I always liked Jim's reviews here on DToid. They were always a notch above what most other games critics do - "the graphics are good, the mechanics are bad, 7/10" - and more importantly he used his intelligence to write honest criticism. He was not, as some alleged, a contrarian; he simply wasn't a majoritarian. Herd animals didn't like Jim Sterling because he was no sheep, but the truth is that he didn't set out to oppose the sheep: often he agreed with the critical consensus, more or less, but looked at games more comprehensively than your average hack. And of course I will always be personally indebted to Jim for his 10/10 review of Deadly Premonition. He described the game so compellingly that I bought it and once I bought I found out that he had hit the nail square on the head.
It therefore pleases me a great deal that Jim's new career as an accomplished salsa singer is working out. This video, for example, has racked up over 12,000,000 views (something the Jimquisition videos could only dream of).
I have just read OpiumHerz's blog entry Community Discourse (or: for a better DToid). For those who haven't read it, the post consists of a quick list of suggestions for making the DToid community better. Although they are all valid, I do feel that part of the reason for the decline in community activity, perceived or otherwise, is beyond the reach of the staff or any initiative they might make. Rather, I think that video-game culture is calming down a little after a year or two of intense self-analysis across pretty much every site, and as it calms down, the communities which sprung up around these old debates deflate.
I came to this conclusion when trawling through my 180 odd comments made in three years of sporadic activity. What I found was that I, and other people, commented most extensively on posts in blogs from around 9-10 months ago at a time when, thanks to the likes of Dragon's Crown, the firestorm (or shitstorm, depending on your point of view) surrounding representation in games was still in full flow. In DToid as elsewhere, there was a near-constant flow of blogs, often with a great many comments and extended debates, about the topic. They ranged from the fundamental (is there a problem with representation? if so, is there a solution? etc) to the downright trivial (including one which stated in effect that "not just women, also transsexuals need more representation" whilst forgetting that there are more minority groups than just transsexuals). I'm not sure if the debate always fostered what we might call a sense of community, but it certainly ensured a certain level of activity amongst DToid bloggers. The other major event which preceded the lull was the unveiling of the next generation of hardware, something which prompted an equally large (if less divisive and less long-term) flurry of activity.
Between June and December of last year, I spent a great deal of time in foreign lands without internet access, let alone access to consoles to play games, and did not venture onto DToid. I returned to find it an altogether quieter blogosphere, in which the number of posters per day was equally numerous (or so it seems - I haven't bothered quantifying) but the number of responses to their posts far less so. The reason, I believe, is that posts lack the fundamentally contentious qualities of the gender debate, or the emotional impact of the console discussions, and so inspire fewer comments. The result, of course, is that it gives the impression of a dying community, when in fact it might simply be that there is no grand topic about which everyone has an opinion.
As I said, I do not doubt the solutions put forward by OpiumHertz may be of some use. But I think that as the major question of gender recedes into memory and the transitional period between generations comes to a close (more or less), we might also have to accept that there are simply fewer big issues to discuss and so, perhaps, there might also be less discussion for the time being.
It is widely known amongst fans of the ZX Spectrum home computer that William Tang, creator of the Horace series, was too ill to finish the mysterious fourth game in the series ‘Horace to the Rescue’. From a man who delivered such classics as Hungry Horace and Horace and the Spiders, this was a blow to his devoted fans.
In 2007, however, the enigmatic Tang resurfaced to announce that he was working on a title for the DS, to be published by Rising Star Games. It was tentatively titled ‘Horace Goes Clubbing’ – a not-so-subtle nod to the second and most popular game in the series, 1982’s Frogger rip-off cum sports sim Horace Goes Skiing – and, like the best the series had to offer, consisted of taking other people’s ideas. In this case, that particular mini-game from WarioWare where you avoid stomping feet seemed to be the inspiration, though Tang actually went far deeper than that.
Players of Horace Goes Clubbing were to be tasked with running around a club as Horace, avoiding the violent movements and drunken stomping of women’s heels. Touching the screen whilst directly underneath one of the women in the club would turn Horace’s head upwards, which then triggered a ‘Profiling’ sequence in which Horace took note of a series of images – it is said that Swery65 got the idea for this feature of Deadly Premonition from a preview of this Horace game in Famitsu – which would be added to the ‘Wank Bank’, accessible via the pause menu, which seemed to serve no explicit function in terms of gameplay, but in which images could be sorted, ‘starred’, and viewed at the player’s leisure.
Initially, the gaming press received the title warmly. Issue 41 of Retro Gamer posed as its monthly question to its staff, ‘How warmly do you feel about Horace Goes Clubbing?’, to which everyone bar editor Darran Jones responded ‘Very warmly’. Darran, being an Amstrad hardliner, responded ‘I am not aware of any such game.’ In Britain, the game was touted as having “the potential to revive the moribund British games industry” by the BBC, in spite of the fact that Tang (much like tennis starlet and British media favourite Laura Robson) is Australian.
As is the nature of games today, however, the project failed to make it to release. It was crippled by declining sales forecasts as the gaming press moved on to new fetishes, while the central mechanic was picked up by Anita Sarkeesian and other prominent members of the unemployed community as being “demeaning towards women.” Rising Star Games attempted to appease them by including what a press release described as “men with ripped trousers so you can see their bits too”, but they refused to add men’s ‘profiles’ to the Wank Bank, labelling such a feature “gay.” Once Rising Star got the European rights to No More Heroes, they dropped the troublesome title, stating that they could not have “too many buttocks” on their 2008 release catalogue. Some rumours have it that the game was actually cancelled because Tang bankrupted himself on long distance phone calls to his UK-based publisher, and was unable to fund development. Either way, Horace Goes Clubbing is a gem we will sadly never get to play. All that remains is the three screenshots featured below.
I apologise for two things: first, for not blogging since June last year, and second, for not bothering to write this review until over a month since I finished the game. GTA V is my sixth experience with the series, following (in order I played them) Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, San Andreas, IV and Chinatown Wars. Although I was as addicted to this most recent instalment as to past games in the series, I must admit for the first time in my gaming career the experience gave me considerably less satisfaction than both earlier games in the series and other Rockstar games of a similar mould (notably Red Dead Redemption, which I loved).
This is not to say that V is not a game with a great deal going for it. Graphically, it is a vast improvement on its immediate predecessor, not to mention other games in the series. Gone is some of the awkward lighting which plagued Liberty City, while the textures throughout are sharper and more realistic. The size of the in-game map is similarly impressive, not only in its size but also in its range - the contrasting urban and scenic locales give the player far greater choice, as do the expanded range of vehicles, which aside from the usual cars, trucks, helicopters and motorbikes also includes planes (which handle like a dream) and pedal bikes. Sports bikes find a whole new purpose on the game's three mountains; riding down them is like a PS2 game in itself, and even when you veer off course mid-way through, die, and lose $5000 it never feels like time wasted.
But beneath this impressive surface polish, V does not always feel as satisfying as previous games. Part of the reason is that, although the world is more open than ever before, many of the new avenues are rather dull. The one truly interesting diversion in the GTA series - pool - is gone, while the tedious darts remains, complemented by such boring diversions as triathlons and tennis. Similarly, the side-missions remain as low-key as ever, but this time they form mini story-arcs of their own which drag on - such as one which involves a lot of smashing 'For Sale' signs in Vinewood - and frankly there is next to no incentive to complete them.
Of other side features which seem to have wandered since IV, perhaps the most disappointing is the cultural parody. The radio stations are markedly less entertaining (though, I stress, still good), the in-game internet is smaller and more gimmicky, and the stand up comedy has been replaced with three movies of generally low quality (only a faux art-house film called Capolavoro is remotely entertaining, and then only once). The only constant is the TV, which has been slightly expanded. I should also mention the much vaunted inclusion of an original soundtrack in certain missions (while of course the radio stations remain the default). Given the massive success of Red Dead Redemption, which had a soundtrack to rival Tiomkin or Morricone, I had high hopes, but the occasional use of a score in GTA V was unremarkable and quite often fell flat.
The main story left me feeling equally flat. Of the three main characters, two were quite bland, while Trevor was rather like Tuco from Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for the first half of the storyline - which is to say extremely entertaining if not particularly complex - but soon became an almighty bore thanks to his constant whining in the second half. Outside of the protagonists, the range of characters was far more limited than IV, with only the comically inept Lamar Davies sticking in mind, and the narrative arc rather more prosaic and dull (including a choice between three anticlimactic endings). This is not to say that the main story is a fun experience. The missions are more varied than in any previous entry into the series, although the heists are less exciting than promised and the preparatory missions at best prosaic, and the three protagonists are used particularly well. Not only do they allow you to play out different parts of a complex operation without it feeling forced, many missions featuring two or three of them also give you the choice of who to control. The result is that missions can be played more tactically and, perhaps more importantly, replayed totally differently.
I realise that I have focussed a little too much on the negative, but make no mistake, GTA V is a strong game. It simply suffers from not being the sort of overhaul which was promised, and which the series, predicated still on patterns from two generations ago, is starting to show signs of needing.
Last month, I told you just how pointless it is to care about how genders (and, for that matter, races, religions, and every other group) are represented in games. I feel it is important that I mention that gender problems do exist in gaming, but simply that the ones people gravitate towards are irrelevances which divert attention from real issues. Far more concerning than how games present women is the roles that women – real women, with actual breasts – are expected to fulfil in the industry itself. To illustrate the latent sexism in the videogames industry, we need go no further than a comparison of the ways in which gamers (or some at least) responded to Jade Raymond becoming Ubisoft’s public face of Assassin’s Creed, as against the promotion by Jessica Negri of Lollipop Chainsaw on behalf of Suda51.
Jade Raymond is an executive at Ubisoft. She also happens to be good looking. Back in the lead up to the release of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft decided that she, rather than chubby-faced creative director Patrice Désilets or androgynous, creepy writer Corey May, would be a good person to promote the game. It was perhaps a slightly cynical move, given that as producer she was not the most directly involved in the creative aspects of the game, but it was also commercially sound, and not too different to the way Nintendo use Miyamoto to promote games he’s barely heard of, but which they nevertheless accredit to him. She may speak in a language riddled with executive jargon – talking about franchises and shipping units more than anything else – but she is nevertheless intelligent and, more importantly, involved.
Jessica Nigri did something vaguely similar by promoting Lollipop Chainsaw last year. The fundamental difference was that where Jade Raymond gave interviews clothed, spoke about the game, and was generally a very recognisable and articulate presence, Nigri would turn up dressed in the skimpy outfit of the game’s lead character, and her interviews were limited to being asked who she was dressed as. There was nothing special or interesting about what she did. She is no more than a high profile cosplayer who turns up at promotional events to seduce the sad and lonely into buying a product by presumably becoming the object of their fantasies. Her attire goes some way towards indicating this is her goal.
These facts alone are not particularly interesting or noteworthy. One woman has ‘made it’ in the supposedly male-dominated world of games design, the other has found fame by appealing to the actually male-dominated world of gaming – when we talk about gamer demographics we often forget that the ‘hard-core’ of gaming is a predominantly male group, with women rising in accordance with the rise of casual games for iPhone and Android devices. What makes the comparison of Raymond and Nigri interesting, and in my eyes representative of the problem we currently face in gaming regarding gender, is how this predominantly male group of gamers reacted to these two prominent women promoting their respective games.
Let us start with the response to Nigri. I may be wrong, but I cannot recall any outcry over the use of a scantily clad woman to promote a game. This, I think, is quite sad. Jessica Nigri, like just about every cosplayer out there, displays no skills or ability by peddling her wares (whether this is the costume or what’s underneath is up for debate), happy to become the object of every fetishist’s desires by dressing as this or that character, inevitably a semi-nude anime or gaming character from Japan, the most sexual frustrated nation on earth where maid cafés and the fetishisation of adolescents is normal. The only thing which distinguishes Nigri from most cosplayers is that she is not ugly, and so does a rather good job of becoming the object of a fetish. Indeed, insofar as there was any response to Nigri’s parading herself, it was a positive one, and some went so far as to debate whether or not she was the perfect woman – and in my eyes it is pretty revealing, when you read these dicussions (such as at http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/is-jessica-nigri-the-perfect-woman.452901573/), to see how perfect is defined. The gawky eunuch who initiated this particular discussion on IGN did not give a reason for his belief beyond an interview and several pictures of her in costume.
Where Nigri was lauded for her soft-core pornographic performance, some of the particularly swivel-eyed males in the gaming community were left with dyspepsia at the idea that Jade Raymond, a woman, was able to sustain a conversation about a game for more than sixty seconds, whilst showing none of her cleavage. They were so baffled that they decided to draw a comic of Raymond in a bikini, giving head to bespectacled nerds in the hope that they would buy Assassin’s Creed. They were trying to point out the cynicism of Ubisoft for putting the most attractive person involved in the game at the head of the media campaign (though she also happens to be the most articulate and least boring, even if she were as ugly as sin), but although there is a degree of truth to this, all they demonstrated was that in gaming then, and still now six years on, women are expected to fulfil certain roles. They are expected to be the wenches hanging around at conventions, dangling off the arms of the mighty man behind a game. This is not something that has been fed into by how women are portrayed in games, though it is certainly facilitated by their portrayal, but rather something that gaming has borrowed from manga and anime conventions (an unfortunate custom, in my opinion). Thus the infamous Raymond comic was an attempt to repackage and re-imagine her as a more easily identifiable sort of gaming woman, such as Jessica Nigri, as an antidote to her talking about a game in the way a man like Miyamoto or Levine might. It did not so much tell us about Ubisoft’s intentions as give us an insight into the preconceptions of (some) male gamers. Although many journalists were vehement in their criticism of the comic, I do not recall many of the rank and file gamers making comments being too outraged. Some were, and many thought the comic a little crass, but for the most part people seemed to think that the comic made a fair enough point about Ubisoft’s marketing. As I’ve said, it didn’t: it just showed how people react if their compartmentalised view of women in gaming is contradicted in some way.
Jade Raymond is not exceptional for being a senior woman in games production. There always have been women, from Roberta Williams in the days of Sierra to Kellee Santiago, who runs thatgamecompany, and there always will be. Their numbers are already rising organically as females (incrementally) join the hardcore and stay there. But in the public sphere they are all too often expected to be like Jessica Nigri (or the imagined Jade Raymond from the comic), whose purpose is to use assets like blonde hair, a vapid personality and skimpy clothing to objectify themselves and sell a game. Gaming has enough Jade Raymond’s, but they are not prominent enough, all too often closeted away like a homosexual in the 1950s, while the likes of Jessica Nigri are as whorish with our attention as they are with their choice (or lack) of attire.
The triple-A title does not seem on the outside to be struggling all that much. By far the most lucrative releases are those in established franchises such as Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed. The truth, however, is that the triple-A and the underlying assumptions behind large-scale game development – primarily that a game should aim at fluid play and good graphics to compel people to play it – are being challenged with increasing regularity. On the one hand, the sort of casual gaming promoted by the Wii, and taken up in earnest by the sorts of titles released on iOS, has introduced a new generation of ‘gamers’ into an entirely different notion of what gaming is and how far its boundaries extend. On the other, there is the art gaming scene, which has gathered particular momentum in the past decade or so, and which enjoys painting itself as gaming’s avant-garde. The rise of both non-commercial and openly ‘artistic’ games and casual games has been aided by the financial crisis, which has encouraged large-scale developers to tighten their belts and rely more heavily than ever on established franchises and formulae. At the height of the crisis, for example, generic Modern Warfare clones abounded.
In my view, the shortcomings of most triple-A titles are numerous. These days, only the worst fail graphically, but behind this veneer one is struck by the trite unoriginality of a massive proportion of them. Many games use tried and tested mechanics for running, shooting and jumping; they are serviceable but not particularly interesting. They justify this running, shooting and jumping with narratives so thin and characters so decidedly wooden that they might as well not exist. Of course there are exceptions, such as Red Dead Redemption or BioShock, but for the most part ideas that lacked much substance to begin with are recycled endlessly, each time a little glossier, more realistic, and with better physics engines.
Unfortunately, neither the art nor the casual games present a viable or desirable alternative to the fundamental problems of gaming today. There are of course exceptions to this general statement. Braid is one of the most beautiful, ingenious and affecting games of the past ten years. But it is not so strong that it can carry the torch for the indie games movement on its own, and its brethren by in large fail to carry their weight. Casual gaming is, I think we can all agree, something one does to pass the time, and does not represent a pursuit in the way that gaming as a hobby would be considered. Who honestly plays Angry Birds seriously, for example? Yet the art game professes to offer a serious alternative to the triple-A. To understand why it fails, let’s use some dubious analogies.
The average triple-A title is, in literary terms, a novel. Gastronomically speaking, much meat clings to the bones of virtually every triple-A. The novel may not be of the best quality, the meat may be horse or just a poor cut, but there is no denying that a lot of ‘stuff’ constitutes a triple-A. On the rare occasion that this stuff is good, the result is a gaming experience that can be many things at once. I will refer again to gaming’s Citizen Kane (BioShock), which was tense, challenging, well-crafted, well-written, and thematically deep. A tenuous parallel might even be drawn between the vast emptiness of Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu and Rapture, but obviously the parallel goes far beyond such literalism.
Conversely, the art and indie game is never a novel. Occasionally, such as in the case of Braid, it becomes a short story, but mostly art games are sentences, slices of meat so tiny they can scarcely be tasted. They are regularly based on one of two things: an exploration of a single mechanic or an abstract theme. Jason Rohrer’s Passage is regularly cited as a turning point in the ‘games as art’ debate, and is a prime example of the thematic strain of art games.
For those unfamiliar with Passage, it is a free, low-tech game about mortality which lasts a few minutes. I recall the first time I played it, utterly unsure of how I was progressing, and how I grew concerned watching my little avatar age. I was shocked when he died, although I shouldn’t have been. It was certainly a touching and affecting experience to play a game that dwelt on death, which we are so often exposed to in games but which we rarely reflect on: the enemies we kill are expendable, the ‘death’ of our character rarely has a sense of finality thanks to ‘lives’ or ‘re-spawning’. Passage doesn’t really ask those questions, but from this epigrammatic memento mori they do follow quite naturally. Unfortunately, if the first play through packs a punch, then the second time is more like a limp-wristed slap, and subsequently the game becomes utterly redundant.
Sadly, Passage differs from most art games in only one respect, and that is that it has a clear vision and executes it well. Many art games suffer from Passage’s shortcomings – limited scope and size, including an absence of replay value – without ever having any of its advantages to begin with. Molleindustria is a prime example of games being used to express in a more longwinded and tedious manner what could very nicely be summarised in a sentence – the essence of Every Day the Same Dream is far more engagingly portrayed in Ibsen’s play The Doll House (which is an existentialist play first, a feminist text second, as far as I’m concerned). Some art games are like a Damien Hirst installation: they try so hard to be ‘artistic’ and ‘meaningful’ that they end up exposing their own vapid meaninglessness inadvertently. I have in mind the nonsense oeuvre of Rod Humble (I refer only to his homemade games), which he mistakenly tends to craft around a title. In my eyes, this is artistic failure of the first degree: if we look at Veronese’s The Family of Darius before Alexander, the title does not even properly tell us who we are looking at (is the man in red or man in black Alexander, for example?), and instead we are left merely to appreciate the forceful body language of the Greek men as against the submissiveness of the Persian women. We can appreciate these contrasting dynamics without any knowledge of context. This is the true art, not making something obscure that can be illuminated only by its title, which is more like a terrible brainteaser than art.
For quite some years, this troubled me deeply. The triple-A title has waned in my estimation just as it has is most people’s, but I have also lost the hopes I had of five or six years ago that art games provide a viable alternative.
The timing of Deadly Premonition’s release three years ago now came just as my interest in gaming reached its nadir. By early 2010 I hadn’t been excited by a triple-A game since GTA IV almost two years prior, and in desperation I had returned to my RuneScape account for gaming sustenance.
You may at this point be asking exactly how I had my confidence in gaming restored by a game which I bought on the back of Jim Sterling’s Destructoid review, which in spite of its 10/10 score called it a “beautiful trainwreck” (or something to that effect), and which my trusty games™ gave a mediocre score to, citing poor graphics and inept mechanics.
The answer is really quite simple, and disappointingly short given the length of my preamble. Deadly Premonition was my first experience with a formula of games design, which I’ve yet to see codified or articulated coherently by anyone, which represents a happy medium in an age of extremes, where consumer choice is so often limited either to showy set pieces or equally showy pixel games with little actual gameplay.
Firstly, and this is something many people have picked up on and written about at length, Deadly Premonition is a standout example in the games industry of good writing. I have often said, and oftener think, that as a result of the relative failure of games to translate the size of the industry into any form of clout or even respect in wider Western society, a person looking to be a writer in entertainment goes to film or television instead of games. And although film or TV writers do not necessarily make good game writers, the aspect of being able to write for the mechanics of gaming is not an issue our writers today have, but rather they lack the ability to script characters competently, develop plotlines, and other skills which seem to have emigrated to the film and television world. Deadly Premonition taps into a very specific type of writing which has been compared to Twin Peaks time and time again, but which I think goes a little further; rather than being a direct borrowing, I think Deadly Premonition mixes Twin Peaks with a sort of exaggerated campiness we might expect from an Almodóvar comedy (and one of the good ones at that). At first I thought the far more overt bizarreness of the characters in Deadly Premonition was a weakness of its writing – that because the supporting cast is less varied and less nuanced, it was somehow an inferior piece of writing. I was wrong on two counts. Firstly, because I was attempting to make a straight comparison with Twin Peaks without acknowledging that there was more to the game than that, and secondly, because I was not factoring in other aspects of the game’s design which could not have worked if the game were identical to Twin Peaks.
For example, in places Twin Peaks was a rather atmospheric series. Deadly Premonition could never have achieved this thanks to its rather sub-par graphics. Thus it moved away from the atmospheric bizarreness of Twin Peaks to a more overt form of comedy. If it had tried to be too dark, then the game would have failed, and similarly the graphical quality of the game added to and enhanced the comedic aspect of the writing in a way that is unique to games – the jerky animations or the driving controls, which veered to the left like York was the victim of a paralytic stroke, are devices which only games can employ (but unfortunately rarely do). Similarly, the manic saxophone part of the soundtrack takes on a new dimension in a game when you have to use the terrible controls to defeat a horde of zombies using a knife which inexplicably runs out of life juice, or whatever that meter represents. Swery knew how to enhance the sense of comedic ineptitude, even if he did so unintentionally, beyond simply cut-scenes and dialogue, to create a sort of comedy unique to games.
I also felt, though this may be a rather tenuous point given that I’ve never seen anyone else make it, that the outdated graphics of Deadly Premonition did rather a good job of making you feel as though you were in the 1990s. I’ve never been too struck on the photorealism which the triple-A games of today inevitably aim for, which is not good enough to achieve much beyond giving every game of that ilk a vaguely similar appearance and feel. This is not to say that the graphics of Deadly Premonition are directly evocative – far from it – but that the PS2 era graphics and old-fashioned mechanics evoke a sort of nostalgia which indirectly helps to conjure up the feeling of playing a game from the 1990s. To gamers too young to remember the period, the device fails, but for those of us who can remember and who subsequently make this association the feeling is a warm and fuzzy one.
Great artistic achievements always say or show something. Many games in the indie current sort of do this. Every Day the Same Dream by Molleindustria does say something about our existence, but it does nothing beyond this. It is so fixated on demonstrating its silly little political point that it neither entertains nor even makes its point particularly well. Deadly Premonition explores the issue of the player-character relationship, and does so almost as an aside. Games and gamers alike rarely reflect on the connection between the person sat in front of the screen and the on-screen object they are in control of. Although some games break the fourth wall, they very rarely reflect on what they’re doing –breaking the fourth wall is often a cheap device to shock or get the attention of a player. Rather than opt for such a blasé approach, Deadly Premonition integrates into the game the idea that York, the on-screen character, is a schizophrenic who takes advice from Zach, who lives in his head. On the surface, it’s a mechanism inspired the tape recorder Diane from Twin Peaks, but in reality it goes far deeper – by using mental illness as a metaphor for the interaction between players and their on-screen representations, it encourages the player to look at the notion of interaction in gaming, without being dogmatic and giving answers, and not at the expense of practical concerns. York’s insanity makes for hilarious dialogue, for example, and besides that it also bypasses clunky on-screen instructions and tutorials. Just as a great drama film asks questions about society whilst focussing primarily on some heart-wrenching scenario, Deadly Premonition gives us campy comedy-horror which also happens to raise questions about the nature of interaction within gaming in the most unobtrusive and integrated manner possible.
I think I should probably stop now, but not before I say this: far more than any game labelled ‘art’ or ‘indie’, Deadly Premonition is the strongest challenge I have seen to triple-A dogma thus far. Perhaps I am exaggerating, but I truly believe it marks one of the most quietly significant landmarks in gaming in the past ten years.