Nov 302011

The right way to play Uncharted 3 is with the difficulty set to “very easy”. I say that even though I typically play games at “normal” difficulty, because I assume that the developers calibrated this to the experience they desired the average player to have. I only go up or down in difficulty for replay, and I rarely find that this change improves the experience. In the case of Uncharted 3 and some of its stylistic relatives, however, the situation is different. The goal of positioning the player as the hero of an action-style movie is at odds with making [Read more...]

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...]