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12:58 PM on 07.27.2009

Passage: Words cannot describe

So, I just saw Anthony's revrant for this week and in it he keeps alluding to a game called Passage. So I looked it up on Dtoid and found the link. I figured I'd give it a try, must be another one of those artgames. I was right. Oh so very right.

My post is going to be similar to [url=]Anthony's original post of the game[url]. Let it be known that I played the game before reading his write-up, so some of the things he said(especially about exploring without the companion) I had no idea about.

So I downloaded the game and started playing, not expecting much. I walked headlong into the girl within the first few seconds and had her as a companion the entire game. I walked forward most of the time, confused about where I was going or what I was supposed to be doing. I noticed there were certain points I couldn't go because both my companion and I couldn't fit in between the areas. Thus, I had to abandon these parts and keep moving forward. After a minute or so I noticed the colors of my and my companion's hair had changed. I was confused and didn't know why. After another two minutes or so, I noticed a receding hairline and my companion's hair growing gray. I actually panicked when my companion died and that's when I started to realize what the game was about. I actually stayed by my companion for a few seconds, started to walk away, then came back thinking something could happen or she would revive or something. I kept thinking I'm missing something. Then, with an intense sadness, I limped away(my character was old and walking very slow at this point). Shortly thereafter, I died.

First off, the way that this game can be played and thus interpreted is amazing. How you play the game can inadvertently tell a lot about yourself. I'm currently in love with the person I plan to spend my life with. Much like in the game, I kind of just walked into her without knowing we'd be together. I never even thought twice about it, even in the game. In the game there were certain points and places that I wanted to explore that I simply could not do with my companion in tow. In my life, I tried doing things without my companion that I shouldn't have, and it ended in pain. However, much like in the game, we moved forward together. Also, the game made me realize that I keep moving forward without questioning things and don't even realize I'm getting older until it's too late. I hope that this won't happen in my real life, and I'm actually going to try and do better about trying to see the good things in life without racing to the end. When my companion died I felt alone and wouldn't leave her at first. Then I tried to move on and died. Hopefully that isn't how it will go down one day, but regardless it was a powerful image.

I really hope that by me re-covering this game, more people will try it. Also, remember to read anthony's original take on it, as he is a much better writer than me and more eloquently explains his point. But I tried =P   read

6:47 PM on 05.13.2009

Other Worlds Than These: Star Wars Games

I'm just going to come right out and say it: I love Star Wars.

While some may say a love of Star Wars can hinder your social skills, I say it's the one thing that has kept the kid in me alive. And I'm not even really referring to the movies. Nay, my friends, I speak of the movies, the games, the books, the comics, etc. Star Wars has a fictional history spanning thousands of years that is full of deep stories of politics, intrigue, and uncertainty. Hell, they even have a wiki devoted to canonical knowledge of the Star Wars universe:

So how does Star Wars relate to "other worlds than these" in videogames? Well, if you've been playing videogames for more than a month, you probably know that the Star Wars brand name is whored out into videogames all the time. This isn't always a bad thing. Many of the most memorable games I've played were based in the Star Wars universe, and their stories still hold up today.

However, talking about the entire Star Wars universe would take forever so I'm really just going to focus on one extension of the Star Wars universe. Enter Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Released in the summer of 2003, this beauty averaged a 9/10 for reviews and went on to win tons of Game of the Year Awards. Many of you have played it; for those who haven't, get off your asses. You'll thank me.

Even though KOTOR is one of the best executed games in my opinion, it's real value for me lies in its amazing story. Not just the story though, the world the story takes place in(which is the Star Wars universe, only thousands of years before the movies). KOTOR starts out in medias res(which is a latin term meaning in the middle of the story). You are a Republic soldier and eventually find out you have the spark to become a jedi. In the midst of all this, you have learned that years before a war started because of two rogue jedi (Revan and Malak). I'm not going to ruin it (oh, believe me I very much want to), but KOTOR has one of the best plot twists in entertainment history in my opinion.

The best part is all of this takes place within a believable fictional universe. The characters you meet all have different backstories, motives, and desires. Some will lie to you, and some will backstab you. It's most certainly separate from the movies, but it still feels distinctly Star Wars.

But it's not just the story world, it's also the physical world that the player is allowed free reign in. KOTOR is not a free-roaming game in the same way Grand Theft Auto is, but it allows you to travel from planet to planet at will. Much of the game's content is purely optional, and purely is present to more deeply involve you in the story and environment. Each planet you visit has its own history, peoples, and conflicts.

So I salute you KOTOR. You may be turning a whopping 6 years old this July, but the way in which you have immersed players for these 6 years is a testament to how much work was put into creating you. You've taken an already huge universe and added thousands of years of history and believability to it.

You win the game.   read

3:58 PM on 05.12.2009

Our fascination with choices in games

I haven't been playing videogames as long as some of you losers (<3 you though). However, I have been playing for about ten years, and I tend to notice the little trends. For example, first person shooters have been around for a while, but since games like Halo:CE and Halo2, first person shooters have really gone wide scale. But that's not the trend I want to talk about. I'd like to talk about our fascination with "choices" in-game.

This concept has confused me for a long time now. The whole choices wave swept me up when I first played Knights of the Old Republic. It was great getting to decide whether you're a constructive person who plays by the rules, or an asshole who steals and cheats. Either way, you played how you want. Then, games such as Oblivion, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and many other "nextgen" games have really been selling themselves based on the choices aspect. They advertise themselves as games of choice, and that's all fine and dandy, but aren't most games based on choice to begin with?

I'm not trying to raise a shitstorm here, because I do realize some games are extremely linear, but it seems like choice should be something included in games to begin with, not something that is a selling point because most games don't do it. However, I'm not bitching because I am glad more games are taking themselves in this direction, and many of the games that have attempted to add choice to games have been fantastic games.

What I'm thinking is, wouldn't it be fantastic if rather than having certain games market themselves based on choice (such as KOTOR, Mass Effect, etc), if the gaming medium advanced to where choice is a standard for all games. Obviously I'm not the first one to think something like this, but to me interactive media without choice is kind of weird.

I do, however, understand that there are many games already out there that don't market themselves as choice-games, but do include it as a minor or even major part of the gaming mechanics. In fact, one could argue that every game employs choice to some extent (and they'd be right).

Thoughts?   read

8:43 PM on 04.26.2009

A Positive Experience with Gamestop?


I traded in a few (read: 9 or so) games and a lot of them were utter crap to be honest. A few were DS games, 4 were Wii games, and a couple 360 games. However, when the kind Gamestop employee informed me that I now had $109.00 trade-in credit, I was surprised. I don't know if any of you ever had this problem, but back in the day of EB Games I never got decent trade-in credit. I'm not really sure if this is a lucky fluke, or if Gamestop really is trying to help out gamers, but either way I'm pretty happy about it.

Anyways, with that $109 credit, I got three games that I am terribly embarrassed to admit that I hadn't owned until now: Fallout 3, Bioshock, and Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.

Fallout 3 is an obvious choice if you have the money and have never played it. I'm about 6 hours in right now and am having an absolute blast. The combat is just plain fun, and the scarcity of basic necessities really puts you in the mood that Bethesda wanted to create. If I had a complaint this early in the game, I'd have to say that the whole underground metro system parts are a bit annoying and repetitive. That's a small complaint though, because I'm sure the rest of the game has different environments.

On to Bioshock. I'm about 5 hours into this gem right now, and it's a terrific game. One of the best things I noticed about it is that it's one of the only games I've ever played where I was able to be immersed and actually scared for my life. There were multiple times when I see a "scary-as-shit" hallway or room, and I honestly did not want to go in them. But I keep going because of curiosity. Also, the fact that splicers will chatter and even taunt you really adds to the experience. Besides all that, Bioshock has the best ambient noise in any videogame I have ever played. It really is terrifying to hear your enemies talking about killing you and telling you not to hide from them. Hell, one splicer who I could only hear told me "Don't hide. I mean you no harm!". Intense.

Now Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is a less obvious choice. It got average reviews, and didn't really break any new ground for the series. However, I have been a huge fan of the series, and it's one of the only series where I have cared about the characters (Legget anyone?) and continued to care throughout each one of the games. The cut-scenes in Hell's Highway are well-done, and while some are long, if you care about the story at all then you will want to watch them. I'm currently on chapter 5 of the campaign, and really enjoying it.

Regardless, I'm really happy that I was able to get that amount of money for a couple of games. Does anyone else have any positive game-trading experiences?   read

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