Short Script: Mirror's Edge

Note: I've been quite busy in the last two months. I nonetheless managed to contribute something to The Editing Room, the site that single-handedly influenced Playthroughline's style. Read my take on The Adjustment Bureau here. Also, the next Short Script to go up will be that of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I feel as if this entire blog has been leading up to that one. I share both Tom Francis' affinity for and frustration with Mirror's Edge. It's a beautiful but flawed game; its potential is marred by what seems like a series of last-minute cop-outs. "Wait, are consumers really going to go for a game where all you do is run and jump around? Better add some weapons to even that out!". The loose approach to the game's mechanics can also be seen when looking at its story. Mirror's Edge is a game where the disconnect between story and gameplay manifests itself visually.

Short Script: Doom 3

In my previous post, I mentioned that certain games try to instill fear in the player. This is the cornerstone of Doom 3's gameplay experience, which pulls out all the stops. By far the most common technique used is that of the monster closet. In fact, Doom 3 has so many of them, you can't help but wonder about those the player didn't trigger. Picture a demon, anxiously waiting in a cramped, 5x3 storage space. It knows it's supposed to jump out at whoever opens the panel that traps it in there. It never happens. "Is that gunfire I hear outside?", it wonders. But then, silence. "Have they -- forgotten about me?".

Short Script: F.E.A.R.

In this post, I used Condemned: Criminal Origins as a fitting case study for (the impact of) weapons in games. Condemned features a dedicated melee system and only occasionally offers a firearm to the player, which makes them stand out more. Monolith Productions went completely the other way with F.E.A.R., a shooter that focuses its entire gameplay experience on smooth and stylised combat. With guns. Lots of guns.

Short Script: Portal 2

Portal 2 isn't merely a sequel, it's a viable application of what was essentially a trial run. Valve Software has stated that it never expected Portal to gain the extended following it has, which is why The Orange Box acted as a safety net. A most unnecessary safety net, since Portal managed to eclipse both Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2 in popularity. And now Portal 2 has evolved into a standalone title that does just that: standing alone.

Short Script: Deus Ex: Invisible War

Note: as before, this post was featured on GamaSutra. Also, my tendency to let incidental thoughts between parentheses meander into entire paragraphs has now been remedied through the use of footnotes. Throughout Deus Ex: Human Revolution's development, Eidos Montréal has joked that "we all played Deus Ex, and some of us were even forced to play Deus Ex: Invisible War".

It is a fairly flawed game, even when considering its near-impossible task of following and rivaling an iconic predecessor. My thoughts have already been mentioned in this post, and they were only affirmed by a recent playthrough. It occurred to me that there is a very specific way in which Deus Ex: IW fails to engage the player, beyond some of the more obvious shortcomings that the Short Script picks up on.

Short Script: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Note: this post was featured on GamaSutra, so I am reproducing it here with a few minor changes to accompany the Short Script of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, the game that really made me consider stylised visuals and what they are capable of. I'm not going to lie. If its demo wasn't enough to discourage me from picking up Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, its critical response was. The game hasn't fared particularly well, with official reviews citing its short and lacklustre single player campaign as a primary flaw. Despite those misgivings (or perhaps, because of them), I wanted to write a Short Script for it, so I waited for its appearance in the local bargain bin. And even then I felt cheated, because it's just a really poor game. I mentioned before that I was looking forward to its "YouTube aesthetic", because it provides a unique and consistent level of stylisation. But that's unfortunately lost on a fundamentally broken game. In essence, it plays just as bad as it wants to look.

Short Script: Dead Space 2

Some games clearly show the effort and dedication that their development teams have poured into them. Dead Space felt like one such game, and Visceral Games has managed to take that up a notch for its sequel. They are so comfortable with this intellectual property that they can include crawling baby mines and get away with it. It's been said that this game is the Aliens to Dead Space's Alien, and in some ways that comparison is apt. Dead Space 2 is focused a lot more on cinematic action and overt humour, and in both those aspects it's Isaac Clarke who underwent the most significant evolution between games.

Short Script: Dead Space

Dead Space 2 is about to hit store shelves, and initial reviews would indicate that it's a worthy sequel. I plan on picking it up, because I thoroughly enjoyed the original. I'm not the only one who thinks that, since Dead Space has now been turned into a whole franchise, expanding its fictional universe in other media. Dead Space hits all the marks of an aftermath story, which presents an initially confusing situation that is gradually explained through exploration. It also classifies itself as a survival horror game, but fails to make the player actively feel underpowered. There is one exception, but we'll get to that.

Short Script: Condemned: Criminal Origins

As I was reading this article about the ill-advised comparison between Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and movies, I couldn't help but pick up on a line of thought that I had already drawn myself when playing Condemned: Criminal Origins. At the time the game hit me out of left field (I played it sans expectations a couple of years after it was released), so I decided to give it another quick playthrough. Along the way it naturally got the Short Script treatment, but it's also a good case study for the point I'd like to make.