There's been a veritable explosion of independent games as of late. Some of them are even quite good. I'm going to go over a couple I've played recently that are really more like interactive works of art than games.
First up is a PSN exclusive called Journey. It's $15 and you can play to the end in only 2-3 hours. I know, that doesn't sound like a great way to sell a game, but Journey doesn't feel like it's shorting you at all. Those 2-3 hours cover an impressive arc of shifting visuals and emotion. There's not a written word to be found anywhere once you enter the game proper, but there's definitely a story being told. The music is also no small part of the package; it's obvious it was given just as much care as the visual presentation.
Journey definitely leans more towards interactive art than game, but there is a game in there with some surprises laying in wait. I can't really say more without ruining the experience, and I'm not sure I could do it a proper description in words. It's something you have to see in motion to truly appreciate.
The other game I've played recently is Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery. It's $8 on Steam (and also available on iOS), and can be finished in about 6 hours. It's done in an 8-bit side-scroller style, though there are some conventions for modern hardware present. Most notably is the game's headline feature: it's soundtrack. There's no other way to put it... the music is absolutely sublime, and is worth the $8 alone. The game is mostly a puzzler, though it does have a few combat sequences. It's a real trip to play, and the dialog can be pretty hilarious.
I'm enjoying these games, and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more like them.
The abbreviation of Duke Nukem Forever is "DNF." In racing, the acronym stands for "Did Not Finish." It's appropriate, because I never finished playing Duke Nukem Forever. In short, I got bored.
I was a massive Duke Nukem fan back in the mid-90's. Duke Nukem 3D was one of the greatest games ever made. So it pains me to say that Duke Nukem Forever was boring. There are plenty of other games out now doing new and interesting things.
There's nothing outright wrong with DNF. The game itself was relatively bug-free and was a solidly constructed shooter. Had DNF been released in 2005, it likely would have well-reviewed. It wouldn't have been as groundbreaking as Duke Nukem 3D (2004's Half-Life 2 would have stolen that crown), but I think most of us would have been happy with a "good" return to the world of Duke. Unfortunately, DNF was released in 2011.
There are simply too many other games out there sporting modern graphics, new gameplay ideas, sophisticated narratives, more interesting weapons/devices, and plenty of other forward-thinking ideas. I don't fault Gearbox. They saw a chance to take a mostly finished game, polish it up a bit, and release it for relatively little cost. To their credit they released a game with relatively few technical problems.
Ultimately DNF is a game stuck in time. Its window for a return to glory had passed a good 7-8 years before it was finally released. Was it fun? Occasionally. Was it funny? At times, though Duke's humor doesn't work quite as well as it used to. Is it worth the price of admission? Not even close.
The Witcher 2 is game I had high expectations for. Having played the original enhanced edition, I was ready for more of Geralt's adventures. With a brand new and very modern game engine developed exclusively for the PC, The Witcher 2 promised to prove that PC gaming was still very much a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, while TW2 gets some solid hits on a few points, it misses on many small ones. This is by no means to say that TW2 is a bad game, but the non-RPG faithful may have a hard time liking it.
There's a certain pathos among PC gamers. When confronted with a game exceeding the the limits of our hardware, we don't turn settings down until a playable frame rate is reached. Oh no... that would be like admitting defeat. Instead, we upgrade our hardware. The Witcher 2 is one such game. Though it may have its issues, it's an RPG that no self-respecting PC gamer should pass up. To keep up with it's absolutely stunning visuals you will need some pretty robust video hardware, though. My aging Radeon HD 4850 could manage better than slideshow rates, but it certainly gave me a headache to play. I picked up a Radeon HD 6950 with 2 GB of GDDR5 from Sapphire. I'm quite impressed with it. It's quieter than my old 4850 at idle, though The Witcher 2 gives enough of a workout to bump the fan speed up to noticeable levels.
A new video card usually means tossing every game at it and seeing what's what. The thing is, almost nothing gave the old 4850 a challenge, so there's not much point. About the only change is that I can run a few games with maxed out AA that I couldn't before. There are some titles coming that promise to push some heavy visual, so we'll see if it was worth the investment.