Posts tagged ‘pc’

On watching women play Titanfall

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.

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

Dishonored

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When I wasn’t rolling around drunk trying to get Ladyboys to sleep with me this weekend I was in Dishonored. Dishonored is in actuality a revenge story and less a return to honor. If Corvo loses his merit badge is entirely up to the player. The game centers around Chaos, a meter that fills each time you kill an enemy in the game. Higher chaos means more bloodshed while lower chaos implies more stealth and fewer rats. The plot is fairly simple: Corvo Attano is a bodyguard to the empress, the empress is killed and you’re framed for it. A prison escape ensues and while the game progresses we learn more about a whale oil run Victorian metropolis infected by a foreign born rat plague that leaves it victims Zombie like and the city desolate in it’s wake. Corvo is rescued by a group of “loyalists” eager to return the crown to it’s rightful heir. Moral decisions await you.

The game is brilliant for a manor of reasons. The plot is only slight above comic book level, in fact it could be an Xmen comic except it lacks as many super powers and surprisingly the protagonist is rather frail. The mechanics are original, but derived from similar stealth game play techniques found in Thief and Assassin’s Creed. Drop from heights to kill, choke hold from the back, and of course the magic shhh I am ducking down so you can’t see me or hear me. Bottles can be thrown to attract or distract attention. Additions to this usual crew of abilities include possessing animals and later humans, an X-ray vision ability, the ability to summon rats, and blink a short range teleport. The later is almost required by the game. These abilities aren’t what makes it brilliant, but their originality, especially possession, make the game play more endearing than most FPS games. What is brilliant is the way the game consistently frames violence and vengeance.

Corvo is given a lethal and non-lethal option of solving his assassination targets. In one level for instance a street gang offers to kidnap the aristocratic / lecherous owners of a stone mine and put them to work in their own mines, or you can lethally kill them in person or via steam bath. Most of the non-lethal options are interesting, and tie into the story well. Dishonored is a game that allows justice, not in the form of violence, but rather in retribution. The man who staged the empress’ death can be eliminated by airing his personal confessions on the air waves and more disturbingly his mistress can effectively be trafficked into the hands of a lecherous noble (I choose murder on that one). The game lets you navigate moral depth at your leisure and often makes the less violent approach the more entertaining. It also frequently drops empathy on you, the empress’ assassin turns out to be a reluctant killer, the head of the royal order you can allow to be poisoned or branded with a heretical mark. Granted this is a game where being a serial choker somehow puts you in the right, but it is also a game that lets you decide wether to sacrifice a man to a witch or fight her after (I went with witchcraft on this one). The binaries lead up to a much more emergent whole. Dishonored’s last moments anticipate the player’s moral compass really well. That’s what’s brilliant about the whole thing, in the end I wasn’t confronted by a murderous psychopath, but a man who did the right thing, but just went a little to far and was in paranoid company. I had planned to kill my final target, but his guilt ridden bleary eyed insanity convinced me otherwise. I let him live and a golden age prospered.

Btw the next dlc for the game came out today, but it’s not up on steam yet.

August 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

Etrian Odyssey IV and Zeno Clash 2

These are just two quick observations on two really great games.

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Etrian Odyssey IV
3DS

Ok first thing, this game has a demo, download it first. etrian odyssey is surprising in that it’s all about being an RPG: stats matter, grinding is common, you make runs on certain enemies to collect the components for certain weapons, and it’s a first person dungeon crawler think Legend of Grimrock. It is surprisingly light on story, for a genre well known for elaborate cinematics Etrian Odyssey dares to do something special: stand on it’s own as a game. What makes it really special is how perilous the game feels, each bear that hunts you down, every random encounter really helps or hurts, the game doesn’t offer empowerment fantasies, rather it makes self-esteem in oodles of cases. Mapping out each dungeon, or going back to defeat some pesky boss: the game really makes you sink time in to accomplish something, and the results are fruitful. In other words it’s a great little game which will reward careful and cautious play.

Zeno Clash 2
PC / Steam

The original Zeno Clash was such a delight because it dared to go into the grounds that magazines like Heavy Metal put forward. It’s characters were punks, driven by little more than libidinal excuses and a world surreal enough to contain terribly human desires. The problem is, the second game rests on a Hollywood like premise, it’s opening is full of action movie cliches, and while it maintains a few intriguing points (it questions the genetics of family and the establishment of discipline) Zeno Clash is at it’s best when the it’s desires come to the forefront and primitivism triumphs over logic, sadly it’s predictable opening destroys much of what made the original great. Then you get into it, as the game progresses it gets better and the details begin to come alive again and the strange primitivism surrealism, the way it denies internal logics in favor of a frank acceptance of things as weird a they are begins to start again. The game is beautiful and has a few Metrodvania elements to it, the addition of weapons surprisingly works rather well, Ace Team knows how to be creative, and Zeno Clash 2 got me once again with the twist, but the weapons are what makes it cool and improve the fighting aspects. I haven’t finished it yet, but if the opening upsets you, just keep playing it gets better the further you go inside.

May 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Kickle cubicle, ZiGGURAT, Torchlight, ff xiii-2

In a house in a little area right by where Jandek lives a boy played a game for a day and fell in love. kickle cubicle was a brief dream for me. I still don’t remember why it had to be returned so quickly, but sitting in my brother’s room the game had serious charm. Zelda never quite pulled me in, Super Mario was frustrating, but Kickle Cubicle was my first experience with a game that’s logic seemed intimately familiar. From the way the kickle explodes out of a swarm of hearts to the absurdity of the engine, the game is a nonstop trance of puzzling machines that seem significantly more simple than their behaviors suggest. Emergence is the chemical process where in two or more things produce behaviors that the original ingredients don’t possesses (btw in the middle of delanda’s synthetic reason right now) Kickle Cubicle is often one of those games where the behavior of a slime, a hammer, and a spring can lead to numerous possibilities. I won’t say that Kickle Cubicle is great, but it did manage to marry post Zelda enemy bopping with the push and pull of genuinely engaging level design, but what I primarily remember is that it made me think, something that the puzzles in Zelda or the moments of lolo I played never did. The nes version is available online at the first link, the mame emulation of the Arcade version is also out there. I also like how the leader boards have queer names on them as if some gay couple ensconced in a Japanese hovel in the eighties collected the rom and made it available for mame to emulate.

P.s. have not tired Solomon’s key, but will soon. Also kickle cubicle and bomberman were main line examples of addictive game play when I was young.

ZiGGURAT is the latest game from Tim Rodgers and its a little surprising, because the controls suck. Ziggurat requires you swipe the bottom of the screen to rotate your character’s weapon or you can use an angry birds like sling shot mode. While with time I will probably get used to it, I just wanna touch the screen, have the gun track my finger’s x and y cords and then let go with my projectile of death. Sadly, this is more of an emulation of one of those pong paddles that came with the Atari 2600. Now please look I’ve been harassed by assholes before, and Mr. Rodgers will probably stumble upon this review so let me get to the positives, or what I like about ZiGGURAT. First the game essentially channels the moments of intense play in mega man in thirty second increments, which is awesome. Despite the control scheme I found myself playing it in the taxi this morning and even now it nibbles at the subconscious, a world of chaos is a click away. Two the chip tune music is nice too. I don’t actually understand why indie games are so often consciously retro, but Ziggurat is perhaps a nice example of this nostalgia, it doesn’t require you to spend tons of time playing a full length game to do your reminiscing, rather it gives you the pivotal moment of a mega man game in a seconds worth of game play. That is worth 99 cents. Btw do support it, Mr. Rodgers is quite passionate about his games and this is a step towards further friends based improvisations on the iTunes store and also be sure before you lick to hope that he gets a girlfriend, a hot lesbian girlfriend who dresses in anime outfits and makes out with her girlfriends in private moments before the tentacles strike….

Torchlight
Steam sale! Bought this with the 75% off coupon and just what like a month or two till torchlight 2 comes out and let me tell you… This game is annoying. You see unlike Lara Croft and the Gaurdian of Light which frees you from moving with the mouse torchlight restricts everything to the mouse… Except of course spell casting, item management, and everything else. Torchlight works like this, you left click to move or to attack, your right click for an additional attack or spell. The problem is that playing a ranged character becomes ├╝ber annoying because you run away with your meek ranged based archerer only to turn around and then if you happen to not quite click the enemy chasi you then RUN BACK TOWARDS THE GUY YOU ARE TRYING TO AVOID. This is a serious flaw, one that it turns out you deal with by holding shift, but then holding shift you can’t move and only aim. Compare this to Lara Croft in which you run around with the keys and then use the mouse to hurtle spears, bullets, what have you at the enemy. That control scheme works, Torchlight though, despite these short comings is what I usually play at home these days. Once you get past the carpel tunnel inducing click and play the game becomes at heart one of deep customization. My little archer started in an absolutely horrible leather cap which I replaced with a magically powered hair accessory before upgrading to an enchanting and enchanted Russian navigator’s cap. We now take down gigantic tree folks with ease and swing through lion hearted monsters while unleashing some impressive spells and saving select loot for the moment you get the matching accessories for them. Who thought that point of click of consumerism could be replaced by the shoot and gun of diablo? That’s what these games really are, they’re like magic packs, you open one you get a shitty rare u can’t trade but someone will buy it for nothing and maybe if you open a few more you’ll get the cards you need. Someone needs to make a mall based after Diablo where your hard earned cash is spent in blunt kicks and the swing of the mace. All that sweet schwag coming down on you. I guess I continue to play Torchlight for reasons very different than league of legends, LoL I keep finding new things in the play, Torchlight just gives me more to consume. A little strategy is involved with the enemies, swordsmen with shields need to run from, big spiders avoid and whittle down, but for the most part this isn’t really a game of skill or adrenaline, rather it is just shopping. It’s
Iike having a little mall in your pc, one that you wonder around shooting and maiming in, and then you rob the bodies. J.G. Ballard should have played this game.

Still trying to finish Final Fantasy 3 on iOS, watched the entirety of ff xiii-2 on YouTube and loved it! Really liked Serah and the romance angle the game is increasingly taking also the Snow ending was awesome. Going to pick up Chaos Rings Omega when I get a chance or my steam coupons expire… Also Ghost Trick which is now out on iOS is great and really enjoying the demo. Will probably get the full game. Anyway, my life through software increasingly seems to be me life, which brings up another thing. My coworkers have all been commenting on my iPad addiction, for the past two weeks I have showed up everyday with a Bluetooth headset and a YouTube full of final fantasy xii-2 videos. Not even playing the game, simply going through tetra ninja’s walk through took up at least 20 hours of my life. The game became a very real story and one that actually touched me in a way an anime hasn’t in years although it’s still at times cheesy. But what occurred to me is that we’re increasingly living in virtuality almost all the time. The cost of a nearly endless supply of world of Warcraft is small and as terra nova has noticed the total amount of work done in virtual worlds is increasingly reaching the same level of as the actual economy. Mmos aside, the rate of production of games now exceeds the time required to consume them. Watching ff xiii-2 took almost two weeks out of my programming practice and steam at home takes even more. Passions come and go and post final fantasy YouTube is bereft of anything to attract me for awhile, but games continue to rain in and their worlds still feel fleeting. This is where ff xiii-2’s endings come in hand, the game can actually end multiple different ways. While this has been tried before something in the variety of endings suggests the staggering possibility of the narrative. These possibilities also lend the game consequence, it begins to feel as if the narrative is weighty and full of holes, sockets, places to hang a spare lesson or two. What it also suggests is that the future of these games is story, ones where players spin off from each other and separate teams of digital weavers keep their audiences occupied all within a single virtual world, just one that splinters and portals into different experiences. Kinda like the historia crux itself, the act of playing many modern games creates parallel worlds, paradoxes, and other things. Consequence is important in a game, and in ff xiii-2 I believe u can still go back and get all the endings, in fact I know you can because if u get all of them u get a special secret ending, but the necessity of games to be likable often means that they don’t let players get locked into the consequences of their actions, we like replayability, the ephemeralness of the digital world, in skyrim I can still go back and kill the monk on top of the world if I so choose, but I have never made that choice, I wanted him to live, And the idea of replaying that much game is tedious. Anyway, ff is less a game and more the skin of a movie on which you surf. I like ‘m, but only because I like the stories (ff 9 I loved ff 7 bored me), it doesn’t quite have the open narrative structure that skyrim has, but what it does have is worthy of a game and better than many RPGs out there. I really wish they would release it on pc.

February 22, 2012 at 2:36 am Leave a comment

Climbing to tales

I finished Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood today and just a few thoughts. The game’s plot points are the addictions, we play to move the game forward, but doing this requires navigating a city openly hostile the most advantagous route. Rome becomes a surrogate for plot, a place that has to be traversed to get the film rolling. The problem is the fun outside of the movie is there.

As the new york times remarked, the real star of the game is Roma. The city is immersive, full of buildings, pot holes, followers of Romulus in sewers, horse back rides in the midnight hours, clammering over its rooves while avoiding the guards is rewarding in itself, so the film often takes back seat to the side missions, but the side missions add up. This is the fracture that the game can not quite put together: how to really marry plot points to an addictive open world. I want a game that surprises me, one where NPCs hunt me down to deliver plot points and not one where I have to trek huge distances for cinema scenes. The game in other words contains a perfectly sensible film inside what is a pretty awesome medevial parkour sim. I found myself actually driven to burn down all the borgia towers, to finish all of leonardo’s missions in stead of rushing to the next major plot point. Story is so dispersed in the game that one has to actively hunt it. The city becomes a space of mystery, primarily mundane, but occassionally revealing surprises.
Two girls are walking through the stables, sunlight passes over the vaticans bridge, exclamation mark the thieves are on the rooves, the enemy awaits in the castle the guard has noticed you a ministrel gets in your way a throng of prostitutes are on the bridge the guard is closing in you scale a building leonardo is waiting on a bench the countess needs your help, you are dying you need a doctor but the borgia still control this area in front of you are a lot of options the least of which is the countess, but that’s the problem the game lacks clock time, rather leonardo is in his own world physically not seperated, but rather like a quanta, he waits in potentiality for you as does the borgia captain you need to kill to open the medicine shop as is the meeting at headquarters as is thr romulus sanctuary you can invade. Time stands still for Ezio and so the city becomea a demented clock on which action paints progress and not entropy’s slow ticks to absolution. It is this conciet that makes the film less involving, not only are we not forced to linearity, but the game actively competes with the main plot for your attention. Film needs a lot to work and assassin’s creed works by never letting up in tone, we are always in the same setting as the main story, but the game has yet to figure out how to tell a story about a city rather it falls back on the same tried and true elements that made prince of persia work to chug the game along.

May 13, 2011 at 10:22 am Leave a comment


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