Tuesday, January 11, 2011

roadblocks

one of the problems I have with with writing primarily about videogames is that I occasionally enter into dry spells, in which I play plenty of triple-A releases but find nothing noteworthy to say about any of them. unlike books, or music, or (sigh) movies, it seems possible to consume an inordinate amount of media but come up with stuff that's either too saccharine or shit to inspire any neural activity. I think there's also a bit of bias on my part to focus on newer games so I can stay on top of "community" discussions, since that seems to be the easiest way to participate in actual conversations instead of me sitting here stroking out my latest discursion on Nietzschean philosophy as embodied by Mega Man X (SNES).

so here's a hack in the form of a playjournal while I suffer through the winter, waiting for something to revitalize my spirit.

Enslaved was shit, but Abbot covers that pretty thoroughly – I would only add that the gameplay was shit, the level design was shit, and all of the interesting elements of the plot went completely ignored.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is a fun sequel to the series, although the trademark idiot-dialogue still exists:

KRADEN: "We need to go now!"

EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN YOUR PARTY, ONE AT A TIME:

":0" :0" ":o" ":o" ":(" ":("

EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN YOUR PARTY, ONE AT A TIME:

":)" ":)" ":|" ":)" ":)" ":)" ":)"

KRADEN: ":)"

KRADEN: "Okay, let's go!"

but like most of the other flaws (too short, near-literal cliffhanger ending with no resolution to the plot, not nearly enough boss battles, 90% of the "puzzles" require no thought, 5% are trivial, and 1% are inscrutable) it's glossed over by the fact that it's a jRPG that doesn't punish the players for daring to play it (SAVE ANYWHERE, HOLY SHIT) and thus is automatically deemed "must-have for genre fans" in my book – although curiously it seems to have received no hype and no buzz (either because Nintendo feels the brand name must carry itself, or because the game is being marketed towards 9-year-olds, as the GameStop clerk did not hesitate to tell me when I asked if he heard anything about its quality)

I also started World of Warcraft. Like Golden Sun, it's solidly saccharine. There's no text to go on unless you seriously invest out-of-game time in the fan Wiki (no in-game codex for whatever reason). The mechanics are scary-good since you are always aware that time is your primary resource (and, unlike Farmville, something you are literally required to pay for!) but you still feel compelled to play for just one more [quest/crafting tier/dungeon/level/achievement/etc.]. The pay-to-play thing makes it feel much more like a slot machine to me than Farmville, but then again I've never really understood why Farmville gets all the vitriol while WoW is a gaming icon.

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