Friday, July 5, 2013

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review - This Is How You Make a Fun Shooter

To understand why Blood Dragon is so great, we have to go back to the 1980s, where most of its influences came from. This was the Age of the Action Movie, power fantasies where a lone hero fights his way through waves of evil enemies and single-handedly saves the day. The peak of this glorious age was the early 90s when, incidentally, video games were beginning to come into their own. No longer limited to squares fighting other, differently colored squares, games could render actual characters and 3D spaces. It was during this time that someone had the brilliant idea of making a game inspired by these action movie ideas. The earliest shooters were about lone badasses fighting their way through legions of inhuman monsters, usually Nazis or demons. They were violent, but in an over-the-top fantasy way.

The Ending to Mass Effect 3 Is Good

The reactions to the end of Mass Effect 3 fall into two camps. There's the "The end was literally worse than 1000 Holocausts" camp, and there's the "What game were those guys playing, I thought it was fine" camp. I fall into the second camp, and here is why I think the ending works.

First we have to talk about video game endings as a whole. Games are a new medium, and so there aren't really many established rules for their structure. In old-school storytelling, the classic structure of an ending was the Climax. Here the main conflict is finally resolved, and the protagonist's arc is over (think Star Wars, the king of simple classic storytelling). Obviously many great works of art do not follow this basic structure, but they always do so for a specific reason. A good example of this is Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Instead of ending with a big final battle, the film ends with the characters being arrested and a sudden cut to black. The Pythons break the rule because it's funnier that way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Ending to Mass Effect 2 is Bad

You read that right. This post isn't about the ending to Mass Effect 3, because that horse has been beaten to a bloody pulp. No, this is about how I can't wrap my head around the fact that people were surprised about the Mass Effect 3 ending. Had they not played 2? Or, for that matter, had they never played a video game before?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bioshock Sucks

More like Bio-Suck, amirite

Nah, just kidding. Bioshock is a brilliantly fun game that delivers an experience unlike any other. However, it is also a game that gets tossed around as an example of "art in video games" and that needs to stop. Bioshock is not great art. While lots of fun to play, artistically it's barely above the average summer tentpole film. Bioshock is a game with a lot of interesting ideas, but it is held down by its game mechanics.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guns Should Be Banned From Video Games

Every image here is from a different game.

Let's start this off with a little story, one that I promise has a point and is going somewhere. My first year of film school, whenever we had to make a film for class, we only had one constraint: no guns. We could make a movie about anything we could imagine and anything we could afford to put on screen, but we were not allowed to put guns in our films. Why? Because if you give an 18-19 year old male a camera and tell him to make a movie, 90% of the time he will make a movie about a bunch of dudes shooting at a bunch of other dudes. Just look at Youtube; there is a whole genre of Youtube shorts about dudes shooting each other in warehouses;no story, no plot, just guys and prop guns. These guys have absurd amounts of fancy equipment and special effect talent, and all they can think to make is a Die Hard homage/ripoff. Take away their guns, however, and you force them to come up with films that don't involve people shooting each other. Suddenly they are forced to be creative, and out of this forced creativity amazing things can happen. Most of them never go back to the people shooting other people genre, because there is so much else to explore with film. Those that do go back will often do so in a way that's new and refreshing. It is for this same exact reason that I think the video game industry needs to ban guns for a little while.