Tuesday, 15 December 2009

talkin' bout blocks

fuck all other games

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Call of Duty: Medieval Warfare

Ben says:
and i still want a classical warfare game
or at least medieval

Roland says:
yeah man me too
can you imagine that shit

Ben says:
imagine that shit
instead of switchin to pistol

Roland says:
it would be great to have like a huge, 40 vs 40 lag fest search and destroy
where one team has to assault a castle or something
and like fucking catapults are coming at you
everyone has to fall back

Ben says:

Roland says:

Ben says:
shooting bows
killstreak would be like
a horse would appear and you could be cavalry

Roland says:
or a flock of birds attacks someone
doesn't do any damage
but they can't see right
or like
you get a 3 kill streak
and it makes someone trip over

Ben says:
falcons up in the air
shoot it down by putting bread on the floor
it flies down to eat that shit

Roland says:
oh man
this game
too hilarious
and everyone can wear football shirts anyway

Ben says:
it would also have the benefit of not taking itself as gayly seriously as cod does

Roland says:

Ben says:
and there would be no fucking wizards

Roland says:
but who would carry bread into combat
that would have to replace your ye olde claymore

Ben says:
bread would be a high level unlock clearly
i want some indiana jones temple shit instead of c4 and claymores
ewok shit
log falls on you
rock rolling down hill at you
crossbow bolt firing in to legs

Roland says:
and when that happens it goes in slow motion
the camera pans round to your guys face so you can see him scream in agony
and it's sean bean's face
and then he gets shot to shit with arrows out of nowhere

Ben says:
your drinking horn is sliced in two
instead of perks
you would just have a variety of heartening beverages in your drinking horns

Roland says:
one should make you instantly sick
and then everytime you respawn after dying
your character is still just being sick
can barely move
until the game ends

Ben says:
they should all do that
frankly the terrible health of medieval times should not be under represented

Roland says:
if you get a 25 kill streak
instead of a nuke
everyone gets the flu

Ben says:
everyone would have tuberculosis

Roland says:
or cholera
or the bubonic plague
just thousands of rats and fleas swarm the screen
and it goes black
and you can just hear coughing and screaming for about 5 in game hours
then the scoreboard comes up and it's a double loss for both teams

Ben says:
there would be animal shit all over the place
and there'd be thousands of peasants all over the place all the time
gettingin the way of your swordswipes

Roland says:
how do we get this game made
i want to play it so badly

Ben says:
yeah man maybe we just take it on to dragon's den
no grenades
just bags of sand
get in everyone's plate armour

Roland says:
did they even have sand then?

Ben says:
make them really itchy

Roland says:
so yr guy has to stop and scratch for a few minutes
gets arrowed

Ben says:
i want a little peasant narrating everything

Roland says:
oh man halberds
if you could use a halberd on modern warfare 2
i would use NOTHING else
i wouldn't even have any perks i don't give a fuck

Ben says:
would be so great just guarding a bombsite
just chopping every single guy in half as they approach

Roland says:
the bombsite would be like a pig
or a bale of hay
you could tell who had the "bomb" because they'd be carrying a flaming torch
to set fire to your pig

Ben says:
everyone kicking the pig out of the way of the attackers
throwing it over walls

Roland says:
someone ties it to a horse
you have to set up a net
all the while your guys are like "throwing a pig!" and "Verily!"

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Game Pitches

Open your eyes. You are Magnus Ahlquist, a young Swedish symphonist of the 1930s. You are standing in the Berwald Hall in Stockholm; before you stretch the expectant faces of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, instruments poised like weapons from a distant, long-dead culture. In less than two months time, Germany will invade Poland and World War 2 will begin.

You are here to conduct the premier of your new symphony, which you have entitled "The Sallow Dove." It is a fraught, anxious work; you drew inspiration from Sibelius' Fourth. The hall's 1300 seats are all occupied, and a successful performance tonight will propel you into the ranks of Europe's most eminent living composers. Not that it makes much difference, because in less than a year you will be in Munich, living under a new identity and passing secrets to the Allies.

You try to calculate how much time has passed since you took to the stage. Have you waited too long? Are the audience becoming restless? It is impossible to tell; the room and everything in it justs hangs there, as though it were a sophisticated network of marionettes, with you standing motionless at the strings. I am powerful, you think. Then you feel ashamed and absurd. Your 31st birthday is two weeks away; a month before your 33rd, you will be shot dead in the street by an agent of the Gestapo. His name is Walther Fuhrmann. You wonder if you should have reduced the dynamic in the opening brass passages of the fourth movement.

You wonder if the choral in movement two should be faster. If the string scoring is too thin, too frail. How many people in the audience will cry? When and why? If more cry than don't, have you written a good piece?

When you were a child you fell from a tree on to a rock, and now the scar on your back is beginning to tingle. The bullet that kills you will pass through this scar; hot metal will triumph where cold stone failed. If you knew about this now, would it change how you will feel about helping with the war effort? About fate? (Is the scar, which sits over your heart, a warning to guard that heart from grand causes?) How many more symphonies might you have composed, had you lived to old age? How many would it take to annul that beautiful and confused sacrifice, whose worth neither you, your superiors nor even the Gestapo will ever be able to calculate?

The baton twitches in your hand without warning; you wonder whether you are just another marionette, after all. A message comes on screen: "Press A to begin conducting the debut of Magnus Ahlquist's 5th Symphony." You wait for a stranger's thumb to fall.

Dragon Age Discussion

Ciaran says:
so I bought Dragon Age, it makes me smile

Roland says:
everytime i go on xbox live
and it says Anoush is a level 12 human warrior it cracks me up
i've not played dragon age yet
i do want to
but i heard it's not that good

Ciaran says:
it's basically Neverwinter Nights
with dialogue that's not quite as good as Mass Effect thrown in

Roland says:
admittedly i liked the dialogue in mass effect, generally
almost every aspect of that game that wasn't to do with the main plot was absolute shit though
it was like
"Ok we have a good game, now let's fill it with awful useless shit"

Ciaran says:
yeah exploring planets
wasn't fun
at all

Roland says:
in fact
what's that thing
that's the opposite of fun?
is it...not fun?

Ciaran says:

Roland says:
defun yes of course
"oh this planet looks exactly the same as all those other planets, in that it's completely barren and devoid of any land marks or anything interesting whatsoever"
"good job we're here having fun"
when is the new one even out?

Ciaran says:
next year
I shall buy it
apparently they made it better
like assassin's creed 2
which is supposed to be considerably better

Roland says:
yeah i've heard it's good
as i have no money

Ciaran says:
haha same
I havent even got fifa
or call of duty

Roland says:
i've got call of duty
it's quite good

Ciaran says:
I could only afford dragon age because it was £26 on pc

Roland says:
you're PC playing
the PC
what a fall from grace

Ciaran says:
yeah, I heard it was better on pc

Roland says:
1995 - "PCs are sort of shit, but haha i love them"
2009 "get this fucking PC THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME I HATE IT"
the plot
for dragon age
sounds so generic
in fact
isn't it the same plot as oblivion
except with characters that aren't the same as empty coke cans

Ciaran says:
it's the same plot as mass effect
you are a man
recruited in to this elite order

Roland says:
uh ohhhhhhhhhhhhh

Ciaran says:

Roland says:
it would be good
if it was the exact same bad guys from mass effect
those alien squid fuck ups
and there was just no way to beat them

Ciaran says:

Roland says:
because all you have is swords and a fireball

Ciaran says:
there's a complete breakdown of how bioware's plots are exactly the same
and the developer actually responded to it with something like "fuck off, it works"

Roland says:
oh games
when will you learn
i'm probably gonna copy/paste this into make hands
i'm literally doing it right now
if you want to stop me you better travel to four locations and cast a spell

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Modern Warfare 2

Most of the time I feel like my life totally lacks direction. When this feeling isn't completely crippling and I'm lying, numb, arms limp, basically dead, staring a blank computer screen, slowly allowing the blinding light from my 200" monitor to wear away at my retinas or gibbering and moaning about how everyone in the world has got it together apart from me, I play games.

Modern Warfare 2 is the only game I have been playing the last few days.

This isn't because it's good. It's because some part of me believed Cod4 was one of the greatest games ever made. I would play that game every day with my friends and comrades. We'd just chat shit and sometimes shoot a guy. Oh, but it's really balanced and well polished and etc, etc and really, who cares?

We're playing Modern Warfare 2 now, instead. And sometimes it's a good distraction. If I can allow it to make me forget about the awful, every-day-the-same-nothing-bullshit of my life. But you know, masturbation is the same. And really so is writing shit like this. And neither this writing nor Modern Warfare 2 is as good as jerking off.

The biggest problem with Modern Warfare 2 is that there is no point in not using an assault rifle at all, for anything. If you need to kill a guy, from far away or close quarters, or if you want to tame a wild horse or open a Cajun style restaurant: you only need the Scar-H.

Sure, I've made some fruity classes and named them things like "fear" and "tremendous poopan'" and they utilize sniper rifles or SMGs. But the Scar-H, or the M16, or FAMAS, or M4 are like an SMG and a sniper rifle COMBINED. THEY ARE PERFECT.

But really, playing COD:MW2 with your buddies is the best part. When you have a great back and forth and you own some useless fuck who was chatting shit the entire time you were in the lobby, that's what the game is great for.

So what about all the guns? Maybe this should be a casual game for the games lover.
Or maybe this just means masturbation is better with more people?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Zebra Trooper: Wall Street Intervention

Okay, this is beginning to get silly. Just one year after the release of Fighting Zepplin Clerics, the award-winning strategy game in which rival theologians do battle in the skies over a mythical medieval Europe, France's premier indie studio, Pantalon Rouge, returns with yet another bizarre and brilliant concoction in Zebra Trooper: Wall Street Intervention.

Imagine this: it's August 1929, and the Wall Street Crash, one of the most devestating events in global financial history, is just two months away. When it comes, it will send the western world into a deep recession, the most notorious result of which will be the Second World War. If only someone were able to intervene!

Well, help is at hand, in the form of the legendary Zebra Force Combat Patrol, a team of time-travelling commandos from the year 2253. It turns out that the Wall Street Crash was the pivotal event in human history; it sent us off down a path of misery and destruction that was to culminate in something called the "Szymanowski Shit Loop," whereby the entire history of Homo sapiens, from roughly 180,000BC to 2255AD, repeats indefinitely, but with everything omitted apart from the bad bits: the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Black Death, the Holocaust etc. And the Zebras represent our last chance to turn the tide.

The player assumes the role of Pzilpop Demitard, the Zebras' courageous leader, at the moment he completes his time jump to 1929. Unfortunately, his genes have been disrupted by the journey, transforming him into a bunch of seedless grapes. But just as it seems that all is lost, an elderly rabbi named Josiah Goldman eats one of the grapes, and by some miracle Demitard is able to take control of his body.

Consequently, the player has to proceed through the whole game in the role of a time commando controlling an ailing old man; the health system works a bit like the one in Assassin's Creed, in that when Demitard takes damage he becomes "desynchronised," and in order to recover he must eat more grapes. However, there are only 23 grapes to begin with, and they are never replenished, even when you start a new game. Additionally, Demitard must do his best not to offend the rabbi's sensibilities, so he must avoid eating non-kosher food, working on the Sabbath and owning a strip club.

The game's early stages involve the infiltration of the stock exchange: stealth-based team coordination in a Rainbow Six style. But after level three, the action switches to a spreadsheet format, and continues in that vein for roughly 26 hours.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Game Pitch: Scavenger: Siege of Leningrad

In Scavenger: Siege of Leningrad you take on the role of Alexei Grushenko, a 12-year-old war orphan fighting for his life in the streets, sewers and ruins of Leningrad, circa 1942. Food is scarce, and Alexei has turned to cannibalism to survive; he stalks through the night, feeding on the bodies of the freshly fallen and, when necessary, adding to their number.

Scavenger: Siege of Leningrad is a third-person-perspective sandbox game. A historical survival simulator that calls upon the player to use sophisticated stealth tactics. It also features challenging cannibalism sub-games, which demand a detailed knowledge of anatomy, not to mention a strong stomach!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Tekken 6

Do you remember 1998 and how it brought out Tekken 3 and it was good?

Of course you do, everyone does.

But do you remember Tekken Force being a good idea?

No, this is an impossible thing to remember. Tekken Force was the shittest thing about any game ever, at that point, I am fairly certain.

And yet Namco have NEVER GOTTEN RID OF IT. It's still there in Tekken 6.

You know all the special moves in Tekken? Literally hundreds of unique combos and attacks? None of them are in Tekken Force, you have only the basic punches and kicks.

The story and dialogue does seem like it was put together by a ten year old, but as such it's lacking in the goofy cameos of Indiana Jones and Batman, which it sorely needs.

I would have genuinely prefered it if they hadn't bothered translating the dialogue at all and I could draw my own conclusions as to wtf is up with this pink haired chick with chainsaw hands and why all these fighters are hanging out in parks and on the docks.

The actual fighting element, the vs mode (which is obviously what Tekken is all about) is still GOOD and the new characters fit in with the spirit of the game pretty neatly.

Online it's just so laggy it's almost unplayable. Particularly annoying is one of Lee's moves, three low kicks followed by a mid kick. Easy to block, except the lag means the last kick ALWAYS hits me. Maybe I'm just totally cack handed at this game; I've seen no evidence to suggest otherwise, so maybe other players will do better.

It's nice to see Tekken again, but it's not the triumphant return it should be. But this is what we were all expecting, right?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

bobby kotick: like a low level james bond villain that works with computer games

Read this horrendous shit.

Maybe he's fucking joking? Or it's a joke website? Who even knows?

In other news: does anyone else remember when Modern Warfare 2 died for our sins?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

the punchline is that i'd also do it in real life

Ben says (23:57):
anyway so like
when you capture a settlement
you can either just occupy it
or enslave half the population
and send them to yr other cities
or execute 75% of the population
and like
if i capture like a roman city or a greek city or something
i just occupy it
but if i capture some barbarian gaul or german or briton town or something
i'll enslave them all or execute them
i'm a fucking snobby racist
in a computer game
against my own race

Friday, 16 October 2009

Not alot of good games adverts

But here is one: http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/699996/Assassins-Creed-II-Magazine-Ad-Best-Game-Ad-Ever.html

It doesn't take alot to make an interesting advert. This is what studying illustration and hanging out with graphic designers has taught me. But so rarely do good graphic design and games meet.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Interview with Infinity Ward

I’ve been waiting an hour and a half outside the Infinity Ward offices in Boston, Massafornia, the permanent, matrix like rippling effect they’ve installed on the building only entertaining me for perhaps 20 minutes. The effect is created by holograms the programmers built out of old PS2s and car batteries in between birthing Modern Warfare 2, the game I’m here to talk about.

I wouldn’t mind the wait, God knows I’m excited about this game, but chief designer, Dennis Nedry, has been standing outside the building, staring at me, the entire time. I tried to introduce myself but he just stared ahead, stoically, ignoring me absolutely.

Finally at exactly 10:30 he explodes into life, greeting me so loudly that I’m startled and a nearby bird explodes in the sky.

“Please won’t you join me inside,” and with this he leaps 20 stories and crashes through the office window. I’m forced to take the stairs.

Or I would be, if there were any. Inside the building is a huge, artificial Jungle. The design team constructed it with nano technology, so I’m told. It’s beauty is startling. I have to wipe away a tear when a baby Stegosaurus turns up and asks if I’m it’s mother. Which I’m not. So it chokes itself to death.

Eventually, after locating the tallest tree in the building, and probably the tallest interior tree in the world, I make it to Nedry’s office.

“Ah, congratulations. Beer? We’ve been wandering many aeons,” he begins.

“Whoa now, wait a minute. How did you leap into the building like that?” I ask, as any man would.

“Ah yes, I see you’re staring at my dress.”

“No, what? I’m talking about the jumping. The superhuman leap you exhibited that got you INSIDE the building past the massive jungle you built.”

“Well now we’ve nearly finished Modern Warfare 2 we decided the time was right to push ourselves beyond human limits. Everyone here just one day discovered they could jump incredibly high.”

“Bullshit, how did you just discover that?”

“It was a team building exercise.” Is the only reply I can garner.

Fuck it, let’s talk about the game.

“It’s going to be very good,” Nedry insists. But we’ve all seen the videos. Where has it come from, I want to know.

“Good questing,” says Nedry, his trademark facial tick working over time.

“Would you like a pie?” I accept. It’s delicious.

“It’s kitten,” he says. Usually the thought of eating kitten pie would repulse me, especially given the amount of fur that has been cooked into the crust, but somehow Nedry’s words are soothing and I’m soon going back for seconds.

“The entire building is powered by cycling.” Nedry explains.

“You mean someone is powering a generator in the building on an exercise bike kind of thing?”

“Oh no, I mean all cycling in the world directly generates power here. We found a way to link all energy created by cyclists and transfer it into our computers.”

Before continuing we take a break to relieve ourselves. I find it hard to concentrate, two urinals down, because Nedry's urine comes out as thousands of tiny metal beads, causing a constant buzzing/rattling sound.

Nedry furthers our tour of the office. Huge posters, much larger than can comfortably fit on the walls, of Jimi Hendrix, Chairman Mao and Henry the 8th, line the walls, spreading onto the ceiling and tangling on the floor. I trip over several times.

“We just wanted to represent the best mankind has to offer, to give us something to aspire to. I guess you could say we surpassed those expectations!”

I’m silent for about a minute until he explains it’s a joke about the jumping.

“That still doesn’t really make any sense,” I say.

“Well, you better keep an eye out for the Henry V statues in Modern Warfare 2!”

“Henry V?”

“From the posters? C’mon man, you’re English.”

“That’s Henry the 8th.”

There’s another pause, this time from Nedry.

“Please, call me Dennis,” he says. I continue to eat my kitten pie. Then he says,

“There’s an achievement for getting all the statues.”

Of course there is.

He shows me the office swimming pool. Every single computer in the building floats on it, teetering on inflatable desks. Dennis shows off, performing underwater barrel rolls, insisting I applaud and grade each one. This goes on for some forty minutes before I realise the pool contains no water, only urine.

“Ok,” he says, “it’s time.”

“Time?” I ask.

“For you to see.”

“to see what?”

“Our crowning achievement,”

“Crowning achievement?”

“Where Modern Warfare 2 has come from.”

He takes me to a tunnel, which leads to a massive vault.

“We researched,” he tells me, “for decades how to invent a spell. An actual spell. So here you have the only Lightning Field in the world.”

He draws back a curtain and a wall of pure electricity crackles and screams in front of me.

“Jesus CHRIST!” I exclaim.

“Oh don’t worry, it just looks dangerous. It only paralyses you. A child…could be killed in it though.” Dennis is suddenly distant.

He claps his hands after a moment and the lightning field dissipates.

We enter a massive vault lined with drawyers, every one identical and perfect white.

He picks, seemingly at randomn, a drawyer and opens it. Inside, in a large plastic container is a fraction of what seems to be a CD. He says something about the moon landings, Aleister Crowley and King Kong, but I’m distracted by the glass ceiling.

Looking up I see a chamber full of whale hearts, massive cables running between each one. Children with no eyes wash them endlessly with dirty sponges, blackening the hearts with sooty water.

“What the fuck is this place?”

Dennis doesn’t say anything for a long time. Then:

“This is how is must be. We must create this game. The moon landings. The moon landings.”

He lunges for me, still holding the fragment of disc, which I knock from his hand. He leaps after it and I pull open several of the white drawyers. I find a butterfly collection, an old mobile phone and a luger, which is loaded.

I shoot Dennis Nedry several times, his final words a gurgle. Then I turn the pistol on the glass ceiling, losing an eye when a shard of glass falls typically downward into it. I put the remaining bullets in as many hearts as I can.

There is a sound like an air raid siren, pitch shifted as low as possible and then a massive rumbling begins. I run from the chamber, about to go back for the disc fragment when the lightning field lights up again and I’m forced to leave it.

I get lost on my way out but the collapsing walls have revealed a life size model of Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying machine.

“I know this,” I say, and somehow I do. Operating it is like breathing. I launch it from a window as one of the massive worms from Dune appears and swallows the building whole, before disappearing like the image from a television into a white dot.

And that’s why no one can play Modern Warfare 2 now.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Semi-Coherent Observations on the Video Game Dead Space

(I found this on my computer and thought I'd put it up; it's nothing but a half-finished rant, but I think it's a pretty good half-finished rant.)

Dead Space
is derivative. And how. It’s militantly, unapologetically derivative, like the designers are actually so fucking postmodern that they don’t even believe in the possibility of creating something that’s not a totally self-conscious hybridization of a string of other things that were baldly rehashing ∞-hand ideas in the first place. Most notably, Dead Space is an enthusiastic rip-off of hack-director-extraordinaire Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 schmasterpiece Event Horizon, a movie already neck-deep in its own lack of ideas and dialing Michael Bay for swimming lessons.

From the F.E.A.R.-style opening, in which the player is treated to some clunky real-time exposition from his digital co-stars (after a shot of a lover’s distress call, intended to establish the human angle of the tale), to the appearance of the stricken spaceship that is the game’s setting, to the crash landing on said ship, to the initial exploration and subsequent attack by terrifying The Thing-type beasts (which, naturally, separates the player from his cohorts) and so on; every aspect of Dead Space is wantonly uninventive. It fairly shrieks of a high-concept brief that never really got expanded on (“It’s Resident Evil – IN SPACE.”), except for being stuffed with the scooped-out innards of various books, movies and other games.

Of course none of this would be worth pointing out were it not for the fact that this title is being feted as an envelope pusher: the gameplay boasts an unprecedented level of immersion, with the H.U.D. and sub-menus operating in real-time; plus there’s a whole zero-gravity dynamic to play around with. Besides that, the production values are roof-bypassingly high: graphics and sound and all that are consistently impressive, and the whole thing’s just about as cinematic as hell, which seems to be the primary concern of games designers these days. Unfortunately, it’s cinematic in the increasingly pervasive sense of the word that connotes ‘spectacular’ or ‘eye-catching’ or just plain ‘loud’; a sense that makes no allowances for the different capacities of the gaming medium.

This approach to game design is currently most conspicuous in the Gears of War series, wherein the player is generally called upon to do no more than move forward periodically in order to activate the next action set-piece (basically like arcade rail-shooters, and now I think of it, also vaguely analogous to American football). Dead Space has a bit more to it than that, but there’s a prevailing feeling that game aspects such as the storyline and characterisation and resource management and equipment personalisation etc are all supplementary; the developer would be just as happy having the player passively witness a series of sensational audio-visual events, and is only making minimal concessions to the notions of interactivity/immersion/active involvement.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

blog rename

not that anyone reads this thing, i mean it's a blog ffs, but ben and i decided to rename it "Bombs and Monitors". It's a reference. Deal.

Friday, 19 June 2009

games marketing

We here at Make Hands are blah blah blah. And always we etc etc etc. But nevertheless jfedhf jhauio\wf euwhdfhve.


Saturday, 13 June 2009

I review prototype. Also I think it's my first review. A prototype review you could say. Ok, I'll stop.

You know what prototype is like?

It’s like going for a piss at a party only to find the floating turd of the last person who used the toilet, because it didn’t quite get flushed away.

Except maybe Prototype is worse because you don’t generally have to pay £40 to find someone else’s turd at a party. Unless it’s one of those kinds of parties. Then £40 is actually quite a bargain, I imagine.

You play Alex Mercer, charm less, boring amnesiac and there’s something about a virus and New York and monsters everywhere. I can’t really say the story is bad because there just doesn’t seem to be one.

The intro is all explosions, you kill a ton of people, there are zombies. Then you start the flashbacks. You escape from a sinister lab, named Gentek (which is a name Alun came up with when he was 10 years old for some sinister company in a story we were making up at the time: that’s how fucking generic this game is.)

Obviously things are more toned down in flashback town. You’re not all powerful, though still basically invincible. Everything is normal, so no zombies.

I wish it was like a tense foreshadowing to what was going on before. But any tension is sidelined by the gameplay and mission structures (we’ll get to the character flaws in a minute). Basically you just run from one location to another. Then everyone shoots at you with bullets which do nothing, because they’re presumably made of pasta, until you eventually decide to consume some random fuck and get some precious memories.

It genuinely doesn’t matter which asshole you consume, since I accidentally threw one of these military geniuses into the sea only for him to re spawn five seconds later in a much more isolated location, so he was even easier to consume.

Smashing stuff up is fun, but only just. The game feels a lot like the Spiderman games and suffers from the same rigidity in the environment. The game never feels real, not the buildings, population or anything. I mean I know it’s a game and most of your running is done vertically, but even so.

It’s just little things, like how the civilians react. You can leap from literally the highest point possible, landing with such force you leave a crater and unless you land within about 3 inches of the populace they just won’t notice, since apparently they’re all too busy walking down the street to nowhere at all. It is impossible to care about these people.

In some ways this is very effective. Since you’re supposed to be a near Godlike monster, your military codename is even Zeus, it makes sense that you’d give as much thought to snuffing out a life as you would scratching your face. I did spend most of my time just throwing members of the public as hard as possible into the nearest wall, or cutting them in half with giant claws and probably I was scratching my face at least a few times I did this.

But the game is too effective at making everything feel worthless because after a while I just stopped wanting to play it. Is that a burn on the game? Who would make a game you’re not supposed to want to play, other than fucking 2K obviously?

Alex Mercer is a fucking fruit of a character too. In some shots he looks almost like a prepubescent girl, despite the constant, ridiculously over the top scowl. Hopefully that’s some side effect of all his mutations.

He’s so wooden, as is literally every character in all the cutscenes, which in turn seem to be randomly stitched together from different moments in the game. In one, early on, I landed near my apartment building. I went inside, a bomb went off and I land on the street. I see a guy in a suit get into an APC and Alex says “HE’S THE ONE!” and so I have to chase him to indulge in Alex Mercer’s schizophrenic fantasies about eating random businessmen alive. I mean you don’t go into a newsagent to buy an ice cream, see they’re sold out and then attack (and absorb into your body) the first person you see assuming they bought the last one. Or maybe you do, what do I know?

Later some chick tells me she needs genetic samples from some buildings. Before I leave for the mission Mercer thoughtfully declares to her “whatever’s happening here…is only the beginning.”

Does he mean the beginning of some experiments? Because I think that’s what we’re working towards by collecting raw genetic material (which manifested itself as giant glowing yellow balls, incidentally.)

The missions themselves are spliced almost directly from the Spiderman games and most of them make no fucking sense whatsoever. For example: the military have these alarms that detect you if you get too close to them. So to protect your safehouse, which has no alarms within two blocks of it, you have to track down and find these immobile alarms for no reason whatsoever, compromising your cover and putting yourself in the line of fire. Which doesn’t matter since you’re fucking invincible.

I have a fucking ton of things I hated about this game, lots of little things about how you progress through missions and the obscene lack of detail. It all comes down to the fact the game isn’t at all polished, the missions are retarded, the characters aren’t characters and the fact it seems like it was put together by the children of Josef Fritzl.

But to end on a more positive note, the greatest strength of the game is that you can absorb anyone. The game was tenfold improved when you’re running up buildings and tearing people to shreds as a doughy old woman. See her throw cars into tanks. See her take down a helicopter with a flying kick. Joy is known.


I did find a couple of redeeming features to this game, which sounds pretentious and I feel bad about that. As the infection gets worse the city deteriorates. You leap from building to building, transforming at will, gliding over huge brawls and flaming cars and all this chaos and it’s pretty atmospheric.

When you’re running through the city, helicopters gunning after you, everything exploding, it feels very fluid and engaging, and this is also good.

I also had fun sneaking around rooftops doing “stealth consumes” on various soldiers. Although stealth is a strong word since almost all the military guys in the game barely notice you doing anything weird, such as throwing a car across a street or leaping 500 feet in the air. You’re their number one target, they know who you are. But when they see a dude leap from a building and glide off down the street they don’t even bat an eyelid.

The random cut scenes continue however. One of your allies, later in the game, explains you need to inject this monster with these antibodies then consume it and it will help deal with this cancer thing you were infected with. Mercer replies “yeah…I’ve heard that before.” What the fuck. When has anyone ever heard that? “I need you to cure a mutant cancer by injecting a weirdo monster fuck with this magic goo I invented.”
Definitely it wasn’t whilst I was playing the game that Mercer heard this, and he’s an amnesiac, so if he heard it before I started playing he probably…doesn’t…remember.

You also get five seconds of emotion time with your sister where you both start apologising to each other and she’s all “you’re still my brother”. This is, conveniently, seconds before you’re supposed to give a shit about her – as she’s whisked away by some super beast. It’s just fucking lazy story telling, or like they’re ashamed of their inability to write convincing characters, so they just try to glaze over it. Every single cut scene features nonsense like this. I’m not saying that cut scenes make the game, obviously. It’s just how Prototype tells it story, and it does it incredibly badly.

Oh god and the tank missions. Anytime you have to take a character anywhere you always have to do it in a tank, even though it’s slow as fuck and blindingly boring.
And your passengers never say anything when you take to the pavement and ruin a couple hundred lives by killing some innocent sons and daughters.
One of your road buddies is a fucking doctor and he still doesn’t give a shit.
And the army? They must just find it fucking hilarious when you run them over and blow up their trucks since they never even think about asking you to pull over.

So a couple of neat ideas, but the game doesn’t do anything with them, and then it shovels shit in your face for 90% of the time. Great.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Left for Dead Once More: Character Info

Okay, some more info has come to light re the "bland" characters seen in the L4D2 trailers. (Doubters, prepare to be humbled.) They are: Coach, Ellis, Nick and Rochelle; the collected members of the Church of Christ's Almighty Love That Rains from on High Like Blessed Lead, a militant evangelical sect of Christianity that practices polyandry (one woman may have several husbands), compulsory abortions (to keep more sin from entering the world) and mass shootings.

After returning from a wilderness retreat, held at their fortified compound in Texas, the quartet discover that the Apocalypse has come into effect a few days ahead of schedule. It is their God-given task to put down all the sinners of the world once and for all, starting with the wicked folk of New Orleans (did they not get the hint after that whole flood deal?!).

Each member of the group has a rich history, involving various childhood traumas, broken marriages and failed careers. Nick is a former sportswriter and NFL commentator who became a heroin addict after his wife and infant child were killed by the Washington Sniper; Coach is a "reformed" homosexual who used to work as a male model and fashion designer; Rochelle is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who denounced music as "blasphemous" and staged a public burning of the Well Tempered Klavier; and Ellis is a train driver from LA who lost his job when he developed epilepsy.

Left for Dead Once More

The M.O. of this blog being what it is (i.e. excoriating lazy-looking sequels), I submit, for your delectation, Left 4 Dead 2.

Hmm...samey. Okay, so it looks a little sharper; there are new characters (amusingly, naysayers are complaining that they look "bland", as though the cast of the first game was highly-developed); new weapons; a few new zombies; and a new setting (New Orleans? That would explain the Dixieland music). But on the whole, it appears to be exactly the same thing again.

Considering that it's only been about six months since the original came out, the question is begged: what's with the rush? The chattering denizens (God love 'em) of Webland report that this is the game Valve originally wanted to put out, but they had to release a premature version for financial reasons. Or something. Be that as it may, you'd think they'd make an effort to really switch things up for part two...this seems more like a glossy director's cut.

Of course, the gameplay in L4D was already pretty spot-on in its limited way, so perhaps there's no sense complaining; but then that leads us off into the old why make sequels at all? debate. The answer to which is "because there is no God".

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

assassin's creed 2

Feel free to check this out.

It's gamespot's mini coverage of assassin's creed 2 from E3. I just want to point out a couple of reasons why games are shit right here.


"Gaining the ability to swim has long been the mark of a good sequel,"

Why are games so shit that this is an acceptable element to a sequel? I think that Gamespot mention it a little sarcastically, but if everyone knows it's embarassing and stupid that you can't swim in games why are people still making games where you can't fucking swim in them?


this game play video.

The developer comes out on stage. Rocks back and forth like the most autistic motherfucker of all time. Says "the main thing I said to my team was diversity. Give the player more things they can do in all aspects of the game."
That's great except one minute later he says "you can only reach your target from the sky."

Beautiful diversity there, I feel so diverse right now I think I might go and roll in shit.

Why doesn't anyone call these dicks on this stuff, for fuck's sake?

It's good to see that leaping into carts full of hay is still in the game though, and good to see it looks totally unrealistic and shit. Also you notice that bit where the guy runs up to two guards and nails them both in the face at the same time? I bet you're going to meet alot of guards who're just hanging out chatting in this game.

already bored of games i haven't played

So Prototype. You’re nearly here and you’re one of maybe 4 games I want to play by the end of the year.
But I have never been less excited about a game I’m excited about. And you know why? I’ve already fucking played the game.

Not in any actual sense, no, ha-ha. I mean in the horrendously pretentious so have you kind of aren’t all games the same sort of way.

I’ve been watching trailers trying to psyche myself up for this game, but it just can’t be done. At the end of one of them there’s a quote from Game Informer describing prototype as “the first of its kind.”

So what’s up Game Informer? You didn’t play GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas, GTA 4, Spiderman 2, 3 and ultimate or web of shadows, Crackdown, Assassin’s Creed, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Fallout 3 or any of those other open world action games?
Get your hands out of your pants for five fucking seconds and scratch your heads if you have to.

Probably I’m being unfair. That quote was almost definitely taken out of context or maybe it wasn’t ever said at all.

Still, the game looks fun. Game Informer, in fact, described it as "really quite a blast." It’s just I’m sick of viruses and New York and Mutants and Soldiers. Aren’t there any other stories out there?

I can take monsters. I can take cities. I’m not asking for the story of Billy: the goat with the longest horns or any shit like that.

But what happened to I Am Alive? A game set in Chicago or somewhere after an earthquake: a survival horror with no monsters and almost no guns? Where water was going to be a big deal?

Sure, I’ve heard promises like that before. Water was going to be a big deal in Fallout 3 too. You’d drink it but it would make you sick with radiation. Did anyone actually drink water ever, except to get irradiated? I had stimpaks flowing out of my eyes by the end of that game. Why bother trying to purify water at all; everyone could live off stimpaks for fuck’s sake.

But no monsters would be different. If they get the NPCs right, so interacting with them feels like a big deal, then I Am Alive might be different and really good, for a change.

So I start watching another Prototype trailer. It’s the Top 10 Reasons why Prototype is far from typical. 10 reasons you must have Prototype.

Reason number 10, the first reason: “Run and Gun Firepower”.
Ok, surely they don’t mean you can run and shoot in this game. Surely that’s not what they’re proudly displaying in a list of unique facets of this game?

Because that would be unique as fuck.

Only I’m sure there’s another game you can do that in. Just…what was it called?

Seriously I can’t remember. Can anyone name another game you can run and shoot in?
Is that even possible with today’s physics engines?

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Game Review: Centaur City MCMXXXI

Here's a strange one for you. TeamDTs, the developers behind 2003's anthropomorphic rob'em'up Chicken Bandits, went into liquidation late last year, having spent more than half a decade working on an untitled mega-project involving a team of hundreds and costing something in the region of $40m. Assets were sold and employees were scattered to the far corners of the game-development world; it seemed for sure that the masterpiece was never to see the light of day.

Cut to only a few months later, and here's Centaur City MCMXXXI (that's 1931 for those uncomfortable with Roman numerals), landing unheralded like the cargo of a stork caught in a downdraft and forced to shed ballast in order to save its own skin. Funny old world, eh?

So what's it all about? Well, the game is "best described as a mytho-historical sandbox adventure", according to the backcover blurb. If you're buying a hardcopy, that's all you'll have to go on: the box is otherwise completely blank, and grey to boot (would black have been too glamorous?). Open it up and you'll be presented with a game disc and a slender volume of poetry entitled Cold Dreamers of Old Town:

First thing to go's the colors;
look out yonder on our fine city
and see how everything's now but one hue.
It's the color of money;
we painted all our rooftops
with them green bills, see?
And then when the rains came down,
they washed through;
they stained us all green,
and now there ain't one thing in this town
is worth the paper it's printed on.

Mysterious, n'est pas? And not a reference to secondary-fire mode in sight. In fact, it took a good three hours of gameplay before things started to make sense. The premise is this: the years is 1931, and the Great Depression is in full effect. Bendorion, an amnesiac drifter, arrives in the southern US city of Dustyville, where he immediately creates a stir among the locals. He's a centaur, see: from the waist upwards a man, below that a horse. And it doesn't help that he can't speak English (at the beginning of the game, the speech of the city's residents consists of nonsense syllables, which gradually morph into intelligibility as time passes); within minutes he's been attacked by an angry mob, who beat him into unconsciousness and steal his lute.

Awakening in a barn, Bendorion finds that he's been rescued by an old horse whisperer named Miller, who seems to know more about centaurs than he lets on. And so begins a mystery-adventure of uncommon ambition, set over the course of two decades and dealing with racism, poverty, the rise of nationalism, identity politics, quantum physics, prohibition, universal grammar, musical serialism and advertising.

C.C. MCMXXXI's gameplay is highly indebted to the GTA series: long periods are spent doing sub-quests for shady mobsters and corrupt policemen. However, these potentially tedious exercises are enlivened by the game's incredibly open-ended structure. One mission, in which Bendorion is assigned to assassinate a twelve-year-old witness, proved to have no fewer than fourteen possible outcomes, one of which involved an experimental theatre group performing the first scene from Ibsen's A Doll's House with the role of Nora played by a Model T Ford painted green.


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

BioShock 2: THE FACTS

BioShock 2: Chunky Martin Sets Sail is set two and a half hours after the shipping date for the original game. Rapture does not yet exist as an imaginational construct in the brandscape of 21st century global capitalism; rather, it is a potential entity, housed within the minds of its creators. This is about to change.

An electrical storm at sea sinks a freighter carrying 100,000 copies of the game, which are released into the ocean. It is the worst rec-tech spill in recorded history, with ecological ramifications that threaten the entire planet. Furthermore, the storm actualises the content of the game discs, manufacturing a fissure in the material of factitional-space-time that allows Rapture's inhabitants to access dimensional reality. They quickly establish a real-world Rapture, which attracts all of the human race's greatest scientists and artists. Unfortunately, this version is a massive success, and nobody wants to leave.

The player assumes control of Manuel "Chunky" Martinez, an aspiring maritime hero with a small-but-noticeable weight problem, who must travel to the new city to kidnap as many people as he can before he starts to feel bad about himself. Since the game is set in real life, the player must ride on Martinez's shoulder, shouting instructions in pidgin English.

New features include the "Big Sister" (literally the elder female sibling of the player) and the removal of the contentious Vita-Chamber feature, which enhances the game's immersiveness by making death fatal.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

fuck bioshock 2

Bioshock 2:

Firstly let’s hit that subtitle running, shall we?

Sea of fucking dreams?

I know its set in the ocean but, for fuck’s sake, pull yourselves together 2K. Why not just call it “twilight of the mysteries” or “shadow of tomorrowmore” or how about “Bioshock 2: a giant whales dick” or some other equally generic piece of crap title a two year old could shit out.

Now I’m not against sequels per se, and I’d like to apologise for using the expression “per se”. Half Life 2, COD 4, Silent Hill 2: these are good games. And they’re distinct from their predecessor in terms of gameplay, graphics and their world or they expand on the story and answer the questions the first game didn’t. Or sort of anyway.

But what questions will Bioshock 2 answer that Bioshock one didn’t? Because what questions are there, other than “why the fuck did I buy this fucking game in the first place?” (read it and weep)

Basically that whole big sister angle looks really shit. You know what the big sister is? It’s Godzilla. It’s Rambo or the T-1000. It’s Darth Vader and the monster from Cloverfield (and that was Godzilla again anyway).

It’s just another ultimate hard ass monster designed to make your dick spasm uncontrollably and get your controller vibrating so hard you froth at the mouth. Or maybe that's just what happens to me.

Huge cyber monster badasses aren’t inherently bad (despite being the bad guys – little villain joke for you there) and maybe I’m just looking for cheap, extremely cheap, digs at this game. Except isn’t this sort of shit already mocked in films, T.V. shows and books?

Like how the hero meets some ultimate super villain and for 80 minutes just can’t make a dent until everyone comes together just right at the end and the pain is brung.

Here’s a super toughie you can’t even hurt!

You can’t kill it! You still can’t kill it!

Ok, finally we let you kill it. Well done, noble warrior of the sea. Go play with your drill and your little girls.

Anyway I was thinking about how they’re going to develop their characters and world in this game and I remembered hearing how they might make up to 7 Bioshock sequels.

I started thinking about old school comic books, from the golden age of comics. You’d have a set list of characters who’d appear in a number of issues, and most of the stories would be completely separate.

With Half Life and its sequel, the story continues fairly neatly. But the only connection, it seems, between Bioshock 1 and Bioshock 2 is the setting (and at least one of the characters from the original will appear).

That’s not necessarily bad, it worked for those comics. But can you imagine if 2K had a story so complicated and intense it was going to take 7 games to tell it? Rather than 7 games which just happen to be set in some ever expanding underwater city?

Maybe it’s not 7 and it’s only 5 or something, but even so everyone knows making a ton of sequels is a really bad call. Look what happened to Rocky.

They’ll get to the third one and you’ll be a team of marines descending into Rapture or some shit. Then the fourth one will be a prequel.

Then, like a tidal wave of shit, horrendous franchise games will flood the market, each with more sequels than the last and we’ll all soon be drowning in subtitles like “sea of dreams” and “mountain of snuggles”.

Everyone will realise their mistakes too late and spend the rest of their lives in self induced exile, endlessly remaking Bioshock in Flash until they’re torn asunder by a woolly mammoth. All because of Bioshock 5.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

game worlds

By now everyone's seen the trailer/gameplay footage/bullshit of Beyond Good and Evil 2.

But if you haven't, here it is:

Hopefully the free running won't be the heart of the game, like Assassin's Creed, but will just be a way to flavour a game based around strong characters and story.

What interests me more is the setting. Looks like India to me. This has got me thinking a little.

The setting in Bioshock was ok, but sci fi lab stuff is more or less done to death now. Fallout 3 suffers from the same sort of thing (although the wasteland is one of the best things in games to date). GTA4 is the best example of a big city environment and Prototype, inFamous (are they actually the same game?) and all those other open world city games can just go to hell.

Resident Evil 5 was a great setting for a game. African shanty towns. Have we ever seen that in a game before? Vaguely ignorant racism aside, that was a pretty good call for a game setting right there.

And now some Indian looking city. This looks promising.

But I am so certain it will inspire lots of shit rip offs in subsequent games. Like how Gears of War had a cover system, so suddenly all shooters need cover systems. This exactly sums up why games are shit: because people who make them think that basic, surface stuff is what a game is. The invention of cover systems is not a way to take games forward to the "next level". It's just a step sideways, another tool for telling a story.

Games will improve when they're giving us something dramatically different. By which I mean not just a pronounced change but some actual drama. When the stories are heartfelt, personal and interesting. When the characters and game world are engaging and feel authentic. When you get a more intense connection from games, this is when they'll have improved (in my mind).

This "footage" from Beyond Good and Evil 2 shows it has potential, the basis for something. It remains to be seen whether they make the most, or anything, from it.

Monday, 27 April 2009

the ultimate purpose of a blog

The reason we all have blogs is because we're all very boring and no one gives a shit about anything we say on a level higher than a handful of people.

The world owes us, we feel, we're worth something, we think and we all want our voices heard, however similar they may be to the next man and the result is this massive internet drone of shit with a couple of exceptions from people who are sometimes actually quite interesting.

And this is a games blog, brought about because the only thing relating to games that is AS SHIT as MOST GAMES ARE is FUCKING GAMES JOURNALISM which is sort of like finding a loved one has died trying erotic asphyxiation. It's like they were trying to have a good time but it went so fucking wrong that they died. And now you have to deal with the fact that you saw your dad's erect penis and he was dead at the time because of something he decided to do.

The point of all this is that a blog, typically, is a tool of the powerless - the majority of which say nothing, to no one. And this one is about games, so here is a story about how I screwed myself over, Microsoft kicked me when I was down and how I was unable to do anything about it.

The E74 error. It's been running amok in our 360s, ruining everyone's fun, since (basically) time immemorial. Mine got it and I dealt with it in the worst way possible.

To get the fucking thing repaired I was going to have to pay £80. This is utter bullshit because the E74 is a hardware problem. Meaning Microsoft made the fucking problem in the first place and wanted me to pay for it. So fuck that ridiculous bullshit, right?

I did want any man's man would have done and tried to fix the fucking thing my fucking self.

Which obviously didn't fucking work and now every time I turn that poor xbox on it sounds like it's going to castrate me via explosion.

There's a side story here about my friend, Kris Bradley, coming up with a plan to get me a free Xbox. At the time Coke were running a competition: you drink coke, you get points, enough points = 360. He had like 550 points out of the 600 needed for a 360 and was just going to give it to me, because he's a hero.

I bottle it. I couldn't accept that gift. It felt like too much. The day I call him to tell him I ordered a new 360 he tells me this little sob story about how Coca Cola ran out of 360s and said not to worry, they'd be getting more in stock. The day before the competition is supposed to end Kris has enough points for the 360 and calls up to claim the prize, only to find out the competition was taken down a day early and there were no new 360s anyway. To him the fact I ordered a new one is a massive relief.

So yes, I just said fuck it and upgraded to an elite, 80% of the point of which is that they have massive external hard drives but since I didn't want a hard drive it was basically a waste of money and I hate myself.

So recently Microsoft recognised they'd just fucked up with the E74 error (again: hardware fault) and extended the warranty and set about paying people back for those £80 repairs.

Three times now I have phoned up explaining in tones as masculine and unpleading and somehow almost Scottish about the unfairness of having to pay that £80 to fix Microsoft's error. About how I only opened my 360 because of their inability to recognise the fault as something so major and it would be ludicrous and awful of them to not accept my 360 for free repair, even though it is now technically tampered.

They've not only said no but that they wouldn't even repair it if i paid them.

It's all a matter of policy, it was explained to me. It goes through some scanner which reads the warranty sticker inside the xbox is damaged and it gets sent back with either the message "tampered" or probably just a shit in a box.

So there's nothing I can do about this? I ask.

Nothing, comes the reply.

And presumably no one higher up I can talk to who will help me?

No, there is no one who can help you.

And the phone line connection was actually incredibly bad, so the voice was muffled, crackly and distant which accentuated the bleak and lonely message the technical support line supervisor delivered to an almost unbearable level. Seriously, emotional stuff.

Anyway, this Serious Bullshit only really came about after I bought Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears. I tried to play it on my 360 and it didn't work and it turns out it's because it isn't backwards compatible. Presumably this is some other basic xbox 360 knowledge everyone but me has, along with, obviously, don't open your 360 like a fucking moron.

It turns out that all xbox original titles have to be updated and patched before they run on 360s. For the European version of the game Microsoft just haven't done this and there is no way of finding out if they ever will. So us European's have to play the game on our xbox originals. Which I don't have.

No, they've only done the American version and supposedly they've done a really shit job.

It was whilst I was looking for the backwards compatibility information that I found out about that E74 recall/refund bullshit. If they'd already updated Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears I never would have known.

And that's the real tragedy here. So here it is, an unheard FUCK YOU, MICROSOFT. The impotent cry delivered in it's rightful format: a blog. About games.

Not the moral: give money to charity.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

bioshock movie

NO, BAD, WRONG, MISTAKE are some of the words that come to mind when I think about this bioshock movie that is going to exist alongside me and other real things in the real world that I actually really live in.

On the IMDB page for it there's a plot keywords section. It's like "spoiler alert scroll mouse over to read plot keywords". Let's look at these ok here they come: Survivor | Underwater | Plane Crash | Utopia | One Word Title



Maybe this supports my argument that 2K don't give a shit about making games, just money.

Friday, 24 April 2009


FUCK i am basically just SO BORED I've decided to try and do as many things in the next half hour as possible. After posting this I intend to piss, but i need to do that so badly I might have to divide this activity (the posting) in two.

So Protoype is basically a mix of crackdown/GTA style action adventure with a sort of assassin's creed twist to it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prototype_(video_game)

Yeah, it looks like a high school goth's wet dream, but we all have that side of us.

It will probably be fun for about an hour and then the story will turn out to be fucking dreadful and etc etc.

One thing that I'm thinking about this game is that you will probably unlock more powers and moves as you progress in level.

I am fucking SICK of that SHIT. Wouldn't it be more interesting if you started the game with all the powers at your disposal, each one assigned to a different combo or complex movement of one or other analog stick, but without being shown how to use them? Then as you play the game you get more used to them and figure them out and just generally end up with a better control/sense of how to apply the attacks/powers.

But no, it will just be levels and experience points just like EVERY OTHER GAME.

Monday, 20 April 2009

bioshock, my problem


There’s so much shit going around, always, about this game.

I want to discuss, as briefly as possible, my big problem with the game. This whole thing came out of a massive debate with Ciaran, incidentally.

There was a lot of crap in the game I hated; the hacking, the camera research, but I can write that off as personal preference.

Basically the game is critiquing all first person shooters where you just run and kill everything you’re told to without thinking about why.

That’s fine and good and I guess someone needed to say it and they had to say it as a game. But I’ve been playing first person shooters since I was maybe ten years old (starting with Marathon on a mac).

I know how games are, I know that first person shooters are generally linear, dumb and you never think about the whys and wherefores.

The problem with a lot of those games, Halo 3 for instance, is that the world just doesn’t matter. It’s all combat, the background is unimportant.

And for a game that is critiquing that, Bioshock follows exactly the same track, and this is where we start to get to the root of the problem for me.

You get to the bit with Andrew Ryan and all that “would you kindly” and the game is basically saying “look, ha ha, you just kill without thinking! Whoops! Gotcha!” but it doesn’t make me feel like it matters a shit.

The environment is interesting and (sort of) unique but it just didn’t do enough to compel me, to make me feel like anything going on there mattered.

Take GTA4, for example. I ended up really liking Roman and Niko Bellic. I wanted things to end up well for them. Bioshock never made me care about anything that was happening.

The Little Sisters, for example. I never killed any of them, basically because I’m not an insane bully. Why just today I helped a woman carry a pram down the stairs at a train station. My point is I don’t generally want to kill little girls.

The reward for doing so just wasn’t enough to tempt me. It didn’t feel like ADAM and the Plasmids mattered, and that kind of sums up the game. If they’d worked it harder, made it more intense to the point I was considering killing a little sister it would have made the pay off, the would you kindly, feel like a genuine statement, something worthwhile.

As it is it’s just like every first person shooter it’s mocking, just self aware. It’s like a retard saying “I’m retarded.”

Kieron Gillen sort of sums this up for me in his defense of Bioshock [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/bioshock-a-defence-article]:

“...They can't help themselves, and your awareness of how they're trapped makes you falling into the role of protector make a lot of sense - you're fighting, on both levels, to end this videogame. Hell, you could expand that to the final uninspired boss sequence - this is what we're trying to get away from.”

Note the word uninspired. The game doesn't bring anything new to the table, it just says everything at the table is shit. I mean why even include something mediocre in a game when you could do better? The statement Bioshock is making could and should have already been made by the final fight in the game, and it should have been done a lot subtler – making you feel like you were in a world that mattered.

Bioshock is a game that should be regarded as bad because of how little it does with its world (a world which should be fucking great). The fact it is actually a stand out game leaves a lot to be desired about the industry.

I want to say the game is like a cynical statement putting all these run and gun first person shooters to rights. But the fact the game follows all the same conventions as those games, even after they twist them on their head, makes it feel like 2K have seen how base those games are and are just cashing in.

I hope Bioshock 2 tries harder.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

On the topic of indie games

It's been a good couple of years for 2D platformers. By which I mean that about five have been released. Still, that's got to be about 50% up on the first half of the decade.


Left 4 Dead expansion

New Left 4 Dead expansion is supposedly out on Tuesday the 21st of April. I don’t know if that’s true, I read it on some website.

Left 4 Dead is nearly a very boring game and a lot of people apparently just don’t get it. These people join, don't talk, and quit when they consequently do badly.

The game is about teamwork, organisation. In versus mode the best organised team wins, which is great.

The fun comes from setting up ambushes, as the zombies, and tearing the shit out of the human players.

There is not as much, tactically, to playing as the humans. You just have to stick together and shout out when you’re downed. There is basically no point playing without a headset.

Making it to the safehouse is not so much satisfying as it is a relief.

Left 4 Dead is only really fun on versus, with both teams full of human players whose sole reason for existence is the utter destruction of the opposing team. So when it’s good it’s really good.

One thing that basically annoys me about the game is the zombies and how you deal with them. All you do is shoot more or less constantly.

For example: someone got Boomered next to me in a room with a pile of ammo. As the horde burst through the door all I had to do was hold shoot for five seconds and they were all dead, no one was even touched. Even after that I was on full ammo.

Maybe the lack of dynamism here is not so much a failing of the game as it is a failing of the zombie players to utilise the horde to instigate an ambush.

Left 4 Dead is trying to be a sort of arcadey, semi kitsch game and it does that well.

But a change in rhythm or style might make the game a bit more exciting. Take that sequence in the hospital when you activate the lift and have to fight a massive horde of zombies for 60 seconds or so. You have, effectively, infinite ammo at that point. All you need to do, to survive, is shoot.

What if you had no ammo, or almost none, and had to deal with the zombies in a different way? Perhaps creating a barricade or diversion?[1]

That sounds like something you might get in Resident Evil. I’m not asking Left 4 Dead be a duplicate of that. It’s doing its own thing and that’s great.

It just feels like it’s doing the bare minimum with what it’s got.

Some variety might be nice.

[edit: I just found a blog for Left 4 Dead, an official one run by Valve. It has some details about the construction of the new Survival Pack: http://www.l4d.com/blog/post.php?id=2417
It sounds great, I am optimistic!]

[1] Although maybe this would detract from the zombie players ability to do anything.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

i could definitely make a pun about prostitutes and paths here...but I'm not going to

When I write this there’s only three of us here. Ben, Alun and me. And Alun doesn’t even post on this blog yet.

So I don’t really know how to approach this post, which came out of a conversation us three were having the other day.

Do I write it, pretentiously, pretending it’s for an audience that doesn’t exist? Because I want to record it; it has a place on this blog. But since we’re the only ones that know about it even, and we’re not really going to read it, what’s the point?

So, whatevering that, Ben’s brother Tom was also there.

We were talking about games, violence and freedom in games and so on. Alun was talking about the prostitute killing in GTA4, how it caused so much controversy but was included in the game to represent real world actions.

Aside from the mentioning of other real world activities that are very absent, though far more common, from GTA4 (starting a garage band or book club, for example) we were talking about how completely unimportant the prostitute killing is to the game, in terms of its backbone.

I mean I kill a lot of people on GTA4. No one is safe, be they policeman or prostitute. I would probably try to kill the pope even, if he was in the game. In fact I’d probably spend a lot of time trying to do it. Not because I hate the pope, just because the experience was available to me. Likewise I don't generally want to kill prostitutes, but obviously I tried it on GTA4 because I could.

GTA4 is about freedom. If you go exploring you end up killing prostitutes.

I started thinking about the Path (http://tale-of-tales.com/ThePath/) a game recently released by Tale of Tales.

The idea at the base of The Path is exploration, to stray from the path, exercising your freedom, and how this ultimately leads to your characters destruction. You can just follow the path and finish the game, but you will have failed the game.

A guy called Kieron Gillen, in his review for Eurogamer, mentioned this interesting feature the game has.

“…to interact with anything in the game, you release the controls, and then the girl will wander over and have a nose at whatever's nearby. To interact, you stop interacting.” (http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/the-path-review)

I like this idea that the game kind of guides you as you kind of guide it.

Can you imagine if GTA4 had the same dynamic?

GTA, the original, did have a bunch of missions you could complete but what it was really about was constantly destroying as much as you could to relieve stress.

GTA4, at its heart, is the same.

So imagine: you release the controls and Niko Bellic goes instantly insane brutally kicking someone to death before stealing a car and running down everyone he can until the thing breaks. Then getting out, grabbing a nearby gun and shooting the shit out of everything nearby whilst making his way to another vehicle, which he in turn uses to slaughter another hundred people before upgrading to an armored SWAT van, leaving a trail of grenades, UZI fire and (presumably) orphans. And all the while you’re just watching until you press the A button and bring his kill frenzy to an end, guiding him on a more sedate path, forcing him to blend in, to go to parties, play pool and not wipe out all life in Liberty City.

In my mind he’d be a lot better at the murder than I am; making full use of cover, making faster turns in cars and almost never missing a shot. The game, then, would be guiding him. All the while suppressing his rampage until you reached the mission destination when you’d let him out of his metaphorical cage to kill everything in sight. Then you force him to go bowling with his girlfriend and try to stop him dismembering her with a Vespa.



Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Fallout 3 is shit and this is why

I enjoyed the free-roaming of Oblivion. I enjoyed luring Umbra to the big Imperial City, whatever it was called, and hiding in a fountain watching her kill ten guys before they took her down.

I knew that free roaming was going to be great in Fallout 3.

I hated, in Oblivion, how you could be the most evil motherfucker in the world, head of the assassin’s guild, a vampire, saviour of the entire kingdom, head of the mages guild and the Gray Fox, leader of the thieves guild, even though they had a policy of no killing.

In fact I had just saved the entire world, was a vampire, when this group of fruits comes up to me telling me how much they hate vampires and would I be interested in culling some disgusting vampires with them because they’re so vile and offensively unnatural?

Yeah well Fallout 3 was going to change all that. Your actions would have real consequences and shape the world which, by the way, was going to feel incredibly real and authentic.

Are you fucking crying yet? Are you weeping tears of joy at seeing a real, lived in world torn apart by nuclear war and insane mutant raider scorpion fucks? At seeing Liam Neeson, your dad(!), LIAM NEESON lecture you about being in a desert and stuff?

And this translated into the real world, our world, the real world we live in where Liam Neeson is nobody's dad, as you being able to blow up Megaton (in Fallout 3, it’s not a real place) and never being able to go there again. Uh…was there anything else? Not really, no.

Nothing I did had any impact at all. I chose not to kill a giant tree man, he was upset for a second but got over it. I sold some people into slavery, no one gave a shit. I killed every trader I came across, it was never mentioned.

In fact, near the start of the game, I met the sheriff in Megaton and somehow told him that Mr Burke, bad guy character, was planning to blow up the town. We go and confront Mr Burke and he agrees to follow Sheriffman to the prison, then shoots him in the back. Oh my, I thought, and by way of consoling myself beat Mr Burke to death with a baseball bat I happened to have and stole all his clothes.

And no one mentioned this. In fact they never cleared the naked bodies out of the bar where the murder had happened. No one seemed to notice their sheriff was dead. If you spoke to his son he was like just like my dad’s dead, see ya never!

Then later, by way of thematic symmetry or whatever, I found myself outside Tenpenny Tower, owned by Mr Tenpenny who had hired Mr Burke to do all his errands and destroy Megaton. I talk my way in and the main guard is like “You better not make any trouble here,” and I immediately kill him and every other fucker in the courtyard. Inside the lobby everyone is calm, somehow blissfully unaware I’ve murdered any and all of their friends and loved ones unlucky enough to be outside when I decided, on a whim, to murder them all. One of the patrons in the lobby even comes on to me.

I kill her and everyone else there, then head up to Tenpenny.

The guard on his door makes like you better not make any trouble with Tenpenny and I go talk to Mr Tenpenny who makes mention of Mr Burke, but seemingly doesn’t know I killed him fucking weeks ago and I’m wearing his hat even, because he never mentions it or lets on he cares about it in any way. I shoot him in the head, which comes flying off. He falls from the tower and it’s fucking great.

Inside the guard is like you better not make any trouble with Mr Tenpenny even though I shot him in the face on the otherside of the door he’s stood in front of.

And Fawkes. You meet him, he’s great, you’re like “want to hang out with me, it’ll be great?” and he, wisely says no, it would cause too much trouble for you in the towns of this land or some shit like that and fair enough, if I turned up with a super mutant in tow, literally the only one in the world who doesn’t want to tear out your still screaming internal organs and rape them to fuck, who just happens to be armed with one of the most powerful guns in the game I’d expect it to raise a few eyebrows.

But I was a fool to think this.

No one gave a shit! No one ran screaming or immediately opened fire or cursed my very name, which was Lovely Oats by the by. Even when I took him to the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Steel, whose sole purpose in life is to wipe out all super mutants, the soldiers all just stood there, with this super mutant in their base, not giving a fuck.

I couldn’t even kill half the characters in the fucking game. The amount of kids that took ten mini nukes to the face and a minute later were like “I’m a really annoying sack of SHIT” included: ALL THE KIDS IN THE GAME. I’m not saying I only bought the game to kill kids, but FUCKING HELL those kids were irritating. And I had a nuclear missile launcher. What are you going to do?

I tried playing a bad character, with real attitude (sass). Telling everyone to go fuck themselves, just doing practical shit. I found that shitty town that lives on a bridge and the guy says he has trouble with gangs. I had to kill a bunch of innocent people just to get my karma low enough for this ex raider, Jericho, to follow me. I don’t want to be like “sure I’ll help you out old man. What’s that? You can’t pay me? Why then I’ll do it all for free!”

But no, you tell him to fuck himself – no quest. It’s only good to be good in the world of Fallout 3. A game that boasts about freedom needs to offer equal rewards to both Nice and Mean playing styles.

What happened to consequences? What happened to a world that felt real?

I guess it doesn’t matter; there was a giant robot after all.

All the good stuff in the game; the weapon deterioration and creation, the landscape and level layout, the handful of interesting quests, they don’t have any real impact if you don’t give a shit about the world.

In terms of immersion the game starts in a novel, fairly strong way. But it just does too much to keep putting me off, again and again, and then I have to die at the end anyway.

Thanks Fallout 3.