Monthly Archives: November 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolutions

I completely missed the original Deus Ex back when it came out. In preparation for Human Revolutions I caught up and played the first few levels. And the impression that I came away from it with was that they just don’t make them like this any more. The opening Liberty Island level deserves its iconic status and then some. There’s something about just being dropped in a level, and given a goal, and then having the game trust me to figure it out from there. Even if there are really only two physical routes into the Statue (the ground level at the front and the entrance high at the back) there is such a density of side-pockets to explore, and different tools to try. It never feels like the game is preferencing one approach over another, like it’s a puzzle to be solved. But at the same time, the game has its characters comment on the player’s decisions, which makes the choices feel consequential in a way they wouldn’t otherwise. Continue reading

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Red Dead Redemption: Early Impressions

I’ve just made it to Mexico in Red Dead Redemption, so I figure I’m about a third of the way through. I am, I suppose, grudgingly enjoying my time with it. Neither past Rockstar open-world games, nor past western games, have done much for me. I’ve been jokingly describing the game to my friends as Grand Theft Horse, and it’s kind of amazing how closely the game hews to the GTA 4 template. Continue reading

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Giving Up: Final Fantasy 12: Revenant Wings

Designing a real-time strategy game for the Nintendo DS is an interesting challenge. It’s not at all clear to me why the developers at Square Enix thought that this was the right approach for a sequel to Final Fantasy 12. Though there are a couple of good ideas, they’re really not up to the task. Continue reading

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Lincoln’s Dreams

What a fascinating little novel. For those who haven’t heard of it, I can’t blame you. I only came across it because of a feature in the Onion’s AV Club. (Note that the title of the article contains a significant spoiler, one that I wish I didn’t know going in.) Published in 1987, it’s the first novel by Connie Willis. It’s classified in my library as science fiction, but there are prominent historical and romantic elements as well. The basic premise is that boy, Jeff, our first-person protagonist-narrator, who is working as a research assistant for a writer who is struggling to finish a novel about the Battle of Antietam, meets girl, Annie, who is struggling with a disorder whereby she apparently relives the dreams of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in her sleep. The pair is immediately drawn to each other, and soon run away from her doctors and hide in Fredericksburg while they try to understand the meaning of the dreams. Continue reading

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