Tag Archives: playstation 3

Grand Theft Diary – Entry 1

So, it’s been a bit since I’ve posted anything substantial here; and I greatly apologize for that. Nonetheless, one of the giants of the industry was released recently, and it already has broke records by making over 800 Million Dollars in ONE DAY.

 

So yeah, if you thought that Grand Theft Auto V wasn’t a big deal…sorry, you’re terribly mistaken.

 

Because the game is so large, and so much of the fun is created just by being a part of the world; for the next couple of days I am going to be putting up some of my more ridiculous misadventures. I will try to keep it spoiler free, but I’ll make sure to warn you before hand. So without further adieu,

 

Entry 1 – or I just wanted a haircut

 

The game had just opened up for me, and one of the main characters had just been dumped by his girlfriend. Feeling his pain, I decided that he was in need of a new look to help him move on, or at least to make her jealous. So I started driving around looking for a barber.

 

Eventually, I stumbled across one. Now, I try to be a good citizen when I am not acting the criminal. So I parked nicely in front of the shop, I had followed all the red lights, and just walked on into the place.

 

What I didn’t notice was the group of thugs just outside the building.

 

I had just walked past them, but if I had taken the chance to stop and hear what they were saying, I might have reconsidered my choice of establishment. Almost immediately after walking in, one of the guys rushes in and tells me to “f*** off,” and proceeds to take a swing at me.

 

So, I punch him in the face.

 

And all his buddies.

 

I didn’t want to kill them, I just wanted a haircut. So, when the police finally show up, I assume that they are here to rescue me. Just a small man in a violent world, where all I want is to look good for whatever girl I may find at the bar. Sadly, the police officer had a different worldview and I took a shotgun blast to the chest.

 

Alas.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Joys of “Dumb” Fun

I love Dynasty Warriors.  It is completely ridiculous, hard to follow, and the voice work is so bad it makes you cringe. Yet, I cannot get enough of that game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy every iteration of the series, but it is one I come back to every handful of years. It is completely brainless in its action, and it doesn’t take much to understand what the game wants you to do.  Its the video game equivalent of a “popcorn flick.”  There’s no real substance to it, and that’s okay by me.

 

Dynasty-Warriors-8

Screw Lu Bu. Seriously, for eight games the guy has been a total dick…

 

Normally, the games I play (and then in turn write about) are the types that are trying to convey some sort of message or tell a story in one fashion or another.  Usually, these games are fantastic, and move the art form forward.  This is always a good thing.  Yet, like the movies, not every game can be Oscar bait; there always has to be a Transformers.  A movie, or in this case a game, that reminds us that the medium can just be about “fun.”

The More You Know...

The More You Know…

Frank O’Connor of 343 Studios said that Halo was about finding the five seconds of fun, and then repeating it throughout the course of the player’s experience in the game.  In that game’s case its about that combination of shoot, grenade, melee, repeat.  They built a whole multi-million dollar franchise on that simple concept.  Dynasty Warriors is about taking on and defeating multitudes of nameless enemies by the hundreds and Gears of War is about chainsaws and “bros.”  None of these games are bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, its quite the opposite.  Yet, the majority of these are not game of the year contenders either.  They exist purely for the fun of the player.

 

Just a little bit of chin music...

Just a little bit of chin music…

 

Games like these are good for the industry. They exist as “palette cleansers,” “guilty pleasures,” and many other things.  Games like Halo and Gears of War are the summer blockbusters of the gaming world and are amazing experiences.  We need games like this.  Not everything needs to strive to be a Journey or Thomas was Alone.  Sometimes, we just want to play a game.

 

 

Escapism doesn’t have to be a bad word, and for many people who play games, that is the number one reason they choose to.  They want to experience something fantastic, they want to try something new, to see some strange new world and be the big damn hero.  That’s why Destiny and Infamous Second Son looks so appealing to me; they are both taking me to a different place and time and letting me experience something that I never will.

 

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns...

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns…

 

For every Fez, Hotline Miami, and The Witness; there needs to be a Call of Duty, Titanfall, or Ratchet game.  There is a place for all types of stories and mechanics in this industry, and with the upcoming generation there will be even more opportunity to see all sides of this entertainment medium explored.  So whatever your tastes; now more than ever, is a great time to be a gamer.  Enjoy it for how it makes you think…and how is sometimes gloriously doesn’t.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shining A Light Elsewhere

As I stumble upon other interesting and related blog posts, I try to highlight them here. Interesting commentary and dialogue brings new thought, so tonight I bring you some interesting thoughts from Emma Vossen. Enjoy!

 

http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/wheres-the-sex/

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie….

Spoilers for Sleeping Dogs

 

I’ll be the first one to admit that I am bit late to the party on this one.

Sleeping Dogs was the epitome of a “sleeper” game. It came out the same week as Darksiders II, and there wasn’t much buzz going into the game’s release.  Yet, as the reviews came through, the narrative seemed to change.  Garnering solid scores across the board (7’s, 8’s, and 9’s), Sleeping Dogs was no longer living under the shadow of its torrid past as a True Crime successor.  It had become the open-world underdog; a great game that sold based on word of mouth of those that had experienced its fullness of its created Hong Kong.  It was a “cinderella story” for the games industry.  It sold well enough at retail; but it wasn’t until it came up on Playstation Plus that I finally got around to playing it.

I should have played it sooner.

 

SleepingDogs1

 

Sleeping Dogs starts off similarly to moves like the original Fast and Furious; you are an undercover cop sent into the triads to attempt to bring them down without getting too deep.  Yet, it is from that starting point that the developers made a point to have the player start caring about those you are trying to bring down.  I laughed as I began the game, thinking, “I’m not going to go ‘native.’ It’s hero boy to the rescue.”  Yet, the further I played through, the more I began to question my motivations.  When a rival triad gang murders my boss at his wedding, after I had taken his fiancee around town to pick up her things the day before; my first thought wasn’t, “what will the HKPD need to do,” but rather, “get me the biggest gun you can find.”  This is a giant credit to the game’s writing staff and speaks to the strong narrative that they were creating.  There are tons of moments like this peppered throughout the game; moments of just gut, emotional reactions.  This is especially true as you near the end of the game; as it climaxes towards its inevitable conclusion.

 

SleepingDogs3

 

Mechanically, the game is quite sound.  The driving is better than GTA, and the overlay they use on the world to tell you where to go is incredibly helpful.  The cars and bikes handle well, and the game captures that feeling of drifting through the city streets perfectly.  Where Sleeping Dogs really shines is in its melee combat.  Though not as strong as the Arkham games (the new gold standard), Sleeping Dogs’ combat is still quite stellar.  It takes combines the rhythmic and timing based attacks of Batman, and adds in an almost fighting game style combo system.  These different button combinations have your character string different attacks and finishers together to great effect.  It becomes more about managing the group and spacing, than about comboing a single enemy.  Unfortunately, the lock on system isn’t that effective and sometimes button inputs aren’t that responsive; which makes the giant multi-man brawls you fight late game all the more difficult.  The gunplay is exactly what you would expect in an open world action game.  It’s perfectly average; but they do give you a bullet time feature that you can use when you hop over cover.  It’s fun the first time; but when you get good enough to clear out a room of ten+ enemies with one jump, it looses its luster.

 

SleepingDogs2

 

After completing the game, it is not surprising to see why everyone liked Sleeping Dogs.  It gave players an interesting story, solid gameplay, and a place that was both foreign and familiar at the same time.  Sleeping Dogs is better than the sum of its parts; and is worth the play through if you have the time.  Hong Kong is large and vibrant; with street races, criminal activity, karaoke  and much more flowing through its busy streets.  It was an exciting place to tell a story, and I hope that there are more to tell here.  If only I could remember to drive on the left side of the road…..

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finishing the Unfinished…

Spoilers for The Unfinished Swan

As some of you may know, I am currently playing through The Last of Us.  So far, it is an amazing experience, one that is definitely worth your time. The AAA visuals are unmatched and the narrative strikes a chord with the player like very few games do.  Yet, that game in inherently bleak, depressing, and dark. As such, I turned to some other games to act as palate cleaners in between my ’bouts with the darkness. It was with that mindset that I finally got around to playing The Unfinished Swan.

 

UnfinishedSwan4

 

The Unfinished Swan came out in October of 2012, made by Giant Sparrow; another developer that had made a three game deal with Sony, much like thatgamecompany; makers of Journey. This was their first big endeavor and it was received to critical acclaim; even garnering some nominations for game of the year from different publications. Though compared to thatgamecompany’s previous efforts, Giant Sparrow’s first game tackled a far different theme, and introduced to a little boy named Monroe.

It was over the weekend that I was introduced to Monroe, his paintbrush, and the unfinished work that is the namesake of the game. It only took me around three hours to complete the tale, but when it was all said and done there was a well earned smile on my face. The Unfinished Swan is a game built around a pretty simple mechanic; the player, as Monroe, is able to use his paintbrush to affect the world around him.  In the initial level you use black paint to reveal the world, in another, blue paint to create water.  It is pretty easy game to pick up and play; but it is the themes and narrative that really shine and bring out the game’s best qualities.

 

UnfinishedSwan2

 

Monroe is summoned into this world of paint and fantasy by following his mother’s painting of an unfinished swan.  Through this very Alice in Wonderland premise, Monroe finds himself in tale that seems to be quite similar to the ones that his mother told him before she died.  This secondary story is revealed through storybook panels found throughout the world, told by Monroe’s mother. Revolving around a king that is never happy with his current situation, the tale gives the player a glimpse into the mysterious world that Monroe travels through.  It is a picturesque place, reminiscent of Escher paintings and minimilist works that naturally create a sense of childlike wonder.  The  player is left to affect the world as he or she will, but the less you do, the more magical it seems.  You don’t want to sully the environment that you find yourself in; you just want to walk around the world and experience this magical place.

 

UnfinishedSwan1

 

If the game was just those special moments of discovery, it would still be a good game.  Yet, underneath the childlike exterior is a story about the loss of a parent, and one child’s way of accepting death and change.  To me, and many others, that was where the game became exceptional.  You don’t see these sort of narrative concepts discussed often, if at all, in games nowadays.  It’s a touching story that resonates with anyone who has a relationship with their father and mother.

By the time Monroe finally meets the King at the end of the  game; he and the player have discovered that the King is his father, his deceased mother was the Queen, and he is simply following in his dying father’s footsteps.  Out of context, these moments don’t seem like much; but within the scope of the game they tell a story of accepting the reality of your parents’ lives.  As children, we all believe that our parents are immortal; that they will be in our lives forever.  We see them as kings and queens that rule our lives and the little worlds that we dwell in; yet at some point we have to realize that this can’t be true.  Our parents are mortal, they can make mistakes, and will eventually leave this world; hopefully with a positive legacy behind them.  Monroe’s journey to the king is the journey to that realization; the journey that we all go through at some point in our lives.

 

UnfinishedSwan3

 

The Unfinished Swan is a game to be experienced.  It takes a couple of hours and leaves you with a feeling that warms your heart.  The story alone is worth the journey; but even from a gameplay perspective, that fact that you are not interacting with the world through the barrel of a gun is refreshing.  If you have the time, $10, and a Playstation 3, you would be remiss to not play this.  It was a joy and few games are now.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,