Jack, my cohost over at World 1 Stage 1, and I square off with the latest offering in the Dead or Alive franchise. An hour of ridiculous brawling follows with apologies for Jack’s poor audio. The default earpiece mic that comes with the PS4 is pretty shoddy.
So, I’ve started doing a thing. Because I love the Alien franchise, especially the first movie but because I hate scary video games I have decided to stream my playthrough of Alien: Isolation. Otherwise I’m just going to chicken out from playing it. Actually there’s a fair chance I’ll chicken out from playing it anyway but now when I finally fear-quit it’ll be on video.
To catch up, here’s the story so far.
Episode 1: I explore the safe part of the game without knowing it’s safe. Or believing it’s safe.
Episode 2: I fuck up badly trying to get past one of the earliest stealth puzzle. This one is painful to watch if you want to see me make progress.
Episode 3: I sort out how I fucked up in the last episode and, well, meet the alien. It’s actually less terrifying than it could have been but from here on in? Death stalks me.
via Flickr http://flic.kr/p/n1qVNQ
Since its’ release, I’ve been playing an awful lot of CS:GO, the latest remake of Counter Strike. I have history with the original source material. I was part of the first ever public-server game of Counter Strike way back in the day and I’ve been playing, on and off, ever since.
I’m not very good. That’s not the point.
Anyway, that confession out of the way, let’s move on. There’s a lot to say about GO, some of which I’ll doubtless say in a fuller review in time. There’s no silencers any more. There are molotovs now. Weapons feel floaty but it’s all very pretty. I especially like the way the teams are defined with a uniform look and feel but a randomness that marks each player as individual. Something I was pushing for when I used to work on the occasional mod back in the days of Quake 3 and Elite Force.
The problem though is the AWP. The problem that has plagued CS throughout living memory. In the picture above we see five members of a team of eight players hiding in the same spot with the same sniper rifle. That’s five of the surviving six members of the team. Who are not doing their job. Who are camping, for kill count.
CS:GO is already plagued with pistol/sniper scripts. To prevent abuse of the AWP’s one-hit kill power, the developers took out the target reticle (the little + in the center of the screen) when carrying a sniper rifle but not being zoomed in. To combat this certain players wrote a script that automatically switches from pistol to rifle, fires a shot and switches back. In other words they’re aiming with the reticle as normal but firing a one-hit kill sniper rifle.
I’ve said it before, Counter Strike would be a vastly improved game if the developers put a limit on the number of AWPs purchasable by any one team and put a delay on switching to the weapon before firing. Perhaps a little animation of the player removing the lens caps from the AWP’s scope, just a half-second delay to prevent pistol scripts.
Until such time, however, remember to throw a molotov up into the sniper’s nest.
Let’s be clear; my past is not unblemished. That said I always maintained, even in my darkest days, if developers just got wise to the fact that we’d rather get our games instantly over broadband and give them to us in a convenient, fairly priced way I’d go legit in a heartbeat. Then Valve started putting games out on Steam and I bought them. Then everyone started putting games out on Steam and I bought them by the hundreds. I really, really like Steam. I think digital distribution platforms are the way forward.
I can, however, understand why some people worry that the technology might be unreliable. I can understand this because I have used EA’s Origin.
(click to see full size)
Before I begin I want to put this post in context. I finished Mass Effect 3 when it came out 3 weeks ago (at the start of writing, longer by the end!). I am part way through my second play through, beginning to explore the possibilities available in the narrative. I operate under the assumption that Mass Effect 3’s ending is a trilogy and series ending finale, that further games may be set in the universe but are not part of this particular narrative because this is what we have been told. April has not yet come, when BioWare have told us they will address the ending. That’s where I’m writing from, a position of necessarily incomplete knowledge. No doubt I’ll have more thoughts and perhaps more to say when we hear from BioWare.
Also, before I begin, I want to state my position up front and clearly. I do not like the ending of Mass Effect 3. I do not think it is suitable to, good enough for or in keeping with the Mass Effect franchise. I am not demanding a new ending, do not consider myself as part of any movement, I am merely a disappointed fan. The reason I care that I do not like the ending is that I consider Mass Effect to be one of the most important science fiction franchises in recent years whose importance and significance is squandered by this non-sensical ending.
Why? Read on, but expect spoilers. For the whole franchise.
I saw on Twitter today a little Easter humour from Chris Priestly.
What do you mean “at the end he died on a cross”? That makes no sense! And what of his companions? *newtestamentrage* #retakeeaster
Now, clearly Chris was venting a little spleen over the fact that no one likes the ending of Mass Effect 3. That their attempt to leave it ambiguous and open-ended has back fired, largely because they specifically promised the ending would be neither ambiguous nor open-ended. Chris’ clever tweet leads me to two conclusions:
1. The ending of Mass Effect 3 is a weak Christ-analogue after all
It’s been hurled as an accusation, what with the ascension in a beam of light and the sacrifice. Hell, Shepard even bleeds from her side.
Well now we know, thanks to Mr Priestly. It is just the Christ story. Nothing more.
2. The end of the bible story is Jesus dying on the cross
That’s right, folks. The ending of Mass Effect 3 is as good as the ending of Jesus’ story. Which is an apt post to make on Easter Sunday because Jesus’ story ended three days before Easter on Good Friday when he was crucified. In fact, there is no Easter, because there is no more to Jesus’ story than that he died on the cross.
There’s no story of Jesus rising again. Nothing in the Bible about how his followers’ responded to Jesus’ death. He certainly didn’t return, address his followers and ascend into heaven as a saviour.
Except, of course, that all of that is wrong. The Bible tells a clear, specific and non-ambiguous story of what happens to Jesus after the death on the cross. I doubt Christianity would have quite the same followers if the ending had literally been a death on the cross and not even a nod to what happened to the disciples. Would EA, perhaps have ended the Bible with a nearly blank page, in the center of which was printed:
Jesus Christ has become a legend by dying on the cross for your sins. Now you can build that legend by giving money to the church.
Brink was a game that I had followed with some interest. Its’ setting and surrounding story could have been almost written with me in mind. Set in a dystopic future where a utopian floating city called The Arc has collapsed under the burden of the needy and desperate into out-and-out civil war. It’s reminiscent of the floating city state in Snow Crash.
Of course this is all set dressing. The grist of the game is the conflict between The Arc’s ‘Security’ and ‘Resistance’, the rag tag group who are forced to live in the shipping container and rusting-hull shanty towns that surround the city proper.
Then there’s the fact that what we’re looking at is an 8 vs 8, class-based conflict with staggered objectives through interesting and fascinating environments built with idTech. It’s not as special as the hype from Splash Damage and Bethesda may have had you believe, but it’s good solid gameplay of a kind I enjoy.
This all combined to make a game that seemed right up my alley. Then they revealed their parkour system. A button that when held down not only makes you character sprint but also enables them to freely traverse the environment, free-running style. I was a huge Mirror’s Edge booster and I’m a fan of the environment navigation in Assassin’s Creed. I was hooked.
Then I second guessed myself.