If there’s anything that the PlayStation 4 reveal has taught us, it’s that consoles, and the games we play on them, no longer matter. Fortunately I have managed to get my hands on the thing that we all do care about: the DualShock 4. Here is my exclusive review, in which I run through all the key features of the controller. The X button Where else could one start but with the X button. Sony fans will be pleased to hear that this new X button retains the emphicity that’s been a hallmark of the DualShock series. The X button has always been the button of “YES,” and it’s no exaggeration to say that I literally found myself shouting that over and over as I pressed the DualShock 4′s X, slipping into a strange semi-aware trance state in which I seemed doomed to repeat the word to infinity. I was only snapped out of my affirminating reverie by the chill of a thin veil of spittle that had accumulated upon my bear arms, flecked by the sibilant sounds that punctuated every proclamation of “YES” that I made. A good sign, indeed. Continue reading at Unwinnable
It’s time to leave the debate as to whether video games are art or not behind. Instead, there is a need to consider how video games function as works of art, to ask whether game developers have properly grasped the nature of interactivity and to consider whether we as an audience really understand what it is about video games that makes them so compelling. I invited three individuals to explore these issues with me — Jonathan Blow, creator of the critically acclaimed Braid and upcoming exploration-puzzle game The Witness; Erlend Grefsrud, developer at Strongman Games and ex-game journalist; and Dr. Grant Tavinor, a philosophy academic at Lincoln University who has written a book and a number of articles on the subject of video games. Continue reading at Gamasutra.
Yeah, I’m talking about Hotline Miami months too late. That’s not because I got halfway through writing this and got distracted, it’s because this has got spoilers in it and I didn’t want to ruin it for you. So there. Just read it. Unless you don’t want to see the spoilers. Take a cursory glance at Hotline Miami and the impression you will be left with is of a game which celebrates violence. Playing as an anonymous masked man — who may or may not be a professional hitman, a psychologically disturbed serial killer, or a bit of both — you must fulfill a very basic set of criteria: Go to a place Kill everyone in that place Continue reading at Citizen Game
THIS PIECE HAS GOT QUITE DEFINITE SPOILERS IN IT, SO DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT THE PLOT OF BIOSHOCK INFINTE TO BE SERIOUSLY RUINED FOR YOU! About half-way through Bioshock Infinite, Daisy Fitzroy — black revolutionary and leader of the Vox Populi — is killed. With Fitzory’s death, the game that I hoped Bioshock Infinite would be also dies. The game we are left with isn’t a bad one, quite the opposite, in fact. But it does nevertheless lose something which, to this player, was a vital part of the formula that made the original Bioshock so special. Continue reading at Square Go
Signal Ops is a squad based combat game with a little bit of a twist. Rather than taking on the role of an operative in the field, you play as an officer who directs his agents from the safety of a control room where a bank of monitors allow you to view every team member’s perspective simultaneously. You can cycle through your agents to take direct control of a character and can also issue orders to other team members while doing so. There are a number of classes which you steadily unlock as you progress through the game, allowing you to tweak the composition of your team slightly in later missions. The wrench agent, for example, is able to pick locks, the spy can be used to distract enemies, the demolition agent can craft bombs, and so on. Continue reading at Beefjack.
A 2.5D online multiplayer combat game which takes its cue from the action movies of the 80s and 90s — sounds appealing right? Machineguns, lightsabers, cheesy quips and a host of other action movie tropes and clichés mashed together to create a cartoony homage to the genre. What more could you want? Well, while The Showdown Effect is successful in capturing a spirit of playful excess which is welcome in a world saturated by the ‘gritty realism’ of many contemporary shooters, it’s unfortunate that the experience of playing the game often reflects the superficiality which defines its source material, marring what is at times an enjoyable multiplayer combat game. Continue reading at Beefjack
Six months ago, ex-Valve editor and cinematographer Leonard Menchiari took part in his first protest in northern Italy’s Susa Valley. The protest was part of a decade-long campaign aimed at preventing the construction of a high-speed railway line through what many consider to be an area of natural beauty. “I was occupying the A32 Chianocco highway, near Turin, with several hundred people”, says Menchiari. “After a few days of occupying the highway, blocking the path of the military that is currently protecting this huge project, we realized that the police were coming. A helicopter was above us the whole time, rocks were banging on the sides of the road, and hundreds of policemen marched towards us and violently separated us into different sections”. Continue reading at Gamespot.
There was an unexpected element to DmC: Devil May Cry. It was always going to be about smashing up demons. It was always going to feature weapon-switching, combo-building, score-chasing, and combat tech-fests. What was possibly more of a surprise was it being an outlandish political satire which takes aim at consumer culture, finance and banking, surveillance society, and right-wing media. Ninja Theory’s Dominic Matthews explains the role satire plays in DmC’s cultural commentary on evil. Continue reading at Rock, Paper, Shotgun here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/01/30/reimagining-evil-ninja-theory-on-dmcs-cultural-satire/
Dishonored’s Heart is an object which lives up to its name in many ways. It breathes life into the game’s characters, imbues the city of Dunwall with soul, and helps the player to feel the melancholy tone which permeates all facets of its world. Characterised by the intersection of the mystical and the technological, it distills the very essence of the pseudo-Victorian steampunk landscape in which Dishonored’s tale unfolds. It is presented to the player as a navigation tool — a guide to lead players to the occult items littered throughout the fictional city of Dunwall. But, as co-creative directors Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio told me, “It also plays a part related to informing their decisions about when to apply violence or not, making it a really interesting, more subtle part of the power fantasy.” Here we start to get to grips with what it is the makes the Heart so compelling. Continue reading at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Remember playing Grand Theft Auto III for the first time? It seemed special. Not only because of what it was in itself, but also for what it promised: living, breathing, functioning worlds where you can do anything you want, whenever you want. In other words, it promised a future where games would be vast virtual playgrounds replete with possibility. When I look at open-world games today, I no longer see that prospect of possibility. Increasingly, I fear that I will find a bloated mess of ‘content’, within which openness signals the prospect of a daunting chore, rather than liberation. Continue reading my article about falling out of love with open-world videogames on Citizen Game.