Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Musings - 27th June 2011

The musings are a little late today as i have been spending the last couple days trying to get my other website up and running on a new server. I'd link it here, but it's not up at the moment... so let's talk about vidya games!

Civilization 5

2 nights on one campaign leads to a diplomatic victory with Suleiman of the Ottomans. I spent the first night conquering all the other civs on my island. Germany was right on my borders so they had to go. Then Persia was getting snippy so i braved the harsh mountain passes and kicked them out of history. By this time Genghis Khan was denouncing me and had placed a city right on my borders so after a war that lasted a couple hundred years, i made peace with Genghis after i had conquered all but one of his cities. At this time, the only civ left on my island was Egypt. They had always been friendly towards me, but by this time i had a huge army and thought it best to make sure they wouldn't make trouble in the future.

At this point i owned about 15 cities, 14 of which were puppet states. Through trade routes and workers, i was turning quite a profit, but food and happiness were a worry so i started buying up all the maritime city states (around this time i thought about a cultural victory so started buying up the culture city states as well). I already was ally of the military ones because of my wars.

The other island consisted of Arabia, France, and England. The latter two were kind of snippy but even though England threatened me and has quite a few vessels around my island, Elizabeth never went through with war.

After that is was a race to see which victory i'd get first. I had so much culture coming in that when i built the UN and voted for world leader, i was one policy away from the Utopia project. I had researched the Apollo Program but hadn't built any of the ship parts (although tech wise i was very close to researching the mysterious future tech). All in all, an excellent game of Civ this week. I might bump myself up to King difficulty next round.

Pokemon White

My friend Barrett borrowed my DS a couple months back with the intent of buying the latest pokemon, and then lending me the game along with my DS back when he was finished. He gave it back Monday.

Tuesday night i loaded up the game to give it a try. Turns out you can't write over a saved game unless you delete said save game from the menu screen. I wasted an hour and didn't return to the game till later in the week.

Now i'm much further than an hour in and i am liking how things are working so far. The idea of starting with two friends, the communicator keeping in touch with the characters, an actual philosophy behind the villains, so far so good. I also like the emphasis on the rock-paper-scissors style of the starting types. So much so that the first gym leader is determined by whatever starting pokemon you picked (although if you explored a little you'll find a character who will give you the pokemon that is strong against the pokemon type your pick is weak to... that made sense didn't it?).

I picked Snivy. I have never chosen a grass type before but it's the only pokemon out of the starting three that didn't look silly to me. So i have a badge, a couple pokemon i'm happy to level thus far and have just fought a daycare full of small child trainers. Boy do i feel good about that! Whether i stick with the game is up in the air, but so far i'm enjoying the ride.

Metal Gear Solid 4

Played through Act 3 and am in the middle of Act 4. I'm reluctant to talk too much about what's going on cause even the little i've let loose so far i feel has been close to spoiler territory. Let me say that Act 3 had an amazingly epic ending, and Act 4 takes you back to Shadow Moses Island (complete with a flashback to some MGS1 gameplay).

What i love about that bit is it not only shows you how well the core mechanics of the franchise have held up (the graphics aren't that bad either), but all the great control improvements that have been made through the titles.

I'd also like to speak a little about Drebin's shop. a really neat idea to make the game more action based (and i imagine it was implemented to make the game appeal more to western audiences), but as i only use guns for the boss fights (well, just the robotic parts of the boss fights), and i use my tranq gun for everything else, it feels kind of extraneous. Still, it's a no hassle way to buy ammo. I just wish i could buy rations through it. I am running low.

Super Meat Boy

It's been a while. I loaded up the game to take on Dr. Fetus. My skills had atrophied. I sucked! Fine, i said, i'll go back and play some dark world levels from world 1. My skills had atrophied! I sucked!!

I was saddened as i quit.

Final Thoughts

I was down on E3 this year, but you know, sometimes it takes the right angle or a nod in the right direction to make you excited about upcoming game releases. Last night i was watching some of Spoony's E3 impressions (mainly going there to check out his quite amusing Xcom rant), and after watching some more of his impressions, i checked out videos for a couple games that i'd like to play.

First off i checked out a gameplay video for Final Fantasy XIII Versus. The lid has been quite tight on this title for a while and i've never seen any videos of it. Well there was a 7 minute trailer that had some CGI, some dialogue (in Japanese only), and some gameplay. The CGI blew my mind, but i've always been of the opinion that Square-Enix does the best CGI cutscenes out of Japan (In the west, i give that honour to Blizzard). The gameplay looked like Kingdom Hearts, so this is gonna be an action RPG. Now i've never been the biggest fan of the action RPG genre, but it looked fluid, strategic, and intense.

What i could discern from the plot was perhaps a character based story with a romance angle set in a city, and some sort of power struggle. My ear for japanese is pretty much non-existent. Still, this has the potential to be a good RPG.

I'm also a lot more interested in Catherine now. All i knew about the game before was that it's a new Atlus game that's not Persona 5. It turns out it's a puzzle game with a narrative. Hey, it worked for Portal. Block puzzles to be precise, and the narrative seems to be about dream states and relationships. I'll be keeping an eye on when the localized version comes out.

I mean some of the big games like Arkham City, and Uncharted 3, of course i'm going to play them. I just can't get excited about them anymore. It was good to find a couple other titles that light that "ooo, i wanna play that" fire under me. Stupid media over-saturation.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monday Musings - 20th June 2011

Last week, it was a games-a-palooza! This week, playing has calmed down. Still some good gaming got done. Done hard! Let's muse!

Another World

I was stuck in the caves. I'm making progress. After flooding and running and shooting guys, i get to a bit where a guy holds me up. I can kick him in the nuts, and roll to grab his weapon. I still have yet to defeat him. If you run, he chases you. If you run up the stairs and double back, he holds you up, and you can kick him in the nuts again. More on this next time i play.

The Witcher

One thing about some games, and especially some RPGs is when you enter a new area that you're going to be in for a while (like a new chapter or a new town), the layout and the sheer amount there is to do can seem overwhelming. Then you break down your exploration and your quests. You get to work. Suddenly after a couple of hours, i'm running around Vizima like i've lived there for years.

There is so much to do but what's pretty neat is that as i'm nearing the end of the chapter, everything starts coming together. The story of this chapter hasn't been as interesting or with as many consequences thus far as chapter 1, but that was an introduction to what is coming. The story was very self contained and had immediacy. Chapter 2 seems like my choices will have far reaching consequences through the rest of the game so i'm playing things more carefully (i actually loaded up a game after i accepted something without getting the other side of the story. I went back and rectified that mistake).


One of the free games i picked from the PSN being down. My friends all seemed to enjoy it so i thought i'd give it a whirl. I must say, i'm unimpressed. First off, the story is great. I already like the characters, the predicament, and the comic book cut-scenes. Great stuff there. It's the gameplay that i take umbrage with.

It's the zapping. My foes in the start of the game have automatic weapons while i have to shoot little jabs of lightning at them. If i don't get a head shot, it takes 3 or more bolts. I have to aim with a controller too. This is especially difficult if they're far off. They can still shoot me fine, but hitting them is a nightmare. I have been told that it's not long before you become overpowered, but i don't know if i can take the waiting.

Also the 2nd sewer section is what made me stop playing the game Thursday night. The first one? No problem. Great design, no worries. This one, everything is in the dark and there's no clear way to go. Now i might have just been tired and i will load up the game and give things another shot, but i don't have a positive picture of the game so far.

But hey, it's not like i spent any money on it!

Metal Gear Solid 4

Why is it that everytime you sit down to have a nice long gaming session, your PS3 controller is running low on battery and needs to be recharged? Due to this i only really finished Act 2 and started playing Act 3 (so pretty much i played for 30 mins and watched an hour of cut-scenes. Don't get the wrong idea though, i love MGS cut-scenes! That's why i love this series. It's got fantastic gameplay interspersed among crazy over-the-top spy thriller storylines).

So far i've loved the diversity in a lot of the missions. Part of what kept me playing long after i should have gone to sleep in Act 2 is that section after Laughing Octopus where you have to track Naomi. It had a nice level of tension in it. Now in Act 3 i'm on the streets of some Eastern European city trying to tail a resistance member. It is quite amusing hitting a guard with a tranq dart and watching the resistance member be completely puzzled as he comes across the body.

Is it wrong that i sort of cheered when Naomi and Otacon finally relieved their sexual tensions?


My favourite game of 2009. Testing my PS3 out on a 55" LED/LCD television. I almost played through the entire game right then and there again. It's a beautiful experience on my 32" LCD TV, but this was just captivating. On the large screen i could make out details in the distance and got a greater sense of the beauty and flow of this title.

The way each level changes the main focus, and especially the way the game shifts tone through levels 4 - 6. I could normally write a whole Monday Musing on Flower alone, but i think i'm still kind of nerding out over rediscovering the title. Let's just leave it there.

Mario Kart Wii

You know, no matter what they do to Mario Kart, there were always be some indisputable truths to the game. One is that it is fun. Another is that blue shells suck the big monkey's big ones. My sister got herself a Wii so i joined her for some Mario Kart. The bikes are an interesting addition, and i like the idea of doing tricks in the air to gain boosts (although it would be nice if these tricks could be failed, adding some risk to the reward). Jump sliding has been removed. There is drifting but it is... well let's just say i prefer to place it on automatic. I forget if this was in previous games, but i like how the storm cloud can be passed along by bumping into other people.

Also, why is it out of all games, that Nintendo games bring the worst mouths out of people? I have never heard so many swears from my sibling. Seriously.

Final Thoughts

I think playing the Wii Mario Kart has finally shown me something i never realised about Nintendo and their constant recycling of franchises. They're constantly gaining new fans of younger ages with every release. My sister is enamoured with this game and she's never played a Mario Kart in her life. Me on the other hand? Well i played the Snes one of course, but the ones that i remember most fondly are the N64 and DS versions. I played them to death.

That's why upon first playing this Wii entry i was kind of taken back. No jump sliding? Bikes? Where are all my favourite levels? Having dedicated so much time to previous entries in the franchise, any change can be a problem (and here we reach the paradox of gamers. We crave change in our gameplay experiences, yet at the same time are repulsed by it, preferring the mechanics and controls we are familiar to). Still once you get passed the initial shock, you realise it's Mario Kart. The core experience is always the same (possibly it's different in Double Dash. That's the one entry i have never played). What's more, this version has a whole new host of fans (some who actually enjoy using the wheel. Imagine that!), and this is most likely why no matter how much criticism Nintendo gets for constantly making new games in old franchises, this strategy will continue to work for them. Especially since for good or ill, us older gamers always have a curiosity about what's different about the new entry into the series.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tuesday Musings - 14th June 2011

So after posting my musings yesterday, i remembered that i'd actually forgotten about a couple games. I thought about editing them in, but what i think i shall do is just write about them here... on Tuesday. Crazy, i know.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed

So i finished this off. The final level was actually quite annoying, and not in a good way at all. The final area was pretty neat though. You get a rocket launcher, and you control the rockets with the right analogue stick. To begin with you have to aim at some out of the way switches, and then you take an elevator up to the final boss. Avoid missiles, shoot your missile. That's pretty much it. Then you see Hitler's head explode. It's as amusing in the remake as it is in the original. Then like the original, you make your escape, just like Metroid.

I wasn't too interested in the challenge rooms or the hidden passages or any of the other secrets. I may return at some point. Chances are, i will not.

Frozen Synapse

This is the game i'm really sad i forgot to talk about yesterday. I had a multiplayer game and it was pretty damn cool. As i said last week, i really like the idea that you can test out certain moves and see the results before committing to your turn. What i didn't realise is that you can actually test out different scenarios as well. What i mean by this is you can actually give the enemy units orders and see what will happen. So basically you can test out a bunch of different scenarios based on what you think the enemy will do, and try and work out the best moves for your units. Of course the unpredictability of your opponent factors into things, but this level of strategic control, and immediate agency gives this game something unique that i have not seen in a strategy game before (though i hope a lot of future turn based strategy games incorporate it).

Final Thoughts

Huh, really? I gotta do two of these this week? Very well. Let's talk best of show in regards to E3. By leaps and bounds, i gotta give the award to Journey by Thatgamecompany. Flower was my top game of 2009 and i love playing Flow. I was behind this game before i knew anything about it. Now that i know more, i'm excited to play it.

It's a puzzle game. You're a strange character in a desert. It looks beautiful. It's also massively multiplayer. If you're online you can interact with other characters. They look just like you. There's no text, no voice chat, no commands. It's just seeing another person and perhaps you will work together, or perhaps you may go it alone.

To me this creates a rather pure multiplayer experience. Will it be abused by some players? Perhaps? Will many players prefer to ignore others and play alone? Most likely? When you choose to work together with another nameless character, i have the feeling it will create a rather special experience, and i cannot wait to try it.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

Monday Musings 13th June 2011

What i'm learning is that my gaming habits are always in a state of flux. Take this week for instance. Let's muse!

Final Fantasy XIII

Well i gave the final boss another shot. Things didn't work out too well. I went on youtube and watched a playthrough of the final boss and the end cutscene. The game is over, i can move on! Funnily enough, i remember the final boss of FFXII being a pushover compared to this boss... but i did buy a couple items that i could put on my party members that would nullify his strong attacks. That helped a lot!

Another World

I've been reading a lot of the reviews over at Action Button dot net recently, and in their manifesto of great games, they argue that the greatest videogame is Another World. This is a game i am not altogether unfamiliar with. I've played it through the years on consoles and PC, but i'd never played it seriously (or with an attempt to complete it). Since last year i had purchased the 15th year anniversary edition on GoG, i decided to give the game another shot.

Another World certainly does a lot of things very well. The game controls consist of one button and the directional keys. There is no UI and cutscenes are minimal after the intro. Basically it's all about survival. Especially considering that everything can kill you. Half the time you try things that you know will kill you just to see the death animation (the game is reminiscent of Sierra adventure games in that way). The game is not especially difficult however, it just requires some thinking and a lot of trial and error.

Currently i am... hmm, i would have to say the 4th level or so. The distinction between levels 1,2, and 3 are quite easy to make, but after that it gets a little iffy. There are caves, and water, and i can travel underneath the caves where teeth and suckers kill me... or i can try and flood the caves so i don't slip on above platforms and drown. This leads to soldiers who so far have killed me. The game is usually quite generous with the checkpoint system (at least this version is), so dying isn't too much of a hassle. I shall persevere!

Wing Commander: Privateer

Another GoG purchase, and one i have been waiting for their site to make available pretty much since the service opened. Privateer is one of my favourite games ever. Ever since it was released in 1993, i have aquired copies through various means (including a few legitimate purchases) every time i get the hankering to return to this world of merchants, pirates, and space combat.

You start out with a rusty spaceship in the Troy sector. From there, the galaxy is your oyster. Acquire missions to make cash. Use cash to upgrade your spaceship, or even buy better ships, join guilds, explore, trade on the black market. It's all open to you. Yes there are story missions and i find the tale quite intriguing, but i've never ever started the story until i had a decked out Centurion flying around, decimating anyone who gets in my way.

It's strange to think that essentially through most of my playthroughs, i've spent hours grinding cash like this was an MMO or something. Hell, in 1997 when i got a cd-rom copy for my birthday, i spent an entire evening shipping cargo back and forth between the mining bases and agricultural planet in the first sector, gathering enough cash to purchase a centurion right then and there (god i'll never do that again).

I'm also very grateful that the GoG copy comes with the manual and reference card. Space sim games like the Wing Commander series and Tie Fighter (another favourite of mine in this genre) always had a load of keyboard commands to give you control over every aspect of your craft. Luckily most of these make sense (A for autopilot), but it is good to have the card handy as a refresher.

I only had a brief play of the game last week. I want to try and find more time for it soon, but gah, so much to play. So much to play!

Battlefield Bad Company 2

I haven't played too much more of this, but i did play another level. There was a section where i had to drive a jeep away in the snow while being pursued. That was pretty awesome. Now i have to protect a satellite that just crashed to earth. Oh, and i carry a sniper rifle around with me. I always love sniping in these games. Yeah i know, not great commentary here, but aside from this being an enjoyable action game that i'm not playing much of, i don't know what else to comment on. I've said before the shooting has the right feel to it, like FEAR did. I stand by that statement.

Civilization 5

Once again this dominated my playtime this week. Aside from starting another multiplayer game with Cam, i've started many single player campaigns. The one i played on Sunday (which i shall continue) is most interesting. I picked random civ and map type. I got thrown Egypt on Continents. I was in a pretty nice starting location so i decided to try for a cultural victory (the easiest way to do this is to only build one city to maximise your culture output).

I share this continent with China, Persia, and France. China seems to be pursuing culture as well (one city, no expansion). Persia is a slow expander but France is obviously a warmonger. It wasn't long before Napoleon built a city at my doorstep and declared war on me (while being at war with China and Persia at the same time). I beat back his forces and took over the town of his closest to me, and i believe i shall have to ramp up war production and take him out (a little tough when you have one city and haven't been focusing on military tech). The thing i find odd is that China and Persia aren't really sending units to attack Napoleon and Napoleon himself seems fixated on me. I don't know if it's because i'm the only human player or if it's because i've been fighting back with a vengeance. We'll see how this one plays out.

Metal Gear Solid 4

Seeing how i now had a spot to fill in my PS3 playing, i figured it was time to get to the final chapter of Solid Snake. Now i'm a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, but for some reason or another have put off playing this game (maybe it's cause i still remember how amazing MGS3 was and secretly wondered if this game could live up to it). Well i've played 2 nights worth of the game and i can say it already does one thing fantastically. Near the end of both playing sessions, i kept saying to myself, "Ok, i'll just play the next section"... and before i knew it, it was 2am.

I'm nearing the end of Act 2. I've fought laughing octopus, and saved right after Raiden makes his on screen debut (so awesome). The controls is this game are the best they've been in the series. Aiming a gun is as easy as holding down the L1 button. Since R1 is fire, you no longer have to perform finger gymnastics if you've aimed your gun and have decided not to pop off a shot. CQC is easy to perform and has some variation to it (there are a few things you can do once you've grabbed someone), and the octocamo suit takes the camouflage mechanic from MGS3 and streamlines it. Also while they've definitely put more of an action slant to the game (with all the guns and Drebin's shop), for the majority of the game, i've used CQC and my trusty tranq gun. Why kill people if you don't have to (exceptions are the Frogs in Act 1, and the mounted gun section of Act 2).

Plot wise i'm still a little lost as to what's going on, but seeing how Act 2 partially explained Act 1, i have a feeling the deeper i go, the more will be revealed (especially since i've heard this game performs some tricky maneuvers to tie up every plot point of the series). Each MGS has been pure joy to play, from the great gameplay to the over the top narratives. It's my form of videogame candy.

How about that Laughing Octopus fight eh?

Final Thoughts

Well i guess i should talk about E3 huh? The truth is that this year i didn't feel the passion for the gaming expo i have in the past. Especially when i was recording the Console War Vets, E3 was a glorious time full of first looks and big announcements. It still is, but i find myself not really caring as much.

That being said, i think the big interesting news for me this year was the WiiU (couldn't they have called it something else?). I look at what it offers and i'm thinking exactly like i did when the Wii came out. "Wow, think of all the potential! This is going to be fantastic!". Sadly, the only ones to utilize the potential of the Wii were Nintendo with 1 or 2 releases a year, and a handful of third party developers. I'm thinking that most likely the same will occur this time around.

Still, it's an interesting device. For me, the biggest potential i see is to revolutionize local multiplayer gaming. We've already seen Mii Chase which is a version of Pacman Vs (which will obviously be tons of fun), but yeah, what i'm seeing is split screen gaming without the splitscreen.

Now the criticism already is that apparently this thing is graphical superior to a 360 or PS3, but only just, which means when Microsoft and Sony release their new consoles, the WiiU will be left in the dust again. Sadly this is an issue for many gamers. I'm one of those gameplay over graphics types. Oh don't get me wrong, i'm blown away by spectacular visuals (i can still remember how impressed i was seeing Gears of War on an HDtv for the first time), but as long as there's some unique, fun game experiences to be had, i'll be on board.

Well, till next week, happy gaming all!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Monday Musings - 6th June 2011

It's funny. About midweek i often worry about writing this column the next Monday, mainly cause by Thursday or so i haven't played that many games and i worry i wont have much to talk about. Then the weekend comes and i always find myself with lots of material. Time to muse.

Civilization 5

Once again the epitome of addictive turn based strategy was my gaming bread and butter for the week. I've now ironed out the game settings i prefer. I play continents on Prince difficulty with quick turns. Sometimes i choose a civ, most of the time i hit random. I gravitate between small and standard map size, and i always start in the ancient era. The early game is actually the most fascinating for me. It's the exploring, and that barbarians are actually a threat to your lands (a brute stole my first worker in a game last night). You meet your neighbours and think about future expansion and the type of victory you want to try and achieve.

I'm also getting more savvy with diplomacy. Many Civ fans complain about the diplomacy being broken and needing improvement. It's true, the system isn't perfect... but with a little savvy, you can make the most of the system to create some very entertaining game stories.

For instance the game i started last night, i picked random and was given the Iroquois. I share a continent with an expanding Persian empire. I blocked off their southern expansion, and through trade, became friendly. Once i was able to explore the seas, i met everyone else. Two other main continents with at least 2 -3 civs on each. There were wars and alliances already formed while i was off on my own building an economic empire.

By refusing open border treaties, the other civs could never see what type of army i possessed, but because of my high economic standing, they chose to become friendly through trade (it also helped my lands had 5 wine patches, so i had plenty of luxury resources to trade with). Out of all the civs i met, aside from Persia, Siam seemed to be the most dangerous. America and Mongolia had engaged in wars with the other civs, so to increase my standing, i denounced both, and bribed Rome to war with Mongolia (as they shared the same continent. The Japanese share that continent as well, but at the moment i cannot bribe them into that war).

Turn 200 is where i left it as it was nearing 2am. My plans now are to do what i can to stay in good graces with Persia and Siam, while manipulating the other civs against each other. I think i will aim to secure a diplomatic victory as i can build the UN and then bribe all the city states to vote for me.

Bionic Commando Rearmed

The Playstation Store finally reopened this week so i was able to download Bionic Commando Rearmed again. I've had two play sessions so far and am up to the final part of the game (when you get access to areas 10, 11, and 12).

The desire to play this game again came from watching my friend Robbie's Let's Plays of the original NES Bionic Commando. With that game fresh in my mind, it was great to see both the similarities and differences between the two versions. Most of the level design is intact, but of course the bosses have been changed, and mechanically having all your upgrades stacked and able to change weapons during a mission is a big plus, as the guns definitely have their individual uses.

Sticking true to its NES roots, levels can be completed within about 5 mins (maybe 10 if something tricky has gone on), so especially against Civ5, this bite size approach to gaming (that has you swinging around a tricky to control bionic arm) has been a welcome change of pace. And having a game nearing completion after two play sessions always excites me... as you should know by now, i do not finish many games.

The Witcher

I'm now an hour into chapter 2. Chapter 1? Wow, talk about choices with consequences. Mass Effect had a very easy to understand moral system. Top right, paragon. Bottom right, renegade. The big choices i had to make in chapter 1 of The Witcher had no such telltale signs. Both choices seemed equally horrible with far reaching consequences. I gotta tell you, it makes for a very interesting game. With no shining beacon of good or evil, you feel like you're wading down in the murky depths of grey areas. It also helps to cement the foreboding atmosphere that the game presents. This is a hostile world and you play a character that exists in a way, outside of it. I am looking forward to seeing how the story and the choices presented progress.

On a side note, blizzard potions are ever so useful... though that span of time after the fight is over till the potions wears off? Yeah, that's pretty annoying.

Frozen Synapse

I saw this on the steam sale page. It touted simultaneous turn based strategy. My mind instantly went to Combat Mission; a series of games where both armies gave their troops orders and then for a minute, the game played out these choices in real time. A great mechanic that made for some very tense and strategic match ups. I notified my friend James of this (he introduced me to Combat Mission and was my main opponent over the years). He bought Frozen Synapse, started to warm up to it, and gifted me a copy. Once you get over the initial learning curve of the controls, this is a really fun game that presents many amazing combat scenario opportunities.

It's almost like a corridor FPS version of Combat Mission. A Small maze like area with cover of various degrees, and a group of units with different weapons. Before committing to a turn, you can play out the orders you've given to troops, and the turn will play in realtime to show you the results. Of course, this is based on the idea that the enemy is not moving during their turn (which they do), so its effectiveness at planning your movement only goes so far.

I have yet to play an online match, but that will be remedied sometime this week.

Final Thoughts

Game openings are very important. Actually the first hour of a game is excruciatingly important, but today we're just going to focus on the openings. Some games just pop you in the game and let you go. This is fine, as games are meant to be played. Perhaps story can be told emergently as the gameplay progresses. This is a unique strength of the medium (especially when it's done well).

Most games however use the intro as a story buffer. To set up the world, the characters, and your goal. These vary in length and some gamers opt to skip them and get straight to the gameplay. I must admit that even as a lover of story in games, a tedious, lengthy intro can put me off a game when i just want to start playing and see if i'm going to like what's presented. It really doesn't help when you have a lengthy intro, then the gameplay is sub par (or even worse, the gameplay keeps being interrupted by more cutscenes. I give exception to the Metal Gear Solid series as i find those games amazing. Others may disagree).

In a way a lengthy intro is at its worst when the gameplay is amazing. You want to just jump in and play, enjoying the rich fruits of this game world, and you can't. This is why unskippable cutscenes are one of the greatest sins in game design.

But if you have to set up your game world, sometimes the simplest way is the best. Like the arcade games of old, a splash page of text or a few seconds of bad animation may be all you need. The arcade is the home of what i believe is the greatest and most succinct game opening in the entire medium, and that game is 'Bad Dudes Vs Dragon Ninja'. Two sentences, "The President has been kidnapped by Ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?"

What more do you need?

Till next week, happy gaming all!