Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Director's Cut

I just finished playing the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut and I am so pleased. When the whole controversy started I was so adamantly opposed to the whole concept, Mass Effect has always had a very special place in my heart. The idea that someone's whining or a lot of someone's whining could in any way shape or form change that was alarming to say the least. And yet after playing the last couple missions again I can safely say one thing to those dissenters; thank you.

Mass Effect 3's new ending expanded on the original ending, giving me new joy to see the galaxy rebuild and return and then break new heights. The idea that my Shepard is responsible and remembered millennium after she has gone is inspiring. I chose Synthesis, I always chose Synthesis, I can’t imagine the world I’ve played and built over the last few years being anything different.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Realistic Truth

There has been a recent uptick in the way the industry looks at violence in video games, a few recent media darlings have come under fire for being ultra-violent and taking real issues lightly. The argument has been made that they are sensationalizing real life issues, from the implying of sexual assault to a young Lara Croft to the apocalyptic violence of the Last of Us, game writers, developers, and gamers themselves have started to ask the question is it too much?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Song in the Void

On unbroken feet I walk, crushed and alone/ The lies they told me have turned the world grey.
But oh, that you still breathe and live, / Is a song in this void, that gives me life again.
-          The Old Republic , Kalas and Fiana as told by Nadia Grell

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where Art Thou, My Game Manual

Where art thou, my game manual? I know, I know, game guides are paper eating waste of spaces, they have no real use and they’re not environmentally friendly. So what? No one is advocating the end of books are we? End all homework assignments… well maybe homework. It used to be that one of the pleasures of buying a new game was reading and smelling that freshly printed manual. I bought Gravity Rush for the Vita a couple days ago and it’s a fantastic game, I’m sure I’ll write about it later, but it has no manual. My freshly minted first Vita game and it has no manual. I have such found memories of my most treasured games and the manuals that came with them. Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy VI, Halo, in the time before the game guides and the FAQS on the internet, manuals were the link between the game maker and you. They were the treasure trove of the ‘I didn’t know you could do that’ moments and I’m sad to see them leave. This is the digital age, in a decade or two most everything we do will be electronic, no more paper for most anything. And I know that’s progress, but no matter how much I welcome change the memories of reading a good book on the sofa is unlikely to be superseded by reading the kindle or iPad on the couch; some things just don’t translate. It’s the small pleasures in life; I leave you with a paraphrase from the 1985 John Cusack movie Better Off Dead ‘manual, manual, I want my manual’.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The E Strikes Back?

I was going to call this post The Return of the E, in honor of the final installment of Star Wars. It’s my favorite of the bunch, but after taking in all Electronic Entertainment Expo had to offer, I’m wondering if The Empire Strikes Back, is a better movie title to replicate.

The Empire Strikes Back is the second movie in the original trilogy and tells the tale of the aftermath of the Resistances victory against the Galactic Empire. The Emperor and the Empire he founded do not intend to go quietly into the night. In Star Wars, history is told by the thousands of years and is an eternal struggle to see if Man or more accurately thinking beings will rule themselves or be ruled; it’s a cosmic battle between Republic and Empire.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

To Be Amazed

I love Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It was one of my favorite detective shows, Goren and Eames are a dynamite duo and just a lot of fun. I’ve watched a lot of detective shows, or procedurals as they’re called now, over the years and the truth be told I’m rarely surprised by the bad guy. Which isn’t to say that I’m any kind of savant; these shows run like clockwork.  If there is fifteen minutes left the guy the cops are questioning is unlikely to be the bad guy; I’m rarely amazed by a show anymore. In some ways the same could be said about when I play video games. Every now and then though, I find something so amazing or shockingly good that it simply makes my day.

Payne on Fire

Man on Fire is one of my favorite movies. Denzel Washington and a young Dakota Fanning; throw in Christopher Walken and a few quality international actors and you have quite a film. Set in Mexico City with that beautiful Spanish music; it’s an incredible movie about love and the things we do to redeem our past transgressions.

After a decade long hiatus RockStar decided to release the third installment of the Max Payne story. Set sometime after the second game and the demise of Mona Sax, Max Payne is a story of a man who has all but died and is waiting for the end. After the loss of his wife and child in a brutal murder Payne has seen the ugly side of humanity and he wishes to look no further. So when someone gives Max a reason to see light in the darkness of his life, when sometime good is taken away to be snuffed out for selfish reasons, Payne is out for blood. His is a common archetype, The Dark Knight, the black knight tilting at windmills, the anti-hero; and we love them. They strike a chord in us the way the story of the hero never does. We find the hero unreachable, the Boy Scout, the sacrifice for the greater good; but the anti-hero is different. In the anti-hero we see ourselves, in the anti-hero we can see our past missteps and misdeeds forgiven.

Max Payne is a man who even by his own reckoning doesn’t walk with the angels and yet his deeds speak louder than his words. Whether he is breaking skulls with his fists or cutting down gangsters, corrupt police officers, or soulless brothers; he is on fire and what a sight it is to see.