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Confessions of an English Literature Video Game-Eater

Teàrlach mac Guadhre

2/12/21

 

Let’s begin with the confession. I was trained as a literary textualist and a philologist. As an undergraduate I majored in Literature at UC Santa Cruz, and then after receiving patience and grace, and pass/fail written evaluations from my mighty but benevolent professors, I used those narrative evaluations to secure myself a place as a post-graduate in Celtic at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. After four years or so there, I returned to the States, received an MA in English at Humboldt state (I am currently pandemicking in Eureka and I am convinced, pace Scotland, New Zealand, Thailand, etc., that Humboldt county is the best and most beautiful place left in the World). Then it was off to Seattle to do my PhD in English at the University of Washington, and then finally a stint as the Washington Fellow at Pembroke College Cambridge, where I finished my dissertation, wore my tuxedo a great deal, drank too much wine, and did a lot of manuscript study the University Library and the Parker which was next door from our house on Botolph Lane at Corpus Christi College.

 

Anyway, my background mitigates against my fall from grace, from the purity of reading Old Irish, Middle Welsh, Old Norse, Old English, and even the comparatively simple Middle English from beautiful old vellum manuscripts that sometimes contained racy notes in the margins from randy monks and still exhibited some hair from the cow that was flayed to make them. But it didn’t. I have fallen, and my shameful addiction is to video games and to Virtual Reality experiences and games. From Dragon Age to Dark Souls, from Bloodborne to Half-Life Alex, from Bioshock to The Price of Freedom, from the Stanley Parable to The Book of Distance, my reading time has been seriously eroded by a fixation on games and VR. Some of these games, such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or God of War or Hell Blade: Senua’s Sacrifice are connected with my scholarly interests and teaching in medieval and classical languages and literatures and mythologies, but often the connection and Classic, but often the connection is one that causes me more irritation than delight. The ridiculous pseudo-medieval lore of Dragon Age or the more interestingly calibrated myth, language, and lore of Senua’s Sacrifice and Valhalla, both make me feel more uneasy than immersed. The allusions to actual languages and texts reminds me that I am not doing the “real” thing, that I should be wearing by increasingly high powered spectacles rather than HTC Vive goggles, and that I should be actually reading the Old Irish of Scela Mucc Mac Datho, and puzzling over the rands/roscs of alliterative obscurity, rather than chopping off yet another English head with my increasingly mighty Viking axe.

 

And yet, while there is shame in this addiction, there is also exhilaration, and not from the axe-chopping alone. In fact, the axe chopping is disturbing. What is exhilarating is the same thing that exhilarated the monk who wrote the Old Irish poem “Pangur Ban” in the margins of the Reichenau Primer; it is about intellectual perseverance and completing things that are very difficult, or in the case of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, nigh impossible. The gratification is great, an huge endorphin hit. An “at last”! A feeling of real accomplishment and self-worth that results from beating the game, a moment that is rare in scholarship, but the entire point of such games. I feel like Michael Ventris cracking Linear B, or me figuring out that it is the Old Irish word “rind” that is used to gloss the Latin work “stigmata” in the Wurzberg Glossary, and that “rind” therefore is the Irish word for tattoo – the further discovery that there is really no references to indigenous tattooing the the Old and Middle Irish nor Middle Welsh sagas and poems was less gratifiying for me.

 

So these games, unlike actual scholarship, are designed for the clincher, the victory, the discovery of one’s vigor, the eventually successful end of a sometimes incredibly difficult quest. The eureka! moment of endorphin ecstasy.

 

Other VR experiences, in which one is fully immersed via goggles into a world, such as that of The Price of Freedom which concerns the CIA’s MKULTRA experiments using LSD as a potential mind control drug, result in a denouement that leaves one disturbed but enlightened and have a literary impact. And currently my favorite VR experience, The Book of Distance, takes one into the world of a narrator, the real-life artist and creator of the game Randall Okita, telling and showing you his family story of the Japanese internment in Canada during World War II. The experience is beautiful, and includes exquisitely rendered Japanese print paper on which are written letters from Japan to the new world by the narrator’s grandfather who takes ship and joins his future wife in Canada. They purchase a farm, work the land, feel included and important in their new country, and then find out that they are suspects, potential terrorists, who are cleared off of their land, interred in camps, and eventually lose their houses, farms, and other property to repossession.

 

It is a horrifying story, and much more disturbing that any head chopping axe blows in the more typical games. My father was from Gardena, California. Gardena had a large Japanese American population in the 30’s when he was growing up there. My dad was a bit fey, and he while he did have Japanese American friends, he also explained that some of the Japanese boys bullied him a bit. At 17, he went off to fight in the Pacific in WW II, just as his dad had gone off to fight in Europe in WW I. When my grandfather returned to Los Angeles after the war, he found things much as he had left them, but when my father returned both he and Los Angeles had changed radically. The Japanese were disappeared from the communities they had inhabited.

 

While I was an undergraduate, I met an emeritus history professor at UC Santa Cruz, Page Smith, who wrote a book shortly after I graduated that is titled  Democracy on Trial: The Japanese American Evacuation and Relocation in World War II (Simon&Schuster 1995). It is about President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to inter the Japanese during WWII. The book is not a piece of apology, but it does try to judiciously weigh the rationale. The two main reasons, as I remember, that Smith focuses on, are first that FDR was advised that the native Japanese who had moved to America were potentially a threat to internal security in that they might have a deep fealty to Emperor Hirohito, and that they, like the kamikaze pilots during the attack on Pearl Harbor, would be ready and willing to kill and die for their emperor. As Smith points out, the only evidence for this argument was hunch work, and that there were no conspiracies discovered by Japanese Americans to undermine the American war effort, and/or engage in domestic terrorism. The second argument was one which my father, based on is experience, had teeth. That is that the Japanese Americans in Gardena and elsewhere were in real danger from white Americans, some of whom would turn on the Japanese Americans, attack them, humiliate them, hurt them, and potentially even kill them, lynch mob style.

 

Anyway, no matter what the rationale, FDR deterred the Japanese in detention camps like Manzanar to which I went on field trips as a child and hope to take CSUB students to the next time I teach the Folk Narrative class. Even if FDR had his reasons, and even if those reasons were not prima facie racist, as Smith argues, there is no doubt that the way the internments were carried out were both cruel and illegal. All of this was clear to me from the stories my father told me as well as Page Smith’s book. But my understanding was intellectual and abstract.

 

There is a point in The Book of Distance, amid the beauty of the art in the world, and the narration, and the voice of the narrator’s father talking about the grandfather who was interred, a moment of pure epiphany, for me at least, though I imagine for many others as well. In this moment, I was in line with my family, behind the grandfather and his family. I find out along with the grandfather that the men, the father’s and husbands, are going to be separated from their families and placed in separate work camps. I can’t fully articulate the horror of this moment. The evil of the internment, suddenly becomes an arbitrary and unnecessary cruelty. I felt a kind of crumble in my soul, an emotional realizations far beyond and deeper than an intellectual understanding, of how truly terrible and unjust the internments were. This feeling is extended when in the men’s camp, we start receiving notices of unpaid bills, repossession documents that we must sign, the knowledge that everything that we had worked so hard to build was being taken from us, even as our freedom and our families had been taken away.

 

It was not an endorphin rush, not a victory, but rather a feeling of deep empathy, beyond intellect. Like the story the “Sword of Damocles,” where Damocles actually changes places with King Dionysus and experiences the terrible reality of the king, or a scene such as Tom Hanks in Philadelphia feeling the deep emotion of the suffering of humanity and of his own mortality while listening to Maria Callas’s exquisite performance of “La Mamma Morte,” The Book of Distance makes one feel something of what the interred Japanese must have felt, and it does not feel good. Yet, this bad feeling is also so profound that it makes intellectual comprehension pale somehow. Though my addiction to Dark Souls 3, and my eventual victory after many days of porting from campfire to campfire in an eerie and beautiful medieval world of impossible beasts and muted palettes of fantastic despair, gave me a rush, a gratifying sense of accomplishment, the result of experiencing The Book of Distance was so much more profound. It deepened me as a human, as great literature, at its best, is able to do.

 

So, while I am somewhat ashamed of my escapist addiction and Pavlovian joy at completing quests, defeating enemies, and beating the game, I make no apologies for The Book of Distance or other games and experiences that build our understanding and empathy. Yes, I am an addict, but some of these drugs are not simply opiates, some are truly psychedelics which expand or minds and our compassion.

 

[ Footnote 1]

 Please see "Unreal Cities- Urban Architecture in Video Games and Anime Films" by En Liang Khong, TLS Feb 5, 2021 pp. 14-15.

Flier for Morpheus

 

 

                The Walking Dead: A Show of Its Own

 Destinee Sims

 16 September 2018

                               The Walking Dead (Xbox One edition, 2014): A Show of Its Own

Summary: The  Walking Dead is a RPG from the perspective of a character named Lee. The game changes based off the player’s choices, in turn creating a variety of possible storylines. It follows Lee as he tries to reconnect a young girl, Clementine, with her parents that have disappeared. The hardship stems from the fact that this is all occurring in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, based off The Walking Dead comic series. It has won numerous awards for titles such as best game of the year over the last several years, as the Xbox One edition was a reboot of the original version that had been released around North America for the Xbox 360 and the PS3. The game was produced by Telltale Games, including multiple seasons that were released after the initial first season was found a success.

Presentation: The game is put together in a style of animation meant to mimic comic art with realistic levels of detail, allowing players to feel more immersed in the game. Telltale Games clearly displays a variety of emotions in the characters through the animation style, unlike many games where the characters’ appearance remains the same under all circumstances. The graphics are lifelike in a different way as well, such as how one can actually watch the blood spray across the various characters during injuries and fights with zombies. When the player successfully attacks the zombies, one can actually watch as each blow to the head (the only way to kill the zombies) creates further damage to the zombies’ skulls, including splits in the skull that grow larger with each hit. In one instance, one can even watch the bite mark on a bitten character spread throughout the game, displaying how the infection is spreading. The characters that are still living do not just retain their lively appearance upon their death like many other games either, as the game illustrates them growing paler and eventually taking on a gray hue to emphasis the illness/death. Due to the graphic style of the game, it provides a player with a much more successful feeling when they succeed in slaying whatever monster they faced (zombie, evil human, etc.). Music is an uncommon occurrence throughout the game, though players are regularly faced with the sounds of zombies, blows during fights, and even just the sounds of living.

Gameplay: Players are given a variety of tasks under the character of Lee. These tasks include determining what to say, from a list of 1-4 options, to other characters. These choices effect the result of the game, as they alter how other characters may interact with the main character. Players must actively aim when fighting against obstacles, such as zombies, as it is more than a simple point-and-shoot game. The player is faced with deciding how they approach each problem throughout the game, such as whether they would like to save or abandon a member of their own survival group. Characters are permitted to walk around as they please within reason, as the game does limit how far the player may try to make Lee wander from their objective. Players do have to solve issues by displaying problem solving skills, such as determining items they may be able to find and then use to fix a specific broken item. The game is designed to mimic real-life possible outcomes of a zombie apocalypse.Narrative: There are two main goals of the game: stay alive and reunite Clementine with her parents. The game consists of players traveling from Macon, Georgia to Savannah, Georgia in hopes of completing these tasks. The story does not remain the same for every player since the player’s choices change what occurs. For instance, Lee and Clementine join a group of survivors. Depending on the player’s choice, different characters from the story may survive until the end alongside you. Characters do encounter, however, a variety of problems, such as needing to escape an overrun pharmacy, finding new safe housing, and defeating crazy characters such as bandits, cannibals, and kidnappers. Each of these issues generally result in at least one member of the player’s group to die, and some approaches will even cause the death of Lee himself. If Lee dies, it restarts from the last save point and the player must keep trying different story options until they find one in which Lee survives the task at hand. It is important to see how the story plays out, as it makes a difference on who is alive at the end of the game. The outcome I personally dealt with involved Lee having been bitten, having his arm chopped off, and Clementine having to leave on her own at age 9 in hopes of surviving on her own without her infected caretaker.

I, personally, enjoyed the game. The interactive basis of the game allowed me to feel much more involved in what was occurring, compared to some games where there is only one path one can take. The art style allowed me to gain higher senses of dread (more detailed deaths of group members) and more pride during times of success (seeing the zombies die). The only thing I wish would have been different is how the dialogue plays out, as some of the statement options appear to be polite but can come out quite rude and cause conflict. There is no way of knowing whether a statement is meant in the way the player would like until it is said, so I chose many options that I may not have had I known they were going to be said with attitude or in a way that caused problems. I think the realistic childlike actions of characters such as Clementine added to my emotional investment of the game, as it made me feel much more inclined to complete the tasks at hand to help the fictional child. Overall, I would play the seasons that have been released since the game came out, as I quite enjoyed season one. I would highly recommend for others to play this choice-based drama/horror game.  

  

 

                  Five Nights at Freddy’s (Original): Not What I Expected

Destinee Sims

02 November 2018

                                    Five Nights at Freddy’s (Original): Not What I ExpectedSummary: Five

Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) was created by Scott Cawthon, Christian-turned-horror game designer, in 2014. The game is available on PC, Android, and Apple devices. The point-and-click horror game was initially targeted at older audiences, such as teens, but took off with children rather quickly due to the characters used. The game is primarily made up of sound effects and jump scares, also adding to the appeal of the game for children.

Presentation: The game uses a variety of graphics and sounds in order to create a sense of horror and suspense for the player. The player never sees themselves in this first-person game, but there are multiple looks given to the animatronics players are facing. An example would be how players see the poster of how sweet the animatronics are supposed to look, then players get a glimpse of the creepy and crazy-eyed animatronics that they will encounter. The graphics style could be best described as a mesh between realism and cheesy animations. The sounds, however, are what is the most impactful. Throughout the game, players will be met with a variety of sounds designed to instill suspense and anxiety. This includes but is not limited to: footsteps, singing, music, and screams, and more.

Gameplay: There is not much that can be said for the gameplay in the original FNAF game, as the player’s control is extremely limited. Players simply point-and-click on cameras to follow this animatronics, turn on hallway lamps, and close doors. Players do not walk around in the original, in comparison to a later FNAF game, nor ever get up from their seat. This is most likely done to give players a sense of helplessness, causing the already present anxiety to increase.

Narrative: As a nightshift security guard, it is the player’s job to keep an eye on the animatronics as they participate in their usual nightly wandering. It is important to understand that the animatronics will kill the player if they spot the player’s characters. Due to the violent nature of the animatronics, players must utilize their limited battery power to survive their six-hour shift, as every use of the cameras, lights, and doors drains this battery further. Running out of power, unless extremely late into the fifth hour, is almost a guaranteed loss. This repeat for five nights, as the animatronics become increasingly active and aggressive as the week progresses.

Experience: Overall, the game was successful at what it was aiming to do. It did manage to create dozens of harmless jumps scares, as well as maintain a high level of anxiety for players. While there is not much to the narrative itself in the game, it is enjoyable if the player is just looking for some scary fun. I, personally, had mixed feelings about the game. It did create the feelings of anxiety it was aiming for, but it did not provide a strong enough narrative for me to become invested in it. For example, I may have found myself slightly more satisfied with FNAF Sister Location, as it had slightly more player involvement. While I do not intend to complete the entire series after experiencing the first FNAF game, I would highly recommend for anyone that enjoys the occasional scare. 

 

 

Video Game art for Doom

Review of DOOM
Mark Felisilda
Video Games as Literature 9/16/18

DOOM (2016): Reverse Jesus Ends Demonkind

Summary: DOOM is the fourth installment of the Doom franchise, and stays true to form as the premiere demon slaughtering experience. After the energy crisis is solved by harvesting thee magical powers of Hell, demons begin pouring out onto Mars, and it is up to the ever silent Doomslayer to slaughter every last demon- both on Mars and in Hell- using a variety of weapons ranging from the simple shotgun to futuristic firearms whose physics one cannot even begin to comprehend.

Presentation: Graphically, DOOM is light years beyond the original, yet it maintains the same gritty, metalhead soul. The Doomslayer is a silent, no-nonsense soldier. This allows players to project more of themselves onto him, but that is not to say that the Doomslayer is without personality himself, as he is crass with achieving presented goals. In terms of color palette, DOOM calls out to the edgy teenager in everyone, as nearly everything that isn't red is some shade of grey, silver, or black. The juxtaposition of near-future space age technology with traditional depictions of Hell prove to blend rather well together considering the vast differences between them. The score of DOOM is essentially a heavy metal album, full of heavy base, drums, and shredding guitar riffs, perfect to headbang to while tearing out the spines of demons.
Game
play: DOOM proves to be everything that stereotypical conservative mothers hate about video games. The first-person shooting combined with the brutal combat system is incredibly satisfying. While many games today involve shooting from a first-person perspective, DOOM incorporates a quicktime event based "Glory Kill" system, where the Doomslayer ruthlessly ends a demon, whether it be through decapitation with his bare hands or force feeding a demon its own body parts.

Something to touch on is the nuance in the shooting. Through exploration of various levels, you can find drones to upgrade your weapons. These upgrades can be further upgraded by earning points for completing various tasks, such as killing a specific number of demons using a certain method. These upgrades spread over eight weapons and coupled with the two special weapons - the chainsaw and the BFG 9000 - allow for a diverse selection of methods to bring an end to demonkind and keep the player entertained.Narrative: Playing through DOOM, it almost feels as though the designers were trying to create a Biblical fanfiction, where a son of man is born to slaughter all of demonkind, and then imprisoned within stone, only to rise again to finish what he started. While the protagonist maintains a silence, various other forgettable characters explain the world around you. The game opens with the Doomslayer's resurrection after his sarcophagus being unearthed in Hell and brought to a research station on Mars. From this point, you begin your endless slaughter of demons through the renewable Hell-energy refinery. Someone who begins worshipping the demons opens a portal to Hell and from this point, the Doomslayer goes back and forth between clearing out the hellspawn on Mars or in the comfort of their own home. Many details of the world can be found in a somewhat extensive codex, which contains data ranging from information on the Doomslayer (some of which is told from the perspective of demons in the "Slayer's Testament I-VII") to information on demons, which actually has some bearing on how you play the game as it can point out weak points.

Experience: I had a fun time playing through DOOM. The controls were a bit floaty, but after a few hours, I managed to get the hang of the the running and gunning mixed with rapid weapon switching. I played on an Xbox One, though I feel that the rapid switching between weapons would have been better suited to scrolling on a mouse wheel, but I digress. The narrative proved mildly interesting, though I did not try to actually delve too deep into it as this is the fourth installment and I had not played the other three. My only real gripe with the game was that I found myself getting lost a few times and could not figure out that I was indeed lost until I had failed at climbing for an hour.

Game Review: Overwatch

Tanner Harris

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dushZybUYnM

Summary

Overwatch is a first-person multiplayer team-based "hero shooter" where players control a cast of distinct and unique characters on two competing teams to accomplish an objective. Released in May 2016, the game is the newest intellectual property from Blizzard Entertainment of World of Warcraft fame and boasts a player count of over 40 million concurrent users across Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC as of May 2018.

Presentation

The game takes place in a near-future Earth, set in the 2070s. As such, the game has opted for a sleek and stylish futuristic look for for many of its locales. Maps are peppered with culture and style with elements that are sleek and colorful, the characters' personalities are clearly communicated through their design, and even the menus feel clean and easily navigable. Head developer Jeff Kaplan has gone on record saying that the goal was to create a vision of a bright and optimistic future, and that design philosophy is everywhere in this game. Sound design is excellent as well, with each action taken by a character, map interaction, shot, and impact have their own unique sound to convey them, and the music is appropriate to each locale and phase of action.

Gameplay

As a competitive first person team-based shooter, the player takes control of a selected character to reach a given goal. Usually this takes the form of escorting/stopping a payload from being escorted across a map, holding an objective point for a certain amount of time, or securing/defending a number of capture points. There are six players to a team and three categories to choose a playable hero from: Damage, Support, and Tank. Team composition and communication is of the utmost importance in Overwatch, as those two factors often determine if a team wins or loses. Will you prioritize Damage heroes in order to take an objective as quickly as possible? Or will Supports and Tanks be favored to defend a point as long as possible?

Each hero is also unique not only in their design and personalities, but in gameplay as well. Each character has a primary weapon, two base abilities, and an ultimate ability that charges over time. For example, the quick and nimble Damage hero Tracer is able to get behind enemy lines and deal damage to targets quickly at close range, but does not have a lot of health and is susceptible to abilities that stun her movement. Conversely, the Damage hero Widowmaker is a sniper, able to pick off low-health enemies from a range and has a number of escape options, but struggles at close range. Healers like Lucio and Brigitte are more suited to healing a number of characters at once but at a slower rate, while Healers Zenyatta and Mercy are specialized in single-target healing. The Tank hero Reinhardt has a large barrier shield that can soak up a lot of damage, but is large, slow, and an easy target to focus down while Tank hero D.Va is highly mobile but whose damage output is only maximized at close range.

This gameplay loop, as well as consistent balance changes and new characters being added by Blizzard, gives the game a unique Rock/Paper/Scissors dynamic that isn't present in many mainstream games where getting the most eliminations is the goal. Add seasonal events for holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and Chinese New Year into the mix and it's clear this is a game that's going to be around for a long time.

Narrative

Overwatch is also unique in that it presents its narrative outside of the main game, instead relying on tie-in media and character dialogue to tell its story. There is no campaign or story mode in the game at all, which is also not something popularly done in the mainstream games industry.

An early trailer for the game tells the story of Overwatch, an organization made up of heroes from around the world that rose up to protect it during the Omnic Crisis; a robotic uprising in the vein of Terminator's Judgment Day. Overwatch was able to stop the crisis, but was shut down and made illegal due to suspected black ops activity. But now, in the face of a second Omnic Crisis, the world needs heroes.

Comics and Pixar-like animated shorts look at the individual characters of the cast and find what makes them heroic (or in some cases, villainous), while characters will talk with each other in-game before a match begins. In addition, maps will often tell stories within themselves through details intentionally placed by the designers. This all lends itself to a very non-traditional style of storytelling that I feel is very effective and rewarding for those who enjoy a bit of digging.

Experience

No matter if you are someone who enjoys first-person shooters or not, Overwatch has something to offer for almost every kind of gamer. A rich world, unique and now-iconic characters, a rewarding narrative, a satisfying gameplay experience, and a massive community. There admittedly isn't a lot of single-player content, but Overwatch really shines as a multiplayer experience. There has been so much care and dedication put into this game in every facet that it's understandable why it has achieved as much success as it has. 

Personally, it's one of the few games I've spent more than 100 hours playing. I run a server for the game to play with my friends on PC and it has been so much fun. I'm happy that this game is a reality and just how rewarding of an experience it really is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB5zlHMsM7k

Life is strange

 

Life is Strange: What a Bore!

reviewed by Destinee Sims

 

  1. Summary:Life is Strangefollows 18-year-old Max Caulfield through her time at Blackwell Academy. It is a graphic adventure game, leaning towards mystery. It is a player’s choice game, as the story is altered by the decisions made by the player. It was created by Dontnod Entertainment and was initially released in 2015. The game consists of five episodes and is available for the common gaming systems, such as the Xbox One, PS4, and PC. 
  2. Presentation: The game does not easily fit into any one category for the styles of graphics, as the graphics appear almost as if the designers had attempted to make a graphic novel look realistic. Due to this crossover, it falls in between multiple categories but still allows players to enjoy the artwork that was created. The game truly takes the time to emphasize the smallest details in the art, as they even make sure players can tell the difference between a beetle and a roach through eye-catching details. They use colors in such a way that it mimics the beauty of reality, as well as the harshest moments of life. The game is heard through Max’s ears, including her choice of music when she decides to use headphones. Most of the music used would be considered apart of the calming “indie” variety, giving the impression of the serenity Max appears to be feeling in that moment. Players even audibly hear Max’s thoughts as if she was speaking, almost in the same way one “hears” their own thoughts. All these aspects together allow players to enjoy the presentation thoroughly. 
  3. Gameplay: Players have control over most of Max’s actions, but not all. Players are provided the option to choose dialogue from a set of options during an interaction, manually rewind time, and explore Max’s world. As Max, players can study the objects around her, such as searching through a pile of someone’s stuff in search for clues. There are few limitations to where players can wander, and those are only to prevent players from straying too far from the current objective. 
  4. Narrative: Max is new to Blackwell Academy, and she has a passion for photography. This prompts her to discover her ability to rewind time, in turn granting her the ability to alter the past, present, and future. She has a close friend helping, who is relevant in her discovery of the limits of her powers, named Chloe. While Max is also learning to navigate daily life as someone with superpowers, she must also attempt to find out what happened to Chloe’s friend, Rachel Amber, who went missing. 
  5. Experience: While I did not enjoy the game, I would argue that the elements do what the game is meant to do: emphasize the strangeness life has to offer. The graphics through their level of detail allow players to notice more of the strange occurrences that happen throughout the game, as well as the music allowing players to remember that the story is taking place in a seemingly normal world. However, the narrative is what created my dislike of the game. I found the way that Max goes about practicing her ability to rewind time to be quite boring, as it is done in basic settings such as changing the path of a conversation or using it to shoot bottles without wasting ammunition. While the basic concept of the story is interesting, they failed to live up to the level of excitement throughout the game. It is more like 45 minutes per episode of boredom and navigating mundane tasks, such as returning a book to someone, just to have 15 minutes of fun. So, while this narrative helps emphasize what the game is truly about, it made the experience quite the letdown for me as a player. 

image: https://cdn1-www.superherohype.com/assets/uploads/2014/03/amazing-spider-man-game-banner.jpg

image: https://cdn1-www.superherohype.com/assets/uploads/2014/03/amazing-spider-man-game-banner.jpg

amazing spider man game banner

Spider-Man(2018): Amazing 

reviewed by Jorge Lopes

 

  1. Summary: Spider-Man is an action adventure game developed by Insomniac games. The majority of the game is in 3rd person with very few segments in 1st person from time to time. It takes place in present day New York with Spider-Man swinging around the city trying to save it from impending doom. 
  2. Presentation: The games art style seems to be realistic, well as realistic as you can get in a comic book setting. Unlike the Batman Arkham series, which has a very comic book style with all the male characters having olympic bodies and all the females having bodies of a victoria secret model, Spider-Man takes a realistic approach. Spider-Man himself has realistic body of a 23 year old who is in shape. He doesn’t suddenly grow muscles that don’t belong on the human body out of nowhere. The lighting design on this game is also superb, the time of day switches a you continually play the game and you can see the shadows move matching what it's supposed to look like in real life. There is also dynamic weather that changes randomly. Sometimes it’ll be a foggy morning, other times a rainy night. All in all this game is extremely detailed, down to the fabric each Spider man suit is made of. One thing I noticed is that if you are wearing the Spider-man homecoming “homemade” suit, which is really just a sweater and sweatpants with goggles, and it rains the suit will cling to Spider-man's body like real cloth. And if you are wearing any of his other suits with metal like the MK II armor suit then water droplets will slide of his helmet and light will reflect off it since it is shiny as you swing by the city. 
  3. Gameplay: The gameplay is similar to that of the Batman Arkham games with beat them up sections and stealth sections as Spider-man. There are also a few stealth missions where you don’t play as Spider-man and instead play as Mary Jane Watson and another character I won’t say since I would consider it a spoiler. I pleasantly surprised that the beat them up sections are actually quite difficult and fast paced with you having to have some proficiency with the mechanics, especially if you are playing on the hardest difficulty. There are times when the combat may seem tedious considering that if you master the combat system there is no way you can lose, but the game keeps it interesting with giving you challenges for each encounter you have. It becomes, at a certain point, not if you can win but how you win. Do you win the combat encounter by only punching, or will you use your gadgets and web slinging to help you. The stealth missions are also just as enjoyable with a bunch of combinations and ways to take out enemies. The weakest part of the game, I would say, is when you are not playing as Spider-man. The stealth missions with MJ and the other character are the weakest part of the game. They're are really on two of these missions I would say is enjoyable and you don’t get to play those till the end of the game. I can’t really go into them without spoiling the game but one character encounters on of Spider-Mans strongest foes and you do get a sense of tension as to how you will get out of the situation. Sadly though the boss fights are mostly disappointing. I would say like 40% of the boss fights are interesting like the vulture and electro boss fight making use of the space spider man has to move around and the other 60% are disappointing like the rhino and scorpion boss fight relying on one gimmick for the entire fight.  But the best part of the gameplay is the Web slinging. There is a fast travel system in the game considering the game is quite large, but I never once fast traveled. This game has done something very few games have ever done. And that make traveling across the map fun. Extremely fun. Its fluid and fast pace with different moves you can pull off to get around buildings or get in between them. At times I found myself just swinging around New York and stopping crime when ever I came across it. Its almost therapeutic in a lot of ways. I would say the web slinging is the best part of the gameplay. 
  4. Narrative: The story is very classic in terms of a Spider-Man story. It follow the events and conflicts that not only happen to Spider-Man, but also Peter Parker. Much of the story isn’t just about fighting crime and saving New York, although that is a big part of it, there are large chunks of the story focused on Peter Parkers life and his own relationships. At this point Peter Parker has been fighting crime for eight years, and he still struggles with balancing his hero life and normal life. He struggles with his relationship with MJ who is now his ex girlfriend, helping his aunt may who is getting older at times needs help with running a homeless shelter, and his relationship with doctor otto. Peter is a also a scientist who works in a small lab with doctor otto and makes very little money, so at times it does feel like his life is somewhat falling apart. He can’t afford to pay rent and doesn’t have enough time to help everyone, including himself. To me the most interesting part about the story is watching a character give everything he can to others, and still not having it be enough. Sadly the weakest part about the narrative is the new villain of this game. Mr. Negative. Compared to the other villians that show up to fight spider man, he is the least interesting in terms of … everything. His Design is boring(its just a white suit), his backstory is disappointing, and his powers are also boring with some interesting aspects to them. All of the villains that show up in Spider-Man have these very interesting designs that show off their personality and have a function outside of just looking cool, like armor or wings or a giant rhino horn. Mr. Negative just where's a suit. Booooooooooooorrrrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnggg. The only thing interesting about him in the beginning was his powers and backstory, because you didn’t know what they were or how they worked. His powers in the beginning had this very mysterious theme surrounding it involving japanese folklore and at some points seemed almost mystical. Instead it ended up being a cliche backstory I won’t spoil and less mystical than I was hoping for. His powers also suck. Well his powers are actually cool but he just sucks at using them. He can make people hallucinate and cause them to do things they normally wouldn’t do by giving them “negative energy” but he just blasts you with a laser beam. At one point he does get a hold of Parkers mind but Peter is able to overcome his mind control through his strong moral sense of justice. Mr. negative was disappointing. 
  5. Experience: With everything considered I enjoyed my time with this game. I would say most the experiences it give you are positive and with few, but noticeable, negatives. It has an interesting story with the sinister six and changes a few things with the Spider-Man mythos. It’s a fun game with overall good gameplay, graphics, and story. It sets up potential storylines that could continue if the game wanted too, and I think there will be a sequel, but it has a complete story that wraps up the main plot points by the end. And has the best web slinging any spiderman game has ever had. I give this game a 7.5/10. 
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Video Game art for Monster Hunter

Review of Monster Hunter World Mark Felisilda
Video Games as Literature 10/07/18

Monster Hunter World (2018): How to Wear Your Dragon

  1. Summary:​ ​Monster Hunter World is the latest (as of October 2018) installment of Capcom's Monster Hunter franchise. It is currently available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. True to its name, Monster Hunter World pits you against gargantuan creatures ranging from oversized iguanas to island sized dragons. To face these behemoths, you must hone your skills with the wide arsenal of weapons.

  2. Presentation: Visually, Monster Hunter World throws you into a stunning world of drastically different locales. The hunting areas range from a typical rainforest to an area that is made entirely of decaying dragon corpses. Each provides a unique backdrop as you fell mighty beasts.

    One cannot discuss a game entitled Monster Hunter without discussing the monsters themselves. The monsters come in a few basic categories, but each is visually and behaviorally unique. Some are hyper-aggressive wyverns that constantly pluck you from the ground and fling you against walls, while others are just stupid, flightless birds that dig up rocks and peck at you. Each monster appears to be painstakingly designed to uniquely inhabit each area, exhibiting different behaviors and abilities.

  3. Gameplay:​ ​Monster Hunter World does not hold your hand with heavy tutorials, but does provide very satisfying gameplay. Every weapon category is made from available from the start, giving players ample opportunity to test each to see which they prefer. Each category provides a vastly different experience, for example the Greatsword does massive damage at a very slow rate, while the dual blades offer a flurry of rapid attacks that each do very little damage. The variety in weapon mechanics coupled with the various behaviors of each monster ensure for a different experience with every hunt. Another important gameplay aspect is that each Monster has weak points. These can be learned through collecting research points from tracking monster footprints or the like.

After certain levels of research are gathered, you can view the weak points, item drops, and elemental weaknesses of the monster you have researched.

  1. Narrative: The narrative is almost nonexistent. The game opens with you, a hunter, as part of the Fifth Fleet to the New World at the latest Elder Crossing. The Elder Crossing is an event in which an elder dragon (a larger or more powerful dragon) travels to the New World for an unknown reason. As you progress through the game, you find much about the elder dragon your fleet had come to research, Zorah Magdaros. Eventually, you learn that the gargantuan elder dragon has come to the New World at the tail end of its life, similar to the legends of elephant graveyards. This however, is not an end to the mystery as to why this location draws in the various elder dragons. All in all, the narrative of this game is not really in place to make a player think, but rather to keep players playing, as it is simply a means to unlocking new monsters to hunt.

  2. Experience: This is a very fun game. I thoroughly enjoyed it and easily logged over a hundred hours after only owning it for a week. I have always been very interested in animals, both real and fictional. The detail that went into programming the various behaviors and interactions the monsters help greatly immerse me in the New World. The fun gameplay and the intricacies and behaviors of the monsters, I feel, completely make up for the lack of narrative in Monster Hunter World. The lack of narrative also allows new players to jump into the franchise without any issue. If any complaints are to be had, it is that the game launched with few