I spent last night playing Shadow of Mordor and I’m really digging it. I have to call out the tutorial as being especially well done. Any game like this has to teach you how to swing a sword and stuff but this one puts a great spin on it. You “learn” to sword fight by teaching your son how to fight. Talion is talking to his son while they spar about the importance of countering an attack and all the while you are the one learning these mechanics. Then when it comes time to teach you how to sneak around the game asks you to sneak up on your wife and give her a kiss. It’s such a clever beautiful little moment that I could not help but smile. In so many games the tutorial is just wasted space but here it’s used not only to teach you about the mechanics, but to teach you about Talion.
As a husband and a father this stuff really resonated with me. My guess is that if you’re not married and you don’t have kids, this scene probably doesn’t carry the same emotional payload. I can tell you that as a young man this stuff would have gone right over my head. Once you’re a parent though you end up gaining access to this hidden band of information that was there all along but you were never tuned into it. What I love is that I’m seeing that parent’s perspective pop up more and more in video games. The first time I can really remember being hit with it was in Heavy Rain. The scene in the mall when you lose your son had me crying. I lost my youngest son at Disneyland for about 30 minutes, and I can tell you that it is a terror unlike anything I have ever experienced. The last of Us is another great example of a game that punched me right in the Dad gut. I’m sure it’s a great game no matter who you are but my God, as a father that game is just a masterpiece.
I just enjoy when that stuff pops up in my games, especially in a game like Shadow of Mordor where I honestly didn’t expect it. It probably wasn’t necessary and my guess is there will be a lot of kids who play the game that might even dislike it. I can’t honestly say I blame them either. It’s not for them. That’s okay, they have the rest of the game to run around and be Talion the Orc slayer. I love that too but I appreciate that I was given even just a few minutes to be Talion the husband and father.
We were at Cold Stone Creamery, a realm of some reknown in our clan, and after an extended discussion of Tinder every one of the glossy lures on their walls inherited an erotic context. I don’t entirely know how a “Tinder for Cakes” would work exactly, but I don’t care, it doesn’t matter, and not having it is what’s holding back our evolution as a species.
I saw a lot of stuff at PAX that I still haven’t written about, because September was the most fraught month on record. The sixth floor typically represents a bizarre mix of stuff; I even met Notch up there a couple years ago. This year Greater Than Games was posted up right next to the PAX 10 which was right by Labratory, a nanoscale game foundry I’ve been meaning to tell you about anyway. BUT!
On the way to that room, I saw a little booth upon whose televisions leapt a princess and her doting fiance, except I didn’t recognize either of them, and when something has eluded my ravens I always lean in close. Developers can feel as much as see this lean. They know that every sensing device I have is flooding their hard work with coherent r-beams, and they lean back toward me. I was glad of it, too, because it looked so rad. I make things too, very simple, small things, but interaction is often orthagonal and frankly unwelcome in my deal so those who would court this force fascinate me.
The game he was showing is called Chariot. You can play it solo - like Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - but, like Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, I can’t imagine why you would. It’s really a (couch) co-operative physics puzzler about hauling a fussy, hypochondriac ghost-king to his final resting place. Look at this fucking trailer! That’s precisely what I want. You can buy it right now on PS4, but for some inexplicable reason it’s the October Gold Freebie on Xbox One even though it just came out. I’m not going to complain.
You can watch our entire Shadow of Mordor stream right here. As you can see we had a lot of fun playing this one. I was especially impressed with the Nemesis system. It made the game feel incredibly alive. Anyway, it’s out now so if what we’re playing looks like fun you can just go grab it.
We’re running a contest this week and you could win PAX passes to one of our upcoming shows! It’s a fill-in-the-word-balloons contest using the following 3 strips:
(just pick one)
(click on the thumbnails to get the high-res artwork)
Thematically, in celebration of PAX Aus, (PAX Aus is October 31st - November 2nd) the entry must be “Australia or New Zealand” themed.
We will take a look at all the entries and pick our favorites. Winners will receive a pair of weekend badges to any ONE PAX in the next 12 months. So that’s Aus 2014, South 2015, East 2015, or Prime 2015.
There is no limit on entries, however, the deadline is Tuesday, October 7th at midnight.
To enter, submit your JPEGs to [email protected]