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Friday, Sep 10, 2010
'Final Fantasy XIII' feels like a slow paced game because it takes its time developing its characters instead of its plot.

Final Fantasy XIII is a slow burn. It takes about four hours for the story to really get going, and then it stalls. At hour three the cast is branded as l’Cie and must run from the government. By hour 24 they’re still running. I didn’t notice this lack of plot progression as I was playing, only when I went back to the game after setting it aside for a month. Only then did I realize how little the plot had changed over all those hours, and I think the reason I didn’t notice that pause in plot is because during that time the characters were being developed instead.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Sep 3, 2010
For a brief sequence, Final Fantasy XIII uses its battle system as a means of character development, not just tactical fun

Combat in Final Fantasy XIII is pretty simplistic. Characters get many of the same abilities so there’s not a lot to differentiate them in terms of mechanics. Every class (or rather, Paradigm) learns the same moves in the same order, and the “auto battle” option during combat ensures that I never have to think too much about what I’m doing. Despite this focus on simplicity, after about 20 hours I encountered a sequence where characterization and these combat mechanics came together in a way rarely seen in games, let alone any RPG.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 27, 2010
The documentary-like visual style gives the camera, and therefore the player, a physical presence in the world.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is a pretty typical third-person shooter. You take cover behind various objects, some of which can be destroyed, and you shoot a lot of people. The gameplay presents nothing new, but this is still a game worth playing because of its unique visual style. Everything looks like it’s being shot from a handheld digital camera, and all the little flourishes that stem from this stylistic choice enhance the experience, making it something special.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 20, 2010
No matter how bad a game is, if you can beat it without throwing your controller out a window in anger, then it’s not as bad as it could be.

Lately I’ve been playing a few mediocre games. While they have control issues and bad checkpointing and other flaws, these poor design choices aren’t unbearable in and of themselves. They hamper the experience but don’t destroy it. Rather, it’s when these poor design choices interfere with my progress through the game that it becomes so frustrating that I want to quit.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 13, 2010
Max Payne accomplished something unique with its mood and narration, creating a journey into the unraveling psyche of one man pushed to a ragged edge.

On last week’s Moving Pixels podcast, I talked about why I liked Max Payne better than its sequel, despite the fact that Max Payne 2 is a clearly better game, and I’d like to flesh out that reasoning a little more. I think the first game accomplished something truly unique with its mood and narration, something that no other game has come close to replicating. While many may remember it as the game to popularize “bullet time”, I’ll always remember it as a journey into the mind of one man.


At one point fairly early in the game, Max says, “There were only personal apocalypses. Nothing is cliché when it’s happening to you.” This seemingly throwaway line explains why the mood of Max Payne is so unique. The game revolves around Max’s own personal apocalypse, the end of his world. Everything reinforces this one intimate idea: the environment, the dialogue, the forced metaphors, the meta humor, the mythical references, and even the medium itself.


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