Sparky Clarkson's blog
By Sparky Clarkson on April 7, 2013 - 4:52pm.
Buck is a peculiar hitman in Far Cry 3. Apparently employed by the game's big bad, Hoyt, Buck has an interest in men, and in ancient Chinese artifacts. As it happens, he presently "owns" one of protagonist Jason Brody's male friends, and will exchange him if Jason retrieves a ceremonial knife originating from the treasure ships of Zheng He. Since Jason needs the knife for another purpose, it is obvious from the beginning of the adventure that he will come away from Buck's tasks with both friend and knife. That's how these games work, and Far Cry 3 is relentlessly conventional in that respect.
By Sparky Clarkson on April 4, 2013 - 3:27pm.
Several weeks ago Seb Wuepper posted a critique of Far Cry 3's design at Gameranx that I did not find compelling. Wuepper's argument reads less like criticism of Far Cry 3's design per se than a complaint about the fact that this game is not Far Cry 2. I am sympathetic to his point because I also prefer Far Cry 2. However, I don't feel that not being some game I like more is a fundamental argument against design quality.
By Sparky Clarkson on December 19, 2012 - 9:45am.
2012 has been an amazing year for games. I had meant to put together a post extolling the virtues of the top candidates for game of the year, but the list kept getting longer and longer, with more and more games that would have been obvious choices for a top-five list in any other year. The task was clearly beyond me. So, I enlisted the talents of Michael Abbott, Brandon Bales, Mattie Brice, Kate Cox, Denis Farr, Brad Gallaway, Brendan Keogh, Justin Keverne, Cameron Kunzelman, Kris Ligman, Eric Swain, and Dan Weissenberger. With my superteam thus assembled, let's look at some of the year's super games.
By Sparky Clarkson on December 1, 2012 - 11:00pm.
World War Z and The Walking Dead take a similar conceptual approach to the zombie apocalypse, but have fundamentally different views on human society. The basically optimistic World War Z suggests that social problems are a surface malady that the zombie apocalypse would strip away, letting the moral strength of mankind ultimately show through triumphantly. The Walking Dead, on the other hand, sees social order and altruism as artifice, a contortion of natural human behavior that falls apart once the zombies consume the social mass that held it in place.
By Sparky Clarkson on November 29, 2012 - 11:00pm.
Like many people who played Telltale's episodic game, The Walking Dead, I had read and enjoyed many of the comics beforehand. I appreciated that they took the subject seriously. I don't mean that in the sense of a John Romero film, where the zombies themselves are rather silly but serve to illustrate serious social questions. Rather, like World War Z, The Walking Dead decides on a set of rules about zombies and a premise about people, and unflinchingly follows those principles into the abyss.
By Sparky Clarkson on October 29, 2012 - 10:22pm.
In the wake of the success of Obsidian's Project Eternity Kickstarter, supporters are eagerly watching the stretch goals to see what promised goodies will be put into the game. Meanwhile, I am hoping to see one thing left out: voice acting. Done correctly, voice acting can significantly improve a Japanese RPG. However, recording voices for characters diminishes a Western RPG, regardless of the reading's quality. For this reason, I feel that Western RPGs should avoid having voiced dialogue.
By Sparky Clarkson on September 7, 2012 - 9:57pm.
Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for The Last Story.
The best-regarded cinematic games of today owe much of their structure to the currently-derided Japanese role-playing game. For all that players heaped scorn on the running-in-tubes gameplay of Final Fantasy XIII, it shared with the Uncharted games the feature that the player's task was to kill his way from one cutscene to the next.
By Sparky Clarkson on September 3, 2012 - 6:58pm.
When I wrote a post about the Camp aesthetic in games a few years back, I suggested that one of the greatest areas of camp potential in games lay in violence. A commenter suggested I take a look at Rogue Warrior, a universally-panned game inexplicably starring Mickey Rourke as real-life SEAL team commander Richard "Demo Dick" Marcinko. The game did not disappoint: Rogue Warrior is a great example, perhaps the best example, of a game that in its violent excess becomes unintentionally comic.
By Sparky Clarkson on August 26, 2012 - 11:44am.
In a recent commentary on Valve's Half-Life 2 Episodes, Marsh Davies criticizes much of Episode One for its "failure to make your navigation comprehensible, either spatially or narratively." He goes on to praise Episode Two for remembering to provide the player with an overview of its regions, so that the spaces allow the player to see the places he has been, or is going to. As I was reminded in my own recent replay of the original Half-Life and its companion games, this is not a recent improvement by Valve, but a return to form.
By Sparky Clarkson on August 24, 2012 - 12:27am.
In Spec Ops: The Line, the natural forces that oil money has so far kept at bay have struck back against the city, burying the modern towers in the red sands of its desert. In the shattered metropolis, a new society has been built, one that breaks the game's protagonists and shows the foolishness of their heroic pretensions.
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