Friday, 20 February 2015

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Warfare * But Were Afraid to Ask Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 is a very serious video game, maybe the most serious video game ever created. Its unflinching earnestness makes it, in my opinion, one of the most important games of recent years, if not all time. Far Cry 2 is everything big-ticket games are almost always too scared to be: it is hard, it is strict, it is a pain to actually play, it is uniformly bland in its approach to conflict and interpersonal relationships, it is - well, genuinely amazing.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Mordor Could Still Use More Shelves


I’ve recently moved house and spent a lot of time doing DIY. I’ve also been playing Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. DIY is full of intricacies and I’d go as far as to say these are pretty much limitless. The “Nemesis System” featured in Mordor - which generates unique foes for the player algorithmically - is full of intricacies, though these eventually run dry. That about covers the majority of the content of this aborted missive, which is far too unwieldy for me to ever hope of bringing under control. While I was lost in the maze of drivel, I kept bumping into myself asking the same question: why, when the differentiation between ‘story’ and ‘other’ content in open world games is often so slight, can I spend many, many happy hours labouring repetitively, only to lose interest in these same tasks the moment I’m not being pushed through by a narrative?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Role-play it (again), Sam


I was, I think, trying to play the Half Life mod Vampire Slayer this one time, when I inadvertently ran into a bunch of people - a dozen or so, which was fairly respectable even at the height of the rabid modding community (dilution of the playerbase an’ all) - doing some very strange stuff. Vampire Slayer, as its name would suggest, was a combat-orientated experience where a team of humans (the titular Slayers) duked it out with a team of pastier humans (the titular ‘Pires) using all sorts of John Carpenter’s Vampires-inspired gadgetry. Only these players weren’t doing as they were told. Instead of swiping at, staking and shooting one another as would be expected, everyone was gathered around chatting or walking about, enacting something that kind of resembled real life. That is to say they were all simply flaunting the generally accepted rules of a team deathmatch game and just not killing one another. After a little polite inquiry I was informed that I’d happened upon a role-playing server: a place where one was free to pretend to be anything or anyone you desired - as long as you didn’t mind doing so dressed as a vampire version of the G-Man with great big claws and a nasty looking omelette scalp.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Return to (Castle) Wolfenstein: The New Order


General Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse is a gnarly looking old man, with the kind of exaggeratedly evil voice, mannerisms and disfigured face one tends to associate with modern depictions of Nazis. He’s crouched down staring at me through the screen, flanked by two giant Über-Soldaten, each with one of my comrades, Wyatt and Fergus, wedged under their weighty knees. He’s goading me - or more accurately William Joseph "B.J." Blazkowicz, the bloke I’m in charge of - in that wholly merciless way Bad People From The National Socialist Party tend to do. And because he’s a thoroughly amoral kinda guy, you see, he’s up for dissecting one of them and he - here’s the kicker - wants me to choose who is to be the lucky recipient of his scientific attention. Do I pick Wyatt, the spunky rookie who only minutes before had saved me from certain death and whom I now "owe one"? Or will Fergus, the gruff and straightforward Scotsman who clearly has a history with B.J - though to what extent I’m unsure; I didn’t play two thousand and nine’s Wolfenstein - be the last man allowed to possibly, maybe, perhaps stand back up?