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The shortest Longest Journey, crackdowns, and choices

Finished The Longest Journey last night, and it was fantastic, if not a bit awkward at times. The "battles" are strange in that since I can't fail, I can stand completely still and do nothing while the monster just looks at me and waves its arms. I'm aware that Dreamfall has a combat mechanic but my friends tell me that it isn't very well done. I'm curious if something akin to Shadow of the Colossus (which I haven't played) or the new Prince of Persia would work here.

The Games of PAX - Day One

The Games of PAX - Day One - Dark Void Screenshot

Today was the first day of PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) 2009. I have to admit that I hadn't really been paying attention to many of the press materials prior to the show, and I was a little taken aback when the family unit and I arrived on-site to find that the place was an even larger, more spread-out roil of gamers than it was last year. I think the expo may be reaching its critical mass at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center, honestly. I certainly don't want it to leave, but I have a hard time imagining more people being able to cram into that space.

Is BioShock Feminist? A response in defense of Bridgette Tenenbaum

Is BioShock Feminist? A response in defense of Tenenbaum

So via Critical Distance I found this feminist critique of BioShock, written by Richard Terrell (who, you may have noticed, is a man). But it is really not sitting right with me. His thesis is that BioShock depicts women as weak and men as strong. So I thought the rest of the article would try to show how BioShock upholds patriarchal values.

Shatter Review

Making something old feel very, very new

Shatter Screenshot

HIGH Masterful reinvigoration of a tired subject.

LOW Nothing... it's all good.

WTF Where can I buy this soundtrack?

Early impressions of Atlus' Demon's Souls

Early impressions of Atlus' Demon's Souls

Got my hands on a pre-release copy of Demon's Souls from Atlus today. It's certainly been one of my more anticipated titles, yet has remained a fairly large question mark. It's easy enough to get the gist, but as we all know, the devil is in the details… Fortunately, although I didn't have as much time to sink into it as I would have liked, the time I did have was extremely impressive—even moreso than I had anticipated after watching several videos available via the Internet.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

When in doubt, there is always a vent

Batman: Arkham Asylum Screenshot

HIGH The Scarecrow encounters.

LOW The omnipresent hint system that can't be turned off.

WTF Poison Ivy over Mr. Freeze? Seriously?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - Tatooine DLC

Just completed the new Tatooine DLC for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on Xbox 360. As my co-podcaster Tim Spaeth so eloquently put it, it's another piece of "stealth DLC" arriving with no forewarning or fanfare, much like Mass Effect's Pinnacle Station. However, unlike Pinnacle Station, this add-on is pretty sweet.

Starting out, the mission assumes that the player became the Emperor's new disciple at the end of The Force Unleashed proper. (This was only one of two possible endings.) Seeing main character Starkiller as a desiccated metallic husk consumed by the dark side was a bit of a shock, but still pretty cool, regardless.

Women aren't vending machines: How video games perpetuate the commodity model of sex

Women aren't vending machines: how video games perpetuate the commodity model of sex

Or: Why I am dreading Alpha Protocol.

...some video games allow the player character to have sex with NPCs; even more allow the player to have romantic relationships with NPCs. What the vast majority of these games inevitably do is present relationship mechanics that distill the commodity model down to its essence—you talk to the NPC enough, and give them enough presents, and then they have sex with/marry you. This design approach is extremely simplistic and perpetuates the commodity model of sex—the player wants sex, they go through certain motions, and they are "rewarded" with what they wanted (like a vending machine).

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