May 2002 Archives

by Robert de los Reyes, Esq.

Hell is other people, said French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Having endured the long-haul flights connecting Los Angeles and New York for the trip to E3, it's easy enough to agree, at least, that Hell is other people in airports. Why people insist on carrying 8 lbs of metal on their person, each ounce of which must be separately removed and inspected by airport security, is beyond my understanding. I have just one word for travelers: plastics. I have also (nearly) resolved to declare bedroom slippers as my travel footwear of choice in light of how frequently security requires me to remove my shoes.

Sartre's famous epigram popped into my head while listening to IDSA president Doug Lowenstein's opening comments to the media on Wednesday morning. Among many other subjects, Lowenstein discussed massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). In particular, Lowenstein hinted at the contrast between the sizeable push into online gaming of both PC and console game makers and the relatively small portion of the gaming community that participates in online gaming, persistent world gaming especially. The chief culprit for this low uptake is, to Lowenstein's way of thinking, the failure of internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver us to the promised land of a chicken in every pot and broadband connectivity in every computer room. And he's probably right about that. North American broadband penetration is embarrassingly low, and growth, while palpable, remains slow. Broadband connections are not required to play most online games, but they enhance the experience immeasurably. Still, thinking of Sartre, broadband penetration isn't the only problem online gaming, and persistent world gaming in particular, must resolve.

by Robert de los Reyes, Esq.

As we at FI prepare to head off to E3, stunning in its excess, I am put in mind of a new front in the current war on computer and video games. It seems not a week goes by in which video games aren't blamed for some great evil in the world, particularly for inducing youth violence and assorted anti-social tendencies. History tells us these charges are preposterous. Books, theater, movies and music... even Elvis' hips have been blamed for destroying young minds. Thomas and Harriet Bowdler produced a work called Family Shakespeare in 1818 designed to make Shakespeare more suitable for impressionable young ears (their legacy gives us the modern English word "bowdlerization," meaning the process of prudishly censoring something). Even in the 19th Century, the cry of "We've got to protect the children" rang out. Rightfully, it seems silly now, and I hold out hope that in time this anti-video game crusade will seem silly as well. It really doesn't matter whether video games never approach Shakespeare's level of art; that wasn't the Bowdlers' concern. They were concerned about harming children. They were wrong, and the anti-video game crowd is wrong, as well.

Publisher: Fox Interactive and Sierra (VU Games)
Developer: Piranha Games

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB video card, 660 MB HD space, 4x CD ROM drive

Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza began its life as a Die Hard movie-themed mod for Half-Life. Fox Interactive became involved and the project became a stand-alone shooter/tribute vehicle based on the original Die Hard movie. The story of the game is the story of the first movie. You take on the role of New York cop John McClane on Christmas vacation to visit his estranged (ex-)wife, Holly. The holiday party at Holly's office goes awry when a group of German master criminals take over the building in order to steal the contents of Nakatomi's vault. John is able to escape early detection by the enemy and sets about disrupting their plans. The game Nakatomi Plaza is different from the movie in two chief ways: (1) enemy leader Hans Gruber brings a small battalion of henchmen instead of the movie's dozen or so men, and (2) the game runs John through building levels not present in movie scenes. Nakatomi Plaza also gives John access to a few more types of weapons, though the submachine guns used by Hans' men in the movie figure most prominently. One of the original movie actors lends his voice to the project – Reginald VelJohnson who played Officer Powell, John's main friend in the movie.

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