Monday, November 3, 2008

Allow Me to Rant a Bit

To preface my life is still crazy but I don't want to talk about it. In stead I am going to talk a little bit about a bunch of games I have watched recently. I use the term watch because I didn't actually play them but glanced over at my roommate while he played them and I was doing homework or reading to keep my brain from melting. Regardless I saw a lot of little things that people already probably knew about these games (including myself) but I felt the need to point them out a little. The games being Fallout 3, Dead Space, and Fable 2.

Let's start with Fable 2. I didn't really enjoy playing Fable 1 but it was a good game, fairly innovative with a lot of cool features, and a style (artistic and otherwise) that fit the name "Fable" far better than most people really noticed. The second is still a good game but much less interesting to me. This is because sequels bother me in the first place. They need enough new content to really drive me through and with Fable 2 my hope was that it would give me the drive to play it that Fable 1 failed to. This is not the case. The style remains strong giving an amazing fairy-tale feel to the game. The story (from this little taste I have had) is a bit more interesting. The game-play is a bit smoother. But overall it feels like they tweaked the first game a little and released it again. I will say this though. I tend to struggle with western style RPGs because I have no attachment to the character and they tend to be sandbox games, which are interesting but again have no drive to get me through them. I personally tend to get more attached to a character that has their own story and Fable 2 does that well. The game does a good job of eliciting emotion something I haven't seen from a Western RPG in a while (probably because I don't play through a lot of them).

Next on the list, Fallout 3. Another sequel so I am again a bit underwhelmed by it. It is also another sandbox game, though I will say it gives a decent amount of direction to the player... at least in the beginning. Since I have only really seen the beginning and tidbits of game-play I can't comment as much on the experience as I would like to but I have to say the character creation process in this game does a really good job of holding immersion into the world, at least compared to other character creation processes. You get to see your character grow up and you even see their birth so it is like you aren't just pulling this character from thin air but rather seeing the moments that make them who they are when you start playing the game. It is a very clever solution to the problem of keeping immersion. The game-play itself impressed me less. It has the same feel of Oblivion with some sugar coating and then it is deep fried in the world of Fallout. This crates an interesting mix, not unlike deep fried candy bars, but it isn't much more that simply interesting. It doesn't do enough differently to stand out in my mind. It is delicious and good but the game is somewhat heterogeneous, two parts that would have been better melded together rather than rolled in one another. It is still delicious just not as delicious as a whole new recipe would have been.

Dead last is Dead Space (ha, get it?). This one stands out a lot more than the other two. I spoke briefly of immersion before and Dead Space does this very well something it must do well to be a horror game I would argue. The only reason this game got on my radar was that my roommate would jump a bit every now and again and I would hear a bunch of gunfire then silence. That right there shows a good game-play experience. It has incredible dramatic structure on a microscopic level. Every action in the game has it's own little climax and resolution and when a number of them are stung together it gives the game a very interesting feel. The only problem I can see with this is it might get exhausting later in the game, seeing the same pattern again and again (which I haven't seen so i can't comment on). But back to the immersion thing. It was a bit hard to catch this at first and I thought originally that it had a bad immersion factor because my roommate would explain exactly how he was NOT falling into the game world. I thought about it a little more and I realized what he failed to say was that he forced himself not to be immersed so as not to fall into the game's TRAP. He was staying removed from the game on purpose to avoid messing up his last clean pair of pants. Even when he was slightly remove he would still manage to get pulled in enough to jump and say a brief "Jesus, Mary, n' Joseph!" while blowing off the gross limbs of something that grabbed him while he was saving the game. The minimalistic interface does wonders for the immersion and the real-time inventory is the perfect way to get players to do what they should never do in a horror/action game which is stand still. Overall, it is a very clever and well designed experience. I can't wait to see my roommate when the end of the game comes along.

Anyway, thanks for reading, sorry for ranting if you don't like rants but I though I needed to talk a little about the games outside my crazy work world.