Posts Tagged ‘Metro 2033

06
Nov
11

Weekly Links for November 6th

If Laguna, Kiros, and Ward had been modeled after Larry, Curly, and Moe, then I think people would remember Final Fantasy VIII more fondly today.

Links

They did not leave me feeling empty, because they are not empty. Back in 2005, a certain film critic wrote that the point of art is to “make ourselves more cultured, civilized, and empathetic.” Playing Ueda’s games has precisely these effects.
It’s easy to buy a book. … It’s not so easy to get a new video game. No, getting a game is a process. It lasts as long as a pregnancy and offers almost as many hassles.

What I’ve Been Playing

  • Dark Souls
    Raisins, I promise to do my best to be patient in this game and learn how to actually play it, and not just go around randomly whacking friendlies on the head.
  • Final Fantasy VIII
    Final Fantasy VIII is an absurd game, but I still love it.
  • Soulcalibur IV
    I’m slowly being won over by this series.  And stuff like this makes me like it even more.

Bonus Video

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05
Jun
11

Weekly Links for June 5th

They make a lovely couple.  This year's Christmas card turned out very well.

Links

What I’ve Been Playing

  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
    40 hours in and I’ve made it to the final chapter.  The game has a lot of pros and cons to it, but overall it’s really endeared itself to me.
  • Half Life 2
    I’ve really enjoyed being able to play this without experience a lot of technical difficulties.  I’ll probably play episodes one and two following this.
  • Minecraft
    Minecraft has quickly become one of my favorite ways to just chill out.

Bonus Video

30
Mar
11

New Review: Metro 2033

Metro 2033

I really enjoyed my time with Metro 2033, but there are rough edges that can be difficult to look past.  It’s not a the game to play if you’re looking for the latest and greatest first-person shooter, but it makes up for this a great deal in the unnerving atmosphere it produces with its cohesive world. Final score: 2/4.

Continue to the full review.

13
Mar
11

Info Dumps and The Fresh Prince

I'd like to take a minute.  Just sit right there.  I'll tell you about how I became the prince of a game that's full of hot air.

There was one thing in particular that I loved about Metro 2033.  And that was the lack of info dumps: protracted scenes that the writer/director/android feels that the audience has to know before continuing the game.  Metro presents a world that could have spawned hours and hours of non-interactive cut sequences that provide answers to questions like…

A) How has the world ended?
B) What was Artyom’s life like growing up underground, surrounded by monsters?
C) How have the mutants and “dark ones” come into being?
D) Why can Artyom communicate with the “Dark Ones” through his mind?
E) Who are the rangers?
F) So on.
G) And so forth.

Few of these questions are answered directly.  Metro 2033 leaves you to either speculate on the answers to these questions through short pre-level narratives or through environmental dialogue, such as in the example below:

The story of Metro’s world emerges naturally.  In the previous scene, it just happened that you come across someone who was retelling their own story of how the world came crashing down around him.  You might miss a scene like that entirely, but that moment of discovery is something special in a game, where the player can feel that they’ve uncovered something important for themselves rather than having it thrust upon them.  Finding details like that becomes a game in and of itself.  But yet, sometimes, the answers are simply left to the audience’s imagination, which has the ability to be far more vivid than any number of polygons can hope to be.

I wouldn’t go as far to say that the entire story should be emergent in a game, but when info dumps reach the scale of Metal Gear Solid 4’s, or Final Fantasy XIII’s, playing the game feels more like having a having a mediocre bed time story read to you by an android (who also happened to write it.)   Nothing is left for the player to think over that’s immediately relevant to the plot at hand; only abstract subjects like fate and war.  It’s exhausting, disengaging, and leaves little more for the player to look for outside what is thrown in their way.

When so much content is fed directly to the audience then it stands to reason that perhaps the writer doesn’t trust the audience to collect that information on their own.  Undoubtedly because there is just too much information the consume and digest, or it’s too confusing to arrange the details in a meaningful way.  So it is pre-packaged and dumped on regular intervals.  It ought to be an indication that the scope of content being presented should be narrowed or revised.  Or it’s a warning sign that the underlying plot is floundering.

So I’d like to propose a rule of thumb when considering if an info dump is just going to be too much: if it takes longer to convey the required information than it does to play the intro for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then you’re probably doing it wrong.  If the idea you want to present using an info dump takes that much time then either break it apart, boil it down, or leave it in the environment for the player to find on their own. Otherwise, you’re making a movie, and it needs to be written and edited like one (which generally isn’t the case.)  And that still won’t make the game intrinsically any better.  Consider the following comparisons; which one keeps your attention?

Example #1: Final Fantasy XIII

Example #2: Metal Gear Solid 4

The rule isn’t meant to suggest that players have a limited attention span, but info dumps conflict with the natural appeal of games.  The intro to Fresh Prince conveys to the audience all the critical details that they need to know to enjoy the show, which is exactly what info dumps should accomplish in games: telling you what you need to know to enjoy the game (not its story.)  You can substitute The Fresh Prince intro with anything else that’s brief and to the point, but I think it does a good job of putting things into perspective.  It cuts down overwrought scenes in games that believe that their epic posturing gives them license to overwhelm the audience with nonsense.  It doesn’t.  The Fresh Prince has a better story and all it’s about is a 90’s goof ball going to live with rich people.  Either narrow the focus of the content being presented, or cut it out.  Too much time and effort gets wasted in trying to make games into movies.

Bonus Track

19
Feb
11

Impressions: Metro 2033

Metro 2033 seems to be a game that flew by without a great deal of fanfare.  It has all the signs of being just yet another post-apocalyptic themed-first person shooter.  In other words, nothing special in a genre with the likes of Fallout, Half-Life, or Gears of War.    That hasn’t stopped it from being successful though.  Metro feels more like a survival horror game.  You aren’t given reason to feel confident about your combat abilities, and are constantly finding yourself in lethal scenarios with things the player can’t explain.  The game itself is trying to make you uncomfortable with taking the next step, and not encouraging you to explore it’s world.  This isn’t Call of Duty, where when then action heats up, the guitar riffs are unleashed.  Instead you’re only given the sound of monsters gnashing in the darkness in front of you, and the sound of tired survivors with crying children behind you.  Metro 2033 isn’t about the highs of battle, but its moody aesthetic and the lows of despair.  It’s world is fleshed out and believable, and its plot unfolds both as cut scenes and through well written narration that subtly gives depth and texture to levels as they load.  You are constantly at odds with the unknown: dark subway tunnels, supernatural phenomenon, mutants, and the total lack of modern methods of communication.

Here’s another reason that Metro feels like a survival horror game: the combat can become incredibly clunky.   I never quite feel like I’m placing shots on target, or that I’m even on target in the first place.  By the time I am, I might as well be blind-firing because the target is already on top of me.  The levels of the game that puts human opponents in your way can be the worst.  The combat was geared towards fighting monsters, giving you enough time to shoot them down as they closed in on you, but when they did you weren’t going to last very long.  Unfortunately, human opponents don’t close in on you, and can take cover.  But they can still kill you very quickly.  The experience of being shot becomes a little too real to be enjoyable in a game.  It’s something that I can look past when thinking of this as a survival horror game.  And thankfully I was able to turn down the difficulty before it became entirely unplayable for me.  I’m able to, perhaps irrationally, look past the game’s faults in the same manner I had with Nier.  I’m glad to hear that it has sold well and will definitely be keeping an eye on 4A Games‘ future projects.  If you haven’t given this game a closer look, and you’re a fan of the survival horror genre, then this might be right up your alley.  It has some rough edges, but a strong presentation that makes it unique in a sea of post apocalyptic video games.




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