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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2011-06-17 03:22:03
2010 Game of the Year
Thanks again to MadCat =^-^= for filling in for Vargas, and for lending Eurydice of Everwas to guest present our awards.
I had a MASSIVE workload last year, and it took me quite some time to catch up with my gaming. So here we are in June, and I'm certain nobody cares at this point, but here we go with the Direman Press 2010 awards:
Heavy Rain is absolutely unique and utterly fascinating. It attempts (and occasionally succeeds) to present a free form, emotionally resonant, cinematic narrative. It's primary failing is that it devolves into a nonsensical red-herringed cliche. It's not as awful as its spiritual predecessor, Indigo Prophecy, but it's disappointing to see it once again squander such potential. As a videogame, however, it does innovatively push boundaries and is certainly worth checking out. Perhaps it doesn't entirely succeed, but even the attempt is staggeringly notable in a medium that is dominated by stagnant immature reiteration.
StarCraft 2 is an absolute throwback. It's like the discovery of the coelacanth. No, it's more like discovering a badass velociraptor living and thriving in Malibu. It IS the same exact game, but...it's the same exact game! StarCraft is terrific, and modern graphics, interface update, and online matchmaking prove its relevance today. The single player campaign is thoroughly entertaining as well, and StarCraft 2 is clearly the standout PC release of 2010.
Mass Effect 2 continues BioWare's dominance of the genre. They are master storytellers, and their prowess with actual game mechanics and presentation continues to improve. I think Eurydice sums up the game nicely. Part of me longs for the glory days of the pure RPG, but I can't deny the polish and execution of Mass Effect 2.
Red Dead Redemption presented one of the most moving tales I've ever experienced in the medium. It's right up there with Final Fantasy VII (yes, I know, but it was mind-blowing in 1997), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and BioShock as one of those landmark experiences. Red Dead Redemption marks the maturation of Rockstar Games, and validates even traditional videogame development as a legitimate artform.
Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2011-06-15 19:02:45
Diplomacy VI - Fall of 1994
Britain proceeded largely as expected, with the exception of his Wing unit. Steve had it escort France into Belgium (simply giving Belgium away is an odd decision as well), instead of bouncing his most threatening adversary out of Denmark. It's a small error, but with so few readily available opportunities, all of England's missteps are magnified. Without any more uncontested supply centers, he'll now have to commit to a direction of expansion. Fortunately for Britain, Germany did not build any fleets, which gives him the option of striking Germany or arbitrating the apparently impending Franco-Spanish War, depending on how the politics shake out.
Egypt's moves and builds were both prudent and predictable. Steve's now armed for a grueling war with Turkey. He has a minute positional advantage, and Egypt will need tactical deftness to exploit it lest the conflict stalemates.
France confuses me no end. Paul had his boot on Germany's throat, but instead nurtured his growth and earned Italian enmity in the process. France's strategy is now revealed as anti-Spanish, but he cannot hope to prevail in any reasonable time frame without British assistance. He could've silenced Germany by himself; instead, France traded that opportunity to favor an uncertain grand strategy AND allowing a neighbor to grow out of control. Ruling the southwest corner would be wonderful for France, but even if Britain is committed, France would have to share the spoils with an increasingly powerful British navy hungry for expansion. I'm not privy to the related politicking (what's with both England AND Germany both pushing France into Belgium?), but I just don't understand giving up tempo and opportunity for a non-fluid goal.
I must say though, that French play is causing all manner of excitement by disrupting the previously tidy triangles of conflict. He's disproportionately affecting the whole map. He usually doesn't reveal himself by turn two, but Paul is already this game's "That Guy".
Germany is the beneficiary of France's inexplicable mercy. Coupled with England's failure to deny him Denmark, Mike has emerged as one of the game's early heavy hitters. However, his political health remains murky. France may be today's ally, but geography does not favor indefinite friendship. He's made an enemy of Italy, and his two fleets are still a threat to England. His builds indicate an intent to take advantage of the Russo-Polish conflict. If so, this offensive is as fraught with peril as it is opportunity, with such uncertainty clouding his other borders. However, as long as France remains friendly, Germany is now sitting in the momentum pole position.
Italy was outmaneuvered politically. Germany deceived her into support against France, but instead took French support to seize Austria away from Italy. This limited Kodi to a single precious build. She does have a fairly strong defensive footing, but her ability to dictate the game has been all but curtailed. She needs to put her diplomatic and military weight into breaking Franco-German cooperation, in order to seize an influential seat in the world order. Hilariously, Spain may now become her most useful ally.
Poland reverted true to form and went for the frontal WWI trench warfare assault. Instead of seizing the Baltic and bringing up his forces, Dave "stayed the course" and prepared for a prolonged stalemate with Russia. German aggression puts his survival at immediate risk.
Russia had an exceptional turn. Charles managed to link his northern and southern forces, and has turned the angle on both flanks. French gamesmanship allowed for the potential of German interference in Russia's favor; suddenly, Russian prospects appear much brighter.
Spain's in trouble. French aggression will, at the very least, stymie ambitions for expansion, and Britain can bring certain doom if he intercedes. Kang needs to quickly marshal his diplomatic prowess if he is to survive.
Turkey's turn of consolidation was much the same as Egypt's, as they ready for war. Turkey does outnumber Egypt by a factor of one, but Egypt is more properly arrayed for the conflict.
Ukraine made a CRITICAL error in bouncing the Russian fleet in Rostov. I wrote it up last turn as a "50/50" event in order to maintain impartiality, but pragmatically speaking it was 1.00 certainty. Russia would have been foolish to risk giving Ukraine an extra build, and in making the attempt, Yino actually gave Russia an extra unit. Russia can now turn the Black Sea into a flanking route against him.