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Tycho / on Wed, Jan 26 2011 at 12:00 am

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Inner Wealth

If it is possible to be happier with the opening sequence of Dead Space 2, I’m not entirely sure how that would happen.  Having returned from a jaunt to Dante’s Inferno, EA’s skunkworks imprint Visceral Games isn’t fucking around in any way, shape, or form.  Many reviews laud the audio specifically, and they should - I’m experiencing it in what must approach the optimal fashion, hearing every sound in absolute terms, seated in the unrelenting dark afraid for my life.

Loot this time around has a physical location, somewhere inside the torso, and unless the opponent is thoroughly pulped by your initial volley there’s a certain amount of stomping involved to get crucial supplies.  It’s indecorous.  But beggars can’t be choosers, and beggars who are scrambling around on a doomed civilian craftworld even less so.

I had to babysit yesterday morning, and Gabe was playing it when I got in.  I was curious what platform he’d picked it up on, and apparently it was the 360, because he was holding a 360 controller and playing the game on that console.  This is despite the fact that he’d played (and enjoyed) the multiplayer demo on the Playstation 3, and despite the fact that the Playstation 3 version comes with what is essentially a free game in an uprezzed, Move-capable Dead Space: Extraction.  The 360 version also comes on two discs, which is whatever, but this apparently quite important to some people.

One of these two is clearly a greater value, but if you want to make use of the multiplayer mode - which can be fun, as you may know from the beta - you don’t really get to choose.  Right?  Your friends handle that for you.

He’d been gone when Valve announced that the Playstation 3 version of Portal 2 would feature something akin to a full Steam implementation.  Because I was curious, I asked him what he thought of the ability to play with (or speak to) people on the PC, and he said that he didn’t especially care about that, and didn’t really know why he should care.  Those kinds of things are purely theoretical to him.  There’s this whole thing going on, pieces are being moved in the metagame, and he just doesn’t care about that kind of shit.  I’m fascinated by these maneuvers, but I think he’s a better barometer.  I wonder to what extent these moves result in actual sales as opposed to rhetorical ordnance.

Microsoft tried to investigate cross-platform play with the almost universally reviled Games for Windows Live, generally in ways that allowed the platforms to compete against one another.  As we’ve discussed previously, in the morality of systems “balance” is the prime virtue.  Outside of some platform grievance, you can’t be entirely satisfied with success against a disadvantaged opponent, nor can you feel anything but resentment for a system that confers arbitrary advantage.  It’s more or less lose/lose, which is probably why this feature was so rarely leveraged.  I’d hoped it would lead, then, to asymmetrical experiences - ones calibrated to the strengths of each.  No dice.  Portal 2, whose (known) multiplayer component is a coooperative campaign, neatly sidesteps this concern.  Much of the Left 4 Dead series could work in the same way.

Frankly, this kind of thing has been too long coming.  You’ll recall that Untold Legends - a legend we suggested should have remained so - featured xFire integration.  That’s right, four years ago.  It seemed like the network would either fragment into warring city states, or a robust centralized mechanism.  In end, Playstation owners got neither. Seen in this way, as combination of structural void and open access, Steam (or some other benevolent dictator) must be thought of as an inevitability.

(CW)TB out.

i’m odds and ends


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