I just came across this blog post this morning and I thought you should read it too. It's really quite good. The writer Jason Killingsworth, features editor for Edge, laments about the temporary separation from his wife. This leads to a discussion of how games like Enslaved and Ico are very good at emphasizing overtly or subtly the idea of bonding with that special someone in your life, about what it means to be married, and what it means to lose the person you love.
Read it. Good advice on marriage too.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
You know why I love games? It's not just the actual act of playing them, but it's the trailers and the various screenshots to get you hyped up before the actual game launch. It's like ohmygod-I'm-going-to-get-to-do-that? or ohmygod-that's-the-world-I'm-going-to-be-in?
No doubt there's a lot of value in the film business in affecting people emotionally, and engaging educationally, but no one can doubt the awesome hype that video games are now capable of. Just look at the Dead Island trailer I posted a little while ago.
Now MORE AWESOME TRAILERS below.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I can't even find it in myself to make fun of this video. How can you make fun of shouting at dragons? How can you make fun of wide roaming vistas and beautiful graphics? How can you make fun of sneaking about catacombs and fighting large spiders?
You can't, you just can't. And boy, that music.
I'm starting to think now that there's a serious glut of trailers being released about this game, a bit overwhelming if you ask me. But now I can say with certainty what the game is about. Some aliens attack New York and some dude in a suit has to kick ass. Old man talks. Black guy talks. More ass kicking.
But one thing I don't get... who the fuck is Alcatraz?!?
So EA wants to take on the big bad boy Activision with their own epic man-war-shootery. Yeah, their last game Bad Company 2 was really horrible, at least story-wise. Multiplayer was not too bad, but it couldn't really take on the Call of Duties.
But this BF3 trailer looks ... alright. I'm not particularly super excited because teasing us with some footage intended to say, "Hey check out how hyper realistic this game looks, with the falling soldier, the proning on top of a building with another building opposite exploding" has really all be done before. And they had to have a flash of some insurgent smacking us in the face.
I'm not complaining though. I like man-war-shootery games. Bring 'em all on.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Hot on the heels of the popular Dead Island trailer, Techland has released some screenies of the game itself. Which is good. So people know what the game is really like.
See shiny shots fired off below.
Apparently the game will have role-playing leanings, four player coop, so kinda' Left 4 Dead, kinda' Far Cry. All about scrounging around the island for supplies, whilst finding away to escape. And keeping true to some semblance of realism, there will be minimal firearms because that's not how real-world islands are like (apparently). So lots of melee combat, zombie head bashing. Sounds like fun.
Oh, and Techland are tag-teaming with Deep Silver. For those who don't know, Deep Silver did Sacred 2 which was a truly awesome RPG. So yeah, the role-playing bit could be pretty good. The graphics look positively shiny and keeping true to the mood they had in mind for the trailer.
Finally, game releases are picking up the pace again. So many glorious yum yums coming out in a little bit.
See below for them yum yums.
It's funny to think that this game was first announced in 2007 as an exciting sandbox title featuring zombies and yet no one could give a rat's as about it then. Fast forward to 2011, and just because of one admittedly awesome, emotionally-moving trailer that is probably not indicative of actual gameplay, gamers and even non-gamers the world over are going apeshit over it. Let's hope the game itself lives up to the hype.
Just a week or so ago, the whole games industry went apeshit when news broke that Crysis 2's beta (which was essentially an unpolished version of the full game) had leaked onto the Internet long before the official launch date. This clearly is some sad news for Crytek who I'm sure have been working on this project for a long time, and judging from the slew of gameplay trailers released in recent months, it is going to be an epic good time.
So, I'm fighting the temptation to "check out" the beta and wait till the full game in all its polished glory is officially released. Then it'll be awesome.
Here's a title from id coming out a bit further down the line. If you ask me honestly, I'm a bit skeptical about this - only because it really looks like Fallout 3, except with less role-playing and more shooting. Which is not to say it won't be fun, but I honestly would've expected a mega company like id to come up with something more fresh and innovative. But I'm of the mind that id isn't really all that imaginative - they've got great tech, but look at Doom 3; that was hardly a revolution in gaming, it was just good fun in a solid engine.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Alright people. I've been on a long haul hiatus for no reason whatsoever, but now that I've finished Dead Space 2 (yes I've still been playing games, just not writing about them), I have to bring this blog out of hiatus to talk about it.
I have to tell you how amazing this game is.
If I had to sum up the game in one phrase: "relentlessly stressful" would be it. Dead Space 2 is a constant struggle against terrifying creatures out to tear you apart, and your constantly dwindling supply of ammo and health. It doesn't help either that your dead ex-girlfriend is telling you all sorts of random shit and you can't shut her the hell up.
But let me back up for a moment and recount the events leading up to Dead Space 2: Isaac Clarke is your average Joe, a talented but nevertheless ordinary engineer who was sent to investigate the mysterious stationary USS Ishimura out in space. Then he unfortunately got tangled up in some bad ass shit with some crazy mofo aliens who liked guts and gore. An entire video game later, Isaac Clarke survives that shit only to go batshit crazy himself from an encounter with a hallucination of his dead ex-girlfriend.
Then Dead Space 2 begins with you waking in an asylum with the shit hitting the fan again, this time on some massive colony known as the Sprawl. Someone's released the Kraken - I mean, Marker (the artifact that basically acts as a magnet for alien mofos - otherwise known as Necromorphs). Fuck humans, they are seriously retarded. No one ever learns, and it's up to half-mad poor Isaac to fix shit with his handiness and varied arsenal of cutting and blowing up tools.
Gameplay is largely the same as the original game but as EA and Visceral Games promised, they threw in more Hollywood explosive action, from set pieces like exploding glass windows that cause shit to be sucked out into space, flying jetpack bits, to cinematic moments with lots of dramatic talky characters to well-loved quick time events like wrestling large monsters in outer space. I was concerned before playing the game that the devs injecting more explosions was going to make the game lose its survival horror focus, but thankfully I was proven wrong.
Action was amped up but the survival horror remained intact, and surprisingly the coupling resulted in many a tense moment of running away in panic from monsters in cinematic awesomeness. The most important difference coming out of this Hollywood injection is that this game is a lot faster paced than the original, but thankfully, it doesn't reach to Call of Duty brainless whizbang heights, instead maintaining a very well-crafted vibe - at no point in the game do you go, "Well, this is silly". Instead it's more like "OMFG I'm floating in outer space and I have to attach some massive thing to that massive thing??! OMFG is that a monster shooting weird shit at me?" Needless to say, the production values are stellar.
It is interesting to note that in the original Dead Space, a lot of emphasis was given on Isaac's suit being heavy and clunky which added to the horror. It was hard to maneuver in the thing despite it being a safe respite as armor (ableit minimal) from Necromorph death. In Dead Space 2, Isaac is a more agile, lithe hero as if he'd packed on enough muscle and strength to wear his suits as if they were just a second skin. The horror didn't come from the difficulty of movement anymore, but the external threats in the world which were just as horrifying.
The graphics of DS2 is beyond awesome. The level of detailing has increased immensely from the first, and Isaac's character animations were naturally realistic. The way he flexes his muscles in exhaustion, or limps forward on low health, or his constant alertness to his surroundings made gameplay a lot more immersive. And Visceral Games has to be commended on the monster design, they really went balls out to create some of the worst looking mofos in the entire universe. I mean Giger's Aliens have nothing on Necromorphs. It is the fact that these were once humans that had been mutilated in order to fit the shape of aliens that makes them seriously scary. I would really take zombies over Necromorphs any day. Those crying babies with explosive stomachs or infant children scurrying about like vicious monkeys give me nightmares. Some real creepypasta.
One of the biggest changes in Dead Space 2 that has been on everybody's minds, is the inclusion of Isaac Clarke's voice. When a game dev gives their protagonist a voice, it is reason to believe they have grand ambitions for awesome franchising and icon-creation. Sure, everyone knows Nathan Drake even if they've never played Uncharted, and his lovable wry tone that's always a little bit cocky but always Alpha-Male cool.
Isaac's on the other hand is slightly frantic, fearful, and definitely weary of his unlucky plight these past two games. But some people think it was better to have left him voiceless so that we may impose our own personalities on him thereby drawing us closer into the world (ala Half-Life). I disagree. We want to root for Isaac, but we don't to necessarily need to be him. It was a good idea to give him a voice because I felt more related to this heroic average Joe who has to fix shit with his hands and beat back the monsters even though his own life was at stake. He was no action hero, he could die anytime.
So by the end of the game, where in your breathtaking climatic battle against the evil boss character (which I won't go into detail lest I spoil the game for those who have yet to play it), Isaac screams out, "Fuck you... and fuck you marker!" That truly was a necessary utterance; as if Isaac himself was saying what was exactly on every gamer's mind who've had to survive two games worth of Necromorphs and human insanity in outer space. So, yes, it was important to me that Isaac had a voice. And now, I'd pick Isaac Clarke over Nathan Drake to save humanity any day. He might not jump like a monkey from platform to platform, but at least he's got the resolve to see shit through to the end.
The other interesting thing about the game worth mentioning would be the deeper look into Unitology. For those not in the know, Unitology is a religion in the Dead Space universe that is built around the belief that the Marker is the great artifact that would lead to salvation for all mankind. That it would lead humans to "converge" into one unified ultimate being and be at complete peace.
In English, this translates to: getting transformed into mofo aliens because they are all unified by a single Hivemind, and apparently it's better to be a badass alien of disgustingness rather than a human being. Needless to say, not every Unitologist is privy to this information, and it's kept from them intentionally so. The idea of blind faith is a scary one, but more so is the institutionalization of religion as is the commentary put forth by this game. The frightening thing about Scientology (notice how I am now referring to the real world religion Dead Space is criticizing) is that no one really knows what the fuck it's all about, and how on earth something so absurd can captivate so many. And that money can truly buy you a seat of power in such a phony religion. I hope to hell that one day, Scientologists don't decide that they too, like Unitologists, need to liberate their original alien lifeforms from their human husks thereby unleashing an alien apocalypse of epic proportions. We don't have the awesome engineering weaponry that Isaac is privy to just yet, to fight back with. But sign me up for a badass suit if it ever does become reality.
Dead Space 2 in conclusion, is the best thing I've played in a long while, so enrapturing at every turn. Visceral Games have built a universe that could easily match any sci-fi horror movie out there. I like how they've got stories intersecting and filling in the gaps between the two games, through other smaller downloadable games or animated movies and tie-in novels. It's a rich universe to say the least and one I hope they deepen with the next Dead Space. And as stressful as it was at certain moments, as scary as the game was at times, I am, like Isaac, compelled to continue till I saw the mission through to the end. And if a game can hold my attention like that, it's worth getting immediately.