In the wake of the release of last year’s The Walking Dead from Telltale Games, a lot of discussion began over whether or not it was a “game”. There were a variety of reasons for this, many argue, but the most common is that the mechanics of The Walking Dead simply aren’t “deep” enough. These sort of discussions have popped up a lot in the past, but the question is still worth examining: exactly what constitutes a game?
I won’t mince words here: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty completed floored me upon its release in the summer of 2010. Aside from its poorly written tale, Wings of Liberty epitomized the best aspects of the RTS genre to the tee. Everything from the stellar mission design (which perfectly mixed approachability, challenge, and variety), the balanced multiplayer, and the custom game possibilities came together to make the best RTS in years. Naturally, I have been extremely excited for Starcraft II’s first expansion, titled Heart of the Swarm, which features a campaign focused on the Zerg. The expansion hasn’t turned out to be anything revolutionary, but in this case it’s hardly a bad thing.
The Crysis series has always struck me as the wacky uncle of the military shooter genre. It shares many of those games’ similarities (highly lethal shootouts, taking cover, realistic-ish weapons), but has always been distinguished by the nanosuit. The nanosuit transformed Crysis and Crysis 2 from typical, albeit gorgeous, shooters into rather fun games that place an emphasis on some light emergent gameplay. It disappoints me then, that the things changed in Crysis 3 are almost universally for the worse, dulling the fun to be had with taking the nanosuit for a fourth trip.
It is hardly uncommon to hear discussions about choice in games today. From The Walking Dead to Mass Effect, the idea of games adapting themselves, even in preset ways, to your choices has become quite a prolific one. And why not? Nothing says immersion like being given the ability (or at least an illusion) of freedom in an otherwise static narrative. So why is it that the most commonly implemented “moral choice” system is still that of binary moral choices?
Right around the time that the fifth generation of consoles rolled around, it seems that the gaming industry as a whole has become more and more obsessed with the concept of “Photorealism”. The idea that one day we could be playing games that look as realistic as modern cinema is indeed intriguing, but ultimately more of a misguided dream than anything else. [Read more...]
My name is Matthew and I like social commentary! [Read more...]
At first, Spec Ops: The Line could easily be mistaken for any modern military shooter from this past generation. The game begins with Delta Force – a three man squad comprised of the protagonist Captain Walker, Lieutenant Lugo, and Staff Seargeant Adams – investigating the aftermath of a series of dust storms that have hit Dubai, and the fates of the military battalion sent to evacuate the refugees. And for a couple of hours, this is mostly forgotten, as the player moves from combat sequence to combat sequence, settling into the groove that other military shooters have well since trodden.
With designers from the brilliant World of Goo and zany Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, Little Inferno is far from the spectacular puzzle game you might expect, but that’s ok. Little Inferno has something a little different in mind: it asks the question, “Hey, should you really be playing video games right now?”
Two years have passed since the release of Halo: Reach, Bungie’s final addition to their juggernaut of a franchise, and the series has a new caretaker in the form of 343 Industries. Many were unsure of the developer’s ability to craft a quality experience, while others worried that the title would fall prey to “Call-of-duty-fication”. I’m happy to report that despite a few stumbles, Halo 4 is a worthwhile entry in the series.