What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Dennis Cooper, author

Dennis Cooper, author

The acclaimed author opines on the emotional resonance of video game bad guys.

By Drew Toal • May 25, 2012

In What Are You Playing This Weekend?, we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.

Dennis Cooper has authored dozens of acclaimed novels, poetry collections, and works for the stage. His most recent books include The Marbled Swarm, Ugly Man, and The Weaklings. His 2005 novel, God Jr., is the story of a man who, stricken with guilt over the death of his son Tommy, explores a video game once inhabited by his son and is pulled progressively deeper into his own psyche through Tommy’s saved games.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Dennis Cooper: I’m trying to finish off Epic Mickey, which I had started playing early last year, then put aside, along with gaming in general, because I was in crunch mode completing my last novel. When I’m in that mode, basically everything else I’m playing, reading, and watching has to go because I have to get my thinking really airtight. I’m about halfway through the game right now, I think. It’s really such a more interesting, peculiar, and self-conscious game than its brand name signals. It has a kind of honeycombed architectural mainframe, and italicized Disney classic graphics, and these roomy but locked-down levels, and a slightly meta narrative that make it quite a trippily claustrophobic, cave system-like way station that’s sugary, but in a weird way.

Gameological: I’d argue that some Disney games are downright subversive. What are some of the better games you’ve played recently?

Cooper: Well, I feel like I should say that I’m pretty much exclusively a Nintendo guy at this point, except when friends go out of town and drop off their Xboxes at my place for the duration. I mostly play games for their graphics and builds and spacial organization, so I gravitate towards games wherein you get to wander around imaginatively while having mind games played with you, and wherein fighting and battles, which I completely suck at, are minimal. Anyway, I would say my favorite recent games were probably Lost In Shadow, And Yet It Moves, and Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Gameological: I imagine you’re pretty busy with all the novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting. Where do you find time to play games?

Cooper: It’s not easy, and my game playing habits are pretty random. I’ll hardly play for a while, and then it’ll be all I do for weeks. But I always look to games for ideas that I can transpose to or reinvent in some way in my writing, and so I think of them as areas of research. Playing is a way to study games’ methods of holding onto and fooling around with an audience’s attention span for me, and certain games have influenced my fiction a lot. So I don’t see games as places to totally get away, and I don’t get hit with guilt very often when I’m prioritizing them.

Gameological: In your book God Jr., a depressed father named Jim tries to reconnect with his dead son Tommy through old saved video games. How did this video game world become more real for Jim than his real one?

Cooper: I guess I saw Jim’s real world as kind of the raw materials on which the game was based, and I guess I made him feel that way too, although perhaps without his realizing. From his job at a company making children’s clothing and his cartoonish fellow workers, to the monument he was building in his yard that was basically a giant souvenir of the video game, to his flat, almost programmed interactions with his wife and others. I wasn’t thinking about The Wizard Of Oz at all, but maybe Jim’s real world functioned mostly as a supplier in the way that Kansas did relative to Oz. The dead son was much more important to the game—to the point where his presence and decisions as a player totally damaged and reinvented it—than he had been to his real life, in which he’d barely registered. I guess that, in a way, I was trying to create the equivalent of a video game where a player would actually give a shit on an emotional level if Link rescued Zelda.

Gameological: Link needs a new girlfriend. As a writer, how do you feel about the state of character development and plot-driven games? Is that, in your opinion, a conversation even worth having?

Cooper: I don’t really care about characters and plot very much, either in games or in fiction, including my own. I think of the characters in my work as just configurations of the prose that have more power over the reader than the fiction’s other components. I just try to make them charismatic and twisty and secretive in a compelling way. The only characters in video games that ever involve me are the tragic ones. Even the lowest zombies who get slaughtered in Resident Evil games create more emotional attachment and confusion than any protagonist in any game I can think of. In Epic Mickey, for instance, you occasionally come across these dismembered, barely alive Donald Ducks and Goofys and so on, who plead with you to find their missing body parts, and they’re kind of haunting. I think maybe game designers would be wiser to concentrate on creating blackly comedic, arch characters who only flirt with players’ sympathies rather than continue trying to finesse the gaming equivalent of Academy Award winners. And as far as plot goes, I would love to see more fucked-up experimental through-lines like you used to find in the weirder CD-ROM games back in the early ’90s, but, otherwise, I can live with dumb plots as long they’re circuitous enough.

Gameological: Is that game you describe in God Jr. based on any real life games? Or is the story of Tommy’s real-world monument a cautionary tale against co-opting Nintendo’s intellectual property for your own use?

Cooper: The game in God Jr. was heavily based on Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Tooie with some Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Eternal Darkness mixed in, basically. I did wonder and sort of worry if Nintendo might think “hmm,” or worse, but the novel didn’t go viral to the degree that they know it exists, as far as I can tell. There’s a God Jr. movie in development, so I guess I may yet get in trouble. In the original version of the novel, I was actually going to have Jim track down and meet the game’s developer and wind up interacting with a thinly veiled Nintendo-type company, but I chopped all that stuff out.

Gameological: Jim thinks of level four as “a Saudi Arabian bazaar meets Boy Scout jamboree set in a stripped-down, weirdly glistening desert.” This reminded me of a recent game called Journey, where you run around in the desert with a random person from the internet. They just pop out of the sand and travel with you for as long as either of you likes. Have you played this game?

Cooper: No, I haven’t played that game. It sounds really interesting. Desert-scapes with interfering and/or helpful inhabitants is one of the tropes of the Mario and Mario-like games that I seem to play a lot, so I was just riffing off those constructs.

And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.

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619 Responses to “Dennis Cooper, author”

  1. HobbesMkii says:

    “But I always look to games for ideas that I can transpose to or reinvent
    in some way in my writing, and so I think of them as areas of research.
    Playing is a way to study games’ methods of holding onto and fooling
    around with an audience’s attention span for me, and certain games have
    influenced my fiction a lot.”

    I wished we’d heard a little bit more about this. Mr. Cooper seemed like he’s really talking about mechanics translating into aesthetics for writing, but that just be how my mind construed what he was saying.

    My weekend will be taken up by Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition, the computer game based on the table-top board game based on American Football and Warhammer. I got it for sale on Steam months ago because, hey, I liked Warhammer as a kid, but then found it too hard to play. But last week I decided to watch some tutorials, and hey, it’s actually a pretty neat and fun strategy game. There’s a multiplayer component (which is great, because the computer’s becoming too easy for me), and if enough people are interested, we could start a Gameological Society Bloodbowl League.

  2. Aaron Riccio says:

    I feel like any author who bases his work on Eternal Darkness and Conker’s Bad Fur Day is just fine in my book (see what I did there?), and I’ll have to check him out. 

    That said, I don’t know that I’ll ever get much of anything done again. Thanks to the Steam group, I’ve found a partner to finally go through Portal 2 with . . . and while I was there, I got sucked into the multiverse of user generated levels. There’s some really devious and clever stuff in there, and so although I still mean to finish Max Payne 3 this weekend and participate in some more multiplayer so as to represent the GLOG crew, and although the prospect of even more Mass Effect 3 multiplayer (with new maps, loadouts [i.e., characters], weapons, and objectives) is simultaneously thrilling/tedious, I’m really just waiting — forever, given their track record — for a Portal 3.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      I wonder if the first two ME3 multiplayer DLC releases were always meant to be free of charge, or if Bioware/EA changed their plans to avoid more nerdrage from those dicks complaining about the ending… Anyway, I like how they’re supporting the MP so far, especially those challenge weekends where I have a chance of winning a special N7 shotgun I’ll never use.

      • Merve says:

        I’m going to say that they were always going to be free of charge, because it would be a logistical pain in the ass for players to have access to different multiplayer content. I’m not familiar with the technical side of things, but my guess is that someone without the DLC would be unable to play in the same match as someone using a DLC character. The player base would have to be segmented, and the developers had to have known that the multiplayer would never be as popular as, say, Call of Duty’s, which has a player base so large that separating it based on what content players have is possible. But for a small player base, making sure everyone has the same content makes sense.

        Also, “nerdrage…dicks”: you’ve put it a lot more diplomatically than I would have put it. For me, it boils down to this: I paid forty bucks to see what Mass Effect 3 had to say, not what the Internet thought it should have said.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          I’m not so sure. I think they were going down the road of making paid DLC and then because of the ending PR shitstorm they made them free at the last minute. Otherwise, if Bioware wanted everyone to have the new content why not put it all in a compulsory patch? But not complaining, free is good.

          As for splitting the player base it’s obviously best to be avoided. I know I always bring up Uncharted but for U3 the DLC maps split the player base which screwed the already flawed matchmaking, so playing anything DLC was usually horribly laggy. And that was the first DLC maps, there’s been two more separate DLC map packs released since I stopped playing so it’d be totally unplayable nowadays.

        • Merve says:

          @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus: Ending shitstorm or not, from a PR perspective “free DLC” sounds better than “compulsory patch.” I guess we’ll never know what EA/Bioware were thinking on this one. But hey: free shit. I ain’t complaining either.

    • Raging Bear says:

      I’d be all over Steam, if our ISP hadn’t just “updated” our service in a way that seems to have reduced our bandwidth, which was not huge to begin with, by about 2/3. Sigh. Maybe I can at least download some Portal 2 user levels.

    • jheyfurkle says:

      Dennis Cooper’s a great writer but I’m not sure he’s one to just say “I’ll have to check him out” about based on what little info you get regarding his work here, unless you have a high tolerance for very graphic and disturbing descriptions of transgressive sex and violence. I don’t want to characterize his work as consisting solely of that, because he has a lot of other interests, as you can see, and I haven’t read God, Jr., so maybe that’s different from what I’ve read of his work, but one of the reasons nobody (far as I can tell) here’s heard of him before is that he’s been sort of marginalized from the literary mainstream for his transgressive subject matter.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        I mean, isn’t “Fifty Shades of Grey” filled with supposedly transgressive subject matter? Or does Cooper make that look vanilla?

        • jheyfurkle says:

          Just now I opened one of the books of his I have and encountered the sentence “His ass wasn’t really an ass anymore.”

        • brakmaster says:

          ROFL.  50 Shades of Grey is catnip for menopausal women.  Dennis Cooper is caviar for (mostly gay) intellectuals.  

          Seriously – I’m gay and open-minded and I flinch while reading the gorier sections of his books. (Somewhere around page 120 of his last book I almost said “Thanks, but no more.”)  However his best prose folds into itself and becomes a type of ephemeral art that lingers only in your head.  Period and The Marbled Swarm are two of my favorite books of all time, and yet I am unsure of their true meaning.  

          In a perfect world The Sluts would have made Oprah’s Book List.  It’s unbelievable she never had a single book about the world of online rentboys.  *sad face*

  3. It feels like a retro weekend to me. I haven’t fired up the NES or SNES in months. Battletoads, ActRaiser, maybe Bionic Commando or Super Metroid.

  4. doyourealize says:

    I might have to check out God Jr., although it’s kind of worrisome that he tends to think of “characters in [his] work as just configurations of the prose that have more power over the reader than the fiction’s other components”, especially if you think about what that book is about, which seems like it should be character-heavy.  Most plots have already been conceived and rehashed.  It’s the characters that make me care.
     
    And what am I playing?  I’ve got a busy weekend, but our family reunion is usually a time with board games aplenty, so hopefully I’ll be taking part in some Dominion, Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and some lively games of Pinochle.  Games of the video variety?  Portal 2 co-op, Arkham City, and my good friend Demon’s Souls.  Less than a week left of online play, and it’s been kind of dissappointing MP.  Not too many people dropping signs, picking up signs, invading, or running around in body form waiting to be invaded.  As always, the invitation is open:  PSN doyourealize.
     
     

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      After I came on here about a month ago and bitched about Demon’s Souls, I took your advice and had a look at the website you recommended. With that, along with getting a decent shield, I burned through the whole thing over the next week or so. Played big chunks of the game in body form online and didn’t get one invasion, which was disappointing.
       
      So started Dark Souls last week. Had been playing Hollowed the whole time, and after getting nowhere with the twin gargoyles, used some humanity back at the bonfire. As I was making my way up the last ladder to the boss fight area a guy invaded above me and simultaneously fireballed me and hacked at my head as I reached the top of the ladder, meaning instant death. I have nothing against world invasions in principle, but insta-killing a defenceless guy climbing a ladder is the ultimate dick move. I expected player invasions to be about paranoia, evasion and desperate sword battles or whatever. Nope, just like real life most people are just fucking arseholes. 
       
      Anyway, what are your thoughts on Demon’s Souls vs Dark Souls? Although I’ve only rang the first bell so it’s early days, Dark Souls seems to be a lot easier than Demon’s Souls so far. I found Demon’s Souls to be near impossible at the start and then was a cakewalk by the end, so maybe Dark Souls will be the opposite.

      • doyourealize says:

        Glad to hear you got through it! Did you try NG+? Gets much harder after you beat it, and a lot of people say “the real Demon’s Souls starts” there.

        Dark Souls, when I played, got more difficult as I went, but a patch came out a little while ago that made the game easier, so I don’t really know what it’s like now. I imagine it’s still difficult, but I haven’t turned it on since then, although I’m getting the itch.

        And as for my thoughts on the two games, I know that Dark Souls is the better game mechanically, graphically, atmospherically(?), but nothing will ever outshine my Demon’s Souls experience. I bought it day 1 (in the US), and the feeling of figuring the game out along with everyone else can never be replicated. It was so new that I don’t know if people really knew how to treat it at first. And speaking to your negative invasion experiences, even that has had an interesting evolution. At first there were just invaders, just looking to get a body back and mess up someone’s progress. Then there were unwritten rules all of a sudden, and you weren’t supposed to use too much grass (Dark Souls‘s Estus Flasks dealt with this nicely, I think), and you weren’t supposed to wait at spawn points or use Firestorm. Then there was actually a PvP population, an arena at 4-1 and a level limit with different builds, an incredible fan creation, I think. Then came the “jumpers” who waited for invaders with two phantoms, the “campers” who stood at the archstone with Firestorm at the ready, the “rage quitters” who would lose a fight and disconnect, and countless others (Scraping Spears, Acid Clouds, RFS). These folks became a scourge and people went to boards to complain. Then even they became commonplace, and you just shrugged your shoulders and fought your best. A win was that much sweeter.

        I don’t know how much that makes sense to you, but the point is those guys who invade and shove you off a ladder are around, and you just need to consider them as part of the game. I mean, you could play offline, but where’s the fun in that? Keep at it and you’ll love getting invaded, invading, helping out and getting helped (hopefully). Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve friended you, so hopefully I’ll see you around in there!

        Note: Demon’s Souls servers are now sticking around in the US, so I guess that’s pretty cool, if not anti-climactic.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          No, no NG+ for me. I liked it enough to see it through to the end, but there are parts of that game I never want to see ever again. I’m mostly thinking about the Maneater boss here.

  5. Raging Bear says:

    I somehow talked myself into getting a Vita, so I’ll be fiddling with that this weekend, and the one game I got with it, Touch My Katamari. It’s fairly lovely and Katamari-ish, but they really need to quit recycling six-year-old levels.

    Also I have a rental copy of Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions coming. I hear some people go outdoors on Memorial Day weekend. These people are chumps.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      Hope you enjoy that Spiderman game – it’s no Spiderman 2, but I thought it was better than it had any right to be.

      • Raging Bear says:

        Will they ever make another Spiderman game with such awesome web swinging? I live in (very slight) hope. Although the upcoming movie tie-in seems to make that exact claim.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          Yeah. Personally, I loved Shattered Dimensions, if for nothing other than the Noir version: I don’t need free-range web-slinging when so much of it revolves around inane roaming for medallions and saving random pedestrians and the like. Give me a focused story any day of the week. Then again, I suppose I didn’t *have* to wander around . . . so maybe that’s on me. I don’t want to take away from anybody else’s experience.

    • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

      Is that really the name of the game?  Touch My Katamari?

      • Raging Bear says:

        It very much is. Touch controls, you see. Even more disturbing/titillating: the King of all Cosmos doing a fully mo-capped dance in the style of Michael Jackson.

    • Scurvyhead says:

       Was the impending release of Gravity Rush a factor, RB? Actually, there seems to have been a number of good Vita game announcements recently, not the least of which is a handheld version of the Jet Set Radio HD revival.

      • Raging Bear says:

        Gravity Rush does look pretty lovely, but I don’t have a good reason for buying it now. It’s more that I figured I would get one eventually, but told myself I’d wait until the price dropped, and this week just happened to be the point when that feeble delusion wore off.

        Actually, as much as anything, I’m looking forward to playing Lego games on a portable again. Lego Batman 2 is out in a few weeks, but there seems to be absolutely no definitive answer known to the internet as to whether it will be equivalent to the console versions or a shitty dumbed-down imitation. I bought them up on PSP when they were still the former, and was extremely incensed when they started putting out the latter. If they keep that bullshit up even on Vita (The Harry Potter they released for it was the bad kind, I hear, but I’m telling myself that was a rush job to ride as close to the Vita launch as possible), then the Lego franchise will just have to be dead to me.

  6. ToddG says:

    5 missions left on ME3 Insanity, then, if I wrap that up, some more Future Soldier, which I’m actually really enjoying.  May even jump into the multiplayer and see what that’s like.

    ME3 has been weird on Insanity.  The parts I expected to be hard have been easy, and sometimes vice versa.  I also may try out Infiltrator now that it’s on ‘droid.  It seems like a better option for getting the galaxy-map 100% achievement rather than playing the multiplayer, which I don’t really enjoy that much, to be honest.

    • doyourealize says:

      I’m the same way about MP in ME3.  I’ve played a few rounds and just get bored pretty easily.  Didn’t know Infiltrator was out on Android, though, so I’ll have to check that out.

      • ToddG says:

        Yeah, I might enjoy the MP if the sessions weren’t so long.  Every time I could play it, I end up thinking “Do I really want to spend a half an hour on this?”, and the answer is usually “No.”  In my experience, Horde mode and its clones are really only fun with a group of friends.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      Worst bits on Insanity: The 3 Geth Prime on Rannoch, Kai Leng fight, holding out waiting for missiles to lock on before the beam in London. Two of those you’ve still got ahead of you….good luck! I expected Thessia to be tough but it was okay.

      Best part about Insanity is that it actually feels like a near-impossible uphill fight which fits with the tone of the story, especially the last handful of missons.

      • ToddG says:

        Yep.  Kai Leng took me probably an hour, maybe a bit more.  It was incredibly frustrating, because I got to the Phantom wave on the first try, and didn’t get back to them until the next-to-last, at least a dozen or so later.

        I did die a few times at those Primes, but I somehow got through that missile bit at the end on the first try.  I play as an Infiltrator and carry just my sniper rifle for super-fast recharge times, so whenever it got too crowded, I’d just cloak and run to the other side of the map.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          The thing that bugged me about Kai Leng was that the little bitch would run away and recharge his shields and then call in reinforcements. What an arsehole. Having to watch the start of that cut scene over and over again didn’t help the rage.

          Anyway, if you were playing only with the sniper rifle that fight would have been extra difficult because he’s always chasing you. That was the only time on Insanity I put away the M-97 Viper and used the SMG that I always carried (very light, doesn’t make much difference to recharge time). Played as an Engineer.

          Congrats on beating Insanity, by the way.

        • ToddG says:

          @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus   Thanks!  Yeah, the time I finally beat him I cloaked a lot and got him to target mostly EDI.  It was weird, sometimes it seemed like he could see through my cloak and sometimes not, and it didn’t seem to rely on far away I was.  Anyway, for the phantom wave, seriously all I did was cloak and run around until my teammates killed them, then I lit up Leng.  It was still harrowing; I had used all my medigels and was about to die when I killed him.

          Past the tutorial, I seriously never fired a gun that was not my Mantis X.  Having Incinerate from ME2 helped a bunch, also, especially with its super-fast recharge.

          So now I’m just 100 Overloads and ~2300 kills away from having every achievement across all 3 Mass Effects.  At least until more ME3 DLC comes out…

  7. morley says:

    Diablo 3 Diablo 3 Diablo 3.

    I just got to Inferno last night, and now that the Auction House is fixed, I’ll be farming loot all weekend.

  8. Girard says:

    My mom is visiting for the weekend, so I imagine whatever gaming I get up to will mostly involve two-player games of Tetris Party on my Wii. We’re also going to check out the Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian, which will hopefully be interesting.

  9. Enkidum says:

    God Of War. Going to finish that on Normal, with any luck. Might eventually replay through on higher difficulty to unlock special content and all that, but I think I’ll switch to a different game after – probably finish Portal 2 single and multiplayer, then… eh… I dunno. Probably start shooting people in Unreal III.

  10. JokersNuts says:

    Epic Mickey was a lot of fun.  My girlfriend loved it and I loved watching her play.  Looking forward to a sequel.  

  11. Limeade Youth says:

    I may actually pick that book up (and pay for it, and read it) if for no other reason than it sounds like a fascinating trip. Oh, and now I’m looking forward to God Jr: The Book: The Movie: the Game (NOW WITH EXTRA BATTLESHIP!)

    This is going to be another Civ 3 weekend for me. I’ve now learned the hard way you NEVER renege on a treaty – it’s fun for about 2 moves and then you’re toast. That, and the Hittites are scum if you’re playing Egypt.

    I might also finish up Burrito Bison Revenge. I’ve got about 30 missions left and I’d like to see how many I can get without spending money to bypass them.

  12. BarbleBapkins says:

    I hadn’t heard of Mr. Cooper before, but God Jr. sounds like a very interesting read, I am definitely going to add it to the to-read list (which seems to always grow faster than I can go through it, sadly). I love that the Gameological Society talks about games as a part of culture as a whole, and not just some niche and completely isolated part of it.

    As for what I’m playing this weekend, I recently got the DayZ mod for ARMA 2 (which the internet has decided is the next Greatest Thing Ever) working after a lot of tinkering.  It’s a pretty unique experience (my last life lasted over 90 minutes, during which I didn’t fire a single shot yet it was probably my most successful attempt) but I think I am reaching the limit of fun that can be had solo, and all the people I bump into seem to think I look particularly shady and shoot me on sight.

    Also, talking here about how much TF2 had gone downhill made me… start playing it again. I am a weak, weak man.

  13. Merve says:

    This weekend, I’m mainly going to be playing L.A. Noire and Batman: Arkham City, but I might throw in a little Hydrophobia: Prophecy.

    L.A. Noire is…interesting. There are so many components of it that just don’t work properly. The shooting isn’t tight, and the cover mechanic is unresponsive. Driving would be fine, but the brakes work about 50% slower than they should. And the interrogations would probably work better if they were done as standard branching dialogue trees instead of as glorified multiple choice quizzes. On the other hand, there’s a lot of stuff that the game just nails perfectly: the look and feel of 1940’s LA; the noir vibe; investigating crime scenes for clues; the twisty plotting of each case; chasing criminals on foot; the superb voice acting.* It’s about five steps away from being a fantastic GoTY contender, but it keeps falling short in frustrating ways.

    * The voice acting in the interrogations is completely tone-deaf, but the developers have said that it isn’t Aaron Staton’s fault. They recorded his lines as Coax, Force, and Lie, but in the final product, the choices are listed as Truth, Doubt, and Lie.

    I had mixed but mainly positive feelings about Arkham Asylum, and it’s nice to see that Arkham City addressed most of my nitpicks. They fixed the control scheme so that it doesn’t just feel like a shitty PC port of a console game. (I lost track of how often I’d try to counter in Asylum and would end up just aiming my Batarang.) The fighting is so much more fluid now, and the game really nails the feeling of being Batman and soaring through the city. But man oh man, the story is just ludicrous. I guess that’s par for the course with games based on comic book heroes, though.

    As for Hydrophobia: Prophecy, it lacks the polish of a big-budget title, especially in the UI and the voice acting. But the gameplay is really solid, and my oh my, those water physics are gorgeous. Seriously, they’re the most gorgeous water effects that I’ve ever seen in a video game.

    • ToddG says:

      City also put in some much-needed intelligent assistance in the automatic target selection when in combat with large numbers of enemies.  Asylum would always have you punch the guy with the stun baton standing right next to the guy without one, or throw a batarang at the unarmed enemy standing to the right of the guy with the gun on the other side of the room.

      • dreadguacamole says:

        The day they manage to get a combat system as good as Batman AC in a proper RPG, I’ll be a very very happy man.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       The labels are fucked up? I’d never heard that before. Well, that puts a whole new spin on that. Phelps is still pretty unlikable (I read an article, might have been by Teti, actually, that suggested him as an antihero) in that game though. Which is pretty tough to do, because he’s so likable in Mad Men and his videogame avatar in L.A. Noire is a pretty faithful rendition of the real McCoy.

      • Merve says:

        You can read about the issue of how they recorded Staton’s lines if you scroll down to the end of this Eurogamer article.

        I’m only halfway through the game so far, so maybe I’m not one to judge, but I like the fact that Cole is a prick. Sure, he’s unlikable, but in an interesting way. Plus, playing as someone unlikable is something rare in video games; it’s a fresh experience for me. I wonder if the reason more video games don’t do it is because a lot of players like to immerse themselves in the protagonist’s role, and projecting oneself onto the protagonist becomes harder or less desirable if he or she isn’t likable.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           You find it rare? I often find that protagonists are unlikable. At least in Western games where they’re given lines. Not necessarily that they’re pricks, but that they’re sometimes unsympathetic.

          And sometimes even if they don’t speak. Like Gordon Freeman. Come on, dude, give it up. Humanity’s lost. Combine 4 Life.

        • Merve says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: The distinction I’m trying to draw is that Cole is intentionally unlikable (at least as far as I can tell), whereas most video game protagonists are intended to be likable, even if it doesn’t come across that way. I mean, I too want to punch Muscles McDudebro in the face, but War Fighter 7: Battle of Honor doesn’t want me to feel that way.

  14. dreadguacamole says:

     I’ll be playing a lot of Dragon’s Dogma, I think.
     It’s flawed, but very interesting; I’m still in the fairly linear bit at the beginning, but if the world opens up as it looks like it’s going to, I think it’ll be fine. The difficulty is a bit off (too easy) at the moment, but hopefully that will change soon. Unfortunately, it reminds me a little bit of Kingdoms of Amalur; This is quite a bit more fun to play and immerses you better in the world, but it shares with Amalur an extreme lack of personality.
     It’s got some really fun set pieces (you can climb on large monsters to look for their weak spots, SotC-style) and the combat is fast paced, arcadey and looks to be quite cool once more abilities are unlocked – not quite as good as one would hope from the Devil May Cry team, but still better than most ARPGs out there. The NPC system is excellent, and cleverly integrated into the lore of the game.
     All in all, I’m fairly optimistic.

     Other than that, I’m sure either my wife or some friends are going to drag me into Diablo 3. I’m the only one who’s made it to nightmare, though, so the prospect of going back to a lower difficulty setting  is kind of painful.

  15. Aymanut says:

    I’m actually excited for the new Epic Mickey as an animation fan, as it has a very early disney character (Oswald) starring alongside Mickey.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      Oswald was the main antagonist in the first game. Warren Spector is a huge Disney buff, so you’ll probably want to play the first one as well; there’s tons of references to Disney’s history in it.

    • Girard says:

       It’s engagement with Disney history is a little disappointingly cursory, as is the complexity of the gameplay. I didn’t really enjoy the game much, but I also kind of have  strong distaste for Disney (I mainly played it as a big fan of animation history, and found that dimension lacking). If you’re a fan of Disney stuff, though, you might enjoy it quite a bit more.

  16. alguien_comenta says:

    My weekend will be Child of Eden (I got it from *gasp* Blockbuster), which is surprisingly difficult for a Kinect game (took me 3 tries to finish the first level, I think “moving” is not my thing), maybe some ME3 multiplayer and I’ll start Catherine (finally)

    • dreadguacamole says:

       It’s a great arcade game. If you are going to play it seriously, though, ditch the kinnect and play it with a controller.

  17. theryno665 says:

    Playing Just Cause 2.  I’ve been busy the past few weekends so my grappling hook skills are a bit rusty.  I’ve probably put close to 20 hours in the game already and am only at like 9% completion.

    http://www.facebook.com/DickmanComedy

  18. MattKodner says:

    I’ve been playing the stupidest iphone game ever, Dearhunter: Reloaded. It’s kind of fun to do the whole touchscreen aiming and shooting at grazing animals posing no threat, but it’s just so trashy I can’t stop playing. 

    It’s got an smart microtranscation set-up going for it, which I am not participating in, which makes it very hard to progress. I’ve been thinking about these little stupid games that charge you $0.99 at a time for extra guns and ammo, and my principaled unwillingness to not give them any of my money, because it feels like if I get into that rhythm, I’ll need to do another microtransaction within the next minute. 

    Arcade games were great because you could theoretically stretch a quarter twenty minutes, but these upgrades and purchases feel like unnecessary hacks to a mindless game, because that’s what they are. 

    I guess I’m just learning the new way to make money off games the hard way. Quit botherin me for that frisbee, I liked it better the ways it was back in the old days!

  19. TheBottomPalm says:

    Eternal Darkness and both Banjo-Kazooies?

    Shit, that’s about half my childhood right there. 

  20. the thoughts on character coincide with Dennis’ Robert Bresson love – Argento has similar attitudes towards his actors, could be interchangeable, almost props for the bigger…structure. I think Dennis is a sculptor of a writer and so it makes sense the video game interest, the internal cyber structures, honeycombs yeah…etc