Quantum Conundrum Livestream @ 9:30pm Eastern

Hey guys! I'm excited to be rolling out our site's first "Steampunks Livestream" and I thought some GB fans may be interested. I'd love to hear what you guys think!

Check out Quantum Conundrum, newest title from Portal's Kim Swift with the Press Play crew at 9:30pm Eastern tonight!

With this, we at Press Play are excited to announce our newest segment, the Steampunks Livestream! Those who have listened to the Press Play Podcast are already somewhat familiar with Steampunks, where we bring to light an awesome Steam title each of us has been playing. We intend to take this concept one step further on the Steampunks Livestream by showing our viewers just what makes these games so interesting, as well as allowing fans to participate and ask questions in the comments.

Our debut feature, Quantum Conundrum, is the newest title from Portal's Kim Swift. Players are tasked with switching to parallel dimensions to solve increasingly tricky puzzles, while being egged on by their scientist uncle (narrated by John de Lancie). We fully expect to make fools of ourselves trying to figure some of these things out, so you won't want to miss this!

You can check out the Steampunks Livestream at this link, or view it in the embedded window below:


Top 5 E3 '12 Press Conference Demos

Wrote a Top 5 article about the E3 2012 Press Conference Demos, couldn't copy it over here to a blog post but here's a link instead.


Call it a need for some type of excitement at E3, but personally, I was totally blown away when Ubi rolled out Watch Dogs. What do you guys think of that game?

Also, I don't see the what big deal is about Tomb Raider being sexual. It seems like she takes about as many hits as Drake does.


Metal Gear - Punching Walls Since 1987

Already a seasoned veteran of the newer Metal Gear Solid titles, Nick goes back to his roots in this reflective piece for fans of the stealth action series.
Radio KNK reveals the Metal Gear staff...
Radio KNK reveals the Metal Gear staff...

As the pixelated credits roll, chip-tune theme song blaring into my ears, seeing the name ‘Hideo Kojima’ among the credits for 1987’s “Metal Gear” inspires flashbacks of my life as a gamer. The year is 199X and my mother is taking away my just-opened copy of Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation after seeing the opening level- a bit of good parenting that my less-than-ten-year-old self found utterly heart-wrenching. 2002 sees my brother and I playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty’s ‘tanker stage’ about a hundred times before finally investing in a PS2 memory card, and finding out that the rest of the game was nothing like what we’d seen. It’s 2004 and I’m sitting with what I call the “strategy tome” for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, trying tirelessly to figure out the best possible camouflage techniques and wildlife to “procure on sight.” Outside the Times Square Virgin Megastore late one night in 2008, I stand among a crowd of hundreds waiting to grab their soon-to-be-released copies of Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus. The Metal Gear saga, in all its backwards, convoluted glory, has been a staple of my gaming life. Hell, I still play almost exclusively as Snake in Super Smash Brothers Brawl to this day. So when I picked up the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection a little while ago, I decided I’d get the Metal Gear foundation I never had by playing, well, "Metal Gear," and moving forward from there.

The last I ever saw of Metal Gear Solid. Still never played that PS1 version...
The last I ever saw of Metal Gear Solid. Still never played that PS1 version...

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this game, but when I reached the end I scratched my head, thinking about how this seemingly insignificant, paper-thin story arc was the seed that grew into the labyrinthine monstrosity the series is known for today. Whether there was some kind of plan for the story way back when this game was being developed is irrelevant to me. What’s incredible is not only the daunting task Kojima Productions has faced time and again trying to build on this tale of espionage without stepping on the toes of previous titles, but the alarming degree of consistency Kojima’s seminal stealth-action series has kept throughout its lifespan.

Snake looks an awful lot like Kyle Reese from
Snake looks an awful lot like Kyle Reese from "Terminator"...

It’s comforting to find that many of the techniques I’d honed in later Metal Gear titles served me well in this one. The key cards, binoculars, cigarettes, !’s over guards’ heads… all the standard fare made an appearance. At the beginning of the game, when I came up to the first set of two trucks I instantly knew that I’d find a handgun inside. Grabbing a remote controlled missile to shut down a computer on the other end of a maze-like room was no surprise to me either, and hiding in a cardboard box was actually refreshingly effective this time around. With the guards and cameras lacking the intelligence to question its presence, a part of me began wishing all the MGS games could be this simple. Having played this game for the first time in 2012, I felt like a time-traveler sent back from the future (Kyle Reese, perhaps?) who knew all the answers to modern day problems because he’s experienced them countless times already.

This wouldn't be the first time the intel guy went totally nuts.
This wouldn't be the first time the intel guy went totally nuts.

It’s nice to see story beats that have echoed and mutated in future Metal Gear titles as well. The initial scene for example, shows up later in the openings of Metal Gear Solid and Raiden’s part of MGS2, as our heroes emerge from the water to infiltrate an enemy facility. Of course, Big Boss is a huge player in future episodes, as his presence (or more often, his absence) is the driving force for each game’s story. When he started feeding me false information near the end of the game that would send me back to the beginning each time, I couldn’t contain my excitement- I knew what would be coming. The random radio calls about turning off my console and aborting the mission explained a lot more about “I need scissors. 61” than I ever realized.

If this guy can punch through a solid wall, imagine how this guard feels...
If this guy can punch through a solid wall, imagine how this guard feels...

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by playing "Metal Gear," more than any other game in the series, it’s this: SOLID SNAKE IS A BADASS. Yes, in future games he’d go on to destroy an army tank armed only with hand grenades, out-gun master snipers, down countless HIND-D helicopters, and single-handedly turn the tide of cybernetic global warfare, but that’s nothing compared to his antics in this game. Ambushed and captured, Snake finds himself locked in a lonely prison cell. All his equipment confiscated and no ketchup bottle or squeamish guards in sight, there is truly no way out… or is there?!? With a little advice from Big Boss, the rookie infiltrator Snake PUNCHES straight through a BRICK WALL in order to escape. WITH HIS FIST. I’m not even sure there are words fit to describe the momentous milestone in badassery that this represents, but as it was happening I could only respond with a gaping jaw.

Sporting a killer soundtrack of galloping, exciting action tunes juxtaposed with the cautious themes of stealth and a bunch of awesomely stupid boss names (which we’ve also come to expect in Metal Gear) like “Bloody Brad” and “Dirty Duck,” Kojima’s original "Metal Gear" still packs a solid punch after all these years. Pun intended.

Nick Hawryluk is the senior producer, director and editor of Press Play the Webseries. He also runs and contributes articles to the Press Play website. Check out more of Press Play's content at www.PressPlayTV.com


How I imagine Rorschach's voice when I read WATCHMEN

link to original posting:  http://moderatedamage.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-i-imagine-rorschachs-voice-when-i.html

******************Edit for extra clarity:

THIS IS NOT A RAGE POST ABOUT THE FILM VERSION! I only put the movie in at the start and end to give my interpretation of his voice some kind of reference. This thread is about going into the ideas behind WATCHMEN (the comic) and forming an opinion based on a complete and thorough understanding of the comic. The film has nothing to do with any of the actual intellectual ideas expressed within this post.


This is an extremely long post for anyone who is genuinely interested in WATCHMEN so if you are going to complain about its length or harass me for writing this, please just leave now. We don’t want your kind here. This also isn’t a rage post about the movie; it’s about the comic and deconstructing Rorschach’s character in order to come up with a voice that makes sense for his personality.


I want to start by saying that even though I despise WATCHMEN as a film in its current non-director's cut state, I thought Jackie Earle Haley brought an interesting take on Rorschach. While it was a good voice, it's not exactly the way I envisioned Rorschach speaking. It is extremely difficult to put to words what something you imagine actually sounds like, which is why only the best authors can vocalize what they mean and most people just allow something an actor brought to life to be their definitive version because they can’t describe what they imagined. I am going to try my best to describe what my interpretation of Rorschach's voice is, and I'd appreciate comments on my take as well as your own ideas.

Rorschach's voice to me represents much more than a raspy “Christian Bale Batman” when I read WATCHMEN. It describes his entire character, summing up his world view, personality and physical state. Let’s take into account all of the traits of his voice in the comic.

First off, Rorschach’s spoken voice never changes tone until the end when he is killed, indicated by the fact that his speech bubbles are the only in the comic not to include bold text for emphasis. (Even Dr. Manhattan has bold text, stressing the fact that Dr. Manhattan transforms into less and less of a human being toward the end of the comic, eventually culminating in someone who suggests he may ‘create life’ like a normal person says he might draw a picture. Conversely, Rorschach ends as slightly more human than he was in the beginning of the comic, shown by his extreme burst of emotion in his last seconds when faced with a situation that breaks his “black or white” never compromise rule.) This monotone voice, coolly going through the motions of what he’s saying without ever deeming one word or phrase more important than another, is kind of the framework that holds Rorschach together as a character. In keeping with his overall creed of “black or white, no gray,” Rorschach is either speaking or he isn’t. He doesn’t have different volume levels in his voice, and he doesn’t have different emotional levels in his sentences. Everything is stated as fact; everything is direct, even leaving out words that aren’t essential to getting his point across. He is a light switch; there is off and there is on.

Another of Rorschach’s qualities which most people don’t pick up on is the fact that when talking to other people he speaks in sentence fragments, but when writing in his journal he uses more complete and well-constructed sentences. He is trying to speak like he’s jotting down notes in a journal but he writes in his actual journal like he’s producing an essay. Granted, his journal writings aren’t perfect either but they’re definitely more complex than his speech. This habit suggests two things, the first being that he is obsessed enough to intentionally go out of his way to speak like he’s writing in a journal. This kind of dedication to literally change your speech into something you know is socially unacceptable is only demonstrated by people who are mentally unstable enough to follow through with it. The other thing this habit does is reinforce Rorschach’s detachment from society. He feels more comfortable in his journal than he does when speaking to real people . The only people he deems worthy of seeing his true thoughts are, as we later find out, the staff of The New Frontiersman. This is curious, as they would no doubt publish it in their newspaper where everybody can see it anyway, which makes this aspect of his character much more complex.

Rorschach's Journal. Notice the more fleshed out sentences than in...
Rorschach's Journal. Notice the more fleshed out sentences than in...
One reason it may be this way is to support the “It never ends” theory. (This theory stems from Adrian’s final conversation with Jon where he asks if he did right in the end. Jon responds with “It never ends,” pointing out that nothing is permanent and when Adrian is gone, who will take his place and save the world again? He killed all those who were close to him, meaning all of NYC, his faithful servants, and even Bubastis so even though he was planning for his financial future, like Alexander before him, there was no way for his grand scheme to survive longer than his own lifetime.) This relates to Rorschach because perhaps he wasn’t thinking of what would happen after his life was over, or didn’t care. Or maybe he simply believed that the world would end and nobody other than the New Frontiersman would read his journal. At any rate, this entire theme of the comic fits into the overall “obscured vision” idea, which I believe the smiley face with the blood stain over its eye to represent (besides being the doomsday clock that is). Nobody in the comic (not even the reader) can see everything that happened, which is why everything is told from someone (besides the Comedian’s) point of view. It’s a kind of ‘in the trenches’ approach that truly helps to capture not only the Cold War paranoia from the New Yorkers’ stories but the idea that none of these “heroes” really know what’s right for everybody, or ever could.

Another quality to Rorschach’s voice is the jagged nature of his speech bubbles when he is in costume. When his costume is removed however, his speech reverts back to being in normal speech bubbles. This is another strong indicator about Rorschach’s character, because he gets all his confidence when he dons his costume (a theme that spans the entire comic with all of the characters) but it also serves as the groundwork for later in the comic when he is in prison. He finds out when forced to deal with dangerous prisoners that he can be just as resourceful without the costume, which may have been the first step in his progression to humanity. Ironically, his change to relative sanity began in the prison, but no thanks to the Dr. Malcolm Long, who began descending into Rorschach’s state of mind by the end of his issue (if you pay attention to the way he writes in his journal his sentences at the end of the chapter are much more disjointed and to the point than they were when the chapter started).

Rorschach's speech. The last panels aren't his journal, either. Notice the fragmented sentences.
Rorschach's speech. The last panels aren't his journal, either. Notice the fragmented sentences.
Finally (or at least as far as I’ll get into this), I get the impression from the comic as a whole that Rorschach isn’t intense at all times and ready to fight, but is merely tired. He lives so far down the rabbit hole of cynicism with nobody to care about and nobody to care about him that he struggles to find a reason to continue in this world. He constantly says that he is trying to save the world, but what does he have to save? He hates everything about New York City, so why would he want it to continue to exist? One would assume that he wants to save it so he can try to clean up its streets, but he seems to have already realized that no one person can help when he truly ‘became’ Rorschach. He is a man struggling to find a purpose and refusing to accept the only one that fits: he is insane and enjoys the breadth of crime because it gives him more prey to hunt down. Without New York City being this abattoir of retarded children he would have to be Kovacs again, and perhaps in the snow outside of Karnac he realized what Rorschach’s true colors were.

All of these traits should be expressed in Rorschach’s voice, but not only passively. His character should be actively understood to its fullest in order to be truly represented on film. That’s why I got into all the themes behind his voice’s traits and kind of got off topic by going into general themes of the comic, because any great actor should ‘exist’ as his character, and not just take things at face value.

To contrast the film version of Rorschach with the one I’ve fleshed out here, he constantly flares his voice (they seemed to have switched Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach in the film because Rorschach shows a lot of emotion while Dr. Manhattan shows hardly any). He also speaks like Rorschach when he is out of costume in the prison, which also goes against the comic version. A curious addition to the film was the ‘ink bleed’ effect on Rorschach’s mask, which actually did add gray to his mask, pretty much going against everything Rorschach stood for. (Also “it never ends” wasn’t even in the film, changing the entire meaning of everything, in addition to the other horrible change of making Dr. Manhattan kiss Laurie at the end instead of forgiving Dan. Another change in the film was having the first fight with Comedian and Veidt actually be told by Blake’s point of view and zooming out to a wide shot of the city with the detectives, killing the ‘in the trenches’ idea expressed in the comic.) They also turned his voice into an intense- at-all-times and always ready to fight kind of “superhero” instead of tired, unloved, unwanted “retired costumed adventurer.” Just to clarify here, I think Haley did a great job with the new Rorschach the film created, but it’s really the fault of the filmmakers’ for failing to catch onto these themes and turning Rorschach into a thematically inconsistent character.

This isn’t really a post about why I hate the film though, the real point was to explain how I imagine my Rorschach and get across some points from the comic that may have been overlooked to anybody interested in furthering their knowledge. I hope you enjoyed my little analysis of Rorschach and I will continue to put these out for anyone who wants a different perspective on WATCHMEN.

P.S. to everybody who points out that cutting the prisoner’s arms off was a better idea than cutting his throat, he didn’t have a saw in the comic! In the comic the guy was trying to use a blowtorch to cut the door down and the guy with his arms in the door was screaming. They were in a secluded part of the prison where guards may have heard them (since there was no riot in the solitary section and they didn’t know the guards were incapacitated by the screechers on Archie) so the guy took out a box cutter and killed the screaming prisoner so they could continue their work in peace and without getting caught. You can’t cut someone’s arms off with a blowtorch or box cutter! Stop saying it didn’t make sense in the comic please!

Just to clarify, inb4 why did you write so much about this, I just scrolled down to see how long it was, it’s not that important it’s just a comic, the movie was fine stop complaining, why do you have the movie icon as your GB picture if you hate it, nobody cares, or any such variations on these.


Did you ever notice: the voices in Republic Commando?

Deeper than you might think.
Deeper than you might think.
Did you ever notice that all four of the commandos in Star Wars Republic Commando have unique voices? That would seem normal until you realize that they are clones, who are all supposed to have the same voice as Jango Fett who, (during the Clone Wars at least) was the only host for the clones to be based on. Knowing this, it would seem that the developers simply cast aside canonical accuracy for better gameplay (since it would be impossible to tell who was saying what if they all had the same voice) and maybe they did, but I think it goes deeper than that. Much deeper. And if you know the nature of my blog posts, you know that this is my cue to analyze this small feature in search of artistic meaning, so if you are going to be closed-minded about this then please leave.

Republic Commando, knowing that you've only ever heard clones speak in the exact same voice up to this point, wastes no time meeting you up with a squad member who has a unique voice from all the other clones. Now, since it would be impossible for him to have come from any other host but Jango Fett, it has to sink into your head at some point in the game that this isn't the way clones normally speak. The beauty of it is that, even though they do introduce your squad members very early on, the game allows it to slow-burn that these clones act like individuals. When you do finally realize it though (assuming you were enough of a Star Wars fan to know the basic prerequisites), it now explains volumes about how clones think and interact. It's not that the clones actually have different voices, it's that Delta-1138 (the character you play as) hears the subtleties in their voices that we wouldn't be able to hear, which manifests into a completely different sounding voice for him. This is where it gets interesting. The clones have been known to express individuality despite it being discouraged by the Kaminoans (long-necked beings who oversee the clones' growth), giving themselves names instead of the numbers assigned to them and (as seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) sporting unique hairstyles to give themselves personality. What this simple subject of individual voices raises though is, do the clones even need the hairstyles to differentiate from each other or is that just so that other people can tell them apart? Similarly, if Obi Wan was talking to all four members of Delta Squad would they all sound like Jango Fett to him? If my analysis is accurate, then yes, they would all sound exactly alike. It's kind of like if you look at a lizard or something, you really can't tell one lizard from another based on appearance, but obviously they can tell each other apart because they look for different subtleties in their features than we do as humans.

This question that Republic Commando raises, and the way it allows the player to ponder it for himself without ever directly approaching the subject is genius! The best part about it is that the game never answers the question, allowing you to ultimately decide what it means. This kind of active storytelling is really the direction that I think video games should be going in more in terms of their narratives, since everything else about video games as a genre is already active (as opposed to the passive mediums of film, literature and everything else that preceded it). You wouldn't get this caliber of food for thought that dances so lightly around subjects in anything but the most provocative pieces in film and literature (don't take out of context please). Granted, this is only one small piece of the game and not a whole narrative relying on this kind of storytelling, but it proves that this kind of thing can be done well in video games, and I think developers should go in this direction with the way they handle entire video game stories, instead of trying to use the structure of a film and wonder why an 8-hour game doesn't work when shoehorned into that style.

also inb4 why are you looking so deep into this. i warned you at the beginning that if you're not interested then leave, please don't leave comments like that.

Did you ever notice: The genius BF: Bad Company sprint mechanic?

Did you ever notice that in Battlefield: Bad Company the sprinting works a little bit differently than in Call of Duty 4 and other games with a sprint function? In Cod 4 you click the stick once and you'll keep sprinting until you cancel it or your character runs out of breath. In BF:BC you only sprint for as long as you are holding in the left stick. I think the way Battlefield BC does it is brilliant because it represents you, the player, actually getting tired. Sure in Cod 4 your guy pants but that's a passive way to go about it. In BF: BC, holding the left stick in for long distances literally tires out your thumb. I know it sounds like that wouldn't happen, but try it out. It really does. If you are attempting to run across an open field you will actually sometimes just have to walk there instead of sprint just to give your thumb a rest, and this is complemented by the open-world-ish nature of the levels. If you don't have a vehicle, you're going to have to hoof it for a pretty long time until you find one, and after a while you'll actually have to muster up the thumb energy to run there. I say kudos to Battlefield: Bad Company for coming up with a much more engaging way to handle the sprinting mechanic that's so trendy now in first-person shooters.

inb4 you're just out of shape. seriously, go test it out before you pass judgement.

DYEN: Games don't need to be difficult anymore? (Part 2)

One minor spoiler for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is contained in the last paragraph of this post.

Did you ever notice games don't need to be difficult anymore? And when I mention difficulty I'm referring to it the way most people understand it, based on the way people misjudge Prince of Persia. Difficulty the way I'm talking about it means frustration. I don't think games should be devoid of any sort of challenge, whether it be mental or physical, as that would be like a film having no conflict in the story. That's not to say that parts of a game with little to no challenge can't be fun as well, but at the risk of contradicting myself I'll touch on that subject later. Difficulty still exists in Prince of Persia, and probably more so than in other games. The difference between it and other games is the fact that it doesn't bring you to a menu screen and make you watch it load every time you die. Tell me, how many times did you actually fall off the edge or get into the 'kill move' by an enemy and need Elika to come save you? Probably a lot of times. Probably about the same amount of times as, if not more than in Mirror's Edge. But Mirror's Edge is considered by many to be difficult, partly because of the way it treats death. It's very 1990's and they failed to come up with a good reason to allow you not to break the immersion. The trial-and-error gameplay, as many people like to call it isn't actually trial-and-error, it just seems that way because you usually can't think fast enough to get out of a certain situation or jump to a certain building while doing the right move. That's the exact same way Prince of Persia is, you don't die because of unfair camera angles or anything like real trial-and-error gameplay would be, you just misjudge a jump or press the wrong button when doing acrobatics. The difference is Prince of Persia has adapted for a more modern age of gameplay and realizes it's entertainment for your home where it doesn't matter how many times you die, while Mirror's Edge just feels like an arcade port.

This brings me to the what I think the problem is with Mirror's Edge as a singleplayer game. First off, I admit I'm immensely underqualified to discuss this subject further as I've played nothing more than the demo and have seen many reviews and impressions of it. My point still stands however, because most people who talk about how hard it is for making you constantly die are basing this off of opinions of their first playthrough. Part of the problem is the fact that since you get a feeling of really doing parkour by being in the first person, having such a visceral sensation constantly ripped from your eager hands by dying makes you mad inside. You're mad not only for having to do the part over again, but because now it's no longer on a whim, dodging and weaving through things for the first time. It's just a routine now, pieces of the level constantly layering on top of each other until the next checkpoint is reached, just so you can repeat the process. From what I've played it feels like the game was made for the time trials first, and then for the story. This would explain the death screen, as in a time trial you expect to be dying a lot, learning a level's ins and outs, but in a single player narrative, we all die a little inside every time we do learn the ins and outs of a level, having tainted the first impression of everything it contains that we can never get back.

The question some might ask would be, "Why don't you just play it on easy mode first if you want everything to go perfectly?" My response would be, why do games need difficulty levels in the first place? Sure for something more like an arcade experience you would want something to be really challenging once you've learned how to play it, but I think most games serious about their narrative should tailor to you. By this I don't mean tailoring to how good you are at the game, as there should just be certain games where "You must be at least this good to play" and those should have tutorials outside of the canon of the game (bonus points for if they fit them into the canon). For example though, if in MGS4 when you're crawling on hands and knees through the microwave tunnel, would you have enjoyed it more if you had to keep doing it over, only because at the start you weren't pressing Triangle fast enough so by the end you hadn't pressed it enough times to continue? No, because now it's ruined. Everything that entire sequence stands for would be completely ruined. Kojima was smart enough to be able to tailor that part enough to make you feel like you're juuust about to fail, and then you get through it. That's real gamemaking. Games are all about what you feel while playing them, just like any other form of art. If all you feel is frustration at a level's difficulty, having to mute the TV's sound every time characters say "What's going on? What are they saying?" "They've started a bloody countdown! Zakhaev's going to launch the remaining missiles" because you've heard it 500 times already doesn't make it fun at all. If you are playing a game like Mirror's Edge where the intended feeling is to make you a freerunner, then it should have been trying its damndest to make you feel that way. I have no idea how they would have done that, but perhaps that means they should have gone back to the drawing board for how the narrative plays out in the first place.

I'd like to thank Giant Bomb user Shadow for inspiring this post.


Did you ever notice: Games don't need to be difficult anymore?

Do games now even need to be difficult at all anymore? If you are from the NES generation I can see why you would think games should be confined to such a handicap, but if you think outside of the box for a second, what are games really? The cop-out answer would be to say that they are entertainment meant to stimulate the senses and challenge the user, hence the name 'video game'. I don't think games need to stimulate you at all, or at least not in the way they did in Contra or Street Fighter. I say you should look to films for a parallel, (and there's a difference between being a parallel to films in their historical progression and just trying to imitate feature films in content and structure) sure in the early days they needed to have some kind of real catch as to why people see them, like the fact that there was a faraway country with beautiful scenery or cutting-edge special effect for the time, but now those coexist with others meant more for your mind, and the medium is accepted as something that can feature content smarter than just eye candy. I think games should be able to stimulate your mind just as well as films can, in fact they have the potential to do it a lot better. The satisfaction you get from doing something in Half-Life 2 is seriously rewarding, and in the way that most games (note that most games besides HL2 use cutscenes- a handicap left over from trying to copy movies) can't replicate. The pure way of telling a story through this medium, one in which the user has at least a little bit of control over what happens, makes all the difference. Any part of Half-Life 2 could have played out in a passive medium such as films, but instead the fact that when a setpiece happens you affected it or when characters are talking, you, not a camera, are looking at them makes it so much more engaging. I have gone on record going so far as to say that games can't be successfully translated to film because film is an inferior form of storytelling. Of course stories made from the ground up as a film or even expertly adapted to one can be and are extremely effective, but games still haven't stopped trying to be half film, half interactive story. Half-Life 2 won't make a bad film because its story isn't good enough, it's because the amount of story gained from it is completely up to the user. Making this a static, and therefore boring sequence of images ruins the way the story in Half-Life 2 pans out. I stick to this statement.

I have also gone on record saying that our entire industry needs to change its name, since developers and people arguing about 'games as art' subjects have used the term 'video game' as a crutch to make their games hang onto bits and pieces of the 8-bit coin-ops of our past. The day when we wake up and realize that we don't need to make players pay by the death anymore is truly the day video games transcend their restrained roots.


Did you ever notice: Why Cod Four is better than Cod War (Part 2)

For this I have way too many thoughts to put into this one post and I don't feel like compiling a word document with all my thoughts like I'm prepping for writing an essay so I'm just going to release a multi-part series of posts about why I wish Infinity Ward didn't let Activision take over ever other year. This includes spoilers for Call of Duty 4 and probably some for World at War too.

Did you ever notice that Call of Duty: World at War isn't as great as reviewers said it is, or great at all for that matter? The second problem I want to bring up is the step down in A.I. The same thing happened in Call of Duty 3, where people complained that the excellent Call of Duty 2 had better AI, despite it being a 360 launch title. This is one of the things that really screws up the game, even if you don't notice it. This problem makes the game very easy and very anoying (not hard, mind you, but annoying). One thing the AI will do in the middle of abattlefield is get out of cover and feel perfectly content to stand there in the open shooting at your troops (and you). It's something that most people don't really complain about since you can just kill those guys really quickly and forget about it, but it brings down the challenge. The other thing the enemy AI will do it have a lapse in intelligence and stand there while your troops advance. This is really annoying because you will walk past them and assume they were an ally because "how could an enemy be stupid enough to do that?" but sure enough, it's just an enemy who froze there and then later decides to start shooting. This sounds like some kind of Japanese tactic when I describe it (I only encountered this problem in the American campaign) but when you see it happening in gameplay you can tell it's not meant to happen.

Another thing, having to do with your allies this time, is that the voice acting is inconsistent with the characters' actions. In some parts they will go from whispering to screaming without the proper amount of time between the lines. Sometimes they don't look in the direction of the guys they're talking to when the line is too quiet to be spoken in that way (meaning where the tough guy won't look at the guy he's talking to for dramatic effect). One of the things that really pissed me off about the voice acting was that the voices didn't express any exertion of energy. For example, at one part Kiefer Sutherland is pushing a table out of the way or smashing a door in or doing something that you have to put your muscle behind in order to do, but he was still talking to you in a normal voice while doing it. You would have a flare in your voice if you smashed your shoulder into a door while you were talking, no matter how tough you are. It would seem like a small thing but it happens frequently enough to be noticeable, and for me that is really a sign of weakness and a poor job by the guys who directed the actors in the recording sessions. Call of Duty 4's voice acting was consistently excellent and every single tiny detail in the character behavior was completely authentic. It's the kind of thing where you feel like you could know how to do what an SAS operative does from seeing these guys do all these formations and movements. (Obviously you couldn't but it makes you feel that way and that's something special.) It was that good.
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