Saturday, July 12, 2014

One Hour Until Sunrise

In the vein of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, comes Infamous: Festival of Blood, a standalone total-conversion of the Infamous world. The title, in fact, remains one of the biggest-selling ps3 downloadable games launched on the PSN.

 
Our antihero, Cole, now in vampire form, must dispatch Bloody Mary, a powerful vampirette, before sunrise, or the blood suckers are taking over, as the vampire lady plans to turn the entire citizenship into creatures of the night. It may sound somewhat cheesy, yet the game makes sure you are in on the joke. Cole has been granted the power to fly, and given vampire vision, similar to Arkhman Asylum's detective mode.
Festival of Blood employs the Infamous 2 engine, and takes place in New Marais; based on New Orleans, during the Pyre Night celebrations; a sort of rather twisted Mardi Gras, complete with barefoot girls with glow-in-the-dark necklaces, partying all night. In this brief but engaging game, you need to suck blood from civilians to regain health, reminding me of the better moments of Bloodrayne II, but after a certain point, some of them may turn into the towering Firstborns, which are mighty vampire foes; much like the Banshees from Mass Effect 3.
Ultimately, there is much to do in this little package, having two sets of powers; the electrical and the vampiric, as well as the smooth controls and swift camera, both being extremely fine-tuned, with the end result, that at times, the screen is filled with colors and movement reminiscent of a japanese fighting game. It is one of those great games to play in company, even though it is a single player campaign.

The game is narrated by uber-cool geek Zeke, Cole's pal, as he tries to pick up an attractive woman in a bar, and hence probably tells a story which is either embellished or completely made up in his own mind. There is also User-Generated-Content available throughout the city, many of it by game developer, Sucker Punch. A tasty appetizer before delving into the world of Infamous 2.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Massive Electrostatic Discharge

Infamous, an early ps3 exclusive title, is a superhero game without the trappings and the inherent baggage which comes with a superhero movie adaptation, since as history has proven, outside of the Spider-Man games, most such adaptations have failed deplorably. Cole McGrath's electrical powers are intimately linked with the game's mythology, and the game's design and world-building are a case of quality over quantity.

I have played few exceptional free-roaming, or sandbox, games; chief among them, Rockstar Vancouver's Bully, which takes place in the confined Bullworth Academy, yet this is made up for with strong characters and a good premise. Only one other worthy title comes to mind; Team Bondi's The Getaway, which puts the player in a lovingly crafted London. Does Infamous offer a spin to the age-old GTA formula, and not fizzle out like the recent Watchdogs?

To begin with, Infamous' Empire City is very much alive; you can even go into the sewers, and the fact that it is small is utilized as an advantage, since it is exploited to maximum capacity. Little details like bystanders snapping photos of you, TVs that play news reports and commercials, and, of course, the fact that there are enemies wreaking havoc in territories you have to clear, make this a thorough world. Your pal Zeke, offers comic relief, while the game plays like a more violent version of the movie Hancock. I had listened to the soundtrack by techno-virtuoso Amon Tobin beforehand, and I must say it is truly fantastic. The motion-comic cut-scenes are also quite well designed.
Some degree of strategy is necessary to fight against your enemies, the Reapers, the Dust Men and the First Sons; like taking cover, or holding from ledges, while you blast them with electricity; the routine of blasting away and recharging on any city device that runs on electricity never gets old. The city is quite interactive, with pipes you can climb, antennas which can be tumbled over to use as bridges, and power cables which you can hang from or slide on; the latter grants a tremendous sense of freedom, like Spidey swinging from a web. Cole's physical prowess is partially explained, when the main character states at one point, that he is an urban exploration aficionado.
The game employs an ambitious karma system, sort of like a good Jedi vs. dark Jedi path, taking into account certain decisions you make throughout the story, in addition to whether you decide to heal or "leech" injured civilians. There is also a basic talent tree, to upgrade your powers. Taking these things into account, it could be said the game has a respectable dose of action-rpg elements. Last, but not least, the main missions, and some side-quests, are actually quite fun. Having bought the Infamous Collection, which comes with both ps3 games, as well as DLC, I am certainly looking forward to experiencing the complete story. One of the ps3's finest games.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

It is with great satisfaction that I can revisit a franchise I have grown to enjoy in comic book form and its original game, although with the property switching game studios, The Darkness II has changed some of its elements, though thankfully not the ones lying at its very core. Mobster Jackie Estacado and his demon arms are back with a vengeance. The game plays in a rather similar way to its predecessor, but it is as though the action has been amped up, with the vibrant use of cel shading, and more spectacular and brutal Darkness powers.


It also stays a bit closer to the comics, with the inclusion of the Brotherhood and Angelus, the latter being more of a cameo. As well, Jackie's character model resembles the comic book look more this time around. Our antihero's powers lie dormant, until he is attacked by seemingly a rival gang. After her passing, Jackie sees his girlfriend from the original game, Jenny, in visions, as he is tortured by her loss. Jackie is being sought by a secret society, the above-mentioned Brotherhood, whose leader makes an attempt to obtain the Darkness powers through occult means.
The game has some rpg elements, with the inclusion of a talent tree, since you can buy Darkness talents with "essence points" by eating hearts or finding relics, and there is even the incorporation of a few dialogue options. There are talent shrines scattered about the levels for the former purpose. The ability to hurl objects at enemies, as well as grabbing, for instance, car doors as shields, are welcome additions. Pointy objects are of special use, since you can impale your enemies against a wall; this is a comic book world, after all.

There is now one darkling, instead of several. Jackie's demon friend opens doors and assists you during boss fights. As in the first game, he has a punk-rock attitude, and urinates and passes gas over your enemies, while cursing in a cockney accent. You can even throw him against enemies, which is helpful since gunfights can get fairly intense, and there are sections where you control him. There are various weapons at your disposal, and you can grab those that your enemies leave behind. There is the added bonus of playing while dual-wielding two different guns.

The quiet interludes in between missions mimic the pace of the original game, and I for one am glad this is present in the sequel, such as visits to Jackie's mansion, and vivid visions, for instance, of a terrifying psychiatric ward in which Jackie's mobster pals are inmates and doctors; always count on psychiatry to be more chilling than the Darkness itself. The tour of the brothel is explicitly detailed in all its decadence, with sights and sounds which both arouse and repulse. The loading screens are also similar to the first game, featuring Jackie's short monologues.

Curiously, some of the most fun I had with the game are the bonus missions, called Vendettas, which is pleasing since the main story is a tad short. Vendettas is a co-op mode for up to four players, which can also be played offline. Each of the four Darkness Assassins have distinct weapons and powers. This mode ties to the main campaign through Johnny Powell, Jackie's go-to man on the occult, who behaves and talks like a famelic Woody Allen on acid. The Limited Edition comes with a poster, printed on both sides, free digital download of the Darkness Origins Volume 1 and 2 comics, and a couple of minor additions to the game. A worthy sequel in all regards.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Tomb Raider

As I was playing the first chapters of Uncharted 2, a PS3 exclusive game, my older brother remarked; "this is just like a movie," and he made a solid point indeed. Naughty Dog are masters at walking the fine line between film and game. For one thing, the game is built around setpieces, in the same manner of a motion picture. With wonderfully written cutscenes, the point I've been making throughout this blog, that "games are the new movies," is alive and well.

 
The visuals are rather inventive, making special use of camera angles, and the dialogue from the team banter is just phenomenal, right out of a polished screenplay. If Heavenly Sword showed what could be done with the PS3, then U2 pushes it to the limit. Arguably the pinnacle of the series, this sequel reminds me of Mass Effect 2, formerly from that competing console, in that this was also the standout episode in such series. Add the obligatory globe-trotting aspects and you have a winner in your hands.
The parkour style gameplay marks a trend in recent games, in which everyone is a monkey man who can scale just about any wall. But the game's charms somehow allow for enough willing suspension of disbelief to pull off a polished experience. This type of freedom is at times more welcome, in the opinion of this reviewer, than the by now utterly boring sandbox style gaming. In fact, the game shines during exploration as opposed to combat. Uncharted 2 is perhaps too violent, as at times it plays like a war game, and would have benefited from some self-reflection, like a sorrow dream.

The voice actors deliver their lines to perfection, and after all, the talented Claudia Black, of Farscape and Stargate SG-1 fame, is on board, playing Chloe. The voice actors, in fact, performed their motion capture for some of the scenes. It all adds up to a wonderfully cinematic experience; the question then becomes, whether Uncharted 2 would make a good film, since Indiana Jones knockoffs are usually subpar.
The bad guy du jour here is Serbian, hence gladly, not ex Soviet. Since I have spilled enough digital ink on that subject, I refer you to this excellent article. There seems to be a certain nagging problem with the Greatest Hits GOTY edition. 1 GB in updates and the trophies just aren't displayed properly. You try to support the industry by buying brand-new and this is what you get. Yet the quality of the game more than redeems this scenario, of course.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Am My Sword

It was written that twenty-three years ago, in the year of the fire-horse, a deity would be reborn, in the body of a mortal man. A savior, destined to unite our people and show us the way to the Promised Land. Instead, I was born from my mother’s dying body…and my people wept. They said I was a portent of doom… - Nariko

Nariko is the kind of hero who takes matters into her own hands. An outcast, reviled by her clan for seemingly not fulfilling an age-old prophecy, she takes her role of savior very seriously. So much so, that her very her mission becomes her life; that at least is the premise of Heavenly Sword, a PS3 exclusive game.

Nariko and her notorious hair are a wise design choice and so are the locales found within the game disc, which are breath-taking to say the least; constructions in the mountains adorned with banners waving in the wind, stairs that go on forever, and waterfalls as a backdrop, like an Eden invaded by evil men, led by nefarious and resolute King Bohan. Five years in the making and a staff of 140 people will get you that.
In fact, the game, which is basically a hack and slash title, makes a powerful argument for art in gaming, since much work went into this ps3 launch title, as can be witnessed by the behind the scenes features. The talent behind Ninja Theory explains they wanted the game to have the grandeur of a movie and they certainly succeed in that regard, although the game looks more like a series of illustrations come to life. The cast, starring Anna Torv, of Fringe fame, and Andy Serkis, is a great addition.

In this challenging game, the art design truly shines; Nariko and Kai, the two playable characters, are wonderfully depicted, with top notch animations. The villains are also a joy to behold, each of them crafted with great care. Be it King Bohan himself, who sports the best facial animations, or his henchmen, Flying Fox, Whiptail and Roach. These characters appear in well written cutscenes and inventive boss fights, and have solid voice acting to bring them to life.

The Sixaxis motion control is the thorn in this rose. The bow missions with Nariko's adopted sister, Kai, in which you have to shoot arrows at enemies, are of extreme difficulty when you find yourself shaking the gamepad. However, there is thankfully an option to turn Sixaxis off and use the analog stick instead, making those sections fun. When companies allow gimmicks to have an integral part in their games, as is the case of Microsoft's almost defunct Kinect, things can go downhill.

Whilst it is a combat game, as explained above, there are enough combat stances to keep you fairly busy. Each of these moves is accompanied by a balletic animation which is pure eye candy. The game, which has inspired a recent animated feature, comes also with a series of animated shorts which are breath-taking in their simplicity. For a title which offers no trophies due to its early launch date, it certainly comes packed with hefty extra content to make up for it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reissues


 
You'll notice that some of the games have a red ps3 logo, this is because they are greatest hits reissues. This is what occurs when you want to buy games new, some of which are no longer available.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Game Changer


It's all over the news; respectable sites are giving equal scores to both FIFA 14 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 as well. Having played the recent iterations of the former, and a thorough demo of the latter, I can attest to the fact that PES is back with a vengeance. As it happens, your humble servant used to run a small footy gaming site and since those days, many things have changed, with the crowning of FIFA as current champion, yet also, things now seem quite the way they were.

Sporting the brand new Fox Engine, PES 2014 feels more fluid and physical than ever. Both the Motion Animation Stability System (MASS) and TrueBall Tech sound like gimmicks, yet they help construct a game which is visually arresting in its realism. The demo provides hours upon hours of fun, with a respectable selection of teams. There are no options in the game except checking your GamePlan (Formations and Tactics), and matches do feel a bit too short. Yet the fun I've had on the PS3 equals the great days of PES 3 to 6.
As a result, the game feels quite a bit renewed by dropping its stiffness and replacing it with a more flexible experience, which now does seem more like a broadcast than ever before; it feels almost like ragdoll physics yet not quite. You can play, for instance, Bayern Munich vs Manchester United and the pull from both powerhouses becomes evident. I remember FIFA 10 in which I played with Barcelona and the tiny Messi didn't make things much easier for me.

Before a match begins, a player likeness for each team appears on screen, like a matchup in a fighting videogame, which makes for a nice touch. The full game comes with options for Friendly, Champions League, Europa League, Copa Libertadores, Football Life and others. Framerate is though, a bit choppy while showing the crowds. In the end, the game comes highly recommended, thus fútbol aficionados should probably get a hold of both sides of the competition.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's coming...


Monday, November 11, 2013

TOP TENS



I asked my kid brother Max, a teenager, to name his top 10 all-time favorite games, in response to sharing my own list with him. Here's the results of two generations.
DFA'S TOP 10
1.Dragon Age: Origins (XB360) 2.Mass Effect 2 (XB360) 3.Half-Life 2 (PC) The Witcher (PC) 5.The Darkness (XB360) 6.Resident Evil: Code Veronica (DC) 7.The Getaway (PS2, pictured) 8.Unreal Tournament (PC) 9.Super Mario World (SNES) 10.Mortal Kombat II (SNES)
MAX'S TOP 10
1.Assassins Creed II (XB360) 2.Super Smash Bros (N64) 3.Sonic Adventure (DC) 4.Mario Kart (N64) 5.Portal 1 & 2 (PC) 6.Command and Conquer: Red Alert II (PC) 7.Guitar Hero III (PS2) 8.Counter-Strike 1.6 (PC) 9.Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (Arcade) 10.Mortal Kombat Armageddon (PS2) 10.bis.Unreal Tournament 2004 (PC) 10.bis2.Quake 3 (PC)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Videogames & Identity, Pt. II

http://vimeo.com/78737662 Videogames & Identity, Pt. II
from parallassein

Monday, August 20, 2012

Are you Experienced?

Imagine if you bought a new computer, and inside you found a video of a woman pleading for help. Mixing elements of Uplink, a hacking videogame, the film Rear Window, as well as the more recent "found footage" movies, The Experiment; or eXperience112, depending on your geographical area, is respectful of its audience to the point that the heroine in developer Lexis Numérique's game, reminds you when was the last time you booted up the game. It is all geared towards creating a provocative time, and they certainly succeed. It makes one consider the limitless possibilities of gaming, and the fact that they are not being fully explored at the moment.

Lea Nichols wakes up in a derelict ship stranded on a faraway beach, and the only person around is you, looking at her through a security camera. She begins to address you, in her mossy quarters, until the rudimentary communication turns into a more complex cooperative system in which you control various parts of the ship to allow her access, and work towards finding out what happened, as well as what the mysterious 112 number means. The name of the game here is verisimilitude, as we shall see, for how many of us have been in combat, in contrast to how many have used a computer?

Part of the immersion is attained because the game essentially turns your pc into an emulator; you are running a foreign, yet believable, operating system, which happens to control many aspects of a ship. Unless the reader considers CoD:MW his favorite game series, The Experiment is almost sure to suck you in, and for a few hours, make the player pretty much forget about the outside world, with heaps of files, some marked sensitive, hence more enticing, in a similar manner to the new classic, Doom 3.
There is, of course, the voyeuristic component, which creates an eerie feeling, making you wonder if you are playing the game, or it is you who is being played on. Furthermore, Lea is not a cipher, she is a no-nonsense, meticulous scientist, whose actions happen to be currently defined by her predicament. As she finds the corpses of her former colleagues, you may feel empathy. The detective work involved, aided sometimes by controlling a clunky robot, can at times be compelling.
The game plays wonderfully on a widescreen monitor, making great use of screen real estate. In truth, every self-respecting gamer should consider having this game in their collection. For those who think there is something slightly wrong with gaming nowadays, the reader is then advised to find a copy of The Experiment, a game unlike anything the reviewer has ever played, or should I say, experienced.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Generation Alpha's Fantasy Land

"What's your pleasure? We got it all here." - Rufus Riley, Minority Report

It is complex indeed to predict the impact of future technologies, especially when they lie many years down the road. However, the phenomenon pertaining to this essay is right around the corner; and perhaps dangerously so. As children born from 2010 until 2025 are considered generation Alpha, it is their group which will suffer the consequences of the first true virtual worlds, with upcoming hardware and software capable of emulating a hypher-reality similar to that which can be seen in sci-fi movies, yet whose repercussions can tentatively be surmised.

For my generation, known as Gen Y, coming after Generation X, the clash of two realities was hardly palpable, as the games we were brought up on had often rudimentary visuals and lacked realism. But imagine, for a moment, playing Resident Evil 15, completely immersed in the dread and horror, for hours without seeing the light of day, with most of the five senses engaged; enough exposure could affect minds, young and old, considerably, if that is not happening already. What will these people's frame of reference be in the long run; games or reality? This brings me to two products on the market, namely Skyrim, a first-person fantasy RPG, and Google's augmented reality glasses. If that is not enough, there are true-VR glasses also being developed.


Skyrim, the highly praised and addictive RPG, which is by default played from a first person perspective, may begin to offer a glimpse of what's to come. Like the quality-starved GTA series, yet with a fantasy backdrop, Skyrim offers a vast, beautiful snowy land to get lost in. Like its sibling, Fallout 3, the game is non-linearity itself; seeming less like a film soundstage and more like a movie shot on location, so to speak. The player can loot objects and sell them; a winning game mechanic, granting it a Mad-Max feel, as characters fight for resources. The indoor world-building is impressive as well, with hints of the classic game Enclave. Devoid of cut-scenes, the game builds its story through imagery; from the depressing Windhelm to the paradise-like Eldergleam Sanctuary. In Skyrim, you can get married, not to advance the plot, but for the sake of it. The extra content is nearly infinite, since much of it is generated by the user community.

In a culture where there is a tendency for individuals to narrativise their lives, everyone will be able to be a superhero, an antihero, or whichever stance the games on offer may have; the notion that TV will at one point watch us instead of us watching it, will regain significance, if it wasn't evident already. The coming generations may even live in a technological hedonistic state; whether it is a paradise or a hell remains to be seen. Globalization has made people all over the globe a little more similar, a little less distant. The west has steadily exported its individualist culture, reaching even colectivist regions. Yet people crave for transcendence in a silicon era. This army of sedentary people, our hive mind, is begging to jump on the next fad, and if science and technology are coupled in just the right way, the allure of a VR existence, away from existence, could prove to be inescapable for most.

While the next generation of consoles will not quite pass the Turing test, the assumption is they will nevertheless carry enough punch to go further than Team Bondi's realistic characters from LA Noire; which, in addition to the virtual expanses offered by games like Skyrim, will undoubtedly capture the imagination of both casual and hardcore gamers. This scenario presents the possibility that people may no longer care about mundane activities, as fantasies which far surpass the film medium will be available at a low cost. Hence, the fate of the Alpha generation and beyond may be an interesting, yet bleak one. Perhaps, like Geoffrey Miller argues, we've never met aliens because instead of interstellar travel they chose to look inward as an alternative.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hype Backlash is Back

So a game is released within the Dragon Age universe, and reception is mixed. Would it make a Grey Warden proud? Once again, it seems, the real story is not the game itself, but an initial negative reaction towards Dragon Age II which may well have been unwarranted; the demo is simply not a good representation of the final product. We are speaking, of course, of hype backlash. Sure, the fact that the character creation has been narrowed down to only humans is a letdown, since, if you are anything like me, you might have played Dragon Age: Origins as an Elf Rogue, and even a Human Mage, but never as a boring Human Noble; at least Alistair was a "royal bastard."

Yet the story, or backstory, is quite astute, and it expands on ideas from Origins. The conflict between the Templars and the Mages has now become exacerbated; both see each other as extremists. Other groups, like the cryptic Qunari, are occupying the city with military force. In the middle of all of this, is the Hawke family, to which your character belongs, having fled the Blight in Ferelden. Their rags-to-riches drama unfolds against the above-mentioned backdrop of social unrest. With some exceptions, most characters are well-rounded, though it is the Elves who steal the show; from Merrill to Fenris, and Tallis, who appears on dlc, and should have had a more vital part.


The Witcher 2, gorgeous as it was, was lacking not only in combat, but in an engaging story which went beyond politics. For a story to work, it has to have some degree of melodrama mixed in; a perfect example of this is the second season of the series Game of Thrones. DAII offers multiple pairings which create sparks, especially from the second act onwards. There is Merrill and the Dalish Keeper; Merrill in particular being so well portrayed, she is clearly DAII's own Morrigan, given her importance, except she is a Blood Mage, not an Apostate.

Then there is Anders, a Mage and ex-Grey Warden, whose inner turmoil is shown literally, as he is the host for a spirit called Justice. Aveline is a Templar who, given her occupation, is wary of any and all Mages; her character represents a strong woman, and done so with much class. Varric seems like a one-note character, that is, until we see his relationship to his greedy brother develop. And these are just the main characters, not the ones involved in bureaucratic intrigue.

There is something about the art design; it is much too pristine, not dirty enough, and hence not too evocative of Origins in that regard. Even the Game of Thrones RPG looks more lived-in. This is no accident, though, it is a clear artistic design decision relating to Kirkwall. Considering the fancy interlude animations, it's as though a graphic designer was in charge of some of the art design. I am led to believe that the decision was made to keep the Morrigan story for a third act perhaps, and introduce a contained story in this second act, so newcomers could get in on the action. With all the great stories being told in gaming, one can't help but wonder, after Ricciotto Canudo claimed that film was the seventh art and then Claude Beylie stated that television was the eight and comics were the ninth art, if videogames deserve to be finally called the tenth.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Operation Rescue

I felt compelled to play Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, almost as though it was my "duty" as a gamer, given the current state of affairs with war videogames, and help spread the word. Many have compared OF2 to Arma 2 in an unfavorable light, yet both games have clear similarities. In trying to distance itself from the phony patriotism and sense of grandeur of other shooters, OF2 actually honors, even if to a small degree, the soldiers of any nationality who have gone to war.

OF2 truly presents a refreshing change of pace for a FPS, as you slowly cover positions, work as a team, and issue orders. Console port or not, the controls feel utterly responsive and polished on the PC. The field manual attempts to cover the basics in combat strategies and does so nicely. The team dynamics are basic but solid, it reminded me of the great Swat 4. Every time you load the campaign, the thorough stats kindly remind you need to score more points.There is, in fact, a newer game in the franchise, which unfortunately hasn't exactly gotten glowing reviews.


Taking place on the fictional island of Skira, yet based on the topography of the real-life island of Kiska, the game portrays the Chinese PLA's attempt to seize control of Skira and its newly discovered deposits of oil, by taking it away from the Russian Federation, who calls for American reinforcements, after which a sandbox-style battle in the island occurs. The game was developed by Codemasters, who did not develop the first game, which was made by Bohemia Interactive instead, who would go on to make the Arma series.
In a game that has no cinematics, what is the gameplay like? Rather deep, actually. The movements the marines can make are versatile, and you can issue orders on site or from a map, as well as calling for air support. The radar is more like a compass, which intentionally tells you very little about enemy presence. Vehicle control is smooth, reminding me of Far Cry 2. You can even lower the enemy's morale by being aggressive. And yes, when things get out of control, you feel something akin to fear, in the way a horror game might scare you. OF2 is also difficult, but in the way MDK2 was; always motivating you for another go, because of how rewarding the game is when you get something right.
This brings me to the reason why I picked up this game. For a series of games that have the gameplay depth of Pong, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is far too ideologically charged, even insultingly so. It has become the greatest affront in gaming, dumbing down armed conflicts, global politics, and breeding a sector of twitchy gamers. Let's consider some glaring differences between the two games, to wit; in OF2, Russia and America are allies against China. In CoD:MW, not only are Russia and America enemies, but on the brink of something much more than a minor conflict. In OF2, you make long stretches on foot, whereas in CoD:MW, you land right into combat, like James Bond. And of course, in the former, a well placed bullet kills you, unlike in the latter.
After two patches, the game has grown equally in content and multiplayer possibilities. Considering the number of mods and still-thriving online community, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is money well spent indeed. And it may be one of those rare games that entertain while telling you a bit about the world you live in.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Warfare in a Virtual Setting

Six Days in Fallujah, a game which was set against the backdrop of "Operation Iraqi Freedom," became controversial for the simple fact that it explored a recent war scenario, and was promptly pulled off the shelves by its publisher, Konami. The US Marine Corps had actually asked developer Atomic Games to produce the game.

Yet the reality of war games in quite different. Instead, and breaking all records, is the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, whose nonsensical plot has been summarized succinctly by Tom Bissell; "The average gamer tells his friends that Call of Duty is serious this time, like super for real serious, and decides to give it another shot. Things between them are okay for a minute or two, but then Call of Duty is all "Russians! Russians! Russians! Goddamn Russians are in London!" and the average gamer is like "Russians! Where? How do you tell? Who's that over there? It's so loud!"
What occurred with Six Days in Fallujah demonstrates the "extended adolescence" the game industry wishes to promote for gamers. Consider that, in a lab setting, in fact; "Currently, the Department of Defense is testing Virtual Iraq - one of three virtual-reality programs it has funded for P.T.S.D. treatment, and the only one aimed at 'ground pounders'."
The CoD:MW series has become the new Counter-Strike, which is to sadly say, the new top fps with online multiplayer. While the Battlefield series is also caught in a CoD-like frenzy, game series like Arma, Operation Flashpoint and SOCOM,* tell the reality of war in less juvenile ways. Yet these games lack marketing punch and remain in obscurity.This revisionary history is different from, say, medieval fantasy, as it denies that the land which deploys these forces is involved in many conflicts all over the world, resuscitating instead an anachronistic war which belongs in history books.
Regarding Cod:MW and Battlefield 3, a group of real soldiers gave their opinion, one of which stated; "No enemy is going to stand out in the open for you to easily shoot, but most of the time enemies in these games like to stand in front of my weapon. Soldiers learn to cover each other and work as a team covering all line of fire while maintaining a dominant position and then maneuvering to pin the enemy with fire." *As well as Ghost Recon, which is stuck in the middle.