Sunday, 24 January 2016

Video games as a return to nature

Some interesting points here about the use of video games to push the familiar 'Arcadia' view of the moral superiority of village life over modern city life. They have had to cherry pick their examples of course. As a medium for the young to early middle aged video games often glamorise the high tech and modern (think Halo, Portal or Elite).

However, it would have been nice to see the author consider some examples outside of the comfort zone epitomised by Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. FPSs and RPGs especially often reverse this trope with the rural and frontier zones being dangerous and enemy-ridden while the towns and cities are relatively restful areas of safety, companionship and resupply.

Other games are more schizophrenic about the worth of city and rural life. You could write whole articles about the crumbling, plague ridden cityscape of Dishonored, which nevertheless is a place of substantial beauty and mystery, or the opportunities that Assassin's Creed offers for competent players while retaining pitfalls for those who are too unsubtle.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A brilliant Sherlock special for 2016

This is an absolute gift. Treat yourself if you haven't done so already.

It's a pitch perfect case of Sherlock does the Arabian Nights with a few guest appearances from Moriarty playing Banquo's ghost. Preposterous but one of those occasions where that is kind of the point.

... and yes, I'm aware how pretentious that all sounds. There is a reason why I'm posting this on an unread blog rather than on Facebook!

But seriously, watch it.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Elite (and more dangerous than thou)

So Elite Dangerous.

Anybody who follows the computer gaming world will know that there has been some controversy over the decision to release (fairly massive) updates and content in expansion blocks that cost almost as much as the original game.

Personally I think this is a storm in a teacup. Frontier Developments have managed to produce a space simulator with ambition that may eventually rival EVE Online without going down the subscription route. So long as they continue to support the game the cost is worth it even for those who bought it for full whack originally.

It is something of a moot point for me since I picked the game up in one of the many recent £10.00 sales and don't plan to upgrade until Horizons is similarly cheap (or required to play the game).

Putting that elephant in the room to one side, my initial experience of the game was patchy. I put up with the initial frustration of having to watch a youtube video to learn how to do anything as my dad had the original game when I was a kid and I know that the difficulty of docking and managing craft systems was part of its nostalgic charm. You're not a proper Elite player until you've wrapped a couple of ships round the docking towers.

The first few courier missions I did had a certain satisfaction to them as the constant repetition of basic gameplay tasks quickly makes you at least semi-proficient. I then spent my small savings on mining equipment. This was a mistake.

No disrespect meant to any miners out there but it was so dull that I wanted to saw my own arms off with a chisel. Chipping elements from the asteroids and managing the hopper is fine if not especially fun. However, the lining up of your craft to pick up ore in your scoop is a nightmare. A 'Freelancer'-esque tractor beam would have made it bearable. As it was I was put off the game for a couple of weeks.

Thankfully when I returned a fellow miner became infuriated by my ineffectual pawing at one of his space rocks and performed the interstellar combat equivalent of beating me to death with a nearby boulder. I didn't even consider paying to reclaim the equipment from my mining Sidewinder and took a new off the shelf model.

After a serendipitous combination of slave-running and multi-part spy courier missions I had the money to buy a new craft. I considered but skipped past the more spacious Hauler and Adder models and went straight for a combat Viper. This was not a mistake.

Bounty hunting is easily my favourite part of the game so far. I've collected three or four bounties now, including the coveted Anaconda kill. I've also had two exciting near-deaths; limping into port with an empty fuel tank and a shattered canopy respectively. On the latter occasion I zoomed through the access port with a minute on the asphyxiation clock shouting 'They must have a system for this!' at the screen before I discovered that the hangar bays are kept oxygenated.  

It also helps that bounties are crazy lucrative. I imagine I'll be up to a Cobra within a couple of days and then the universe will be my salty, aquatic delicacy of choice!