The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on November 15th, 2009 at 10:05 am.

Sundays are for stuff. Stuff and compiling a list of the interesting (mainly) games related reading from across the week, publishing them here and trying to avoid squeezing a lnk to some piece of pop music or another at the end, because that’s not what this list is for and I must try harder.

Failed.

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113 Comments »

  1. subedii says:

    You know, the server issue is annoying, but not as annoying to me as upping the price to try and match the console version. Having said that, You can pick the game up for about £30 from Amazon, which isn’t too bad. Sainsbury’s are doing the console version for £26 (which is freaking insane for the console version, I wonder if they’ve run out), and I’m guessing other supermarket chains might have it at similar prices.

    Cheapest I’ve seen MW2 on the PC is £27 from coolshop.co.uk, although I’ve never used them myself.

    • subedii says:

      Actually, £27.99 at coolshop now that I check again.

    • monkehhh says:

      The queue for the console version was large at the Sainsburys opposite my office – I thought I’d pop across at opening time to beat the rush, turns out 100 people had the same idea as me (just 5 minutes earlier). The staff looked a little confused, the young security guard looked a little nervous.

  2. Klaus says:

    Does no one say how bad those voices are when the game in the middle of development? What about testers? :/

    I have distanced myself pretty far from the MW2 fiasco. From what I hear, it’s pretty short and I have little interest in multiplayer. Only played online maybe twice in the original MW. Add that to the fact that I see it costing higher than what I got Dragon Age for and I am just baffled.

    • Klaus says:

      >game *is* in the middle of…

      It’s amazing how I can proofread the paragraph and fail.

    • Klaus says:

      Also, I love #3. The Dr. Light fellow actually stutters his lines and they just left it in.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Crucially it seems many of these games are from early “multimedia era” games where voice acting was seen as an uncomfortable necessity for developers of games (“Whaddaya mean we need voices to pass Sony Playstation QA???”) and it wasn’t worth shelling out for a quality voice actor, let alone studio time etc.

  3. Wilson says:

    The Andrew Wheeler article is excellent. Most amusing, and excellently written.

    • sinister agent says:

      Seconded. He didn’t even go into half the arguments he could easily have used to obliterate the ignorant nonsense the article in question was spouting, either, but then he really didn’t need to.

    • JB says:

      Thirded. Brilliant article, superbly written.

    • TeeJay says:

      It was going OK until:

      “[in Ms Kersten view] …marriage channels men’s and women’s sexual attraction into productive ends, and harnesses the male sex drive by binding men to the mothers of their children.” “I’m not sure, but I think the argument here is that, without marriage, all men are rapists.” Which is clearly *not* what the argument is.

      Next it degenerates into blather about “run around flapping their arms and squealing” and name checks Adolf Hitler, which kind of made me lose the thread of the argument.

      Andrew Wheeler does suggest at one point that “”two female friends” or “a disabled brother and sister” should have the same legal and financial benefits as a married couple (I agree about this), but ends by supporting “a legal institution that confers special benefits” for “couples”.

      Why he supports “state approval on adult relationships” or why this should be restricted to couples isn’t explained and seems to contradict the idea that either the state has no business sticking its nose in, or that the benefits given should be extended to non-couples etc.

      This doesn’t seem a stable/coherent argument – at the very least it isn’t explained very well.

      I agree having/not-having children, sexuality and religion are not a good basis for extending certain state priviledges and benefits to only some people, but the logical outcome of this requires either no priviledges, or some kind of fair criteria about how they are extended (eg everyone is able to nominate one ‘next-of-kin’ for pensions or other legal/financial purposes). Even here there needs to be some justification of why someone can’t have more than one.

      Also if you are being consistent and extend benefits fairly in this manner, then it doesn’t make any sense to call it “marriage”, because a next-of-kin nomination isn’t the same thing.

      I support gay marriage, but I didn’t find this piece of writing to be very coherent at all. It can across as an (understandably) angry and emotional reaction to some conservative rubbish.

    • Ted says:

      Nobody over here is interested in an English person’s opinions on gay marriage or any other domestic U.S. issues. Aren’t there enough problems to worry about in the U.K.?

    • CMaster says:

      Because you know, Gay Marriage is only an issue in the US and not in any other countries…

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Ted

      Katherine Kersten made comments about marriage being “a universal human institution. Across the world and throughout history, it’s been exclusively male-female.” so she is commenting on the UK as well as the US. She herself brings “European countries” into the debate. Nothing she says is specific to America – she talks about men, women, families and children and their welfare.

      If you are not interested then don’t bother responding. Don’t delude yourself that you speak for everyone or can claim that “noone” would be interested in someone engaged in debate.

      In any case, human rights are universal and people have every right to critise discrimination and inequality *wherever* it happens.

    • Psychopomp says:

      @Ted

      People like you are why America is hated.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Ted

      Speaking as an American, please stop making the rest of us look like clueless assholes.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      I think the problem with Andrew’s piece is that it pulls its punches and he doesn’t really annihilate the faulty logic behind the anti- gay marriage forces. He fails miserably by not putting Shirley Ann’s arguments to rest because he’s trying to write a response too quickly.

      I see it this way – this is the crux of the church vs. state issue in the US. The logical argument – and I’m very surprised a judge hasn’t done this yet – is to ban marriage entirely. If it cannot be equally applied it should be done away with. Which of course will get the fundies all up in arms. Which is fine, because quite frankly religion should have nothing to do with politics whatsoever. At least until they are approprtiately taxed like every other lobby/pressure group.

      Ultimately though I don’t see that there’s any place for religion whatsoever in modern public life, nor should there be. As long as people arguing for gay marriage fail to grasp that religion is, essentially, incompatible with a humane world view I do not think that there is much of a chance of it passing outside the courts. Indeed, they’d be better off trying to remove it as a right – from a legal basis.

    • TeeJay says:

      Marriage isn’t necessarily religious though.

      I agree however that the more a consistent argument is libertarian – government should get it’s nose out of people’s personal lives, personal religions and beliefs – and that religious people should support this as well: that a church/denomination should define for itself what “marriage” means and government should not get involved.

      This isn’ a “ban” on marriage – it is privatisation / deregulation / disestablishment of marriage.

  4. Heliosicle says:

    oh those voices are brilliant…

    and aside from some crappy hosts on MW2 on ps3, its been pretty good, got it for £30 off amazon

  5. Zaphid says:

    How can any top 50 list of bad voice acting miss A BOMB ?!

    • Primar says:

      JC, it’s a bomb!

    • Stijn says:

      What a shame.

    • kupocake says:

      Ah. but Deus Ex is from a later generation of ‘bad voice acting’. The thing is, ‘A BOMB!’ isn’t bad voice acting; Jay A Franke does a pretty good job with the Denton brothers throughout. It’s ‘bad voice acting’ because the animation is so primitive. You can’t exclaim anything convincingly when your articulatory abilities are limited to flapping your mouth vaguely.

      I’d go as far as to say it’s a major reason why so many successful characters from the late 90s / early 00s are the calm, detached ‘cool’ type. That’s why people will still defend Final Fantasy X‘s legendarily cringy voice work by citing monotonous cliche Auron. Rubbish articulation and unnecessary dialogue pauses don’t harm such a two-dimensional character, whens they make the forced laughter of two VAs imitating forced laughter so utterly uncomfortable.

      So aside from the fact that they’d need to put the visuals in there for it to make sense, I have to say that just about everything in Hong Kong should leap-frog ‘A BOMB!’ anyway. That level is like a bizarre nightmare.

    • Persus-9 says:

      Speaking of the link between good animation and good voice acting put me in mind of the McGurk effect.

      If you don’t know it then check out this video, the commentary is very annoying but the effect is well worth it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtsfidRq2tw

    • Phil H says:

      The lack of Legend of Legia 2 on the list disappointed me

  6. EyeMessiah says:

    #7 in the worst voiceovers was actually OK. He is also the main guy from Sacrifice and actually a pretty good voice actor. The sailors bit from Shen Mue is classic though.

  7. Lacero says:

    Phill Cameron’s MW2 article at Resolution is very convincing to me, as someone who hasn’t played any CoD games. It’s impossible to discuss without spoilers, but anyone interested in the use of choice in games should read it.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Having not played the level in question, I think that the Daily Scoundrel and Resolution articles aren’t really at odds. Daily Scoundel is right that games need less black-and-white in them – we’ve been asking for a game where you play Nazis in a shooter for a while now, after all. But the Resolution article is correct – there really needs to be a proper context for all of this, or else it needs to be the player’s choice. As it is, this level just seems to be obscene without reason, and may well hurt the chances of genuinely interesting evil being committed on our screens in the future.

      I mean, if Die Hard 5 had Bruce Willis watching someone rape a baby, and then the people watching the DVD at home could choose to skip the scene or press a button to have him rape it too, would that be OK? I think that’s the level of sophistication we’re seeing here.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Hmm, a second take on it.

      It’s actually an anti-American piece of media, showing the cold heartlessness of the CIA in allowing foreigners to kill innocent civilians (mirrored in Pinochet’s Chile, the support for Batista in Cuba, etc) in order to further US interests. The level is saying “the CIA doesn’t give a shit about anyone except US citizens and is an absolutely xenophobic institution” and is setting up for the justified invasion of the US mainland by the international community in retribution for allowing such an atrocity to happen.

      As with the first CoD showing the US taskforce to be a short-sighted, doomed group, dying in their hundreds to their own whooping hubris as the SAS do the real work behind the scenes, Infinity Ward is pushing the message that American Imperialism is dead and that some humility in the American public’s view of other nations is long overdue.

  8. Garg says:

    “Anyone seen anything else really worth reading on the subject?”

    Well it managed to get on Newsnight Review on Friday. There was one guy there who liked it, the two girls giggled and the other guy turned his nose up at it, apparently shocked to find out it was a game about shooting people and complaining it had too much death. I mean death is never dealt with anywhere in films or books.

    • Krondonian says:

      I saw the same thing on Newsnight. Was pretty interesting how it’s actually on there in the first place, but three of the critics spectacularly failed to grasp what a videogame was, and the one guy to know anything about them didn’t really have much to say but defend all games.

      The sad thing was that MW2 was discussed as a substitute for ‘videogame’. If someone just pointed out that Die Hard wasn’t all films offered, and the same is true for videogames it might have actually prompted some reasonable debate.

    • Bret says:

      The thing is, a compelling argument could be made that all films should be Die Hard.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      If by “a compelling argument” you mean “obvious and settled indisputable fact”, then yes. All films should be Die Hard.

    • TeeJay says:

      I’ve just watched Newsnight Review on iPlayer:

      It got 3 minutes out of a 30 minute show and apparently only one of them had actually played the game (the others had watched over his shoulder for a little bit).

      Responses:

      Anne McElvoy (Evening Standard) – pandering to an obsession with warfare and violence.

      Maxa Zoller (film curator) – ‘for guys’, ‘left me cold’, ‘video games are (negatively) influencing films – eg latest bond movie – with ‘levels’ replacing linear narrative.’

      Paul Morley (broadcaster) – decadant, crude, negative, ‘all about killing’, gamers are ‘fundamentalists’ who say that if you can’t play it you can’t understand or criticise it, it’s a toy…

      Peter Millar (journalist) – (the only one who had actuall played it) – ‘brilliant’

      Kirsty Wark – prattled on about how many units it had sold.

    • Guy Jin says:

      @TeeJay: Aren’t levels a form of linear narrative? Personally I’m waiting for non-linear movie narratives – there’s too little player choice in the current offerings.

  9. Matt W says:

    On the MW2 thing (contains spoilers, and admittedly mildly devil’s-advocatey):

    (And with the caveat that I didn’t get the emotional gut-punch from the level that others are describing; for whatever reason, I just saw it as a level in a game.)

    Apparently Phil Cameron described MW2 as “war porn”, and that’s dead on. It’s aspiring to be the most authentic (as radically distinct from realistic) war-porn experience on the market. “No Russian” is the part of the porn experience where a beautiful young starlet explains she has to leave the industry because she contracted HIV from a stand-in, and now she’s wondering how she’s going to feed her kid. It’s shocking, yes, but it’s very much part of the “thing”. You want authentic? Here, here’s authentic, in the context of our “war on terror” and all its baggage.

    (I don’t think it’s supposed to be about the bad guy at all, so his characterization doesn’t worry me – it’s about the CIA agent, and the orders he follows.)

    In the very next level, you’re running through a Brazilian Falvela, gunning down the local “militia” – who are basically civilians, but with guns, trying to drive off a foreign spec-ops group who are attempting to abduct and torture one of their fellow country-men. But it’s ok, because here the civilians have guns that they shoot at you, and it’s video game convention that killing people who shoot at you – for whatever reason – is perfectly legit. Let’s ignore the fact that you’re still killing people, by the hundreds and thousands, the whole way through the game. Let’s just decry the one level where the people dying are recognizably “people like us”, where the overwhelming mortality suddenly strikes home. Let’s cling to our definition of “enemy combatant” to stop us thinking about the fact that in all these games we’re gunning down people as real as those in the airport, many of whom no doubt lead otherwise-blameless lives.

    Are we supposed to believe that all the Russian paratroopers are “evil people”, while the National Guard units we’re representing are paragons of goodness? Or are we just trying desperately to avoid thinking about the wider implications of “No Russian”?

    I applaud IW for having the balls to put this scene in. We’re constantly asking for games with “more meaning” or what have you, more “emotional impact”. IW have had a damn good stab at that here, and if nothing else it certainly is having an impact. It’s making people give a shit. Yes, like the rest of the game, it has (to my nose) the unfortunate whiff of a brilliant product let down by slightly sub-par execution, but it’s still a worthwhile attempt, and it’s pushing back the boundaries of what games can do in an extremely public way. MW2 is, for all its flaws, the ideal vehicle for this sort of controversy, because the debate becomes part of the coverage rather than the whole of the coverage. Lesser games would be crushed for attempting this. IW, do it better next time, but well done for doing it at all.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      I must not have sufficient emotional maturity. Me, I enjoyed No Russian, making a game out of trying to gun down as many innocent tourists as I cold (which isn’t easy, since the four or so people “on your side” are pretty good shots and mow them down quickly. Obviously I went into the level with all kinds of pre-knowledge since it was perfectly impossible to remain unspoiled. That I think is a bit of a shame. I’d managed to remain unspoiled on MW1′s nuke scene and it hit me like a hammer. I kept thinking “okay, any second now I’ll get up and Arab-looking baddies will come shooting at me and I’ll shoot them”, and then I didn’t get up, and that was pretty cool.

      I don’t think I’m a monster, but this is a game. This is decidedly divorced from real life to me. Violence fantasies don’t always need to be ethically justifiable–actually they are sometimes a lot better when they’re not. This is why they are fantasies.

      I’ve just made a little experiment. I played the “No Russian” again with the flatmate watching. She’s definitely not a gamer at all. I gave her a little background on the scandal, told her just enough of the backstory so she’d understand the context of the mission (basically, “you’re an undercover CIA agent infiltrating this very bad Russian terrorist’s network to stop him killing a lot of people”), and I played the mission in front of her. I shot right away. Her reaction was pretty much as predicted: this is horrible! How can they do this? I asked her if she would react the same if this was a film, and of course she wouldn’t have. “But here it’s you doing the shooting!” Precisely. But the more interesting bit was my own feeling. I felt really dirty and evil and twisted for playing the mission this time around with someone watching. Like I said, the first time I played it, I enjoyed myself, playing a game of shoot the fleeing civilian in the back. This time I felt compelled to justify my actions (“think how many civilians he would kill with his nuke!”) and generally awkward.

      And I realized I really enjoyed it that a game can cause these emotions in me. If I see Bruce Willis agonize over whether or not killing 100 people to save a million is the Right Thing to do, it’s a bit of an academical, theoretical exercise. I’ll have to make an effort to put myself into his shoes, and the fact that he’ll probably find a way to do neither doesn’t help. Here in this game you ARE Private First Class Allen, shooting the civilians, and whether or not you justify it to yourself with how many people you will save (SPOILER ALERT) you will save none as you’re simply shot in the end of the mission (END SPOILER).

      Controversy is good not only for the PR it generates but also for the discussions. Me, I’ve learned a lot about how videogames are different in messing with your mind.

      Of course now that the flatmate’s seen the graphics on this thing she had to go and ask if they’ve made “porn games” already. Off to explain the Rapelay controversy!

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’m with Matt.

    • vagabond says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only person who thought my terrorist teammates were a bunch of lousy kill stealers :)

      I think the biggest problem with “No Russian” is that it really doesn’t fit in with the tone of the rest of the game. SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE PLOT OF MW2 FOLLOW.

      CoD4 whilst having its fanciful moments never really struck me as terribly unrealistic. Middle eastern coup by religious fanatics, civil war in former soviet republics, terrorists getting hold of a nuke and detonating it, American military intervention in aforementioned middle eastern country. All of these seemed reasonable to me while playing the game. On the other hand it has some grim scenes that show how brutal and inhuman war can be, the first person execution, the sleeping sailors, the nuke scene, the detachment from the killing of the AC-130 Spectre crew, and pretty much anything involving captain price.
      Sure it’s war porn, and you can argue the toss about whether it has a deliberate anti-war message embedded in it, but it’s gritty and realistic (if slightly embellished) war porn.

      But if CoD4 is Andy McNab’s book about Bravo Two Zero, MW2 is one of Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow novels. It may be fast paced and fun enough to plow through, but it is so over the top that it doesn’t make a lick of sense. It is full of all sorts of over the top action scenes that people have (I think correctly) compared to a James Bond film. The snow mobile chase, the zodiac chase, the leaping over rooftops onto a helicopter’s rope ladder, the STARS escape from the prision. Added to all of these over the top action sequences are a series of events in the plot that don’t make a lick of sense, and dragged me out of the game each time. Why are we willing to let 500 civilians be killed to infiltrate a terrorist group that is threatening to do what exactly? Why would an American being involved in a terrorist attack (even a soldier) cause a Russian invasion of the US? We had enough evidence pointing us at people in Brazil, and they control the crime scene. How does a Russian takeover of Washington DC not result in nuclear war? How does (what for all intents and purposes appear to be) a Russian missile launch following an invasion, not result in a nuclear war?

      I realise that a large portion of the justification for the above is that it is all masterminded by the General in charge of the black ops unit. But that just raises further questions. Why is a General who lost 30,000 troops to a nuke still a General? Further more, why is he in charge of a secret black ops department when he is so obviously unhinged? Don’t you conduct psych evaluations when your commanding officers lose half their command to a nuclear weapon? I would, it clearly affects them quite badly.

      Anyway, I guess my point is that amidst all this over the top James Bond level silliness, there is no place for the sort of scenes with realistic depiction of the horror of war, or of doing “what must be done”, that made CoD4 the brilliant game it was rather than the very competent shooter with TIGHT controls that it otherwise was.

      Beyond that, I think that whilst the level could have been better executed, and desperately needs more context and back story to work fully, I’m glad that IW attempted it, and that we can have the discussion about games doing things that are uncomfortable.

      The discussion I have little time for is what effectively boils down to “uncomfortable scene made me uncomfortable, and therefore shouldn’t exist”. There are plenty of films out there that aren’t fun to watch and I don’t hear many people saying they shouldn’t have been made.

      One final aspect of this that I find somewhat amusing, is what it says about the Australian censorship regime. Apparently despite the pro censorship side of the argument (which is the rationale for the current legislation) saying that things are more impactful with player agency involved (and this level seems to provide a fair amount of anecdotal evidence indicating that they are), I can play this, but not L4D2…

    • TeeJay says:

      “The discussion I have little time for is what effectively boils down to “uncomfortable scene made me uncomfortable, and therefore shouldn’t exist”. There are plenty of films out there that aren’t fun to watch and I don’t hear many people saying they shouldn’t have been made.”

      It is possible to say a film (or a game) is offensive / immoral / insulting / without merit etc without demanding it be banned or ‘never made’.

      There are various reasons why a film (or a game) can make someone uncomfortable.

      Some very lightweight examples: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article6571288.ece I am sure everyone can think of more extreme examples for themselves.

    • vagabond says:

      which is fair comment, but I’m not categorising anyone who simply said “I didn’t like that level, it made me feel ill, I’m never playing it again.” in that group. I can understand that opinion, and I’d much rather people held that than say, fired up MW2 every so often just to replay “No Russian” and mow down some civilians after a hard day at work. However there are some people who basically have said that games are “entertainment”, and that a level like that does not belong in a video game because it is not “fun”, which is not a viewpoint I can get along with because I think it holds back games from exploring and developing in worthwhile directions.

  10. The Hammer says:

    I just watched that Newsnight Review piece on it.

    Christ, what a rubbish debate. What a retread of the same old points. “Oooooh, it’s violent! Ooooh, where is the moral justification for that?!”

    You’d think, considering it sold all those copies, that Newsnight might realize that at least some of its audience have played, and enjoyed the game, and therefore endeavour to make it a more balanced discussion? But no.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I am amused by any news program trying to take the moral highground on the issue of violence.

      “This game is really violent, it will corrupt the children!”

      “Now in other news, car bomb kills 12, we have the shocking footage.”

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      England is a fanatically magical place where you’re all surprised that news isn’t objective nor fair.

      Here in the states, our most credible source of news is a comedian.

    • TeeJay says:

      Newsnight Review isn’t a “news” programme – it’s a bit tacked onto the end of a news progamme on Friday night, where four invited guests (highbrow cultural “lovie” types) prattle on for half an hour trying to out-pseude each other, about a selection of stuff they have been asked to review.

      In this case they mainly reviewed a selection of German films relating to 1989 and argued about relationship between pop culture and politics in 1980s Berlin (etc). In three minutes at the end they blathered vaguely about MW2, and it slipped put that only one of the five people had actually played the game.

      Watch it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00nxbyv/Newsnight_Review_13_11_2009/

  11. Nurdbot says:

    Interesting links like always but the Failed meme is waaay too internet 2.0. I would like the old tanks like houses back :(.

  12. Lewis says:

    I didn’t know the TB after party was limited to first 500 ticketholders until the other day, so I fear I shall miss your DJ set, Kieron.

  13. grafe says:

    you are empty had a great voice over with the dude you meet on the farm, it was really bizarre because hed start spazzing out and was still talking normally before running into the back room pretending to be taken by some invisible force

  14. mrrobsa says:

    I agree with most of Mr.Cameron’s thoughts on ‘No Russian’.
    The mission evoked in me what I suppose was the intended emotion in that I felt saddened and slightly sick, but the biggest problem is that it’s a great idea poorly executed (no pun intended). And it’s the scriptwriters’ fault. You’re thrown into the role with no real set-up, the premise is fairly unbelievable, and at the early point in the game where you’ll face this mission there isn’t really much at stake.
    Had they bult up to this mission in a smarter way and had it nearer the end of the story where the stakes are much higher it could have been a winner. Also it would push the morality issue better if you had to ‘convince’ the terrorists that you’re one of them (I’m not saying this should be done by executing civillians). I played the section like the leftie-liberal I am by not shooting anyone and firing grenades into empty shops and it didn’t make a difference, I am still Mr.Bad Terrorist by the end.
    But then my main problem with MW2 is that the narrative is pap, and certainly worse than that of MW1 and for a cinematic game that’s makes for quite an issue. Good game though.
    End of ramble.

    • Metalfish says:

      It really needed a level just before it where pvt Allen has to go and pick up the weapons etc in now ultranationalist Russia. Preferably setting the scene by showing the brewing anti-American sentiment and an escalating propaganda war that is seeding suspicion among the populace that the actions of Makarov are actually perpetuated by the West.

      Or something.

  15. Kommissar Nicko says:

    With regards to the New Scientist article… I had an amusing train of thought: “Why don’t they power the lenses with the heat of the human body? Then I realized that processes for converting thermal energy to electricity can’t be easily miniaturized. What would that process look like? Steam power. And then…

    Our steampunk future awaits.”

  16. Stijn says:

    Actually, wasn’t Oblivion’s Dark Brotherhood questline full of scenes where you slaughter innocent people?

    • The Hammer says:

      Not in the 21st century though, and not in an airport. Fantasy can get away with atrocities like that, by dint of being separated.

    • skalpadda says:

      I’d say a more important difference is that you can choose not to do it if you find it distasteful.

    • Psychopomp says:

      You can skip it in Modern Warfare, as well.

    • skalpadda says:

      I’d say there’s a bit of a difference between what you choose to do or not in a giant sandbox RPG (the role-playing being a pretty big factor) and skipping a section in a linear shooter, but that’s just a point of view I suppose.

  17. Bobby Smiles says:

    You’d have to be a special breed of idiot to give that Resolution article any credence at all. Seriously now?

    Human empathy is a powerful thing. It’s what makes us allow people to dress up their animals in cute little outfits and pretend they’re Tudor kings. It’s how we can watch a film like Downfall and suddenly feel like maybe Hitler was just a man under too much pressure. It’s how, when we see a pair of planes fly into the Twin Towers, the entire Western world can grind to a halt in sheer horror.

    But shouldn’t such a role-reversal should be applauded? Here is a developer placing you in the place of those who are so demonised by the media, and perhaps you can garner some relationship with their cause, see that they’re people too, just driven to extremes due to their situation.

    Even the most fervent conservative could probably find something to relate to in Al Qaeda’s views and ideas, however extreme and Religiously fundamental they are. What you’re given in ‘No Russian’ is cardboard cut-outs of terrorists; sneering robots with guns that sadistically watch wounded civilians crawl away before putting them out of their misery.

  18. airtekh says:

    Christ. Some of those entries in that voiceover list should make it onto another list for ‘Worst Videogame Writing’.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Poor voice actors. Must be excruciating to have to try to put some emotion into it when you have to read such tripe. You can hear the contempt some of them have for the writing.

  19. Dante says:

    Right, I’m going to read that Waterstones article properly at a later date, but I’ll say this.

    I bloody love my local Waterstones.

    It’s pretty much everything the opening few paragraphs accuse Waterstones of being against, it’s a lovely old building, built into a former bank, and no-one cares if you take a book to the little tucked away coffee shop at the back and read it for a while, so much so that I usually end up buying something out of guilt. The ‘celebrity biographies’ they’re accused of being all about are right at the front of the store, as if to say ‘just buy your crap and get out without disturbing us’, the only magazines I’ve seen are hidden away on the top floor, surrounded by post modern poetry acting as some sort of cultural buffer. They have sections for every kind of fiction, including niche stuff like cult, gay fiction, black identity fiction etc. They have a small stand in the middle of the store full of books personally recommended by the staff, who will happily talk to you about them, they’ll also help you find a book even when you don’t have a clue, they’ve even ordered books from the states for me when they aren’t out in this country. I went to a Terry Pratchett signing there once and the staff (and Mr Pratchett) worked overtime until every single person in the queue had been seen.

    I’ve been going to my local Waterstones since I was a kid, it’s the friendliest, nicest and most down to earth chain store I could ever hope to see.

    • bill says:

      all i know about waterstones is that they are fighting to stay in business.
      When people can buy books at hugely discounted (and often loss-making) prices in supermarkets and online, and most of those stores are in no way restricted by the deals that are inherent in the publishing/book industry, it’s frankly amazing that they didn’t go bust years ago.

  20. Starky says:

    I’ve always thought public libraries should move in that bistro/cafe zone…

    In my city of Carlisle there is almost nowhere you can sit down for an hour, have a coffee and read. Our Waterstones is sadly one of those poor examples that it feels more like a HMV with books instead of CDs than anything else, tiny coffee area with stools and a few seats up stairs is the only saving grace.

    Libraries should go into the coffee business, become public internet/reading cafe’s – some place you can relax over a coffee and a sandwich and read a book without feeling the pressure of “buy stuff or get out” that most modern cafe’s and book stores have.

    I like a subway/starbucks when I’m on the go as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just want to relax in a comfy chair with a coffee and a book.

    • Gutter says:

      It’s a good idea, public libraries have enough problem finding people to staff them as it is… If they don’t sell book, they can’t pay anyone to clean up after the coffee drinkers.

  21. EthZee says:

    I loved this comment on the Telegraph article (which was less about the controversial terrorist scene in MW2, and more about “omg my man is spending too much time on videogames how silly!”):

    My wife is a better sniper than I am.Manny Biasco

  22. Dave says:

    Evil Zone and House of the Dead certainly belong on there (“Suffer like G did?” “Don’t come, don’t come!”), but where is Robot Alchemic Drive?

  23. G. Brown says:

    #11 on the voice acting….Adam West?

  24. Psychopomp says:

    Where’s my Shenmue 3? :(

  25. LewieP says:

    RE: CriticDNA

    “I can see problems with this, of course, but it’s still probably better than Metacritic.”

    I have to agree.

    It seems to me that it could be like an easy way of getting the equivalent of “Following the right people on twitter and reading the right blogs” that seems to have a similar end product. IE “Click here to follow the UK Indie dev scene” could be cool.

    • TeeJay says:

      I’d prefer a move to something more like the way IMDB do their rankings. While the ‘user rankings’ on metacritic are currently a bit stupid (many/most people either vote love = 10 or hate = 0) this might be a function of the lack of a persistent ‘community’ and user accounts. You don’t get the same thing over on eurogamer where people rank their game collections. IMDB also uses a system of ‘weighting’ user scores to stop people gaming the system to promote their own movies.

      I think deliberately trying to ‘put the critic’ at the centre is the wrong aim. It is possible to develop a system where high profile and professional critics will become important ‘commentators’ whose reviews appear at the ‘top’, without designing the system around them (in the same way as Stephen Fry gets lots of followers on Twitter without it being designed into the system).

      For example if you weight scoring by someone’s ‘peer rank’ then professional reviewers (and their reviews) will appear at the top and you could make their scores carry more weight, but also talented amateurs could appear, just like you get people appearing overnight on youtube or their own blogs.

      The way foward is to make web 2.0 work, not give up on it and retreat to the ivory tower.

  26. Klaus says:

    In my gaming career I have slaughtered people for being mouthy, used items powered from the souls of children, imprisoned people for- what I believe to be -eternity, starved out nations, starved out planets, blew up planets, razed cities, nuked cities, created all sorts of natural disasters, ruled as a dictator, sent a wookie to kill an innocent young girl and more. I imagine my death toll exceeds far into the billions.

    Killing civilians? Meh. Looking at all the people getting upset: http://www.gameanyone.com/video/171701

    I have to wonder if they only played Madden XX or Mario. I committed atrocities greater than what is shown in MW2 and it is likely I will continue to do more as the years go on (in games, of course). And I do see the difference between arcane objects being fueled from suffering in a fantastical setting and gunning down civvies in a modern setting. I guess them being rendered into individuals makes it an issue, it would be harder starving out a planet in GalCiv2 if all the people were rendered. I still haven’t gotten my Blood Magic in Dragon Age. *sigh*

    I will say that the ending for that mission was awesome though.

    • Mil says:

      In my gaming career I have slaughtered people for being mouthy, used items powered from the souls of children, imprisoned people for- what I believe to be -eternity, starved out nations, starved out planets, blew up planets, razed cities, nuked cities, created all sorts of natural disasters, ruled as a dictator, sent a wookie to kill an innocent young girl and more. I imagine my death toll exceeds far into the billions.

      Here at RPS you’re more likely to incur the intelligentsia’s disdain and moral condemnation by looking at drawings of sexy women.

  27. Persus-9 says:

    Really liked the marriage article, although I did feel he made a bit of a strawman of the case for having a mixed gender environment when raising children. Reducing the argument to some silly fluff about changing fuses isn’t really that helpful. I think there is an argument there based on theories about roll models and copying the parent of the same gender as yourself and he didn’t really address that concern well by making out that it’s stupid stuff about how to change fuses. I think the correct answer is that yeah it’s probably a good thing to have a mixed gender home to raise children but really it’s a very very minor concern next to far more important problems that aren’t legislated against.

    I think marriage rules are really weird when looked at from a gaming perspective. I mean sex is one of life’s mini-games isn’t it? Generally considered as a two players game with an extremely popular single player variant that isn’t considered to be the real deal and more multiplayer variants still quite popular but harder to set up. Marriage on the other hand is a grouping mechanic to allow players to co-op easier, share loot and receive other benefits. Now why on earth is the only strong grouping mechanic that isn’t randomly set up on character creation tied to being members of different randomly assigned sexes who are assumed (but not required) to be playing a certain mini-game on a fairly regular basis? That is a little crazy in my opinion.

  28. LewieP says:

    Again, on CriticDNA

    One obvious problem is that it could lead to gamers only reading from critics that think like they do. It would be a massive shame to not ever read things by people with different opinions to me.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I dunno, I tend to think most people who’d be bothered to think about a differing opinion are already seeking those differing opinions out. Right now I think a bigger problem with the way gamers (and most entertainment consumers, really) look at reviews is they expect them to have some kind of objective truth to them. I like the idea of a review aggregator that explicitly acknowledges that reviews are basically just statements of (well-informed and thought out, one hopes) opinion, that it’s appropriate for there to be a breadth of opinions on a game, and that the reader has a certain responsibility to think critically about whether or not a given review or reviewer is tuned in to their particular preferences.

  29. Bobic says:

    What I don’t understand in that mission. Couldn’t you just take a briefcase along and tell the ruskies you had to take a leak and leave the briefcase there and detonate it? I really don’t think the glori-USA would ever sacrifice hundreds of civilians for no reason. Also dedicated servers have been patched in I see :]

    • Bobic says:

      sorry, dedi’s have been hacked in

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, like I say, the message one might take away from this is that IW believes that the CIA is xenophobic enough not to prevent a major terrorist atrocity on foreign soil.

    • TeeJay says:

      Conspiracy theory stuff is a common gaming (and movie) theme. The evil/heartless CIA government conspiracy that double-crosses the hapless operative/cop/soldier/family man is almost the standard convention/cliqué, starting from the late 60s onwards. Interestingly it doesn’t go as far as to condemn the *whole* system, usually just some shadowy sub-group, that can somehow be blamed for everything bad, while the rest of the country/government is absolved.

      Of course in reality the ‘whole system’ *is* far more to blame than evil rogue/bad apples/conspiracies etc.

  30. Z says:

    Libraries have been doing just this in spades for years.

  31. Radiant says:

    You know you don’t have to shoot the civilians in the airport?
    It’s the old GTA argument.

    Now I don’t mind being shot in the face pov style [fnar fnar] but I do take umbrage in getting bloody IMMOLATED pov style.

    Great game controversy aside.

    Just goes to highlight how far other studios need to raise their understanding of shooters.
    Raven couldn’t do something this accomplished neither could Id nor Free Radical.
    Where does that leave Brink?
    Hopefully SD can do something just as great with their single player.

  32. Lagmint says:

    People are buying MW2 in the UK? What the heck is wrong with you guys? Anyone that tried to screw me over like that I’d stay the hell away from (with my money for sure.)

    I still don’t own, or plan to own MW2, but as I said, shocked the UK let themselves get worked over by Activision like that.

    • Lagmint says:

      /sigh, that was a reply to subedii at the top.

    • Metalfish says:

      Sainsburys my dear boy! Sainsburys! A wonderous name that is whispered on the wind whenever this game is uttered.

      What? This is a PC site? The offer wasn’t on PC? People still bought it at the non-half-price? You’re mental.

    • Vinraith says:

      I have to say, the overwhelming popularity, sales figures, and hype for a 4.5 hour long run-and-gun shooter with broken multiplayer has made it vividly clear to me just how out of touch with mainstream gaming I really am.

    • TeeJay says:

      Personally I am a bit suspicious of the sales figures (and ‘critical acclaim’).

  33. Ishy says:

    I loved this line: “That merely is sought rather dearly by those feeling queerly. ” There needs to be more rhyming in the world.

    I also rather liked the point made by the opponent: ““And why should marriage be open only to people with a sexual relationship?” she adds. “That discriminates against two female friends who want to share the burdens of rearing their kids, or a disabled brother and sister who live together.””

    Indeed, what about marriage in those circumstances? Is having sex a requirement? Many married couples are sexually inactive/dormant whatever, are those marriages less valid for it?

    I don’t think the government should discriminate with tax benefits against either gays/lesbians or single persons. But that’s not the big issue with gay marriage for me. I am going to go on a killing spree if a hospital doesn’t let me see my partner because we’re not married when he’s sick/dying, or make decisions about his care. Those sorts of rights are _very_ important.

  34. Joe says:

    Can we please put a stop to this notion that Call of Duty 2009 is in any way profound? The only people who should think that are 360 users and journalists, both of whom have a high propensity for delusion.

    I am sure it will be fun to see the mainstream press disappear up its own foxhole, but people who play games and like games realise that games grew up a while ago, and that when a game offers you digital violence then tries to make you feel bad about it, that is a cliche.

  35. Pod says:

    Note to Quinns: Hating on “gameplay” is sooooooo 2007. The 2009 rage is banding about the phrase “game mechanic” as much as possible. I predict that we’ll start hating on that by 2010, so get in there early and look like you started the movement.

  36. Wulf says:

    I’m going to be horribly controversial myself about the MW2 thing and say what usually no one would have the gall to say, because I like doing that.

    Infinity Ward is, quite simply, applying to the lowest common denominator, and that’s all there is to it. The lowest common denominator also being known as “the mainstream gaming audience”. The mainstream crowd are going to buy this, and they’re going to dig this, because they’re made up of average people, with average minds, who rarely have good checks on their savage instincts.

    It’s like the 9/11 thing. People will [i]say[/i] it’s horrific, but how many people will refuse to watch footage of it because it turns their stomach? I was one. I couldn’t stand it, I’d just leave the room, change the channel, or whatever other option was available to me. Yet there are people I know who’d just sit there watching it with morbid fascination, hand over mouth, unable to stop.

    Again, two girls, one cup, there are people who say it’s sick, and some actually [i]mean[/i] that they can’t stomach it and they’ll turn away. Then you have the average people, the hypocrites, those who’ll say it’s sick and yet they’ll watch, and watch, and watch. For the most general sample of humanity, that’s human nature. You can’t get away from it.

    What I see is Infinity Ward saying “Why try to get away from it when you can turn a good [currency unit] on it?”, it’s capitalism playing up to the biggest buying audience. It’s just that simple, to my mind. There’s no philosophical dilemma, there’s no need to debate the nature o it. If there’s a large enough audience out there, then content will be made to appeal to that audience.

    The Moral of the Story: [i]Thank fuck I’m not mainstream.[/i]

    • Wulf says:

      Baaah… been posting on so many forums lately that I’m used to UBB tags. Oh well, I’m sure you’re all aware of what the tags mean, it’ll just require mental editing to read it properly.

  37. SleepyMatt says:

    If only the Telegraph’s article on games vs relationships were accurate, one could neatly follow it by congratulating America on it’s very generous mission to save gay couples from the pain of gaming widow(er)ship.

    Or perhaps the Telegraph should just hire Andrew Wheeler, who at knows how to argue a point without resorting to ill-researched myth-mongering.

  38. autogunner says:

    I need to admit this somewhere, I got modern warfare 2 for the PS3, and by the airport mission i still had not grasped the controls, so instead of firing over the heads of the civilians as I got out the elevator, i lobbed a grenade into the middle of the crowd…

  39. El Stevo says:

    “No Russian” actually really bothers me, but mainly because I hate being forced to walk in a game. The paths of the men is also heavily scripted, so that if you ever get in front of them you get shoved out of the way. Really frustrating.

  40. clive dunn says:

    Ah so it’s enforced ‘walk’. I thought it was my dodgy shift key.
    4.5 hours of duck shooting afaic.
    Can someone mod it so all the enemy are actually ducks. I’d get a lot more out of it. Not that i’ve got anything against ducks.

  41. MastodonFarm says:

    “In the Bloomsbury branch of Waterstone’s, I am trying to find a quiet seat to read Tacitus’s account of Seneca’s suicide when I come across something more diverting.”

    Wow. Has there ever been a more pretentious opening sentence?

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