About four years ago, a friend of mine told me to purchase a video game to play with him. It was called Medal of Honor: Warfighter. I had never played a Medal of Honor game before, but he persuaded me with the notion of its unique approach to multiplayer. I won’t get into the details, but to my complete surprise, I was extremely hooked on the game for many months. However, Warfighter did not fare well critically, not commercially, and the development team was axed and absorbed into another EA studio.
During that time, I struggled to convey to anyone else how fun the game was, and why it was worth trying, even when the reviews were astronomically bad. I stumbled upon an article written by Michael Cromwell, the Editor In Chief of a now-defunct website called PCG Media. In the article, Cromwell put forward his thesis, which was that the “games journalists” (who are the same as “tech journalists,” also known as money grubbing weasels) were bored or otherwise unwilling to give the game a fair shake because of its similarity to another popular shooter franchise, Call of Duty. Not only did I share Cromwell’s beliefs then, but I feel myself echoing them today about another video game: The Technomancer.
So the 18th episode of Arrow aired recently, capping off an extremely long and awful run of episodes for the show. In this episode, a bunch of story lines all tie together in a somewhat eventful manner, and the audience finally learns who was in the grave that was teased in the first episode. That all sounds pretty cool, except for the fact that the show is so balls deep in its own mediocrity that I’m not sure I even care any more.
I’m not sure if this is a platitude I heard somewhere else, but my basic definition of good writing is when you’re enjoying a story – whether that’s a movie, a TV show, a video game, a book, or whatever – and you forget that the characters are fictional. When I watch Black Sails, I often forget that I’m watching a TV show and not a real event in history. The writing is so good, and the performances so hypnotic and intoxicating, that the very idea that some guy wrote this down just slips away into the aether.
And then there’s bad writing, which is when you’re all too aware of the fact that some guy is writing that shit down, and is probably giggling to himself at how amazing it all is.
I vividly remember a time, a few years ago, when I would go to my local EB Games, put down my $60, and buy a game. I’d take this unsealed package, go home, and pop it into my PS3, excited to play this amazing thing that I had been anticipating for so long. And then, after having played anywhere from ten to sixty hours of this game, having beaten it and all of its content, I would learn of a new thing I could buy, maybe for seven dollars, maybe for ten. A new adventure, a new challenge, one that was created for the players who had conquered what came before. Downloadable Content, or DLC, was used to enhance an experience for the player. Once upon a time, I enjoyed it.
[UPDATE: This post has been revised on March 8, 2015.]
I figured that since 2014 just ended, I should post about the stuff that I’ve really enjoyed this year. This list is limited to the stuff that I have personally seen / played / listened to, and does not include anything else. It’s also not a “best of” list, because what I personally like, and what I think is “good,” are different things. So let’s start.
Ten episodes of “Gotham” have aired, and the entire experience has been extremely underwhelming.
I can’t I’m surprised, really. I didn’t have any expectations about the show, beyond that it would be competently written enough to get on TV in the first place. What was I thinking? The show is garbage. It suffers from a number of problems, which I’ll outline here, but first I want to discuss my biases.