So recently I’ve been revisiting films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Looking back at them I discovered some interesting details about how the world has changed, how I’ve changed, and how the work reflects the world that was to come. Now, I’m looking back at entries in the Assassin’s Creed series. This might seem like an odd choice. My previous versions of this format were revisiting the red-headed step-children of the largest media franchise in the world at the moment. Assassin’s Creed is probably notable for being a consistent AAA franchise in the gaming landscape. It might not the biggest in the market but it takes up a certain amount of real estate in the gaming space. So, without further ado, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.
Depending on your familiarity with the Mario series cast of characters, you may be familiar with the character of Waluigi. Waluigi is essentially a dark mirror version of Luigi, like Wario is to Mario. It would be incorrect to call either of these characters villains as aside from Wario’s first appearance, they’re not antagonists to the Mario brothers. In fact, while Wario has appeared in the main series, Waluigi has never featured in any mainline games. So, why am I talking about Waluigi today? So there’s a new Super Smash Bros. game that boasts that everyone is here. Now there has been a group of fans who think that someone has been missed in this roster of ‘everyone’. There has been vocal support for Waluigi to appear in Smash including a group of cosplayers at last weekend’s PAX AUS. So, considering the love for Waluigi, I wanted to consider why this character is the cult classic of the Nintendo world.
So recently I’ve been playing Just Cause 3. Just Cause 3 concerns Rico Rodriguez who can best be described as a dictator destroyer employed by the CIA-esque Agency. The third entry in the series has Rico returning to his archipelago home, Medici. Playing this game reminded me of another series that takes place across an archipelago, Far Cry. Thinking about it, I was interested to look at each series as the core conceit of both games is that you are dropped into an area controlled by a central villain and you must overthrow them. Through this, you find yourself shooting down hordes of enemies. During Far Cry 3, I found myself worried that the main antagonism centred on a white guy being dumped into a foreign nation and shooting all the brown people. The premise sounded like a bad film like No Escape or American Sniper. So, how true is that fear about the two game franchises?
Hey all, this piece is a sequel to an earlier piece I did about running in games. Now I want to look at how characters glide in games. Recently I’ve been playing Just Cause 3 which got me thinking about its movement style. In Just Cause 3, you use a tether to grapple to a surface. If you press another button, your parachute deploys. If you press another button after that, you change into your wingsuit. The tether acts as a grappling hook from point A to point B. The parachute gives you an initial boost of height and then a slow descent to the ground. The wingsuit acts as a glide. While using the parachute or the wingsuit, using the tether will guide your flight and if used properly allow you to stay airborne. So, while thinking on this I was reminded of some other games whose movement is based on gliding and how that mechanic informs the game being played.
So, this last week I returned to a game I first played in 2015. Prison Architect is a management simulation game where you run all aspects of a prison. The game might be comparable to games like SimCity or Cities Skylines on a much smaller and more violent scale. The game represents figures in the world in a style akin to stick figures. Initially, when I played Prison Architect I was very particular about caring for individual prisoners. I think I even had a good sense of prisoner names and the troublemakers. Now I treat them a bit like cattle in an abattoir. So that’s what I wanted to talk about. When is a human not a human in games?
So recently the social media account for CD Projekt Red, of Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077 fame, made an off-colour ‘joke’ relying on the played-out line “Did you just assume my gender?”. Their apology was that classic non-apology ‘Sorry if you were offended’. Now, I read the replies to that tweet and boy howdy, I hate gamers. In the same way that a high school bully defends themselves when consequences come knocking, most of the replies boiled down to ‘it’s just a joke,’. Is it though? I’m going to explain why these sorts of ‘jokes’ are tired.
No Man’s Sky is a game I’ve discussed before on this website. Now, two years on, No Man’s Sky has changed, and so have I. No Man’s Sky recently released its most recent, most ambitious update for the game. This is known as No Man’s Sky Next. Surrounding the game is a lot of discussion about the game as the developers poke their heads out to see if it’s safe. Back when the game launched, there was a whole fiasco about how big the gulf was between the marketing and the finished product. In my previous discussion of the game, I noted that the game was enjoyable enough albeit overpriced. As part of all this, it seems that No Man’s Sky is now remembered as a game that overpromised and underwhelmed. Discussion centred around a cynicism about returning to No Man’s Sky now that it had the “promised” features. The language around the game is about meeting a standard that was previously lied about. Here’s the thing, I certainly think there were deceptive elements to the pre-release marketing. However, No Man’s Sky is a perfect storm in a teacup to examine gaming culture’s attitude towards developers as a whole.