Friday, May 23, 2014

There Are Literally Zero Things Offensive About FAR CRY 4's Box Art

Uh oh, white skin means racism?

This is Far Cry 4's box art. Currently, it is being called racist and offensive by many people in the gaming industry. People are actually arguing that because it shows a light skinned man in a position of power over a slightly darker skinned man. It's being called offensive too because he's using a religious statue as a throne which is apparently 'desecration.' 

I apologize in advance, but if these are your arguments then they are automatically invalid and deserve absolutely no attention given to them. I'm sitting here using all the brain power I have deliberately trying to find something even remotely offensive about this box art and I just can't do it. It's a typical box art. What, do people think he's gay because his clothes and pose are a bit flamboyant? Why is that offensive? I seriously can't find anything here that's even mildly offensive or off putting. 

What about Far Cry 3's box art? It shows Vaas, a hispanic man, asserting dominance over a white male buried in the sand. Is that racist? In order to subvert racism do we need to have characters all be the same race? Wouldn't that ALSO be racist? Is it sexist too because there are no women on the cover? Holy shit, there are no women on the cover of Far Cry games, they must be sexist. It's the same leap in logic that's being made here.

Uh oh, sand is offensive?

The folks at IGN addressed the issue admitting they could see why people had an issue with the box art and that nobody's opinion should be 'written off.' I vehemently disagree. There is absolutely no controversy here. It's just people being oversensitive and overly politically correct. I'd honestly even go so far as to say that the actual racists are the ones calling this racist. When I saw Far Cry 4's box art, I saw a man who is clearly the villain, asserting his dominance over a henchman on a well constructed piece of art. All they seem to see is a white guy over a non white guy. Also, that statue may or may not have slight religious significance, so blasphemy too! Since when do we care about religion in games? Did we forget about how BioShock and BioShock Infinite portrayed both extremes of Atheism and Christianity? I genuinely don't get the controversy, and it's largely in part because there is none. 

Like the Mass Effect "gratuitous sex scenes" before it, this is a non-controversy and we should seriously stop taking any argument against that even remotely serious. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Best and Worst Spider-Man Games of All Time

With the Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theaters this weekend, I thought this was the perfect time to return to this page. I've been a fan of Spider-Man for longer than I can even remember and it was also one of the reasons why I got into gaming. So, to honor the wall crawler, I thought it'd be fun to rank my favorite Spider-Man games of all time, from worst to greatest. DISCLAIMER: This is strictly based off of the ones I've played. While I have played the genesis and gameboy advanced Spider-Man games, I'm going to focus on the most memorable ones, so basically, PS1 and onward. Let's go!

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Ehh, I'm not sure what to say about this one. I bought it on launch day because it had been such a long time since I had that web swinging fix that only a Spider-Man game could deliver, but this was just disappointing. Keep in mind, I'm also in the minority because I actually thought the film the game was based on was actually fantastic. The game just falls flat. Webs stick to clouds, the story is written horribly, the voice acting leaves much to be desired, the gameplay feels more like it's trying to emulate the Arkham games than it feels like it's trying to be a Spider-Man game, and the gameplay mechanics are kind of dull. Web Rush, which is a mechanic that puts Spider-Man on an automated path during gameplay is as about as lame as it sounds.

The camera's super close to Spider-Man during gameplay which unexpectedly makes the game feel less open. The lack of mission variety coupled with how dry the game is definitely makes this the worst game to don the Spider-Man name. At least, of all the ones I've played. It's worth playing, but not worth a buy. NYC is empty and lifeless which is the worst mistake you could possibly make in an open world game.

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007)

I'll be honest, I don't have much experience with this game. It's basically Marvel Ultimate Alliance with exclusively Spider-Man characters, villains and heroes alike. This game wins points for being the only game that lets players play as Doctor Octopus (my personal favorite villain) but aside from that nugget of positivity, the rest of the game is rather bland. I'm gonna be lenient though, because this game is clearly marketed for kids. It's not the WORST thing ever, but it's still pretty bad if your expecting a great game. 

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Okay, now we're getting to the good stuff. Spider-Man 3 hit theaters on May 3rd 2007 and it was awful. It was the first time I remember walking out of a movie I was really excited for thinking, "That wasn't nearly what I was hoping for." It's also the last time that's happened to me as well. So my hopes for the game were high. Not only was it a sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed superhero games ever, it was based on a film that was the sequel to the best Spider-Man film to date. 

The game is pretty good. I know, it's missing a lot of what made Spider-Man 2 great, and that's why it's not higher on the list, but they really did make some cool improvements. The swinging was fine tuned and improved from it's predecessor, the fighting was pretty cool, and Manhattan was a great open world. There weren't many things to do, but I really appreciated the open approach to boss fights. You could fight most of the bosses anywhere you wanted. Want to fight the New Goblin in the subway? You can do that. Grand Central Station? You can do that. Empire State building? You can do that. The map was designed really well and the graphics were pretty decent too. The quicktime events got stale real quick and the story, though decent, felt kinda dry in comparison to the last installment, but even so Spider-Man 3 was a pleasure to play. If my disc wasn't broken, I'd probably play it more often.

Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (2001)

Oh, PSOne. I miss you so much. This was one of my favorite games growing up. That said, it's also not very high on the list for a few reasons. It's a sequel to Spider-Man, duh, but it lacked a lot of the soul that went into that game. The level design here, while definitely reminiscent of it's predecessor, ultimately felt bland. This is likely due to the fact that, unlike Spider-Man, this game was developed by Vicarious Visions, and not by Neversoft. I feel like the developers were trying too hard to emulate the first one that they missed out on putting their own unique stamp on the series. That aside, there are some great moments here. The variety of levels, costumes, and ways to play is pretty amazing. 

It's got some great moments too. The introduction of The Lizard was fantastic and the game gave some great attention to lesser known villains like Hammerhead. The Sandman fight is particularly great. There's a lot to like here, there's just less overall. It's definitely worth picking up though. Especially for Spider-Man fans.

Ultimate Spider-Man (2005)

A cell shaded open-world Spider-Man based off of the Ultimate comics that let you play as Venom? Yes. A million yeses. I'll be honest here, Ultimate Spider-Man has it's fair share of problems. Venom's gameplay is kinda empty and the city in general doesn't have much to offer, but the way the game goes about telling the story, the way the comic book cell shade compliments the script, and the way the game progresses is unique to the point where it saves a lot of the games faults. Venom's gameplay might be empty, but it's also the only open world game that lets you play as Venom, so kudos on the devs for that. 

It really is just a fun universe to explore. The Ultimate comics were among my favorites growing up and this game did a pretty great representation of them. It could have been better, but for what it was, it was pretty damn great. 

Spider-Man (2001)

This was the first game I ever played in the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube generation of consoles, so I'm very fond of it. (Actually, I think I played Dragon Ball Z: Budokai first, but you get what I mean.) Yes, your webs attached to the clouds, the voice acting was silly, and the story was a bit off, but damn was this fun. "Looks like the freak wants to play," is tattooed into my memory at this point. I'm not sure what else to say about it. It had a lot. Great cheat codes, a Spider-Man bowling minigame, the ability to play as the Green Goblin (WHICH ROCKED!) It was a solid movie based game. The levels were fun and distinctive, and some missions were straight up Metal Gear Solid. Infiltrating Oscorp was one of the most tense experiences I remember having as a kid. I haven't played it in a while, but I think it holds up. Though I'll admit, nostalgia is a big factor here.

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

This game is critically acclaimed. For many people, it's the best Spider-Man game based on the best Spider-Man film and it's a great combination. I don't really disagree. This was the first game in the franchise to introduce contextual web swinging. Your webs attached to buildings for the first time ever and not to clouds. It was revolutionary. The city had lots of different crimes to foil and many different mission types. Who could forget delivering those pizzas with that amazing soundtrack? It also melded the movie universe with the comic universe brilliantly. Including Black Cat and some pretty great encounters with Mysterio really made the game's story stand out. 

The story felt genuine. There were some issues however. The fight with Doc Ock in the end was a little disappointing and though the web swinging was revolutionary, it was the first iteration of it's kind and consequently hasn't aged as well as the future titles. That said, this might be the best game in the franchise. That said, there are still two other games that have a slight edge. 

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008)

What do you get when you take the web swinging mechanics made famous by Spider-Man 2, integrate a moral choice system that changes the outcome of the game, and set yourself free from any need to run parallel to a movie storyline? This. I loved this game. The combat was top notch, the story was incredibly comic booky (in a good way), and there were some great fights. Venom is treated fantastically here and he's portrayed as one of the most fearsome foes int Spider-Man has to face. Appearances by Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Symbiote Black Cat also make for some kickass encounters. 

I know, I'm in the minority here. Most critics slammed the game, and I even gave it a 6/10 back when I used to do reviews, but now that I reflect on it, it truly is one of the best Spider-Man games there is. The only thing I can think of that marred the experience was Spider-Man's voice acting. The acting isn't bad, it's really just the sound of his voice. Other than that, it's great. The graphics, the story, the gameplay, the combat, the characters, the mechanics. Switching between the black suit and classic suit alter gameplay and allow for some really interesting combat combinations. Like a fine wine, Web of Shadows only get's better with age. So what could possibly be number one? 

You all saw this coming.

Spider-Man (2000)

The game that really started it all. The only game that I can think of whose quirks and problems actually add character to the game. It's old. It's wonky. It's silly. It's awesome. This game has more than most AAA games nowadays. There's memorable moments, memorable music, memorable levels, memorable characters, memorable fights. Everything is memorable. The fight with Scorpion in JJJ's office, chasing Venom across Manhattan's sky scrapers, that beast of an introduction by Stan Lee that caught me way off guard when I first played it, lore hidden throughout the levels like the Green Goblin's lair, the horror that overcame you when you first heard the voice of Monster Octopus, the way the last level turns everything on it's head, the secondary story mode that alters the plot, coming face to bowl with Mysterio, Carnage's awesome introduction, using different elemental upgrades to change the effects of your webbing to use for different scenarios, dozens of costumes each with their own game changing attributes, etc. 

There's so much here. It may not have the AAA flash that the modern games do, might not have the deep and inspired story lines, the open world, and it doesn't even have the traditional building focused web swinging, but this one game on PS1 has more content and more character than most AAA games do. That's special. That's worth commending. That's Spider-Man.