Believe it or not, the PlayStation 4 celebrated its 4th birthday last year, which meant Killzone Shadow Fall – a launch title for the console – did as well. The hype has come and gone. Guerrilla Games went on to create Horizon: Zero Dawn: a game that is not only widely considered better than Shadow Fall, but was hailed as one of the best titles of 2017. Yet here I am, writing about this practically ancient game as though anyone still cares what some pundit thinks about Shadow Fall at this point. Then again, there are still people playing its multiplayer, so obviously there’s some interest in the title. Plus, I just got a PS4, and this was one of the titles I traded my pack-in copy of Star Wars Battlefront II for. Sue me for having an urge to talk about it.
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one. You’re a battery-powered assassin equipped with a laser, setting out to take down a gang of miscreants whose unifying feature seems to be that they all wear devil ski masks and are led by Satan. Satan himself is the head of some corporation that apparently deals in ritual animal sacrifice, mind control, and hot dog manufacturing. With this in mind, your goal is to sabotage their bases of operations, all while rescuing monkeys and virgin goats, collecting dolls, and sprinting around like it’s a game of Unreal Tournament.
Those of you who follow my work somewhat regularly know that life hasn’t really been the greatest as of late. Without going into the unpleasant details, let’s just say that there have been many days where getting home from class has involved a dramatic flop onto my bed, an arm draped over my forehead, and a long, heavy sigh. Surprisingly, though, I found something of a cure to this funk: horrifically graphic killing sprees. Thankfully, not in real life (I’m writing this in a Starbucks, not a prison cell or a safe-house), but in the neon-soaked world of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. Despite the fact that it’s been awhile since I played the first Hotline Miami, diving back into its world of blood and carnage seemed to be second nature. Unfortunately, part of the reason for this is that Wrong Number is just a little bit too familiar.
Well, it’s officially 2017 around the world. The start of a new year. Which means that everyone’s looking back on the last year and going, “Well that was a bit toss, wasn’t it?” That is, except for the people who are taking the opportunity to look back at their fond memories from the year past, namely when it comes to video games. There were countless fantastic games that got released last year, so many of which I desperately wanted to try out. Unfortunately, as a university student, there are two things that I severely lack in: money and time. As a result, it is incredibly common that I have to watch as new releases are hyped, released, and enjoyed by the masses, while waiting patiently for the day that they inevitably go on sale and I actually have the time to sit down with them. Some of these games have been sitting in my library for months, awaiting their eventual installation. Others are on my wishlist, hoping to one day be added to my ever-growing backlog. Whatever the case, these are (in no particular order) the games that I wish I had gotten to in 2016. You can also consider this to be a “To play in 2017” list, if that’s your thing. Either way, you’ve probably all already played all of these and think I’m a pleb for not looking at them yet.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Not a sound could be heard, ‘cept the click of a mouse.
I tapped softly at keys, poking them one by one,
In hopes that my Christmas post soon would be done.
War is hell.
Now, certainly this shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. As history continues to repeat itself over and over again, people continue to fight and kill one another, and the harsh, horrific realities of war are brought to the forefront of the public consciousness. Every person that dies may have had children. A spouse. Friends. At the very least, they had parents, whether they knew them or not. They weren’t just some faceless drone, waiting to be gunned down in the name of their country.
In video games, though, things are different. Every character is simply programmed to be there. Enemies have no real thoughts, hopes, or dreams. They will ruthlessly pursue you to the ends of the Earth, killing you over and over as you endlessly respawn, until you finally put a bullet between their eyes and end it.
This has raised an interesting question over the years: what are the ramifications of this interactive violence? So many games on the market expect us to mindlessly butcher hundreds, if not thousands of enemies, all in the name of the “greater good”, whether that’s saving our boyfriend/girlfriend or saving the world. It’s easy to justify going on a virtual murderous killing spree for hours on end so that we can save a fictional land, but what if it was all real? Would we still be seen as the hero at the end of the day? Or does there come a point where a line has been crossed, and redemption is rendered impossible?
Tomb Raider is one of the video game industry’s more venerated franchises. Since its inception in 1996, the series has seen many incarnations on many platforms, including home consoles, handhelds, PCs, and mobile devices. However, despite all the different versions of the game, Lara Croft (the protagonist) has remained mostly unchanged. Many are no doubt familiar with her classic outfit of a light-blue tank top and brown short shorts that are somehow classified as acceptable for the act of raiding tombs. Her appearance and role as the sexy, badass archaeologist gained her quite a reputation in the gaming world, though not necessarily for the best reasons. As a means of remedying this, Square Enix decided to take the Hollywood approach to the Tomb Raider franchise and give it a gritty, realistic reboot; the hope was to establish Lara as a strong-willed survivor who was defined more by her skills and personality than her looks. And thus, 2013’s Tomb Raider came to be.