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Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Mirror’s Edge is like a blank slate, a solitary piece of art that awaits interpretation. Yes, its story was barebones, but it’s the experience that makes a game, and experiences can be just as artistic in their expressions as stories.

A major aspect of Mirror’s Edge that one might question is the very setting–a totalitarian city devoid of color…that is, until the player assumes the role of Faith, the main character. Through her eyes, we see no more than one bright hue of a color contrasted against white. We see entirely green-and-white warehouses, and we come to perceive the more important routes in the game as red objects.

Call it eagle vision, if you must. Call it loony vision; I really don’t care what you call it, because at the end of the day, it’s GENIUS.

Design philosophy is a tricky thing. How, you might ask, would a video game designer justify an act such as dumping a smoking hot female protagonist in an authoritarian state where everything seems to take place on the rooftops WITHOUT saying, “Well, I did it because it was a convenient backdrop for the game, and a nice way to avoid placing players on the ground level, which would embroil the them in a political story…”

True, true–the game is, curiously enough, not a political one. Why set the game in a totalitarian world, then? For the gratuitous amount of neck-snapping and viscera-splattering that comes with kicking brainwashed police officers’ butts?

Nay; it, in tandem with the unique visual scheme, provides a link between good graphics and our perception of the world as one with many options. In Faith’s case, these “options” are often translated into “ways out” of certain sticky situations. As Faith, you literally and symbolically live above totalitarian politics, even if they are taking place one hundred stories below Faith’s usual jogging locations. You are, ironically, freer than most of the implied population below, despite being on the run and whatnot.

Can nobody see it as well as I do? Faith is a silent everyman who lives on the edge, in tune with her instincts and her body, one who practices a rare art form. This brings us to question whether or not Faith is a hero, and the role she plays and might play in a sequel.

But, of course, I’ll leave those questions as they are. They’ll be reserved for another occassion.

From now on, I want you all to assume that a designer knows what he or she is doing. I want you all to do the same when reading novels, plays, scripts, whatever–because 9 times out of 10–the artist is making a stylistic choice.  I mention this because this, ladies and gentlemen, is where we should realize that the story was not meant to be gripping.

First off: damn it, aren’t you satisfied with just that feeling of euphoria you get every time you jump across rooftops and see the scene below? (Um, ahem, sorry for the outburst…)

Second, and most importantly: I understand how gamers want a story that’s gripping, I really do. But Mirror’s Edge cannot be critiqued based on a conventional rubric (actually, it can, but what would be the use of THAT opinion?). One simply needs to apply himself to Faith’s experiences and think deeply about what being free, being in a totalitarian world, being above all else when one is actually living more naturally means to him personally…

As far as the free-running mechanics go, I’ve never seen a game in which something as basic as parkour or fitness is elevated…to such heights, for the lack of any better words. It’s all calling to us, calling us back to those days in which we lived for the sights, sounds, tastes, and thrills of free life.

Such senses are primal, and it’s tragic how far we’ve strayed from that. But hey, don’t take that from me. Just sit back, relax, and take a holiday or two in Faith’s world.

…because really, where better to heighten your senses and make yourself a better human being than in a society under a strict authoritarian regime?

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After pulling an extensive April Fools joke involving Dutch police and RAGEQUITs, Mirrormoon released their Farland Symphony translation patch, the culmination of 8 years of blood, tears, and effort. I couldn’t find an English walkthrough anywhere (probably unnecessary, as the storyline’s linear), but here is a Japanese one that goes into where various items and secrets can be found.

As for a little description, Farland Symphony is a nice, simple SRPG developed by TGL in 2002 that can be pretty good for passing time when you’ve got nothing to do. It wouldn’t be winning awards for its plot anytime soon, but it does have some cute comedy moments to compensate. And of course, there’s no way I’d forget mentioning its immensely catchy OP song (Wing My Way – KOTOKO), one of my favorites since the days when I still Youtubed anime.

See Mirrormoon’s Farland Symphony page for game details/screenshots, and its subforum for discussions.

Firrus: “What this world needs is love.”
Firrus (shooting arrows): “Love and peace.”

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Game CM: (CM)東方武斗祭EP2:魔女的挑戰狀_公式CM

Touhou Battle Arena is a Warcraft mod (“custom map”) rendering a battle arena in which players control Touhou characters to fight. I found out about this map a while ago, but was put off because the game is made in Chinese (my English Warcraft can’t read the text). While trying to organize my links yesterday however, I came across its forums, and so I decided to whip out the good’ol Google translator and look into it more deeply.

The effects and designs are extremely well made  for a WC mod, and I believe it even boasts a customizable BGM system as well. I was also astonished to learn that some folks have already begun an English translation project for it, with several of the characters’ skills/abilities already translated. Version 2.05 of the game was released earlier this month, though it seems to be restricted to forumers only. Version 2.02 however, is publicly downloadable. If you’re a 7-year Warcraft veteran like me who’ve tried all of the crappiest maps ever conceived, you’d know how excited I am for this map!

Screenshots:

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Hi everyone, this is your fun-filled Subway-lovin’ gamer male secretary speaking! As you all have heard, baseball is no longer the country’s national sport! We have two national sports now, and those would be GAMING and WATCHING ANIME. Don’t believe me? Well, with so many video game titles in this holiday season’s release window, I’m sure you’ll ALL be playing something.

With that in mind, I’d like to share with you all of the names of the games that we–the GHS Anime Gods–are playing right now.

Borderlands – The role-playing shooter that pits four characters in the middle of nowhere on the planet of Pandora. With plenty of randomly generated loot (about 17 million different weapon permutations) and an outrageous amount of leveling up to do, this game is considered GOLD to us. You choose from four different character classes to develop–each with their own unique capabilities.

*WARNING* This contains violent material.

Left 4 Dead 2 Demo – It’s out, and the boycott is over. Valve’s latest video game entry this year has us all clinging on to our pants and wishing we had never been born to face the zombie apocalypse. With new characters, a new setting (New Orleans), tons of new weapons and a direct AI Director upgrade, L4D2 is most definitely a delicious step up from L4D.

*WARNING* This contains violence.

Team Fortress 2 – Yes. Still.

Honorable Mention: We’re also playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, DoTA, Saints Row 2, Risen

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With that said, I thought it would be interesting to include this month’s release window; here it is:

MODERN WARFARE 2

RD: November 10, 2009

Platforms: PC, PS3, XBOx 360

Metascore: 89/100

This highly anticipated shooter boasts new perks, new killstreak options, more weapons, and a short but thrill-filled campaign mode. Although the game has been stripped of dedicated servers and stripped of the original 30+ max player limit AND its lean function for the PC, this game continues to surprise people as it climbs the sales charts. For a graphics comparison between PC, 360, and PC, go here: http://www.gamespot.com/features/6240138/index.html?tag=topslot;thumb;5

DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS

RD: November 3, 2009

Metascore: 91

From BioWare–the makers of Mass Effect and the famous KOTOR games–comes this new fantasy epic RPG. The plot is rich, and the background story is even more so. Dive into the land of Ferelden to fight the Darkspawn and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll likely be playing this for more than 50 hours, at least.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED SITH EDITION

RD: November 3, 2009

Metascore: Terrible is all we know.

Though this version of the game was made only for the PC and definitely looks better on the PC, it is a terrible port. Maybe it should have boasted its technical problems instead.

ASSASSIN’S CREED 2

RD: November 17, 2009

Metascore: N/A

My name is Desmond, so you could imagine how scared I was when I played the first game and found out one of the main characters’ name was also Desmond. In this chapter of the Assassin’s Creed series, you play as Ezio–a noble-turned-assassin who seeks revenge in Italy during the Renaiisance. New gadgets and weapons will be available in this non-linear game. Bigger missions and improved “blending” techniques in crowds have been added.  This is good, because we go tired of the first Assassin’s Creed really fast.

THE SIMS 3 WORLD ADVENTURES

RD: November 16, 2009

Metascore: N/A

This. Is. right. Up. My. Alley. For anyone who loves The Sims and has The Sims 3, you have to get this. This expansion lets you travel to different landmarks to discover treasures and learn martial arts, among other things. It’s like traveling and experiencing different cultures without ever leaving home. What’s better?

So, without any further ado, START GAMING!!11!!11!!!!!!1!111!11!!

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