plan, look for that in my next post.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Placeholder Post  


Apologies for the lack of updates. The last fourteen-ish days have been so slammed-busy that they've allowed me the least amount of free time I think I've ever had, pretty much EVER. Ever.


Hoping things are gonna slow down in the next few days so I can get back to a more normal schedule... The next blog update will be part two of my comics rundown with a guest blogger chipping in, and then probably more game stuff to come afterwards.

Side note: We'll be recording anther GameCritics podcast this weekend. Got any topics you're burning to hear us discuss? Let me know!

In the meantime, Dead Island is still awesome (it's been pretty well patched by now, so don't be afraid to jump in) and our family bought an annual pass to the Woodland Park Zoo, so I see a lot of penguins and elephants in our future.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Back soon!


Friday, September 16, 2011

A Comics Rundown!  


Comics: For a change of pace tonight, I decided to read through my long-neglected stack of comics and see what was what. Here's the rundown...

>Invincible, The Walking Dead, Halcyon, The Sixth Gun… these are some of my most regular reads, I've mentioned them before, and they’re all still going strong. I give all four of these books a hardcore Recommend. Just buy 'em already. 

>Bone. If you know anything about comics at all, it's pretty likely that you've heard about this series from Jeff Smith. It's won pretty much every award possible, has great art and characters, and is a fun read for both kids and adults. I went through large chunks of it with my oldest son and he loved it, but he would keep on reading after I put him in bed. As a result, I ended up missing out on large parts of the story. Fixing that now. Recommended.

>Witch Doctor #1,2. This is a really fun, really dark four-issue limited series about a doc who cures people of their supernatural ailments in brutal ways. The thing that really interested me were the fresh takes on things like vampires, fairies, and so on. The names might be the same, but the interpretations of these creatures are quite new. Recommended.

>Carbon Grey #1. After asking my local comic shop guy (what up, Scott!) about this book, he tells me that it's selling like gangbusters. I asked him if he knew what the hell it was about, and he couldn't say. To be honest, I can't tell you either. I took a chance due to the stunning artwork, but after a read-through, it strikes me as all-style, no-substance. There's some nonsense about a quasi-Nazi regime, matching imagery, lots of blood, loads of half-naked women... I can't really make heads or tails of it, though. Not recommended.

>50girls50 #1. I have to say, I'm a little embarrassed that I bought this. I'm a big Frank Cho fan, so the cover and his name as a writer convinced me, but it seems like a lightweight T&A sci-fi romp with little else going for it. That might have been enough back when I was sixteen, but it's not enough to convince me to pick up the next issue. Not recommended.

>Severed #1. Out of the whole stack I read, this one impressed me the most. The artwork is moody, utilizing ashen tones and a good balance between detail and impression. This book tells the story of a boy who runs away from home to join the service during (I'm guessing) the Great Depression. At the same time, a different boy is adopted from an orphanage... unfortunately, once the boy is away from the safety of the orphanage, things don't go very well... I'm eagerly looking forward to the second issue. Recommended.

> Rachel Rising #1. I've been a big Terry Moore fan ever since Strangers in Paradise, and this new series is apparently his take on a non-traditional zombie story. I love his art and he's got some of the best storytelling in the business, in terms of characters that actually display human feelings and responses. On the other hand, I have to be brutally honest and say that his work feels padded lately. As I was reading through his previous run (Echo) I often found myself waiting to read them until I had at least four or five issues in-hand since I didn't feel as though I got very much story from each issue. I still love the guy’s work, but at $4 a pop, I expect a little more substance. At this point, it's a tentative Recommended.

>Nonplayer #1. Apparently everybody in the world had heard about this book before I did, but it's an absolutely beautiful story about people playing a futuristic MMO. The artwork is just phenomenal and the story hooked me right away. Apparently it takes the creator forever and a day to craft each issue (comic shop guy Scott tells me the plan is for one new book every six months) but if all the issues are going to be of this quality, I'm down with that. As a side note, it seems as though Hollywood has already snapped up the movie rights… impressive. Recommended.

>Jennifer Blood #1, 2, 3.  If you ask me who my favorite comics writer is, there's a pretty good chance that I would say Garth Ennis on any given day. However, I've been a little disappointed in this book. Telling the story of a cold-blooded assassin who masquerades as a housewife, I haven't found a lot to keep my interest. A lot of talking, some killing... nothing really stands out after three issues, so I won't be coming back for a fourth. Not recommended.

>Screamland #1. A wildly fun read, this book is based on the idea that movie monsters are real monsters, and they have ups and downs just like anyone else. In the first issue, the creature from the Black Lagoon kills himself in a hot tub full of cocaine and leaves behind a copy of a long-lost porn movie. Someone doesn't want that movie to be shown, and is willing to kill to prevent it. The art matches the subject matter perfectly, and the writers are on the mark. Recommended.

I've got a few more comics to talk about, so look for part two of my comics rundown in the next update.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hands-On Preview: Insanely Twisted Shadow Hunters!  


Games: Last friday, a small group organized by @PNWJournos ( was invited to the Fuelcell Games studios for a sneak peek at upcoming DLC for one of the 2011’s best titles, XBLA’s Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.

Hosted by Joe Olson, John Scrapper and Michel Gagne, the event gave our journos (including myself) the honor of being the first people outside the studio to try out Insanely Twisted Shadow Hunters, and it did not disappoint.

Structured as an addition to the main game similar to the already-included Lantern Run mode, Shadow Hunters changes things up by incorporating many more elements taken directly from the campaign, while still offering an experience all its own. Essentially, it can be best summed up by a comparison – if Lantern Run was about split-second reactions and speed, Shadow Hunters is about teamwork and risk/reward.

This new mode begins with a cutscene that picks up exactly where the final scene of Shadow Planet left off. Although players who completed the campaign can feel proud that they cleansed the globe of evil “shadowsauce”, as the camera pulls back, it's revealed that there is still a ring of asteroids corrupted by the darkness. Clearly, the player’s work is not done.

Up to four players can hop into their own customizable saucers and head out into the series of large rocks in orbit. Once the game begins, players must tow a large light bomb to the core of the current asteroid. It’s similar to carrying the lantern around, with a few twists; first, the bomb has a final destination. Second, the bomb has abilities, unlike the inert lanterns. After acquiring a powerup, the bomb can activate a cannon mounted on its rear for self-defense. It can also generate a large shield, rendering it (and anything within the shield) invincible for a limited time – it’s great for making a quick push towards the goal.

Structurally, each level is a small world complete with respawn points, combat arenas, and powerups to earn. However, the catch is that the light bomb has a running timer counting down towards ‘splodesville. The time can be recharged by reaching certain points, but the pressure of being on a clock never goes away. Players must balance the bomb’s impending doom with the potential reward of earning weapons, shield upgrades or other helpful items found through exploration.

Another place Shadow Hunters varies from Lantern Run is the inclusion of bosses at the core of each asteroid. It’s not enough to just get the bomb to the goal in time, players also have to finish off the guardian before claiming victory. Interestingly, the bomb loses time when hit, so even during boss battles at least one player must care for it and shepherd it around to avoid attacks.  If everyone focuses on the boss, it’s all too easy for the bomb to get banged up and go kablooey before it’s desired.

Despite the differences, there’s one place where Shadow Hunters is similar to Lantern Run – it’s hard. Though the version we played was still in the process of being tweaked, Fuelcell stated that the extra modes were intended to be more ‘hardcore’ than the more easygoing campaign. Players who take the time to learn the intricacies of the design will certainly get more out of it, and more casual saucer pilots should be prepared for a stiffer level of difficulty than might be expected.

At the time of the hands-on, there was no official launch price or release date for Insanely Twisted Shadow Hunters. However, when asked, Fuelcell stated that this DLC will likely be the last addition to the game. Although they weren’t able to disclose any info on their next project, Gagne mentioned that he was ready to tackle a different visual style and leave silhouettes behind. Expect the next Fuelcell project to be a change of pace for the studio, both in terms of gameplay and visuals.


Infinite thanks to Joe Olson, John Scrapper, Michel Gagne, and the rest of Fuelcell Games. Look for Insanely Twisted Shadow Hunters to hit XBLA in the near future, and if you see me online, feel free to hit me up for some co-op!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

PAX Prime 2011 - The photos  


Games: It’s a little overdue, but to finally close out my PAX Prime 2011 coverage, enjoy this handful of photos I took in and around the show. Comments on each pic!


This Skyrim dragon was absolutely HUGE... This picture does not do justice to the sheer size of it at all.  

One of the broke-ass hoopties from Rage. They get awful mileage. 

This was as much of Bioshock Infinite as I got to see. The line to get in was ridiculous.

Come on now, those little legs really can't support that fatty torso.

This is where pineapples come from.

Truly a bad-ass costume, but it had to have been hot as hell in there.

The booth for had actual grandmas baking hot cookies for passersby. Best. Booth. EvAr. 

Just one of 42,000,000 Star Wars cosplayers.

He's clearly casting an Interrupt.


This Marcus statue had a dedicated guard sitting just slightly off-camera all day long. Felt REALLY sorry for that guy. It must have been the most boring assignment in the world.  

I recognize The Tick and The Moth, but the others? Uhh.....

That big piece of gear behind the figures moved and pounded LOUDLY, as though it was actually terraforming the show. 

So gross.

This group had actually sent out an email blast advertising FREE BEER at their gathering. Apparently the PR company repping them didn't 'get' the whole religious connection going on.  An amended email (minus the beer) came almost immediately after.

Will eviscerate for food.

Another really cool 'needs help to go to the restroom'  getup.

Best MK cosplayers of the show. They didn't have the most detailed costumes,  but when the middle guy busted out  that Friendship, I had to applaud. 

The bathroom he just came out of is now 100% free of necromorphs. 

Kind of hard to tell from this angle, but this Tank from L4D2 was enjoying a mocha. 

These folks were doing zombie makeup for showgoers, and they were doing an *amazing* job. 

My last game came out when?

This guy's costume was much less impressive after he jumped off the third-floor balcony and his wings failed to open.



That's it for PAX coverage this year. As always, it was a phenomenal experience and one of my favorite times of the year. If you've never been, I'd strongly encourage you to go... There is literally nothing else like it!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Dead Island Impressions  


Games: Been putting some time into Dead Island, so I figured I’d throw out some random impressions for those who are curious.

To start with, there is no doubt that this game is buggy.

It's not terrible (and from what I gather, it doesn't seem to be on-par with the number of unhappy reports that plagued Fallout: New Vegas) but there are quite a few issues that crop up. To be fair, most of them are pretty minor... things like picking up a certain weapon and having that weapon’s icon replaced with a giant red pixel, or trying to track down a minor quest item and having the map direct you to the center of a swimming pool with nothing in it.

On the other hand, my comrade @GC_Danny is much further in the game than I am, and from what he's suggested, the game starts to fall apart in more serious ways as the player gets closer to completion.

That makes a fair bit of sense since not very many people ever finish games, and if the developers made sure to polish the first few hours as much as possible, that would buy them some time to come back and finish the endgame later. I can't say that I’ve seen any of the problems that Dan has reported (glitched quests that can't be completed, an escort mission that respawns players in a location surrounded by enemies, and so on.) However, I did hit a save glitch that basically erased an hour’s worth of playtime… I regained lost ground pretty quickly, but the fact remains that such issues should never occur.

So is the game all bad? Should you stay far away? No, not at all... while it might be wise to wait another week or two for the inevitable patches to come, when the game works it's a fantastic experience.

The island of Banoi is a massive location, and players are free to roam at-will. At the moment I'm still in the beach resort area, but from what I gather there are several other large chunks of real estate to be discovered. No one can say that this is a small game. Having lived briefly on an island myself, I was impressed with the way the landscape was modeled and much of the territory felt "correct," if that makes sense.

Also, as a fan of zombies in general, I've always been disappointed that no game has ever really captured the sense of being a survivor surrounded by the undead, having to scavenge for materials, canvassing abandoned buildings, or banding together with survivors. Some games have certainly captured elements of this classic zombie formula, but none have nailed it. While there are a few things I would change about Dead Island, I think it comes closer than any other game I've played to what I would imagine a "real" zombie apocalypse would be like.

It may seem tedious or perhaps a little less than exciting, but picking your way through an empty hotel lobby and searching bags for usable items helps establish a desperate atmosphere. Even better, it's great to enter an unknown area in search of supplies only to hear survivors screaming for help from a nearby bungalow. Happening upon people in dire circumstances (who are definitely worse off than yourself) and helping them out is quite satisfying, and again reinforces the feeling of banding together in times of need.

I've also really enjoyed the way the game takes some normal locations and turns them into puzzles of a sort, without completely destroying the believability of the situation. For example, I came across a fortified cabin with a non-infected person asking my help to get inside. After a bit of searching, I figured out how to get over the wall and unlocked the doors from within. In another area, power lines were down and created a deadly pool of electrified water. Although it was definitely a contrived situation put there to make the player work a little bit, it wasn't outside the realm of possibility and didn't gag me with over-the-top gamey-ness.

As far as the story goes, it's still early days but I've been quite satisfied with what I've gotten so far. As expected, the bulk of quests have been about fetching materials that are required to help send out a distress signal, finding lost relatives, or gathering food and survival supplies for survivors holed up in one of the island’s few “safe” areas. It's not Shakespeare, but it's very appropriate for the subject material and provides me with more than enough motivation to get out there and decapitate some undead. By way of comparison, if Borderlands (which some people have said Dead Island is similar to) had made even a third of the effort that Dead Island does in terms of story, maybe I’d have ended up with a better opinion of it.

A couple other quick notes:

>It's really unfortunate that one of the game’s developers exercised some exceedingly poor judgment and used the “feminist whore” title that was discovered buried in the code, but it's really not reflective of Dead Island in general. In fact, it's pretty ironic, but before hearing about this issue I was actually discussing with some friends how positive the portrayals of the game’s two female characters were. For example, I can't say that I've seen anything sexist or stereotypical about my own character (the Asian female blade user) and the fact that the game stars three non-white characters (out of four) is definitely something worth noting.

>Using money in the game is probably the one thing I've seen so far that just makes no sense whatsoever. 

Since weapons degrade rather quickly through use, players must seek out workbenches and repair them. Rather than requiring metal, wires, sharpening stones or other things that someone would assume would be needed to repair a weapon, it just takes... money

Ironically, the game throws a mountain of collectibles at the player, but those are used only to create special custom weapons (a bomb made out of deodorant, a bat studded with nails, etc.) but when it comes to patching up a cracked hammer or restoring the edge on a well-used machete, all it takes is cash. As the game goes on, a lot of cash. It doesn't make any sense and having to constantly play banker becomes a drag -- as the zombies level up with your character, it takes tougher and tougher weapons in order to keep taking them down. Higher-level weapons require more cash to repair, and before you know it, all that money you didn't know what to do at the start of the game turns into $3 and a pile of weapons that you can't afford to fix.

I think I'm done ranting for the moment, but I would like to close out by saying that despite all of the complaints that can legitimately be leveled against the game, I'm quite eager to get back to it. It's a great project stuffed full of great ideas, and I'm definitely enjoying my time on Banoi -- when I'm not losing save progress, or when the game isn't bugging out on me, that is.

More to come.