Posts Tagged ‘pc games’

Five of the best: Game intros

July 11, 2011

They say that a good beginning is half the battle, so some of us at Skywrite towers have put our heads together to come up with our top 5 PC game intros of all time.

Quake 2:

The Quake series was never really big on plot or character development, but id Software certainly put together a perfectly balanced first person shooter. Nevertheless, at a time when intro cinematics were the status quo, the opening to Quake 2 managed to stand out from the crowd. From the creepy voiceover which fills in some back-story, to an exhilarating drop-ship sequence that’s vaguely reminiscent of Aliens, the intro movie sets the tone for the entire game very effectively – and it blends perfectly into the gun-toting action.

BioShock:

Any game that throws a plane crash at you and THEN a bathysphere ride has to score high marks. The reveal of the game’s underwater setting, Rapture, is among the most glorious of any gaming sequence. For a second it’s actually hard to believe that all this is being rendered in-engine. Nevertheless, the intro also manages to feed you some useful information on the political back-story of the city, which will, of course, come back to the foreground later on.

Freespace 2:

A year after Freespace had given the space combat sim a much needed shake-up, Freespace 2 arrived on the scene. Set 30 years after the original, the intro cinematic bridges this time gap perfectly. A ferocious space battle before the main title cuts to the aging and gutted debris of the capital ships years afterwards. Plus the voiceover perfectly sets the brooding tone of the entire game.

Half-Life:

Valve Software took a different approach to its seminal first person shooter by ensuring that all of the game’s action takes place from the main character’s point of view. Only a few games had tried this before (notably Unreal) and the intro is no different. For a game that has some of the most memorable action sequences ever created, the opening is very understated: you sit on a tram on your way to work, heading deep into the Black Mesa Facility. This sequence does three things: it grounds you inside a “real” world, it ensures you realise just how isolated you are inside this enormous facility and it hints at all not being well in the complex…

Total Annihilation:

This was a one-hit wonder of the RTS world, which never received the sequel it very much deserved. The cinematic intro sets up the conflict between the ARM and the CORE, as you move from one Commander to the other across a hectic battlefield. It’s a great way to introduce the sheer variety of tactical options that this game opened up to players and the orchestral score perfectly backs up the high-octane action.

That’s it from us, do comment below with your own suggestions!

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Duke Nukem Never

May 14, 2009

I remember watching a trailer for Duke Nukem Forever in 1998. This one in fact:

I was somewhat surprised, then, to see the game back in the news recently. I had long since assumed that development had ended. I mean, no one would continue to work on a game for twelve years, would they?

It seems that 3D Realms would, did and have now been forced to close because of it.

To put this in perspective, they have worked on the aptly named Duke Nukem Forever for the same amount of time it took Valve to finish Half-Life, produce two expansions, a sequel and two expansions for the sequel with a third well underway.

The Guardian’s games writer Steve Boxer had little sympathy for the game’s troubled development, saying: “They had more than 12 years…it’s just incompetence of the highest order.”

It makes you wonder just what exactly the team have been doing for all this time? Perhaps they just found themselves  in a downward financial spiral, locked in a death grapple with a monster of their own making?

Here is the latest trailer, which looks to be all we will ever see of the game now:

Logic Failure: Linking games to violence

May 23, 2008

 

What are you doing with that pick-axe? No! Noooo!

What are you doing with that pick-axe? No! Noooo!

For many years now, video games have been the media punching-bag for anything from violent youth crime to school massacres to road rage. So, why does the media love to attack this particular entertainment industry?

● Older generations have never played any games. To them, games are an unknown influence. People fear the unknown, and thus ascribe to them the magic power to turn balanced, happy children into raging psychopaths. They do not try it for themselves and thereby realise that the risks are minimal. This lack of knowledge about the medium is also the reason that adult content finds its way into the hands of children who are legally too young to play it.

● The media ignores the idea that people prone to violence will be attracted to violent media. The killer chooses the media, the media does not choose the killer.

● People habitually like to blame horrible acts on identifiable external causes, from the Devil to witchcraft to movies and video games. Or goats. Hence, scapegoating.

● Part of the problem is the perception that games are automatically toys for young children and teens (an assumption which would never be made with books or films). They are not yet seen as a source of entertainment for what is, actually, their key market: 18 – 35 year olds.

● It’s an easy, clear target for anger and grief. Parents of victims would find it harder to focus an attack on “bad parenting” or “poor social integration in schools”, for example.

A recent US Secret Service study found that only 12% of those involved in school shootings were attracted to violent video games, while 24% read violent books and 27% were attracted to violent films. A far higher percentage showed violence in their own personal writing – essays, poems and diary entries.

In 2004, a 17 year-old murdered one of his friends. The victim’s parents immediately blamed the influence of the game Manhunt, as well as labeling the killer ‘inherently evil’ (which would presumably mean that he didn’t need to be influenced by anything).

Several news stories were run about the game being responsible. Stores removed it from shelves. It later because clear that the game was found in the victim’s house – not the killer’s – and that the motive for the murder was, in fact, simple robbery.

A parent’s distraught reaction is understandable. The media’s is not. Stop blaming games. Stop blaming goats. Blame parents, blame schools, blame the availability of guns, blame gang culture – because all of those things have an influence on children that far outweighs any brief entertainment. But most of all realize that people have, do and will continue to commit horrific acts.

 The sad truth is, we’re just not that far away from being monkeys.


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