On watching women play Titanfall

March 19, 2014 at 5:50 am Leave a comment

Horror movies inherently suggested something about film: that the spectacle of perspective and effects could create engrossing visual worlds that propelled narrative in ways theater could not. That horror films are not widely considered canon among film critics is a given, that they do a good job of advertising what makes film unique though is apparent. The same could be said about Titanfall.

Titanfall has no clear lasting message. Like Jason’s seemingly random series of encounters in Friday the 13th we keep watching not because of plot, but rather because of spectacle and sensation. This isn’t Psychonauts, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t complex. Titanfall escalates between play states, a state of possibility in which a free running commando guns down enemies and snaps the necks of enemy A.I. And a state of constraint in which the player is encased in their Titan and has to follow a different path through the level. The result is two generations of gameplay in one game: the constrained Titan and the free roaming solider. The Titan’s possibilities are much more limited and in this, it is a play style much more similar to the last generation: titans can not combine and use space as effectively as soldiers can. They have essentially the same freedom of movement that players in many cinematic Fps games had on the xbox. In this they can be described quite simply, their possibility is so minimal that we can summarize them as tanks.

Art forms are the result of experimentation, early on exposure to the means of production, some stuff I haven’t thought of yet, and finally criticism. Beowulf might be one of English literature’s cornerstones, but it’s mythos is only a small step towards the complexity of novel as art. In other words, while interpretations may vary texts do have the ability to inspire a depth in their reading and by that a genre called “literature”. The last generation of games seemed like a step down the ladder from the SNES and NES classics that attracted the audience to fuel them. The playstation offered good graphics, but limited gameplay. Tomb Raider struggled to provide free running close to anything in Titanfall or even Prince of Persia. What we had was 3 generations of consoles in which games devolved into a state of graphical prowess over gameplay. The results are fairly devastating. Fps games left a trail of unoriginal gore in their wake that sent players fleeing to the margins. The games additionally have trouble inspiring critical thinking or even an experience more deep than say a remarkably linear roller coaster ride and I have been on some deep roller coasters whose curves and drops could inspire reflection, it’s just none of them were on the play station.

Take for instance Super Mario Brothers 2 World 3-3. The level inspires rapid exploration even if it is fairly linear. Back tracking? Yes, but it’s made difficult by the fact that the way you enter is much harder to traverse on your way out. The level offers so many complicated mechanics of anxiety and repression it becomes a challenging and intimidating beast in itself. Now go play any generic FPS on the ps3. Did they even think about level design? Titanfall in other words represents a good example of how video games can create worlds more addictive than film and mechanics untenable in board games and do it using player agency. It isn’t a two note song, rather it riffs in directions that allow for varied experience, much of which is left to chance or “asymmetry” aka unfair stuff. However that ability to house numerous mechanics, and to use them as hues on a daesin conjured from thumb prints and sweat means the game becomes complicated in a way worthy of criticism. It is suitably deep enough to inspire and clarify aspects of play missing in many triple A games. It’s just it happens to have about as much meaning as a group of innocent teenagers on the end of a supernatural killer’s knife.

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Gun Slugs impressions At night

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