Games Can Be Grown Up Too

For the past few days, I’ve seen game journalists go back and forth on Twitter about how wrong it was that Crystal Dynamics had a scene that depicted the attempted rape of Lara Croft. I’ve read tweets of people talking about how their interest in the game has vanished, and others spewing vitriol towards the people at Crystal Dynamics for broaching a concept as messy and uncomfortable as rape. And my question to those people is: why now?

The controversial scene

Rape makes you uncomfortable? Good, because it should. In all my 21 short years of existence, few things make me writhe in my seat like rape. It’s heartless, evil, and one of the cruelest things a human being can do to another. I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo while waiting to be selected for jury duty and was one of the most uncomfortable things I had ever read. But while I found the book to be extremely unsettling, I still respected it. I could tell by the language that the author was just as uncomfortable writing those passages as I was reading them. And because of those passages, I knew what kind of monster the villain was. They made me root for the main characters even more, and helped me dig even further into the intricate plot.

So if books, movies and other forms of media can portray rape in a way that adds to the story, why is it so absurd for video games to do so as well? This public outrage against Crystal Dynamics insinuates that video games aren’t capable of capturing the same seriousness and maturity that other forms of media wield. That video games are merely children’s toys, and to compare them to other forms of media is preposterous.

For as long as i can remember, people have cried for games to be taken seriously. We’ve long awaited the day where video games stand on equal ground with movies, TV, and books. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at the crowds of people who insist that video games are an art form. Most of them probably don’t care if Braid isn’t compared to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. They just want something most of us want: for video games to be culturally accepted as something more than trivial drivel.

Extreme situations can make people do extreme things

You want games to be taken seriously without the uncomfortable moments that make you cringe? Well too bad. This world is full of uncomfortable situations, and very few of them offer easy answers.

You can call me a rapist, a pervert, or any host of awful things at me. Fine, I don’t care. What I do care about is that developers are given a chance to prove they are on equal ground with the other great storytellers of our time. A first-rate morbid tale doesn’t need rape to hold everything in place (at that point, it probably wouldn’t be a very good story in the first place). But rape and a quality story aren’t mutually exclusive either. And until we stop treating games like second-class media, they’ll never be taken seriously.

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Intern Game Of The Year Deliberations - Day 4

Hello and welcome kindly duder, to the one and only Giant Bomb Intern Game of the Year deliberations podcast, where interns Matt, Perry, Daniel, and Stevebarricade themselves in an uncomfortably hot room and discuss 2011's finest games! It's like the Bombcast GOTY deliberations you know and love, only with people you don't know and don't care about! Who knows? Maybe we'll grow on you after watching couple episodes, like a fungus or a benign mass. Or, you'll come to despise us and our incorrect opinions. Either way, it'll be a fun ride.

29 Comments

Intern Game Of The Year Deliberations - Day 3

Hello and welcome kindly duder, to the one and only Giant Bomb Intern Game of the Year deliberations podcast, where interns Matt, Perry, Daniel, and Steve barricade themselves in an uncomfortably hot room and discuss 2011's finest games! It's like the Bombcast GOTY deliberations you know and love, only with people you don't know and don't care about! Who knows? Maybe we'll grow on you after watching couple episodes, like a fungus or a benign mass. Or, you'll come to despise us and our incorrect opinions. Either way, it'll be a fun ride.

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Free To Play - Tribes: Ascend

So crafty ol' Daniel got his hands on a beta key for Tribes: Ascend, a multiplayer free-to-play fps that's still in closed beta. Fortunately for us, the NDA already expired so we can show you all the space skiing and Spinfusors you can handle! Avert your eyes if the Tribes series has a special place in your heart. On second thought, click the video then avert your eyes.

Enjoy!

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Free To Play - Metal Assault

Are you guys ready for a game that looks and sounds kind of like Metal Slug? No? Well okay, but in case you change your mind, I'll just leave this video where Dan and I snipe helicopters and badmouth windmills. I'm fairly certain both are made of metal, if you're into that sort of thing.

Thanks for watching!

5 Comments

Free To Play - Brawl Busters

Hey Duders! For the past few weeks, Dan and I have been going on a free to play binge, scouring the dark, mucky world of micro-transactions. Most of it has been shovelware but somewhere along the line we found Brawl Busters, a quirky TF2 clone that had an unexpected level of polish. I'll go out on a limb and say it's not bad, maybe even decent.

But enough about what I think. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the game. Not sure about Dan though. He's always busy listening to that perfect voice of his. I'll try and share your comments if he gets a free moment, just don't hold your breath.

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Ask an Intern

It just occurred to me that most of you only know me as "the guy who posts trailers", and that's not right. I want to be known as "Intern Perry, the guy who awkwardly introduced himself one month into his internship... and also posts trailers" and I suppose the only way to do that is to awkwardly introduce myself. Hi! I'm Perry, and I'm one of the fall interns for Whiskey Media. Like many of the interns before me, I am a mass communications/journalism student whose dream is to write about games for a living. As of now, I’ve pretty much completed all the general education courses required to graduate college, and can now focus on classes that required for my major.

Me thinking about life's most important questions.

Along with uploading trailers, I'm also the guy in charge of creating quests, wiki tasks, and community promos. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t promote the Free to Play series that Matt, Steve, Dan, and I will be doing during the duration of our internships. After all, you can never have too much witty banter!

Dragon Nest Is Worth Playing - Free To Play - Gameplay

Hellgate: London Resurrection - Still Not Very Good - Free To Play

Vindictus is Vindiculous - Free to Play

I could go into greater detail about what I do, but I figure most of my predecessors have already done just that. So instead of writing a long story about my experiences here at Whiskey Media, I’d like to hear what you want to know about. What are some questions you’ve had floating around in that beautiful mind of yours that have yet to be answered?

To make things go a little more smoothly on my end, I’ve created a formspring account where you can dump your inquiries. I can’t guarantee I’ll answer every question (chances are I won’t), but I’ll try to answer as many as possible. And if for some reason you want to hear more about my crazy hijinks, you can follow me @ http://twitter.com/#!/PerryVandell

http://www.formspring.me/perryvandell

Thanks for reading!

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Check Out This "Brief Glance" of Dragon Nest!

Hey Duders,

So in case you guys didn't know, Intern Dan and I (I'm Intern Perry) are going through some of the internet's free to play games and figuring out which ones are worth the bandwidth. This particular Brief Glance involves the Free-to-Play game Dragon Nest, which has sort've a Torchlight/FF Crystal Chronicles vibe. As for the rest of the game, you'll just have to see for yourself! Tell us how we did in the comments below, as any constructive feedback is much appreciated. Enjoy!

- Perry

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I'm a Sucker for Hair Physics

After reviewing The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, I decided to jump straight into the critically-acclaimed sequel. While I would’ve loved to have published a review of The Witcher 2, I’ve been particularly busy this week with things that don’t involve brutally slaying monsters in gorgeous detail. So, instead of not writing anything this week, I shall regale you with fascinating tales pertaining to the seven or so hours I’ve played. I’m hoping to have an official review out by next week, but I’m making no promises as the previous iteration took me approximately 42 hours to complete. Either way, prepare to be regaled!

You can now see Geralt's pores, if you're into that sort've thing

For those who don’t know, I actually bought the Witcher 2 before The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, as it managed to arrest my interest with all the critical buzz it was receiving (not to mention its impressive shaders). Five minutes into the game, I realized I had no clue what anyone was talking about and decided to invest a serious chunk of my time into completing the first Witcher, hoping things would start making sense. Coming back to The Witcher 2, I’ve realized that playing the first game wasn’t really necessary. After playing more than five minutes of The Witcher 2, I found that the surrounding characters are more than happy to give you an explanation regarding recent events—events that are only loosely tied to those from the previous game.

To be clear, I’m not angry, irritated, or even slightly annoyed about playing through the first game. I had a lot of fun playing The Witcher and don’t regret my decision to purchase the game at all. However, for those who are curious whether or not you need to play the first game to pick up on anything in the sequel, allow me to address your curiosity: you don’t. There are a few winks and nods in the dialogue that only veterans will pick up on, but nothing that will leave new players utterly clueless. If you want to jump into The Witcher 2 with your only knowledge of the story so far coming from a Wikipedia article, that should more than suffice. Or, if you want to explore the world of the first game and wade knee-deep in backstory, that’s a perfectly viable option as well.

The Witcher 2 kind of makes me want to go camping.

As for changes between the two games, my thoughts are…mixed. First the good stuff. The Witcher 2, (for the few of you out there who haven’t seen it yet) is drop-dead gorgeous. Running it on very high settings will transform your monitor into pure eye candy, while the game still looks great on more modest settings. It’s such a relief to see Geralt smirk, raise his eyebrows, or furrow his brow rather than keeping up his stone-cold stare from the previous game. The addition of realistic facial animations makes me think he might not actually be on a mission to hunt down and terminate John Connor. Only time will tell whether or not this happens to be the case.

While The Witcher 2 looks fantastic, the new meditation system is a mixed-bag. First off, you can now meditate anywhere, anytime you are not in danger. This means you no longer have to scour the world searching for a campfire or inn to level up or brew potions. You want to spend several hours meditating in the middle of a brutal bar fight? Go right ahead. The fine folks at CD Projekt RED have learned that campfires and inns are for chumps who can’t meditate like a man.

Geralt is no longer a tumultuous rapscallion who drinks potions wherever he pleases.

While Geralt can now meditate wherever he damn-well pleases, he unfortunately can longer drink potions wherever he damn-well pleases. You read correctly. Gone are the days where Geralt can down a few Swallows and Blizzards in the midst of combat. Now, Geralt (aka You) must possess clairvoyant abilities and know when to prepare for a battle before it has even began. That, or drink up your performance-enhancing concoctions after getting your ass handed to you during a previous occasion. The convenient quick-save feature ensures you won’t lose too much progress after being hacked to pieces, but it’s still frustrating the problem is there in the first place.

I’m still getting used to the combat, as it is significantly more action-oriented than its predecessor. You can no longer pause combat and contemplate what your next move shall be, though you can slow time down when changing spells or weapons. Combat stances have also been tossed out the window and replaced with light and heavy attacks along with a block move that allows for parries and counters later on. The combat is a bit simple, though I’m still at the beginning of the game and the upgrade screen points to many more options available as I level up. I’m still getting used to the new combat system but I like what I’m seeing so far.

Overall, I’ve been enjoying my time with The Witcher 2. CD Projekt RED seems to have spent a considerable amount of time and resources polishing up The Witcher 2, getting rid of the Eastern European “jank” that irked me so much in the previous game. Characters are still wildly vulgar, adding a decent layer of grime to the stunning environments—in a good way. I may have only dipped my toe in The Witcher 2, but I can’t wait to dive in headfirst for more.

Stay tuned.

19 Comments

A summer of bugs, looting, and questing

For the past month or so, I’ve been doing a poor job of keeping up with my blog posts. I’d like to blame school as the main culprit, although I’m sure there’s a degree of laziness on my part to blame as well. Nevertheless, I’m planning to work on my writing this summer by posting much more often. Hopefully this comes as good news for those reading.

I’ll start this summer off writing about something only a few people actually care about--what I think about the games I’ve been playing.

Don't worry, the dead stares are back. Now creepier than ever!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been playing a gross amount of Fallout: New Vegas. I got the game late last year but thanks to technical horror stories involving lost save files and owl-people, I decided to hold off on delving into the nuclear wasteland. Once patch 1.3 rolled out on steam, I began my 40+ hour adventure filled with looting, questing, and slow-motion head explosions. Unfortunately this adventure was also filled with bugs, ranging from minor annoyances to game-breaking.

The minor bugs didn’t bother me too much. After spending many hours with Oblivion and Fallout 3, I expected character models to be clipping halfway through a boulder. I didn’t expect to encounter 15+ game crashes. A highpoint of the game for me was finally completing a quest that caused my game to crash about six or seven times. The quest (“Beyond the Beef” for those wondering), involved me meeting someone in a sauna at 4pm. When I met up with the person at around 4pm, the game would crash without fail. Loading an auto save usually gave me another 15 seconds before the game would crash again—if it didn’t freeze while loading.

This is a small part of the list of bugs for a SINGLE quest in Fallout: New Vegas

I eventually cut my losses and loaded up a save that was a couple of hours before I started the quest, determined to finish what I started. After retracing my steps while tapping the quicksave key, I restarted the “deadly sauna quest” for the fifth or so time. Taking the Internet’s advice, I waited until around 4:45 pm before talking to sauna man and managed to finish the conversation (as well as the rest of the quest) without booting up task manager. Overall, I enjoyed the time I spent exploring New Vegas. The dialogue is truly impressive and you never know what you might find in that game. I’m sure there were plenty of stones left unturned when I finally beat the game, but I was content with what I had accomplished when the credits rolled. Also, I would have punched my monitor if the game launcher locked up one more time.

Moments like these make not having fast travel almost worth it. Almost.

The next long rpg on my list was The Witcher 2, which I played around 15 minutes of before I stopped and bought The Witcher (enhanced edition). Like Vinny, I wanted to be familiar with the Witcher universe before diving into the sequel. My friends thought I was crazy (and perhaps I am), but I’ve been enjoying the 23 hours I’ve spent with the game so far. The narrative isn’t exactly unique for a standard RPG, but the rich universe has kept me glued to my monitor.

The only thing bugging me is the sheer amount of backtracking I have to do. While backtracking didn’t bug me in New Vegas, The Witcher doesn’t have a fast travel system to speed things up (there are a few teleport locations but they hardly solve the problem). Running to a location I’ve been hundreds of times before shouldn’t be 70% of a quest. Period.

So that’s been my summer so far. I’ve been doing plenty of other things, but I don’t need this turning into a book. You don’t need to spend any more of your summer reading about what I’ve been doing with mine.

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