How to Combat Bungie-Fever With These Simple Steps

Combat Evolved

Unfortunately this is not an article about combating a disastrous plague involving tall muscular men in green jumpsuits. Alas we do not live in such a world, but if we did, everyone would be teabagged…to death! No, instead this is a timely placed article about the repercussions of accidentally contracting a manufactured disease known as Bungie-Fever. Also since Destiny is super close to release, or is already here, I figure why not talk about Bungie and their relationship with journalists, and major gaming media sites? No?

Let me start out by saying this, even though my anticipation has lessened, I think Destiny is going to be a solid game. Also did you see that live action trailer? Before you read on, you have to check out this live action trailer that’s directed by the same guy who did Oblivion and Tron Legacy. It may be the best live action trailer for a videogame I’ve seen in quite a while.

“Proof that if you merge the Immigrant Song with space, you get something beautiful.”

Ever since the split from Microsoft, Bungie has been working hard on their upcoming MMO-shooter-HaloBorderlands thing. It’s perhaps one of Activision’s biggest titles that is said to have a 10 year lifespan, and maintains a budget of over $500 million. That’s a lot of Destiny themed Mountain Dew bottles they’re going to be selling in the future, and hopefully one of them has a flavor specifically made for the Peter Dinklage bot. I’m striving for a name like ‘moon wizard’ flavor, I think it can sell.
Although there is of course a reason why Activision has put so much faith in Bungie, and that’s because of some asshole named Master Chief (I don’t know the guy personally, but I hear he doesn’t tip at bars and doesn’t put on deodorant). Halo was, and still is, the poster-boy for Microsoft. Sure they have Gears of War, Fable, Forza, and uh…Viva Pinata, but nothing has taken the mantle away from Halo in terms of what Microsoft’s consoles represent. Without a doubt, Halo is perhaps one of the most inspirational, groundbreaking, and monumental successes there is.
See this is where the tables have turned, and I give my piece on why Halo is the most undeservedly praised, clunky as fuck, and ridiculously repetitive games out there. Okay, that’s bit of an extreme path to take. At best I’ll say this, Halo is a pretty entertaining franchise that constantly has made adjustments to keep itself fresh within the gaming world. Mostly its multiplayer is what keeps the game going, but the campaign’s keeps inserting small nods from previous entries and the books to keep hardcore fans happy. They’re fun arcade shooters that keep making small adjustments whenever a new one is released, just so they aren’t all easily identical.

Now that I said all this, let me move on to a, let’s just say, a controversial statement. Maybe not to many, but to some it’s considered ‘sacrilegious or ‘taboo’ apparently to say such a thing. So here it is, the main crux that I’ve been trying to lead up to throughout this entire article is – Bungie is not the greatest studio in the world. Put down your plasma swords, because there’s a reason why I wanted to bring this up.

Right around the time we saw our first glimpses at Destiny, I was stoked to imagine the possibilities of what a game like that can do. An open world game where you get to travel into space, customize your spaceship, collect loot, battle crazy bosses, and do other cool shit involving RPG mechanics. It sounded like something that could be a lot of fun, and perhaps overall word of mouth will say such things once people get their hands on it, but thing is I described the reasons why I felt like it could work. It had nothing to do with the studio, it had more to do with what the game was presenting.
I was noticing something fascinating though, like a common cold, apparently certain major gaming sites started to spread ‘Bungie’ as a buzzword. Like, ‘Bungie can do no wrong’, ‘don’t doubt Bungie’, and ‘how can you not love Bungie?’ In fact I heard less about the game they were promoting, and more about critical acclaim behind Bungie. It’s like a popular boy band that all the girls are into, except it’s a bunch of dudes in green armor on stage, and the girls are replaced with journalists who throw their wet pants on stage. I can only imagine the type of fan mail Cortana must be getting, yeesh!

What is it that makes Bungie this top-tier studio that apparently every other studio should aspire to be? I mean they did make forge mode, and you do not want to fuck around with forge mode, I’ll tell you that. They made Cortana naked-er in 4, I mean I don’t know how you do that to an AI robot lady, but they did it…oh wait that was 343 Studios, damn it! The warthog now has golden rims, oh wait that’s not true, that’s just something I accidentally read from my wish-list for Halo 5. Oh boy, I should stop doing that.

Despite Halo being a thing and the influence it wrought on the industry with the regenerative health/shield bar, I don’t think that constitutes as being one of the greatest studios out there. It does carry weight to the name, in the same way that Sonic once carried weight to Sonic Team and Sega, but that’s it. Halo is a competent shooter, but only got better once it started borrowing mechanics from Unreal Tournament (hey, be glad I didn’t say ‘ripped off’). And then for a long time based their third installment on a catchphrase that would make every greedy marketing manager cry with dollar signs from their eyes (‘Finish the Plate’ I think was the catchphrase). Halo: Combat Evolved, 2, 3, and Reach are all good games, but if we’re basing what makes a great studio judging from a franchise that has made minor to moderate adjustments throughout the years, then Infinity Ward should be on there as well.

Journalists and the gaming world love to put Bungie on this pedestal of greatness that no other studio can ever achieve, despite that their most notable accomplishments involve a franchise where a man in a green suit of armor shoots aliens (not enough love for Marathon Man apparently!)
I’m sure Naughty Dog is sitting on a park bench during the national Bungie ceremony, and saying to someone, “I’ve put out a PS2 platformer trilogy involving a talking ferret and a man with anime hair, and it’s one of the best franchises of all time. And then I put out another PS3 action adventure trilogy that’s influenced by Indiana Jones, that’s considered one of the best trilogies of all time. Then I lastly put out a survival horror game that has one of the most memorable endings of all time that’s so highly acclaimed it even got a PS4 port immediately after. Yet I still am not in league with the studio that’s been working on the same goddamn sci-fi FPS franchise for close to 10 years.”

Then someone says, “What about Crash Bandicoot?”

And then Naughty Dog says, “We don’t talk about that, not since the break-up.”

This is not a question of what makes the best gaming studio in the world, that’s a whole other can of worms to open up. This is a question of why Bungie needs to be looked at through a non-bias magnifying glass, and how they’re not the pinnacle of game development. Maybe Destiny will change that, or maybe not, but remember to contact your local doctor if you contracted Bungie-Fever. Unfortunately there’s no cure at the moment, the only way to treat Bungie-Fever is through Half-Life 2 children’s vitamins. Even more good news, they’re shaped like head crabs!

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Too Serious or Too Goofy? A Look into Current/Future Tonal Shifts in Videogames

Tonal Shift Image

So I was reading up on the interweb gazette today, that’s what I call reading news on the internet, and found out something interesting with the development on Sunset Overdrive. In an interview with Siliconera, the creative director of the game, Marcus Smith, stated that maybe things are a little bit ‘too serious’ in the gaming community. “Games are kind of like uber-serious right now. In a lot of cases, people are trying to make interactive movies more than things you are entertained by. For us, we just wanted to divert and go back to our roots. Insomniac has always done games that were pretty self aware, always had a sense of humor, and are fun for different groups of people.

While I certainly am glad that Insomniac is returning to what made their games great in the first place, this brings up numerous interesting points about the current state of the industry. Have videogames gotten too serious that now we’re returning back to an era of fun and light-hearted titles? Should we absolutely return to this frame of mind after what’s been going within the last ten years? Can we reach over-saturation with having games that are colorful and are just based on mindless entertainment value?

Of course I grew up with colorful platformers when I was a wee dino-lad, so to me I absolutely have no problem with returning to making games be about…fun (I know, it’s hard to imagine that). However this really could be the proper dose of medicine the industry needs right now.

Since the beginning of the PS3/Xbox 360 cycle, major videogame titles were developed with the mentality of ‘we have the tech to make this as realistic as possible, so let’s go for it’. This type of thinking was fed into people’s minds, along with shooters like Gears of War, Halo, and especially Call of Duty making a statement that shooters were here to stay. But most importantly, it started the birth of ‘Realistic-Gritty-Unshaven-Masculine-Men-Games-That-Also-Happen-to-Have-Shooting-Elements’ genre that even greatly influenced other studios to go in that direction with their software (Mass Effect, Uncharted, inFamous, Resistance). However it wasn’t the games themselves that influenced the change in direction, it was the fact that publishers found out that making games realistic and gritty would allow for profitable sales. This is especially apparent after the success of the Call of Duty franchise once Modern Warfare became a huge success (this was the game that transitioned the whole ‘I’m tired of WW2 shooters’ to ‘I’m tired of modern military shooters’ phase), which led to the regenerative health system and the linear level-designs with occasional interactive cinematic moments squashed in between.

 

COD: Advanced Warfare

REALISM MOTHERFUCKER!!! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THIS!

It’s kind of like that moment when Max reached 16, and was like, “Ugh, I’m so tired of wearing shoes with bright blue colors and listening to the Dave Matthews Band! I’m gonna start dressing up in nothing but black clothes and wear Kiss make-up. And every time I turn on the radio I’m gonna make sure that The Smiths are on! Because I’m a reflection of this world  I’m living in, nothing but pain and misery!”

Of course you slap him, because you’re the mother or father, and say, “Son, you stop taking everything seriously and quit reading your crappy poems out loud! Even the cat is tired of listening to them, look at that, he’s curled up into a ball because you can’t stop saying the word ‘bleak’!”

This is what I felt about the past generation of gaming, a lot of developers want to be taken seriously, but just don’t have the writers or knowledge to be taken seriously.

But what makes Max as a child any better? All he was doing was making fart noises, writing inappropriate messages on the bathroom wall, and scribbles all his belongings with various amounts of crayons that just don’t complement each other. Max was an annoying little shit, and so was 16-year old Max, but in both their own unique way.

It reminds me a lot of how Saints Row became super successful after 3. Saints Row 3 features a lot of immature elements such as giant purple dildos, nude para-shooting, doing silly dances in front of public authority, and features a lot of crazy costumes. The third and fourth ones are pretty fun, but they also, and here’s where I’m probably going to receive a lot of angry messages for this, have terrible writing. It’s a colorful GTA mod where the writers and designers work in unison just to throw shit on the wall, and see what sticks.
However it never grounds itself, does it want to be a wacky slap-stick game or does it want to be the videogame equivalent to Airplane? Where everyone is taking things seriously, but they’re put in extremely ridiculous environments? The voice actors do their damnedest to sell their performances, especially Nolan North in Saints Row 4 who just sounds like a slightly different version of Deadpool, but the material they’re given is too minimal, redundant, and has not a whole lot of proper set-ups to the jokes they are telling. “Hey, look its Keith David – he’s Keith David! Hey look, it’s Shaundi, she’s dressed provocatively, but deep down is a tough woman even though people still call her a whore!”
Of course these games are known for their ridiculous missions, and the fact that it’s a sandbox game where you can do whatever the hell you want. But I feel like the franchise’s success is based on when it was released, which was around the time when GTA 4 was being mocked for being ‘too realistic’ and gritty military shooters were becoming popular. To many, it was the shining light of absurdity at the end of a tunnel that also had a lot of military shooters that looked the same. Personally I think there are other games out there that achieve the same sense of madness, but work so much better such as Deadpool and Bulletstorm.

Although that’s besides the point.

Thing is, I don’t think you can over-saturate the market with nothing but games that are made just for entertainment value and nothing else. Like, “Oh my god games these days are made to look colorful and are entertaining, where are the ones that make me shoot stuff and make me feel like shit?” No sane person says that, and if they are out there, they’re what’s holding the industry back. Realistic and gritty shooters will never go away, and no one’s going to take them away. It’s just that the amount of gritty realistic shooters is too damn high!

What we want to achieve as an industry is to have the perfect balance that we had with the era of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube console cycle. An era where one genre wasn’t overshadowing the rest, and where developers were being experimental with the genre’s they were working in. The result would exhibit a wide spectrum of genre’s ranging from silly action games, to light-hearted adventure games, to realistic yet fun racing games, and of course your super gritty and depressing shooters. Instead of having an emphasis of one specific genre, and having occasional brief appearances of other obscure genre’s.

If Sunset Overdrive does extremely well, we could be seeing a refreshing start to more colorful and entertaining games that don’t have a strong emphasis on just shooting stuff. Or maybe we just can’t get enough of our big-chinned and scruffy white protagonists. Maybe we could reach an agreement by just removing the ‘scruffy’ part, and having them just be big-chinned white protagonists. There we go, yep I finally found a compromise that everyone can get behind!

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How The Current Trend of MMO’s Can Backfire

MMO Banner

 

These days, everything has to have an online component. Whether it be for keeping track of how far you’ve gotten in a game, showing your gamer score when combating against other online friends, or proving how little you care about online components in the first place. It’s like having a restaurant force you to pay attention to their salad menu, even though it’s a goddamn salad menu. I’m sorry, but unless I see you tossing squid tentacles or live rattlesnakes into a bowl of lettuce, I’m not going to care! I’m happy you have this new selection of salads, but don’t make it out to be the future of your restaurant’s business!

It’s at this point Brutuxan forgets what he’s writing about, and instead goes into a long tangent about salads. Also what does this have to do with MMO’s? You’re just talking about online functionality in today’s games! Either stick to the topic, or discuss how much you dislike salads you flip-flopping carnivore!

However what I was building up to was this, there’s a reason why online components are being pushed super hard into games that shouldn’t even need them in the first place. Right now, we’re entering a phase where publishers think that there’s profit to be made with adopting the MMO model. Meaning, “Hey, if World of Warcraft was so successful and Blizzard is making a shit ton of money, why don’t we do the same thing?” Mostly by slowly planting those seeds in there, letting them settle in, and finally growing them into a full-blown MMO tree with all the features of the previous game. Rockstar did that with Red Dead Redemption, and is technically doing the same thing with GTA V‘s multiplayer mode.
Granted, not all of these developers have the same mindset, some of them just want to make an MMO because that was their creative intention. But for the publisher, that’s like seeing dollar signs just swarm around them like butterflies trapped in a cage. And why shouldn’t they? As I stated, there is a lot of business to be made with MMO’s, mostly because they harness every single thing that makes Brutuxan kind of cringe when he hears about them – micro-transactions, monthly fees, auction bids, guild events, slightly over-priced DLC, some bullshit cockatoo pet that you can teach to to play a ukulele (actually that last one sounds kind of cool). Hearing those words would make almost any executive want to create a happy accident in their…piece of clothing suitable for covering up their legs, something like that!
Games like Destiny, Fable Legends, The Crew are all games that are marketed as console MMO’s. These were games revealed almost around the same time, and were made in the same mindset of, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we mixed a racer/shooter/combat RPG with an MMO?” Granted, maybe I’m a little out of the loop here, but were people honestly asking for this? The Crew does sound genuinely interesting, and I could see that appealing to a certain demographic, Destiny only maintained its momentum because of Bungie’s name, and Fable Legends…I have no goddamn clue why that had to happen. However it’s not just about these games, for all I know they could be great games, it’s just the repercussions of sticking to that model that seems worrying.

As we all know, there’s a lot of resources that goes into making triple-A games. But an even bigger risk is to invest your company into the development of a major MMO title. Doesn’t even have to be up to the same caliber as World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2, the game can be as milquetoast as what 38 Studio’s title was most likely going to be, but it’s still a heavy investment. Also I know there’s going to be someone out there complaining about how I was belittling 38 Studios, but here’s the thing I want you to ask yourself, in an age where we have WOW, Guild Wars, Everquest, Old Republic, Planetside, Elder Scrolls Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, Battlestar Galactica Online, Final Fantasy 14, Wizards/Pirates 101 and among a ton of other MMO’s how do you plan on separating yourself from the rest of the herd?
Let’s gloss over the controversy behind what happened with 38 Studios, because personally, I think there was equal blame go around on that. Right now, I want to look at Project Copernicus:

 

So there seemed to be some interesting designs, looked pretty, but other than that for a game that had a budget of $100, 000, 000 + was there anything in there that screamed ‘I have to play this’? Sure it was very early in development, but it’s blatantly obvious what this game wanted to be the moment I saw that fucking medieval compass, tree chandeliers, and Easter egg houses. Seriously, why are their Easter egg houses in the trees, why couldn’t they just be ‘treehouses’ – was that not grand enough for you 38 Studios? Just like every other MMORPG out there, it wanted to be WOW, but couldn’t because Schilling apparently forgot that maybe aspirations, dreams, and shit cost money. Even worse is that Rhode Island got nipped out of its tax money when realizing most of it went to this goddamn studio’s undesirable dream project.
Also get this, Schilling’s big reveal for the game was that it was going to be “free-to-play.” It’s like saying, “Hey, I’m going to be borrowing your money, well, most of it to finance my dream project. Oh, and I’m probably only going to give you a fraction of that money back, okay, maybe only 10%. But still, it’s at least something, right?” It’s a lovely message Curt Schilling likes to call, “Live your dreams, except if you’re a resident living in Rhode Island. Yours isn’t as important.”
Let’s not forget the people who worked on the game, I mean sure there are those who honestly were on board with the idea from the start, but there had to have been those who were there because they needed to work. If Schilling was aware of what was going to happen, in context he sounds like a really selfish person. Maybe he wasn’t, but when you put hundreds of workers jobs on the line for a dream project involving Easter egg houses and cartoon elves then perhaps its time to re-evaluate some things. Like maybe painting the Easter egg houses green, I don’t fucking know.

The problem doesn’t just linger with 38 Studios, it’s something that persists in mostly every other MMO since WOW‘s success. The Old Republic was an MMORPG built for those who wanted to play an MMO with a thick engrossing story built around their characters. If only most of the players stuck around though, because as it turns out the game took a financial nosedive soon after its release.  The Elder Scrolls Online was an MMORPG that was built on the concept of, “What if we made a more open-er Elder Scrolls that allowed you to interact with other players?” Instead the game came out with mixed reception despite its attempts to make it seem more unique than it was.
Future MMO’s face the same problems such as Destiny with its story. I mean, listen to this inspired piece of dialogue from Peter Dinklage!

This an MMO filled with content that will span for over 10 years. And this is the type of dialogue and writing we can expect from one of the central characters in the game…doesn’t that just fill you with excitement? Man, I sure can’t wait to get to know that Peter Dinklage robot who sounds more dryer than a eraser broad being cooked in the sun, and without the decency to at least be lit on fire cause that would require…trying!

There are several major problems I have with MMO’s that I will not fully get into with this article, but let me briefly bring them up. One, if it’s a fantasy MMO it’s story is probably ripped off from Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, if it’s a sci-fi MMO it’s story is probably ripped off from Star Wars or…Star Wars. Two, every task giver says pointless dialogue just to send you to do another mundane errand, that will later send you to another task giver and then do several more repetitive errands, eventually leading you back to the mundane task giver with the mundane repetitive tasks because you need XP to put more numbers behind your numbers. Three, the idea of giving your character this extreme purpose like he’s Neo from The Matrix is bullshit the moment you see another player with the same class doing the exact same mission. Four, if you’re a turn based MMORPG, chances are, you’ve probably hijacked the same mechanics from WOW.
Not to mention there’s the wastefully time consuming talents, the mounts you won’t get till a higher level that also requires a ton of gold, the constant slow run back and forth between missions areas, and the raids that prevent you from furthering your progress. There’s a difference between, let’s say, playing something like Deus Ex or  Pac-Man Championship Edition. Where one offers you the choice to play the game your own way, and the other is all about stacking as many points as you can within short bursts, so you can come back and play it later. Those games offer great entertainment value without the hassle of monthly payments or repetitive uninteresting gameplay elements, and eventually you can find the end of the tunnel with them. With an MMO, you’re investing your own time into a tunnel that keeps going and going and going and going and going and – wait – keeps going and going.
That’s fine if you’re into that sort of experience, especially if you have a tight group of friends who just play one game all year. What I’m saying is, this is what the industry is striving toward right now. Games based off a model that worked once or twice, involve very expensive budgets, and have a high possibility of only bringing in a specific crowd. Essentially, these publishers are just sticking to building mansions instead of well-put together two-story houses or one-story houses. Or hell not even equaling things out by dabbing into all three columns.

This is not me saying we should eliminate the MMO genre altogether, this is me saying there’s a lot of incredibly risky moves being made right now, and the result of said incredibly risky moves will hardly be beneficial, in fact it could be disastrous if this is where the industry is going. Right now we have several free-to-play MMO’s that aren’t the sharpest looking tools in the shed, but they can certainly kick the crap out of your shiny run-of-the-mill fantasy MMORPG’s that have over millions of dollars invested into them. Want to know why the free-to-play model is succeeding? Because they either stick with one poison, instead of all them (micro-transactions, monthly fees, full retail pricing). And even then, some of those free-to-play MMO’s still have just as many problems as a monthly subscribed MMO.

It’s why I hate hearing the concept of a Pokemon MMO being thrown out there, like it’s going to be fuckin’ rainbows and kittens. There won’t be any of the expected problems we run into with other MMO’s with the new Pokemon MMO! Those are just there because we put them in a box inside the darkest recesses of our mind that we occasionally check due to morbid curiosity! Same damn thing goes for those geeks who want a Firefly MMO, an X-Files MMO, a Lost MMO, anything based on a beloved geek property or something Joss Whedon had a hand in must have an MMO because that genre represents the high point of gaming! Everything in the world needs an MMO, despite the fact that it’s probably been done already in one of WOW‘s latest expansion packs!

You see what I mean? You can put all your time and effort into a product that you claim will be different than WOW, but guess what? Even if those fans flock to your game for a few weeks, they always go back to WOW. Because WOW never dies, but those who try to be WOW, despite their best intentions, wind up just clutching on for too long, and finger by finger they lose grip, falling into the never-ending abyss of Everquest sequels and whatever DLC The Old Republic has coming out.

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The Future is Here, Except Not Really Cause it’s a Virtual Illusion!

Oh hi, it’s been a while (again) since we’ve talked. Apparently some stuff has happened in the videogame industry, but sadly not every news day can be about Battlefield 4‘s plethora of online issues or how Kinect is still sucking harder than PS Vita sales right now. Man my hyperbolic meter is off the charts today. Point is something grand has happened today…or tomorrow…or whenever this article will go up. It’s the dawn of the age of…

BDSM Goggles

“Steam-punk BDSM goggles?”

It’s not what you’re thinking you sick son-of-a-lovely-reader, you. Virtual reality is here, and it wants your living room – badly!

What could eventually be the next gaming trend had its roots shaping into form when the Oculus Rift starting hitting news outlets via Kickstarter. It’s essentially a giant head-set that looks like  like a clunky modem strapped to binoculars that were used by gnomes. It wasn’t pretty, at first, but in due time thanks to its founders – Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, and id Software co-founder John Carmack it looks more like you’re wearing a mini-laptop instead.

Oculus Rift 1

“It’s also a great way to pick up the ladies.”

All kidding aside though, the Oculus Rift is quite an impressive piece of hardware. With its intriguing resume of maintaining a 5.6 inch display, high-speed IMU, along with its special firmware (requested by Carmack) and you get a pretty beefy set of 3D glasses. Speaking of Carmac, the man himself actually left id Software just to put more time into the damn thing. This goes to show that when you leave a highly complex piece of equipment on your front door step, a Carmack will appear. Granted we still have about a year or two  before we finally can get our hands on these bad boys (in about late 2014 or early 2015), but the reception so far has been pretty great for the Oculus Rift.

It was so great that even Sony was like, “Hm, we’ve tried selling these blue dildo controllers, how about we take these futuristic visors from Picard’s sex dungeon?” And indeed that is how Project Morpheus came to be.

Project Morpheus

Project Morpheus is the latest attempt from Sony to try and rail in some of that Oculus Rift dough. Currently the kit will come at 1080p resolution, has sound rendering, and will have full 360 degree support along with other fascinating technical attributes. However with that said, it will be used mostly with PS Move and the PS Camera. So you’ll practically be looking like a mentally challenged Darth Vader, and not even as intimidating. It would be one thing though if it was just Sony doing this, oh no, now we have several different types of VR headsets.

We have Seebright working on a headset that separates its experience by removing the feeling of ‘isolation’. Cause that’s doesn’t sound concerning about your mental health.

Seebright

Then we have Sulon’s Cortex headset that can map any room. Even the inside of your own body for sexual purposes that may be talked about on launch date.

Cortex

Also there are rumors of Microsoft wanting to make a VR headset, and Valve has already been in talks of working on something similar. Probably. Virtual Reality is coming, and it’s coming real fast. But even after its initial phase, will consumers still buy into it?

Motion gaming was at one point being claimed as this new wave of innovation that everyone was waiting to get on board with. It sure did seem like it too with the way Nintendo was making some serious money off the Wii on launch week and the year after. Though there was one major problem that Nintendo would soon encounter with the Wii, there was no software to back that shit up yo. Plus once you bought the Wii, you would recieve a copy of Wii sports for free, and that was all you essentially needed. That was until you got to the latest Mario, Zelda, or Super Smash Bros. game.
However by the time the age of the Wii was ending, Sony and Microsoft would seize control of Nintendo’s reign of mediocrity. While both of their peripherals or systems were different, both the Playstation Move and the Kinect were both trying to ape the Wii from the get-go. Certainly Nintendo wouldn’t just let it go down like that, especially not after they released Wii Sports Resort? Well tough shit Wii Sports Resort, because Move had JK Rowling with her new kooky videogame and Kinect had baby tigers! What more could you give us you piece of retirement home entertainment?!

Therein lies the problem with these peripherals. The Wii began as an excellent idea that capitalized on the least likely demographic you would ever expect to play videogames, your parents and grandparents. But once grandpa Lester stopped giving a shit about his high score on Wii bowling, he probably wouldn’t have given a shit about anything else. Move’s problem didn’t consist with its titles since apparently we’re talking about a peripheral that looks like someone strapped Doctor Manhattan’s testicle on the other end of a remote. The problem there was just basically a combination of a peripheral that looked to similar to another’s, and the timing behind it.
Kinect as well began with a cool idea of utilizing your entire body as the avatar for whatever game you were playing, it just so happens that everything else was kind of shit beyond that concept.

Sure we still have Kinect 2.0 and Move is still around, but as usual with Nintendo, they love to start trends such as implementing a tablet controller into their next system. Tablets around the time before the announcement of the Wii U were an interesting concept that companies such as Apple and others seemed to have an understanding of. Some of their games weren’t too shabby either, one of these ‘not-too-shabby’ games was Infinity Blade which utilized the touch screen and was an actual game (shocking). After seeing the success of the iPad, Nintendo thought they would catch lightning in a bottle again and…yeah…ZombiU.

Also 3D doesn’t count because ‘who cares’.

But look I’ve already mentioned motion gaming, tablets, 3D made a resurgence once again, but virtual reality at a time seemed like something that was only heard of in Star Trek episodes. Now it’s becoming real, bulky – forehead sweatin’ – red eye inducing – realness. Granted I don’t think it’s fair to make a full judgement of a piece of hardware on launch day when it hasn’t had much time yet to progress into something great (except for the Ouya). So at the moment I can’t make an assessment of what the future beyond launch will hold for this piece of equipment.
Anyway I’m dilly-dallying along here, point is will virtual reality be welcomed into the industry like a warm toaster strudel that was left in the oven for the right amount of time? Well the icing may, I mean, the answer may surprise you because…I think it will…have its place somewhere. For the longest time this industry has suffered from being too safe when it comes to making decisions in order to attain cash from consumers, or a lack of decisions in some cases. So with the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, perhaps we could gain new experiences and challenges that will boost this industry’s creativity?  I’m no fortune teller, but if I was, I would have the sickest crystal ball you would ever see and perhaps assume that virtual reality would have a relatively nice stay since it would give something different for developers to work on.

But then again, I have been wrong before…Hm…nah! It’s all going to turn out just the way I foresee it.

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Brut-Seg! How the Godzilla Reboot Could be The Start of Something Beautiful or Horrible

Godzilla Cover

I’m gonna move away from videogames this time and talk about something that I think is just as important. So what is this important thing with a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound that pulls spinning high tension wires down? Gamera, sorry, it’s Godzilla! This year Legendary and Warner Bros. are once again adapting the 1954 Kaiju classic. This time with less terrible impersonations of Siskel and Ebert along with silly scientist names.

The movie is set for May 16th 2014, right around the beginning of another summer blockbuster fest. Starring in the movie is Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and Juliet Binoche. Directing the reboot is Gareth Edwards, who also directed his first feature film, ‘Monsters‘, right before moving on to Godzilla. This is also one of the last remaining studio collaborative projects between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, who have also produced Pacific Rim.

Boring facts aside, I’m a huge Godzilla fan and have been nervously anticipating as to when we were going to see the US attempt another stab at this. Especially since the last Godzilla movie was Final Wars, and that came out in 2004! So as you can imagine, I’ve been researching as to what this reboot was going to be about and if it had the possibility of being remotely ‘good’. More than likely it will be better than the 98 movie, but to be fair that’s not hard to do. Terror of Mechagodzilla is better than Godzilla 98, and that reused stock footage from previous movies!

However while in some ways I’m looking forward to what Edwards may bring to the table, there’s also just as many factors going against what could make this a great movie. So let’s examine both sides of what could spiral out from the 2014 Godzilla movie. One of which may include Spacegodzilla, but then again everything should have a Spacegodzilla.

The Roaring Positives –

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While Pacific Rim did breed a new type of Kaiju fan, the majority of America seemed to not care much for the big ‘robot rumble’ fest that it was. This is sad considering the massive opportunity the movie had to break some new ground, but instead got overshadowed by an Adam Sandler comedy. I would say that’s a crime against humanity itself, but isn’t humanity the culprit in this case?

With Godzilla however, this could become a second chance for America to become more aware of the genre. From what I’ve read, it seems like this won’t be just a simple origin story, but instead will compose of several giant monsters. Despite both Pacific Rim‘s and Godzilla‘s opposite tonal shifts, they both have one thing in common that the Kaiju genre is already known for – men who have lots of straps on their uniforms – actually giant monster fights. Just substitute your average Toho production crew and cast with an American-Hollywood aesthetic and there you go.
What would also benefit more, and maybe this is just me saying this as a huge Godzilla fan, is to feature more iconic Toho monsters. Such as Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Spacegodzilla (told you), Anguirus, and hell throw in some obscure ones like Varan and Titanosauras just to make the hardcore fans happy. I know while Toho isn’t exactly the most lenient when it comes to lending out their catalog of monsters, but would it be that expensive to have Godzilla fight Rodan, with the budget being excluded here? Must we subdue Rodan into obscurity?

It’s evident that Toho already had an influence with the design for the 2014 Godzilla, but I think it could also benefit Legendary Pictures more if they take the time to listen out to Toho. Not to say that Toho is filled with the greatest ideas, god no. However it could possibly bridge things between the Kaiju fans in Japan, and the general public in North America. Think of it as an opportune strategy to attain not only the North American crowds, and perhaps the Japanese crowds. As I said, it’s something Pacific Rim should have done, but unfortunately hasn’t. Don’t let Guillermo’s notepad of leftover Pacific Rim ideas die in vain!

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A way this debacle could also be solved is to adapt a Toho classic, Destroy All Monsters! Despite its problems, which I admit are plenty, Destroy All Monsters still remains as one of my all-time favorite Godzilla movies. It’s perhaps one of the few movies I can recommend to non-fans who love seeing people talk for half an hour in between five minutes of monsters attacking cities. But I digress, it’s a movie that honestly does deserve to be remade mostly for the fact that it not only revolved around the monsters escaping from Monster Island, but also had a large brawl with King Ghidorah at the end. So already you have yourself a badass premise with some iconic monsters, and a villain they can all fight against.
It’s like the Avengers, except the heroes in this case eat and demolish everyone at the end!

Although this was merely something I wanted, and thus it became simply just a dream. Until Gareth Edwards said in an interview that he does indeed want this to build-up toward a Destroy All Monsters sequel. It may seem a bit too soon considering the other opportunities that could be done with this new rebooted Godzilla, but it does show that he does indeed want this to happen.

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One other positive aspect about all this is that Edwards does seem to be very eager about the project, and in particular seems to be a fan of Godzilla. Most of his enthusiasm for the movie seems to stem from the original 1954 film, but as was already mentioned with Destroy All Monsters, he is aware of the goofy installments that proceeded after the original. What I like is that he seems to be putting forward ideas that most fans would like to see with a proper treatment of the large scaly bastard.

Imagine that, in 1954 when the first Godzilla movie was made, this creature really existed and someone saw him, tried to draw him and tried to make a suit, and they did a very good job with it, but when you then saw the real creature, you’d go, “Okay, I totally understand how you got that suit from that creature, but now I see the real thing.  I totally believe it.  It’s completely real.”  That was the brief we gave for all of the designs.  We did hundreds of designs, and never stopped playing with it, until the last minute.  It got to a point where it was like, “Is there anything else you want to change about this design.”  Personally, I was really happy with it.

– Gareth Edwards, Comic-Con: Bryan Cranston and Director Gareth Edwards Talk GODZILLA, Crafting an Origin Story, the Visual Effects, a Potential Sequel, and More [Collider.com]

Edwards vision for the movie seems to be one of bleakness, authenticity, realism, and surprisingly a sense of horror that hasn’t really been done with Godzilla for quite a while. At least if you don’t consider the 98 version to be a horror movie, I know I do. Perhaps it’s this type of unique and different thinking that could push this movie to greatness, or in other ways maybe a disaster.

The Nuclear Melting Negatives –

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The problem that most Godzilla movies, hell Kaiju movies in general, face is that the human parts are not as enticing as the monster parts. Either the characters are one-dimensional, have annoying sidekicks, are ex-scientists, or are all of the above. However just like with dance or kung-fu movies, you don’t go for the acting, you come for the spectacle and choreography. That’s why the Kaiju genre exists, because of the strong emphasis on the monsters and shocking reactions rather than the elements around it.

Now Japan has been doing this for quite a while with Godzilla, America on the other hand, not much luck. The 98 version of Godzilla also followed a scientist who was part of a military operation to take down Godzilla before he annihilated New York. Doesn’t sound as different from the Toho movies, until you take into account the terrible dialogue, the annoying romantic interest, the cliché military general, the caricatures, and the residents of New York with the most over-the-top accents I’ve probably ever heard. These characters were so terrible, it brought down the movie with it, well, along with several other things I could name of.

While the 2014 Godzilla isn’t in the same situation as 98 Godzilla, it could very easily fall into the same trap with human characters that aren’t that interesting. Even worse, they make the human characters boring and stilted because what if Gareth Edwards isn’t too good on directing actors? Would make sense considering that this is the second movie he’s worked on and Monsters, personally saying here, did not have the best human characters. I’d like to be proven wrong, but even I admit that perhaps the movie could suffer too much from not enough Godzilla and too much sappy human drama. Thick sappy human melodrama!

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However we’re also living in a post Dark Knight age because, well, Dark Knight made a lot of bank. The Dark Knight was an astounding success that elevated Batman into becoming one of the most grounded out superheroes of all time. Approaching this property with such a realistic and gritty intention has not only worked so well for Batman, but it also worked great for Superman, and everything else in the goddamn world. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Dark Knight and I think Nolan is a talented director, but what people have to realize is that the reason why the realism factor works for The Dark Knight is because it makes sense within the context of that character.

Godzilla on the other hand, um, it’s a giant radioactive dinosaur that shoots lasers from its mouth (and yes, the atomic breath has been confirmed for this movie). Judging from what I’ve seen with the trailers and the promotional material as well, there seems to be a lot of dark clouds, highly equipped soldiers, dead bodies, sad faces, and a very serious tone set in place here. All I have to say is, where the fuck are my ice-beam tanks and the giant Ultraman rip-offs to fight against Godzilla? Kidding, but it does bring up an interesting idea thought that I became curious about. Could the movies themes and message hinder the movie?

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It’s already noted that Edwards appreciation for Godzilla originated from the 1954 classic, but I’m worried as to how much inspiration he’s taken from that movie. What worked about the 1954 movie was that its message was brought about during a time when the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing was still on people’s minds, and nuclear weaponry was a hot topic. Cloverfield also had a similar message, except tweaked so that it fit within the context of a post 9/11 society. I’d arguably say that’s probably what the reboot for Godzilla should have been. Instead here we are with a reboot to a popular franchise wanting to maintain the same spirit as that original movie, but will it still work now that we have Cloverfield, and will people be able to buy the message that this movie seems to be going, which is nature rebelling against the oppression of man?
I do acknowledge Edwards enthusiasm, but I think inputting an analogical point to today’s society in a movie like this could easily backfire. Especially if he keeps banging us over the head just to remind us about it. Yes, humans are terrible, their upbringing is the cause of natures downfall and blah, blah, blah! I just want to see Godzilla beat the crap out of some monsters, is that too hard to ask for?

There’s a lot of bases to cover here, and a lot of appeasement to reestablish this franchise again, however for Gareth Edwards it’s about proving why he should be in charge of Godzilla. Regardless of how awesome that concept trailer looked, or how much you probably enjoyed that teaser trailer, those are only mere glimpses as to what we can only expect. And then again, we’re shown very little as to what this movie will be about exactly. For some, that’s a great thing because that means there’s a lot more to uncover once the movie comes out. For me that’s more of a reason to be excited and worried at the same time.

I’m just dreading the day where we see a wacky cartoon spin-off of this movie. Or anticipating it…hm.

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Why Trying to Make Videogames Accessible to Your Dad is a Lost Cause

Family

It was always an odd thing trying to reason with my dad as to why I play so many videogames. To where he would always say, “Go read a book!” And my response was, “But I don’t know how to read!” It was always leading up to a stifling conversation, sorry, argument that never really solved anything. Now that I’m way older and have matured somewhat for a man pretending to be a dinosaur on the internet, my perspective has changed immensely.

It was even more apparent when I saw this clip from a show across the pond on Channel 4. It featured an upbeat Charlie Brooker bringing over to test out his PS4 with Jon Snow, who seemed more out-of-place than a baptized Christian baby in a Jamaican rave club. I’m not going to say much from here on out until you finish the video, go on then…press play…just see what happens.

Alright, so several things of note here. One, Jon Snow has no idea what a ‘kid’ is. Two, this videos reminds me so much of the arguments that me and my dad would stumble into when it came to playing modern videogames. However I kept thinking about this, and in general it’s the same argument I see a lot of young gamers have with, to put it bluntly, old people.
Several years ago Roger Ebert gave his opinion as to why videogames can never be art. Now I disagree with that statement, but it seems like a good chunk of the internet took that as to him labeling the medium as ‘nothing but garbage’. Keep in mind the majority of people commenting on the internet aren’t necessarily your grandparents or crotchety old uncles, but instead are composed of young adults and mostly teenagers. It’s a technological disconnect that ultimately leads to…

“Why can’t you take my games seriously?”

And the answer should be ‘why does it even goddamn matter’, but let me explain in an orderly way that may make more sense…possibly.

Context in Videogames Makes About as Much Sense as the Jackalope –

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Think about your favorite videogames, Red Dead Redemption, Portal, or The Last of Us. Those are some fun games, but examining them through an older lens you start to see things that just don’t make sense. Like how come John Marston can easily skin a bear off-screen in less than 10 seconds, how come the Clickers don’t notice Ellie, or why would GLaDOS be programmed to make cakes?

Well in a videogame you have to provide convenient supplements to the mechanics in order for them to be, well, videogames. Hence why we have explosive red barrels in so many shooters, why there are tons of disposable health pack stations in action games, and why there are so many rats to kill in RPG’s. Those elements serve their purpose to the player, but for those who are unfamiliar with the medium it just seems…stupid and insanely questionable. Just like the Jackalope.
That’s because of the automatic comparisons those make to older mediums, like film or books. Once you’ve become acquainted with something for so long and grew up with it, anything new that comes about much later gets looked at with intense detail simply because it may be the new thing you hate. Hell I do the same thing with iPhone games, like why would anyone want to play a game in which you fling a bunch of roided-up birds at a group of retarded pigs? I know the answer to this, however not a whole lot of older people do nor would they care since they could just watch Philomena a billion times over instead.

So regardless of how well you could easily pitch a game to your 50-year old mother, the moment your mom plays Gears of War be prepared for a lot of, “Why does everyone in this game have a six-pack? Why would you attach a chainsaw to a rifle, isn’t that a bit overkill?” Or in actuality, “Are all these characters based on Vin Diesel or something?”

Game Recommendations to an Older Generation Becomes Pointless –

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I’ve been there before, the idea of trying to have one of your parents sit down and listen to a bunch of gibberish that would sound insane even in a bum-house. For instance, try explaining the plot of Metal Gear Solid in the most sufficient way possible. And let’s say if you do manage to persuade them about checking out the game, are you willing to spend over $50-60 on something that could possibly be resold the day after? It’s a huge financial risk to try to pick out a game that your parents could possibly play for more than 30 minutes.

This is why I ultimately recommend smaller games like Journey or Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. One is a nice relaxing game that can appeal to anyone, while the other is a straight-up shooter designed for those who love 80’s action movies. They’re not too long, they can be played any time without injecting a disk, and they’re damn good games to boot.
However while these smaller games don’t cost as much as the full retail games, this idea can also backfire. Especially if you think it’s a good idea to introduce them to indie games like Braid or Limbo. Nobody likes a hipster as much as the next guy, but even your parents will wax off that ironic mustache once they have ‘rage-quitted’ for the 50th time.

Games are Still Marketed Toward Young Males –

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Oh what’s that? You’re enraged by the idea that videogames still are considered just for teenagers and racist children on Xbox Live? Well sucks to be you, because publishers still think that’s the case.

Sure we’ve come a long way since Duke Nukem and Doom, but let’s be fair here, for every Bioshock Infinite there’s a Call of Duty or Battlefield just right around the corner to prove why the medium is dominated by young males. In fact let’s take a look at a commercial for Call of Duty: Ghosts, and see if it does appeal to older folk:

Well you do have Frank Sinatra playing in the background, and there is a dog, but it just for some reason seems to be missing that old-timely feeling. I think it may have to do with the dozens of explosions, the hip banter between the team mates, and the celebrity cameo appearance by Megan Fox. These are the types of commercials that get played over and over on sports channels, which makes sense since those are the type of rowdy crowds these publishers want to purchase their games.
Videogame covers are also susceptible to this, including some like Bioshock Infinite and Mass Effect 3.

Comparison

Let’s see, do we have both characters holding really masculine or advanced weaponry? Check. Do they have intense looks on their faces? Check. And finally do they seem to be leaning downward as if they’re about to grab a shiny quarter off the ground? Check!

Oh yeah, games are totally marketable for older demographics. But once you put the game in their hands, it becomes a different and disappointing story.

Games Are Much More Complex Than they Used to Be –

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One of the most frustrating things was watching my dad play Ghostbusters: The Videogame. Not only because was it a mediocre game, but he seemed to be having a difficult time grasping the controls. Each time I saw him play that game I just wanted to grab the controller and say, “Look, there’s a right analog stick for you to control to camera! So now you can spend less time doing the moon-walk and more time catching ghosts!”

Little did I know, or should have known to be completely honest, this was his first time playing a PS3 game. Despite how easy it is for me to grasp the idea of utilizing a modern videogame controller, he didn’t know that, and furthermore it takes time to become used to a different layout. Think about it, arcade games back in the late 70’s and 80’s were fairly understandable to use because each button on the interface told you what it was for.
The outline for those games were simplistic not only in design, but also in the way they spelled out their objectives. Like Space Invaders – prevent aliens from invading earth, Street Fighter – compete in a world tournament to become the champion, and Pac-Man – um, you’re a yellow puck who eats power pellets in order to eat blue ghosts. Okay, not all of them made sense, but they were simple and told you well enough of what you were in for. Nowadays, that’s no longer the case.
Game genre’s have evolved and bled into each other, so much so that trying to explain to someone of my dad’s age how an action game like Arkham City is different from a hack & slash game like Devil May Cry can be quite the hassle. Because from his point-of-view it’s, “Well aren’t both games about beating up bad guy’s?” It also doesn’t help that manuals have pretty much become extinct, and that in order to understand the controls you have to look up an e-manual online. It’s Natural Selection in videogame form, except instead of leaving your inferior genetics behind, it’s your crappy skills at Madden or Call of Duty.

Before someone says, “Oh, well should games be dumbed down then? Is that what you’re asking?” Absolutely not, but that’s the reason why…

You Get Games Like L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain

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If you love L.A. Noire or Heavy Rain, I have no problem with that. I may personally disagree with your opinion, but don’t let what I say hinder your experience or enjoyment of those games.

…Are they gone? Okay, I strongly disliked L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain on multiple factors, but the key one here is their failed attempt at trying to reach a mature audience. L.A. Noire premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, a place made for older and mature folk who really like a bunch of artsy shit. Kidding, that’s the Cannes Film Festival!
Anyway, L.A. Noire was the first game featured at the film festival, and while on one level that is impressive, on the other…it’s a fucking videogame. This isn’t the only time that’s happened though, Beyond: Two Souls was also featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013, which was made by the same studio that did Heavy Rain. All of these games were grasping for that older demographic in hope of attaining a new market of gamers, however they also forgot that they were suppose to be making videogames. L.A. Noire was an open sandbox game that had about as much freedom as Farming Simulator 2013, and forced you to go down a linear path. Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls were worse about this by replacing actual gameplay with quick-time events while stringing together a mesh of ideas that wound up disintegrating the main plot.

Hm, what’s the common theme here? Ah yes, products based around fantastic performances, incredible motion capture, and beautiful photo-realistic graphics. But suffered immensely due to lack of substance or no substance whatsoever. These were games that rubbed glue all over themselves and were launched into large batches of tired tropes and clichés we’ve seen in a billion other movies. While stripping what little meat of gameplay is there, and substituting it with this blatant illusion of choice and repetitive quick time events. Sadly, this was the only way it could have gone since, well, it’s a bunch of old fuckers trying to play modern videogames! How else would you expect them to buy your product, relaunch the Atari 2400 and port the games on there? Actually, I kind of want that to happen.

Although there may be hope, well…

Some Games are Being Taken Seriously, but You may Not Like the Answer –

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Yes, you people finally won the argument about why games should be taken seriously! But what games are we talking about exactly? Well let these fine gentlemen explain.

So does Wii Sports and Wii Fit count as the pinnacle of gaming then? In case you forgot, most old people were having a grand ol’ time playing bowling on the Wii with their grand-kids. In fact them and families in general were the driving force behind the Wii’s success. The console that at one point was dismissed as some piece of motion-sensing plastic, was harboring the demographic that every publisher was trying to attain. That’s about as hilarious as the Wii U’s software line-up, kidding, sort of.

It’s like what I was saying with the arcades, these games were simple and easy to get into. Not only that, but while Wii Sports was never as in-depth as Fight Night or Tiger Woods PGA Tour, it was still a challenging game. If captivated seniors, parents, children, except for that one hardcore gamer who was upset no one noticed that he was playing Half-Life 2 in the corner. And I hate to break it to ya…

Nobody gives a Shit About How Important Your Games are –

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You can convince my dad all you want about playing Red Dead Redemption, and surprisingly that almost happened, but nothing dwindles curiosity more than constantly saying how great Red Dead Redemption is while he’s trying to do something. I’m sure people around your age will believe you, oh I’m sure of it. The problem though is that there’s a difference between being passionate about something, and shoving a property down someone else’s throat just because you want to be recognized for your vastness of gaming knowledge.

I know Shadow of the Colossus is a brilliant game, and I really enjoyed Bioshock. But let’s be real here, people like Jon Snow, Roger Ebert, and even my dad gave little shit’s about how important that one mind-melting moment in Halo meant to you. The only people who can make up their minds and decide if they want to further their knowledge of gaming is themselves, and that’s it. You can try convincing them by saying that the story is great, by appealing to them through nostalgia or stripping gameplay from the product, but by the end it’s a lost cause.

Videogames require a ton of patience and work just to get through, which is something your mom and dad who work almost 24 hours a day barely have time for. Hell, I barely have time for it and I played a good chunk of 2013’s games! Look, they’re of a generation that grew up in a different time than we are in now. As for you…

Just…Let it Go –

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You want to show the world why videogames have become ‘the medium’, the ‘end all’ of entertainment. To a point where movies have become less epic than what you see in most videogames. I get that, I’ve spent so much time playing Mass Effect 2 that it’s been fairly hard for me to become invested in other universes because of how much time and thought was put into that experience. The medium needs to be proven to everyone why it has become one of the biggest gateways to how they’ve become the person they are today. It’s the idea that ‘I’ve immersed myself in this world, and I want to share it with others.’ However, there are other people around your age playing those games and having a blast!
More people than ever are playing videogames, so why does the concept of proving why videogames are important even matter? Sure you do get some old grumps or dumb politicians who dismiss it as either brain-cell deteriorating garbage or Satan’s personal entertainment of choice, but in the end we’re all going to brush that over. Let bygones be bygones, let morons be morons, and enjoy your freaking game.

That’s it. The idea of having videogames being taken seriously is a moronic endeavor, because all that’s happening is every studio will put out the same game. It prevents creativity from flourishing, and will probably makes things even worse than they already are. Let the medium flow naturally, and in return you’ll get some very analytic and thought-provoking stuff. By asking the question, “Why can’t you take my games seriously?” You’re only opening yourself up for more disappointment and ass-whoopings from your mom. And depending on where you stand with your mom, you better pray it’s the former here.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never be able to persuade my dad why I spend most of my days grinding levels in Skyrim or making my soldiers unintentionally commit suicide in XCOM. And I’m actually fine with that, though I would like to see him play Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Hm, looks like I know what to get for Father’s Day!

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Brut Awards 2013: Just the Worst

I’ve put my heart and soul into my ‘Best of the Year’, and now I put all my ‘Why Am I Talking About This?’ Feelings toward the ‘Worst of the Year’. Let me be the first to say that if you expect games like Dark and Ride to Hell: Retribution to be on this list, well, get out. This isn’t about you, this is about convenience, and also I needed some games to fill in the gaps between major releases. That’s how I roll.

Actually I’m gonna do you a favor, if you want what I consider to be one of the most detailed and intricate articles depicting some of the best games this year, then here you go. Both part’s 1 & 2 are here for your curious eyes, hell there may be a few surprises you may not expect. So check that out, then come back to this article.

Okay, now that’s done, do you still want to go on with the ‘Wost of the Year’? Have you even read the ‘Best of the Year’ – ah, screw it. Here you goddamn go.

Dishonorable Mentions –

Ascension Contender

God of War: Ascension:

There’s a reason why Gears of War Judgement is not on the list, and the reason why is that I don’t need an online pass to play the multiplayer. Well, okay I actually liked Judgement, whereas with this is so much of a step backward that it became even lesser than the original God of War. I don’t know how you can take one of the most thrilling hack & slash series, and make it boring. Santa Monica Studios, you have some explaining to do!

In case you don’t know, God of War: Ascension is a prequel. So do we get to see how Kratos becomes the monstrosity that he is, the servant of Ares, how he gradually becomes the ‘God of War’ himself? Surprisingly no, instead in this game you’ll be fighting against the Furies who are servants of Aries that are sent to annihilate Kratos for breaking the blood-oath. If you’re right now saying to yourself, “Hey, didn’t they make a prequel to God of War on the PSP already?” The answer is a definite, “Yes,” and, “Why was this needed?”

What makes Ascension even more of a disappointment is that after the first half hour, which consists of one of the coolest boss fights ever, the game reaches its peaking point right there. Afterward the game just reverts to God of War 1, except without the cool shit you attained in that game. I mean it makes sense considering it’s a prequel, but for the most part the abilities you gain in here are the same abilities I believe you use in the multiplayer, which is lame. Plus the upgrades are fairly minimal for each ability, and the puzzles are more of a nuisance this time.
While God of War isn’t known for its complicated stories, Ascension feels more like leftover DLC content that was tossed into the Sony recycle bin. The way the story is told here is through splicing certain parts from the ending, the middle, and just forcing them into the beginning act. It’s unnecessarily experimental, and worse is that you get barely any character moments from Kratos, who just feels like an automaton with one expression. In fact the way this game is marketed it seems like we were going to see more of the back-story behind Kratos’s wife and kid before the incident, instead all we got was goddamn ‘furies’!

It’s not up to the quality of God of War 3 or 2, hell it’s not even as robust as the first God of War. This is at its core a cash grab, and the thing is you can make decent cash-grab, but this is just bland. That’s what the game should be called, “God of War: Blandness.” Kratos’ blades might as well have been cheese knives stringed together by yarn, it was that bland.

Ghosts Contender

Call of Duty: Ghosts:

Ghosts was the straw that broke the camels back for me, and man did it break the shit out of that back. I’m not going to take too long here since this is mostly centered around the campaign, Activision, but everything else I was just dandy with.

So Call of Duty: Ghosts is about this secret force called the Ghosts who prevent terrorist attacks from happening. In this alternate universe, because we couldn’t possibly fit this within the Modern Warfare universe, there’s a new enemy brewing called The Federation. A group of South American oil-mongers who quickly have become a superpower and have started attacking the United States. In the game you’ll be playing as one of two sons of this veteran named Elias. Also there’s a dog named Riley in the game, and he’s the best part about it.
Everything that could have made the campaign for Ghosts interesting is immediately skewered by the same old bullshit we’ve seen before in the Modern Warfare series. It’s even made worse by the fact that Black Ops 2 was trying to make inclusions that benefited the campaign, while this completely avoids those inclusions. It’s age has finally caught up on this series, and man it does not look pretty. The health regenerating system, the linear levels, the same over-the-top cliches are reminiscent to that of a series that influenced a generation in the worst way possible. Everything that is wrong with certain games today in terms of level design, health systems, and other repetitive gameplay mechanics is all because of this series annual existence.

Activision really has turned what was once a series that grabbed a lot of attention for its impressive presentation, and never stopped reminding us about it. It’s gotten so bad that they’ve devoted a good chunk of their resources to exploiting this series, and turned Treyarch and Infinity Ward into their studio puppets. Here’s hoping this cash-train stops soon, otherwise I think I may have to choke a Kotick.

Remember Me Contender

Remember Me:

Looks like Nilin was too big for her jeans, but I don’t know how that’s possible since those were some very tight jeans. Like I’ve seen some videogame protagonists with tight clothing, but that right there was just ridiculous.

So Remember Me is a story about a weird girl who wakes up in a fortress and is about to have her memory wiped out. When all of  a sudden a mysterious voice named Edge helps break her out of memory prison and gets enlisted with the Erroists, an underground resistance.  Now she must find out who she is and must put a stop to Memorize. She must ‘Remember Me‘! Or her, whatever!
In case you couldn’t tell by the obviously made up names, this game is stupid. Our main character is a walking soap opera who we’re suppose to sympathize with, except the problem is she’s just not that well written. The villains are even worse, they’re over-the-top with their evil domination plans and have some of the cheesiest dialogue I’ve ever heard. The plot’s also a convoluted mess as we’re suppose to be fascinated with unraveling what happened to Nilin, but by the end you’re so captivated by the stupidity of what’s currently going on that you forget there’s a mystery here.

Not even the combat can make up for the poor plotting here. It’s basically a rhythm fighting game, except you can create your own combo’s to fight enemies. Sounds really cool, right? Well sadly as it turns out, the layout for dishing out these combos feels clunky and a hassle to figure out. Throughout most of the game I just found myself just button-mashing, and I’ve rarely had an incentive to really experiment with the Pressens I was given.
Also once again, it really would have benefited if they just stuck with simple names rather than these obviously made-up ones that sound really forced.

Its combat is repetitive, the story is stupid, the main character is forgettable, but at least it looks pretty. That’s about the only good thing I can say, it’s just unfortunate that everything else is just kind of crap. So yeah, definitely won’t be remembering this game again.

Beyond Contender

Beyond: Two Souls:

Oh David Cage, will we ever stop these conflicts between us? I was afraid you’d say, “Quick-time events! We need more quick-time events!” Well, guess we should get into this one last time, hopefully.

Beyond: Two Souls is a ‘game’ made by Quantic Dreams and famous movie producer, I mean, videogame producer David Cage. The story is about a troubled girl named Jodie who has a psychic link to a spirit named Aiden. We chronicle through their adventures as we see Jodie start out as a confused (and kind of schlubby) girl, and become a psi-ops commando. It’s a dramatic and intense story that features many of David Cage’s wonderful tropes,  almost-rape scenarios, wacky homeless people, ancient conspiracies, and a lot of QTE’s.
It’s hard to really take this into account as a game, because the sense of challenge in this game is halted by the inability to die. Jodie apparently can never die in this game, despite the fact that it’s a fucking videogame. Each part of the game that could possibly lead up to a gameplay segment is easily foiled once you figure out that there’s no way you can lose. And no, the choices in this game barely even matter and are so minimal I completely forgot about them.

A good majority of the game’s story is a convoluted wreck, mostly for the fact that it’s told out of sequence. Each chapter in Jodie’s life is randomly scattered, and because of that it’s hard to really feel a sense of sympathy or care for these characters. It’s interesting on the basis that’s it’s Ellen Page and William Dafoe in these roles, but aside from that there’s not much else positive I could say. I originally thought that this game was a step up from Heavy Rain, but in many ways it’s a step back because Cage isn’t juggling as many characters.

It’s just boring, and by the end you’re left with this feeling of, “Did I just watch a ten hour movie?” Here’s hoping that sequel doesn’t happen, Beyond-er: Three Souls!

The Main Trash –

Colonial Marines Contender

Aliens: Colonial Marines:

Here we come to the ‘coup de grace’ of the Alien series, Aliens: Colonial Marines. A game some would consider to be one of their most anticipated games of the year, which is hard to believe if you’ve never followed the promotional stuff for this game. On the other hand maybe the impact of this game’s release would have been less attentive if the E3 footage showed what the game actually looked like. The things that happened behind the scenes over at Gearbox and Sega is really fascinating, but for right now let’s just focus on the game.

Set after the events of Aliens, Colonial Marines is about a search and rescue team trying to discover what happened to the crew on the Sulaco. Along the way they encounter more Xenomorphs, and Weyland-Yutani troops who apparently want something from the wreckage.
In the review I’ve described it as a Universal theme park ride, and I think that rings definitely true here. Each set-piece you visit in the game is all taken from Aliens. So I hope you like revisiting the Sulaco  and planet LV-426 because that’s all you’ll be doing in the game.

The control layout feels awfully similar to Call of Duty, which would be fine if it weren’t for everything else that was wrong. The A.I. in this game is really goofy, Xenomorphs will clip into walls, Yutani Troops scatter like crazy across certain levels, and of course every enemy doesn’t mesh well with these open levels. Weapons feel inconsistent and some times it’s difficult to tell what you’re shooting at times. There’s also weapon upgrades, but even that is pretty buggy too.
Multiplayer can be fun though if it weren’t suffering from the same issues that single player was having. This mostly has to do with the Xenomorph classes and how they control, which is pretty badly. Sometimes you’ll get stuck on walls, but most of the time it’s trying to figure out where you’re suppose to go.

Aliens: Colonial Marines is just filled to the brim with disappointment. It was a shame considering the potential that was there, but I guess we’ll just have to do with Alien 3 & 4 now. Prometheus on the other hand didn’t happen, I’m sure of it.

Walking Dead Contender

Walking Dead: Survival Instincts:

I have no clue what happened in this game aside from that it was pretty shit and it had squirrel trophies in it. So I’m just gonna say check out my review instead since it’ll be way more descriptive than what I have to say now. Hey man, some things are hard to forget, and some things are Walking Dead: Survival Instincts.

Worst Game of the year-

Showdown Winner

Fast & Furious Showdown:

Remember when I said that some games are hard to forget? This is one of those, and not in a good way.

Fast & Furious Showdown is about, uh, Gina Carano trying to find more information about Vin Diesel and his crew? It’s hard to know what the plot is when all you’re seeing on screen is cars doing ballerina moves and other weird shit. In fact I’m not sure there was a plot at all, it was just levels that repeated the same moments from the movies. Like remember the bank vault chase scene in Fast Five? That’s in the game alright!

This game should never have existed, not on consoles, not on handhelds, not on tablets, not even on phones! This is a game in which a small studio began developing, but never finished.
It’s a generic racing game that never attempts to be more than what is is, and fails miserably because of its laziness. In most racing games you can easily say that the vehicles looks great because, well, how hard is it to develop a freaking motor vehicle? In here the vehicles looks like shit, and they drive like shit.
Despite the options you get as to who you want to play as, every vehicle drives like a busted tractor. And don’t worry about winning, because chances are you’ll easily get screwed over by the shitty road mapping and the lousy AI. Some of the stunts you have to perform in the game also feel frustrating, especially when it comes to climbing on top of vehicles.

This game was so terrible that I never was able to fully finish it, not because of random difficulty spikes, but because the controls were that terrible. I do think this deserves the top spot, and I hope people won’t even give this game a second glance at. This year I was going to try and focus more on some of the lesser titles, but this was so bad that I’m just going to stop doing that. I’ll just live in my little naive world where bad games don’t exist, and the only game I play is XCOM.

***

That’s it for my ‘Worst of the Year’ and in general all my lists for this year. No lie, I think I may be sick to my stomach with all these lists. On the plus side though, that means I get to focus on other articles that I’m sure will be much more fascinating. So keep an eye out on ‘The Brutlounge’ in 2014, because I may end up surprising you…or disappointing you pending on where you stand so far with my opinions.

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