Herein lies the ghost of an adventure game that never was. Rather than let hard work stagnate alone in a folder on my PC I thought I’d give the assets some air and let them run free in the boundless back garden that is the Internet.
I tried in vain to capture the sense of momentum, the speed, the exhileration of freerunning across the gorgeous cityscapes of Mirror’s Edge. Ultimately, though, still images don’t really do the job. It’s something you’ll have to play the game to experience. Surprisingly, in a game where you’re encouraged to keep moving all the time, standing still and looking around the world is incredibly rewarding. Vistas like the one above are simply everywhere in Mirror’s Edge. Often they go almost unnoticed as you desperately try to gain enough speed to make the next death defying leap, but after a couple of playthroughs I began to savour the environments and came up with a few of my favourites.
I’m almost always evil in games. The kind of outrageous and over-the-top portrayals of evil we often see in games makes it an entertaining prospect, so I was looking forward to being especially evil in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic which, remarkably, I’ve somehow managed to never play, probably because I tried to play it on an Xbox where it had horrendous framerate issues and controls that made me feel like a clumsy oaf.
I have encountered some difficulty, though, in my committment to the Dark Side. The trouble is there’s no Chaotic Evil option in the Star Wars universe. You’re with the Republic, or you’re with the Sith. KOTOR’s moral choices are hilariously bipolar. There’s no intermediate path built into the game. Take the example in the screenshot above. The choices are presented thusly: 1. Evil, 2. Good, 3. Evilest. I ended up going with option 1 more out of impatience than anything, as option 2 required me to solve a basic puzzle and option 1 invovled pressing a button. Impatience, it seems, is the first step on the path to the Dark Side. The rest of the path was not so easy to tread however, not because I felt any particular amount of shame about harming local wildlife, destroying a planet’s ecology, its economy and political standing in the Universe. That came easily to me. I had more difficulty with the Institutions of evil.
Sometimes all I want to do is click on things and level up.
It’s hard to say why exactly the slow progress of battering things and becoming gradually stronger is so compelling. It’s hard to know what evolutionary impulse it’s really appealing to. Perhaps it’s just the sense of victory that comes from each experience point earned. Instead of delivering the ‘you’ve won!’ screen at the end of the game it gives it to you in small and addictive amounts throughout the experience.
I’ve been pouring my hours into Titan Quest recently, which, like it’s spiritual predecessor Diablo, embodies the joy of levelling up in a skeletal distilled form. It’s completely transparent that you’re just clicking on millions of enemies until they fall over and you hear the ‘level up!’ dong. Somehow, knowing this doesn’t stop it from being immenseley entertaining and terribly, terribly addictive.