Entries in gaming (21)


Gaming’s Super-Powered Savior

Saints Row IV had all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making. Rumors of stretching what was to be a small piece of downloadable content into an entire game, one with a mighty quick turnaround time from its predecessor, did not bode well. Neither did the marketing which appeared to be trying to out-crazy a game that was already exploring the outer limits of Crazy Town.

A scant few minutes into the game I was disarming nuclear missiles in mid-air, punching aliens in the face, and outrunning cars down city streets. Saints Row IV is glorious, and I couldn’t be happier. It is deeply refreshing to see a potential train wreck of a release turn out so right for once. That’s a rare sight these days.

I firmly believe the industry needs this kind of game right now. As our collective focus turns relentlessly to the maturity of the medium, deep storylines, realism, gritty overtones, and brown landscapes as far as the eye can see, we need a Saints Row IV to come along and remind us how to have fun. Staring at a screen and controlling glorified digital shapes with a hunk of plastic buttons need not be something we always take so seriously.

Am I glad we’ve gotten to the point where we can bring up discussions of gender roles in gaming stories and not be laughed out of the room? Am I glad my mind can be blown and my heart touched by stories told in games such as Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us? Absolutely.

Am I equally tired of the pretention and self-seriousness that comes with that territory? So much yes. For all that we’ve gained, it seems like gamers are afraid to go back and enjoy the gleeful colors and ridiculous fun games of old used to give us.

My plea to you: remember to enjoy the outlandish. Embrace the interactive insanity that only games can deliver. Go blast some aliens with a dubstep gun. 


Best of the Decade: Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus

Platform: Playstation 2

Release Date: October 18, 2005

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer: Team Ico

Whenever the overplayed argument over whether or not games are art gets dragged out for another flogging, there’s one title in particular that never fails to come up in the discussion. It’s certainly not the only title that gets put forth as an example of a game that does something more than mindlessly entertain, but it does seem to be the most consistently mentioned.

Though I will celebrate another title or two before this list is complete that I feel stand alongside it as the industry’s most museum-worthy productions to date, Shadow of the Colossus undoubtedly deserves to be recognized as a standout effort that truly represents the best of what this medium has to offer in terms of interactive emotion.

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Street Fighter IV iPhone Review

Street Fighter on the iPhone is something that by all rights should not even exist, much less in any form that actually resembles what a normal human being would consider a playable game. It should be a cheap cash in. It should be an abomination. It should have no redeeming value whatsoever.

I mean, come on. It's Street Fighter! On the iPhone! We are talking about a fighting game that represents the ultimate in precision controls, precise timing, and skillful input. Slapping a game like that onto a portable device with no physical buttons should be nothing short of blasphemous.

But yet, here we are. Street Fighter has been released for Apple's touchscreen device, and it doesn't suck. Color me surprised.

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Conquering the Vile Buzzword: Cinematic Gaming Realized

I’ve always hated the term “cinematic” when applied to videogames. 

Why is it, exactly, that the interactive entertainment industry has such a self-confidence problem that it feels the need to invoke a term that implies that, to be worthy of note, games must ape the best qualities of movies instead of playing to their own strengths?

The term always makes me think of franchises like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid; games that are known for being as much non-interactive cutscene as they are actual gameplay. Or it might conjure the image of Devil May Cry or others of its ilk that seem to revel in taking the coolest moments out of the player’s control and placing them in movies, as if afraid letting the player have fun would have spoiled the cool action movie moment the developers had in mind.

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A Gaming Guinea Pig

I have overcome my gaming demons. I have bested my problematic past. I have improved myself and can now legitimately call myself a better gamer.

This is no boast of skill. I’m not gloating about some great conquest or magnificent feat.

I am simply expressing pride in overcoming a personal flaw that has been bugging me for ages. It may not seem like much to most, but as important as my games are to me, I consider it a great accomplishment.

I have what you might call a bit of a checkered past when it comes to finishing games. Now, I know it’s far from unusual for your average gamer to fail to complete a title here and there. That is, in fact, perfectly normal. But when the problem is as consistent and ever-present as mine was, it can quickly lead to frustration.

Never have I had a total inability to finish what I start. This is not a problem analogous to a life-threatening disease. It is, perhaps, a bad rash or an itchy sore of some sort. But, much like an unidentifiable itchy red splotch, this problem came back to haunt me at intervals both inconvenient and unpredictable. I could finish a certain title without problem and then pile up five games that I’d never see the end of and a couple that it would take me a year or so to get back to.

This last bit, more than anything else, is most maddening.

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