KOGBlog; Spleens! Spleens! Spleens!

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Venting my spleen. Somewhat literally.

Hi readers and casual visitors!

Yeah, I know. It’s been deathly quiet here lately; my immune system issue hasn’t gone away, but we think we’ve found out why. Hypersplenic anaemia; or, in laymans terms, my spleen is doing a bang-up job removing weak or dodgy red and white blood cells from my body. Actually, it’s doing it rather TOO well, it turns out. It’s enlarged and seems to be filtering out healthier cells as well, which accounts for me always being tired, always having an infection and not being able to walk 100 meters without collapsing because I’m so out of breath. Man, and I thought the spleen was this funny little thing no-one really knew much about. Turns out it’s actually quite a big deal. Hey, I learned something! Woohoo!

Anyway, UbiSoft’s in trouble; not that that surprises me at all, in any way whatsoever. Anyone who has been paying attention to their customer support lately would know that they’re cutting too many costs and too many corners. Something had to give in the end. Turns out, it was WatchDogs getting delayed into next year. Only to end up competing with Dark Souls 2… Ubi, Ubi, Ubi… sit down, because seriously my friends, we’ve got to talk to you about your TIMING issues. Seriously…

Other things? Well, I did promise I wouldn’t do another girls in games thing again, so yeah, I didn’t react much to the whole Warface farce, but again. This isn’t because the community ‘wanted’ it, but rather, developers let them have it. Ultimately people had to make those pervy models, and then someone had to green-light the idea, then get them put into the game, then the publisher had to give the go ahead. The end result is much like a prior comment I made about violence in games; there are multiple points and at any given one of them, someone could have said no, shut the door and stopped the issue dead in its tracks. The fact it got through each checkpoint and ended up being released that way isn’t the fault of the customers; it’s a failing of the developers for allowing it to go all the way. And really, it’s still a stupid debate. If you want girls in games, at least campaign for BETTER girls in games, rather than more of them, otherwise girls just end up in the same cardboard cut-out issue that male leads have. And then people will likely cry sexism again and I will roll my eyes and shake my head and just feel so terribly sorry for them and the future of the human race that we keep tripping up over such basic problems that have such simple solutions…

Games? I’ve been playing Harvest Moon: A New Beginning 3D in my occasional trips away from home to A&E, or whilst laid up in bed. And I must say it’s a lot, LOT better than Tale of Two Towns. I never understood the reason to split crops and livestock in such a manner – I thought the measure of a successful player was making sure the two sides were equally balanced? Fortunately, A New Beginning is a little more back to basics and introduces rebuilding the town, as well as the farm, in order to progress. It’s rather nice and the NPCs are more interesting this time around as well, and much less… annoying.

I also have Pokémon here. But I’m waiting on that one.

Another game I’ve been playing is Beyond: Two Souls, and I must say, I’m more pleasantly surprised than I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong; it’s David Cage all over. The plot is everywhere and nowhere, the focus of the game is only on Ellen Page and to hell with everyone else meaning that Uncanny Valley is there throughout the whole game and it really isn’t a video game in the most strictest possible sense of the term.

But then, I enjoyed it when Fahrenheit // Indigo Prophecy went completely off the rails at the end. The whole weird science-fiction aesthetic was kind of fun, so I’m totally up for getting into a plot that isn’t perhaps as constrained as it could be. True to form, without a set genre-trope to fit inside, Beyond: Two Souls is very much loose around the edges. But it’s alright as a novelty. If you’re okay with some trashy fiction, then you could do a hell of a lot worse.

The problem David Cage has is not that Beyond: Two Souls is bad; it’s that his whole schtick was to blend video games and narrative together into a unique format. And this year, he’s been trumped by Naughty Dog and The Last of Us; a video game that is still very much at heart a video game, and yet tells a brilliant, powerful, clever and compelling narrative from start to finish. When you compare the two, Beyond: Two Souls looks like a rather vulgar indulgence, an auteur project by someone who is so focused on some arbitrary melding of two completely different worlds that he’s failed to notice that someone actually has already achieved his ultimate end goal, and done so without sacrificing on gameplay or narrative.

You can’t help but compare the two. And it’s a fight that David Cage must have known months ago he was set to lose. There’s plenty to admire in the technicality of Beyond: Two Souls, and the acting, and the expressions and the advances in motion-capture. But the same can be said of The Last of Us too. It’s hard to know where David Cage can go from here because really, he’s been caught out. His bluff has been called, and from inside Sony’s own first-party network, no less.

Beyond: Two Souls utilises cutting edge techniques to achieve, for me, a rather novel and antiquated view of the blend of movies and video games. It’s interesting to see what has happened; and it’s certainly worth a look if you can get it on the cheap. But at £50, it’s still predominantly movie-material and it’s a lot of money for something that still doesn’t feel like it has much structural backbone to it. I don’t think he’ll get away with doing another project like this; Sony would be rather silly to let him. They’ve had the big success this year with Naughty Dog. David Cage, and ergo Quantic Dream, is going to have to prove much more now that they can command such budgets with actual critical results. And if they can’t, I don’t see a future for them. There is no future for this variation of the medium. We’ve been watching David Cage do this now for more than a decade; he’s not only not gotten very far, he’s been overtaken by others more in tune with the ebb and flow of the market.

And I managed to get through all that without making an “Emotions!” joke. I feel so proud of myself for not resorting to such cheap tricks.

Oh, and I got The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD as a late birthday present. It’s really good. And man, does it EVER look pretty on a big plasma TV. Seems a pity plasmas are on their way out now. But what can you do? Such is the march of progress…

Anyway, I’m off for some rest now.

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