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» AnimationNation   » SideTopics   » SJH's belated Gaming Thread For Animators and Non-Gamers numero Deux

Author Topic: SJH's belated Gaming Thread For Animators and Non-Gamers numero Deux
IE # 188
Member # 2601

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Well, I'm a bit late on this one. I've been rather busy, but I thought I'd chime in again with the latest in what the hell you should be playing, even if you're a non-gamer

Because I'm on 56K this time, no fancy links. Still waiting on a broadband connection after a recent move - it's a nice flat, lots of room to throw my storyboard sheets around in and a short walk away from beautiful parkland with sweeping London views.

Fantastic! Still, as the nights draw in and the weather gets chilly, there's nothing better (arguably, of course) than a bit of heartwarming interactive entertainment to warm the cockles. And a sherry.

Tonights feast? Well, I may have already mentioned it. But now I've played it, sit back, and we'll begin.

The Indigo Prophecy, directed and written by David Cage. No, you read that right. "Directed and written". In. A. Game.

Well, to be honest, it's not actually a game. In a recent developers chat, the man himself had the balls to call it a movie first and foremost, that just happens to be a game. The scary thing is, I agree with him, but it also happens to be a brilliant experience to boot...

First of all, it's a full blown, mature epic. Mature as in sex and violence, but it's all very well managed and grown-up. The story, unfortunately, does lack maturity towards the end and rather too many things happen at once, but the first two-thirds make up the best piece of interactive media I've ever waggled an analog stick at.

The Indigo Prophecy, or Farenheit in the EU, begins, after a fantastically executed intro over a frozen New York city, with you playing the protagonist, Lucas Kane, just after he's commited a murder in a diner bathroom. Covered in blood, it's up to you to decide what happens next. A cop, seen in split screen, sits at the bar. People sit in their booths eating their meals as the snow pounds down outside.

What do you do?

Do you run out, covered in blood, get seen by everyone and make a break for it?

Do you clean up, hide the evidence, pay the bill and walk out calmly?

Everything you do has a consequence, including raising or lowering your characters sanity level. The game plays like a "choose your own adventure", only far more subtley. Anything you do impacts the next sequence and how much of the story is revealed to you. In the next scene, once Lucas has pelted it and the body's been discovered, has you playing Carla Valenti and Tyrone, two cops who're covering the case. If you've spent time hiding the evidence as Lucas, you'll make life harder for yourself later on.

The Indigo Prophecy plays some fanastic mindgames later on with this unique trick, including have your two main characters in an interview situation where the puzzle is how to maintain your sanity as Lucas and respond innocently, and get Carla farther ahead in her case at the same time.

The rest of the gameplay is mainly dialogue and action based, the dialogue being timed so you have to quickly choose how to respond to people (wait too long and you could seem guilty) and the action being played out as a video sequence where you play "simon says" with your joypad sticks. Directions given on screen have to be replicated for success - although this isn't for every fight scene, but also for the occasional stressful interrogation.

Other sections have you balancing the breathing of the heroine as she tackles claustraphobia, playing a guitar, running along the sides of skyscrapers and battling fierce , possibly imaginary, entities. It's all rather impressive stuff, and although occasionally very simple, it's always effective and never overwhelmingly difficult.

Here's a brief rundown on what else makes this game so great -

1. The direction. Stunningly, these guys have playtested this game instead of storyboarded it, although it works so well you could never tell. Cage himself admits he's a newbie to all of this directing lark, but it's a pretty strong first "movie". Dazzling use of split-screen during the game allows for some brilliantly executed gameplay technique.

2. A soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti. Oh yes. OH YES. It's sweeping, orchestral, and completely suited to the game, which feels partly inspired by David Lynch movies anyway.

3. The graphics and animation. They're not the best you'll ever see, but they do the job remarkably. Quantic Dream, the developers, used their own mocap studio, so naturally the animation is smooth if veering into "uncanny valley" territory. What does come through is the remarkable location work and production design. It feels like movie, which is possibly the best compliment you could give it.

There are differences between the EU version and the US version. The US version omits the sex scenes and adds clothes to any nude bits, so the characters take showers in their undies. To be honest, the sex and nudity never feels unnecessary in the uncensored version, but the move was made by the developers themselves in light of the Rockstar "Hot Coffee" fiasco a few months back.

It's a shame and a damning indictment to double-standards within the games media that this has had to be done. To be perfectly frank, the interactive (you read that right) sex scene is actually quite funny and inoffensive and anyone playing this game should, by rights, be the right age anyway. It makes no qualms about being a mature title from the off.

If you do have a PS2 or X-Box, pick this game up now. If you've got a PC up to the task (the requirements are actually pretty low), then get that version as it's superior. Just make sure you've got a dual-analog gamepad first to make the gameplay a tad easier.

This game is the future OF games. An interactive media experience par excellence and I recommend it highly to even those who've never played a game before. You'll find there's more to television screens than reruns of Friends and Inspector Morse....

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IE # 241
Member # 3196

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I've just started playing Half-Life 2, I know it's been out for a while, so I'm a little late on this. IT is so amazing! The landscapes are just incredible, and the action side of it is really good. I like it more than Doom 3 now, that's for sure. I think all the characters were made in Softimage Xsi, and they look stunning. Games are really moving along since I used to play Wing Commander and Ultima 7 so many years ago.
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Edward Webb
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I own a ton of game stuff but I still consider myself a "casual."

This is the first I've heard from someone's who's actually played the game. Before it was released, I heard a LOT of people were looking forward to it.

I hope it does well enough to encourage more like it.

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