Extensive Gears 3 Beta Impressions

   

Those that follow my blog will know that I'm a big Gears Of War fan.

 Usually that knowledge is accompanied by some form of bewilderment or confusion, which is understandable. I can't really explain why I love the Gears franchise so much. I play the games obsessively, I have read all the fiction (yeah, there are Gears of War books. They suck, for the record), I filled out a chunk of the Gears wiki pages here on Giant Bomb and I even have a few Gears of War action figures and T-Shirts. It's bordering on unhealthy. So when I heard that I could get into the Gears 3 beta by buying a copy of Bulletstorm, I immediately did so. I didn't particularly enjoy Bulletstorm and it was promptly returned to my local GAME and exchanged for store credit. I had entered the DLC code into my account already, so my plan was to simply rent the game on the 18th and play that way. My Gears 3 pre-order would come into effect the following week, so it didn't seem like a big deal.


However on Friday I was scrubbin' around at home when Cliffy B started tweeting out Gears 3 ViP beta codes. This would save me some money not having to rent out the game from blockbuster, as well as getting me into the beta 3 days early, so I was pretty excited at the opportunity. After some quick investigation it became apparent that there were actually a large number of Gears Devs tweeting the codes, so I followed the ones with the fewest followers, to minimise the competition, and sat there in front of my computer hungrily waiting for codes to get dispensed. I set up TweetDeck with a filter so it was only showing me posts with the #Gears3Beta hash-tag and bumped up the refresh rate to max which meant the posts were hitting my feed up to 10-15 seconds before they were going up on Twitter. I made sure I was logged onto xbox.com as well, so I could instantly copy across the code and hit enter. After about 20 minutes of desperately scrabbling for codes that were being snatched up within SECONDS (literally two or three seconds) I managed to tag a code. I raised my fists triumphantly into the air, turned on my Xbox to begin the install, and went to get a beer while the Gears 3 Beta Downloaded. 
Big shout to Mark Rein for my beta code. Cheers, buddy!

Since Friday I have clocked a lot of hours with the Gears 3 beta. 

You unlock new character + gun skins by completing a certain amount of matches. For example, 20 King Of The Hill matches get's you Cole, 50 Matches in total get's you Cole Train (Thrashball Cole) and 90 matches get's you the Gold Retro Lancer. I had unlocked everything except the gold lancer within 24 hours. Yeah... I played a lot.

So there have been multiple news articles explaining what the beta involves, what guns and game-types, but very little actual information about how the new features will effect gameplay. This blog is designed to address exactly that. I played the fuck out of Gears 2, and I know all about the Gears fiction, so i'm probably in as good a position as any to fill in the gaps. So... here we go:

Charging with the Bayonet looks fantastic, and hearing the primal scream your character emits whilst running is also fucking awesome. 


The Matchmaking

Probably the best feature I have seen on the beta is the matchmaking. 

Finding and joining matches is quick and painless, the interface is clean and the game loads fast. Once a public match ends players are instantly taken to the next match and thrown right back into the action, so there is never more than about 30 seconds where you aren't shooting someone. It feels very dynamic as a result, and it's very smooth compared to the Gears 2 Lobby system which felt somewhat clunky. Players can quit at any time and their scores will be kept, as well. This means if you drop out of a game while the scores are still showing, or while the next level is loading, you will still receive all your XP and points. The drop-in drop-out nature of the matchmaking is to the games credit. The only flaw with the system I have found so far is with the team-balancing, and the game has frequently dumped me into a team full of AI against a fully human set of opponents. I give them a good run for their money but the AI is still pretty docile, meaning that unless you get some real people on your team you are probably going to die.

The Guns

The questions that seem to be getting thrown around most frequently regard the shotguns. 

The Gnasher was obviously one of the most popular guns in Gears 2 for it's brute force, and it's similarly favoured in the beta. However the new guns make the game a lot more interesting by addressing many different playing styles. For example, in Gears 2 I favoured the Lancer over the Gnasher, but often had to resort to the Gnasher because of the range at which most conflicts were taking place. The Lancer was pretty redundant, designed for long-range precision as oppose to spraying up close. The Retro Lancer addresses this by being more powerful, yet moderately less accurate, and with some pretty brutal recoil. The optimum range for the Retro Lancer, therefore, seems to be just between those of the Lancer and Gnasher, making it perfect for countering players who just like to roll in close with a shotgun. Considering this was the main tactic of Gears 2, this makes it useful for killing just about everyone.   To make the standard Lancer more versatile, the recoil is practically non-existent (as with the hammerburst) and the clip size has been almost doubled, meaning you get a beefy stream of bullets to hose down your enemies with. The HammerBurst has been plugged as the marksman's weapon of choice with minimal recoil and extreme accuracy in Iron-Sight mode. It's also very quick to reload, and can score headhots. Which is nice.


The Sawed Off is only really useful in certain circumstances. 

It takes an age to reload (two or three seconds, even with an active reload) so it's only really useful against single opponents unless they are all clumped together on a capture point or something. It also requires you to be right up in a dudes face, almost the same range you would be to chainsaw a guy, in order to be effective. The result, however, is insta-death for anyone on the receiving end, and without the paralysing animation of an execution or chainsaw kill. Because of it's terrible range the Sawed Off is most effectively used to ambush and blind-fire round corners, or to sneak up on enemies who haven't seen you yet. A frontal attack will fail when countered with any other gun, so you really have to pick your battles. It seems to work well as a complimentary weapon with the machine-guns, for example. I'm currently rockin' the Retro Lancer as my main, as it's versatility works in most situations, but switch to the Sawed-Off whenever I want to get the drop on somebody. So far the results have been spectacular. 

A lot of people seem worried that the power of the Sawed-Off is going to make the Gnashed redundant, but they have nothing to worry about.

The Gnasher is still super popular and most of the people I play against still seem to favour it over all the other guns. It's still the best weapon for a direct attack, and any time the Sawed-Off can kill you, the Gnasher would be just as effective in terms of power, though getting that precision shot is slightly more difficult. Players still seem to be adapting to the wider range of guns like the Sawed Off and Retro Lancer which really even the playing field when it comes to close quarters combat. The best thing about the Sawed Off is that it has put an end to those stupid shotgun showdowns from Gears 2 where the last two players would strafe in circles shooting at each other for 20 seconds unable to hit anything. The Sawed Off clears the screen, literally. However, if you miss with it then you are fucked, so be careful.  

Grenades

 The smoke grenades are now officially useful again, creating a larger and more impressive cloud of smoke that actually serves as some pretty decent cover. If enemy players are too close to an exploding smoke grenade then they will cover their face with their hands, making them unable to fire, but are not rooted to the ground like they were originally in Gears 2 (Until they patched the flinch out, making the smokes useless) and are still able to roll away to safety. A pretty solid tactic is to stun enemies with a Smoke and then use the time when they are stunned to get in close with a shotgun or rev up the chainsaw bayonet. The Incendiary is the new flame grenade that works very much the same as the Ink in that it leaves an area on the map which will hurt any enemy players who venture too close. The blast radius of the Ink has been reduced and it is now no longer a large cloud of smoke, but a more focussed patch of poison. As such I tend to keep hold of them and tag them onto meat-shields as a distraction rather than a meaningful weapon. Because of their reduced radius, the Ink and Incendiary aren't particularly good proxy traps either, so I haven't really been sticking them to walls much.

Power Weapons

 The One-Shot is an absolute beast that will destroy anything it touches, as the name implies. However it makes a sharp beeping noise when aimed, and there is a laser to accompany it so it's pretty easy to spot when it's being aimed at you. The Digger Launcher is pretty cool as well, frequently replacing the traditional boomshot, though the path-finding of the projectile is somewhat unreliable. I have frequently had shots explode on contact with walls and objects, instead if digging under them as advertised. 
Many people will be pleased to hear that the Longshot is now a lot less accurate outside of the scope, so it's a lot more difficult to down people with a quick active-reload up close. Lastly, the Gorgon Pistol now fires a continual stream of bullets as oppose to it's burst fire in Gears 2, making it a much more useful SMG. I use my pistol a lot as the Retro Lancer downs people before killing them, so I frequently find myself grabbing enemies as a meat shield, and the Gorgon is very useful.


The Multiplayer Modes

Team Deathmatch

Is kinda fun, though I prefer objective based gameplay so I haven't really played much of this beyond what I needed to unlock the new characters. The limited number of lives makes sticking in a group a key tactic as it makes it much easier to revive squad-mates. It's very similar to the Rush tactics of Battlefield, where you need medics to prevent your reinforcements from being depleted. It's a smart way of promoting organised team-play and communication.

Capture The Leader 

Probably my favourite of the new game types. It's like a cross between Guardian and Submission from Gears 2, a cross between capture the flag and ViP mode. One player on each team is made the leader and the other players must protect their leader whilst trying to capture (meat-shield) the enemy leader. Once captured they must be held for 30 seconds. If both leaders are captured, the countdown timer stops until one leader is dropped. The main reason this game-type works so well is because the leader is actually given the tools required to be a valuable asset to the team instead of just a helpless AI that needs babysitting the whole time. The tac-com ability (pressing LB to see your team-mates on the HUD) now shows x-ray positions of friendly players, very similar to detective vision from Batman: Arkham Asylum, but the leader has the ability to also see enemy players as well. This means they can keep their team constantly updated as to enemy positions and respawn locations, etc. This is especially useful on the map Trenches, which features a sand-storm that covers the entire map in a blanket of sand, minimising visibility. Being able to see your team-mates and enemies through the sand is therefore very useful, and your team relies heavily upon your communication skills. 
Lastly, if you are the leader and you are captured by the enemy you have the ability to struggle against your captor by pressing B - this sounds kinda pathetic, but when you do so it effectively prevents them for firing or moving for a couple of seconds, potentially giving your team an advantage over your captor.

King of the Hill

Pretty much the same as it ever was, though the King Of the Hill matches currently last stupidly long amounts of time - up to 20 or 30 minutes for some of the longer games - so after unlocking all the characters I needed I haven't really gone back to those. Hopefully they will make them a bit shorter when the game hits retail.


I fucking love this gun!

The Characters and Levels

 The characters are pretty basic, not much to say really. The one notable exception is the Leader for the COG is Prescott, not Hoffman. Prescott served as a COG soldier (as did all politicians) during the Pendulum wars before Emergence day, however it was considered only a formality and he never actually saw any action. It's an interesting inclusion to have him here as by the end of the third Gears Of War book, Anvil Gate, which bridges the gap between the second and third games, Prescott has lost all power and authority as Leader of the COG and Hoffman is pretty much doing whatever the hell he wants. I think Cliffy B even mentioned that the third game is set when the COG had dissolved and Prescott had fled to an unknown location, so his inclusion here is somewhat strange. But then again, they have Cole in a fucking Thrashball uniform, so attempting to find continuity amongst the Gears 3 multiplayer characters seems somewhat futile.

The levels look really great.

 My favourite is probably Old Town, which is set on Vectes island, where the COG re-established themselves after Jacinto was sunk. The island is situated behind a deep sea trench which had prevented the Locust from tunnelling there, and housed an old naval base which had been de-militarised because of supposed toxic leakages. This is soon discovered to be false and when the COG arrive they find a small community of COG citizens who have been living on the island since the Pendulum wars and have never even seen a Locust before. Knowing all this, it's nice to finally get a chance to see some of the smaller COG settlements before they got all fucked up, and the level looks appropriately beautiful. I especially like being able to kill chickens with a Retro Bayonet. Good times.


So, I think that's all the important stuff covered. If anyone has any specific questions then I shall do my best to answer them. Otherwise I guess I will see some of you in the beta when the Bulletstorm kids get in tomorrow. 

I will be the one killing you.


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Love Sweep
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Keeping It Simple #31

I know I said I wasn't going to be blogging much at the moment, but just because I'm on hiatus doesn't mean I can't keep things simple...


YES

Turns out I enjoy reading about Eve Online a lot more than I enjoy actually playing it.

  • Closed Beta

Gears of War 3 beta begins in a matter of weeks. I returned my copy, but does anyone have a Bulletstorm disk I can borrow?

  • Shogun 2: Total War (the demo)

I don't actually have any money right now but I have played the single historical battle available on the demo about 20 times. I'm currently trying to crack it on Hard. Love the look of this game :D

NO

  • Customs Charges

Royal Mail is holding my latest batch of Threadless shirts hostage.
I hate you so fucking much, weight painting tool. I hate you so much.
  • The Summer

I have to spend the next month indoors working while it is beautifully sunny outside. I want to go to the beach!


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Love Sweep
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The Hiatus

Ok team, I should probably address the fact that I'm not blogging much at the moment. This isn't because I'm bored of blogging or because moderating the site is taking up all my time. I'm actually in the final couple of months of my degree, which means Deadlines and Exams, and then (potentially) Looking For A Job. This shit is important and I need to devote as much time to it as possible, as I'm sure you understand. This doesn't leave much time for playing videogames, nor blogging. When I do visit the site it's usually in small doses where I will moderate a few things, post in a thread or two, then get back to work. 
 
My last exam is on the 3rd June. Until that time, don't expect a heavy blog presence :(
 

   
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Love Sweep
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Ain't nuthin' quite like it.

It's late. It's very late. You are tired, you need to sleep. You had a long day, a long week, even. You have shit to do tomorrow. You have shit you should have done today. So you start to stop. But just when you are about to call it a night, THAT SONG starts playing. THAT song. So you say to yourself "Alright". And you go get yourself another beer.

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Burnt Out: EPIC Edition.

Eurgh. 

(Hungover)  

So yesterday I finished and submitted my 10,000 word university dissertation (Hence the hangover) on "The implementation, successes and failures of "Boss" design and encounters in Videogames." Now, I don't know how high y'all can count, but 10,000 words.... that a lot of words. It would normally be enough to make me not want to talk about videogames for a long. Time. But my name is Sweep (right?) and I'm going to keep talking about videogames. I'm just fucking mental like that. 
 

So... I totally traded my copy of Bulletstorm back into GAME.  

I'm pretty ashamed to admit it, but I actually bought that game for the Gears Of War 3 beta. 
 
I know, I know. Shaddap. 
 
About 2 days after I bought Bulletstorm it was announced that people who Pre-Ordered Gears 3 would also get into the early beta, only a week later than the Bulletstorm kids. So, I took advantage of the GAME trade-in deal and returned my £40 copy of Bulletstorm for £35 store credit which is going towards my copy of LA Noire when it eventually comes out. 
 

Bulletstorm is a pretty cool game. 

I really liked the skillshot stuff, it was an interesting take on heavily exhausted FPS genre. In the couple of weeks I had the game I completed the campaign and spent a bunch of time playing online. It wasn't bad.... but it wasn't particularly inspiring either. 
 

What irritated me the most was that, despite the goofy and downright crass marketing campaign, the fratboy-esque skillshot puns and general crude scripting, the game is painfully sincere. There were attempts to explain, even rationalise the nonsense which was taking place on my screen. The characters admitted to being able to see the "skillshots" and that it was a system implemented by the army as a "Survival of the fittest" training program where only the best soldiers would be resupplied at the drop-shops. Later in the story [Don't worry, this blog is spoiler free] there are times when the characters get all mushy and emotional and it just feels... awkward.
 
There's a fair amount of nonsense I'm prepared to accept in the name of videogames, but making such an obviously goofy product and then filling it with such sincerity was just plain weird. I would have preferred if they just accepted that the game was completely bananas and left is as pure obnoxiously rambling nonsense. When I completed the game I didn't even watch the final cinematic. There was a painful amount of candid conversation taking place and it just made me feel uncomfortable considering in the immediate run-up I had received a 300 point bonus for shooting a flare-gun up some dude's ass. The narrative in that game isn't bad, it's just handled poorly, and for all the dicking around (ha) the game suggests, to then impose such high moralities upon it's characters is a bizarre juxtaposition.  
 
If anything the atmospheric insanity is perfect for the multiplayer mode, a 4-man co-op arena in which players must mingle skillshots in order to progress - flying solo won't get you enough points. Unfortunately, many of the randoms on Xbox Live don't seem to understand this concept.  
 
Anyone surprised? No, I thought not.  

The result is that most players just run around killing enemies for their own personal gain. The game sporadically sends out enemies which require specific team skillshots for a bonus, but because most of the fucking monkeys online don't know what they are doing this usually results in all 4 players kicking the enemy back and forth like some weird school-yard terror ring until someone get's bored and leashes the mutant guy into a cactus. Or something.
 
Nominating Bulletstorm for "Best virtual inebriation" of the year.

 This blog is getting pretty negative, so I should probably point out that there are many things I did enjoy about Bulletstorm. The characters are pretty great and, weirdly, work best when they are just bantering about stupid goofy bullshit. There's a real commitment to Greyson Hunt being a moron which, as I mentioned earlier, clashes horribly with his moments of sincerity, but the general vibe is pretty entertaining. I particularly like pressing keypads in that game. Greyson hunt doesn't poke buttons with his finger, he get's the desired effect by mashing the keypad with a damn fist. Like a man.
 
I don't really want to talk about the antagonist, for obvious reasons, but suffice to say he is a complete cunt and the finale of the game is handled fairly well.
 

So yeah. Good times were had. 

However I'm a poor student and I can't really afford to spend money on games with no long-term playability right now so.... no more Bulletstorm! 
  
I also just spent £100 pre-ordering the EPIC edition of Gears Of War 3. It's the most money I have ever spent on a single game, ever. I don't even know what's in the EPIC edition, all I know is that I want it
 
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Love Sweep 
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The Price Is Right

Champions Online is a game that... well... It's kinda... yeah.

Is there even any point in me telling you what kind of game it is? 

I'm sure by now you already know and if you don't you should go and find out. Because it's free. Yep, you have no excuse not to play it. Unfortunately you then have plenty of excuses to stop playing it.
 

Being the broke chump that I am, I sauntered back into Millennium City riding the wave of freeness in all it's glory. Having arrived I was greeted by the familiarity of Champions Online's fantastic aesthetic and wonderful atmosphere. There are hundreds of dudes flying, teleporting, swinging, leaping, and whizzing around all over the place and when you are caught up in the hubbub it's a pretty magical spectacle to behold. 
 

Unfortunately

The general structure of the game remains overtly bland, with the city and it's surrounding locations so vast that it's easy to find yourself depressingly isolated for long periods of time. This is a shame, as it's the creativity of the playerbase in designing their heroes that makes Champions Online so vibrant. I have been playing a few hours a day for the past week and remain consistently underwhelmed with the gameplay, finding the core quest mechanics uninspired and monotonous - which is pretty much how I felt the first time I played it back when it was released. I'm level 11 with my current character and I only have two attacks other than my basic punch. One of them is a slightly stronger punch, and one of them if a leaping punch. As almost every mission involves going somewhere and fighting something, only having 2 buttons to press is absolutely mind-numbing. I spend most of my time mashing a single button before tabbing onto my next dullard opponent.
 
However it's important to remember that Champions Online is now free, which makes it a lot easier to overlook many of the games shortcomings. As a business model it works fantastically well, and I have on several occasions had to catch myself before handing over some of that Green Paper (that I don't have) in exchange for Atari Bones (That I don't want) so I could buy goofy shit (which I don't need). I stopped myself just in time when I realised that my Swamp Monster In A Tuxedo was already as awesome as it was possible to be. Perhaps more so.
 
This is my dude. He's called SWOMP, mostly because he SWOMPs people. 

The fact of the matter is, Champions Online is a fairly complete product already and you can enjoy it without having to worry about micro-transactions, though it remains a fantastically colourful world of entrapment and you may find it very hard to resist it's seductive manipulations. Just being exposed to the possibility of Rocket Boots is so sorely tempting that I spent a good 5 minutes looking at them and then researching how to buy Atari Points before I even remembered that I don't even actually like this game.
 
So Champions Online happened and is continuing to happen. There are many things in this world which I am prepared to pay for and Champions Online was once one of them, but in retrospect; free is a much more appropriate price for this specific brand of insanity. 
 
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Love Sweep
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What makes a successful videogame Boss?

Where to begin?

More importantly, where to end? 
 

University huh? So that's a bitch. 

Fortunately I love my degree, so it's not all bad. I'm actually working on a research project right now which I have chosen to title "The implementation, successes and failures of "Boss" design and encounters in Videogames". Catchy, ain't it. 
 

Where to begin? 

Bosses are a natural convention for videogames, a medium which is as much about timing and reflexes as it is logic and rational thought. The idea of a "boss" is traditionally a peak in the difficulty of a game, marking the end of a chapter or level - that the player must vanquish before they may continue. Bosses are also, conceivably, a huge failure, often dumped in an interactive adventure because... well... it's a videogame, and videogames have bosses, right? This is insufferably apparent amongst the "I'm the same as all the other guys you just fought but I have a bigger health bar" menagerie of bosses that reek of laziness and demonstrate the imagination of damp cardboard.  
  
An alternative is for bosses to gain notoriety by simply being awkwardly difficult. Seth, the final monstrosity one must wrestle in Street Fighter 4 is an example of an enemy that simply bends the rules to his advantage. Instead of being praised for clever design, he is more often than not the target of resentment for being a cheating mother fucker. This is by no means a sign of bad boss design, however, as the satisfaction at his inevitable demise is all the sweeter having beaten him despite his obvious home advantage. 
  
 

Clever boss design, both aesthetic and mechanic, is not an endangered state of affairs. The Mario games, notably Galaxy, flourish their creativity at every opportunity, and the bosses you encounter are wonderfully colourful as a result. It is a shame, therefore, that these bosses are often so uniquely bland in their character. Petey the Piranha is an excellent example of a boss that, though tremendously enjoyable to fight, is somewhat lacking in empathetic value. The Mario franchise always seems to take a back-seat when it comes to it's characters, allowing the over-arching Bowser wants Princess Peach storyline to encompass the entire adventure. Often the spectacle of fighting a giant volcano-dwelling octopus floating through the far reaches of space on a tiny asteroid seems to gloss over your incentive for doing so. He's evil? Sure, of course he's evil. He lives in a fucking volcano. How can he not be evil? 
 

And that's about it. 

 
Except it's not, really, is it? For many interactive titles simply pointing you at the bad guy and issuing the "kill" order isn't enough. You need incentive, which comes in a variety of flavours. The most obvious would be through empathy with your own character, your Commander Shepard or Nathan Drake. It's a lot easier to sympathise with their often destructive behavior having shared their sense of betrayal or manipulation earlier in the story. It also helps if your character is somehow entertaining to watch, be it the stoic resilience of Master Chief or the comedic charms of Super Meat Boy. 
  
There are exceptions to the rule, Mario being the obvious example - what is lost in ambiguity is compensated for in charm and innovative design. Similarly Shadow Of The Colossus requires little introduction other than "You have to kill these giant monsters to save this girl" - the incentive to destroy these enemies being that it is mechanically enjoyable to do so. In the latter example, the ambiguity is almost part of the charm, leaving the player with a foreign uncertainty that is quite unique. This is some fairly masterful manipulation of the genre, deliberately limiting instruction to the player to heighten that sense of unease. Unfortunately there are endless examples of games that don't quite understand these ideas, offering enemies that are immediately forgettable and lacking any real design as a unique opponent - the design stemming from clever programming and art assets instead of gripping narrative.


Some games actively forgo the predefined character route either by nature of a silent protagonist, or allowing the player an extreme level of control over their avatar - much in the way of Dragon Age: Origins where the player directly chooses their response throughout the entirety of the game. Personally I find the resulting level of empathy with a character is heightened as a result - my avatar becoming a much more personal extension of my own personality. If someone insults you in World Of Warcraft, for example, they are insulting you, not your level 29 Troll Shaman. This style of design is also much more dependent on the narrative. As the game cannot impose a sense of anger or hatred upon you, it must develop it manually through the experiences in which you are placed. Failure to do so successfully can result in a hugely underwhelming results, as with the Elder Scrolls:Oblivion where the actual storyline was dull, repetitive and riddled with bland characters which I was supposed to like or respect. Having conquered the final boss I was in no way elated, not caring for the kingdom which I had supposedly saved. The resultant charms from that game stemmed from the freedom the player was granted in exploring the huge and surprisingly vibrant world, carving out their own adventure and gaining a much deeper satisfaction as a result. This sense of achievement is vital, a fundamental feature of the entire medium that must be satisfied as a matter of urgency. Closure must be attained one way or another. With our World Of Warcraft example, this sense of achievement is gained through bragging rights, the ability to demonstrate you have mastered your class and role, and visually flaunt your skill through the shiny new loot you just received. The actual empathy the player has with the enemies they fight has been minimised to an almost mathematic level as a result - with players essentially working robotically and without interest in their attempts to out-maneuverer what has been degenerated to a colourful algorithm. Which is a shame, because that narrative incentive is available, it is just largely ignored.
 

Where to begin? 

This is all at odds with the fact that most bosses as entirely separate entities are predominantly uninspired. As Greg Kasavin pointed out on his blog, it's often the enemies you fight that share the greatest level of empathy with the player, usually because they are the characters to which you are most excessively exposed - which is why their somewhat lacking and repetitive design is such a huge lamentation to game enthusiasts worldwide. Bioshock, an absolutely superb game in many regards, develops a series of characters that are so successfully fleshed out that they complete the world they inhabit. Andrew Ryan, your supposed nemesis, is a character to which one ultimately becomes sympathetic throughout the course of your tour of Rapture. Similarly, Sander Cohen is so delightfully sadistic that it's almost a shame when one eventually clubs him to death with a wrench. These are examples of bosses that are nurtured and cultivated throughout a game, developed of a period of time, in which the player is given an opportunity to form a relationship with their enemy and their own inclinations at vengeance. These characters are by no means more powerful than the hordes one must battle to reach them, but they are given life through rich character design, and a stage upon which to flaunt it, making the journey the player must undertake infinitely more meaningful as a direct result. A stark contrast from the anonymous nature of the villains in the Mushroom Kingdom. 
 
 

It's therefore deeply disappointing that the final encounter in Bioshock is so stereotypically labored, bearing more resemblance to Seth from Street Fighter than to the tailored delicacy and tact of it's own cast of alternatives - the ultimate showdown being reduced to nothing more than an unsatisfying ammo-sponge. Such a wasted opportunity, considering how thoroughly well realised the character was and how heavily empathetic one felt as a direct result at the core sense of manipulation. 
 

Where to end? 

Uh... here I guess. 
 
So yeah, that's the sort of thing i'm going to be exploring and researching over the next two or three weeks. Bosses in videogames are a convention that is endlessly recycled and rarely successful. If anyone has any thoughts on why that may be, opposing opinions as to what makes bosses great, or even just fantastic enemies they have had the pleasure of battling personally - I would love to hear them. 
 
I... woah. This feels like one of my blogs from 2009. It's freaking me out a little bit. Anyways. 
 
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Love Sweep
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