Posted on 15th Jun 2010 at 13:57 by Joe Martin with 7 comments
I’m a firm believer that it’s better to do something simple very well than it is to fumble something more complicated. So, it’s no surprise that I like indie platformer Orton and the Princess – it’s uncomplicated and polished to perfection. You are the beige square. The eponymous Princess is the pink square. You have to get to the pink square. Then the next level begins.
Gameplay-wise, Orton and the Princess isn’t any different to dozens of other platform games. Avoid the spikes, dodge the traps, reach the end of the level, set a high score. It does a few things though which help to set it apart – little things, like having an incredibly energetic banjo theme tune. Ding-ding-ding,duh-dong-ding!
Posted on 12th May 2010 at 12:40 by Joe Martin with 48 comments
I’m playing No One Lives Forever at the moment and, while it’s an undeniably great game and one that I’ve played many times, I’ve found myself getting increasingly infuriated with it for one simple reason. The cutscenes are far too long. They break up the flow of the game far too much and the mission briefings are often so padded out with needless dialog that it’s impossible not to get distracted.
What makes it all so much worse is the fact that much of the information you’re being bombarded with is repetitive, as well as flabby. You spend ten minutes listening to Cate Archer being berated for being an incompetent woman in the male dominated spy industry of the 1960s before the supposed mission briefing even tells you what you’ll be doing in the next mission. Then, when the cutscene is all over, it’s all summed up for you in a objectives and story screen anyway. It’s a massive flaw in an otherwise striking and superb title.
Length isn’t the only issue with NOLF’s cutscenes though – they are also rendered dull by how static they are with just three characters standing and talking, unmoving. Monolith obviously tried to liven things up by throwing in some interactive bits where you can choose how Cate responds to her superiors, but it’s too little and too late.
What really bothers me though is that No One Lives Forever isn’t by any means an exception. Almost every game imaginable has problems with cutscenes – it’s a well documented theory that Valve shot itself in the foot by deciding to always have Half-Life told from a silent first person perspective. In the short term it definitely increases the immersion, but with the story that Valve is telling it’s unbelievable that Gordon should be so stoic and static.