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N'Gai Croal on video game realism - talks Killzone 2 and more

RedRedSuit

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Apr 28, 2008
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AltogetherAndrews said:
You have got to be shitting me
No, I haven't got to be shitting you. Like I said, "Sure, they're not industrial environments a-la Helghan, I'll give him that." But I still don't really get the claims about the beauty of these environments. There was some of that in the initial areas, but the overall feel of the game is that of gray bombed out courtyards.

EDIT: This is re. the first Gears.
 

Xenon

Member
I have never have like how much art style seems to carry so much weight in gaming. This is a perfect example of why. Its obvious that N'Gai did not care enough about the gameplay to finish the game. Now he is reflecting back on how this happened and is blaming KZ2 art style for his lack of interest. It is an easy thing for a person to do considering KZ2 was thrust into the public eye as a graphical representation of the PS3s power. So playing Killzone 2 and not considering the graphics would be almost impossible. But was that what made him stop playing the game?

I also think that his argument that the quest for "realism" being the culprit is a little confused because most of the problems he lists are design choices not issues caused by greater graphic. KZ2 could have been done on the PS2 and it would have the same dreary tone and effect on the player.

I agree that this article comes off as rather verbose to elevate the subject. This isn’t bad, as much is it is obvious when you read it.
 
Aug 17, 2004
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BobsRevenge said:
HL2 does not have darker content than Killzone 2.
An oppressive force that uses biological weapons to deal with spots or resistance, neutralizes dissidents by turning them into somewhat humanoid shells and whose military machines are enslaved and combined conquered species, that's a dark theme (not to mention highly relevant). It's also a mystical theme, which makes dealing with it a lot more interesting. In Killzone 2, you fight through industrial hell to conquer and punish. It's certainly relevant and strikingly presented, but it's hard for some (me included) to digest without any appetizing side courses.

Then again, you're convinced that this is a shit on KZ2 piece, so what's the fucking point?

Xenon said:
Its obvious that N'Gai did not care enough about the gameplay to finish the game. Now he is reflecting back on how this happened and is blaming KZ2 art style for his lack of interest..
Or, hell, it could be exactly what he himself said.
 

BobsRevenge

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AltogetherAndrews said:
An oppressive force that uses biological weapons to deal with spots or resistance, neutralizes dissidents by turning them into somewhat humanoid shells and whose military machines are enslaved and combined conquered species, that's a dark theme (not to mention highly relevant). It's also a mystical theme, which makes dealing with it a lot more interesting. In Killzone 2, you fight through industrial hell to conquer and punish. It's certainly relevant and strikingly presented, but it's hard for some (me included) to digest with any appetizing side courses.

Then again, you're convinced that this is a shit on KZ2 piece, so what's the fucking point?
Well, to be serious I think its an opinion piece about KZ2 and I can respect his opinion even if I disagree.

Killzone 2 is about a futile invasion on an entire planet. HL2's story is just way too out there to be able to take its dark content seriously in my opinion. Also, HL2 is a story of hope where you are working to rebel against an oppressive force. In Killzone 2 you are the oppressive force. I think the only thing that Killzone 2 does well as far as the story goes is give you a sense of wanting to question what's going on.

I mean, its not like I have a really high opinion of Killzone 2 either. I'd give it, like, a 7.5 or something. After my first playthrough I probably would've given it a 6.5 for being so dumb and short, and requiring so much work to unlock really important shit in multiplayer. I've warmed up to it since though.
 

Firestorm

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AstroLad said:
Wait until N'Gai's Edge 201 article gets put online:
It's a really boring part one of a two-parter talking about [doublespoiler]RE5 and Race[/doublespoiler].
Cool. I saw it in my mailbox before leaving for work. I'll read it when I get home so I can discuss how it's obviously just poor justification for how much he hates Resident Evil 5.
 

skip

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Jun 10, 2004
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GhaleonQ said:
Good. Out in the open. Okay. ...Your thoughts on Amy Poehler?
topic derail attempt
I like her, though Parks & Rec is waaaaaaaaaaay too similar to The Office.
 

Sibylus

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BobsRevenge said:
Killzone 2 is about a futile invasion on an entire planet. HL2's story is just way too out there to be able to take its dark content seriously in my opinion. Also, HL2 is a story of hope where you are working to rebel against an oppressive force.
There's plenty of dark content in HL2. Even if you discount stuff that's "out there" like the use of alien organisms as bioweapons and the transformation of resistors into shells of their former selves, you still have plenty of "grounded" dark material. Imprisonment of everyday people, destructive and commonplace raids, polluting city water supplies and the air to suppress sexual desires and memory, massacres of unarmed citizens, etc. City 17 is effectively a concentration camp.

Just because there's a definite "ray of hope" element involved doesn't mean there isn't some seriously dark shit going on.
 

Liabe Brave

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Jan 23, 2007
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Botolf said:
There's plenty of dark content in HL2. Even if you discount stuff that's "out there" like the use of alien organisms as bioweapons and the transformation of resistors into shells of their former selves, you still have plenty of "grounded" dark material. Imprisonment of everyday people, destructive and commonplace raids, polluting city water supplies and the air to suppress sexual desires and memory, massacres of unarmed citizens, etc. City 17 is effectively a concentration camp.

Just because there's a definite "ray of hope" element involved doesn't mean there isn't some seriously dark shit going on.
But I never felt the oppression in HL 2 because you play as a fucking God among men, an unstoppable liberating Messiah who's smarter, deadlier, and just plain better than an entire dimension of alien overlords. Also, you're a sex machine with all the chicks (or at least the hot, exotic, brainy one).

By contrast, Croal is totally correct about one thing: the atmosphere of Killzone 2 is unrelentingly pessimistic and brutal. Its visual content is sublime, but not beautiful.
 
Oct 16, 2006
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brain_stew said:
Yay, Ngai is onboard the blue skies in games campaign I see. For the record, this is what games should look like, the more Sega blue skies the better:

Whilst not every game needs to be nice and colourful, its really hard to have enough Sega blue skies, screw the brown.
brain_stew said:
Kameo and Condemned were a huge leap forward for consoles and whilst PDZ was all over the place it still used effects and had texture quality that very few games match today.
brain_stew said:
The whole "artistic merit" angle kinda irks me as well, because whilst sure I can appreciate this, I sure in hell am not firing up a videogame because of its artistic genius. Videogames as a medium just haven't made that jump for me yet, there's far too much immaturity in the industry for me to really take a videogame seriously as a piece of art, so as such I still view them almost exclusively as entertainment products and therefore an entertainment product that does the very opposite of entertaining me is not something I'm going to be a fan of.
Whilst is the new Verisimilitude, eh brain_stew?
 

Night_Trekker

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Liabe Brave said:
But I never felt the oppression in HL 2 because you play as a fucking God among men, an unstoppable liberating Messiah who's smarter, deadlier, and just plain better than an entire dimension of alien overlords. Also, you're a sex machine with all the chicks (or at least the hot, exotic, brainy one).
Not to mention a lot of the darker aspects of the game universe are very easy to miss during a playthrough. I think the narrative should have been a little tighter.
 

Sibylus

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Liabe Brave said:
But I never felt the oppression in HL 2 because you play as a fucking God among men, an unstoppable liberating Messiah who's smarter, deadlier, and just plain better than an entire dimension of alien overlords. Also, you're a sex machine with all the chicks (or at least the hot, exotic, brainy one).
Fair enough. I, for whatever reason, did get a feeling of oppression. Me playing as Crowbar Jesus didn't really affect me experiencing it, and the bright and vibrant world certainly didn't undermine that feeling.

Oppression intertwined with beauty is simply a deliberate contrasting element placed into HL2 (e: the Combine Citadel and walls perched on top of a centuries-old eastern european city).
 

Aselith

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Liabe Brave said:
But I never felt the oppression in HL 2 because you play as a fucking God among men, an unstoppable liberating Messiah who's smarter, deadlier, and just plain better than an entire dimension of alien overlords. Also, you're a sex machine with all the chicks (or at least the hot, exotic, brainy one).

By contrast, Croal is totally correct about one thing: the atmosphere of Killzone 2 is unrelentingly pessimistic and brutal. Its visual content is sublime, but not beautiful.

You see the oppression of the general populace though. Gordan Freeman is portrayed as a Moses figure freeing his people from slavery. You, as that character, are not meant to feel oppressed. You are freeing the oppressed.
 
Jan 28, 2007
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Liabe Brave said:
By contrast, Croal is totally correct about one thing: the atmosphere of Killzone 2 is unrelentingly pessimistic and brutal. Its visual content is sublime, but not beautiful.
Which Edge voiced pre-release by referring to its lack of humor (imo).

Other that: :lol (and :') ) at the use of verisimmilitude in N'Gai's blogpost.
 

Mr.City

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Mar 14, 2007
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That scoundrel Croal hides behind his veil of extravagant vocab to mask his true message: downing Killzone 2 down a notch for its shitty graphics. Unfortunately, Internet Defense Patrol was able to see through the smoke and mirrors. Maybe next time, Croal.
 

g23

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Sep 18, 2006
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Personally, I think Gears of War II is has a more striking in your face pessimistic dark style to it then Half Life 2 or Killzone 2. I mean everything about the world just screams..."THATS FUC*KED UP".

Fighting inside a Giant Worm that destroys whole cities...I mean srsly...wtf

Check.

Finding your long lost wife, only to shoot her because she does not recognize you and she has been traumatized by forced labor, torture, and who knows what! + She's emaciated like hell and is a shell of her former beauty

Check.

Having to evacuate and sink your last stronghold so you can crush your genocidal enemy below you who are also desperate to escape unrelenting enemies of their own deep inside the hollow.............

and when all is said and done whats left is not hope...but pure despair...the shot of hundreds of Ravens just floating around the perimeter of what was once Jacinto is one of the darkest moments I have seen in a video game

CHECK!

Also to reinforce my point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL_ZjJgbDmc & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjWYhXrC0-c


DARK AS HELL!
 

VNZ

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The story of Half Life 2 is great sci-fi. The story of Killzone 2 is something entirely different, and I absolutely think it's underrated. I've never before played a game that expressed the futility of war and conflict in such an effective, crushing, and even sad, manner.
 

VNZ

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Bad column by the way, which leads me to the (honest) question: Did N'Gai ever write anything truly insightful? For a man of his stature, I'm constantly surprised by the fact that his writing seems like either well dressed truisms, or (even worse) eloquently written ill-conceived opinion. This piece would obviously fall under the latter.

By the way, I've mostly heard him on various podcasts (1UP, Brainy Gamer), on the GT Bonus Round and read the occasional blog post. I mean, his certainly not doing a bad job and he truly seems like a nice and intelligent guy, but I can't understand how he's garnered so much respect in an age where there's a constant output of great game writing (in the "higher brow" category).
 

Dr. Zoidberg

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Why is there so much argument in this thread over one man's TASTE?

I finished KZ2 SP and played the MP. GG put out a fantastic engine and a good game, but I can totally see where N'Gai is coming from because I sometimes feel the same way. Gritty, dirty, depressing brown environments have been done to death this gen and quite frankly I sometimes get sick of them. KZ2 is the ultimate example of this design edict and it continues throughout the whole game (with the exception of the ship level but even that is not different enough).

But here's the thing: That's my preference... Yours might be totally different. You may not get visually "tired" of the same dreary environmental design throughout a whole game but I for one like a little more variety and beauty thrown in here or there. It's just preference. If I was going to play through either KZ2 or Uncharted again, I'd pick UC in a heartbeat.

Arguing about a person's taste is totally pointless and that's basically what's going on here.
 

Mar

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lawblob said:
Writing style should match content. If you're talking about video games, you probably don't need to dress up your writing with words like "Verisimilitude." In this context it comes across as a bit arrogant.
:lol

I weep for humanity.
 
Aug 17, 2004
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VNZ said:
Bad column by the way, which leads me to the (honest) question: Did N'Gai ever write anything truly insightful? For a man of his stature, I'm constantly surprised by the fact that his writing seems like either well dressed truisms, or (even worse) eloquently written ill-conceived opinion. This piece would obviously fall under the latter.
Which is a remarkable conclusion given that you essentially agreed with him in your earlier post.
 

Johann

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BobsRevenge said:
Well, to be serious I think its an opinion piece about KZ2 and I can respect his opinion even if I disagree.

Killzone 2 is about a futile invasion on an entire planet. HL2's story is just way too out there to be able to take its dark content seriously in my opinion. Also, HL2 is a story of hope where you are working to rebel against an oppressive force. In Killzone 2 you are the oppressive force. I think the only thing that Killzone 2 does well as far as the story goes is give you a sense of wanting to question what's going on.

I mean, its not like I have a really high opinion of Killzone 2 either. I'd give it, like, a 7.5 or something. After my first playthrough I probably would've given it a 6.5 for being so dumb and short, and requiring so much work to unlock really important shit in multiplayer. I've warmed up to it since though.
Killzone 2 seems heavily inspired by Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now. This is apparent with Scolar Visari's speeches (that have cinematography and writing similar to that of Marlon Brando's scenes) and the game's ending mirrors the themes explored in the movie. Guerrilla also worked on Vietnam games in the past.

Nevertheless, I consider Valve unmatched in creating a dark, oppressive atmosphere. Their art direction, writing, and sequencing is near immaculate.
 
Jan 24, 2006
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I can understand where he is coming from.
While mightily impressive in it's technology (and really entertaining), Killzone 2 was some times a bland sight to look at. Sometimes, there needs to be a hint of style or something unique in your authentic setting, to make it interesting, and rarely did i find that in Killzone, at least during the first levels.
 

Orlics

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Jun 13, 2006
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Annoying Old Party Man said:
I can understand where he is coming from.
While mightily impressive in it's technology (and really entertaining), Killzone 2 was some times a bland sight to look at. Sometimes, there needs to be a hint of style or something unique in your authentic setting, to make it interesting, and rarely did i find that in Killzone, at least during the first levels.
looks like you're..
...
...

late...


...
...
to the party.
 

Zzoram

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Apr 17, 2007
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Botolf said:
There's plenty of dark content in HL2. Even if you discount stuff that's "out there" like the use of alien organisms as bioweapons and the transformation of resistors into shells of their former selves, you still have plenty of "grounded" dark material. Imprisonment of everyday people, destructive and commonplace raids, polluting city water supplies and the air to suppress sexual desires and memory, massacres of unarmed citizens, etc. City 17 is effectively a concentration camp.

Just because there's a definite "ray of hope" element involved doesn't mean there isn't some seriously dark shit going on.
Not to mention that the Combine have effectively sterilized the human race. I wonder if Half-Life 3 will address the issue of humans regaining the ability to reproduce.