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
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?
Ah, right. Read the rest of this entry
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.
The 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
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
Aren’t there movies that we, as a society, have agreed to pretend didn’t happen? I had thought so. I had believed that we were a civilized people, that we would accept our mistakes as a race and move past them as best we can. But for some reason I don’t ever want to understand, HBO decided to prove me wrong.
But here’s what’s interesting: Once I started watching? I really couldn’t stop. There is something captivating about how thoroughly Street Fighter says “Fuck You” to the audience and to good taste. So amazing, was the level of terrible splayed out before me.
I suppose I should own some of the blame for watching Street Fighter this weekend. But really, I’m pretty sure it’s HBO’s fault, for making the movie available on HBO Go. (Otherwise a fine service that I appreciate coming free with my cable subscription.) Read the rest of this entry