Posts Tagged ‘modern warfare’

Heavy Rain – A Breath of Fresh Air

January 19, 2010

heavy cry

Every so often, a game turns up with the intention of redefining the industry. It boldly states its claims to the public on a plinth of pretension, outlines its methods of said redefinition and is subsequently shot in the face, teabagged and pick-pocketed of its innovations. Sadly, for the most part, the majority of gamers would quite happily remain on a strict diet of bullet ballistics and limb dismemberment.

The latest game to stake this claim is Heavy Rain – here’s what its saying.

In Heavy Rain you are in control of four everyday people with no connections, thrown into extraordinary circumstances (stay with me). You control an architect (father of two), a rotund private detective, a FBI profiler with C.S.I credentials, and a female journalist. The bridge of these characters being supported by an elusive serial killer named the Origami Killer. Sounds fun, but where is this innovation you speak of? It’s developers Quantic Dream have stated that the innovation lies in its variations. You see, if or when one our your protagonists dies, the story continues, the narrative evolves and the climax is tweaked.

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This game is all about the sequencing. What order you press the buttons, dictate the events on screen. Critics have alluded to the game being one drawn out quick time event, while others believe this could introduce the move towards instinctual free flowing narratives, based on the players own decisions, rather than the linear path with which the majority of games follow. Certainly, the Wii’s waggling dominance over the last four years coupled with Sony and Microsoft’s iterations would suggest this.

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The aim is to integrate the player into the characters. The way it has been presented thus far would suggest that they are on the right track. The end result, if executed correctly could be monumental to the industry. Emotional attachment in a video game. Let me repeat, emotional attachment in a video game (and don’t give me the horrible Final Fantasy counterpoint, those tears were on wasted youth, nothing more). If this is to be achieved then the player must never feel like they are not affecting the events on screen (like say, Final Fantasy, sorry to keep going on but they are not games, just lengthened bloody tech demo’s).

pudge

As Infinity Ward demonstrated recently with its ‘No Russian’ level in Modern Warfare 2, it is difficult, if not impossible to portray emotional, social themes in a video game effectively. I would argue the failure on their part was on the character impotence within that particular situation. Perhaps Quantic Dream can achieve the impossible.

I’m seeing this game being a huge critical success for its scope alone, but as for the commercial success, I shall remain sceptical. Heavy Rain states the understated by going back to basics. Its focus on quick-time events and simplistic controls may not appear progressive at first glance, but it falls in line with David Cage’s (QD, CEO) vision. Heavy Rain is trudging through new territory here. Whether or not it proves successful, it already stands apart – I still remember Shenmue!

Look out for it on the 26th February. Interested, have a look below.

Dré

Bi-Pixel Reviews: Modern Warfare 2 – Part One

November 11, 2009

After a year of hype, a dubious mark up and tabloid controversy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 finally arrived on shelves. You know the drill, part one good, part two bad. Here is part one of Bi-Polar Reviews, which I shall now refer to as Bi-Pixel reviews…See what we did there??

Yeah I know we could…a lot better.

mw2

The new Modern Warfare is not so much a reinvention of the automatic, but rather, a refined scope to a more than substantial arsenal. As the tired saying goes, it’s the little things that make the difference. If you’ve played a significant amount of the first Modern Warfare, the game will feel dramatically different even though the core is essentially the same. For the developers Infinity Ward, this was a considered choice rather than simple economy. Why change a structure that many rivals have struggled to emulate?

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Online gaming shaped the franchise, so understandably, it is this aspect of the game that has been given the biggest revamp. A lot of these changes come via expansions upon the perks concept that became a stable for the original game and a tablet for subsequent multiplayer games. The system of class creation has been expanded in spots and heavily reworked in others. Perks that got a lot of complaints in COD4, like Martyrdom and Juggernaut have been rebranded. The infamous Martyrdom is now a “deathstreak” bonus. If you die four times in a row without killing anyone, your next spawn will give you one instance of Martyrdom. This may not sound like much, but these minor adjustments will enable the gamer to have a more fluid experience – one not buried under several clouds of debris. Juggernaut is gone completely, but arrives in small doses in the shape of Painkiller, another deathstreak perk that will give you triple health if you die three times in a row, a bonus that will only last for ten seconds after spawning. Before I begin to sound like a reclusive Warcraft tactician (Leeeroy!), I will simply say that the new multiplayer experience is a streamlined affair that doesn’t lose the feel of the developers previous release in the process.

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The new mode, Spec Ops is a welcomed addition. A series of two player missions, built using chunks of the environment from the single player campaign – help bolster up replay value for the game. There are 23 missions that cover a lot of ground, from stealth missions that require you to snipe from one end of the map to another, to more grandiose battles that pit you against hordes of enemy troops in contrasting environments. All require a level of patience, strategy and skill. However, the ability to revive your fallen soldier makes the mode not nearly as taxing as it might sound.

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Then of course there is the single player campaign. Modern Warfare 2 picks up five years after Call of Duty 4 and deals with a conflict between Russia and America. The game is around 5-7 hours long on default depending on your skill level. It’s a tightly packed adventure full of elaborate set pieces and an overwhelming sound board. Missions range from the stealthy, to the vehicley to the ‘oh my god I just stabbed him in the face!’

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I’m deliberately talking around the story, but it is safe to say that like its predecessor, the campaign jumps between multiple perspectives. One minute you may be a grunt trudging through a decayed landscape of Afghanistan, and the next you will be member of Task Force 141, working an undercover operation that puts you into that pretty uncomfortable situation you’ve been hearing a lot about recently. The story feels like it’s been given the Bruce Willis stamp of approval. The events of the previous game felt plausible if a bit on the silly side, Modern Warfare 2 on the other hand aims to keep chins on the floor, and then work around that awe.

Modern Warfare subscribes to the more and better theories of sequel design. If you have played the original, a lot of it will feel familiar (possible like this sentence), but you are still in for good value for that hard earned stirling. If you haven’t played the series before, bad guy kills good guy, good guys kill bad guys friend, bad guy kills good guys friend, good guy kills bad guy – the end.

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Dré

The Last Effort?

October 5, 2009

Last Guard

I was watching Sir Charlie Of Brooker’s program a couple of nights ago. The show was a breath of fresh air, having never seen a computer game discussed on screen in such a reasonable and dare I say it – informed way. The end quote from Micro-Live struck a chord particularly.

“So, if you’ve never played a computer game – dont dismiss them. There are games for all mentalities, its just that the good games are hidden behind a mass of crude shoot-em-ups.”

While it is true that the FPS has completely saturated the most interactive media form, when the survivors eventually emerge from the rubble of a piss poor world-war Gears of COD clones – they are all that more important.

imm

Team Ico’s upcoming PlayStation 3 game The Last Guardian is easily one of the most highly-anticipated games on the platform. While Ico’s previous efforts, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus preferred to target a Japanese audience, with specific tastes. Vice President of Japan Studio, Yasuhide Kobayashi, revealed that the new title will aim to appeal to a more ubiquitous consumer, in an ever-expanding market.

kool

It is very interesting to note how big of an impact marketing has, especially on a game possessing such artistic qualities. Apart from voice acting and dubbing issues, I believe the aesthetics alone will move this game off the shelves. Hopefully demonstrating to other developers that you can make profit off of innovation. Now leave the Nazi’s alone, we get it, Hitler bad! America Good!

Expect The Last Guardian sometime next year, now watch this..

Dré