Lag #3

Ah April, the days are long, the air is fresh and my Sugar Puffs sweet. Last month we had the GDC where believe it or not, absolutely nothing happened! Well, I say nothing, but I have to be honest I felt a little moist (in the eyes of course) when I saw Zelda and God Of War 2. I have to be honest, the Wind Waker style grew on me like a bad foot fungus and I’m very happy to see it make its return. The main reason being that I really enjoyed The Wind Waker and to think Nintendo had just dropped that style completely would have made The Wind Waker look like some sort of mistake, in which I firmly believe it was not. As for God Of War 2, it would be so easy to say that I merely revelled in the excessive violence of the original (Which I did) but that wouldn’t say much for the rest of the game. Everything about it tied together so beautifully that makes waiting for the sequel so unbearable.

Last month I spent a lot of time on my DS playing Mario and Luigi: Partners In Time, being a huge fan of the GBA original I had high hopes for this title but I have come a way from it with the conclusion that it is simply inferior to its predecessor. It lacks an over world in place of a hub. It really doesn’t make use of the DS hardware; the microphone and touch screen are unused and the top screen looks like it’s being used but rarely does anything actually happen on there. There is a severe lack of Bros. moves, even though there are now four of them they have less moves than when it was merely Mario and Luigi. However the main gripe I have with the game is the lack of humour, sure it has a few moments (two characters actually speak L337) it really isn’t as funny as the last, which constantly tortured Luigi by living in his brothers shadow. This disappoints me greatly considering a lot of DS titles are genuine improvements over there predecessors due to the fact they take advantage of the DS’ hardware, to name but a few Advance Wars, Kirby Canvas Curse and Animal Crossing. This applies even more so to Animal Crossing as the DS version is better than its console counterpart.

As some of you may know I have recently ventured into the wide world of online PC gaming, it’s been a long time coming, but I finally have a decent PC and internet connection to play games on. My premier title for this has been Battlefield 2, having played the game as much as possible over meagre 2-4 player LAN sessions I have finally experienced the sheer brilliance of the game. It’s one of those games that you can play one session and have at least one memorable moment each game. I could force feed you hundreds of wartime stories (don’t worry I’ll spare you this time) and have come to the conclusion that is what helps make a game great, single player or multiplayer, if you are given memorable moments that you can look back on it excels gaming to a level beyond other mediums. Why you ask? Because memorable moments in film and books are passive experiences, with games it feels like you are actually there, making these moments yourself. The game is merely a palette and canvas for you to create your own masterpiece (cheese factor 10!). I of course could be looking too deep into this, for example I’m sure this probably doesn’t account for people who play games casually, but then again maybe it does just on a smaller scale. Poetry and paintings aside Battlefield 2 kicks arse and seeing the trailer for Battlefield 2142 made me very happy. I believe there’s a little boy inside every hot blooded male that wishes he had his own Optimus Prime, Metal Gear, EVA and or any other type of Mech to call his own and Battlefield 2142 looks set to entertain us until we can get a real one (soon Optimus…soon).

On a side not, how cool is Xbox Live? I played a friend whom I have never played at any game ever the other day and after destroying him at Call of Duty 2 (which seems to have had all the previous problems fixed with the latest patch update) we proceeded to chat while on the marketplace, download Marble Blast Ultra (which is excellent by the way) and then play that against each other with uninterrupted chatting. It was truly an experience that I can only imagine being even better with the recent murmurings of the Saturn version of Bomberman coming to Live arcade excites the hell out me.

I was planning on doing a rant about fanboy-ism and how we should all just get along etc. But that last line pretty much sums up the argument and it’s been done to death, instead let’s talk about girls and gaming. Yesterday I attended a lecture where usually we discuss the History of Games. However yesterday was different, myself and my fellow students sat and listened to what I can only imagine to be a big sob story about women in games. The lecturer (also a woman) made a few points about women being the trophies within games (Mario, Zelda etc) and being portrayed as sex objects (Duke Nukem, GTA). Now these are both issues that I do feel should be addressed and changed, when I say changed I don’t mean erased, I mean counteracted. Surely there would be no problem if there were more female protagonists rescuing men? I also think the recent downsizing of Lara Croft’s proportions to be an aim to make her a female protagonist that females don’t feel embarrassed to play as. As for Duke Nukem and GTA, I honestly don’t think any part of these games should be taken seriously, anyone who does is just going to become cannon fodder for deranged lawyers. My main gripe with the lecture was that we were sitting there being told that women supposedly have a harder time getting in to the gaming industry, that they supposedly had to (and I quote) “work twice as hard”. Now I found this to be a rather strange statement. If you consider that the games industry is a business, so they want to get as many customers as possible, knowing that women understand women better than men do, surely they would want to encourage women to get into the industry. I realise that it may appear to be an all boys club but this can merely be put down to the uptake of men who played games when they were younger and decided to make a career out of it. Only recently has gaming started to appeal to the masses of women out there (don’t get me wrong I know there have a been girls playing games just as long as men have but on the grand scale it has been a predominantly male hobby). So I think it’s safe to say that within a few years we will see a surge of women within the industry. I can only see this as a good thing, it should bring new ideas and perspectives to an industry plagued by repetition and entice more women to play games injecting more money into the industry.

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this extra meaty edition of Lag, I do think at times that these articles are in danger of becoming my own widely publicised blog. If you have any criticisms feel free to join our forum and PM me with your thoughts.