This is a malleable, organic play experience that is essentially your own sports fan fiction with cooperation from the game engine that you think about and talk about in terms of a single narrative. This is something that games like Dwarf Fortress do, and it’s one of the single most powerful things a video games can do. Oddly enough, many triple-A games are too busy trying to be movies to tell stories this way. But sports games — the titles that people accuse of being lazy and uninspired — actually do this well.
Yes, you die all the time, but the rush you get after being slaughtered by a boss 10, 20, even 30 or more times and then slowly figuring out how to dodge its attacks, and then landing a series of pot shots to finally win the fight — it’s like a drug. The simultaneous elation and relief is incredible.Read more "How I Learned to Love Dark Souls"
You can make the case that the characters develop over time by gaining and losing personality traits, and I get that. But I don’t think overcoming something as complicated as a phobia is as simple throwing the hero in something resembling an 18th Century psychiatric ward.Read more "Darkest Dungeon and Procedurally-Generated Character Development"
Each level forces you to accelerate to top speed, and move from target to target with rapid precision. Your thought process is largely reduced down to the instinct to survive. You are as easy to kill as most of the generic enemies in the game, and if this is a challenging level, you’ve likely already died about ten times at least. You can only focus on the immediate vicinity – whom can I attack next and how do I keep from being slaughtered?Read more "Psychotropic Self-Reflection and Hotline Miami"
But AC IV’s sobering pirate story is repeatedly interrupted by the need to be an AC game. AC falls firmly into the camp of modern triple-A games that want to make players feel powerful and awesome in a historical fiction type of narrative. Because pirate games are made so few and far between (or perhaps because they are made at all) it seems obligatory that developers need to include traditional pirate fiction tropes such as buried treasure, challenging the biggest ships on the water, and infiltrating forts at will. As a consequence, though, the story told within the game’s many cut scenes and the story told by the gameplay separate like two strips of Velcro.Read more "Sober Pirate Fantasies of Assassin’s Creed IV"
For those interested in the wild sandbox fun GTA provides, this game should hold up well, but for those of us hoping for a story that matured with us, the game proves almost as static as its characters.Read more "Three Men and a Story: Why Grand Theft Auto V Struggles to Connect with Everyone"
Everyone wants realism. Those who want to take a piece of entertainment seriously expect it to be convincing so they can lose themselves in the fiction. Yes, this applies to sports games, and yes, this is all painfully obvious. But more significantly, what is this “realism”? And how much of this substance is needed to […]Read more "The Casual Fan Version of Football"