Monday, November 1, 2010
I barely have the motivation even to complain about this terrible magazine anymore. It’s also so ugly I’m not bothering with any imagery.
It finally arrived, and rather late. As such all the game coverage is redundent. I read about Metroid in GameFan, and have since bought and completed it (I hated it due to the generic environments of jungle, lava, ice, desert and minecarts – well, one of those is a joke, but I leave it to you to work out which). The majority of the EGM “game” content is the usual badly written guff on games reviewed elsewhere earlier. The only thing of interest is a MMO zombie game, which gets an early preview.
This leaves the columnists and features. Brady Fiechter has a good piece telling those who complain about games being too short to shut the hell up, and I agree. Shorter games are better – I’m not living in some kind of minimum security prison where all I can do is play games, I have real life stuff, like eating and gun running for cash, to do in REAL LIFE.
Who the hell gave Jeff Green his own column? The guy spends a page bitching about how he has absolutely no coding experience and yet got a job as a game programmer/designer and then couldn’t remove a box from a game’s build. Insipid stupidity such as this (which I suspect is fiction), is not what I pay money for. And for that matter, who the hell is Jeff Green anyway and why should I care? And why would someone give a job to someone wholly unqualified for it?
The single decent feature in the mag is on indie film makers who make films about indie game people, be it chip tune musicians or developers. This was excellent, since it highlighted something I have tried to get the world to understand for years: the subcultures of gaming are deeper and more complex than anyone realises. We have bands of data pirates who trade illegally obtained code and physical hardware via dark underground networks. We have hip kids with their 4 channel sound-chips rocking it out at thumping Euro techno-clubs. We’ve got immigrants and hackers joining sides and fusing together their multilingual skills with the ability to REWRITE THE MATRIX (game code), so everyone can play games in their native language. Then we have incredible demo scenes from every country on our wretched little rock called Earth, many unknown outside of their areas. We have archivers, and preservers, and magazine scanners like Mort. Gaming’s undocumented underground is a resplendent flickering bouillabaisse of esoteric heroes and scoundrels, impossible to describe, maybe even impossible to understand. At least EGM is acknowledging that someone else is acknowledging they exist (why EGM isn’t writing articles on these groups themselves, I don’t know – but they should).
The rest of the features and interview are pretty godamned awful, a mixture of trite mediocrity and downright stupidity. Given how much I hate Bioshock and its vacuous story, and how moron-friendly its mechanics were, I really don’t want to hear anything Ken Levine has to say. Unless it’s to apologise for not giving me an inventory.
The worst offender was Michael Thomsen though, with his 3 page feature on... Well, I’m not really sure what the hell he was trying to say. Firstly, they wasted an entire page for some not especially good artwork, which again made the magazine look ugly. Even worse, there were no other images at all. In fact the whole of EGM is so poorly designed, I’ve now concluded they subscribe to GameFAN, and intentionally try to make their own magazine as ugly as possible, using GF as a template for what the opposite of ugly is. How can anyone, anywhere, in their right mind regard EGM as anything other than an absolute visual travesty? But back to the writing...
It started off talking about morality and the ambiguity of characters in games, which seemed like a good academic start. Unfortunately Thomsen never really gets to the point, highlights sub-mediocre games such as Haze (which should never be used as an example for anything other than crappy games), and then towards the end starts quoting Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazon – which seeing as I had to read parts for my philosophy and theology class, you're not going to win any points with me because, OOH LOOK, you’re capable of reading a long and complicated book. The entire thing smacked of pseudo-intellectual posturing.
His main complaint was that games are only about violence and shooting, which is demonstrably wrong given how many games differ from the formula of SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT. Look at Hover Bovver on C64, Trashman on the ZX Spectrum, Ecco the Dolphin on Genesis, Harvest Moon series, Aquanuats Holiday, Afrika, Flower and about a hundred other games (several on current gen hardware) I could list that deviate from the killing formula. The great fallacy generated by writers of today is that games prior to and including this generation are not capable of anything meaningful, and then whine, like schoolchildren, about games which adhere to the kill or be killed template.
I can’t understand what Thomsen is trying to say. I’ve already established that non-killing games exist, and unless he’s a fool, he must realise this too. So I can only assume he’s moaning about... Your motivation to kill in games? I mean, does he want games with the same amount of killing, but better justification for it? Or does he simply want the games he highlights (such as Red Dead Redemption), but without the killing they already have? Couldn’t he go and play a non-killing game as highlighted above? Or rather than a farming sim, does he specifically want to play a Bioshock game without shooting? Because I'm sure there’s indie FPS titles with little to no shooting. The whole argument is like a surreal catch-22, since there are games where characters are well rounded, and there are games where there isn’t killing, or less killing, or killing which is to a degree justified, and even if it isn’t justified, this is the entire point of that specific game – it seems absurd to criticise something for being precisely what it wants to be, and you wanting it to be something else (when that something else already exists in another form), rather than simply saying: I don’t like it when these things exist at all. He seems to have intentionally targeted games with killing and silent protagonists, which is those games whole raison d’etre, then complains that he wants a game where you don’t only kill, ignores games which aren’t about killing (of which there are many), bemoans games which have poorly formed protagonists while ignoring those with strong characters (Deadly Premonition for one), and then to finish he references a book so long and so complicated most of his readership are unlikely to have read it and will likely assume him to a) be intelligent and b) know what he’s talking about simply because – HEY! - he can read Dostoyevsky. Well that entire journey into absurd bullshit doesn’t wash with me.
MT could be my least favourite print journalist this generation, and I have suspicions this particular article was written by the sauce. What the heck was he talking about? Do I even care? Maybe I should post him a box of my games? The kind of games which extremely enlightened cognoscenti such as myself have experienced and know to be what he demands. Maybe he should stop suckling the PR teat of Irrational Games’ (which he said was a disheartening experience). The fact he felt under whelmed by Bioshock Infinite proves to me he could be a kindred spirit, I just need to kidnap him for re-education.
I lack the motivation to explain any further why this is now an even more disappointing magazine than EDGE, which at least has a bulky page count, occasionally weird covers, and an artificial glossy sheen to it. If EDGE is like a warthog masquerading as a woman, then EGM is like EDGE without the make-up.