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by Nick Dinicola

13 Jan 2012


Thid discussion contains spoilers for Battlefield 3.

It’s good for a war game to be cynical; in fact it’s necessary. How else can you mow down hundreds of people with a machine gun and blow up global landmarks with glee? Cynicism and pessimism are—and always will be—inherent to war games (at least, as long as they continue to follow their current template), so it’s in such a game’s best interest to just go with that flow, embrace a cynical view of the world, war, and soldiers. Otherwise, you might end up like Battlefield 3.

EA’s and DICE’s latest offering wants to be cynical, it wants to tell a modern military story with an anti-hero fighting impossible odds, but it also wants to be a tale of heroism. It wants the good guys to win in the end without resorting to their own kind of terrorism, like the protagonists (not heroes) of the Modern Warfare trilogy. But by failing to take a stand either way, the story of Battlefield 3 stumbles in every important scene and becomes so inconsistent in tone that it’s more jarring than the shaky first-person camera that provides the player’s perspective.

by Eric Swain

12 Jan 2012


This discussion contains spoilers for Driver: San Francisco.

The shift ability incorporated into Driver: San Francisco is something that I wish games did more often. I don’t mean what the mechanic does physically in the game, but allowing the main activity of the player to correspond directly to the central core of both play and narrative. In the game, magical realism becomes a means of deepening an otherwise standard crime story, allowing it to plumb psychological depths through the game’s dynamics that it otherwise could not.

by Scott Juster

12 Jan 2012


I’m not yet finished with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and I make a point not to formally review anything that I haven’t finished, so consider this a critique. It’s a critique born of the unorthodox way that I’m playing the game, which is itself the reason that I haven’t finished it yet.  For reasons I’m still unclear on, my wife Hanah has expressed interest in Skyward Sword, so we’re doing a quasi-cooperative playthrough. We hand the controller back and forth, I offer hints, and we generally try to stay at about the same level of progress on our respective saves.  We make an odd couple: I’m a grizzled Zelda veteran whose played video games his whole life, while Hanah’s a relative novice to the series and more casual devotee to the medium.  It’s an unorthodox way to play the game, one that’s driven me towards an unsettling realization: neither one of us is all that happy with the game.  This raises the question: Who is Skyward Sword’s audience?

by G. Christopher Williams

11 Jan 2012


Jean-Francois Fourtou Untitled (série Marrakech), 2007.

My daughter was recently asked by her teacher to interview my grandfather for her seventh grade class.  The teacher was interested in getting some insight into the rapidly disappearing GI Generation, those that served during World War II.  One of the questions that my daughter asked my grandfather was what he liked most about living through the 1940s and 1950s.  His response: “I liked that the population was smaller.” 

I was really taken by this response, as I grew up at the very edge of the metropolitan Denver area in the 1980s and returning there now, I am always struck by how crazily busy my little suburb has grown.  It really isn’t “at the very edge” now—at all.  The US population has grown to its current size of over 310 million people, but it was only about half that size in the decades that my grandfather was in his 20s and 30s.  I imagine that, to him, the whole US looks a heck of a lot more crazily busy than my little suburb now looks to me.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 Jan 2012


This week Nick Dinicola and I are joined by our fellow blogger Mattie Brice to discuss, in part, the games of the year.

However, with PopMatters posting a forthcoming list of the best games of the year, we discuss more specifically that list, our writers’ tastes here at PopMatters, and also what Game of the Year might mean in general to gaming.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

READ the article