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by Nick Dinicola

17 Aug 2012


This post contains spoilers for Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a pretty great game. The story challenges traditional shooter tropes, raising some disturbing moral questions in the process, and—most importantly—the ending doesn’t cop out. It follows through on the promise that it sets up and forces the player to confront issues of violence that we normally take for granted in games. It has been criticized for being generic, and there’s no denying that it plays like a typical shooter. However, that’s actually what makes it so effective at times. Its adherence to standard shooter tropes allows it to evoke memories of other shooters while casting those memories in a new, more disturbing light.

by Nick Dinicola

10 Aug 2012


This post contains major spoilers for Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a military-themed, cover-based, third-person shooter. You’ve played this game before, many times over. However, it’s still a game worth playing. It offers a different kind of story than the one normally attached to such shooters. Rather than revel in the power fantasy of shooting guys, the characters in The Line are so disturbed by their own actions that they slowly unravel over time. Based on this description, there’s an assumed “payoff” that should come at the climax: these guys should go insane; they should cross that metaphorical line.

by Nick Dinicola

3 Aug 2012


Dear Esther is an unsettling game. It’s not violent or disturbing but eerie in a very memorable way. The Lost Archive DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is, to my surprise, similarly unsettling. The DLC continues that game’s odd first person puzzles with narration, but this time the narrated story isn’t Desmond’s story and that completely changes the tone. Both games revolve around the same concept: reliving someone else’s memories. And both games use similar tricks to create a sense of unease and tension even when there’s no danger of failure, since the entire story revolves around stuff that’s already happened.

by Nick Dinicola

27 Jul 2012


Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon was the first of the venerable point-and-click adventure series to make the leap to 3D. Playing it now evokes a weird kind of wonder. As a fan of the series, it’s undeniably awesome to see a 3D model of George Stobbart and Nico Collard, even though it’s a horribly dated game in terms of graphics. But what’s more interesting is how the new dimension impacts the gameplay and how those changes both lessen and heighten the sense of adventure in the game.

by Nick Dinicola

20 Jul 2012


Syndicate creates an interesting world and places you in an interesting position within that world: There are no more countries, just giant corporations. It’s a set up primed to offer social commentary by showing you different facets of everyday life filtered through a corporate lens. You play as an Agent, essentially a spy but nowhere near as subtle. It’s a great role for the player since it justifies our travel to multiple syndicates and our access to sensitive information. From this position we can easily watch a conspiracy unfold.

Syndicate could have offered social commentary by way of a political thriller, but it doesn’t. The great world building is undermined by a plot twist so hackneyed and lazy that it turns Syndicate into a prime example of how not to tell to a story.

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