Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Steam Greenlight!

Valve is celebrating Steam Greenlight's 1 year anniversary/birthday by having a sale on some of the best games the community has Greenlit.

I'm as massive supporter of Greenlight and independent developers in general so if for some reason you don't have any of these titles log on and pick up something. It's not Summer Sale but what is really?

Some highlights include:
  • Game Dev Tycoon 20% off
  • Papers, Please 20% off
  • Organ Trail 50% off
  • Kentucky Route Zero 50% off
  • Anodyne 66% off

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First Few Hours: Saints Row IV

So I finally got to put in some quality time with the newest Saints Row game. A little bit ago a friend asked me how it was because of all the things she had heard, all positive. At that time I could only tell her what I had heard from others, that it was a crazy, offensive, hilarious, self-aware, journey through mayhem.

Now that I've played the game I can fairly comfortably say that's a fair assessment. The biggest thing that Saints Row IV impressed upon me was that it's a true sandbox game. The terms "open world" and "sandbox" get thrown around a lot these days, almost to the point that both are dirty words only to be spoken in hushed tones. However, Saints Row IV actually delivers on that promise, even in a way that GTA hasn't.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mass Effects: The Banality of Mission Hubs

I remember stepping onto the deck of the SSV Normandy SR-1 like a dream. It was shiny and sci-fi and full of interesting people to interact with. The Normandy is as important to the Mass Effect trilogy as the Millennium Falcon is to Star Wars. The Normandy is like a character unto itself, a microcosm of the Mass Effect universe.

However, for how integral the Normandy is for Mass Effect, it might be detrimental to gaming at large.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Lasting Impressions

I stayed up fairly late last night to push through the last bit of Splinter Cell: Blacklist but wanted to hold off on writing anything resembling a review until I had actually slept. The game is good, there are plenty of review sites out there who will quantify that for you. The lasting impression, however, is somewhat strange.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Killzone: Mercenary Restores My Faith in Multiplayer (updated)

Killzone: Mercenary may have brought me back into the online multiplayer fold. I just put the beta down and rushed to my computer to write this. That kind of glorious faith restoration. Not only does the game play really well for a beta but there is one amazing thing about it, no one I've encountered uses a mic.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The First Few Hours: Splinter Cell: Blacklist

The First Few Hours is a type of post that I'll write after limiting myself to a sampling from a game. Partly because this allows me to take advantage of the PSN free to play, as well as Steam, but mainly because I think first impressions are very important and I'm sure someone already calls something "First Impressions".

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an intensely strange experience though a very enjoyable one. From very early on it's fairly clear that this isn't "your dad's Splinter Cell" but something of a hybrid between that an Conviction. The whole game adds up to a great experience but not necessarily one I feel is entirely cohesive.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome to Scholar Two: Press Start

Hello and welcome to Scholar Two: Press Start, a blog dedicated to thinking about video games in a critical and intellectual light. You won't find reviews the have scores here. What that means is that I won't be playing games and assigning them categorical point values. What it doesn't mean is that there will not be any critique going on here. Plenty of critique will be going on here.

A bit on the name. It's supposed to invite conversation. I'll take Scholar One and the world can pick up Scholar Two and we'll get some stuff done.

I will comment on anything from general trends to specific game mechanics. I'll point to games and talk about what they do well and what they do badly. I'll note when a game does something I think is special and should be talked about. I'll talk about when a game does something I think is unspecial and should be talked about. The point of all of this is to do something with video games that is critical and well thought out.

Recently, I've been working on a critical study of video games but there have been problems with that. At every turn and around every corner new questions pop up. Questions which that project cannot address because of its range and scope. Does that mean these aren't important or answer or answerable questions? No, not at all. In fact, many of the questions are answerable and very important, they're just not questions that fall within the scope of that particular project.

With that in mind, it doesn't mean that the purpose of this won't change. Some of those questions are going to demand answers that a blog post might not be able to answer. Some of those answers might demand even more. The scope, breadth, and overall mission of High Function Gaming is bound to change over time. What isn't going to change is a devotion to analytic and thought provoking, or thought provoked, posts about video games and interactive digital media.

I don't have all the right answers and I don't pretend to. In fact, the reason I don't have all the answers is why High Function Gaming exists. Another reason is that I don't have all the questions. I'm not a scholar trying to be a gamer, I'm a gamer trying to be a scholar studying the thing he loves.

Definitely more to come in the next few days but this is finally a start.