There are giant words all over the screen during every cutscene. In the first hour some rich guy makes a joke about trickle down economics; the screen gets split in half, one piece gets slid over, frozen and black-and-whited, and 'TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS' pops up in it while the action continues in the other half. Guy Ritchie is adapting a book all over my screen, and I don't really get it. I guess the punchline is that it's kind of refreshing to see giant words after playing so many games that are obsessed with putting giant numbers all over my TV!

I can think of one other game where giant words all over the screen was a selling point, and it's whatever Splinter Cell game that was. I played that Splinter Cell game splitscreen, sitting on my friend's futon in his cheap apartment and getting sweaty. Not because of the game; it was summer and all he had was one of those great plastic window fans. Well, whatever. My hands never sweat when I'm playing videogames, anyway. Ever. That's a real genetic advantage, right there. I guess that Splinter Cell game was pretty fun. The big words were stupid.

Anyway: I like my big-budget action-movie videogames to be mechanically straightforward and aesthetically confident. Ideally, their stories are dirty and hopeless. 'Max Payne 3' is all the things that I like, so I guess I will go ahead and like it.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:56

Awesomenauts' is better than its name

I don't know what to tell you, but I only ever played as the little lizard guy. He's the ninja character. You can run around, drop a decoy of yourself as you turn invisible, and then try to get the jump on people with your double-damage reveal attack. It's pretty fun. I guess this game is probably a better multiplayer 'Castlevania' than that multiplayer 'Castlevania' game was. 

Not that it's anything like that, really. In fact it fits into an even more recognizable mold: The one that Team Fortress stuck into our lives. Or to be even more exact (and get even more 'Battlefield'-related hatemail): the one that 'Monday Night Combat' fits into.

You pick one of five (or seven?) characters and get dumped with your two teammates on either the blue side of the map or the red side. You have to tear through a series of turret-walls to get to the other team's core while they try to tear through yours. Only, hey, fist-pump: It's in 2D. Most of the twoish maps are sort of double-tiered; they look like 'Mario Bros.' arcade levels that have been stretched out on both sides. You know the ones, with the pipes in the corners and the POW block in the middle.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 17:20

'Play Journey': Meet stranger: cry?'

'Journey' is easy to be a jerk about. It's practically got the word 'art' sticky-noted onto its forehead. Maybe it looks better then a painting, if you don't look at paintings. Like all 'art games,' it does not focus on either substantial game mechanics or on a story; it's about an aesthetic (like all 'art games,' a pretty somber one) and it's about getting the 'player' to 'feel' 'something.' You can tell the developers actually used those words in interviews. It's that kind of game.

I'm not going to be a jerk, though, because 'Journey' is worth talking about, mostly for its really fascinating co-op ideas. Maybe you could argue for some value in it as a simple aural and visual piece, if you're that kind of guy, but without this multiplayer I don't see what more you'd get from playing it on a PS3 than from watching somebody else play it on YouTube.

Your journey is spent wandering through a desert and a cave, headed for some snow-capped mountain in the distance. Each area is a gentle bubble, wide open and populated by a handful of simple, ambiguous objects. There are no 'puzzles' per se, just a couple of structures, ideas or characters floating around for you to play with until you see how to move on - how to continue the journey. A really wonderful Cracker Jack cluster of ideas appears near the end, attaining that mythic balance between aural, visual and mechanical feedback to hit what feel, maybe, like a couple pretty genuine emotional notes.

Published in Tekk

You can go ahead and think of 'SSX' as the new 'Sonic the Hedgehog,' if you're the kind of dude that really knows what was good about 'Sonic the Hedgehog' - which excludes everyone who currently works at Sega (ha!). It's not, really, about snowboarding; it's about flying at as ridiculous a speed as possible while trying to cling to some shred of stability. Each of the game's mountains even starts to take shape like a 'Sonic' level, filled with loopy, branching paths, some vague optimal route hiding underneath the knots.

Other major, less-expected inspirations come from, of all things, 'Demon's Souls' and Facebook. Eccentric multiplayer mechanics ditch simultaneous racing and opt instead to stick ghosts of every one of your runs into every one of your friends' games. This is definitely awesome, especially if you've got a couple real-life friends playing alongside you. A friend of mine just beat one of my times on an early track by 0.03 seconds, ('Just smoked your time, bro.' 'Does 0.03 seconds really count as a smoking?' 'YES.') and yeah, there's his ghost, following the same paths I took and just barely edging me out in the end.

Published in Tekk


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