Halo Anniversary as a Brief History of the FPS Genre

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

The deep irony about Halo: Combat Evolved is that its influence on console gaming was so profound, so complete, and so irreversible, that it has often been underrated as a result. Ten years on it’s hard to remember exactly how half-baked and inferior console shooters were in the days before Master Chief. We take it for granted now, but Halo was nothing short of revolutionary.

We’ve been living with its influence now for just over a decade, but since the release of the seminal Call of Duty 4 the genre has embraced new design ideas. Halo’s DNA is still in every first person shooter, but recent releases have gone in a different direction; prioritising speed and intensity over a more methodical pace. The school of thought is to my mind neither better nor worse. Its uniqueness was indeed worthy of praise – that is until everyone started doing it.

The point I’m trying to make is that my mindset going into Halo: Anniversary was a world apart from what it would have been ten years ago. I had played the genre inspired by the game, but not the game itself. With that in mind I cranked the graphics and sound all the way back to ‘original’, opened my arms, and simply said, “show me.”

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Uncharted 3 and Being a Little Too Flashy for your Own Good

July 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

You have to be in the right mindset to enjoy Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

That sentance looks a bit weird written down doesn’t it? I mean the Uncharted series has always been the most mainstream of mainstream games. The kind you can quite easily use to sell consoles without worrying whether the masses will ‘get it’. It’s enjoyable in a very obvious way, punchy, satisfying, and beautiful to look at.

So I suppose it was me that was in the wrong mindset when I booted up Drake’s Deception for the first time. Two games contributed to this, Dark Souls and Skyrim. Both had a negative impact on my first few hours as Nathan Drake for different reasons.

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The State of the Social Network

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Facebook has changed a great deal since it came into being just over eight years ago, and it’s development has been consistently contested over this time. After every major update to the social network, groups and petitions have sprung into existence, bemoaning the new interfaces and means of communication, regardless of whether they ended up being for the better or worse. It seems the community hate change, which makes it difficult to rely on them to evaluate Facebook at any one point in time.

In spite of this I’ve been feeling an increasing sense of unease over what Facebook is slowley becoming. I’m not going to talk about Timeline in this article since I think it works quite well as a long term archiver in spite of it’s frankly stupid two-column interface, rather I want to talk about the way Facebook is now advertising.

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The Times They Are a-Changin’

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you’re subscribed to this blog in any way shape or form then you’ve probably noticed a significant drop in the amount of posts of late. I should apologise for this, though my excuses are numerous. I could go on and on about the lack of time I’ve had to get down to some serious writing, or perhaps even the changes going on at Bitmob, but the reality is far more banal. Simply put, I have played very few games during the last year, and I have read even fewer pieces of games writing in that time.

Make no mistake, I still keep up with gaming news in general, but I’ve lost that desire to plunge down a rabbit-hole of increasingly obscure gaming blogs. As much as any writer would love to believe the ideas behind their writing are entirely my own, it’s obvious that they’re nothing if not a reflection of, or a discussion with, the writing of others.

I still love games. I still spend hours each week exploring the intricate worlds laid out before me, looking for discoveries that other mediums simply can’t provide, but I’m also less likely to finish the games I start nowadays. Whether it’s the fact that my tolerance for bad games has fallen, or just that recent releases haven’t engaged me isn’t really important. Both are probably true to an extent, but the fact remains that I spend less time playing games than I used to, and that’s had a direct impact on my writing.

I’ve sat and thought long and hard about what I want to do with the Clockwork Manual. What’s already been posted will remain on the internet for as long as I can afford domain hosting, that much is a given, but for a long time I was unsure of its future direction.

This morning I finally made up my mind.

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Why the OUYA is More Than Just a PC

July 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

The first comment on Giant Bomb’s article on the OUYA sums up a great deal of the internet’s reaction to the latest Kickstarter project,“I’m just throwing it out there: this is a terrible idea for a console and the people who have made this succeed are bad people.”Comments like these litter almost every piece of coverage of the story, noteworthy for meeting its crowdsourcing target of $950,000 in just eight hours. At the time of writing, the total amount pledged to support the project stands at a whopping four and a half million. The project has so far proved to be a massive success, which is sometimes easy to forget something considering the sheer volume of negative responses.

The crux of the criticism is that this is nothing new. We’re being reminded that people have been able to connect computers up to their televisions for years. The closed-platform systems (read: the ones with a single company deciding which games can and cannot make it on to the system) haven’t held a monopoly to the television in quite some time. The people who are making these criticisms are wrong. The OUYA is something completely different from a low-powered computer.

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The Puzzling Absence of a Playstation Phone

June 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Vita was meant to be a phone, but it’s not obvious why it isn’t. After all, we now have the ability to provide the same visual quality on a device meant primarily for calling people, as on a handheld console, and the Xperia Play and PSP Go have both given good blueprints of how buttons could be added to a device without compromising its other functions. So why didn’t it happen? It is my belief that it was, and still is, Sony’s plan to make it happen. It simply makes too much sense for it not to. However, the realities of the video game industry meant that the Vita was necessary as a stepping stone on the path towards a single phone/console device. Let me explain. 

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"The Journey is the Reward"

March 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s easy to hate thatgamecompany and its prominent front-man Jenova Chen. Few in the games industry are willing to attach themselves to the games-as-art movement with quite as much emphasis, and fewer still from larger development companies. Creative directors such as Clint Hocking and Ken Levine are certainly champions of the movement, but whilst their games explore themes and ideas beyond the literal, the games themselves can still be enjoyed from a purely mechanical standpoint by those that choose to.Journey, and thatgamecompany’s previous releases Flower and Flow are ambitious because although they’re not bad games per se, from a traditional standpoint they’re fairly average experiences. There’s a little more to Journey in this regard, but it’s not a game that’s going to challenge you, and nor is it one you’ll feel the need to return to in order to get the full experience. Thankfully for anyone willing to spend £10 on what is essentially an art-game, it manages to deliver in spades.

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