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9:53 AM on 07.28.2013

Ending The Citizen Kane of Video Games Debate (And Failing)

Iím going to go out on a limb here and say that I donít think most people who have a heavy investment in video games have even seen Citizen Kane.† I havenít seen Citizen Kane, so maybe Iím just projecting myself onto the gaming communityÖ but I have a sneaking suspicion that not many have actually seen it.
So how did we get to this place where Citizen Kane became such an important part of game culture?† Who cares about there being a Citizen Kane of Video Games?† I bet most of you donít even give a shit about that film.


The Citizen Kane of Citizen Kane.

But let us give it the benefit of the doubt.† Letís see what this Citizen Kane is all about and see why itís important.† Now, like I said earlier, I have not seen Citizen Kane, but I have read a few things about it; Iíve also had Media Studies students talk at me about it, so Iím informed enough to talk about it in a way that isnít complete bullshit, but itís definitely me winging it.† Though Iíd say Iím more informed than most that demand the Citizen Kane of Video Games.

So what did Citizen Kane do for cinema?† Itís mostly understood that it took the format of cinema and used its quirks for dramatic effect.† It wasnít just a filmed performance: lighting was used to obscure the faces of those performing and scenes were shot in abstract ways to assist telling the filmís story and characterising the, well, characters.† So Citizen Kane was one of the earlier and high profile films to use cinematic techniques to make you feel things and communicate ideas.

This is all cool and interesting and all, but games have pretty much always done this from the very beginning.

The thing with cinema is that it is a recording of an organic and Ďrealí thing, and then cinematic and editing techniques were then invented and applied afterwards.† And more techniques were discovered with time and experimentation.
But games were just techniques from the start.† You have artificial visuals and making a player feel a certain way has to be achieved by using these game techniques.† Letís take Donkey Kong: one thing it does it gives you a hammer to make you feel stronger, but when you get the hammer a different, faster song starts to play and your man flails it around quickly, destroying all the deadly barrels.† And you know it isnít going to last forever, probably because you see another hammer further up the stage, so tension is increased.


Donkey Kong, The Citizen Kane of Video Games?

This is one of the earliest games using gameplay techniques to get some emotion out of you.
So if games already kind of do what Citizen Kane does why are we - or whoever it is that bring this subject up - still not getting over this subject?

Is it Citizen Kaneís story?† I suppose we donít have many games about the rise and fall of a man; a story about having power and then losing it.† Itís a common story; itís one we see all the time in life and itís fairly well explored one in all mediums, though not so much in games.† I suppose the very nature of having a fall at the end doesnít suite games very well.† We want to win in a game, or at least be safe in the knowledge that we can win.† Perhaps video games will never be a good vehicle for that kind of story.
But heís another but; but, we have those Civilization games people like, and when things go wrong in those due to the decisions youíve made then you can get that experience.† Iíve had it while playing the multiplayer mode of Command & Conquer: Red Alert (while on my own against AI *sad face*) when everything just crumbled in front of me due to me not acting as I should have.

So, do people really want Citizen Kaneís story in a game?† I donít think so.† Itís a story frequently told and while it hasnít been told in games the result of one that did would just make it an interesting curio of a game, rather than, ironically, the mighty and actual: Citizen Kane of Video Games.

What is it?† What is it about this damn film that is so important to us?† Seriously?† Who the hell coined the phrase?† Who let the words ĎCitizen Kane of Video Gamesí bounce along their tongue and escape their mouth like a fat man in a hurry?† Why did they coin it?† To sound smart and cultured without having to actually think?

What does it even really mean?


Civilization, The Citizen Kane of Video Games. †Fact. †Just look at it.

Maybe Iím over-thinking it.† I saw a documentary about Woody Allen the other day which was just about him and his attitude to his work and his thought process and all that kind of stuff, and it got to the film Annie Hall.† It was a mature film that was a bit cleverer than and not as silly as his earlier stuff; more about drama and characters, and while watching I thought that it was a bit like Naughty Dog.† I thought that maybe The Last of Us is the Annie Hall of Video Games.† Why not, right?


So letís just put it to rest, simplify it and say Civilization is the Citizen Kane of Video Games.† Done.† Iíve not seen/played either of them.† Seems fitting.   read


7:02 PM on 03.10.2013

A Kind of Review of That New Tomb Raider

ďA survivor is bornĒ. That is what it says on the back of Tomb Raiderís box; they also present that text quite prominently at the end of the game before the credits roll, and after finishing the game itís important to keep those words in mind when you play Tomb Raider í13Ö yes, Iím making the same distinction here as people do to Sonic the Hedgehog í06 and Prince of Persia í08. Fortunately, Tomb Raider í13 wonít have the same reputation as those two reboots.



Iím not going to be dwelling too much on the past of the series, as in many ways this Tomb Raider is an absolute triumph. Crystal Dynamics take Lara Croft, an icon from simpler time in video games, and make her one of the most relevant characters in gaming today. Many contemporary characters come to mind that inspire this new Lara but you canít help but think of The Hunger Gamesí Katniss Everdeen. Itís made massively apparent that she is an inspiration for the new Lara when early in the game you find yourself with a bow and youíre tasked to hunt a deer in the middle of a forest, like Katniss did; so even from the early on in the game they riff off something you may know in order to set a tone. The character trajectory is already set in stone from this point. You know things are going to go bad for this new, young Lara. She will go down a path she never intended.

Our new Lara finds herself somewhere south of Japan on a hidden island and it is up to you to, eventually, sort everything out, since everyone accompanying you seems to have their attention drawn to other things. But the dynamic between all the characters is strong and really creates an unusual relationship that is made more compelling in that you sometimes stumble across Laraís friendsí, acquaintancesí and enemiesí journals dotted around gameís environments which really fill out the characters you deal with, without them knowing. Itís here that the seriesí history is transformed into something much more interesting, with exploration being key to fleshing out the story. This island is full of things to discover.

Environments are approached differently here to past Tomb Raider games. There, the tombs you explored were like puzzle boxes that prescribed a lot of game logic that is silly but is also fun to dive into and figure out, where as with Tomb Raider í13, environments are designed in a way that comes across more natural and organic; they seem like real places. That does mean anyone coming to Tomb Raider í13 with puzzle/platforming expectations may feel a little let down by that, especially as the new Lara doesn't seem to have as varied move-set as she has had in the past to get around the environments, but there are what are regarded as ďOptional TombsĒ in the game that are slightly hidden away that do scratch that itch, though there are only seven of them and are quite small and can be solved relatively quickly. But they are a good addition.



A big change to the series is in the action and the combat. ďA survivor is bornĒ, remember, not an explorer, so action is a bit more prevalent now in Tomb Raider í13. When the action ramps up it is impossible not to see the influence the Uncharted games have had on Tomb Raider. Many say the Uncharted games have made Tomb Raider games obsolete but the reality is they've always been very quite different when you remove the Indiana Jones setting; they have always had very different priorities. Uncharted is a third person action game that focuses a lot on the combat and shooting and Tomb Raider í13 has essentially took the feel of Unchartedís combat system and applied it to their game. I have often felt the combat in Uncharted was too wobbly, unresponsive and unsatisfying due to your character being overly animated, and it is the case here in Tomb Raider í13, too, but since it has a big focus on exploration the game evens out a bit better and youíre rarely too far away from the game calming down and switching up the gameplay into where its strengths are.

The combat not being up to the standard of the best third person shooters isn't a massive issue as it does fit with the tone of the game. Lara is a young woman who has never been in this kind of situation before so giving her the ability to be an efficient soldier from the start would be odd. Unfortunately, they have took this combat system, which is designed in a way to fit a particular character which then fits the context of this story being told, and tried to craft a multiplayer experience with it. This is another example of when publishers have forced a multiplayer mode in a game that just doesn't need one. It just doesn't work.

When you make these kinds of multiplayer games you need to have tight controls with surgically crafted mechanics to stand up to the big guns in this genre. You canít take this flabby combat system and have opponents rolling around a map like everyone is trying to play a shooter on a bouncy castle and expect anyone to have a good time. As a bit of occasional knock-about fun it kind of has some merit but the game has unlocks and ranks like those found in most online shooters. They expect you to actually pump a lot of time into this mode to unlock the rewards; itís designed to waste your time, and I would recommend anyone steer clear of the online multiplayer portion of the game. It is everything wrong with game development right now in 2013.



The only problem with Tomb Raider í13 is that it is very much a game of 2013. As well as the tacked on multiplayer, you will - by the end of the game - have started to unlock new stealth kill abilities which undermine the tone of Tomb Raider í13. What started out as a tale of understandable desperation soon turns into gleeful murder. You fight your way through armed men by throwing dirt in their eyes, anxious shoves off cliffs and desperately picking up a rock and swinging for the bastards; but by the end you are sticking your climbing axe into the top of a guys skulls and unloading half a machine gun magazine into a downed enemy. It doesn't fit and comes across as a product of being a game released in 2013 for 2013ís gamers. Itís only there to look bad-ass in trailers and not to create a unified game where everything fits. I hope they have the confidence to move away from that with the inevitable sequel.

But overall the game is a success in many ways. Lara Croft is now a character with some depth and a strong personality. When bloggers do lists of good female protagonists we will certainly see this new Lara Croft amongst the likes of Jade from Beyond Good & Evil and April Ryan from The Longest Journey, which is a great thing we can take away from Tomb Raider í13. ďA survivor is bornĒ and long may she continue to survive as this new Tomb Raider has the potential to be one of the finest in its genre again.   read


3:05 PM on 11.07.2012

The Public Library and Xbox Live

Iíve been going to the library quite a lot lately. I used to go to study, as Iíve recently moved towns, and into a busier house back with my family and getting any work done from home was difficult. I get terribly distracted at the best of times and overhearing loud conversations, having the latest Rihanna album pumping in the next room or even just having my ten year old sister come and interrupt me and enquire about what Iím up to, then interrupt me again while I explain what Iím doing, and then tell me about whichever friend sheís fallen out with this week for hours. Not actual hours, but whatever measure of time these conversations last it is removing hours from my life. Iíll die younger because of that craic.
I know this is first world problems; Iím not really complaining. Iím just giving some context to why I like to remove myself from this situation.

But I donít need to study anymore as my next module doesnít start until February next year, but I still go to read or do some writing with a bit of peace. People are noisy and obnoxious, and I have a very small attention span so it helps me be a bit more productive.

Well, thatís the idea, but unfortunately that ideal of the quiet library doesnít seem to exist for me now. The main area where most of the books are displayed doesnít have any seating and at the back of the room is a busy section with thirty or so computers, and there is another section down a long hall which does have a large table and chairs is right next to one of the entrances and a helpdesk, so there are people coming, going and enquiring all the time, which also distracts me.
The only option I have left is a large room on the second floor called The Sanctuary. Perfect. A sanctuary; I like the sound of that, itís exactly what Iím looking for.
Essentially itís a large room with a number of sofas at the back and four tables scattered around the room, along with six computers lining the sides, three on each side.



Unfortunately, the environment is ruined by people. There are two women in their early to mid twenties on the sofa, huddled over a mobile phone talking loudly about some happenings on Facebook; there is some guy on a PC in a white t-shirt watching Tupac videos and spitting some rhymes along with him, and there is an elderly bloke across from me with his woolly socks over his trousers, proudly and regularly burping and farting like heís doing us all a favour. And itís at this moment I find this library exactly like Xbox Live.

I donít have an Xbox 360 anymore (RIP) so it was here that I was reminded why I donít play online so much anymore. People having conversations with the mic un-muted with someone else in the room; someone playing their music over the mic, and others being absolutely quiet until they let out an earpiece-shattering belch. It just ruins my enjoyment.
I sound like a grumpy bastard, I know. I never used to be and itís kind of new to me and Iím not sure how to express it properly. Being close to 30 and dealing with this kind of grumpy-ness is like being 14 and dealing with unwanted erections.
But I digress.

But other then reminding me people are dicks, it also reminded me that, well, people are dicks. Online gaming, and more specifically Xbox Live, has come to develop a reputation that we are all aware of. You know, all the racist, sexist, homophobic comments and general dickery that I pointed out above. If I spoke out against any of those people in the library, like if I told the old bloke to be a bit less anti-social and ease those farts out, you know, work that sphincter a bit, Iím sure I would have been called something really offensive if I wasnít a straight, white male; if they didnít say something I suspect they would have thought it, and with the protection of anonymity that comes with XBL it would make those thoughts more likely to leak out.



What Iím trying to get at is why is Xbox Live singled out for the worst part of human nature when even a particular day at the library can bring out the rude? As I pointed at before, anonymity can exacerbate social situations but theyíre not the root cause.

I dunno. Maybe XBL does attract a slightly higher proportion of wankers, but that didnít seem to be the case when I first joined back in 2006. I met loads of great people playing Gears of War, and some I still speak to. Iíd jump into a game and speak to pretty much anyone and usually got a fairly positive response but as the reputation of the XBL gamer became more and more infamous I stopped turning my mic on for online sessions unless I was with someone Iíd previously met, because of dicks I heard about on the internet and didnít come across first hand very often.
It just makes me wonder if the XBL gamer stereotype is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who arenít arseholes are jumping in games with their mics off and not communicating with each other, and the mouths ruling; theyíre winning. Maybe if I stopped thinking of myself as above the community I could rediscover a love for online gaming by just turning that mic on again because online gaming in 2006 was brilliant.
I may not have a 360 anymore but I may just wipe the dust off my PS3 mic and see if there are any cool folks out there.   read


9:08 AM on 10.28.2012

An Open Letter to the Gaming Press

There is no doubt Robert Florence opened a can of worms with his Table of Doritos article over at Eurogamer. Most of us know about the article. It was about the relationship between the games press and PR. I wonít go into the contents in detail as you can read it here.

Now Iíd rather be here writing about how awesome Persona 3 is or what I think the direction horror games should go in, but considering what has gone on this week in regards to the gaming press I feel I have to address it.



It has been a disappointing week for someone on the outside, as a reader of the games press; as a member of the audience. I feel let down. I feel that in certain sections of the press there is a lack of respect for its readers. So a number of those readers donít deserve that respect with them being the types of people quick to insult a reviewer if you donít hit the right score, but many, many others silently take on board what has been said in your work. You are trusted. ďIíll wait for the reviewsĒ is something we all hear and read, time and time again.

So when one games journalist practically advertises a game on a personal account to win a PS3 and follows it up with a tweet genuinely not seeing a problem with the practice then we clearly have a trust problem. Iím amazed that this journalist couldnít see a problem. Even if you plan to donate this PS3 to someone else so you donít really get any gain, you still advertised something; not a personal endorsement of something you love, even if it is, as doing so through this kind of stunt looks dishonest. It shows a complete lack of respect to those who follow you on Twitter through liking your work.

This lack of respect also reared its head over at Kotaku where Stephen Totilo rather shamefully talked down to a concerned gamer; the whole situation bringing back memories of when certain newspapers and proper journalists werenít acknowledging the corruption the rest of the population could see during the Leveson enquiry and continued to peddle long lens shots of Suri Cruise or whatever. And here, showing all the bits in a limited edition Xbox 360 was more important than something many readers are currently quite concerned about.



Looking at what Iíve already written I can see that I may be preaching from a high horse, sneering down like a king at a pauper but I do understand how the lines can become blurred in an entertainment press and PR relationship. Weíre hits on some counter, weíre Likes on Facebook, and weíre bullies with bad grammar on Twitter. Weíre statistics.
We are not the personalities you have to deal with day to day and weíre not the people you generally have to maintain some kind of relationship with. And games PR are probably as passionate a gamer than anyone, I mean who else wants to work in the games industry at that level other than a gamer, so having something you both care about in common will likely end up in friendship. This is a persistent relationship that you just wonít have the majority of your readers, so I can see how a relationship with PR can become quite strong, and I totally believe it to be unintentional; people with the same interests connect.

I know this comes across as a buzz kill as some may say itís only video games, we shouldnít be taking them so seriously, but some of us do really care about them. Some of us may look up to some of you as thinkers. The ones whose career it is to think about games and pass those thoughts to the rest of us who perhaps donít have the time to analyse for ourselves due to pesky day-jobs but one of those thoughts may strike us and makes us realise something we never noticed before in a particular game. Then we apply this theory, whatever it is, to other games and start to demand better.

Itís through good criticism you can potentially help make better games, but your readers need to trust you or itís all for nothing.

From the outside it looks like there is a lack of self-awareness in the gaming press with their relationship with industry PR and all I'm asking is to just take a step back every-now and then and consider if you're closer to the industry than you are your readers.   read


8:37 AM on 09.27.2012

The True Downfall of Resident Evil

Iíll just say it up front now; when youíre talking about Resident Evil 6 itís hard to not to mention Resident Evil 4. Itís especially hard for me; as to me, RE4 is a game I judge many action shoot-y type games against. I think itís a true benchmark game and after playing the RE6 demo it shows that Capcom are having trouble living up to it.

I think everyone knows the problems with RE6. Weíll start with Leonís section of the demo. Capcom is reported to have wanted to go back to the seriesí roots with Leonís section of the game. Perhaps even harking back to RE2 where intimidating atmosphere and survival horror are the focus of the experience but you donít really get that, but what you do get is the worst of both RE2ís and RE4ís worlds. You get simple corridor environments with not a lot going on. I know itís hard to build up the required tense atmosphere within the contexts of a demo but with Leon and Helenaís abilities I doubt it would ever get as tense as it needs to be to remain engaging. During the section where you are locked in one particular corridor, waiting for a door to open and hordes of zombies burst through the windows to attack itís supposed to be a desperate fight until you can escape, much like on the original Left 4 Dead while waiting for an elevator to come on No Mercy. But since Leon and Helena have such strong melee attacks then youíre never that tense or scared. Iím actually pretty sure Leon could single-handedly deal with all of the zombies with a simple kick to the face then smash their squishy heads with the Diamond Cutter while staggered. Taking the RE4 Leon, then making him more powerful, then putting him into an even more linear game does not make for much fun.



Then, we move onto Chrisís section of the game, which is basically Gears of Resident Evil. But you know what? If it was good I would have been fine with that. Imagine Gears of War but with a lot more eccentric monsters. Itís already kind of there with the stretchy arm guy that pulls you out of cover. Imagine if they removed enemies with guns and just had mutated freaks with weird abilities. Imagine if Shinji Mikami was still on board of the Resident Evil ship. Iíd be so on board with that even if it isnít anything like a traditional Resident Evil game.
But it isnít any of that. What we have is Gears of War but with none of the intuitivism. I canít get over the gameís cover system. Itís shambolic. What is it you do again? Go next to a chest high wall? Hold the ďpoint gunĒ button? Then press X/A to toggle (yes, toggle) between taking cover and popping up to shoot. Iím not one to want uniform controls over all games in the same genre but that just feels unnaturalÖ maybe youíd get used to it, but itís a needless obstacle.
And of course you have the enemy AI, which on multiple occasions on my play through the gun toting zombies jumped out of cover and lurched across the environments like a duck on a carnival shooting range and let me effortlessly take them out. Itís a disaster.

Iím not even going to go into Jakes part. Itís basically somewhere in the middle of the other two characters play styles and has all the same problems accept itís also really fucking dark. I canít decide whether that makes it better or worse, not being able to see the tragedy

But you know what? None of that is the worst thing.

I sometimes struggle to articulate why Iím not a big fan of Resident Evil 5 (though since RE6, it has gone up in my estimation). I usually just point at the compulsory co-op ruining the horror for me and leaving it at that. The game is, at times, as interestingly designed as RE4 with regards to the environments at least, so why is it that I donít think that highly of it?
Playing RE6 and watching some of the trailers made me see whatís missing from RE6 and RE5.



Itís not funny anymore.

I think Resident Evil 4ís humour is a bigger part of what makes it what it is, and what makes it so special to people, even if they donít realise it. RE4 has a humour that doesnít diminish the horror, it compliments it. Itís incredibly Sam Raimi in tone. RE4 jumps from being chased around a claustrophobic and remote village by a chainsaw wielding bastard to being chased around a castle by monks in elaborate gowns with a ball and chain. In another moment youíre running away from the animated statue of a power hungry midget then panicking in the dark, narrow corridors, figuring out how to deal with the chilling and seemingly indestructible Regenerators. RE4 makes you laugh as much as it gets under your skin, and RE5 didnít do that. RE6 certainly doesnít.

Some of the same elements are there in RE5 and 6, such as the silly melee finishers but there isnít the tonal shift. Itís just all mixed or ill thought out, such as in RE5 with the African guys in grass skirts, or Diamond Cutters where the game wants you to take it more seriously. Ultimately, thatís that problem. RE6 wants you to take it seriously if the cut-scenes are anything to go by; all the shouting and drama, but not the unbounded imagination that its predecessor had.

And I do believe that is the problem with the series now. If it was funny; if it had the Raimi style, the creepy, funny, oddly endearing tone to it I think I would still have liked Resident Evil 6, despite its awful controls and nose dive in the quality of level design. I think I would of still held a candle for it if it stayed funny.   read


8:53 AM on 08.24.2012

Thank you, Polygon (shortblog)

I want to thank Polygon. I want to thank them for clearing my eyes. After watching the trailer to their documentary which left me blinking deliriously I have just now opened my eyes to what I should be doing in my blogs, and thatís changing peopleís perception.

And I know Iím the only person who can do this, now. When I was 10 years old we learned of the Vikings and how they came to Britain and purged the existing settlements from Northumbria to East Anglia; burning fire and bleeding death was all there was. When asked to describe and colour in a Saxon village I took my red felt tip pen and painted the ground a violent red, to symbolise the blazes and the running blood that were sure to spread, as history dictates.
All my classmates drew green grass; their perception narrow, literal and uniform.
My teacher, also confused, shouted at me for colouring in wrong, but I knew my perception was right and beyond his comprehension even at a young age.

I continued to challenge peopleís perceptions when I used to draw comics as a teenager, where I would take a man and who is an angry by nature and give him blue skin. Not red skin, the colour of anger, passion and warning, but blue. This, I feel, would challenge you becauseÖ of oppositesÖ andÖ stuff.
I must admit, even after studying The Simpsonsí skin colour for over 10 years I dunno whatís going on there.

Finally, as I stand in the kitchen, thinking about what to write, getting a drink, I realise even I still get my perceptions challenged. In my hand is a glass of cream soda, but itís not ordinary cream soda; it is green; bright green, like the green of a traffic light. Not clear in colour like all the other cream sodas, but green.
You take a drink and you go ďmmm, tastes like normal, clear cream sodaĒ and then you look at the glass and its fucking green!



So the point Iím trying to make is I want my blog to be a bottle of green cream soda, and I will endeavour to this. When I think about games now, I do so in the kitchen with a glass of green cream soda, looking out the window with my eyes crossed and really challenging perception. I have to do this for the three people who read my blogs, and if I donít then who will? All the green grass colour in-ers?

No. I donít think so.

My kitchen floor could do with a clean, but like Polygon made me see there are many eyes to clean first. There are other eyes to massage and challenge, and I believe only I can do that.   read


10:55 AM on 08.18.2012

DmC, Tomb Raider and Reboots

Itís easy to feel betrayed when a game series you like changes direction, or appears to reboot itself to a new crowed by reassessing its personality and getting a new hairstyle. Itís also very easy to accept this new persona if you werenít aware of it before, or perhaps even fond of, and canít quite grasp why those that knew it before are so critical of the new personality and how it just isnít who it appears to be.

Iíve recently found myself on both sides of the argument and itís confusing; very confusing.



The game Iím pouting my lip and stamping my foot over is the reboot of Tomb Raider. Essentially, what has been shown so far is an Uncharted style third-person shooter starring a Lara Croft who is bashed around, felt up and sets men on fire while thrusting a knife in the neck of a straggler. Itís grim stuff. And to think it was only a few years a go in the fantastic Tomb Raider Underworld I was mostly exploring coral reefs, and the jungles of Thailand, amongst other things. Crystal Dynamics stated themselves that the game had 80% exploring and 20% combat, and they werenít lying. For that it was a breath of fresh air. It was like they learned a combat heavy game isnít quite right from Tomb Raider Legends and made two great follow ups in Tomb Raider Anniversary and Underworld; games that celebrated themselves as puzzle/platformers.

To see such a series conform to the type of third-person shooter gameplay that is just like a number of other existing seriesí is ultimately disappointing.
I may still try it. It may not be as itís getting marketed, and I trust Crystal Dynamics to put together a decent game.

But still.



The game where I take moral high ground, looking down at the gaping mouths of crying fans is with Ninja Theoryís Devil May Cry or DmC as they like to call it, those cool cats.
Iíve always liked the Devil May Cry games but Dante and DMCís style was never the draw. I liked it purely for the gameplay. The gameís stories and characters were never something I cared a great deal about as it just came across as a little overly kitsch to me, or at least kitsch in a way that didnít appeal and I never identified with it. Just the context of running around a castle and fighting monsters with a tight combat system was where I found the entertainment. Iíd play it pretending it was a good 3D Castlevania game to be honest.

Iíd watch the cutscenes in old DMC where heíd exchange corny trash talk with the demons and Iíd sigh and say ďAye, alright, Dante.Ē

So thatís probably why I welcome a new take on the series, especially when the credits rolled on DMC4 and I remember thinking to myself ďYep, that was fun but unless there is a change I donít think Iíll be getting DMC5.Ē
So now the change is actually happening and it was after seeing one trailer in particular I realised it could be more interesting than I was ever expecting.

DmC seems to draw from an interesting idea that existed in the Devil May Cry anime. I remember seeing one episode where Dante comes across a biker gang where something seems to be encouraging them to ride as fast as they can and appear to cause there own death.
Basically, in the anime the demons are physical manifestations of human traits. This speeding demon is a manifestation of that desire to push yourself to the limit. Now, old DMC the game didnít really have this, or at least I never picked up on it, where as DmC does.

In this trailer for DmC the in-game media personify NuDante in much the same way the sillier real life media like to personify the young underclass in the UK and Ninja Theory seem to be looking at whatís immediately around them and lampooning it. It does seem to be a commentary on the manipulative media and how they portray the youth cultures that donít get heard.

Basically, this sort of take on the series reminds me quite a bit of Killer7. I think DmC is actually quite Suda-esque going by what has been shown. The Persona games also deal with this kind of symbolism in a similar way. Dare I say the story is more Japanese than the original?
But Iíve been told itís just not Devil May Cry regardless of whether it turns out to be good or not. Itís ďwrongĒ for the series. If Marioís next adventure on WiiU was a gritty post-apocalyptic game everyone would be complaining. I guess that would be terrible.



Hang on. No.

This situation is the same as that at all. You canít look at these two Devil May Cry games and see them as different as the exaggerated as the Mario scenario. Taking a step back and looking at things in the bigger context shows they arenít as different as that. But what would be similar is say if Naughty Dog were drafted in to make a Mario game, and they go in a Pixar style direction, perhaps not making a platformer as tight as traditional Mario games (maybe plays like Jak & Daxter) but flesh out the universe in their own way with charming cinematics and what not. I wouldnít be against that at all, and thatís what DmC is like to me.

There is a fear of change which I believe we need to get over. I need to get over it too with Tomb Raider (though Tomb Raider is still CD developed). When a new studio makes a game for an existing series itís like a cover version. Whatís the point of a cover of a song that just sounds like the original? What if Soft Cell didnít change a thing when they covered Gloria Jonesí Tainted Love? What if Scissor Sisters didnít turn Pink Floydís classic rock anthem Comfortably Numb into a melancholic, 4am disco track? Itís just not as interesting. Itís just not as creative.

What Iím trying to say is we shouldnít be setting the rules of what a series is in stone. DmC could have been a new IP, but like a cover version drawing new experiences or meaning out of an established work is, or can be, an interesting thing in itself.   read


8:31 AM on 07.16.2012

Sorry Demon's Souls, it's not me, it's you

It took me a long time to finally get around to playing Demonís Souls. I suppose the reason why it took so long is an incredibly shallow reason: itís how it looks. There is something about the type of fantasy set in middle ages Europe that I find incredibly uninspiring. Itís also the reason Iíve never seen Game of Thrones, the reason why I couldnít find any drive to play Dragon Age and the very reason I dismissed Skyrim the very moment I saw it. All of it reminds me of the plague, and they always look as appealing as contracting the plague.



But with Demonís Souls being something of a phenomenon within the gaming community how could I continue to ignore it? A lot of games are like over bearing parents these days living in a safe, green suburb, making sure you have everything you need and going over the directions with you incessantly to the point of tedium, and even when youíve set off on your bike youíll catch a glimpse of them running along behind you clasping the underside of the seat to keep you steady.
How refreshing it is to have a game that parents you like a pair of selfish, alcoholics would, by making you fend for yourself and have you excavate in the putrid pantry for sustenance to survive. Weíre gamers. We donít need the nanny-ing, Mother, will you stop tucking my shirt in! What! Iím not fidgeting! Iím an adult. Iím a gamer.

Itís also not as if I canít look past a gameís aesthetics and enjoy it purely for the gameplay. I donít like modern warfare type games but I love the Battlefield series because of their emphasis on teamwork and the variety of play styles; not because I get a giddy feeling over the sight of an Apache gunship. So the same could happen for Demonís Souls, right?

So Demonís Souls drops through my letter box and I slot it in my PS3 to finally see what this new sensation is all about. To finally experience the game that left so many people dishevelled and screaming the Lordís name in the dead of the night.
After initially being unimpressed with the character creation system because no matter what I did my guy looked like a grimy mannequin found in a skip round the back of a fancy dress shop, I actually started to warm to the game. It encouraged a considered pace which I actually found relaxing but just difficult enough to find engaging. Both relaxing and engaging, like a conversation with Stephen Fry (I imagine). Thatís a hard combination to get right but Demonís Souls does it effortlessly.



Managing crowds, putting extreme importance on position and timing makes the combat in Demonís Souls a unique experience. Traps are inventive, and the level design is consistently of a high standard. I started to think that this game is definitely something special. What an idiot I was for putting it off so long. But then the cracks started to show, and I started feeling like I should have stayed with my gut instinct.

You died.

If there is one thing I hate in games its repetition, and you do that a lot in Demonís Souls because when you die itís back to the beginning of the level with the souls youíve accumulated stripped from you. I get why itís like that. Making death a genuine punishment gives the game its foreboding atmosphere and makes you play at that pace I was so fond of but to me the enjoyment crumbles away like old masonry when it comes to the bosses.

You died.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking; youíre thinking I just suck weeping gangrene at this game and maybe thatís true but thatís not whatís putting me off. I enjoy a challenging game but when I walked into the fort where the colossal Tower Knight stood and all it took was two mighty and guard breaking swings of his lance and I was left a plastic-y corpse propped up against the wall. It took me five or six attempts to finally slay the iron clad giant; each death also included another tiresome battle to the fort once again, fighting the same grunts, just so I could try out a new tactic.
Iím just not for this kind of game design. Itís dull.

You died.

When I struck Tower Knight down for the final time with my axe I was expecting a genuine sense of victory. Finally heís down and I can continue my adventure, but it never came. The sensation I did get was the same one Iíd get from my time working in customer service. Youíd get certain customers who were demanding and unreasonable. They would treat you like the enemy when you were just trying to help, while also balancing loyalty to company policy. After you successfully dealt with one of those customers your brain isnít swimming in endorphins as you punch the air, you would just do a big sigh and wearily put the phone down, hoping to never have to go through it again.
Thatís how it also feels defeating a boss in Demonís Souls.



To me, God Hand is the king of infamously difficult games and since I just finished that this year itís always in the back of my mind as I play Demonís Souls. God Hand is unrelenting fun and also incredibly challenging, but it doesnít feel the need to threaten you with repetition if you die. Each area is an individual challenge and has quite frequent checkpoints so youíre free to play; free to experiment with your customisable combos while also maintaining the same sense of dread that comes with the fact a common grunt can end you, much like Demonís Souls.
And the bosses donít kill you instantly, you have time to figure them out, but the challenge comes in executing that plan, not by catching you with your breeches down.

I guess there is something about this type of game design that was quite common in older games that Iím actually happy to see the back of and to see it return and be heralded as the best games this generation confounds me slightly.
The only way I understand it is that it is a poke in the eye to hand holding that is depressingly common in todayís games, but I just canít shake the feeling Demonís Souls is not the true answer.
Playing Demonís Souls can be like trying to scoff down a vindaloo which is so hot the restaurant calls the local press round whenever someone tackles it and King Crimson are playing some freestyle jazz to accompany the eating. Itís certainly a challenge, but itís not fine dining. God Hand is fine dining.

Still, these thoughts are from someone whoís just put ten hours in the game so far, but I put the phone down mid argument on the leech boss after stomping on the Armoured Spider. Maybe my opinion can be changed.   read


8:15 AM on 02.26.2012

Games of 2012: Donkey Kong Country Returns - The Value of the Platformer

You canít help but think of the perceived value of games while playing a platformer. While Donkey Kong Country Returns didnít suffer so much when it came to sales the genre is often relegated down to something that isnít worth anyoneís time unless itís half the price as most other retail games, if internet chatter is anything to go by.
Playing DKCR has made me have a look at the gameplay that a platformer has that has given it this reputation as nothing but a budget genre.



First off Iíll give some impressions of DKCR. One of the most important elements that make up a great platform game is level design and Retro Studios really did something special in that area. Levels take Donkey Kongís abilities and expect you to use them to extreme measures to complete a level, especially in the latter sections of the game where you think it canít get any harder yet it thinks up more devious obstacles for you to try and conquer. The hidden bonus levels also require perfect traversal that will mostly have you shouting at the TV. But even on easier levels hidden collectables are craftily hidden. Scouring the environments can be tricky in itself.

The other element that makes a great platform game is character control. I donít find it immensely satisfying it DKCR if Iím honest. I understand you play as a large Ape but that weighty, clunky-ness made it more frustrating than it needed to be sometimes. Maybe after playing the likes of Ms. ĎSplosion Man, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Meat Boy I became accustomed to tighter character control, so DKCRís heavier and less accurate movements were an occasional annoyance.
I also felt the higher bounce off the heads of enemies required an odd timing which Iím nolt sure I ever comfortably got the hang of and caused some deaths where that mechanic was needed to get past certain sections of the game.

I only have one final thing to say before I move on to the gameís, and genre as a wholeís value and itís that Donkey Kong Country Returns doesnít have that Nintendo magic which I believe that new Super Mario Bros. Wii does have. That probably means nothing to anyone who isnít a fan of Nintendoís work, it may even mean nothing to someone who is, but itís a hard thing to articulate. It just lacks that joy that seems to resonate through the screen that most first party Nintendo games; perhaps it lacks something in the animation, art design or whatever, some little quirk.
Itís not a big deal, as itís still a great game and one I think Iím being overly down on. Perhaps because the last Donkey Kong game I played was Jungle Beat and that game is such a great example of fun, quirky and excellent design. It also looked nicer in my opinion.



So we get to the point of discussion that is value, the worth of the platformer. This is purely coincidence but while I write this Iím listening to David Jaffe talk to Jim Sterling about how Rayman: Origins is one of his favourite games of 2011 yet he doesnít think itís worth $60 (among many other things). This attitude is confounding me quite a bit. Now Iíve not played Rayman yet, Iím a little behind, but I hope to. But from my understanding from others this game contains a decent amount of content; it terms of play time and secrets to unlock so why is Rayman as de-valued as Jaffeís own God of War?

I feel I should point out Iím not having a go at Jaffe, I happen to like him a lot but what he was saying recently ties to what I want to talk about here.



While playing DKCR and knowing I was going to write this blog I did try and think of why the platform genreís gameplay is worth less than most other genres. I donít want to compare them to say the FPS or any other shooter as they do tend to have a multiplayer portion to them that give them hundreds of hourís worth of gameplay, but I do want to compare them to a single player campaign in one of these games. I also want to look at the character action game.

By the end of the game, and reminiscing about other platformers I canít think of a reason to why this genre has little value. They are more challenging than the average game and often make you sit at the edge of youíre seat while you try and traverse one of many, many levels and also require complete mastery of controlling your character. Learning the arc of your jumps, dealing with inertia and how each enemy responds.
There is so much to think about, just as much as God of War or Bayonetta, just as much depth in design; just as much intensity as a shoot out in Call of Duty.



Maybe indie games have ruined it lately, what with making excellent downloadable platformers for £10/$15 or less: Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Ms. ĎSplosion Man again and many others. And as great as all these games are, I adore each one; they are all based around just a few mechanics, but executed brilliantly. A full retail game, however, like NSMBW, has so much more content. And not just more levels, but more mechanics. Just think of the suits and power ups in all the Mario games that make each level a totally new experience. Super Mario Galaxy even manages to mix up the very same level to something new by altering some mechanics.
This just hasnít really been seen in the downloadable yet looking at them it seems like you can get the same experience from a full retail game. In a sense you can, but relegating the platformer to just small scale games doesnít do the genre the justice it deserves, or let it reach its potential.

So, to me, the platformer has just as much worth as other genres. But maybe the question we should be asking is Ďare the full retail games as a whole worth £40/$60?í
I just hate to see a certain genre singled out when other genres arenít as complex and worthy as people assume, as it seems to me at least.

Anyway, Donkey Kong Country Returns. While not the best platformer on the market itís still better, cleverer and more fun than anyone who hasnít played it thinks it is.   read


3:48 PM on 01.23.2012

Games of 2012: Mass Effect 2 - The Road to Mass Effect 3

Weíre drawing close to the release of what may be the finest game of 2012. Much like how Mass Effect 2 was released early in the year yet still managed to be many peopleís game of the year despite the impressive competition that would follow, we have another year with a Mass Effect game released in the first quarter. Will the same happen again? Maybe, who knows! To me, that very well could be the case as much as I donít really want it to be.

Oh, and the following may have potential plot spoilers.

Let me be honest with all you early on. Iím usually into pretty weird games and enjoy the sensation of dropping an obscure game in a conversation amongst friends to keep them quiet while I explain why itís so often. I have a brief sense of coolness before they call me a loser and/or a wanker, and rightly so, and then push the conversation to more normal games. But Mass Effect is my connection to the masses. There are a lot of popular games I like, but very few of them I love; but Mass Effect is a series I love.



In preparation to Mass Effect 3 I decided to go through both games again and set up an alternative story to the one I have already set in motion. In the case of Mass Effect 2 I also had all the DLC bought during sales that Iíd yet to go through. On top of that Iím reading the three novels, too. Iím halfway through the third one. Theyíre okay; real trashy and noticeably written to a strict deadline but they have some nice touches and I love the universe so Iím nicely entertained by them.
So Iím pretty in touch with the series to really enjoy ME3.

The original Mass Effect I finally saw the end of last year after playing it on and off for over six months. Thatís not a game Iíd recommend anyone go back to, itís quite a mess. It made me kind of sad that a game that means a lot to me is quite unplayable now. It always had its numerous faults: the loose and unsatisfying combat, the repetitive side-quests and environments, the graphical bugs, those uncomfortably long elevator rides, the list goes on. But it didnít matter at the time because it is such a rich universe to take in. Iíd walk around the Citadel talking to anyone whoíd listen, like an attention starved old man, just to hear their stories and if I could help in some way. I liked to take these stories and apply my own ideals and morals to them that would change the trajectory of the story slightly; I liked leaving my mark on this space opera. I also liked seeing if I could do 360 degree spins in the Mako while airborne.
Since Iíve gone through Mass Effect so many times the experienced is faded, familiar and the gameplay alone just doesnít stand up now.



But enough about the original; I want this to be about Mass Effect 2. Itís safe to say the action parts of the game hold up better than ME. Itís not the most satisfying third person shooting and will never hold a candle to games dedicated to that genre but itís quite a fun attempt at it. Both my ME2 play throughs were with using a Shepard that used biotics: one a full blown adept and the second a vanguard. I had more fun as an adept with the range of biotic powers you can use; lifting, flinging and warping the poor souls that would oppose me, though thatís not to say the charge plus shotgun combo wasnít fun to use as a vanguard. Itís these little touches that make it fun, I couldnít imagine playing ME2 as a straight soldier.

This is a Bioware game so the main attraction is the story and the characters, though in this game there isnít much story. Some bad stuff is going down at the Omega relay, so go deal with it. Thatís pretty much it. This is why I like ME2, it has a conventional video game type plot but where it shines is in the characters. Love them or hate them, they will get some kind of emotion out of youÖ apart fromÖ Gary? Andy?.. Michael? You know, the one who looks like Kanye West? I could look his name up but this makes my point; heís very forgettable.
I really like the focus not on a crusade to save the universe but primarily to convince a varied bunch of characters to come on a mission they very may not come back from. In trying to gain their loyalty you end up getting involved with them on a personal level. Saving the universe is obviously a noble act but itís just something I canít properly conceive in reality, the universe is a massive thing, but the small problems the crew have that need to be dealt with to gain their trust are more relatable; something I can conceive more.

Iíd like to see more games that are more low key and personal. Persona 4 is another favourite of mine and I like it for similar reasons; itís about exploring the anxieties of people. And Chibi-Robo, a quirky adventure about helping a family through rough domestic patch. Theyíre all weirdly, cosy little worlds to be part of.



But back to ME2, though. Reading the novels along with playing really gave me a different stance on Cerberus. They were nasty people in the first game but were depicted to be morally grey in the sequel and when I played it first I was won over by them. I figured what they did was a little wrong but Ďfor the greater goodí like the Illusive Man often says; I thought he had a point regarding all the questionably ethical things you do. But all of ME2 is from their perspective so give real credit for the gameís writers to pull that off, to draw you into the world and blinker you to situations that are plain to see. After reading the novels you really see them for what they are and not at all worthy of sympathy. The whole universe is impressively constructed.

Oh, and one final thing. I still didnít manage to do the final mission with no-one dieing. Miranda and Legion ate it the first time and Samara croaked on my second go. I really donít know what Iím doing wrong. Maybe a third attempt is due.

So Iím looking forward to where me story ends with Mass Effect 3. Roll on March!   read


7:32 AM on 01.20.2012

So... Resident Evil 6?

So the Resident Evil 6 trailer showed up last night on a number of sites and as I turned off the computer and tucked myself in bed I found myself thinking about the series a lot. I thought about the original and how that scene from the Hunterís perspective terrified me to the core, I thought about how Resident Evil 2 is likely the game I completed the most times and so on. Now, I wouldnít call myself the biggest Resident Evil fan. Iíve certainly had fun with the series, a lot of fun, but after seeing the trailer it has gone from a game I had little interest in to one of my most anticipated of 2012, and Iím not sure how it happened.



What makes my sudden excitement in RE6 weird to me is I didnít like the little of what I played of RE5. Granted, I just played the demo and I know I should never judge a game solely on that like I did with Batman: Arkham Asylum. I didnít like that gameís demo too and totally wrote it off but someone bought it for me as a present and it only took an hour or so with the full game and I felt like an absolute boob. Batman: AA is awesome. So RE5 could still be great but I think it was more the idea of having to play it co-operatively. I know you donít have to but still having an AI partner using up all the ammo and generally being something that clings to the back of your mind isnít how I want to play Resident Evil.
I do enjoy playing games in co-op, Iím not inherently against doing it: Halo, Gears of War and currently Resistance 3 are games I enjoy playing co-op, maybe even more so than alone but I just never wanted to do that in Resident Evil. I wish I could explain why, but I canít; it just feels wrong. I donít want to do it.

It has been mentioned that RE6 will also feature co-op, which is great as I know a few people who loved playing RE5 that way but when it comes to RE6 I just hope itís separate for those who want it, and I think that will be the case as Leonís parts in the trailer looks like it will be single player. Speaking of Leon, isnít his jacket sweet? Thatís probably my favourite thing in the trailer. I want to find one for myself and Iíll be the coolest guy down the farmerís market, I know it.
And youíve got that new guy going full on MMA on the zombies which is one of the most brilliantly stupid things Iíve ever seen. I think overall thatís what Resident Evil 6 is; brilliantly dumb.



But there is an elephant in the room which needs to be addressed; itís hardily the traditional Resident Evil game that a lot of people are yeaning for. The survival horror genre is something that isnít quite what it used to be. Apart from indie games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent itís something we donít see anymore which is a shame, itís always sad when an interesting genre ceases to exist anymore, and seeing survival horrorís poster boy, Resident Evil, turn into a monster slaying action game doesnít appear to be a positive thing as we do have plenty of those already.
I donít know why the slow and intense horror game fell out of favour. I donít believe it was because of the direction Resident Evil 4 went in. Iím not going to be mad at that game, itís impossible to be. Yes, it was the first game to turn the series to what it is now but it was just so, so good at it. If Resident Evil 4 wasnít one of the greatest action games ever crafted and it became popular then Iíd be mad, but unfortunately, it is one of the greatest action games ever, so Iím not.
There is a gap in the market for a survival horror game and Iíd love to see someone fill it, but Iíve long stopped to expect another Resident Evil game to be the one fill it.
Resident Evil 0 was the last game that had the traditional formula and that was nearly ten years ago now; Resident Evil isnít that thing anymore, and hasnít been for some time.



But that gap maybe filled! Resident Evil: Revelations, from what Iíve heard seems to be doing that, so purists are covered, right? I think weíre really spoiled sometimes. But it does raise the question with regards to Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City. The question is: whatís the point?
This is a game I really couldnít care less about and its existence is only apparent to me because I have a friend who brings it up from time to time. I dunno, Iím probably going to sound like a complete weeaboo but there is a slight weirdness to Japanese games even when theyíre trying so hard to be western. Even in the RE6 trailer you have a zombie president and a man going full on CQC on the other zombies, and punching them in the face. Itís a western looking game but slightly skewed and off kilter. I donít get that from Operation Racoon City. I just get a Resident Evil game through the eyes that brought us the borefest that is SOCOM.

So, Resident Evil 6! Iím excited by it. I miss the old style horror as much as anyone who was playing them around that time but I canít be upset by something that, potentially, could be so much fun in its own right.
And I think I should give RE5 a chance before this hits in November. Day one!

For the record, I wanted to have the trailer in the blog but I couldn't figure it out... Here's a link if you haven't seen it for whatever reason - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS_bGpe9qE8   read


3:23 PM on 01.12.2012

Games of 2012: Red Steel 2

Now I know many of you are seeing that this is about Red Steel 2; a game that most donít give two pointless thoughts about, but hear me out. This game made me realise some deep thoughts. Thoughts that undermine modern game conventions and I know you love that! So let me tell you a tale about Red Steel 2.



Cast your mind back to E3 2009. You know, the time when the rather lovely and professionally enthusiastic Cammie Dunaway died onstage before a bunch of practically useless bros who were fortunate enough to become game journalists sneered at her. Yeah, that time.
This was the game that would prove, to the Ďhardcoreí gamer that motion controls were a thing, a thing to be excited about; a thing that justifies motion controls as something beyondÖ I dunnoÖ dancing, sort of. I think Ubisoft kind of pulled it off with Red Steel 2, and I stress, kind of.

I have this horrible habit when Iím playing a game. I sometimes try to get into the developers mind set, which I hate! I just want to enjoy these things for what they are but when an FPS with a mission to bring a Ďhardcoreí game experience to the Wii I canít help but examine more than I usually would. But in forcing myself to examine this rather throw away title it has made me look at games a little differently.

Iíve rambled too much so Iíll hit you with a point. Red Steel 2 does a wonderful thing. All of that cool stuff, all of the stuff that makes you feel good, all of that action is done by you!
You maybe reading this thinking Ďsay wha!? I always be doiní what I be doiní in gameí but I just want to serve up some food for thought. We are in an era now when spectacle, spectacle that has little to do with the person with the controller in their hand. Itís a type of spectacle that is fantastic to view but doesnít push interactivity as far as it could, which is the true potential of gaming. Iíve lost count of the amount of games Iíve sat through a cut scene wishing the game gave me the opportunity to play that section out myself. As much as I love Vanquish, itís a game that is awfully guilty of it and at the start; Red Steel 2 is guilty of it, too.



The intro has you being tied to the back of a speeding motorcycle, getting dragged and slammed into a manner of nasty and mostly hard things. A few minutes later you find out that you are the last of an incredibly deadly clan. Why they didnít just kill you effectively I donít know but letís just roll with it. Letís just roll with the Asian folks living in a kind of future Wild West, with their American southern accents. Why not, why not!?
But the rest of the time Red Steel 2ís gameplay and nothing else is the piece that impresses. There have been times during games like Call of Duty, Uncharted or Gears of War where gameplay, while satisfying, sometimes have a part where a building falls down and you have to avoid it or a vehicle section that has trucks flipping and cars exploding but the whole scenario feels quite uncanny; like you donít have a lot to do with it or not or feeling your actions donít quite effect the game. Red Steel 2 on the other hand feels really involving, if anything, because every slice of the sword, every combo or every finisher isnít something predetermined. It all feels off the cuff and unpredictable, but on screen it looks as impressive as a set piece would. But because Iím in control it feels more satisfying.

Itís weird that few action games feel like that. Itís like they have this solid core gameplay and then go impress you with scenarios outside of that. Itís almost as if the core gameplay is something to keep you occupied while it conjures up some dazzling set piece for later.
Iíd even go out to say that in a game that is pretty high octane the motion controls add to it. Especially after fighting four tough bastards and the last one is knocked to the floor; you hit A twice to leap in the air and thrust the Wii remote down to finish him. If youíre not too fit, than that fight will have you a little tired and that final thrust feels good. You take a deep breath and go to the next area.



I really like the core gameplay of Red Steel 2. Itís always fun. What isnít great, though, is the way the game progresses: Go here, kill dudes, find 3 communication towers, and blow up 10 trucks. Go to the next area: Go here, blow up 5 barrels, find 4 communications towers, and kill this guy.
That goes on throughout the game and Iím not even sure why Iím doing these lame missions. Itís like Bioshock never happened. I kept listening to the dialogue for a Ďwould you kindlyí type phrase to explain these missions. But no, itís just poor design. Itís only the swordplay that keeps you going as the story and the context for the game is so loose, like itís just a reason for fights to happen. It reminds me of the type of horrible brute you can bump into in a bar who will come up with the most convoluted way to be threatening and get a fight out of youÖ well, people like that and also thugs out of the Yakuza games. Theyíre dicks, too.

With all that said, this is hardily the only game to do this and Iím sure there are far, far better examples but I just want to give credit where it is due to Red Steel 2. Itís a fun action game that doesnít rely on too many tricks and earnestly shows why I play videogames when I sometimes find myself wondering why. It wonít be going anywhere near my favourite games ever list but I doth my cap to you, Red Steel 2. I doth my cap.   read


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