Friday, October 31, 2008
Friday afternoon tidbits
Ah, Halloween. I look forward to the day I am a suburban homeowner, so I can hide in the bushes and spray miscreants with my hose. Until then, I'll continue to spend the holiday as I always do: barricaded in my apartment. But first, some leftovers from the week that was.
-First of all, welcome to everyone who showed up here thanks to N'Gai Croal's Edge column, "The Importance of Being Easy" -- and there are a lot of you! N'Gai and I seem to be coming from the same place regarding game difficulty. It's not that games shouldn't be challenging, it's that they shouldn't be so punishing. I, too, was a big fan of the Vita-Chambers in BioShock. And it's a marked contrast from Far Cry 2's approach, which is to rob you of all progress since your last save when you die. So if you die and haven't saved after finding some diamonds, scouting guard huts, or whatever, you'd have to do all that again. Given the scope of the game world, that's difficult, and frustrating.
-As long as I'm stroking my own ego here, Iroquois Pliskin wrote a great post about survival horror, in response to the Brainy Gamer podcast from earlier this week. He makes an excellent point about Resident Evil 4. Why was it still so scary when it did away with the series' usual miserly distribution of resources, and instead emphasized high-octane action sequences? Because, "...the key element is the fact that you cannot run and shoot at the same time. This turns open ground between you and the enemy into the scarce resource; you are constantly torn between ceding and standing your ground." Insight, people.
-This must be a watershed moment: The New Yorker profiled Cliff Bleszinski. It's a good read, although there's not much that's new to the kinds of people who spend their time reading and writing video game blogs. Still, nice to see coverage of this sort in such a highbrow publication. I guess this article had a few high-profile detractors (including Matthew at Magical Wasteland), but I didn't see the problem with it. Hell, compared to Patricia Marx's shopping columns and Sasha Frere-Jones's pop music reviews, this is Pulitzer-worthy. (And despite Tom Bissell's noting Bleszinski's request not to be called "CliffyB" anymore, the editors proceeded to do just that in the subhed. Nice work, guys.)
-Speaking of all that, the magazine's profile of Will Wright a couple years ago was also good, but less unexpected, somehow. I can honestly say that the last thing I expected to see when I got this week's issue was a picture of CliffyB dressed in Marcus Fenix's armor and holding a chainsaw bayonet.
-Just in case you thought you were the only one struggling with what to play and what to skip, we're having the same problem at the Phoenix. There are just too many games for the space we have. (Partly, that's because this is the first holiday season that everything we've requested has actually shown up.) It's leading to some hard questions about what's worth covering. We'll try to get everything in if we can, even if it means running some stuff web-only, but it's disappointing.
What about you? What are you buying? What games have you decided to skip, and why?