Tron

Videogames, probably due to their tendency to rely on killing stuff as a core mechanic, seem to have a monopoly on shitty, horrifying, or otherwise dystopian settings: the kinda places you’d want to avoid in real life (unless you have a death wish). Some of them even have a surprising dark charm about them. Fallout’s capital wasteland, for example, can be quite a fascinating place – but only within the confines of a video game. If such a place existed on earth, I wouldn’t exactly be contacting Thomas Cook to book my family holiday there.

Despite this, there are a few examples of places within games that I’d love to visit: places I’d jump at the chance of being beamed into the screen and having my digitalised-self materialise into that world. The first place that comes to mind is The Forza Horizon Festival, from Forza Horizon (duh).

forza-horizon-2-00

Situated in the sunny Colorado desert, the Forza Horizon festival brings together motor-racing, music festivals and fair ground rides to create the most amazing, non-stop party I’ve ever beheld. By day, thousands of scantily clad party goers can be seen soaking up the sun as they dance, cheer and celebrate: a sense of pure enjoyment hangs not only on their faces, but within the air itself. As day gives way to night, the festival transforms into a spectacle of lasers and lights that can be seen from miles away. From a distance, it’s like a beacon that draws you in!

Horizon festival

As great as Forza Horizon is – and it truly is a marvellous game – whenever I play it, there is always a slight sense of regret that I can’t pull up, get out of my car and join in with the party that is going on around me. I don’t want it to be just a game – I want it to be real! I’ve been to many car shows, but none look as epic as the Forza Horizon Festival.

Next up, and of a similar theme, is The Gold Saucer from Final Fantasy VII.

GOLDS

Accessible only by cable car, this towering amusement park has been built so high that it’s actually up in the clouds: a marvel in itself. I imagine simply getting there would be a real emotional rollercoaster of fear and excitement, as you ascend higher and higher, leaving the ground far behind you. Once inside, everything about the place just seems so happy and joyous. There’s amusement arcades to play on, live shows and events to watch, chocobo races to bet on and even a spooky themed hotel to stay in.

It looks like the kind of place where you leave all your worries at the door: a little bubble of happiness floating in the clouds. I think it would be a great place for a day-trip, with possibly an over-night stay at the hotel. Any more though, and I fear the non-stop merriment could start to distort, slowly turning into insanity.

Speaking of insanity; the original Bioshock introduced us to Rapture – a 1940’s underwater city/civilisation – in a dystopian state. Inhabited by murderous crazies, the decaying remains of the dilapidated city is more “hell on earth” than “wish you were here”. However, Bioshock Infinte’s “Burial At Sea” DLC offered us a glimpse of a much more inviting rendition of the befallen city:

Rapture_trailer

Prior to it’s fall from grace, Rapture was designed to be an underwater utopia, populated by the worlds greatest minds and free thinkers. Unbound by the laws of the land, science and creativity flourished, filling the city with grand architecture and new wonders; the likes of which have not been seen before.

Set from a first person perspective, the game does allow you to experience a taster of the city, but only from the confines of the linear story arc; you aren’t free to wonder this wondrous metropolis like you could if you were actually there. I imagine the reality of such a place would be simply staggering, leaving you breathless at every turn.

When simply looking out the window is a magnificent experience, and assuming the place is filled with the greatest art, harmonious music and finest food, my only question is if you’d ever want to leave?

BioShock-Infinite-DLC-Burial-at-Sea

I think eventually – and even with the greatest of distractions – the reality of living in a capsule under the sea would sink in. The urge to run free under the open sky, feeling the fresh air against my naked skin would eventually take over (even though the police have ordered me to stop doing that).

This Month In Gaming (March 2016)

Two games have dominated my free time in March – both of which are re-releases of games I’ve played in the past. The main one being Pokemon Yellow – which I’ve covered HERE – and the other being:

Gears of War Ultimate Edition

gears

Bro’s of war: The biggest bro-fest of them all. Civilisation is on its knees and it’s up to a team of hulking bro’s – humanities last hope – to save the day via the power of bro. Had this game of been any less bro though, I fear it may have missed the mark. I think it’s the fact that this game is so inescapably and unashamedly bro that makes it work. The time for democracy has passed and a dog eat dog world is all that remains: Luckily, our team of bro’s have both an insatiable appetite and very sharp teeth.

It’s hard to say how great of a remastering has been done, as I remember the original game was a bar setter when it came to graphical prowess. If there was any criticism in the past, it was usually around the lack of colour – as if a viva piñata palette would somehow of benefited the game? Thank fuck those cunts aren’t in game dev though, as the drab, washed-out colours are still perfectly befitting the world they’re trying to present here. The environments do look cleaner and sharper this time around; “fresh” – if you can really refer to a dystopia in such a way?

The gameplay has successfully stood the test of time without issue. It’s as solid as the golem-like characters themselves. Slamming into cover, kicking down doors and chainsawing enemies in half: it all feels as good now as it did then. It’s actually quite refreshing to play something so unapologetically macho as Gears again. Gears knows exactly what it’s trying to be and never fails to deliver. It doesn’t really do anything all that clever or unique – it just does it in such sold and polished way that it feels great.

If I have any niggles, they are minor. AI companions are…AI companions. I know we’re meant to be bro’s, but Dom tends to lean more towards “sack of spuds” than he does “useful team-mate”. His three specialities are 1)getting downed by enemies 2)getting in the fucking way and 3)blocking my line of fire. Down in front, bellend!

That aside, Gears is great and the Ultimate Edition is the Ultimate way to experience it. Well worth the bargain price it can be purchased for – even if it is money for old rope (a remaster).

TEH DRAMAZ

drama

It’s been an eventful month of gaming drama on social media. The firing of a Nintendo employee, attributed to “GamerGate”. The removal/changing of a characters “sexual” pose. The inclusion of a transsexual character. All stuff that has had the rage machine go into full overdrive.

I’m not going to comment on the specifics (or do them justice), because in some cases I simply don’t know them (no one really does) and in others, I don’t really care: they were complete non-issues. As a casual observer to these arguments, one thing always strikes me as ironic though, and that’s the double standards, hypocrisy and inconstancy in logic.

Years ago, a writer made some unfavourable comments about a female in the industry. They were deemed inappropriate and sexist, and he was let go by the publication he wrote for. This was seem by many as a great success.

Although not actually/even the official reason, it’s been suggested that unfavourable comments made by a Nintendo employee led to her recently being let go. This has been seen as a travesty by the same group?

Personally, I think taking offence at someone’s subjective comments on social media and using those comments to try and get them fired is always wrong. To celebrate this, is to celebrate the act of being a vicious, snide cunt. “Because you don’t like them” doesn’t make it OK.

The next example is even more ironic to me. A user of the steam forums complained about a characters pose. They didn’t think it was a good fit for the characters personality. The developer agreed and decided to change it. This changing of content was seen by many as pandering/censorship/something something ethics/crimes against artistic vision. Ok fine.

Only days later, people were upset about some of the content in Baldurs gate DLC. The way a transsexual character was represented, some lines of dialogue that looked to mock “GamerGate”, etc. There were cries about having this content removed/changed. Erm… pandering/censorship/something something ethics/crimes again artistic vision???

On day one you’re going to moan about “censorship” and how bad it is. Then, on day two, you’re going to cry out and demand some “censorship”? Which is it dude?

Of course, I am guilty here of applying these contradicting stances to largely amorphous groups. I can’t say all of group A said this one thing, then went ahead and contradicted themselves by saying this other thing. It is however, a quite easily observable phenomenon if you spend enough time on social media. One thing that I am sure of is, when it comes to online debates, there doesn’t seem to be any consistent use of logic, only a consistent use of feelings.