Nick's Gaming Blog

Some Stuff in Gamez

1. Bioshock Infinite’s box art S-U-C-K-S…let’s not mince words

Look, there’s always been a reason that Bioshock titles have appealed to those not ensnared by “any and all” FPS titles.  They’ve emphasized the unique notion that the mood, atmosphere, and essence of a city can tell a story, even without a well-characterized or fleshed-out protagonist.  Sure, the first one’s combat was so-so, and often exuded a “battle of attrition” mentality.  Sure, the “Shyamalan twists” of the original weren’t given any competition and yes, Rapture lacked that “new car smell” on the second go-round, but the combat mechanics were refined.

Man oh man, BURNING FLAGS, ZEPPELINS, DOWNWARD SCOWL, AND A SHOTGUN WITH A FIVE O'CLOCK SHADOW TO BOOT. FUCK YEAH!  Oh, wait.  That's right. I totally hate this.

Man oh man, BURNING FLAGS, ZEPPELINS, DOWNWARD SCOWL, AND A SHOTGUN WITH A FIVE O’CLOCK SHADOW TO BOOT. FUCK YEAH! Oh, wait. That’s right. I totally hate this.

Overall, they’re two very good games that helped elevate the FPS genre beyond the previously dime-a-dozen criticism that FPS games did little more than slake sadistic inclinations or worse, “train” the next generation of mouth-frothing murderers.

But Bioshock Infinite’s box art has me wondering if 2K’s marketing department actually knows what Bioshock is about.  At least, I have to think 2K was behind it…if that cover art is a direct result of Irrational Games’ decision-making somebody needs to have a Q and A with Ken Levine, stat.

This is not Far Cry, or Uncharted, or Crysis, people.  I don’t require the “gun slung over shoulder, chin down, eyes up” cookie cutter pose that many games are adapting.  “And just why are they assuming this position?” you might ask.

I mean, yeah, they're not identical, per se...but you can at least see how 2K is borrowing elements from the Uncharted type of box art, right?

I mean, yeah, they’re not identical, per se…but you can at least see how 2K is borrowing elements from the Uncharted style of box art, right?

Because, despite living in a day and age where people can get 200+ informed opinions surrounding the gameplay, graphics, story, and general “fun factor” of a game in a variety of mediums without leaving their homes…there are still those people that ramble into Gamestop looking for something to hold them over until the next Call of Duty.  And for them, having a “by-the-numbers badass” adorning the cover trumps all.  Hell, it’s probably the only thing that could even grace this clumsy methodology with the term “informed decision.”

“Nick, it’s just a cover,” you say.  “Let 2K use that ‘badass’ to sell to the ‘dumbass.’”

Yeah, you might be right…but they had a chance to respect their fan base, instead of the lowest common denominator.  They didn’t.

*Edit: Ken Levine recently explained that the box art is designed with the mass consumer in mind, or “for the people who aren’t informed,” as he calls them.  And I get it.  That doesn’t mean I like it though.  Does a game really need the whole spectrum of gamers on board to succeed financially?  Was this a problem Bioshock had?  Probably will have to look into this in the future.

2.  You want Grand Theft Auto V on PC?  You and what ar…oh, those 100,000+ people.  I see.

So, Rockstar Games hasn’t commented on whether or not their latest venture into criminal syndicates and goin’ bowlin’ with your Eurotrash cousin is going to be on PC.  Of course, this has convinced the Aryan race of Master Gamers that they’re going to be excluded from the uninhibited carnage that console gamers will enjoy.

A game that lets you play as gangster Hugo Weaving, a younger version of the Allstate commercials guy, and Nolan North?  SIGN ME UP.

A game that lets you play as gangster Hugo Weaving, a younger version of the Allstate commercials guy, and Nolan North? SIGN ME UP.

Not that Rockstar’s track record should worry PC gamers.  Of their last several titles Max Payne, GTA IV, and LA Noire all got PC releases.  The only blemish on said game developer’s resume would be that Red Dead Redemption never managed to “mosey” into the rarefied realm of PCs.

Rational or not, an “internet petition” (few phrases have carried less value in the English language) was started in support of making the next evolution of virtual felonious behavior one that all can enjoy.

Rockstar’s Dan Houser did go so far as to say that both PC and WiiU versions of the game were “up for consideration.” PC gamers, you do not want to be mentioned in the same breath as the “once and future” kid-friendly console.  Nintendo’s never gotten their finger-paintin’ digits on a Grand Theft Auto title (likely due a combination of questionable content and technical barriers) and I won’t hold my breath thinking this might change.

Certain sources have speculated that Rockstar isn’t eager to hand over their masterpiece to the budding Dr. Frankenstein’s of the modding community, especially after the whole “Hot Coffee” debacle of 2004.  Yet one would think if that was such a pressing concern, then GTA IV would have followed this trend.  There’s always the “all PC gamers steal/download their copy illegally, so there’s no reason to waste either time or money on them” excuse.  That one gets played a lot these days.

Regardless, if you wanna sign the petition, you can do such here.  You’re welcome.

3.  Didja hear about Guitar Hero 7, and how it got canned?  Well, here’s why:

So music games are on the way out, true story.  They have been for the past couple years.  And that’s why you haven’t heard any poor sap bemoaning the fact that he hasn’t been able to impress people with his ability to mash multi-colored buttons on a undersized plastic guitar.

Look, when I can't come up with interesting images for a game, I just go straight to memes.  Especially if I don't like the game.

Look, when I can’t come up with interesting images for a game, I just go straight to memes. Especially if I don’t like the game.

Still, that didn’t stop Activision from wringing the previously bountiful teat that was the Guitar Hero franchise, hoping for a last drop or two.

Because, you know, seventh time’s the charm.

Apparently, according to an anonymous source that talked to Kotaku, the title was a royal mess.  For starters, all of the instruments but the guitar were abandoned.  In turn, the plastic guitar was swapped out for an actual six-string guitar.  The catch?  That would be the only supported method of playing the game.  On top of that, the game’s budget only allowed for some cheap-as-f*ck songs like “Closing Time,” and a handful of “well-traveled” tunes from previous games.

But the guitar was expensive, not very responsive, and added an extra bonus button in the neck.  Two years into the development of the title, Activision called it quits.

Music games weren’t for everyone, but if they were thinking that disenfranchising those planning to “dust off” their old axe was a good idea…well, it wasn’t.

4. Just what is The Phantom Pain?

Leave it to Hideo Kojima to leave everyone talking after the VGAs several days back.  If you missed it, Kojima put out a trailer for a game titledThe Phantom Pain, which seemingly has to do with a hospital/sanitarium patient who has little-to-no control over his body.  Clearly those in charge have sinister notions in regards to our protagonist, and while he appears to escape from their grasp, a military force of some sort enters the facility and starts cappin’ people.

If that’s vague, remember that it’s Kojima.  There’s a good chance that every minute detail might stand for something, or the whole thing’s a smokescreen meant to throw us off the trail of what would more than likely be the fifth “numbered” entry in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.

But…what if Kojima’s well-documented history of subterfuge (the most memorable example coming in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, where convention footage led gamers to believe that Solid Snake would be the protagonist of the title…when in fact it was Raiden) is the reason that we should not look for another answer?

So remember when this guy came out of left field, and captured the hearts of the gaming public?  Maybe just the "out of left field" part?

So remember when this guy came out of left field, and captured the hearts of the gaming public? Maybe just the “out of left field” part?

Maybe the newest (or, alternately, the least-utilized) item in Kojima’s toolbox is upfront honesty.  I mean, how much would it mess up Metal Gear fans to be handed a “what you see is what you get” scenario?  I mean, for a franchise that has prided itself on possessing one of the most convoluted clusterfuckeries of plot twists, this side of The Sixth Sense, straightforwardness would really mess with people.

Let’s not forget that Kojima has spoken recently about his desire to be known as more than “the Metal Gear guy.”  If The Phantom Pain turned out to be something more than a duplicitous “bait and switch” it would certainly reinforce Kojima’s remarks as of late.  But could Kojima have said those things with the deliberate intent of wanting me to believe he was distancing himself from the Metal Gear franchise?  I don’t know, man, I just don’t know.

*One day later* Okay, so now that I’ve gotten some time to distance myself from this whole boondoggle, there seem to be two prevailing theories in the whole matter.  Some have lobbied for the idea that The Phantom Pain is in fact Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, with “compare the trailer at the VGAs with previously released Ground Zeroes footage…cause that’s the same Big Boss” being the salient point.

Others have pointed out that Kojima is a clever fellow, and would not purposefully try to deceive gamers from a title that had been previously announced as well as released footage for, not to mention a demo.  They’ve written off the similarities graphically/character design-wise by suggesting that the game’s using the same FOX engine as Ground Zeroes, and that it also has Big Boss as its protagonist.  They’re also suggested all of these similarities too, in favor of The Phantom Pain actually being Metal Gear 5 all gussied up.

My take?  I’d love to see Kojima do something outside of the Metal Gear universe, but I think that’s something Konami’s investors and Metal Gear fans aren’t in favor of anytime soon.  Of the two titles most are vacillating between, I’m torn: having two next-gen Metal Gear games in development concurrently with the same main character and time period seems unlikely…even if I’d wager that Ground Zeroes is more “finished” than not.

However, I’m quite skeptical that Kojima would make such an effort to disguise an already established project.  Trust me, revealing another Metal Gear game would get enough attention in its own right.  This I’m 100% percent certain of.

In the end?  I’m going to throw my vote behind an overly-ambitious Kojima rather than an unnecessarily cryptic one, and vote for The Phantom Pain turning out to be Metal Gear V.

Don’t hold me to it.

5.  Keeping this point short, unlike the remainder of this post: Ken Levine is freaking awesome.

Here’s why

 

1 Comment

    “Does a game really need the whole spectrum of gamers on board to succeed financially?”

    Maybe not a spectrum of gamers, but it needs a lot of gamers. Especially when it’s a big budget title like Bioshock. You can see how they tried to appeal to gamers in Bioshock 2 with the multiplayer modes, though we all know how that turned out.

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