Dark Souls and Why I Don’t think Magic is Overpowered

By Alexander Leach

I just got done playing Dark Souls 2 for review on CGMagazine. Should be in the print publication, as well as on their website. As you can tell, I really enjoyed it.

Full disclosure, though. I played a Sorcerer.

Normally, I wouldn’t think this would be a problem. I play magical classes in every single game, out of personal preference for the intellectual or spiritual figure who can manifest those qualities directly with energy blasts or other direct manipulations of reality. Dark Souls magic are thematically cool; the soul-energy of sorcery, the primal flames of pyromancy, the divine lightning of miracles, and the inviting, dark power of hexes are all well-represented and distinct, particularly in Dark Souls 2. With the effort they put into them, its somewhat troubling that people are dismissive of them.

Sorcery seems to have a series of detractors in Dark Souls 2, claiming that sorcery is for ‘babies’ and that magic is overpowered, negating the game’s famous difficulty. This isn’t new; the same attitudes arose in the first Dark Souls, as well. In the original, they had a point – magic made many of the bosses laughably easy, including the final boss. In the second game, however, I don’t believe that this is as much of a case.

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Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter a Day from Closing

By Alexander Leach

There’s only one day left before the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter finishes.

It staggers me just how many of these video game Kickstarters greatly surpass the million mark – granted, this one was aiming for slightly lower than a mill, but double your goal is still impressive. The willingness for gamers, myself included, to give money to game developers in the hopes of producing better content is heartening, and somewhat concerning.

There’s certainly a lot of reasons for excitement. Monte Cook is involved, Tony Evans of NWN fame and Colin McColm, and Chris Avellone is confirmed as of the 3.5 million mark. People who worked on Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights: Mask of the Betrayer (an amazing story and game, far better than the core game) are working on this. Read the full post »

Damsel Decisive: Bioshock Infinite and Elizabeth as a Credible Agent

Elizabeth doesn't take too kindly strange Pinkerton agents falling through her ceiling. PHOTO COURTESY Irrational Games.

Elizabeth doesn’t take too kindly strange Pinkerton agents falling through her ceiling. PHOTO COURTESY Irrational Games.

By Alexander Leach

Bioshock Infinite has arrived.

Though it’s been a while, I did a blog post on the game, criticizing the portrayal of Elizabeth in the trailers. In them, and based on interviews with Levine and others, she’s portrayed as having exaggerated mannerisms and features designed to make the players want to protect her, coupled with an outfit that sexualizes her unnecessarily.

This issue’s come up in the foreground again thanks to Anita Sarkeesian’s much-criticized Feminist Frequency video on Damsels in Distress, discussing the trope. I can’t agree entirely with the video, since I don’t think it supports the conclusion it presents, it ignores the actual factors and problems its symptom of, and it doesn’t investigate the trope and why it’s so widely used beyond a very bare-bones historical summary (which should be critical if she’s asserting that it inherently objectifies women and represents a patriarchal oppression of feminine agency). Perhaps I’ll write about it in detail some other time, though given the controversy regarding response to her endeavor on her side and the other, it might be better to leave it. I will say that it’s something that needs to be discussed regardless of why you’re discussing it.

On the subject of Elizabeth, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Impressed, even, with how Irrational managed to take the traditional damsel plot and character, and invert it in a way that doesn’t feel like a blatant attempt at deconstruction. Better yet, I think she’s one of the better female characters in a video game outside of the protagonist model – something that the game industry isn’t known for.

Elizabeth isn’t an extended escort quest, in the vein of ICO or similar games (a game I’m not fond of, due to the focus on escorting a helpless waif through hordes of enemies). Elizabeth is not expressly in danger of being kidnapped during a firefight. In cut-scenes, she fights back when grabbed, punching and kicking, and using her ability to open Tears to escape capture. In fights, she’s immune to damage, and enemies largely ignore her.

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Guild Wars 2 and Me Falling out of the Sky, Screaming

I’m pretty sure I got lost up there in that background at least once. Courtesy of Guildwars2.com

By Alexander Leach

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted a blog here. No excuses, no explanations, just a blog post and the hope that hiatuses won’t happen again in the future.

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2 (as the review I wrote on the game for C&G Magazine would imply). I’m still finding new things about the game, even now, and announcements of new kinds of end-game content further cements my need to write about the variety of things to do in this, and other online RPGs.

Specifically, the Goenn’s Laboratory jumping puzzle.

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Curiosity killed Schrödinger’s cat: Peter Molyneux’s new game

Peter Molyneux and Geoff Keighley on GGTV, showing off the concept for Curiosity. Apparently the cube’s secret may be toxic waste, no doubt gleaned from Vent chats. Photo Courtesy of Google.

By Alexander Leach

Apparently, this game will change our lives.

Peter Molyneux, creator of the lackluster Fable series and the enjoyable Black and White games, has announced his first game on his own with startup company 22 Cans.

He’s no stranger to promising the moon will pop out of every game he produces. Fable never lived up to the hype created for it, and Black and White, while a good game, wasn’t nearly what seemed to be promised. In fact, I found the Fable games downright boring in terms of mechanics, and never could quite play the games through. There’s even a fake Twitter account for Peter, making fun of his artistic promises (at least I think it’s fake).

As for Curiosity, everything I’ve seen of this game, and it’s premise, makes me think one thing.

Is this a joke?
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