Category Archives: Videogames
Other than metal, we like to play videogames. We also like to talk about videogames. Since playing games in an expensive hobby, we tend to not have as many posts as we do for metal. From time time we come across something cool in videogames we will share our experience with the enlightened ones of A Metal State of Mind.
I was skeptical when I learned of a Tomb Raider reboot set for release in 2013. Up to this point, I had all but given up on the franchise after Tomb Raider III in 1998 on the original Playstation. The first version was largely responsible for bringing me back into gaming from along with other popular hits such as Resident Evil, Ace Combat (formerly Air Combat), and Baseball. Tomb Raider was so simple and easy to learn, yet so full of depth, story, and it was also a fairly long game for its time. The gamer definitely got bang for the buck. After my disappointing stint with Tomb Raider III, my only other attempt was Tomb Raider: Anniversary, which was almost a mirror image of the first game in style and concept. I didn’t know that going into it, but I appreciated the nostalgic experience to the game; albeit a little boring. I passed on Tomb Raider: Underworld and after hearing positive reviews of Tomb Raider (2013) the reboot I decided to give it a try. And I am so glad I did.
I came across La Mulana after seeing a couple of screen shots of the game and seeing some comments on them saying that it was pretty much Dark Souls if it were a side-scrolling Metroidvania type game. Well I absolutely loved Dark Souls and I love me some Metroidvania games, so without further contemplating on picking the game up I didn’t hesitate a moment to add it to my video game library. Little did I know that underneath the spectacular 32 bit pixel art graphics that caught my eye lay a game which invokes video game sadomasochism on levels I never thought could exist. Now, I love me some difficult games and obtuse puzzles, but holy hell, nothing could have prepared me for the insane difficulty of La Mulana. But somehow, midst the bouts of wanting to bash my face into a wall and smash my gamepad to smithereens exists a game of such high quality and scope I could not, even for a second think about abandoning it without solving all of the puzzles of the ancient ruins of La Mulana and see the game through to the end. Alls I gotta say is my utmost thanks goes to the people who wrote up the infinitely useful La Mulana Wiki page. Without them I would have never gotten to experience one of the most ingeniously crafted games I’ve ever played without having to get checked into a looney bin.
The realm of indie games is such a wonderful place filled with some of the most imaginative and wonderful games available today. Pretty much any style of gamer, from the COD armchair soldier to manchild stuck in the days of Super Mario Bros., can find a game that fits their fancy. But there is also a loooooot of crap to sift through as, bless them for trying, many basement developers just don’t put the required passion or energy into their game and you end up dropping your cash on something less than lackluster. So, since I don’t mind sifting through the feces for that hidden gem (much like I do with music) I’m here to point out the gaming gems that you may overlook and never end up playing. You will notice that I do have a thing for retro-syled games and my preferred platform is the PC, so you will see quite a bit of them here, but I’ll do my best throughout these series of posts to be as diversified as possible and I’ll try to mention some deep cuts as well as some of the more popular indie games you may have overlooked. So, without further ado, I, the Indienaught, kindly request that you check these game out. I also kindly request that you head over to Steam’s Greenlight section and start checking out some games and upvoting the ones that look cool to you. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
What is it about pixel art graphic aesthetics that will forever draw me into a game? Many will argue that their usage is reaching a point of over-saturation, that their time has passed, and are just a cheap trick to prey on my generation of gamers nostalgia. Me, however, feels just the opposite. I will never get enough of pixel art graphics and with modern technology there is just so much more one can do with them. And while my nostalgia does play a part in why I enjoy their look, there are many other reasons why I find them pleasing to the eye, such as the adage that one’s mind will fill in the blanks with something more personal and more horrific and/or beautiful than the artist could ever create (see: Japanese horror flicks). In pixel art graphics, no matter how detailed they get, there is always room for me to fill in blanks and smooth out edges in my mind, therefore creating a delightful mix of what the artist intended and the brush of the artist in my mind.
Anodyne looks not only to explore this facet of gaming and art, but also asks the player to take a deeper step into not only different aspects of game design, but also into game playing and beyond. Why do we enjoy the medium, why the pleasure derived from an aesthetic, why do we all almost always perform certain actions, and why don’t many of us want to grow up. Many of these questions are aptly answered in the games title alone, but once you delve into the game and start exploring its surrealistic pixel world the introspects of the 2 man development team’s (Sean Hogan (audio, programming) and Jonathan Kittaka (art, writing) for Analgesic Productions LLC) very personal thoughts and feelings will really start encouraging you to ponder the same theories as they were. And when all is said and done and the games finale is reached you will realize that you discovered new things about yourself other than why you like video games or pixel art graphics. So, like the filling in the blanks of the visual art with your imagination, you will be filling in the questions and creating your own questions with the framework the game creates. Oh, and Anodyne is a lot of fun to play too!
Sports games on consoles have some a long way. Playing baseball has been part of my life since the original Atari and on every console I ever owned since then which has pretty much been all of them. I have witnessed the evolution of baseball from stickmen to the detailed portraits and exact mannerisms of today’s stars. I have come to appreciate smooth gaming mechanics and adaptable somewhat challenging AI. Therefore, it goes without saying that with every new release there is going to be ONLY slight innovation. I have accepted that fact and still graciously pony up my $60.00 a year to be able to create and model a player after me, build me up to the “bigs” on my favorite team (Kansas City Royals), and win the World Series while winning a few individual awards for my athletic prowess. If the game is fun, I might trade myself to the National League just to play another season in different stadiums. However, there is a fundamental problem with MLB 2K13. There isn’t one God damn upgrade from last year’s game. Copy + paste + release to the public = bullshit!
One of the first games I ever played on the original Sony Playstation was Resident Evil. It was really a breakthrough game back in the mid 90s. I remember sitting there playing this game with a bunch of grown men jumping and screaming when scary stuff happened – dogs crashing through windows, etc. Thinking back now, it’s kind of outdated with some not-so-good voice acting, but back in the day it was pretty much revolutionary in console gaming. After playing Resident Evil 6 out of sheer loyalty to the franchise, I have to ask myself how in the world they lost their way. I completely understand that the developers can’t regurgitate zombie-ridden mansions or even Raccoon City over and over, but how have we come to a point where zombies actually carry weapons? Zombies don’t carry weapons! They have no sense of consciousness. Also, why is it that these final bosses have to be so large? It seems like with every game, the final boss has to be some kind of mutant monster so big and hideous that it takes away from any semblance of anything resembling real life. Unless it’s a fantasy game, at least make the story plausible.
A little over 5 years a little game called BioShock was released and unless you happened to be in the know, it arrived on release date with little fanfare. The lack of hustle and bustle didn’t last long until reviews started to pour out praising every aspect of the game, many even going as far as to call it the most revolutionary game to date. The game went on to become a hit seller and many gamers, myself included, found themselves prone to agree with the high praise of the press. While delivering some great FPS shooting and a neat super power system and a really great underwater city setting, the game really shined and revolutionized in the narrative department utilizing clever tricks at delivering exposition to transform a Maltese Falcon style story (oh, yeah, spoiler, but if you haven’t played it by this point, your fault) into a deep and attention grabbing sociopolitical commentary. Whether you just wanted action or something deep to analyze, it delivered on all fronts and created a bar so high it became highly questionable if a sequel could ever come close to reaching the heights that it did.
BioShock 2 saw the return to Rapture, the once utopia under the sea. Expectations were high and the hype around the development was closely monitored in the press. While finding itself underdevelopment from much of the original team, a key member was missing, lead designer Ken Levine. When the game landed it was a hit and a damn fine game that worked well at expanding the first’s universe, but it just lacked that extra pinch of inspiration and love that sent the first over the edge and it could be accredited to the absence of Levine. Fortunately Mr. Levine wasn’t just passing the reigns of his baby off to someone else while he disappeared, instead he slunk back into hiding and began almost immediately working on the game under the microscope today. And after 5 years of work and polish and an incredible amount of hype from both fans, press, and Ken Levine and Irrational Games themselves BioShock Infinite is upon us looking to not only reach the bar first set at the start of the series, but surpass it and yet again revolutionize the landscape of gaming as we know it. So, if you’ve been following the game you’ve probably already heard the unanimous praise by critics and fans and what can I say, they are all spot on. From this day forward, when you dig up the old Websters-Merriam to look up the word success you will find a picture of BioShock Infinite sitting there in all its glory.
I never played the first Borderlands, but based on the rave reviews from peers and from online sources, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and try Borderlands 2. My initial impression was quite positive. I like the comic strip graphics, the voice acting, and the plethora of weapons available throughout the game. The gameplay is smooth and crisp. I caught on to the story pretty quickly. In short, I am a vault hunter and some guy named Handsome Jack controls all of the Pandora’s Eridium. Power, hunger, and greed you get the picture. It’s my job to get the vault key and take care of business. It seems quite simple, but following the game for its actual plotline is such a small part of the game. Ultimately, I found myself spending about 70% of my time on the optional side missions. That’s funny because they are optional, but if I didn’t take the time to do the optional missions, I would never be able to build up my character’s attributes and weapon upgrades necessary to beat bigger and badder bosses and bad dudes. The frustration sets in…
Can the maker repair what he makes?
By now, video games have reached a point where questioning religion, society, war, and other difficult and taboo subject matter have found their way into the subject matter. Dig deep into the lore of games like Portal 2, Bioshock, Limbo, El Shaddai, Deus Ex, Spec Ops: The Line, Metal Gear Solid, etc. and you will find deep and introspective ‘mature’ subject matter. I applaud games like this for giving the medium a much need push forward, and when a game comes out that tackles these type of themes I make it a point to play it. When I first caught wind of Primordia through the Steam Greenlight feature the concept of a post-apocalyptic world where man had become extinct and robots and androids lived on to create their own society where some had began to worship their makers, man, had really piqued my attention. Then quickly seeing it was being co-produced by one of my favorite adventure game publishers, Wadjet Eye (Gemini Rue, The Blackwell Series, Resonance), and newcomers Wormwood Studios, I knew I had to get my hands on this game. Did Wadjet continue their amazing track record, are Wormwood Studios a worthy new dev. team, did Primordia live up to my lofty expectation of delivering quality gameplay as well as a narrative that would tickle my brain? Read on. (note: I’m trying a different style to my game reviews and am now going to add a score at the end :gasp!:, hope you dig it)
The latest 2 big buzz-words in gaming are Free to Play and MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). F2P (Free to Play) is pretty self-explanatory, the game costs zilch to download and play and the devs make their money through microtransactions in-game. It could be new spells or stuff that makes your character more powerful if the devs really want to wring some cash out of your wallet, but the most common and most ethical microtransaction are ones that give you something cosmetic for the game, like skins for you character or neat looking, but balanced weapons. I could go on forever about the different ethics and things that irk me or please me about F2P games, but that’s for another time. Anywho, they’re big right now and looks like they’re here to stay. And along with MMO’s the big type of game using the F2P model is the new genre of MOBA.
A traditional MOBA game is kind of like a tower defense game with many players defending their towers and base from the weak fodder that endlessly spawns and marches mindlessly to attack and the user controlled characters, whom are much more beefed up then their thrall. This genre has been imagined in quite a few styles already ranging from FPS to cartoony side-scrolling, but the most popular is a kind of RTS layout. The most popular MOBA game right now is a game called League of Legends (aka LoL), which garners millions of players on any given day. I tried it out, thought it was neat, but for some reason it didn’t stick with me, so besides about an hour of gametime, I still consider myself quite the newb at MOBAs.