Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Nov 3, 2010
If a Disney film were to feature a brothel, that brothel would surely resemble one from Fable III.

It isn’t often that one can describe something as “whimsical.”  Maybe the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene from Mary Poppins (well, maybe the whole movie) or maybe something from a soundtrack written by Danny Elfman.  Perhaps, there is a magical formula for generating whimsy locked in some secret vault at the Disney or Pixar Studios, but there are few artists able to walk the line between heart warming and insipid to find that sweet spot that is the whimsical or the enchanting.


Peter Molyneaux has been lauded for his innovations in game design.  Often credited as the creator of the “god game” as well as admired for his ability to layer simulation upon simulation upon simulation in the Fable series, the man is a remarkable game designer.  What his team at Lionhead Studios has been able to do beyond merely design unique and innovative titles, though, is to generate a world in the Fable series that is not only ambitious in terms of design but is also able to produce that “lightening in a bottle” quality that one doesn’t usually see except in really masterfully crafted material targeted at younger audiences.  Put simply, Albion is uncompromisingly whimsical.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010
While purchasing a game the other day, the cashier asked to see my ID. I joked that I couldn't look that young to him, but he answered that it didn't matter. His computer would not allow him to complete the sale unless he ran it.

It’s election day here in the States and also the first day of the hearing for Schwarzenegger v. EMA, the United States Supreme Court case which will potentially decide the legal status of video game regulation in the country. Much of the game industry and blogosphere has come out against the bill at the heart of the case, which industry spokesmen say will not just regulate sales of games in stores but effectively censor game content.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 1, 2010
The weekend probably saw its share of ghosts and goblins dropping by your doorstep. Those same little ghouls have inspired the Moving Pixels Podcast crew in a discussion of horror games.

The weekend probably saw its share of ghosts and goblins dropping by your doorstep.  Those same little ghouls have inspired the Moving Pixels Podcast crew in a discussion of horror games.


Each of our contributors put together a list of their top five horror titles, judging them by their ability to scare, repel, and otherwise provoke.  Our lists are surprisingly eclectic and may at times challenge what constitutes horror in games altogether.  So, join us for a discussion of slashers, things that cannot be named, and other things that go bump in the night.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Oct 29, 2010
Rule of Rose is a unique survival-horror game that manages to be at its most disturbing when you’re in the least amount of danger.

Editor’s note: There are spoilers below.


Rule of Rose is a unique sort of survival-horror game. This genre has always been slow paced and has never focused on combat, but Rule of Rose takes this to an extreme. Enemy encounters are rare throughout the first half of the game, and while they do become more common during the second half, there are still long stretches of time in which you just wander the dilapidated environment with your dog, sniffing out potential gifts for the Aristocrat Club, which is the true source of horror in this game.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 28, 2010
Some moments of sacrifice can be more monotonous than memorable.

Warning: This post contains some widely known albeit significant spoilers for Halo: Reach and Left 4 Dead 2’s “The Sacrifice” campaign.


Anyone at all familiar with the lore of Bungie’s Halo franchise already knows the fate of the Spartan heroes of Halo: Reach. Not a single Spartan makes it off Reach alive save the Master Chief, savior of the universe. Similarly, Left 4 Dead 2 fans already know Bill’s fate, the grizzled old man of the first Left 4 Dead, before playing through “The Sacrifice,” the game’s latest DLC that features the campaign that leads to his fateful demise. Knowing the tragic outcome of both Halo: Reach and “The Sacrifice” allows players to experience a unique and potentially powerful finale. Yet, in arriving at their respective conclusions, Reach and “Sacrifice” both take significantly divergent paths, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses.


Knowing their audience would (by and large) be aware of the fall of Reach, Bungie flaunted the imminent threat of death throughout their game. Reach creates dramatic tension by having players wonder not if the Noble Team crew will die, but how and when. The titular planet is utterly enveloped by Covenant forces. The amount of slaughter visited upon Reach and its denizens is readily apparent in nearly every level. The tone of the entire game is somber, contemplative, and bleak. If it were not for existing knowledge about the Master Chief’s fate, I dare say that few players would walk away from Reach inspired to continue the Halo experience. And rightfully so—there are more than a few occasions where all hope seems lost for Noble Team.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2015 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.