Sunday, 29 December 2013

Pixilated adventures of 2013 (A sum up on the gaming front)

So friends,

I love to game, I really love it. Ever since I was a youngling scourging for colourful information to enrich my tiny world I have been fascinated with the medium of the interactive game. I guess I'm the right age for it, as I have been lucky enough to see the rise of the home computer, the console wars (a war that can never be won!) and countless nuggets of gaming genius and utter failure. I'm also a little behind the times, as I never play a new game when it first comes out (mainly for fund reasons - it's much cheaper to get a game later) so my opinion is never used to sway anyone else's opinion of a new product.
As Death I rode up skull staircases on my blue flame horse, it was alright.

I have played some amazing games this year though (some of them are from last years game roster, and years before that too) and these awesome adventures in pixel land have swallowed many an hour of my days. When I was a kid, games didn't last very long. You might get a few hours play out of them, but after that you were done, except for the odd puzzle game like Tetris that held the player for longer. Now-er-days tho, games are massive environments that span several levels and play styles seamlessly, sometimes with the same icons as games of old, like Mario. In fact, Mario and his gang grace the cover of probably half of nintendo products, they really do love that Movember plumber, so much so in fact that they often prefix his name with 'Super'. Maybe it's not super at all, maybe it's just 'soup' with that terrible stereotyped Italian 'ahh' at the end. Maybe, Mario is actually just a waiter in a cafe who dreams of going on all these crazy adventures to save a princess from a giant lizard in a shell, who knows.
Oh grandma, that's some weird skin you have.

Enough with the Mario nonsense, let's get down to gaming business. This year I played me 5 games fully. I did play some other games too, but not fully, which is why they didn't make the list. Only games I completed the single player portions of made the list, and here they are in order of play.

1. Darksiders II  -  Read my review
2. Saints Row III  - Read this one too
3. Dragon Age: Origins  -  Read this one if you feel like it
4. Dark Souls  -  Read this one for sure, it's funny
5. The Last of Us  -  And this one, ghees, it's the best review I ever did do!

Of the 5, the only masterpiece was The Last Of Us. Dark Souls came a close second, but it's difficulty levels did sometimes make it hard to want to continue, something that TLOU didn't suffer from at all. I guess it's pretty clear from my list of completed games this year that I like fantasy, not much reality going on here. Demons, Dragons, Space Gangsters and Mushroom Zombies...what does that say about me as a person? I don't know. I've never really been into war simulation, and first person shooters spin my brain out a bit, the only one of them I've enjoyed in the last few years was Bioshock, and I am planning to play Bioshock Infinite when I get the chance. I like story, and games have been getting better (in some sense) and having more involving stories.
The Last of Us was brutal, but real, while obviously being fiction.

The Last Of Us has all the markings of a great piece of art, but it can only be told through the platform of gaming, so as to make it an experience and not just another story about a post pandemic world. The character relationships and depth of feeling made the two central protagonists so relatable, and it was easy to care about them and their plight thanks to some excellent writing and proper pacing. It's all too easy to get bombarded by stuff in the world of games, flashing lights and crazy colour patterns drive these experiences forward, it takes masters like the people over at Naughty Dog studios to produce a game that stands as a work of art, that transcends it's chosen medium of video games and becomes a cultural peg on which to hang all kind of opinion.
A touching moment in an intense game, touching a Giraffe

I have gone on and on about computer games here, but this year has had lots of stuff happening in that world. The Oculus Rift is just round the corner, we will soon all be wearing headsets and plunging into gaming realms that will shift our perspective on the very notion of interactive media. This excited me, and I can't wait for it. I'm going to strap two screen shots from The Last Of Us to my eyes and walk around pretending I am fighting Mushroom Zombies. It's my right as a human being to do it, and as an idiot it is my duty to do it. So I will do it.

Happy gaming everyone

Peace and infinite ammo
Mr Jackson (Andy Jackson, [adj])

P.S - this is day 29 of my blog-a-day-a-thon, just two more and it will stop, I promise.

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