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April 2013

A Game for the Summer

Summer Sun Beach Thinking about playing a AAA console game this Summer – but what?

To celebrate completing the manuscript for Chaos Ethics, and possibly getting my PhD by Publication if the wheels crank fast enough, I should like to indulge in playing a AAA game this July. I haven’t been playing many of these lately, in part because so few interest me as play experiences of my own (although I remain interested in other people’s experiences of them). Trouble is, I just don’t know what I’d play.

Of the releases still to come The Last of Us is a possibility, but I don’t particularly like Naughty Dog’s games – I still hold them responsible for murdering the 3D platformer genre by helping to make guns mandatory. Also, I’m so unbelievably bored of the post-apocalypse as it is usually presented. Two centuries after Mary Shelley's "The Last Man" the high point is either "The Day of the Triffids" (1951) or “The Road” (2006), and both are notable because they have stories that aren’t dependent upon gunplay. I long for fictional apocalypses that don't devolve into a gun survivalist's wet dream. There’s not exactly a shortage of gun stories – or gun games – so it’d be nice to explore outside this narrow space.

Of the releases that have already come out, I’m not sure there’s anything I want to play. I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed, but don’t see much point in my playing any of the sequels. The further they get from the Crusades, the less appealing they become, and I certainly have no interest in the crummy science fiction wrapper story. There’s Heavy Rain, but it looks a little tiresome. I could try the last GTA for context, but Liberty City bores me. Playing any of the first person shooters would be redundant – I’ve had more than my fill of guns from Counter-Strike, and I don’t need any more. If I wanted to shoot guns, I could visit my father-in-law and pop off some rounds on the back porch.

In the matter of Bioshock Infinite, I’m afraid I am thoroughly repulsed by the way it appears to represent its villains as the Liberal’s caricature of Conservatives. Contrary to what is apparently expected, making these people racists and theocrats isn’t a justification for a one-man campaign of brutal genocide against them. This kind of shoddy moral reasoning effectively endorses the ongoing extermination of Muslims – irrespective of their guilt or innocence – that is currently dishonouring the brave men and women of the United States military. I certainly don’t want to play a game that embodies this kind of bigotry. Maybe I am misjudging it – but the game footage I’ve seen thus far has been fairly disgusting. (Note that Miguel Sicart’s arguments about the ethics of computer game have no bearing on the morality of representation in game narrative.)

Since I don’t want to set up my Xbox 360 which is still gathering dust, I need a PS3 game (not necessarily an exclusive) that I might enjoy – perhaps a cRPG, since I am allowed one a year and haven’t had one yet. I’d love something as engaging as Front Mission 2, but that particular franchise peaked with its second outing and has never recovered the magic. I’ve never played a Final Fantasy and I’m unlikely to start now. Skyrim looks like a colossal waste of my time, although I enjoyed running around Oblivion for an hour or two. Mass Effect is a long way from what I’d like to be playing. What’s left? Disgaia 3? Life’s too short for an orgy of levelling to be my only game this Summer.

Bearing in mind that my favourite games of last year were Proteus, Bientôt L'été and Journey, can anyone suggest anything in the AAA console space worth playing that I might enjoy?

Winner, and Last Chance to Win

By the throw of a D6 the second winner in the Spring Review Drive is Oscar Strik. Congratulations to Oscar, who admittedly stacked the deck in his favour with a whopping four review submissions. A signed copy of Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy will be on its way to the Netherlands shortly.

One final copy is up for grabs, and at the moment your odds of winning would be 50% if you submitted two reviews. For more information see Win a Book in the Spring Review Drive!