Thursday, November 22, 2012

Killing, A-Okay. Naked Breasts, No Way!

In playing Hitman: Absolution I was struck again by this really weird thing that exists in popular media, like television and games. It is absolutely okay to gut your enemies in every gruesome way possible but showing a naked breast is a wild exception.

I can only think of a handful of (mainstream) games that have included nudity in this regard: God of War, The Saboteur, The Godfather, Dante's Inferno, uh, there might have been some in a Larry 6 (my memory is foggy).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nikola Tesla

The second time a game ever got me to go to the library and start reading a book, was Red Alert 2, which featured a defensive structure that zapped incoming opponents with a burst of electricity called a Tesla Tower. (The first was Gabriel Knight II and King Ludwig II of Bavaria.)

I actually meant to pick-up a book about Nikola Tesla ages ago, but when I saw "Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius" on the new arrivals shelf at the library I finally had the topic thrust toward me. I'm interested in the topic and it was free. A perfect storm.

Besides examining Tesla, what I find so fascinating about the book is how well it situates Tesla in the larger world around him and the kind of profound technological changes that were happening at the turn of the last century.

People didn't have electricity, even in the cities and this was a time without radio. Books, newspapers, and magazines were the principle purveyors of information and news. And at that same time in different parts of the world there's the onset of wireless communication, electricity (Tesla's AC current winning out over the DC advocated by people like Thomas Edison), and flight technology. All of this would bring profound social, commercial, and economic changes to the entire planet, but the author, Marc Seifer, argues convincingly, I think, that Tesla -- a single person -- had more impact on those three than anyone else.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Just Thought it Was Funny

It was the "Touch and Feel!" part that got me chuckling, but the exclamation mark that got me laughing out loud.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halo 4 Review Coming Soon

My Halo 4 review is "in the can" as it were.

That means I have only to hit "Publish" and the review will be live. It's not a glowing review. In fact, the tone is quite negative all-round.

As is my habit after writing a review, I peruse the Metacritic and Gamerankings collection of reviews, both "professional" and amateur. Not so much to confirm my own thoughts but to gauge the reaction the review might receive, when put alongside these other reviews.

While the review doesn't dig a hole for the game like the one on Quarter to Three, it sure doesn't align with the early reviews from last week, which seem to trip over each other to heap praise on the game. There are things I like about Halo 4 but as you'll see in the review on this is definitely one of those games where I wasn't feeling it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Game Design and The Number 3

I got so irritated with Halo 4 last night that I actually turned off the game. In a move that is definitely not restricted to the Halo series or the fine folks at 343 Industries, Cortana, the digital desire of nerdy fetishists the world over, informs Master Chief to disable 3 relays.

This after I'd just spent a chunk of time taking out three other things and disabling three force field installations.

Another "three directive" and I was out. It just struck me as utterly lazy and I turned off the game -- just pressed the power button and was done with it.

But thinking about it for a handful of minutes while brushed my teeth, the number 3 is endemic to games in general. Right back to Super Mario Bros. on the NES, which most everyone has played, as an example. World 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, then the castle level, "Our princess is in another castle," then onward.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Last year my brother was skewered by a moose."

I've started posting items on a more regular basis to the Gaming Enthusiast Press Awards blog and as result I find myself constantly flipping back through the metaphoric pages in my brain looking for "pinnacles" of good writing.

I've already added a post to Old Man Murray's classic feature "Crate Review System" which actually provided quite a bit of mirth back in 2000. Oddly enough, the Crate Review System is still valid twelve years later, possibly more so. But there are other "classics" that stand out over the last decade and one of those is a (fake) Cudgel of Xanthor game preview, penned by Jeff Green back in 2007 (in Computer Gaming World), which I've included below.

The piece does an effective job of completely skewering games writing and lampooning the extremely low bar that many of the enthusiast press aspire to. The article also manages to include just about every cliché about games writing one can find, all the while not saying anything substantive about the game even though the writer was "literally foaming at the mouth" after playing the game.

I present to you the piece in its entirety: