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11:21 AM on 09.19.2011

Gaming in Germany

Here is something you might not know; a lot of video-games depict violence. Violence is for better or for worse the most common form of interaction in gaming.

Don't think I am writing this as some form of deep and intellectual criticism because, quite frankly, I like video-games just the way they are, blood and guts included.

Now here is something else you might not know; the country I currently live and was born in doesn't.
As a matter of fact it despises it, vilifying not only any form of violence in video games, regardless of the game's quality or intellectual worth, but also the gamers that play them.

They are displayed as socially incompetent losers who only find solace in that terrible drug gaming.
And what happens when a student goes on a killing spree at school? Well I can tell you video-games are always involved and given more attention than the fact that these students had access to firearms.

I know discussions like these are not exclusive to Germany (and take my views with a pinch of salt since I am naturally biased being a gamer) but the German government is one of the few governments in the western world (I feel your pain Australia) that has actually backed up the mass media's view on games and has on several occasions threatened to ban video-games depicting violence completely ( thankfully those threats were crushed by voters).

However that doesn't stop the USK (which is an acronym that translates roughly to Entertainment Software Self-regulation) from often censoring and in some cases even banning games such as Gears Of War or Dead Rising.

This is the actual size of the logo's on the game boxes

This "regulations" is wrong for many obvious reasons, one of them being that the USK is not entirely self-regulated, it raises eyebrows even further when games that you would think contradict with the guidelines of the USK do get released. I'm not complaining that games like Dead Space and Assassin's Creed are released in their full glory but it does raise the question of why games like Gears or even Doom are banned.

Apart from being inconsistent these regulations conflict a lot with my interests as an avid gamer. It seems like such a first-world problem but not being able to buy certain games is something that can be circumvented quite easily thanks to the internet and the generous shipping fee's of some online stores.

The bigger issue at hand is that admitting to having an interest in gaming can quickly get you chastised by the general public, because a large part of the media still depicts games very negatively. And if there is one thing that is popular in Germany it's gossiping, cross the line on how much you like video-games and many people will label you as a "freak".

This is not to say that all hope is lost. Admittedly the picture I have been painting here is a bit aged as in the last two-three years things have started to change and the gaming is seen in a better light by the public. As a whole gaming has become immensely popular in Germany and even the USK is starting to buckle under the criticism and becoming more lenient on which game it releases and censors. For example Gears Of War 3 will be released in Germany completely uncut.

I hope Germany stays headed in this direction as gaming is truly a wonderful and thoroughly entertaining medium that everyone should have the chance and opportunity to enjoy.   read

7:25 AM on 09.17.2011

Fond Memories: Star Wars: Republic Commando

It may seem that nothing good has come out of the Star Wars prequels. Apart from being rotten films and ruining many peoples' perception of the original trilogy, they have spawned a number of unnecessary spin-offs and series' all produced for the purpose of selling toys to children.

Fortunately the toys(video games) released for older children and adults have ranged from decent to excellent. Which is were Republic Commando comes in, released in 2005, in my opinion RC easily ranks with other great Star Wars games such as KOTOR.

However before I get ahead of myself let me catch those who are not aware of what Republic Commando is up to speed. RC is a tactical first-person shooter which puts you in the well trained boots of the titular Republic Commando, specifically the leader of Delta squad, Boss.

The Republic Commandos' are like the the Rainbow Six' or Ghost Recons' of the Star Wars universe, elite soldiers trained to work as a team and to carry out special operations. Delta squad consists of you, the leader, a sniper (Sev), a demolitions expert(Scorch) and a hacker (Fixer).

Republic Commando isn't especially original when it comes to gameplay and design but it's how it presents itself and.... well the fact that it's Star Wars that set it apart.

At first glance the HUD is very reminiscent of Halo:CE, you've got recharging shields and a health bar but on closer inspection it will remind you of the aforementioned Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. Your three NPC squad mates are with you for the majority of the game and while they are surprisingly self sufficient, the real fun comes in giving orders (which is surprisingly easy and intuitive to do) and watching your team eliminate a room full of enemies.

Talking about enemies, the droids in Republic Commando are nothing like their idiotic movie counterparts and make for some fearsome enemies. Then there are the flying Geonosians and the savage Trandoshian slave traders to mix up the action.

Missions are tightly designed and the action always reaches a nice crescendo towards the end of a level. For example one mission starts off as a reconnaissance through a seemingly deserted ship and ends in a fight for survival as you and your team try to fend of a droid invasion.

Personally I still think it's amazing that for all the shit that has come out of Star Wars it still manages to compel me and stories like that in RC remind me that there still are some tales worth witnessing in this universe. The characters are well written and likeable and RCs' rendition of the Star Wars universe is much darker than anything that had and has been released since then.

Bodies spill blood, aliens and clones are ripped apart and your meele attack involves a wrist blade being shoved into an enemies face with blood or oil squirting onto your visor (the cool thing is the blood is then washed off by screen wipers implemented into the visor).

But blood and gore aside, Republic Commando is quite fantastic and I really recommend that if you still have any interest in Star Wars and enjoy first-person shooters you check this one out. Coincidently the game is on sale right now if you head over to steam so enjoy.   read

2:49 PM on 07.27.2011

The Biggest Sins of Open-World Games

The Biggest Sins of Open-World Games

Before I start my little tirade about the things that bother me most in open-world games, let me be the first to say that they are awesome.

The freedom and sheer possibilities of what can happen at any given time are unlike any other genre.
Open-World games allow you to become all-powerful,do the impossible and express yourself inside the game world through other means than simple shooting and killing.
Not that we've never had our fun in starting rampages and seeing how long the AI will take your shit.

But pobody is nerfect and it's more fun to read criticism. So here are my biggest sins of open-world games in no particular order.

Movement ain't fun
Movement is an essential part of any open-world game, and with the amount of terrain you'll be covering -- be it horizontal or vertical-- anything that screws up movement is instantly noticeable. A character moves like a tank or is unresponsive to your commands may not kill the fun of the game, but it will always be there nagging you until one day it screws you over and you get angry at the game. Case and point GTA 4 (plus DLC), the shooting itself is rather good but moving your character is an exercise in frustration. He's slow, runs out of breath, the animations get in the way and don't get me started on the camera in the indoor sections
But since I like constructive criticism I'll give an example of a game that nails movement, Just Cause 2. Rico moves and reacts to your input quickly and without giving priority to cumbersome animations, and then there is the grappling hook of course, the best example that one gimmick can make for some fun movement.

Biggest Sinner: GTA 4

Movement ain't fun in Vehicles
Ok I know that this is kind of cheating but it's equally important and probably the reason I wrote this. As I mentioned previously movement is important and in most open-world games you won't simply be travelling per pedes. A lot of things from the previous segment apply but something I've noticed to be more important than you might think is the friction between the vehicle and the ground. I've been playing Red Faction: Guerilla and the driving is infuriating. The way the vehicles handle feels like someone covered Mars in fucking butter, it's hard to drive in a straight line without sliding out of control or over steering and crashing in to a wall. I honestly can't comprehend how Volition let this slide by and how the QA team didn't try to rip their own teeth out and jam them into the screen.

Biggest Sinner: Red fucking Faction: Guerilla

Never-ending swarms of enemies
It seems that more and more open-world game developers are starting to totally ignore AI. The outcome of that are enemies that swarm in onto you like flies to a particularly fascinating piece of shit, and they keep on fucking coming.

It makes games like Just Cause 2 needlessly frustrating on anything above normal difficulty and it feels very cheap when--in a game that essentially turns you into a superhero--you die not because of the enemies skill or your failure to keep the situation under control, but because the game doesn't stop pumping out enemies.

Biggest Sinners: Just Cause 2, Red Faction: Guerilla

Pedestrians getting in the way
Pedestrians and Civilians in open-world games have pretty much become a parody. Most of them are paper cut-outs with wafer-thin personalities that exist solely for you to torture in whatever mundane or sadistic way you choose. Well at least that's what they should be, however quite frequently I find my enjoyment ruined by these dumb shits. They'll jump in the way of your car, stand idly around exploding buildings and are more often than not forced onto the player as a partner.

Yeah thanks game, I'm really grateful you partnered me up with a dumb shit that kicked me out of my own car.

Biggest Sinners: Red Faction: Guerilla, GTA 4, Assassin's Creed and pretty much every game with civilians

That's it folks, I'm all out of rage for now, but please feel free to comment on both the subject and the quality of the article (constructive criticism please).   read

12:08 PM on 07.17.2011

BIT.TRIP you are too difficult

My relation with the BIT.TRIP series is akin to one between an abused wife that still clings on to her husband. There are so many aspects I love about it, the music, the art style and the devilish simplicity, but there has always been one thing that has always held me back from truly loving this series. The difficulty.

Now there is probably many a masochist that really enjoys this challenge, and there are also many people who enjoy getting fists inserted into their anus. All jokes aside though if you're not already calling me a whining bitch please take the time to see were I'm coming from.

You see, there are a few things the BIT.TRIP games have always had in common, simple gameplay, a modern take on retro graphics that is both appealing to look at and easy on the eyes and fantastic music which the game rewards you with if you do well.

I don't know if I'm crazy, but to me these are all aspects that would make for a great game for more entry-level or (dare I say it?) casual gamers as well as more enthusiastic gamers who just want a fun experience. Unfortunately with the current difficulty I can't even recommend it to my other gamer friends.

I consider myself a competent gamer and I do enjoy a challenge (like Super Meat Boy), but having me restart a 15 minute level after fucking up is just sadistic and certainly not fun. I've had BIT.TRIP.BEAT for over a year now and I'm still not past the second level. Every time I try to beat it I inevitably screw up half-way through and I have to start all over again. And yes I have rage quit. Quite a few times.

BIT.TRIP.RUNNER is a bit more forgiving with most of the levels being shorter than 2 minutes, but once again I have hit a stopping point (level 1-11 if you want to know). The sad thing is I was having a wonderful time with this game, and then it felt the need to make me suffer.

Again let me reiterate that there are most definitely people that enjoy the BIT.TRIP games because of their difficulty but I think they could be so much more if they weren't busy trying to bust our balls.   read

9:41 AM on 07.17.2011

Hello thar DTOID community

Hello there DTOID community and readers. Before I start writing and blogging, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself.

I am a under-twenty year old dude currently living in Germany and surprise, surprise I like video games.
However my love for games is relatively young. Because I have only owned consoles since 2007 I started out playing mainly on the PC (still my platform of choice). I started of with educational games, which were a nice appetizer but soon I wanted more.

Being a young kid I turned to things I liked, which at the time was Star Wars and Lord of The Rings. So my first "real" game was the original Lego Star Wars and things kicked of from there. With time I moved on to bigger and more complex games (Morrowind, Oblivion etc.) and I also started to appreciate games as medium.

Nowadays I play a large variety of games but also enjoy talking and discussing about them and I hope to able to talk games with you, the DTOID community.

So that's it from me, I hope I can provide some good and entertaining content.   read

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