The Infamous GameSpot GTA V Review or How the Sh*t Hit The Fan

So I’m late to the game again. Big surprise right? Actually I wasn’t  really planning to write on this topic at all and this week was going to be a purely GTA V themed piece (not a review because I’m not even CLOSE to finishing the main story yet), but I realised that I really had to say something about this topic. And as you can see from the title, the topic in question is the furor that resulted from GameSpot reviewer Carolyn Petit’s review of GTA V  and whether that was fair, but it’s also more generally about the nature of reviews.  In case you haven’t heard about the controversy surrounding the review, she basically gave the game a 9/10 and mentioned that she felt that brilliant though the game was, it was also ‘politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic’. The ensuing shit storm was greater than anyone could have expected. People were really really angry. Some even felt betrayed and disillusioned. There are a number of issues here and a few perspectives were expressed on the dissenting side with, I think, varying degrees of validity. Now, I don’t entirely agree with her opinion, but that’s pretty much unnecessary in the equation. The question is whether she was wrong to have expressed that particular opinion at all. I think is important to discuss because to me, this incident is indicative of a wider problem with the community, like the excessive outrage that happened over the Xbox One or death threats to COD developers for changing a minor aspect of the game were. It’s both an exciting and a sad time to be a gamer. We’re not all like that of course, but enough of us are for the rest of us to be cast in their shadow.

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Far Cry review… coming soon!

This, as you can probably tell from the title, is not a Far Cry review. I’ve almost, but not quite finished it yet. I know, I know, today’s the day I usually post something, but since I’m having my very first guest post on my blog next week, I really wanted to put out my Far Cry review this week, so I don’t forget all the things I wanted to write about it when I get my next chance in 2 weeks time. Yes, I love Far Cry 3 that much that I feel like I have to write this week’s blog post on it, rather than just writing about something else today. Also, once I get that review written, I can update my favourite game list, because I’m already pretty sure that Far Cry is going to have to be added to it (unless something drastic happens in the end portion of the game). Basically, there’ll be no post today (although the next Minecraft video will be out later as usual), but I will definitely get that review out this Wednesday or Saturday to coincide with the videos. Anyway, have a good Monday guys and check back for that Far Cry review!

Left 4 Dead 1: Zombies Galore Part 1 of 3(?)

I know I said I’d get a Portal 2 co-op review out, but since I haven’t managed to get a capture card for my Xbox yet, how about a game about zombies instead? And survivors. Though mainly lots and lots of zombies. 

L4D is a co-op action horror game with 4 game modes: single-player, co-op campaign, survival and versus. My focus is on the 4-person campaign mode, which is essentially the same as the single-player mode, except that for single-player the other characters are AI-controlled. The game uses the Source engine and is available on the Xbox 360, PC and Mac. As you can see, I’ve titled this Part 1 of 3, because I’m planning to play L4D 2 and 3 if it comes out (it has been promised by Valve, but you know… it’s Valve) and do a comparison. L4D came out in 2008, so it’s not new, but I’ve only just got round to playing it at last and my verdict? I wasn’t disappointed.

l4d SC1

Someone got up on the wrong side of bed this morning…

I must confess, I’m a huge zombie fan. Zombie games, books, fanfic, movies, anything to do with zombies I’ll devour (pun intended). However, that also means I’m generally pretty picky about what I consider to be quality. After all, there’s a lot of rubbish out there. The question then is, what makes a good zombie game/book/movie anyway? It’s certainly not complexity. I wasn’t particularly impressed by Dawn of the Dead, despite generally loving Romero’s Living Dead series and that covered some pretty heavy themes including the effects of excess consumerism on American society. On the opposite side of the spectrum, one my favourite zombie games of all time is actually a simple little Flash game called Rebuild 2, which you can and should check out here. That game was incredible and even though it’s only a simple turn-based strategy game, it somehow managed to hit all the right buttons for me. There was less focus on gore and action and more on characters, plot and the deeper societal issues that we all know lie beneath the surface of everyday life and that an apocalyptic setting is often used to bring out in full colour. That’s what really draws me into the zombie genre I think; the dark, gritty atmosphere and way that all your human flaws are reflected back at you in an unforgiving light, forcing you to examine what it means to truly be human. To an extent, L4D has all of these elements and more.

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Does Thirty Flights of Loving live up to the hype?

Most of you have probably heard of Thirty Flights of Loving. Everyone seems to have been going on about this game since it came out, raving about how it’s one of the must-play games of 2012. I was extremely excited to play this short first-person… game? Interactive story? Experience? Whatever it was it sounded amazing, intriguing, life-changing even. Maybe that was the problem, that I had such high hopes for it. When I got around to finally playing it this week, I was left with a sense of… well, disappointment seems a bit of a strong word, but my mind was certainly not blown like I expected it to be. It’s like when you go to a fast food joint and  order a burger, which looks lip-smackingly delcious in the picture, but when it actually comes you realise that it’s tiny, the cheese looks like plastic, the sauce looks like it’s about to give you radiation poisoning and…. well you get the point. It wasn’t quite the masterpiece that I had expected. It also seems that I might be in the minority about this.

tfol 2013-01-27 17-38-07-02

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that TFOL was a terrible game. On the contrary, I actually though it was quite good. I have to give Brendon Chung some major kudos for creating such a well-thought out, tightly narrated and original game (at least in terms of design). The story of a heist gone wrong is told through a series of short scenes that move you backwards and forwards through time. In the process you catch glimpses of the road that has led your character to this point in time, poignant little snapshots that leave you wondering, but always dancing around that moment where everything fell apart. It undeniably packs an emotional punch. The pacing is incredible, always tightly wound with brief respites before you’re thrown back into it with a frenetic new energy, with not even one second wasted. It’s cinematic, it’s beautiful, it’s charming in its simple and blocky graphics. It’s atmospheric. It’s whimsical. It’s poignant. The soundtrack perfectly complements the mood in each scene. In fact I think it’s the soundtrack composed by Chris Remo that truly made this for me.

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Poll: What should I play for my first Youtube video?

Hello fellow gamers and new inductees! As the title suggests, I’m planning to start a Youtube channel (woot!) and so I’d like a little input from the people who will most likely be viewing it what they’d like to see for my first video so check out the poll above and let me know what you think. I’m not sure if it’ll be in the style of a review or a Let’s Play video (walkthrough) yet, so if you have opinions on that as well, please leave a comment! I’ll be updating this blog and (once I set it up) my Youtube channel every week as far as possible, so you can look forward to a lot of action and most likely excessive swearing in the future (I do turn into a bit of a different person when I play games…)