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Showing posts from September, 2008

Art! (And Games)

Fate has interesting ways of throwing you a curve ball, especially when you’re an unemployed university student whose program is finally getting up off the ground. This weekend of mine – no doubt one I would have normally preferred to spend playing Spore on my new computer – was instead largely spent at TBA:08 – a Time-based media festival taking place in Portland, Oregon.

Admittedly, what I’ve seen and figured out during this time has been worth the trip. Though I don’t think it’s justified to go far into the specific performances (of which I probably largely misinterpreted) I nonetheless am fond in speaking in generalizations.

Review: Spore

By the time you read this (about 6 hours after I posted it) Maxis’s Spore should now be available for download from Direct2Drive. Spore has been getting steadily hyped for several years now, but the thing about hype is that it makes bad games look better and good games look worse; In short, hype is bullshit, always has been always, always will be, and the value of a game should be determined through your own experiences playing it.

In a feat of apparent time-traveling, I have both bought Spore and I played it all the way through.  My impressions follow.

The Broad Fare

Spore is not a single game, but rather a smattering of five that work together, and each stage plays differently.

The first “Cellular” stage is a simple top-down two-dimensional arcade game where your little cellular life – not a far cry from the titular spore – attempts to survive in the harsh world of cellular life.  You swim about by holding the right mouse button and scoop up the food appropriate to your spec…

Bringing The Flow: A Player’s Job?

Between S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s Oblivion Lost and BioShock’s Difficulty And Balance Mod, I’ve discovered a powerful point that seems to be demonstrated through both:

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was always sort of hard, but Oblivion Lost adds a number of new enemies as well as tweaking the old ones to pull nifty new tricks like spawning psychic doubles that gang up on you.  There’s also a random chance of having to avoid nuclear blast.  This mod certainly keeps one on their toes!  The new economy is also nicely retooled to allow you to make a profit only if you’ve been playing like the overcautious scrounger the titular stalkers should be.

BioShock’s “difficulty and balance mod” is not nearly as ambitious, but it does offer a challenge sorely lacking in the vanilla game.  The wrenches are now a very feeble weapon without tonic enhancement.   Respawning at a Vita-Chamber with no repercussions was the main loophole in the game, and the mod now (temporarily?) ramps up the game difficulty further upon …