Games might not be sentient, but their creators can imbue them with distinct personalities. Vanquish, helmed by the eccentric Shinji Mikami (the man behind innovative and bizarre games such as Resident Evil, Resident Evil 4, God Hand, and Killer7) is a playful trickster that dances back and forth over the line of parody and self-seriousness. To play it is to witness a game in conversation with its contemporaries in the third-person shooter genre. Vanquish’s campy story matches its outrageous visual style and hyper-kinetic gameplay, while also poking fun at the solemn plots of its contemporaries. Alongside all this irreverence is a game earnestly committed to learning from the advances made by previous games while also offering innovations that push the shooter genre forward. Vanquish relishes its absurdity, even as it flaunts its serious accomplishments.
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“Randal, you need to come up here right now,” PB said, without even a hello.
“What’s wrong?” Randal asked. He’d been in Markos’s cubicle and had run across the room to answer when Philip had pointed out to him that it was his phone ringing.
“Everything’s going to hell up here.”
One of the common complaints about L.A.Noire is the sense that players have of the title being more an example of interactive fiction than of it being a game. Certainly there is something to this observation, as despite having some tactical shooting elements (especially in its secondary missions), most of L.A. Noire‘s gameplay boils down to activities that do not require successful mastery of the game’s mechanics. Both the actions of searching for clues and interrogating suspects do not really have a fail state. If you do not turn up all of the clues in a case or if you fail to properly deduce whether you should trust a suspect’s response, doubt it, or accuse that person of lying, you will still ultimately resolve any given case that Cole Phelps is investigating.
Again, certainly your performance will be evaluated by the close of the case (which speaks a bit to a more game-like quality to the overall experience, as “following the rules” results in being acknowledged as a “better detective”), nevertheless, success, like justice (in the game’s world apparently), is inevitable. You can get through the entire story (barring the initial tutorial interrogation, which does require correct answers to move forward) by being the least competent detective in the world. The story will unfold, as it were, despite you.
I should establish right up front that it’s not that I don’t seriously value Wikipedia. Quite the contrary.
Those that do not—I suspect—are mostly people not old enough (or perhaps not trivia-loving enough) to remember back when gathering info on the most picayune of subjects involved a race to see if you could get to the library card-file drawers before the mice did. At least, you hoped it was mice.
If you didn’t actually feel like playing “name that mystery stain” that day, and you wanted more than the most cursory People profile on your latest pop-cult obsession, you had to go inquire of a person whose body language totally blared “I just got out of the convent, and what do you want?!” in giant neon letters. Then, of course, it turned out—once the first computerized catalogues sputtered into greenish pixilated life—that the convent had not offered IS courses.
Trust me, kiddies, it was awful.
My first attempt at Dragon Age: Origins fell short before I left the prologue. I was bothered about having rolled a dark-skinned city elf only for my family to turn out to be all visibly white, and I was further bothered by the city elves’ oppression compounded by the casual rape and murder exacted by our human “betters.” I closed the game and re-rolled as a rough and tumble thug within the dwarven underclass of Orzammar. My sister was still a prostitute, but at least this opening lacked the tinge of endless rape and degradation of the city elf origin.
I really enjoyed playing that casteless dwarf. I wore my Dust Town brand with pride when I crushed the best warriors in the city beneath my armored heel. On the surface, no one noticed my class and often enough tended to forget I was even a dwarf by the time that I was running them through with a blade. Dwarven merchants Bodahn and Sandal never commented on my tattoo, which I thought was plum nice of them. In no time at all, I was wooing prince’s hearts, running around in King Cailin’s armor and converting to Andrastianism, so satisfied I was that the game gave me openings to defy the constraints of the dwarven caste system without shunting me back into another system of oppression.