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by G. Christopher Williams

13 Jul 2011


This post contains major spoilers for Shadows of the Damned

Three things nagged at me throughout my playthrough of Shadows of the Damned.

The first thing was an odd one.  It was the name of Garcia Hotspur’s girlfriend, which is Paula.  I guess that it is just the thin quality of the premise of the game (more on that later) that made me immediately associate her with the similarly named Pauline of Donkey Kong.  Paula is abducted by a large monster at the opening of the game, hardly an original catalyst for a video game adventure (again, more on that in a moment), but still her name and predicament and blonde hair (the original versions of Pauline were blonde on the arcade cabinet of Donkey Kong) made me wonder if Suda51, aficionado of retro gaming, wasn’t giving a nod to “the original” girl abduction game.  Throughout my time with Shadows of the Damned, I kept looking for any other evidence of such an allusion.

by G. Christopher Williams

29 Jun 2011


I noticed that the Grasshopper Manufacture logo that appears in the opening screens of Suda51 and Shinji Mikami’s new game, Shadows of the Damned, is not the version that includes the motto, “Punk’s Not Dead.”  While I don’t feel like Suda51 has fully intended to step away from his infamous “punk rock aesthetic,” this latest game does leave me wondering a bit about the viability of that approach in the climate of contemporary gaming culture.

by G. Christopher Williams

22 Jun 2011


A fair amount of discussion of L.A. Noire has raised questions about how to classify this “game”.  Over at GamePro, for instance, Kat Bailey explains, “I feel like L.A. Noire is a success as a visual novel [. . .] it’s meant to be read and experienced as much as played” and that it is “arguable whether that approach is a good fit for the interactive medium of videogames” (“Second Opinion: L.A. Noire, GamePro, 20 May 2011).  Additionally, Bailey reiterates another criticism that has been leveled at the game that it “relies heavily on pixel hunting and guesswork”.

I spoke a couple weeks ago a little bit about how I felt that the forward momentum of the story and some of the player’s inability to do anything about it relates to the genre of noir itself (L.A. Noire: The Fatalism of American Sticktoitiveness”, PopMatters, 1 June 2011).  While that essay acknowledged the largely linear quality of the storytelling in L.A. Noire, still I find that the notion that L.A. Noire is somehow “not quite a game” because a lot of its choices lead in a particular direction or because the game mechanics include the necessity of a great deal of watching, observing, and pixel hunting is a notion that denies the rather integral relationship that exists between seeing and gaming.

by G. Christopher Williams

15 Jun 2011


While a lot has been said about the infamous “No Russian” chapter of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (indeed, I had my say shortly after the game released in 2009), perhaps less has been written about some of the other sequences in the game, like the chapters that concern defending the homefront.

In large part, I am thinking of the “Wolverines” chapter but also a few of the others that concern defending suburbia from the Russian horde.  What made me think of these chapters again was watching the E3 Microsoft media briefing, which featured some live gameplay of Modern Warfare 3.  A brief moment in the playthrough featured the player surfacing off the coast of what I assume to be the United States and sighting the ruined skyline of a major U.S. city (New York, I think?).

It seems that the Modern Warfare series is interested in some way in “personalizing” the experience of combat for the player by placing him in environments that feel like home, both unsettling the player but also evoking a strong emotional reaction as a result of the realization that what he is doing is defending a space that, for most middle class Americans, feels normally pretty secure.

by G. Christopher Williams

8 Jun 2011


While this week is all E3 news and its ensuing gaming press hullabaloo, I thought that I’d take a minute to point out a few podcasts that exist outside the standard enthusiast press. While by no means a comprehensive list of some of the good podcasts that are out there, these are a few of the shows that I enjoy listening to regularly that tend to go beyond merely talking about the latest games but, instead, consider games in more depth, from a variety of angles, and usually with an eye towards analysis and critique, rather than mere evaluation. In a word, these are a group of the more thoughtful podcasts out there on gaming.

So, if you’re looking for some smart discussion on video games while you are out and about this summer, these are a few podcasts that you might want to have a listen to.

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Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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