Cage Kane Payne

 Cinematic Action Games, Critique, Game Arts  Comments Off on Cage Kane Payne
Jul 022012

In a short period of time I have played three games that may not seem to be similar or related. The co-op shooter Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, the straight up cover shooter Max Payne 3, and the thriller Heavy Rain share a third-person perspective, though, one that reflects their central cinematic aspirations. Although their critical reputations vary, each of these games is an interesting failure in the project of creating a playable movie. Their problems illustrate that the project of making a playable game conflicts with the plan to create a visually interesting film. In my previous critique [Read more…]

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…]

Apr 082011
The trouble with Tripitaka

During the “Females on Female Characters” panel at PAX, Susan Arendt argued briefly in support of Tripitaka (Trip), a character from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. This appreciation seemed bizarre to me, so the moment stuck in my mind. Enslaved was a gorgeous game with phenomenal voice acting, decently expressive gameplay, and very bad writing, of which I thought Trip was a prime example. The game apparently wants us to like and sympathize with Trip, but she struck me as a perfectly reprehensible person in general, and seemed to represent patriarchal stereotypes more than she undermined them. We first meet [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…]