Medal of Honor was supposed to be EA’s big salvo against Call of Duty, an attempt at bringing down Activision’s juggernaut of a shooter at least a little bit. While I think the single player portion of EA’s game is far better, the multiplayer is surprisingly derivative for such a high profile game. It tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty, making what probably sounded like the perfect shooter on paper. But Medal of Honor only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth, resulting in a multiplayer mode that feels as if it was made by people who don’t understand why its peers are so popular.
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A modern rendition of the extremely popular and competitive Warcraft mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA), Riot Game’s League of Legends (LoL) has maintained an admirable pace since its release late 2009. Riot displays an incredible commitment to the game and its fan base, updating the game at an almost frenetic pace. Originally launching with forty playable “champions” (the game’s player-controlled avatars), LoL’s total roster at time of writing reaches 69 with number seventy, Jarvan IV, just around the corner. The developers are constantly tweaking the game’s balance, adjusting items, abilities, and layouts—including a new soon-to-be-implemented cooperative mode against AI opponents.
All of this is great content, and still it is not enough. LoL players, unsatisfied or simply restless, have started making their own custom game types. With the help of LoL’s custom game creator, players are establishing their own game concepts and adhering to generally agreed upon rules based entirely on honor alone. Most notably, ARAM (or All Random All Mid) has risen in popularity and exemplifies why LoL is one of the most satisfyingly nuanced multiplayer games on the market.
If Bulletstorm is intended to be deliberately stupid, it really needs to get a whole lot stupider.
When I first saw some gameplay teasers of Bulletstorm coming out of E3, all I could really think was, “Man, that game is fast.” Images of wanton violence from a first person perspective is, of course, not anything all that unique, but the frenetic quality of the action, mixed with more than just bullets flying, but bodies being whipped, kicked, exploded, and sometimes all three at once with such fluidity and rapidity seemed fresh and kind of amazing to watch.
As is the case with about half of the Moving Pixels blog’s writers, I’ve been replaying Dragon Age: Origins and its accompanying DLC recently in anticipation of the sequel’s release. Admittedly, this is as deeply as I’ve ever gotten into it, and I was surprised at the extent to which the writing emphasizes the female warrior as not secondary or conditional.
It’s important to not conflate the idea of “woman warrior” with “feminine strength” because strength and femininity both take a variety of forms. That being said, I’m not very traditionally girly, and I like it when a video game character is able to communicate that mixture of gendered ideals without becoming a caricature. I found that in Dragon Age.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: I have a soft spot for horror games. As a rule, I do not have a soft spot for horror films (although I’ve got a soft spot for movies with zombies in). I am fairly certain that the reason for this differing feelings about the genre lies directly in the lack of control that one has when watching a horror movie—I am totally okay with stomping around a mansion infested with zombies, because at least I’m smart enough to know that if something starts eating me alive and I don’t have any bullets left, it was my fault for being foolish with my ammunition. My problem with horror films is that I tend to spend a lot of time shouting at the characters for acting as if they are characters in a horror movie. Horror games don’t have that same baggage (except in cutscenes, at which point all bets on my shouting at the television are off), because if anyone is making a bad decision, it is probably me.
I got to thinking about horror games after reading a bunch of reviews about Dead Space 2 that complained that the Dead Space series just hasn’t been that frightening because you generally have the ammunition required to survive a situation. This, apparently, goes against the survival part of survival horror, which in turn means that to call Dead Space a horror game at all is a misnomer—except that there are other types of horror games out there. Or maybe there aren’t, and the problem is merely a definition of “survival horror” that is just too strict. I decided that the best thing to do would be to take three games, all of which I consider to be “horror games”, and see on what each relies to drive its horror element. Deciding on the three games was a bit of a trick, and I know that I will catch hell for not including a Silent Hill game in this analysis, but to be honest, I’ve yet to play any of them (I swear it’s on my list of things to play). So instead, the three games that I’ve selected are: Resident Evil, Eternal Darkness, and the game which got me thinking about this in the first place, Dead Space.
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