I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of days while the dust from 30 Days of Music settles down, but I wrote an article for Gamersyndrome under my Moneyless Gamer alias on the influx of 360 demos in the cars-with-guns genre. In it I say things like: Blur is basically Mario Kart rendered in Microsoft’s ‘gritty realism’ house style. The way S&SAS Racing just steals the weapons and the concept, Blur takes the ideas behind that, rubs its chin, and reinvents them as sci-fi tech for its shiny real-cars world. And it doesn’t look like it or function quite the same, but the same gameplay ideas are at work. So, say, the red shell becomes a huge glowing orb, that homes but can’t take corners, creating a sub-game of ‘dodge the orb’ or ’save the orb for the long straight stretch’. Read on, to see me push the limits of italics as a device to stress that this is really flippin’ awesome, and indeed humour, as far as they will go.
Welcome to the bi-weekly comeback.I’m posting this from my once-broken laptop. Damn it’s good to have my baby back. As usual, been busy editing the hell out of Britain’s best-looking student paper Redbrick. Still, I’ve had time to write up a fair few things, and now the time has come…to link to them!First up, my visit to Eurogamer Expo ’09 bears further fruit. I equally gush and rant about my look at forthcoming 360 sneaky-shooty-game Splinter Cell Conviction. I’m getting the hang of this preview business… “After a very smooth opening cutscene, showing Sam Fisher interrogating some generic evil-doer by smashing his face into urinals as information gained was projected on the wallls, Fisher runs out into a civilian-packed street. Pulling his gun out causes a panic, people running away and shouting, allowing Fisher in a very Assassin’s Creed-esque moment to slip amongst them unnoticed by guards. The game might have gone “back to the drawing board” a year or so ago, but its certainly kept the initial mission statement, a game about hiding in plain sight.” Spot the internal battle raging, to stop me just constantly repeating the word ‘smooth’ throughout. Read the rest here. Second, a (late, as usual) return to the Moneyless Gamer feature for Gamersyndrome.com. With slightly less immediate enthusiasm than my usual posts, I basically link to experimental weird-out game . The post is probably the most normal thing I’ve ever written, but I’m trying a bit of an experiment (to match the game). Hint: There’s more to come… “Less a game than a mass experiment, Dungeon is nevertheless worth playing. I’m a bit afraid I don’t have the necessary reach here to get discussion rolling the way the game really needs, but there’s no way I can’t talk about it. Created by Swedish one-man prolific indie-game machine Jonathan Söderström (aka Cactus).” If you play it (and I heartily endorse giving it a go), please, post on the article and tell me what you thought of it. Here.Meanwhile, in my other life: The Redbrick Top 40 best albums of the 21st Century (that’s right, the whole damn’ millenium.) It’s starting to get really interesting, as all the classic choices pop up. I’ve even written a few entries for it. Start here, and you should be able to click through to where we are now (#’s 20-16 should be going up in the next day or so).Alternatively, you can pick your starting point by going here. I’ve also argued out the Hot(ish) Topic of band reunions with my co-ed Erica Anne Vernon. She likes ’em, I think they’re a force for evil. FIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!This post carved out of the very flesh of its brother.
I’ve been away awhile but I’m b-b-BACK. Don’t call it a comeback. In that time, I’ve battled a broken laptop, edited the hell out of a few issues of Britain’s hottest* student paper Redbrick, and attended a games-expo. It’s been a pretty fun time. Somehow, during all that, I found the time to write up a coupla articles for y’all.First up, it’s a (late) return to the Moneyless Gamer feature for the lovely yet-MMO-keen people at Gamersyndrome.com. I talk about joyous crayoned-in speed-platformer, Runman, and just why YOU should play it. Because it’s the best, that’s why. “Level names like ‘The Awesome Zone’ reveal exactly what the game is about (apart from having a genuinely funny and warm personality): making you feel damn awesome. The very best sugar-rush speed moments match that of the Burnout games, and as your little yellow mascot cheers encouragement (WOO! OH SNAP!), you’re going to have to smile along with him.” Click here and you can be awesome too. Second, the fruits of my visit to Eurogamer Expo ’09 begin to flower. I write about the PS3’s next-big-thing, point&click thriller Heavy Rain. “The comparison to film is important- Heavy Rain is gaming’s equivalent to the thriller. Obviously so; it wears the trappings of a Se7en or Usual Suspects, but more importantly it captures the central feel of them- the thrill. Until now, games have looked like a thriller- see Condemned for a game example- but they’ve never played like a thriller- Condemned had dark moody atmosphere and the occasional jump, but it was more akin to a survival horror than a true thriller.” Yup, it’s one a’ them there revolutionary games**. Do I crown it gaming’s Citizen Kane, or noble failed experiment? There’s only one way to find out. Finally, I haven’t technically written anything for it yet (I’m the curator), but we’ve got a Redbrick countdown going on, of the 40 best albums of this whole millenium. Where the hell is your favourite? Good question: check it out/complain here. *By hottest I mean most-attractivest. Obv. **There’s a beautiful video of what the game is capable of (or more excitingly, was capable of in 2006) here.
A new thing for our good friends Gamersyndrome: this time the start of (what I hope will be) a beautiful new feature: THE MONEYLESS GAMER. Basically, I have taken the realisation that I’m someone with very little money to buy games and spun this into (what I hope will be) a good thing. Flash games, demos, deals, everything. All in one handy corner, with lengthy discourse attached. For #001 I do Time Fcuk. Example quote: “It takes the head-against-wall element of trying to grasp at the logic of a puzzle game and makes its key motif. Where Braid used this brain-crunching confusion to hint at a higher meaning, here it is transformed into a masochistic and – not unlike, say, the game version of certain Nine Inch Nails songs.” It’s… well, it’s better if you play it, really. That Edmund McMillen knows how to mess with people.
Today is a very Alex Spencer-heavy day on the internet. Rejoice! Part I.In which I write a (not to give too much away, but completely loving) review of PC pointy-clicky game Time Gentlemen Please for good ol’ Gamersyndrome. In it, I say witty things like: “Time Gentlemen, Please is a point-and-click adventure game where your inventory will simultaneously feature a skeleton arm dipped in Hitler’s bloody fetal matter, glasses stolen from a Neanderthal geek, and some condoms. It follows (very closely) in the grand tradition of the classic Lucasarts adventure games now seeing a resurgence.” Read the rest here to see how much of the game I resist giving away. If you’re looking for a walkthrough (avast, intrepid Googler), this review features some very, very soft hints. Part II.I which I write a (similarly loving) review of the forthcoming Image graphic novel Beast for sexy, sexy Comicsnexus. “At its heart, Beast is both indie-as-can-be slice of life and classic genre story. The two meet and touch, but its not a mash-up in the way, say, Jamie McKelvie’s urban fairytale Suburban Glamour is.The story moves along leisurely, letting the actions of Colette, our protagonist, set the pace.” And read the rest here, to find out whether I can resist stealing this joke from Penny Arcade. For those of you counting at home, the scores are probably 8, and 9. Which way round? YOU DECIDE!
I find a new platform* for my yapping over at the lovely Gamersyndrome.com, and begin by looking at upcoming jumpy-game New Super Mario Bros. Wii. “Nintendo have recently come out and admitted that, perhaps, their E3 showing was a bit weak. Certainly alongside Microsoft’s big Milo/Natal double-team, it wasn’t much. But, for a company so often accused these days of neglecting their “hardcore” audience- that’d be us guys- the headlines seemed to spell out ‘Nintendo Go Back To The Franchises’: two Mario games, a new Metroid and hints about a forthcoming Zelda.” BUT THERE’S A TWIST! Read the rest here.*Yup, this was certainly a pun.