Solar 2 is easy to compare to Flow, the PSN game from thatgamecompany because on the surface they look very much alike: You play as an object that flies around a 2D space trying to grow bigger. But this surface comparison ignores the more nuanced mechanics of Solar 2. This is a game that is just as much about creation as it is destruction. The endgame may be a black hole that consumes the entire universe, but to get to that point, you must build and nurture multiple solar systems full of life.
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Tiny Tower, the latest iOS game from the brother duo that is NimbleBit, has earned its place amongst the pantheon of popular iPhone/iPad games with over thirty million downloads. I too have joined the throng of tower managers. For the past week, I have obsessively monitored my building progress, stretching my skyscraper upwards whenever time permitted. My investment is reflected in the ever-growing height of my citadel. Yet at nearly thirty floors, I want nothing more than to destroy my tower and the game’s dubious ethics along with it.
With its adorable, mouth-breathing, pixelated denizens, Tiny Tower could charm anyone into submission. Called “bitizens,” the residents and visitors to one’s personal tower each have their own unique names and attire. They also have their own dream jobs. For example, working at the photo studio in my building completely satisfies the life aspirations of my resident Ashley Meyer. A huge green smiley face accompanies her information, satisfying the benevolent landlord in me.
Chapter 1 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 2 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 3 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 4 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 5 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 6 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 7 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 8 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 9 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 10 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 11 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 11 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 13 of Rage Quit is available in .pdf format here.
Randal didn’t feel capable of facing anybody, even his own QA guys. Maybe even especially them – they more than anyone else in the company would be able to see he was upset about something. He got a Red Bull and tried to calm down, think of a plan. He needed to talk to Lea, and he needed to do it now, in private. He wandered out the other side of the kitchen and into the mysterious world that he only ever ventured into when there was some problem with his pay check or insurance: Office Crap; that part of the building that housed human resources, the office manager, and the dreaded marketing department. Farther beyond them was customer relations, but no way Randal was going in there.
After talking about the open worlds of L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the subject, which in turn caused me to realize that I had more to say on the topic. Having just finished a run through of Dragon Age II, it occurred to me that the end was somewhat less indicative of my impact on the city of Kirkwall than I’d thought it would be—but I didn’t care. Sure, in Dragon Age: Origins I had saved the whole world from a Blight, chosen the next dwarven king, cured a whole society of lycanthropy, and done a bunch of other things that would have never been resolved if not for the timely intervention of me, the Grey Warden.
Alternatively you could keep werewolves around. It is Your Choice.
In the world of Dragon Age: Origins, your control extends to the fate of the world. In Dragon Age II, you are in control of your own fate—but only just. Both games have stories revolving around choice, yet there’s no “open world” to explore. Indeed, both games in the series make the decision to cut out all the travel time between locations. There’s no overworld to explore, just a series of locations that you can jump to by pointing at them on a map.
Interestingly, the choices in Dragon Age II do not have the large, world altering effects of Dragon Age: Origins (apart from the end of Act II, in which Hawke saves the city). That is in part because of the differing narrative foci of Dragon Age II, since Hawke is meant to be an individual who is merely caught up in events far beyond his control (evidenced by the indication that really there’s very little difference in the ending depending upon who the player chooses to side with) Sure, siding with the Templars nets you a cushy viscountship, but there’s still widespread unrest and Circle rebellions all over the damn place. That said, the player has an awful lot of control over the sort of person that Hawke is, which is thanks largely to the conversation system, a system that allows you to joke with some characters, be nice to others, and be a complete dick to the rest. My first time through, I played Hawke as utterly devil-may-care, which is largely why he wound up romancing Isabella.
In recent weeks I have been running a little experiment on my personal blog, Dire Critic. Several months ago I was enabled by a group of friends to invest in some classic Bioware CRPGs. I had only ever played the first Baldur’s Gate as an adolescent and it seemed I was long overdue to correct that. Partly inspired by Kirk Hamilton and Leigh Alexander’s FF7 Letters and suggestions from (recent Moving Pixels podcast guest) Eric Swain, the process quickly organized itself into a sort of interactive book club. Consciously patterned after the Vintage Game Club with the AV Club’s Rowan Kaiser as advisor and a smattering of Twitter followers playing along with us, our first game on the agenda was the critically lauded cult favorite Planescape: Torment.
I really had no idea what to expect. I try to keep as blank a slate as possible when going into media, be it a film or a game. I rarely even watch promotional trailers. So with no preconceived notions about Torment at all, apart from knowing it was “writerly” and built with Bioware’s Infinity engine, I downloaded my DRM-free copy from GoG.com, installed it, patched it to the high heaven, and ventured into the land of the dead.