Monthly Archives: November 2013

BLOCK ROCKIN’ BEEPS – Beyond Good and Evil: Chinese Boutique

Track Name: Chinese Boutique (Ancient Chinese Secret)
Track Composer: Christophe Héral
Game: Beyond Good and Evil
Platform: Original release: PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC. HD Remaster: Xbox360, PS3
Sound Chip/System: Various, CD quality audio.

Beyond Good and Evil was one of those sad marvels of the sixth console generation. A fantastic game that delivered a unique fantasy world that felt distinctly French in its imagination, with lovable characters and details throughout. While it was notably short and had some flaws, it was a world that captured the hearts of the critics and people who played it on release. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the game was a commercial failure at the time and it took years of retrospective media coverage, word of mouth and curiosity for the game to truly find the audience it deserved.

One of the aspects of the production that fed into the sense of awe that the world inspired was its fantastic score composed by Christophe Héral. Every track is a success, from the calm sombre pieces to the bombastic action sounds; but the track I want to look at today is this one, Chinese Boutique (also known as Ancient Chinese Secret):

I find this track very visually emotive. The round, warm vibrating tone that remains a constant presence puts me in mind of wide plains, comfortably sedate nature, swaying gently in the breeze glowing with golden orange shades, infinite blue skies with lolling clouds. It mixes a wide variety of instrumentation; Chinese plucked strings, drums, gongs, the rattle of a traditional maraca. Both ambient and present at the same time, it’s a lulling beauty that never fails to calm and at the same time, inspire me.
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I learnt on Twitter this week that some sites have been charging indie devs for reviews. This made me angry! Partly because it’s morally pretty awful, we all know that you wait till you’re a big company then you pay for review scores, not the reviews themselves. Partly because I want money and these bastards are grubbing it out of people who could otherwise give it to me for some reason.

So I propose that Augmented Vision should have a variation on this: the BARTER REVIEWS system. Rather than taking money, I will take a token of some kind, and the subsequent review will compare the game entirely to whatever I was sent.

Here is an example from a review of The Stanley Parable that was paid for* with a Canned Whole Chicken:

“The Stanley Parable approaches the subject of a player’s participation in an interactive narrative, exploring the nature of a guided story and branching plot forms in a sarcastic and amusing manner. It utilises a sardonic British narrator who provides direction and feedback though sadly her is lacking in the basic elements of canned chicken, being neither canned or poultry, and as such feels somewhat flawed.

The graphical upgrade from the original mod version is welcome, though low in sodium and without the trace elements of MSG we’ve come to expect. It will not blow your socks off nor will it harden your arteries, which I suppose is a mixed blessing.”

I think my BARTER REVIEW system could revolutionise games journalism with its focus on clear evidence-based criteria for judgement.

Any takers?




*of course it wasn’t

Resident Evil 6 – Lo, I Am Become Death

Where do you start?

I’m sure that’s what Capcom’s designers asked themselves when they geared up for this sixth Resident Evil; and what answer did they find? “At the bottom, then start digging.”

Before I get into the meat of the review I’d like you to look at this highly scientific digital analysis of what powers of Resident Evil 6:


Resident Evil 6 is a terrible mess; one that, rather than building on the strengths of the series, buries them deep under a mountain of superfluous nonsense. To understand these failings you have to view the game within the context of the series.

Resident Evil is the popular progenitor (haaaaa…) of the Survival Horror genre. Taking deep influence from Alone in the Dark and a NES RPG called “Sweet Home” the first game brought horror in gaming forwards in the public eye with its focus on vulnerability. Characters were, by game standards, quite weak and limited in their abilities; they only could only withstand a few attacks, had tiny inventories, health and ammunition were scarce and saving the game required the use of a strictly finite resource. At the same time the game built an intriguing mystery and world for itself, one that relied on drip-feeding information and locations, opening up a conspiratorial story lurking at the crossroads of large corporations and small-city America. This combination of gameplay pressures and mysterious world-building were key to the success of the original game, and laid the foundations for the series.

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