Game-related ramblings.

Month: June 2012

The Name Game

I’m currently playing several games but I’m not ready to write about any of them yet. But I feel I should post something. So I’m posting this.

It’s no secret that video games often have pretty bad names. Case in point: the new Medal of Honor game is officially called Medal of Honor: Warfighter. To be fair, this is the fourteenth Medal of Honor game, so coming up with new names must be getting a little tough. But still — Warfighter? Surely someone could have come up with a better subtitle than that?

Rather than simply complain about it, I decided I’d offer some alternative titles. It should go without saying that I’m merely making fun of the name of a video game and mean no disrespect to the actual Medal of Honor from which it takes its title. Here we go:

Medal of Honor: Honor Guard
Medal of Honor: Honorable Mention
Medal of Honor: For Blood and Honor
Medal of Honor: Honor Thy Father
Medal of Honor: Mo Medals Mo Honor
Medal of Honor: 13 Medals Weren’t Enough
Medal of Honor: Honor Bound
Medal of Honor: Honor This
14 Medal 14 Honor
Medal of Honor: The Honor Is Literally Everywhere
Medal of Honor: You Can’t Handle The Honor
Medal of Honor: Even More Honorable Than The Last Game

Click past the jump for even more names.

Roguelike-like: The Binding of Isaac

I’d heard quite a lot about The Binding of Isaac, but hadn’t had a chance to try it until recently. It’s a sort of mash-up of the dungeons from The Legend of Zelda with the independent moving and shooting controls of Robotron or Smash TV, spiced up with a lot of roguelike elements including procedurally generated levels and permadeath. And it’s made by Edmund McMillen, one half of Team Meat, the developers responsible for the rather excellent (and super-hard) platformer Super Meat Boy. So far, it sounds great to me.

The Binding of Isaac is also inspired by the biblical story of the same name, in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. And this isn’t a vague inspiration; the opening animation of the game explicitly shows Issac’s mother (referred to as “Mom”) receiving commands from God to first imprison and then kill her son Isaac. Terrified, Isaac finds a trapdoor to the basement and flees through it, landing in a bizarre dungeon populated by monstrously deformed enemies that one presumes to be Isaac’s former siblings. It’s all quite gruesome, in fact. Isaac begins by attacking enemies with his tears, but they can be upgraded to… other bodily fluids, and the enemies present a sort of grotesque menagerie of biological horrors.

Many players will be turned off by the, shall we say, “unorthodox” religious references, or the disgusting imagery, or both. I admit that the latter diminished my interest somewhat. But it turns out that The Binding of Isaac is a surprisingly deep and polished game, and while its themes may be offensive to some, they’re not just there for shock value.

Roguelike Updates: Dunegons of Dredmor Expands, Brogue and Dungeon Crawl Update

I should have realized this would become a series, given the various roguelikes I’ve covered and their propensity to update. New readers may wish to read my introduction to roguelikes or peruse my Roguelike Highlights. Everyone else can read on for the updates!

The big news is a new, free expansion pack for Dungeons of Dredmor (read my highlight here), released not long ago. What’s it called, you ask? Well you see, You Have To Name the Expansion Pack. Although when I tried it out, I was dismayed to discover that naming the expansion pack is not actually required. But it is possible. I named mine “Dredmore” because I am not as clever as I think I am. Pleasingly, it seems I can rename it as many times as I want, so I can change it once I think of something better.

Indie Time: Chain of Retribution (part 2)

This is my second post about the “chain game” Chain of Retribution, which was developed by seven people in succession, each passing on their work to the next. If you haven’t done so already, you should probably read part one here.

The mystery is gone. I had been working my way through Chain of Retribution trying to guess where the changeovers were, to see if I could detect the influence of a new author or if it would fit so seamlessly that I couldn’t tell. But then, as I approached the game’s finale, I stumbled upon a room where all was revealed, where the authors speak directly to the player about their roles in the project. Given that trying to suss out each person’s involvement was my favorite part of the game, I don’t want to spoil the reveal here, but I can say that there were indeed some changeover points that I completely missed while playing. Sadly, though, this meant I had to face the endgame already knowing who had been involved in making it. But I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was.

Country Life

Earlier I wrote about Skryim’s cities, and how I found them much more interesting than the cities in previous Elder Scrolls games. The same is true of Skyrim’s countryside, but not in the way I was expecting. In many respects, Skyrim’s playable world looks a lot like that of its predecessor, Oblivion, but I was surprised to find that exploring Skyrim’s countryside was far more enjoyable, and it completely changed how I play the game.

City Life

My Skyrim character has now been to seven of Skyrim’s nine cities, although two of those were more like villages. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from players about the cities, but I’ve actually quite enjoyed them so far. Cities in role-playing games are always tricky things, as many players will simply be interested in them for their most basic functions: buying things, selling things, and getting quests. In many RPGs, this is all that the cities are — a few traders and quest-givers, surrounded by unimportant stuff that’s shaped like a city. Getting the cities to feel more like real places is the hard part. Some games (like The Witcher) are set almost entirely in and around a single city, to really flesh it out, while others more closely resemble Skyrim in that they feature several cities and the land in between, and have to work with more limited resources to make the cities feel alive. Skyrim’s cities aren’t perfect in this regard, but I think they end up fitting the game quite well, and they are certainly a big improvement over the cities in Oblivion.

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