February 2015

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Welcome one and all to This Month in Let’s Plays! Let’s see what February had in store for us.

Proteus, Rougelikes, and Design Trends: Oh My!

In February, both Brendan Keogh and Amy Dentata discuss Proteus. While both Keogh and Dentata analyze Proteus against other game types and styles to exhibit the game’s unique offerings in play, what struck me as really interesting is the way both Keogh and Dentata break from their “official” commentary to be taken in by Proteus’ environment.

That said, the analysis of Proteus by Keogh and Dentata pairs well with George Weidman’s discussion of the “ubiquity problem” in games. Weidman notes, “Ubiquity hurts the enjoyment of all games that share those similarities regardless of their individual qualities” The upside is that as old trends becoming stale (really stale) new trends should emerge to replace them.

Expectation Vs. Delivery

Several Let’s Plays this month looked at the difference between game expectations (either by developers or players) and game experience (again, either by developers or players).

Eurogamer’s Johnny Chiodini discusses how Battlefield Hardline too thinly stretches a cops and robbers motif over what is still, essentially a military game. Chiodini observes, “Police are giving military grade equipment…to deal with what is essentially a civil disturbance.”

Chris Franklin at Errant Signal discusses not only the narrative mess of Destiny, but why and how he is able to still enjoy the game in spite of it, as well as how the game surprisingly promotes play engagment similar to that of Animal Crossing. (Content warning: mild ableist language.)

Elsewhere, Goldvision humorously discusses his attempts to navigate Grand Theft Auto as a pacifist and how this play style brings the game’s obsession with violence, greed, and class issues to the foreground.

Additionally, Noah Caldwell-Gervais brings us the first in a new series called “Genre Orphans” in which he analyzes games that “defy the expectations of their chosen genre format and do something really unique and distinctive.” In this premiere episode, Caldwell-Gervias looks at L.A. Noire.

Developer Discussions

In another feature from the Digital Writer’s Festival, Critical Distance alumna Katie Williams conducts an interview with game developer Andrew Brophy. To add an interesting spin to the interview, Brophy plays through several of his games from the last 7 years throughout the interview.

Over on DoubleFineProd’s channel, JP LeBreton sits down with John Romero to show him his demake of of Bioshock’s Arcadia level constructed in the Doom 2 engine.

The Short and the Long of It

Bringing us another short and sweet bit of games criticism, Stephen Beirne discusses the ways Final Fantasy VII “relates drama through its broader composition.”

Elsewhere, SF Debris provides a complete playthrough of System Shock 2, but each chapter of the game is broken into two videos: one with commentary from the point-of-view of the protagonist and one with analysis of the story elements. (Disclaimer: I have not watched all of the videos in this series.)

http://blip.tv/sf-debris-opinionated-reviews/system-shock-2-introduction-7149913

Honorable Mention

With apologies, this Let’s Play was submitted in January, and though I meant to add it to the roundup, it fell through the cracks. Luckily it was submitted again for the February roundup! Here, in the season finale of Breaking Madden, it’s the Patriots vs. the Seahawks, again, and the stats are strongly in favor of the Patriots – really strongly. (Content warning: mild ableist language.)

Oh, Hey…

Before you go, I want to make sure I express my continued gratitude for the support of this new Critical Distance venture. The responses and submissions have been great! Please keep the submissions coming for the March roundup, and remember to tag your submissions to us on Twitter with the hashtag #LetsPlayCD. You can also email us your submissions, if you prefer.

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