Sunday, December 25, 2011
Game: Orcs Must Die!
Developer: Robot Entertainment
Genre: Tower Defense/Third-Person shooter.
System played on: PC (Steam)
Rated: T (Blood, gore, violence)
Sometimes you want to play a game with a thought provoking story, an immersive world and well developed characters; other times you just want a game about killing lots and lots of orcs. If you didn't guess by the title, Orcs Must Die! resides in the latter category, and boy does it do a good job at orc killing.
Gameplay: Despite its orc ridden appearance and title, Orcs Must Die! has more in common with Plants vs. Zombies than, say, more orc-focused games like Warhammer and Warcraft. Orcs Must Die Is a Tower Defense game but plays like a fast paced third-person shooter. The game plays very quick and is always focused on the action of the moment. As you proceed through the game, you get new traps after completing each level. After every wave you get a few seconds to set up some traps, and after three rounds you get full breathing room to set up your deadly devices of orc dismemberment for the next couple of waves.
Orcs Must Die! Is more forgiving than other Tower Defense games since if your traps fail to kill off enough orcs, you yourself can take them out by the hundreds with your trusty crossbow, sword and spells. Combat is fluid and fast paced. Placing traps is simple and easy to do; just select the trap and place it. You don't have to go through a pants-load of menus. Just set it and forget it.
Story: The story in Orcs Must Die! is only really made up of a few cut-scenes (less than a handful) dispersed throughout its 24 levels but is entertaining and ends in a surprisingly interesting way. The story in itself isn't the strongest out there, but you will pretty much be having too much fun killing orcs, setting up traps and planning your next strategy to care.
The main character has a few funny quips here and there (usually about his former teacher), but he will mostly repeat jokes that weren't that funny to begin with.
Visuals: Orcs Must Die! lends itself to a more cartoony cell shading which definitely adds spunk that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Even though all of the levels have pretty much the same aesthetic design, they each feel unique, and each level requires you to change up your tactics to fit said level.
Final Thoughts: In the way of replay value, Orcs Must Die! is rather limited to replaying old levels at a higher difficulty, but it is still a fun game that can easily please any Tower Defense or Third-person shooter fan.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I am a person who constantly tries to stay well-rounded, when it comes to basically anything. I'm always trying new things, different ways of doing the same thing- I constantly try to explore the depth of the world and the millions of different things there are to do. I do this especially in regard to my hobbies, whether they be reading, writing, watching films or television, and because of this I've discovered a wide array of fantastic things, from Breaking Bad to Adventure Time, from A Game of Thrones to Axe Cop. I am a person who always listens to every opinion I can, even if I disagree with it- it's just part of my worldview.
I do this with games, too. On any given gaming day, you may find me playing a very mainstream, big-budget shooter like Call of Duty, or a niche indie flash game, like Majesty of Colors.
However, recently I've noticed a change in the way that I view games, and the games that I am most interested in. I attribute this change not only to being bombarded with expensive games I have no way of buying, and fantastic productions like The Brainy Gamer, but also to a boredom with many of the games being released. Whatever the explanation behind this strange transition, I can say with some surety that I am now an 'art gamer', of sorts.
The term 'art gamer' may bring negative connotations to some people's minds. Perhaps you think of art gamers as stuffy college professors who are hopped up on indie flash games, or hipsters who feel mainstream games are all garbage, that Call of Duty has no artistic merit, so therefore it shouldn't exist (though, as I'll explore later, many do find merit in these games.) Well, I have found in my time with other people who want to deeply discuss games as art that these stereotypes aren't true. The more insightful 'art gamers' are actually just video game lovers like the rest of us that are equipped with a different point of view.
Throughout this blog series, which I intend to keep going with a new post once or twice a week, I hope to tackle a relevant issue to gaming from the stance of an artistically inclined gamer, or just generally explain the opinions of this gaming subculture. If you are at all interested in what 'art gamers' really think, not just carry on assuming what they think, I hope you read on.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
On this, the last edition of the Armchair Gamer Podcast this calendar year, we not only eternally condemn ourselves with irreverent humor, we also analyze some of the high points (and low points) of our personal year of gaming, along with games released this year. Also, we talk a little bit about the way our favorite gaming mag, Gameinformer, once was. Warning: Nostalgia abounds. Thanks for listening, and happy holidays.
Or Go And Listen on iTunes:
Check out classic episodes on Internet Archives: http://www.archive.org/details/TheArmchairGamerPodcast
First, thanks to everyone who listens to the show. There’s a lot of shows out there, and I’m glad you stop in every once and a while for ours. I hope you have a happy holiday season with friends and family. In case you are wondering, the hectic season and conflicting schedules, along with a noticeable lack of topics this time of year, has led us to deciding to finish making new episodes this year with this episode. This doesn’t mean we got cancelled, though… Starting next month, January, we will pick right back up where we left off, with more of the show, and some new content which I’ll make up some time.
You can follow me (the host) on Twitter:
You can also follow Nick Schneider on Twitter:
And, if you really want to, you can follow JJ on Twitter, too: http://twitter.com/#!/Thejourneyman66
Also, check out the official blog of the show:
Finally, like us on Facebook
What was your personal game of 2011, and what news story do you find most important?
Friday, November 18, 2011
Listen to the Episode Here:
Or visit the show’s iTunes page:
Also, in an effort to conserve space on Podomatic, we have a backlog of older episodes on Internet Archives, for your listening pleasure:
Nick is on Twitter:
JJ is also on Twitter:
And I (Your Host) Am on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Gamebeast23456
Also, check out the official blog of this podcast here: http://thearmchairnerd.blogspot.com/
How do you feel about JRPG's and WRPG's, do you like one more than the other- or do you find both equally interesting? We'd love to hear your input.
Once again, thanks to everyone for listening
Friday, November 11, 2011
In this installment of the revered Armchair Gamer Podcast, we sit down and chat about games with a creative, awesome independent game developer, Gregory Weir. Not only do we talk about his score of awesome flash games, we discuss mechanical storytelling, online distribution, and how you should raise a dragon. If you want to get the full effect of this podcast, check out some of his games at ludusnovus.net.
Listen To The Podcast On Podomatic:
Or Listen on iTunes:
Gregory Weir has a blog: http://ludusnovus.net/
And you can follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/GregoryWeir
JJ Can Be Found On Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Thejourneyman66
Nick Is On Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/TOGNick
And I'm Also On Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Gamebeast23456
Music Used in This Episode:
Intro Music: Knytt Stories Soundtrack: Snow Is A Chiptune
Outro Music: Bioshock Soundtrack Track Two: Welcome To Rapture
Thanks everyone for listening, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have an indie developer in mind that you'd like to hear on the podcast, or anyone who is remotely accessible- drop a comment or email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, November 6, 2011
I'm really, really tired of the debate about whether or not games are art. I have heard every possible argument possible from every side of the debate, and I will not listen to anymore of it. If you love games and have seen their power of telling stories and evoking powerful emotional responses, you understand that games absolutely have the ability to be forms of artistic expression. That discussion should have a bullet in it's skull by now, and the fact that gamers are still discussing it proves we are still unsure of our medium, and we personally aren't sure if we are good enough to be art, which is a destructive mindset.
Since I will never discuss that topic on THIS blog, I feel there are other topics related to the advancement of fascinating and artistic games that need to be discussed; there are problems surrounding video games as an industry that need to be solved. In this post, I'm going to cover two of these questions, and I hope you think about them, as well.
Is The System Weighed Against Creative Game Development?
What is "the system", you ask? Some may classify it as publishers, and the mainstream game market. I find that a little close-minded, and it doesn't really cover the whole problem. After all, publishers are just companies that exist to make money. They follow markets and bet on what they feel will succeed in the current market. No, "the system" may very well be you, and it is definitely is me at times. The things we buy contribute to "the system", subscribing to news organizations that parrot corporate lines contributes to it, etc.
You may think the statement that much of the industry is weighed against creativity is a little dramatic, and if I did not see the lineup for games releasing this year I may agree with you. But think about this: What games have you been most excited for this past year? Now list all of the sequels that appeared on your list. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having more of a great game as much as any gamer- but it seems the video game industry is more occupied on doing more of the same than doing something new. We don't seem to want to leave our comfort zone, and because of that we consistently get more of the same. And then when a game at least attempts something different, or tries to change video games- it is labeled as pretentious because, well, it wasn't fun, or some crap like that.
"The system" rewards people doing the same thing over and over because it says, "That weird game isn't how video games are supposed to be." "Games have to be FUN or else they have failed as a game." It's one thing to criticize a game fairly, it's another entirely to look down upon the game because the people behind the game are trying something new, and calling them pretentious because they aren't staying with the status quo.
Are The Personalities We Like in The Game Industry Dragging It Down?
I will admit that I really like Jim Sterling, the writer of Destructoid.com. Not only do I find his humor ridiculously funny (some of my favorite podcast moments are Jim Sterling going insane on Podtoid in British voices) and I appreciate his harsh criticism of gaming, and his apparent longing for games to become the best they possibly can be. Yet, Jim is very guilty of trying to limit games as a form as well. He has made it very clear of his disdain for "art" games, complaining that they aren't fun, like games have to be fun before anything else.
Now, it's fine to have different opinions than me. That's what makes the world awesome, there are so many great and fascinating opinions floating around on any topic, and there are people like Jim Sterling who are great at fluently expressing and explaining these opinions. But I find the idea that games have to be fun one of the most destructive of any concept in the industry. It's like saying a novel must have intrigue or else it has failed, it's like saying that a rock album has to have heavy electric guitar riffs or else it is worthless. There is so much possibility in interactive media that saying games have to be fun is ridiculous and limiting.
Yet, people eat up these people's opinions like they are going to give them pundit-superpowers or something. How could non-gamers accept games on the same level as books or paintings when so many people in the middle of the industry feel they need to be toys. I am sorry, but I DO CARE that people accept games- I want more people to be interested in something as awesome as games because I know if we got over this "games are toys" hump, everyone would realize that games are amazing, as I already have.
I have said my piece, and put forward some pressing questions about trends that are harming the future of imaginative games. I now hope you will disagree or agree with me, and expand this discussion beyond being a one-sided affair. We won't get anywhere in this medium unless these questions are asked, and I am eternally grateful for the internet as a place for asking them. Game on, guys.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
These last few weeks I've been pouring my gaming livelihood into one console game, Batman Arkham City. As I've said before, this game is absolutely fantastic- from the gameplay to the story to the awesome villains. Except one thing: The game is an absolute collect-athon. Really. There is so much to collect and accomplish in the game, it's overwhelming. Riddles, collectible trophies, breakable cameras- all of these are present in the game, and found in large quantities. These little treasures are scattered all throughout the game to lengthen gameplay, and darn it- it works.
Like I've said, the human brain has evolved into a very goal-oriented entity over the years. Understandably so. We needed to survive, and to survive we have had to accomplish certain goals. When we accomplish these things, we get a feeling of satisfaction- a purely chemical reaction; human beings are mind-junkies, we love to get ourselves high, and we'll spend hours accomplishing goals to get that feeling of satisfaction.
This concept has many guises in game design. The first is this: collecting items. This is not a new concept. Games have made us bend over backwards for upgrades or little sounds since dinosaurs walked the videogame landscape. Who can forget their first 100-percent-ing of a game. The second method of artificially lengthening a game is known as grinding: Grinding is commonly found in MMO and RPG games since, I dunno, the SNES. We did basically nothing for hours, such as fighting repetitive enemies and searching boring places to find a needed upgrade. And it was sold to us as a form of "upgrading" our character.... Yeah, that's nice.
And you know what? I'm tired of these psychological-tricks pulled on gamers. Grinding isn't fun. If you find grinding fun, I pity you. I don't buy a game with expectations that I'll be able to spend dozens of hours doing something for nothing. We just don't have time to grind in games anymore. There are things we need to do, game articles we need to write, etc. So why does grinding exist, but to artificially lengthen an experience that has no buisiness going on for as long as it does. It's a cheap design gimmick, and I cannot get behind it. You can't sell me a 60-dollar game full of fluff and expect me to thank you for it.
This is my own opinion, of course. I know some people who love games being lengthened for them. But for a person like myself, who wants to experience an RPG's story in a forseeable timespan, I cannot support grinding or collect-a-thons that are NECESSARY to finish a game. (I should mention that Arkham City doesn't punish you for not collecting, or grinding.)
You know, I dog on games like Call of Duty a lot. Constantly, I find myself comparing an artful, indie game to Call of Duty or a game like it. And I am very much guilty of also making the mistake of putting Call of Duty in a position of inferiority, like it is inherently disgusting and shouldn't even exist. Because, despite all of the complaints I've had with the Call of Duty series, I have to admit that for the last three years every single Call of Duty game released was almost a perfect game. You can not deny that Call of Duty is one of the most prestigious, consistently high-octane game series of all time. You have the success of the games alone to attest to that fact. Yet, I can not in good conscience look at the series as a particularly good one, or one that is healthy for the development of video games as a respectable medium of expression.
With that being said, I think the work of designers like Jonathan Blow, Gregory Weir, and others is far more important to the evolution of games than the near-perfect Call of Duty series ever will be. This is not to say Majesty of Colors by Gregory Weir is comparable in terms of gameplay to Call of Duty. Compared to COD, this game is nothing- literally five minutes long at the most, with pixelated graphics and one-dimensional gameplay that could never fill a game the size of Call of Duty, but these games have something that Call of Duty and other engineered blockbusters lack, and that's heart. And there's a very good reason why:
Most Huge Blockbusters Are Engineered To Be Blockbusters.
Why are series like Gears of War, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden, etc. so freaking good? Well, part of it is that the people working on the games are very, very talented people who are dedicated to their job and want to make a good product. But the other reason is because the amount of resources publishers have to use on high-profile games is insane. Games are constantly play-tested by non-biased, third-party individuals and tweaked to work perfectly. After all, they can't afford to release a product that isn't as perfect as possible.
By the time you play a game, it has been turned over and over by dozens of different people that try their hardest to break the game, to find exploits or problems with the gameplay, and to see how accessible the game is. You are getting a highly-refined, carefully crafted product that has been designed with the utmost quality in mind. Which is great, I still enjoy AAA games as much as the next guy. Just a few weeks ago, I basically had a nerdgasm over how freaking awesome Batman Arkham City was.
However, when anything is distilled- whether it be a game or a movie- the character is often taken away as well. In the interest of making a great game, a game loses the developers touch and the charm associated with playing a game you know was developed by people, not polls and play-tests.
Recently, I played the indie game Knytt Stories, a Metroid-style platformer full of whimsy and charm. I enjoyed the heck out of the game, devouring the expansions and then going back for seconds and thirds. It was a pure game experience, and my enjoyment of it was comparable to something like Arkham City, which is another near-perfect game. However, this game had flaws, HUGE, GLARING FLAWS! Flaws that could have easily been ironed out if the game was play-tested a few times. But, some of the things that were wrong with the game were also what I perceived as being done right. The game was so charming and fun, it had me spellbound the entire time I played it.
The game had, for lack of a less-cliched term, character. It had a presence, and the creator of the game created something that was beautiful and unique and awesome. It felt like it's own game, with no ties to anything else in the platformer market. It was pure and unadulterated, and what flaws it may have had were covered up by the sheer amount of uniqueness.
If we continue to eat up games that are developed like products and not forms of personal expression, if we keep classifying games based on mechanics, if we keep treating games as toys- we're not leaving this spot we are in now, this awkward spot of people pulling in every direction for only AAA games, no AAA games, etc. I'm not saying AAA-games have to go, but maybe it's time we stop looking for perfection in games, and start looking for individuality and fun. Maybe it's time for something that isn't over-inflated and highly marketed. Or- maybe it isn't. I guess gamers will decide that.
Friday, October 28, 2011
This week on the Armchair Gamer Podcast, we have a special episode. Rather than discussing the boring old news of the week, we (Nick Schneider, JJ, Michael Fox, John *Jman* and myself: Braden Fox) discuss horrorifying games. This discussion isn't limited to horror games, per-se. In fact, as you will see, we go into the very concept of fear as an emotion experienced while playing any game. Join us on this quest into the darkest corners of our mind, won't you?
Listen here: http://theamrchairgamer.podomatic.com/
Or, help us conserve bandwith and check it out on iTunes and drop a review! http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-armchair-gamer-podcast/id471329603?ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Braden Fox (Me) http://twitter.com/#!/Gamebeast23456 Also, I write news articles for Gamizon.com: http://gamizon.com/
Nick Schneider (TOGNick) http://twitter.com/#!/TOGNick He writes for a website: http://www.thegameeffect.com/
JJ (The Journey Man) http://twitter.com/#!/Thejourneyman66 He's Lazy and Does Nothing... :)
Jon Gregory (Jman240) http://twitter.com/#!/JMan240 And He Edits This Battlefield Website Or Something http://dontrevivemebro.com/
Also, please check out the blog: http://thearmchairnerd.blogspot.com/
Music In This Episode:
Dead Space Music: I've Got You Devolving Under My Skin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4-7G2KoVGc&feature=related
Dancers On A String (From BioShock): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjBOysu3O1c
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Last month, a post on a blog I respect was made about the concept of microtransactions. Not only did this article have a good, and blessedly brief, description of microtransactions- it posed some very important questions, questions I feel many developers (and publishers) should consider more closely, if they care about being fair to their consumers. I hope at least part of the industry is worried about not being jerks, though there isn't much evidence to support that concept.
(First, before you go on, read the blog post here)
The question I personally want to concern myself with (though there plenty of good queries in this blog) is this:
"Do microtransactional games prey upon gamers' (or children's) addictions?"
My feelings on this are very strong. Personally, I feel games like FarmVille are extremely insideous in design. Unlike retail or downloadable games, where you have a set price you have to pay, FarmVille is marketed as a game where you don't have to pay anything for the game. And, practically, that is true. You don't have to pay for anything; it's possible to play and enjoy Farmville without paying for it. However, you are at a very noticeable disadvantage if you do not take part in the microtransactions. Once you get hooked on the game, there is a very, very good chance that you may find yourself spending small amounts of money to get upgraded tools and plants and other such things just to keep your competitive edge against your friends. Also, I should point out the fact that Facebook is an equally insideous place to put the game. After all, you are constantly bombarded with reminders from your friends and the game itself that you need to keep playing, and you really should spend some money on a new tractor, while you are at it.
Our brains are wired very precisely. We love having specific objectives and goals we need to accomplish; the reason that we are so goal-oriented is simple, we had to be goal-oriented to survive. And since your mind really only does have a limited capacity to consciously seperate a virtual space from reality, you could very likely find yourself taking the most efficient route to succeed in FarmVille. The cash route.
Of course, I understand that every game has similar incentives to keep you playing, and to keep you wanting to enjoy a product. Leveling up, unlocking areas, having complex puzzles that almost give you a sort of high when you solve them, these are all methods constantly incorporated in games to keep you playing. But, as this article points out, what seems like a small amount of money at the time has a way of stacking into piles of money that could finance the exploits of a James Bond villain.
But, then again, these games are loved by a lot of people. Maybe I'm just cynical, that's all.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
As some of you probably know, the 10-year anniversary of the release of Grand Theft Auto 3 is upon us. If you didn't know, Rockstar's official twitter has no doubt made it very well known to you. When we look back on this very, very influential game we see two very distinct ways that this title impacted gaming. The first, and most obvious, is mechanically. This game literally created a subgenre, innovated in ways that many influential games can hardly dream of. And then, of course, one remembers the controversy surrounding this game.
One of the best articles I found regarding this whole legacy of controversy was from a controversial news site, Kotaku (http://kotaku.com/5852439/heres-the-first-dumbass-thing-the-mainstream-media-said-about-grand-theft-auto-iii) Not only does this article do a fine job of highlighting one of the earliest instances of someone blaming GTA for being objectionable, it also points out that the very objectionable content the mainstream media points to really doesn't exist. The article points out that the crimes committed in the game's narrative were not any worse than what has been observed in many crime movies, and many crimes are actually avoidable. Also, it mentions the ever-apparent fact that the game was not marketed toward young children. THERE'S AN M FOR MATURE ON THE BOX. No one's trying to sell the next Grand Theft Auto to little Billy.
I think this anniversary of GTA is a good time to be reminded of how games are still portrayed by the mainstream media. If the fiasco with Bulletstorm was any indication, the same unfounded prejudices present in 2001 exist today. Perhaps, because of the enhanced graphics and gameplay, these harmful stereotypes are more present then ever. When well-animated brains spray out of people's heads in many popular games, it's easy enough for FOX or MSNBC or CNN to take all the sophistication behind games like GTA or even Bulletstorm away (because they can) and conclude that they are nothing more than toys that aren't even appropriate for kids. And, as long as people eat up these misconceptions like first-class ribs, there is no reason for these news agencies to stop printing and reporting falsehoods about an industry that's very, very promising and is trying to find it's footing throughout the world.
Since when was it "acceptable" for large news sources to blatantly lie about topics that are important to many people (such as game devs who need to sell enough of a game to keep a job for themselves and their families) because it increases ratings? It's a sick practice, and I hope some day we can stop all the media manipulation of facts.
Game: Metro 2033
Genre: FPS, Survival Horror
Console played on: PC
Every once in a while a game will come along with enough guts and balls big enough to slip past my guard and steal my heart from right under my nose, (Don’t ask why it was there, Trust me you don’t want to know.) Metro 2033 is the latest member of those thieves’ heart burglars.
Visuals: Graphics wise, Metro 2033 is fairly pretty looking game (With the exception of a few character models here and there, and the fact that all of the characters tend not to blink that often) but, its aesthetics are what really make it a beautiful game. Everything in the game feels like the apocalypse swept in not too long ago and left the world (or at least your part of it) in shambles. Everything from the environments you go though (like the dark, gloomy and decaying metro system you travel most of your way and the bitter, icy-cold, nuclear winter on the surface), to the people you see in the metro station, to the weapons and items you use, have the feel of an apocalyptic depression to them and not in a gray-brownish kind of way.
Story: Metro 2033 is based off of the Russian book of the same name and while that is cool (And I suddenly have a hankering to read said book) it does leave the game with a few holes in explaining thing. For instance the game doesn’t really explain what the mutated monsters were before the apocalypse or why there’s a war going on in the metro between Communists and Nazis, or even how the Nazis got there all of which I’m guessing was explained in the book.
Gameplay: Starting off the gunplay is very solid; most of the guns in the game feel good to fire (With the exception of Pheumatic weapons which I found to be pretty useless) I did find that regular Iron sights a lot better than the scopes (though that could just be me.) Depending on what difficulty you play it will be either plentiful or not.
The enemies consist of your basic human (I’m fairly sure you’ve heard of them) Opponent to a somewhat wide variety of mutated monsters (By “somewhat” I mean most of them are a grayish color but they form into a bunch of different shapes.)
In the game your main source of currency is military grade bullets. You read that right bullets=money… Well kind of. “High grade” ammo is your money; dirt ammo (Basically the crappy quality ammo) is what you use on most enemies. When you get to friendly metro stations you can spend your money ammo on items (gas mask filters, throwing knife, grenades and medkits), Dirt ammo and better weapons. This gives the game some light RPGs elements in a way. Will you spend money on more dirt ammo? Maybe some throwing knifes, a better gun perhaps? Maybe just save it up for the next station. Who knows maybe you’ll find a better weapon later on.
In the future, this is what librarians look like.
Throughout the game you will also find certain levels that can be completed in a more stealthy way (Most particularly during the “Front Line” mission) and there are routs past enemies but I felt like there’s nothing really to distinguish as the “Stealthy way” to complete said mission and I tended to only find them after I had already killed a bunch of guards.
One thing I absolutely loved was the well thought out items that you use throughout the game. For instance, you want to check your current objectives you press the objectives key and it brings out a note-book and lighter. By pressing the right mouse button/360 trigger you look at your current objectives and by pressing the left button/trigger you flip your lighter on in order to see it better.
Are you about to go to surface? Not without your trusty gasmask you won’t! During surface missions the gasmask provides some extra tension as you keep track of your gauge, filters and how much damage your gasmask takes. Now I never actually ran out of filters since there is always a dead body around I could loot for them and there’s usually a spare gasmask around to replace your damaged one but, I still had the feeling of “am I going to make it to the end?” whenever I went to the surface.
One item I especially liked was the watch. Your watch is kind of the Swiss army knife of the metro. When you put your gas mask on it tells you how much air you have (though I found this to be flawed since it always seemed to be in the red even when I put in new filters to my mask), It comes with three LED lights (Red, yellow and green) which act like the light crystal from Thief and tells you how hidden you are and Last but not least, it tells time. Not in game time but actually time (or you know what ever time you set your computer’s/360’s time to) seriously, it actually acts like a real watch!
Checkpoints could have, no,should have been done frequently. At times I would find myself begging for another one to appear before I got myself killed (Which I knew would be very soon). That’s one of my mains flaws against the game outside of it killing off most of the characters before I got to know them more.
Final Thoughts: Metro 2033 has impressed me, which, isn’t an entirely easy thing to do. The game has its flaws such as: it could do with some more frequent checkpoints and the main storyline had a few holes when it comes to explaining some things but it’s the best example, I’ve seen, of elements in game telling a much grander story than the story in game.
I am a huge supporter of the idea that video games, a media that was created as an electronic toy, is quickly evolving into an artful medium (I'm not going to go down the road of the whole Video games are/aren't art dicussion, because it's done to death.) The focus on atmosphere, story, and other experential elements is increasing greatly this generation of games, and with that arises several problems that have existed since the inception of video games. The problem I am speaking of today is this: Video games aren't defined into genres by the experiences they offer, or the themes that they deal with in the game, they are defined by gameplay mechanics. They aren't categorized by the experience you have with the game, necessarily, they are categorized based upon the vernacular (game mechanics) that game developers use to transfer ideas and stories.
In the early years of video games, the setting up of genres based upon gameplay mechanics made more than enough sense. After all, not only was the technology behind video games extremely primitive, games were toys. Even the people who spent time developing games were keenly aware that what they were making was nothing more than a toy, a piece of entertainment. A basketball isn't advertised as an object that you can create great stories with, because it's just a toy. It has only one intended function; no one promises you anything more than something you can play basketball with. The same principle applies to early games. In Super Mario Bros. you were performing a series of platforming challenges to accomplish a goal. That's all. No doubt, it has fantastic design and is an all-time classic, but it's very apparent that this game exists solely have fun.
And for a while, this idea of defining games based upon their mechanics worked fine. Even very sophisticated games, like Final Fantasy or Deus Ex, still were very refined versions of a basic style of game. The complexity of games until around this generation was still limited to something that could (usually) be comfortably described using this system of genres. However, in many cases, this is no longer true.
I'll do something I'm a big fan of. I'll use BioShock, because it's a very good example of a game that succeeds on a mechanical and artistic level. Now, if you wanted to, you could still identify this game as a first-person-shooter; a game where you use guns to defeat enemies in a first-person perspective. However, defining this game like that does it a huge disservice, one I find almost offensive. Because Call of Duty is a first-person-shooter, as well. Defining Call of Duty and BioShock as "similar" games, is like saying a more recent Stephen King novel and Edgar Allen Poe short stories are similar. Call of Duty is NOTHING like BioShock, beyond the very shallow comparison that both are games that require you to shoot at people in a first-person-perspective. The whole purpose of BioShock is that it's a unique experience in a dark, compelling world. It's an intense, philosophically charged game that has so little in common with COD it's like night and day. So why are they both classified as the same type of game? Because of that old, outdated idea that video games are toys that exist only to provide basic experiences of say, shooting a guy and jumping from one platform to another. It's that mentality that causes games to be looked down upon. How could you accept a medium at all as a form of personal expression (or of, *sigh* aaaarrrt if you must) when it's defined by mechanics, not experiences?
I'm not saying that games need to have higher meaning than being fun just to fit them into a different genre system.I love shallow experiences where I can just shoot bad guys and not worry about heavy-handed experiences as much as the next video game blogger. All I'm saying is that, maybe, it's time for us to look past a game's mechanics alone to determine what kind of experience a game truly is, and put it in a genre accordingly.
Friday, October 21, 2011
In this episode of the Armchair Gamer Podcast, we discuss Batman Arkham City being freaking awesome, what DC heroes should get a video game makeover, why I don't like David Cage's attitude toward games and the direction that he wants to take our industry, and a lot of other interesting, in-depth conversations about the future of video games.
Listen to the podcast here: http://theamrchairgamer.podomatic.com/
Or download it off iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-armchair-gamer-podcast/id471329603?ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Braden Fox (Me) Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Gamebeast23456
Nick Schneider (TOGNick) Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/search/TOGNick Blogs: http://www.thereal4thfloor.com/ http://www.thegameeffect.com/
And the comic he spoke about:
Listener Question Of The Week:
This is assuming alot, but if you are listening to this podcast and you want to be associated with it, we have a way for you to do so effectively. It's called the listener question, and I'll try to do one every now and again. Here's this weeks double-parted question:
DC has basically confirmed that a DC-comics based game will be coming out next year. However, at the time of this writing- the exact name is unconfirmed. What DC comics franchise would you like to see ported to a game?
Also, who do you think could replace Mark Hamil as the voice of the Joker?
Just drop a comment, or hit us up at email@example.com
Friday, October 14, 2011
This week on AGP we have Michael Fox, Nick Schneider, JJ, and myself (Braden Fox) as the hosts. We discuss Batman Arkham City's online pass, Mass Effect 3's online, how we are going to occupy the game industry, my man-crush on Ken Levine, and how awesome Superman64 is.
Also, if you are somehow offended by anything that is said in the podcast, I deeply apologize for whatever...
Listen to the show here: http://theamrchairgamer.podomatic.com/
Also, go to iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-armchair-gamer-podcast/id471329603?ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Intro: MC Lars "OG Original Gamer" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHC_gv8OaAI
Outro: Valve Theme http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUKcAo8AriM
Braden Fox (Me) (Gamebeast23456) Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Gamebeast23456
Michael Fox: Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelFox00
JJ Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Thejourneyman66
TOGNick Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/TOGNick
(By the way, we're stepping up this podcast very soon. TOGNick is getting a new means of recording the show that doesn't suck, we're going to start organizing better, we're getting a Facebook and a blog. I am excited for next week, where a fantastic episode will be recorded of the Armchair Gamer Podcast. Thanks for listening.)
Ladies and gentlemen, the three hosts of the Armchair Gamer Podcast are silly individuals who enjoy just rambling on comicly. We all do. So in this laugh-packed episode, we not only cover a record number of video-game related topics, we also go bat-crap insane. I realize that I have an unseen darknesss in my soul, we discover our own Dan Stamp, and we reminisce about how someone forgot to sign the user agreement. Not only that, but we cover some diverse topics in the games industry today. Join us on this magical ride through space and time itself!
You can listen to the magnificient podcast at this page! http://theamrchairgamer.podomatic.com/
Topics We Discuss and their links:
Team Bondi About Done For:
IPhone 4S Announced:
Valve Gives Us Free Stuff:
Double Fine Makes Every Other Studio Look Like Jerks:
Steve Jobs Death
Some very talented people work marginally hard every week to provide you this service that is the Armchair Gamer. Here are some bloody
Gamebeast: I write for an indie website called http://gamizon.com/ where I write news articles. Also, if you use the twitter you can follow me right here: http://twitter.com/#!/Gamebeast23456
TOGNick: He writes for cash money at a website called http://www.thegameeffect.com/ go and support the son of a gun. Also, if you use Twitter- don't hesitate to follow him http://twitter.com/#!/TOGNick
Thejourneyman: Sadly, he doesn't get paid to write, or even writes as a hobby.. Sad face. Anyway, you can still follow him on the Twitter machine: http://twitter.com/#!/Thejourneyman66
Some Show Notes:
1) We are still looking for guest hosts to join the madness. If your interested on being on the podcast, please leave a comment on this blog or my profile page.
2) If your interested in making a basic logo for the Armchair Gamer Podcast, I will give you something as a reward. No idea what... Something.
3) We're currently in the process of getting an interview with a guy named Christopher who is a game developer currently working on an indie PC title: Imagine Me. We may have to phone in his performance. If so, cool.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
These are the first two episodes of my videogame podcast. These are only the first two episodes of my first podcast. Expect a lot more episodes and podcasts. Here it is, boys and girls.