Remember Me

Box Art

Nilin, the game’s protagonist.

I finished Remember Me a couple of weeks ago, but I started it in May. Part of the reason it took me so long is that the game didn’t pull me back in the early stages when I had Rocket League or Street Fighter available. It becomes more compulsive towards the end and ultimately I’m glad I finished it, but the game doesn’t make itself easy to like. It’s on the edge of excellence. Remember Me is a game that needs to be better at almost everything, few aspects worthy of praise without caveat. It’s an ambitious game full of great ideas and I admire much of what it accomplishes, but its execution is so lacking that it undermines itself constantly. Continue reading

How Halo 4’s ending took me from the most excited I’ve ever been about a video game to the most betrayed I’ve ever felt

I imagine I’m not the only person who’s ever misheard a song lyric or misunderstood a quotation only to find its true meaning unsatisfying afterwards.  Like discovering that Jimi Hendrix is singing about coming up for air, having dreamt about being underwater, when he sings “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky”, rather than brazenly canoodling with another man, saying, “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”  There’s an entire website devoted to this phenomenon called kissthisguy.com.  The front page there is pretty goddamn ugly, though, so I’d advise against clicking it if you have functioning eyes.

That’s a silly example, but I had a much more hurtful experience when I reached the end of Halo 4’s campaign.  I found myself watching a bold, abstract, emotional and exciting finale, only to have this cruelly undone leaving just the emotional experience to persist.  In this case the truth was frustrating, robbing me of a future for the franchise I was genuinely excited about.  Let me explain.

It’s the last cutscene in the game, so you really shouldn’t need a spoiler warning, but there it is. Continue reading

How, right before saving humanity throughout the galaxy from certain annihilation, Shepard revealed himself to be a liar and a coward.

Commander Shepard is, objectively, a hero.  But he’s also a man.  A man who likes women (in my playthrough, anyway).   He spent his entire first adventure pining after Tali, the feisty but naïve Quarian girl, only to be seduced by Liara’s disarming bashfulness.  But the charming commander had all along been hiding a selfish, uncompassionate self that would only manifest itself years later.

*Mass Effect 2 spoilers* Continue reading

Storytelling in Video Games Essay

In 2010 movie critic Roger Ebert made the statement “Video games can never be art” to a chorus of dissent.  A simple counter argument runs that since video games tell stories, and many stories are considered art, then does the medium through which a story is told really dictate its worth?  But what are the great video game stories?  Will we ever see video games repackaged and re-released as classics with tasteful new covers?  I hope so (see how that might look here).

There are also basic ways of extending the quest…

At their inception many video games were essentially an elaborate form of a board game, like Connect 4; they had rules and objectives.  Many offered a simple premise rather than a full story to help drive the player through the challenge. This was necessary since in many cases the incentive of victory over a human opponent had been removed.  A classic example would be “Bowser has kidnapped the princess!”.  Today, however, most big, mainstream games employ a full story to compel the player to continue, with simple objectives used in the short-term to let them know specifically what to do.

Spoilers Continue reading

Eye of the Beholder: How We View Animation (Essay)

This is one of the first longer-form pieces I did for the newsletter, which was a wholly inappropriate platform, but most of the editors were very kind and printed them anyway.  It was in response to a lot of people dismissing certain movies off-hand because they were cartoons.

I believe that 2008 saw animation finally receive the recognition it has deserved, probably from its inception, but certainly from within my lifetime. Any remotely serious television or cinema fan has appreciated the power and wonder of animation and placed it on level footing with traditional live action filming long ago, but I believe that last year finally saw this opinion break through to the general public.  Continue reading