The rise of “PC” gaming

I never used to relish the prospect of buying new underpants.    It’s not that I have either a phobia of underpant shopping or a fetish for going commando, I just harbour very little interest in shopping for pants.  It was just another one of lifes somewhat arbitrary tasks that had to be done.  These days though, the thought of shopping for underpants isn’t such a dull proposal.  See the place where I go to replace my burnt out tighty whities, is now also the place where I can go to checkout the latest game releases.  Computer games are no longer restricted to dedicated home computer shops or specialist magazines.  The rise in popularity of the computer game has seen it pushed right to the forefront of the entertainment market.

Pants…made better by gaming

Having grown up with and been involved with gaming all my life, its become one of my greatest passions.  Watching it transcend from its arcade roots and spearhead its way into the heart of home entertainment fills me with a strange sense of pride.  I still remember the excitement I felt the very first time I saw a TV advert for a computer game and now these days you can’t help but see game advertising at every turn.  Its like the mainstream world is finally starting to understand what I have been banging on about all these years.  Like I can finally stand up and say “I told you so!”

However – with gaming being pushed into the limelight, it seems its also being put under the microscope.  With the popularity and revenue growths have come the media coverage and journalism.  Games and their content are now reviewed, analysed and dissected more than they ever have been in the past.  Some of which, and usually the most disturbing for me, is from outside of the industry.  Individuals with political correctness agendas have started to take an increased interest in the medium.  Recently, feminist issues around both the portrayal and equality of female characters within games have been a point of contention.

Stupid bint has been captured again….

I don’t have an issue with people standing up for what they believe in.  If anything, I respect it.  But when you start trying to apply real life ethical issues, such as feminism, to the virtual reality of gaming, you fall off your high horse at the first hurdle.  In being virtual reality, video games  by their very nature don’t have to adhere to the rules applied to real life.  In fact this simple, fundamental element of video games is probably their biggest draw and something that all gamers are acutely aware of.  We play games to break free of the constraints of real life and propel ourselves into a reality that is different, one that exists on a completely separate plateau to that of actual reality.  To put it another way, they aren’t a real representation of life or are they trying to be. Feminist complaints hold little to no value in this virtual reality.  In this reality I just spent five minutes doing doughnuts over a policeman’s corpse.  I only stopped so I could get out and teabag the bloody remains.  I certainly didn’t stop to weight up the political implications of why it was a policeman and not a policewoman or should that be police person?

Should something soo wrong, feel soo right?

Even if I do stop to give these complaints pause for thought, the outcome is far from sympathetic.  If anything, I find myself becoming hostile.  I don’t have a problem with the issues themselves.  My annoyance around these real life issues being aimed at the games industry is that they don’t even stem from any desire to improve gaming.  They are simply using gaming as a easy stepping-stone to further their own agendas, which is neither big nor clever.  Far from improving gaming, binding game development to political correctness can only serve to restrict creativity and diversity within the industry.

If you’re going to make any changes to games that involve females, don’t do it for the sake of equality, do it for the sake of gaming.  Do it for reasons like “Not having female characters in an Aliens game is stupid, the entire series is based around a female lead character” and not for reasons like “I’ve put a man in this game so I must now put a woman in it as well”.  Gaming has always been about extremes and unfortunately this doesn’t always leave much room for ideals like equality.


Doom 3 BFG Edition, why do I crave you?

When Doom was released in 1993 it was kinda a big thing.  It was a big thing to everyone except me.  I thought it was shit.  Sure I gave it a go like everyone did.  For the first hour or so it was actually fairly decent.  As time went on though, I found myself running down the same looking corridors, looking for keys to open doors into other identical looking corridors, getting hopelessly lost and actually getting depressed by it all.  Doom 2?  Not even on my radar.

Then Quake was released a few years later and it was kind of a big thing.  It was a big thing for everyone except me.  I thought it was shit. Apparently its a different game, but to me it was just more doom.

Between the big two, my hatred of FPS was pretty much cemented and the ice didn’t really thaw until Goldeneye came along.  My love of Goldeneye forced me to start accepting the FPS genre and it went on to become one of my favourites.  My new love of FPS had me buying all kinds of shooters and years later when Doom 3 came out, I thought I’d give it a chance.  It looked impressive, it was getting decent reviews and I was quite up for some mindless demon killing.  I fired it up, got about an hour or so in…… and I thought it was shit.

So this all leads me to a question that I’m fairly perplexed about.  Why the fuck am I hyped for the Doom 3 BFG Edition.  A new edition of a game that I think is shit.  I’m an asthma sufferer.  I wake up in the early hours in the morning struggling to breathe.  I think its shit.  If my doctor phoned me up to say there is a new version of Asthma coming out, I wouldn’t be on the pre-order list. SO WHY THE FUCK AM I HYPED FOR DOOM 3 BFG EDITION?

At this point you’re probably thinking I’m about to drop the bomb.  Some profound angle simultaneously explaining and validating my seemingly misplaced hype.  Alas, I am not….

Probably best that we put it down to me being a total bellend and leave it at that.

Doom 3 BFG Edition is due for release on PC, PS3 and XBOX 360 on 19th October 2012

Dirt 3 Review

At a glance

Twitchy controls and floating car handling slightly detract from what is otherwise an outstanding driving game.

Good points
Rich detailed graphics – slick presentation – A wealth of content

Bad points
Some handling issues – VIP pass – DLC pimping

Veterans of Codemasters rally games may be a little surprised with what they find under the bonnet of this latest entry.  Along with dropping the Colin McRae prefix, the series has also decided to move away from the classic rally season setup, in favour of the Dirt 3 tour. This tour is essentially a series of short events based around each of the games various driving disciplines  These still include your standard point to point timed rally stages, but also include a whole host of other event types.  For starters you have “trailblazer”, which is standard rally but in faster cars, going at breakneck speeds. You have drift events, that score you on your ability to power-slide down a rally section, around a cone and then back again. You’ve got your Rally X events which have you circuit racing against a pack of rivals.  However the biggest new addition is the inclusion of Gym Khana events. For those of you that have never heard of Gym Khana, it can be best described as professional joyriding. Events take place in closed off arena’s and points are awarded for pulling off tricks like drifts, spins and doughnuts. It adds a dynamic rarely seen in driving games and its freestyle trick nature is actually more in-line with what you find in a Tony Hawks game.

Gym Khana:  Drive it like you stole it

Winning events awards you both points and reputation XP.  Points are used to unlock new events to progress you in the tour and gained reputation unlocks new teams to race for.  The unlocked teams come with additional xp boosts, encouraging you to race with them.  Its a system that promotes change and experimentation of the cars and teams on offer, but it also leads to you picking teams based on XP rewards rather than the teams you want to race for.  Not so cool are the events and teams listed in game that need to be purchased via the market place.  In fact I’ve yet to see a game that pushes additional content as actively as Dirt 3.  The game features a VIP pass system for online play and some additional cars.  Every single time you start up the game you’ll be reminded to enter you code or buy one from the market place. The latest DLC packs are advertised at the title screen via not only text prompts but even audio commentary from the games narrators.  This constant in your face up-selling is a shame because the game actually does boast an impressive number and variety of tracks and cars, out of the box.  The game features over 50 different vehicles which you’ll find yourself racing on beautifully recreated rally stages from across Europe, Africa and the US.  These stages blend a great mix of gravel, tarmac, dirt and snow to test your metal.  They also feature a mix of weather effects and day/night circles.  Not only do these create an added challenge but also help bolster track variety as racing on the exact same stage at night feels very different from racing in the day.

Carpe noctem

Graphically the game is amongst the finest seen in the racing genre.  Tracks and cars are richly detailed and well modelled.  Plumes of dust are thrown up as you thunder across the desert stages of Kenya and on wet stages,  mud splats stick to your car as satisfyingly as jizz on a hookers tits.  By the end of an intense rally stage, your pristine ride will be caked in a layer of dust, dirt or snow and will no doubt have all manner of dents and missing parts.  Whether you pick realistic or purely cosmetic damage is no matter, a mistimed turn into a tree will have you wincing as you take in the authentic damage modelling and hear the bone jarring crunch.  Panels dent, crumple and come off completely.  Doors get wrenched open and glass smashes.  All of which are accompanied by audio scrapes, crashes, crunches and smashes.  In fact the audio in general does a respectable job of reproducing all the sounds you’d expect to hear in off road racing.  From red lining engines, to wheels spinning on gravel as they struggle to retain purchase, its all there, it all sounds authentic and further enhances the overall feel to the game.  If anything negative is to be said about the audio, its the in game narrators.  They help to guide you though the different events, keeping you informed with what is going on, but their lines are overly cheesy and in some cases highly repetitive.

Jaw dropping visuals

The gameplay is largely a fast and frantic affair, leaning more towards arcade than simulation.  Breaking, for example, although still required, is by no means the delicate balance of the earlier Codemasters rally games.  Vehicles also tend to feel a little floaty as you powerslide around the twists and turns, and the controls are a little over sensitive and twitchy.  Its by no means broken, but it does take a little getting used to and could of been easily avoided by a simple stick sensitivity slider in the control options.  Difficulty on the default setting is a little too easy, but thanks to an array of gameplay options and assists, can be customised to your individual skill level.  Once on the track, should you have a high speed encounter with a tree, you can take advantage of the games flashback system.  Hitting the flashback button lets you rewind time to before the accident and carry on racing but with added hindsight.  These flashbacks are limited use though and also reduce your over all rep bonus at the end of a race.  It helps make it a balanced system.

Overall Dirt 3 is a game that anyone interested in off road racing can’t afford to miss out on.  Its lengthy tour mode may have sacrificed some of its depth in favour for shorter sharper action packed events, but the trade off was a fair one and the added variety is a welcome addition.

8.5 Great