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6:27 PM on 10.03.2010

The God of War experience in a nutshell:

I played GoW for the first time in my life. Shit got real when I reached the Temple of Pandora. I *was* occasionally frustrated before, but...

- fuck Poseidon's underwater bullshit challenge

- fuck the spinning blades of Hades' challenge. And fuck the camera. Where's the fun in this kind of puzzles? You can't see where you're going! It's just trial and fucking error and it doesn't make any goddamn sense. I realise most of the stuff that happens in GoW doesn't make sense, but these puzzles don't make any sense even more.

- fuck the Minotaur. Easiest boss ever UNTIL THE FUCKING MINIGAME. I cheesed my way through the gorgons, almost always avoiding the rotate-the-left-stick minigame because it's fucking impossible. But this shitty boss requires you to rotate the fucking stick for about a hundred fucking times. And it always changes the direction. And there are four icons FOR THE SAME FUCKING ACTION. Four different prompts for Rotate Left, four for Rotate Right. I either got confused or the game claimed I wasn't rotating the stick. I grabbed the fucking stick with my hand and rotated the shit out of it again and again for an eternity until I defeated this idiotic boss.
If I were Kratos, I would've left right then and there. Fuck Athens, fuck my nightmares and fuck the gods.
And no, there's nothing wrong with my left stick. It's a brand new controller for a brand new PS3 and works perfectly fine. I'm just almost incapable of completing this shitty minigame. Why isn't there an alternative for such things? You know how the game recommends an easier difficulty if you die often? Common sense dictates that when you fail a QTE for a hundred billion times, the game should FUCKING CHANGE IT TO ANOTHER ONE.

- fuck the backtracking. I couldn't believe I have to travel back and forth so much at the Cliffs of Madness.

- fuck Hades.
I heard about certain... blades of Hades that ruin the game. I thought they were those in the temple.
And then I found the rotating beams with blades on top of them. Yup, those must be the outrageous challenge...
Needless to say, I died a lot. Again, trial and error avoiding hitboxes the size of fucking Olympus. I got to some chests with red orbs... thinking that's the exit path. They gave me about 3000 orbs. Then I died. And took the other path. It simply ain't fucking worth it to try and get those orbs and make it out alive.

- but once again, the gods spread the cheeks to ram cock in fucking ass! I got to the spiked column.
I cant take it anymore. You touch one pixel - even the fucking bottom of a blade - and fall all the way down. That's where I ragequitted. And then I learned there's a second column.

Fuck this shit. It's not worth it. I love the cheesy visual design. I love stuff like the sirens in the desert or the first time you see Ares. I like the combat. I like most puzzles and platforming. I like the story and the presentation. But above all, I like my sanity. I'm not a masochist. I can't play this fucking game anymore. This is not good design. This isn't a challenging level. This is shit.

I'm not going to play the other games in the series. The God of War Collection is the first PS3 item I'm going to sell. And I wasn't planning on selling anything, but I want my fucking money back. No, where I live we can't rent games.
I also bought Dante's Inferno. I liked that game's demo more than GoW 3's demo, and for some reason I was always interested in it since it was announced. I have to satisfy my curiosity, you know... Hopefully it won't make me rage quit too.   read

8:34 AM on 09.14.2009

*hugs Far Cry 2* I love you :(

I'm seriously pissed off by Far Cry 2 bashing. It's not a perfect game, but for fuck's sake, most gamers act like it's Turning Point or something!

So here's a rant. Please excuse the (again) disjointed ideas and the grammer, I'm cobbling it together from a few angry forum posts I made or wanted to make these days. And keep in mind that I'm a Crysis and Stalker fanboy.

With all its faults, Far Cry 2 is a much better sandbox experience than Crysis (which yes, counts as a sandbox since it allows so much freedom and gives you so many toys), and in some ways even better than Stalker's random madness. It doesn't reach Stalker's cult status because it's not cool to like a game from a major publisher.

Above: Not Cool.

They're not even gamebreaking faults - seriously, who cares that the convoy runs in circles? How is it different from Warhead's hovercraft pursuit? Are you not employing the same tactics in taking it down as if it would've just went across the map? Seriously, all I see when someone bashes Far Cry 2 is that the roads are empty, yet they're pissed when they meet another car. I see people acting like they have to fight at checkpoints and they have to pull over jeeps. They have to destroy the jeeps and then they have to repair their car. They have to drive on the exact same route every bloody time. These people only play the game to finish it, to hang another trophy to their gamer belt. If you don't experiment with the world, if you don't take advantage of the sandbox environment, if all you do is ticking off the missions on your agenda, ignoring 80% of the surrounding area, and then you start bashing the game because it's not varied - then your opinion is worthless. It's like driving in the opposite direction in a racing game - sure, you analyse the graphics and get a taste of the driving. But you're defeating the purpose of the game, you're acting against it.

Some of the complaints are contradictory. You drive too much? Well that's why there are so many checkpoints! You can blast your way through them, you can engage in Mad Max style car combat, or you can plan an assault.

Oh but then you fight at every checkpoint! This is a shooter, what else are you supposed to do? What, you want civilians and neutral factions? Sure, theyíre cool. But hereís the catch: creating a hybrid game, like Stalker, was the easy way out. There are already enough of those games. Far Cry 2 is a beast of its own, a pure shooter set in a world built for something else. It's a world that feels real, yet it doesn't act accordingly. Hence an effect that can be best described as the uncanny valley. Some people donít get over this effect, and I pity them. I don't understand why they just can't accept that only the leaders of the faction know you're working for them. You're like the goddamn Batman in Nolan's movies, everybody's against you! Why is this so hard to accept?

Itís not lazyness, and itís not the famous Bethesda syndrome either. If youíre wondering what the syndrome is, hereís the explanation: Bethesda (or others) makes a game that fails as both an action game and as an RPG. When someone says damn, the shooting sucks ass!, Bethesda answers Ė yes but you see, this isnít a shooter! It doesnít matter youíre shooting someone from 30 centimeters and you donít hit! When someone tries to argue that the RPG portion is downright broken, Bethesda says Ė yes, but this is an action game! It doesnít matter the stats are completely fucked up!

Just sayin'.

In Far Cry 2ís case, itís not lazyness simply because the amount of work and details put in the game is incredible. You canít deny that. The world WORKS. Itís real. TIA, as Danny Archer would say. You think they implemented the idle AI behaviour, the weather system and an economy and then didnít took it one step further because theyíre lazy? Thatís just stupid.

Itís not affected by the Bethesda syndrome because everything simply works, despite what the uncanny valley tells you. The world works, the combat works, moving from point A to point B works. Itís a rock-solid effort all across the board.

Ubisoft was right when it said that Far Cry has three main hooks: driving, shooting and flying. I admit the flying is a bit broken - but my God, what a pleasure it is to feel the wind rushing past your ears, to raise above the jungle or the savannah... and then to fall like a very concerned brick, because you'll land right on top of an unsuspecting enemy jeep.

I see everybody focusing on the sometimes stupid AI. How is that affecting the visceral combat? It's so raw, so filled with energy! It's a beautiful, chaotic mess. The brutal act of pulling bullets out of your wounds and cauterizing them with a bunch of matches brings the delicios cartoon logic of 1980s movies to life. This is the game you wanted to play when you watched Rambo 2: a perfect mix of tactics and butchery. I never get tired of planning my missions, and I love it when everything goes wrong and I must improvise.

Also, I don't need a storyline for going medieval on someone's ass, only a context - and the context, the background story, is good. The actual story - I write it. The missions may be a bit similar, but various elements Ė like the time of the day (that affects enemy behaviour) or the incredible freedom to approach them Ė create a very unique experience, a lot like Stalkerís randomness. Not to mention that the buddy system is absolutely brilliant. Have you ever had to choose between shooting or saving your friend after, or in, or even before a new fight?
I see a lot of people wanting Valve-style scripted events - they pretend they don't see the barge, the greenhouse crash, the giant cargo plane, the militia mortars, the train and so on.

Far Cry 2 loses one mark for the outrageous lack of Arnold Vosloo.

As a sandbox game, itís sometimes better than Stalker. Iíll use the diamonds to prove my point. A lot of people are complaining about the diamonds, acting like it's the equivalent of banging your head in a brick and collecting a gold coin. But I don't see too many noticing the small, implicit stories that acompany them. Someone had a plane accident. A car was pulled off and the driver was executed. Someone else hid the case in a small cave and carefully masked its location. This attention to details is something thatís missing from Stalker. I love Stalker. I know they nailed the atmosphere perfectly, I live in a similar environment (minus bloodsuckers Ė we only have the old fashioned suckers here). But, like almost everything coming from the Eastern Bloc, itís massive, impressive, awe-inspiring... and itís missing details - Call of Prypiat says it'll fix this though. The little stories Ubisoftís code monkeys created add so much to the overall feel of Far Cry 2! The best part about it is that they have the common sense to not shove every little detail down your throat. Subtlety is wonderful, as long as you notice it. But ĄpowerlevelingĒ through the game instead of just dicking around doesnít allow players to notice it Ė hence a lot of the bad word of mouth.

So many people complain about the lack of variety in the environments! I rarely see anyone mentioning the various areas that are basically standalone levels, like the Polytechnic, the Postal Office, the Airport, the Shantytown, the Fort and so many others. You can't drive 5 minutes without stumbling upon such a location! I don't see anyone praising the little details of this world. Instead I see a lot of gamers taking the fantastic world of Far Cry 2 for granted, without appreciating the titanic amount of work put into it. And a lot utter this phrase: itís the perfect example of graphics over gameplay.

This is bullshit.

Graphics are gameplay in most games of today. Imagine Far Cry 2 in Trespasser clothes. In Source clothes. No fire propagation (which is just as important as the physics of Crysis), no weather system, no shadows, no bullet penetration... How come so many people always separate graphics and atmosphere from gameplay is a mistery to me. Some games simply don't work without proper support, and this one is one of them. I know it, I played about 15 hours on a system that only met the minimum requirements. When I finally afforded a new system, I was amazed. Instantly immersed. Something was missing from my minimalistic Far Cry 2! It was like playing Mario rendered in ASCII Ė sure, the idea and the basic gameplay is the same, but Iíll be damned if it doesnít suck ass compared to the original happy, colourful Mario. I appreciate that Far Cry 2 works on lame-ass systems, but Iím telling you: it looks like a big bowl of pudding and the whole atmosphere is thrown right out the window. All that remains is the basic shooting and driving. The game was designed as an experience, and it only works when all the elements come together.

An intense and atmospheric combat scene in Far Cry 1998.

You see, every time I start Far Cry 2, it's like I'm travelling to Africa. I'd even say that the best part of the game is simply wandering around, and the combat is just for spicing it up. I boot the game very often, even for only 15 minutes. I simply don't care about respawning checkpoints or weird economy. These are the same kind of features that so many hermits accepted in Stalker Ė annoying, strange bits that somehow grow on you and you come to accept as natural. You donít have to turn off your brain to enjoy it, this is not fucking G.I. Joe. You have to accept the rules of the game. If you donít, then your brain is already shut off.

With the exception of destructible environments (seriously, wtf happened to them?), Ubisoft delivered everything that it promised. But again, gamers hyped themselves for an imaginary game and then got angry when reality didn't live up to the fantasy.

Some game developers ask themselves: how can we make this game realistic? And the end result is usually an empty shell like GTA4, that receives praise from the same type of people that treat Far Cry 2 superficially and transform it into a linear experience.

Other ask how can we make this game fun? And they create an outrageous masterpiece like Prototype or Saints Row 2 - hated by the people mentioned above.

Ubisoft asked itself how can it make the game both realistic and completely balls-to-the-wall insane. Itís an experiment that succeeded.

Ubisoft usually makes sequels that although feel familiar, theyíre quite different. Judging by the example of Assassinís Creed 2, Far Cry 3 will be a much improved game. Iím very curious to see it.

Iím also hyped for the next game built on the Dunia engine, Avatar. It looks a bit mediocre, but so did Far Cry 2 Ė it looked like a goreless Soldier of Fortune, actually. I think thereís no such thing as a Ąmovie-based game curseĒ. Shit games like Transformers are made with no budget, in two months by anonymous devs. Riddick, Wolverine and even King Kong proved that if thereís will, the games will be at least good. I have faith in Avatar.   read

12:00 PM on 07.17.2009

Disjointed rant about special editions: It's not about the goggles, people

Itís about what they represent.
I woke up early in the morning a few days ago (that is, around 2 PM) and started the daily ritual of reading gaming news.
Thereís some news about the Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition Ė night vision goggles! Iím like, whoa, thatís one of the coolest bundles ever!
So I start reading further down the page, eagerly anticipating the positive response of the community (right click - view image to see them in glorious full size).

Pictured: the positive response of the community.

Wait, what?

I spent about two hours reading about these goggles on various sites and forums. Obviously, there were some people thinking this is a cool idea, but most posts were something along the lines of: Who would want to spend so much on a shitty device that wonít work? *insert two paragraphs about NVG goggles price and technology* Activision sucks, gamers are cunts, whoever buys this is a 15 year old retard. Also, cocks.

Holy shit, looks like the Syndrome of the Mature Gamer strikes again!

Now, the goggles certainly work. My guess is they have IR LEDs (like those in the security cameras) and also require a bit of ambient light (moonlight, for example). This is very cheap, you can actually salvage an old digital video camera and build such a device. Itís obviously primitive, circa 1960's tech, but itís a fun toy.

Captain Obvious wakes up from cryo-sleep and stumbles upon capitalism

Most people seem to expect... no, demand goddamn Gen3 goggles, that are 1) more expensive than my house and 2) banned for civilians in a lot of countries. And there are some that feel downright insulted by the addition of such a toy in the super-duper edition:

Contrary to popular belief, testicles are actually intelligent nuggets!

It's not about the goggles, it's about what they represent. Activision doesn't demand anyone to buy this Prestige edition, so why do some people feel insulted? Why do they scream that Activision is milking fans?

Activision ins't milking them, it's actually giving them a fantastic treat. You'd have to be stupid not to realise the connection between this toy and Modern Warfare - since the first MW was revealed, night vision is the motif of the series. The green glow and the Ąsound" are plastered all over the games and the related media. The goggles themselves are COD branded.

What matters for those who buy them isn't their functionality, but what they symbolise. They're a tangible part of the COD universe, a step above the virtual spectacle fans love. Everybody feels the need to have such a link Ė an autograph or an action figure fulfills the same role. From a psychological standpoint, collecting such items triggers fond memories.

In the case of virtual entertainment (including movies and music), these items also relieve a certain sense of incompletion; when you take a picture during your holiday in Hawaii, it's not the same thing. You've actually physically experienced the trip, so the photo only triggers the pleasant memories. When you watch a movie or play a game the experience may be awe-inspiring, but on a physical level it's definately incomplete.

That's just the way humans work Ė we need to physically feel the world around us. That's why James Cameron's Avatar has such a profound impact: the photorealistic 3D is one step closer to making you feel like you're really there.

Anyway, what bothers me is what people expect from the contents of such a box.

Let's analyse some special editions.

Halo 3, Legendary Edition. Ships with a Master Chief helmet that acts as some sort of badass cover for the game (you extract the discs from MC's head!). Bungie pointed out from the very beginning that the helmet is basically just a very cool looking box, but a lot of people don't care. They want to wear the helmet.

Their demands are pointless. Sure, it would be cool to wear a MC helmet. But being pissed that you can't when this product was never intented to be used like this is stupid. Just think about it. You know what you buy Ė why are you criticising it then? It's like buying a car without air conditioner and then being upset you didn't receive one.

You may also notice a sad contradiction: people want to wear the helmet, yet complain that you can use the MW2 goggles instead of just hanging them on that plastic head.


Anno 1404, Collector's Edition. This one comes in a fantastic wooden chest, it has a totally awesome old-fashioned compass, a poster, a book, a bonus DVD and a linen sack with almond seeds.

People somehow complain about this package, because of the seeds Ė they're stupid and pointless.

Well, I think they're a perfect addition to the rest of the package. Anno 1404 is about the contact between the Occident and the Orient. Almonds were a precious and exotic trade resource. They perfectly fit the theme of the game and its fundamental principles Ė trade, exploration, discovery, exotism. And they also come in a little bag that looks like it was made in 1404.

Seriously, it bothers me that people don't actually think about such items. Or better said, they don't think about their meaning, but about a way to physically use them. Spiritual, abstract signification isn't valued anymore in the modern society.


So here's a collector's edition that seems downright moronic: the Mark of Chaos Collector's Edition. Eurogamer's Alec Meer spent two paragraphs making fun of it (after he complains that an enemy unit constantly throws axes despite not having a bag of them, probably not realising he's reviewing a Warhammer game).

This package contains a bunch of goodies and three sheets of blank white cradboard with holes in them.

This is where you're like WTF. But these sheets of cardboard are an amusing reference to the Warhammer miniatures Ė you have to paint them and treat them like jewelry or something. It's a little piece of Warhammer lore and a semi-serious easter egg. I guess for many people it's hard to understand this, but chances are that if you play MoC, a pretty obscure strategy game, you already know a thing or two about this universe. If you do, the cardboard sheets don't seem that stupid anymore. And anyway, only Warhammer fans would buy this edition of the game.

Complaining about the cardboards is like complaining that you must paint your miniatures. It's stupid, I don't even have to explain it further.

You know, fans would never complain about the content of a collector's edition. They understand the symbolic meaning of the contents. It's sad that non-fans attack them, and it's even sadder when they are downright offended by the contents of these boxes.

The most used argument is ĄI don't need item X! Why are they selling it?".

News flash: you don't need the game either. They're all toys and games. They float somewhere high above Maslow's pyramid (and yes, I know this hierarchy is outdated).

Anyway, let's end this with the greatest Limited Edition ever, the Stalker: Clear Sky Russian LE...

That blue ball is "an artifact", I think it's a keychain. The lighter is a custom metallic Zippo (I think ARMA2's CE has one as well), there's a dog tag, textile patches for military (or not) clothes, a map, two bandanas and a bonus disk. It's 100 dollars on Ebay and 1000 roubles in Russia, which Google says it's the equivalent of 30 dollars.

I don't think I have to explain the references to the military atmosphere of Stalker.   read

5:49 PM on 07.14.2009

Morality in sandbox games

Let's discuss this topic using four games as examples and minor spoilers:

1. Assassin's Creed - the moral game
2. Saints Row 2 - the imoral game
3. Prototype - the amoral game
4. GTA 4 - the game that tries to be moral, imoral and amoral at the same time, and ends up being a mess

1. Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed is a lovely adventure set during the Third Crusade. It takes place just a few years after the Kingdom of Heaven movie, in August 1191 - between the Siege of Acre and the Battle of Arsuf.
You play as Altair, a member of the sect of the Assassins, which has to kill 9 personalities in Acre, Jerusalem and Damascus. The game presents the same pop-history view of the past as Kingdom of Heaven, mixed with a heavy dose of Dan Brown.
The catch is that one of Altair's descendants, Desmond, is kidnapped by Abstergo Industries and forced to relive his ancestor's memories through a device called Animus, which allows the reading of genetic memory.

Altair is the best assassin. He's young, arrogant and would do anything to achieve his goals, including disregarding the Assassin's Creed. He fails an important mission, mainly because he breaks all three tenets of the Creed. The leader of the Assassins demotes Altair to the rank of initiate. He can climb back to the top of the hierarchy only if he kills the nine people, key figures in the conflict between the Crusaders and the Saracens.

All these people were actually real (although some had different names) and died around 1191. Their portrayal in the game is partially based on contemporary accounts about them.
Altair is told that these men are evil and must be killed. But during his investigations, he discovers their actions are far more morally ambiguous, and he starts questioning himself, the Assassins and the real motivations of the factions involved in Crusade.

The targets are clearly painted as horrible, evil man. But their last words make Altair unsure about everything. He discusses his doubts with some of his colleagues - but their quick judgement is supposed to make Altair (and the player) even more unsure.

During the game, we witness a change in Altair's attitude and behaviour. At the start, he's pretty much a dick, a very unlikable character - although his elegance and attitude are somewhat fascinating.

You don't have to be a girl to agree he's sexy.

It's funny that so many people complain about the voice actor: he's supposed to portray an arrogant dick, so he sounds like one.
Altair even refuses to help some of the fellow Assassins, but in time everything changes. It's a clever design. He must complete a few secondary missions, rewarded with additional information, before killing his main target. There are more secondary missions available than the required number. What is Altair going to do? Will he help his childhood friend get the lost flags back? Is he going to escort the frightened Assassin out of the city?

There's a clever idea behind the missions: the player that refuses to help these people is basically a dick, like Altair in the beggining. Why won't you destroy the stands of the merchants that sell altered food and are responsible for a few kids' death? If you complete the missions, you witness a subtle change in Altair's personality: he, the arrogant bastard with disregard for anything, agrees to help those weak people he didn't care about before.

If you focus on the main targets, Altair won't appear to change that much. Yes, he'll still doubt. But you won't hear the Assassins' comments about how the mighty Altair has changed. You won't feel like doing a real, palpable good.

Unfortunately it's a half-assed clever design, because this idea of Altair's changing heavily depends on the immersion factor. If a player is immersed in the world of AC, these missions will mean something. If not - well, they're just tedious and without purpose, and here's where the idea gets lost.

So, the game is moral because it asks you to do good deeds and we witness a man's transition from a douchebag to a noble dude. Your actions are supposed to stop the Crusade. The secondary missions are mostly supposed to be helpful for other people.
The morality is further reinforced by a basic punishment/reward system. You are punished for killing innocents, no matter how much they annoy you. On the other hand, it's perfectly reasonable to kill soldiers, portrayed as soulless beasts - and you're rewarded for killing higher ranked soldiers. Helping innocents rewards you too. It's simple, yet effective. And again, a bit half-assed because it's repetitive...

Abstergo and The Templars are the main antagonists. They're the complete opposite of what Altair is fighting for. A very basic good vs evil conflict is presented during the game, and Altair represents the ultimate good. Aristotle's ideas about tragedy, good and evil are all well represented, including the portrayal of all the four possible conflict bewteen good and evil.

This guy was Altair's model. Also, I had to put a picture to make the text easier to read.

2. Saints Row 2

Saints Row 2 is racist, ultraviolent, satiric and intentionally designed in very bad taste. Really, there is no doubt that this game is 100% imoral. It encourages the player to act as the biggest sumbitch in the Universe, doing everything just for the lulz. There's almost no punishment for bad deeds and no reward for good deeds. But there are huge rewards for any bad action. Even driving on the opposite lane is rewarded, and even the simple action of hijacking a car with passengers triggers a delicious and sadistic minigame. All that matters is to help your character become the most powerful man in the city, and in this regard it's a glorious display of Ayn Rand's objectivism.
It's hard to find anything moral about the game. Even the supposedly good characters would be bad guys in another game. It's like playing the gaming version of Bad Boys 2.

/b/'s favourite game.


3. Prototype
You're Alex Mercer. You wake up in a morgue and don't remember anything. You discover you're the strongest character in the history of gaming.
So what do you do? Anything.
There are no clear antagonists, only things that can hurt you: the Army, that created a biological weapon which gradually destroys Manhattan, and the mutants resulted from the contamination. The game world is a hellish version of New York. During the 18 days of the game, you witness horrible abominations taking control over Manhattan. The Army desperately tries to contain the infection, without success. And they hunt you too, for reason which I'm not spoiling.

Mercer wants to find out what's going on with him and get some revenge. But he finds out he's a pariah. It's not clear at all who's your enemy: is the Army entitled to destroy you? Why are the mutants attacking, even though you're one of them? Everybody and everything is painted in shades of grey. The game lets you play it as you like and do what you want, and the obligatory reward system (which is what drives us to play games) doesn't make a clear distinction between good and evil.

Alex Mercer, saving private Ryan.

You can stealth your way through the entire game. On consoles there's an achievement for not killing any civilians.
Or you can use your incredible powers and destroy everything you touch.
There are optional targets, people you find and consume to learn more about the story. But this isn't obligatory. Some targets are obligatory and grant you new skills - like flying a helicopter or using a certain weapon.
But are these people good or bad?

Prototype doesn't tell you. Yeah, the military created that virus and the cutscenes are spooky... but were they right when they created it? Were those experiments good or bad? What happened to Mercer... was it good or bad?
The whole game walks on the middle ground between moral and imoral. It ends up not making any distinction between good and bad. There's no evil and no good to be found here. Your actions are entirely amoral. You're a god among men, and choosing to create chaos or being peacefull have their own set of equal advantages and disadvantages. It's only a matter of preference, and the story never implies that Mercer is following the good path or the evil path, like in KOTOR, inFamous or so many other games. Mercer and the player are simply amoral. The Army and the mutant population are again amoral, it's impossible to decide which one is right and who is wrong.

The side missions reinforce the amorality idea. Some of them are random mayhem. Others are using the brilliant parkour system. Sometimes you help the mutants, in other missions you help the army (and you can do this in the main game too). The best thing about these missions is that they don't represent an anarchic mess, like in Saints Row 2: they're all amoral. Every action is somehow disconected from our views of right and wrong. You don't fight for something good, and you're not an evil guy. The reward is always abstract and never necessary.

Prototype doesn't make any judgement on the matters of good and evil. It leaves all the decisions to the player. It's a completely amoral game, there's no difference between playing a good or bad character and there's no active belief driving Mercer. And unless you're a very sensitive person, there will be no belief leading you either, just a set of objectives that are never clearly good or bad.

Oh dear.


Niko Bellic is a war veteran that moves to Liberty City to live the American Dream, but he ends up getting involved in the mob life.
Maybe because there are two writers, the story never decides what it wants to be.
On one hand, Niko always complains about his life in Ąthe old country" and the horrors he witnessed or was forced to do. He's a traumatised man, which clearly wants to forget his violent past and live a good, honest life.
On the other hand, he immediately accepts any mission and does anything he's required to do. Now, I would understand that he'd do this if the Russian mob would ask it. But 80% of the game is composed of missions received from random douchebags.

Oy, Niko, would you kill 20 people because they own me money? Why, of course!

There's something fundamentally wrong here. The story contradicts itself, and it contradicts the actual gameplay too. Sometimes it feels like it's trying to portray Niko as an amoral character, which is caught up between two worlds (the honest guys and the bad guys), and must do whatever it takes to survive. But this illusion is shattered when Niko offers to kill the boyfriend of the ex-lover of a dude that he met two minutes ago.
It makes absolutely no sense. It's as if Leonardo DiCaprio's character from The Departed would start taking drugs and killing everybody, like the mobsters among whom he lives, while keeping the same dialogue.

Also, it's weird there's no mention of Niko's movie career.

Can a game be moral and imoral at the same time, thus being amoral? No. If you have one foot in a bucket of ice-cold water and the other in hot water, do you feel good and warm overall? Of course not.

So tell me, why is such a self-contradictory story hailed as one of the best ever?

I originally posted it on Gamespot.   read

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