Commentary tracks are considered a standard special feature for any DVD, some even offer multiple tracks. For games, this kind of look behind the scenes is still treated as something rare, usually reserved only for “special editions.” Yet, they’re slowly becoming more common, so perhaps it’s time to point out some of the successes and failures, looking at two cases in particular: Alan Wake, and The Secret of Monkey Island 2: Special Edition.
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I’ve never wanted to play a Facebook game. This is probably due to a combination of factors, the two biggest being my indifference to Facebook in general and my dislike of the mouse as a controller. However, in the past few weeks, I’ve logged on to Facebook more times than I have in the past several years, all because of Project Legacy, the Assassin’s Creed Facebook game.
I love the Assassin’s Creed series, so I’m not surprised that it’s the catalyst that got me gaming on Facebook. What is surprising is how the developer managed to translate the Assassin’s Creed experience from an open-world adventure to what feels like a menu-driven RPG.
At the climax of Mass Effect 2, you lead your team in an attack on the Collectors’ base. This mission has been hyped up throughout the game as a crazy, dangerous, near impossible suicide mission. People can die, people will die, and it all depends on you.
My first time through this end game was a thrilling experience, knowing that my squad could die gave every fight a heightened tension. In that regard, Mass Effect 2 accomplished the very thing that most war games try and fail at, character development through conflict. I had bonded with these characters through firefights and missions, so I didn’t want anyone to die. I cared about all of them. However, none of that tension holds up a second time through the suicide mission because of how the mission is structured. If I have even a vague sense of what to do, it’s easy to keep everyone alive, and this supposedly dangerous mission ends up as the least suicidal suicide mission ever.
This post contains spoilers for Alan Wake.
Events in The Signal take place right after the end of Alan Wake. Wake finds himself in a nightmarish world, a place “familiar, but wrong, somehow,” and an image of Thomas Zane in a bathroom mirror explains that Wake himself is “the one making all this happen.” That’s an interesting line because it implies that Wake is creating the world around him, not the Dark Presence. Throughout the DLC we see Wake on television screens, lying on the floor of the cabin’s attic where his typewriter is, rambling what seems like nonsense. Zane explains that this is the real Alan Wake, a claim that’s proven when the ramblings come true.
I only beat Dead Rising: Case Zero on my third attempt. In Case Zero, Chuck Green and his zombie-bitten daughter, Katey, get stranded in a small town overrun by the undead. In 12 hours, the military will arrive to wipe them all out, and in that time, Chuck must get Katey a dose of Zombrex to stop her from turning zombie and build a motorcycle to escape the small town.
Zombies play a big role in Dead Rising, but they’re not your main antagonist, which is a good thing because by themselves zombies are boring. They’re slow, stupid, and easy to kill. They may be disgusting, but they’re not particularly scary unless they’re in a horde. The two most popular zombie games, Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead, use zombies as a starting point for horror.