Archive for the Gaming Category

There’s something about Mirror’s Edge…

Posted in Gaming with tags , , , on 15 March, 2009 by J-Man

That lets it top nearly all the games I’ve played. Immediately I’m thinking gameplay, music, and obviously the city itself. And that is what makes the game brilliant. I was pondering it recently, and I came to an incredible realisation. Mirror’s Edge is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever played. Or seen. It’s world is simply so beautiful and believable, it tops any film, game or book universe I can think of.

Of course, that doesn’t make it a brilliant game in itself; it just makes it a brilliant world. It’s too short, the story is weak, the combat appalling, the gameplay frustrating, the weapons unsatisfying and the slow-mo is just wrong. It’s too long, it slows time down too much, making it actually boring, you can’t exit out of it, and there’s no discernible way to regain it except to wait a few minutes.

I was reading from nearly all reviews that the combat is terrible, and it is. You’re forced to study repeated animations, and there’s a nonsensical and pointless way of disarming enemies. The standard melee attacks are ridiculously weak and give you little impression of any physical connection with the person you’re beating. Worst of all, it forces you into this depressing combat, often having enemies guarding the only exit. Tom Francis makes some excellent suggestions that could improve this part of the gameplay here (and indeed some other aspects).

I won’t even get into the story, but its your usual “ZOMG DOUBLE-CROSS” “OH NOES YOU’RE DYING” dirge you’ll find in most games. But Faith is a likeable protaganist, unusally modest and able to say things other than disenchanted sarcasm most protaganist spew out.

But really it’s the world that wins me over. Every time I play, I’m just sucked in. I’m amused when people call Crysis the most beautiful game they’ve ever played. Crysis is just a bunch of trees and some dirt compared to ME. I would put some of my hundreds of screenshots in this post, but unfortunately it won’t let me due to them being .bmp format. Instead, bring your eyes up to the banner.

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Short update

Posted in Gaming, Site news, Uncategorized with tags , , on 31 January, 2009 by J-Man

Ok, its been a bit quiet on EG for a while, but for good reasons. Firstly, I haven’t bought a new game for ages, so there’s little for me to write about. I’d rather have few posts of good quality, accurate games journalism rather than spamming my blog with crap about games that nobody plays.

Speaking of games nobody plays, I installed Thief: Deadly Shadows on my 2nd PC, because it refuses to work with my main PC, so expect a few posts on that.

In other news, I intend to pitch a few more articles to the Escapist, because their new editorial calendar is out, and quite a few issues have caught my interest.

Finally, I’m considering a change of banner, because this one is getting old. Opinions please.

Dream Games No.1 – Dexter

Posted in Dream Games, Gaming, TV with tags , , on 25 January, 2009 by J-Man

So this is the start of a new series of blog posts entitled “dream games”. It’ll just be a collection of my unfulfilled and futile dreams of games that should be made. So to start off; Dexter.

The essence of the TV show is that its all about him trying to mix in with society, while having murder as a hobby. Rather than funnel you down a semi-linear, highly scripted experience, like most TV/film adaption games do, this would be completely free-form. There’d be a GTA style city, with huge amounts to interact with. You’d have to manage three things; your job as a forensics investigator, your social life, and your serial killings. Fucking up in one will affect the others.

For example, a messy kill will mean you have to spend time investigating your own crime scene, which means less time to socialise with friends or Rita (who you have to keep pleased, lest she dump you). Inconsistencies show up, and people get suspicious. You could theoretically murder these people, but it’ll be hard to avoid being caught.

Fuck up horrifically, and you’ll enter a flashback, where your father will give you assistance, or advise you on what to do next. The game would have a Left 4 Dead-ish director, making sure things are kept interesting.  The game might have Doakes, a suspicious co-worker, start stalking you, or have Paul, Rita’s ex, suddenly start trying to get back into her life.

But the main part of the game will be managing the aforementioned 3 things; social life, work, and murdering. Mixing them would create interesting scenarios. For example, you suspect someone of homicide, but theres not enough proof to get him legally, so he goes free. You could use your work resources to find out where he lives, then approach him to try to find out more. Once you’ve collect enough intelligence about your target through work and socialising, you can choose your kill-area, set it up, then take the target down in your choice.

The game will basically be a mix of Fahrenheit, Fable, and Hitman. And it’ll be made by the team that did Deus Ex. In the CryEngine. With Source physics. And a script by Tim Schafer.

Mirror’s edge fanboy drooling speculation

Posted in Gaming with tags , , on 8 January, 2009 by J-Man

No, I’m not a fanboy, but I have been drooling over it. There are two art/architecture styles I’m inexpicably drawn to; gleaming sci-fi cities, and grim urban decay. Ess tee ay ell kay ee ar: Shadow of Chernobyl satisfied my thirst for the latter in a videogame, so Mirror’s Edge is sure to complete my life.

This used to be my banner, I may switch back.

And despite the relentless average reviews, my hopes remain high for Mirror’s Edge. With the keyboard and mouse as the controller, surely us PC-ers can not die as much as all the consolers complain about.

Another criticism is the short length. However, the devs are releasing some beautiful extra levels, based on speed runs, as a response to the criticism of the difficult combat:

Pretty.

People who ruin games

Posted in Gaming, rant with tags , , on 7 January, 2009 by J-Man

I know there are waaayy too many of these posts on the ‘net right now, but I really wanted to vent. Sorry.

Case 1: Being called a “nub”

 I was re-reading an issue of PC Gamer a while back, and noticed in the mod section something called “hide and seek.” Half the players act like random physics-enabled objects, while the other team hunt them down. I randomly clicked on a server in Counter Strike, only to discover the server was running this very mod. I had fantastic fun for the first 5 rounds, running about with an AWP, gunning down fleeing telephones.

Then the map switched to de_dust.

I was placed on the object team, as by this time the game had winded down, leaving only me and 3 other guys. American guys. Obnoxious American guys. Now just put a “fucking” in front of that statement, and replace “guys” with assholes. Mmmkay?

Despite the fact that the mod doesn’t really work when the majority of players are on the hunter team, I valiantly joined the object team, and became a barrel. I slipped in with a few of my circular pals and waited. When an object the game lets you go third person, so I watched hunters randomly shoot a bunch of crates before one of them came over and investigated me. He pulled out his shotgun, and fired a couple of rounds, killing me.

I can live with defeat. It happens a lot in games, none more than Counter Strike. I can always win a fair match or knife fight, but frequently campers ruin the game. But whatever. I tried again, this time as a wooden-vase thingy and went on the patio right above where the hunters spawn. Despite being among my own gloriously circular kind, a hunter with an UMP fires potshots and luckily gets me.

I play a few more rounds, but then after my 5th death, the voice comms open up.

“Haha, nub.”

“You really don’t know how to play.”

I play a few more games, but am repeatedly killed, each time with this mocking. After my 8th death, I get tired and switch to the Hunter team.

“What the fuck nub, now there’s no-one on the other team!”
“How the fuck are we meant to play now?”
“Nub.”

I spawn, auto-shotty in hand, and kill both of them. Headshots.

Disconnect.

You see, dear readers, there’s only so much abuse I can take. Now while I can accept mocking after a funny or embarassing death, the shit these two morons were spewing sickened me. And the fact they said it in their generic American accents, and actually said the word “nub” in real speech made me want to vomit. My disconnect could be perceived as a rage-quit, but I’m pretty sure I got my point across in the end.

There will most likely be more case studies like this, as long as assholes remain on the face of the earth. And I will do my best to present them.

Non-existent gameplay

Posted in Gaming with tags , , , on 4 January, 2009 by J-Man

(Huge apologies to PC Gamer, I started this and realised after 5 minutes there was already a Devil’s Advocate on it.)

Reviewers frequently use the word “gameplay” when describing a game. What is gameplay? The act of doing something, or interacting with something, in the game. But gameplay is practically non-existent. All that exists in a game is aesthetics.. you know, the look of the game, the sound of the game. What’s the difference in Counter Strike between shooting a desert eagle at somebody, and shooting an USP at someone? That is, taking out all aesthetics. One thing; the amount of damage the person on the other side of the barrel receives. You could replace the desert eagle with a shotgun, and the difference would be the same.

So how do game designers trick us into thinking that there is gameplay, that the difference between firing two types of pistols is that they are both real in the game, that the difference is the same as in firing two pistols in real life? Designers throw on a massive amount of things to trick us. Recoil, magazine capacity, bullet pentration, reload speed, silencers, different firing modes, visuals, sounds etc. make the pixels actually feel like guns, rather than abstract chunks of metal in the bottom-right hand corner of our screens that take hitpoints of another bunch of pixels, which is a character.

Everything in Counter Strike is interchangeable with Day of Defeat. They’re actually exactly the same game, but with a very large amount of very minor aesthetic adjustments. A M16 turns into a BAR, and suddenly everyone’s buying both. In essence, a M16 is the same as a BAR, it’s just that they’re aesthetically different. A terrorist turns into a Nazi, with exactly the same movement speed, health, armour, and suddenly everyone applauds the model design.

So what exactly is the point of this? We’ve established that gameplay doesn’t truly exist, that every time we shoot a fully-animated-with-ragdoll-physics Nazi it could be the same as shooting a peice of paper, and we’ve established that all games in a genre are essentially the same game.

There is one thing that is actually unique to game, that being the story. So please, developers, stop focusing on the aesthetics, and start focusing on the story, the characters, add some truly unique gameplay into it. Mirror’s Edge did exactly that, while also tossing on aesthetic changes to the stock FPS game.

Oh, and this goes to the videogames journalists out there also. Stop lauding games for their gameplay, realise it’s all aesthetics, and write about that instead.

Once again, apologies to PCG.

A look back at 2008

Posted in Films, Gaming, Literature, Music, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2 January, 2009 by J-Man

Music:

Places like this – Architecture in Helsinki

An absolutely brilliant album by an absolutely brilliant band. The only songs I disliked where Feather in a Baseball Cap and Underwater. The first was the only down-beat song in the album, and felt oddly out of place. The latter was extremely repetitive and slightly boring at the end. However, Like it or Not and Lazy (lazy) stole the limelight, and are possibly the two-most listented to songs on my iPod.

Tweekend Advance – The Crystal Method

A slight let-down. I heard Name of the Game in the film “Tropic Thunder” and thought it was my thing. However, the album was full of overly-similar and underwhelming beat-driven songs. Disappointing.

Films

In (fuckin’) Bruges (wit’ you?!)

Absolutely brilliant film, definitely the best of the year. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted recently, it’s because I went to Bruges, inspired by the film. Colin Farell is brilliant as the insolent yet charismatic protagonist, with Ralph Fiennes playing the English boss. Although the music was dodgy in parts, it was fantastic.

in-bruges

Waltz with Bashir

Another brilliant film, and definitely shocking at the end. Slightly repetitive in that there’s perhaps too much action, but otherwise was great.

The Baader-Meinhoff Complex

This one follows the story of several terrorists/freedom-fighters as they try to survive imprisonment in a judicial system. It’s interesting in that makes the protagonists morally ambiguous. I found myself warming up to a few of them, despite terrorist activities.

Burn After Reading

A very funny and well-directed observation of human morals and motivation. Criticised by many for a confusing story, its strength lies in the fact it doesn’t actually have a conventional plot. It’s just a bunch of characters and their reactions to what’s happening around them.

Literature

Catcher in the Rye – Salinger

At one point the USA’s second most taught book and most censored peice of literature, it’s brilliant. It’s a semi-existentialist look at a disenchanted teenager’s visit to New York after being expelled. It’s written superbly, and had me hooked from start to end.

Consolations of Philosophy – De Botton

A short, but incredibly useful philosophical book that shows the reader how philosophy can help in day-to-day situations with things like anger, lack of money, unpopularity, inadequacy, difficulties and the end of romantic relationships. It’s well written, and was apparently turned into a TV series.

The Trial – Kafka

The Trial.cover.1

I read the graphic novel version of the book, which is a surrealist tale of beauracracy and sex, as well as having incredible visuals. It’s confusing in some points, and depressing in the end, but it’s a great read, and I strongly recommend.

Che: A graphic biography – Spain Rodriguez

Another great graphic novel, this one about one of the best communists ever; Che. It displays his life from start to finish, fighting the good fight against American imperialism. Slightly biased in that it shows few of his mistakes, but one of the best things about him was that he admitted his mistakes when he made them.

Games

There’s a massive Steam sale on, which lasts until the 2nd (tomorrow), with games reduced to frankly silly prices. Bioshock is £3.50, and Trials 2, which I got, is £1.50. It’s one of those infuriating, yet hilarious games, and Chris Livingston sums up the feeling at 1fort.

Aside from that, I’m slowly becoming disenchanted with the FPS, thanks to IGN. So instead, I’m substituting my usual fare with some indie greats, like N, in which you a play a little ninja jumping around 2-d levels. No, don’t run away. The beauty is that when you perform moves perfectly, leap past the enemies trying to hit you with lasers, and then jump on top of a block hurtling towards you at a lethal speed and use it as a lift, everything seems incredible. It makes me look forward to Mirror’s Edge far more.

TV

Dexter

Another succesful series, but yet again I have the feeling the writers will soon run out of ideas. However, now that Dexter’s married he has to juggle living with a family with murdering villains. Some people say it’s formulaic and Dexter is put in a good light because he only kills bad people, but the point is he kills bad people because it’s easier for him.

Robot Chicken

Another teensy-tiny series by Seth Green, but this was alleviated by the release of the second Star Wars spoof. Utterly hilarious again, I hope they keep making ’em as good as this.

Other Stuff

Barack Obama

Bout frickin’ time. Nevertheless, if any thing at all goes wrong in 2009, Fox News will pounce at the chance to slander him with all their dirty republican abilities. Note: I fucking hate Fox.

Bruges

Was fun. I was there for three days, and it was certainly not a shithole. It’s weird though. It’s like the town is split into three. In the south you have the big streets, dirty markets and a few nice parks, in the middle it’s like a gothic medieval town with cathedrals, canals and squares, and in the north it turns into a quaint little french town. Brussels, on the other hand, is undoubtedly a shit hole of epic proportions. It feels like the dirty end of Tottenham Court Road everywhere you go.