All posts by Nate Kiernan

Gears of War 4 is a Fuller, Gorier House

Gears of War 4 (2016) opens with a formless efficiency. As First Minister Jinn broadcasts a speech commemorating the people lost in the war of prior games, the player is shuffled from body to body, firefight to firefight, as they witness the events leading up to the present peace from nameless (now) dead eyes. It is a tone that could have easily defined Gears 4 – anonymous soldiers fighting a constantly evolving enemy, where individual lives and stories are sacrificed in the name of an ambiguous “greater good.” This is the war familiar to games, a cold machine wherein a life is no more useful than the number it can take, and it would have been easy for the newly formed Coalition (the new caretakers to the Gears of War series, following Epic Games’ departure) to rely on this familiarity to carry their first game through to launch. But this intro is deceptive, being not a statement of tone but one of purpose. You are not, as it turns out, fighting as an anonymous cog in the machine of war – you’re fighting against that very machine itself. Continue reading Gears of War 4 is a Fuller, Gorier House

All My Friends Are Dead In Guitar Hero Live

The first three strums in Guitar Hero Live (2015) are electrifying. “Let’s try that again,” the engineer says as you power into the second half of soundcheck. In this dimly lit hallway stuffed full of bandmates and crew members, developer Freestyle Games tries to sell you on their vision of what Guitar Hero could be. A game not of highscores and increasingly ridiculous outfits, but a first-person, live-action concert experience. The proposal is one part intriguing, two parts outrageous, and as you hear the overdrive kick in and are waved onto the stage it starts to feel like this could actually work. But once the band begins to play it becomes clear something’s been forgotten. You may be looking out over a crowd of thousands, but you, yourself, are alone. Continue reading All My Friends Are Dead In Guitar Hero Live

Dance Central is for the Wallflowers

I hadn’t danced a day in my life before I spontaneously decided to go in on a discarded Kinect with possibly the best argument for owning one: Harmonix’s Dance Central (2010). My lack of dancefloor experience was not for a lack of interest. I’d made a point to position myself as “the wallflower who could (if only someone would give me a push).” I went to school dances, stood at the edge of wedding reception mosh pits, and spent hours studying dance videos on YouTube only to find that I was still as unable to get my body moving as ever. All of that changed with Dance Central.  Continue reading Dance Central is for the Wallflowers

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime / on a Hand-Me-Down Couch

Dear Space Diary,

S. and I are preparing to embark on what will undoubtedly test not only our skills as pilots but the strength of our relationship itself. Though the Gumball Zero has been modified to accommodate four crew members, part of me feels it is better that it will be only the two of us aboard. It is likely that we will fail, and that failure may mean death, but, if nothing else, at least we will have each other.

N. Continue reading Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime / on a Hand-Me-Down Couch

Baby Driver is Edgard Wright’s Wunderkind

Smooth. It’s the word that comes to mind when discussing any of Edgard Wright’s films but feels especially apt to describe his latest genre-smoothie, Baby Driver (2017). Scenes dance from gunfights and street chases to diner chats and car seat makeouts with a confidence that is as intimidating as it is sexy. The camera spins and transitions through a film that almost dares you to look away and miss the next expertly choreographed sip of coffee. The dialogue is smart, but not too smart. It uses just as many words as it needs and lets the music do the rest. And by the time the credits role the film doesn’t appear transcendent, it just feels so much better than what the other guys are doing. In short, Baby Driver is smooth. Continue reading Baby Driver is Edgard Wright’s Wunderkind

yellow remembers when touchscreens were cool

Unassuming and pleasantly warm, Bart Bonte’s SEO-unfriendly mobile puzzler, yellow (2017), finds joy in simplicity. Halfway between a series of vignettes and a digital version of those impossible metal brainteasers, yellow does not ask for much. Simply turn the screen yellow by tapping, flicking, or staring intently at your phone, impromptu Coldplay karaoke optional. That premise, however, fails to capture the delightful sense of accomplishment that causes yellow to be entertaining despite being little more than a series of motor skill exercises. Continue reading yellow remembers when touchscreens were cool

Alien: Covenant and the Horror of Humanity

In 2013, the Ebola virus broke loose across West Africa. It was the most destructive outbreak the of the virus in history, with over 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths reported (which accounts for only 17-70% of all infections). It was one of the most severe biological epidemics in recent memory, causing widespread panic and paranoia as countries scrambled to close their borders  in the hopes of containing the virus to African countries (a move which no doubt resulted in even more unnecessary deaths and reflected our inability to respond to catastrophes like this). The outbreak lasted until 2016, though cases are still being reported and the effects of the outbreak will continue to be felt for years. Continue reading Alien: Covenant and the Horror of Humanity

Lost Saves – Episode 7: All the Songs Fit to Print

Welcome to episode 7 of Lost Saves, several weeks past due and aged like a fine wine.

This week we discuss some of our favorite video game tracks, from Hotline Miami fever dreams to the smooth vocals of K.K. Slider. If you enjoy this episode and would like to see more, let us know in the comment. Also, tell us about some of your favorite game tracks! Continue reading Lost Saves – Episode 7: All the Songs Fit to Print