Category Archives: Video Games

Open-World Fatigue and the Importance of Release Dates

Speaking purely in terms of entertainment, the first few months of 2017 have been spectacular. Peak TV has not let up one bit, with promising newcomers like Legion joining continuing successes like The Americans. Movies, especially more “popular” releases like Get Out, Logan, John Wick 2, and Lego Batman, have been exceedingly great.. But both still pale in comparison to the gaming landscape, which has seen a historically excellent slate of games, right in the middle of a period notorious for being a slow.

I already wrote about my love for Resident Evil 7, a game that is beginning to get left behind in the larger cultural conversation. February saw the release of Horizon: Zero Dawn, one of the greatest Playstation exclusives in Sony’s history and an enormous step forward for developer Guerrilla Games. But even that title, a massive Ubisoft-esque open world action game, was shortly eclipsed by the hype surrounding Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that was universally hailed as an instant classic and one of the very best games ever made a full week before it even released.

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Does Final Fantasy XV’s Supplemental Material Go Too Far?

In the weeks since i started playing Final Fantasy XV, I’ve had a number of conversations with fellow players. What did you think of the story? Did you like the characters? Were you okay with the switch to real-time combat? Why does Prompto take photos of his friends getting mauled by exotic beasts? But one question that keeps coming up is whether or not somebody watched the game’s supplementary materials: the CGI movie Kingsglaive, and the anime Brotherhood. Both of these help fill out the world, delving into lore and backstories that further the player’s understanding of the game. They vary in quality (Brotherhood is very good, Kingsglaive is merely passable), but are instrumental in understanding a few of the game’s major plot points.

On the one hand, the release of supplemental entertainment outside of the original work’s medium is not a new phenomenon. The print industry, for example, frequently churns out books meant to expand on the worlds of popular movie, TV, and video game properties. The Star Wars Expanded Universe, which was abandoned with the release of The Force Awakens, is one particularly popular example. Another is the series of Halo novels, based on the popular video game franchise. These books filled in the game’s universe and became a huge success with fans. In addition to these extensions, there are novelizations of popular movies, which has proven to be an enormous industry in and of itself.

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EA’s 2016 Shooters Do Single Player Campaigns Right


No matter how you slice it, EA screwed up scheduling their games for the holidays. Titanfall 2, one of the best games of the year, got completely buried by their own much more anticipated title, Battlefield 1, which was released only a week before. It was a completely unforced error, and one that has had a crippling effect on Titanfall 2’s sales. Despite EA’s claims that the two first-person-shooters were targeted to completely different audiences, the fact remains that they shot themselves in the foot by pitting two great games against each other.

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What Is the Role Of Entertainment In Defining Our Values?


“This whole Nazi resurgence is because we stopped shooting them in video games after Call of Duty 4, isn’t it?”

I tweeted the above this week in response to the horrifying video of Richard B Spencer leading the alt right in a Nazi salute to President Elect Donald Trump. It was a joke. You have to be able to make light of the insanity America is currently facing, or you’ll crack completely.

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Westworld Episodes 1-5 Review


Half a season is not often enough to determine whether a heavily-serialized show is worthwhile or not, but in the case of Westworld, it’s even less telling. At the very least, HBO’s latest foray into “genre” television is intriguing, placing its moral quandaries front and center and trusting audiences to put its narrative pieces together. There are loads of elements to break down and discuss, and the myriad of puzzles and mysterious references should be enough to make the show a watercooler favorite for the remainder of the season. What is a little less clear is how emotionally engaging the series can be, an important factor in the success of mega-hit Game of Thrones.

First things first: Westworld deftly presents its themes by placing them in recognizable contexts. Westworld itself is a Western-themed amusement park for the extremely wealthy, with a cast of highly-realistic robots, or “hosts” who act out storylines and engage with the guests, or “newcomers.” While nothing like this exists in the real world, the general make-up of the park is very similar to that of an open-world video game. “Hosts” are what are known in the gaming industry as “NPCs” (or Non-Player Characters), and “newcomers” are the players themselves.

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