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Welcome to Post-Apocalyptia!

May 19, 2010

War…war never changes.  And neither do games, apparently.

All right, that was a cheap shot.  But seriously, what is it about the post-apocalyptic wasteland that so greatly appeals to modern game developers?  We’ve got Half Life 2, the Fallout series, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, Metro 2033, Rage, and—hmm.  I’ll just stop there, because it looks like that list is going to be a lot longer than I thought.

So do post-apocalyptic environments require less of a design budget, perhaps?  Has focus group testing proved they have a higher than average fun quotient?  Is there, in fact, some deep-seated psychological need in all human beings that drives us to explore the gutted ruins of our future civilization?  Is the blasted wasteland that once held proud cities an unconscious metaphor for our fears of a crumbling society?  Or, indeed, the very embodiment of change itself?

I’m just messing with you; I have no idea.  What I actually wanted to talk about today was the use of these environments in today’s games—specifically, what makes them fun, and what doesn’t.  But first can we agree, in the interest of preventing a repetitive stress injury, that “post-apocalyptic” shall hereafter be abbreviated as “PA”?  Yes?  Good.  Onward!

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This Post Is Not About Portal

May 13, 2010

Edit: Apparently some of you are still clicking that link.  Sale ended May 24th, sorry!  I’ll leave this article up so that you slowpokes may continue to wallow in your misfortune.

Did you hear?  Portal is Fr

Okay, okay, I’ll stop now.  Obviously everyone with an internet connection knows by now that Por—sorry, Portal—has just been released for free.  To everyone.  For keeps.  No strings attached.  So the question to be asked now is: Why?

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Spontaneous Acts of Fandom

May 12, 2010

Did you hear?  Portal is free.  If you don’t know what Portal is, or have never played it, go do that now.  Go on, I’ll wait.

All done?  Good.  You can start posting “the cake is a lie” all over the internet in a bit, but first I wanted to share something with you.

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A Piratical Interlude

May 8, 2010

I’ve been threatening to do a post about piracy for a while now, so here it is.  I’ve compiled a list of all the misinformed, fallacious, or just plain stupid things people love to say about piracy, and I’ll spend the next 2,000 words explaining why they’re all wrong.  Or fallacious.  Or just plain stupid.

Starting with…

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Saints Row 2 Diary

April 29, 2010

Ever since 2001, Grand Theft Auto has been enabling spoiled white teenagers to pretend they’re ghetto badasses.  Apparently, there’s a lot of money in that, which is why everybody keeps trying to copy the GTA formula. Enter Saints Row.  Much as it tries to be original, this series is always being described as “like Grand Theft Auto, but…”  This is entirely Volition’s own fault; good or not, the original Saints Row game was a pretty shameless knockoff.

Then they released a sequel.  And man, did they get it right.  This one is “like Grand Theft Auto, but good.”  And in the interest of sharing the wealth, I’m going to be writing a travelogue of my experiences with the game.  It’ll be broken up into several parts, and they will be updated When I Feel Like It.

Hit the jump for Part One and observe as I, a middle-class white kid from the bowels of suburbia, embark upon a quest to become the most notorious gangster in Stillwater.

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A Poetical Interlude

April 19, 2010

Higgledy piggledy” poetic form is
offensive to artistic Powers that Be.
Nevertheless it’s a popular format for
poets who don’t have much skill (such as me).

Higgledy piggledy this is an effort
to get out a post that’s not horribly late.
I’m also required to write about gaming
so here are a couple of things that I hate:

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Don’t Look Down: Legs in FPS Games

April 9, 2010

You know what’s weird about Gordon Freeman?  You know, aside from the fact that he never speaks, soaks up bullets like they’re BB pellets, and apparently received advanced firearms training from the MIT theoretical physics department?

He has no legs.

This would make a little more sense if he were the main character in When Amputees Attack or Rolling Thunder: The Wheelchair Avenger (dear Valve: Please make this game).  But no, he’s a perfectly ambulatory action hero, walking pretty much the entire length of Black Mesa and City 17 under his own power.  You can even hear the click-click of his invisible feet on a concrete floor, like Jasper the Unfriendly Ghost stalking his next victim.  So if this is all so surreal, why on Earth did Valve decide to make him this way?

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