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Text:AAA
Friday, Mar 18, 2011
3D is a feature best appreciated by an audience watching a game being played -- because the player isn't likely to notice the effect at all.

There was a lot of 3D stuff on display at PAX East this past weekend. Many 3D demos were present from publishers, developers, or video card manufacturers for fighting games, shooting games, or racing games. In particular, Mortal Kombat and Crysis 2 had a very big 3D presence.  Displays featured a demo of each game being played on a massive 3DTV with buckets of glasses available for curious attendees. After watching both games being played in 3D for a good long while (sadly I didn’t get a chance to play anything on the 3DS), I came to realize that 3D is a feature best appreciated by an audience watching a game being played, but the player isn’t likely to notice the effect at all.


To be perfectly clear, I’m a proponent of 3D stuff in whatever form it takes. I like the effect, it doesn’t hurt my eyes, and I don’t mind the glasses. But like any new piece of technology, there’s a learning curve that we have to endure as artists learn to use it.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Mar 11, 2011
There are three semi-recent games that I feel deserve special mention for their creative use of the normally bland main menu.

A good menu can set the tone for the rest of the game to come, or when done poorly, it can be a nuisance that players try to skip as fast as possible every time that they boot up a game. Since the last time I wrote about some innovative menus, three more games have come out that I feel deserve special mention for how handle this normally bland part of a game.


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Friday, Mar 4, 2011
Medal of Honor's multiplayer tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty but only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth.

Medal of Honor was supposed to be EA’s big salvo against Call of Duty, an attempt at bringing down Activision’s juggernaut of a shooter at least a little bit. While I think the single player portion of EA’s game is far better, the multiplayer is surprisingly derivative for such a high profile game. It tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty, making what probably sounded like the perfect shooter on paper. But Medal of Honor only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth, resulting in a multiplayer mode that feels as if it was made by people who don’t understand why its peers are so popular.


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Friday, Feb 25, 2011
Medal of Honor's campaign lacks many staples of a normal narrative, but it's still able to relate an apolitical theme through gameplay alone.

The rebooted Medal of Honor is supposed to be about the soldiers and not about the controversial Afghan war that serves as a backdrop for the action. The game was criticized for sticking to such a narrow subject matter; staying apolitical in this case seemed like a marketing gimmick meant to stir up just the right amount of controversy—enough to hype the game, but not enough to hurt sales. In retrospect however, after beating the single-player campaign, I’m confident in saying that this approach works for this game.


Tagged as: medal of honor
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Text:AAA
Friday, Feb 18, 2011
Having to run from an enemy is scary, but successfully running away is boring.

Modern horror games have it rough. Not only is it hard for anything not obviously in the survival horror genre to be accepted as a true horror game, but even those games that do classify as survival horror have to face a discerning public that’s very picky about any mechanical flaws or inconsistencies. Unfortunately, one of those technical and artistic challenges is also a major staple of the subgenre, creating scary enemies that you can run from.


While I don’t believe that combat intrinsically lessens the terror an enemy can evoke, there’s no denying that weakness is scary. Going up against an enemy so overwhelming that your only recourse is to flee is frightening, but if you can successfully escape, then one has to wonder: just how dangerous is this enemy really? Running away time and time again makes even the scariest, most disturbing monster look stupid and non-threatening.


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