Down.Write.Fierce

Mitch Dyer, Freelance Writer (and co.)

One Paragraph Review: Castlevania – Lords of Shadow

by Elliot page

Steadfastly having nothing to do with those other silly games with “Castlevania” in the title, Lords of Shadow stars a depressed beefcake monk on a quest to escape the constant stalking narration of a bored Patrick Stewart. Only problem is, he’s the only person in 11th century not-Europe to use any kind of dye in his clothing, thus making him readily identifiable at 500 yards. Lots of monsters get in his way, but these are dispatched using a cinematic combat system hampered by the fact it takes upwards to twenty hits to slay an enemy. A more dangerous foe is the camera, which can quite often have a violent fit when offered two different fixed points to reside in. The music and ambient sounds of the environment and enemies, however, are a delight to the ears of our beefy monk.

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One Paragraph Review: Nier

by Elliot page

In a genre that’s become banal, Nier proves a little thought goes a long way. The game is packed with surprising touches, little things that make you smile or capture the attention. Every time I thought the game would slide back onto generic JRPG conventions, something happened to give it a little edge, whether it be translucent cutscene letterboxes or a tiny, waving silhouette during the loading screens. The combat and cinematics feel clear and fresh, each keenly crafted to capture the interest. The action RPG fighting feels comfortable, and the menus feel crisp, making Nier more enjoyable to closely interact with rather than something you hold at arm’s length and vaguely wave at to make plot happen. The game starts with swearing, sorrow, blood and impalement, and I can’t wait to see how it ends.

One Paragraph Review: Darksiders

by Elliot page

I worry gamers are getting jaded by retreads of established formulae, and are eager to point out instances of this to boost their egos. “Pah, it’s Zelda” is the general comment about Darksiders, an evaluation that forgets to point out that the game is hella bitchin’ sweet. Draped in a magnificent Games-Workshop-Meets-Heavy-Metal-Album-Cover presentation, Darksiders pulls no punches in shoving satisfying gameplay and atmosphere down your throat from the word “go”. With a thickly armoured glove, no less. The combat feels repetitive 5 minutes in, but the Abili-tease in the intro promises more exciting things are planned for my wee little Apocalyptic warrior War, probably the most put upon instigator of Armageddon that ever existed. I’m glad I didn’t play this game when I was 12, as I probably would have died from awesome.

One Paragraph Review: Demon’s Souls

by Mitchell Dyer

Defeating Demon’s Souls’ abusive introductory enemies demands perfection, even for those with the prerequisite skill and patience. Successful sword strikes are secondary to cowardice; hiding behind a shield is essential to prolonging the inevitability of death. Plunging into the nether realm, however, harbors benefits. Explorative specters stuck in the soul world buy and bring wares back to their body. Demise isn’t the end of the adventure but the beginning of another. This circularity balances failure, and fulfilling satisfaction replaces the expected agitation.

One Paragraph Review: Final Fantasy 13

by taylorcocke

A purely cinematic and combat affair, players are rarely asked to press more than the A button to progress through Final Fantasy 13‘s immensely simple battles. This doesn’t help the impenetrable story, whose incomprehensible plot and completely stereotypical JRPG characters do little to appease players looking for immersion. I’ll be damned if it ain’t pretty, though.

So Here’s The Thing: Stories Are Boss

by Trevor Whatman

[Download “Stories Are Boss” Here]

Subscribe to The Grid in iTunes!

“So Here’s The Thing” brings a more focused conversation to the table, featuring a group discussion stemming from a specific topic. These topics range from the conventional to the bizarre, but are always peppered with a touch of DWF unpredictability.

Taylor Cocke and Mitch Dyer are joined by Robin Taylor to discuss videogames’ atypical, odd, and mostly atrocious storytelling, as well as the boss fights that conclude them. They also yammer about the correct context for bosses, games’ influence in film,  and the Citizen Kane of video games.

If you want to avoid spoilers for the following games, beware:

  • Dead Space 2
  • Bulletstorm
  • Heavy Rain
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Enslaved
  • BioShock and BioShock 2
  • Uncharted 2

Send your questions, suggestions, or general abuse to:

DownWriteFierce@Gmail.com

On Twitter:

Mitch – MitchyD
Taylor – TaylorCocke
Robin – Darvin111

Also please leave us a review and/or comment on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

So Here’s The Thing: Immersion

by Trevor Whatman

[Download “Immersion” Here]

Subscribe to The Grid in iTunes!

“So Here’s The Thing” brings a more focused conversation to the table, featuring a group discussion stemming from a specific topic. These topics range from the conventional to the bizarre, but are always peppered with a touch of DWF unpredictability.

For the opening round of our newest podcast, we’ve got Mitch Dyer, Tim Seppala, and Taylor Cocke on the mic. Their conversation flourishes on the heels of this article, penned by a game developer, who details his Dead Space 2 experience with specific references to immersion in videogames.  The boys expand the discussion to include Amnesia, Lord Of The Rings, and games criticism.

Send your questions, suggestions, or general abuse to:

downwritefierce(at)gmail(dot)com

On Twitter:

Mitch – MitchyD
Tim – TimSeppala
Taylor – TaylorCocke

Also please leave us a review and/or comment on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

So Here’s The Thing: Strategy vs Immersion

by taylorcocke

One of my best friends loves nothing more than to make spreadsheets to manage his characters in RPGs. His obsession with metagaming has led to him having some really powerful characters in the games he plays, and he’s attained some serious knowledge about how MMORPGs work underneath the hood. And when we played World of Warcraft, he became my go-to guy for any sort of knowledge about anything. He definitely knew more about my class than I did.

After we quit playing WoW, I realized I started taking my thoughts about optimizing my character into other games. Recently, while playing BioShock 2, I caught myself going online to find out what the most efficient powers were for protecting the damn Little Sister as she gets pummeled by Splicers and DOESN’T DO A GODDAMN THING TO PROTECT HERSELF AND SHE HAS ADAM IN HER STUPID HAND AND SHOULD JUST SPLICE SOME POWERS ALL UP INTO HER AND IS JUST A DUMB PIECE OF SHIT AND UGH.

Needless to say, I really liked BioShock 2.

Anyway, my research into attempting to essentially make the game as easy as possible for myself got me thinking. Why do gamers have an obsession with finding the absolute best strategies in single player games? I’ve certainly been guilty of researching the effects of a certain decision on my character in Fallout 3, rather than simply going with what I felt would be best from a role-playing point of view.

So, to me, there seems to be a dichotomy between strategy and immersion. You can’t be entirely immersed in a story if you’re constantly thinking about which weapon is the most powerful against whatever enemies you’re about to come across. Read the rest of this entry »

Pre-rendered cutscenes… Do they still belong?

by Meghan Watt

In the most recent GameInformer, EIC Andy McNamara writes: “I think grandiose, pre-rendered cutscenes have gone from enhancing games to interfering with the medium.” He then sites World of Warcraft where beating the Lich King rewards you with a cutscene, saying that it’s “impressive to look at” but “not nearly as engaging as the script that plays out in the game engine.”

I have to disagree with McNamara here. Pre-rendered cutscenes certainly don’t belong in all genres. Games that I play strictly for gameplay like Modern Warfare or Split Second definitely don’t need ’em. Hell, I’m too impatient to wait through the multiplayer lobby or the three second countdown before a race, much less an overly produced cutscene.

Read the rest of this entry »

So Here’s The Thing: Save Your Game

by taylorcocke

Game critics always whine about save systems. I, for one, have always been pissed off when a game doesn’t allow me to save anywhere I want. With all the technological advances the games industry has made, why haven’t developers managed to simply stick an option to do so in? Doom did it, why not Modern Warfare 2?

I mean, why can’t we stop a story whenever we want to? We can do it in film, music, books, and every other medium. Why should games be any different? Why can’t we just stop and save and then go back if we don’t like the outcome of our choices. In choose your own adventure novels we could always go back to page 23 if our choice to open the left door dropped us in a hole. And let me tell you, I was all about going through both of those doors.

However, the more I get to thinking about it, the more I begin to understand the necessity to allow for games to be a continuous experience. I don’t mean this in the sense that games should ignore a save system altogether so you have to play through it in a single setting. I’m talking about games that declare your decisions final by not allowing you to go back to former saves.

Read the rest of this entry »