Electric Cartilage And The Games That Don't Exist

Te Occidere Possunt Sed Te Edere Non Possunt Nefas Est

Fun Gun Awards: The Needler from Halo

needler 3

An award for video game guns that aren’t necessarily good or effective at killing, but which are creative, unique, and lots of fun to use. These guns might suck, but I want to learn to use them effectively because they’re so enjoyable.

The needler became my favorite weapon in Halo almost immediately. It is unique and fun and quintessentially a video game weapon. It just wouldn’t be as interesting in any context other than a game.

It’s visual design, first of all, is great and exemplifies visual weapon design in games. You’ve got this strange, beetle shell casing, which makes it look fundamentally different from any other weapon, Covenant or human. When you reloaded the needler, you kind of shake it, and the needles spring out from the top, which kind of made it feel like a living creature, like it’s raising its hackles.

Then, to make it stand out even more, it’s got glass(?) needles, the gun’s ammunition, sticking right out the top like a field of obelisks. Only a video game designer would think of that. No one else would think to have a gun’s own ammunition physically located on the outside of the gun; not a film director, not a writer, not a painter, not a manufacturer of real guns. And then the needles shrink as you shoot the gun! You actually see the ammunition get used up! That tangible, visual communication is quintessentially “video game”, and it is just one of the aspects of the weapon that makes it fun and memorable.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Contrasting Diaries of JC Denton and Señor Guns

deus ex stun prod

I originally wrote this when the new Deus Ex came out and I replayed the original. I wrote it to point out how unbalanced the different builds paths happened to be in Dues Ex.

Some people complained that in the new game, if you focused on non-lethal skills that this would sabotage other parts of the game like certain boss battles. What I wanted to point out was that this was still true in the original game, and that the unbalance between tech paths was, in some cases, even worse in the original game.

I wanted to do more work on it before posting it, but oh well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Halo 2 is a vast expanse of nothing

halo two is nothing

A while back I wanted to write an article where I redesigned Halo 2. Basically, created a Halo 2 that would have actually done Halo 1 some justice. It was going to be two parts, a critique of the real Halo 2, and then then a design article about a better, hypothetical Halo 2. I never finished either, and I probably never will. So here’s the unfinished first part, where I critiqued Halo 2.

If anyone wants more of this, let me know.

There are no images in this post, deal with it, if you dare.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Halo2 recently. Thinking about what it did wrong, what I expected it to be, and what it should have been.

One of my major disappointments was how the Halo sequels didn’t actually continue the story.
Read the rest of this entry »

The story in Half-life 2 isn’t that great either

mad breen

So, I’ve always been annoyed by some terrible aspects of Half-life 2’s story. I’ve already talked about Half-life 1’s being pretty silly, and how I don’t think Alyx Vance is a strong female character, so here we go again.

Are there people who claim that HL2 has a well written story? I don’t know, but here’s why they’re wrong if they exist.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alyx Vance is not a strong nor well written female character


So, in a previous article, I briefly mentioned that I think Alyx Vance is a badly written female character, despite usually (although not always) being talked about as a being a well written and strong female character.

So, let’s just dive in.

We’re first introduced to Alyx when she saves Gordon Freeman when he’s unarmed and surrounded. She defeats the Combine police that are beating him up and leads him to safety. So, she’s being introduced as a strong character. She kicks butt and I guess quantity of butt kicked is how we measure strength of character in an action video game. I can go along with that, that’s fine, honest.

There are more moments like this later on (like when Gordon uses his flashlight and Alyx uses her gun) which demonstrate how useful Alyx is to Gordon and how they work as a team. But! These moments really only happen when Gordon is unarmed and vulnerable. Whenever Gordon has weapons, Alyx is really only helpful in terms of unlocking doors with her magic wand, which kind of relegates her to the role of Red Key Card from Doom.

That’s not so bad in and of itself, so let’s continue.
Read the rest of this entry »

Half-life doesn’t have a good story

halflife face

So, sometimes I see people claim that Half-life has an amazing story, one of the best stories in video games.

I think these people must be mistaking story for storytelling technique. Because, while Half-life might have some very interesting story telling techniques, let’s remember what Half-life’s story actually is:

Read the rest of this entry »

Free iPhone Game Review: Sinbad by Rebellion

dance off

Sinbad is a game on the iPhone. Maybe it is on other phones as well; I don’t know.

The game is free.

The game starts with an unskippable cutscene.

In the game, you play Sinbad. Sinbad looks a lot like Disney’s Aladdin. He also sails a ship without a name, and he is always barefoot for some reason. Your goal is to sail to different places and gather pieces of ancient relics for a mysterious stranger. Presumably this will save the world and stop evil.

One of the things you do in the game is upgrade and maintain your ship. The other thing you do is run around levels fighting bad guys.

Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.