Bomberman Live, Metal Gear?, Ebert

Here’s my review of Bomberman Live on XBox Live Arcade: It’s Bomberman. Online. With eight player support. Review over.

The only problems that I have with it is some nagging issues with the interface and net code. The actual in-game lag isn’t too bad. You’ll see some occasional jumping, especially from people with multiple “speed up” power-ups, but other than that it runs fine. The problem is that sometimes, because of lost packets or something, the game completely glitches out. I’ve had games start where nobody could move. I had a game where the game was over and I could here people over the headset complaining that the next round isn’t starting when I was still in the game. Weird stuff like that. It’s not too frequent, but it’s annoying that these issues are there at all.

With the interface there are a few minor grievances but the biggest of all is the fact that once you start a hosted player game on XBox Live, you can’t ever change the settings for that game unless you disconnect and start up a new room. It so ruins the flow of a nice room. So annoying.

But the game itself is awesome.

The Metal Gear Solid 4 gameplay trailer. You know, I used to be a pretty big fan of the Metal Gear Solid games. I remember playing the MGS1 PS demo over and over. I remember playing the full game non-stop for two weeks, beating it — start to finish — five times in that span. Including on extreme difficulty (that fucking Hind-D!!) But after seeing that weak E3 trailer and then being irritated by the gameplay trailer, my interest in the series is falling drastically.

Put bluntly, the series is getting stupid now. Looking at a bikini magazine to stop yourself from vomiting? Stupid. That Raiden+Vamp thing? Ridiculous. The AI? Good for a PS1 game. La Li Lu Le Lo? Fuck off.

The games do a good job of interfacing with the player and fucking with him (the late parts of MGS2 were fantastic), but they’re starting to tow this line between goofy and realistic, between serious and stupid and between melodramatic and provocative that I can no longer come to terms with. The series is too polarizing and I think it’s given more attention and relevance than it deserves. It’s not a system seller. Not anymore. But it sure is pretty.

Maybe it’s not the games but the fans that I hate.

Ebert is bring up that old games vs. art debate and it’s so fucking tired it’s not worth debating anymore. It’s been done and I don’t need to retread what I previously wrote. Yes, the idea that something interactive can’t be art because the outcome can change is idiotic. No point arguing that. But what bugs me about the recent incarnation of this tiresome debate is the mentioning of Shakespeare.

Shakespeare is but one standout in a history of literature and storytelling spanning thousands of years. Imagine if all of literature existed for thirty years and was nothing but Tom Clancy novels and clones of Tom Clancy novels. Would you think of literature as an art form in that case? Probably not. This is where the game industry is at now. It has a thirty year history (and, really, the history of ‘serious’ game design is even shorter.) Give it time. Given a hundred years — or longer — will there be standouts that transcend the medium? Most definitely.

You can argue that there aren’t any real “art games” now. That’s fine. Debatable, but still understandable. But to dismiss the whole medium for all of eternity? How shortsighted can you be. It’s like saying that film can never be art because the only films that exist are sideshow novelties showing oncoming trains that do nothing but frighten the audience.

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