Posts Tagged ‘Rant’

On Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Posted: November 25, 2011 in Musings
Tags: , ,

I wanted to have my review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution up by now. I really did. Reviews for the game were glowing with praise across the board and I was very excited when I finally borrowed it from my housemate.

Then I started playing it and everything went wrong.

It’s such a strange game. Half of it is good – almost superb, in fact – but the other 50% is pure, undiluted shit. To start with, the text is incredibly small. If you happen to play this on a TV screen that’s smaller than, say, an entire wall, you won’t be able to read half of what is going on. Emails, ebooks, plot-relevant reams of text, you name it – you can’t see any of it.

Another point is that the game is more buggy than an anthill covered in honey. Some side quests can become impossible to finish if an enemy glitches out of existence, guards can sometimes be killed by your non-lethal tranquilliser gun, you can even accidentally slaughter a guard if the glitch occurs while you move their unconscious body out of the way.

Something else that pissed me off was the fact that you have to spend your vaulable Praxis upgrades kits on expanding your inventory. Why? What’s wrong with spending credits purchasing larger pockets? Why must you be forced to choose between a useful upgrade and a ludicriously minor one that shouldn’t inconvience you at all?

While the game is a thoughtful one, rewarding you for sneaking through areas and not going in guns blazing, the achievements make little sense, as you seem to be rewarded for doing things that are completely at odds with how you should play the game. One achievement will unlock if you toss a man off a roof (going against the achievement for not killing anyone at all), another will reward you for letting a guilty man escape justice and another will unlock if you choose not to hand over a piece of evidence to a grieving mother. Um, what?

I’m almost at the end of Deus Ex, an experience that oscilates wildly between entertaining stealth and hateful mechanics (why do you have to stop and listen to every single guard’s conversation when you try and sneak through an area?) I’m now in a position where I can’t see any way to progress. I’m in a boss fight with the final mercenary and my augmentations have been turned off (I was probably warned about this in some document or other, but I couldn’t read the blasted things). Naturally, I have been playing the game without trying to kill anyone, so I have very little ammunition. I am also playing the game on Hard. And now I am stuck.

So that’s my experience of Deus Ex: Human Revolution – mostly excellent stealth pretty much destroyed by the game it’s in.

I make no excuses…

Posted: March 9, 2010 in Musings
Tags: , , , , ,

…but my laptop died. I blame Vista wholeheartedly. Some new things to browse if you feel like it:

The Cleveland Show: Episode Seven
The Cleveland Show: Episode Six
The Cleveland Show: Episode Five
The Cleveland Show: Episode Four
Bioshock 2
The Cleveland Show: Episode Three
The Cleveland Show: Episode Two
The Cleveland Show: Episode One

Things are coming, but I can’t say when. Still debating the future of any potential comics, as I’d rather just get stuck into some writing. Eat your greens.

Months of Agony in a Second-Long Sound Effect

You know that feeling when you’re really, really full? When your jeans start cutting into your belly and if you don’t undo them, you’re going to explode? Well, it turns out that actually there’s a really simple solution to this, and it’s been handed to us by games. The easy way to get around our wonderful first world ability to eat until we’re sick is to simply hide from the view of the plate for a few seconds. That way you’ll be able to tackle another course of steak in just a moment.

Naturally, I’m being an idiot and we all know it. Hiding from plates for a few seconds won’t solve a damn thing. But the problem is; why do games seem to think this is true? It’s against the course of logic. A few years ago all you had to do to evade an enemy in a game was run around a corner and hide behind a crate until they forgot what they were doing and went back to making themselves easy targets. Even if they’d seen your footprints, found the corpse of their best friend and noticed your graffiti on the walls screaming, I WUZ ERE LOLZ, it didn’t matter a jot to them because they had some patrolling to do.

Back then it was more to do with internal memory than anything else. So what if a guard walked away after unknowingly giving chase? So what if a corpse vanished just seconds after they hit the ground? As long as it kept the game chugging along at the same pace, the gamers didn’t care, and neither did the developers.

But nowadays there is a bigger problem in gaming. The limited internal memory has been almost completely excised from gaming – what with the Blu Ray discs containing room for 50 gigabytes and Wii games drawn on cardboard and animated by ADD-inflicted children – and little room is left for error. Guards now chase you a damn sight longer than they used to. Corpses remain on the floor for the duration of the level. But something much more evil and irritating has crept in to take their place.

I am talking about the recharging of health. A few years ago, a chunky health bar placed somewhere on screen gave a terrifying warning of your own impending mortality. Now there is only a faint red glimmer at the edge of the screen and a thumping vibration in your hands to tell you that you’re squatting on death’s doorstep, begging the reaper to try and chase you off his property. Instead of heath kits, medpacks, medics or magic fairies, the only way to recharge your ailing, bullet-ridden body is to simply not get hit for a few seconds – thus, you must hide behind a crate once again.

Who decided this was such a good idea? When did it creep into games, this idea that removing a permanent warning sign would be a great step forward? It’s one of those things that just makes you scratch your head in wonderment as to exactly why it’s been so readily accepted by the gaming community at large.

The humble health bar was a great thing, simply because there was nothing you could do about it. It sat there at the top, side, or bottom of the screen (or, in one case, on the protagonist’s breasts, forcing you to look down at yourself to check your current status) and every time you got hit, a chunk got knocked off. It was gut-wrenching, intense and forced you to constantly be aware of absolutely everything that was going on around you, to the point where every gamer can remember every single detail about most of the games they grew up playing.

Back before the health bar, there was very little. Sonic had his gold rings. Mario had growth spurts. The Ghouls n’ Ghosts knight had his pants. But the spirit was there: watch your every step! Be aware of your situation at all times!

Nowadays most games have adopted this ridiculously offensive notion that simply ducking out of a hail of bullets is a good idea to inspire you to keep playing. It’s a stupid system that detracts from the credibility of the game. I can understand that maybe the red mist drawing in across your vision is realistic, as is the ‘heartbeat’ vibrating in your hands, but what exactly is realistic about sitting down and taking a time-out?

Heath kits were never a realistic idea – they were always completely absurd, after all, they were just grey boxes with bright red crosses on them – but it was never about that. If you were shot for real, you’d see yourself looking at an extremely long and painful recovery process. That’s the health kit represents – months of agony, hospitals, doctors, unattractive nurses, stitches, x-rays, tutting relatives, sympathetic looks from work colleagues, time off to heal, madness from watching TV alone, lashing out at a loved one, divorce from a loved one, watching the loved one take the kids with them to their new partner they met at whatever event it was you didn’t go to because you were in the goddamn hospital having shrapnel taken out of your arm by a doctor who kept looking at you funny because you’d been shot and he reckoned you were a gang member who had it coming. That’s the health kit, right there. All that trauma compressed into one neat second-long sound effect. Not realistic, not in the slightest, but far and away more enjoyable and intense than the regenerating heath of today.

The main problem with regenerating health is that it lets developers off the hook for whatever bad design decisions they might make. Most games with regenerating health feature incredibly hard and unfair sections that get you stuck like peanut butter to a prostitute’s thigh. Night after night, you’ll wade against a horde of nigh-impossible enemies, constantly hiding to recharge, only to be killed because you needed one more second to collect yourself. If these games featured health kits – limited use, Jesus-I-only-have-two-more-left health kits – you can be damn sure the developers would put a little more thought into what they were doing. Instead, we’re left with offices full of giggling developers, throwing in ludicrously unfair sections over and over again, simply claiming, ‘It’ll look awesome to play, man!’ Even multiplayer is let down by this – what fun is it if the person who killed you is totally fine just a few seconds after your body rots into nothingness? And don’t even get me started on co-op gaming’s ‘tag, you’re alive!’ nonsense.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hide from landlord until he forgets I owe him rent. After all, I’m pretty sure one of us has a limited internal memory and it sure as hell isn’t me.

Steve, if you\'re reading this, Sally\'s been screwing with the gardener while you\'re out. I\'m sorry, bro, she made me promise not to tell. By the way, the gardner\'s not as big as you, at least in the trouser department. I guess it\'s because he buys her presents, know what I\'m saying? Show the woman some love now and again, man. See you at work tomorrow. 

I’ll be honest about this one. I’m currently pressed for time and made a right hash of it. It’s the last time I don’t ink by hand and erase the fucking pencil. Gah, what a mess.

Anyways, yesterday, for whatever reason, thirty one people came to see my little page, breaking my previous record by about four people. Hooray! One of the visits was because someone searched WordPress tags for “buttsex” and ended up at comic #3. Hence the ridiculous tags I’ve added to this one. Thank you to the thirty one visitors yesterday, or to the one person who came back thirty times.

Also, Sophie, if you’re reading this, which font is best? I couldn’t decide so I’ll let you pick from the five I used here. Cheers.

I’m unsure if there’ll be a comic on Tuesday. I have a fuckton of work to get done and it’s due in next Wednesday. Energy drinks, here I come.

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