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 222010

Mafia II borrows so much from GoodFellas that 2K Czech probably ought to give Scorcese and Pileggi co-writing credits. Direct references to the film appear in a couple of specific scenes, but the real influence is more fundamental. GoodFellas depicts the mafia as a group of buddies, and Mafia II is built around the same idea. Although family matters motivate the game’s protagonist, Vito, when it’s convenient for the plot, the real impetus for his journey through the Empire Bay underworld comes from his friends. Unfortunately, the game’s vision of mafia life falls apart because of its ill-considered adherence to [Read more…]