Sunday, 12 April 2009

First post

Roland demanded that I post a piece on this new blog immediately. Not owning a PC that can play new games, an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3, I am not really well connected with the current state of the industry. The last time I played a new game was on the 18th of March. This is also the last time I have felt like writing about videogames. There is an extremely direct link between these two events. I guess this is more-or-less a review, but it's definitely less. It basically reads like a blog post, but I suppose that's good, because this is a fucking blog. I did clean it up a little bit though, because it was awful. Here it is:

I was at a friend's house for the last two days, so I played some XBox, since visiting this guy is the only time I really play any consoles or whatever. Mostly what we play is games I've already played and am obscenely good at for games that I don't own (Call of Duty 4 and Rockband/Guitar Hero being prime examples). The only new game was Condemned Two. I'd met with my friend in town and he had literally bought this game infront of my fucking eyes, so it was new as shit. He wanted to play it 'together'. I'm normally pretty sceptical of this, because playing a single player game 'together' is a terrible euphemism, bringing to mind Cristiano Ronaldo patting Gary Neville on the back and saying, "Thanks for helping us score that goal together." However, he promised a strict alternation of levels, and I'd heard another couple of friends of mine say that this game was decent. (Those two friends are the other asshole writers of this blog!) So yeah, we go to his room and sit on the edge of his bed and play alternating levels for a few hours. He was up first so I had to entertain myself with 'watching' (considering all this shit we go on about games clumsily aping films, they sure are boring as shit to watch most of the time.) and breaking his spare pair of glasses that he'd lent to me. Right from the start, I was very unimpressed, with the opening video detailing that the main character was really shit (I mean, I don't want to make some trite comment, but seriously, I thought even videogames thought this archetype was passé by now) and the world design was really shit (same reason.) My friend completed the first level and it was really shit too, basically just punching a load of black blobs. Wasn't impressed at all, it seemed like an idiot's Silent Hill 2.

Then I got to do my level, and there was instantly a crazy huge improvement. I had to do some 'detective' stuff, and it was actually really awesome. It doesn't hold your hand at all during it - if you don't know what an exit wound looks like, then fuck you! That is excellent- games are mostly all too easy and for morons, so this was a great move. If you get it wrong, you just have to suck it up and move on. I'd quite happily play a game of just the detective stuff. Activities like that are pretty rare in games, and especially those that actually require real knowledge - normally anything similar to this in a game, that seems potentially engaging, will contain a 20 minute walkthrough-tutorial over your little radio or whatever, that will tell you exactly how to solve it every time it fucking happens, making the entire thing completely pointless. This didn't happen this time! The other good bit about my level was that I found a pistol. My friend had been using mostly his fists and bits of pipe and sticks that he'd found lying around (whilst the fact you can pick something up is vaguely appealing - meaning it reminded me of The Warriors - it just seems like a 'trick' to make you think you're actually having fun and 'interacting' with your environment, when in reality it is essentially entirely meaningless and stops being fun quickly - although I will admit picking up swords and axes and maces later on was vaguely satisfying, but that went on too long and I just felt like I was playing a sword game, so whatever), so when I got the gun I was like "Ha!" My friend must have been red with fury and shame - I'd got to be a gun-toting detective, and he'd just been some idiot punching shadows! But yes, why was the gun notable? Aren't guns in almost all games?! Yes they are, but this is literally the first game I have ever played where I actually felt like I had a real gun (this is a fairly meaningless statement, since I have never even touched a real gun, let alone owned or fired one, but fuck you). I mean yeah, it looks and sounds 'real,' but guns in a whole bunch of other games look and sound 'real'. What made it good? It was a big fucking deal. To me at least. Ammo is really rare (and as an extra bonus tied in to this, there is no stupid 'fantasy reloading,' as found in literally all games with guns in ever. This is a pet peeve of mine that is pretty nerdy, but whatever, I'm too autistic to get over it), and to check how much ammo you have left, you actually have to pull the magazine out of the pistol and take a look - immersion! And, most importantly, if you shoot someone, they fucking die! I mean yeah, shoot them in the leg, they don't die, but that makes sense and I want that too. If you shoot them in the head or chest, they are dead. Just like in real life! Even in the vast majority of 'realistic' shooting games (for example the aforementioned CoD4), you can shoot a man twice in his fucking eyes and he wont die.

But let's not get carried away. This game is flagged by problems. Much like Bioshock and all these other 'story' FPS games, 99% of the fighting is totally pointless, meaningless shit to extend what would otherwise be short levels. Fuck that! I'd rather play a game with just short levels. The ability to pick up whatever in your immediate environs and hit people with it gives the game a little mileage, but only a little. About 2 minutes when you first discover it, and then every 40 minutes or so you get a 2- or 3-second snicker when you find something novel to pick up. That really doesn't excuse this lazy ass game design shit. The idea of needing alcohol to fire a gun properly isn't necessarily a bad idea, but the way it's implemented is just a stupid and pretty lame game mechanic. I'd be happier if you just sucked at aiming with guns and there wasn't anything you could do about it. That would be more immersive and would flesh out the character somewhat, to me at least, and would give some depth to guns - as in, even when you find one, you're just a nice guy from the city and you have no idea what the fuck you're doing with it anyway. Maybe the main character could make a terrified-helpless-moron "Aaahhhh!!!" shout/scream the whole time whilst shooting at monsters and attackers, and flap his free hand around in panic. But still, the detective element of the game was genuinely pretty great, and I enjoyed it a lot, even if the occasions to actually engage in it were way too few and far between. However, without the detective thing, the game just seems like a shitter version of Silent Hill 2 with quicktime events. And quicktime events are shit and I hate them.

1 comment:

  1. in an effort to promote some debate on here I am going to comment on this fucking post.

    Did you ever play Blade Runner Ben?

    Because the atmosphere in Condemned 2 was good, I thought, although a little typical. And the violence is very visceral, but doesn't need to carry the game. If the proportions were reversed, with regard to investigation stuff and violence, the game would be alot better.

    Here is the Bladerunner element. That game is all about investigation and figuring out what's happened/is going on. Then you have multiple endings depending on what you do. In terms of story it's a really engrossing game.

    If you took the interesting investigation/fairly interesting fighting from Condemned 2 and mixed it with the storytelling and complexity/fairly nonabsurdity of the blade runner game you'd have something great maybe.

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