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Monday, May 17, 2010
Rapture is almost less a city than it is a mood, a tone, an atmosphere.

After last week’s look at the vast reaches of outer space, we decided to change the focus of our discussion from the heavens to the depths of the ocean.  Arguably one of the most fully realized spaces in contemporary gaming, Rapture is almost less a city than it is a mood, a tone, an atmosphere.


Our crew discusses our responses to the latest iteration of the terrifying but often sublime undersea city as it appears in Bioshock 2.


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Friday, May 14, 2010
Certain combinations of these two different media benefit from the experience of each other.

Games make good companions to other media and vice versa because games present an entirely different way of experiencing a story. The first hand experience that we get from games can make us more easily relate to the hardships of a character or expand on the world of a movie in unintentional ways. Or, after watching a movie with a similar story, we might find ourselves sympathizing with the enemies that we so carelessly dispatch in droves in games. In either case, certain combinations of these two different media benefit from the experience of each other and here are a few examples that I’ve collected.


As a general rule, I didn’t want to promote a movie and game combination that developers themselves used to promote their game. So no Heavy Rain and Seven, or Kane and Lynch and Heat, or Borderlands and The Road Warrior, etc.


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Thursday, May 13, 2010
The end of the battle leaves Kratos covered in the blood of a character whose perspective you, the player, have been seeing from. In a sense, he has murdered how you perceive him from now on.

This discussion of God of War 3 contains spoilers.



Unlike the previous two games in the series, God of War 3 finally confronts Kratos in a more substantial way, especially the result of living a life filtered through the eye of revenge.  Cover art can sometimes give an insight into a developer’s artistic intentions and Sony Santa Monica decided to make a statement by dismissing Kratos’s backside (as seen on the boxes of the previous two games) and decided to concentrate solely on representing his eye.  It is said that the eye is seen as the entrance to the soul, and that through this window, we can see what kind of person someone is.  This emphasis on the eye foreshadows a difference in the way that we will feel about and perceive Kratos once his saga comes to an end.


At the start of the game, there is an emphasis on perspective and scale as Kratos is climbing up the back of a Titan on his path to Mount Olympus.  The way that the camera pulls in and out to showcase the sense of scale is nothing new, but the fight that comes shortly after with Poseidon introduces a new perspective on this protagonist.  After completing a familiar series of quick-time events, we eventually come face to face with Poseidon. Only this time, we see the world through Poseidon’s eyes.  From this perspective, we see the brutality that Kratos inflicts on others with no remorse or sense of morality.  At the climax of this encounter, we are instructed to poke out our (Poseidon’s) own eyes.  If you thought that Kratos was on your side, then you should rethink your position.  Kratos doesn’t care who he has to kill, even the one responsible for his success thus far (the player).  The end of the battle leaves Kratos covered in the blood of a character whose perspective you, the player, have been seeing from. In a sense, he has murdered how you perceive him from now on.


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Thursday, May 13, 2010
I'm not going to buy any more games for my sleek slate that weren't designed to take advantage of the touch screen, instead of trying to force alien control schemes where they don't belong or work.

There haven’t been a lot of console games in the past month that I’ve wanted to play or PC games really. But, hey, I bought a new iPad on release day, and it’s a gaming platform too! So, drawn by both the comfort of my couch and the shiny excitement of a new toy, I’ve been doing most of my gaming on the iPad.


I’ve had an iPod Touch for a year or so, but I never gamed on it much. The screen’s too small, and I generally preferred my DS for mobile and couch gaming. However, the big screen iPad promised better graphics and a more expansive experience all around, and it delivers. I don’t think that I’ve turned on my DS since I stood in line at Best Buy all those weeks ago. As with the DS, I play mostly strategy and puzzle games on the slate. Indeed, addict that I am, I’ve bought Civilization: Revolution for both devices now. Well, all three if you include the Xbox 360 version. I do love that game on any platform.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Deadly Premonition makes the idea clear that the player serves as the voice in the head of the schizophrenic, and these moments remind one that all input in a video game is fundamentally like this.

Amnesia is an oft used (and overused) trope of video game narrative.  Certainly, one can understand the allure of introducing a character unfamiliar with the world and himself as the basis for an avatar for the player just loading up a video game.  This state is more or less the state of the player, and, thus, introducing the player to the world and the character that he will be inhabiting over the course of the game makes practical sense.  It is about as similarly useful as the old chestnut in fantasy literature of introducing main characters from another world into a fantasy landscape (a la Narnia) or the country bumpkin into the larger fantasy world (The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), which likewise allows the reader to be introduced alongside such inexperienced characters to the workings of an unfamiliar world.


While Access Games’s Deadly Premonition falls back on this idea of the player being familiarized with a world through an “outsider” to that world (in this case, a reversal of the usual “country bumpkin” model, as Francis York Morgan is an experienced, urban dwelling FBI agent who finds himself on assignment in the weird world of small town America), it suggests a much more interesting way of defining the relationship between the player and this character in another way.  Rather than creating a parallel between the amnesiac and the newbie player, the schizophrenic becomes the metaphor in Deadly Premonition for the relationship between the player and the character.  That metaphor is a fairly compelling one.


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