Portal 2 is finally here, and having played through the single-player campaign in less than twenty-four hours, it’s time to reflect on the experience. THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS. Seriously, this entire entry literally reveals and ruins the entire story and gameplay experience of Portal 2. If you want to experience the game without spoilers, stop right here. Otherwise, read on.
There is no arguable reason that Halo protagonist Master Chief isn’t a woman. There is no justification for not creating Devil May Cry hero Dante or The Legend of Zelda hero Link as female characters. No basis exists for the decision to make Samus Aran of Metroid fame not male. Characters in all forms of media have varying applications of appeal based on their contextual features (that is, appearance in “context” or how it relates to the “text” of the media) and gender is no exception. What gives gender a distinction however is that its practical use – the decision to make a character male or female – has a very defined, expected outcome. The genders of video game protagonists have a direct effect on the player’s motivation, experience of empathy, and the perception of violence within the game.
Bullshit. — DICE, on the decline of PC gaming
I have a certain fondness in my heart for Mortal Kombat. I found the first game in a shopping mall Aladdin’s Castle on pure accident. I’d spent my afternoons glued to coin-op Ninja Gaiden, N.A.R.C., Final Fight, Alien vs. Predator; enough games to fill a list ten pages long. I was a child of the arcade, spending hours every summer surrounded by digital white noise and flashing lights, and the FBI logo is permanently etched into my brain thanks to the “winners don’t use drugs” campaign. The day I walked into that arcade and Mortal Kombat was there, front and center, I instantly took notice.
The love interest that would develop between my childhood self and Mortal Kombat has lasted into adulthood, so embedded in my soul that the very idea of rebooting the series saw me jumping out of my chair with elation. So when the internet was abuzz with word of the newly-introduced “Challenge Tower” I began investigating right away.
Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera (one of the lucky bastards lucky enough to play the reboot but tight-lipped due to embargo until release) takes a look at the video released today by NetherRealm Studios and breaks down what the Challenge Tower is all about: “a series of 300 challenges that test players’ ability to perform fatalities, fight under different conditions, and try a variety of characters… a wonderful way to get a feel for the game.”
Kuchera says the Challenge Tower will be a great edition to the game that will let players get used to the characters and really learn how the fighting system of the game itself works. Personally, it’s just another bit of information to keep me drooling all over myself.
The new Mortal Kombat releases this April.
Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower a Bloody Way to Learn Game
Destructoid is one of many gaming journalism organizations to get its hands on the newly-released Dragon Age II demo, and offers up a response centered around BioWare’s intentions with the much-anticipated sequel. BioWare is well-known for keeping player metrics submitted by their games during play, metrics that track what sort of play actions players take and how they respond to the game. Things like how many more players create warriors than mages, for example. And in these metrics the developer has a gold mine of information to put into how to successfully improve on further titles. One of the key issues BioWare took to addressing in creating Dragon Age II was that players were dropping out of Dragon Age Origins and disengaging after the first hour.
Destructoid goes on to briefly detail the narrative of the demo, focusing on its beginning: players get to jump headfirst into the gameplay with a character as powerful as he or she can possibly be and “go nuts,” the developer explains. No character customization to worry about, no stats to manage. The game will begin with action at the expense of all else.
Later as the narrative begins (a re-telling of the protagonist’s tale) the narrator is tasked with providing facts, such as what the character actually looked like. Here the player encounters the character customization screen for the first time. The interface in the demo is, for lack of a better description, nonexistent. In BioWare’s efforts to simplify the game they have drastically oversimplified it; the player’s interaction with stats and tactics is now minimal at best.
Has BioWare built a better RPG? No. They’ve built an RPG more easily accessible by everyone in an attempt to dissuade a fraction of players from disengaging early in the game. But at what cost? Will hardcore fans that crave the logistics and stats be pushed away by this simple, watered-down offering? Time and critical response will tell; Facebook and Twitter have been inundated since the demo’s release with praise and ire alike.
Dragon Age II releases March 2011.
Building a Better RPG: Hands-On Dragon Age II Intro
Is Bulletstorm the worst game in the world? That’s the question posed by Faux News (sorry, Fox News) in their typical fact-free, hate-mongering fashion. Fair and balanced journalism it’s not, typically the Associated Press style guidelines discourage professional journalists from leading an audience into a particular belief with a weighted headline. But let’s face it, Fox News is far from professional and its typical viewer base is convinced with little more than a headline. John Walker of Rock, Paper, Shotgun takes a look at Fox’s “investigative reporting” into Bulletstorm and what can be found, while not surprising for Fox News, is no less embarrassing to them and needlessly hurtful to the gaming industry.
Destructoid’s Jim Sterling offered a write-up early in January regarding Spiderweb Software (a small indie title developer that focuses on demoware) founder Jeff Vogel’s article instructing game developers not to read their own forums. Sterling refers to Vogel’s three leading arguments for his case: it’s unproductive to read about how much people hate you, it’s not helpful, and the temptation to respond with anger.
First quarter is turning out to have a buggier-than-normal release slate, to the dismay of gamers everywhere. Among heavily-reported buggy releases are titles like Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, and now Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Microsoft can at least be thankful that the Kinect isn’t on trial by itself, as recent weeks have shown a lot of overly-critical response to the software giant’s new toy. To be fair, however, the Kinect is the least buggy of any of the titles mentioned here. Problems with Kinect are more consumer expectation being out-of-scope than the product not working as intended (unless you’re African American).
The worst cases go hands-down to Fallout: New Vegas and Call of Duty: Black Ops, who are failing to run for a significant amount of PC gamers despite far exceeding the technical requirements. But let’s face facts here, is anyone really shocked at a buggy Bethesda release?
The big question to be answered with Black Friday and holiday shopping looming around the corner is whether or not publishers will roll out the much-needed patches, fixes, and updates before sales start to hurt?
Now that Call of Duty: Black Ops has released (if you can call it a release), I finally feel a little justified in re-earthing my months-old claim that, “Medal of Honor will be better than Call of Duty: Black Ops.” I was right, and here’s why.