Gaming Archive

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Burning the Backlog 4: Soccer flowing through your veins

I’ve been asked to do some really hard stuff in my life. Scantron exams with a pen, read Bret Easton Ellis’ books without falling asleep, listen to Eminem without cringing. […]

I’ve been asked to do some really hard stuff in my life. Scantron exams with a pen, read Bret Easton Ellis’ books without falling asleep, listen to Eminem without cringing. But the hardest thing anyone has ever asked me was to explain the appeal of soccer.

The usual go-to answer of the average soccer fan is: “Watch Messi”. There are very few players that can convert skeptics like Leo Messi, the diminutive Argentine who plays for Barcelona and plays with speed, skill and strategy that have never been seen before in the game.  Hell, one only has to watch this goal (I know, I’m sorry, but it’s the soccer fan’s ritual to link the skeptics until they understand or cut ties.) to understand that Messi is unique not only in soccer but athleticism’s history, period.

But one player can’t possibly explain the appeal of a sport as played by so many different people in so many different ways. I think you need to go back to one of the most basic principles of game design to understand it. And it’s what FIFA 16 gets so right about both video games and soccer.

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Burning The Backlog 4: Grounded To The Sandbox

My best friend and me came of age loving two things: video games and movies. We grew up owning Playstation 2s and seeing games expand as many companies were willing […]

My best friend and me came of age loving two things: video games and movies. We grew up owning Playstation 2s and seeing games expand as many companies were willing to pour money into crazy idea after crazy idea. Games no longer were the simplistic high that Mario and PacMan provided. Games were committed to creating whole new worlds to explore and substantial narratives to live and truly immerse you in them in a way that Fallout or Planescape Torment couldn’t, by simple virtue of their limited resources.

The catalyst for this expansion on the time of the PS2 was, of course, Grand Theft Auto III. It wasn’t the first open world game and it wasn’t even the best. But it was what finally struck a chord strongly enough to convince people that this was the way to go. That big expansive worlds were nothing without a veritable way of navigating them. Previously, all you did was walk and hiked through Hyrule and the Wasteland, interacting with NPCs and trying to find the location of your next adventure, a new community to help and then move on. In a way, it was all very Mad Max.

But in Grand Theft Auto III, you became the inhabitant of a community and you strived to raise above your peers through crime. This vision was in many ways, a butchering of what many gangster movies often do, caused by the filter of the easiest interpretation of movies like the Godfather and Goodfellas. GTAIII is the sort of game that’s written by people who watch gangster movies for the “badassery” of its criminal protagonists and see men as Henry Hill and Michael Corleone as Men, relics from a bygone era that should be revered and seen as sources of inspiration, rather than the symbols of brutality and excess that they’re supposed to represent in their original text. 

This dissonance between the texts that Rockstar would take as direct inspiration and the games they would create to heighten the feelings those movies originally caused through interaction would become the key problem for me as Rockstar built their new empire.

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The Least of Us

One of the most frustrating things about video games is that people often think of them in the same category of movies in ways both big and small. One of […]

One of the most frustrating things about video games is that people often think of them in the same category of movies in ways both big and small. One of the smaller ways in which this comparison shows up is in the idea that a game has to be completed in order to be appreciated or evaluated. Quitting a game midway when it could redeem itself at the end is said to be a fallacy that immediately invalidates any review on the game.

This is an argument that I’ve had multiple times. Convincing friends and readers alike that the reasons why I decided to not play a game any longer speak to the problems of the game and that those problems are substantial was an uphill climb that was often met with boulders of how not playing a substantial part of the game invalidated anything I had to say. This is an argument so recurrent my life that I even almost considered the possibility that I might be almost yet not quite not on the ball.

Of course, then I realized I was on the ball and y’all are wrong. And it was because of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s attempt at turning Uncharted into Resident Evil 4. If that doesn’t explain how ill-conceived this game is, then I can’t think of any way of explaining it.

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Burning the Backlog: The Joy of Crime and the Failure of Punishment

Burning the Backlog was inspired by a very simple fact: I own a shitton of games. And the reason I do is because games are ridiculously easy to acquire but […]

Burning the Backlog was inspired by a very simple fact: I own a shitton of games. And the reason I do is because games are ridiculously easy to acquire but they aren’t easy to play through. So as my resolution for the year 2016 I decided to not buy any games until I finish all the games I had purchased previously that I hadn’t played before. So far I have mostly succeeded (I have only bought 7 games in 8 months which beats my average of four games in one month by a fucking lot) And hopefully this project will help me maintain my goal of not going over 10 games for the year 2016

Sherlock Holmes is technically my favorite fictional character of all time. I say technically because while my experience with Arthur Conan Doyle’s work is minimal, Sherlock Holmes is probably the most influential character on the works I love. Sure, I have lots of love for The Hound of the Baskervilles and A Study in Scarlet but they don’t beat my love for Grant Morrison’s take on Batman or Doctor Who, two franchises clearly built on the dynamics that Doyle established with his detached, transcendent genius detective.

Frogwares has been developing a series of video games surrounding one of the most important fictional characters in our culture for 14 years. I won’t pretend I’m familiar with any of them before Crimes and Punishments outside of my attempt at playing The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, a game I remember so little about that I literally had to look at my Steam library to remember it existed in any other way than Hazy Memory To Be Dug Up For This Review.

The installment I got to play all the way through is the relatively modern Crimes and Punishment. I say “relatively”  because its principles of design are clearly point-and-click and reward consistent attention to detail and analysis of story, which are not things you usually find in modern big budget gaming which rewards reflexes and skill creativity. I say modern because my previous attempts at playing through Frogware’s work involved a degree of clunkiness that was rather unwelcoming during most of my play time.

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Bloodborne Shows The Breadth of Cosmic Horror

Anybody who knows me will probably have surmised that Bloodborne is a game tailor-made for me. After all, I love the works of H.P. Lovecraft, I love games with strong […]
huntersdream

Welcome good hunter, you’ll be here awhile

Anybody who knows me will probably have surmised that Bloodborne is a game tailor-made for me. After all, I love the works of H.P. Lovecraft, I love games with strong atmosphere, I love subtle storytelling, and of course I also love to swear at screen and throw my controller in frustration a lot.

I’m kidding (a bit) because Bloodborne ended up being the most even handed game I may have ever played. It’s such a tightly constructed game that it began to affect my ability to enjoy other games. Witcher 3 is a sprawling epic RPG and a labor of love but now I find its clunky controls and repetitive combat jarring. Platinum Games’ Transformers: Devastation fares a bit better with its tighter controls but as a result I found myself instinctively going back to Bloodborne’s control scheme and wondering why I was dodging instead of attacking. Bloodborne is a game that infiltrates your headspace in such a way that you end up viewing other games through that lens.

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Linguistics is the Missing Limb

At the end of the Phantom Pain’s “Part 1”,  the main antagonist reveals his motivations. He is a product of constant re-appropriation and hurt. America has absorbed his culture and […]

At the end of the Phantom Pain’s “Part 1”,  the main antagonist reveals his motivations. He is a product of constant re-appropriation and hurt. America has absorbed his culture and turned him into another puppet of imperialism. A puppet that had to literally rewrite his own self to do his job, to the point that he forgot his morality, hopes and dreams. And the way this rewriting happens? Language.

Skull Face speaks English. He sure wishes he did not. I have never related more to a video game character in my life. Why? Because English represents the fact that I live in a culture that does not respect me or has any sincere interest in my humanity if we were to define it as the product of my culture and self-interest. Kojima understands this. Kojima decided to make a game about his dark impulses to abolish globalization.

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Video Games are not Films. They are TV.

The most recent trend in video game storytelling is releasing the games in monthly chunks that are entirely concerned with advancing a narrative. This trend, of telling stories in interconnected […]

The most recent trend in video game storytelling is releasing the games in monthly chunks that are entirely concerned with advancing a narrative. This trend, of telling stories in interconnected semi-regular releases is meant to emulate the feeling of TV. And yet, as of right now, TV has moved closer and closer towards using the season as the main unit of storytelling (versus “the episode”)

The argument could be made, especially considering Telltale’s resolution to continue both The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us in a format akin to a TV season, that the season is still a valid construct that could apply to the critical discussion of these games. However, the emphasis on the season on TV in recent years is quite different than the one exhibited by The Walking Dead or Life is Strange. Stories like True Detective’s seasons are more like volumes of a book series, while told on regular weekly installments (equivalent to a book’s chapters) each one to be interconnected into a bigger whole.

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Video Game Superheroes Aren’t Very Heroic or Super

Superheroes, at their very core, are power fantasies. They’re about empowering individuals with the ability of righting perceived or real wrongs in the world. Allowing them the ability to quite […]
Superheroes, at their very core, are power fantasies. They’re about empowering individuals with the ability of righting perceived or real wrongs in the world. Allowing them the ability to quite literally mold the individual’s world into a universe that makes relative sense. Most of these stories are centered on entirely heroic individuals who fight for high values against easy-to-distinguish crimes and attacks on society/humanity that we can all recognize as inherently amoral.

Yet, because of the growth the genre across the 20th century, superheroes and the milieus they populate have become more varied in morality breadth and thematically interests. Stories from The Boys’ anti-corporate screed to Hawkeye’s fascination with the (relatively) mundane populate the comic book medium and give readers of superheroes a huge variety of choice in regards to how they consume their favorite genre. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Tomm Hulett, ex-Silent Hill developer at Konami

Not much more than a week ago, Konami announced the cancellation of their Kojima-Del Toro-Reedus spearheaded project, “Silent Hills”. The game was announced with one of the most successful demos […]

Not much more than a week ago, Konami announced the cancellation of their Kojima-Del Toro-Reedus spearheaded project, “Silent Hills”. The game was announced with one of the most successful demos released, “P.T”. However, upon rumors of Kojima’s withdrawal from Konami and the removal of P.T from the Playstation Network, it seemed more and more likely that the project was not coming along. Then Del Toro confirmed it wasn’t happening a day before Konami finally dropped the other shoe on us.

One of our correspondents reached out to Tomm Hulett, whose work on the Silent Hill franchise goes from Silent Hill: Origins to Book of Memories. Hulett’s work has shaped the modern perception of Silent Hill for better or worse. We decided to interview him about the franchise’s future as a fan and about his time as one of its main creative voices.

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Life Is Strange: Out of Time proves that DONTNOD’s new game is worth your time.

Out of Time starts with Max waking up after a long day of researching her time travel skills, and asking you to basically dwell around her dorm room and prepare […]

Out of Time starts with Max waking up after a long day of researching her time travel skills, and asking you to basically dwell around her dorm room and prepare for shower. That tone never goes away.

One of the most fascinating things about Life is Strange is that it’s so clearly bigger than the sum of its parts. Its dialogue is definitely clunky, its characters can sometimes feel a little bit flat or even like marionettes, whose opinions and actions are based on how they would affect the player. And yet, the fact that it follows such a unique world and story in the world of video games makes it so easily identifiable, relatable and enjoyable. Couple that with a very palpable beating heart that makes the proceedings downright amazing and you’ve got yourself probably one of the best video games of the last five years.

In a very real way, DONTNOD embodies the revolution that I feel Alt-Games have not been able to satisfiably articulate for me. Video games that effectively encapsulate an experience that’s outre from the standards of violence/exploration that are so common to the medium. Life is Strange is more akin to a Sundance drama with all of the implied cliches, flaws and benefits that implies. The game can definitely be Overly Twee, to a fault, but most of the time it’s just reinvigorating to navigate this world of friendship, bizarre time travel and high school politics.

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