Hey, my name is Travis. I have played vidja games since I was a wee lad, growing up on the N64, followed by the Saturn, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, and lastly, the PSTriples. I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship.
The first trailer for The Force Unleashed 2 was just released not long ago. I watched it and really enjoyed it. It was full of gratuitous lightsaber usage, gratuitous force power usage and gratuitous jedi...ing. It looked amazing, and showed the force, well, unleashed. I mean, the apprentice vaporized the unfortunate Stormtroopers that stood near the radius of his force explosion. That's awesome! Star Wars is awesome! Anticipation and all that! And then it set in.
I recalled the trailers for the first Force Unleashed. I recalled how awesome they were, with a whole Star Destroyer being pulled out of the sky by the sheer will of the apprentice. I recalled the anticipation, and the short Euphoria engine demos that promised revolution. And I recalled the QTEs that transformed what were supposed to be awesome, cinematic, and immersive moments of ultimate force unleash. The disappointment. The repetition. The average game that came in place of these great pre-rendered works of art. It's something that has plagued video games as a whole for a long time. Killzone 2, Final Fantasy both fell prey to this. They weren't bad games, by any means, but they both went through some controversy in the same regard as TFU2.
The Force Unleashed, however, is one of the main offenders. After a couple of hours of gameplay, it became tiresome, and the weight of broken promises pulled the whole thing down. Pre-rendered cutscenes have their place, and they are good to introduce and breakout with a game, but when they are followed up by an undeniably lesser product, things fall apart, fast.
I love The Force Unleashed's trailers for what they are, but as a means of showing off what the game was to be bringing us in the future, I was just left disappointed. And when I see all the anticipation in the comments on this latest trailer, I'm just reminded of the same cycle occurring upon the first game's release. Anticipation, more anticipation, and then disappointment.
So developers, get real with what you're promising. If your game is going to be riddled with QTEs, repetitive fighting systems, and limiting environments, don't show me what you simply can't deliver. So as much as I love the new trailer, I won't be viewing it as a in any way related to, or indicative of the product it is intended to advertise. What place do you feel pre-rendered scenes have in video games? And what do you think about their use, specifically in The Force Unleashed?
It's worth noting that in my playthrough of the first No More Heroes, I was oblivious to Suda 51's insertion of themes and statements on gaming, and gamers themselves. I was awakened to Suda's complexity as a developer after reading a great article that analyzed No More Heroes brilliantly by Cowzilla3 (now the editor Matthew Razak). It drew connections between the blandness of the world surrounding Travis and the way some gamers tend to see the world; hyper-visualizing certain aspects of it and ignoring others. The article was exceptionally well written and a fair amount of work was put into it, and it inspired this one. Being newly aware of Suda's penchant for under the surface messages, I began the second game with open eyes.
No More Heroes 2 delivers a number of interesting insights on gaming today. It stands as a monument to gaming's increasing complexity as a medium for entertainment and a medium for expression. It takes us on a journey from video games' infancy, to it's present.This is where No More Heroes 2 shines, more than anywhere else.
Travis hasn't grown much from the first game and is still the same person that the player left him as in the first game. The promise of sleeping with Sylvia at the end of his climb to the top rank initially inspires him to fight once again, but it is the assassination of his best friend, Bishop, that sends him on his most recent blood-fueled rampage through the rankings.
Bishop had no pivotal role in the first No More Heroes beyond being the owner of a video shop that you may or may not go to throughout the course of game. He never truly interacted with Travis, and didn't seem to have any purpose beyond simply being a shell behind a counter. The decision then to have his murder be a motivational tool to inspire Travis to fight his way through what was potentially five times as many more ranks as the previous No More Heroes seems a bit hamfisted and hardly believable. And this is no accident.
The game outright professes its beginning as simple and little more than an excuse to wield laser swords in Travis' hands once again. This is highly reflective of the beginning of video games.
In Galaga, your mission is simple: shoot, don't get shot, get points. In Dig Dug you play as a character with a hat that is supposed to eliminate monsters from underground. This didn't exactly revolutionize story-telling. The story in these early games receives much less focus than sheer gameplay and a means for simple but effective entertainment. This is precisely where No More Heroes 2 begins. Those guys killed this guy. You knew this guy. Kill those guys. It's simple, and it gives you a reason to play the game. Nothing too deep. But just as gaming progressed beyond simplicity, so does No More Heroes 2.
The story gains depth as monologues by Sylvia begin to add a sense of mystery to the game. Travis begins to value the thrill of a good fight, but more importantly, the honor of a good death. Story takes a role just as central to action. Ranked fights become less interesting as Travis becomes more self-absorbed in the thought of ending the battle by beating the 1st ranked assassin. He no longer fights each individual battle as if it were his own, they have become nothing more than shallow steps on his way to the top. His sight blurs red with the blood of those fallen, friend or otherwise, yet his mind burns green, telling him to go, onto rank one--onto victory and revenge in one.
When others attempt to help him he gets angry, believing it is his job and his role to defeat those in his way. With this self-absorption the game worlds become increasingly bland, and increasingly lonely. On his way to the second rank battle, there is a significant time where Travis is forced to walk a long and empty street within the game. At the end of this solitary and silent march there is a large graffiti on the side of one of the buildings of only himself, and yet another level of cut-and-paste enemies. The second ranked assassin has gone down the same proverbial road as Travis, asking only that, upon her death, she would not be forgotten.
Such a level of complexity in storytelling was not even hinted at when the game began. But as you draw closer and closer to the end, a new layer of complexity reveals itself, and Travis becomes a much more involved character. This is where games currently are as a medium. At a level where their complexity has evolved and their legitimacy in any number of categories is still pending. Games still haven't reached that Rank 1 fight, saved the day and gotten the girl. But they are well on their way.
I came home from a tiring nearly 12 hour school day to be greeted by a delicious surprise. As I entered the house, my brother sat with a white bag next to him. Addressed to “Travis The Pirate” (which is awesome), I automatically knew who it was from. Destructoid, of course!
Yes indeed, today I received my copy of Fallout 3 I won in the WePC contest. So now, I present to you “The Unbaggening” of Fallout 3, presented in still-image format.
Enough with these silly words, onto the images. Awaaaaay!
This is the all important "opening of package" picture. Look at that hand. That is a nice hand!
Fallout 3, in all its nuclear deliciousness.
Wait a moment...what is this?
It is good to see that Destructoid is committed to AIDS awareness and prevention! I lol'd preeeeetty hard when I saw this. Now, time to play Fallout! OH, WAIT.
If only my Xbawks hadn't Red Ringed, I'd be enjoying Christmas just a tad early. Oh well, at least I have something to look forward to.
Lastly, I would like to thank you Niero, for the hilarious AIDS prevention device, the awesome "Travis The Pirate" address, Fallout 3, and creating the best vidja game community on the internet.
Third time’s a charm. Somehow, that phrase doesn’t seem appropriate here.
Yes, my third Xbawks 360 has succumb to the fatal Red Ring of Death® (all right reserved by Microsoft). However, this red ring is unique. It is a Red Ring of Once In A While Death, in that it appears about every fifth of the time I power up my console. Of course, my Wii, which I have not used in months, is still fine. It sits lonely and cold, yearning for attention that it doesn’t deserve while I sigh and look away in shame.
Soon I will get the shipping label to plaster onto my previous box that I received for my second RRoD. But for now, I shall enjoy the last few sputtering breaths my 360 has to offer, whilst listening to the metallic grinding of two chainsaws colliding in a conflict for life or temporary 5-to-10 second death.
When Mercenaries 2 launched on August 18th it garnered mixed reviews, at best. The majority of them called it anywhere from average to a massive disappointment. In fact, many of you in the community bemoaned the game. I can still recall the many blogs I read that ripped the game apart and warned people to stay far, far away from it. All this talk of how horrible the game turned out to be and the sheer malcontent for it concerned me. What happened to the series that I had learned to love after playing the first game? How could the developers be so careless with the sequel to one of the better games of the previous generation? I rented the game to see whether everything I heard was correct and if it would make me, too, want to post an all-caps rant on how horrible it is.
A couple weeks back, I went to the local Blockbuster (I know, I know, I hate it too.) looking for a copy of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. There wasn’t a copy in stock and after going through a number of other games that weren’t in stock, despite being displayed as such, I settled on Mercenaries 2. I got home and casually popped it into the disk tray of my 360. I wasn’t expecting much as it booted up. The all-caps rants and bad reviews flashed once more before my eyes, lowering my expectations further. However, I was met by something a far cry from the things I had heard about the game. I was met by a highly entertaining and enjoyable game.
I had played the demo, which wasn’t much fun at all, yet I was now having a blast. What had changed? For starters, my overall knowledge of the game had expanded. I wasn’t simply dropped into a mission and given a new interface to figure out how to use, a massive fault in the demo. However, the biggest change was that there was a motive behind my actions. My motive was to get bigger and better explosives and vehicles as I progressed through faction jobs. This is where Pandemic really got it right. There is always something leading you just a tiny step further into the game. I really felt like I was working towards something that was not only integral to the gameplay, but also something that offered me a new experience. Not to mention that the graphics were nice, I enjoyed the action-oriented gameplay and, most importantly, it was just plain fun.
The fun I was having overshadowed the gripes I had with the inability to call in airstrikes whilst in a vehicle and the often repetitive enemy dialogue. Issues that cropped up always became an afterthought as I dropped more bombs and caused more beautiful havoc. I also felt there was something to consistently look forward to, be it blowing up one of the oil rigs spread throughout the map, or the acquisition of the nuclear bunker buster, which creates one of the coolest explosions in a video game to date. This technique of giving the player a constant goal to not only work for, but look forward to, kept me coming back for more.
However, the game is not without its issues that had a hand in turning many players away. Pandemic seems to have missed the forest for the trees in many cases, as they focused more on the small, less apparent aspects of the game and missed the larger aspects that make up the game like AI and ridding the glitches that occur all too often. I love it when developers put small, seldom noticed, touches with a game, but not at the expense of the game as a whole.
However, when it comes down to it, I found Mercenaries 2 to be highly entertaining, despite its quarks and the issues that so many had with it. The mixture of good ol’ fashioned fun and making sure the player always has something to look forward to, take it far and beyond what I had heard about the game before I picked it up by chance. I urge you to give Mercenaries 2 a rental and try it for yourself. Look past some of the issues while focusing on just having fun, and you may just find yourself enjoying the game more for what it is, instead of what it isn’t.