David Cage is the creative mind behind 2010’s cult classic and Playstation 3 exclusive, ‘Heavy Rain’. It was game that was met with both critical acclaim and confusion. Many people thought it was a unique gem but many others didn’t even consider it a video game, because of it’s interactive movie gameplay approach. I for one, thought it was huge breath of fresh air for video games and something very special. It was one of the most well-written and emotional stories I have ever seen and I could relate to it in several different ways. This is ultimately Cage’s aim when writing scripts for his games. I wanted to share this video with you, as Cage tells gamers and the general masses that interactive movie-type experiences can be games too. He speaks about how many people pass these games up and don’t even consider giving them a shot. I think they’re missing out. Games don’t have to be violent. They don’t have to be bloody. They don’t have to include guns. They don’t even need multiplayer. Games like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls are breaking the mold, revolutionizing and re-inventing video games. Heavy Rain has become one of my favorite games of all time due to it’s terrific storytelling, unique gameplay and incredibly relatable and “real” characters. I highly suggest you play both. “Different” is good.
In the past I have blogged about video game violence in relation to American culture and real-life events such as recent shootings. I have also written an intensive report on the topic (Read my report here: College Report Video Game Violence). It seems like almost every time there is a murder, the media finds a way to track it back to video games. About a month ago, a boy who wasn’t even in his teens killed his grandmother with a gun while she was in the living room watching television. The headlines in nearly every news outlet read something like “Boy Kills Grandmother After Playing Grand Theft Auto IV”. Side note: GTA IV (2008) is the predecessor to GTA V (2013). Excuse me, but first of all, what is a boy of this age doing with a video game that is rated “Mature”? That means 17 years old and up. This lies squarely on the shoulders of the boy’s parents. Second of all, why was there an accessible gun in the house. That is a parental issue, again. So, the blame put on the game and/or game industry is bogus because there are ESRB ratings and guidelines in place to prevent children from getting a hold of violent games. Also, the media claimed you get “points” for killing people. This is factually incorrect. The story line requires you to kill people, yes. It’s like any violent movie out there, such as The Town or The Departed, except you’re playing, in their shoes. It’s innocent fun. However, if the player decides to do so, they CAN kill a massive amount of people, but that is their choice. For any psychologically sane, normal person that is OVER 17 years old, this is absolutely harmless.
The main problem comes in when the person is under 17, in which the parents should be responsible enough to recognize that a “Mature” rated game is off-limits. They have to do their research and follow the rating system. To be honest, half of the parents don’t know what is actually in the game. I firmly believe that the store clerk should go into detail about what is in these games, then after describing all of it, ask the parent if they want their kid to play this. That would solve a big part of this issue! The gist if it all is that parents should not buy “Mature” rated games for underage children. I personally believe games like GTA V can psychologically affect a children’s mind (not a teenager’s). It’s just not safe to let them play these types of games. It’s just like watching Pulp Fiction or The Godfather. I’m not going to let my 12 year-old watch these films, because it’s inappropriate and there’s a rating system in place for a reason.
Yes, games like Grand Theft Auto 5 are violent. However, people that ARE NOT gamers need to get one thing straight: Most of us don’t play games to purposefully be violent or do morally bad things. Games like GTA V offer a satisfying sense of exploration, vastness, intrigue and freedom. You can do things virtually that you wouldn’t do in real life (Because we have morals and standards). For example, in GTA V, there’s skydiving, ATV-riding, building-jumping, car chasing, swimming with sharks, running from cops and pulling heists. It’s all simply entertaining and fun. Games like these are technologically impressive and it’s extremely satisfying to be apart of such an astounding technological architecture such as GTA V’s world. For the most part, YOU decide what to take part in, though. The worlds in games are places we cannot go in reality. It’s all very innocent, to most people at least. I’m sure there are many others who ARE psychologically damaged and do have clinical/medical problems, who are also adults of legal age. Games are just like movies, music, television and books. It’s a hobby and should not be taken seriously. It’s a part of life, something you fill your free time with. Use video games in moderation. It is NOT healthy to play games for hours on end, because it can cause problems socially and health-wise. So, kids, go play the Nintendo stuff, it’s almost totally violence-free and they’re mostly better games anyways, as far as quality goes. Heck, I love Mario and Zelda. Leave the other stuff to the adults. Don’t put yourselves at risk and abide by the rules in place.
Video games and guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Systems: PS3, 360
Release: November 2, 2010
007: Blood Stone is the latest installment in the James Bond franchise. It stars Daniel Craig as Bond. Craig’s voice acting is present here as well, which is definitely a good thing. Blood Stone is developed by Bizzare Creations, which is now closed down, and published by Activision. The game utilizes a 3rd person view, like in 007: Everything or Nothing released a few years back. The story is completely original, again, like Everything or Nothing.
007: Blood Stone is a mixed bag in the graphics department. The character models look bland and boring, along with simple environmental things such as bushes and greenery. When it comes to the car models, boats and other objects, the game shines. Effects like sparks and explosions are big pluses as well, they just look really good. The environments as a whole look great as well. There are many different types of locales boasting snow, rain, sunshine and so on, in which all have different seasons, making for a diverse experience when traveling from level to level.
The sound in 007 Blood Stone is pretty average. The gun fights are all pretty bare bones and the music is hit or miss, depending on which part of the game you’re playing. The best part of the sound in Blood Stone is the voice acting, which include all the series likenesses such as Daniel Craig and Judi Dench, as well as new Bond girl, Joss Stone. Having the real voice actors really makes the game feel genuine. The gameplay in Blood Stone is very simple and easily accessible for all players. The game gives you the choice of four difficulty levels. Gun play is pretty simple as well, using it’s own unique targeting system. There are many types of gameplay here, including epic shoot outs, intense car chases and a downright fun boat chase. There are also elements of stealth which are pretty entertaining as well. The controls are well done but nothing ground breaking. Overall, Blood Stone does a good job of keeping things simple, but at the same time, it does nothing new and fresh, making it feel a bit stale in the gameplay category.
All in all, 007: Blood Stone is another decent entry in the James Bond series. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it offers one thing, and that’s entertainment. To be completely honest, I had a blast playing through Blood Stone. I enjoyed the simple gameplay, fun shootouts, car and boat chases, gorgeous scenery and the story line. The sad ting is, it’s all been done before in the series, and there needs to be a change. There have already been talks of a sequel coming soon, so hopefully the developers can create a new Bond experience that’s fresh and unique. For what you get in Blood Stone, I think it’s worth a purchase, simply because it’s good old, action-packed James Bond entertainment, so check this one out, especially fans of the franchise.
Journey is absolutely magnificent. It’s basically a “journey” through a very beautiful world full of different types of terrain and seasons and some odd creatures. You play as some type of “being” in a red robe, walking, running and flying through the enchanting world. The simplicity of Journey is what makes it unique. The only audio is music and subtle sound effects. There is absolutely no dialogue or spoken word of any kind.
Journey is well worth it’s $14.99 price tag. It’s extremely short, but it delivers big, believe me. The buildup to the ending is epic, and having the feeling of accomplishment after going through storms and monsters, is truly rewarding. The gameplay is so simple and easy, but it balances it well with different types of interaction with objects and creatures. You may encounter other beings making the journey alongside you, which happen to be other real players, which I found out after I completed the game. I thought it was very clever, it will even show you the PSN ID’s of those players when it’s all over. The graphics are one of the game’s strongest aspects. The details and textures in the game are simply drool-worthy. It’s a technical achievement in so many ways. It’s some of the best graphics, if not THE best graphics ever seen in a downloadable game for any console.
Overall, Journey delivers on an epic scale. The buildup getting to your final destination is exciting and once you’re there it just feels glorious, it’s very emotional to say the least. More games like this need to be made. It’s so unique, epic, beautiful and rewarding. Games like this don’t come along very often. Journey is money well spent and should be purchased immediately if you haven’t already done so. With stunning visuals, simple controls, mesmerizing set pieces and an overall one of a kind experience, Journey should be praised. This is one “journey” worth taking.
System: PS3 Only
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune cemented itself as the premier entry to what is now Sony’s flagship series. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves improved tremendously over it’s predecessor with some of the best graphics and story telling to grace a console, winning many awards. Now, we have Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. It’s a solid entry in the series, having many similarities with “Among Thieves”, but bringing enough to the table to stand on it’s own.
The graphics in Uncharted 3 are absolutely breathtaking. Easily the best on any console to date. The lighting is gorgeous and spot-on. The textures are pitch perfect, whether it’s grains of sand, Drake’s clothing, or shrubbery, it’s all stunning. The game is a sheer pleasure just to look at and drool over. The sound in Uncharted 3 is also a pleasure. The musical score for each area and cut scene document the current situation well, providing good production values to the cinematic experience. Uncharted 3’s voice acting is very well-done, as usual, with all the same voice actors as in previous installments.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception’s story is great, with well executed cut scenes, and moving along at a steady pace. The writers of Uncharted have really made a unique and attractive experience, with each game remaining the same at the core, with an almost identical premise, but it’s the gameplay that switches things up enough to make it fresh. I feel strongly about the next Uncharted entry though, I believe it will make or break the series, there are some things that just absolutely have to change every now and then. The game’s length is respectable as well. It’s not too short and not too long. All of the DLC being released should feed the appetite of hardcore gamers though. The multiplayer remains one of the Uncharted series’ most attractive offers, as there is never a dull moment while playing online. The gameplay is essentially the same as Uncharted 2, with not a whole lot of change. There are more types of guns and weapons, more diversity, such as horseback riding and a lot more climbing and swinging. The controls can feel clunky at times, and you may make mistakes accidentally that become frustrating, but it’s still solid.
Overall, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a worthy entry in Sony’s premier series, with many new aspects and elements added to it’s arsenal. The main issue with the game is that many players may feel like they’ve been her before, since it has many similarities to it’s predecessor, “Among Thieves”, but new story and new gameplay elements should override it’s faults and deliver an unforgettable experience. The diversity in it’s gameplay is what makes the game and series stand out, with a lot of shooting, running from disaster, flying planes, riding on boats and horses, and so on. In the end, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception delivers with a top-notch story, stellar gameplay, great voice acting, gorgeous visuals and solid controls, making it a must-own for Playstation 3 owners.
4.5 out of 5
Catherine is simply fascinating. The story line is top-notch and acts as an interesting study on relationships. It will really hit home for most male players as they progress through the shockingly realistic story. You can play arcade games, talk to the people who come in and out of the bar, chat with the strange bartender named “Boss”, use the restroom, drink different types of drinks and even text people on your cell phone. The cut-scenes are well-done and give the game character and depth. They’re full anime and are very dramatic and entertaining, you will definitely be left wishing there was a Catherine anime show when it’s all said and done.
The pacing is very well done in Catherine. Most time is spent climbing block puzzles, but there are also other game play elements such as being able to hang out at the local bar called “The Stray Sheep” with friends. The game play itself is fantastic. The block puzzles are truly entertaining and extremely thought provoking and difficult, even on the easiest difficulty. You will learn block climbing techniques from the other sheep you encounter in the strange “world” in Vincent’s dreams. You will never grow tired of playing Catherine. Each puzzle is different, always changing from level to level. Some blocks may have spikes, some may crumble and others may be springboards to reach higher blocks. It’s a blast to play through these levels, but beware, some can be very difficult and players may become frustrated, but it’s all worth it in the end.
The music in Catherine is beautiful. A soundtrack even comes with new copies of the game. It’s all high quality instrumentals with violins, pianos and more. The music really sets the tone for each stage in the game, giving it a sense of individuality. The voice acting is all well-done, from the most insignificant characters such as bar-goers to Vincent and Catherine.
Overall, Catherine is a rousing success. It cements it’s name in gaming history for being a truly unique, one of a kind experience. All gamers should pick it up, regardless of genre preference. Catherine boasts a fantastic story, great pacing, top-notch voice acting, spectacular game play and solid replay value. The main downfall of the game is that it is linear and one dimensional. However, it’s still worth every penny of it’s $59.99 price. Give it a purchase, you will not be disappointed. Catherine is a diamond in a pool of substandard, mediocre shooters flooding the shelves of retail stores.
4 out of 5