Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Musings - 28th Nov, 2011

It is Monday and there is coffee coursing through my veins. Let us muse.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)

I'm back in Detroit after a crazy time in Shanghai. I've infiltrated a convention centre and an underground bunker, and now am about to head back to Sariff Industries.

Quick question: Does anyone know if it's possible to disarm proximity mines? They have been a pain in my tuckus for a while now.

I don't want to give too much away, but i was really enthralled when you return to Detroit and there's that opportunity to learn more about Adam's past. Since i share what happened to him (trying to be vague enough not to spoil things. Hopefully it's not too vague), this side quest really resonated. I think it shows that even in games, creating compelling characters is paramount in creating impact in your audience. One could even argue that it's a little more important, since the gameplay options given to the player need to reflect the type of character given to them (or the one they choose to play in the case of games with moral choices... which really Deus Ex is included in). I'm playing an Adam Jensen that only kills when he has no other choice (so far that has only included the intro and the boss fights). Because of the way i am playing, my interactions with people, i've tried to keep in line with that... and i think that's what makes these side missions resonate a little more. Oh sure, the example i'm giving works because of my past, but there's a side mission in Shanghai where you help a prostitute in making the lives of the people in the under city a little easier. Heck there's a section where you have to escape from a pod hotel. The enemies are there to kill your contact. I disarmed all of them, thinking that i could save this guy. Turns out it didn't really make a difference. You were just meant to escape.

But on that note, there have been a couple occurrences where even though play doesn't affect the story (as far  as i know), actions had weight attached to them in my eyes. One was in the pod hotel. I sneaked into the office of the desk manager. I hacked his computer and his safe and took his money. I then found an ebook diary he had written how he was saving up to finally escape to a better life. I felt miserable. I reloaded my save, but it was too late, my most recent auto save was after i had stolen from him (i auto-save like a maniac in these games).

The second example was in a section i just played. I noticed an area in the streets of Detroit i had never noticed before. Accessing it, i found a letter, a sniper rifle and some ammo. Someone had left these there for a mercenary who was contracted to escalate the riots that are going on. I took the rifle and ammo and sold it. It would be cool if this leads to something further on. I'm not expecting it to, as it was just something i found off the beaten path, but again, it reinforced what kind of character i wanted Adam Jenson to be (or probably more to the point, the type of character i like to be, even when given power in video games).

K.O.L.M. (Indie)

If this was a live blogcast i would have to apologize. I went to get the url for KOLM and ended up continuing my saved game and completing this. I was checking out games at Kongregate and KOLM 2 was on the front page. The sequel continues right from where the last game ends. Intrigued i decided to check out the first game. It's an interesting one.

It's kind of a metroid platformer. Find upgrades which allows you access to unreachable areas you came across before. It has a really interesting presentation to it, from the way the screens are presented as different cameras to the dialogue the main character has with its mother.

The game took me 40 mins to complete so there's a decent amount of content there. I shall report on the sequel next week.

Final Thoughts

So at the moment i am giddily anticipating Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Since the internet gaming scene has been abuzz with Zelda tributes of all varieties, i thought i'd use this space this week to work out just why Zelda resonates with me so much.

Seriously there is no other game even like it. Each entry in the series has had a nice combination of nostalgia combined with new experiences. What other series could go from the original game to what we saw in Zelda 2? What about Ocarina of Time to Majora's Mask? No two Zelda experiences have really been the same but they retain a lot of the design choices, characters, and locations that makes this series resonate with so many gamers.

At its heart i think the key to the magic of Zelda is rising to the challenge. In every game Link starts off as a boy who through various confluences finds himself on a quest to save the kingdom of Hyrule. As he travels on this quest, he discovers new equipment and new power, and always has to constantly use his skill and ingenuity to overcome adversity. This is a very positive message combined with a gamer's favourite trope, power fantasy.

The characters and world itself have a part to play as well. Now some games have had better characterization than others, but aside from the first game, Hyrule has always been inhabited by a cast of colourful characters (and you know what, i count the old man in Legend of Zelda as a colourful character dammit). The denizens of Termina in Majora's Mask all have their little story arcs over the three days of anxiety that town keeps facing. Windwaker saw some of the most expressive characterization in the series visually, and Twilight Princess has Midna, who quickly became my favourite Zelda character for her snarky, mocking attitude.

Many locations keep popping up in the games as well, like Kakariko village and Death Mountain. They change each time though and serve different purposes, maintaining the familiar but different vibe that Zelda games seem to hold. One of the joys of each new game is to see how the world is different. Windwaker was probably the most drastic departure, but Skyward Sword looks to be just as intriguing with the duel layers of sky and land (and of course who can forget the light and dark worlds of Link to the Past).

My anticipation for the new entry has even got me thinking about planning a replay through all the titles i own (for those who care that's Zelda 1, 2, LttP, OoT, MM, WW, TP, and Minish Cap). It certainly has been a while. I don't think i've touched a Zelda game in years now that i think about it actually, that probably explains why i'm getting all nostalgic and itchy trigger fingery about playing not only the new game, but going back through the series.

I'm not alone as the series has always had a large vocal fan base. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what makes the series so endearing and magical, as well as perhaps some of your favourite or least favourite games in the series (my fav is probably a toss up between LttP, and Zelda 1).

Till next week, happy gaming all!

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