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The Rhythm, the Stick, and Serious Sam 3: BFE


Looking at the dozens of things that pass through my mind during a firefight highlights the intricate, brilliant design work that at first is masked by the horrendous animation, glitchy shadows, awful dialogue, and general roughness on the game's surface. The detail went into mechanical things - each enemy has a distinctive spawn and movement sound, from the trademark "AAAAAAAAAAAA" of the kamikaze to the thunderous stomping of the raging bull. Their AI and movement is straightforward and predictable out of necessity, not laziness - precise timings and rhythms are drilled into my head, to be called upon (along with each highly distinctive but equally useful weapon) as notes and flourishes in the destructive symphony that I must flawlessly improvise during each battle.

Where, say, Bulletstorm drives the player to pull off awesome stunts through the carrot of points and upgrades, Serious Sam 3 punishes doing anything else with the stick of swift death. Where nailing a sick riff in Guitar Hero rewards you with a sky-high score multiplier, stringing together flawless rocket hits and dodges rewards you with a precious two seconds to collect yourself and prepare to do it three more times. Survival isn't the minimum line - it's the only one.

It could be said that this line of thinking is archaic, a relic of the days when video games were intended for nobody but children and neurotic obsessives - where even completing a game was a privilege to be enjoyed by the skillful few. I would have to agree with this, and concede that it's probably for the better that most games aren't designed with the same philosophy. But as the one-off throwback that it is, I can't help but be impressed at Serious Sam 3's big noggin, and how sneakily it hides it behind the gore and explosions - it's something I found myself missing dearly in the modern era of shooters. I can only hope it finds its way back.
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About Altum Videturone of us since 11:44 PM on 11.04.2011

My earilest memory is of playing a PC port of Pac-Man on my dad's computer. My next earliest memory is of playing a PC port of Tetris on my mom's computer. I've been happily and hopelessly into video games and everything to do with them since, and while I have my favorites - pretty much the entire Metroid series (except, you know, that one) - there are very few good games I haven't played and enjoyed.

Now that I've been here for a few months I guess something else should go here, so: I've set upon myself a personal goal to write and post a blog at least once per week. Sometimes, meeting this deadline means that those articles are not up to the standards I would like, and I'll simply shove them away unpublished and try again next week. More rarely, they turn out great, and up they go. Even more rarely, I'll actually feel very satisfied and accomplished, and will get all excited for the loads of attention I won't be receiving. The following blog entries are ones that I believe fit into the latter category, preserved here in order of appearance for my (but quite possibly also your!) amusement and enrichement:

Battlefield 3: On Scale, Freedom, and Wookies
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - David Sarif
Bigger, Longer, also Harder - A Counter-Case for Longer Games
Location: Darkest Africa
How About a Mass Effect 3 Article with No Ending Controversy (Spoiler-free!)
Quest for Blood: How Seeking Ultraviolence Showed Me the Best Side of Videogames

Also, I mantain the monthly Cblog Analytics series, which tallies up a bunch of statistics and presents them in a simple and organized format. The results are always interesting and often surprising - all the math is done on my end, so no matter how number-phobic you might be, it's worth checking out! This year's entries are listed here: