Friday, November 16, 2007

Works out in the health spa, muscles glow... (with bloom)

So I bought new computer recently, and a fairly beefy one at that. A necessary step, or so I tell myself. The old one was getting pretty rickety, and that the new one lets me play all but the most piggish games at 1600x1200 with all the bells and whistles turned on is just an unintended bonus, right? Games like Gears of War, the first to really showcase the xbox 360:s hardware recently made its way to the PC. Pretty sweet.

Except for the fact that they put all that hardware and tecnical prowess to the most hideous use imaginable. Here's a quick question: Which of the following two images is more attractive one? This blockbuster next-gen game...

...or this last generation title that didn't sell nearly as much as it should have?

No, the question is not which one has more pixel shaders firing or bumpmapping or whatever technical wizardy, but which one is prettier. If you voted for the one with actual colours in it, congratulations, you win!

In other words, Gears of War looks like shit.

Now, war is hell and ugly subject matters should look ugly and all that, but Jesus. You'd think they'd let something a little bit vibrant into the palette at some point. Even the blood's so dark it's black.

And it's not just that I don't care for the art direction at all, sometimes that monochrome sludge becomes an impediment to the gameplay as well. It takes you some split seconds longer to see if that's one of your fellow impossibly-muscled-and-manly soldiers, or an evil Locust grunt you're about to blow to smithereens. True, the targeting reticule changes colour over enemies, but given that Gears makes an effort to minimize the HUD in other parts, it's ridiculous that you'd be forced to rely on it for something as basic as this.

It's a real shame, because otherwise Gears does some pretty nifty things. I really like the way the camera dips down and narrows the view when you're running, lobbing grenades is wonderfully precise, and even something as basic as reloading your weapon has been tweaked to add a more strategic element to it. But the fact remains that everytime I load it up, the endless Grimness and humourless (ok, so there's plenty of unintentional laughs to be found) macho bullshit makes me want to play something with puppies and hugs and rainbows instead.

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