Sunday, 21 June 2009

Homework Assignment

There's been no new articles for a while and they may not be for another week because this is the end of my college year and I'm hurrying to get work finished before that another 36 weeks completely wasted. I may just get to university this year.

So while I'm working my keyboard into a fine oily dust, I have a homework assignment for you. You are to read Kieron Gillen's famous manifesto (not his word, but it applies) The New Games Journalism. It is the origin of the term New Games Journalism and a statement of intent for five years of personal, subjective articles from games enthusiasts and commentators. Required reading for anyone even tangentally interested in writing about games or people who write about games.

Responses on my desk by next week's lesson. (Just kidding, unless I decide to do a regular column highlighting key writings... we'll see)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

PEGI Chosen Over BBFC

I never would have believed it...

The popular Pan-European Game Industry has been declared the sole legal ratings authority for video games in the United Kingdom after a long run battle against the British Board of Film Classificiation.

This is held as Good News by games enthusiasts. PEGI is well respected across the industry, known for understanding the nuances of interactive entertainment. If you've looked on the back of a games box in the past five years or so, you'll recognise their grey and white age rating graphics (though now I look at their site, they appear to have added some colour) and pictographic ones indicating elements such as discrimination, drug use, horror and violence.

This comes as something of a shock after the Byron Report last year strongly recommended to the government that the BBFC take a greater role in games ratings. Previously they were only regularly involved with games that PEGI had already rated as suitably only for people aged 18 and up, at which point the BBFC was merely confirming what was already self-evident.

Now there is consensus on who is responisble for rating games in the UK, bringing it in line with much of Europe, the average consumer can be confident of being clear and confident on what they will find in the games they buy.

[Via Gamasutra]

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Hand In The Collecting Plate: Religion in Thief Analysed

The Escapist has a collection of articles addressing religion in games this week. One in particular caught my eye: Robbing Gods, in which Will Hindmarch examines the role of religion (churches, faith, dogma etc) and Religion (as a theme) in the Thief games.

It's an interesting - if regretably short - read that covers how Looking Glass use the little details of the series' factions (Hammerites, Pagans and Keepers) to suggest a wider world and involve the player emotionally and intellectually in it.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Seal Clubbing For Evillness - Overlord 2 Demo Released

The sequal to Codemasters' 2007 evil adventure game, Overlord, is soon to be released and in unusually punctual timing, a demo has been released.

It appears to be the tutorial level from the full game and its lack of the good stuff makes my soul die a little. It features only the most rudimentary elements of the game with a sprinkling of the flavour you can expect - madcap minions and pathetic Greenpeace-like elves - while missing out the stuff that's actually good about the Overlord series: the Overlord's tower, the multi-minion puzzles, the sense of power. Particularly lacking is any of the new Domination/Destruction choices, where you define you personal type of evil through actions.

Bah, I'll be buying it anyway. It's just depressing that they release just a pathetic demo. And I'll probably be buying the spin-offs Overlord: Dark Legend (Wii) and Overlord: Minions (DS) too, just cause I find the games' brand of slapstick British humour and the oppertunities for evil very entertaining.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Wheels on the Bot Go Whhiirrrrr

A pleasent little adventure story has appeared in my field of view. Little Wheel, by One Click Dog, is short but sweet. Simple but expressive art and fun little jazz music tops of an enjoyable experience. Just don't go looking for any 'game' challenge.

The Path Gets a Prologue

It's not a demo, it's a prologue apparently.

If you're any kind of friend of mine you'll probably have got bored of me twittering on about Tale of Tales' delightful but horrific little independant game The Path. This interactive experience tells an intentionally obscure and confusing story in the Red Riding Hood fashion - six Little Red-like sisters are each sent in turn off to Grandmother's house and told to stay off the path. When they inevitably don't... well, I'll leave you to find out for yourself.

And now Tale of Tales have given up a prologue to The Path. It's simple, it's short and there's nothing really to do but it gives you a taste of the full games' style. Download it if you're unsure of it working on your computer - shouldn't be a problem for most people - but I recommend just going ahead and buying the full thing right away.

Download the prologue (PC or Mac) or just take the plunge and buy it ($10/£7.25/€7.90).

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Talking About 'Talking About These'

You might have seen some of Daniel Floyd's games design videos on his YouTube channel. This animation student has earned himself quite a following and a reputation for intelligent and entertaining video-lectures. They're all suitable for non-gamers, too, without being at all dumbed down which is quite a feat.

Anyway, Floyds has himself a new Blogspot blog, Talking About These. He's already got a couple of thought pieces up there. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a favourite blog of many - keep your eye on it.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Art Imitating Life - Rendition: Guantanamo Closed

It seems insensitively advertised current events game Rendition: Guantanamo has been cancelled due to a media back-lash

Sure it looks like it's going to be awful and is has terrible presentation but its existance shouldn't be denied because of what equates to Angry Internet Men with a public face talking out of their asses. These commentators are speaking their assumptions as if they were fact and in some cases plain lying. It's incredible that anyone is listening to this without doing their own research.

Most gauling is the phrase 'The game is obviously political,' as if games are not allowed to contain political elements. Regardless of whether or not it is true, it is a worrying attitude.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Professional of Venice: Assassin's Creed 2 Trailer

More E3 shennanigans, and here we have the new trailer for Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed 2. It will most likely also be the game's intro video.

It's our first look of the new protagonist in action - Ezio Auditore di Firenze, a 15th century Venetian assassin noble-man and another of Desmond's ancestors. The action shows off a few of his new tricks such as disarming opponants and using their weapons against them and Ezio's special gear.

[Thanks IGN]

EDIT: And here we have a gameplay video, showing off some new tricks and new enemy behaviour. 

Via Kotaku.

Alan, Wake Up

Yeah, I fail at titles. [And Blogspot fails at posting - this is the second time I'm writing this :( ]

So it is that time of the year again: E3 2009 is on. Games journos and enthusiasts descend upon LA to pervert developer's carefully scripted conversations, see new trailers and attend lots of parties (the dirty stop-outs).

The first bit of news to catch my attention, being stuck half a world away as I am, is the demonstration of Remedy's Alan Wake on the Microsoft stage.

So we get to see some of the interesting torch-based combat and the pretty lighting effects on show. What we're not getting much of is the story: Stephen-King-a-like Alan Wake moves to a quiet little town where his writings become reality. A little corny, sure, but it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

[Thanks GameTrailers!]

Frozen Monkey Balls! New Old Monkey Island

Is it my birthday? It must me birthday, because I just got the greatest news. Lucasarts is returning to point-and-click adventures with a remake of the seminal Secret of Monkey Island, the game that made me a games player. Fancy graphics in the same style as the original, all new voice acting with the original cast, re-jiggered music and sound effects but all with the same actual game? Yes please!

More than that, they're chummying up with Telltale Games - the guys who reinvented Sam & Max and Wallace & Grommit - to bring us five new Guybrush Threepwood adventures, the Tales of Monkey Island. Not so excited about this as Telltale's work has always seemed very bland but who's to argue with more Monkey?!

And for your musical entertainment and auditory pleasure, I bring you the gentleman known as w3sp playing his interpretation of the Monkey Island 1 & 2 tunes. Lovely stuff.

[Via RPS]