Telegraphed Gazette. 30/31st March 2013

Good day folks and welcome to another edition of the Telegraphed Gazette: my name is Vince, bringing you the latest round-up of news from the past two weeks. Coming up in today’s edition of the Gazette; Quebec language minister launches a campaign to remove an exemption for the children of Canadian military personnel stationed in Quebec in regards to education, diversity is the way to go in regards to the sales of video games says one Columnist, I give a personal opinion on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and finally a thorough review of the video game Halo 4.

The News you care about.

National Assembly of Quebec

Cjad.com released an article on the 20th of March which tells the tale of how language minister Diane De Courcy and her push to remove an exemption where military personnel can have their children attend English-language schools. Now the article was a little fuzzy, but in short what the minister was doing was she – in the National Assembly – was defending bill 14 and states that despite the removal of such an exemption, the schools that teach Anglophones will not have to close. Minister De Courcy also side-stepped any direct answers to the question of the exemption in which military personnel stationed in Quebec can have their children attend English-language schools; and the subsequent attempt to remove this exemption. Now what frustrates me is the continuation of the support for Bill 14, after the protests a month ago in Montreal, after the opposition parties denounced it, and after various non-partisan organizations came out publically to voice their concern and or opposition towards it; the Parti Quebecois government continues – and with near fanatical devotion – to support the bill and all its clauses. Minister De Courcy is attempting to force assimilation on all who set foot in Quebec; and this latest move – while somewhat annoying – is not surprising to say the least. Military personnel stationed in Quebec do raise families in the province, and while most of them hail from Quebec, a good portion of the garrisoned troops are from the other provinces. These out-of-province soldiers probably would like to have the freedom to determine what is best for their kids; especially when the rest of the nation speaks English, and the children may not remain in Quebec after graduation.

Conspiracy theory-wise, it seems like the minister is attempting to lock out other provincial citizens, and attempting to lock in Quebecers so that when the time comes and they decide to separate, they will have a small, professional “army” to back them up. The truth is this will not happen, but it certainly is not in the best interest of the citizens to lock them in French-only schools, especially when their families are stationed there on orders from Ottawa, and not by choice. Funny how Quebec’s politics center around language politics, even when their own economy is bad and their infrastructure is crumbling: it is like these essential aspects of society do not matter; rather achieving a monolingual Quebec is the primary concern of the political party in charge at this time. You can find the article in the link below this paragraph.

http://www.cjad.com/CJADLocalNews/entry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10520269

Having a diverse cast of characters is the way to go according to a gamasutra.com writer in his article talking about diversity in video games and how going in such a direction will aid in the sales of such products. Summarizing the article; the writer talks about how the video game market is broad and attracts players of all sorts of backgrounds ranging from racially diverse to age. Now the write describes that it is important to look at these factors in relation to dollars, rather than on political or moral grounds: citing that the only way to go about executing this plan is to carry it out in a proper business fashion. The article than finishes off with four key points that are related to the topic on hand: such as adults are the larger demographic, player populations are racially diverse, Latino/Hispanic players are big buyers, and Women are the new core when it comes to games. Looking at this from a business standpoint; it is brilliant. The market base is quite diverse, and making the character cast diverse will draw them in further and ensure the future of the industry. Portrayal of the character is equally as important as including them, and if done right the industry could see a steady increase of sales over the years. However with that said, most game companies do cater towards a “local” demographic, and what I mean by that is if the games they make are based around the local population in terms of diversity, it will be hard to suddenly switch things around and cater to a market that may not be as interested in digital entertainment as their current player base. Take Gears of War for example: the series has a diverse cast yeah, but it is reflective of modern-day America in regards to population demographics. Now if you were to publish a game in South Korea, their population is quite homogenous, which would translate into something similar to Japanese anime where every character is almost always the same (minor exceptions noted). Now there are cases where this statement is irrelevant – example the Metal Gear Solid series – but even so the fighting style and storytelling is quite representative of Japan’s cultural practices such as slow motion melee combat to exaggerate the movements, or deflecting bullets with swords and bladed weapons, or the fact that people can jump ridiculously high into the sky and land perfectly on their legs without shattering their lower limbs: though this leans a bit more into the culture-side of things rather than ethnic diversity so I will leave it there. Ultimately this is nothing new, but it is nice to see a columnist talk about the need to diversify the cast of a game in order to attract an even larger audience to the gaming scene. The link to this article is in the URL below.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/189361/The_business_case_for_a_diverse_game_character_cast.php

Column: Korea, oh Korea

NKoreans-camo-fail

Right this is a rather interesting few weeks: North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un (or as I like to call him, Fatty McNuggets the Third) really has no issue stirring up the hornet’s nest does he? The man – along with his top brass – have been testing the South Koreans and their allies for a few weeks now, placing their troops on high alert, conducting missile tests, and really pushing the limits of their aggressive rhetoric that – normally – would be an annual tradition of theirs in which after a few weeks of hair-raising tensions, things calm down and the chubby little bugger returns to his hermit nation a “hero.” Does Fatty McNuggets the Third realize that a symmetrical war with the United States and South Korea will decimate their ranks? Not to mention the fact that their equipment is poorly out of date, and their vehicles have little to no fuel to run on? What are they going to strap political prisoners to the APCs and use them as mules to haul the tanks around? The level of their stupidity is really both quite shocking and hilarious at the same time; what I mean by this is the shock factor is that they might actually – this time – roll over the 38th parallel and shell Seoul: South Korea’s capital city and major economic hub. The hilarious side of this is they are threatening one of the world’s greatest military giants: the United States of America. Who in their sound and sober mind, would go about challenging one of the world’s super powers in a conventional war? Does Fatty McNuggets the Third realize just how badly he would lose to such a giant as the US? Let us not forget about their allies as well that will rush to South Korea’s aid: Canada, Australia, NATO, and possibly more should the Koreans need it. Now let us look at the little tosspot’s list of allies; oh wait there are none. Russia backed away a long time ago, and while they will not fight them, they will certainly not support them either. China is also no longer interested in aiding the trigger-happy country as it does not want to damage relations with its largest trading partners. Thus we come to the conclusion that Fatty McNuggets the Third is absolutely insane, and that no matter how much he pushes, we the allied forces will not budge, nor will we be intimidated by their idle threats.

However I cannot help but feel sorry for the South Koreans, who live under a constant threat of war. Living in Seoul must be an interesting scenario: competitive environment, excitement of living in an urban megacity, but also the spectre of war that looms overhead, ready to bring down the hammer when they least expect it. It saddens me to think that such a beautiful country could live next door to such a vile and disgusting hole that seeks and plots for their destruction; but such is the nature of things. Let us hope that this aggressive rhetoric is just smoke and mirrors, and that after a few weeks, the little chubby kid will back down and settle in for another year of starvation and plotting. However if war breaks out, let us end it swiftly so that there are minimal casualties, and bring them to the negotiation table – perhaps with a bit more wiggle space as the South Koreans gain land from the North Koreans which will extend the border a bit further away from Seoul: actually scratch that point. That was a bad idea because we do not know what sort of tunnels the North as dug over the decades, and if we took the land, not only would they be able to launch guerrilla raids against the South, kidnappings of South Koreans would be a major concern for the government in Seoul. Regardless; either no war occurs, or a swift one takes place – in the best scenario anyways; but as we all are familiar with, peace and liberty does not come without a price. The link to the most recent story is located in the URL below.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/03/29/north-korea-south-us-threats.html

Halo 4: shiny

Halo_4_Cover_Art

Last week I was able to dig through Spartan Ops – a weekly downloadable episode series following a Spartan 4 team on the UNSC Infinity: Humanity’s Capital Ship. After the many hours passed, I have finally reached a sort of subconscious goal of thoroughly digging through Halo 4 before passing judgement on the title. Earlier in the month I was able to finish the campaign in a full day, and I must admit the storytelling and graphic were phenomenal. Chief – having awoken from 4 years in cryo-sleep – has returned as the main protagonist in this latest addition to the decade-long series. This time however, it is Chief who has to stay cool under pressure and stress as his companion AI – Cortana – is going through what is known as rampancy: a state where an AI “thinks itself to death.” Now I will not spoil the ending for you folks who have not played it, but it was certainly sad to see a favourite character fall from grace; as the relationship the characters build with the players really pulls at heart strings in some cases, though I am certain 343 will put a spin on the current state of things in the coming years.

Game play-wise; the game runs smoothly, and the guns sound nice. The click of a fresh clip slamming home in the MA5C rifle is much an improvement from the plastic sound of the MA5C in Halo 3. The Designated Marksman Rifle or DMR is back; sporting a fresh look, and in competition with – in some cases – a fan favourite: the Battle Rifle. 343 also added in a Squad Automatic Weapon for the UNSC (finally), and it handles with ease. Covenant weapons are the usual, except the plasma rifle is gone, replaced by a storm rifle; which looks like a rifle as it requires two hands to operate, and features a mini gun-like firing mechanism that rotates as rounds go off. Usual rule ally to Covenant weapons: they get hot after extended periods of sustained fire, so be careful not to hold down the trigger for dear life. Now comes in the new antagonist: the Forerunners and their weapons. These weapons feel like mini transformers as the weapon parts sort of shape shift and float around a central piece, and reloading is interesting for some, strange for others. For example the pistol and the energy rifle feels’ alien, but the shotgun loads like a conventional break-open 12 gauge. First off, the Forerunner guns are energy weapons, so why do they not simply invent a single energy pack that ejects, and thus renders the need to reload individual rounds obsolete? Did they forget to adjust this piece of tech before their demise, or was it that they were too busy focusing on other things like how do they add natural shrubs to a research facility’s floors? Believe me grass is everywhere, along with small plant life and it puzzles me to think that a Forerunner building would not be able to withstand nature; especially given the fact that the planet in which the building resides is in itself, artificial. Forerunner obsession with shrubs: I will never understand their motives entirely.

Right onto other things; characters are better rendered, and the voice acting – at least for the English side of the game – is well done. Now there are no other languages in-game except for Sangehelli, but I watched a French-language play through while studying for a French-language course, and found that the voiceovers for the characters were not as impactful – if I may be allowed of the phrase – as I hoped it would be. Chief in English sounds like Chief, but Chief in French sounds like a Marine who is light-hearted, and not this super soldier who has mild sociopathic tendencies. Ultimately what I am trying to say is that it feels strange, but localization does not normally carry over with it the original voice actor as they may not speak more than one language, so I will speak of this no more. Coming back to character development, the game does an excellent job in presenting to the fan unique and emotional characters all of whom feel believable. Captain Del Rio who commands the Infinity in the Campaign is this uneasy and nervous fellow, in contrast to Commander Lasky, Infinity’s First Officer who is calm and collect. 343 did a live action series to explain Lasky’s beginning and all I can say is this without spoiling anything: the man has really come a long way. Overall I did enjoy the game, and it was certainly worth the time and money; though I played it with a friend at a friend’s place so technically the money part of that statement is not applicable to me, but you readers know what I mean by that statement. Yes Halo 4 is worth the money, and yes it will provide you with hours of entertainment. Spartan Ops however can get repetitive as the first five episodes recycle the same maps over and over again, with similar objectives: you run to one location, press a couple of buttons, hold off alien hordes, and run to another location to press more buttons, hold off more alien hordes, and then are extracted. After 25 chapters (5 chapters per episode, and I got to about episode 5) you start to get tired of the ordeal. I would recommend you do it with a friend either via Xbox live, or couch co-op, and with some food and liquor as it will take up your afternoon and early evening to get through 5 episodes. Aside from that, I have no complaints related to Spartan Ops: the animation cutscenes are amazing, and the story itself serves as an excellent “dessert” to the main course that was Halo 4. The game is worth checking out, but be ready for a ton of downloads that are gigabytes in size.

Well that about wraps it up for this weeks’ edition of the Telegraphed Gazette. Tune in again on the 13th of April for another round up of news and various topics from around the gaming world, and from Quebec as well: though I am tempted to go national on that subject but that is a different story for another day. Until then my dear readers; my name has been Vince, and I will see you next time.

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About thoughtsandtopics

Creating articles related to the games industry and military news.

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