Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday afternoon tidbits

Been a rough couple weeks over here. Got injured while snowboarding (again), then got sick, and to top it all off, work has been nuts. Sounds like this guy needs some Rock Band, STAT.

-This GDC week, people have been buzzing about OnLive, the game system to end all game systems. I'm skeptical, and Richard Leadbetter's Eurogamer editorial, "Why OnLive Can't Possibly Work," shares my skepticism.

To put it as simply as possible, gaming history is littered with ideas that were ahead of their time. Online connectivity was part of the original Famicom. The Xband Modem promised online play for the Genesis and SNES. The Dreamcast had an integrated 56k modem. None of this stuff worked, because the necessary technology hadn't saturated the market yet. The idea was just right, but the execution was lacking.

Xbox Live didn't succeed because it was visionary, or even because it was executed so well -- it succeeded because enough people had broadband to make the product viable. In my decidedly unexpert view, OnLive is something we'll be looking back at as ahead of its time, for that same reason. But like Leadbetter, I would love to be wrong.

-I may be done talking about Resident Evil 5, but others are not. (Note: Saying I'm done talking about a game is the surest sign that I will write three more posts about it, at minimum.) The Zero Punctuation review of RE5 was so on point, it was -- yes -- scary. I like to talk about big-picture stuff in my reviews, but Yahtzee drills down into the details, and everything he said was dead-on. The inventory system in this game is terrible. Having to trade items with Sheva just to discard something is ridiculous.

Another thing that irked me is that, unlike in past Resident Evil games, you don't have the option of using an herb you find, and bypassing your inventory entirely. No, if your inventory is full and your health is low, you still have to drop an item in order to pick up and use an herb. The item that you drop, by the way, vanishes from the game world. Smart.

-Evan Narcisse at Crispy Gamer posted one of the best takes on the racial angle that I've seen so far. I think his smartest point, and the one that seems to elude the most people, is that the question of racism is not necessarily one with a yes-or-no answer. Resident Evil 5's imagery evokes some colonial ghosts. It's fair to ask what those depictions mean, and why they're there. We are still at the point where we're arguing about whether we should have the discussion, rather than having the discussion, but you can't force these things.

-Finally on the RE5 tip, Daniel Purvis felt that the game's action bona fides overcame all other concerns. He loved it. And while I can't disagree with his substantive points about the quality of the action, ultimately what it comes down to is what you want from a Resident Evil game. Daniel's post did make me think that I might have been more receptive if RE5 were called something else entirely. Above all, there's a certain mood I'm looking for when I play a game in this series, one that RE4 managed to retain from its predecessors, but RE5 hasn't. I try not to go into any game with preconceived notions about what it should be, but it's tough when we're talking about a series with this much history.

(Daniel's post also calls to mind, once again, the drives that motivate different types of players. But I digress.)

-I am not at GDC. It sounds like I'm missing the party of the year. I've been avoiding these things forever, but I have this feeling like I'm going to have no excuse for not attending PAX 2010.


Daniel Purvis said...

*sigh* Can't argue with ZPs RE5 review... That slimey Colonial bastard. And hilarious.

defcon said...

No one asks my opinion especially about RE5, but if they did, I think I'd turn around and ask "Is RE5 any more racially insensitive than SFIV? Street Fighter IV is a collection of stereotypes pitted in battle against each other: the blonde American hunk, the fat, obnoxious American, the angry, violent black guy, the Indian guru, the hairy Russian bear-wrestler. Is Street Fighter less offensive because it's comical in its presentation? Possibly, because as you and many other reviewers an dplayers mentioned: it's all about context.

Also, I apologize for trying to start a flame war in your RE5 review, but I couldn't help myself. Really, I don't blame fans for being both passionate for a series and critical against reviews that could be construed as negative; I just wish they could curb their rabid retaliation for one moment and say, "I understand how you found these aspects of the game frustrating. However, while I respect your opinion, I feel the highlights of the game outshone any of its flaws."

What? It could happen...

Oh, and there's no excuse for missing PAX on the East Coast.