As you may or may not know, I’ve been on a writing hiatus for a few months in order to focus on some other things and to catch up on some games that I’ve wanted to play but haven’t gotten around to. Since one of those games was Suikoden II, which falls into the category of ‘one of the most under-appreciated games of all time’, naturally I figured I’d give the game its due. I figured this wouldn’t be an easy one to write about, since I went into this with even more hype and expectation than I did the original, and, while the original was definitely not a bad game, I think that the expectations I had surrounding it definitely did the game a disservice in my eyes.
[SPOILER WARNING: This article will be talking about the game mechanics of permanent plot-related character death in video games. As such, you should assume that any game that I mention will be a game in which people die or vanish from the party for long periods of time. I’ll try not to use games any more recent than a year or two old, but still, read this article at your own risk.]
Death. Final, absolute, cold hard death. It’s sort of an oddball thing to handle in video games. Why? Because video games have a very unique point of view when it comes to death. In video games, death is rarely ever final. Death, in regards to the main character, represents the loss condition. It is the point where you say, “I did not complete the level, so I’m going to start over and try again.” Usually, this is sufficient, because the player character is the one who you generally have to worry about dying. Obviously, this is because the entire game is constructed around more and more difficult-to-avoid ways of making the main character die.
Assassin’s Creed is definitely a series that is known for it’s writing. Contained within every game is a veritable library of dialogue and lore, and that’s to say nothing of the books, comics, and some very well-done live-action videos that exist outside of the games themselves. Therefore, it really came as absolutely no surprise to me when the Writers Guild of America announced that Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (an entry in the series that I liked quite a bit) had won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Video Game Writing. Of course, none of this is possible without dedicated and talented writers, and in the case of Liberation, the pen was in the hands of Jill Murray and Richard Farrese. Continue reading “Writing the Creed: An Interview with Jill Murray”
Reviewing the latest entry in an ongoing series is hard. One reason for this is that by the time you stick the number ‘3’ at the end of a game’s title, most people will have already decided whether they like the series or hate it, so you’re not really saying anything new to anyone. Either they’ll continue to like the series, or continue to hate it, and most of the time this opinion does not really change. Another reason for this is that usually the series itself doesn’t change all that much. Sure, there might be minor improvements or changes, but when people come to expect something from a series, well, the boat tends to not be rocked all that much. However, perhaps that means that reviewing the latest entry in a series is just as important. At least, I tend to think it is, because I really want to make sure that Johnny Job and Christina Career (remember them?) know what they’re getting into, whether they start a series from the beginning, or just sort of pop in right in the middle (I know there are people who do that. It bugs me to death). And that, friends, brings me to my initial impressions of Assassin’s Creed III.
I have a confession to make. Before about two weeks ago, I had never played Suikoden. Mostly, this is due to when it was released: that awkward time right after the Playstation was released when I didn’t actually own one. By the time I did, Final Fantasy 7 (and Final Fantasy 8 and 9, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Xenogears, for that matter) had come out, and that was where my RPG attentions were firmly focused. And yet, people kept telling me that Suikoden was a Thing I Needed To Play. And I kept firmly putting it off, firstly because I kept having other games to play, and then because Suikoden became fucking expensive.