Keyboard Geniuses

Gears Of War: Judgment

Who Warframed Comment Cat?

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • March 29, 2013

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Geezers Of War

While Drew Toal enjoyed the latest Gears Of War game, Judgment, he felt the fourth entry in the series shared too many cogs with previous installments. Bakken Hood disagreed and made a case for the unique achievements of the Gears games:

The Gears series fascinates me from an artistic standpoint not because it’s ever going to be Exhibit A in the games-as-art debate, but because every game has elements that deserve to exist in service of a loftier work of interactive art. The sometimes overwrought but always striking “Destroyed Beauty” environment design, the better-than-the-story-deserved voice acting—seriously, Carlos Ferro sold me on the Big Tragic Scene in Gears 2—and now we have a Rashomon game, apparently. If BioShock is a trenchant meditation on the nature of free will, as many reviews claimed, it sounds like Judgment has just as much to say about the porous nature of memory and the difference between the truth and the proverbial whole truth. The reviews I’ve read, even the vaguely negative ones, have sold me on Judgment in a way that my enjoyment of Gears 3 didn’t. I’m looking forward to playing it for myself.

And speaking of Gears of War, did you catch our video Q&A with Drew on his review? It features a dazzling shirt and rhythmic swaying!

Guess Who Dunnit
24 Killers

Jason Reich reviewed an edgy Guess Who?-styled browser game called 24 Killers for Sawbuck Gamer. Cloks dropped in to share a more entertaining way to play the original:

This seems like a great opportunity for me to mention my repurposing of Guess Who? into “Subjective Guess Who?.” Instead of asking concrete questions like “Is your person bald?” you can ask things like “Does your person dabble in voyeurism?” or “Has your character owned more cats than they’ve had successful relationships?” You need to play with a group of like-minded people, but it’s really fun, especially after you’ve (hit yourself in the head with a brick several times/imbibed a little too much, too quickly/used a little certain-certain something-something easily found on college campuses).

Positively BioShocking
BioShock Infinite

John Teti enjoyed BioShock Infinite well enough but thought that it failed to live up to its well-regarded predecessor, arguing that the highly anticipated shooter/hand magic spin on American exceptionalism took a few disappointing thematic shortcuts. The Helmarock King countered John’s assertion that Andrew Ryan, the principal villain of the original BioShock, was guilty of ideological myopia:

I think Andrew Ryan, in BioShock, has some texture beyond a simple ideologue. At the very least, there are instances where his motivations aren’t so black and white.

Granted, his idealism contributed to his flaws and to the downfall of Rapture, but I recall the audio logs indicating times when he compromised his own morals in misguided service to his city. After all, to save his Randian utopia, he defined contraband goods and introduced tyranny as a result of paranoia. Heck, the little sisters are essentially slaves in a self-described libertarian world.

The “would you kindly” scene could also be taken as his last stand on his ideals: if he cannot trust in the individuality of the player character (”A Man Chooses”) in spite of circumstances (”A Slave Obeys”) he might prefer death. This is, of course, after all of the worst goes down in Rapture and he has broken his own ideals.

In short, I think Ryan saw evidence that his ideals were flawed after he founded Rapture, but believed if he could save the city itself he would be redeemed in spite of his actions. Eventually, his compromises led him to believe he was a hypocrite and set up his final ultimatum.

Moonside Malcontent took particular note of your principal occupation in Infinite as a former member of the Pinkerton Agency, a detective outfit that became known for its union-busting tactics as America’s Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era:

Can I comment, just briefly, on how it is an interesting choice (and one that Teti didn’t go into at length in the review) that a game that presents authority and power as inherently corrupting influences casts you as a Pinkerton? In a lot of ways the Eye That Never Sleeps represented the worst of American culture when it came to power and violence, and yet here you are standing against reactionary conservatism at its worst. A cool historical note in a game with many of them.

John also criticized the game’s thin justification for the presence of “Vigors” in the sky city of Columbia. But on this point, Adam Gardner countered that Infinite surpassed its original in a few ways:

I don’t agree that the use of Vigors inherently conflicts with Comstock’s need for racial purity. Nazis certainly weren’t above experimenting with genetics or even the occult. I would think that a white supremacist would want to give the white man superpowers, and so far everyone I’ve seen use ’em has been pretty white. Vigors may not be as nicely woven into Columbia as the plasmids of [BioShock’s] Rapture, but I don’t think their existence is a glaring flaw in the narrative’s logic.

Tom Jackson also defended Vigors:

As for their purpose in existing, It’s explained rather vaguely at the fair toward the start of the game and elaborated through audio logs and promotional material throughout that they were developed to impress in the same manner Columbia was designed to impress. They’re a showcase of scientific advancement and were developed in Columbia to display to the world the incredible achievements America had made. I gathered the reason Columbia hadn’t gone ass up like Rapture did was because they were primarily used for non-lethal purposes the same way plasmids were supposed to be used in Rapture. You can see an example of this at the fair toward the beginning where two people in devil costumes playfully use vigors on one another to demonstrate their uses. There’s also posters implying things like Devils Kiss being used to light cigarettes and chase off criminals and Shock Jockey being used to generate electrical current to power merry-go-rounds. The difference that saved Columbia is the entire mentality of the city and it’s townsfolk being the opposite of Rapture, where Columbia is about appearances and the greater good, Rapture is about the individual and bettering oneself.

It definitely wasn’t as fleshed out as plasmids in the original BioShock, but I still felt they had their place and were a valid inclusion to the game.

Warframe Of Mind

Drew Toal had the lowdown on new releases in our Out This Week roundup. DJ Subversive made a case for a a game he discovered in the depths of Steam called Warframe:

Hey, everyone! Effigy_Power and I discovered a pretty sweet game last night! It’s called Warframe, and it’s a free co-op third-person shooter with space ninjas. The levels are all semi-random—“tile sets” similar to Diablo for the room layouts, and each level is made of a bunch of connected rooms—and there’s a lot of stuff to upgrade and unlock.

My first impression from last night is still pretty much accurate: “FUCK YEAH.” You can do sweet John-Woo-style slides and leaps while shooting guys with an automatic rifle or a pistol (or TWO pistols, but that’s an unlockable thing) then slice dudes up with a sword. With up to three other people!

It’s fun, it looks cool and unique, it’s co-op, and it’s free! You should all get it and join Eff and me for space-ninja shooty-and-slashy fun times.

Folks, please form a single file line, and register at the Gameological Steam group this-a-way.


Anthony John Agnello tackled the Sawbuck Gamer review for Concrete, an unsettling first-person adventure game with an intriguing Matrix-like twist. Anthony made special note of the game’s architecture, inspired by the New Brutalist works of Alison and Peter Smithson. Gary X helped flesh out the Brutalist concept and where it stands today:

Most people don’t hate Smithsons’ buildings. They aren’t all successful (the Robin Hood gardens are probably the most infamous failure), and they were certainly controversial in their time. However, their quality of life is as easy to criticize as lots of modern housing projects that neglected the ways in which people actually operate [for the sake of] utopian ideas and modern planning (this was even worse on an urban scale); Brutalist architecture was just more honest in its materiality than modernism. A lot of the Smithsons ideas such as the “charged void” or “street in the sky” are ideas still being explored today. The knee-jerk reaction and hate generated toward this form of architecture has resulted in the destruction of historical works of art rather than preservation despite the fact that the structures are direct links to later formal schools of thought such as deconstructionism.

Free Play
Free To Play

Joe Keiser reprised his Free To Play On $20 A Day, revisiting the tawdry world of free-to-play game marketplaces. Around these parts, games have no entry fee but peddle virtual trinkets and power-ups in exchange for actual money. But not all free-to-play games are chintzy, far from it. For instance, Emperor Norton I enjoyed his time in League Of Legends:

I’ll admit it. I have paid money on a free-to-play game. I have spent about $50 on League Of Legends. Yes, I didn’t have to. I could have played a rather insane amount to accumulate points sufficient to buy the characters I now own. But I had played enough for free, and enjoyed it enough, that I felt almost guilty for NOT paying something. It’s a damn good game, and I’d got a lot of enjoyment for free—nearly as much as I’d gotten from many games I’d paid for.

Elsewhere, on the topic of a game that entails throwing coins at coins, Olde Fortran 77 was reminded of a classic Chuck E. Cheese “game”:

The description of Power Of Coin very much reminds me of the machine at Chuck E. Cheese where you put in a token, which is then flung into the pile of tokens already inside in the hopes of forcing some tokens to fall down, thus giving you some tickets. I’ve often pointed that machine out to my kid as a learning exercise in economics.

Ewe Bet
Color Sheep

In terms of games about sheep barfing rainbow projectiles, Color Sheep pretty much reigns supreme. In his Sawbuck Gamer review, Derrick Sanskrit explored the popular misconception of humans only using 10 percent of the brain’s potential, which His Space Holiness affably debunked:

So, everyone knows that 10 percent thing is a myth, right? We only use so much of our brains for conscious thought, and if we used all of it for that, we’d die from forgetting to continuously breathe, pump blood, and so forth. When I come across a fictional character who supposedly has the power to use the majority of his or her brain (like, say, DC’s Deathstroke), I like to think about that character being manifested in real life and instantly collapsing due to loss of involuntary nerve function.

Well, that’s it folks! Thanks for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

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59 Responses to “Who Warframed Comment Cat?”

  1. Mr. Glitch says:

    Hi everybody, Mr. Glitch here. I have a review of another Atari Jaguar game in the works, Defender 2000, because I know how much everyone loves Jaguar games. Anyway, the review is going to be a bit delayed because I’ve decided to go back & give the game another shake. In the meantime, feel free to read all about an odd little ColecoVision gem here.

  2. stakkalee says:

    Wow, it’s almost April.  You know what that means, right?  It means on Monday we officially begin Year 2 of The Gameological Society!  That’s right – one year ago tomorrow John Teti welcomed us to a new kind of game review site, with a focus on the artistic pretensions (the aspirational kind of pretensions, geez!) of a unique and modern medium.  The site, and the community that’s grown around it, is a rarity on these wild and lawless tubes – thoughtful discussion is prized, fellowship is encouraged, and creativity is celebrated.  So three cheers for John Teti and the rest of the GS crew!
    The most-commented article this week was John’s Bioshock: Infinite review which had 356 comments.  This week for the Top-5 Most Liked comments I excluded anything from The Discussion, because, frankly, it sucks watching your friends fight.
    1) With 28 likes @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus gives us a picture of existential dread.
    2) @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus gets 24 likes starting a pun thread.
    3) And @NakedManHoldingAFudgesicle:disqus gets 20 likes swooping in to continue it.
    4) And here he is again!  @NakedManHoldingAFudgesicle:disqus get 19 likes with the sequel’s title.
    5) And @HobbesMkii:disqus gets 19 likes with a cunning plan.
    Alright!  And now we induct our new members!  @Bakken_Hood:disqus, @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus, Adam Gardner (@facebook-747959285:disqus), Tom Jackson (@google-57dd62600fd9d07d68095401bcb87ee5:disqus), @djsubversive:disqus and @OldeFortran77:disqus, come on down!  Welcome spring chickens, welcome old fogeys, welcome one and all!
    We have some members getting some studs today as well.  @His_Space_Holiness:disqus gets his first stud!  @EmperorNortonI:disqus and @GaryX:disqus are each getting a second stud, and @Cloks:disqus and @Moonside_Malcontent:disqus each get a fourth!
    And now, Linkdump: Toilet edition!  Here’s a Tumblr devoted to toilets in video games!  And here is an article about a minor league baseball stadium that installed an interactive Urinal Gaming System (ladies may need to buy some additional accessories.).  That’s all for this week.  Enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!

    • Jackbert says:

      Congratulations on one year, Soupy, our esteemed editor @JohnTeti:disqus, and all the Gameological contributors!

    • Bakken Hood says:

      He touched me!

      *regains consciousness, updates CV*
      *swoons again*

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      So, wait, does that last time I got picked by Soupy not count as a stud? I understand so little about this stud-based economic system.

    • Fluka says:

      – Good call on striking Unpleasantness from the discussion.  I was kind of dreading that thread being here again.

      – That Toilet Tumblr is depressing as all fuck!  

      – I object to @GaryX:disqus ‘s thoughtful and well-written comment being included in Comment Cat this week!  That damn comment sent me on an hour-long modern-architecture-based Wikipedia spiral and I will never get that informatively-spent time back, ever!  Damn it, man!  

      • stakkalee says:

        Better a Wikipedia crawl than a TVTropes bombing.  Wikipedia I can drag myself away from; I always leave TVTropes with a set of browser tabs to investigate the next day.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      You are too good a person for this world, @stakkalee:disqus.
      Come work for me.

      Yay for Gameological Anno 1. Pretty well done and you’ve already outlived a lot of other blossoming sites. And all that without a shot of John joylessly eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew and rather a shot of John joylessly eating disgusting candy because he can.
      Living the dream, man.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Whoa! Recognition! It’s all I ever wanted and more.

      I was oddly surprised I made it above @NakedManHoldingAFudgesicle:disqus on the leaderboard, since my first reaction on seeing his comment after mine was “Damn him! He’s stealing my thunder with better puns! That bastard!”

    • Cloks says:

      Woohoo, validation!

    • caspiancomic says:

       Gameological is turning 1!? Wooo!

      Man, going back to that very first article is pretty wild. I thought I was an old-timer, but a lot of people have been here literally since day one. Aurora Boreanaz posted on that article, and since then he’s had a kid. The passage of time is freaking me out a little bit.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Congrats to Gameological!  
      Here is the comprehensive Emily Post penned guide to Game site anniversaries and their traditional gifts. 1st year- Strawberry (50pts)

      2nd year- Cherry (100pts)

      3rd year- Turkey Leg (300pts)

      4th year- Crown (500pts)

      5th year- Freakishly-Sized Green Mushroom (1up)

    • John Teti says:

      Oh, jeez, thanks for making me tear up. You guys know I get emotional. (On occasion I, uh, leave little doubt…) I don’t have anything major planned for the anniversary, but there will be a little something on Tuesday. (Really a little something. I’m not being coy.)

    • PhilWal0 says:

       Hooray! Happy birthday, Gameological Society!

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Friday Question!

       So Bioshock and all that.  I’m for shit at shooters lacking both hand-eye coordination and the primal musky, urea-scented masculinity needed to thrive in the genre.  But the all and everything about Ken Levine’s mutated little babies is too enticing to keep me from a genre I normally ignore.
       So what games do you play despite belonging to a genre you have no affinity for, but has enough about it to compel you?

       Also, the Friday question seems pretty past impromptu at this point.  Any name suggestions?

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I can’t stand sports games. Especially team-sports are weirdly simulated and just don’t work for me at all. I used to play the Tiger Woods games for fun with friends, but I can’t count them since a certain amount of stimulants was involved every single time and a flat piece of cardboard would have been just as entertaining.
      The only exception is Baseball, which is a bit of a bitch if you don’t own a PS3. MLB2K has been an altogether unsatisfactory experience, mostly due to shoddy programming and endless bugs. That said, the satisfaction from throwing a perfect game and the booming crack of the bat when hitting one out of the park… those are things that resonate with me and remind me of still living in New York. Call it one of a small number of home-sick sentiments I allow myself.
      And in that regard, I hope someone makes a good Baseball game for the PC at some point or I will lose it.

      • WarrenPeace says:

        God, I’m terrible at sports games, at least the ones that are supposed to be “realistic” simulations of actual play. I do sometimes enjoy the more arcadey versions of games that have special moves and power-ups, like NFL Blitz, NBA Street, and whatnot. I dunno, I’ve mostly lost interest in sports in general; it seems like I’ve got better things to do with my time these days, like shoot imaginary bullets at pixel monsters.

        • EmperorNortonI says:

           It’s funny, I only have interest in sports games if I can play without really touching the arcadey aspects.  For example, I play Madden almost entirely for the play-calling, and never bothered to learn the buttons much, or how to run positions.

          Though since it was mentioned downthread, I did play a lot of the original Tony Hawk.  That was fun, but hardly felt like a sports game.

      • caspiancomic says:

        Like Eff, I have no love for sports games generally. Back in the 16-bit days I used to play hockey or soccer games with my dad because they were all he’d play, and I got enough enjoyment out of hanging with him to counteract the un-joy I was deriving from the actual games themselves.

        That said, there have been two sports titles I have absolutely loved. First is skate., which I believe is spelled not only all lower case, but with a period (presumably you’re not meant to pronounce the punctuation). The game focused on demanding, performance heavy simulation-style controls and an open world, mission driven structure in contrast to the Tony Hawk series’ arcade style gameplay and discrete play areas.

        And if a skateboarding game isn’t “sporty” enough to count, the second sports game I sincerely enjoyed was NBA Street. In contrast to my love of skate., which was a simulation-style take on a genre with an entrenched arcade-style ruling series, NBA Street was an arcade-style takedown of the usual simulation-heavy EA Sports titles. It focused on doing absurd tricks, showing off, and engaging in fanciful dunks, and was orders of magnitude more fun and engaging than any realistic simulacrum of the sport. It also allowed you to play as a snowman, so that was pretty neat.

        (Also, Spacemonkey, did you see this? I immediately thought of you when I saw it. You considering submitting anything? I think you’ve got a great voice for it.)

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

             Jeez, Casp.  That’s incredibly kind of you to say so.  Though I think my day job and inability to match up verb tenses precludes me from trying.
             Also, like you I’m interested in benefiting from Eff’s shattering the commenter ceiling and try for some illustration love.

      • Girard says:

        BASE WARS.

        Was the only sports game I enjoyed. And is still the only sports game I enjoy. Apart from maybe silly Wii sports shit with friends.

    • valondar says:

      End of the Week Question perhaps Spacemonkey.

      Shooters were a genre I loved as a kid but which I’ve moved increasingly away from as I’ve grown older to the point I haven’t played a proper shooter in at least a decade. Bioshock Infinite apparently takes over five minutes to give you a situation where you actually use your gun, so I doubt that game will entice me back.

      I’m sort of honestly lukewarm on adventure games – the genre’s reputation for frustrating and illogical puzzles being the core gameplay mechanic make it a genre I can feel fairly hostile to, but I made an exception for Telltale’s Walking Dead.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      Shooters are a genre I generally avoid, because shooting has never been my favorite game mechanic and the first-person perspective is always fraught with the potential to make me barf (as experienced in my perilous fifteen-minute attempt to play Amnesia). Yet despite that, I play Team Fortress 2 semi-regularly. Mainly because the game’s style is so endearing. Most FPSs are so damn self-serious and hypermasculinized, I can’t say no to an out-and-out comedy shooter. Plus, the first-person perspective isn’t too nauseating, and as I’ve made clear several times, I’m a big fan of hats.

    • stakkalee says:

      Prompting Conversation or The Friday Prompt.

      Man, ‘prompt’ is one of those words that really triggers the jamais vu.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      Whatever you call them, keep doing them.  It’s a lot of fun.

      I was crap, crap, crap at puzzles when I was young, but for some reason still played a large number of classic Adventure games.  Part of it was the fact that this was the late 80’s/early 90’s, and those games were in their Golden Age and a dominant force in PC gaming as a whole.  Part of it was that I liked the stories.  But the fact remained that they were incredibly frustrating, and I never did get better at them.  I got horribly stuck in both Space Quest 1 and 2, never made progress on any of the Zork titles I played, got nowhere in Police Quest, didn’t figure out how to even start Day of the Tentacle … the list goes on.  Eventually I realized this, and stopped myself.

      I suppose that may be an answer to the opposite question, though – a genre you really don’t like but that you keep going back to.

    • Girard says:

      Normally I don’t like procedurally/randomly-generated games, and find I respond better to stuff where the authorship is more overtly human (acknowledging, of course, that the systems that generate procedural games are authored by humans), but I played a lot of Binding of Isaac when it came out. That’s also a little remarkable because I find its aesthetic and sense of humor kind of completely awful, too. However I quite enjoy playing the game and discovering new things secreted away in there. There’s some fundamental design stuff going on there that jumps over the many, many hurdles that game presents to me.

      I don’t know if it’s a “genre,” exactly, but I have a sort of blanket antipathy for N64 games. However, despite my being pretty uniformly nonplussed by Ocarina of Time, I love Majora’s Mask, and it might be my favorite Zelda game. It has some really inventive mechanics/design, an unusual, strange tone, and is just inventive and engaging enough to make up for being an ugly, smeary, clunky N64 game.

      I forced my way through Half Life 1 and 2 out of a sense of obligation to my game literacy, but I wouldn’t say the games themselves were what was compelling me to put up with the FPS gameplay.

    • Girard says:

      Also, you could have the name of the question be a pun on a different game title with “Quest” in the title. “Fester’s Quest-ion” “Quest-ion for Glory” “Quesionvania II: Simon’s Quest-ion”…

  4. beema says:

    I somehow missed the Bioshock review!

  5. PaganPoet says:

    Soupy, why? Why? Why?

    I still love youuuuuuuu~ je ne sais pas pourquoi~

  6. Steve McCoy says:

    Ha, the Pinkertons were my undergrad campus security until senior year, when some other company bought and/or replaced them. (This was back in the early 2000s, not strikebreakin’ days. I’m not that old)

  7. beema says:

    Hey cool, my question was first on that video thingy!

  8. djsubversive says:

    The Gameological Warriors are growing in number. The Warlord is pleased.

    Also, whoo! I finally made a comment worth noticing (probably because it was something other than arma modding, PlanetSide 2, or Obsidian/Black Isle/Troika games). Plus, it got more people to join the Steam group and the chat room, which is great. We had a bunch of people in chat tonight (possibly more), some of whom were even playing the same game!

    We even have our own forum! Use it!  We’ve already got a project: the Weekly Game Revue Club (but I’ve got to agree with @ChumJoely:disqus about the “Weekly” part being a bit of a stretch, depending on the game being revue’d).

    The super-short-notice Guns of Icarus learning session was a success. We had at least 6 people (a couple people had connection problems, and we lost Staggering Stew Bum before the first match ended), and everybody seemed to have a good time. Next time, I promise there will be a lot more notice than “about 18 hours from now.” In fact, I’m going start a Guns of Icarus thread in our forum, where we can discuss this in more detail! :)

    • EmperorNortonI says:

       Fun was had.  I think Guns of Icarus is a game that rewards in proportion to the time and effort you put into it, which would make it great for a regular Gameological Community presence.  It’s also odd and kinda funky, which, in my experience, tends to keep the worst of the internet asshats away.  Niche multiplayer games quite often have really cool communities – I remember meeting wonderful groups of people night after night on Red Orchestra back in the day, with only the occasional annoying little kid on voice chat, or singing drunk Russian guy.

      Warframe also has lots of potential, particularly if the levels start getting harder.  I’ve played through 3 missions so far, and they’re pretty damn basic, but that could all change pretty quickly given the tools they’ve got.

      I’m hoping to get in a few games of whatever tomorrow, and I hope y’all are on Steam!

      • djsubversive says:

        They do actually get a little harder. The boss on Mercury is a pretty long mission (the boss itself is only the halfway point), and some of the Infested enemies require slightly more tactics than “shoot until they die.” Also, Filbert and I stumbled into the Saturn system last night, and they’ve got napalm-spewing heavy soldiers, and commanders that warp you around the room, as well as slightly weaker versions of the boss from Mercury as regular (but rare) enemies.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      Guh, I was going to join in, but I guess I didn’t make it in time, because by the time I finally got into the game, you guys must have been finished. Next time, I guess.