A long time ago I bought Postal 2 from the Steam Store, and it is only recently – in the wake of my Playstation 3 breaking – that I got an opportunity to sit down and play it. For the scarce few out there who don’t know what Postal is, it’s hands down one of the most awful games ever created – which is the point. You play as the Postal Dude. He’s an everyday sunglasses-indoors-wearing, douche-bag-beard-growing sociopath. He’s the stereotypical Call of Duty player, and his actions in the Postal series aren’t dissimilar to those undertaken by Grand Theft Auto protagonists.
This generation I’ve had the pleasure of both the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Wii. At launch, I was gifted my Xbox 360 as a Christmas present with copies of Halo 3, Assassin’s Creed 1 and Viva Piñata, and then bought my Playstation 3 in a boxing day sale a few years after. I feel it’s only fitting with the next generation suddenly upon us that I do the inevitable categorisation of my favourite current-gen games from the past few years.
It’s just past Hand-in Month now. Everyone’s essays have been filed away under the categories of ‘Queer Theory,’ ‘Racism,’ ‘Socio-economics,’ ‘Advertising,’ and much, much more. Trees will have been cut down for the hallowed citations, references and bibliographies which prevent students from getting kicked out of university and forced to find a real job, and we’re all just twiddling our thumbs until we get them back now.
But the source of our references, our background research, is extremely interesting.
Enough about sexism in video games; that debate is swamping the industry left, right and centre. The real debate – or at least, the one we should be having – is why there is such a lack of homosexual protagonists in video games. In fact – there aren’t any.
[Warning: Possible Spoilers]
Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag comes out in the UK in just under a month now. I’m going to be honest with you though, I’m not so totally psyched about it like everyone else seems to be. After the broken, counterproductive mess which was Assassin’s Creed 3, even the superb ship mechanics which are being carried over will be overdone to the point of being repetitive in AC numero quatro.
[Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead]
So, GTA, we meet again.
The controversy surrounding its launch seems to have died down at last, leaving space for some discussion about the game which doesn’t revolve around 18+ video game violence warping the brains of children. Like how, for all its merits, there were some serious problems with the characterisation of its three main protagonists, and an ending which was unsatisfying to say the least. The absolute least.
Despite what you may think of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls creator, David Cage, there’s no denying that he has blurred the lines between a video game and an interactive movie. Whether or not the direction he has taken is for the best is a discussion for another time, but it does raise the question: if video games can be made to feel like cinematic experiences, why can they not be made to feel like musical ones too?
After two games submerged in the watery ruins of Rapture, BioShock Infinite takes the series skyward into the gravity-defying world of Columbia. As disgraced private eye Booker DeWitt, you are tasked with liberating the mysterious Elizabeth from a city in the sky in exchange for having your slate wiped clean. Unsurprisingly, events in the heavens turn hellish rather quickly. Thrust into the middle of a civil war, relentlessly pursued by a giant mechanical bird, all the while trying to deal with fissures in the space-time continuum – vertigo is very much the least of your troubles here.
Thanks to all the hype, rumours and trailer build up to Assassin’s Creed 3, the only way this game could have surpassed my ridiculously high expectations is if it jumped out of the box and put itself into the console. But it didn’t.
Patience is required because the opening hours are very drawn-out and feel fairly pointless. You actually start the game as Haytham Kenway, who, disappointingly, is far more likeable than the protagonist Connor. When you do finally take control of him, Connor is difficult to connect with, although this may be intentional as the game insists ‘there’s no one path through life that is right or fair,’ forcing you to question Connor’s actions in a way you never did with Altair or Ezio. There just aren’t enough moral crises in games anymore. This instalment also has some of the most bugs and glitches of the series. I found many a guard with a bayonet up his arse, and was often stuck between two trees, irritatingly forcing me to reset the sequence.
Yet, I have two words for you: Pirate Assassin. Yeah, now you want to play. The new naval battles are some of the most exciting parts of Assassin’s Creed 3 and the sailing controls are almost seamless. The free-running element has also improved, becoming so simple and streamlined you’ll find yourself shouting ‘PARKOUR!’ victoriously as you land a tree branch. Visually, the game is stunning with astonishing attention to historical detail and lots of little things that make you want to stop and just observe the bustling cities.
Assassin’s Creed 3, being so ambitious, was bound to miss the mark sometimes but overall, it has an involving narrative, with some incredible visuals and well-expanded gameplay. If you’re already a fan of the series it’s a must-own.