There is a beauty to asymmetry, well, at least in playful systems. We may find facial symmetry arousing, but symmetry in game is just so normal. No matter which side of the monopoly board you are on, you play by the same rules as everybody else. It is the rare game like Android Netrunner, which features divergent rules for each player, that offers something special, something thematically rich and mechanically unique in the ways that it evokes satisfying play.
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This week, Jorge and I talked about Call of Duty: Ghosts on our podcast. At one point in the conversation, Jorge raised a good question: Why do Call of Duty games still have campaigns and who plays them? It’s difficulty to get solid numbers, but cobble together some sporadic achievement data as well as anecdotes from the community and it starts to seem possible that less than half of the people who played Black Ops 2 finished the single-player campaign. Seeing as how the game sold monstrously well and that its campaign was (in my opinion) much better than that of Ghosts, it seems safe to assume a similarly low completion rate.
This brings us back to Jorge’s “why and who” question. I am one of those people who play CoD largely for the campaign, and while I can’t speak for the masses, I think my experience represents some of the practical and philosophical reasons why single player persists in an environment dominated by multiplayer. I’ll start with the practical aspect and work my way towards wild philosophical speculation.
According to a recent interview with VG247, Beyond: Two Souls Writer and Director David Cage very much considers his latest game as a discrete experience from Heavy Rain: “We didn’t try to replicate Heavy Rain, because we would have just done Heavy Rain 2. We really wanted to create an experience that would be different.” The game does diverge in places dramatically from its predecessors. Cage has critical reasons to separate the two titles. Over the years, Cage has built up a healthy group of naysayers and critics, partially for his overly-optimistic faith in “more pixels” and partially for his heavy reliance on cinematic design choices in his games.
However, we do the game a disservice by thinking of Beyond independently from Heavy Rain. What can appear arbitrary or strange in Beyond is better understood as a response to or evolution of ideas implemented in Heavy Rain. As a companion piece, it is easier to appreciate Beyond as an improvement for Cage and an evolution in his body of work, contentious though it may be.
For me, the fall season is television season. Due to football season and the return of the scant few broadcast television shows I still watch, most of my live television time is concentrated over the span of a few months. When it comes time to bust out the antenna (you guessed it: I’m one of those cut-the-cable, streaming-site techno hippies), it’s not just a return to shows and sports. It’s a return to advertising. I only half-jokingly tell people that this is the time of year when I get back in touch with the consumer landscape. Which deodorant has the quirkiest commercial? What does my choice in a luxury sedan say about me? Do I need to hit my doctor up for any new drugs? And of course: what are the video games I need to buy?
I expected this year to be a heavy year for video game advertisement. Fall is blockbuster season in general and this is a new console launch year, so the game companies have plenty to advertise. While I have seen quite a few video game commercials, they haven’t been what I expected.
Set in a world populated by fairy tale princesses and monsters, Fables is not an immediately attractive comic series to most readers, particularly those who have grown accustomed to vampire-romance dramas and their ilk. In fact, Bill Willingham’s work is not just mature, it is shockingly dark and and often tragic. The series holds its own among the more adult works in the genre. Coming off of The Walking Dead adaption then, Telltale is a natural steward for the characters and the world of Fables.
With the bar set so high by The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us has a lot to prove. Not only is it a new franchise to adapt, with its own lore and style, but both Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin, the two co-writers and project leads on The Walking Dead, have moved on to another project. The team must walk a fine line between satiating their fan base and deviating enough from The Walking Dead so as to distinguish their newest title both thematically and mechanically.