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How videogames are changing the action movie

Something strange happens with the camera at the start of Spectre (2015). The movie opens with a wide view of an elaborate Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. We’re then shown a villain before focusing on James Bond, who starts to follow this villain. Bond and a woman then go into a hotel and he leaves her by exiting through a window onto the rooftop, where he prepares to shoot his target. It’s a standard set-up for a Bond film, but throughout all of this, the camera doesn’t seem to cut away, not once. The entire opening is…

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Revisiting the enduring horror of Far Cry 2

The Far Cry series has always dealt in discordance. Those hyper-saturated blues of travel agent brochures and the high-contrast greens of the indigenous flora, deliciously juxtaposed with the hyper-violence you were enacting on screen. It’s the calling card of the series, that contrast; travel fantasies gone wrong. But Far Cry: Primal, out in a few weeks, eschews that trait of the series in favor of a more muted palette. Its world is one untouched by pop culture aesthetics, it gets back to the dirt we supposedly rose out of in the hope that a retreat into our prehistory will rejuvenate…

nekointellead
Article

Cats finally take over the world with mobile game Neko Atsume

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Neko Atsume is a smartphone game where players can watch cats. They can’t pet them, or call to them, or scratch behind their ears. The most a player can do is buy a treat or toy and place it in a backyard. If the player is lucky, the toy will attract Snowball, a furry white kitty who enjoys playing with rubber balls. Or, if the player is really lucky, the toy might even attract Pumpkin—who eats all the tuna he can get his paws on. Yutaka Takazaki, the creator of…

tormentlead
Article

Advice from Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera is, in its own words, “chewy and full of strangeness.” The game’s beta sets players down in the city of Sagus Cliffs, where weird humans and alien “visitants” live in squalor beside buried spaceships. You meet citizens who can’t stop sprouting extra toes, others who drink and brood about psychic wars, and one who’s trying hard to stop a robot from having babies. They toil in the shadow of countless dead civilizations, as well as the shadow of the monumental Planescape: Torment (1999), whose themes, protagonist, and aversion to short sentences have been carried over intact…

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Article

SUPERHOT and the unique temporality of videogames

When the Wachowskis transported bullet-time over from Hong Kong cinema to The Matrix (1999), mainstream western audiences were wowed. This was the beginning of something new for action cinema, the ability for the camera to pivot around action, playing a moment from a multiplicity of angles that stunned and awed in equal measure. The camera was unhinged from static points, instead echoing the orbital movement of a clock or pendulum. In the years following, slow-mo sequences in games misguidedly attempted to convert what was so fascinating about that spectacle into something the player could experience. Instead, it only introduced the…

Angel Raphael
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How to talk about videogames (if you’re blind)

One of the first things that people notice when they flip on their consoles are the catchy intro sequences; the flashy animations of the screen. Videogames have a quantified area around them that’s visual. After all, so many game elements are conveyed through visual means, such as objective markers and collectables. Usually, in a videogame review, these visual references will pop up. Pixels will be examined, judgments will be passed on art direction and the success of animated bodies. I, however, don’t review visuals at all. I have to look to different aspects of a videogame to make up for…

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Article

Shut Up, Gaming Positivity

This article is part of a series called Shut Up, Videogames, in which critic Ed Smith invites games old and new to pipe down, or otherwise. In this edition, he looks at today’s atmosphere of “gaming positivity” in games criticism. Rather than challenged by the emergence of different games and different creative voices, I feel like the culture of blithe acceptance in the gaming industry has simply widened. Old reviews of shooters and sequels, scaffolded by a checklist of “graphics, gameplay, replay value,” are today lampooned even by the big sites—I think anyone with the sense to not leave comments on things…

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Pop, politics, and everything in between: the virtual families of netlabels

It’s approximately 7 p.m. on a Monday night in California, and across from me sits the bleach-haired Zeon Gomez of Ulzzang Pistol, an artist of Los Angeles-based netlabel Zoom Lens. Yet for Gomez, it’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. He resides across the world from my foggy little city in the United States, approximately 16 hours ahead in the Philippines (Manila, specifically). Dividing us is an extremely common window: a computer screen. The household item not only used for the sake of hosting our lengthy conversation over Google Hangouts, but a tool for maintaining friendships across countries and oceans, discovering…

orion_amnesia
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Bringing otome games to the other side of the world

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Otome games—visual romance novels targeted at women—don’t often find a wide audience outside of Japan. Not only do they struggle to market towards women in countries where dating simulators are less of a cultural staple, but the games’ protagonists and stories are often coated in a Japanese context, causing some of the magic to get lost in translation. Even breakthrough titles in the otome genre usually meet small niche popularity when compared to their male-oriented counterparts. That being said, some otome games have broken the barrier, finding their foothold in…