Monday, November 23, 2009

Rants and Stuff

Someday, maybe the world will understand. Someday, people might just, maybe, get what video gaming is all about. Someday, people will realize that video games are NOT “murder simulators” or whatever you want to call them. Yes, in games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor I can kill hundreds of humans, and in Modern Warfare II there is a level where you cut down dozens of civilians while masquerading as a Russian Terrorist. As a “normal” “average” gamer, I was disgusted by this little sequence. Yes, I played through it, yes, I shot at civilians (and made a point to kill a few who were crawling away) but… that’s disgusting.

I think this is the key thing that far too many non-gamers don’t get: Fantasy and reality are two independent things. In the real world, soldiers don’t regenerate health, they aren’t skilled in dozens of different guns, they don’t reload after every third shot. In the real world war is brutal, hellish and well… not fun. In fantasy war is awesome. War is made of win and nothing is greater than a good battle with EXTRA violence. (Okay, maybe not extra, but you get the point: violence sells). But the thing is… we all know that its fake. Honestly, how is it realistic for there to be something like 500 “militia” armed with SMGs, Shotguns and Rifles in the slums of Rio, Brazil? How is it possible for Russia to invade the EAST COAST just as British and America forces attack the Russian West Coast with commandos? It. Doesn’t. Happen. But its darn cool. I mean, let’s face it, fighting through the White House and flying a helicopter around the DC is darn cool. Seeing the Washington Monument in flames and the White House reduced to Ashes is neat, in a sort of depressing way.

Another thing that I find funny, is how much people criticize games like Modern Warfare II, GTA: San Andreas (Hot Coffee, people?), but then games like Dragon Age: Origins and Fallout 3 haven’t really received much (well known) criticism. Dragon Age: Origins is violent, grim, gritty and well… very Mature. Fallout 3 is the same, if not worse: Sex, Language, Drug Use, and humans exploding into gore. So… why exactly do these games not receive critism? Because they’re not “real”? Come on, Russia invading the East Coast is hardly “real”. SAS forces running amok in Rio being chased by “200 militia” and killing DOZENS of said militia hardly strikes me as an everyday, run-of-the-mill SAS operation. Modern Warfare II is a fantasy game. Now, if this was Iraq or Afghanistan, and they did their best to really remain realistic, then I wouldn’t mind the criticism, but this game IS NOT realistic. So why the criticism?

And while I’m talking about video games, what is up with singleplayer FPS games these days? CoD 4 has a 10 hour campaign, and it appears Modern Warfare II has a shorter one! I won Crysis in like a week (during school!). It appears that the traditional linear FPS game is just… dead in singleplayer. Actually, this appears to be a cause of a very deadly disease that Video Gaming has recently received: graphics.

See, ten years ago, good graphics were… Half-Life. And I’ll be honest say that game had BAD graphics compared to modern times. But the truth is, I played that game, and once you start playing, it doesn’t matter! The game is still AMAZING. It has GOOD gameplay and FUN levels, once you start playing, you won’t care that the game really shows its age, graphically.

But then you have games like Prototype, which, despite me having a good computer that meets the minium requirements, doesn’t run very well on my computer. The same can be said with Assassin’s Creed. Now, the really funny thing about this is that both of these games, as far as I can tell, are games that do not appeal to me at all. I’ve never been a fan of the “run around the city” “freeform” games like that. I prefer the more RPG freeform games. But, the point is, these games were huge. People love graphics. They’re obessesed with graphics to what I consider an unhealthy level. I didn’t realize this until someone else told me, but this overreliance on graphical power has detracted from video games on the whole, in my opinion. Actually, I just remembered something I heard a long time ago when the PS3’s graphical power was unveiled. This Japanese guy said, “the PS3 is great. Those graphics are great, but to develop that level of graphical realism will cost lots of money and take lots of time.” He didn’t sound very exicited when he said this and I kinda agree with him. I’d rather have Half-Life Gameplay and Half-Life Graphics instead of Call of Duty 4 Gameplay (fun, but SHORT) and Call of Duty Graphics.

It would seem, sadly, that I am the exception to the rule. I prefer long singleplayer games. RTS, RPG, Long, Linear FPS games (Far Cry 2 was okay, but I prefer CoD4, honestly. CoD4 was cooler). *sigh* such is life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


So recently, I’ve been playing this game called Torchlight. I haven’t played it that must (just maybe 4 hours yesterday) but I gotta say its an amazing game.

Torchlight is a Hack-n-slash “Diablo clone” (no duh, its made by former employees of Blizzard North, the CREATORS of Diablo). In the vein of Diablo there are three classes, melee smasher, ranged sniper, and magical dude. The game is set in the village of Torchlight, a mining community that operates around a mine near the village where a mystical crystal called “Ember” is found. You arrive at the scene to find monsters have overrun the mines and a two other adventer types (Brink and some girl… forget her name) fighting back the monsters. And there the game begins.

So… it’s a hack-n-slash. This means that the basis of the game revolve around one thing: kill monsters, loot them. You run around, fighting hundreds of different monsters (so far I’ve encountered rat-men, trolls, constructs (harder trolls), zombies, skeletons and various magical types) and then you loot their bodies and open the treasure chests they were guarding.

What I find so amazing about games like this is how stupidly unrealistic, yet amazingly satisfying they are. In a good story, the protagonist as a good reason for going on dangerous quests and often had lots of help along the way. Frodo never would have made it to Mt. Doom if it wasn’t for Gollum, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn et al. But yet, in this game, besides I think the two levels, I, basically, am alone (you have a “pet” that helps you, but it’s basically a tank/low damage dealer) the entire game. In Lord of the Rings, Aragorn had a special sword, just one, and he used it throughout the book. He didn’t walk through orc corpses saying, “hey! That looks shiny! Who cares about this old sword, I’ll use this one!” Granted, Aragorn already had an amazingly good sword, but I’ve never heard of a single hero who fights through hordes of unnamed creatures and then takes whatever random weapons they were using for himself.

Furthermore, there is the whole question of “Why is this monster guarding a chest of weapons that he doesn’t use himself?” Question that I find myself asking. I mean, think about it: If that sword is a “OMG! UBER RARE TOTALLY AWESOME!” weapon, why isn’t the rat-man guarding it using it? It doesn’t make sense.

So anyways… yes, it’s unrealistic. Yes, its kinda stupid. Yes, its not that original in gameplay (the setting is a fun steam-punk type world. My character has a sword and shield and some PISTOLS! w00t!). But darnit, this game is amazingly fun.

Oh, do you know what the best part is? It'll run on just about any machine out there. It even has a special "netbook" setting if you're running one of those. Awesome, no? (Obviously its not that big a deal for me and my Duo Core CPU, Geforce 8 and 2 gigs of RAM, but hey, not everyone is like me. :p)

Website is its $20 off of Paypal, and the game designers claim 10-20 hours of gameplay every play through. I dunno about you, but with 3 classes, randomly generated dungeons, and gameplay this addicting I could play this game forever and ever. Assuming of course, I don't find another really fun game (like for instance... Dragon Age Origins or Borderlands, both of which seem like they're really good) *nods*