Sid Meier's Pirates!
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what better format on which to release a new, ambitious point-and-click adventure than a console with a control system that allows you neither to point or to click? "several", you might think, but you'd be wrong, given that DTP's much anticipated (although not by me), Jane Jensen designed p-&-c puzzler Gray Matter has, in edition to the standard, makes-perfect-sense PC release, been ported to the Xbox 360.
having given Sid Meier's Pirates! such a hard time a few reviews back for being a PC game trespassing onto console property when it had no gaw-dern right to be therr, mister, i feel i can only fairly give Gray Matter a decent working over for exactly the same reason.
when will the bean-counters realise that just because you can port a game like this from the PC to the Xbox without too much expense, and thereby potentially create a whole new revenue stream, that doesn't mean you should? it really makes no sense other than in the context of their knowledge that if they put it out there, some people will buy it, and the revenue will probably outstrip the relatively meagre costs of the port.
it's not a game for fans. point-and-click fans are likely to do most of their gaming on a PC or Mac (i.e. a PC). regardless of this fairly obvious fact, however, the logic runs that a few 360 owners might still take a punt, even if just for the hell of it. as such, there is no real need to put any work into modifying the game to suit the format onto which it's being ported - in fact that would defeat the purpose. and that, friends, is the cold, hard logic that lies behind Gray Matter - an unadulterated PC game dressed down in console-like clothes.
you've got a whole lot more of being patronised yet to come.
essentially, if, as a 360 owner, you buy this game, not only are you allowing yourself to be patronised by DTP, you're also simultaneously justifying them having patronised you. but wait... because if you, like me, happen to be a British 360 owner, then you've got a whole lot more of being patronised yet to come.
in the opening scene of Gray Matter, Samantha Everett - smart, wily street performer, magician, wanna-be detective, tight-shirted, ample-breasted post-feminist icon and girl with a dragon tattoo-a-like - is shown riding a new motorbike from Liverpool to London. in a very unfortunate twist of fate, at the point that the narrow road forks - with one branch leading to London and the other to Oxford (presumably a representation of Junction 9 of the M40?) - the wooden sign marking the routes spins around in the wind and sends our heroine the wrong way.
to say that the representations of Britain, British geography, British people and British culture in Gray Matter are insultingly cliché-ridden and indicative of precisely 0 seconds of research is frankly unjustifiably kind. as such, i was in a bad mood before i even began fighting with the unceasingly frustrating controls or plodding my way through the unremittingly prosaic and soporifically puzzles that characterise the journey through this unbelievably dull game.
the Oxford depicted is much more reminiscent of somewhere like Princeton.
in addition to the less than no attention that's been paid to realism in terms of the setting, Gray Matter drips with that über-American idea that Britain, and in particular a place like Oxford, is both an exotic location and yet also a fusty, dusty known quantity. as such, the Oxford depicted is much more reminiscent of somewhere like Princeton, or New Haven, or, in fact, Cambridge, than of Oxford, which is in reality far too big and built up a city to pass for an academic backwater. so close, yet so far.
the depiction of the world's most famous University is further bereft of basic credibility in the sense that it seems to have become, in the minds of DTP's designers, a campus-based institution, demonstrating amply that they don't possess between them the capacity to watch an episode of Inspector Morse, let alone study in Oxford.
you might by this point be thinking that i've perhaps over-reacted to what sounds like a fairly insignificant aspect of the game, and perhaps you're right. the reason you're not is that this near-hilariously inaccurate rendering of its locations is indicative of a general sloppiness, absence of credibility and utter lack of attention to detail which is evidenced throughout this entire snooze-fest of a game (or at least the bits that i could bring myself to play).
if you do your gaming on an Xbox do anything in your power not only to avoid this game.
if, however, you're still thinking that it's churlish to criticise a fantastical game about the imaginary boundaries of science and magic, the paranormal and the forensic, on the basis of its factual inaccuracies, i invite you to imagine how such a game would go down in the States if it started out with someone getting lost on the single-lane dirt-track that connects Chicago to New York and ending up at a curiously ruralised Penn?
anyway, the main reason i've been going on about how patronising the narrative context is, is that it gives me something to say that isn't UGGGHHHHH THIS GAME IS SOOOO BORING. if you like over-ponderous, self-important point-and-click games, then you should probably check out Gray Matter (on the PC that you no-doubt own). if, however, you do your gaming on an Xbox, then my advise to you would be to do anything in your power not only to avoid this game, but to punch any of its developers that you might meet, right in the booster scar.
[if you'd like to see more of the weird and wonderful world of reallyquitetired then the door is always open at his semi-detached house/blog]
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