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.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Things I Hate About GTA4

I thought I'd add this little follow-up to my previous post.It's frustrating how much this game sucks, because it had the potential to be so amazing.

GTA4 has some of the worst controls I've seen in a AAA title. It's like the developers were designing a control scheme for a game about a guy who calmly goes to his office job everyday and stuck it into a game about a guy who runs around shooting people. Also:

1. Pointing the control stick in a different direction makes Niko amble around in a big loop until he's facing where you want him to go, instead of having him just turn around.

2. Who was responsible for making Niko's default speed "walking?" There is never a single instance in the entire game where Niko walks, so you spend the entire game with your thumb holding down the "run" button.

3. I get that they wanted the driving to be "realistic," but Niko is an experienced driver; he knows how to drift around a corner. There is no reason for me to spin out every time I try to do this.

4. The cover system doesn't work, and you will invariably get stuck to a wall facing the people shooting at you, and you will die before you can do anything about it.

5. The lock-on system will always lock on to whatever enemy is the farthest away and the smallest possible threat.

6. Why, when I try to throw a grenade without locking on to someone, does Niko just drop the live grenade at his feet? When would I ever need that to happen?

7. Why are the helicopters so goddamn hard to fly? It's not realistic; Niko knows how to fly helicopters, so I shouldn't have to.

8. Why does that one military helicopter only shoot in the direction it's pointing? No one has ever hit anything with those stupid guns, you're better off just crashing the damn thing into whatever you're trying to kill.

9. Helicopters usually have parachutes in them. When I jump out of a helicopter, I should get a parachute, not just fall to my death while having some sort of weird epileptic seizure.

10. The only thing worse than the motorcycles in this game are the levels that force you to drive a motorcycle. If I want to drive a car, I should be able to drive a car.

11. You should really be able to blow up subway trains. Saint's Row 2 lets you do it.

12. Switching weapons is incredibly frustrating. The icon is small and hard to see, and you will almost always miss the weapon you're looking for, usually while being filled with bullets by the police.

13. What kind of monster puts a jumbo jet in a sandbox game, but doesn't let you fly it? That's like carrying a cake through fat camp.

14. Niko should be able to turn his phone off. This is GTA; I came here to drive cars where cars aren't supposed to be driven, not go on man-dates with Eastern European stereotypes.

15. Why does everyone on multiplayer only play in the airport? You have the entirety of Liberty City at your disposal. If you want to shoot people in an industrial area with no vehicles, play Call of Duty.

16. For the love of God, who the fuck decided to leave checkpoints out of all the fucking missions? Every time you die, you have drive all the way across the city to get to where the mission actually starts. Every Time. And you will die a lot, because this game is supposed to be realistic, and Niko doesn't have much health.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Saints Row 2 Has a Better Story Than Grand Theft Auto 4

The basic consensus among the Internet about the respective merits of both Saint's Row and Grand Theft Auto seem to be this: Saint's Row is the fun, goofy, but ultimately meaningless city sandbox game, while GTA is the serious and adult city sandbox game. Saint's Row is for people looking to enjoy themselves, while GTA is for people looking for a deeper, more engaging story. This is wrong. Grand Theft Auto 4 is an ambitious game that completely misses the mark, while Saints Row 2 is a GTA clone that didn't give a fuck and became so much more. In the video game world, there's this idea that being "mature" means that your protagonist is constantly pissed off, everything is brown, and the controls are shitty (because apparently making controls annoying and frustrating makes them more realistic); GTA4 has all of those things and nothing more, so we like to assume that it is a "good" game, telling a compelling story in a more mature, realistic way than most games. It's not, and it doesn't.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Why L.A. Noire Was Almost The Citizen Kane of Video Games

I feel like I should point out that I am not trying to say that L.A. Noire is the Citizen Kane of games; it's not. The key word in the title is the word "almost." Noire aimed for a target that few video games even acknowledge. It tried to tell a complex and adult story with interesting 3-dimensional characters, but unfortunately it was distracted by the "GTA: 1940s Los Angeles" target and missed. The important thing, however, is that it tried and almost succeeded.