Most racing games are based on a very linear system of progression that only moves us forwards. We’re forced to drive slow cars in the beginning, but this is never fun. The more that we race, the more opportunities we have to either upgrade our slow car or buy a new, faster car. These upgrades are necessary because our slow car can’t compete against the faster cars. That race is over before it even begins. We’re always upgrading our vehicles, we’re always getting faster and better toys, and at no point are we asked to go back to the slow cars.
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Open worlds do not belong in racing games. The two genres just don’t fit. Everything that makes an open world great is held back by being forced to explore with only a vehicle, and everything that makes racing fun is held back by the lack of direction in the open world. And yet Need for Speed: Most Wanted represents Criterion’s second attempt to bring the genres together and their second failure to do so.
This is a good year for stealth games with Dishonored, Hitman: Silent Assassin, and kinda-sorta-maybe Assassin’s Creed III, if you still consider that a stealth game. But the best stealth game of the year just might be an XBLA game that flew under the radar for a lot of people. Mark of the Ninja is both complex and reductionist, trimming out all the complications of a 3D world for a 2D world filled with more visual cues than any stealth game before it, and in stripping away that extra dimension the game makes it easier to embrace its many complex systems.
Walking is complicated. It only seems easy because so much of it is automated. Thanks to games like QWOP, which gives me direct control over the muscles I use when walking, I have a new appreciation for my ability to walk two steps without falling.
We turn the same blind eye to movement in video games or at least to the movement in most blockbuster games. Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, Borderlands, The Darkness, and any other shooter than came out this year all feel good to play. Most shooters feel good, and over time it’s become something I take for granted. That is, until I played a pair of Xbox Indie games that unintentionally revealed the many potential pitfalls and complications of simple video game movement.
In Borderlands you played as a true mercenary, someone with no home and no central base of operations. You were a traveler. As such, I loved the lack of any big storage container. The game forced you to keep only the things you could carry; everything else must either be sold or dropped. This worked well with the setting and even more so with gameplay, since the whole point of loot is that it gets replaced. But people complained and Gearbox added a storage vault in the game’a Moxxi’s Underdome DLC. The vault didn’t ruin anything, but it did undermine my role as a mercenary traveler.
// Channel Surfing
""The Memory Remains", with a few minor exceptions, borrows heavily from a season one classic.READ the article