It's the weekend, which means a new instalment in Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the best writing about games in the past week. Except, of course, when one story is from four years ago.
Hey, You Should Read This
It's tough to hoodwink game fans, and though it's been more than two years since Gearbox and Sega shipped Aliens: Colonial Marines, people are still bitter. I get it — I really wanted Colonial Marines to be amazing, too, and felt early presentations were misleading. With a recent lawsuit over the game concluded, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford has been answering questions about Colonial Marines to the press. This lengthy Eurogamer interview valiantly tries to get Pitchford to talk about the game's development. The conversation is frustrating — Pitchford won't admit Colonial Marines might be a bad game — but it's interesting to see him mount a defence. I think it's praiseworthy he's doing this at all, as most developers wouldn't put themselves in the line of fire — period. But he'd probably benefit by a little more "you know, we messed that one up a bit."
Eurogamer: I'll make a specific point, which is the graphical quality of the game.
Randy Pitchford: What about the graphical quality of the game? I thought it was great.
Randy Pitchford: Yeah. So one decision that was tricky was, there's platform parity issues, so a PS3 is not as strong as an Xbox 360, which is not as strong as a state of the art PC. So if you play the game on a PC you're getting the best graphics. And whenever they make trailers, they always use the PC version. But it's kind of a trick, the fact that PC content is used to market the game when there's different versions. Pick any game.
Eurogamer: You admit it's a trick then, so why do it?
Randy Pitchford: Well I don't do it. I'm not a publisher. I'm a developer. I'm actually not responsible for any marketing. They will put me up there and ask me to talk about the game I'm working on, and I'm excited. I don't do anything I'm not thrilled about. So you'll feel the energy come off of me.
And in fact there was one point... I don't want to get into that. But sometimes I get kind of concerned about how they're representing the game and I try to make a point.
This article was published four years ago, but I only came across it this week, and I love the premise behind it, since it summarises so much of hyperbolic arguing on the Internet about favourites. It's a brilliant way to talk about the best and worst parts of our most beloved games, and I'd happily read a deconstruction of other major game franchises using the same approach. (For the record, Final Fantasy III/VI and Final Fantasy VIII are the best games in the series.)
Why it's the best FF ever: Every saga has a beginning, and this is where the root of one of the most legendary game franchises of all time took hold. Final Fantasy I is a classic that hews closer to the classic pen-and-paper RPGs that inspired the genre than any game to follow. By assembling a party of your own choosing (out of classes that would become standard in sequels to follow), you decide for yourself how you will tackle the story — much like assembling a group of buddies for an AD&D campaign. There are countless ways to challenge yourself — how about trying to complete the adventure with an all-mage party? And by challenge, I do mean challenge — Final Fantasy has some very tough dungeons, and even the regular enemies pose a series threat to the party, unlike the pushover monsters in the games to follow. And when you do get to the end, prepare for a story twist that's surprisingly sophisticated for its time.
Why it's the worst FF ever: FF1 is nearly 25 years old, and it shows in the game's sloppy construction. The story and the way it's presented is lame: the game rarely spells out where you need to go next, leaving you wandering aimlessly quite often — this results in hundreds of unwanted, frequently lethal random encounters. These regular enemy groups are incredibly tough, while bosses are a relative pushover. And did we mention how incredibly buggy and imbalanced the game is in the magic department? Half the spells don't work as advertised, and since the intelligence stat is completely worthless, mages are woefully underpowered at endgame. Sure, you can play Dawn of Souls on GBA for a lot of bugfixes and a revised MP system… if you like Wii-style Baby Mode difficulty.
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Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Jon Irwin spoke to fifth graders about Satoru Iwata's death; the reactions were amazing.
- Chris Baker chatted with various analysts about the now-uncertain future of Nintendo.
- Luke Fox examined what it's like to record thousands of lines of commentary for NHL 15.
- David Roberts outlined his unlikely but entertaining theory for Arkham Knight (spoilers!)
- Maxwell Neely-Cohen argued our relationship with video game violence may be healthy.
- Asher Vollmer showed how Threes is making tons of money with a free and paid version.
- Chris Kohler praised an upcoming documentary about collecting every NES game.
- Drew Toal had a recommendation for video game masochists: play the new Godzilla game.
- Ian McKellen explained how he made more money on the LOTR games than movies.