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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for cutting hedges and playing The Phantom Pain, so we’d better quickly round-up the week’s best games writing so we have the maximum amount of time available for tactical espionage action.

  • I like YouTube and think there are a great many talented YouTubers and I watch many of them. But this event in London, called Legends of Gaming, sounds horrible. An event at which children could see some of their favourite YouTubers play games, organised by Endemol, Game, and a meat supplier.
  • Despite Mattessons’ involvement, none of the concession stands actually appear to be serving any Fridge Raiders. I wonder if being presented with the reality of the product might diminish from the allure, like we might begin to suspect what a robot has to do with strips of animal. On my way back to the stage I spot a rectangle advertising that it will spit out food if you’re prepared to engage in a cynical marketing ploy. I’m starving. I send out a tweet with the hashtag it wants and I delete the message instantly, as if that somehow absolves me of having ever done it. I actually do this twice, because, like the attendant says, someone rushed in and grabbed something that was probably mine. There wasn’t really a way to tell. Fridge Raiders are terrible. If they were good then Mattessons wouldn’t need this pomp and circumstance to sell any.

  • Thomas Welsh coins the term “mono-game” for the likes of The Witcher, Assassin’s Creed and most recently Metal Gear Solid. These are vast games that encourage gaming monogamy thanks to their variety, but also therefore pose challenges when it comes to designing and discussing them.
  • And mono-games take over all of your gaming time. With varied gameplay styles and complex systems, they offer multiple ways to reward the player. Base building, exploring, leveling, collecting loot, constructing teams or weapons or potions or spell and managing relationships with NPC’s. The mono-game is so called because it is the only game you need to play and the only game you’ll have time to play. Earlier this year we had The Witcher 3, the ultimate mono-game. Just a few months later, it has been equaled – if not eclipsed – by Metal Gear Solid 5. The mono-game is here to stay, and in the battle to combat second hand game sales, it’s the publishers ultimate weapon. A game of such depth and quality that you will never want to stop playing. A game so engaging that you will devote your time to it ahead of all others. A game that will make you monogamous.

  • Eurogamer’s Aoife Wilson writes about Phantom Pain’s Quiet, and why exactly her character design is shit. I avoided reading this last week because of spoilers, and there’s some minor ones in here, but you might be ready for it now. Here’s a quote from Kojima:
  • “I created her character as an antithesis to the women characters appeared in the past fighting game who are excessively exposed. ‘Quiet’ who doesn’t have a word will be teased in the story as well. But once you recognise the secret reason for her exposure, you will feel ashamed of your words & deeds. The response of ‘Quiet’ disclosure few days ago incited by the net is exactly what MGSV itself is.”

  • Let’s stick with Eurogamer for a while. Here’s Christian Donlan on the pleasures of Grow Home, an inventive physics-animated game by Ubisoft that I imagine many people still haven’t got round to playing.
  • If you play enough first-person shooters, something really weird can set in from time to time – something strangely off-putting. In certain games the depth of the environment can drop away after a while, the world steadily losing its tangibility, and you start to realise that, underneath everything – or maybe somehow above everything – you’re just a reticule scudding over the screen, roving and hovering and blasting.

  • And here’s the same man on the same site writing about Just Cause 2, and why Rico Rodriguez suits his game better than most protagonists. This piece has a lovely intro, but I’m not going to quote it.
  • Just Cause 2 demands that you approach its madness with a degree of calculation, but also a certain ability to ad-lib. It requires a willingness to be surprised as well as merely delighted. It wants you to be a killer, yet it acknowledges that you will simultaneously be a klutz, Most importantly, although D.B. Cooper is a crook who endangered many lives, it’s hard not to find yourself rooting for him. He was polite – he even overpaid for his on-board drinks – and cut a dashing figure right down to his flapping trenchcoat and twinkling tie pin. Just Cause 2’s hero, on the other hand, is a hero who often feels like a crook. And that gets to the very heart of this particular game’s greatness.

  • Over at Offworld, Riley Macleod writes about the queer masculinity of stealth games, and how they differ from real bodies and those in other, more straightforward action games.
  • The bodies in stealth games are different. In most cases the biggest fantasy they embody is having astonishingly reliable knees; otherwise they tend to be smaller, “weaker”, not necessarily good at fighting. Sam Fisher has gray hair; Volume’s Rob sounds like an emo teenager pretending to know what band is on stage to impress his friends. Without the bombast of shooter bodies to draw your eyes to explosions, stealth bodies are often adorned with little nuances: Garrett’s hands dance over the edges of paintings and the wheels of safes; Mark of the Ninja’s ninja swoops, dangles, slides, and crouches with luxurious elegance.

  • PC Gamer published their yearly incitement for commenter rage, the Top 100. These lists are good for people who don’t know PC gaming well and want to get involved, good to track the shifting tectonic plates of opinion about certain games over years, and good for prompting discussing – if you have a sense of humour about it. Which not many do. Here’s the first comment: “The stanley parable doesn’t qualify as a game. It’s just hipser avant garde artsy fartsy junk. No wonder 2015 PC gamer likes it.” “I’m going to hang myself, cheers.” concludes another.
  • Every year, the international PC Gamer team puts its heads together to hash out a list of the hundred PC games you need to play. This year, we’re stressing ‘play’. With a handful of exceptions, every game on the list is one that you can access and enjoy today. Where that’s not the case, it’s because that game is special and we feel you should know about it anyway. The hope is that you’ll read through this list and discover a classic that you’d never otherwise have played.

  • If you’re at PC Gamer, you might also enjoy this piece by Phil Savage about the joys of defibrillating soldiers in Battlefield. Medic is always the best class in Battlefield.
  • Battlefield medics—or medically-focused Assault players in later games—have a slightly different, albeit equally unhealthy way of viewing their team. I’ve always liked the Battlefield games for awarding points in a way that encourages objective-focused team play. That does, however, result in some unintended consequences. For the Battlefield medic, other soldiers aren’t ‘players,’ or ‘valued teammates.’ They’re mobile score deposits that can be mined for great reward.

    I was away most this week, so this will have to do. This week I have been catching up with last year’s Slow Club. Start here.

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