Latest Blog Posts

by Kris Ligman

25 Jan 2011

Soviet iconography? In my LittleBigPlanet?

It’s more likely than you think.

I’ve been generally impressed with LittleBigPlanet 2 as at least a worthy successor of the original game, though I’ll withhold a full review for a later time and in the proper place. As with the first title, it’s a colorful bricolage of aesthetic and cultural reference points, always celebratory and never critical. It’s all about validating worldly curiosity, you see, from the perspective of unbiased childlike exploration, and in that way, it’s sort of magical. I’ve never seen grown men’s faces split into boyish grins as quickly as when I hand over control of these games to friends. Maybe it’s because we’re all children of the ‘80s, and there is something part Lego, part early MTV, part pillow fort, and part Saturday morning cartoon about these games, but nothing seems to get my fellow twenty-somethings nostalgic like a bit of well placed historical specificity.

by G. Christopher Williams

24 Jan 2011

As an experiential medium, it is often the little moments that mean so much in video games.  This week we wrap up our discussion of gaming in 2010 by recapping some of the most emotionally affective and just plain cool moments in games like Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock 2, Amnesia, and Heavy Rain (to name just a few).

by Nick Dinicola

21 Jan 2011

Dead Rising 2 is really two games in one package; one is them is fun, and one of them is awful. Other games have suffered from similar unfocused flaws: Heavy Rain, Enslaved, and Fable 3 to name a few but at least those games knew what parts of their design worked best and emphasized them. Even at its best Dead Rising 2 never succeeds as well as it should.

The good game within Dead Rising 2 is a third-person adventure set in a zombie infested casino resort. The casinos are filled with wacky weapons, and the ability to combine items allows you to make even crazier contraptions. It’s just a joy to hack up the undead with knife gloves or a drill bucket. Personally, I find that saving survivors is the funniest part of the game since no one seems to have their priorities straight. A group of women won’t come with you unless you bribe them, the same goes for a man with a gambling addiction. Another guy won’t come until you help him rob half a dozen ATMs, and another women who got locked out of her room in her underwear won’t come until Chuck strips down to his skivvies as well. Their requests are ridiculous considering the circumstances but that makes them all the more entertaining.

by Jorge Albor

20 Jan 2011

Seventeen years after Donkey Kong swung through the trees and into our hearts in Donkey Kong Country, the lovable ape and Diddy, his similarly simian sidekick, have indeed returned. Donkey Kong Country Returns brings back the Nintendo icons replete with the colorful textures and joyful score, recreating the charm DK’s and Diddy’s first jovial romp. PopMatters own Arun Subramanian reviewed DKCR, giving it a well deserved eight out of ten. Notably absent from Subramanian’s review, however, is mention of DKCR’s two-player mode, in which one player controls DK while the other flits about as Diddy.

I absolutely adore most attempts at couch co-op. Many games are improved with a second player by your side, but Donkey Kong Country Returns is not one of them. When difficulty is a factor, cooperative gaming fundamentally alters a gaming experience and not always for the better.

by G. Christopher Williams

19 Jan 2011

I frequently complain about the “moral” choices that modern video games ask of players.  I know that Mass Effect, Fable, and Bioshock are supposedly attempting to force us into interesting moral quandaries by offering binary choices to moral dilemmas.  As I often say, this frequently comes down to what I view as bogus choices because of the extreme quality of the binaries laid before us.  Save the baby or eat the baby?  Boy, that’s a head scratcher.

No matter the actual state of our souls, most of us tend to view ourselves as basically decent human beings, and when faced with such extreme black and white choices (with little actual consequence built into the choice), most of tend to make “the right decision.”  I imagine that even Adolf Hitler would have chosen to save (not harvest) the Little Sisters within the context of a video game like Bioshock.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article