Monthly Archives: January 2017

Bait And Switch

Hey gamers,

With the recent reveal of the Nintendo Switch, and it’s impending launch day of March 3rd fast approaching, I have been going on…and on…and ON about the system. Picking apart and analyzing every little bit of the Switch hardware, software coming out, and Nintendo’s general hype building in preparation for their big move.

thanos-wait-and-see

AKA The Thanos Treatment.

It’s really looking like a “wait and see” scenario right now, with Nintendo taking their sweet time getting up off their asses to deliver.

In my attempts to analyze the Big N’s strategies involving the Switch, I’ve voiced my opinion that I can’t quite shake the idea they didn’t learn the right lessons from the Wii U, as it looks as if they are repeating them in due process. Mounting launch costs (both console and add on prices), unproven tech involving gimmicks like HD Rumble and IR sensor on the controllers (“Joy-Cons”), and a seemingly rushed launch day that currently looks to be doing more harm than good, and I’ve got this familiar sinking feeling in my stomach I’ve felt before.

everclear

Bad console launches being a lot like what happens when you pregame with Everclear.

With all of that in mind, I’m constantly reexamining my critique of the Switch, to attempt to see the value of what Nintendo is offering. I preordered the thing, dammit, so I’m really not trying to put myself off before launch day. If anything, without straining myself at least, I want to be genuinely excited to finally get the Switch in my hands come March 3rd. A bad console launch is one of the last things a gamer wants to suffer from, right next to the effects of pregaming with Everclear.

everclear-drunk

Picture of a person reacting to the PS3 launch, or someone who’s Everclear Drunk? 

I’ve already come to terms with the idea that the Switch launching so early in the year really indicates a “Soft Launch”, kind of an attempt at Nintendo’s part on rushing the thing to market, to strengthen it’s value and better prepare the machine for it’s destined money making holiday window later this year.

Considering how hard Nintendo royally dropped the ball on software last year for the Wii U, it’s not like they have the luxury of just not making money for the majority of this year, so the earlier Switch date makes sense, at least from a business stand point. Having seen what Nintendo has to offer, it leads me to believe it is from a business stand point only that the Switch will deliver initially, but I have my fingers crossed.

While I still intend on writing an article about what appears to be the only  saving grace of the Switch during it’s launch period (Zelda: Breath of the Wild), I thought I would take one more moment to look at a few of the other exclusive *NEW titles on the Switch, that Nintendo is hoping will get our engines revved.

mario-kart-8-deluxe

*NEW titles, Nintendo.

I mean, come on guys. That is like 95% an already released game, and due to the Switch’s online not even being ready at launch, MK8 will have more functionality on the Wii U than the Switch till later this year.

disappointed-freaks-and-geeks

Nintendo’s Reaction: Nah Uh.

The three titles I’m taking a closer look at today are ARMS, Snipperclips, and 1,2 Switch, all exclusive titles for Nintendo’s upcoming console. I will take a moment to figure out what these unique titles are bringing to the table with the Switch, and whether or not they will help to make the launch day fantastic.

I am now going to take this moment to immediately douse your flames of excitement, by reminding you that only one of these games is day one (1,2 Switch), with Snipperclips dropping a couple weeks later, and ARMS tentatively positioned for Q2 (April, May, June).

Oh yeah, did I mention the Switch will only have 7 games on launch day, only two of which are exclusive? Excited yet?

michael-bolton

Off to a good start, then.

Starting with a look at our first “launch game” with ARMS, this game takes a slightly different approach to the 3D fighter, with a behind the shoulder approach of fisticuffs, relying on combos, grabs, dodging, and strategic weapon usage rolled into an accessible fighter. Think Punch Out! meets Wii Boxing.

I remember the lead designer at the Switch presentation referencing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” when speaking about ARMS, and after the Live Treehouse event, it looks as if roshambo had a stronger inspiration for this title than I initially imagined, as the title has a heavy emphasis on countering with the right move at the right time design.

A basic, but somewhat strategic mix up kind of game.

arms-1

Or a straight up eat shit game, depending on your skill level.

The big stand out question for me while watching ARMS being demoed was whether or not it would have the same lasting longevity as a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors; seeing the light of day only in moments of bored indecisiveness. The game was exhaustively referred to as accessible, which is worrying to hear for a fighting game, as most of the greatest have a mandatory jumping on point of difficulty you just have to struggle with.

Needless to say, I was not able to discern in such a short amount of time whether or not the title had a serious meta-game to it, or whether or not it would basically devolve into a mindlessly satisfying button masher, but one of the reps did mention “frame advantage”, which inspired some confidence.

arms-3

At least, it inspired more confidence than the obviously painstaking creative endeavor of original in-game character names.

I think ARMS has a chance of being the most memorable of this presently discussed launch bunch, even if we have to (sadly) wait a couple months to see if that’s the case. The rep mentioned that ARMS wisely took a page out of the Wii U’s failed play book, by offering up both traditional and motion controls for the title, giving players options in the matter.

Having said that, the rep also drew a comparison to Splatoon, citing the motion controls as the more ideal option with very little practice. Considering Splatoon turned out to be a surprise darling proving gryoscopic controls can work efficiently in a competitive arena, ARMS may yet surprise gamers with a depth of play and addictive quality only the Switch’s Joy-Cons can offer.

OR it may just be a $60 drop in the bucket which will recount the same awkward arm flailing simulator Wii Boxing did at 100% of the cost but…we’ll have to wait and see.

Next up on our “Will they won’t they give a shit about Nintendo launch titles?” quiz comes Snipperclips. Snipperclips is a co-op puzzle experience, which sees two players going through a series of puzzles they must work together to solve, in what I’m guessing will be an unforgiving, tough as nails take on the puzzle genre.

snipperclips-0

Or not. I see Nintendo is fiercely targeting that hardcore dollar again.

Upon first glance, it doesn’t look like Snipperclips is looking to challenge the members of Mensa, or will even give Professor Layton a run for his puzzle making money, as Snipperclips looks to be a cutesy, quirky, quaint, co-op experience you and your closest non-gaming buddy may get a laugh out of, however.

snipperclips-1

Snipperclips, AKA The Couples Game

The main hook of the game has both characters being able to “snip” the other, cutting the partner into a relevant tool that can help solve the current puzzle. The few examples they showed were incredibly simple, from popping a balloon to sharpening a pencil.

There was no time limit, and the players could be reset on the fly, with virtually no way of failing. The game appeared exceedingly forgiving AND seemingly impossible to lose at even, leaving me wondering if the most puzzling aspect of the title was who it was actually aiming to challenge.

sensible-chuckle

Truly, Snipperclips being the sensible chuckle of the Switch lineup.

I concluded very quickly Snipperclips was indeed that ideal couples/family game: the title that is the stop gap between the core and casual gamer of the bunch, the gateway drug to help coax along the unsuspecting Zelda-less heathens of our lives.

While not impressed by Snipperclips, I will at least concede the demographics for this game do exist, and at a $20 price point, despite having no seriously redeeming qualities aside from a charming aesthetic,  Snipperclips may not need to do much else but lie dormant next to a Nintendo logo on a store shelf to sell several million copies.

mario-and-sonic

It worked for Mario and Sonic, anyway.

1,2 Switch is next on the agenda, looking to comfortably fill that token mini-game launch compilation slot Nintendo is so fond of filling. Unlike the benefit Wii Sports had with the freshness the motion controls brought with it, or the appealing promise Nintendo Land ultimately failed to inspire other games to follow up on, 1,2 Switch looks only to be switching it up in terms of what’s left to scrape out of the bottom of the mini-game barrel.

milk

I’m not even reaching when I say Nintendo is starting to milk this concept.

And that is indeed a screenshot from 1,2 Switch, from the mini-game simply titled “Milk”, which doesn’t look like the richest experience from the demos thus far.1,2 Switch does include a variety of other mini-games of varying degrees of attractiveness, including Quick-Draw, Copy Dance, and Eating Contest.

The selection of mini-games packaged into 1,2 Switch shows off the questionable bells and whistles that Nintendo has packed into the Switch’s Joy-Cons, including the HD Rumble, and IR sensor, which help you interact in new, exciting ways you’ve only ever dreamed of.

eat-1

Hah. Too easy. Time for another segment of make up your own joke caption.

The Treehouse Event showed off several of the mini-games involved, some of which, like Copy Dance and Table Tennis, were some of the few that had that fine balance between goofy and engaging. Others, like Eating Contest and the game simply entitled “Milk”, left a lot to be desired, as the novelty of the games seem so extreme, I wonder if either would get even a second chance after the 30 seconds of awkward novelty wore off.

12-switch-electric

Another preview of a mini-game from 1,2 Switch, likely entitled “Electrician”, the object of the game is to pretend to perform a menial work task to forget the amount of boredom you’re having with a Nintendo launch title.

Other games still, like Quick Draw and Samurai Training were more imagination than actual gameplay, upon further scrutiny. In both theory and execution, the titles offer some interactive charm, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, both players will effectively be interacting with either game a mere second or so and a single button press.

With all of this in mind, I’m not sure whether to applaud Nintendo for their ingenuity of having the player be apart of this abstract design, or smack my head in disbelief that the big N found a way to sell you the idea of a game, and for you to imagine the rest.

hd-rumble

Ever dreamed of competing in a virtual “how many marbles” game against your estranged family members? Say no more: Nintendo’s got you.

All that said, Nintendo really is selling you more of an experience with 1,2 Switch than genuine, hard data gameplay, as 1,2 Switch heavily relies on the players to complete the idea, through enthusiastic participation and role playing, in a sense.

In fairness, the Treehouse Live event only showed a handful of mini-games, and IGN’s write up of their hands on mentions Nintendo’s reassurance that these represented a small portion of what’s on offer, but I must insist, Nintendo perhaps is starting to scrape the bottom of the mini-game barrel to come up with any more creative endeavors in the min-game launch line up arena.

wii-sports

And to think, Nintendo debuted and simultaneously peaked motion control gaming with the same title.

1,2 Switch doesn’t have the advantage of the previous two mini-game compilations had, not being bundled in with the system, and debuting with a $50 price point, it looks so far through previews of the game that 1,2 Switch is the hardest sell yet from Nintendo’s token mini-game launch compilation lineup. The game seems to lack the robustness Wii Sports managed, and fails to be that hectic insanity Wario Ware has perfected, while still lacking the more abstract design approaches of Nintendo Land.

Despite all of the obstacles I see standing in this title’s way, if we consider the almost non-existent variety of savory Switch games at launch, and the stupid gimmicks I always underestimate the general populace totally eating up, 1,2 Switch may prove me wrong in terms of sales.

amiibo

I mean, if these cheap little things can turn crack addicts out of Nintendo fans, what would fail to?

I’m shooting in the dark here by saying this game isn’t packaged in with the Switch, because Nintendo either doesn’t want to send the message that this is their mission statement for the Switch, or they don’t have a lot of games at launch and need every last title to round out it’s roster.

This might be a little from column A, little from column B scenario, but whatever the truth is between the two, I’m comfortable in pointing out this certainly feels like a glorified tech demo for the Joy-Con functionality, and an attempt to justify the “HD Rumble tax” that helps contribute to the $70 price point that the Joy Con’s are going for…without mentioning the extra $30 charging grip that compliments the controllers.

money-printer

Remains to be seen whether or not the Switch will follow in the footsteps of the Wii and DS line, in being Nintendo’s new money printer, or as useless as Nintend’s printer without paper, the Wii U.

I was about to conclude the article with some final thoughts, but remembered at the last second there was one more launch title worth ridicu…err, analyzing, and let me reassure you, the joy I have in bringing forth discussion about the game and it’s developer staggers me.

konami-bomb

Oh Joy.

Yes, gaming fans, it looks as if Konami has taken time out of their busy schedule of mailing envelopes filled with piss to Hideo Kojima and counting their pachinko machine profits to hype Bomberman R, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. A throw back to the old school Bomberman titles you kinda remember from the 90’s, you’ll get to relive the classic days of blowing you and your friends up as you walk down memory lane with an *unbeatable franchise.

konami-franchise-2

*Unbeatable in being a cheap to churn out iteration when compared to several way bigger franchises that helps to showcase a minimal effort of commitment to both consumer desires and strong third party support for Nintendo.

To its credit, Bomberman R does look as faithful as any of the old school titles you may remember, but with swanky new HD visuals. Despite a faithfulness to the original formula, I stand annoyed at Konami for a vast number of reasons, including picking Bomberman out of their huge stable of available properties to go with (see above), while simultaneously failing to generate hype for the Switch.

Out of all of Konami’s offerings, this seems like one of the weakest picks they could have gone with. Especially compared to the rest of what they have; no one’s going out to buy this console for Bomberman.

milk

But when you consider that MILK is an alternative buying choice. IT’S ANYONE’S GAME!

It’s not even as if Bomberman is the only cost effective/low overhead game out of their old franchises they could have developed for the Switch that would have made bigger splashes, either. Ignoring the massive hype franchises like Zone of the Enders, Suikoden, or Silent Hill would have brought forth as launch titles, I feel as if other simplistic old school titles like Goemon, Gradius, or Contra would have spoken to far louder fan bases on either side of the globe.

Hell, even a remixed/repackaged Castlevania would have caught a lot of peoples attentions.Plus, it would have competed with Konami’s former star employee Igarashi, and his spiritual successor to the Castlevania series Bloodstained, which is the kind of pettiness I feel Konami really shoots for.

mgs-konami

Ah Yes. Pettiness the likes of which only Konami can pull off.

Again,  Bomberman R looked fun, even if the demo was the only one in the entire event that had troubles with controller connectivity, which made me unsure whether or not Konami informed their rep it would be an additional five dollars to unlock player two’s controller. The old school charm for Bomberman R wore off pretty quickly of course, as I waited with bated breath for the moment of truth…

bomberman-gems

Paying to continue? In MY Konami game?

It’s more likely than you think.

And before I launch off into an exhaustive rant about Konami’s infinitely stupid ingame practices, I will give them the SLIGHTEST moment of pause, in admitting I was unable to find out whether or not it was easier to earn gems solely in-game, or primarily through real world currency. It’s likely you can just gain the gems through in game play, no biggie.

I still however, wouldn’t put it past Konami to roll out some pay 2 play bullshit in some form, just because they can. Considering the shop tab is one of the only visible on the main menu of Bomberman R…

bomberman-bs

…and that Konami has a notorious reputation for shoving micro-transactions into their other franchises, including allowing you to skip playing their games by paying to “achieve” 100% status, and further destroying huge series with cheap pay to play gimmicks like Castlevania and more recently MGS V

konami-laughing

Hey Fucking Hoh! Micro-Transact Me, Bro!

I honestly don’t even care if I’m being  a knee jerk alarmist here: any chance I get to turn up my nose at any possible Konami misstep I will more than gladly take.

castlevania-erotic-violence

They’ve earned my ire.

I felt as if I had some grand finale to close on, but it’s 6 AM and I don’t care anymore. So there you have it: a slew of reasons why the Switch is testing my patience, and why I question myself when I immediately preorder new consoles, despite knowing video game system launches are fool’s errands, and why I’d be better off just waiting a year and a half for either the first big price drop, or the third killer app worth having.

I guess much like Nintendo, I will never learn how to do it right.

~Pash

 

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Highway to Hell

Hey gamers,

Every four years on January 20th in the US, inauguration day takes place, and depending on who’s taking office, it can either be really good or really bad.

Then there was this year.

doom-1

Which immediately prompted me to start playing DOOM in response.

Tonally speaking, it felt on point.

I don’t ever need much of an excuse to pick up DOOM, but if I’m ever feeling particularly apocalyptic, its a good go to. I usually rock out with DOOM 2, one of my favorite shooters of all time, but I picked up the DOOM reboot around launch, and only played it for a little bit, despite thoroughly enjoying the game. The choice was obvious, when I considered my demon slaying options.

cyber-demon

I don’t want to run rampant through just any old hell, mind you. If you want that crisp original flavor, sometimes you just got to go with fresh hell.

Continuing my habit of discussing not-so topical ultra violence in the world of video games, I figured I would jot a couple of quick thoughts about DOOM down, as the game really does help to set the standard in how not to over think a reboot.

simcity

Or how to put any thought into doing a reboot right at all.

I think first and most importantly, it was clear from moment one that ID knew exactly what they were doing, upon their first showing of DOOM earlier this year. The trailer screamed simplicity, which makes sense, as the DOOM reboot is back to basics in the most ideal way. They looked at what made the original DOOMs so great, and it turns out- it wasn’t a whole hell of a lot.

doom-ii-circled

Yeah. It was mostly just the uh, you know, all of this going on right here.

In that sense, the DOOM reboot really is stripped to it’s core essentials and not much else, and the experience greatly  benefits as a result. There aren’t many elements feeding into the design experience, which works fantastically, as the original DOOMs had a very minimalistic but effective charm that made them such gaming powerhouses. It’s minorly amazing to think it’s been this long since we’ve had a proper follow up to the PC classics, not that DOOM 3 wasn’t a great game, it was just a different beast all together.

doom-3-flashlight

A very different….very hard to see beast.

DOOM succeeds through its strong emphasis on simplifying gameplay, and there’s hardly any clutter to speak of. Much like the originals, the maps are sprawling without feeling empty, the secrets are tucked away without feeling laborious to find, and the demons are quick and many, adding to an overall chaotic feeling of combat DOOM pulled off back in the day.

doom-bullshit

Kinda of like when this kind of bullshit fucking happened.

Perhaps, one of the most impressive feats the developers pulled off with the DOOM reboot, is the accurate recreation of the character movement found within. The speed and mobility aren’t a 1:1 feel of authentic recreation to the originals in terms of rushing and dodging through the hellscapes, but it’s damn close, and helps to make the experience feel old school in a satisfying manner.

sans-dead-bunny

Sans the dead bunny.

Not only that, but all of the weapons you remember (plus a few more) make their way into your arsenal, so you can destroy the legions of hell in style, and to your hearts content. Everything from the BFG to the Chainsaw makes a triumphant return, and the meaty feeling of ripping through hellspawn flesh is oh so satisfying. The Super Shotty of course makes a triumphant return, bringing with it the two best features of old school DOOM games.

DOOM Super Shotty.png

The Left and Right Barrels.

The story is straight forward and to the point: I.E-RIP AND TEAR, and the campaign isn’t cluttered with many cinematics, instead focusing hard on what DOOM does best-let you blow away the legions of the devil himself. Sure, there are a few new caveats, like a very minor RPG-like system that helps strengthen your character, and some cool little challenges scattered throughout, like how fast you can make a demon shit stain suck led, but overall, just good old fashioned gun toting, curse ridden, blood lusting fuck fest of fun.

family

A true family experience.

I amazingly haven’t beaten the game yet, but am pushing forward through the circles of hell with pomp and circumstance. While I look forward to harvesting the wicked souls of the underworld a few times through, I have serious doubts on how active the multiplayer community still is. Outside of the biggest titles, few online communities last much longer than six months of shelf time, so in that sense, some value may be lost with DOOM, but never the less, plenty of bang for your buck with single player alone.

I am hoping DOOM sold well enough to merit a follow up, as every 2nd installment of the DOOM series is impossibly more satisfying than the first, which seems absurd, but true non the less.

If you’re looking for some quality, old school shooting to sink your teeth into, I would definitely check out DOOM if you get the chance. You’ll have a hell of a good time.

 

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The Violent Double Standard

Hey Gamers,

A long time has elapsed since I’ve put words to a screen, and it’s time for that to change. I’m going to spitball about GTA V here for a bit. I am gearing up to write about the recently revealed Nintendo Switch, but I usually like to warm up before the real fun begins.

gta-trevor-torture

Real fun, ultra violence….tomato, tomato.

In any case, I’m very late to the party on GTA V,  as the game came out a few years ago, but a number of happenstances prevented me from playing it for quite awhile. I bought it for myself on X-Mas, and have had a blast with the game so far. I’ve always been a big fan of the GTA series, maybe just as an after effect of GTA III being such a massive deal when I was growing up. There were plenty of games that justified the PS2, but GTA III was arguably one of the easiest justifications of why the system dominated that console run.

melee-halo

Not to say Nintendo or Microsoft were total pushovers.

The series really didn’t find itself till the third installment, with the first few GTA games being more of a middle of the road experience. The lack of technology was the obvious pitfall of the original titles: the top down view made the experience feel a lot more detached and archaic in design, something III fixed with a third person perspective and subsequently, a more immersive open world as a result. In fact, GTA III did for sandbox gameplay what Street Fighter 2 did for fighting games.

mudman-2

Annoy everyone with offensive knockoffs.

Fast forwarding a bit, GTA V tries a few new things, and mostly succeeds, even if the game is still guilty of some of the age old problems that has plagued the series since III. GTA has always been a jack of all trades and a master of none, at least mechanically speaking. The shooting is always second rate, as well as the driving….and well, GTA has never excelled at any single gameplay facet, but the experience has always been greater than the sum of it’s parts. I suppose the glue that holds the experience together is the empowering freedom that every installment is imbued with. Aside from the fragility of mortal life (which many pop on a cheat code to resolve in an instant), the worlds of GTA are truly yours to take, with an endlessly inviting yet intimidating environment where most anything seems possible.

gta-v-monkey

What happens in Los Santos stays in Los Santos, right guys? Right?

GTA V stands out more than its immediate predecessor, as IV deviated a bit from the prior games, eschewing the more ridiculous aspects of previous titles, and overall taking itself a bit more seriously . Where San Andreas had large Scale Gang Wars fought with Jetpacks, IV had hang outs with your cousin going to a strip club (to fulfill the simple task of seeing “big american titties” or so I have heard). Pretty mundane stuff in contrast, needless to say. So while Saints Row was picking up the slack for the zany antics during GTA’s chill out period , it wasn’t until years later when V  launched that the series returned to absurdity. V is not at all worried about being more ridiculously raucous, which is a saving grace of the title.

gta-v-horsing-around

You know, some good old fashioned horsing around.

However, from a story stand point, GTA V definitely has more difficulty in believably switching it up between the absurd and the serious during pivotal moments. Keeping in mind, GTA stories are rarely much more than parodies of already existing crime stories, at best recycling cliches from Hollywood’s most notable gangster offerings, but V never seems to balance inane and insane with more intriguing verve. The 1st act of the game has great momentum, and the 2nd act carries it confidently with the introduction of the Heist missions, but the game perhaps peaks too early in terms of drama, and then kind of meanders into some seriously dubious territory, in terms of both suspension of disbelief and bad pacing. A not so confident story guilty of flippancy more often than not.

In essence, I like that V is more ridiculous in many ways and better for it, save the story, which does not benefit in the same manner.

gta-v-sex-doll

It’s a touch and go mess, honestly.

Focusing more on one of the main characters, I wish to discuss Trevor, who is the obvious fan favorite in the community. We are speaking of a man that goes from 0-100 in about 3 seconds, with mood swings that startwith Trevor violating a stuffed teddy bear, which then somehow segways into a a bloodbath involving half of a walking mall and a firetruck. In a sense, Trevor is kind of the human personification of the world of GTA: total chaos.

While I was playing GTA V, I had a strange moment of realization; Trevor as a character represents a departure for the series in an interesting way, and I’m not sure how many people really considered why. Where as earlier GTA games featured basically a blank avatar (Claude from GTA II and III), and other characters were morally grey, but mostly mentally sound individuals, Trevor stands out. Looking back at past characters, Tommy was a killer no doubt, but he was still grounded in some form of reality, and CJ was just a kid mixed up in some bad shit trying to get out of the hood, CJ being the most sympathetic and likable of all the GTA protagonists in my eyes.

jetpack-cj

I mentioned the jetpack, right?

Niko is from Eastern Europe, and was a soldier who was fucked over in a war so…he is understandably harder edged, but you still felt for the guy in trying to make a new life by leaving a bad past behind him.

This is where Trevor stands out as an oddity, as Trevor for all intents and purposes, is a certifiable psychopath, having absolutely no moral boundaries whatsoever and a seemingly endless thirst for violence in which he gleefully engages in. As I mentioned previously: Trevor represents some walking metaphor for the world he inhabits- chaos incarnate. This is the interesting split with Trevor from other characters in the series, as we kind of have to observe and judge Trevor in real time outside of our own actions, and be a little closer to the idea of how insane GTA is in theory, and perhaps even how fictionalized the games have to be in order to maintain a sense of self , or how desensitized we have become to violence itself in order to participate.

motoraxe

I mean, joy rides have really spiraled out of control in recent days.

I know that sounds a little heavy handed, but I think there is a case to be made that Trevor represents a confrontation for the player, as we have to observe the very same insanity we’ve been personally guilty of for so many years in a new, uncomfortable way .

He challenges us by pushing the boundaries, helping to uncover at what point violence crosses the line from darkly humorous to detestably horrific.

Truly, Trevor represents the worst of the worst: so uncontrollable and violent by GTA’s standards, that even the other crazy murdering protagonists are terrified of him, going as far as high ranking government officials specifically wanting him very dead for what a threat he is. Where as most other GTA anti-heroes are poised as somehow charmingly flawed in their conquest of the criminal underworld, or someone like Claude who represents you as the player, a personal conduit, previous GTA characters have represented someone to root for. If we then look to Trevor, who outside of your own actions, provides a sense of brutality we haven’t seen yet in GTA, Trevor succeeds only in being a train wreck: you know it’s wrong to want to see the carnage the crash will cause, but you can’t help but sadistically hope the derailment occurs for a small sense of relief.

Despite his bi-polar fueled ragefests, I was always entertained by Trevor…when I wasn’t blown away by his vile approach to the every day. And yet, Trevor persists as manic to a fault, and goes back to GTA V failing to toe the line between the inane and the insane, with Trevor’s lighter moments being almost Tom & Jerry in one instance, to straight up Reservoir Dogs within the blink of an eye. Rockstar didn’t seem to quite know what to do with Trevor entirely, kind of having their cake and eating it too. If they made him too brutal he would have been a loathable character entirely, but make him too high jinksey, and he would have lost his fearful reputation as a result

I don’t know if they quite pull it off, but Trevor at least stands tall as a very memorable character as a result, even if a deplorable one. The simple truth of the matter may lie within who Trevor is fundamentally, as further analysis suggest he becomes a distillation of the GTA experience as a whole, representing the game, the player, and the interaction between both, in spurring the random chaos of a fantasy. Maybe Rockstar’s greatest achievement with Trevor then, is somehow creating an avatar that encompasses the interaction of the game and the player, into one psychotic symbolism?

walrus

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Thinking about it, does that make Trevor the Walrus? I suppose if Trevor is the avatar of the experience, then maybe we are all the Walrus in this case?

……

Regressing back to my original point, and to clarify: I’m not taking GTA to task for not being more self-aware or less violent: the very premise would make the games instantly vanish into a thin air of boring paradox. I’m more pointing out that GTA V suffers from the same systemic problem many games  across the board do, which is lagging behind in the story telling department…or perhaps, struggling with the story and gameplay complimenting each other in a greater, more satisfying manner.

I’ve seen many gamers turn their nose up to the phrase “ludonarrative dissonance” as a criticism, a term used to describe conflicts between gameplay and story. In this particular instance however, I pair the term with disassociation to boot. How my swath of bloodshed and murder is somehow palatable and joyous, while I’m simultaneously revolted by the  Trevor inflicting the same kind of terror in a similarly gruesome way, I stand in a final moment of grand hypocrisy.

Hmm. 1800 words later, and I’m still not sure I’m articulating quite what I wanted to say here. On top of me being rusty in the writing department, I think there’s a lot to unload on this topic, so this idea may yet be in it’s earliest stages of development. With one final note, though I have thoroughly enjoyed GTA V, I think if Trevor does act out as sort of the spirit animal of GTA V in a symbolic way, I think observing that Trevor is an imbalanced riot says as much about V as it does him, and maybe even me, at least in terms of when conceptual depravity is concerned.

Well. I suppose that’s it for now. Just trying to shake the cobwebs out.

~Pash

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