Published articles by Ian Birnbaum
I wanted to talk to the people who still play games that, for the rest of us, are nothing but fond memories. With my anti-virus on high alert, I dove into the seedier corners of the Internet to dredge up old install files, seek out the last guardians of a dying age of PC gaming, and ask them: Why this game? Why now? Why still ?
Do they even know that the end is coming?
So how similar is space trucking to real trucking? To find out, I found truckers and Eliteplayers and compared their experiences. I discovered that flying ships in Elite is a lot like driving, except that terrestrial trucking is worse in every conceivable way.
After five trips into the dungeons, my most decorated adventurer is a nervous, alcoholic Satanophobe with claustrophobia, kleptomania, a guilty conscience, and devout faith. Oh, and he’s got stomach cramps and a torn rotator cuff. I understand that dungeon diving is rough business, but come on. Anyone who makes a career of it should do so without sounding like they fell down the Quirks chapter of the D&D book and hit every paragraph on the way down.
The Github still stores all of the team’s files and source code, but that is all original programming work that belongs to the modders. It just so happens, wink wink, that the modders’ original work exists solely to crack open the Halo Online executable that you’ll have to find elsewhere, nudge nudge.
On some creative level, it offends me that Fatshark copied even minor, inconsequential design choices from Left 4 Dead. However, my quibbles with the application of Warhammer lore and Fatshark’s adherence to Valve’s formula are separate from my love of fighting these vicious critters: absolutely every bad guy in the game is a joy to conquer, run from, and kill.
This imaginary realm is where Blops 3 is most comfortable trying out its more scary ideas: Where is the line between individual freedom and communal safety? Is the cyborg future of transhumanism inevitable? Why do governments treat soldiers as disposable rags? What happens when we create artificial life—and, inevitably, what happens when that life decides it doesn’t need us?
This game looks those questions in the eye and isn’t afraid to think about maybe getting ready to say something semi-meaningful. And that’s the million-dollar problem, really. Raising the question isn’t the same as addressing it. Having a character say the word “symbiotic” isn’t the same as realizing augmented humans might not be human any more. Having a drunk philosophy student quote Benjamin Franklin’s line about liberty and safety doesn’t make a frat party a symposium on foreign relations.