Linear Narrative: Hold My Hand

I don’t know when exactly the discussion started, but it seems that for the past few years now – at least – we’ve been having this same debate: are linear narratives still viable storytelling vehicles in modern video games?

Perhaps that question is a little too industry-specific. How about this: would you rather be told a story, or write your own?

Okay, yeah, you’re right – not quite the same thing. Maybe: Mass Effect or Uncharted? A regular novel or a choose-your-own-adventure book? The Walking Dead or The Last of Us? Tea or coffee?

The answer to all of these questions is the same: it depends. It depends on a whole bunch of things, from personal preference to general mood to the quality of each individual experience. I tend to prefer coffee over tea, for example, but I have a friend who only ever buys cheap, supermarket-brand coffee that tastes like shit – when I’m over there, I drink tea. It’s the same thing with games.

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Is Shadow of Mordor Too Hard?

The other day I sat down to play Rayman Legends, which at its most fundamental level is a video game about running from left to right. There’s more to it than that, obviously; sometimes Rayman needs to jump over things and sometimes he has to punch them, but the core goal is almost exclusively sideways progression.

As is often the case, my girlfriend of several years was in the room at the time, busying herself trying to ignore the fact that the father of her child was sat on the couch in his pyjamas, at noon, being suspiciously excited about playing a game which is ostensibly aimed at kids. But given that she grew up in a household with two older brothers, she had heard of the character and showed more interest than usual in what I was doing. After the opening cutscene and subsequent title screen, to my astonishment she asked if she could play.

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007: From Russia With Love vs. Blood Stone

I know, I know, I know. Nobody cares about an average, eight-year-old movie tie-in video game that didn’t even make much of a splash when it was released on the Playstation 2. Typically I wouldn’t even play it, never mind spend my valuable time writing a thousand-odd words about it. But, fate conspired to have me spot this title sitting in a shop window with a price tag of literally pennies, and I was compelled to buy and play it by a question which popped into my head immediately upon seeing the cover: I wonder if that one is better than Blood Stone?

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5 Steps to Enjoying Mortal Kombat

[Note: When I first published this piece shortly after the release of Mortal Kombat, it somehow found its way onto N4G and caused a lot of people to cry their eyes out because I wasn’t sucking Sub-Zero’s cock. Look, this is sarcastic – I like Mortal Kombat a lot, and primarily because it’s a fun game without feeling the need to be an artistic statement or a commentary on something. It’s just fun because smacking ninjas around is fun and sometimes that’s all we need.]

In order to enjoy Mortal Kombat 9 (or should I say Mortal Kombat, because this iteration of the series has the exact same title as the original for no adequately explained reason) there are certain preparatory steps you need to undertake before you really commit to it.

In the interest of providing people with a fair starting point, I thought it would be useful to construct this handy step-by-step tutorial in order to give people some idea of the sacrifices they’re going to need to make in order to have fun with what is, at its heart, a very solid fighting game.

So, without further ado:

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Final Thoughts – The Crew

I’m still playing The Crew. More importantly, I’m still having a lot of fun with it. Since I hastily scrawled my first impressions, I’ve been collecting some more thoughts while I’ve been driving around. Here they are in no particular order.

It’s vital that I stress again how enormous and visually diverse the gameworld is. I don’t know if this is the biggest map I’ve seen in a video game, but it’s most certainly up there. Admittedly it’s a world designed to be enjoyed at speed, as if you pull over to take a close look at things you won’t see much fine detail, but still. It isn’t just an aesthetic thing, either. All the different weather effects and types of terrain alter the way your vehicle handles, as well as the style of driving you’re partaking in. I like that I can rumble across the Nevada dunes in a monster truck one mission, then rocket around a proper racetrack in a circuit-spec speed machine the next. If nothing else, The Crew’s world is one of this year’s biggest achievements in gaming.

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Final Thoughts – Splinter Cell: Conviction

As it happens, I was correct about Splinter Cell: ConvictionMost of the points I made in my previous post about the game remained valid throughout, and nothing the experience offered succeeding in challenging my opinion of it. This is still a pretty bad stealth game, and still an uncomfortably drastic step away from what I believe made the series great in the first place.

But, while negativity is often a lot of fun, I’m always much more focused on the stuff I liked and saw potential in, and Conviction has a lot of that. My issues with the game are almost entirely based on mechanics which play havoc with the stealth, or things I deemed to be specifically non-Splinter Cell. Some of those I discussed in the prior post. The rest are self-explanatory matters of preference which only really arise when Conviction is taken as part of a greater whole rather than an individual game.

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Final Thoughts – Duke Nukem Forever

I feel that I might have been a little hasty in my criticism of Duke Nukem ForeverThat is far from an apology, and I’m in no way about to retract the majority of the statements that I made about it. It’s simply an admission. I always try to be objective and professional when I give my opinions, but the mood surrounding the game’s release felt so incendiary that I was compelled to rush. There are things I said that I perhaps shouldn’t have, and things I didn’t say which were worth mentioning. So, that’s what this post is for.

Full disclosure: When I wrote my last post about this game, I hadn’t even reached the end. That’s something that rarely ever happens, and when it does I clarify that I’m not in a position to judge the quality of the whole product. I didn’t do that in this case. On the one hand, that was pretty unprofessional. On the other, it is also what convinced me to return to Duke Nukem Forever and claw through everything the game had to offer.

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