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Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 22, 2011
Child of Eden couldn’t be more confused with itself; it’s a game that demands to be watched rather than played.

Child of Eden is a conflicted game. Stuck in a No Man’s Land between “shooter” and “spectacle,” it can’t decide which one it wants to be. The shooting distracts from the spectacle and the spectacle distracts from the shooting, making for a very schizophrenic experience. Granted, I’ve only played with a controller, and based on the writings of others, it seems like I’d get a very different experience playing with a Kinect. But the one thing that I can’t parse from all the praise is what difficulty people played on. It’s hard to believe that people had the wonderful experiences that they write about while playing on the Normal difficulty. The only other mode is the Feel Eden difficulty, which is essentially “god mode.” It makes sense that Child of Eden would be more fun with “god mode” but that also speaks to its most serious flaw: it’s a game best played when you can ignore everything that makes it a game.


Tagged as: child of eden
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Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 15, 2011
Gaming is a process of collaborative storytelling, and as I tried to write conflict into the story of Mass Effect, I ran into conflict with my writing partner, Bioware.

Conflict is key to a good story. That’s something I kept in mind as I played through Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 again. Because this time I wasn’t playing as a Player, I was merely seeking to enjoy some futuristic role-play or even as a Character, an idealized version of myself tasked with saving the galaxy. This time, I played as a Writer. It seemed as easy task at first since, as a fan of the franchise, I knew what choices get carried through to the sequel and what actions have what consequences. Over the course of the game, I purposely let bad things happen because that would lead to more conflict, which makes for a more interesting story. But gaming is a process of collaborative storytelling, and as I tried to write conflict into the story, I ran into conflict with my writing partner, Bioware.


Tagged as: bioware, mass effect
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Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 8, 2011
The endgame may be a black hole that consumes the entire universe, but to get to that point, you must build and nurture multiple solar systems full of life.

Solar 2 is easy to compare to Flow, the PSN game from thatgamecompany because on the surface they look very much alike: You play as an object that flies around a 2D space trying to grow bigger. But this surface comparison ignores the more nuanced mechanics of Solar 2. This is a game that is just as much about creation as it is destruction. The endgame may be a black hole that consumes the entire universe, but to get to that point, you must build and nurture multiple solar systems full of life.


Tagged as: solar 2
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Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 1, 2011
For the most part, Nier's genre-bending is just weird for the sake of weird. But when it works, it works surprisingly well.

Nier is not a good game. It tries to be too many different types of games at once, but that’s also what makes it so incessantly interesting. It’s clearly an experimental game and wears that label like a badge of honor. Based on its core mechanics you might describe it as an “action RPG,” but its role-playing elements are so poorly thought out that it’s obvious the developers were bored of RPGs and just wanted to get to the bizarre shoot-‘em-up-puzzle-survival-horror-text-adventuring. Sadly, for as interesting as this genre-bending is, it doesn’t add anything to the overall experience. Save for a couple examples, Nier is just being weird for the sake of weird.


Tagged as: nier
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Text:AAA
Friday, Jun 24, 2011
Alice's hair says a lot about her character.

This post contains minor spoilers for Alice: Madness Returns


Alice: Madness Returns is not a technically impressive game. The landscape is blocky, filled with sharp edges and screen tearing. Textures don’t load properly, turning what should be a stylized rock into a brown/grey blob. Amongst all this poor quality, Alice herself shines. Her dress is always detailed, its every stitch and fold noticeable, and it flutters with every gust of virtual wind. But it’s her hair that stands out most. It looks like every strand is modeled separately, and based on how realistically it moves, one might assume that every available programmer was working on hair physics, ensuring that every strand would fall over her shoulder rather than through it. Their attention to detail is commendable; in a level that takes place underwater, Alice’s hair floats around when you stop moving.


However, what’s most interesting about Alice’s hair tech is how much it supports the gameplay and character development in this title.


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