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Richard Naik's blog

Why does game storytelling have such low standards?

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Screenshot

Storytelling is an art form in and of itself, just like painting or music. And of all the art forms that comprise video games, story is often at the low end on the totem of importance. This is perfectly acceptable to me-games are more often than not held up by mechanical and/or aesthetic components, leaving the story as icing on the cake. However, this does not mean that any game that even attempts to have a deep and/or dynamic story can automatically be heralded as storytelling mastery.

A gaggle of WTFs: Heavy Rain's story

Heavy Rain Screenshot

When I was writing my Heavy Rain review, there were a lot of specific things concerning the plot that I wanted to talk about, but couldn't due to the spoilerness. So those qualms are going to go here, safely hidden behind that big bold spoiler warning you see below. So, shall we?

(Warning: The rest of this post contains Heavy Rain spoilers)

Journeys with a terrible game: Star Wars Rebellion

Star Wars:  Rebellion Screenshot

The year was 1999. A plucky young lad fresh out of the 8th grade, I had just finished reading Timothy Zahn's fantastic Thrawn trilogy a year earlier, which began my immersion into the Star Wars expanded universe. There's a lot of good stuff to be found in said universe-the aforementioned Zahn books, the Rogue Squadron series, the Crimson Empire comics and so forth. So you can imagine my anticipation of The Phantom Menace, the long awaited beginning of the prequel trilogy.

The Boss of Bosses

Mega Man 2 Bosses

That guy with the earthquake move. The ice thing. The stupid jerkface that won't hold still. Whatever their form, bosses have been a part of gaming since the early days of Atari. Personally I've always been a sucker for boss battles-they can very heavily influence my opinion of a given game. However, based on many games I've spent time with recently, Tim's question from the most recent podcast (mentioned around the 39:00 mark) is a valid one-do they even make good boss battles anymore?

Interview with Jakub Dvorsky, lead designer of Machinarium

Interview with Jakub Dvorsky, lead designer of Machinarium

I recently had the pleasure of playing Machinarium, a fantastic adventure title from indie developer Amanita Design. Currently available on Steam and on their website, Machinarium has received accolades from many critics, myself included. Their CEO, Jakub Dvorsky, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about the game his company, and his team.

The War Update: And then there was one...

Team Fortress 2 Screenshot

So it comes to this. The engineer, my favorite Team Fortress 2 class, the one in which I saw a need for some additional items before the medic update even came out, the one that I have almost 130 hours of playtime with, will be the last to get an update. I'm not mad. Really....I'm not.

Dreamfallen: Why some platforms and genres just aren't made for each other

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Screenshot

Recently I began playing Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, the sequel to the adventure classic The Longest Journey. My expectations were oh so high, after the original's blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and wonderful characterizations made it instantly climb onto my all-time favorites list. My reaction upon seeing about 45 minutes worth of Dreamfall was similar to one who may have just come home to see his dog ripping apart the giant K'Nex roller coaster/burger stand/space station he spent so much time building-who is this monster, and what did they do the my masterpiece?

Richard takes on the Internet: Why I think Perfect Dark is better than GoldenEye

Perfect Dark Box Art

I've always felt that Perfect Dark was superior to the original Nintendo 64 GoldenEye 007 in just about every way. However, a recent poll from this site concluded that most of our readers favor the James Bond-inspired shooter over its spiritual successor. I fully acknowledge that GoldenEye was a landmark title in several ways, mainly in breaking the Doom mold of "just kill everything on the map" and beginning the trend of more tactical shooters we see today, such as Half-Life 2. However, Perfect Dark built on those early achievements in such a fashion as to eclipse its ancestor in more ways than one.

The reality of memories

The reality of memories - Mega Man X Box Art

Over the past few weeks I've been eagerly awaiting Left 4 Dead 2, and in the meantime I've been digging through my collection of old games, giving in to a sudden and inexplicable wave of nostalgia. There were the old pleasures to be sure, but I was amazed at how many of these games just didn't do anything for me anymore. I remember spending countless hours with these titles, but for some of them it was like looking in the basement for that old toy or comic book you loved so much, only to realize that maybe it wasn't all that great to begin with.

Tree running! Team Fortress 2's Prop Hunt mod

(Note: I could've used Mad Props as the title but that's already been done like a thousand times)

I stumbled upon a really sweet TF2 mod a few days ago. The red team spawns as various pieces of scenery (barrels, rocks, trees, etc.) with the scout's health, and the blue team spawns as pyros. Blue has to kill all the scenery scouts before time is up or else red wins. Needless to say, the sight of a tree running away from a pyro is pure awesomeness. If you've not played it, you don't get to sit with the cool kids at lunch. You also don't get to sniff dry erase markers with us during recess.

Mad Props (couldn't resist) to the mod author. The Steam group page has a list of servers to play on.

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