Archive for game philosophy

Resident Evil 5 Isn’t Racist, But You Probably Are

Posted in Games with tags , , , , on March 18, 2009 by zolthanite

Intentionally inflammatory title for what I perceive as a completely ludicrous subject.  It’s like they have no idea what Resident Evil is about, nor keep it in context.

This was cross-posted at Twenty Sided in response to Shamus’ original article.


I’m going to paraphrase a story that one of my old bosses, Robert, told me. Regardless of veracity, it holds particular weight with this whole debate.

There was a time, long long ago, when Colin Powell was being interviewed as an up and coming African American in the Army (I believe this was before he became a general). One of the questions asked of him was, roughly: “What is your feeling about racism in the Armed Forces?”

His response: “I have not had a problem with racism in the Army.”

After the press conference, Robert was in Powell’s office, as he was Robert’s commanding officer, on unrelated business. But it was fairly obvious the interview didn’t sit well with him, and as he was leaving Powell stopped him and said, “Did you have a problem with what I said?” in reference to Powell’s response.

“Sir, I think that to say that racism has not been a problem in your career is quite honestly a lie. I don’t think any black person in the Army, myself included, would agree with you on that point.”

“Robert, racism is not something I have a problem with because I am not racist. The people who have a problem with racism are racist themselves. Racism is their problem, not mine.”

Bottom line is: Personal bias for the person playing the game is irrelevant, especially if they are hyper-sensitive to such issues. The baseline for racism is purely about intent, not about perspective.

As far as the intent goes, I would almost claim that because the game is devoid of artistic merit it doesn’t have to deal with the problem of racism or not. Birth of a Nation is not purely derivative entertainment, and actually is blatantly racist as it goes out of its way to elevate white people at the cost of black people. Using blackface, in most capacities (beyond a production of Othello or historical reenactment.  It’s a matter of context), actually is racist because someone actively is making race an issue.

Resident Evil 5 takes the zombie menace, and puts it in Africa. Unless it’s taking place in South Africa with tons of Dutch around, arguing about black zombies is ridiculous. Every Resident Evil has taken place, in some capacity, in the middle of nowhere. Raccoon City was a middle of nowhere town. The first RE (I believe) was in a middle-of-nowhere mansion. RE4 was in the unnamed, generic isolated Spanish countryside. RE5 is in Africa somewhere. What other ethnic group would you expect to find? This is dictated by setting, not because someone said “Oh we need to mow down some black people. We can’t do Harlem, so let’s go to Africa. I hear they have loads of  <insert racial slur in plural form>.”

As far as racist imagery, I don’t see pearly white smiles. I don’t see large lips and shuffle dancing. I don’t see anything that would indicate historically offensive paradigms, especially for the US, that’s no worse than your average box of Uncle Ben’s rice or Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix. To be frank, I don’t see anything different from Resident Evil 4 beyond a meaningful change in scenery appropriate for the setting. More importantly, for such a White Is Right game, why is the female lead not also white? Shouldn’t she also be lily fresh, blonde, and sexy to make the battle for white supremacy complete? She isn’t Asian, that’s for sure.

If anything, one could look at Japanese games as a whole and wonder, if they have any fault at all, why they elevate Western European features as a form of beauty as they do. Ken from SFIV is actually Japanese-origin, but wants to be American to the point where he bleaches his hair. I don’t remember playing a single RE where an Asian features prominently anywhere, except for Ada Wong, who isn’t exactly a positive role model for heroism. Is she a symbol of Japanese self-loathing? It would be a much more fruitful discussion. Cherry-picking RE5 for being racist out of the entire series is irresponsible for any real discussion.


RTS on a Console

Posted in Games with tags , , , , on February 17, 2009 by zolthanite

I played some of Halo Wars demo yesterday and found the controls to be decently intuitive.  A few things missing, but I figured I could live without them.  But as I always do I started thinking of ways to try and improve upon them.  What did other games do?  How did it function?  Fortunately, my roommate has a copy of Command and Conquer 3 for the 360, so I decided to give that a whirl.  Pending giving LotR: Battle for Middle Earth a go, this is as good as I’m going to get for free.  So, on to the controls*.

*I want to write this down now, before I forget.  I’ll probably write a little bit more of what I thought about the rest of the game later, but this is a big one for me as part of the “RTS and FPS, PC4LYFE” crowd.


Play Experience

Halo Wars:  Since I was playing the demo, I went through the first two missions of the campaign and did a skirmish with each side (USMC and Covenant), replaying the second mission and setting the second skirmish on Heroic (Hard) difficulty.

CnC3: I have already beaten the GDI and Nod campaigns on PC, so I’m not likely to repeat that.  Still, I sat through the tutorial (Hi, Cameron!) and did a simple 1v1 skirmish using GDI.  To be fair, I did do the skirmish first, but it doesn’t affect the outcome of what I’m about to say so much.


Unit Control and Selection

As far as unit control they both pretty much swing the same way.  ‘A’ selects units.  Then there’s a button for moving, a button to cancel, and that sums it up.  Similarities end there though.

Multiple Units:  CnC doesn’t get the drag boxes.  Instead, the shoulder triggers are dedicated to “select all onscreen units of this type” and “select all onscreen combat units”.  Halo Wars gets a “select all onscreen units of this type”, “select all units globally” and a “select all units onscreen”, but also has a semi-hidden, drag-box function.  Basically, you get a small circular area in the center of the screen that will add units to your control as it overlaps them (Moving the circle off of the unit keeps them selected, however).  I say semi-hidden because the game doesn’t tell you about it and in order to get the circle you hold down ‘A’, instead of a normal button press.  It’s nice, but you don’t really need it for reasons further below.

Neither seems to have a group-append similar to Shift+Select on PC games.

Control Groups: Halo Wars has no squad control in the sense any RTS fan is used to, which is in stark contrast to CnC’s number groups.  After playing it for a bit, I’m fairly certain that’s because it largely doesn’t need to.  Most of the game is extremely low unit count activity, so control groups are wasted in effectiveness.  Even with a 40-unit count, you’re using a lot of that in vehicles, of  which you would only have a max of 20 if you did a single-unit built.  

What it does do, however, is give you the ability to select all of your units on the screen globally and locally, while giving a button to select the subtypes of units (Similar to how most PC games allow you to tab through unit types).  Unlike PC RTS, giving unit move and attack commands in this mode only applies it to that unit type.  It also lets you cycle through implied groups based on army region (So if you have split your forces to 3 different map locales, you can cycle through all three, selecting each as it’s own “group”.  It’s really as much granularity as the game needs.

CnC3 has the group tabs mechanic, which is, for lack of a better word, horrible.  However, it is completely and 100% saved by the ability to have the game auto-assign a group number to your selected units AND cycle through them with button presses, so you never have to use the godawful interface tabs if you so choose.

Movement: CnC still has the Forced/Attack Move distinction, by single or double tapping the Move command respectively.  Halo Wars doesn’t have the ability to make the distinction, and does not seem to do Attack Moves (Testing it with USMC marines at the moment).

Special Commands:  Most(All?) units in Halo Wars have secondary abilities.  These are activated by simply hitting ‘Y’.  CnC requires the use of the interface tabs on the unit, which means the following:

  1. Hold R
  2. Move your hand from the Camera Pan stick to the D-Pad
  3. Move over to the desired ability
  4. Move back to the Camera Pan
  5. Hit A

In short, I hate it.


Base Management

Resources: CnC-style refineries vs. the Dawn of War requisition method.  Both have a single unit for currency, not much else to say.

Building Placement:  For people who are used to placing buildings with a mouse, consoles are as bad as you think they are.  CnC still has the same placement strategies as before, with building rotation performed via camera.  Halo Wars opts for the highly simplified, yet much easier “Pod Base” construct, where your base has limited slot expansion, but can build anything you have access to in those slots.  

Building Buildings/Units: Halo Wars is a simple “Select, Point, ‘A'” which ensures that anything you want to build is only three button presses away.  CnC  uses the tab interface which activates by holding the trigger, but requires you to manually select things using the D-pad on a linear list of constructions.  For the construction yard, you’re doing a lot of mousing.  Building a crane also requires you select the crane from the map, preventing you from doing any form of queuing.  And that’s assuming you don’t need to reposition, which requires additional camera rotation.

In short, it’s annoying as hell, and I’m not sure if any amount of practice would make it any more intuitive for me.

The interface DOES allow you to queue units without going back to the base, unlike Halo Wars.  But Halo Wars gets around that by allowing the cycle-army-base buttons to move you camera as you go.

Waypoints:  CnC maintains the “waypoints per production building” mechanic, with the ability to set the default production structure for interface-based construction (That probably means the multi-building unit queues are not in the game.  Shame, really, since that was the best thing to have).  Halo Wars has a single waypoint per base, so no separating based on unit type.  It also gives you the ability to set global waypoints so all bases send units to a specific part of the map.  Awesome?



Halo Wars has an advantage in being able to tailor the game mechanics to fit a console, and get rid of a lot of the stuff that plagues Command and Conquer as a result of being a PC-port.  What’s annoying is that the Halo Wars control scheme could be adapted to CnC fairly well, and would improve a lot of the problems I had with it.  It has a fairly simple control scheme suitable for the game.  CnC is a nice effort, but it loses out on some key PC distinctions that make playing the game no where near as enjoyable.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Halo Wars is a must-buy for anyone.

Choose Your Own Effect

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by zolthanite

I started up Mass Effect completely enamored and thrilled to be alive.  By the end of the game, I wasn’t nearly as high on space life, but it was still a good game.  However, the hype machine and the players gushing “incited me to rage” as it were.  This is saying something because this and Bioshock were the first games I had ever taken on solo on a 360 before, as I didn’t own one at the time because of my pure hatred of everything Microsoft (I still don’t have a Gold membership to XBL.  I’ll let someone else pay for that).  It also didn’t help that I was playing this on a 40+” CRT TV that was fuzzing out on the edges, preventing me from reading any relevant info like the number of grenades I had.  So, onward and upward.

Legitimate Reviews:

Kotaku: Honestly, I can’t call this a review because it only addresses the dialogue system at length.  Don’t get me wrong, the dialogue system AND the quality of your choices is the best I have ever seen outside of Black Isle Studios, and I commend them for it.  But there’s a reason why.

Zero Punctuation: Yahztee basically shares my biggest issues with the game and doesn’t elaborate on them at all, instead opting to talk about the skull-crushing amount of text.  I expect a game to, you know, be a game.  The actual “game” portions of the experience are half-assed and half-baked, which was disappointing to me.

Personal Thoughts

To understand where I’m coming from, two things to note:

  1. I love to read.  No really.  I don’t get a chance to do it often, but I’ve plowed through the entire Harry Potter series, the memoirs of Joseph Wilson and Alan Greenspan, and read The Long Halloween and The Dark Knight Returns purely to see where the origins of the latest Batman came from.  I’m equal opportunity, and a lack of books is barely replaced with obsessively  reading news sites and blogs.
  2. The first Mass Effect novel came out a few months before the game came out, with the author for the book serving as lead writer for the game.  

Unlike the Metal Gears, where the plot is fairly complicated so there’s a lot of exposition and cutscenes, Mass Effect has a simple plot with a lot of atmosphere to understand.  Playing Mass Effect is a a weird experience for someone who reads books regularly (especially sci-fi) because, for the most part, it feels like I’m having a 400-page book being read to me all of the time.  What was weird was I felt this way before I found out the novel actually existed.  Most of the dialogue you don’t need, but then you lack basic context for what is going on in the world around you and why you should care (The best example is Wrex, because the Krogan genophage is a key event you really need to know about, but I don’t remember how much of that comes up without taking the time to talk to him between missions).  The key climactic moments in the game were beautifully done, however, and Mass Effect does a much better at interactive storytelling than the Metal Gear Solid series.  But what absolutely kills it is the game itself.  The load screens, interfaces, everything that make it a game, felt so ham-handed and unsatisfying it eventually broke the enjoyment I had for what was otherwise a great game.

Instead of releasing a series of novels (There’s currently two out, but I don’t know where the second falls chronologically), Mass Effect really should have been broken into two games.  The first game would effectively “create” Shepard up until the point where the player actually becomes a member of SPECTRE, whereas the second would focus on the “Saren Conflict” and the DLC missions.  The sheer variety in deciding your character’s backstory at the very beginning implies there is a lot more room to have those details fleshed out in the course of a CRPG-like campaign, which would really give a shot of player attachment right into the arm.  The other bonus, possibly the more important one, is that in serving as a soldier, you are effectively experiencing the world at large directly, without the need for plot-driving set pieces for the epic story.  

Unlike  Metal Gear, which has an already-supplied world (Modern politics) with a few footnotes for molding the planet, Mass Effect starts you fresh.  So from a narrator’s perspective, you have to understand the entire world around you before you can create an effective story in that world.  Otherwise, the sheer magnitude of scope is burdensome on the storyteller, and crushing to the reader.  The Simarillion could never be ingrained into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Mass Effect is determined to do just that through the creative use of optional dialogue and logs.

Added bonus if BioWare had a way to import the story and choices from Part I into Part II.  That would be incredibly sexy.

My Prior Review

So after I  finished the game, I made this post on my local gaming community forum.  Like I said “incited rage”.  As an added note to this, I hear the PC port made a much better use of the controls, which seems to be standard for them given the existence of Jade Empire Special Edition.  Shamus Young also made two Stolen Pixels comics, one of which I’m adding to the appropriate places in my otherwise link-free rant.  

I have no clue about the problems I had with loading though, which I surprisingly didn’t seem to address.  The short of it is, the middle of the galaxy map and the Normandy were two areas where there shouldn’t be load times, because they are extremely small, localized areas.  The loading hiccups every time I went to the lower bay for supplies and selecting systems to travel to drove me absolutely insane.  Surprisingly, I didn’t hate the elevators at all.:


My initial impression after about 5 hours was “Oh my god. A non-JRPG that I actually enjoy. Sweet Jesus this will be great”. I just finished the game after about 20 hours of playing, much to [my brother’s] dismay as the 360 is the only point of entertainment in the house.

Seriously guys, put your pants back on. Yes it’s a great game, but for the love of god it isn’t [Extreme statement better left unsaid].

Things that are well done:
– Graphics, even on my non HD TV
– Dialogue
– Storyline progression
– Character development

That being said, Mass Effect seems more like a game that was designed to tell a story, not be a quality video game, and that is the single reason why I don’t think this is “Game of the fuckin’ year!!!111” or any of the other extreme awards designed for it. It’s a good game, don’t get me wrong, but in the end I really feel like I spent $50k on a Mustang or Vette as opposed to a 7-series BMW or a high-end Mercedes. Sure the exterior is completely sexy, and way more extravagant than the subtle Germans, and will make most people wet their pants. But the love of the whole isn’t there and I’m stuck with substandard internal systems and lacking all of the random things I never knew I needed like programmable seat positioning and auto-adjusting wipers and headlamps.


The Mako exploration, after a certain point, is the exploration equivalent of grind. I began to hate doing any of the non-storyline planets with the Mako purely because I hate trying to figure out how to climb out of a series of sheer wall faces because of the general ambiguity of the planet surfaces when you need to get from point A to point B on some of the planets. If there was more squad combat, throughout the game, on the level of the last mission as opposed to a series of short confrontations where I end up one-shotted by rockets on occassion, and less Mako nonsense, the game would have been way better.

The autosave feature is fairly silly. It only triggers in the most extreme situations, but for things that are pre-cutscene initiatives, that really should be able to function during the scene itself without locking down the whole system. But this, along with the random “loading” is a fairly minor gripe compared to the two things that really annoy me.

I don’t get why the galaxy map has to load at each system junction like that. It’s kind of annoying, because there’s nothing graphically crazy going on, it’s just dropping another tier of detail.

The control system is decent, but it could have been way better. For starters, controlling anything more than my Infiltrator’s own biotic powers is completely not worth the effort. On top of that, the fact battle has to pause to use the abilities kinda kills the fun of doing the real-time fire fights. For the way the combat was designed, they should have used a PSO-like system that would turn RB into a shift button of sorts, remapping at least two of the color buttons custom abilities.

Grenades are completely annoying, as they are not only weird to come by, but the button to use them is completely inconvenient. The fact you have to reach over to use them makes them extremely hard to aim well, and I would imagine a liability at times. It would have been much better to map the button to X when your weapon is drawn, as the button is completely unused otherwise. That way I might actually be able to lead running targets and hit things. You know, in case I don’t need to shoot to kill.

Menus and Inventory
What the fuck.

Seriously, this is an RPG. A RP fucking G. If you’re not spending your time in dialogue or combat, you have to mess with your inventory and menus. And this game is written as if the concept is completely novel. I can’t sort anything by any parameter, as it would seem like the only thing it cares about is tier. Shit, even the NES RPGs had manual sorting abilities.

Want to sell enough Cryorounds so you have just enough to cover a weapon or two per character for situational use? Tough shit, you have to sort through every single tier of mod, weapon, armor, ad amplifiers, starting from tier 1, because the sell menu won’t let me sort by mods so could at least lessen the amount of garbage I have to travel through.

Want to go to the shop in the Normandy and buy gear for your squad? Tough shit! Unless you’ve memorized the details on your squad’s weapons and armor, you have exactly zero way of knowing what anything your crew is wearing because they are not part of your team. Instead, you have to go to the locker, and figure it out. And god help you if you forgot what weapons and armor your crew is skilled in, because then you have to check your squad menu. Which you can only do when you are deployed.

And why the hell is the “Non-human armors”, “Unique items”, and “Standard items” subsets for shop items accessible only through the initial dialogue? Why isn’t it a sub menu in the shopping screen itself? Why do I have to cancel out of everything, reinitiate the dialogue sequence, and let the game reload inventories just because I want to see everything the guy has to offer? 


What really chaps my ass is that for all of the attention to detail, to subtle eye motions when Shepard is making a decision, the blinking, and responses and acting in every single aspect of what this game is, they didn’t put anywhere near the same amount of work in the actual interface of the game. The stuff I have issue with is completely textbook stuff that has been done in so many damn games before it it’s not even funny, and they boned it.

This game isn’t a 9.5 or a 9. This is a solid 8. It’s an amazingly epic story, but it is a fairly simple one by RPG standards, and the ending is way better than Bioshock (Seriously, that was completely anti-climactic and completely contrived). But Bioshock is still the better of the two games, even if given the choice I would end up playing this again over Bioshock.

Rinse and Repeat: Shadows of the Colossus

Posted in Impressions with tags , , on February 9, 2009 by zolthanite

I finally got around to playing the game, which some people have hailed as being epically amazing on all fronts. I’m about halfway through, and things are starting to get kind of… repetitive.

I realize I’m playing a PS2 game, so I’m not going to nitpick about graphics/physics not making sense or something stupid. But the game really, truly does feel like a tech demo and a proof of concept. It does not feel like there’s an actual “game” that I’m playing.

The biggest issue is I can’t figure out what the story is. Ostensibly, I’m off to kill colossus #8, so I should be approaching the midpoint of the game. But averaging 30m a colossus assuming you can find it (My current issue with #8 is I have no idea where to go, or how to get there) and figure out how to kill it (Which, to be fair, isn’t usually THAT hard to do beyond timing and managing grip, but for #6 I found myself trying to climb his arm when there was a way to hide and climb his beard instead), that’s about 4 hours of play where the only thing you have to go on is “There’s a girl that needs a soul and this being will give it up if I kill these 16 colossi”. If the game is going to advertise revolutionary story techniques on the box, I kinda need a little bit more than that after 4 hours of play.

I will say one thing though, and it’s something that I find sorely lacking in mainstream development. The biggest plus about the game is it’s an example of making a high-level control mechanic and using that in a game (Portal), and not making a game first and adding the controls second (I wonder if that’s how Metal Gears are made). WAY too many games AAA games are doing this now, which is funny as the games coming out of DigiPen and high-profile flash games are usually based around the mechanic first. The game is by no means bad, but I’ll finish it up before I actually write a full scope of things I enjoy about the game.

FIFA 08: Footie Singularity

Posted in Games with tags , , on February 7, 2009 by zolthanite

I’ve been playing a lot of FIFA ’08 on my 360 before bed.  Almost done with my first successful season in Management Mode with MLS and the Crew.

It amazes me how simple patterns are amazingly effective in getting goals on a consistent basis.  And how much I can singularly hate David Beckham for putting my entire defensive and midfield lines to shame.  

But what most amazes me of all is how I’ve created three characters and they have all disappeared into the void.  They don’t exist.  It doesn’t make any sense.  If I create a character, why is that character lost if I don’t save every single squad?  Why can’t I pull my characters back out of Management Mode to edit them?  

Seriously EA, did you think that through?  I’ve never seen a sports game that treated created characters in a way that didn’t associate them like a small saved file on a memory card.  NBA Jam was able to do it.  It’s not hard.  If I want to draft him into Manchester United, let me do that.  Load the default teams, scan the cards/profiles, and put the custom players to the teams they were assigned to.  Is that really so much worse than requiring every mode to have it’s own special roster and saved state, including the default ones?

Mirror’s Edge #2: Control-ing the Difficulty

Posted in Games with tags , , , on January 25, 2009 by zolthanite

I played through the demo a second time.  One day I’ll play through the whole game and see how well this would hold up with no other design changes, but for now I’m not willing to drop $50 on a game that doesn’t look like it has the depth or replay value to be worth more then $30.

I had forgotten about reaction time and the look button (Which is really a bad mechanic to work with for me, since it isn’t a simple camera adjustment and causes you to run in that direction).  Based on the 360 controller, and leaving some room for mechanics that may exist in the full game, I would have liked to see the following:

LB: Jump

RB: Duck

LT: Grab

RT: Generic Action

X: Reaction Time 

Y: Objective Look (See the goal without actually changing direction)

A: 180 Turn

B: Objective Lock

As a result, combat would simply be a standard QTE scheme, which would allow for some pretty awesome fight sequences with the right choreographer and consultant(s).  As in, the real potential for in-game movie-like scenes which would probably have a pretty awesome effect from the first-person view.

Now, this does read like a wish-list of “Make this game to my liking, screw everyone else” and to a certain degree it is.  At a glance, it looks like I just combined the Attack and Disarm/Pickup to be a shoulder button, added a button for Grab, and gave myself another option for looking around.  But, what would a fairly simple change like this mean in the larger context of Mirror’s Edge and how it was presented to the public as a whole?

First off, the runners don’t seem to be presented like Jason Statham-esque Transporters.  Blowing people away just doesn’t seem par for the course.  Secondly the game is about running and jumping, not about shooting and karate.  Dedicating a button for lashing out with a context-appropriate limb is… weird.  But for the areas in the game that require combat (Which I’m aware there seem to be a few forced instances), QTEs get around the “I’m completely unable to defend myself” problem and emphasize combat only when necessary.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, you can control the difficulty in easily controllable ways to accommodate gamers of lower proficiencies than at the moment.  In doing so, you might be able to say “Hey grandma/girlfriend/non-gamer, I have a really cool game to show you that is bright (and…maybe colorful?  It seems somewhat limited there, I’m just glad it isn’t dark and grimy colored), contains no over-the-top violence, and is simple to control and play”.  The Wii is a system built on this concept.  Doing this on a 360 or PS3 would be an absolute dream.  In order to do so, the controls would have to be pruned down to become less of a knowledge of the button layout while maintaining fluid control.  For new players, this limits your controls to around 3-4 buttons.  Like an NES controller with shoulder buttons.


Beginning gamers need to have access to as much control as possible without being forced to do finger gymnastics or gamepad hide-and-seek.  Remember, they haven’t developed the sense to navigate the pad without sight yet.  So, at best, they have two index fingers and a thumb to work with.  This is the reason the 180 has been moved to the A button: Access without motion.

Beginning gamers are also the main reason to keep around reaction time (which is presented as useful only for combat in the demo), because wall-jumping requires some fairly quick inputs to do correctly.  This is even more important in the case of navigating dynamic events, where the sequence of required buttons would not be a simple repetition that they may have gotten used to after a few hours of play.

A lot of the mechanics would be modified or removed completely to compensate (No RT for doors, balancing difficulty adjusted, etc.) so that the use of the triggers would be almost non-existent. 

One thing to note is the addition of “Grab”.  This comes about from my personal desire to see environmentally-based 180-degree turns without the use of the button (How cool would it be to jump over a pipe and control whether you springboard off of it or grab it with a hand and follow up with a hop over/slide under to change direction) and my frustration at being required to nail long-distance jumps almost perfectly without being able to reach out to the left or right if I’m slightly off of hitting that narrow pipe.  It would also be used for a harder difficulty setting where the player would have to manually decide to hold on to something in the environment.


Since all of the direct combat would take place in QTEs, the button sequences would simply change as a function of difficulty.  To make it as friendly as possible for beginners, frustration would be minimized by a use of only LB, RB, and A with ample time to respond before “failing”.  Higher difficulties would add more buttons with higher frequency.  Novel idea, isn’t it?

Like hell it is.  It would be like playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero.  Example would be in order.

For buttons:

  • Beginners: LB, RB, A
  • Normal: X,Y,A,B
  • Advanced: X,Y,A,B, LB,RB

Scene: Simple hand-to-hand combat (Familiar to anyone with a grappling martial arts background).  Bad Guy #412 throws a left jab and a right roundhouse with a club.  Faith responds by with a series of parries, catching the second strike at the arm, and bringing the guy to the ground.

Beginner: A (Self-defense), A (Take-down)

Normal: B, X (left-right defense), A (Take-down)

Advanced: B, X (left-right defense), Y (the “catch” to control the arm), A (Take-down)

Overall Difficulty

At the moment, I believe the only thing that controls difficulty is the activation of Runner Vision.  Adding adjustable controller difficulty and combat difficulty pretty much changes how you experience the game completely.  Runner Vision and “Easy” settings allow a non-gamer to pick up a game, experience a decent challenge and still get some enjoyment out of it.  Platforming enthusiasts could disable the complications of combat but keep the complexities of advanced controls.  Combat enthusiasts (Although why they would play this game is beyond me) could do the opposite.  And the truly masochistic can pump it all to the max.


So is Mirror’s Edge a bad game?  No, not by a long shot.  Would these changes make it the “perfect game” for me? No, because there’s still things about the game that prevent it from being a completely polished jewel (For example, the camera could be better utilized for wall jumping and I’m undecided about the story since the demo has nearly nothing).  But its still an incredibly fun game with a some really innovative ways of looking at how to actually achieve a sort of “delusional immersion” in a video game instead of “Let’s simply throw it in FPS and OMG I’M THE GUY!!!”.  Between Mirror’s Edge, Metroid Prime, and Bioshock, I personally think Mirror’s Edge delivers the best first-person experience.  Putting it at the same price-point, however, makes me less inclined to buy it.