Tag Archives: first person shooter

Why Video Game Headshots Will Always Be Popular—And Unsettling

Like a lot of people who play video games, I have spent decades aiming at digital heads. I have also spent a considerable amount of time during those years feeling uncomfortable about it. “Headshots” as a concept are, as Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo wrote in a 2010 report, ghoulish to the outsider, and essential to the gamer.

Over the past couple days, I started watching YouTuber Jacob Geller’s video essays on games. “Rationalizing Brutality: The Cultural Legacy of the Headshot” is a good example of why I find them compelling. Geller constructs well-researched videos exploring a topic contextually, pulling not just from video games but across media, history, and current events.

Content Warning: the video references and depicts graphic violence from both games and historical footage.

“Rationalizing Brutality” is an even-keeled examination of the very idea of headshots, one that traces humankind’s understanding of the location of the “self.” In both medical science and popular culture, the “self” was thought to lie in the heart, but eventually our conception of where “we” are in our bodies drifted upward to the brain. Geller, citing numerous games and scholarly papers like Amanda Phillips’ “Shooting to Kill: Headshots, Twitch Reflexes, and the Mechropolitics of Video Games” ruminates on the much-discussed role of the headshot in game design, as well as the way it has slowly become the primary depiction of death by gunshot in popular culture.

What makes Geller’s video good isn’t that it’s arguing for or against gun violence in games, but rather what it might mean to have a large body of popular entertainment shift in a direction that specifically valorizes the headshot.

Committing acts of digital violence does not lead to a desire to commit real violence, but art does influence understanding. And if our current understanding of the self is something rooted in the brain, what does it mean to have all this media where the destruction of a head, and therefore arguably the self, is the primary thrill? And what should we make of it, when, say, we read the news and see that a police officer has shot someone in the head, a target that no soldier or law enforcement officer is trained to hit, with extreme exception?

These are difficult, powerful questions, and as Geller’s video shows, questions that games can also help us parse.

Source: Kotaku.com

Why Video Game Headshots Will Always Be Popular—And Unsettling

A still from the E3 2012 trailer for The Last Of Us.
Image: Sony

Like a lot of people who play video games, I have spent decades aiming at digital heads. I have also spent a considerable amount of time during those years feeling uncomfortable about it. “Headshots” as a concept are, as Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo wrote in a 2010 report, ghoulish to the outsider, and essential to the gamer.

Over the past couple days, I started watching YouTuber Jacob Geller’s video essays on games. “Rationalizing Brutality: The Cultural Legacy of the Headshot” is a good example of why I find them compelling. Geller constructs well-researched videos exploring a topic contextually, pulling not just from video games but across media, history, and current events.

Content Warning: the video references and depicts graphic violence from both games and historical footage.

“Rationalizing Brutality” is an even-keeled examination of the very idea of headshots, one that traces humankind’s understanding of the location of the “self.” In both medical science and popular culture, the “self” was thought to lie in the heart, but eventually our conception of where “we” are in our bodies drifted upward to the brain. Geller, citing numerous games and scholarly papers like Amanda Phillips’ “Shooting to Kill: Headshots, Twitch Reflexes, and the Mechropolitics of Video Games” ruminates on the much-discussed role of the headshot in game design, as well as the way it has slowly become the primary depiction of death by gunshot in popular culture.

What makes Geller’s video good isn’t that it’s arguing for or against gun violence in games, but rather what it might mean to have a large body of popular entertainment shift in a direction that specifically valorizes the headshot.

Committing acts of digital violence does not lead to a desire to commit real violence, but art does influence understanding. And if our current understanding of the self is something rooted in the brain, what does it mean to have all this media where the destruction of a head, and therefore arguably the self, is the primary thrill? And what should we make of it, when, say, we read the news and see that a police officer has shot someone in the head, a target that no soldier or law enforcement officer is trained to hit, with extreme exception?

These are difficult, powerful questions, and as Geller’s video shows, questions that games can also help us parse.

Source: Kotaku.com

Get To The Orange Door Is Basically 1980s Titanfall 2

When it comes to first person shooters, my preferred style is super fast and acrobatic. As much as I love throwbacks like Amid Evil, I’ve been wanting something that feels like Titanfall 2. Get To The Orange Door is an early access shooter with a 1980’s aesthetic and all the wall running, double jumping chaos I’ve been craving.

Get To The Orange Door has been in early access for Windows since the end of May, but it’s mostly flown under the radar. That’s a shame, because it has some of the best raw shooting I’ve experienced in a long time. The goal is simple: survive waves of enemies and reach the orange door at the end of the stage. The game really embraces the modern speed of games like Doom 2016 and Titanfall 2. There’s wall running, sliding, double jumping, slow-motion, and tons of flair. Each level is only a handful of minutes, but they feel like expressive, bullet-packed jungle gyms. Playing feels like a perfectly choreographed sequence from the finest action film.

All of this comes with a Tron-like computer simulation vibe that mixes neon lights, grey-box architecture, and the occasional disco palm tree. Since you’re able to scale walls and climb easily, levels have tons of verticality. You can slide under a truck to surprise an enemy, or you might clamber up high and leap down to blast someone. With an assortment of weapons like a beefy shotgun or rapid fire pistol, you always have something on had to deal with enemies. Playing well racks up points you can spend on health kits or special weapons like a minigun, katana, or a banana that works like a pistol. There’s even a phone that completely freezes time. It’s goofy stuff, and everything is fun to use.

There’s a handful of modes, including two arena modes and a sort of “find the exit” obstacle course. They’re all fun, but the quick play challenges and never-ending arena mode are where you get to mess around the most. This is the sort of game that you boot up for 20 minutes to an hour and just see what kind of mayhem you can cause against waves of neon pixel-baddies.

Get To The Orange Door is still in early access, so there’s some clumsiness. Controls are good, but players shouldn’t expect Apex Legends-worthy precision. A few times I ran so fast through a level’s end point that I kept rushing forward into the next level, where I fell off a building and lost all my weapons. Get To The Orange Door’s rough places are outshined by raw fun, however. There’s a free demo for folks who want to enjoy the neon bullet fracas. 10 out of 10: would slow-mo headshot a voxel dude while jumping off a digital palm tree again.

Source: Kotaku.com

Killing Rage 2’s Enemies Is As Satisfying As Popping Pimples

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I know something about you that you probably won’t even admit to yourself, a fundamental human truth as undeniable as breathing: You like popping pimples. Slowly applying pressure until those tiny face volcanoes erupt into a gooey spew is one of life’s small pleasures. It is gross, yes, but so are a great many enjoyable things. Rage 2, for example.

I’ve played a few hours of Rage 2 at this point, and I largely agree with Gita Jackson’s early assessment: it’s fun, but lacking the sort of over-the-top moments that knock my socks into the stratosphere trailers promised. Still, I can’t stop coming back to it, because it just feels so darn good to play. But as I transitioned from video game adrenaline mode to pre-sleep anxiety mode while laying in bed last night, it struck me that in other games, I would be vehemently opposed to some of the game’s enemies. Some of Rage 2‘s early enemies, you see, wear thick armor or hide behind tall shields that you’ve got to chip away at with your assault rifle and pistol (the game’s starter weapons) in the middle of howling-mad bandit melees. This is nothing too crazy in the grand scheme of shooters, but usually, these sorts of baddies annoy me. In Rage 2, I love them. So then I got to thinking about why.

I despise shooter enemies that can be described as “bullet sponges,” especially when a good headshot won’t reliably do them in. It’s one of my biggest video game pet peeves. It doesn’t make enemies more challenging or interesting, just tedious in a way that strains what little credulity first-person shooters have in the first place. I realized, though, that there’s a difference between bullet sponges and what I’ve taken to calling “bullet pimples.”

Bullet sponges suck down ammo like your gun is a smoothie straw. Landing single shots on them is not particularly satisfying, either because they barely react, or every shot is a reminder that you’ve still got a long way to go before they get on with their journey to digital hell already.

Uncharted 2‘s enemies were all a little too bullet-spongy, but the hulking purple-blue Shambhala Guardians near the end of the game were the worst of the bunch. They charged at hero Nathan Drake through hailstorms of bullets, repeatedly shrugging off death’s grasping clutches and forcing you to clumsily break cover and flee. It wasn’t fun, just a cheap, repetitive pattern you had to perform until they died. Gone were the rudimentary tactics of earlier encounters with regular humans, replaced by ugly bullfights against monstrous ape-men who didn’t even need to take cover. Shooting them produced hardly any feedback. A full clip would stun them, sure, but just for a moment. When they finally went down, their death animation was perfunctory. No interesting reactions or sounds. At the end of these fights, I felt far more relieved than satisfied.

The bullet pimple is a different animal altogether. In Rage 2, armored Mad-Max-like bandits, mixed in with more vulnerable enemies, still react to shots with surprise and anger. Each shot you land on them sends shards of charred scrap metal flying. You might not be doing much damage, but it still feels like you’re doing plenty. A few well-placed shots to the head, and their helmets come off. Or maybe you just drill them with enough shots to the sternum that they compress like they’re going through a junkyard trash compactor. Or you use your armor-stripping super suit power to send them flying. Regardless, you land a killing blow, and the result is an insanely satisfying squishing sound accompanied by an eruption of unidentifiable body fluids. It’s glorious. Weaker enemies, too, die with an intoxicating squish after you’ve clamped down on them just right. This is in no way revolutionary, but Rage 2 gets the look, sound, and rhythm of it all just right. I cannot get enough of these screaming, pus-filled pimple people. Even when I’m driving across the wasteland to reach a mission, I get out of my car to fight randos. I must squish more, more, more. Just before going to bed last night, I found Rage 2‘s shotgun, and given that it’s a perfectly calibrated pimple-person-popping machine—a revelation—it’s a wonder I slept at all.

The process of applying consistent pressure to these enemies over time and receiving a triumphant ooze of audiovisual feedback really is hilariously akin to popping a pimple. In both cases, it begins with tension. You identify a pimple, and you squeeze it, but nothing happens. Instead, the tension just builds and builds. You have to find the right angle, get the right grip, and wait for the right time before you can blow the thing sky high. Maybe it’s not ready to pop yet. Maybe you’re not good enough. Maybe you have to come back later. You’ve got to do something about it, though. It represents a lack of equilibrium in an otherwise unmarred space. So you poke and prod and fixate until you finally pull it off, and—crucially—it’s worth it. The pimple goes pop, and it’s a disgusting little party on your face and fingers. It is tactile and horrible and wonderful all at once.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that I’ve always been drawn to shooters that follow this flow, going all the way back to the original Halo. Yeah, many Halo enemies are shielded and difficult to faze with a burst of regular shots, but when their shield bubbles pop, it’s like you’re the kid at the party who busted open the pinata. Fortnite takes this analogy literally; everybody’s got Halo-like shields, and when you kill them, they shower colorful loot in all directions. It’s little wonder to me that those are some of the most popular shooters of all time. They’re drawing on something intrinsic, after all: popping pimples owns.

Source: Kotaku.com

An Eye-Popping Neon Throwback To Classic Shooters

Bad Vibes is a colorful first person shooter that is a feast for the senses. Sometimes all you want to do is shoot some baddies and work through some negative feelings. What better way to do that then with some magic orbs and trippy sights?

Bad Vibes, created by pfail, has been out since 2017 and has received a few updates since then. The concept is simple: you’re in a maze and need to survive. That means avoiding aliens and acid pits while looking for a few colorful stickers that will chase away your bad vibes. Bad Vibes describes itself as “pure shooter madness, the way it was intended to be,” and it does a good job capturing the straightforward experience of early first person games. Why are there monsters? Why am I so engrossed in this? All I know is, I really want to have a high score.

Shooters are a dime a dozen these days, so Bad Vibes compensates for that with a bright style that is somewhere between MS-DOS and someone’s nightmare scribblings. The result is that Bad Vibes works incredibly well as a sensory experience. Its mixture of chirpy bloops and techno beats with its alternative hot and cold colors makes it easy to immerse yourself in the raw experience. I recommend booting Bad Vibes up for a ten minute shootfest to let off some steam.

Source: Kotaku.com