Prey is Gay (and that’s bloody fantastic)

By using a little common sense and a lot of strong writing, Prey absolutely hits the nail on the head in its representation of gay characters.  The folks over at Arkane Studios are proving to be one of the most capable storytellers in the business with genuinely inventive twists.  Even the mimics, Prey’s lowest level enemies, defy their skittish facehugger-like appearance with the ability to mimic any object in the vicinity.  As collecting objects is essential, this makes every interaction unsettling.

It’s not that Prey is particularly inventive or even subtle in representing its gay characters but it avoids dimwittedly making a fuss about it.  Sexual orientation isn’t of particular importance to the central sci-fi narrative, so it is appropriately not overplayed.  That said, Prey is far from coy about its gay characters.  They are simply present.  Frankly, it’s the finest approach to the woefully unrepresented and misrepresented issue of sexual orientation. Continue reading

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Far Cry 4: Creatively Approaching Death & Destruction

In the last decade there has been a surge of games focussed on building and creating, rather than experiencing a prepared Hollywood influenced narrative or one long corridor of goons and explosions.

These games primarily give players a set of tools and a few basic tasks to guide the player’s creative endeavours; these tasks are often optional.

Primary examples of this are Minecraft and Little Big Planet, both of which focus on creation and a have made a lot of money.

Turns out players enjoy ‘creating’ as much as ‘experiencing’, and such games have aroused the same creative juices that Lego and Mechano have evoked in many a wannabe-architect’s life.

There are many games that embrace this with map and character creators, but this is usually a mere additional feature or means for some minor personal input rather than a pure creation agency encouraged by freedom and a set of building blocks.

The player becomes the director rather than viewer in creation games.

Games such as Little Big Planet and Minecraft are notoriously time consuming despite intuitive controls and gradual learning curve. Some gamers don’t have the time to invest in such games or they prefer a little more guidance and less overwhelming freedom.

This isn’t to say such players are less creative or committed, it just takes a certain type of gamer to create something like this.

That’s where creatively destructive games come in Continue reading

Soulless, goalless and ball-less: why Destiny has already failed

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Destiny has taken a lifetime to release; from its leak, announcement and subsequent drip-fed reveal, the game has had a slow and well-paced development period. And it worked. Who wasn’t intrigued by Destiny?

So the real question is, for a game that has seemingly taken a lifetime to develop, how did it end up so lifeless?

Continue reading

A dinner date with Destiny – Day 3

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If variety is the spice of life, Destiny is a Korma.

I have only been playing for about five hours, so take my musings with a pinch of salt. However, I am bored of the structure already, and that is worrying for five hours of gameplay. It reminds me of the first Assassin’s Creed game; it is good looking and works well technically , but my, oh my, it is repetitive.

My girlfriend pointed out that all I was doing was the same as any other game. By this she meant that it looked like – beyond the superficial makeup of the game – COD.

And she was right. All I was doing was shooting things – attacking, attacking, attacking.Destiny_20140909210820

I haven’t bought COD since Black Ops, and with good reason too. I am bored of simply shooting wave after wave of the same enemy just to grind through some sort of rank progression.

Still, the feedback from shooting a gun in Destiny is very good and grinding has as much appeal as any other game that involves grinding.  So if you like a good grind and shooting countless same-faced enemies in the face, this is the game for you.

A dinner date with Destiny – Day 1

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So far so good. Destiny has surprised me, entirely because I did not think it would.

A general avoidance of persistent online games and FPS fatigue ensured my weariness of Bungie’s latest, but I find myself itching to get back to it ASAP.

First off, the game hits with it’s beauty. That said, I am worried about the level variety; despite their beauty, they don’t strike me as memorable. What they lack in variation they make up for by being vast enough to accommodate the three classes’ strengths.

I – uncharacteristically – picked a female human Hunter,  I mention this because it may explain why I am enjoying the game so much. My familiar lazy gaming mind told me to jump in as a male Titan, but it is a new generation of consoles, if I can’t change now when can I? So my enjoyment could stem from this solely.

So far I have fought Wizards, fought very generic enemies over and over, and listened to some nonsense about the darkness approaching.

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The story strikes me as nothing special, and yet I am enthralled with the influence of Star Wars that Bungie proudly wears on its sleeve. My most memorable moment so far has been speeding on a Sparrow – which, make no mistake about it, is a speeder – down a river surrounded by waterfalls and cliffs.

It was beautiful; not quite sublime but certainly impressive.