Review – Stormrise

Imagine you are fighting in a war. You are within a small group of soldiers but you control all of the soldiers on the battlefield. It is time to issue commands.

“Corporal Dunnan, do you see the soldiers over there?” you ask.

“The Infiltrators, behind the-” Dunnan starts.

“No, no, no. Not those infiltrators, the ones over there,” you point. Pointing is actually the only way you can issue commands, because your army is not very sophisticated, which is surprising since you are operating within a fancy mechanical robot body-thing.

“Oh,” Dunnan says, “the ones by the refinery.”

“Not in front of the refinery-”

“Oh kinda to the side of it,” he says.

“Yes, yes,” you reply, “Tell them to go over there,” you say, pointing.

“Okay,” Dunnan starts, “Unit 392, proceed to the balcony of the second floor-”

“No, no, no!” →  Read the rest

Crap Dump 10.16.08

Do we have to?
I hope that the delay in the World of Warcraft movie (which apparently is still being planned) is a result of them deciding to not make it about Orcs and Wizards and all that crap but instead, about the broken marriages, child neglect, olestra o.d.’ing and all that stuff that goes on when people spend all their days trying to get more powerful in a game that has no point and no “end.”

Oh wait that’s already a South Park episode. I guess I’m not that funny. :(

Ok well maybe the hero could be some mama’s-basement-dwelling gamer who gets sucked into the magical WoW world like in TRON and The Last Starfighter and all those other wonderful family classics. And then the movie goes on for two years and nothing really ever happens. →  Read the rest

Review – Lost in Blue 3

Hey guys, there’s a island survival game with the word “lost” in it. It has flashbacks, a secret lab, mysterious blah blahs, and blah blah blah. Sound familiar? Surprisingly, Lost in Blue 3 is the first of the series that grossly appropriates themes from the um… “popular” TV series Lost, and it makes the game a whole lot more fun!!! Just kidding.

Dolphin sing along!

I remember the first time I played The Sims. There I was, in an apartment full of moldy food, girlfriendless, and soaking in a pool of my own urine, gleefully being much more tidy and put-together in the virtual world than I ever could be in the real one. I didn’t get it. Why was picking up virtual trash actual fun when I hated doing it in the supposedly more interesting 3 dimensional world? →  Read the rest

Riding the FAQ train

While they’re called “walkthroughs,” I’ve always been under the impression that very few gamers actually “walk through,” point by point, every single bit of advice and strategy that exists in these documents. Since I have a profound belief in the desire of humans to be lazy and cheat their way through life, I of course realize that there are some people who do just that; getting every magical item and NPC not through the joyous act of discovery, but the ponderous reading of, and then reacting to, an online how-to guide.

However, I never thought I’d see what I noticed today. A man, adorned in a marginally ridiculous dark suit & bright orange tee-shirt, reading (actually, more like studying) his printed-out f.a.q / walkthrough on the train. His brow furrowed, he apparently doesn’t waste enough time playing “Metal Gear Solid: 4” at home, and doesn’t derive enough pleasure from it while crammed into his under-lit and lonely apartment, but must try to induce further happiness by obsessing about it – grad-student-style – while on the train. →  Read the rest

Murdering children does not grant you magical powers – More thoughts on good and evil in games

I started to write this as a postview of one of my favorite games, Beyond Good & Evil, when it occurred to me that there has been a lot of talk over here at videolamer recently about, well, good & evil. Shota seems annoyed both that so many games are overwhelmed by universe destroying, Pure Eeeevil, and also about the preponderance of good characters that restore our faith in the good ol’ dependable U.S. of A. and its various institutions. I largely agree with his frustrations, but this post is an attempt to complain and moan about the recent spate of games that ham-handedly try to explore good & evil within the plot and structure of the game: such as KOTOR, Fable, and Bioshock. Also, I’m going to propose a better way of doing it. →  Read the rest

GTAIV perfectly captures look and feel of fictitious city

When you get a postcard, do you look at the photo of the Grand Canyon or the Eifel tower or whatever and go “oh my god! It’s so lifelike! It’s like I’m actually there!!!!” No, of course you don’t. Similarly, I should have realized – before I shelled out my 60+ dollars yesterday – that playing GTA IV wouldn’t make me feel like I was actually in New York City (why I wanted that, when I know exactly what it feels like all the time, is beyond me). Unfortunately for me, I came to the conclusion that GTA IV would be an exact, block-by-block replica of the city in which I currently reside. I actually thought I’d be able to go over the Williamsburg bridge and continue going in the same general direction in Brooklyn until I found a street that roughly resembled my street and a house that looked sorta like my house. →  Read the rest


I like having sex. Who doesn’t, right? (answer: Condoleezza Rice) That said, I don’t think that I would be a ho if it were somehow possible. I like to choose who I have sex with, and I don’t think I could do it all day, and it’s illegal and immoral and dirty and all that. Similarly, I like to play games, but I don’t think I’d want to be a game tester. For as long as I can remember, the reality of my gaming world has been shaped by the fact that most games simply suck, and are less fun than almost anything. I don’t want to play Virtua Tennis 3 for thirty minutes, let alone 40 hours. But there are many among us who believe that because you like doing an activity, then wanting to do it every day for months (and getting paid!) →  Read the rest

Review – Real Soccer 2008

When I first spotted “Real Soccer” in my local game shop, I was initially under the impression that the game’s name was an indication of a metaphysical breakthrough at Ubisoft labs. Sick of titles stuck with the “virtual” nomenclature, Ubisoft had determined – Matrix-like – that they could decide what is and is not real. I mean, what is “reality,” anyway, right? Yeah.

Sadly, however, the title instead betrays the pathetic lack of sports titles for the DS. Not “this is real soccer,” but “omigosh! Honest-to-goodness real soccer on the DS!!” It makes more sense when one appreciates that the title’s name is Real Football in the UK, and there are probably plenty of British dudes who are sick of us calling our decidedly un-foot-centric game by the name of football, but whatever. →  Read the rest

Review – Flash Focus

Like smoking crack and murdering people, I don’t like MMORPG’s, even though I’ve never tried them. I think the reason can be traced back to the first one I can remember: Ultima Online. In the abject depression of my teenage years, when I spent most of my time in a filthy basement (oh wait, that’s still what I do), I had a friend who would spend all day training his Ultima Online character in the the most insidiously boring fashion. Hitting the attack button over and over for hours and days did not seem fun to me, and I felt like its eventual reward was not rewarding enough to warrant so much tedium.

I must admit that this boredom-reward trade-off has lured me in at times: almost every Final Fantasy game I’ve played hooked me because the intricate plotlines made up for all that dull hitting of the attack button. →  Read the rest

Tales of Tactility

Remember H.A.L? That evil-genius-space-robot from Clarke/Kubrick’s 2001? It seems like most of the time I hear him mentioned it’s from some miniaturization fetishist from the Church of Jobs (Steve). Something along the lines of “can you believe how big they thought computers would be back in the 60’s?!?!” Nevermind that the ability to create a sentient AI is still far beyond our reach, and that supercomputers still take up entire rooms. Fans of the MacBook Air expect super-intelligent robots to get lost in a container of Tic-Tacs.

But H.A.L’s massiveness underscores a point about machines that gets lost nowadays: that they are composed real objects and are themselves physical as well as intellectual. David Bowman doesn’t defeat H.A.L. by uploading a virus or outrationalizing it until it “cannot compute.” He inserts himself into its innards and takes it apart circuit-board by circuit-board. →  Read the rest

Gaming on the L train

I like to look cool. Obviously I’m not alone in this, but living in New York and taking the much-derided (for its “hipness”) L train makes this a more pressing issue for me than most. Many of our dear readers no doubt plop into their clunky cars, polluted with fast food wrappers and other etc’s, and drive to and from work more or less anonymously. I, on the other hand get jabbed with stares by confidence-sapping girls who are far too pretty, rich, and successful to ever want to talk to me for more than an instant. Still, I like to pretend.

So when I received my shiny-black Nintendo DS for Xmas, my thoughts quickly turned to “how cool am I going to look using this on the subway?” In fact I’d say this was the second thing that came to mind, right after “why didn’t I get any fucking games?!” →  Read the rest