Author: Brandon Erickson

Eternal Sonata – Review

Read review of Eternal SonataThe musically themed Japanese role-playing game Eternal Sonata strikes some pleasing notes with its excellent anime design, enjoyable music, unique combat system, and remarkably cheerful aesthetic. Unfortunately, the melody goes flat through lackluster story presentation, sluggish dialogue, and repetitive battles and dungeon layouts.

Would a videogame by any other name smell as sweet?

Does the “videogame” label properly capture what videogames have become? Will the term “videogames” still be used 20 or 30 years from now? Recent titles like BioShock and Mass Effect are pushing games to a realm of narrative and interactive depth that make the term “game” seem ill-fitting. As the boundaries of the medium continue to expand, I suspect that the “videogame” label will only feel increasingly inadequate.

Moving away from mindlessness

After listening to Jonathan Blow’s “Design Reboot” lecture last December, I made a small resolution that I would try to reduce my time spent on games that rely on meaningless reward systems. Putting it into practice, however, has proved tougher than I thought.

Looking back on the Wii

Now that the Wii's novelty has worn off, a number of questions come to my mind: Is the Wii really all it’s cracked up to be? Does the Wii remote actually improve the gameplay experience? Do motion-sensing controls really do all that much to increase the player’s overall enjoyment or sense of immersion?

Trying to appreciate Halo

Halo 3 Screenshot

Just as English literature buffs should be knowledgeable about the heavyweights of the Western canon—Macbeth, Huckleberry Finn, Ulysses, etc.—so too should videogame critics be acquainted with gaming’s megahits, games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and, yes, the Halo series. So, like the English lit student who struggles to wrap his or her head around Ulysses, not because it’s enjoyable but because it’s important, I decided that I should at least try to understand Halo.

Tolerating ambiguity: The challenge of making choices in videogames

I have a difficult time making choices in videogames. Usually this isn’t really much of an issue. Most games don’t ask players to choose one path or response over another and thereby close off a particular area or sub-story. On some level, I still cling to the idea that giving players multiple story paths from which to choose and more ways in which to shape their own experience represents an important part of gaming’s continuing evolution. So why is it so hard for me to make choices?

On the inclusion of developer commentaries in videogames

Having recently received The Orange Box as a Christmas gift from my dad, I can now count myself among the multitude of lucky gamers who have experienced Portal. As fantastic as it is—and it is indeed fantastic—one of the biggest revelations I’ve had as a result of playing Portal is the concept of in-game commentaries.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Review

Read review of Call of Duty 4: Modern WarefareCall of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is an outstanding rollercoaster ride of a first-person shooter that crams so much action into its roughly six-hour playtime that it manages to feel just as grand as games two or three times its length. A prime example of quality over quantity, here is the kind of highly polished, densely packed, cinematic experience that reminds me of why I play videogames.