Thoughts on World Creation and Zeno Clash

My mom would probably confuse Assassin’s Creed with Tetris if you gave her the chance.

I can’t blame her COMPLETELY, however; there are unending similarities in most of our beloved games – especially when it comes to the first-person variety.  At first glance, our most popular interactive electronic entertainment pieces do little to dissuade these face-value metrics.  Games in the Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Halo series offer copious amounts of first-person blam-blam in strikingly similar clothing.  Whether they’re set in the real-est of real deserts of the Middle East or on a distant planet in the far-flung future, the settings truly matter little: “git yer gun, and git ‘er done.”

It’s completely refreshing, then, to be swept up in a genuinely fantastic setting such as the world of ACE Team’s 2009 game, Zeno Clash.

Why here's Father-Mother, my cousin-friend!

Why here’s Father-Mother, my cousin-friend!

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Seems like you can’t throw a stick without hitting a horror game nowadays.  That’s not really a bad thing, I guess.  Horror stories are easy to understand, and they lend themselves easily to video gaming: you need to escape (!), you need to run (!), to fight (!!).

Alan Wake is thought to be one of the new classics, it seems, as I remember it being a much-talked-about hit when it was released three years ago.  I remember hearing that it was an interesting story with great atmosphere, nice graphics, and unique combat.

I’m a few hours into the game right now, and I have to admit that all three of those things seem to hold true so far.  Overall, the game is competent and workman-like in its execution.

Wake on Wake on Wake...

Wake on Wake on Wake…

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Next on the top of my pile of good, “old” games?

Why, Trauma Team, from Atlus, of course!

Trauma Team

I’ve really been looking forward to this one for a while now, considering how little my Wii was used in the past few years.  Now that I’ve put some time in, the first thing I have to say is that it’s really great to use the Wii as it was meant to be used – as a platform for a unique gaming control scheme that is not just a bunch of waggle.

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on Compulsive Gaming and Picross

With the recent news that I’d already missed the release of a picross game this Summer, panic flew through me.  I remember my pulse quickening noticeably.  When I learned that on that very same day there was anotheradditional picross game just released?  Well, the feeling of joy was soon met with an opposing sensation.  One that looked me square in the eye and noted dryly that there was simply more work to be done.

It’s true: work.

I have always known that my favorite pastime was often equal parts enjoyment and compulsion (if not a little more of the former), but games like the recent DS Picross games bring so much of that rote compulsion to the table, it can send shivers down my spine.  Have you ever tried one of these dang little nuggets of OCD time-suck?  Have you?

You've got to whistle while you...

You’ve got to whistle while you…

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on Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

What’s the first thing you do when your gaming avatar is given free reign in their world?

In almost every case, I turn that dude around. Through years of conditioning – be it looking for a secret passage, a power-up, ammunition, or some sort of collectible doodad – I can’t help but do it every time. Exploration is the cornerstone of the large majority of video games, and it recently struck me how funny it is that it always comes to this.

“LEVEL 1!!!” the screen screams via large text (or a cheeky announcer). My character looks screen-right, their body conveying slight kinetic energy (and large reserves of the static variety). They jump in place, they punch the air; then – they turn around. It doesn’t matter if only a brick wall waits for them, it happens every time.

Whee, okay? Whee.

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Here we go, kids.

Relatively speaking, I’m an old-man gamer.  This has a little to do with actual age, but more to do with the fact that I’ve had a serious interest in it for the extent of my life.

I’m also a completion-ist.  That means, of course, that even if a game drags in its midsection, I’m more than likely going to finish it.

Finally, I’m also a foolhardy dollar-voter, meaning that I’ll buy games that really interest me as soon as they come out.  This is an effort to make my drops-in-the-bucket matter; I want to grease the wheels of the devs and publishers who are creating interesting projects.

These three things combined can lead only to one thing: a monstrous backlog of “older” games.  I try to play ‘em all aSaP, but you know how it goes.  The current year that I’m working through is sadly 2008.   Ha.

So, yeah: what game have I recently started?  Metal Gear Solid 4: The Guns of the Patriots.

SOLID!!

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