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A petition to Gamespot (game trailers)

Dear Gamespot staff and fellow members,

In this short editorial I'd like to ask for your opinion and support in a case that appeals to both our gamers' cravings and sense of aesthetics. I'd like to say a few words about game trailers. Have you noticed how much they have evolved over the last couple of years?

What we see now is alchemy, CG image of the highest quality mixed with brilliantly composed music or licensed soundtracks. This extremely advanced technology is no longer reserved for feature CG movies, it has now become a part of the art of making game trailers. And boy, are they impressive. The first Crysis 2, Deus Ex 3, Killzone 3 teasers, the long trailers for The Old Republic and The Force Unleashed, the Gears 3 reveal trailer, MGS Rising E3 trailer - they are all art. Think about how much creativity and hard work it takes to make something as epic as that 40 second long Killzone 3 teaser. Everything is calculated and polished to perfection.

Think about how hard it must be to create a script for a trailer that will only give you a very small idea of what the next game is going to be like, but have you craving more and more, have you wanting the game to come out RIGHT NOW. Then you have to choose appropriate music for your trailer, which can make it or break it. For example, the thing that makes the Gears 3 trailer good is the song. "Heron Blue" by Sun Kil Moon, a song so powerful and at the same time - such a simple composition. You know what I'm talking about here well: the trailers that make you go "@#$% YES!! I want to play this!!" We cannot ignore the fact, that the art of creating game trailers is so much harder than making movie trailers. In movies, you just put pieces of the end product together, put some music in the background and maybe add a couple of captions. The difference between this and making a good CG game trailer is that in the latter everything has to be built from the ground up. A team of CG artists has to be employed, a script has to be written, the whole thing has to be directed by a professional, many a times even motion capture actors have to in the process. Let's embrace this beautiful truth: the hyperrealistic, epic game trailers have become an art evolving parallel to gaming itself.

I think it is time for us, the gamers and journalists alike, to give some recognition to the people who make these short masterpieces. My petition is this, I ask that later this year, when it is time to vote for Game of the Year, a new category is added to the awards: Best Trailer of the Year. It's about time we give those hard working people responsible for this art the recognition they deserve. It really wouldn't be much, to add just one more category to the awards, I mean, we do have Dubious Honors. don't we? Let's vote for something that actually deserves a prize. What say you?

Turned in my soapbox privilege.

As of today I am no longer authorized to post in the soapbox, asked Jody to remove my badge and so the story ends, my friends. I'm no loger gonna be an active user, just dropping by every once in a while to see reviews and such. Definitely not active in the community anymore though. I'm not gonna make up excuses, I just simply don't feel like being here for anything else than the couple of good people I met here and the occasional review of a game maybe I'll someday play. It's kinda hard maintaining calmness and you can't use the F word and the majority of the community is made of 15 year old Master Chief worshippers. Those of you who give a damn know where to find me. So, somebody write a good editorial so that there is somebody to fill in for me in the touchy subjects area of the soapbox. Bye.

A thing or two about MGS4 and the strange ways that life and VR entwine.

OK, so as you know I recently got my first PS3, started out with KZ2, now playing MGS4. Obviously I already think it's the best game ever (also, it could not be more Japanese... gotta love the subtle cultural references), but I'm only at the end of act 2 so don't tell me what happens!

This is strange and eerie... last night I found out that Snake has nanomachines and a virus in his body, has to take shots for seizures and that his entire cell structure is a mess. Today I found out that my mother-in-law has liver cirrhosis. This really freaked me out because it seems like this kind of thing happens to me way too often: I watch something in the TV or in a video game and BANG, the next day or week somebody gets it. Did I mention the fact that also last night I watched Parasite Eve, a movie in which a crazy biologist steals the LIVER from his dead wife's body? What are the f*****g odds? Now I'm thinking, damn, coincidences are ganging up on me. Something is wrong, definitely wrong. My father died 3 weeks ago, now this. There is a strange vibe in the air. And still I'm here, playing Metal Gear, thinking how these nanomachines could probably cure my wife's mother, instead of slowly killing Snake. It just seems like everyone around me is dying lately. It's a very strange feeling. Sometimes I have a hard time telling what is still VR and what is actually happening.

No condolences please, my dad wasn't exactly a good guy. Also, I don't need to be cheered up, just gotta walk it off.

And btw, add me to your friends list on PSN, my id is SETHORU. I prefer playing online with people I know, not with strangers. You can also add me on Xbox Live for that matter, the gamertag is also SETHORU.

I hate boss battles!

So, Heavenly Sword goes to the Unfinished Games shelf, because I just don't have the patience to finish the last stage of the last boss. It's almost as frustrating as the last boss in Ninja Gaiden II. All in all HS is a beautiful, action packed game, but that last fight totally killed the experience. I retried him like 20 times and more than half of that I was one hit away from winning. So I'm sorry, even though you're a hot chick with a badass sword, I don't have the nerve to do the same thing over and over. This got me to thinking a bit, boss battles can make or break a video game. I generally hate them, but some are just so awesome, without necessarily being insanely difficult. Like God of War or Devil May Cry series. Some great boss battles there, stylish and not at all impossible to win. I know this Raven King guy is beatable, but after 20 tries I'm just like 'meh'. Plus, there are no trophies in this game so who cares. I'm sure the outro movie is very rewarding and maybe one of these days when I have nothing to do I'll give the bastard another try. But right now I have 2 more games to play and this whole sword thing is just a waste of time (or, I suck at third person action games, you be the judge). Time to shoot everything that moves in 50 Blood on the Sand (got the game brand new for $10... why not).

In other news, my sleeping disorder is really acting up lately (it all started when I was about 15... so that's 12 years without a proper, long, rejuvenating sleep...) so I all my sense are pretty much numbed down to like half of their normal perception. I did a really stupid thing when I was younger: whenever I had trouble with sleeping I'd take sleeping pills. Now, nothing works on me anymore. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. No prescription drug works, I tried. Ambien, or whatever that's called worked for like a year. Then my system became totally immune to the drug. Same with valium, noctamide, etc. The only thing that is sure to make me sleep is a bottle of whiskey. But I've got almost 4 years sober now, ain't going back down that road... blah.

Killzone 2 killed.

Just finished my first PS3 game, Killzone 2. Definitely one of the best shooters I ever played. I'm starting Heavenly Sword tomorrow, just to relax. I don't know why but I can't just go from one shooter the another one. KZ was so intense I feel like the echo of gunshots still bounces around in my skull, I'm kinda exhausted. At the end it was just pushing it to the limit, like "c'mon I wanna be done with this already". It's not that I was bored with the game, not at all, it's just that I was tired of all the shooting and pushing forward, cuz the Higs sure didn't wanna give up easy. I was hoping for a rewarding awesome CGI outro movie... tough luck. The image of Sev sitting down on those stairs was pretty powerful though. Just tired. So very tired.

We Play What We Fear

A couple of years ago a friend of mine wrote his MA thesis on how American superheroes are a manifestation of the public's subconscious fears and insecurities. In the paper he proves, that characters like Captain America (just one of many he analyzed) were created as a response to America's overwhelming fear of everything alien. It goes as deep as creating fictional characters to give the society an illusion of safety, a fantasy that they're all protected by invincible superheroes that never lose. Now, I'm not going to take a stand in this case, because this is just the preface, the paper I mention just gave me the idea for this piece. As video games are becoming (or already have become) a medium of the same weight as movies and television we can observe how the subjects the games' stories take on change. In the beginning everything was very simple: jump to get a coin, dodge a spiked cannonball. But, as the medium's evolution was in progress over the years, developers and writers understood that virtual realities are becoming a great outlet for messages of all kinds. Since then we had a lot of games offering commentary on the current happenings in the world of politics, war, etc. Here I want to show you how our fears, those of present day, perspire into video games - the interactive medium where we are the heroes. So, what are we afraid of and how is it reflected in games?

1. Viral/biological warfare.

Biotechnology and gene manipulation were touchy subjects ever since these branches of science surfaced. Obviously it's a natural response - interfering with nature to such a degree is indeed very scary and people are bound to fear it, because what if something goes wrong and Prototype or Resident Evil actually happen? I have to honestly admit that when I played through Prototype I was scared. The developers of this game made it all look so real, so possible. That's what was so frightening about it, at some point you realize that at the current level of biotech's evolution, this can actually happen. A viral outbreak to consume the population. Prototype is a great game, with outstanding gameplay, visuals and characters, but there is something more to it than just the playability. The story of the game is what completes the experience and leaves you thinking about it for days. What if, right now, there is somebody out there with a vial or syringe that could potentially wipe out the human race from the face of the Earth?

Resident Evil's original (Japanese) title is Biohazard. It would seem like nothing else needs to be said, the title says it all. We have Umbrella Corporation playing around with viral weapons and all hell breaks loose. The most recent installment in the franchise, RE5 takes it all to a new level, a level of realism much more vivid than the previous games in the series. Again, it feels so real, so possible. You go to Africa and immediately your mind starts remembering things from the real world, things that actually did happen, and you put the puzzle pieces together. It's amazing how RE5 resonates with the subconscious of a thinking individual. We know that HIV and the Ebola virus originated in Africa... so why not this? We've already seen it happen in real world. (Or at least that's what we think we know, I personally believe that HIV and Ebola were artificially engineered by P****r in a lab, but that's a whole different story.) We know that all of this is way too familiar, it's almost like it already happened. The regions with most famine and lack of health care are most likely to produce these outbreaks... Wait and see.

2. Nuclear Holocaust.

Nuclear energy is both a blessing and a curse. We both love it and fear it at the same time. Just think Fallout. Trying to survive in a world destroyed by nukes, where everything is glowing with radiation, mutating, and who knows what else. And isn't that what the world fears right now? We're all scared that one of these days somebody will press The Red Button and everything our species has accomplished will evaporate because of some idiot's sick ambition. Fallout isn't the only game that utilizes nukes. the Red Alert games have the A-bomb as the ultimate weapon. When you play against somebody online it's like a race against time - who gets the nuke first is the winner (mostly). The nuclear armageddon was put aside for a while to make room for the games about viruses and such, but with Fallout 3 the subject resurfaced and made us think yet again, that doomsday may be closer than we think. If you think about it right about now the world is on the edge. Who will be the first to jump?

3. Terrorism (aaa!)

What was the game that let you be the terrorist for the first time? C&C: Generals? Yeah, that was a good one. It's not really surprising that most of the modern warfare games take place in the Middle East, or anywhere sand is at home. It's not so much a commentary to what happened in the world in the past twenty years as it is a natural response to the demands of the consumers. It makes sense, all the movies, all the games... everything covered in sand. The ultimate in-yo-terrorist-face game is obviously 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand. Seems like we have had enough of this fear of terrorism, so now it's time to make some fun of it. Still, the fear is there. It just went to the store to get some smokes, but don't worry - it will be back.

4. THEM.

It's right under the surface, isn't it. Once again I must refer to Resident Evil and Prototype. These games are the prime example of what we, as a culture, fear the most. We fear THEM. The government and the corporations, the rulers of the world. Their desperate struggle for world domination, be it literal or financial, they are the phantom menace. In Resident Evil your enemy is the Umbrella Corporation, which is a symbol of all the global corporations. The umbrella logo could just as well be the logo from the bottles in your medicine cabinet. This is exactly what's crawling in our minds, that these global pharmaceutical corporations will lose their sense of good and evil (if they haven't already...) and unleash something like a killer virus. I don't want to go too far with this, but everything that we see on the screens, in the games we play can actually happen. You think Prototype is a fantasy? I think by now it's obvious that governments will do ANYTHING to stay in control, because control is their heroin and they are strung out more than we can imagine. Nuke NYC? It's nothing to them, they don't care about human lives, they only care about themselves and how to maintain doing the God job on this planet. Prototype was a risky game to put out on the market. It shows what the government is capable of more vividly than any movie, any book or TV show. You play the main character, you're right in the middle of it, a governmental project gone wrong. You think these things don't happen in real world? Watch the news. If you read enough and educate yourself you'll see that many countries in the world are just one step from installing martial law. It's no joke.

The bottom line is, games are taking the place of movies, books and TV shows, visualizing our worst fears and making us save the world. This time it's a more personal experience, because we the gamers are responsible for the final outcome of the crisis. Let's just all hope that our fears will stay on the DVDs and Blu Rays and our screens and never become reality.

Have a great Labor Day weekend. :D

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