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Tag Archives: rant

(Bonus post! Don’t worry, it’s all back to games after this.)

“How was the movie?”
“The movie?”
“The Facebook movie.”
“Uh, it’s pretty good, but immediately smacks you in the face with Sorkin dialogue.”
“Sorkin dialogue?”
“Yes.”
“As in Aaron Sorkin?”
“No, as in one of the many other famous Sorkins working on the film.”

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Get it? ‘For the record’? ’cause that’s the thing from Modern Warfare 2?

Anyway, I wanted to throw up an extra post this week to clear up some matters pertaining to last week’s post. It exploded in popularity and I thought it was worth explaining my thoughts on the game and its predecessor.

I’m in no rush to defend myself from angry multiplayer obsessives that believe in “Infinity Ward fanboys” (That’s a thing now? Really?) or think that complaints about the game are code for craving grenade launchers…That are still in the game.

But for the sake of anyone with reasonable questions or any regulars who actually give a crap about Call of Duty, here’s the lowdown:

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1. The surprising amount of low-resolution textures and jagged edges, whenever you slow down and look at the details.

2. It features the best fire effects you ever saw on the previous generation of consoles.

3. Frame rate – remember how impressed you were at the smoothness of the previous games? Despite running on the same engine, Black Ops seemingly boasts half as many frames per second as the Modern Warfare series!

4. The disjointed missions and uninteresting in medias res structure of the story.

5. Briefings are now packed with so much flashing imagery and noise, it’s surprising there’s been no seizure lawsuits.

6. Will the heroes save the world from the Russian sleeper cells with the deadly nerve gas known as Nova 6? Spoiler: The answer is in every clichéd film and episode of 24 that has done this bioweapon plot before.

7. Modern Warfare 2 had lines like “But the sands and rocks here, stained with thousands of years of warfare…They will remember us.” Black Ops has lines like “THE FUCKING NUMBERS!”

8. The plot twist stolen from a film that veers the game into some kind of science fiction or magic territory. It makes the action movie nonsense of Modern Warfare 2 look sensible.

9. Said twist is so heavily foreshadowed that most players guessed it before the game tells you it twice, then shows it, and then makes you play for another ten minutes before the actual flashback-filled reveal.

10. There is genuinely a guitar riff as a character puts on his sunglasses. In a dark room. Without a hint of irony.

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Given the controversial quality gap between the recent downloadable content of Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age  (the beloved Lair of the Shadow Broker and the maligned Witch Hunt, respectively), I thought this was as good a time as any to talk about the quality of Dragon Age as a whole.

(WARNING: THERE WILL BE NON-DLC SPOILERS)

The plot

The fact this gets its own entry is not a good sign.

Virtually all your obstacles, opposition and problems originate from the villain: Loghain. This great hero of a former war betrays the King and leaves him, his army and the Gray Wardens to die at the hands of the Orc Darkspawn hordes. He then grabs power and control of the country by declaring himself Regent.

Now he’s sanctioning Elven slavery and sending assassins after you – one of the few survivors of his betrayal and the person trying to stop the Orcs Darkspawn. You and your companions are marked as traitors, while Loghain does nothing about the Orcs Darkspawn that are spreading across his land killing whatever is in front of them.

What evil fiendish plans does this scheming military strategist have? What does all this have to do with the Orcs Darkspawn and the Archdemon? What grand ambition fuels his evil deeds?

He’s just a dick.

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About The Comic

Once again, massive thanks and all credit to hatebreeder for supplying the awesome art.

Red Dead Redemption has four sets of Challenges for the player to complete. They’re fun but sometimes they can become a hassle and sometimes they can lead to some bizarre situations.
The Sharpshooter ranks that require you to shoot off hats ended with me walking into a town, shooting hats off passers-by and cheerfully walking away, leaving panicked and hatless folk behind.

Given that the challenges appear only in your menu, aren’t given to you by characters and seem to have no in-game basis, you do sometimes have to wonder what’s going on in John Marston’s head when he feels he has to “Disarm any 6 enemies without reloading or changing weapons” just to get a new outfit.

About The Game

Pictured: John Marston, horses and a desert. Get used to them. But don't worry, they're all pretty cool.

…It’s kind of impossible to review.

A summary won’t do, I can’t just describe the experience because experience can differ. It’s just too big, too dense and too complex. Much like Grand Theft Auto IV.  It took me over a year and multiple playthroughs to get a full grasp and see everything that game had to offer. To fully review either, I would have to go through the game mission-by-mission, challenge-by-challenge, line-by-line and explain what’s good and what’s bad. Essays could be written about the nitpicks in these 30 hour games with their side missions and alternate dialogue.

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I thought it would be a treat to open up the write-up with a comic – even if it only makes sense to those familiar with the game.
Massive thanks and all credit to hatebreeder for supplying the awesome art.

A Possible Explanation (click for big)

The story is the focus of Alan Wake and that is where the game excels. It’s a thrilling ride, dripping with atmosphere. The characters, with the exception of the plot device wife, are well rounded, likeable and given just enough depth.
The clever and engaging writing is great, in the dialogue (save a few off moments) and even in the ingeniously prophetic manuscript pages. The game is consistently funny, not laugh out loud, but little moments to make you smile, balanced perfectly against the tension and scares.

For all it’s references and inspiration to and from other media there’s nothing quite like Alan Wake in video games. Feel free to correct me with an obscure PC adventure game from the ’90s though.

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You versus them.

It would be an interesting challenge for game developers to try and make a game with this single criteria:

  • Every single person the player kills should have a name and a personality.

Allow me to over-explain the point while you think about that. In write ups about Crysis and Splinter Cell Conviction, I criticised the games for throwing too many nameless meaningless disposable enemies at the player. Surely we’ve all experienced the eye-rolling moment of “There’s more of them?!” one time or another. Whether they were copy and paste thugs, soldiers or aliens. This is a freakishly common practice in video games and I really don’t care for it.

First of all, it’s a cheap way of adding difficulty. Ideally, I’d want fewer enemies that are more dangerous.

Second of all, it breaks immersion and any sense of reality. From the ridiculous piles of bodies in Splinter Cell Conviction, to the bizarre realisation of just how many people you just killed – Nathan Drake has a higher body count than a number of historical wars.

Not to mention the consideration of just how many villains there was in the first place. The amount of PMC soldiers and general henchmen in Splinter Cell Conviction made the idea of this covert conspiracy a little hard to swallow. While Modern Warfare 2‘s “local militia” had me convinced I was single handedly waging war on the entire nation of Brazil.

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(I’m updating early this week while the game is still semi-almost-kinda-new, but I’ll still be posting something else on Friday)

I did a double take when I started the game and thought this was live action.

The story in Conviction is very Splinter Cell. You will roughly follow it – Sam Fisher wants the truth about his daughter, and to hurt some bad guys. But you probably won’t comprehend every facet, as it throws forgettable names at you and uses clunky and confusing exposition.
In fact, I’d be surprised if anyone could tell Black Arrow from White Box or Megiddo, never mind telling Tom Reed apart from Prentiss or Robertson or Lucius Galliard or Calvin Sampson or…
All of this leaves you occasionally wondering why you’re there and who you’re even working for.

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I’m working on a Splinter Cell Conviction write up, but in the meantime I thought I’d share my thoughts on Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. It’s the third game in the series and seems to be considered the greatest by most of the fans.

But instead of talking about the game like I usually do, I’ve decided to review it through a step-by-step visual guide for the PC version of the game.

Guide to Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

  • Step 1: Get your bought and legally owned copy of the game. (See Fig.1)

Fig.1

  • Step 2: Insert the disc in your Windows 7 (or Vista) PC.
  • Step 3: Follow the instructions to install the game.
  • Step 4: Discover that the anti-piracy StarForce protection will not work with your Windows 7 (or Vista) PC and won’t let you get far enough to type in the CD key, never mind play the game.

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Shiny things are nice things...

…Kinda sucks.

I recently got a new computer (out of fear that the broken fan on my old one was whispering “When I melt I’m going to take all your files and internets with me.”) and the internet soon told me it was apparently good enough to run Crysis. You remember Crysis? 2007? Best looking game ever made? No one played it because it was designed for 2010 PCs? I found out it was available for less than £10 on Amazon. I jumped at this bargain.

Now I can’t help but feel ripped off.

Going in you can’t expect much from the story. Even before release you knew it was a routine mission to rescue scientists from North Koreans and then it all goes wrong and ancient buried ice aliens burst out. And that’s it. Seriously. That’s, like, the entire plot. It doesn’t go into more detail about any of those things, the aliens aren’t given a motive and virtually nothing links together.

Or to put it another way: you play a faceless, helmeted space marine super soldier Special Forces super soldier with a regenerative suit of MJOLNIR armour Nanosuit working with ordinary marines marines fighting the Covenant North Koreans and then the Flood the ancient ice aliens are released and annoy you for the rest of the game. Oh, and big black borders fade over the gameplay with a piece of text telling you the name of the new level. Sound familiar?

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