Nov 052010
 
Cinematic Action Games: A Brief Critical Assessment

Many of the games I named in my previous post about the cinematic action genre have been criticized for their lack of value. Because these games are short and linear, and rarely have life-extending multiplayer modes, the validity of charging full price for them has been questioned. Simplistic gameplay and action-movie inspired plots have led some critics to call these games shallow. Yet, several games that belong in this genre — Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and Sands of Time — are regularly trotted out as examples of the best that the medium can achieve. To categorize cinematic action games [Read more...]

Oct 282010
 
Values and Characteristics of the Cinematic Action Genre

In his review of Enslaved, my colleague Brad Gallaway makes an argument for placing that game in a new genre, one that he feels has arisen fairly recently. Using the traditional naming conventions for narrow genres, the proper term would be “Uncharted clones”, but I don’t feel that description is quite adequate. While Uncharted is certainly the most identifiable game in the class, I believe the genre itself pre-dates that game. Uncharted represents not a new kind of game unto itself but an exemplary actualization of certain values in game design. Here I intend to put a name to those [Read more...]

Sep 162010
 

Status: Completed X360 version. Put this on your box: In Persia, no pot is safe. Most intriguing idea: Allowing the player to change, rather than just use, the environment in the course of a platform run. Best design decision: Requiring precision timing with the environmental powers. Worst design decision: Putting the rewind and combat powers on the same magic gauge. Summary: From a pure platforming perspective, The Forgotten Sands is probably the most demanding entry in the Prince of Persia series in the past decade. This isn’t apparent early on, but as the game progresses the Prince’s special powers start [Read more...]

Jan 312009
 

The decision to completely reinvent the Prince of Persia universe, following the (mostly) widely-praised Sands of Time trilogy may have come as a surprise to many fans. Removing the time-manipulation mechanic, discarding the character of the Prince, and adopting a dreamlike, cel-shaded look all seemed like significant and perhaps inexplicable departures. Duncan Fyfe has suggested, in “Time after Time”, that the franchise needs to keep rebooting itself because the simplistic core of its story and gameplay is at odds with the need to extend its stories into trilogies and series. Perhaps it was this, perhaps Ubisoft simply felt that it [Read more...]