Top 5: Geeks in Games
Oddly enough, this is the third in a kind of series within a series of Top 5s that feature alliteration in the title. First there was Top 5 Gimps in Games, then Top 5 Gods in Games and now, following on from this week's Geek Quiz, is the Top 5 Geeks in Games. I think perhaps it best to leave it as a trilogy, otherwise who knows where it could lead. All I can be sure of is that once I start writing Top 5 Guys Called Gary in Games, the concept will have run its course.
I digress. Whilst we are used to playing as pectoral popping Herculean men who chomp furiously on cigars whilst they hurl abuse at their foes, or as pretty, silver haired and huge eyed Japanese junior high school students wielding gargantuan weapons (that surely must be compensating for something), the geek is also well represented in games. Developers, and JRPGs developers in particular, seem to love to throw in these characters to give little nudges and winks to the audience as they make very self-referential witticisms about formulaic aspects of game design. It can be funny, or it can be insulting and ruin the illusion, but make no mistake about these five iconic figures; for whatever reason they were selected, are the cream of the crop. The best of the best. The crème de la crème… except that as I never played point and click adventure games I’m sure there are a lot of glaring omissions. So feel free to educate me by posting them in the comments section. Enjoy.
Surely the most famous scientist in history (that’s right Da Vinci, Einstein and Newton you’ve just been served), what is left to say about the great man that hasn’t already been said before? Not much which is why I’ll keep it brief. A mix of John McClane’s ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ style of heroism with the look of a youthful Henry Kissinger doesn’t seem the most likely combination for an action hero, but therein lies the appeal. You know the guy in the cubicle next to you who has The Next Generation’s theme song as his ringtone? When the proverbial excrement strikes the fan, he might just be the guy that saves the world. How about the employee at the Mac Store who spends his days off offering technical advice to people on the bus? Will he be the chosen one? Or could it be the guy sitting at his PC right now playing Half Life 2? That’s right, you are Gordon Freeman.
Add in his distinctly tongue-tied manner that he exhibits around Alyx (or any other social interaction for that matter), and you have a character that geeks can really relate to. Who know, maybe the geek will get the girl in the end. Find out when Episode 3 is released in 2019.
Travis is a guy who loves anime, pornography and just happens to be a professional assassin. He is the digital embodiment of the otaku fantasy from his gravity defying hair and his outrageously stylish clothing, to his beam katana Blood Berry. Yep, the dude even has a freaking lightsaber. That he bought on ebay. As an otaku myself, when I see the stuff that Travis has in his apartment I can’t help but twitch and shake with geeky joy and jealousy. His collection of figurines still boxed and in mint condition. His wardrobe full of leather jackets emblazoned with tigers, black studded jeans, red cowboy boots and anime character t-shirts. His awesome man-sized Gundam model. I need all of it. I had better lay down for a minute.
Ok I’m back. Part of the appeal of the game is that in an incredibly implausible way, it seems strangely…plausible. Yes, I could go to a dojo every day and learn some martial arts. If I save up enough money mowing lawns and collecting watermelons, I too can buy a jet powered bike. Then all I need to do is sling my lightsaber across my back and set off on a quest to become the world’s greatest assassin by taking on Japanese school girls, insane super heroes, and a model assassin with a prosthetic leg. Ok, maybe not. But he does do all of this just to impress a girl. Now that is something we can relate to.
As his name implies, Otacon is also an otaku. But despite their shared love of anime he turned out a little different from Travis. He uses his computer skills in order to aid Snake and is therefore a slightly more achievable geek role model. But would you really want to emulate this guy? His personal highlight reel involves pissing his pants in times of crisis, using stealth camouflage to hide from any danger, sleeping with his step mother causing his father to commit suicide, and seeing every woman he ever loved die. He must have desecrated a lot of ancient burial grounds to deserve the luck he has.
Our only lady geek on the list is from arguably the best RPG of all time. Chrono Trigger’s resident tech expert is actually responsible for setting the whole course of the game in motion when her teleportation device malfunctions leading to the most memorable time travel tale since Marty hit 88 miles per hour. Her cheerful encouragement of her silent childhood friend Chrono, and his responses to her jibes, provides one of the most understated and touching relationships of the 16-bit era. This geek created a robot, a teleporter and a means of time travel. That pretty much ticks off the boxes in a top three list of things that geeks would want the most. Oh, except maybe Otacon’s stealth camouflage, but let’s not elaborate as to why.
Ryo? A geek? Are you mad? I assure you I am not, but it’s possible that we may have played Shenmue in entirely different ways. You thought it was a game about avenging the death of your father. I suspect you may have spent a lot of time going to the park to work on martial arts training, before heading down to the docks to administer some street justice. You probably worked your butt off at your dead end job to scrape together enough cash to spend it all in suspicious bars looking for sailors. You might have even been caring for a sweet orphaned kitty in order to bring a little joy to one of the neighborhood kids.
Me? I just blew all my money on arcade games and capsule toys.
Ah, Jack Thompson how we miss you. We miss your insane one man mission to destroy the existence of Grand Theft Auto and to make the world a safer place for the children of tomorrow. Without you have no figurehead to rail against. There isn’t a focal point on which we can vent our rage as to how much the mainstream media misunderstand our hobby. There are no more rallying cries to defend the honor of video gaming. Instead the media have grown tired of trying to warn the public about the evils of videogames. Seeing as a 40,50 or 60% of US households now have a console (depending on what survey you listen to), they can’t exploit the fear of the unknown factor, which has been used so effectively in the past. And as Cooper Lawrence discovered with the Mass Effect controversy, picking on the computer savvy can have repercussions if you wish to sell anything through Amazon.com.
Speaking of Mass Effect, the controversy over the main character who could apparently sodomize whatever, whomever and however the player wished (I was obviously playing the wrong game), was ludicrous. But the following games have somehow managed to escape any form of controversy. Games that could be seen as far more deserving of being misinterpreted by perma-tanned, coiffured newscasters who only have their face stretched into an expression of indignation because their teleprompter tells them too. Or possibly as a result of botched plastic surgery. So here they are and how they managed to dodge that tasty bullet.
God of War
Why would it be controversial? : I recently finished both God of War and God of War II. You don’t need me to tell you that they are incredibly fun and entertaining games. You also don’t need me to tell you that they contain some wonderful and hilarious depictions of graphic violence. I’d like to share a few personal highlights that are still fresh in my mind; tearing a person in half with your bare hands, drowning Perseus in shallow water, drop kicking Cerberus’s puppies, smashing Thesus’s head in a door and putting a sword up to the hilt into Zeus, King of the God’s.
The game is so raw and visceral that you can’t help but grin at the destruction that Kratos wages on the world of mythology. Apparently though, there was not enough violence to raise the ire of the media. Even the fact that a lot of women you encounter are topless, and that there actually is a threesome sex mini-game, wasn’t deemed inappropriate to garner a cough of discouragement. Given that GTA: San Andreas was crucified for having one that was only accessible with an illegal patch, and only featured one woman who was fully clothed I might add, it seems odd.
Why wasn’t it controversial? : It’s based on mythology. And history also tends to be pretty mucky business when you go back to the Greco-Roman era. With brutal public tortures and orgies commonplace and even taught about in history classes, what could you really do? Ban history? And since the release of Caligula in 1979, anything from that period of time is fair game. The only controversy surrounding the game came because some Sony PR pillock thought that it would be a good idea to have a severed goat’s head at a launch event.
Why would it be controversial? : Well as the cheeky staff at 1UP realized, whilst people are perfectly willing to watch a bit of hot man on lady-elf action, or even lady on lady-elf action, the prospect of man on man-elf love was not quite as tempting. With a misleadingly (but accurately) titled video, ‘Having sex with an elf in Dragon Age’, many an excited teen was unwittingly exposed to some Adam and Steve style action.
Why wasn’t it controversial? : Well the mainstream media was still trying to decide if it was offended or not by Modern Warfare 2. And if any one wanted to complain about the scene in question then that would be an admission that they had watched a video of man loving. At that point many were probably terrified about whether that had secretly enjoyed it or not, so the best course of action was clearly to deny that they had ever seen it. That’s right kids; denial solves all you problems… it wipes everything clean…
Plus, well, come on. Elves look like girls anyways.
Why would it be controversial? : GTA TEACHES OUR KIDS TO SELL DRUGS! WANT TO KNOW HOW TO BUY CRACK? ASK GTA!! HOW MUCH IS HEROIN??? LEARN THE MATH OF DRUG DEALING FROM GTA!!!
Why wasn’t it controversial? : Because with the state of education today, any opportunity to teach children math is grasped with both hands.
Besides, by this point everyone was tired of GTA and controversy appearing in the same sentence. It didn’t have the same draw in the ratings as it used to. More pertinently, this was GTA on the DS. No matter how the game was trying to corrupt the children (Oh dear God think of the children!) it would seem silly to show the footage on national television. They are as much graphical whores as we are and it just didn’t look realistic enough to be threatening. Oh, and sadly no one bought it.
Why would it be controversial? : For all those people out there who were desperate to kill children from the comfort of their own home without the troublesome legal repercussions, Bioshock was the game for you. Killing kids is bad. How could it not be controversial?
Why wasn't it controversial: Because they don't look like really look like kids when you first see them. They have a complexion that looks like they have been surviving on a diet of radioactive pop tarts, giant glowing eyeballs, and oh yeah, they carry around bloody massive syringes. And they all look the same, thus depriving them of uniqueness and dehumanizes them.
What's more, despite our children friendly society, horror moves have been working for years to ensure that we never, ever let our guard down for a minute when there are children involved. I'm not some one who enjoys horror movies (Scooby Doo level of cowardliness over here), but even just typing into google 'horror movies with evil kids' gives you more terrible tots than you can shake a stick at. So if Damien, Esther, Samara, Regan and 'Village of the Damned' mean anything to you, you have already been conditioned to see children as a legitimate threat.
Modern Warfare 2
Why would it be controversial? : Duh.
Why wasn’t it controversial? : Because nobody in the mainstream media really cared. Sure they had a couple of half-hearted swings at it, but only with the same level of feeling involved in sex between a long married couple that are staying together for the sake of the children. They just went through the motions with little of the zest, fire and brimstone or even pompous outrage that we used to find so charming. Instead we were left to argue amongst ourselves until we realized that no one was watching. A storm in a teacup is about the most fitting analogy I can think of.
Top 5: Questions to determine your level of Geekdom
If you are reading this blog then that’s a pretty good indication as to whether you qualify for Geekdom. But we don’t just like to qualify, we like to quantify. Yes, I am a geek (and damn proud of it I might add) but how much of a game geek am I? Am I more of a geek than you? Am I higher in the geek pecking order than my peers, or am I merely a poser who is in it for the girls and the parties? Wonder no more, for I have thoughtfully provided five simple questions to help determine whether you are in the pantheon of legends.
This completely unscientific, absolutely biased, and inarguably flawed collection of five probing questions will be used as data for a marketing research company in a third world country that only employs children. It will then be processed and spewed out of the mouths of over-paid and over-weight executives over the next twelve months before being transformed into a 200 dollar peripheral based game. By reading this message you have handed over your power of attorney. I hope it’s worth it.
1. How many consoles and portable gaming devices do you own?
a) 0 - Does a cellphone count? It does? Well, still the answer is zero.
b) 1 - One of course. How else could I play Brain Age?
c) 3 or less - Well of course I have all three consoles. Hmm? Retro consoles? You must be mad. I burn every console as soon as it becomes outdated. My chums wouldn't be see dead playing something '8-bit'. It sounds like a venereal disease. Why would I want a handheld? I'm far too busy tweeting on my blackberry and surreptitiously trying to watch hardcore pornography on the bus to bother with such nonsense.
d) 8 or less - I own enough consoles to sneer at the Halo generation. They never had to dedicate an entire summer to defeating the first level of Contra. They never Rock-Paper-Scissored their way through Alex the Kidd. They don't understand just how incredible the music was in Sonic 2. Kids nowadays. They think Rouge Warrior is bad? See how they deal with E.T.
e) More than 8 - Xbox? PSP? How quaint. There doesn't seem to be a sufficient category for a person who owns an original Donkey Kong arcade cabinet. I refuse to call the protagonist 'Mario' as he can't be named anything other than Jumpman. If you don't own an MSX you don't REALLY know consoles my dear lad.
2. How many games do you own?
a) Less than 5 - And I didn't even buy those. I found them on the street. I when I say 'found' I mean took. And when I say 'street' I mean someone else's house. And when I say 'took' I mean... well you get the picture.
b) Less than 20 - You own twenty games. Congratulations. It's just a shame that all twenty of those games are Madden. On various platforms. Cough.
c) Less than 50 - Hey, you probably like games. A decent amount in fact. You used to play GoldenEye with your buddies in college. Sure you didn't own it but it seemed kind of cool. You don't need to waste money on games. You have mortgage bills to pay, a family to look after, college exams to study for. You don't need to worry about games. Real life is far more thrilling... loser.
d) Less than 150 - Quite a jump eh? I hope you don't get vertigo. At this level you still buy all the good games that come out each year. After all, what would the internet community think if you didn't? Sure they can't see your game collection through the internet, but, well you never know. If they did find out then you could never show you face/text on that forum again. So you have to get everything, just in case. Because student loans aren't 'actual' loans.
e) More than 150 games - Well probably. In fact you have no idea just how many games you have. Can I just count it in shelves?
3. What is the most you have ever paid for a game?
a) Less than 5 bucks - Paying for games is for chumps. Ever heard of flash games? Yeah man. Better than that Call of Duty crap any day of the week.
b) 40 bucks - Why buy new when you can buy used? Ok, so you are apparently the scourge of the gaming industry, and a bit of a cheapskate, but what is the difference in playing Gears of War in 2006 when you could play it two years later for cheaper?
c) 60 bucks - Paying more than 60 bucks is just plain stupid. A game costs 60 dollars, how could it cost any more than that?
d) Under 100 bucks - Unless of course you really need that tin box and 32 page artbook. It says special edition on the box. Special editions are special, and if I buy them then I'm special. It means that I like the game more than the regular folks. I win.
e) Over 100 bucks - Before you ask, no I can't include any peripheral based game in this category. I know they cost a lot, but when we get into the kind of snobbish elitism that we are delving into with this kind of quiz then something as tawdry as a 'casual game' couldn't possibly be included. Unless of course you bought the entire Beatles Rockband set and can complete Expert mode in full band mode playing all instruments simultaneously. Then I think I can let it slide. For the 'hardcore casuals' this probably means that your cat is currently wearing a Halo helmet. For the others in this field you probably own Radiant Silvergun.
4. What is the longest period of time you have put into a single game?
a) Less than 5 hours - I once played Wii Sports at my nephew's house. 30 minutes?
b) Less than 15 hours - I finish games, then I'm done with them. Why would I play them for any longer than that?
c) Less than 70 hours - The above sentiment applies to only to fans of JRPGs for c) I guess. Still with our most beloved games it isn't that hard to sink 70 odd hours into to them. After all, when we were kids and we only had a couple of games a year to get us through then we made the best of them. I kicked Bison's ass so many times I have tattooed my footprint on his butt cheek.
d) Less than 200 hours - It takes a special kind of person to clock up this amount of time on any game. Whether that statement is taken as a compliment or not is entirely up to you.
e) More than 200 hours - Unless you play WoW it is pretty inconceivable as to how you could have ratcheted more than 200 hours, but kudos to you. And those with short-term memory loss can keep on replaying games over and over again. Well, at least you don't need to keep on buying new games.
5. What is the longest period of time you have played a game in a single sitting?
a) Less than 1 hour - I've heard of games, they are made by Hasbro.
b) Less than 3 hours - 'Dude, remember that time we played Smackdown vs. Raw for like 3 hours? That was totally awesome bro! We f***ing caned that s*** dawg! Man, I was so high.'
c) Less than 6 hours - Come on, who hasn't got stuck into a game now and then only to look at the clock and realized that they have spent a significant chunk of their life on something so productive as gaming.
d) Less than 12 hours - Bleary-eyed you stare down at your nacho stained string vest. Groggily you reach for your Optimus Prime alarm clock, only to realize that the bright glare of the sun is creeping unbidden into your room. Damn, it's morning. Wearily you switch off the console and search for a shirt and a pair of pants. It's time to go to work.
e) More than 12 hours - I'm sure there is a phone line somewhere on the internet where someone can provide help for you. Please call them.
The scoring system
It should be kind of obvious by now, but for those who take the short bus to school, as I have heard it charmingly put by some American friends, let me make it simple. a) is not geeky and e) is super geeky. But as I said, let's quantify it. Add up your score.
a) = 0 points
b) = 3 points
c) = 6 points
d) = 9 points
e) = 12 points
What is your total? Well the maximum you could get is 60 points and by and large gamers like to grade things out of 100. So here is the bonus round! Each of these 'achievements' (if that gives you a warm and tingly feeling inside) is worth 5 points.
PC Gamer - Played a non-PopCap Games product on a PC? You got yourself 5 points
Mr.Perfect - 1000 Achievement points on a single game or a Platinum Trophy
P-A-R-T. Why? Because I got nothing to talk to anyone about - Had a gaming party with 8 or more people at your house
Convertor - Convinced someone to buy a console or bought them one as a present
Blogger - You have blogged about games. Nuff said
Podcast whore - You listen to at least 5 gaming podcasts each week
Pants on fire - Lied to get out of a social situation in order to stay at home and play games
Geek Chic - You own at least ten t-shirts with gaming logos on them
So, have you done the math? What is your geek score? Shout it loud and proud my brethren.
Mine is 76. Not bad, but I'm sure one of you guys can top it.
The answer to the question no one asked
Everyone starts blogging for their own reasons. I always wanted to write about videogames but I didn't have the inspiration to get going until one life changing moment.
Have you ever googled your own name? Of course you haven't because you aren't as narcissistic as me. Still, one day at work I was killing time on the internet and decided to look myself up. I was kind of interested to see what was there. Embarrassing facebook photos? My credit card details posted by an email 'Nigerian Prince'? An angry rant by an ex-girlfriend? No, as it turned out it was much, much worse. It was Steven Lim.
Steven Lim was a contestant on Singapore Idol. And as you can see from the video, not the good kind. As I stared in horror at the prancing, stripping Steven Lim butchering a Ricky Martin song on youtube, the blood slowly drained from my body. This was my namesake. This creature was dragging my name through the mud, and was wearing yellow underwear whilst he was doing so. My head started spinning and my imagination ran wild. In my mind's eye I saw my future illegitimate children scouring the internet to try to glean information on what kind of man their father was, and happening across this abomination. This would not stand. I had to claim my name back.
Finally I have achieved that goal. Type Stevie Lim into google and this very blog is the first website that appears. I own my name.
Unfortunately I obviously didn't think things through clearly enough. Typing Stevie Lim (my nickname) indeed gets you to this blog. Typing Steven Lim (my actual name) on the other hand and you will still be directed to the offense against humanity that is my namesake. Bugger.
A week of Top 5s
I wanted to think of an interesting, imaginative way to celebrate 100 blogs on 1UP. Sadly I failed. Instead you get a lot of Top 5s... yeah, sorry about that. So from Monday to Friday this week every morning when you wake up there will be a fresh, steaming hot Top 5 waiting for you here on 1UP. However, whether you see that fresh, steaming blog as a delicious pastry, or something far more unpleasant, depends on how much you enjoy my Top 5s. One thing I can promise is that not every one of the 5 Top 5s is going to be crammed full of the usual snarky sarcasm. There will be a list of my favorite hotspots in Akihabara and a quiz amongst other things. But in keeping with my usual tone I'm going to kick off the week with one crammed full of snarky, sarcastic goodness. Enjoy.
Top 5: Least charismatic characters in games
Forget the revised cyborg ninja version, when Raiden first frolicked into Metal Gear Solid 2 his presence was about as welcome as a fart in an elevator. For four long years gamers had been desperate to get their sweaty hands on a Snake and after a 45 minute tease, were left with a limp, damp squib. It wasn’t just the disappointment of playing as someone else; the idea of seeing Snake’s actions through the eyes of another character is an interesting concept. It was that you had to be Raiden, a man with very few endearing qualities. The grizzled veteran had been replaced by a virtual reality trained rookie; the strong stoic man had been usurped by a whiney and emotional boy. He had a tough and tortured past so of course he was carrying baggage, but he carried that emotional baggage with the grace and serenity of Liza Minnelli going cold turkey. If I had wanted to witness the angst, bitterness and immaturity of young love I would be watching the O.C.
Personally I didn’t have a problem with the fact that he insists on appearing in a storm of rose petals. But when the closest thing he comes to wit is this gem worthy of Oscar Wilde, well my patience starts to wane.
(Examining Emma Emmerich's Policenauts poster)
“What kind of a dork brings all this stuff to work? Must be a super freak!”
Having his namesake be the recipient of electro-charged sodomy in MGS3 was Kojima’s apology, and five years after he made his unfortunate debut he was reborn, and the sins of his past were cleansed. And you have to give some kudos to the lad for being the first person since the 1980s to use the phrase ‘super freak’.
Rad Spencer was fine. In fact he was better than fine, he was badass. As soon as his first name became Nathan, however, he became an insufferable and utterly unappealing wanker.
Nathan is angry. That is all there is to his personality. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all Kratos is the angriest man ever, fictional or otherwise. ‘Rad’ has a very limited vocabulary, of which about 50% are swear words. Again this is a factor that, on its own, isn’t enough to earn a spot on this list. Marcus Fenix swears likes a drunken sailor suffering from torettes syndrome, but still then there is a certain charm to the way he does so. The problem is that there is nothing else to the man. Despite this we are supposed to believe that he managed to get married, and still more implausibly, that in his current state in which anger and revenge are the full extent of his emotional capability, he is still appealing to women. What is it that Magdalene sees in him? Whilst that will forever remain a mystery, it certainly isn’t his arm. No, I don’t mean the Bionic one; I mean his ‘normal’ arm. That definition is rather misleading because that appendage looks like a sausage making machine was implanted into it. Not since Akira have we witnessed such horror.
Claude is not a man, he is a dog. That is the only possible conclusion anyone can draw about the character after playing GTA III. In a game resplendent with some of the most interesting and ridiculous characters and caricatures in gaming, Claude stands alone as a figure devoid of personality. Unlike many others on the list he isn’t objectionable because there isn’t anything to object to. You give him orders and he follows them. Silent protagonists in games have provided some truly memorable figures. Whether their personality is revealed through the way in which others interact with them or if their purpose is as a vessel for your own experience they can be compelling. Claude is as compelling as watching a glass of water and with about the same level of character development.
I have no problems with Toby Maguire playing Spiderman. I liked the first two movies, and even though the third one was a pretty dramatic dip in quality, his characterization of your friendly neighborhood webslinger captures a lot of the goofy charm and enthusiasm of Peter Parker. The same sadly cannot be said of his dire voice work in the Spiderman games. The fact that he collected a paycheck for delivering his lines is tantamount to scandalous. We can only assume that he was under heavy sedation on the day that he turned up at the recording studio because he manages to suck the charisma from Spiderman like a vacuum cleaner of monotony.
“I’m just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman” he drones like an insomniac reading a shopping list.
“Leave Mary Jane alone” he intones with the fiery passion of a man reading obituaries at 3am on a local radio station.
“Weeeeeeeeeeeee” he mutters as joyfully as someone who has just received their annual tax forms, whilst his onscreen counterpart swings through the city of New York.
There are few games that can truly unite the entire gaming audience. No matter how good a game is there always some one out there who will dislike it, and for every terrible game there will still be a lone voice extolling its virtues. Yet one game stands out in the crowd as being so utterly charmless that it is unworthy of any affection or indeed compassion. I am perfectly willing to stretch the remit of this Top 5 to beyond breaking point in order to include The Guy Game on this list. For those who have somehow managed to avoid this affront humanity, it is a quiz show in which the aim of the game is to get girls to remove their clothing. ‘Hold on!’ I hear you cry (my psychiatrist believes those voices in my head may be cause for concern), ‘Get off your high horse you preachy bastard! If I want to revel in the female form in all its glory who are you to judge me?’ Make no mistake; this isn’t even an issue of objectification of women. By all means feel free to do so at your own leisure. But chronic masturbators who have yet to figure out how to use the internet beware; this game doesn’t even want to cater to the most simple of your desires because when you do get the girls to remove their tops the image is pixilated. If you want to choose one element as particularly uncharismatic you may as well go with the obnoxious host, but with the wealth of options available to you; why pick just one?
Now for the competition I mentioned in my last blog. The prize is pretty good even if I do say so myself. It's the Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Premium Package that was only ever released in Japan. It is used but is in good condition. Included is a copy of the game (the Japanese version of course), a scale model of the Shagohad, a copy of the soundtrack, a beautiful artwork book and the novel of the game. The original price was ¥13,440 but I have no idea if it is worth more or less than that nowadays. This box is a pretty big beast too so the main pain for me is going to be shipping!
So as I'm sure you are asking yourself, how do I get my grubby little hands on this? Oh, come on, at least feign interest. Well myself and toomanywires are big Metal Gear fans so we wrote a blog called MGS vs MGS3: thedogbarks vs toomanywires in which we argued over which was the better game. You just have to tell us which you thought was the better game and why. Have a read of our article so you don't repeat any of our points. There are three ways you can enter:
1) Post your entry in the comments section of any of my Top 5s this week
2) Send your entry in a PM to me or toomanywires
3) Write a blog post and send me a link so I know to check it out
It doesn't have to be too long, just something interesting or funny. We will pick a winner and post the result next Monday so get any entries in over the weekend at the latest. If no one enters (entirely possible/probable) then toomanywires gets it, and no one wants that!
Gamers are always up for a bit of a rumble. If people acted in real life in the way that they do on message boards then the world be in a constant state of turmoil. All governments would have been overthrown, mob rule would be the only law, and wanna be Mad Max types would be driving through the desert, shotgun in hand, making the Mohawk fashionable again. Thankfully that is not the case. But for sure our hobby incites feelings of passion which would not be out of place in a cult. And this year we certainly had a lot to argue about. There were any number of conflicts for us to sink our teeth into that didn’t merely encompass the usual 360 vs. PS3 vs. Wii eternal struggle (until the next generation of consoles). Mind you even if there weren’t any real reasons for conflicts this year we would find some. If there ever was a one console future you can be sure that equally passionate debates would rage over whether the blue or the sky blue color of that console was superior. So, tongue firmly lodged in cheek, let us head on to the ‘epic conflicts’ that were fought this year in gaming.Left 4 Dead Boooooooooo – Boycotters vs. Games
How dare they? How DARE they? Release the sequel to a game a mere year after the first one? Outrageous! That has never happened before in the entire history of the industry.
Well in a sense this was a little unprecedented seeing as it was Valve that had just churned out the next Left 4 Dead game in the space of just one year. Valve fans have been spoiled for years, gorging on the amazing support and free content that the company has provided for its games over the years. And with the episodic Half Life 2 taking more time to complete than The Great Wall of China, it seems crazy that Left 4 Dead 2 has been sitting on store shelves and in consoles for a while now. So what was everyone so worked up about? Well it was initially the fact that the protesters were worried that no free content would be provided for the first game, but a 5th Chapter was made available for free for PC gamers (who made up almost the entirety of the protestors). Then it was about the fact that they believed that it was entirely possible to provide the sequel as free DLC for those who had bought the first game, but the entirely new locations, weapons, game modes and the switch from night to day seems to suggest that wasn’t entirely possible. So where did that leave the boycotters? Well, with 10,000 names on a list pledging not to buy the game. What were those people playing after the release of Left 4 Dead 2?
Yeah. Apparently the word of a video game boycotter isn’t worth a whole lot. By that logic, use the list of boycotters as a list of people that you should never lend money to. Not even if it’s for their ‘Uncle Jimmy’s operation’. The Year the Music Died – Music Games vs. Our Patience
Counting the number of music games released this year is almost like counting grains of sand in the desert. Whilst over the previous years we have complained about the sheer volume of games released, this year it was taken to another level. Off the top of my head I can list Guitar Hero Metallica, Guitar Hero Van Halen, Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero, DJ Hero, The Beatles Rock Band and Lego Rock Band. There may be more but I think you get the point. We have long gone past the point of critical mass. Video game stores are stacked to the brim with massive boxes full of plastic instruments that may never shift from the shelves. We are close to the infamous Atari E.T. incident. This is a result of the unholy war being waged between the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises where victory must be achieved at any cost. But like war, there are no winners. Sure, they sold some units but there is nowhere else for these games to go. There is no more music left in the world that has yet to be tapped, digitalized and made available for you to strum along with on your instrument of choice as the same five colored notes head down the runway to the bottom of the screen. Unless the Peruvian Pan Pipe edition of Guitar Hero is due to be released next year there is nothing more to be done. Looks like we are going to actually have to learn how to play real musical instruments. Not Gonna Take you for a RIDE – Tony Hawk vs. Reviewers
On a related note it seems as though the peripheral backlash has claimed another victim. Or maybe simply that it was a bad game. Tony Hawk: Ride was meant to revitalize the stale franchise and provide an entirely different experience. In a way it did provide a different experience; it was terrible. I’m usually not one to judge games if I haven’t played them, but when said game cost 120 dollars, at least a cursory glance at metacritic is in order before a purchasing decision should be made. And metacritic has not been kind to Mr. Hawk’s latest outing. It garnered a 50% score on IGN, a 3.5 on Gamespot, a D+ on 1UP and a paltry 1/5 on Giantbomb. However amidst those damning indictments there were a few suspiciously positive reviews. Gamezone gave it a 9.2 and PlanetXbox360.com a 9.0. Perhaps in the eyes of the reviewers the score was entirely merited but certainly Activision must be happy that they at least pushed the average up to around the 50% mark. And Tony thought it was pretty cool. Well, I guess the plastic instruments will have some company when they are buried in a landfill. Let them eat crap – Quality vs. Profitability
‘That’s it man!’ screamed John Ricatello, ‘If crap is what you want then crap is what you will get!’
Since John Ricatello became the boss of EA the company has been transformed. He promoted producing new intellectual properties, awarded bonuses based on metacritic scores in order to encourage the development of more quality games, and managed to turn around the image of the company so that no longer were EA seen as the ‘Evil Empire’. Activision filled that position quite comfortably instead. So how did we reward EA for their endeavors? By not buying enough of their games apparently. As a result they have been forced to abandon their new philosophy and revert to a safer and ultimately more profitable model. This shift back was cemented on November 9th when they announced their intention to buy casual social game developer Playfish for 275 million dollars, on the same day they laid off 1500 employees. Sorry John, seems like we do want crap.Moral Warfare 2 – Everyone vs. Everyone
I’m not touching this one again with a 30 foot barge pole. If you want to read more about it then 1UP has thoughtfully compiled the thoughts of the community. It says a lot about the debate that a mere month after the game was released we are already sick of talking about it.
We can always rely on the big cheeses providing a laugh or two. They may not mean to, but they always come out with some classic lines that the passage of time cannot dull. So whilst some may argue that Winston Churchill may have provided one of the most powerful quotes of all time with his ‘We shall fight them on the beaches’ speech, I like to think of Ken Kutaragi as providing some sound bites that will be repeated for decades to come. He stood on the E3 stage holding the PS3 aloft like the coming of the Messiah and boldly declared,“This PS3 is your new God. You will sweat blood and tears in order to lick its Spiderman font. You will sell your children just to leave your sweaty fingerprints upon its hallowed surface.”
Or something to that effect. Anyway, the man was human (I think), as are all of the people on the list and as such are prone to making the odd mistake or outrageous statement now and then. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a giggle at their expense. I’m sure that when they go back to their ivory mansions in the Bahamas to feast upon roast pheasants they won’t mind what a few people on the internet say. What he actually said: “Well BAM! There it is.” Kudo Tsunoda
What he might as well have said: “I am about to become an internet sensation.”
Let us ignore for a moment the fact that the demonstration went mildly tits up. Even if everything had gone perfectly to plan it was still an amusingly over enthusiastic presentation of Natal. I’m not for a minute claiming that Natal isn’t a fascinating and potentially industry changing piece of technology, but when it is being used to show the sole of an avatar’s shoe on Xbox Live then ‘BAM!’ (all in caps of course) is a little too exuberant. Thankfully it did all go wrong, and as the avatar flipped on its side to reveal the legendary aforementioned sole, the avatar contorted into a human pretzel. Only in the pages of the Karma Sutra has a body been twisted in such a manner. It was a moment of such wonderful comic timing that Chaplin could have but marveled at its perfection.What he actually said: “The PS3 is a total disaster.” - Gabe Newell
The PS3 is “a waste of everybody’s time.” - Gabe Newell
The PS3 is “the next Sega Saturn.” - Gabe NewellWhat he might as well have said: “You know guys, I’m not sure I’m really a big fan of the PS3. Sorry but it’s just not my cup of tea.
We should credit the man for speaking his mind I suppose. Whereas in this industry most are too afraid to express exactly how they feel for fear of alienating an audience or potential business partners, Gabe tells it as he sees it. And seeing as he actually makes games and therefore knows what he is talking about, his opinion should carry more weight. Bearing all that in mind the only logical thing for me to do would be to take a sledgehammer to my PS3, cut it up into confetti and burn the remaining residue in order to ensure that the abomination has no chance of ever returning. Mr. Newell’s venom is the kind that we usually on see expressed on message boards. Either that or he agrees with me that the Sega Saturn was a great console. What he actually said: “Avatar”…takes place in the 22nd century. Most of the action takes place on Pandora, which is not actually a planet, it’s a large moon of a gas giant planet called Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri-A star system yadayadayada…” – James Cameron
What he might as well have said: “Ubisoft paid me an absolute fortune to talk to you guys about the movie but I’m not going to show you anything, so allow me to perform oral sex upon myself before you.”
Honorary mention to Mr. Titanic. Reports vary about just how long James Cameron talked at the Ubisoft press conference. Some suggested it was a mere 15 minutes. Other said it was closer to half an hour. A few claim that the conference still hasn’t ended and that somewhere on an abandoned E3 stage James Cameron is still talking about Avatar. Time is relative and no matter how long the man actually talked about how wonderful his movie was, it felt like an eternity. It was at least amusing to see the faces of the press change from rapt attention to mild irritation to listless boredom. The initial thrilling of seeing an Oscar winning auteur discuss his passion project was replaced by the dawning realization that he was actually trying to talk them to death. Or at least into a mild coma. James Cameron waxing lyrical about Avatar is now considered an illegal form of torture by the terms of the Geneva Convention. What he actually said: “The goal that I had in bringing together a lot of the packaged goods folks in Activision about ten years ago was to take all the fun out of playing videogames.” – Bobby Kotick
“The executive said that he ahs tried to instill into the company culture ‘skepticism, pessimism and fear’ of the global economic downturn.” – Bobby Kotick
“We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression.” – Bobby Kotick
“You know if it was left to me I would raise prices even further.” – Bobby Kotick
What he might as well have said: “I am Satan. I eat babies.”
There is a legend that says that every time a gamer cries, Bobby Kotick becomes more powerful. It is indeed the only rational explanation for some of the quotes attributed to him.
The problem is that whilst he may be a bit of a bastard, he is a very successful bastard. Under his leadership Activision has become a dominant force that few would have expected ten years ago. So whilst gamers might want to imagine that their favorite games are produced in a Willy Wonka style of environment (by that I mean fantastical as opposed to full of obese children running amok), Bobby pulls back the curtain to show us the Dickensian sweat shop that it truly is. He wants to leave us under no illusions as to the fact that at the end of the day, making games is a business. He wouldn’t simply tell children that Santa Claus wasn’t real; he would nuke the North Pole.
Sports games don’t get a lot of respect on gaming websites. In fact every year around August the expression ‘The Madden Gamer’ is spat out with the level of contempt usually reserved for fans of Hannah Montana. Are they truly worthy of such a level of disdain, or even worse, disregard?
In some ways it is perfectly understandable. Sports games are annual franchises and as such it is hard to get especially excited about them. Whereas Final Fantasy XII was released three years ago, like the changing of the leaves, Madden is sure to herald the beginning of autumn. Due to the tight development schedule of sports games, there are few obvious differences between games within a series. Vast graphical overhauls are nigh on impossible in the space of just a year and a dramatic change in visual presentation risks alienating the fanbase. Show someone Madden 09 and Madden 10 side by side and they will be hard pressed to find any significant difference.
When reviewers and developers talk about improvements to the core mechanics the expression ‘tweaked’ is throw around an awful lot which only serves to heighten the impression that not much has changed. Although I could tell you that this year’s FIFA now has complete 360 degrees of control which fundamentally alters the nature of the way in which you control a player, I doubt that most would care or even notice. And you wouldn’t be alone in that train of thought. For years avid sports gamers have heard ridiculous terminology bandied about like ‘intelligent ball physics’, ‘realistic sweat representation’ and ‘dynamic player interaction’ but when it comes to actually playing the game it seems to make little to no difference. Of course companies need to come up with some catchy new slogan on which to hang their product in order to promote it, but when you hear the same nonsense every year it is difficult to get excited about it.
A final source of disillusionment for fans of sports games is that they have been screwed over by developers in the past so often that there isn’t the same sense of loyalty to the product that other genres of games inspire. For example, every time a franchise is launched on a new generation of hardware, features that existed in the last iteration are removed. I’m sure that is due to logistical reasons, in that they have to learn how to develop for entirely new technology, but it is frustrating to know that the first in the franchise on a new platform is likely to be inferior to its predecessor. Winning 11 has consistently failed to produce a decent game of football when it has made the jump and even as a long time fan I lost patience with it. And if you want to talk about getting screwed over, the DLC for sports games is usually incredibly overpriced and offers little for what you pay.
After all those issues it is hard to see why you should take sports games seriously. But if you have been away from them for a while then perhaps now is a good time to take another look. For whether or not you like the sports which the games present, the incremental improvements that have taken place year upon year have left sporting games as some of the most polished and complete experiences available in gaming to date. For the purposes of this blog I’m going to use FIFA 10 as my point of reference seeing as it perhaps the best sports game to date, and well, I’m English. Also it’s nice to be able to call it football rather than soccer on an American website.
Whilst the appeal of RPG games is usually tied into the plot, for many the statistical advancement is the essential source of the satisfaction. Sounds ridiculous? Perhaps, but after a certain point in MMOs the main focus is finding rare items that incrementally improve your avatar. Playing season mode in a sports game kindles the same sense of satisfaction in seeing untested rookies or scouted players become first team regulars as their abilities improve the more you play with them. And sports games have some of the most impressive stat tracking capabilities of any gaming genre. With the addition of Live Season mode, the abilities of players in the game change depending on how their real life counterparts are doing. So if a player matures from a nervy green horn to a more capable player in the Premiere League, FIFA 10 will change his abilities accordingly. And if you don’t like the idea of the real world imposing on your gaming experience, simply turn it off.
The beauty of fighting games is that despite all of the window dressing around them they boil down to a chess match. You know the capabilities of your character and know the capabilities of your opponent’s character. Based on your knowledge of these factors you attempt to determine what you opponent will do and outwit them in order to win. It shouldn't be difficult to pull off moves, it should be difficult to decide when to use them. It is a very cerebral concept, unless of course you are button mashing in which case you might as well flick a coin. To brutally mangle his phrasing, Seth Killian talked about how fighting games shouldn’t be about if you can do a Dragon Punch, but if you know when to use a Dragon Punch. Sports games work in the same way where knowledge of the abilities of all your opponent’s players in comparison to your own factors in to how you play the game. Whether their striker is significantly faster than your defender should play a vital role in how you employ that player in the most effective way. And like fighting games, not all are created equal. Some teams are clearly better than others and how you deal with that gulf in class is by thinking tactically.
Whilst not nearly as strategically deep as an RTS, the wealth of options you have in deploying your team bears some resemblance to that genre. Obviously this is a rather gross oversimplification of the strategy genre, but essentially there is often a rock, paper, scissors mentality at the core of them. The same is applicable to sports games. Take into account the fact that formations vary in effectiveness when stacked against your opponents formation, the merits of an attacking, counter-attacking and defensive team, and being able to edit the individual movements players will make in certain sections when not under your direct control and the dismissive nature with which sports games are treated is all the more unfathomable. These are all things that don’t need to be thought about if the player doesn’t want that kind of depth, but are available for those that are obsessive about their sports games. The cherry on top is that FIFA has an online gaming service that is by and large excellent with a thriving community so potentially you can play it indefinitely. Or at least until next year’s version.
If the full extent of your knowledge on sports games is Tecmo Bowl and NBA Jam, it may be time to give the genre another chance.
A multiplayer element is starting to become standard in games and for some this is seen as a cause for concern. With franchises that have traditionally been single player there is the suspicion that funds have been diverted from the story mode in order to accommodate a multiplayer mode, with the result of diluting the overall experience. Despite the explosion in popularity of online games this console generation it is questionable as to how much we really need it to be present in most games considering that the majority of people only play a handful of games online. But it is important to check this cynical attitude occasionally because sometimes games still surprise us. These are some examples of games where the announcement of multiplayer was greeted with concern rather than celebration, and whether ultimately the gamble paid off.
Uncharted was everything an Indiana Jones game should have been and managed to shame the recent efforts of a waning Ms. Croft at the same time. It had an absorbing plot with characters that had chemistry and wit. It did not seem like a natural choice for a multiplayer experience. Actually the combat was one of the few aspects of the game that came in for criticism.
When multiplayer was announced as being an important aspect of the second game, by and large the response from the press was negative. Eyebrows were raised so high that they appeared physically removed from the owners forehead. Yet despite this, once the game was released it was clear that the quality of the single player experience had not been compromised at all and the multiplayer was not only robust, it fulfilled an itch that until this point PS3 owners had been unable to scratch. This wasn't a mere Gears of Wars clone, the verticality that was an important aspect of the single player game had been carried over to the multiplayer and with refreshingly fun results. Although one of the great appeals of the multiplayer is its tactical nature, the fact that all of the hardcore/abusive gamers switched to Modern Warfare 2 soon after its release means that Uncharted provides one of the most civil multiplayer experiences in a competitive game to date.
In my last post I talked about my impressions of Brutal Legend but didn't expand upon the multiplayer element at all. This could be construed as negligent but frankly the multiplayer element holds no appeal to me whatsoever. Which is strange in a sense because although the single player may have been the most engaging aspect of the game for the majority of players, actually it was an elaborate disguise for the most elongated tutorial since your parents made vague references to the birds and the bees. The whole game was training you to play the multiplayer game, a point reinforced by the fact that you only had access to all of the unit types in the final battle. The unlocking of the solos of course improves your chances for victory in the single player but they are really showing you how best to use them when faced with human opposition. The end of the game was a not so subtle dig in the ribs to get you to pop over and take a look at multiplayer. 'You want to complain about the game's length?' it seemed to intone disdainfully, 'hop online and this game will last longer than a nymphomaniac who has accidently been eating viagra rather than breath mints'. However much you love Brutal Legend, it was unlikely to be for the multiplayer. For anyone trying to get into it, by now you may be too late. There are a few vigilantes destroying those who enter their domain. Imagine the world of Mad Max (or if you have a penchant for terrible movies, Waterworld) and you may get an idea of the environment you face.
Resident Evil 5 wasn't a Resident Evil game. It was very different from the origins of the series which fans had adored since the days where Wesker was played by Vanilla Ice in cutscenes. Once you come to terms with that, Resident Evil was an incredible success in its cooperative multiplayer for a series that was previously about as much of a solo experience as love for teenage boys. The story mode worked perfectly as a two player experience and the mercenaries mode, which was entertaining in Resident Evil 4, was taken to a new level with 5. Call it Gear of Evil or Resident Racial Controversy if you want, but the game did multiplayer better than anyone would have dared to expect before the release of the game.
Stranglehold and Bionic Commando are but two of a number of games that dipped their toe in the waters of multiplayer, but only because their publisher was standing behind them with a gun pointed at their head screaming 'get in the bloody water!' It is questionable as to how much better those two games could have been without the added stress of multiplayer being put upon the developers but for certain it could not have made the games any worse. With two titles such as these, mired in lukewarm mediocrity the multiplayer became an additional millstone hung around their necks. And when they failed to perform as well as expected at retail the lack of activity on their online servers only served as a source of continual reminder of failure as opposed to the glorification of a successful project. Members of both developers have talked about their personal reluctance to include multiplayer in their product and when a team isn't completely committed to that element in that game it tends to show itself.
The final title on the list that has been released for quite a while is Metal Gear Solid 4. I have never played MGO and I hardly think I am alone in that experience (or lack of experience). Why? Why would we choose to avoid something which could potentially be wonderful about a series that we love? I can't speak for everyone on this point but there are several reasons why I haven't take the leap to online. The first is that the Konami registering system is about as simple and stress free and trying to solve a rubix cube whilst submerged in a tank full of sharks that have been infused with the testosterone of a frat boy on spring break. The second is that the series, more than any other on the list seems so tied to a single player experience that many people who love the franchise just aren't interested in the mechanics of the game when they are removed from the plot element. I have heard that it is pretty good. By those who are really into it the online component sounds amazing. I still have no inclination to try it. Something as simple as offering a bronze trophy for playing five games online (still waiting for that trophy patch by the way Konami) would have given me the push to at least take a look at it. But it isn't encouraged at all. If people are as shallow as myself (sometimes) to be trophy whores, why not exploit that?
An honorable mention has to go to Bioshock 2. For a game which was almost universally praised for not seeming to need to have a multiplayer aspect to make a complete first person shooter package, the new team working on Bioshock 2 caved in pretty fast. I am cautiously optimistic about the game but with so many popular first person shooters it will need to provide something special in order not to appear that the online multiplayer doesn't end up as an expensive mistake.
“You can borrow it if you want but it’s a bit rubbish”, said my friend handing me Brutal Legend. That was a bit of a shock considering that I had heard good things about the game and that my friend is both a fan of Metal and loves Tim Schafer’s games. The perfect audience for the game in other words.
Brutal Legend is my first and only Tim Schafer game to date. If that sounds like an apology then it is a testament to fact that his games are so highly regarded. Having only recently finished the game I was left wondering about the other games in his back catalogue. Were they as funny and charming as Brutal Legend? Were they also produced with as much passion for the subject matter that seeps through every pore of the game? Were they as riddled with minor flaws?
The game was well received by the majority of critics, and rightly so. There is so much to praise about the game, not least being that it was released at all given the troubled nature of its development. The world of Brutal Legend seems so wonderfully conceived and realized. The inspiration for the landscape and inhabitants is obviously Heavy Metal and other forms of music, but it isn’t merely an excuse for an awesome soundtrack. The world breathes its influence, whether it takes the form of monoliths that are reflections of iconic Heavy Metal imagery, or the flora and fauna that bring the world to life. Even those who aren’t a fan of Metal can’t fail to get drawn into the experience as every element of the game ties into a world that is so complete. It is world that has its own history, its own factions and its own social standards. Not bad for a game that I finished in a day.
So, time to tackle that bone of contention early on I suppose. Yes the main story is painfully short, but whilst it lasts it is excellent. I don’t have a problem with short games if the length feels appropriate for the experience, but for better or worse the game left me desperately wanting more. Once you finish the game you have the chance to explore the world and that is where the game begins to lose some of the elements that made it so immersive. It is still an amazing world to explore, and in particular discovering the view points of the monuments to Metal is satisfying, but the game itself feels strangely empty. What was a tightly scripted series of events that pushed you on to an escalating conflict is replaced by an aimless collectathon with little appeal beyond achievement hunting. The side missions are a glaring missed opportunity. Through the course of the main game you are always interested in seeing the next cutscene because they are so funny, so well acted, and serve to develop the characters. There are three main types of side missions and the cutscenes preceding them have very little variation of the dialogue and have none of the wit or the charm that is so prevalent in the story cutscenes. With the talented voice actors (yes including Jack Black), inventive art design and crackling dialogue you would have thought that they would have spared a few quips or new characters to make the grind more bearable. There was an opportunity to create a series of sub-plots within these side missions that would have expanded the world and given real incentive to explore after the events of the main game. Instead we are left with a series of brief unsatisfying conflicts that seem meaningless after the resolution of the main story, punctuated by one mission involving a parody of the Osbourne family. I suspect that the aforementioned troubled development was to blame for this point. Having been in development for a long time and given a concrete launch date that was catchily called ‘Rocktober’, the game could not have been delayed further. With a little more time and money the world could have been expanded, rather than just seeming stretched.
The game incorporates a number of different styles and each of them is solid with dashes of genius, but also with a slight lack of polish. The Zeldaesque combat is satisfyingly weighty and brutal, but the lock-on feels awkward and the character too cumbersome. The units that can be commanded in the RTS battles are varied and interestingly designed, but actually commanding them to do anything beyond ‘everyone attack this’ is unnecessarily tricky. The driving is probably the easiest of the elements to control but the missions involving it aren’t that interesting. But the problems with each of the systems never become too frustrating because, like Arkham Asylum, it rotates through them so as to prevent them from becoming repetitive. I should also mention that I did try the online multiplayer briefly. But that was enough.
Games like Brutal Legend are the cause of soul searching for reviewers. How do you judge something which is so entertaining and so appealing aesthetically and thematically, but at the same time acknowledge its obvious problems? The game is fun and entertaining so that should be enough to earn it a recommendation. It is a short game, but it is a wonderful short game. The world feels so complete, but the game itself feels unfinished. You can make it a longer game for yourself through side missions and online multiplayer, but the elements that made the game so good begin to evaporate as you do so. Still, the expression ‘rent, don’t buy’ seems far too cruel for a game as worthy and filled with passion as this one. I guess thats easy for me to say considering I didn't have to pay for it.
This is how I felt about the game, and essentially the friend who leant me the game felt the same way as I did. But his disappointment with what the game could have been weighed more heavily in his assessment. The more you love a developer, the greater the potential is to lose your perspective. I remember having a very geeky, lengthy and heated discussion with another friend about Metal Gear Solid 2. He despises the game passionately, for reasons that are known to anyone who is familiar with the series, but that strong dislike came from the fact that, like me, he had loved the PS1 classic and had been waiting eagerly for four years for the sequel to arrive. With games that we highly anticipate that don’t live up to our expectations there are usually two reactions; an unreasonably defensive attitude and a refusal to see its flaws, or an exaggerated crushing sense of disappointment. Will God of War III continue the very high standards of the PS2 games? Will Mass Effect 2 manage to live up to the incredible claims of continuity made by Bioware? Will Bioshock thrive or suffer from the long shadow cast by the first game?
With a number of sequels to great games coming early next year, we can but look forward to them with nervous anticipation.