Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Modern Warfare... what's the point?

So it's finally upon us, the years 'biggest release' has arrived in stores and provided those of us that happen to work in one of said stores a day you would normally undergo in Hell for some heinous crime. Well that is if the deluded masses... sorry religous people, are right and there is such a place, but anyway back on topic. 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3' has been released after months of held breath, near uncontrolable excitement or complete and utter disdain (delete as appropriate).

This is as close to a review of 'MW3' you'll get from me, being as I am in the third of the mindsets I just described. Whilst I'm funding my games myself on my budget of not a lot I can't afford to buy games I have no interest in simply for review purposes. This instead will be mostly about how I 'don't get' Call of Duty, not at all.

It's well known now I expect that I dislike FPS games as a general rule and COD chief among them is not exempt from this. Before people rage about not being able to have an opinon without playing them let it be known that I played Modern Warfare, finished it on whatever hardest mode is called and throughout the entire thing barely ever had a moment of fun, nothing put a smile on my face or felt like I'd achieved anything difficult. Strategy seemed completely irrelevant as trial and error was more than enough to get through any situation, even the 'stealth level' was painfully non challenging. I even tried 'Modern Warfare 2', but 30 minutes in I realised I played the game before when it was called 'Modern Warfare'. To give them their dues they are well oiled shooters, I'm sure they're good games (well one good game with a load of different titles) but I don't like them.

One of the things that bugs me the most is the insistence by the people that buy these games that the multiplayer is all they're really for. Now I take issue with this on multiple fronts. Firstly, I'm an anti-social misanthropic person who with very few exceptions will not play with other people. Secondly no game should be released on the basis that the multiayer is the core of the content unless it's an mmo OR it doesn't pretend to have a noteworthy single player. COD is neither of these.

The other thing that really gets me are the sorts of people who generally buy these games. They assume that as a gamer I must play them and upon learning that I don't look at me like I'm crazy. I cannot see the appeal of playing the exact same levels against random, often irritating people. These same people will be the ones who won't play RPGs because 'random battles are repetative.' Well done genius, fuck off back to your 500th match on the same damn map.

In conclusion, I dislike Call of Duty (in case you missed that). A well made but tedious, bland and unfulfilling game it is sure to be. The multiplayer being what appears to be the main focus of the game alienates the single player market and completely ostracises anyone looking for anything deep or even remotely interesting in terms of story or characters. Don't give me the rubbish that these games have a good story, I shall simply laugh at you and direct you to something more engaging things, like 'Spot the Dog'.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Not just backing sounds

             Music is essential to almost all video games, there are very few exceptions to this rule and sports games are the only ones I can think of and even then there is something to be said for it. Even the mentally challenged sheep poring hours and hours into Call of Duty have a backing score which they may not notice is there, but definitely would realise something was different if it weren’t. Arguably the most important video game scores are those for RPGs where the gamer is led to identify with characters and situations, the correct music must be employed to ensure not only you engage fully with the game but should the music be wrong the opposite can occur and the illusion completely dispelled. Luckily for us there are plenty of games where the musical score is precisely what is needed and to my mind the most striking combination of games and more importantly composer of such pieces is, and here’s a shocker, Final Fantasy and Nobuo Uematsu. Don’t worry this isn’t just a fanboy raving about his favourite series again… well not much anyway, there’s a point to it all and to this latest rambling of mine though granted it is slightly different than usual.

            ‘Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy’, a concert of popular tracks from the legendary series, has been touring the world for a while now and finally made it to London last night and I was lucky enough to get a hold of a pair of tickets for myself and a close friend who shares my love for Final Fantasy and for game soundtracks. So comfortably overdressed as we turned out to be we headed for London’s Royal Albert Hall for an evening of orchestral excellence. Upon arrival we discovered that the last minute tickets I managed to get were in fact rather good, centrally located, on the floor and about 10 feet from the stage and settled down for the show, after dashing to a merchandise stand to grab programmes, copies of the FFVII Original Soundtrack and in my case a t-shirt as well. 

            The atmosphere in the hall was incredible. Completely packed with fans of the series, possibly a few begrudging partners dragged along but even they couldn’t have been disgruntled once the orchestra started playing. The show kicked off with Nobuo himself taking the stage to rapturous applause, closely followed by conductor Arnie Roth leading the musicians in the Prelude which is synonymous with the opening menu screen of the series before launching into the sublime and nostalgia inducing Liberi Fatali from Final Fantasy VIII’s opening sequence. I have never been to a classical concert before and was therefore unsure what to expect, what took me slightly by surprise was how much these songs affected me. Goosebumps and butterflies in my stomach were not the results I had anticipated but none the less this is what occurred.  

            Rather than give a play by play of the entire event I shall just skip to the end which was met with a standing ovation, an encore of ‘One Winged Angel’ and a second standing ovation. The evening was unlike anything I have ever experienced and helped to show me something I have always held to be true. Music is an incredibly powerful tool and perhaps this is more apparent in video games than any other medium. The fact that The Royal Albert Hall, a large and prestigious theatre, was filled to capacity for both this event and one the previous week for the ‘Zelda Symphony’ concert is proof that music in games is more than just the sounds in the background. It breaths life into the games and seen performed live the true significance is mind blowing and made abundantly clear. My friend and I are already keeping an eye out for tickets for the return of ‘Distant Worlds’ next year to commemorate Final Fantasy’s 25th anniversary, I urge you to do the same.