Friday, September 4, 2009

Breaking the Mould

So I gave in and got the full version of Shadow Complex and do not regret it at all. This game is great! Just, the commitment to the old-school style of side-scroller is unprecedented despite the incredible graphics and slick animation. The story isn't half bad either. I guess I ahve to agree with the majority of people who are saying you shouldn't let the guy's political and personal beliefs prevent you from enjoying his creative IP. That, and I guess ignoring his opinion is no beter than him hating gay people... or something.

Anyway, the game is great, and one little cutscrene was awesome. This may be a little spoiler, but not really an important thing, so you decide if you want to skip this following paragraph.

I love it when game/movies/stories/whatever set up what looks to be a stereotypical, well-rehearsed scene that could be in any other game/movie/story/whatever but then just totally jar it off in another direction. In Shadow Complex, you spend the first hour-ish of the game trying to track down Claire who is going to be tortured and potentially killed by (cue dramatic music) MR. SWEET! You havent seen (dramatic music) Mr. Sweet yet, but he is only mentioned with a sense of anticipated violence by the grunts. Like, you know he is someone to fear and is a sick enough person to be able to make anyone talk. So you finally get to see (dramatic music) Mr. Sweet preparing his scalpels and instruments of torture while Claire is chained toa dentist chair beside him, talking about the gruesome things he is going to do to her, when your hero bursts in with a gun pointed squarely at Mr. Sweet's head. Mr. Sweet chuckles and I expect a MGS-esque blurb at gunpoint followed by an epic boss battle. But no... Your dude just shoots him in the head, kills him, and frees Clair, and that is that.

This was as funny as it was anticlimatical. What made it so great was the entire game up to this point had been setting up Mr. Sweet the same way Metal Gear Solid might set up Praying Mantis (but not to the same level, but you get the idea). It was just really well pulled off.


In other news, I have started playing through Bioshock for the second time. Well, third time, I suppose, but I never finished it the first time over a year ago, so I guess it is the second time. I am going for several achievments (yes, I do like going for achievments, i am one of them). I am playing it through on hard, and I want to rescue EVERY little sister. Last time I rescued/harvested about 50-50. It's gonna be a challenge, but it's gonna be cool.

BioShock is one of those few utterly incredible games up there with Half-Life and very few others that actually KNOWS how to present a story in a game without relying on other mediums. SUre it has one or two cutscenes, but the vast majority of the story is the player's own responsibility to uncover. On this playthrough, i am already much more aware of how the world fits together. SO much of the time is spent walking through halls inthe back walls of buildings and the such that if you dont stop and look around, it can just feel like random corridors. But it really does all fit together so perfectly. It truly feels like the designers created the world and then placed the story in it, instead of the lazy alternative of creating the story and the world to conveniently fit around it.

I LOVE the twist in Bioshock as one of my favourite twists of all time. (Don't worry, I am going to be vague and not say what the twist is because you NEED to experience it for yourself). I had to stop playing after it for about an hour just to think about what had happened. HOWEVER! This leads me to my gripe about Bioshock: it is hypocritical. It has the twist, it makes its very important criticism of gaming in general, and then it falls victims ot its own observation. The game should end when you get to Ryan's office. You should deal with Ryan, press the button to prevent hte explosion, have Atlas give his little spiel, then fade out to credits. That would have been excellent!

But no! It would have been too short, I hear people say. Well really, half the levels after Ryan's office are generic enough tasks that thety could be placed before Ryan's office. Regardless, I would rather a short game than a hypocritical one. I may go into this further in a later post where I name the twist so I am less vague. That said, the game is excellent and I am glad to be playing it again.

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