Posts Tagged ‘ Rant ’

Games are the Killer

Lets start with some honesty, games are violent and most journalistic media outside of specialist press, hates games. They’re corrupting the youth of today, pushing their minds to think and then later act out despicable things. In a recent school shooting in Germany, Far Cry 2 has received blame for being the root of the problem. Apparently 17 year old Tim Kretschmer spent two hours and ten minutes playing the shooter on the night before his rampage in which 15 people were killed with his ‘Fathers‘ Beretta pistol. This is of course after he spent his evenings in chatrooms talking about school shootings under the guise of “JawsPredator1” and he most likely spent time downloading bondage based pornography, He was seventeen.

I have to admit, yes, there are violent games on the market. Yes there are games in which YOU, the person “in real life” are asked to shoot, stab and kill in a “virtual” world. So, through our XBOX’s and PlayStations we are going to war, exacting revenge and assassinating and declaring it a hobby or pastime. It’s true that violent games are beginning to out weigh other genres in the industry.

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But let’s look at other childhood pastimes throughout the years. Spudguns, plastic M16s and bow and arrows, toys all designed to allow children to “play war” There is nobody who can defend these toys as being non-violent. Plastic swords emulate real swords that are and were used to kill or maim people in horrific ways. For generations of children these toys have been enjoyed, but is this not a similar act to using a virtual sword to vanquish enemies. When you were playing out on the local green, even without toys, were you not pointing out two fingers in the shape of a gun and “killing” your friends?

This form of entertainment has been with us for centuries, violence is a part of society and it’s the elders of this society that should teach the truths behind war and violence. Even as a child, whilst making an unconvincing machine gun sound while my friends clutched their chests and fell to the ground, I knew the real outcome of violence. Taught to me by my Mother.

It’s quite obvious that the media is constantly looking for scapegoats in these situations. It’s terribly easy to blame a videogame or movie or piece of music for polluting our children’s minds rather than blaming parents for not cleansing said minds. The thousands of Daily Mail readers can shake their heads and tut quietly whilst accusing videogame makers for creating Manhunt or Far Cry 2, all the while forgetting their own teenage years. The times that they gathered round someone’s house to watch the latest horror movie or experiment with drugs and casual sex.

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Let’s look at Kretschmer and his disgusting actions that would make even the most hardened Christian doubt Gods plans. Kretschmer kitted himself out in black camouflage gear, bought from a store I would assume. Picked up his Fathers Beretta, from the unlocked gun cabinet and Hijacked a car whilst aiming the gun at the drivers head. All of these actions ARE featured in Far Cry 2, but are they not ALL featured in many movies nowadays?

Was it not down to the shopkeeper to refuse service to a 17 year old child and not sell him camo gear? Was it not the Fathers responsibilities to teach gun usage and keep them hidden away? Let’s also look at the fact that Kretschmer had recently been rejected by a girl he obviously cared for. But let’s also look at the fact that he had as little as 200 porn images on his computer, 120 of which were of female bondage. Oh and please don’t forget the fact that he roamed chat rooms openly discussing school shootings.

Regardless of any games that this boy played, he may have had an underlying mental health problem that adjusted his views on reality. This again is another stigma of society, anyone who has no control over their thoughts are swept under the rug and zipped up, never to be seen again. So why would the papers print the headline, “Boy of 17 guns down 15, but he had mental health issues, access to guns, a penchant to violent porn and was just rejected by a girl who he may have loved”

The argument of violence in games will carry on until the media realises that parents need to be just that, parents. As a father of three girls I would never allow my children to grow up and not know the consequences of violence, war and other harmful elements of this world. Is that not my job?

I’ll leave you with the words of someone who seems to have their head screwed on, Walter Hollstein, a sociologist working with the Council of Europe, disagreed. “It’s nonsense to assume they turn adolescents into school shooters,” he said.

“A variety of factors, such as helplessness, anger and loss of control, must come together for them to become the trigger, but the games themselves don’t make anyone a killer.”

From the mind of Daniel 'Strybe' Lipscombe, may contain opinions

From the mind of Daniel 'Strybe' Lipscombe, may contain opinions

Rants: Give Wii’s a Chance!

Contrary to popular belief, the Wii is a video games console. Not an over-inflated toy or “the worlds most expensive boardgame” as it has been called, oh no. The Wii plays computer games, just like every Nintendo console before it.

 I’ve had a lot of conversations with gaming buddies of mine recently, and have been given a lot of flak due to the fact that the Wii is the only current-gen console I own, and the only one I’m really capable of babbling on about. This isn’t the case, I can assure you. The Wii is merely the only one I feel like investing my time in.

My first choice was the Xbox 360, which I promptly picked up at the end of 2006 following my first paycheck at my new job. The 360 stayed neatly tucked under my TV until early last year when I sold it. Why did I sell it you ask? Well, quite simply, I was getting pretty sick of playing the same thing over and over and over and over again.

Games that were hyped until the ends of the earth landed on my doorstep on their release dates, and time after time I found that I had played it all before. Halo 3 was, well, Halo all over again, Assassin’s Creed was one of the most profoundly boring third person adventure games I’ve ever played, and it’s not like stealth hasn’t been done before, and Bioshock, well, at the risk of sounding unpopular, was just another first person shooter.

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I certainly enjoyed my time with my 360 but I hadn’t been “wowed” like I had been with all my consoles before it. Gears of War came very close but this was only because of how gorgeous it looked. Gameplay wise, it was just another shooter.

I think that was my problem. Whereas I used to play anything and everything that came my way, I’ve grown cynical of the whole industry and have become sick and tired of playing the same thing. The 360 had to go, there is just absolutely nothing new.

This is why, I believe, the Wii is the superior of the current gen consoles. Whilst gaming wise, there still aren’t a massive amount of fresh ideas, Nintendo took a massive gamble with a completely motion-orientated control scheme, and almost everything feels new and sparkly under this system. Games like Zelda and Resident Evil have indeed all been done before, but I dare any of you to play the Wii incarnations of these classics and not feel like this is the way games should be going.

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Microsoft and Sony aren’t stupid. They’re well aware that motion controls and accessibility is what’s given the Wii the market edge. This is why things like Project Natal are coming into play, it seems that motion controls are the future, whether you like them or not.

It’s very easy to be blinded by Nintendo’s marketing and target audience. It seems every television or newspaper advert has a family sitting on a sofa playing Mario Galaxy, or Wii Fit or something, and it would seem as though the Wii cannot appeal to the hardcore gamer. I could not feel more opposed to the idea. I’ll admit, I felt very much this way when the Wii was announced. I thought that it was silly and wouldn’t really ever take off. It was only after I sold my 360 and concentrated on the Wii that I saw how much potential it had, and how it really would be the way forward. Games like Twilight princess, No More Heroes and Madworld are utterly stunning examples of how Nintendo’s “over-priced toy” can appeal to the more hardcore gamer too.

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That’s just me though. There are a huge number of gamers out there whose way forward is online play and downloadable content, something that I think the Wii majorly boned on. There is little to no hard drive for DLC, and most online games tend to have horrible lag or no one playing! This isn’t a massive problem for me but would be unforgivable for some. If you’re one of these then it probably isn’t for you.

If, like me though, you’re finding the same old ideas being churned out in new packaging, I really can’t recommend the Wii enough.

So, all you Wii haters, give it a chance. Let it be different, let it be the Kid in the class that wears glasses and stands out a bit. Just because it’s doing things differently and has an unappealing target audience it doesn’t mean it won’t wow you. Maybe pack away your 360 or PS3 for a month or so and just concentrate your efforts on the little white box of wonder. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Gamers Blog: Things I hate about Games: Part one of Many

Video Games are a beautiful concept. The way I feel about games is how I think people felt about books in the 1600’s. It’s so very easy to lose yourself in an epically designed world, or get stuck into a particularly addictive game. As wonderful as they are though, there are a few elements of the modern video game that developers seem hell-bent on including, despite how annoying or frustrating they may be. A great cartoon character would describe these as “things that grind his gears”. I’m hoping to put a short piece on this site about each infuriating aspect of gaming as they come to me. If you’ve got any video game niggles then you should leave them too!

Part One: Protection Missions

This all came about during God of War 2 – arguably one of the greatest third person action adventures ever made, and the PS2’s swansong. I dare anyone to pick up this hack-and-slash fest through ancient mythical Greece and not have a smile on their face. Despite its greatness, it does happen to contain one of my least favourite gaming concepts ever.

Towards the end of the game, you have to protect a “philosopher” that you have just freed from a prison cell from hordes and hordes of enemies using your blades. The philosopher walks in a profoundly cowardly way across a small bridge of impending doom to get to the other side, at a pace that would make most tortoises blush. Whilst you are fending off the legions of the underworld, the philosopher takes his sweet, sweet time sauntering across the bridge, more often than not, walking into the waiting jaws of the closest hellspawn. Should the philosopher lose all his health, its game over for you.

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Why in the hell do developers put us through this? Why give a character the worst AI imaginable, and make them take a leisurely stroll through what should be a sprint fest? This bridge is by no means long. Your character, Kratos, can run across this bridge in about 10 seconds. The protection mission takes a good 3 or 4 minutes because of the sheer amount of enemies that are thrown at you, and the impractical pace of the philosopher. I understand that the developers want to create a challenge – but it just ends up being cheap and hugely frustrating.

Even the Legend of Zelda, one of the greatest gaming franchises of all time is guilty of the protection mission crime. The most recent Zelda outing, Phantom Hourglass on the DS has Link seeking out 5 lost sisters on a ship, and taking them up to the top of the ship where their big sister is waiting for them. What they don’t tell you though, is that these sisters are afraid of their own shadow, and within 5 steps of leading them to the top, they will scream and cower in fear in the corner. The game tells you that they are afraid of the enemies dotted around the ship, and it’s your job to kill them wherever possible. This is fair enough, but the number of enemies there are in comparison to how often the sister will scream and cower is unforgivable. It’s not even like they follow you again automatically when the enemy dies, you have to go and talk to them about “how it’s OK to be afraid”. Give me a break.

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And that’s why I hate protection missions! They’re a cheap, tacked on way to extend a particular area of the game that usually has immensely poor AI and ends up being a slam-your-controller-on-the-floor fest.

More gaming niggles coming soon!

Problems and Promise

Where to start……Dear me, what happened EA?
I’m assuming by that first line you know what I’m referring to, but for those who need some enlightening let me shed the light. Wednesday 8th July saw the release of Battlefield 1943 on XBLA, an event that has been widely hyped in preview sections and on many podcasts. Falling onto our dashboards priced at 1200 points, people across Europe and the world were ensuring that they had enough points in their balance and getting ready for war.

As a big fan of the Battlefield series I was armed with the points and ready to download it as soon as it was up. Then it appeared, kind of. The first problem of the endless list was that the game would only download from XBOX.com or the spotlight section on the dashboard, not a huge problem, I grabbed it XBOX.com and it started downloading. With my new game settling in it’s new home I hit the A button and launched it for the first time. I was greeted by a fantastic menu system with triumphant music, this was before I entered my first match and experienced horrendous lag.

Bullet lag, characters that seemed animated by Aardman (stop motion style) and walking forward five steps only to lag backwards four steps, the game was unplayable. It was broken, for an online only game to not work online is a big problem and I wasn’t happy. After a few measly attempts at getting a few games on my new purchase I gave up for a while. After posting my thoughts on Twitter I gave it one more go and, Success! There I was standing on Wake island, no lag, no issues, time to fight.

And what a great fight it is, with stunning graphics for an arcade title and epic gameplay usually reserved for retail games, Battlefield 1943 is a fantastic edition to XBLA. A capture the flag mixed with territories style game is the only mode to play at the moment, but there’s no issue there. It’s a great game mode that always seems to keep the scores close and the games finish with only a small margin between teams. Choosing one of three classes to fight as, scout (sniper) infantry (gunner) and rifleman (name says it all) you will rank up your profile as you capture flags, kill the other team and blow up planes and tanks. With destructible scenery too, everything is here for a great game.

However, the problems came back, the lag struck again. According to the Twitter account of the developers it was an issue with packet data and would be finished within a few hours…..and it was. Then the servers failed. It seems, despite what EA and DICE say, the interest in Battlefield 1943 was underestimated and there weren’t enough servers to cope with demand. Games couldn’t be found in the search function, friends couldn’t play together and if you managed to get into a game you were kicked from it swiftly. This continued for some time and the Twitter feed of the Devs kept spitting out excuse after excuse.

We are now some five days after the launch of the game and despite most problems being fixed, there are still a few left behind.

Arthur Gies from Eat.Sleep.Game and Rebel FM said this on Twitter just yesterday; Battlefield 1943 is completely fucked. we couldn’t even do a private game without a hitch.

After trying to arrange a community game yesterday, former 1up writer Nick Suttner said this; Wow, that was a massive failure. Sorry everyone. We had a full room, too! Back to the fully-functioning PS3 version…alone…

This really isn’t good enough on EA’s part, releasing a game on XBLA that is quite obviously broken and in need of removal. But what really gets my goat is how we, the gamer, have received no apology on the situation. Surely under consumer law EA should at least part refund these games as people have paid for them in in worst cases have lost five days of their purchase. I’m utterly speechless that a game that was so hyped can have been so underestimated by it’s own developers and publishers. When Battlefield 1943 works, it’s a beautiful combination of gunplay and teamwork that plays amazingly, But it doesn’t work and that’s just sad.

What happened to JRPGs??

Back in 1998 I found my true love and she was called Aeris. She tragically died at the hands of Sephiroth and for the first time in my then short life, A videogame had breached the TV screen and pulled at my heart strings.
No other game had left me as dumbstruck and in awe as Final Fantasy 7. This game started a torrid love affair with the “JRPG” genre (or Japanese Role Playing Game). From that moment onwards I absorbed any and all JRPGs that I could get my hands on.
From the tender age of sixteen I played through all of the best games, From the aforementioned Final Fantasy 7 to Skies of Arcadia. With the stand out moments being the Suikoden franchise and the sequels to FF7.

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As I grow older these games still hold a place in my heart and if pushed to answer the question of my favourite game I will say FF7 99% of the time. But now at the age of 26 and with family life pressing down on me, Access to these games is becoming harder and harder. Is this the fault of life changing, is it the genre itself becoming stale or is there no room for in depth games now?

Having spoken to many gamers who have been huge fans of the genre, many are shying away from JRPGs now. I know that as a father and husband I find it hard to sit down for long periods of time and absorb a story like I used to. Not only that, but the style and set up of many games in this genre put constraints on your gaming time, with sparse save points and long drawn out battles. These aren’t downsides to the games themselves but more to the ever changing lives that we live.
But why aren’t Japanese developers taking notice of these aspects of life? As members of a busy culture themselves surely they can relate to the issues like these.

But maybe this isn’t the biggest problem that holds back some of Japans finest games.
The world is filled with hundreds of shooters that are easy to jump in and out of quickly and can be picked up, played and put down before you would’ve gotten to a save point on Eternal Sonata.

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It sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m really not. It feels as if JRPGs are falling off of the radar to people who used to play them religiously.
Final Fantasy 13 will be with us soon and it is highly anticipated, will this be a resurgence in the genre?
Square are looking to Final Fantasy 13 with misty eyes, the first “next gen” instalment of series has the world on it’s shoulders, but it feels to me that while carrying the world it’s carrying the future of the these traditional role players we care for.
I for one will definitely be buying FF13 and playing it to death, but then I said the same thing about lost odyssey which sits unplayed on my games shelf.

It seems to me that games playing has changed so radically over the last decade that the humble JRPG is getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. As more shooters appear on the market, the promotion of playing together socially while keeping an excitement level up so high means that people are looking for shorter and sharper experiences.
To combat this maybe it’s time to change the JRPG as we see it, add more save points or a general save system to allow people to jump on for fifteen minutes and then jump off. Give us more co-op to allow us to socialise a lot more while we experience the story you write for us.

With these as options, the family men and women who tell us that they don’t have the time to play these games in their entirety will hopefully come back to the fold.

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This feature purports that there is something wrong with the industry, which overall isn’t true. The games being produced are still fun to many people and sell relatively well.
However in a genre ripe with clichés already, most JRPGs are practically a facsimile of each other and this can’t help when trying to garner more fans and sway older fans to play their game. This shows that the industry is lacking one thing, originality.

I for one am making a mid year resolution to sit down and get back to JRPGs more often.
Hopefully we’ll see Final Fantasy 13 sell big numbers with many people revelling in what looks like a great addition to the franchise. Any big sales numbers for the genre are a good thing, but my hope is that with FF13 selling well that more developers will look to it to bring more JRPGs that have care and attention lavished on them.
But let’s get rid of the clichéd spikey haired orphan protagonist that saves the world and give us more flavour.

If you build it, they will come.

How do you like your blood?

I decided that I would write this blog post to talk about violence in the video games industry. I know what you’re thinking……Oh no, another discussion about violence and the youth of today.
Well actually I want to bring up violence and the youth of yesterday.

It seems that almost everyday now there’s a news story detailing the stories of “innocent” children or teenagers who willingly commit crimes and are, apparently, guided into doing this by video games.
Games are the new scapegoat for the media of today, Parents are hardly blamed for the lack of control over their children and they often turn a blind eye when a copy of an adult game surfaces in their house.
This culture of blaming games is ridiculous when we look at the history of gaming as a whole, Of course there are games today that have gratuitous amounts of blood and violence but then so did games fifteen years ago.
So, if this violence has always been around us then why only now do we ask if video games are corrupting our youth?

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I recently played through streets of rage on the SEGA Mega drive collection, originally released in 1991, Streets of rage is a side scrolling beat em up which could be seen as being ultra violent in some eyes. At one point in one of the early levels my character picked up a glass bottle and proceeded to smash it over someone’s head and then brandish it at waist height waiting to stab somebody with it.
I played this game on it’s original release, I was ten years old.
I never felt that the game spurned any hatred or violent tendencies, However this was as close as you could get to mimicking street violence at it’s worst.

So why then are we, as a society, are we only now pointing fingers at games and saying “don’t do that”
If violence has been present for such a lengthy time in gaming does it come down to the way violence is depicted? Is it more acceptable if it’s displayed with cartoon visuals or is that worse?
With the violence that was included in games in the nineties it was obviously portrayed in a more “cartoon” style due to the graphical capabilities of the consoles and computers that existed at the time. With the progress in games technology came more realistic violence for the eyes and ears to indulge in.
Cartoon style or realistic visual, violence is violence and nothing has changed in the last fifteen years, If anything it was worse in the nineties.

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Games like Mortal Kombat, splatterhouse, Shinobi and shooters like Doom and Duke Nukem had the same level of violence in them then as most adult games do today. But games in the nineties were more aimed at children than they are in the current climate.
So why were those games not highlighted as corrupting our impressionable youth?

I think a lot of the problem is with culture in itself. Back in the nineties this violence was seen as being more of a self defence act, whereas nowadays the violence is almost always pre-meditated and rewarded with jewellery and nice cars. This all comes back round to society and that’s a conversation for another day.
To me, this violence has been there forever and it’s the people that are changing. I may be stating the obvious here but after playing through some retro titles recently and looking back at my younger days, It makes me sad that people are ignorant to what has always been there.

My Emotions regarding motion

Well, it looks like it’s time again for me cement my status as Hi-Score’s Rant machine.

Why, Oh why in this generation can we not overcome problems for gamers, the problem I’m referring to? Motion sickness.

Motion Sickness whilst playing First person shooters to be precise, I am unfortunately one of the many unlucky gamers who suffer from motion sickness while playing games. I’ll admit that it is rare for me now, But when it comes on it is a very unpleasant feeling. I know there are many gamers out there now who suffer and I wonder why this isn’t being addressed by developers. For me personally it comes on when the camera swings side to side as the character moves, surely it is simple to for the developers to add an option to turn it off? There are games out there that have this option already.

The reason I bring this up now, I just sat down to enjoy and review F.E.A.R 2 and it was triggered immediately, with no option to turn off the camera swing I could only play one chapter and had to turn it off. I will now have to play through it very slowly in order to enjoy it. The only other recent games to do this were The darkness and Condemned 2. Which were so bad for me that I had to give up playing them a few chapters in.

Please, can we not help out unfortunate gamers who are missing out on great games because of this situation, this subject was brought up on the recent podcast from what they play. If so many gamers and from the sounds of it, reviewers, suffer with motion sickness then why is it not solved in development stages?

If you suffer or know someone that suffers with motion sickness while playing games, let us know and tell us what games trigger it.