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PC | The Gamers Blog

stanley parable

It is nearly impos­si­ble to explain what The Stan­ley Para­ble is about. It is a game about the nature of games, how a player inter­acts with the world, and what hap­pens if the antag­o­nist is the game itself.

At it’s core, The Stan­ley Para­ble is a first per­son explo­ration game. All of the inter­ac­tion comes through choice. Choos­ing a door to walk through, choos­ing which but­ton to press, or even choos­ing to do noth­ing at all. You play as Stan­ley, an office worker who may be asleep, crazy, bored, and every­thing in between.

To reveal any­thing about the game­play expe­ri­ence is to ruin that expe­ri­ence for you. It is very much a nar­ra­tive dri­ven game, with the major­ity of the enter­tain­ment value com­ing from the nar­ra­tor, given life by the incom­pa­ra­ble Kevan Bright­ing, and his inter­ac­tions with the player. If you are sen­si­tive and can’t take con­struc­tive and not as con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, you may want to stay away. The nar­ra­tor will hurt your feel­ings and make you feel worth­less but, to be fair, you do the same to him mul­ti­ple times.

In tech­ni­cal terms the game is fine, with ser­vice­able graph­ics that never get in the way of the expe­ri­ence. The game is still based in Source, so the physics that come along with that engine work well (even with a dearth of inter­ac­tive objects). The music is fan­tas­tic and hugely var­ied. It only shows up every so often but when it does the score will com­mand your atten­tion. The con­trols will be famil­iar to any­one who has played a first per­son game, save for the lack of one usual input vari­a­tion that leads to a hilar­i­ous achievement.

I had issues start­ing up the game upon first install, but upon rein­stal­la­tion the issues ceased. Besides that there were no bugs that I per­son­ally have noticed in my ten hours or so with the game.

Mind Control

What really stuck out to me was how The Stan­ley Para­ble reflects on the absur­dity of game mechan­ics and sto­ry­telling. We do it all for a weird sense of self grat­i­fi­ca­tion, the accom­plish­ment of the objec­tive. Be it an actual scripted objec­tive like every mis­sion based game, or the “I’m going to steal a heli­copter and try to jump out onto a bus” self gen­er­at­ing objec­tives in an open world game, it’s all there to give the player a sense of accom­plish­ment. The Stan­ley Para­ble decon­structs this to the point where one sec­ond the objec­tive could be to press a but­ton so that some boom­ing voice will say “Eight!” over and over and the next the objec­tive is to fig­ure out what the game wants you to do. In the end, the game doesn’t want you to do any­thing. It’s a game. And The Stan­ley Para­ble knows that.

You can com­plete The Stan­ley Para­ble in about 15 min­utes. Your first play through will prob­a­bly take about half an hour. But there is so much to explore within the crazy world that Galac­tic Cafe thrusts you into that it could eas­ily eat up much more. Not for twitch gamers or peo­ple who want to get to the top of the leader­boards, but if you value nar­ra­tive then I implore you to check this one out. At least get the demo off of Steam. If any­thing, you’ll get a chuckle out of just how ridicu­lous it all is.

In its purest essence, The Stan­ley Para­ble is a com­men­tary on rou­tine, achieve­ment, the gov­ern­ment, video games, and life itself. I love get­ting lost in it’s world and los­ing myself within it. Every­one needs to play this.


Yep, it’s Saints Row all right.

 

Saints Row has a long rep­u­ta­tion of being one of the finest, if bug­gi­est, GTA imi­ta­tors. Beat­ing Rockstar’s titan to the pre­vi­ous next-gen plat­forms with its 360 debut, Saints Row was a bit of a buggy mess that still had great amounts of fun to be had. Its sequel, Saints Row 2, was shipped just months after GTA IV, bring­ing the same flawed but fun game­play to the table, rival­ing its chief com­pe­ti­tion. Finally, in 2011, Voli­tion found they had nailed it with their next at-bat, Saints Row: The Third. After crush­ing most bugs, game-breaking and minor, they had pro­duced and insanely high-polish title that was  a clear cham­pion of the open world genre, pro­vid­ing non-stop laughs and incred­i­bly fun game­play the entire ride. Now Volition’s back with a full game extended out of planned SR3 DLC fea­tur­ing an alien inva­sion and a Matrix knock­off, and they’ve pulled out what few stops were left.

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I’ve been around the gam­ing indus­try for a long time and one of the pre-conceived notions I’ve had as it’s grown and changed over the years is that new games should have amaz­ing graph­ics and they should get bet­ter with each install­ment. With that said when I first saw Hot­line Miami on Steam I sim­ply ignored it.  I didn’t even con­sider it until CABXYZ told me that I should give the game a shot.  At his sug­ges­tion and my insa­tiable need to get my Sum­mer Get­away 2013 badge on steam I decided to pick it up.

Firstly I want to say that at $2.99 it felt like high­way rob­bery… of the devel­op­ers.   Even at the $9.99 price tag I feel the devel­op­ers are under charg­ing for this title.  I would of gladly paid $20, $25 maybe even $30 dol­lars  for it and that’s say­ing a lot con­sider that it’s an 8bit over the top shooter.

Graph­ics – this doesn’t really apply here but that doesn’t mean the pre­sen­ta­tion can’t be cool and enter­tain­ing.  If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s not to judge a book by its cover and that’s what I did sadly with Miami hot­line.  Half the bat­tle is mak­ing a solid pre­sen­ta­tion with every­thing from the smooth menu, solid game­play, and inter­est­ing ani­ma­tions.  Every­thing from the blood spat­ters to the inter­est­ing cut-scenes make the whole pre­sen­ta­tion complete

Sound – This is one of the top high­lights of the game.  We at TGB absolutely loved the sound track.  I loved it so much I actu­ally went and pur­chased the sound­track.  It was that good and it’s one of my favorite in a game in recent his­tory.  Obvi­ously this isn’t a 5.1 sur­round game but the sound­track is def­i­nitely the winner.

Game­play – since this isn’t a high-powered game it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be… ultra smooth.  The game plays smoothly and it has a vast array of weapons to use rang­ing from your fists to guns and throw­ing knives.  I played the game with Mouse and Key­board but you can also play it with a con­troller on the PC ver­sion or you can get it on the PS3, Vita and Xbox360.

Story – if there was a weak spot there it’s prob­a­bly the story.  It’s not bad by any means but it was slightly con­fus­ing and mildly absurd but then how many games aren’t.

Value – I played through the game in about 8.5 hours.  So for the measly $2.99 I paid for it I got a hell of a deal.  This game has a ton of replay value as well as some of the achieve­ments will require you to play sev­eral mis­sions over and over again and to boot they are a blast to play.

Chal­lenge – This is some­thing I gen­er­ally don’t cover because I feel that most games are designed to appeal to the masses and not to the ‘hard­core elite’ of games and thus they are designed to be sim­ple, easy and some­times mind­less.   I’m thank­ful to say that Miami Hot­line does not fall into this trap and it’s very refresh­ing.  There were more than a few times that I actu­ally wanted to throw the key­board out the win­dow.  Miami Hot­line saves are really what drive the chal­lenge.  They aren’t annoy­ing but they are sim­i­lar to older games.  If you die at ANY point dur­ing one of the stages you start all over again.  Most of the mis­sions have 2 – 4 stages to fur­ther that every­thing is one hit kill so if you get hit or shot even once… you start over.  You will die and die often… there is even an achieve­ment for it.

In short Miami Hot­line is a must buy and is one of my favorite indie games to come out since Mount & Blade.  If you are a fan of the Super Nin­tendo or con­sider your­self a gamer period this is a MUST have game for your library.

Rat­ing: 9/10

 

Old habits die hard and one hard­est ones for me to attempt to ditch in an attempt to play with some of my XBL brethren was the Key­board and Mouse setup that I’ve become accus­tomed to on the PC over the past 17 years.

Some of you may be ask­ing “Why would you lower your­self to play­ing games like Bat­tle­field 3 on a con­sole when you can play it on a PC at five times the visu­als and speed?” the answer to that ques­tion is… I have friends who refuse to con­vert.  So in attempt to keep those friend­ships intact I’ve pur­chased games that I nor­mally wouldn’t pur­chase on sys­tems I nor­mally wouldn’t play.  Pri­mar­ily Bat­tle­field 3(which I love) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II (which I can’t stand).

Obvi­ously my biggest com­plaint with con­soles is the lack of KB/M sup­port and forc­ing me to play with, what I con­sider to be, an infe­rior con­trol inter­face.  I gave it a good attempt on Bat­tle­field 3 and the best scores, on rush, that I could come up with where 5/18 or around that on a fairly con­sis­tent basis and I would place last if not close to last every other game.  I gave this a go for about a month before I finally got fed up and started to look for a solu­tion that would allow my old school gam­ing habits to func­tion on ‘mod­ern’ gam­ing consoles.

The solu­tion came in the form of Pen­guin United’s Eagle-Eye Key­board and Mouse Con­verter.  I decided to pick this up after I looked around the net for a solu­tion and hon­estly when one of my friends *Xbox fantatic* told me to buy it.

So is it any good?  In short… yes but it does have some draw­backs.  Let’s start with the negatives:

The Bad:

This was con­fus­ing to con­fig­ure even for an expe­ri­enced Sys­tem Archi­tect like myself.  I even­tu­ally fig­ured it out but it did take me about 6 hours from the moment I bought it to the point where I was play­ing.  There were sev­eral things about it that were hard to fig­ure out but once I got it was smooth sail­ing from then one.  The biggest com­plaints I had were this:

You have to have a wired Xbox *offi­cial* con­troller oth­er­wise you won’t be able to get the Eagle­Eye to sync with your Xbox.  Yes you have to plug in the wired con­troller into your con­verter every time you start your xbox and con­nect it.  Con­nect­ing it, from what I can deduce, allows it to steal the licens­ing from the con­troller and emu­late it on the con­troller.  Once it’s con­nected you’ll be fine until the next time you turn off your Xbox 360.

Sen­si­tiv­ity can be annoy­ing.  I’m used to high sen­si­tiv­ity on the PC and on the con­sole I was forced to pump the sen­si­tiv­ity all the way up to get it to the point where I could be com­pet­i­tive in games.  It’s still not what I would like but it’s far bet­ter than the alternative.

This com­plaint is spe­cific to Bat­tle­field 3 so I can­not speak to other games as the only two games I’ve played with this are Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Bat­tle­field 3.  It’s hard to use any vehi­cles out­side of the tank and even then it can be a chal­lenge as it is VERY slow to turn tur­rets.  It’s hard to explain until you’ve used it but once you have you’ll under­stand.  Don’t even try fly­ing a jet or a helicopter.

Finally the last com­plaint I had is hav­ing the right hard­ware.  This device only func­tions with spe­cific hard­ware.  Do your­self a favor and do your research before you pur­chase this and pur­chase it with the proper Key­board and Mouse combo.  I’ll do an arti­cle later on show­ing what I did to make it work.

The Good:

While there are… what some would con­sider a lot of neg­a­tives, there are a good num­ber of pos­i­tives as well, espe­cially once you get every­thing con­fig­ured the way you like it.

The biggest ques­tion is will this mak­ing play­ing an FPS on a con­sole bet­ter?  Yes it will and by a good mar­gin.  Yes graph­ics will still suck like they always do on con­soles but at least from a con­trols per­spec­tive things will be much bet­ter.  I went from being 5/18 and near last on the team play­ing rush to going 35/5 on a fairly con­sis­tent basis and get­ting MVP 1 –3.  You can tell right off the bat that you have a pretty big advan­tage from other play­ers by just the nature of con­trols.  Hav­ing said all that BF3 and COD: BO II don’t play the same on Xbox as they do on PC, they are much slower.

Eagle­Eye comes with some pretty slick con­troller soft­ware.  It allows you to fully cus­tomize your keys on your con­troller to their key­board and mouse equiv­a­lents.  Yes there are some that can’t trans­late over quite the way I’d like but it’s still much bet­ter than using a con­troller.  The biggest part is just mem­o­riz­ing what those are as you’ll still have to mem­o­rize what keys you’ve mapped to what con­troller but­tons.  You’ll need to know these for nav­i­gat­ing menus and such.  Once you’ve mem­o­rized those it’s smooth as butter.

Con­clu­sion:

Would I rec­om­mend this?  Yes… once you get past some of the quirks with go along with this prod­uct it’s a pretty slick prod­uct.  When you finally get it func­tion­ing it works really well aside from hav­ing to ini­tial­ize it every time I start my Xbox.  Hav­ing said that it’s a price I’ll gladly pay to not have to deal with clumsy con­trols.  While this prod­uct does need some improve­ments in the form of ease of use it still gets TGB’s stamp of approval.  Any­one else had expe­ri­ence with this prod­uct?  What did you think?

You can check out Pen­guin Unit­eds site here.  If you’d like to pur­chase it you can buy it at Amazon.com here. You can also pur­chase a PS3 version.

 


 

Back in 2009, Tim Schafer gave us a time cap­sule to the hey­day of 70’s and 80’s metal with Brü­tal Leg­end. Now, over three years later, he gives us a time cap­sule to 2009 with the PC release of Brü­tal Legend.

 

Schafer’s ini­tial vision is roadie Eddie Riggs, dis­sat­is­fied with mod­ern metal, being sent to a mag­i­cal world of a 70’s heavy metal album cover come to life. Eddie’s gui­tar now sum­mons light­ning bolts and can do incred­i­ble things through wicked solos. The land­scape is lit­tered with giant heavy metal icons, devil horns, hot rod engines, giant stone gui­tars. Every­thing old school heavy metal is found in this land, and the inhab­i­tants haven’t the slight­est idea about metal. This is where Eddie steps in.

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