May 18, 2010 12:00 PM |
['Battle Klaxon' is a monthly GameSetWatch-exclusive column where traveling games journalist Quintin Smith fights to win a bit of glory for the beautiful, brave but overlooked games that people are missing in their lives. This month: robot ballet in PC indie multiplayer game Plain Sight.]
I've only lived with another obsessive gamer once in my life, which was a funny if slightly regrettable experience. We owned a Tefal Toast n Egg machine, for one thing, and while our surround-sound system looked impressive our tiny living room rendered the audio like having your head in a bath while four men shouted at you instead of just one.
Then there was the sofa situation. The bogus machinations of life meant we not only had three sofas in a flat the size of an average American toilet, but also that they weren't ours to throw away. When we first moved in we spent what felt like 48 hours playing a kind of sliding block puzzle before finally giving up and wedging one of them in the hallway like a switch in a circuit diagram. Whenever one of us wanted to get into our respective bedroom we had to shift the couch to barricade the other's door.
And so began the passive-aggressive behaviour that caused us to spend the entire winter looking for something we could play competitively. Problem was, we both wanted something that would let us look cool while we fought. That was all. But if whatever game we tried didn't look dumb to begin with then it certainly lost its cool the moment we watched YouTube videos of high level play. The closest we ever got to Our Game was the obscenely smooth and cinematic battles of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, but that just didn't grip us mechanically.
You'd think that videogames would be better at presenting you with fights that look beautiful or at least affecting, since on bad days it feels like idealised combat is all games ever think about. But what do we get? The furious bunnyhopping of online FPSes. Combos in fighting games lashing out at nothing but air long after the opponent's been knocked down. Men unflinchingly taking bullets like so much bad news. The And, y'know, this stuff.
But we also get the occasional spurt of hope. Recently I've been playing the drop-dead gorgeous Plain Sight by indie devs Beatnik Games, a multiplayer game that answers the question of "How cool can robot combat look?" with "This cool. You might want to stand back a bit. No, further than that."
Categories: Column: Battle Klaxon