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Last week, in the wake of MGSV opening my eyes to a series I’d long disdained, I shared a quartet of games I now feel I either dismissed out of hand or unreasonably feted. Here’s the rest of that list, though I suspect if I sat down and went through every review I ever wrote over the last 15 years, I’d find quite a few more. I’m not going to do that, because making me read 15 years of my own writing is pretty much the worst thing anyone could ever do to me).
Oh boy, am I conflicted. Fallout 4 s main plotline requires that I do this thing> and as far as things> go, it s a pretty major thing> and a major thing> that you d expect someone with the maternal instinct of my character Halle to crack on with straight away. The trouble is, rather than doing this major thing>, for at least an hour now, she, and when I say she , I mean I , have been poking around Sanctuary, scrapping anything that glows yellow so I can salvage enough materials to build a house big enough for me and my Minutemen companions. I had largely avoided Bethesda s drip-feed of Fallout 4 pre-publicity but when I somehow found out that the game had settlement building, I think I might have involuntarily passed a little wind in joyous anticipation.
That’s because I ve felt a similar rosy inner glow while hanging around other hubs and houses in many other games I ve played. I think it s easy to underestimate the value of having a home base option, especially in open world games where there is a free-roaming element, but it’s a part of why I love certain games.
Expansion packs were once a core part of playing PC games, but they can often feel less essential in a world of constant updates and microtransactions. Original game Alec, expansions Adam and Graham, and brief DLC Alice gathered to discuss their favourite game expansions and why they still think the model works.
Books! They’re like films without pictures, or games that are all cutscene. Old people and hipsters really like them, teenagers think they’re like totally lame, and quite frankly we should all read more of them. There are countless games inspired by books – most especially Tolkien, Lovecraft and early Dungeons & Dragon fiction – but surprisingly few games based directly on books. Even fewer good ones.
Perhaps one of the reasons for that is that a game can, in theory, cleave closer to what a book does than a film can – with their length and their word counts, their dozens of characters and in some cases even their own in-game books, they can to some degree do the job of a novel. They don’t need to be based on books – and often they can do so much more, thanks to the great promise of non-linearity. Of course, the real reason for the dearth is that novels are so rarely the massive business a movie is these days. You might get a forlorn Hunger Games tie-in here and there, but suited people in gleaming office blocks just aren’t going to commission an adaptation of the latest Magnus Mills tale, more’s the pity.
I suspect that, over time, we’ll see the non-corporate side of games development increasingly homage the written word, but for now, these ten games (and seven honourable mentions) are, as far as I’m concerned, the best, and most landmark, results of page-to-pixel adaptation to date.
A few months ago I published up my impressions of an early build of The Flame in the Flood [official site], a sort of roguelike/white water rafting mash-up set in the backwaters of a drowned but contemporary America, and made by ex-Irrational, Harmonix, and Bungie devs. Which was jolly stupid of me, given the only other people who could play it at that point where those who’d backed its Kickstarter. Fortunately, it’s now on Steam Early Access, which means you can buy it, which means I positively demand that you read my earlier article on it first.
Ken Levine has moved onto other projects, and Irrational essentially no longer exists, but publishers 2K have declared that the BioShock series will continue nonetheless. Good, I’m glad: the games so far have had downs as well as ups to say the least, but they have, to a one, attempted to do things that other big-budget shooters do not. It’d be a terrible shame if that was lost and the floor ceded to yet more military-inspired prepostero-realism. I’m also fascinated to see what a BioShock game that wasn’t led by someone who has, for better or worse, become something of a figurehead for game stories and high concepts would look like. Would they become more free to explore their own worlds, less hampered by the need to meet expectations of Big Ideas and Ultimate Answers?
There are things I’d like the next game to try. There are things I desperately pray it doesn’t do. These are just a few of each. Would you kindly take a look? (Contains some spoilers for BioShock 1 & Infinite).