Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

Archive for the ‘Action Adventure’ Category

In Case You Missed It

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Despite how many times he insults me, I’m almost positive that a certain bearded  co-worker actually likes me because he supplied me with a Playstation 2 complete with Nerf controller. I will be repaying him soon with beers. If SNES and Sega Genesis were the consoles of my childhood, the PS2 epitomized my adolescence. I’m I proceeded to spend all of the trade credit I’ve amassed at a local used media store and got some classics as well as some games that slipped past my radar. Here’s a few that I didn’t get the first time around:

Space Channel 5

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

King of Fighters: XII

Kingdom Hearts

Psychonauts

First of all, I’m so happy to have a used console with one of the largest libraries of stellar games – especially those that I’d never played before. I’m thoroughly enjoying Kingdom Hearts as it’s so poignant yet extremely simplistic. Psychonauts has strikingly adult subject matter as seen through the eyes of kids with psychic abilities at summer camp. Space Channel 5 is probably the weirdest of the bunch – a rhythm game about aliens invading and forcing people to dance – but is still highly enjoyable for such a silly game. All in all, I expanded my library for relatively cheap and have a few long gaming sessions to look forward to with each game.

What are some games you neglected to play until years after they were released?

Rainy Day Games

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Although the holiday season is (frighteningly) close, most of the big blockbuster games came out earlier in the year. That being said, while I got the opportunity to buy and play a lot of great games this year, limited time and money meant there was a lot I had to pass on.  This year has added a few games to my “to play” list and hopefully 2012 will afford me more opportunities to enjoy them.

These games will have to wait until I get done with my Dragonborn duties...

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Although I could not tell you exactly what this game is about, the “cool” factor was almost enough to make me buy it on release – but not quite.
  • L.A. Noire – Now that I don’t have to drop upwards of $50 on a game I’ll only play once, I may consider grabbing this old-school detective story.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – With this one still being pretty new, I don’t see myself going for it yet. Instead, I’ll watch the Indiana Jones films a few times – just the first three, don’t worry!

Indy would win this fight, but Captain Reynolds would kick both of their asses.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Unfortunately, I will have to buy the console again, but I would feel cheated if I didn’t get to play a brand new Zelda adventure.
  • Minecraft – This one is sitting on my desktop, just waiting to be played, but I haven’t had the attention span or direction to really get into it yet.

    It looks so sad and alone

So, there are a few games that didn’t quite make it for me this year – what’s on your rainy day list?

Written by highbrowhighscore

December 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Post-Halloween Horror Reflections

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Halloween always takes me back to my childhood. Although I loved dressing up and trick-r-treating, what I remember the most about the holiday is having sleepovers with my best friend, watching horror movies and playing scary video games. I recall actually feeling terrified as I played the first two Silent Hill games and took turns with the controller when my friend and I got stuck at certain parts.

Atmospheric games like the Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and to some extent, the Resident Evil series seem to have aspired to different standards than today’s horror games. Although each game has their own brand of fright and varying levels of violence, overt gore did not seem as necessary as it maybe today. Fatal Frame, most notably, relied on a camera as your main weapon and expanded on Japanese folk-tales to convey each games story. New horror series like Dead Space tend to accentuate the macabre and focuses mainly on “jump” scares, but did not stay with me the way scenes in Fatal Frame 2 did. While I enjoyed Dead Space and Dead Space 2, it was a much different experience than the puzzle and action mix of earlier horror games.

Can I at least get a bigger camera?

This makes me wonder if system limitations prevented extremely gory games from being produced during the last-gen console era, if ultra-violence is just “in” now, or if I’m just getting overly nostalgic in my old age. The lack of immersive, atmospheric gameplay with the current console generation severely limits the amount of truly frightening psychological games – trading in that experience for cheap scares by horrendous monsters with little in the way of story line. In many newer games, I haven’t been connected enough with any of the characters to feel anything for them.

A tribute to a classic

Are there any newer or even forgotten games that have really scared you recently? I’ve been told I should play Amnesia: The Dark Descent by several people. If you have any suggestions, I would love to try them out.

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November 2, 2011 at 5:46 am

Perspective!

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I hate the fact that at the moment, I can’t go buy Fallout: New Vegas.

Can I pay student loans later, please?!

However, I’ve been suppressing my rage by playing Fallout 3 again and trying to get the worst karma ever… I’ve played through the main quest a few times and generally stick with the first person perspective, but this time I’ve been using the third-person view just to see if it’s as awful as they say it is.

It’s actually not… depending on what you want. I found that my sneak has improved in third person, but I find myself switching back to first person because it feels and looks better – as if the game were designed to be played from that perspective. From what I’ve gathered, it’s the same with New Vegas. Although the Fallout series has become an interesting mesh of FPS and Action RPG, most games designed from the first-person perspective have a tendency to focus on combat and the First-Person Shooter  is one of the most easily recognizable genres on the market.

It looks a lot like this:

DOOM

Halo: Combat Evolved

Bioshock

What do these screen shots have in common? What do you notice about them? (I noticed that DOOM’s Space Marine was left-handed.) Right off the bat, it’s obvious what the “S” stands for in FPS. Violence, for a variety of just and unjust causes, is the pivotal force behind these games.

Violence and war-like combat are staples of this genre, making the FPS a vulnerable target for censorship groups and parental advocacy organizations. DOOM, published in 1996 by id Software, has shouldered more than its fair share of condemnation during the Columbine tragedy and other teen-related acts of violence in the late 90’s. This was an unfortunate instance of scapegoating an already vilified media and has carried on to today in current legislation.

This shouldn’t suggest that violence is exclusive to the FPS genre. Game series like God of War, Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, etc have sold like hotcakes and will continue to do so with a “God’s Eye view” of the action. Does that make them any less violent? Of course not. But you’ll notice that these games have storyline objectives, versus Left 4 Dead for instance, where the object is to blast through zombies with extreme prejudice to survive. Resident Evil, a series which could be considered the heart’s blood of the survival horror genre, requires (or at least used to require) a certain level of skill to ration ammunition, solve puzzles, and find hidden objects to complete the game. Although several on-rails shooters have been made in the series, the third-person perspective is essential to the game’s overall atmosphere and entertainment.

It would seem that while the first-person perspective lends itself to action, the third-person could be more conducive to “sensing.” This line of thinking also coincides with theory of literary perspective.

Now, let’s think about two works of literature with different narrative perspective… To Kill a Mockingbird and The Hobbit. One is narrated by a young Southern tomboy and the other is a fantastic yarn reminiscent of early oral storytelling. Apart from the subject matter, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Hobbit are told from two different perspectives – one through the character Scout and the other from the eyes of an unnamed, all-knowing narrator. To Kill a Mockingbird is just as much a coming of age tale for the young Scout as it is a commentary on social justice, but we are meant to empathize through a child’s perspective – to feel for her. In The Hobbit Tolkien makes every effort to suspend the reader in disbelief in his world of fantasy by making the world around Bilbo tangible in our minds – to make us feel with him.

Is this a fair assessment? I understand that atmosphere is a huge part of the FPS, but I would argue that it is more important in games with the third-person perspective. To me, being able to put a solidified character in the context of a larger world is the core of a third-person gaming experience.

Please feel free to voice your opinions and experiences you’ve had with any genre! I can’t wait to hear your perspective… (See what I did there?!)

Happy Geekery!

-Rachel

Written by highbrowhighscore

November 10, 2010 at 12:05 am