Archive

Archive for October, 2010

Alan Wake: The Signal and The Writer Review

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

[Warning: contains spoilers for the end of Alan Wake]

The Signal begins exactly where Alan Wake left off, with Alan trapped in “The Dark Place.” (a name bringing to mind Channel 4’s exquisite “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace,” a hospital-based horror series lampooning the kinds of shows Alan Wake homages. A neat reference? Or a lame title proving that Marenghi was, in fact, spot on?) Alan has saved Alice and Bright Falls, but is trapped having sacrificed himself to do so. As with the main game, there’s more to the story than the madness that’s on the surface. While the game, superficially, has Alan trying to escape from his imagination, symbolically the story can be seen to represent the problem artists have letting go after large projects. When something has dominated your life for a period of time, especially writing, readjusting to the real world can be tricky. The Signal and The Writer represent this by trapping Alan in his own imagination, struggling to escape after his magnum opus, Departure. Read more…

Categories: Reviews

Splinter Cell: Conviction and the Modern Spy

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

Splinter Cell: Conviction is the most accessible of the Splinter Cell games. The series, traditionally mired in stealth, and making a more action-oriented approach difficult, has now brought Sam Fisher more in line with prototypical Hollywood superspies such as Bond, Bourne, Bauer and Bristow. This evolution isn’t just apparent in the gameplay, but in the story and visuals as well. Read more…

Categories: Essays

Prince of Persia Review

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Kob Monney

Completing Prince of Persia (2008) recently left me a little unsatisfied. I recalled when I first played the game over a year or so ago. I played it on my flatmates PS3 and I remember asking him to have a go as he rarely ventured out of any JRPG or Star Wars licensed game. He prefers games where you could sink a lot of time into and he often says he plays games for the stories (to which I guffawed as I felt games rarely have stories worthy of your attention). Despite the game ticking these boxes he declined. I drew to him to the cell-shaded aesthetic in my best used car salesman voice. He would not budge. What about the acrobatic combat and parkour elements, they’re cool right? Again, he would not budge. The ease of playing the game, the fact that you don’t really die in the game, even the story is not so bad. He still would not budge. I asked him why he wouldn’t give it a try as he had seen me playing quite a bit and he said, “Well you can’t really die”.  I managed to get him into games like Ratchet and Clank and Uncharted 1 & 2 but couldn’t pique his interest in FIFA and Mirror’s Edge but this seemed different from the latter. He wouldn’t play those because he doesn’t like football and Mirror’s Edge looked to be too frustrating (he should know, I was constantly cursing the game for making me dizzy) but this game seemed to be everything he would like in a video game and yet there was no interest. Read more…

Categories: Reviews

Splinter Cell: Conviction Review

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Kob Monney

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell was one of the first gaming franchises I was avidly into along with Halo and Soul Calibur when the Xbox was released in the early 00’s. I can still remember the TV adverts and the way they ended with Michael Ironside’s gruff voice proclaiming that he was Sam Fisher and that he was a splinter cell. I never completed the first game, came perilously close to completing Pandora Tomorrow but finally broke my duck with the third entry, the thoroughly enjoyable Chaos Theory. With an excellent soundtrack by Amon Tobin (one of my favourite gaming soundtracks), it felt like the culmination of the series greatest strengths; it was tough but doable and immensely enjoyable for being so.  The fourth in the series, Double Agent, was good but patchy, failing to truly capitalise on either Pandora Tomorrow or Chaos Theory. While it introduced some new elements it did not take the series to new heights as each instalment had been doing. I was never particularly brilliant at the series and had to restart many times but I never stopped because they were too hard, I knew the games just required me to think differently in order to succeed. What united these games was their take on stealth, if you were seen it was game over, instantaneous death as it were. It was a challenge to remain in the dark and yet take your enemies out with precision and not be seen. Read more…

Categories: Reviews

Terminator Salvation and the Movie Tie-In

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

It’s hard to believe that The Terminator was released 26 years ago, but that fact underscores just how brilliant the film is. Not content with being just one of the best chase movies ever made, the film presents a thoroughly intriguing premise for a future apocalypse, and a world existing after the event. Fans clamoured for information and stories set in this post-apocalyptic world, and in 2009, Terminator Salvation granted that wish: a film set in the 2018 ruins of human civilisation, as “The Resistance” fight for survival against Skynet’s machines. Read more…

Categories: Essays

War on a Different Scale in Halo 3: ODST

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

ODST was a major departure for the Halo franchise, being the first Halo shooter not to feature Master Chief as the main character. The Chief has, from the beginning, been synonymous with Halo. Along with this character change comes a considerable overhaul of the campaign style for the expansion; structurally, atmospherically, and thematically. Read more…

Categories: Essays

Japan vs. The West

October 4, 2010 2 comments

By Kob Monney

The title is, perhaps, a touch misleading. It is my clumsy attempt to make a reference to the classic games of Marvel Vs Capcom and SNK Vs Capcom lineage. The relationship between Japan’s gaming industry and the West is perhaps not the kind of antagonistic one the title insinuates. Maybe it once was when gaming was in its infancy and each industry looked upon the other and tried to better the other in a game of one-upmanship. If it ever was like that it most certainly isn’t now. You may have read recently on various gaming sites about the 2010 Tokyo Game Show and seen the comments emanating from leading figures in Japan about the state of the industry, the quality of titles, the state of the economy and the lack of emergent talent coming through. This rhetoric has been building up for well over a year or so, with Kenji Inafune sparking the headlines with his thoughts last year. If you’ve played a few games from Japan over the last two years, you will have, no doubt, seen Japan’s attempt to court western gamers by making their games just a touch friendlier, that little bit more accessible. However, is it a tactic that will find success in the way Japanese developers/publishers hope it will? Read more…

Categories: Essays