Video Games Are Not To Blame


When I was growing up, I used to love to play Castle Wolfenstein and Doom.  While playing those games, I fired every weapon that I could get my hands on and I killed a countless number of Nazis and demons.

In real life, I have never shot anyone nor have I ever been tempted to.

Later on, I discovered the Grand Theft Auto games.  While playing those games, I’ve stolen a countless number of cars and I’ve run down a lot of people.  Most of them I didn’t mean to run down.  Everyone knows how difficult it is to go in reverse when you’re playing Grand Theft Auto.

In real life, I have never stolen car and I’ve never never run anyone over.  Nor have I ever been tempted to.

That’s because I’ve always known that video games are not real life.  Even when I was a kid, I understood that if someone died in real life, they wouldn’t just respawn and continue playing the game.  I would say that’s true of 99.9% of all gamers.  As for the .1% that doesn’t understand the difference, they have problems that started long before the played their first game.

Whenever there’s a mass shooting or any other traumatic act of public violence, people demand to know how it could have happened.  Video games are always a convenient scapegoat.  Many video games are violent and gamers are easy targets for the media to pick on.  But this idea that little Johnny was perfectly normal until he played Call of Duty or Fortnite is ludicrous and everyone knows it.  When I hear about a school shooter who spent hours playing a violent video game, I don’t care about which game he was playing.  Instead, what I want to know is where were his parents while he was doing this?  Too often video games are blamed because no one wants to admit that they either ignored all of the obvious red flags or they didn’t have the courage to confront what they knew was happening.

Video games are not to blame and neither are gamers.  Using them as a scapegoat is not going to solve a thing.  People with a propensity for violence are always going to seek out ways to be violent.  Banning video games isn’t going to make that type of person any less violent.  It’s just going to inspire him to find a new way to express whatever it is that’s going on inside his head.

Until we get serious and stop looking for easy targets to blame, the shootings like we saw this weekend are going to continue and they’re going to keep getting worse.  Solely blaming video games — as if a mass-produced game is somehow more responsible for an individual’s actions than the individual himself — is not a serious response and anyone doing it is not a serious person.

A Late Review of PS4’s Spider-Man


It took me a little over a month to make my way through PS4’s Spider-Man.

I started playing around the middle of December and I finally completed the game on January 30th.  I didn’t play every day, of course.  There was one week when I was so busy with the real world that I didn’t play at all.  Most days, when I did play, I would spend maybe 60 to 90 minutes on the game, sometimes more and sometimes less.  All told, I’d estimate that it took about a total of 25 hours for me to finish the game’s story.  That’s not counting the time that I spent on side quests or the times when I would just swing through New York and appreciate the massive amount of work and detail that went into recreating Manhattan Island.

The first half of the game is probably one of the best advertisements for New York City that’s ever been put together.  Whether you’re swinging through Central Park or taking in the sights in Times Square, it’s hard not to get drawn into the game’s depiction of New York as being the most exciting city in the world.  Both Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson get scenes in which they talk about how much they love New York.  At the start of the game’s third act, a major disaster happens and New York is suddenly trashed and no longer as friendly a place.  While the streets are controlled by the paramilitary mercenaries of Sable International, the rooftops are populated by snipers who think nothing of trying to shoot you while you’re trying to swing from mission to mission.  And yet, even when things are at their worst, the indomitable spirit of New York survives.  Even though a biological weapon has been detonated and there’s been a massive prison break, you can still find people taking a stroll through Central Park.  (Of course, now they’re wearing surgical masks and some of them are stopping to cough.)  Even after martial law is declared, you can still drop in on the quad at Empire U and find students hanging out.  J. Jonah Jameson (who, in this game, hosts Spider-Man’s favorite podcast) may be a braying fool most of the time but he’s right when he says that New York will never surrender.

(The game’s action is limited to Manhattan.  As much as I would have loved to have visited the Bronx, I understand that there’s only so much that one game can do.  When I tried to swim to Staten Island, I discovered that swimming is the one thing that Spider-Man does not do well.  When I tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, I got a warning telling me that I was “leaving the game.”  Maybe the sequel will take Spider-Man into the outer boroughs.)

Spider-Man is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal and, after playing this game, it’ll be impossible for me to ever think of Spider-Man as sounding like anyone else.  Whether he’s telling a bad joke or, when the game takes a detour into Spider-Man’s subconscious, battling his own demons, Lowenthal simply is Spider-Man.

The game features many of the members of Spider-Man’s supporting cast, with Yuri Watanabe, Mary Jane, Miles Morales, and Aunt May all making welcome appearances.  (Four of the story’s missions require the player to take on the roles of either MJ or Miles.)  As for the game’s villains, Doctor Octopus, Kingpin, Tombstone, Taskmaster, Norman Osborne, Mr. Negative, Electro, Vulture, Rhino, Scorpion, Screwball, and Shocker all play roles of varying importance.  Doctor Octopus is reimagined as being, before he goes bad, almost a surrogate father to Peter.  When Spider-Man battles him, he’s not only fighting Doctor Octopus but he’s also battling his own guilt.  We all know the old saying: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  PS4’s Spider-Man is one of the few adaptations of the character that actually understands what that means.

While I liked the way that the villains were depicted and I think that this is one of the few Spider-Man adaptations to actually capture what makes Electro such an *ahem* electrifying character, I do wish that some of the boss battles had been more difficult.  While they do provide some challenge, they can also often be won just by pushing the dodge button until your opponents eventually tire themselves out.  For one battle, Spider-Man debuts a new suit designed to give him an advantage.  I won the battle without ever using the advantage.  Another battle can be won by finding a high place to perch on while your two opponents defeat themselves with friendly fire.

To anyone playing the game for the first time, my main warning would be to hold off on talking to a homeless man named Howard.  It’s tempting to go over and speak with him because his sidequest is located right next to the building where you go to visit Aunt May.  When you see the little blue diamond inviting you to visit with Howard, it’s hard to resist.  However, when you talk to Howard, you eventually end up agreeing to help him find all of his pet pigeons.  Those pigeons are located across the city and, as soon as you find yourself near any of them them, they’ll take off flying and, regardless of whatever else you may have going on, you’ll be expected to chase after them.  When it comes to Howard, hold off on talking to him until after you’ve taken care of the game’s main story.

Flaws aside, Spider-Man captures the spirit of its main character.  It’s not just about fighting crime, though there is a lot of that to do.  It’s also about making sure that Aunt May isn’t wearing herself out with her volunteer work.  It’s about trying to find time to cook dinner for MJ without neglecting the demands of being a super hero.  It’s about the sidequest where you rescue a civilian who, because he’s wandering around New York dressed like you, has attracted the wrong type of attention.  It’s about checking in on the research stations that Harry Osborne set up around the city before he mysteriously disappeared.  Sometimes, it’s just about taking the time to stop and take a selfie with a fan.  There’s plenty of action but, for me, the game was at its best when it was simply about Spider-Man swinging across Manhattan, looking for old backpacks and sometimes taking pictures of landmarks.

Spider-Man is one of the most enjoyable games that I’ve played in a while and I look forward to replaying it.  Next time, though, I’m telling Howard to collect his own pigeons…

My 12 Favorite Trailers From E3


Last week’s E3 saw the release of too many trailers for me to share them all in just one post but I would like to share the trailers for 12 games that I am especially looking forward to.  In alphabetical order, these are my 12 top trailers from this year’s E3:

  1. Anthem

2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

3. Beyond Good & Evil 2

4. Call of Cthulhu

5. Control

6. Cyberpunk 2077

7. Doom Eternal

8. Ghost of Tsushima

9. Marvel’s Spider-Man

10. Resident Evil 2

11. We Happy Few

12. Wolfenstein: Youngblood

 

 

RAMPAGE – Review by Case Wright, ALT Title – The Video Game Movie Curse Is Broken by Dwayne’s Awesome Arms!


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I thoroughly enjoyed this film!! Why? Because it’s a Dwayne Johnson movie.  He’s an actor, a brand, and you know what you’re going to get.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Did it have a couple of slow moments?  Yep.  Were the characters, especially the villains, one dimensional or 8-Bit?  Sure.  But, so what? Rampage is fun and sometimes it’s great to take a bath in nostalgia and see some shit blow up.

A Dwayne Johnson movie is really a sub-genre all its very own.  I won’t compare it to other movies.  His movies are also fun because we just like Dwayne Johnson so much as a Man that we feel like he’s a friend.  It becomes reflexive that we hear Dwayne Johnson has a movie out, it’s as if one of our friends just made one.  I told a guy at work that I was going to see a Dwayne Johnson movie, he knew exactly what I meant, and he referred to Dwayne Johnson as a National Treasure.  Yes, we’re now getting married in the fall and are registered at Pottery Barn.

I played Rampage when I was a wee bairn.  In fact, with the help of my friend Robbie, we stayed up all night and destroyed the whole country. Congratulations! I, like every boy in the Y-Generation, was excited for this film.  Sidenote: sorry everyone, Millenials are no more, you’ve been folded into Y, but take heart – “Even children get older, I’m gettin older …too.”

An Evil Corporation, run ostensibly by Ivanka Trump and her Generic Trump brother, create a virus that mutate ordinary animals into genetically spliced super-creatures that run amok.  That’s it- that’s the plot- and like the video game upon which it was based, Rampage the Film is beautifully Wabi Sabi.

The film begins with The Rock who is closed off from people because after seeing their terrible acts in war and poaching, he just can’t let them in. *sniff*  The Rock’s best friend is George- an albino gorilla- who can sign.  Soon, the Trump family look alikes’ experiment accidentally infects George, a wolf, a crocodile, and a partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge Monster doesn’t actually destroy anything, but he blatantly re-gifts Christmas presents; therefore, he’s the worst monster of all because he destroys your self-esteem.

George, the wolf, and crocodile get BIGGER, the government – embodied by Jeffrey Dean Morgan- try to stop the monsters, but can’t.  Jeffrey becomes an ally of The Rock, helping him along the way with helicopter keys, air strikes, and lending him his edger so The Rock can really make his lawn POP for barbecue season.  The Trumps put out a signal to draw the monsters to Chicago, hoping they’ll kill each other off.  The Trumps hope that they’ll be able to take a sample of the monster flesh, replicate it, and sell it to whomever.  It doesn’t go well.  The monsters go nuts.  I’m not going to spoil anything.  Needless to say, the last 40 minutes of the film are amazingly satisfying.

Congratulations! Dwayne you’ve done it! The Video Game Curse is Broken.

 

Here’s The Trailer for Strafe!


I can’t wait until this movie comes out!

(I know, I know.  Strafe’s a game and this trailer is an elaborate parody.  It’s also a very well-done parody which is why I’m sharing it here!)

(I have a feeling this game will be very popular in certain offices of the TSL Bunker…)

Here’s The First Trailer for Destiny 2!


And finally, here’s the first trailer for Destiny 2.  I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t know much about any of this but I do know that there was more than a little excitement here at the TSL Bunker when this was released.

Is it just me or can Lance Reddick make almost anything sound noble?

Destiny 2 will be released, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, on September 8th.

Law & Order In The Internet Archive: Crime Fighter


I have just returned from another exploration of the old MSDOS games stored at the Internet Archive and I think I may have found one of the most addictive games ever programmed.  Without further ado, let’s play Crime Fighter (1993, Peter Steffen)!

(There is an updated version of Crime Fighter that can be downloaded from here.  This review is solely for the version that can be found on the Internet Archive.)

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Crime Fighter is a game where you attempt to become the top boss of a small city’s criminal underworld.  When I started the game, this is the first thing I saw:

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Got it?  This is an educational game!

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You are one of the four gangsters mentioned above.  The other gangsters are your friends and loved ones, assuming you can convince them to play the game with you.  I could not.

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Fear the Citizen Kanes!

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After naming my gang, I was randomly assigned some stats.   I am more brutal than smart and I’m also as weak as a little kitten.  I’ll be running that city in no time.

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Rules?  Who needs rules?  I never read the rules.  I can figure this game out on my own.  What I can’t figure out is which of the two options I’ve selected.  Since I’m using the arrow keys to make my selection, it’s not easy to tell which option I’ve highlighted.  Have I selected no?  The only way to know for sure is to press enter.

crime-fighter-7‘I guess I must have selected yes because there’s the rules.

After all of that, it was finally time to get this game started.  At the start of each turn, you see this:

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I looked at my six choices.  I was not ready to quit the game and, since I was playing a single-player game, there was no next player.   Run through the town sounded like fun but I wasn’t here to have fun.  I was here to become the top ganglord in the city!  The best way to do that?  Get rid of all the other gangs.

I selected gang war.

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That didn’t work.   Apparently, you can only have a gang war if you are actually playing with other people.  That was good news for the Citizen Kanes, though.  With no other gangs around, the city belonged to us.  I guess that made me the winner, right?

Seeing as how I was the city’s new criminal overlord, I decided it was time to run through the city.

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Where should I visit first?  I knew I was only allowed 25 moves before the turn ended so my options were limited.  I decided to pay a visit to the building with the H on the rooftop.

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That explains the H.  I decided to enter the hotel.

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“Give me all your money!”

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What happened next occurred so quickly that I did not get a chance to capture a screenshot.  Four gangsters showed up with baseball bats and beat me down.  It was not the greatest moment in the history of the Citizen Kanes.

Things only got worse.

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Bribing the police was the right thing to do but now I was down 1500 DMs.  I was not sure how much money I had left so, when I was transported back to the city map with 15 moves left in the turn, I decided to visit the bank.

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Coming back at night seemed like a good and simple way to make some money!

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Who needs instructions?  How difficult can it be?

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Again, I pushed the wrong button and I got the instructions anyway.

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What the Hell am I supposed to do with that?  Can I see those instructions again?

Too late.  The alarm went off.  It’s a good thing that I can always just bribe the police.

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Did I push the wrong button again?

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Yes, I did.

This is when I discovered is that, while you can keep backing up from them for as long as you want to, there is no way to escape the police.  You have to fight them.  That’s a problem when they have guns and you do not.

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That did not work out.  I guess I’m dead now.

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No, I’m not dead.  But I am in prison for 1 month, which amounts to four game turns.  If I had been playing with another player, this would have given them time to steal all of my territory while I was in jail.  Luckily, since I was playing a single player game, being in jail did not hurt me one way or the other.

After I was released, I found myself back here:

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This time, I decided not to go to the bank or the hotel.  Instead, I went down to the bottom of the map and visited the subway station.

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I learned my lesson the last time!  I bribed the cops and they let me go.

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Where to now?  It looks like there might be a gun shop above the subway station.

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Eddie, I like the way you think.  Show me your weapons.

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Hand grenades might be helpful but let’s take a look at that pistol first.

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Thanks for nothing, Eddie.

If I can’t afford a gun, maybe I can steal one.  And who has more guns than police?  As I started to make my way to the police station at the top of the map, this suddenly happened:

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Thanks, officer!

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Here’s the police station!  Let’s see if I can trick a flatfoot out of his piece.

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Sorry, stealing a gun is not an option.  If I wanted a weapon, I was going to have to find the money to pay for it.  But how could I steal the money if I didn’t have a gun?

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Is that a casino down at the bottom of the map?  My prayers have been answered!

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Blackjack has always been my game and I am not a bad poker player either.  But I needed money quickly and that meant betting it all one turn of the roulette wheel.

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Great.

To recap: After playing the game for fifteen minutes, I have spent a month in jail, I do not have a gun, and I am now broke.  The Citizen Kanes have seen better days.

Maybe I should just go rob that big shopping mall.

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Money transport in the evening?  That sounds like an easy score!

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How difficult can that be?

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I just have to wait for that one guard to move before I move down.  There he goes!  This is so easy, I can’t believe I did not try it earlier…

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This is probably not going to end well.

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No, it did not end well.  Not only was I captured but I did not have any money to offer the police.  I ended up spending another 4 game turns in jail.  When I was released, I looked back on what I had accomplished after playing the game for 30 minutes and it became clear that I really only had one option.

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I may not have done so well on my first try but Crime Fighter is an addictive game and I look forward to playing it again in the future!  msdos_crime_fighter_1993