Call of Duty: Black Ops has now set the record for the largest entertainment launch in history. Selling 5.6 million copies within 24 hours of being released and pulling in $360 million, it's clear that this is a defining product. It's a shame, because it's a game that wants to be a movie so much that it hurts. More so than the previous games, Black Ops completely hobbles the player's agency and interactivity to the point where his presence is rendered moot (not mute, given that the game now features talking protagonists and not simply a developer painfully breathing into a microphone). It's perfectly pointed out in this video, which shows that the game robs even the player's main mode of communication with the world (i.e. a gun) of all meaning.
So yeah, Mafia 2. As an avid fan of the original game, I was very much looking forward to its sequel. It's received some very mixed reactions, with both story and gameplay alternatively praised and criticised. My overall impressions are accurately reflected in this review, which bottomlines to a striking juxtaposition of Mafia 2's story and the mechanical setting used to tell it in. It's not that the two aren't meaningfully connected, it's that the former doesn't measure up to the strengths of the latter. What the original game lacked in technical prowess, it more than made up for with a compelling story centred firmly around its well-rounded protagonist, Tommy Angelo. Mafia 2 does a 180° and lets down its solid gameplay mechanics and visual presentation with a story that meanders along without any significant cadence or ambition. And as is specifically stated to his face at the end, it's all Vito Scaletta's fault.
Welcome to Playthroughline, the online home of writer/narrative designer Joannes Truyens. Together with a bunch of cool people, I made Neurocracy, a hypertext game that invites you to solve a murder in a near-future world by diving into the Wikipedia of that world.