Category Archives: Video Games

In which Liz tells Frank about the future of entertainment (financially, anyway).

Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 3)

Dear Frank,

What a fun genocidal journey we’ve been on, huh? But now, it’s time for Eric Miller‘s thrilling conclusion to the video game “Spec Ops: The Line.”


Dear Liz,

Spec_Ops_The_Line_cover…nice long kitten break. Back to Dubai!

Something that I should make clear to you, Liz, is that Spec Ops is not the best game I’ve ever played. At the moment, that title belongs to Mass Effect 2 (with some grumblings about how many of the problems with ME3 can be traced back to ME1 and 2 over promising…). It wasn’t even my favorite game of last year, which goes to… Mass Effect 3, because of everything that happened before those last 15 minutes…

Point is, the game’s not perfect. There’s clear padding in areas, Act 1 goes on too long (it’s almost half the game), I hate the In Medias Res beginning (hence why I didn’t mention it at the start), and the fact that there’s no way to progress in the White Phosphorous attack without using it and killing all the civilians undercuts the message a bit in the end (although many disagree).

Compared to Apocalypse Now, Spec Ops isn’t even close. Apocalypse Now is just about perfect, the writing, the directing, the cinematography. Really, the only problem is that the early battle scenes are too exciting and entertaining, and thus make it easy to miss the point of them.

But what Spec Ops does well? It does phenomenally well. Read the rest of this entry


Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 2)

Dear Frank,

Here we go again, into the “Heart of Darkness”! Get it, because the video game “Spec Ops: The Line” is like “Heart of Darkness” but in Iraq and super-horrific! Here’s part two of three, courtesy of Eric Miller.


Heya again Liz,

So, where were we?

image 14

Ah, right. Read the rest of this entry

Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 1)

Dear Frank,

SPECIAL TREAT! Eric Miller (yes, of the Los Altos Millers, AKA my brother) recently played a video game! He found it a bit traumatic! So his solution: To tell me what happened in it. In enough detail to justify three whole installments! Not to mention a whole bunch of cat videos.


Dear Liz,

Spec_Ops_The_Line_coverThe question “Are Video Games Art” has become, thankfully, a dying question. One film buff, after asking himself that question at the start of a video in giant, bold letters, simply responded “Of course they are, that’s not even in question”. There will always be naysayers, of course, but the gamers of the world are starting to tune them out, because there’s a more interesting question in mind: “What kind of art are video games?”

The medium is everything in art. The finest movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings keeps the soul of the original, but changes most everything else in an effort to keep the three films under 20 hours. Stories you can tell over a 26 episode season are impossible to translate to a 2.5 hour movie, and the ability to frame a shot, cut it, take multiple takes and add in CGI can give film a splendor and weight that even the grandest opera could never hope to achieve. Every medium has its own upsides and downsides based on its mechanics, and the skilled creators have to find out how to enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses to create their work of art.

And that’s the reason why video games have gotten the short stick for so long. Too many try to tell a cinematic story, which means trying to take something that worked in a movie and cram it into a different medium with different rules. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to work as well, because it takes time, is TAKING time to figure out how this medium really works.

Which is why I’m telling you about Spec Ops: The Line here. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank Why She Struggles With “Walking Dead” But Loves “Warm Bodies”

Dear Frank,

warm_bodies_ver7_xlgIt’s taken me more than a few years to understand why (despite being a total slut for any sort of fantasy or sci-fi narrative) I don’t really like zombie stories: They make for very hopeless storytelling. I can get on board with post-apocalypse narratives; I can get on board with horror. But zombie stories combine the two, often in a dark gruesome way, and goddamn if I’ve always failed to really engage with them. 

The exception, though, happens because of love.  Always because of love.  

Let’s start with The Walking Dead. If I had been single in the year 2010, I would never have finished watching the first season; I didn’t hate it, but I found it awfully bleak for regular viewing. 

However, I was not single in 2010, and the guy liked the show and didn’t have cable, so we watched it at my place — when Season 2 premiered a year later, after my relationship status had changed, I realized that on the bright side, I wouldn’t have to continue watching it. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Mass Effect 2”

Dear Frank,

You, like anyone else who checks in with the official Liz Tells Frank Twitter account, might have noticed that over the past few months, I’ve been spending some time playing a video game. This might not seem like a huge deal, except for the thing where I don’t really ever play video games — I mean, I enjoy the mind-fuck that is Portal, and I can still kick anyone’s ass at Street Fighter II (if you let me play Chung Li). But for the last fifteen or more years, video games have not been a part of my life — which is why it is SO WEIRD, how Mass Effect 2 COMPLETELY ATE MY BRAIN.

When I told you about the first Mass Effect last year, Frank, I did so with help from my friend Kate, because I hadn’t played it myself. I mean, the franchise sounded relevant to my interests, in a sexy Star Trek kind of way, but have I mentioned how I don’t really play video games? It wasn’t something I really considered an option for me.

Then my brother bought me ME2 as a Christmas present, and on a whim a few months ago I decided to crack it open and see how badly I’d do at it… Basically, your classic “meet-cute” love story. Read the rest of this entry

It’s the Liz Tells Frank Very Special Guest Star Anniversary Contest Spectacular!

Dear Frank,

It was upon this day, one year ago, that I first told you about a movie, TV show or book you didn’t want to watch. (It was Tron! Aw, Tron. Good times.)

To commemorate this auspicious anniversary, I reached out to some friends of LTF to help me out with the first ever Liz Tells Frank Contest/Giveaway/Whatever Language Keeps Me From Running Afoul of California Lottery Laws! These fine folk volunteered to tell me about a movie or video game I myself haven’t seen or played: Here’s the twist — our readers don’t get to know what I’m being told about. They instead have to deduce it themselves using only the provided summaries! And the first reader to successfully guess all three will win $20 in Amazon money!

UPDATE: The winner of the contest is none other than Jill Weinberger! Congrats Jill! This post has been updated to include the names of the things being discussed.

So, Frank, please enjoy the efforts of our friends — and here’s to at least one more year of this ridiculous, ridiculous blog.

Read the rest of this entry

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