Bioshock 2

Bioshock 2

Like the first iteration, Bioshock 2 is not a very poor game but rather average in terms of gameplay. The thing that made the first Bioshock great, though, was the atmosphere and clever story – seeing as the first one is exactly the same in Bioshock 2 and the second is missing completely, there is little reason to play this game. The first Bioshock was great and all, but one of the great things about it was that it masterfully tied up every loose end and the story did not really require any more elements.

Sure, there are some new elements to the gameplay, although sadly most of them are actually making the game worse. The multiplayer is kind of unbalanced and uninspired, caring for little sisters makes sense thematically as it actually makes it a chore to be a good guy but is very boring to play, the underwater sequences just feel like a gimped version of the normal game without anything to do and the new weapons and enemies do not really add anything to the game.

That is not to say Bioshock 2 is without redeeming elements – a sequence close to the end is particularly well executed and presents an intriguing narrative angle – or that it is a tremendously bad game, but it is a cash-in. It’s Bioshock with a few gimmicks thrown in to flirt with the theme but with little consideration for the game, and as such it is hard to see why one should bother. On the other hand, Art Deco-style games are pretty rare and I guess if the audiovisuals was what made Bioshock good for someone they would like the sequel.

Posted on Apr 24/10 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

/* */

Edmund on Difficulty

Edmund McMillen has a short piece on Gamasutra about the evolution of difficulty in games, a fairly lightweight piece and nothing really new if you’ve been keeping up the last few years, but an amusing read at least. Also, the 2009 Game Developer Salary survey results for independent developers have been posted, the first time GDM includes this category. Considering the very low average I’m guessing that there are a lot of different people being analyzed together; people working full-time, people working for free, on the side, gaining funds from alternative sources etc, so the average is not in itself that interesting. Nevertheless, a good idea that hopefully becomes a bit more structured in the future.

Posted on Apr 22/10 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture, General game development | No Comments »

/* */

Heavy Rain


Heavy Rain was an interesting experience to play through, basically amounting to a 7 hour long quick-time-event with some clumsy animation-driven movement tacked in between. By no means am I going to hold the sparse gameplay elements or the inclination to always put the presentation first against it as that was never the point of it, but then again it’s hard to hold it against any standard but it’s own. Which is remarkable in itself, I suppose, and for what it is it does a fairly good job of feeling meaningful.

Heavy Rain brings to light the conundrum of optional paths and player choice, in more than one way. The story does branch depending on the outcomes of certain events, but very seldom are there any hard choices to be made for the player. Sometimes there is no choice, just a reflex-based challenge that you will have to overcome and the times where you as a player actually has to make a decision the morality of the character more or less answers the question for you. Gameplay-wise, the only difference are one selection of QTEs or the other so you are only really deciding how you want the story to play out, and with such a heavy characterization the game always nudges you in one direction.

It’s a tricky argument. With more gameplay and less characterization, choices might’ve felt heavier and sent ripples throughout the game in a scale closer to Mass Effect – but on the other hand, the story and presentation would’ve had to be simpler and probably not as interesting in themselves, so I you can’t really fault Quantic Dreams for making the game they set out to do. I once had a discussion with an actor that thought we needed more games presented in the same manner as movies, I doubt this is what he was going for but if I brought anything from that discussion it is that there is room in the world for niche games.

Posted on Apr 19/10 by Saint and filed under Reflections | 1 Comment »