Keeping It Simple #34

They say that times they are a changin'. Seems like some times can't change fast enough. Others won't change at all. Don't worry about those. Just... keep it simple...

YES

  • Batman

The Dark Knight Rises successfully managed to purvey a truly impressive sense of scale, which gave the film a fantastically epic quality. I walked out of the cinema exhausted. Wonderfully intense, if a little predictable at times.

  • The Walking Dead

The first series of games in a long while that have manipulated me into acting with emotional integrity instead of simply picking the actions that I hope will cause the most mayhem. The Walking Dead gives you tough choices that come back to fuck you, repeatedly, but without any sense of predictable linearity. Makes for brutally tense gameplay.

  • Magnets

Loving the new season of Breaking Bad. Mike especially is a character that has grown on me significantly over the past few seasons and it's great to see him taking a more central role. Looking forward to the inevitable cluster-fuck.

NO

  • Comic Books

I decided to stop buying comicbooks this month after I financially crippled myself in June. It took a couple of weeks to slow down, especially during the Avengers Vs Xmen event that's taking place at the moment, but the cost:entertainment ratio simply isn't high enough to justify the mindless purchase of these books every week. I will continue to read Uncanny X-Force, however, as that remains the one series that has managed to maintain both it's high quality narrative and artwork.

  • Cigarettes

You know how you tell people "I can quit smoking any time I want" and nobody believes you? Well I quit smoking exactly when I wanted, so fuck those guys. I was at the stage where I was smoking maybe 4 or 5 a day, but that would increase to maybe 15 or 16 per day at the weekend. When I ran out of money it seemed like an obvious expenditure to cut from the budget, and I haven't felt any sense of temptation since.

  • Steam Sales

Don't get me wrong, I love a good steam sale, but this summer I spent a trivial £3.99 on discounted games. I bought a copy of Alice, Madness Returns, which I enjoyed for about 30 minutes and then promptly ignored. While the style of the game is fantastic, I don't know if I can be bothered to trudge my way through it's repetitive gameplay to uncover it. As for the steam sales themselves, I imagine many of you are in a similar situation to me; If there's a game I want then I will buy it, regardless of price - which makes the entire process of discounting fairly obselete. Don't worry, we still love you, Gabe.

Never not Batman

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Love Sweep

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E3 2012: The Aftermath

Post E3 depression aside, I have enjoyed the last week.

It was great to see videogames being made and talked about, and that's enough, for the moment. It was especially refreshing to see hype surrounding the games that made an effort to be experimental: While Halo and Call Of Duty were pushed out as respective show starters and stoppers at the Microsoft conference, it was games like The Last Of Us and Beyond that left people buzzing with excitement.

I'm not going to sit here and lament, again, the palpable shift towards non-videogame entertainment that was so transparently present at the show. This transition has been glacial, and anyone who is surprised or dismayed by Microsoft or Sony using known brands to sell hardware has clearly been hallucinating for the past several years. It's worth wading through the marketing PR nonsense and terrible Usher puns however, for just 5 minutes of Miyamoto goofing around. If that man endorsed heroin I would be a smack fiend within a week.

Also, there's totally a new Pikmin game. Get. Fucking. HYPE.

The Wii U looks to be doing all the things that Nintendo probably should have done a while ago, though it may be too little too late. Anyone who wants to play the 3rd party titles that had been previously excluded from the Wii library probably already owns an alternate means of doing so. Plainly put: Being able to play games like Batman: Arkham City on a Wii U in not incentive enough to go and buy one. What it does do, however, is spark the potential for 1st Party Nintendo games of a similar scope. It will be interesting to see how this alters the design of these classic franchises, each generation of which has been limited by it's respective hardware.

The game that most prominently caught my eye was The Last Of Us. It's a strange mish-mash of genres, survival thriller meets action adventure. The bright colour palette and amicable protagonists are at a surreal juxtaposition with the way you brutally murder anyone you meet. I watched the gameplay demo at work and by the end of the video my co-workers had crowded around my desk and were actively cheering at each fatality. (I agree with Jeff that cheering murder is kind of fucked up, but it was more of a "Oh no he didn't?!" kind of cheering than a "Yeah, show me his brain!" kind of cheering. Subtle difference?)

What interests me the most is the versatility of that engine.

A lot of the most exciting moments was the spontaneous way the characters react to each situation. If you run out of ammo the hunter hears the click of your gun and ventures forth, only to experience a budget Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster to the face. But what if you don't run out of ammo? How much wriggle room is there? That entire sequence looks so perfectly choreographed that it's hard to imagine it being resolved in any other way. So it is with mixed apprehension and excitement that I await The Last Of Us, a game that will either dazzle with it's versatility, or underwhelm when it's linearity is revealed.

I shall end this blog with a comic strip that is disarmingly relevant to my current situation. Replace the words League of Legends with Dota 2 and you have something pretty similar to what's going on with me right now.

I have actually managed to load up some hero models in maya so maybe I will write a blog explaining how to do that, as the process is fucking arduous and there are no actual guides on how to do so for Dota 2. I had to mash mine together using old TF2 guides, which was an utter ballache.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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Grow Up

"The Average Age Of Videogame Players"

Is a statistic thrown around with such wild recklessness that it's significance as a credible argument in any given situation has dwindled. I last remember the number hovering somewhere about the 33 mark, though that was a while back and I expect these days the average videogamer is going through their mid-life crisis.

It's easy to shuffle out that number as a knee-jerk reaction to any accusation of videogame related immaturity, pointing out with a smug smile that "Actually, I think you'll find" the average age of people playing videogames is 94. Or 328. Or, let's face it, any number higher than your current age. If needed you can probably find an article on IGN or Kotaku to validate your claims. Isn't that what those websites are for?

And, for the most part, we were all getting along fine and dandy

In relative denial that the majority of games we play are actually immature male-oriented power fantasies with a severe lack of innovation, writing ability and variation. But you play them because, hell, it's fun shooting zombies in the face. Who doesn't like shooting zombies in the face? Nobody I want to know about.

Until some inconsiderate bastard speaks up and points out that, regardless of whatever statistic you can dig up online, no matter how articulately you can defend your favourite addiction, videogames are childish. Someone with a transparently thoughtful and reflective approach to videogame design points out that videogames aren't mature enough for adults. We react accordingly; people have been saying this shit for years, it's easy to dismiss it. Your parents have been saying this for your entire life, what's difference will one more hater make?

But then there's those of us who actually agree. I don't know if that's a common opinion or not. I assumed it wasn't, as the article was originally sold as sensationalist flame-bait (Though to be fair it was free-range flame-bait from a legitimate source). To hear that and to think "This guy not only has a point, but has repeatedly demonstrated that this medium has the potential for creative growth" is very refreshing and something that I want to support as much as possible. That's why I finally got the fuck off my lazy arse and wrote this blog. Let's do this, videogame people. Let's grow the fuck up.

Jenova Chen: I salute you.

Thanks for reading

Love Sweep

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It's not where you go...

It seems strange that relative to the utter hysteria of the past week my first blog upon my return from PAX East should regard a game that was not even present at the show. However, I can only play the cards I am dealt. Arriving home after a gruelling 7 hour flight, collapsing, then waking up only to begin drinking the copious amounts of duty free Vodka that I has purchased (with unprecedented foresight), I found myself with the first empty stretch of time I have had for several weeks. Disoriented, I stumbled my way through several games of Dota 2, but that didn't itch my scratch, nor vice versa. I needed something fresh. Journey is... well... it's something else.

I'm going to begin with a bold and stark statement; Journey is the most beautiful game I have ever played. I don't mean that purely from an aesthetic sense, though would be an easy case to argue. Journey balances precariously between playful exploration and sinister existentialism. Though you may spend parts of your adventure in the company of another, this is a pilgrimage of singularity, of scale, and of reflection. This is about you.

It's hard to capture exactly what makes Journey so shatteringly insightful. The echoing chimes that haunt your footsteps across the desert, offset by the playful chirps of the ribbons that guide you, creates a wonderfully reverential tone, reinforcing the weight imposed by the sheer magnitude of the desert and the magisterial history of the ruins you negotiate. The length of your scarf, a source of pride, is stripped with such brutality that you cannot help but feel pity for those who are subjected. Companionship exists through shared hardships, nothing more. The tentative chirping of the players acts not as a form of communication, more as a despondent cry for reassurance. To receive no reply, to spin around suddenly concious of your isolation is... overwhelming.

Journey manages to subtly and eloquently communicate meaningful resilience and determination in a way that is hauntingly rewarding to it's players. I walked from start to finish in one sitting and, having completed my Journey, sat staring at the screen for a long time. Now it's over, I don't particularly want to play anything else.

Except fuckin' Pooyan, obviously.

Thanks For Reading
Love Sweep

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Investment, Entitlement, Chilli

I haven't blogged since January! Fucking January! No longer can you bathe in the abundant warmth of my melodic prose; these prolix acorns must be seeked out and gathered, harvested and stored for the inevitable mute months that follow. Fuck it, though; In my days here I have written enough to keep you going for a while. You shall not go hungry, little squirrels.

Shit's been happening: Too much, too fast. Instead of devoting large quantities of time to tedious and probably predictable convictions, I'm going to skim the scum off the surface; There was The Ending Of Mass Effect 3 (Disappointedly convoluted and/or pretentious), The Buying Of Whiskey by CBS (Cynical, apprehensive), and That Time I Made A Huge Pot Of Chilli As Instructed By One David Snider. Truth be told, it got messy.

It actually tasted pretty great!

[The blog is free range and spoiler free. Also, it's filmed in front of a live studio audience.]

I liked Mass Effect 3, though you probably wouldn't think that if you listened to me talk about it for any length of time. It seems that all the content that Mass Effect 2 so memorable and charming was removed for - what, exactly? Why was I only limited to 4/5 squadmates for the entire game? Seeing as Kaiden is a prick, Tali was dead and James is Human, that leaves me with Garrus and Liara. So, I ended up playing the entire game with Garrus and Liara following me everywhere. Which was terrible because fuck Liara. And not in the Mass Effect, everybody get nekkid, sense of the word. I mean in the "Is there an individual mute button for this character?" sense. The bad sense.

Mass Effect 3 seems content to dangle the characters that I actually wanted at arms length, only to brutally and pointlessly remove them from me and order me to go on without them. I have seen the argument offered that a smaller pool of characters allowed the writers to plot out some better banter - which the game ultimately fails to deliver. When the game really wants a specific character on a specific mission it removes the element of choice entirely, so why even pretend that I'm involved in this process at all? Mass Effect 3 was lacking in moments. After displaying such flexibility and imagination with the level design in the previous game, it was a pretty brutal and unpleasant experience to be told, yet again, that my only objective is to "Survive". The entire game felt stale.

Things improved dramatically when the DLC Prothean dude joined my squad, as he basically becomes your virtual tour guide. This also meant I could bench Liara for the rest of the game, which was a relief as I quickly grew tired of her bleating. While fantastic that I wouldn't have to spend hours mining the shit out of asteroids - the substitute, scanning planets for lost junk, was tedious, and watching the Reapers chase you around the Galaxy Map was the most ridiculous shit I have ever seen in my life. Every time they popped up I felt like Benny Hill should automatically start playing. This game was supposed to be stylish, and sexy. Why the fuck do I feel like I'm playing a shitty Pacman rip-off in the year 2159?

Enough with them negative waves!

Despite my numerous beefs with the game I found it satisfying at a base level. I felt I had received my moneys worth of entertainment. Is that enough? Mass Effect is a franchise in which I felt heavily invested, both emotionally and monetarily. Bioware had a wealth of resources, characters, actors, assets, history and lore from which to pick, and a fanbase who would have followed them blindly into whatever innovative matrix they could envision. Squandered. I love Mass Effect. It deserves better.

Deserved.

Thanks for reading,

Love Sweep

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Dark has been my Soul of late

There's something about the brutality of Dark Souls which I find masochistically endearing. Perhaps it's the disdain in which you are held by it's inhabitants, or the relentless unfairness of it's many enemies. Dark Souls fucks you up, and pointedly fails to apologise. Half the time I don't know what I'm doing. Just like in real life!

The most underwhelming thing about a videogame can easily be the disconnect one feels with the protagonist. It's one of the reasons I never really enjoyed the elaborate QTE's of the God Of War franchise. "Press square to backflip onto this guy's back and stab him in the eyes!" is about as far removed from the patient, methodical delicacy of Dark Soul's combat as it's possible to be. There's an important difference between XP and Experience - actual experience, not numbers that fill up a bar the more you mash the X button. I'm talking about knowing how a game works, in understanding the timing of an attack or the geography of a virtual environment. That's a raw concept that can't be quantified, and Dark Souls makes little attempt to. There's a level system thrown in there, sure, and item upgrades - let's not get bananas here, at the end of the day it's still a videogame - but if you don't have the experience to carve your way across the map then no amount of XP will save you. There's something hugely satisfying about that, something that you can't hack, or cheat, or simulate; and as a result Dark Souls is, despite it's chilling flippancy towards the health of it's players, a wonderfully rewarding game.

It's also a complete cunt. Just putting that out there.

I'm still playing a lot of Dota2.

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Keeping It Simple #33

In a desperate attempt to reignite my blog, I'm taking it retro. That's right, folks: It's time to keep it simple...

YES

The Last Of Us

Skyrim Mods

  • Thanks to Duncan Harris over at DeadEndThrills I have made my Skyrim look far better than it has any right being. I think at this point in time I have actually spent more time modding my copy of Skyrim than I have playing it...

Dota2

  • I have never played Dota or any of the stupid clones it spawned, despite the inane whinging of certain members of the community, but thanks to Giant Bomb superstar Killjoi I received a shiny Dota2 ticket. First impressions are time-consumingly positive. I read some guides, and a bunch of the old IRC crowd showed me the ropes, but I was basically picking random heroes until I found one I liked. Tidehunter is pretty cool but Batrider is the way forward. Hype!!

NO

Teabagging

Christmas

  • I'm completely comfortable being labelled a miserable bastard for this one. It might be a direct result of the whole divorced parent thing, but Christmas for me has always been more trouble than it's worth. Just give me my copy of Dark Souls and leave me the fuck alone.

GMT

  • Work means I have to sleep at "reasonable hours", yet all the interesting stuff (Community events, Starcraft tournaments, Giant Bomb livestreams) seem to always take place at just after midnight. Which is, incidentally, just after I go to sleep.

Thanks for reading

Love Sweep

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350th Blog

I don't really know what kind of ceremony a 350th blog warrants. The only other members of the site to hit this digit are Bruce and Dalai, both of whom breezed past with such speed that they probably didn't even notice.

350 blogs. Fuck. That's one blog every 3 days for the entire duration of my time here on Giant Bomb. Since day one. During that time I have travelled all over the world, endured my entire university degree, and played more incredible videogames than I would care to mention. Times they are a'crazin.

You were there, Giant Bomb. The whole time. So join me in a little nostalgia:

My name is Sweep.

I still want to be inside you.

Thanks for reading.
Love Sweep

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Furniture Tetris

I've been cultivating this hangover for a while now. Everything seems to be happening at a great distance. My eyes are blurry, attempts to focus resulting in the sensation of screwdrivers being twisted into my retinas. When I move my head I can feel my brain sloshing against the inside of my skull. It is in this state, that I begin this blog:

I found somewhere to live, in North London. It's a flat, on an estate, shared with a couple of other random gentlemen. A single bed is the only issue I have with the room, especially after the wonderful king-size that I was rocking at University. I could probably upgrade to a double here, though I'm unsure if I would be able to squeeze my computer into the room afterwards. I'm still playing furniture tetris, trying to figure out the best arrangement. Standard moving-in nonsense.

The result of having a stable living environment means I have been able to bring up all my shit to London. Shit like; my Xbox, my personal computer, and my collection of Gears Of War figures. The essentials. After a month of roughing it on a sofa in Brixton, the level of comfort which I am currently experiencing is... well... it's just lovely.

The important part of this blog is that I bought a PS3.

This is why.

It was supposed to arrive on the day Uncharted 3 was released, but due to the stupid fucking company messing up the billing address it has been delayed. It's now Saturday and I'm still not playing Uncharted, which means I probably won't be able to play until next weekend. This makes me very angry. The experience of having to shuffle around my ever-complicated schedule is both new and unwelcome. Having time to play videogames is something I have never really had to worry about, and the removal of that instant gratification is bizarre and frustrating. However, in the absence of an axiomatic availability, the value of any time at all in which I can murder a virtual menagerie of beings becomes exponentially higher.

I just bought Battlefield 3. I'm going to install it and play it. I'm also probably going to write a blog bitching about Origin, and Battlelog, because they are both awkward, clunky, and unattractive. Like your mother. However, in order to play Battlefield 3 I am still willing to have sex with her. If you know what I mean.

Thanks for reading
Love Sweep

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Weekend Warrior

A quick "I'm home for the weekend!" blog: I'm home for the weekend. The first week working in London has been kinda rocky, and not in a "Wooo, rock and roll!" kinda way, more of a "Fuck, these rocks are sharp and they are cutting my feet" kinda way.

Work, huh? Yeah.

I still haven't found a place to live yet, which is why I'm pretty absent from the site. Sorry about that. As soon as I get settled down I'm going to blog the something out of this bitch.

For now, I gotta sleep. I actually have to have a sleep pattern now; 'pattern' being the objective word, implying regularity and routine - both of which fucking terrify me. I hope this kind of thing doesn't catch on.

Thanks for reading.
Love Sweep

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