So as we're all aware it's t-minus 7 days and counting til a huge swathe of the british population gets a governmentally sanctioned day off work. Since we can reliably predict the weather and our own geeky predilections will keep us inside, what games will you be trying out, revisiting or taking online with your free time?
Personally i'm torn between a replay of MGS4 and finally giving Dead Rising some attention, anyone else got gaming plans for the bank holiday, indeed if your reindeer games are taking you online this could be an opportunity to set up a 'bank holiday monday daytime fight' so anyone with an interest in that could speak up as well.
I've some people commenting, particularly some editors on podtoid, about the controversy around these games and i believe, although i may be wrong, that Jim Sterling said that he believes the backlash against the above games will be even more severe when the mainstream press gets hold of them. I would like to refute that argument.
Video Game controversies and the media outlets which perpetuate them do so because they push certain buttons, specifically ones relating to the sexualisation of children (hot coffee) or encouraging violence amongst children (manhunt). They use these 'hot button' issues because they are near-universal in their shock value. Maintaining the innocence of children towards sex and violence are values shared by such a huge segment of society to such a high degree, even though they are so hypocritically touted by the same people who do NOTHING to stem the tide of imbuing consumerism in children and sexualising them from an increasingly early age, that the GTA/Manhunt scandals were bound to get extensive coverage.
Racism and sexism however, are not hot button issues in the truest sense. The readership of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and other conservative media sources will inevitably respond to any accusation of racism or sexism whatever the medium in which it is contained with,
"Political correctness has GONE MAD"
It is well within the realm of possibility that organisations with little or no sympathy towards anti-racist or anti-sexist viewpoints will make a huge hypocritical leap from denouncing 'murder simulators' to giving zero coverage to these issues.
Don't get me wrong, i definitely do not think that any serious malice lies behind the design of resident evil 5 and fat princess. Even though i'm willing to accept that some black people might feel uncomfortable with the imagery of RE5, i doubt any serious person would call it outright racist although it may be a little insensitive.
I don't want a backlash against these games, they both look fantastic, but i would rather see a nation up in arms over bigotry and hatred than mindless rabble rousing in the name of 'the children' and i think it's worth commenting that although these issues will be covered extensively in the gaming press, where they can generate alot of interest and probably fuel game sales, the impact on the wider media will probably be minimal.
How does everyone else feel, do you honestly believe Fat Princess and Resident Evil 5 will have repercussions in the mainstream press or will these controversies sink beneath the surface whilst no ones watching? Also, do you agree with my analysis that racism and sexism wouldn't be considered equal to the protection of children from sexual and violent imagery in terms of their emotional weight and media response?
Ok, so i'm not going to go into graphic detail about why i enjoyed the first Halo game, it's a huge title and no more needs to be said. What i want to talk about is the way this game introduced me to some people who became close friends and basically helped to make the 3 years i spent at university the best time of my life.
I moved into student halls relatively late on, replacing someone who moved out of a flat and had already made alot of friends. I could have felt ostracised and not bonded with my new room mates and their circle of friends until i found out that our next door neighbour had an xbox, with 4 controllers. Soon we were sat around, a group of 5 or 6 taking turns to play and it was incredible
On a gaming level, it convinced me that an FPS could be pulled off on a console - socially it was much much more. It was a common bond between people who perhaps didn't have alot else in common, we came from different parts of the country, had different tastes in music, different backgrounds and different personalities but in Halo we were all equal. No one really dominated Halo, we just had fun with it for endless hours at a time. It resolved all disputes when you could turn to the person who'd left all their washing up in the sink or if you hadn't pitched in you could always just say...
I don't really care about the naysayers, those who say it's a flawed game. I will forever be loyal to this franchise because of the endless fond memories i have about it. Sharing with the same circle of friends our disappointment with the ending of Halo 2 and now that time has passed and i'm at a different stage in my life, i'm using Halo 3 to get my oldest friend into a genre of video games he has always been intimidated by. He's not a gamer, and used to refuse to play any games because 'it all looks a bit intense for me' but now he's hooked!
God bless you Master Chief, for all the disappointments you've been there for a while now, bringing people together with mindless violence and i'm eternally grateful.
I've come to the conclusion that only theoretical physics can explain the douchebaggery of modern gaming culture. For those who aren't familiar, my ignorant take on schroedinger's cat is the metaphor of a cat in a box, you don't know if the cat is alive or dead until you open the box and create a reality in which that cat is either dead or alive.
How does this relate to gaming? Well, just think of the fanboy rivalry that rages between gamers who have signed up to the MS, Nintendo and Sony armies. They are in the same situation as shroedinger was with his cat. Before they purchase the console or game, they inhabit a reality in which preference between games depends on personal experience. A world in which the FPS fan buys an xbox and the MGS obsessive goes for the PS3 for example. Once that fat wad of cash has been slapped down on the counter however, [i]space and time warp in ways mere man can barely comprehend.
Indeed, after the purchase is made a WHOLE NEW REALITY is formed in which taste and opinion no longer exist and the lump of plastic and metal they purchased becomes the objective winner of the 'console war'. Halo is no longer an accessible shooter with a mediocre campaign but excellent multiplayer mode, it is now either the finest example of the genre or worthless piece of shit. Moderation, and all concepts relating to it as regards attitudes to gaming are sucked into a MIND WARPING DOOM VOID.
Ladies and gentleman, you know it's the truth. Because otherwise we have to accept a different reality, one in which the world of computer and video games is dominated by whining, insecure little fanboy bitches.
Ok, i realise i may be breaking some unwritten rule by focusing on two games but i just felt i HAD to speak their names out loud and sing their praises to the masses!
As a child, my father felt that rather than some silly toy like a mega drive or super nintendo i should have an Amiga 500+ as my games console. I resented it at the time, i heard tales of Zelda, Sonic and Mario (rare treats to sample at the houses of my friends) and my mind soared at the action and adventure they represented and there i was, with this hulking 3.5" disk based grey box sat under my television. I calmed down, i accepted there were still excellent games to be had and determined that i must uncover them and so my father and i set off on a quest, a mission greater than any had undertaken before.....
TO SEEK OUT NEW GAMES ON RELATIVELY OBSCURE BRITISH SYSTEMS, AND TO BOLDLY GAME WHERE COOLER GAMERS NEVER REALLY WANTED TO GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Or something like that anyway. Along the way, my Amiga collection largely resembled my PC games in terms of genre and style. Sure the occasional scrolling shooter or platform game appeared but i was ALL about the strategy and the two games i want to talk about on this blog are Celtic Legends and Mega-Lo-Mania. Firstly, i believe (although would be happy to be corrected) that Celtic Legends never appeared on another system, whereas Mega-Lo-Mania possibly saw a mega drive release, so i accept that these aren't the most familiar titles to the Dtoid community but let me wax lyrical to all of no readers anyway.
Ahh mega lo mania, how i love thee - let me count the ways. To the uninitiated, this was the more action orientated of the two games i'll cover. You basically played the god of a particular group of people and guided them through various epochs in their history. Each epoch was reached after researching a certain amount of technology, possible after acquiring the requisite resources.
So far, so godfather of age of empires. Where the genius came in was the overall wackiness of the presentation. These were malicious gods, fighting like the gods of ancient greece or terry pratchett's discworld over who's tribe would succeed. To accomplish this, you ordered your people to do everything from mine, to breed, to fight, to build, to...well...that's about it Anyway, it was absolutely stunning, especially when you get to the end and after waging war with sticks and stones, catapults, bi planes and nuclear weapons you finally reach the point where OLYMPIAN GODS WAGE WAR WITH UFOs. Yes it's a super weapon that dwarfs the terran battlecruiser, the obelisk of light and those dragons from warcraft 2 because it's a roswell style flying saucer.
In summary, this game was just fantastic for it's time and still would stand up as perhaps a flash or XBLA game. The weirdly passive nature of giving your men orders but not being able to actually direct their actions and the incredible art design and dramatic, wagnerian score all combined to really make you feel like a God.
A god that killed people with the use of flying saucers.
Ok, now i'm done jizzing like a nuclear powered spunk cannon on international spunkday over Mega-Lo-Mania, it's time for a bit more of a european flavour to be added to the mix. Celtic Legends, another strategy game but this time hailing from Ubisoft and carrying a definite gallic tone was a little gem on the Amiga 500+ when i got hold of it. I took the old amiga out just the other day and played it with my dad, fond memories were stirred and in many ways it's what motivated me to post this blog.
This time, we're taking a more sedate approach with a turn-based strategy title. Tactically it's like a cross between warhammer and battlechess. Each unit was animated as it moved around a hexagonal board and carried different properties, some even with special abilities such as sucking the health of an enemy or poisioning them. It seemed so exotic at the time, with it's french unit names even in the english translation and it's almost total obscurity, not just compared to blockbuster SNES/MD games but even in comparison to other Amiga titles. but even beyond this fanboy infatuation, it was still a great game.
Firstly - anyone who thinks modern games are 'epic' needs to try some of these strategy games. I never came close to finishing this title as it was just too huge but that's fine and i don't think it disqualifies me from raving incoherently about how much fun i had with it. The storyline was pretty loose, you commanded an army of angelic creatures against it's mirror opposite demonic foe over marshes, plains, ruins and other generic celtic landscapes. The key to the game though was the tactical combinations.
Anyone who currently enjoys advance wars or final fantasy tactics, would have loved this game back in the day. You could not produce units during a battle, or even during the overarching campaign. You were simply given 'armies' that depleted as you lost units in battle and told to capture certain areas of the overworld, any losses were permanent until you had completed the objective and this made the use of a spare floppy disk to save on ESSENTIAL. Each battle began with your men arranged much like the pieces of a chess board, ranked opposite one another except with perhaps different pathways or obstacles between them. You moved your pawn like 'soldat' units forward, perhaps with a wizard or the super powerful 'arcangel' unit following behind and casting spells. Huge creatures that resembled the big pink Imps from Doom would maul your puny men, only to receive a scorching blast from the wizard in the back row. This game was fantastic, exciting, thoughtful and bloody hard but most importantly bags of fun.
Sadly, it hasn't aged quite as well as mega lo mania. Whilst still looking nice and playing well, the interface of the Amiga and the way you needed to select symbols (i assume of gaelic origin) rather than choose spells from a list led to confusion when i re-played it. I got the hang of it eventually and soon i was challenging my dad to a game which we both enjoyed but i doubt it will appear again. No more erosion of such fond memories is needed, and i am left with the simple pleasures of fond memories.
God bless the Amiga 500+, despite it's shitty mouse and lack of a decent joystick/joypad it was a great machine and it helped spur on a love for strategy games that brough me to such titans of the field as command and conquer, warcraft, starcraft, homeworld, company of heroes and dawn of war.
Although i still really wish i got the chance to play Zelda when i was 10.
Anyone who found this enjoyable in the slightest, just send me one positive comment and i'll probably gush about the wonders of Cannon Fodder in another blog, bye!