Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Moving Changing

I'm going to give Wordpress a spin for a while and see how it treats me.

Part of that will mean a change in subject matter but don't worry I'll keep up the retro reviews they'll just be part of a more diverse "content selection".

Man I wish I could think of a better less wanky way of putting that.

Anyway new blog is here.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Shinobi 3: Rise of the Ninja Master

Year: 1993
Rating: **

I don't often write about games I don't care about. But in the interests of stopping this blog from turning into a bunch of self indulgent love letters to games I like here's roughly 750 words about something that sucks.

Poor Sega, as a company they are a shadow of their former glory being reduced from the number two platform holder to just another publisher. But while that must hurt perhaps the greater shame is that as the history of the first great console war is written Sega is increasingly seen as the poor man's system. Mario, Metroid, Final Fantasy and Zelda are the series that now define the 16 bit era and they're all Nintendo. Sure Sega has Sonic the Hedgehog but really anyone with any taste at all only likes the first of those. Streets of Rage is awesome in a knuckle head kind of way but nobody is deconstructing it's level design the same way Metroid gets regularly pulled apart. So it was with thoughts like this going through my head that I read a couple of dumbarse "Best Genesis EVAR" lists wondering if I was missing something. Everywhere I looked I heard about a game called Shinobi 3. Apparently is was fast, furious, complex and unmissable. It's actually three parts dull, one part cheap bitch.

Load up the first mission, a title splashes up informing me that I'm about to enter "Zeed's Resurrection". Who is Zeed? Am I Zeed? Or am I going to have to fight Zeed? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, I certainly don't know what killed Zeed or what's resurrecting him now. All I know is I'm in a forest facing right and the memory of every platformer I've ever played tells me to walk forwards. Soon a dude jumps out of nowhere, I throw a Shuriken at him and he dies, I continue forwards. Another dude, another Shuriken, then just to break things up a dude in a tree. I jump, throw a shuriken and he dies as well. I have never felt less like a ninja master in my life, I feel more like a ninja master sitting on the couch eating Cheetoes, at least it takes some wits and dexterity to fish a salty cheese snack from behind the cushions. The game doesn't get better.

There are secrets to find but it never feels like your exploring anything more than the most on-rails linier path. You can mess around with the special moves and blocking, and to be honest there is a fairly interesting fighting system buried somewhere underneath the poorly laid out controls. But the fatal flaw is it's never as effective as simply Shurikening dudes and jumping around occasionally. I've said it before but it bears repeating, if you let the player defeat your game in a way that's simple but boring they'll do it, they're under responsibility to make the game fun that's the job of the designer. Worse are the moments it tries to break up the walk-Shuriken-walk-jump-Shuriken levels with weird chase sections like the horse riding section or the surfing section. They feel like playing a shitty Guitar Hero track while only using the red button and no star power. Cowabunga motherfuckers. I'm not saying these bits are too easy but they feel exactly like the time wasters they are.

Perhaps those sins are mostly venal, where Shinobi 3 becomes beyond redemption is the boss fights. To show you what I mean lets just discuss the first boss. How do you defeat him? You wait for him to get close and throw a Shuriken, it hurts him and he retreats a few steps before charging at you. In response you double jump, turn around and repeat the process. Again and again, again and again. And again.


No again.

Still again.

Repetitive enough yet? No do it again.

Oh you better believe again

Yes again.

Okay that's enough... actually you know what? Again.





What are you dead now? Couldn't you perform the same menial task a million times in a row? Pathetic, well back to the beginning of the Boss Battle with you.

Let's get something straight, I'm not against balls-in-a-vice tough boss battles (see Cho Ren Sha getting 5*s) but I am against a game that makes me repeat the same task ad infinitum to stretch the difficultly. Yes I figured out the trick, no I can't execute it perfectly every time but I get the point. Can't we just get on with it now? Shinobi 3 says no, I say Shinobi 3 can crawl back to the pit of despair shitty videogames come from.

Look it's not the worse game in the world, the few moment you get to sword some fool are pleasingly cathartic but really if this is the best the Genesis/Megadrive had to offer no wonder Zelda and Mario are the figures they are today. Honestly I just wished more Yanks would have played a PC growing up, then maybe I wouldn't have to hear about how important Mario and Zelda are constantly.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cho Ren Sha

Year: 1995
Rating: *****

This is one hell of a videogame.

I'm working on a theory, it's pretty half formed at the moment but bear with me. All single player games (and most multiplayer games) are puzzle games. Regardless of whether they get called strategy, FPS, RPG every single player game is basically about finding solutions to problems. Mario is about solving problems with jumping, Doom with bullets and Portal with portals. Sure action games require twitch reflexes but so does Tetris and no one is calling that an action game. Why? Cause it's not about a dude (or dude analogue) with a gun (or gun analogue). Contrary to accepted wisdom videogame genres are named more after their narrative elements than their ludic. Can anyone really explain the differance between a strategy game and a god game without reference to the games narrative? For that matter can someone explain to me the difference between a strategy game and an RPG? Now the FPS looks easy to define cause that's about games played from the first person perspective. Except that ignores a whole host of RPGs that play from the first person perspective that arnt considered FPSs (Ultima Underworld, Oblivion) and then there's Portal which most would describe as a puzzle game. Yet you're still shooting in the first person.

Anyway something to think about.

I bring this all up because regardless of what genre you want to place Cho Ren Sha in I'm pretty much calling it the omni-game. I guess if you want to be acurate it's a 2-D vertical scrolling shmup from the Doujin scene (which is to say it's a Japanese indie game). Thing is that label hardly does it justice. It's got more strategy than C&C, more action than Doom, and can make me feel more God-like than Populous. All while exercising my thinking muscles more than most puzzlers. How does it achieve this feat? By being balls to the wall hard.

I assume we all know what a vertical scrolling shump is they're an ancient genre. As a child the fish and chip store near my house had one. I vaguely remember playing it but I was never any good. Nor did I care, that thing was there to suck whatever worthless change I found lying around. In return it amused me for the few moments it'd take for my order of chips to be done. I don't remember the name of it but I do remember it kind of sucked. Here in the west when 3D graphics hit the scenes and the arcades closed shop the shmup died. I couldn't care less, to me there wasn't anything special about them. Over in Japan the shmup morphed mutated and matured into an entirely differant monster. And I do mean monster. These are games that will rip you up and tear you apart. They mean business. Or maybe they always had shmups this good but they were just holding out on us. In which case, not cool Japan. Why do you have to force crap like this down our throats but you won't share your really awesome goodies?

Recently these new hyper shmups have been gaining traction in the west. My first exposure to this shmup renaissance was Ikaruga a truely wonderful game with a super clever colour matching gameplay hook. Cho Ren Sha is like Ikaruga but not as clever. Which is fine by me, because it feels more pure. It's freeware so you can get it here. I don't really consider myself an expert with these games. The true fans will be able to wax lyrical about the relative merits of title X's bullet patterns to title Y's chaining system. I can't and won't. All that really great devotion and love can be off putting to new people. But it really is simple to play, arrow keys move, press z to shoot, hammer it like a crack addicted school child to maintain rapid fire. Oh yes and X drops the bomb. You now know everything you need to know in order to play Cho Ren Sha. No tutorial level required. You might see a video like the one I posted earlier and think "That's impossible, no one could play that and still have a life. What kind of loser would devote so much time to one game". Lets set the record straight it will take you much less time to get 'reasonable' at Cho Ren Sha then it would to complete Baldur's Gate. The difference is when playing Cho Ren Sha you're constantly honing and improving your skills and Baldur's Gate is a whole lot of wandering and grinding (By the way I really like Baldur's Gate but call a spade a spade).

For the most part the game's mechanics are exactly the same as the terrible old shmups of our childhood but by being arse bitingly hard it makes us (for perhaps the first time) appreciate how truely great those mechanics are. At one point I was using my bullets as sonar, not looking at what I shooting, using the sound of them hitting their targets to guide my aim. Why didn't I use my eyes like I normally would? Because there were a million missiles coming at me and I needed to focus on those. Or take the bombs. In most games that involve some sort of super weapon you just save them for the boss fight and they become fairly uninteresting. Cho Ren Sha gives you no luxury, you will need to use them during the level, because if you die and you had even one bomb left it's like losing of a valuable resource, you're not getting that bomb back, you wasted it. Often just after wiping out the thought crosses mind "well at least I died without any bombs". It's like the ultimate "I gave it my all", to do any less feels almost dishonorable.

Cho Ren Sha has one new trick, it's power ups. They appear in groups of three: shield, bomber, and (the imaginatively named) power up. Shield places a shield around your ship essentially giving you a get out of jail free card good for one cock up. Bomber gives you one of the previously mentioned bombs, which is a one use weapon that deals tremendous damage to everything on screen. It also cancels all the on-screen bullets which means that it's useful as both an offensive and defensive tool. The Power Up power up increases the spread and rate of fire of your primary weapon basically making you stronger. This gives the game a strategic dimension as you constantly need to decide which of the three to grab. Until you get really good you'll always be in short supply of all three so all three are reasonable choices. Eventually you'll get good enough that you can maintain your shield for long enough to grab powerups and bombs at will eliminating the strategy element. This is when the game throws and interesting spanner into the works. If you stay in the middle of the three power ups for a short period of time you get all three. It's much harder than it sounds, even positioning yourself in the middle of a moving target for the required time is hard enough, doing so in the face of bullet hell requires balls, skill and luck. Of course if you screw it up you may end up grabbing something you don't need, but if you can grab all three you're in a much better position than if you just grab one and in the later levels you'll need every advantage you can get.

So yeah that's really all it takes to make a genuine masterpiece of a game. Take an old genre no one's really playing with anymore, refine the shit out of it till it shines and throw in one interesting idea that makes the experiance feel fresh. Actually wait that sounds a little cynical let's try that again.

So yeah that's really all it takes to make a genuine masterpiece of a game. Take an old genre no else really gets, love it with so much heart you'll throw away years of your life relentlessly perfecting your homage to it and after all that have the humility to only reinvent one aspect but make sure it's something so brilliant that it will ensure you'll truly leave your mark.

That sounds about right.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Editorial Rant: This is a Spectacularly Stupid Article.

Okay so the vidyagame press is not expected to be on the same level as the Wall Street Journal (and honestly I wouldn't want it to be) but reading this article makes me wonder if some in the profession are even capable of understanding the basic argument they're talking about.

So yeah, it's a "What's the Citizen Kane of gaming?" article. As the author points out it's a dumb question, clearly you're not going to find any game that's perfectly analogous to Citizen Kane. And Citizen Kane largely doesn't represent what a lot of people think it represents. But if you break the debate into the implied questions you can actually make some headway into proving games as a culturally important medium.

The implied questions are

1.) Can games achieve a thematic complexity (or in game terms Narrative complexity) similar to Citizen Kane?

The answer to this is yes, as long as whoever is writing the thing is good enough games can be as thematically complex as any other medium. There is an argument that because games allow interactivity they are thematically alterable and therefore can not be as complex as older immutable media. This is of course 90% rubbish. Try as hard as I can Mario will never be about the experience of war in the same way as Call of Duty. I concede that it's possible that in some rare cases the player's interaction can alter the thematic content but I think it's important to remember that emergent gameplay is the exception not the norm (in that the majority of videogames contain none). Now are there any examples of existing games with the thematic complexity of Citizen Kane? Well I'd argue Planescape: Torment takes a good stab at it, in fact it's even remarkably thematically similar, both are about uncovering the identity of a man, a man who changes constantly, who wears and discards masks at will and more importantly they're both also concerned about what makes someone, well, someone. Or to put it like Planescape: Torment "What can change the nature of a man?" Of course Roger Ebert is going to argue that Citizen Kane deals with the subject matter much better, but honestly I preferred Planescape: Torment's meditation on the matter more. It's worth noting that literally none of the games on the list come close to featuring Kane's thematic complexity.

2.) Can games achieve a formal complexity (or in game terms Ludic complexity) similar to Citizen Kane?

Of course they can, in fact most videogames already have. You want to know what's so formally complex about Citizen Kane? Simple deep space photography and the way Orson Wells used it to create Realism. Oh and I don't mean realism in the sense that it looked real or that it was about realistic subject matter. No I mean Realism in the cinematic sense to say that it attempts to capture a time and place honestly, without the use of flashy techniques to artificially heighten the drama (Actually it does this too but considerably less than say Einsenstien or even the other Hollywood pictures of the day). Deep space photography is not important because it allows you to keep everything in focus it's important because keeping everything in focus allows for staging techniques that are much more naturalistic (and give the viewer more freedom in what they watch) than constant editing. All the other stuff people go on about Kane innovating was widley used before Citizen Kane hit the scene. Anyway, what would I use as an example of a game with the formal complexity of Kane? Well if you wanted, like, mathematical complexity then a first edition dungeons and dragons book should do it but that feels like cheating. I'd say Half Life 2 would be the better bet. It's streamlined level design is easily as sophisticated as anything in Kane and perhaps more importantly it's all done for a reason, it's all deliberate. To me that sounds like a grown up art form (though not necessarily an art form for grown ups).

3.) Can games achieve a level of mainstream acceptance and influence similar to Citizen Kane?

Oh god this one is hilarious and to fair the author of the article in question does get this right. See the beauty of this question is that it goes to show that the people who ask it know literally jack shit about Citizen Kane. To set the record straight, Citizen Kane was a massive commercial failure. The studio RKO almost went out of business the thing was so unsuccessful. It wasn't even particularly loved by the industry. It only won the academy award for best screenplay. What's worse is it isn't even a particularly influencial film. The building blocks of today's Hollywood were already in place before Citizen Kane, it's dark character driven drama is hardly the standard, and even it's stylistic techniques are rarely used outside of the art house. PacMan has more mainstream influence than Citizen Kane. So why do people even talk about Citizen Kane? That brings us to final and perhaps most important question.

4.) Can games achieve a level of academic acceptance and influence similar to Citizen Kane?

This is the real stumbling block. See the reason Citizen Kane became the official Greatest Movie Ever is because Andre Bazin became the world's most respected film critic (mainly for that Realism stuff I talked about earlier) and he loved Citizen Kane. I know that sort of paints film critics as a bunch of group thinking sycophants, and well they sort of are. Most academics sort of are. You've heard "great minds think alike?" Well so have they. And if you want to be taken seriously you need to familiarise yourself with the important theorists. Now videogames are gaining acceptance in academic circles, game studies topics are sprouting up all around the place, which is a good sign. So the thing is, for anything to gain the kind of zeitgeist cultural legitimacy Citizen Kane enjoys it's going to need champions. Importantly, champions who know what they're talking about. Which is why it pains me so much to read about Tomb Raider

Pioneered: Three-dimensional exploration, climbing puzzles, breasts.

Really that's how you want to roll Gamesradar? You're going to put Citizen Kane against Tomb Raider and say Tomb Raider is as important because it has breasts in it? I may be over simplifying the dude's argument here but you know what? Fuck you. Look I have no beef with this list as some sort of general "Here's a bunch of games that we think are really important to the medium's history and culture." But you want to play with the big boys of discourse and compare these things to Citizen Kane? Well that means grow up and read some real theory.

Try starting here.

Man and I don't even like Citizen Kane.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

Year: 2004
Rating: ***
Bloodlines is not a particularly old game but it feels like a throwback. Unsurprisingly I like that. Also this is a long one so buckle in.

My first exposure to pen and paper RPGs was Vampire the Masquerade. I'm not sure why I'm bothering to tell you that I mean it's not like I was ever really into it. Some friends and I played a couple of sessions but we never finished a campaign. Hell our sessions didn't even bother with half the rules and usually just degenerated into frenzied desperate battles. But I do distinctly remember the moment I killed a SWAT officer by drowning him in a toilet. You see a simple bank robbery had gone south and turned into a hostage situation. The DM had sent in the SWAT officers in an attempt to keep things lively. I was guarding the toilet when one of them busted through the window. There was a struggle, I may have been a vampire but as one of the wussy artfag (Toreador I think they were called) vampires I wasn't exactly a warrior. However I did manage to wrestle him into a toilet cubical, push his head in the toilet bowl and hold him till he drowned (Why didn't I just shoot him? He was wearing body armour silly). I remember thinking "Well you can't do that in a videogame."

And I was right, to this day I've never played a cRPG that let me drown a dude in a toilet bowl. Really when you think about it it's something sorely lacking in the genre.

Anyway Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines understands it's limitations as a videogame but like the best cRPGs it manages to capture some of the magic of those silly pen and paper sessions. Namely by giving you a large skill set to pick and choose from and then letting you improvise.

For example let's talk about a quest called Hot Stripper Assassin Action.

The quest begins when a sexy burlesque vampire named Vesuvius tells you about a Vampire Hunter working Hollywood Boulevard undercover as a 2 dollar stripper in a shady porn store. She wants you to kill her but she also wants you to keep it quiet, don't kill any innocents and don't let anyone witness it.

Your options are
1.) You can either kill every thing that moves, leaving no witnesses, Vesuvius super pissed and you'd lose some Masquerade points and Humanity (we'll get to that later (that stuff needs getting to later should tell you something about the complexity of this game's choices and consequences))

2.) Solve the quest in the best possible way, leaving no innocents dead, no witnesses, Vesuvius super happy (oh and if your seduction is good enough she might in throw in an extra "reward") and the biggest xp reward. But doing so is much harder and not even possible for all character builds.

3.) Kill an innocent because either you had to or it was just easier, Vesuvius won't be happy but you might be able to talk her round. You'll lose some humanity but your Masquerade points will be fine.

4.) Leave a witness because you couldn't get rid of them but didn't want to kill anyone, Vesuvius won't be happy but you might be able to talk her round. You won't lose humanity but you might lose Masquerade points (Don't quote me I haven't tried this option yet and if you don't you should.)

That's not a bad amount of complexity there, it still can't match the near infinite possibilities of a pen and paper game but for a cRPG we're moving in the right direction. Also a really important point I want to stress is your options are always open to you, if something isn't working you can change strategies on the fly. You could describe this quest as containing a moral choice but it's handled in a way that is totally different than 90% of moral choices in games in that it's a choice you make as you play rather than a choice you make purely in the dialogue or worse quick time event. For some perspective this is how I think Bioware would handle the same situation.

Vesuvius now has no moral qualms about the death of innocents she just orders you to leave no witnesses. You go to the porn store, to begin with there are no witnesses you are aware of. You kill the stripper-assassin. Then out of nowhere a witness pops out of hiding. She promises to never tell a soul if you let her live.

1.) Tell the witness "Prepare to die bitch" then sit back and watch a short cinematic of your character killing the witness. Vesuvius will be happy and give you a big reward but you'll lose light side points (or whatever they're calling it these days.)

2.) Tell the witness "Okay I believe you, stay safe" then sit back and watch a short cinematic of the witness running away. Vesuvius will be pissed and might half your reward but you'll gain light side points (or whatever they're calling it these days)

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Bioware, I mean I've really enjoyed every game they've ever made but it seems to me they rely on binary in dialogue choices far too often. These are situations where you know I'm making a choice now and really your choice will boil down to whether you're playing as a Sith or a Jedi (Or whatever they're calling it these days) this time round. Even when they give the two factions some interesting philosophical flavour (like Mass Effect's Utilitarianism versus Moral Law dynamic) the (for serious lack of a better word) mathematics are the same. In Bloodlines you kill the innocent not because you're presented with a single moment where the game comes to a screeching halt and asks "quick pick a side".You kill an innocent because you decide that it's easier that way, and you do it when you want to do it and you do it how you want to do it, and more importantly you do it. Which means it's not a damn cinematic in the middle of dialogue it's something you actually do in game.

So about that Humanity Masquerade thing eh? Basically Humanity represents how in touch with your humanity you are and Masquerade keeps track of how low key you're being. So kill an innocent where everyone can see you? That'll lose you both son. Do it in a quiet alleyway where no one will know? Well that'll just lose you some humanity. It gets a little spicy when you run across quests that involve murdering innocents to protect the Masquerade. Two ways of measuring a character's morality... interesting, two ways that occasionally come into conflict with each now we're getting somewhere (remember conflict equals drama). Oh yeah and rather than being some meaningless stat these have in game effects. Lower your Masquerade too much and vampire hunters will start tracking you down. Even better lower your humanity too much and you might start to frenzy meaning when low on blood you might lose control of your character and he'll suck some poor civilian dry (possibly threatening his standing with the Masquerade). Oh yeah and frenzy isn't actually totally a bad thing because while it sucks when you're walking around peacefully it's handy in combat basically enabling some vicious insta kills that also top up your blood supply (which we'll get to later). If you reduce either Humanity or Masquerade to zero you lose. "Wait so I can't even be a bad guy in this game" I hear you ask. Well yes you can it's important to remember that Humanity and Masquerade do not equal good and evil. At no point does the game tell you if you're good or evil. That's up to you.

So as a system it all works but what about it's soul, any good RPG stands or dies on the merits of it's world and characters. Bloodlines is fantastic at portraying a dark and sexy combination of goth decadence and urban heat. It's interesting that much of goth fashion is influenced by German expressionist cinema, while Film Noir mixed the urban crime drama of serial noir pulp fiction with cinematic techniques borrowed from the same movement. Bloodlines grabs these two distant cousins, throws them in a blender and seasons liberally with other bizarre and arcane references. A reference to obscure art house zombie movie Dellamore Dellamorte? Okay. A Tarentino like budding script writer working in a shitty motel? Sure. Under-age Japanese demon hunter? Fuck yeah. Plus the writing is top notch with some fantastic little flourishes. You know I used to dig a lot of goth stuff and over the years I'd started to forget why, Bloodlines reminded me. It's sexy. It's dark and sensual because it hints at taboos while not necessarily spelling them out. Every fishnet stocking, or spiked arm band hints at tantalizing unspeakable perversions but they only hint. Everyone likes to walk on the wild side even just a little. Which brings me to what holds together this entire game. Blood.

Blood is the most important part of the vampire mythos and as one of the characters of Bloodlines tells you.
"It's your new fucking heroin."
Blood let's you use spells which range from simple buffs through to bullet time, invisibility, and more traditional magic missile stuff. Every character needs to use spells, so even combat monsters are going to want a steady supply of blood and you ain't going to get more blood from potions. Before any major mission you're going to want to top up your blood supplies. If you don't like harming innocents you can buy from the blood bank or hunt sewer rats. But store bought blood is expensive and finding enough sewer rats is time consuming. If your seduction is high enough you can seduce a few mortals into giving up the crimson liquid for free. Or you can pay hookers. Or if you have no moral qualms feed off the homeless in dark alleys but homeless don't give as much blood as rich folk. For that you might need to stalk some blue blood into the toilets and feed on him while he's at the urinal. Or if your a good enough warrior (and fighting humans) you can just feed mid-combat. No matter which way you choose to get your fix you're always presented with the same choice. Stop feeding early, keeping your pray alive, or drain them dry. Draining they dry would of course lose you some humanity. Here's the thing no matter how much you tell yourself you're going to play the "nice" way the temptation is always there to just let the victim die. You might resist, but every time you feed that thought will still be there "If I wanted to I could kill them". Apparently in most games that allow moral choices the overwhelming majority of players decide to play good. That's because in most games evil is just simply not seductive enough. In Bloodlines murder is a constant temptation.

Of course all that is great but this game has to come with a huge caveat, I almost don't really want to mention it. It's not the bugs. At launch this thing was buggier than an anthill but the community has done a wonderful job patching it. It's not the mediocre combat, I don't expect much from RPG combat and if it wasn't for the real problem the bad combat would be totally ignorable. The problem is level design, specifically the level design of most of the big plot line quests. In short they are overly long, repetitive and confusing to navigate. Not all of them are, there's a hunted house near the beginning that's excellent. But from about the sewer crawl on the large set pieces become exercises in frustration. Really there's no point singling any of them out for extra attention they're just all horrible, it kills the game dead.

But I have a suggestion (not that anyone will listen). You know how this thing was really buggy but the community fixed it? I'm just throwing this out there but why doesn't the community fix the level design. Anyone in their right mind can see it's broken, so why doesn't someone do something about it. I know this would set a dangerous precedent for any game that sucks needing to be fixed by the community (although to be fair the precedent was set when the community needed to fix Oblivion's terrible level scaling) but the thing is Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines deserves to be fixed I wish I could go out and recommend it to everyone I know but at the moment I can't. If they solved the issues then maybe this diamond in the rough could start getting the recognition it deserves.

(And sorry for the parentheses)

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Plug

Sorry for the lack of updates. But I have got a sexy new project I'm working on. It's a machinma soap opera using the Sims 3. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and like I said before it is sexy.

I'll post another review once I've played something that isn't the Sims 3.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

The New Rating System

I've decided to add a new rating system to my little write ups. Below are some thoughts on the why, what and how of it. I guess there's even a little something on the who of it too.

I didn't have one previously because I don't really think of these things as objective reviews, more just semi structured musings on the old games I've been playing. See if you're interested in old videogames you don't really need a product style review with sections devoted to Graphics, Story and Gameplay to decide if something is worth your time. More likely you're just curious as to other peoples impressions of an old favourite or interested in checking out great titles you may have missed the first time around.

However it occurs to me that anyone just casualy surfing the web who winds up at this little blog might just want to read about the games I consider really great or really bad. So I've added a simple 5 star rating system. It's very straightforward.

***** Excellent
**** Great
*** Okay
** Bad
* Terrible

A few quick points.

1.) Excellent does not mean perfect. Entertainment is subjective so calling something perfect is a bit silly.
2.) Personaly I prefer games to be creative and imaginitive over polished and balanced. The ratings will reflect this. In other words please don't tell me that the original Fallout doesn't deserve 5 stars because the combat is slow, some character builds are unbalanced or the UI is unintuitive. The game's atmosphere, creativity and roleplaying all more than make up for that. And seriously if you think the most important thing about a game is it's UI you have screwed up priorities.

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