On Faith Fighter Removal


By now it’s hardly newsworthy to state that the flash game Faith Fighter by political game developers Molleindustria has been removed from their site, citing a failure to communicate the sarcasm of the game.

Now I might well be wrong here, since the point they make in the update closing statement is valid and the new game they put up to replace it treats every religion in a slightly more equal manner, but the whole thing reeks to me of something that is at best a gross oversight and at worst a malicious (though rather clever) ruse to push a hateful agenda even further.

I do not think that it came as a surprise to anyone that people should complain about this game, and given the inspiration I don’t think that Molleindustria did either – even if that was the case, considering the games they have not taken down I do not think they would take this one down because of the complaints mentioned. I propose that they knew taking down the game would cause their players (and perhaps a large part of the gamer/freedom-of-speech communities) to loathe the religious communities involved, and that this is exactly what they wanted to achieve.

Religion aside, setting someone up to condemn you just to make them look bad is in my opinion not only dishonest but also damaging to the public opinion about serious games. I hope I am wrong, and that this does not get any bigger than it already is.

Posted on Apr 29/09 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture, Moral panic | No Comments »

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Zeno Clash

Zeno Clash

IGF nominee Zeno Clash is something as unique as a first-person brawler. There are a number of first-person games with melee elements (I myself was on the development team for one of the more prominent ones up until its recent release), but Zeno Clash is focused around it entirely to create something that feels more like Double Dragon or Golden Axe than an FPS. A novel idea producing interesting and fun gameplay that (to the best of my limited knowledge) has no equal, but as with all new genres trial-and-error have yet to work out the kinks.

Gameplay-wise the game is segmented into series of connected arenas where you meet anywhere between 1 and 10 enemies at a time, beat them and then proceed to the next arena. The core fighting mechanic is where Zeno Clash really shines, a few basic commands can be combined to create different attacks and different tactics, the usefulness of each depending on the type of enemy you are fighting, the environment you are fighting in and what other enemies are present. Health can be replenished by picking up glowing fruits and weapons – both melee and firearms – can be taken from downed enemies, although this doesn’t work as well. You use a single key to pick stuff up or focus on an enemy, meaning that you often end up changing your view and moving in the wrong direction when trying to pick things up mid-fight.

Presentation-wise I wasn’t really sold on Zeno Clash. Aesthetically it has a very nice Pan’s Labyrinth- thing going with Beautifully creepy characters and environments, but it feels like the HL2 engine isn’t enough to sell this image and the environments feel stark and lifeless – not in the way they are supposed to feel stark and lifeless, but as a composition of polygons and textures that just happen to be in the same place rather than solid objects belonging to a world. Also, the practical feedback is rather poor with little difference in sound for different attack responses sometimes making it hard to tell who or what is actually damaging you, and attacks visibly connecting does not always coincide with the engine considering them doing so – an especially annoying part are the grenades whose explosions are near-invisible but still have immense range. On one hand, I want to cut Ace Team some slack for being an indie developer making a 3D game and I might be overly sensitive to these things, but on the other it feels like they have aimed a little too high and end up neglecting some basic feedback for it.

A lot can be said about the good and bad parts of Zeno Clash, but this is rant is in dire need of being wrapped up. It sometimes felt like I wanted to like Zeno Clash more than I actually did, but this is likely just due to frustrating situations cropping up ever so often. While the game itself very seldom feels polished, it almost always feels fresh – and more importantly, fun.

Posted on Apr 23/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

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Halo Wars

Halo Wars

Continuing the Starcraft 2 warm-up, Halo Wars seemed like a good way to spend a weekend. It didn’t even take a day to play through the single-player as covenant missions where (sadly) not included in the campaign, but on the other hand what was there felt varied. As far as RTS games go, Halo Wars has rather conventional mechanics but it has some very interesting examples of level design which makes it feel very rich. On the other hand, it has a little too many timed missions that you need to replay from the start if you fail, and due to the nature of console controllers simple things like placing troops where you want them or selecting the troops you want is annoyingly difficult. I liked the game on the whole but playing through the entire campaign I still didn’t feel like I got the hang of it.

Story-wise, it is about as poor as the rest of the army games, but it gave me sort of a realization. I didn’t mind the narrative in the ordinary Halo games that much, the clichées were all the same as in other games but it revolved around an emotionless supersoldier that you could empathize with, if only because he seemed to care as little for the cheesy dialogue as you did. Maybe a single likeable character is all we really need to like a story, maybe such a character can spring from our contempt of the other characters or maybe we just need a story that feels like it resonates with the gameplay.

Halo: Combat Evolved was far from the first good console FPS, but I would still consider it a design landmark. Bungie looked at things that were a poor fit for consoles, such as managing an array of weapons and having ready access to an unlimited number of save states, and worked around them to create a new kind of FPS that felt interesting rather than dumbed-down. Halo Wars does not seem to go this route at all and insists of giving the player challenges that are difficult to handle with a joypad, as if to boast about how well the controls were solved. While the controls have indeed been solved remarkably well, it is still not as intuitive as having a mouse and 50 keys at your disposal so Halo Wars sometimes feels like it should have been a PC game.

Posted on Apr 05/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »