As someone who continually gets his ass handed to him by this game, I can just say: you have GOT to be shitting me.
Ever wondered what the Shining would look like if it was directed by Cameron Crowe?
Positioning itself as a ‘true’ marriage of narrative and interactivity, and promising a different experience each time it’s played, Fahrenheit has a lot to live up to. It’s a shame then that the game comes off something more like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” for the 21st century, except perhaps slightly clunkier.
Early on, the game seems to deliver on many of its promises. The initial flurry of interactivity appears impressive and leaves the player with high hopes for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Regardless of what choices the player makes, the game remains largely unaffected. The game provides the illusion of a branching storyline where the players’ choices open new paths, but in truth there is just One True Path. This is most obviously demonstrated early on with the option to save a child who has just fallen into a frozen lake, with the police approaching. Choose to save the child and run away, the police find you – continue from last save. Save the child and run away in a different direction, and the police still find you (with the same cut-scene) – continue from last save. On my third attempt, I finally saw what the game wanted me to do. And it’s this distinction that holds the game back: it’s about what the game wants to do, not what the player wants to do.
In a recent interview, Ron Gilbert (creator of Monkey Island) condemned the idea of ‘interactive storytelling’, saying
…I don’t believe stories should be interactive. I believe stories should be participatory… You’re participating in my story, but you’re not going to change it, because it’s my story. I have a story to tell you.
This makes a lot of sense, and Fahrenheit sits a lot better as a “participatory story.” Hackneyed script aside, it’s as immersive a game as I’ve ever played, and it’s quite capable of tearing away a few hours at a time, while comfortably providing plenty of opportunities to duck out of the game: a feature I wish more games provided.
Microsoft released Microsoft: Codename Max, a photo-organisation application,
just like not at all like iPhoto or Picasa.
I haven’t had a chance to try this out properly just yet (still firmly entrenched in iPhoto territory), but my first impressions are: Wow, Microsoft are really going after the Apple dollar now. Right down to jacking their smooth gradient web style.
Although, I’ll give them this much – the transparent box icon is very cute.
Sweet. This has made my day.
Well, here’s one thing I missed: Nintendo unveiled the controller for their next-generation console, the Revolution, over the weekend. And it looks… well… it looks different. It looks blocky and basic – like an extremely simplistic DVD remote control.
But it’s not the looks that matter. If the DS has taught Nintendo nothing else, it’s taught them that they can sidestep the Xbox 360 vs Playstation 3 one-upmanship and make innovative, entertaining games by exploring other possibilities – shifting the emphasis from the “games” to “playing.” What’s more, it’s taught them that these games can be made for a fraction of the budget of games on other platforms.
This seems to be a lesson that they’ve learned well. Although the Revolution will certainly be powerful enough to churn out some staggering amount of polygons, it seems as if a lot of the emphasis will be on small ‘parlour games’, a la Wario Ware or Mario Party. Things like EyeToy and Singstar were great ideas and encouraged a lot of people to play games that wouldn’t normally because they were easy to pick-up-and-play – a quick burst of fun, rather than an epic challenge. But because these were niche accessories, they weren’t catered for to any great extent. Since this is the primary controller for the new Nintendo console, there’s no fear of it being relegated to that sort of niche status.
And this is the other important lesson here: games have, essentially, plateaued. Let me explain. My girlfriend is someone who has never played games, and she’s not going to start now. It’s not because she doesn’t like games, she does. She recently completed and enjoyed Silent Hill 2, but only through a system where she took on the puzzle/exploration parts, and threw the controller at me for action parts, or anything that required precise control. And that’s the lesson here: unfamiliarity with controllers is a major barrier to entry for new gamers. Once again, we can give the example of EyeToy as an example of something that worked because people could play it without requiring the type of muscle-memory that gamers have built up through years of practice.
But Nintendo aren’t just courting a new market with this idea. With this new controller, it opens a whole range of possibilities for people who are more familiar with games to engage them with new a new way to experience familiar games. For example, playing First Person Shooters like Doom 3 with the long, remote control-style stick acting as your gun or torch and direction controlled by the analog thumbstick. According to the IGN hands-on, this set-up is more intuitive than any currently-existing system.
But all this yapping won’t really do much good. For a much better glimpse of what Nintendo have in mind, you should check out their promo video, which gives you an idea of the various uses for the controller.
I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
On Friday, I took off out to Wicklow for a wedding, and I come back today with a bruised liver, a slightly soiled suit, an ingrown toenail and mild constipation from the amount of rich food and drink I consumed over the past three days.
Three days kicking it around Greystones and Glendalough. Three days of sitting around Glendalough House, getting drunk on champagne and canapes, going for naps in the library. Three days of hanging out with people I only knew from their various neuroses. Three days of feeling like Uncle Monty.
It’s so nice to be back to normality. Don’t get me wrong, this was by far the most interesting party I’ve ever been to, never once veering towards “dull”, and I loved spending a few days feeling like a member of the landed gentry, but by 10pm on Saturday I was ready to kill someone for a Diet Coke that didn’t have alcohol in it.
So, what have I missed?
I’m a huge Terry Gilliam fan. The Criterion edition of Brazil is one of the two DVDs I’m taking with me to the grave (the other being the Book of the Dead edition of Evil Dead). Even the stories of his glorious failures are more interesting than most people’s movies, as seen by Lost in La Mancha.
And that’s why his latest release, The Brothers Grimm, has me worried. So far, it has not been particularly well received by audiences in America, gathering an unimpressive 5.9/10 on IMDB – making this his lowest-ranking film yet. What’s more, it hasn’t been well received by critics either. Some of the reviews on Rottentomatoes paint a pretty grim (if you’ll excuse the pun) picture.
But what’s most worrying is Gilliam’s counter-reaction; he has labelled the film’s critics as “narrow minded”, even going so far as to say “”Everybody has their opinion – and some people are wrong.”
Of course, there’s no way I’m going to miss The Brothers Grimm when it opens here on November 4th, and I really hope I’m going to love it. But it certainly carries a certain amount of baggage, knowing that if I don’t like it, I’m “wrong.”
Blondie! Survivor! Duran Duran! Nena!