Archive for August, 2009

28
Aug
09

Release Schedule Roundup

bioshock-2-big-daddy

It’s good to see the major games splurged generously across the release schedule this year, with plenty of gems lurking in the early months of 2010. For whatever reason, perhaps fleeing from the monstrous shadow of Modern Warfare 2, perhaps out of common sense, games are being released fairly evenly over the coming months. For this year at least I won’t be wondering which lucky 2 or 3 titles will win my cash, I’ll be able to spread expense and time evenly, meaning I’ll even be able to play some of what would normally be considered underdogs.

Lurking in that category we have Obsidian’s Alpha Protocol. It’s not big on the visual bangs and whistles, but promises a sturdy RPG experience, and you get to be a spy. It’s a great set up with a lot of promise. If the voice acting and character interaction are up to scratch then I’ll probably forgive lacklustre combat, but so far the warmongering is looking pretty good. Hopefully it’ll scratch my exp-earning itch until Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 come out.

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27
Aug
09

The Second 3D Revolution

The mid nineties saw a siesmic shift from sprites to polygonal models. This changed gaming forever.

Initially it was a rough transition, the 3D models were so basic that they completely lacked character and sprites persisted, strange hybrids existed for a while where 2D sprites would fight in 3D environments (Wolfenstein, Doom and Duke Nukem). Before long, though, the benefits of 3D level design and imrpvoing technology brought the third dimension into every home. We had Half Life. We had Deus Ex. System SHock 2. Times were good.

I was, ooh, about 12 when 3D levels began to emerge. As an avid gamer used to Mario and Metroid it was obvious that things would never be the same again.

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26
Aug
09

Sex in Games

First with Mass Effect, and now with Dragon Age Bioware are making a serious attempt to bring sex into videogames. Sex, they sensibly argue, is an integral part of human relationships, and its inclusion could result in a greater level of maturity in game storytelling. I understand the point. In books and films your characters are bonking all over the place, why should gaming be any different? (Let’s put aside my view that sex scenes in books and films are universally pointless and almost always awful).

But I’m here to say that in this instance gaming needs to take a step back. Sex in games is a terrible idea.

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25
Aug
09

Demo Roundup – Mini Ninjas

mini_ninjas 1
Hitman: Bloodmoney is one of the best games of recent years, so the last thing you might expect from the makers of that hyperviolent and bloodthirsty murder simulator would be a dimple cute tale of tiny ninjas meting out PG-rated punishment on a quest to save their green and idyllic land. Wait, ninjas? I’m in, where’s the demo?

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19
Aug
09

Demo Roundup – Batman: Arkham Asylum

batman 1

This third person bat-em-up from Rocksteady sees you play the Dark Knight himself as you try and thwart the Joker, who has gone and taken over the most reknowned madhouse in all of fiction: Arkham Asylum. I played the demo.

It only lasts fifteen minutes, but this is the closest I’ve ever come in a game to actually feeling like Batman.

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19
Aug
09

Demo Roundup – Call of Juarez 2

coj4

Gunpowder plumes among the prickly pears, six-shooter showdowns in front of boarded up taverns and quick draw battles to the ring of a tungsten bell. There just aren’t enough games set in the Wild West. The lawless badlands are a great untapped location for a down and dirty shooter.

Into the gap steps Call of Juarez 2 in which you play one of the McCall brothers as they travel from town to town downing firewater and causing trouble. I strapped up my holster and tilted my cowboy hat to its most rakish angle and jumped into the recently released demo to see if CoJ2 had managed to build on it’s promising first outing and deliver the definitive Wild West experience.

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09
Aug
09

the gaming masochist

Devil_May_Cry_3_-_Dante's_Awakening_(DMC3)

I love hard games. For me a challenge is always better than an easy ride. I’d rather lose than win easily. What’s the point in being a passenger? Where’s the challenge in that? Where’s the sense of victory?

Now we talk about ‘finishing a game’, or ‘completing’ a game. I’m not interested in completing a game, I want to BEAT it. Sometimes a game should be something that really doesn’t want you to win, something that you can feel working against you every step of the way. Then it’s personal. It’s me versus that team of developers.

Of course, it can be frustrating. Losing isn’t fun in itself, but it’s an integral part of a satisfying learning process.You should always lose for a reason. Sloppy control schemes, unfair enemies and too much chance can ruin the fine balance required to make a hard game satisfying.

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