For those not fully aware of who I am I'm currently the chair of a Comedy Society at the University of York. I've been in charge for a year now, and one of the projects we've been working on was a panel show that used video game tropes to create the humour. We then discovered in making the program that ran it on stage we could launch the game online for people to play. So here it is:
The first instalment (which is the third script we wrote, hence why it is number 3 here) is called "A Game of Scones" and is a noire detective parody. The game is deliberately illogical and will kill you every chance it gets, but checkpoints are plentiful and you have infinite continues, so explore the story as much as you like.
I recently finished Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea Episode 2, and so delighted was I at my achievement I wanted to go online and read other people's thoughts and views on what I thought was a great piece of cinematic gaming (the gameplay was flawed but in a fun way). When I went online, however, I saw there was a prevailing problem, one that has been bugging me since my first playthrough of Infinite: People won't shut up about the ending of the first game, saying it "ruins" the story. Well, I came up with an explanation that I think satisfies a lot of anger, misunderstanding and confusion that has become part of trying to enjoy Bioshock.
First of all, you have to examine the nature of Bioshock's design. Every in game mechanic is explained, thoroughly, from the shield being defined as a kinetic shock absorber to the game explaining death as a quantum loop: the point you have to take away is that Irrational LOVE to use narrative to cover game tropes. "Would you kindly" famously explains why in the first game you can do nothing BUT follow Atlas' commands. It's a staple of the series and a reason the original game was so beloved. I believe that, intentionally or not, Bioshock Infinite is a game with a similar twist, but one that not many people seem to realise is there.
Constants and variables. Some things stay the same, some things change, within each universe there's infinite possibilities, providing you stick to the rules of the constants. Video games are loaded with this kind of logic. GTA might promise you the freedom of go anywhere, do anything, but it's go anywhere we let you. Do anything that you are allowed to do. Bioshock Infinite is of course no exception to these kind of rules and restraints games simply have to have. But still, within Bioshock Infinite there are many choices to make. Not just the obvious "bird or cage" moments but also what guns you ended up using, who you killed, in what order, how long you spent exploring. We all played the same game, but there were variables. Nearly infinite variables but all the same story. There were things we couldn't change, but we all had a different experience.
But the constants prevent infinite universes. There is a finite number of ways to beat Bioshock Infinite, regardless of how petty the tree diagram gets. So why call it Infinite? What makes the game adopt that moniker? To explain that it's time to jump to the most overrated and misunderstood part of the game: the ending.
Allow me to present the problem. At the end of Infinite we see Elizabeth drown Booker. This creates a time loop paradox. If Elizabeth kills Booker then she never existed so she can't kill Booker but then she does exist so she can kill Booker... etcetera. It loops. Forever. Infinitely. There's no escape from the loop and the loop will happen over and over. And within that loop you'll have variation, but the constants remain the same. The ending is the same, the plot is the same, even the weapons and vigours are the same. Every time you press New game, you loop it. You loop the world, the story, the pain and the triumph of Bioshock Infinite. You can't stop it from happening.
But then there's that post credits sting, where Booker goes into Elizabeth's room. Why is that there? Well, it comes down to everyone's favourite inconsistently animated feline, Schroedinger's Cat. The point of the original experiment is that you cannot know if the cat is alive or dead until you observe it, whereby it'll become either one or the other. In this scenario replace "cat" with "daughter" and you basically have the same idea. We can't know what'll happen next because if we try to observe then we have to start new game, plunging us back into the loop. But maybe, maybe if we don't observe and we leave them alone, maybe something else happens. Maybe.
So the point? Yes, the end of Bioshock Infinite is a time paradox loop. It's supposed to be, it's supposed to explain what happens when you press "new game". It's meant to explain how everyone has played the same game, without it being the same game. In other words, every time someone has played Bioshock Infinite they have been experiencing a different universe to yours, because of the decisions you have made on a minute level. There's no Infinite in the possibilities, just in the fact it will never, ever stop no matter how many times you press "new game". They are going to live out their fate, every single time.
But then again, what'll happen if you just try again?
Everyone loves the New Year. It’s a chance to let bygones be bygones, turn over a new leaf and tell the Mayans to go fuck themselves. 2013 is the year we shouldn’t have, the days that we didn’t count on. Well, at least these five games didn’t count on them, and now nobody knows that they even exist! Well let us right a wrong. These games might turn out to be great, but in terms of PR they also decided that exclusivity to just the developers was enough. This is the top 5 least anticipated games of 2013.
5. Medieval Mayor
Normally I’d fill these articles with images to give you an idea of what they look like, but with Medieval Mayor that would involve me drawing something for you. Because, despite my best efforts to source an image of the game, the best I could get was this:
So yeah. I can tell you it’s a 2d strategy game based around building a medieval village. Also it’s definitely not Age of Empires. Or Populous. But it is Medieval Mayor, coming this year to a PC! And when I use the singular of PC I mean the singular of PC. Because this game is being published by Tilted Mill, who outside of a break they got with SimCity Societies have made a series of games nobody has ever heard of. Have you played Nile Online? Tilted Mill sure hope you have.
4. Rambo: The Video Game
Rambo is an iconic figure from 80s action films who helped define the military tactic of “stand-out-in-the-open-and-don’t-ever-let-go-of-the-trigger” long before The Heavy ever had a chance to. Rambo is almost destined for greatness as a video game character, with a fantastic setting, a protagonist who chews up rainforest like McDonalds and a great reason to go mental with set pieces. So it’s great to see it in the capable hands of the developers of:
Liquadator 2, for those of you who don’t know (ie all of you) is an FPS that seems to be based on Quake and Doom. I can’t really get much more info on it other than that, mostly because the only review I could find of it was on GameSpot’s user review page, and it simply reads:
I think we’ve got all we need to know out of that. The developers remain optimistic, however, promising that players will be able to “get under the skin of Rambo and wield his iconic weapon-set in battle.”
Sounds sexy. Unlike our medieval predecessor however, we do have a few screenshots. Here’s one for you:
That… sure looks like a game. Maybe this trailer will clear up what’s going on here:
That’s a trailer for a Rambo film. Because none of that was a game. Oh dear Reef Entertainment… oh dear…
3. Raven’s Cry
Like we said at the start, not every game on this list is going to be bad, just unheard of. Raven’s Cry fills that quota perfectly, an under the radar title that has swum so amazingly low it’s actually a bit disheartening. A pirate adventure that focuses on the darker side of the lives of ship owning murderers, Raven’s Cry looks to be sort of kinda decent. It won some E3 awards from a German website anyway, so maybe there’s something to it. Let’s have a look at them there trail‘ar!
OK it’s not quite GTAV, but it’s almost Saints Row 2. Considering this is the second game ever made by Octane Games it looks like one of those 7 or 8 out of 10 hidden gems that everybody sort of forgot about after 2009. Except it’s coming out this year.
Now I’m not saying inexperience is an excuse, but, well, I think I’d play it. And considering the game has technically had media since last April I’m somewhat saddened to see it so low on everyone’s radar. Ah well, when it comes out, maybe then I’ll be able to say I told you so. Or you know, nobody will notice.
2. The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts
Activision have a real knack don’t they? They build up franchises to a level that makes them critical and commercial darlings (Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, Tony Hawks) and then proceeds to remove all the talent from the studios, overwork them and watch the whole thing collapse in on itself. Well the good news is that this time they didn’t have to bother making the successful version of the game, instead they’ve decided to let Telltale do that for them and immediately jump to the horrific cash grab edition.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts could well be the most evil thing Activision will ever do, and they didn’t even mean to do it. Many people after the surprise victory of The Walking Dead at the Spike VGA’s will go out in search of the title on store shelves. And what will they find? This:
Brrr. A bland, unimaginative, borderline last-generation standard FPS. How do we know it’s awful? Well this (admitably not official) trailer of game footage will show you:
Horrific, in all the wrong ways. But we all know the controversy. “That’s not the official trailer!” I hear you cry. “This is leaked footage, it’s not ready for public consumption!” Well the game is due out in March, so you’d think some gameplay would exist. Ah! Look! A full trailer! Let’s watch that:
This game is going to be shit.
1. The Croods
Let’s do this. Let’s throw everything we can together and guarantee a shit game. OK first, it’s a movie tie in, check. Even better, it’s for a film nobody wants to see, so that’s double check. Thirdly, it’s a children’s animated film, so we’re all engines blasting on making sure the creative materials are as bland and tedious as possible.
OK that’s IP wrapped up, now let’s choose a genre. Platformer? Oh no, they’re so rare these days the platformer fans will actually be grateful. We need to find a genre so overdone, so devoid of original content that when anybody even glances at the cove they’ll simply groan with disgust. Of course! It was staring at us in the face! A party game. It’ll rock nobody’s world.
But now we have to triple lock this fucker, how can we absolutely make sure not an iota of quality ends up in this rancid pile of shit we’re cooking up. We need a developer with a track record so simultaneously bland and bad that the game will practically sigh as you put it in your console. Who could be capable of such awful mediocrity? How about Torus interactive? You’ve never heard of them? Exactly.
These un-notorious bastards made a Shrek kart racer, a Scooby doo Lego game rip off (that uses a fucking laughter track) and of course, has made loads and loads and LOADS of completely forgettable movie tie ins. They’re just the right men to do the wrong job.
Oh, and how much information is there on the game? Well it promises “ a thrilling experience for players of all ages”.
You fucking liars.
This article was originally published on www.pixelgrater.com on 30/01/2012 hence why some data is out of date. If you enjoyed this why not visit us at www.pixelgrater.com
Sonic 3 for many stands as a beacon of 2d glory, a monument to not only SEGA’s blue blur but to the platformer genre as a whole. Expansive levels with multiple paths that lead to set piece scenarios and unforgettable finales, Sonic 3 really was the first true blockbuster game. One of the major factors that mad Sonic 3 so enchantingly different from it’s predecessors was the introduction of a new villain, that of the mischievous and roguish Knuckles.
No I didn’t type that wrong, mischievous and roguish are the best way to describe the character of Knuckles in Sonic 3. From his ever present smirk to his snarky chuckle as he rips the chaos emeralds from you at the very start of Sonic 3, Knuckles is presented to the player as a good-for-nothing bandit who is in bed with Dr Robotnik. So where did that Knuckles go?
Where did this guy go?
See I’m fairly certain that Sonic 3 (and to a lesser extent Sonic & Knuckles) made it very clear that the one thing Knuckles couldn’t really be was stoic. So why is it that from Sonic Adventure onwards we get this utterly po-faced, miserably determined guardian? It’s not like Knuckles was presented this way in anything else prior to that, even in his brief stint in Sonic Underground has snarky, cheeky voice that comes across more as a stroppy teenager than an ancient guardian.
I’ve only recently began to realise this when I started playing Sonic and the Dark Brotherhood on DS and realized just how boring and flat a character Knuckles has been forced to become. His determination to just get on with the quest made him a sort of solemn nanny, and not really the kind of gjuy I’d like to have in my party. This shocked me a great deal, as I remember Knuckles almost always being my favourite, but upon looking back I’ve come to realise that it is old Knuckles, that of the chuckle, the smirk and the smash and grab, that was my favourite, not this tedious Batman wannabe.
Lewis Dunn writes for the satirical gaming site Pixel Grater http://pixelgrater.com/
Well here I am back after quite a leave of absence, and with news for you about what I'm now doing. Some of you might recall that I'm the guy who wrote all those funny satirical posts about axed games and predictions and so on for these here cblogs in the hopes of getting some attention for my work. As I wrote these blogs I had a lot of fun reading your responses and decided that some day I'd like to dedicate myself to writing more often. Well, I am, but not necessarily here.
I've started a website called Pixel Grater, a straight faced satirical website all about video games. You see, there's not really a site that's doing what we're doing, at least not in a dedicated space, and so it felt like a good idea to team up with a friend from university and have a go at releasing it out into the wild. The site will update daily (at the moment) and features some old posts from here but also new ones that parody the news and goings on of the video game industry. It's going to be a hoot.
So come along and have a look, I know it's not exactly polite to promote my site through dtoid but you guys are what started me off and so I wanted to let you know that you've helped me along the way to this insane endeavor. See you there! Maybe!
It seems something of a contradiction to be surprised by the announcement of a new Call of Duty game, but I nevertheless found myself genuinely delighted by the Treyarch’s announcement of Black Ops 2, the sequel to the only Call of Duty game I have ever finished, and the only one I ever truly enjoyed.
The first Black Ops was something of a major departure for the Call of Duty series, being the only “AAA” FPS to be released with its feet set firmly in that most delicate and dangerous of political conflicts, the Cold War. While the game hardly inspired the stealthy, subtle action the title hinted at, it nevertheless delivered a fantastic whistle-stop tour of all the Cold War highlights worth paying attention to. From the Bay of Pigs in Cuba to a base camp invasion in Vietnam, Black Ops picked up the history books and ran a highlighter over the more action packed areas of the past 50 years.
Which is why I find myself both delighted and a little bewildered by its impending sequel, a near future sci-fi big boom bonanza. Don’t get me wrong, the fact the series is avoiding going back to, of all the dreaded things, the ridiculous “present day Russian terrorists” plot is a more-than-welcome change in my book; the ham-fisted nature of Call of Duty’s politics is more than a little offensive to those with any semblance of political know-how, but this new iteration seems entirely out of place under the “Black Ops” mantle. Sure, it’s canonically a sequel, drenching itself with references to the first game and even building off the hinted, sinister ending sequence, but the game so far looks like it couldn’t be more different from its predecessor. Gone is the exciting road trip through history, replaced instead with the hypothetical ramblings of Hollywood directors and Treyarch’s bumbling writing team. It looks more like Metal Gear Solid 2 than the next installment of the Cold War themed Black Ops.
It’s still an exciting if slightly worrying proposition. This seems to be a built-from-the-ground-up Treyarch game, something I’ve wanted to see from the team for a while; they’re a talented bunch, producing the “only good film game” in Spiderman 2 and are incredible at working to the deadlines they’ve always been given. However, Treyarch are, for want of a better term, clumsily ambitious. Black Ops had its problems, and Black Ops 2 seems more than eager to mimic them. Treyarch don’t seem to understand pacing, making every moment a 9/10 action sequence instead of a “planned graph” of peaks and troughs. From these early trailers they seem more than happy to hurl themselves at this sort of thing again, filling the trailer with all manner of whizz-bang explosions, as well as showing off the huge variety of vehicles you’ll inevitably control. It’s all very well empowering your player with super-slick set-pieces, but sometimes you need to strip the player’s power and make them vulnerable. The closest Treyarch got to this in Black Ops was a frankly stunning level set in a Russian Gulag, where the player starts with no weapons and must try and escape the brilliantly realised hell-hole. Sadly, within minutes of starting the level players are given a gun, evaporating the fear almost instantaneously as the once intimidating guards become just another target in a Gulag themed map. I can only hope the team realise their mistakes in this regard, but I have little reason to believe this is the case.
While it’s true that Treyarch need to learn how to pace themselves, there’s still no denying their expertise at the flashy set piece is only rivaled by Naughty Dog (the ¬Unchartered series) and their sister studio Infinity Ward (Modern Warfare). Black Ops had bombing runs, burning jungles, arctic combat and a fantastic gas mask level that flipped the game mechanics on their head. The game screamed high octane action, and now that Treyarch are free to write their own big moments instead of looking at the history books one can only salivate at the prospects. While there’s still a concern lingering as to how many of these set pieces Treyarch will cram into their next game, the idea of controlling the machines of future wars remains a salivating proposal. If there’s one thing you can trust Call of Duty as a franchise to do it's to deliver those awe-inspiring set-pieces that set it apart from the competition. I have every faith in Treyarch to deliver these kinds of moments, with or without the help of a history text book.
The only bit that’s got me worried is that, even with the restrictions of history, Treyarch still managed to over-blow Black Ops simple conspiracy story line, taking a rather cool twist and leaning far too heavily on it. Now that they don’t even need to rely on reality for their bullet points I have a horrible feeling their “clumsy ambition” will make Black Ops 2’s plot a heady mess of clichéd ideas. They’ve already dropped that most asinine of future soldiers survival dreams (“After making all that tech they realised, they still need men like us”) and have more than hinted at basically stealing the plot line of Metal Gear Solid 4, albeit the Cliff Notes version. If Treyarch don’t have anything new or clever to say about the impact of future warfare you can bet that Black Ops 2’s plot line will end up being a whistle stop tour of other people’s sci-fi worlds. Perhaps that’s what it has in common with its predecessor...
A swaggering, arrogant, childish shooter produced by Epic came out this year, but it wasn’t Bulletstorm. Gears of War 3 certainly fulfilled that quota, yet it was People Can Fly’s first title under the Epic banner that truly caught my imagination this year. This stunningly original FPS was filled to the brim with characterisation, crass but clever humour and even a healthy dose of subtle philosophical undertones. Yes, like No More Heroes before it, Bulletstorm was what I like to call an “intellectual trap”, a game marketed and aimed at a collection of gamers who weren’t expecting something smart to appear, but got a boatload of clever allegorical scenarios and a genuinely enlightening plot. Bulletstorm is as clever as No More Heroes, only this time nobody else seemed to spot it.
Let’s get something sorted out right now: Bulletstorm is not stupid. Childish perhaps, crass certainly, but the writing and plot are both absolute works of genius, and i can easily shoot down any thought to the contrary. Firstly, Greyson is an idiot. He’s a beer chugging, authority loathing foul mouthed outlaw with as much education as the rifle he wields. He’s the archetypical idea of what we view the gears of War crew as, but exaggerated to the point of humour. We’re laughing at his terrible jokes, not with him, and the sooner the player stands back and realises that Greyson is exactly the kind of person you should hate rather than be they soon come to love the character. A great example of how the developers use Greyson’s juvenile humour to remind the player that he is an idiotic egotist is when he first meets Trishka. After proving herself a badass by dispatching a few enemies she loudly declares “You shitpiles pursue me I will kill your dicks!” Greyson response to this line summarises him entirely. At first he doesn’t understand the insult, it makes no sense. Then he realises his ego has been attacked, and so in a childish attempt to save face he declares “Oh yeah, I’ll kill your dick how about that!” It’s a futile, useless response, and shows his complete inability to deal with people.
But Bulletstorm does something utterly unheard of for a game of it’s genre and style: it tells a redemption story whereby the main character is not redeemed, and is in fact made considerably worse by his journey. At the start of the game Greyson has a ship, a crew, a fine selection of beer and a bounty on his head that gives him the perfect reason to never settle down. He’s living the ideal life for a man of his personality. Yet when confronted by his only unsettled debt he decides to risk it all to get one final chance at revenge. Instead of succeeding however he ends up killing all of his crew bar one, his loyal but hate filled partner Ishi. By the end of the game Greyson has even lost Ishi, and ends up drifting into space trapped in an escape pod with a woman who hates him and no chance of rescue. Even worse than that, he failed to succeed in the one thing he set out to do, and as a result has bet it all and lost. This is a game whereby if you finish it, the main character loses.
Aside from the overall message of how selfish revenge can destroy a man, there is also a strong undercurrent of morality and humanism lying beneath the surface. Greyson is accompanied by Ishi throughout the game, a partially mechanised friend of his who now despise him for allowing him to become part robot. As the game goes on Ishi loses more and more of himself to the robot side of his personality, and as a result becomes more and more ruthless and uncaring. This worries Greyson, partly because he wants to save Ishi, but also because it starts to show a side of Greyson he tries to ignore. Ishi ends up being heartlessly violent, killing without care and threatening and harming those in his way to get what he wants, and Greyson comes to realise over the course of the game the only thing separating him and Ishi’s robot side is a few dick jokes. Previously used as an assassin who unquestioningly took orders he starts to realise his pursuit of General Sarrano is equally uncaring and dangerous. This comes to a head during the final scenes of the game, when Sarrano is teasing Greyson about all the people he has killed on his quest to assassinate him. Greyson’s response is a blunt and angry “shut up”, which shows that Sarrano has clearly got to him. By the end of the game Greyson knows that everything he has done was wrong, and now he can’t change a damn thing.
To finish up I want to discuss a rather tenuous idea, one which I think may be me over stretching a little but I’ll type it out all the same. I think the planet that Greyson crashes on represents a society, and as Greyson charges through it, killing everyone uncaringly this displays his own anarchic views. Most of the wildlife was certainly happier without Greyson, and the green mutants seem to be perfectly content before Greyson turned up. It’s also not a coincidence the ship that Greyson takes down is called the Ulysses, the name of a Unionist general in the American Civil War. Greyson is, without a doubt, a Confederate kind of guy, and his opposition to society is fairly evident from his lifestyle choice.
In conclusion Bulletsotrm is exactly the kind of game I've come to adore. It covers itself in a sheen of juvenile humour to hide away it’s clever and involving storyline, one which I feel may have been overlooked and misunderstood. Far from “another shooter” Bulletstorm displayed that most sincerely adult quality that you rarely see, something childish for the purpose of something intellectual. People Can Fly is picking up the style moulded by Grasshopper Manufacture, here’s hoping they can deliver more.
Hello, I'm Lewis, I'm a lot like you, only I'm probably not.
I got into gaming as a child, when I was handed the portable version of crack cocaine, known colloquially as Tetris. I would spend hours trying to make blocks form lines so they would disappear never to return. At the age of 8 I had my first existential crisis as to what happens to blocks that disappear. My desire to avoid death has since made Wario Land 2 one of my favourite games of all time, as Wario was immortal and this stopped me questioning my own mortality. Pokemon too fitted into this realm of immortal beings where only fainting occurred after heavy amounts of electricity as opposed to permanent void dwelling.
After I graduated from the philosophical quandaries posed by hand held gaming I obtained a PS1 and fell in love with games like Spyro, Crash and Rayman 2, a game so deceptively fucking terrifying that I have reoccurring dreams about the giant spider. And the king of nightmares. And the robot pirates. I don't care what any of you say, Rayman 2 is NOT for children.
I have a deep love of humour in games, with some of my favourites being no More Heroes, Brutal Legend, Team Fortress 2, Portal and Super Mario Galaxy. Sometimes I like to play bad games too, such as Alone in the dark, which is as hilarious as it is depressing. I have aspirations to become a writer, comedian and maybe one day game designer, but such things are simply the wet dreams of a desperate teen. Odds are I'll end up working in an office chewing on pens longing to go home and half write a blog.