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A (not-so) recent graduate, MA drop-out, and aspiring novelist. Besides gaming I like chess, long walks on the beach and playing parlour games with the elderly.

Location:Cardiff, Wales

stories by Chris Winters

In Steam I trust: Welcoming our new(ish) digital overlord

Even though I bought the vast majority of my games on Steam over the last few years, I’ve always felt that in doing so I’ve been contributing to some sort of greater evil. The nagging thought that I’m not buying a tangible copy of the game — something I like doing for resale and collector’s value — is ever present as I add items to my cart, and I always think twice about my purchase. In fact, the only reason I embraced Steam in the first place was because of a great sale, and I was a poor student who wanted to play Civilization 4. There is, of course, the issue of ownership, too; a game that I don't physically own is a game that can be, theoretically, taken away from me at the publisher’s convenience.

Four terrible games that made me smile

As a rule, my general reaction to a bad game is antipathy. I identify what’s wrong with it, and ruminate over how or why it went wrong, what the developer was at least attempting, and how I’d have done it differently. It’s very rare that a bad game infuriates me to the point that I’m shouting at the screen, or throwing my pad across the room. Generally, I only rage at a good game which has a frustrating bit (see: various bosses in Ninja Gaiden 2); my anger towards bad games is limited to those which are buggy and Snake’s Revenge.

Catherine demo impressions

Catherine is a rather unusual game from the team behind the Persona series. When it was first revealed, I somewhat expected a by-the-numbers Shin Megami Tensei game. A sexier, more adult Persona, perhaps. In the months leading up to its release — February 17th in Japan, and I expect a Western release announcement soon after — it became clear that just as its characters are different from what this team usually makes, so is its gameplay.

Portable gaming:The battle for our bags has just begun

Five or six years ago, I remember reading proclamations from various gaming sites about how the battle for our pockets had just begun. The Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP were due for release, and many pundits correctly predicted that handheld gaming would evolve beyond the limited realm of children and younger teens and expand to the adult population. At the time, as someone on the brink of adulthood and a big fan of handhelds, I was delighted to see that both Nintendo and Sony were stepping up with deeper content.

Metal Gear retrospective, part 1: Metal Gear on the MSX2

Any time it snows, I always utilize my time off from school or work well: I replay Metal Gear Solid. Wrapped in a warm blanket, with a mug of coffee or hot chocolate by my side, I begin Solid Snake’s first PlayStation adventure. Set in Shadow Moses, an Alaskan nuclear-warhead disposal building that’s currently the base of operation for a rebellious special forces unit named FOXHOUND and genetically enhanced “Genome Soldiers.” Snake has to infiltrate the site, locate and rescue several hostages, and determine whether or not the terrorists have the ability to launch a nuclear weapon.

Ghost Trick: Comfort through familiarity

When it was first announced, I was quite disappointed at Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. The conservative side of my gamer psyche was more than happy for Capcom to stick to a good thing and churn out Ace Attorney 5. When they revealed a new and untested concept with a whole new cast, world and ideas, I wanted to hide. I didn’t want to take the risk and invest my limited susceptibility to hype into something that may not work. Ace Attorney 5 was a safe bet, one I felt Capcom were foolish to neglect.

Year in review: 2010’s pacifist games

All of the good stories in any medium have a conflict of some sort. One of my favorite books, John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, revolves around the novel’s eccentric antihero, Ignatius J. Reilly, his conflicts with modern society, and his lack of employment to create one of the best stories I’ve ever read.

Five great narrative-driven games from the last decade

When Heavy Rain's David Cage recently likened game cut-scenes to the story segments of porn films, I couldn't help but laugh a little; a lot of games do feel like that. When I was playing Metal Gear Solid 4, its exposition felt very empty and pointless. Unlike previous entries in the series, Guns of the Patriots' story bored me to death with meaningless dialogue and intellectually vacant narrative. A shame, considering how the previous games successfully blended high-quality cinematography with stealth gameplay, giving players the feeling that they were immersed in a spy flick.

What Game Dev Story?

When I was first shown it, I wasn't at all surprised that Game Dev Story had captured the imaginations of many gamers. Its simplicity combined with a subject matter that universally appeals to us all — the creation of games — has made it somewhat of a sleeper hit amongst game enthusiasts. It wasn't long before I clicked "Buy App" and downloaded it straight to my iPhone.

Review: Dead Rising 2

When developing Dead Rising 2, Blue Castle Games walked a fine line between merely taking away a few broken parts of Dead Rising, and completely dismembering it. If they’d gone too far, its sequel might’ve collapsed, with various detached parts twitching on the ground in a bloody, unplayable mess. If they didn’t go far enough, cries of cash in, safe sequel or soulless continuation would’ve been shouted.

Review: Last Window: The Secret of Cape West

The first time I walked through the second floor corridor of Cape West apartments – a rather dilapidated and low-budget affair, complete with bland late-70s decor and a hint of its majestic 50s past – and through to Kyle Hyde’s room, number 202, I got the distinct feeling that Last Window: The Secret of Cape West was the same old fare that Hotel Dusk was; a slow-paced, moody adventure game with a stylish art style and rotoscoped animation, well written dialogue and an interesting narrative. However, something struck me as rather different when playing through it. I got the sense that this game’s focus was slightly different from its predecessor’s.

Many Games Could be Episodic

Maybe it’s just my diminished attention span, but I’ve been recently playing Broken Sword and Red Faction: Guerilla, and I keep playing them in a stop and start fashion. I’ll pick the game up, play it for a few hours, then put it down and not come back for weeks or even longer. Oftentimes it’s because I don’t find the game engrossing enough to be hooked, and other times because another more interesting title has captured my imagination.

Duke Nukem Forever: Will The Magic Still Be There?

I remember one day in 1997 when my dad took me out to buy a game. Not having a PlayStation, and with N64 games being too expensive, I went straight to the PC aisle of Cardiff's Electronics Boutique. Looking at the newest releases, I picked up Grand Theft Auto – a game I had played and loved at my cousin's – and immediately handed it to my dad.

Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse Review: Telltale’s Finest Series Yet?

I was meaning to do a review for Sam & Max: Beyond the Alley of the Dolls over a month ago (to continue on from reviews I did for episodes one, two and three), but I decided that because of the way the series was structured – the episodes weren’t quite as stand alone as episodes in the previous series were – a season overview would probably be better suited. Now that Telltale Games have wrapped up the whole season, I thought it better to treat the whole thing as a full game, and write one review for the lot.

Apple TV: A Clear Shot Over the Bow

After all the rumours of Apple taking iOS and with it the App Store to the living room, gamers, developers, publishers and the big three can all breathe a sigh of relief that a fourth box won't be vying for our attention. However, with the rise of Google TV, apps in Samsung TVs and the new and affordable Apple TV, it's become clear that some of the added features to games consoles and their services have suddenly become less unique.

I’m Not So Sure On This PSP Phone

Engadget are reporting that Sony Ericsson are working on a phone that runs Android 3.0 and will have PlayStation branding. Of course, the games press are reporting this without much, if any, scrutiny. So far, the only scrutiny on the whole thing has been from Digital Foundry, and they make some really good points.

The Murky Side of Games as Services

Editor's note: Chris brings up one of the major sticking points of services such as OnLive — game ownership. While I'm not quite ready to jump in to such a service (and neither is my Internet connection), I think distributed computing and providing access to software as a service are only growing in popularity. – Jay

Games Coverage is Terrible — Here’s How I’d Fix it.

Editor's note: Chris hasn't had much luck finding a gaming website that covers the industry in a reliable and professional manner. Here he shares his vision of the ideal games-related blog. Personally, I'd recommend GamesIndustry.biz and GameSpot.com's news sections to anyone looking for more "real" news and less rumor and speculation. Do you have any sites you'd suggest to Chris? Do you feel that the issues he brings up are valid? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. – Aaron

Videogame Narratives: The Happy Ending

Picture this: You've just spent the last nine or ten hours playing Heavy Rain for the first time. You've invested a great deal of your emotions and feelings into the final outcome. All your characters have survived up until this point. You've made the smart and sensible choices: Ethan completed his trials and found the location of his son, as have Madison and Jayden. If they're all fast enough, maybe, just maybe, the boy will live. However, when you arrive, a harrowing image is presented. The boy has drowned in his watery grave.