Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wii Jokes: The Revenge

Urinal video games.

I repeat: URINAL. VIDEO. GAMES. And there's talk of possible multiplayer aspects down the road. Still no word on that AIDS vaccine, but you guys: competitive pissing.


I mean...


If you poop in it, do you get the high score?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Legend Of Zelda: "Terminal Pancreatitis"

I've mentioned before that the obviously terrible video games don't bug me. At least, not as much as the games that were so close to being great. The titles that had greatness within their reach, and let it slip away for reasons of hubris or incompetence.



Twilight Princess made me stop believing Nintendo was my friend, or that they wanted to make great games anymore. It taught me that games aren't just made to make money first; they're made ONLY with profit in mind by greedy assholes who look at consumers as the enemy. This is the entry that proved to me that Shigeru Miyamoto doesn't give a shit anymore, and instructs his team to paint by numbers. This is the game that convinced me that every Zelda title will just be Ocarina of Time, over and over again, because people mistakenly believe that's all this series should be. This is the game that convinced me that Koji Kondo is a has-been, long past his prime.

This isn't a review. It's an autopsy.


"Yes! I am the ASS-Assin!"

First "Ezio" from Assassin's Creed 2 gets into Soul Calibur V, a fighting game known for its bizarre cameos(from The Legend of Zelda, to Star Wars). Which I guess makes sense, since it's kind of a historical setting, and Ezio is a character from around the time DaVinci was still alive. Makes more sense from a context perspective than, say, Spawn at least.

But now he's getting a costume in Final Fantasy XIII-2, a futuristic fantasy game, and I am officially calling this weird.

Weird.



Sunday, 27 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Faster! FASTER!!

Due to multiple unforeseen delays and writer's block in the first two thirds of the month, I am now 49,000 words behind schedule in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is 50,000 words by November 30th. If I want to make it by the deadline, I'll have to write nearly ten-thousand words a day for the next five days.

Just once I'd like to set a goal, put my mind toward something and NOT have it torn out of my reach so that no amount of effort will matter. Just once I'd like to have a chance at succeeding at something, without being robbed by invisible bullshit outside of my control. Is that so much to ask?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Old Republic: "The Phantom Menace"


"Because that’s the real tragedy of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Not that it’s a mediocre game – though that is a tragedy in itself – but that it could have been so very much more.


And it isn’t."

That's "Josh", one of the people finally allowed to air his grievances with the Old Republic beta after the NDA was lifted. I get a sinking feeling Bioware is not going to survive this...

His is a sentiment I share with a lot of games I've looked forward to, now that I think about it. The obvious failures don't leave an impression anymore. Your Big Rigs, your Duke Nukem Forevers. I find I can't be mad at the stinkers anymore.

It's the games that COULD HAVE been great that baffle me. The games that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I can understand a hellish development cycle or a ridiculous deadline or all number of very good excuses for why a game fails. But then there are times where a team has all of the time, money and talent in the world, when they have everything going for them and they still screw up.

Those are the experiences that haunt me. The games who have perfection in their grasp, and they refuse it. Some failures are a maddening, hollow question mark.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Telltale Games: "Jurassic Park"

Telltale Games(Back To The Future, Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Strong Bad). Beloved developer of point-and-click adventure games that get rave reviews. People love them.

But apparently not enough for them not to game Metacritic scores. BECAUSE THAT'S THE DEAL-BREAKER FOR EVERYONE WHO BUYS GAMES, LOLRITE

All in a superficial attempt at... what, exactly? To trick people into thinking this wasn't an unusually tired attempt by this company? Did they think they could get away with it, when every other developer who's tried the same thing hasn't? Even if Jurassic Park were an uncommon fumble from this team, did they really think it would risk destroying them as a company? There's a fine line between PR and desperation, but this is the first time I've heard of them crossing it.


 
And honestly, after that he said/she said Jeep fiasco, it's hard for me to tell if anything that comes out of this company isn't complete horseshit. It's too bad, because this wasn't a developer that had the appearance of Activision or EA, or some other faceless Orwellian corporation that hates you. From what I heard, these were supposedly the good guys. The people who cared about making great games, the people who had their heads on straight in ridiculous times. Some companies take a lot longer than this to lose their soul.

Telltale, I can't comment on your Jurassic Park video game. I certainly won't play it. But not because some critic told me not to. I don't give a flying crap if Kotaku gives Modern Warfare 3 a blowjob in numerical form. I'm not going to play it because you don't trust your audience. Do you know how pathetic you look right now? Even Gamespot thinks you're being too overprotective about your scores!

Can't we rely on anyone in this industry not to be cowards?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bundle Of Joy

The PS3 has been doing a good job so far with bundling PS2 games. Especially since the damn machine isn't backward compatible... Yes, it's gouging and "HD" textures and slapped-on 3D effects don't really soften the blow. But if it gives people access to games that you can't find on the shelves anymore, I suppose that's better than nothing(or Ebay). And anything that gives "Ico" and "Shadow of the Colossus" renewed exposure can only be good for video games, and for people who enjoy them.

(I think there's also a compilation package for the older Metal Gear Solid games, as well as the God of War series, if those are more your thing.)

Boy, Snake's really let himself go...


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Dragon Age: "Credits"

The weirdest part about Dragon Age is that when you beat the game, a "30 Seconds To Mars" song plays over the credits. Twice. Which is exactly what this medieval fantasy video game needed, right?


It's like hearing "Panic at the Disco" in Lord of the Rings. There is a time and a place for everything, and in this case it was Nowhere at Never o'clock.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Conveyance

There is a problem with video games today. Something very, very recent, as in the last couple of years. Maybe even more recent than that. I don't notice it in the SNES era, or when games moved into the third dimension, or even when the Playstation 2 and Gamecube were still relevant things. And no, it's not the first-person shooters.

Egoraptor recently made a video about how video games tend to hold your hand too much, to the detriment of the game. The idea being that they're actually not conveying necessary information in a way that doesn't hinder the experience. He spends 20 minutes explaining how the Mega Man series did a great job at letting the player learn through playing the game, with very little consequence. I always loved Mega Man X, but I never really knew the importance of how well the intro stage was designed until he ran through it point-by-point.

Also, this happens.


He called this "Conveyance". This is when the game communicates the player what the game wants you to do, without bashing you over the head with it, or slapping your wrist for deviating from the "ideal" path. Mega Man X taught the core mechanics, and even some trusty tips on the side all through playing the very first stage in the game. No tutorial. No loading screen with the controller setup. Nothing intrusive.



The challenge for game designers today is an unenviable one. They have to convey a lot more to the player now than they did in 1991. But lately it's like they're not even trying. What I speak of is worse than some "Navigator" warning you not to eat that nuclear warhead. I'm not talking about a poor attempt at dialogue between the developer and the player.

What we have here is a failure to communicate... at all.


Monday, 7 November 2011

Bob Chipman: "Rosebud"

I think I know what's wrong with Bob Chipman.

I've dreaded writing this, but I don't think there's any avoiding it anymore. I don't know if it really took me this long to figure out, or if I just didn't want to accept it. But I am convinced now that the problem is not, nor has it ever been the workload, or the crappy movie and game lineup this year. He is the next in a long line of victims who have been poisoned by politics. But that was a side-effect, a symptom of a much deeper root cause.

See, while he'll never admit it, he is a far-left kind of guy. "Far" being the key distinction here. I lean left of centre myself, but this guy takes it a few steps too far. Just like the right has the extreme nutbags, so do the liberals. There's crazies in every corner.



But he's making the mistake of the Tea Partiers, the Occupy movement and all of the worst people in politics: He is making an enemy out of ourselves.



Sunday, 6 November 2011

THE COLOURS, CHILDREN!

Here's an infograph courtesy of Joystiq.com that reminds us of how far we've come in regards to video game technology. Specifically, in regards to how many colours could appear onscreen. From the paltry green-and-white days of Electronic Tennis, all the way to today's billions of colours at any given time.


If only most of those colours weren't just brown and gray. Games are evolving backwards in that respect...

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

"Halo: A Fistful Of Arrows" Review

by Alex Hill


4/5


Over the course of a year, a man going by the username "Leviathan" has been digitally painting a short fan-comic. It's called "A Fistful Of Arrows". His goal was to shed some light on the fate of a character the source material could not be bothered to care for. In the process, he has explored in unblinking detail why these characters and situations could have been something great. He took characters who were largely forgettable, and found out why they should have mattered. He wrote dialogue and events for the same characters from a multi-million dollar corporate turd, and did so with sometimes shocking precision.

One man on his own time did a better job with the same material, than people who were paid over the course of four years. Levi Hoffmeier paints circles around Bungie and Microsoft Studios. He rummaged through the hollowed-out carcass of a truly wretched game, and fashioned it into something valuable.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Skyrimjob



I wish I could be as excited about Skyrim as everyone else. I really liked Oblivion for a time. But after going through the same caves and the same dungeons and meeting no people or characters I could forge bonds with, and doing nothing except make the little numbers go up, I realized just how shallow the game is. Is that all there is? Just doing this over and over just to get better armour that I can't even show off like in an online game? At that point, I hadn't even completed the main story, or even a third of the quests. But I was done with Oblivion.

A mile wide and an inch deep. I don't regret the time I spent with it, all 100 or so hours. But I look at other games like it(Fallout 3 and New Vegas), and I feel myself reaching that brick wall sooner and sooner. Sandbox games and me are seeing each other on less friendly terms lately. I like shorter, more focused games I can return to over and over, that I have an emotional attachment to. How often can I shoot ants in New Vegas and have it actually be exciting?

I will say that I loved the Oblivion Gates in Elder Scrolls IV. I loved just exploring a piece of land not on any map, and seeing that tell-tale red glow. I love never knowing what I'll find in there, what dangers will meet me. Every Oblivion gate felt like a long and difficult expedition that I had to be prepared for on a moment's whim. And every time I closed one, I felt like I had made the world a little safer and a little bit better.

Does Skyrim have that? Is it somewhere between the cooking mini-game? I'm sure it'll be loads of fun for those who are into it. All the more power to ya. And maybe I'm just dead inside, but I'm just not excited.

I'll keep an ear out for Jeremy Soule's soundtrack though. Although he's got quite a tough act to follow.

END OF LINE

~A.H.