May 07 //
Chris Carter [embed]291747:58462:0[/embed]
The demo is out today Nintendo just ran a Splatoon-centric Direct presentation, and it provided a ton of information on the soon-to-be-released shooter. First, to play ranked modes online, you have to reach level 10 (as was previously announced), ... read feature
May 06 //
Vertiginous Golf (PC)Developers: Kinelco, Lone Elk CreativePublisher: Surprise Attack GamesReleased: May 6, 2015Price: $14.99
It'd be short-sighted to say that the developers' intent for Vertiginous Golf isn't worthy of a modest golf clap. There's no question that it would have been perfectly appropriate for them to design some wacky obstacles, slap on some ground-based golf physics, and call it a day. Instead, they opted to invent sprawling, labyrinth-like holes, and take an earnest stab at crafting a story about oppressive industrial-era society.
Heady stuff, to be sure. Unfortunately, neither works as well as one may hope.
When Vertiginous Golf first transplants the player from dingy street-side shop to above-the-clouds links, it's a sight to behold. It's almost as if BioShock Infinite had a mini-game smack dab in the middle of it (the classist undertones parallel holds up, too). The holes look complex, almost with a Rube Goldberg-ian quality about them -- except different parts aren't dependent upon one another in any way; they just present several unique challenges all within one hole.
In the early going -- when the game is teaching the player the ropes -- this works fantastically. Lengthy as the holes may be, they're never too excessive in scope. It's always apparent where the cup is, and what potential routes there are to get there. That doesn't last long.
Once Vertiginous Golf has the player comfortable with the mechanics, it quickly broadens everything so that nothing is digestible. From the tee box, the player is met with a mess of obstacles, all of it just as dense vertically as it is horizontally. Walls often obscure any long-range view, so it's nigh impossible to go into the hole with a game plan. Just hit the ball with some degree of power and pray for the best.
The developers obviously foresaw this as a potential problem and added a feature to help mitigate it. Always accompanying the floating golf club is a metallic hummingbird which can be controlled to fly around the course and get the lay of the land. However, it's mostly rendered useless as so much movement can happen on any given shot that it's often still impossible to predict where the ball may go.
That isn't the only concession that Vertiginous Golf's creators made. There's also a rewind function (effectively a mulligan) which can be used sparingly in the likely event of an ill-advised shot. Drawing from the same pool of resources is the ability to guide the ball ever-so-slightly in any given direction.
If that weren't enough to frustrate mini-golf purists, there's also a pitching wedge that's available almost all the time. Often times, the best way to traverse Vertiginous Golf's unforgiving terrain is to simply bypass it all through the air. Aim for a spot, hope you picked an apt shot power, and don't worry about all the randomness that comes with the ground obstacles. While effective, implementing this strategy feels a bit like missing the point.
However, the wedge can't be used to completely game Vertiginous Golf. The latter part of most holes are in a sort of walled-off container where using the club is banned. Not coincidentally, this is also where the game is at its very worst. Whenever near the walls of these areas (a frequent occurrence), the camera will line up outside the structure, forcing a putt toward the hole with an obscured view. It's barely manageable if there's a straight shot; in the event that there are moving obstacles or a raised cup, resign yourself to taking even more strokes.
As the golf portion of Vertiginous Golf is lacking in execution, the story similarly comes up short. In fact, it's actually detrimental to the golfing experience. There's a narrative about a raging class war in a dystopian society, and -- well, it's all very difficult to follow. That's because the plot is only told through audio logs, which are mandatory checkpoints on the golf course. Once these are hit, the talking begins.
This falters because each audio log consists of approximately 30 seconds of overwhelming dialogue. To fully take it in means to put down the controller and listen. Given that there are usually four on any given hole, that's a lot of listening and not a lot of playing. This is at direct odds with the action-oriented golf. The narrative and gameplay are so dissonant from one another that it's nearly impossible to enjoy both at the same time.
Really, it's the developers' ambition that weighs down Vertiginous Golf. They took a simple, beloved concept and tried doing too much with it. As a result, the course design is rarely rewarding and the elaborate story is poorly presented. No matter how far above the clouds this game is, it landed in the rough.
'Golf,' and other four-letter words Golf has a centuries-old reputation as being a maddening game. It's simple in premise, but that simplicity is always lost in transition from theory to execution. "Put tiny white ball in tiny cup" sounds easy enough, but after... read feature
May 06 //
High Strangeness (PC [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Barnyard Intelligence GamesPublisher: Midnight CityReleased: May 6, 2015MSRP: $9.99
High Strangeness is a simple tale of a young man named Boyd. He has a cat, he lives a simple life -- until shadow people invade his hometown and set into motion a series of events that will change his world forever. Sound familiar? Strangeness is meant to evoke the feeling of an old school RPG, using elements of both 8-bit and 16-bit adventures, meshing it into what the developer calls "the 12-bit realm."
It definitely has an EarthBound-like feel to it, with snappy jokes, real-life oriented weapons like a flashlight and firecrackers, and an otherworldly plot. The writing has the charm of a typical Pokémon game, with cute jokes that are often very meta in nature, but not to the point of just repeatedly spouting obnoxious memes. I never really felt any attachment to the cast or the setting, but the era-appropriate dialog definitely helps along the way. Boyd will fight said shadows mostly by way of his flashlight melee attack, but he'll also have a few other tricks up his sleeve, like the aforementioned firecracker bombs, a set of CDs that basically function like Zelda's arrows, and more far-out weaponry like the power to control a shadow clone.
Combat mainly consists of old school hit and run gameplay, with a stamina meter in tow to prevent you from mashing the attack button. It's rudimentary, but it works, especially when you start to experiment and realize that every weapon is viable. My favorite bit about High Strangeness is the fact that you earn upgrade tokens for every kill (even normal enemies). Since these item or skill enhancements are actually quite useful, it creates a nice incentive to get your hands dirty as often as possible.
The main gimmick however is definitely the concept of plane switching, which you'll unlock roughly 30 minutes in. With the press of a button you can phase between the default 16-bit world and an 8-bit realm, fundamentally changing the way everything works. Some enemies will be easier or tougher depending on what world you're in, and mechanically, basic gameplay changes as well. Boyd can use combos and run in the 16-bit era, but only attacks with one thrust at at time and moves in a grid-like fashion in 8-bit, and so on.
The switch isn't instantaneous (it takes a few seconds) so it's not worth it to constantly change, but it is fun to see enemies in a new light or try out new tactics at will. Plus, some puzzles can only be solved by toggling planes, so you'll need to do it every so often -- thank goodness it doesn't get annoying. Because the game is faster paced in the 16-bit visual style I vastly preferred it over 8-bit, and felt like the latter could have used a few extra touches in terms of a unique feel.
While it does have a certain amount of charm, High Strangeness is a very linear adventure. Puzzles usually don't take more than a few minutes at a time to solve, and when all is said and done, you'll probably breeze through it in roughly five hours. There is a very cool final boss at the end, but sadly, there's no additional difficulty settings or a New Game+ option, so what you see is what you get.
There are also a few wrinkles, like the health and stamina UI that doesn't stay locked in one place, and moves if you get too close to it on the screen. Since the game has some dead space due to the constrained aspect ratio, I wish there were an option to keep it static. Additionally, I wish there were a "quick item switch" button, since pausing the game to change secondary weapons isn't ideal.
High Strangeness might be a brief adventure that feels a bit shallow at times, but it's very easy to digest. Because of the short nature of the game it doesn't waste your time, and it's very easy for anyone -- retro enthusiast or not -- to pick up and play.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. I did not back the Kickstarter campaign.]
Taming strange [Disclosure: High Strangeness was developed in part by Destructoid community member Ben "AgentMOO" Shostak. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]
Back in 2009, a smal... read feature
Real bad The latest episode of Podtoid, Destructoid's videogame news podcast, here and ready to assault your face. This time, Brett, Steven, and yours truly chat about what an absolute trainwreck Konami has become, Silent Hills, other... read feature
May 05 //
Kerbal Space Program (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: SquadPublisher: SquadReleased: April 27, 2014 (version 1.0)MSRP: $39.99
This is a game built to last. There are people out there spending hundreds of hours playing, learning, and teaching Kerbal Space Program and I'm not talking about some miniscule group of superfans. It's the kind of game that, whether you like it or not, comes creeping into your mind when you're supposed to be off doing literally anything else. It's contagious.
There are a lot of deep, dense systems at play, and getting a handle on even the basics (knowing apoapsis from periapsis, prograde from retrograde) necessitates a commitment to learning real-world science and game mechanics before it "gets fun." I mean, sure, cobbling together a rocket, to use that word loosely, is enjoyable. At first. But then I came to realize what was possible in this sandbox and grew restless, forever in search of the next self-set milestone. However much effort you put into Kerbal, you'll get exponentially more back.
Early on, you're met with one humbling experience after another. I went into the tutorials all bright-eyed and cheerful before the overwhelming reality of physics (my most dreaded subject in high school) came crashing down on me. The game's cartoon alien astronauts, the Kerbals, are a welcome sight. Their oddball expressions and mannerisms help warm up what would otherwise be a cold, calculated simulation. Not long into a training mission, one of them told me the job at hand "should be pretty easy even if you're not a famous rocket scientist like myself."
Not a moment later, there I was, licking my wounds and wondering why that Kerbal had turned my home office into a house of lies. I'm not sure I've ever failed a videogame tutorial multiple times before. This is confidence-shattering stuff. My first hour or so is a blur by now, but I took notes along the way. "Intimidating homework," I summarized. Reading instructions, re-reading them, trying to do what they describe, failing, then repeating the process and inching slightly closer to success -- this is how it goes. Until, suddenly, it clicks. Bliss.
The first time my rocket lifted off correctly, I cracked a smile and laughed with astonishment. It was joyous. Incredible. Then the thing started spinning out of control and the Kerbals trapped inside were doomed. I knew it, but did they? Those poor, brave, totally naive little green men. Upon failing the lesson, my instructor said he wasn't expecting disaster to strike. Personally, I had been counting the seconds. It gets better, though. You, the player, get better.
On Twitter, I was told to seek out community-made guides and I'll echo that advice. The in-game tutorials aren't nearly as clear or hands-on as I would've liked, and a lack of grammatical polish didn't make using them any easier. Walkthroughs and wikis might as well be mandatory. There are folks out there like Scott Manley who are producing exceptional videos, and I'd be so lost without them. The simple act of watching someone else solve a problem -- escaping the atmosphere without burning an obscene amount of fuel, matching a distant vessel's orbit, saving a Kerbal lost in space (sorry!) -- can be enough to give you that edge.
Thankfully, constructing rockets is simple. You drag individual components onto a 3D stage and snap them together. It's not quite building with LEGO bricks, but given the game's complicated subject matter, it is surprisingly close. Which parts you select for your ship and in what order, however, can be overwhelming. That's more of a problem in Sandbox mode, where you're given total freedom with a vast list of similar-looking pieces, than in Career mode, where new technology trickles in as you grow your space program from the ground up.
Another surprise: the controls are, relative to learning astrodynamics, not too tough to figure out. The user interface is initially confusing, what with all of the gauges and that intimidating navigation ball to monitor, but Kerbal Space Program makes smart use of the keyboard.
Cobbling together a bunch of ships and finally getting one of them to orbit the Earth-esque planet Kerbin for the first time is an awesome feeling. As in, awe-inspiring. It's a big milestone -- one I won't soon forget -- but there are countless more to tackle. You can switch to a map of space to track your vessel's trajectory and set up maneuvers to reach, say, the Mun (moon), or an asteroid, or make the journey back home. Actually, you can do whatever you want -- this is an open-ended game, after all -- but maybe don't sprint before you can crawl.
For me, there is such a thing as too little structure in games, and for that reason I found myself switching back and forth between Kerbal's Sandbox and Career modes. The latter has a tech tree and jobs for you to take on. Newcomers will find its scope far more comfortable.
As you gain science points by conducting research in the field and transmitting the data to your base (or physically bringing it and your spacecraft back safely to Kerbin's surface), you'll unlock access to more advanced gear. As you complete jobs -- testing specific parts at certain speeds and altitudes, or taking tourists on a ride without killing them, for example -- you'll get funds to upgrade your space program. A third mode, Science, rests in between Sandbox and Career. You'll still have to earn new parts by collecting science points, but, unlike Career mode, you won't need to worry about your space program's money or reputation woes.
There are also several standalone scenarios, some of which were created in collaboration with NASA (get this game into schools!), that bypass the whole planning and building process and put you straight into an active mission. They're a great worry-free practice environment.
Outside of those core modes, there are numerous mods to tinker with. The game has attracted a passionate, talented, dedicated community of players and creators. Even if the developers at Squad stop supporting Kerbal Space Program with new content and polish updates, I'm convinced this game will still be relevant a decade from now.
My main fear of simulation titles is that I'll get bored. But, come to think of it, not once was I bored with Kerbal Space Program. I may have felt confused, and irritated, and hopeless at times, but those setbacks were fleeting. My desire to improve remains steadfast.
Even the smallest accomplishments feel like massive victories, and once you experience that euphoria, you won't want to quit. Watch your ambition soar.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Science doesn't screw around I might have never touched Kerbal Space Program had it not been offered as a review assignment. What a tremendous shame that would've been.
From a comfortable distance, I had seen enough of this hardcore rocket-building and ... read feature
May 05 //
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: MachineGamesPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksReleased: May 5, 2015 (Digital), May 14, 2015 (Physical - AUS, EU, NZ)MSRP: $19.99
The Old Blood is a genius idea on paper. Set as a prequel to The New Order, anyone can pick it up and find themselves on equal footing. When coupled with the budget price of $20, that prospect is made even more appealing. The team was also able to provide some slight enhancements to the engine due to the core focus on the PS4 and Xbox One editions -- it's nothing that noticeable, but it is smoother overall if you really look at things up close.
So what is it, exactly? You're basically getting more New Order set the tune of two "episodes," once again starring the heroic B.J. Blazkowicz. The whole bloody affair is roughly eight hours long, filled with secrets and the return of the perk system, which are both implemented to encourage multiple playthroughs. Just like its predecessor, The Old Blood runs at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second on both consoles.
In the first episode, "Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves," you'll quite literally return to Castle Wolfenstein, as you attempt to obtain a document that sets up the events of the previous game. It doesn't go quite as planned of course, and you'll encounter a few new enemy variants like a sniper, as well as some puzzle-like encounters, and a good mix of stealth and action scenes. It's not mind-blowingly different and it's a tad slow at the start, but it does feel like a proper expansion, and the labyrinthine tunnels of the castle work well when juxtaposed to the mostly open areas from New Order.
The second half, "The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs," is a little less traditional. Well, okay, it has zombies in it, so it's a lot less traditional, but perfectly fitting for the gaiden "B-movie" feel Old Blood is going for. While the first episode is good in its on right, the town of Wulfburg in the follow-up episode is something completely different from what you're normally used to with MachineGames' reboot. There are a few really tense scenes, and the mystery of Helga and her adventures to uncover occult objects kept me engaged throughout.
All of the classic FPS mechanics return, like the glorious multi-weapon wheel that outshines the two-gun limitations usually found on consoles. There's also a few new weapons like the melee-centric pipe and the explosive Kampfpistol, and existing guns have been refined, to the point where everything feels more viable. The perk system is still attached to challenges like stealth takedowns or weapon-specific kills, and is just as inspirational when it comes to driving players to experiment with new playstyles. The old adage "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" works here.
Where Old Blood truly shines is its brevity. Both episodes are laser-focused, and don't waste as much time as some missions in the original. Both Castle Wolfenstein and Wulfburg are expansive enough to justify an entire game, and the development team does a good job of managing the pacing between stealth and action. I will say though that both core villains are a little less compelling than Deathshead, the experience is a tad more linear, and there's less character development here in general.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood operates just like an old school PC expansion should, and if you liked New Order, this is a no-brainer. In fact, due to the pulp feel of the second half I even slightly prefer it to the original, and the two interconnected plots are incredibly easy to swallow in an afternoon.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Remember when PC expansions felt expansive? Wolfenstein: The New Order was a refreshing reboot for a series that has a history of having many different development teams at the helm. After a five year hiatus, MachineGames came in and made the franchise its own, pu... read feature
May 05 //
Chris Carter [embed]291576:58436:0[/embed]
That long-rumored project Koji Igarashi (also known as "IGA") is one of the most talented developers out there, partially credited with the success of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the continued rise of the franchise after that point. In 201... read feature
May 05 //
Cosmophony (Android, iPhone, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita, Wii U)Developer: Bento StudioPublisher: Bento StudioReleased: May 5, 2015 (PlayStation systems)MSRP: $4.99
The setup is about as simple as it gets. Fly/glide/hover/whatever down a seven-lane tube. Avoid smashing into obstacles. Optionally shoot black triangle "enemies." That's about it.
There are a couple of different measure for success. Getting through a level without dying is enough to unlock the next level. Doing that while destroying every black triangle along the way is worth a full rating.
Each level can be played in Practice Mode or Normal Mode. Aesthetically, Practice Mode takes out the color and some visual effects, but the big difference is that it allows the use of checkpoints and gives the ability to fast-forward or rewind to replay tricky sections. Normal Mode is the real deal: make it through a level from start to finish; any mistake means restarting from the beginning.
Cosmophony's unique hook is that it functions as a rhythm game, but the reliance on rhythm is hidden at first. In the early levels, there is a lot of room for error. Firing a shot at nothing carries no penalty and timing is irrelevant as long as moves are made before crashing. Often I would take out enemies before they were even on screen by spamming the fire button knowing which lane they would be in.
That changes by the third level. There is still a little bit of leeway allowed for certain decisions. There is space to overshoot, moving three lanes left instead of two. However, after playing and replaying the same sections a few times, it dawned on me that every button press corresponds to a musical element. It's not just the shooting, but also the movement.
Once that became clear, I was able to reach the zen state of concentration where my fingers were doing what they were supposed to be doing before my conscious brain could tell them. So few games hit that sweet spot, where the sound and light and difficulty all come together to create an intense mental experience. Level three of Cosmophony does that for me.
Sadly, that falls apart for me at the fourth level. The difficulty ramps up consistently across the levels, but it goes too far to be enjoyable. Where previous levels allowed room for minor error and contained lighter sections for the player to refocus, it turns into a relentless exercise in rote memorization and execution. I was no longer finding my happy place where time slows down; I was only finding frustration.
Cosmophony is like a firework. As it's flying up and sending out sparks, interest builds. Once it detonates it's an awesome show of color and sound. After that it's over and everybody goes home. It's short and intense, but it stops being interesting once it oversteps the line between fun and frustrating. I played it and enjoyed it until it felt unfair, and now I probably won't ever touch it again.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
The difficulty sure ain't phony I had been lulled into a false sense of security. I finished the tutorial and the first level of Cosmophony with a perfect rating in about 15 minutes. "Four more levels of this?" I thought. "Child's play."
Cut to an hour and ... read feature
May 04 //
GameFan Magazine & Destructoid
Join Forces for Content & Strategic Partnership
Two of the video game world's leading indie publications team up
for editorial projects & more.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., May 4, 2015 - GameFan magazine today announced an extensive content and strategic partnership with leading video game site Destructoid (destructoid.com).
It is a move that focuses on growing and delivering more digital and print editorial to both publications' reader-communities, co-promotion activities, reader/subscriber benefits, and more.
Initial plans include the addition of Destructoid-produced content into future digital and print issues of GameFan. The new dual-cover, flip-formatted piece will essentially contain two magazines in one. In addition to GameFan's distinctive visual and editorial mix, readers will receive 30 pages of original Destructoid content, created exclusively for the print and digital magazine format.
Free digital subscriptions for the new publication will be available via prominent placement on theDestructoid website. GameFan subscribers will also receive it as part of their subscriptions.
Niero Gonzalez, the CEO and co-founder of Destructoid, said, "I grew up reading GameFan, dreaming that one day I'd work in the video game business. This is a surreal personal victory for me, an incredible milestone for Destructoid, and a Voltron moment for lovers of the video gamepress."
GameFan Publisher and Editor Dave Halverson added, "This is a partnership born of a mutual love for video games, video game culture, and a deep respect for our readers and fans. What GameFan is to print, Destructoid is to the web. It's a perfect match."
About PaperPlanet & GameFan
PaperPlanet is the independently owned and operated publisher of GameFan magazine, as well as related print and digital projects. Led by Dave Halverson (founding editor, original GameFan andPlay), the PaperPlanet team has more than 23 years of experience in the video game and electronic entertainment industry. They are dedicated to helping both veteran gamers and new fans discover the best the gaming world has to offer. For more information about GameFan, to subscribe, or to order print issues, visit www.gamefanmag.com.
Founded in 2006, Destructoid has quickly risen to the top as one of the world's premiere videogame blogs. 100 percent independent, the San Francisco, Calif. based website reaches over 3 million unique visitors every month and is the cornerstone of the Modern Method network, which consists of the anime-orientated Japanator, toy-centric Tomopop, and film-focused Flixist. For more information, visit www.destructoid.com.
CONTACT: Marketing:Julie Halverson, Director of Marketingp: 480-678-5270 | e: [email protected]: Dave Halverson, Publishere: [email protected]
Indie superpowers combine Huge news today! Starting this summer Destructoid will be publishing a digital magazine with GameFan. It's a 60-page whopper that's half Destructoid on one side, half GameFan on the other but all indie, all enthusiast, all pa... read feature
May 04 //
Josh Tolentino Chroma Squad (PC) Developer: Behold StudiosPublisher: Behold StudiosReleased: April 30, 2015MSRP: $14.99
Not that they really needed to, of course. Such a "feature" would interfere with play, and there's plenty of service in the game as it is for fans. The play, in this case, is of the turn-based tactical variety, as if Behold took XCOM and ran it through the parodic, pixelated filters of Knights of Pen and Paper.
Like the former, players will manage a small squad of combatants, with unique classes and abilities, running them up against groups of goons and the occasional boss, one turn at a time. Like the latter, every mechanic serves as a distillation of tokusatsu's essence through heavy referencing and a clear, almost palpable appreciation of the source material.
The premise alone is ripe enough with potential that it's baffling more games haven't taken advantage: Players manage a fledgling production studio, with each mission treated as an "episode" of an upstart spandex superhero show. Names, casting, and even catchphrases are up for customization, as well as the requisite selection of bright primary colors to outfit the roster with. If players want to commit sentai sacrilege and name a non-red-colored character the "Lead," no one can stop them but their inevitable guilt (guilt, I say!). Cast members can also be selected from a pool of actor candidates, each with their own special qualities.
When the cameras start rolling and the minions exit wardrobe, the fight is on. The goal of any given mission is to amass as much "audience" as possible, by performing flashy attacks, fancy stunts, and of course, winning the fight. Additionally, optional "Director's Instructions" add extra conditions, such as finishing off boss monsters with a screen-filling finishing move, or not killing off the boss before dispatching the cannon-fodder minions. Such extra goals help introduce variety to the combat, which is more simplistic than one might find in XCOM or other dedicated tactical titles.
Enemies follow simple patterns and lack much in the way of extra abilities, so most of the tactics devolve to crowd and ability cooldown management rather than more elegant stratagems. Chroma Squad's main mechanical wrinkle comes in the form of "Teamwork," which allows squad members to leapfrog over each other to boost their movement range, or carry out simultaneous attacks with adjacent teammates. This, alongside somewhat simplistic giant-mecha boss battles, give the game enough of a unique flavor to override its otherwise thin tactical substance.
Following the mission, gained audience is converted into "fans," and also into increased studio funding, the better to buy one's way out of Papier-mâché costumes and into some real spandex duds. Behind the scenes, the studio itself can be outfitted with various upgrades that improve performance in each episode. Buying health care for the actors improves their health in combat, and improving the lighting on set reduces enemies' chance to dodge or counter blows.
Materials dropped in combat can also be used to craft customized gear with semi-random statistics, a useful (and cheap) alternative to costly store-bought costumes and weapons. Fan mail can be answered for flavor and smaller benefits, and players can even choose marketing agencies to confer more benefits. Going with a niche-market enthusiast firm might increase the amount of fans gained after an episode, but will likely lack the mass-audience-gathering benefits of a more mainstream advertising push. Tradeoffs like that characterize much of Chroma Squad's meta-game.
Speaking of meta-things, the game's narrative and missions regularly break the fourth wall, and form one of the game's potentially divisive aspects. While the self-aware script and obvious understanding of tokusatsu's many conventions and tropes lend it an endearing level of charm, some players might be turned off by references to dated Internet memes and other metahumor. Personally, I found the story hit quite a bit more than it missed, but I will admit that at times the dialog read more like a forum chat log than a script, and wasn't always helped by rough spots in the localization and editing. Then again, it's not like tokusatsu attracts its fans for complex plotting and characterization, so it may balance out in the end for players in the right mindset.
What isn't as easy to let by are some unfortunate, if minor, technical and design blemishes on Chroma Squad's pristine pixelation. Mission scripts would occasionally freeze in "cutscene" mode, forcing me to start the mission over. A nasty little bug accidentally equipped low-level equipment on my giant robot, making some late-game boss battles much more tense than I'd have liked them to be. One bug even gave me control of an enemy unit rather than my own squad members for a few turns! Thankfully, dev posts on the forums appear to indicate that Behold is aware of most of the bugs I encountered, and a patch is in the works at the time of this writing.
Beyond that, the lack of a mid-mission checkpoint or save, or a mission-select option is inconvenient for players wanting to explore the game's branching story paths (especially for those curious to see what Behold has to say about Kamen Rider). That said, the team has stated a New Game+ option may yet be in the cards for a future update, so repeated playthroughs may become more appealing in the future.
Zordon may have wanted "teens with attitude," but Chroma Squad and its unabashed, utterly geeky love-in for all things tokusatsu shows something even harder to find: A game with heart and soul. That heart shines through the rough edges, and in some ways even turns them to its advantage. It might have taken quite a while in getting here, but fans of spandex-clad superheroic finally have the videogame to help them fill that little fantasy.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Lights, Camera, Henshin! Ever since a badly-dubbed lady popped out of a dumpster on the moon, sending a weird computer-man to seek "teenagers with attitude," geeks of a certain age have been on the lookout for a game that can capture the essence of w... read feature
May 04 //
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker (3DS)Developer: AtlusPublisher: AtlusReleased: May 5, 2015 (NA), Fall 2015 (EU)MSRP: $49.99
Tokyo is in shambles. Earthquakes have ravaged the city, knocking out all lines of communication, derailing trains, and flattening entire buildings. There are fires, riots, refugee camps, oh, and an army of demons that threaten humanity's continued survival. Enter a band of plucky teens with demons of their own to save the day and stave off the apocalypse.
That's the lead-in to the "Septentriones Arc," the main story from the original Devil Survivor 2, which is now accompanied by a second campaign called the "Triangulum Arc." The epilogue picks up right where the first part leaves off, leaving our heroes to deal with a new threat.
The continuation isn't quite a full-blown sequel so much as it's a sizable expansion, one that should keep you busy for an extra couple dozen hours on top of the base game. Thankfully, the Triangulum Arc is available from the get-go; so if you've already played through the main story and just want to see the new content, you needn't start from square one.
Of course, newcomers will want to begin with the Septentriones Arc. Despite including a quick refresher at the outset of the journey, the new campaign likely won't make much sense to neophytes jumping into the narrative in media res.
In addition to the new campaign, Atlus has put in the effort to upgrade the overall experience. After doing a side-by-side comparison with the original game, Record Breaker's music really caught my ear. The soundsmiths at Atlus really cleaned up the audio quality, making it sound way more crisp and clear while eliminating a scratchy, fuzzy quality that mars the DS release.
On top of the enhanced sound quality, the team at Atlus USA went ahead re-localized the entire script and kitted it out with full English voiceover, which is a massive improvement over the text-only original. Being able to hear the cast goes a long way to helping flesh out these characters, especially given how lively and rich many of their performances are.
The visuals are also a shade nicer. Again, looking at the games side-by-side, I noticed Record Breaker looks a tad sharper and features slightly more vivid colors. The camera perspective in battle has also been pulled back, which make the sprites appear less chunky.
One of the major complaints a lot of folks seemed to have with Devil Survivor 2 when it launched in 2012 was the difficulty. In our review, Dale North said "the first game's difficulty bar was already set pretty high, but Atlus has turned it up even higher in this sequel with battles that are so difficult that [he] came dangerously close to snapping [his] DS in half." This time around there are multiple difficulty settings, which hopefully should help you keep your system intact.
At its core, Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is still a satisfying fusion of classic "MegaTen" and strategy gameplay. And with the new story content and other additions and enhancements, this is definitely the best version of the game. Whether it's enough to warrant a second purchase is debatable, but given a choice between the two, this is without question the one to get.
Record Breaker is finally here, and it was worth the wait If you've ever wanted to experience Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 or wondered what happened to its colorful cast of demon tamers after the credits rolled, now is the time.
Atlus is about to unleash Record Breaker, a new version of the 2012 tactical role-playing game that not only improves the title, but expands upon it with a new arc that advances the story. read feature
May 03 //
I'm preoccupied with dementia. It runs in my family, both my grandparents have it, their parents had it, and so on. It's a terrible disease, a spiritual vampire that sucks the light and life right out of its victims while dooming them to shamble on as shadows. I've written about it before, but I tend to read into games and movies that deal with instability and uncertainty as allegorical to Alzheimer's. The darkest thoughts that creep into my mind when I can't sleep are about my own parents someday showing symptoms of the disease, or the looming threat that it may (likely) happen to me as I age.
Which is why my Silent Hill would have to be a shitty, confusing, dump of a place. A maze that was always fading and rebuilding behind you, filled with asshats you don't recognize, or recognize as someone else. It couldn't not be.
Silent Hill as a series has always leaned heavily on the psychological aspects of horror. Sure, there are jump scares, dark corners, and sharp rusty blades like any other horror game, but the real terror of Silent Hill has always come from within. The town, or realm, of Silent Hill is a crucible of sorts that directly confronts its visitors with whatever nasty shit they have floating around their head. It tips the subconscious over and lets all the sticky neurological puss ooze out. Out of all that guilt, anger, fear, and trauma, the city rebuilds itself into a brand new personal hell for whatever unfortunate soul happens to be trapped within it.
Silent Hill 2's James Sutherland had to deal with his sexual frustration and the guilt of resenting his ailing wife. These issues physically manifested as Pyramid Head and the grotesque/sexy nurse monsters. Heather in Silent Hill 3 had to deal with her split identity as the poor, tortured Alessa and her messed-up, unstable life on the run. Shattered Memories, a reimagining of the events of the first game, finds Cheryl struggling to reconcile her idealized memories of her father with the bitter reality of their lives. Murphy Pendelton had to fight weird ghostly blow-up dolls in Downpour (still not sure what the deal with that was).
Those games offered a look into the minds of their protagonists, but I bet they also crystalized some of the deepest fears and uncertainties of the creative minds on Team Silent (and the lack of that honesty is probably why the series has fallen off so hard in recent years). It's one of the reasons I'm upset that Konami took the promise of a Silent Hill headed by Kojima and del Toro and dunked it in a bucket of horse piss. With auteurs like those two at the helm, I bet Silent Hills would have let us peek behind the curtains of their psyches. I bet they would have brought their own personal fears with them to Silent Hill; they would have brought back the honesty of terror.
Yes, P.T. wasn't even a demo. It was a teaser, a shadow of a reflection of what Silent Hills might have been. But when I look at the themes and ideas in P.T. and I look at del Toro and Kojima's past work, I can see connections, overlapping ideas to work they've done before.
P.T. was set in a home turned into hell. It hinted at dark family trauma -- domestic abuse, fathers committing murder-suicides on their entire family (and worse). Del Toro is no stranger to those horrors, and he's blurred the lines between the unfortunately all too real and common trauma of domestic abuse and the supernatural before. I look at his movies he's directed like The Devil's Backbone, and Pan's Labyrinth, or as an executive producer on Mama, all of which swim in similarly murky waters.
There are also glimmers of Kojima's trademark post-Cold War paranoia to be found in P.T.. The unsettling voice from the radio, constantly repeating a sequence of digits over and over like a haunted numbers station, hypnotically spurring the listener to violence. There are possible allusions to mind control and manipulation, themes found again and again in his games. YouTuber RagnarRox recently posted a video exploring links between some of P.T.'s most disturbing elements with the real-life (and extremely chilling) MKUltra experiments conducted by the C.I.A in the 1960s. It may seem out there, but the material would certainly jive with other ideas Kojima has dove into with the Metal Gear series.
We have no idea of knowing exactly what Kojima and del Toro's Silent Hills would have been like, in the end. However, I look at what those two men have done before and what we saw a peek of in P.T. and I feel like I can make out its shape behind the fog. Something disturbing and vulnerable, a Silent Hill that is at once deeply, uncomfortably personal, but also shrouded in conspiracy. How could either of them resist the chance to clean out their mental cellar spaces with the psychological dust broom of Silent Hill?
It makes me sad to think of what we missed out on thanks to Konami's bungling, but it also makes me curious. I wonder about what other people's version of Silent Hill would look like. If you wandered into Silent Hill and the Otherworld was being built on top of the fault lines of your psyche (or if Konami lost its shit and suddenly tossed you the reins as the next creative director of the Silent Hill series), what would it look like? What would your fears made manifest be?
Maybe I'm the only one who thinks of this kind of stuff, but I'd be super interested to know what kind of Silent Hill some of our community members would create. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments, or better yet, write a blog about it. We might never see Kojima and del Toro's Silent Hills but we can still speculate on our own dreams, or in this case, nightmares. They might be all we have if Konami keeps up like it has.
Konami could probably use some ideas My Silent Hill would be a place you couldn't trust. Doors would disappear behind you the moment you turned your back, hallways and staircases would loop back in impossible ways, main streets would abruptly end or lead to a pa... read feature
May 03 //
Dealzon Top Deals
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt — $36.00 <-aka Triss Merigold Wonderland
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More Top Deals
Bloodborne (PS4) — $49.99 <- $39.99 if GCU
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Alien: Isolation (Steam) — $12.49 (list price $50)
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04/28: WWE 2K15 (Steam) — $37.50 (list price $50)
04/28: Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (Steam) — $22.50
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Watch Dogs (Uplay) — $14.70 (list price $40)
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Games for Summer Nothing to do in the summer? How about hours and hours of Witcher?
Though the game was delayed several months from its original late 2014 scheduled release, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt will release later this month on PC,... read feature
May 02 //
Mission one start
Right from the very beginning of Metal Slug 3, I could tell it was going to be a wild ride. The opening mission drops the player off on a sunny beach, which at first seems almost peaceful and comforting, until the rotting fish carcasses and crash-landed rockets littering the dunes come into view. Suddenly, a bunch of huge, mutated crabs swarm the beach and start attacking in hordes. Giant crab monsters for the very first enemy? Talk about starting off on a high note!
The level then splits off into two different paths. One path leads to a mangrove area crawling with oversized locusts, and a boat that takes the player across a swamp infested with flying piranhas.
The alternate path leads underwater, as the player takes a submarine and dives into a deep ocean crevasse. The waters here are teeming with electric jellyfish and are also home to four utterly enormous moray eels. These things appear to be 20-30 times larger than the submarine. They cannot be killed, but they can crush the player against the side of the wall in an instant. The eels also come out of caves which indicate that their names are Helen, Linda, Jenny, and Barbie. Quite adorable names for these hulking, majestic creatures.
The eel crevasse has to be my favorite area in the entire game, and it's just the first level! And of course, once the player passes through the underwater cavern, they're met with the boss of mission one: a particularly intimidating crustacean by the name of...
The Huge Hermit
The boss of the opening mission is a gigantic hermit crab which makes its home inside of a military tank rather than a seashell. As the player runs along a boardwalk firing backwards at the massive crab, the Huge Hermit advances, easily destroying the boardwalk with its large claws as it moves. It also uses the tank on its back to fire projectiles from the cannons, keeping the player on their toes while they run. It's such an amazing adversary!
The Huge Hermit is probably one of my favorite videogame bosses of all time, largely from a design perspective. Giant crabs are already awesome by themselves, but a giant crab with a huge tank on its back which it uses to shoot nukes and fireballs? You can't get much better than that! Plus, the animation team did a truly fantastic job bringing the sprites to life on this thing. Like pretty much everything else in the game, the hermit crab's movements are so fluid and natural, while the tank shifts around in a more mechanical way. It's almost mesmerizing to watch.
And keep in mind, this is still only the first mission in Metal Slug 3. It's such an incredible introduction to all the craziness that the game has to offer!
A Slug for every occasion
Metal Slug's namesake, the Slugs, really help to set the game apart from other run-and-gun titles. The Slugs are mechanized vehicles which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with all kinds of cool weapons and abilities.
Metal Slug 3 has about ten different types of Slugs to find and play around with. There's a mecha Slug which walks around with dual arm guns and a crotch cannon, a helicopter Slug for increased air mobility, a submarine Slug for easier underwater movement, a rocket Slug for space travel, a drill Slug which is particularly effective against giant snails, and more.
But my personal favorite is still the classic SV-001 "Metal Slug" which has appeared in just about every game in the series. It's essentially just a tank, but it's one of the most well-designed tanks around. I love the iconic design, with a roundish body and long, spiky treads. Plus, it's built in a way that allows it to actually jump and crouch, making it not only powerful and protective, but agile as well. What other tank can do that?
In a game where one hit means instant death, riding around in a Slug feels extremely satisfying. The Slugs can take a few hits before they overheat, forcing the player to eject before they explode, so climbing into one is always a breath of fresh air. Of course, I usually lose my Slugs pretty quickly anyway, but they're still great for those brief moments of feeling all-powerful among the hordes of puny enemy forces.
Animals of mass destruction
Metal Slug 3 offers a wide variety of helpful friends and modes of transportation, most notably from the animal kingdom. There's a bunch of animals to ride around on, like a camel, an elephant, and an ostrich, as well a cute little gun-toting monkey that can follow the player around.
The monkey is especially adorable. It can be found during two different missions, wearing a diaper that it stores bananas in and carrying a gun that it's not afraid to use. I always find that it leaves me too quickly though. Come back, little monkey! Don't leave me while I'm being completely surrounded by zombies!
The three vehicular animals actually count as Slugs. They all come equipped with weaponry strapped to their sides and they can't be destroyed. It's so much fun to ride around on camels and ostriches while mowing enemies down with mounted guns. You think you can take me down with your armored tank and helicopters? Too bad they're not fast enough to deal with my awesome weaponized ostrich buddy! Muahaha!
The elephant is probably the coolest of the three, if only because of its unique grenade options. If the elephant picks up a crate of hot chilis, it will be able to shoot a huge ball of fire out of its trunk. Alternatively, it can pick up a car battery in order to shoot bolts of lightning. I mean, come on: a fire-breathing, electrified elephant with guns strapped to its sides? How do you top that?
There's just something about the Martians in the Metal Slug series that I find particularly compelling. It probably has a lot to do with their appearance. They've got huge, bulbous heads and a tangle of crazy, spaghetti-like appendages wiggling about all over the place. It's actually a pretty typical alien design, but somehow it really works. The animations for the tentacles are just gorgeous, and totally mesmerizing. I could watch the Martians' idle animation all day.
These guys don't make an appearance in Metal Slug 3 until the final mission, where they retreat into outer space with hostages and use their advanced technology to slow the main characters down. The Martians play a role in many other Metal Slug titles as well, and I always get a kick out of the encounters. Even though they're usually the enemy, and cause a great deal of annoyance for the main characters, they're just such a joy to watch. I almost feel bad killing them. Almost.
101 ways to die
With all the crazy, diverse enemies in Metal Slug 3, the main characters are bound to be killed in some pretty messed-up ways. Aside from being shot, burned, zapped, and crushed, they can also be stripped to the bone by piranhas, dissolved by acid, hit with spores that cause them to burst into a tangle of vines, and more.
Certain enemies and objects can also cause the main characters to transform, often leaving them more susceptible to death. Bats and mummies can mummify the player, restricting their movement and weapons. Yetis can turn the player into a snowman, trapping them and leaving them open to attack until they can wiggle free. Collecting too many food items can cause the player to become obese, slowing movement but increasing firepower.
But the best transformation by far is the zombie form. Being attacked by a zombie will cause the player to become a zombie as well. Like some of the other transformations, movement is restricted and only the default pistol can be used. However, the grenade becomes an extremely deadly, projectile blood-vomit attack, which blasts out in a huge arc from the bottom of the screen all the way to the top. It's possibly the most powerful attack in the game. It can even easily decimate the bullet-sponge of a boss if the player is skilled enough to avoid attacks with the sluggish zombie movement. Destroying helicopters and enemy hordes by barfing up a huge bloody mess never gets old!
Past Experience Points
.01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins
Rocket Launcha! Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p... read feature
May 01 //
Steven Hansen [embed]287234:58408:0[/embed]
The first thing I did the morning I knew the trailer would launch was paw around in the dark, eyes half closed, for my phone to watch it and it was somehow as good as I expected it to be despite unreasonable expectations.
But how good is that? We need context. Here are some things that the Persona 5 trailer is better than:
1) Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
2) Having ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.
3) The love and acceptance of a parent, because a parent is just going to die and leave you alone. Persona 5 will never leave you.
4) The Iditarod.
5) The episode of Seinfeld where Elaine dances badly.
6) When America legalized standing with your feet close together, thus freeing public transport from sweaty, leg splayed wafts.
8) Some cats.
9) This joke: "Need a friend named Nick so I can say 'what do you call a guy with no balls?' Eunuch."
10) The time 50 Cent's grandma made him take out the trash and he tweeted, "I'm rich fuck this I'm going home I don't need this shit."
11) Brett Makedonski's basketball game.
12) The time when I was like five years old, playing on the top of a bunk bed. I grabbed the guard rail, looked over the side, and the guard rail came loose, taking me down with it. I split my head open and lost so much blood that I had to be carried around the house (no, of course I didn't go to the hospital, what am I, made of money?)
12) List posts.
The Persona 5 trailer is better than a lot of things and here are some of those things Kyle posted some new Persona 5 screenshots earlier, which got me excited, which got me watching the Persona 5 trailer again, which just got me more excited.
I like when a trailer can turn me on (not sexual). I watch a lo... read feature
May 01 //
Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentReleased: April 2, 2014 to April 30, 2015MSRP: Free-to-play (with microtransactions)
For the entire month of April, Blizzard slowly unlocked each of the four wings of Blackrock Mountain expansion. The entire experience is finally available for $24.99 (or 700 in-game gold per wing), and I'm happy to report that it was worth the cash, as it's a step up from Naxxramas in most respects.
The key to success with Blackrock is the commitment to the lore and having it fit within the confines of Hearthstone. That classic nostalgic rush you got as a raider in vanilla World of Warcraft is still there when you fight Ragnaros, Nefarian, and their crew, but with all of the goofy quips and dialog you'd expect from a card game that takes place within the same universe. In fact, it's still there even if you're meeting these characters for the first time.
What really surprised me is how well Blizzard adapted these boss fights into engaging encounters. There were some bright spots in Naxx as well, but a few Blackrock battles really blew me away. Take Garr, who constantly destroys his own minions in an effort to take you out by way of Deathrattle damage. The catch is that each minion that dies on the same turn does an exponential amount of damage, forcing you to either whittle each enemy down individually, or just go for the all-out kill in four turns.
Majordomo Exectus is another amazing confrontation, as he has a specific 8/8 card that he can summon for free if he drops below a certain amount of health. You have to strategically keep him alive until you have enough cards to take him out in one swift blow, or risk fighting an army of super-powered cards. The latter situation is doable with the right deck, which highlights how versatile Hearthstone is in general.
There are plenty more unique levels too, like one that only lets you and your opponent play one card per turn of any value -- with concepts like these, the Heroic mode (unlocked after beating each wing) presents the biggest challenge yet. Class challenges are also back, and reward you with two class-specific cards after conquering an enemy with a pre-set deck. Mechanically this is probably the best part of Blizzard's Hearthstone expansions, as they allow you to step out of your comfort zone and experience new styles of play while rewarding you appropriately. It's a tradition that I'd love to see continued.
The main aspect that I felt was a step down from Naxxramas however is the general theme of the expansion itself. Naxx felt like a completely different game, with bright hues of green, purple, and red. The cards were utterly unique and unlike anything you had seen before from a design perspective, and I still use many of them today solely based on their aesthetics. With Blackrock there are a lot of great cards as rewards, but a lot of them share the same artwork as the rest of the core set.
While it may not look as dazzling as Naxxramas, Blackrock Mountain expansion is still the best add-on yet, edging out the card-only Goblins vs Gnomes. I'm still chipping away at the Heroic fights, and with how many card options are available at this point, I'll probably be messing around with custom decks for weeks.
[This review is based on a retail build of the expansion provided by the publisher.]
The best expansion yet As I've described in the past, my history with Hearthstone is pretty much inline with how Blizzard wants most of its customer base to enjoy it. I'm loving it in spurts, as it's perfect for quick pick up sessions with fri... read feature
Apr 30 //
Affordable Space Adventures
Art Academy: SketchPad
Assassin's Creed III
Batman: Arkham City
Ben 10 Omniverse
Bit.Trip Presents: Runner 2
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Citizens of Earth
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Revenge 2
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Lego City Undercover
Mario Kart 8
Mario Party 10
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Mighty Switch Force! HD
Monster Hunter Ultimate 3
Mutant Mudds Deluxe
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
NES Remix 2
New Super Mario Bros. U
Scram Kitty and his Buddy On Rails
Ninja Gaiden III: Razor's Edge
One Piece: Unlimited World Red
Pokemon Rumble U
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Tank! Tank! Tank!
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Toki Tori 2
Wii Party U
The Wonderful 101
From MB to GB With the rise of digital distribution, hard drive constraints are becoming more problematic than ever. It's never fun purchasing a game only to find out you don't actually have space for it.
Here is a constantly-updated list ... read feature
Apr 30 //
"Egg" is short for "eggscrement," as it is the foul (hah!) byproduct of most poultry. In America, egg typically comes from the chick-hen, named for being the ladybird amore to the male cock. But just because egg comes from a chick-hen's buns doesn't mean it doesn't belong on yours! A nicely fried egg over easy with a drippy yolk makes for a great treat when biting down on a hamburger. It ain't a burger if you don't have to wash your hand after!
Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter?
You have to crack an omelet to make a few eggs and executive types are more likely omelet someone work on wall textures than devote the processing power necessary for shell splattering particle effects or new viscous liquid engines -- and that's just in the butt-fresh, pre-cooked state. While the egg would serve as a good "Easter Egg" (hah!) in a grenade lob animation, the only scramble I want in my multiplayer shooters is towards a flag that needs to be captured.
Have you seen what's in your grocery store ketchup? The All-American spread has been perverted by some strange new system wherein quality and safety become secondary to profit. And so ketchup becomes a slurry of high-fructose corn syrup, tomato flavoring and "spice." Take beck-up the ketchup! Or substitute it with a sweet, fresh tomato chutney. The onion, vinegar, and brown sugar will get you where you need to be.
Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter?
No, not the 2D platformer, Guacamelee! We're talking the foodstuff for which it was named. I wanted to go "avocado" here -- a fine burger topping in and of itself -- but why not go-uacamole all the way! There are quite a few spreads that make surprising burger fixings. I recently mixed guacamole and an even spicier Calabrian pepper spread and loved the unexpected kick to my 'burg.
Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter?
The only spread first-person shooters seem to care about it bullet spread when discussing weapons such as shotguns. Also another spread they like are sheets. You know, like for accounting all the money they're making. Making guacamole, even if you throw the ingredients in a food processor, requires some manual dexterity to deseed peppers, deshell tomatillos and garlic. If you tried to make guacamole in the next big first-person shooter, it'd probably end up like playing Surgeon Simulator while the your enemy makes a nice spread of their own -- you! From your gutshot abdomen stirred up by your sucking chest wounds.
My co-workers, public transit companions, and dentist have always expressed a universal thought when asked on a date: "Yeah, when pigs fly." The desire for airborne swine transcends race, social classes, and the irresponsibility of my request based on my familiarity or lack thereof with the responder. While not a "topping" per se, eating a hamburger (named for the gentle ham, the most ground-bound of all the lord's creatures) while in the air would be a noble gesture to the beast from which we derive so much pleasure.
Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter?
No, no, no. Tightly controlled lanes of combat and no-more-than-two-story buildings are the "name of the game," and the game they are the name of is the first-person shooter. Jetpacks would require a complete design overhaul to account for them and do you know how hard that would be? I already know the buttons for shoot gun, aim gun, throw bomb, damn it. Look at Titanfall, languishing with no one playing but Nic Rowen and the "story-mode" robots. They think he's one of them.
They don't even know he is alive. They trade self-deprecating asides about their faulty coding and sometimes run menial errands -- oil changes, circuitry hacks, taxes -- like he isn't even there. The idea of putting a jetpack into a first-person shooter is preposterous. That's what the sprint button is for. Are we supposed to just throw the stamina gauge baby out with the we-must-have-jetpacks-and-a-new-gauge-for-fuel bathwater? It's like putting a pineapple on a burger. Redundant, stupid, dunderheaded.
Let me know in the comments if you have alternative hamburger toppers!
Lettuce think outside the gun! I recently picked up a controller to play some Mortal Kombat X with my lawyer after we finished working out (not sexual!) in the basement of his hilltop home. While he'd signed, sealed, and delivered (legal jargon) some Morta... read feature
Apr 30 //
amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits (Wii U)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: April 30, 2015MSRP: Free (requires at least one amiibo)
To even utilize amiibo Tap, which is a free download, you'll need an amiibo figure (MSRP: $13) -- full stop. After booting it up you're greeted with a menu noting that you'll have the opportunity to play various NES and SNES games (that are conveniently located on the eShop for purchase) by tapping a toy to the GamePad. Easy enough.
The strangest thing about the app however is that it doesn't recognize specific characters. I mean, a lot of them are third-party or don't even have retro games, so I understand that much. But I thought for sure (despite the fact that it was already announced as randomized) if you tap a Mario character to the pad you'd unlock a Mario demo, but instead, it just opens up a random game. Once your amiibo is linked to that game it will automatically start up another demo with subsequent taps. For people with large amiibo collections, it's pretty confusing to keep track of.
The demos themselves are straight-forward three minute "bits" if you will, with nine in all for every game -- to clarify, yes, that's nine 180 second sections per title. If you look at the video below you'll see a demo reel for The Legend of Zelda: A Link the Past, teleporting through various portions of the game, from intense scenes to boss battles. There's a timer on each sequence to prevent you from playing too much of the game, which is understandable.
My opinion is that this whole app was rushed out of the gate, for any number of reasons. It would have been really cool to unlock new games by way of amiibo purchases, especially for figures that don't really have any functionality outside of a Super Smash Bros. NPC. A small homage to Super Princess Peach, the DS game, would have been cool, as would a new bite-sized demo for something like "Super Rosalina." The entire app isn't even future-proofed for new amiibo due to the lack of specificity, so there's no point in keeping it around to see how it will change when new figures come out.
In its current state, it's not even worth downloading, as it's essentially a convoluted demo delivery service. If you have Super Smash Bros., just stick to the straight-forward Masterpiece demos.
Specific amiibo don't even align with franchises When I first heard about amiibo Tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits, I thought it was a cool idea at first, and a good concession for fans who may have missed out on a ton of amiibo opportunities this year.
After actually playing it, I'm coming away extremely underwhelmed, and I'll likely uninstall it later today. read feature
#MEATCRAFT The latest episode of Podtoid, Destructoid's videogame news podcast, is ready and waiting to be absorbed into your earholes. This time around, Steven, Darren, Brett, and Kyle (that's me!) discuss the virtues of Arby's, JRPGs,... read feature
Apr 29 //
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Angry Birds Star Wars
Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed Unity
Boom Ball for Kinect
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Child of Light
Costume Quest 2
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die
Dance Central Spotlight
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round
Dead Rising 3
Defense Grid 2
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Ultimate Evil Edition
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
Disney Infinity [2.0]
Divekick: Addition Edition
DmC: Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition
Don Bradman Cricket
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Ball Xenoverse
Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires
EA Sports UFC
The Evil Within
Far Cry 4
Fibbage: The Hilarious Bluffing Party Game
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Forza Horizon 2
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious
Forza Motorsport 5
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2
Funk of Titans
Game of Thrones - Episode 1: Iron From Ice
Game of Thrones - Episode 2: The Lost Lords
Game of Thrones - Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams - Director's Cut
The Golf Club
Grand Theft Auto V
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
Halo: Spartan Assault
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Hand of Fate
How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition
The Jackbox Party Pack
Jet Car Stunts
Just Dance 2014
Just Dance 2015
Kickbeat: Special Edition
Killer Instinct Classic
Killer Instinct 2 Classic
Kinect Sports Rivals
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
The Legend of Korra
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
The Lego Movie Videogame
Lego The Hobbit
Life is Strange - Episode 1: Chrysallis
Life is Strange - Episode 2: Out of Time
Lords of the Fallen
Madden NFL 15
Madden NFL 25
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Metro 2033 Redux
Metro: Last Light Redux
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Mortal Kombat X
Murdered: Soul Suspect
NBA Live 14
NBA Live 15
Need for Speed Rivals
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty
Ori and the Blind Forest
Pier Solar and the Great Architects
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare
Pneuma: Breath of Life
Pool Nation FX
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015
R.B.I. Baseball 14
R.B.I. Baseball 15
Rabbids Invasion: The Interactive TV Show
Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 1
Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2
Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 3
Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 4
Ryse: Son of Rome
Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
Saints Row: Gat out of Hell
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
Sixty Second Shooter Prime
Skylanders: SWAP Force
Skylanders: Trap Team
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Sniper Elite III
State of Decay: Year-One
Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones
Stick it to the Man!
Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut
Styx: Master of Shadows
Super Time Force
Tales from the Borderlands - Episode 1: Zer0 Sum
Tales from the Borderlands - Episode 2: Atlas Mugged
Thomas Was Alone
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Tower of Guns
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Volgarr the Viking
The Walking Dead: Season One
The Walking Dead Season Two
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate
The Wolf Among Us
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Zombie Army Trilogy
Zombie Driver Ultimate Edition
Zumba Fitness: World Party
From MB to GB With the rise of digital distribution, hard drive constraints are becoming more problematic than ever. It's never fun purchasing a game only to find out you don't actually have space for it.
Here is a constantly-updated list ... read feature
Apr 28 //
Chris Carter [embed]290962:58324:0[/embed]
Unlocking the Battletoads is as simple as following the exact same unlock method for Kratos in the PSN version of the game. Just follow my instructions here or watch the recap video above and you're good to go. Now, onto the fight.
My God, I was not prepared for this. I thought it was just going to be a single battle with Rash, Zitz, and Pimple, but it's so much more than that. It's a three-tiered adventure that takes you through multiple elements of the classic NES game, including, yes, that infamous underground racing section. Oh, and it has a tiny little hub zone that you can return to in addition to an armor reward.
I mean, Yacht Club Games just went above and beyond with this Battletoads cameo. Kratos was a cool fight that paid proper homage to the character but it was over very quickly. Having these dudes linger here like they're part of the game's world is amazing. You can go back and chill with them, enjoy a few Easter eggs, or replay a minigame!
Unfortunately, it's tough to recommend the Xbox One version over the PSN one overall due to the fact that the latter hosts Cross-Buy and Cross-Save functionality. You're literally buying three games for the price of one on Sony platforms, which Microsoft can't really compete with at the moment unless they really kick it into gear with Windows 10. Still, this is basically the same exact game, so it does top the Wii U, 3DS, and PC editions due to the new ass-kickin' Battletoads boss battle.
Maybe Nintendo can get a Fire Emblem character involved? Who knows, but seeing as how Sony and even Microsoft were willing, it would be disappointing to see them go silent on the matter.
Watch it here Shovel Knight is the gift that keeps on giving. It was already pretty loaded for a digital release, packed with secrets and replayability, but Yacht Club Games has been busy with other stuff too. For starters, the PSN ve... read feature
Apr 28 //
"It seems like there's been so many people talking about adventure games, people crowdfunding new adventure games," recalled Tim Schafer, the founder of Double Fine Productions and game director on Broken Age. "It's just that everyone felt that it's okay to talk about it again. We don't have to talk about it like a dead genre anymore, people just throw that word around casually, like 'Oh, you're doing an adventure game?' -- it's become normalized now."
With the renewed interest for adventure games in recent years, there's never been a better time to become invested in the once-dormant genre. There was a time when adventure titles were common, and full of optimism, but with a steep decline after the '90s, traditional point-and-click games seemed to have gone by the wayside. But recently, these games have seen a reawakening, thanks in part to developers like Telltale Games and Double Fine outputting a steady flow of titles. And with titles spread across so many platforms (including mobile), they're now more accessible than ever.
The development of Broken Age, which is easily the studio's highest-profile project, has been a unique case to watch. Tim Schafer and the team aimed to create a title that was a true throwback to classic LucasArts titles like Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Grim Fandango -- while also taking advantage of today's technology to illustrate visually vibrant and diverse worlds to explore. With the pretty positive reception the first act received last year, people have been anxious to get their on the final part of the game.
During my session, I had some time to play the PlayStation 4 version of Broken Age along with Tim Schafer. Though I went in mostly blind, as I opted to wait until the full release was ready to play, I still had a wonderful time experiencing it this way. It felt great with the PS4 on a big screen, and adding to this was a sense of playing with a community that chimed in with thoughts and helped with clues for puzzles. It really added to the fun. Schafer hopes that players who've already cleared Act I will start from scratch now that Act II is out, as he believes many of the references and characters from the first half of the game may have been forgotten by players by now.
Though the developers have launched other titles during the three years of Broken Age's development -- such as Grim Fandango Remastered, Costume Quest II, The Cave, and the beta for their second crowdfunded project, Massive Chalice -- firm interest has still been kept on their work for Broken Age. And with good reason. I mean, how many other games in active development have a film crew following them around recording all their successes and missteps for the masses to see?
While they had the challenges of their own project to manage, they also had to deal with the high-profile nature of it following the success of the funding campaign. With everyone watching, the developers wanted to ensure they'd knock it out of the park with the completed title and not only live up to expectations but also to set a good example for the future of crowdfunded titles. Because whether they wanted to or not, they essentially became the people to follow and emulate.
"We were like, 'We can't obviously walk away from [the Kickstarter project], we made a commitment to fans and to our backers," said the director of Broken Age. "It did feel like the beginning of something, and it did feel like the responsibility to not mess it up, because our game, our studio, and other people's games kind of were depending on it now, and if done well could lead to a whole bunch of things being funded, that couldn't have been funded otherwise. So we definitely felt like there was a lot riding on our shoulders, but we would've stuck with it anyway, because we always finish our games."
The success of the Kickstarter certainly felt like a watershed moment for many. During my interview with Brian Fargo last year for Wasteland 2, the success of Double Fine's project sparked a lot of enthusiasm among many of the "old-school" designers looking to explore forgotten genres and franchises. In our chat, Fargo spoke about trust being the cornerstone of the relationship between developers and their community. And I definitely got a sense of that from my visit to Double Fine. There was not only a clear respect for the genre that many of the developers were returning to, but also for the many of backers and fans who have contributed to the title as well.
For better or worse, however, the level of transparency has also contributed to scrutiny over the project. While there have been many successes with crowdfunding over the years, there are also many projects that missed the mark, or outright failed to deliver. During our talk, I felt that Schafer was humbled by the process, and even spoke honestly about their own stumbles with limiting content and details to backers only, leaving everyone else out of the loop. One of the important things they wanted viewers of the documentary to see is what exactly the process is like for game creation -- to give them an understanding of the challenges they often faced.
"A lot of people make games, and they care so much about what they make," he said while discussing the challenges of development. "There are so many hard tradeoffs they have to make, there are features in the game they wanted but couldn't because there are these other things they wanted even more, and I want everyone to see that process, because I do think that when you ship a game everything you see in it is an active choice by someone, and it is, but sometimes it's a miracle the game got done. [...] I don't know if they need to think about that stuff, but I like to know that at least some people out there know how hard people work, how amazingly difficult or complicated problems are solved everyday, and all the choices they have to make while making a videogame."
This definitely struck a chord with me. I'm inclined to think that there are many gamers out there who are unfamiliar with the actual process of game development, and assume many features and key aspects of development can be added in and removed as if they were text on a document. It felt very refreshing to see so much openness about game creation. Though that may be in part to due to the needs of transparency for operating a crowdfunded project, I found that it helped to not only give the developers their own chance to tell their side of the story, but also to humanize the actual process of game creation.
While the added publicity of their project added pressure to make sure they did right by fans, it was the kind of pressure they were more than familiar with during their time on past titles from the LucasArts era and in recent years at Double Fine. Over the years, they've developed games that inspire a lot of love and respect from fans, and making sure they deliver was something that kept them on track.
"It's definitely pleasurable to succeed and fulfill all those promises, and anyone who's kinda hoping we would fail, it's nice to hear their quiet tears in the night. If you listen quietly you can hear them cry into the night," Schafer said while joking about the messages they get from cynical commentators. "But we always have this pressure of trying to do things that the fans would like anyway, now that the fans are actually funding the game, so it's the same group. But you put that kid of pressure on you anyway so you'd make a good game."
With the complete Broken Age experience available now, this marks the end of a long and unique development period for the studio. Though it has still got another crowdfunded title in the wings, its first is now out in the wild, ready to be experienced by fans and newcomers alike. But as we've seen in the years since Double Fine's success on Kickstarter, there's no shortage of campaigns looking to reignite the same fire that only a few projects can attain. Schafer definitely believes the future is bright for crowdfunded titles.
"I think crowdfunding is here to stay," said a confident Schafer. "I think when people realized you could get organized and make things happen that couldn't be made by the old gate-keeper system, I think that'll always be the case. [...] Basically I think things always go crazy on Kickstarter when there's a great story. I think we had a good story that was new, and also people were saying 'Here's this thing we wanted to happen for a while.' Like this new adventure game, and it hasn't happened, but we could fix that and make it ourselves -- and that's really powerful."
"But there are a lot of other different kinds of stories, besides old-timers like me going back and doing the genre again. Just people doing projects no one has ever thought of before, but instantly want to happen, I think there'll be these spikes whenever that happens and continue to be more popular. I mean the things about crowdfunding will change and improve, but I don't think it'll ever go away."
A good story is important. Whether it comes from a struggling developer looking to strike out on its own with a project that was rejected by countless publishers, or from a group of veteran creators seeking to return to a classic franchise all while doing it their way -- crowdfunding has inspired a lot of people with an idea to put themselves out there and hope to find others who share their vision, and to ultimately realize it. And with Broken Age out now, we're approaching the end of another story from the folks at Double Fine Productions.
But as the genre goes, there are always more adventures to be had. It's not often you get to be a part of the revival of a once-dead genre that inspired many to create their own titles, bond with friends and family over the complexity of puzzles, or get caught up in heated debates about what the real ending is for contentious titles. As the name of the genre states, an adventure is an exciting and hazardous journey into the unknown, and the developers of Broken Age experienced just that with their first foray into crowdfunded game development.
Regardless of how you feel about Broken Age as a whole, or whether the developers at Double Fine made the right choices, it's hard to deny that it all made for one of the most interesting development periods for a game in years. Whether you view Double Fine Productions as the underdog or not, it still made for an engaging story. And aren't those the ones worth telling?
Everyone loves a good story Who could forget the great Kickstarter boom of 2012? You remember, right? Out of nowhere, this website called Kickstarter suddenly became a focal point for established developers and indies looking to crowdfund the next big t... read feature
Apr 28 //
Steven Hansen The two also talked new features that will make it in Final Fantasy XV, including difficulty options. The more action-oriented style seems to have fans clamoring for an easier setting. Voice acting will be improved, too, as the demo's acting represents non-final dialogue (Noctis will sound less like Batman). The sexy mechanic Cid, however, will stay sexy. "She's actually not meant to be an erotic character," Tabata said, explaining that her cleavage represents her "energetic...cheerful, and active character." He was also perplexed by the "too sexy" complaints, which mostly came from Europe, combined with the desire for a female party member, again hitting up the "bro-trip, men can't be themselves around women" excuse that sort of flies in the face of series history.
Other little changes are already promised or underway. A mini-map will be added with enemy radar now being considered additionally. You'll be able to evade and cancel out of most attacks. You were meant to be able to warp outside of battle, but the team hasn't been able to implement it without bugs (and might not be able to).
So, if it wasn't obvious, Final Fantasy XV is still a work in progress. This is where we loop back to the headline and note that the game will have a short trailer at E3, but "the promotion for the main title will officially begin at Gamescom" in August, a month ahead of the Tokyo Game Show.
Final Fantasy XV feedback live stream full report: Episode Duscae 2.0 coming mid-May [Gematsu]
Demo gets camera, combat and targeting tweaks, main game gets difficulty settings
Ok. Final Fantasy XV isn't skipping E3. It'll only pay lip service, though.
The above Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report, which is helpfully subtitled in English, sees director Hajime Tabata and marketing manager Akio Ofuji... read feature
No more April/May window Development for Mighty No. 9 was coming along nicely earlier this year. We got a look at a bunch of levels, and developer Comcept noted that they were "basically done" recently -- they just needed to figure out how to la... read feature
'...it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing' Earlier today, Bethesda tried to justify its decision to let people charge money for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim mods on Steam, but it was just the latest in a string of failed attempts at damage control. Now there's word fro... read feature
Apr 27 //
Westerado: Double Barreled (PC)Developer: Ostrich Banditos Publisher: Adult Swim Games Released: April 16, 2015MSRP: $14.99
It starts like any normal day, waking up to help your family take care of the ranch, rounding up some buffalo back to their pen. The night sky glows orange in the distance while returning home, a strange sight for the west. The glow soon becomes embers as you realize your family ranch is ablaze, blood is strewn about the ground, your mother is slaughtered and your brother is fatally wounded. Your brother doesn't have much information about who did this, but he does give you one single clue, information about the killers clothing. He gurgles blood as he asks for you to end his suffering, you cock your gun, as tears stream down your face you pull the trigger.
The beginning of Westerado is one of the strongest openings of a game I've ever played, and gives the player a real sense of purpose, revenge. The universe Westerado takes place in is easily recognizable: A western with cowboys, a quest for vengeance, a bank, an oil man, a saloon with strong female characters in tow; this is a spaghetti western. Dialog for characters is written in a south western dialect that makes anyone feel like a real life cowboy when reading it aloud. A film strip overlay is shown behind characters as they converse, just one of many indications found throughout Westerado that indicate it takes place on a film set. All this overlayed with a wonderful soundtrack that would feel at home in any western flick.
Searching for the murderer entails wandering from town to town, through deserts and mines while talking to characters along the way. Conversations with characters often times lead to jobs. Jobs range from defending a ranch from bandits, to forcing a drunkard husband to leave the saloon at gunpoint, to sexing up "Miss Tress" a local promiscuous female. The variety of quests is refreshing, as each one is unique from the others. Upon completing these jobs characters reveal more information about the murderer, specifically what they are wearing. Clues are collected for you in a handy dandy notebook, which includes a wanted poster showing the murderer as described by clues.
Jobs aren't completed with just walking and talking as you'll be using your six shooter to leave a trail of bodies on your quest for vengeance. Equipped with infinite ammo, the six shooter is drawn by pressing a bumper button, the hammer is cocked with one press of the right trigger and then fired with a second press. Reloading is done manually one bullet at a time with the left trigger. The controls feel like you're holding an actual six shooter. Aiming, on the other hand, takes some getting used to. Your gun fires in a straight line from the barrel, which works mechanically but seems odd when the game is presented in three dimensional space, but after a few gunfights it will be second nature.
Westerado can be played with a co-op partner, with any of the four characters that can be unlocked through multiple playthroughs. Every time you play you'll have a different murderer to gather clues on and locate, though the only things that change are clothing or gender, and the map stays the same. While having a randomly generated map could have been a better choice, it is a minor gripe for an otherwise near flawless game.
Rarely do I sit down to play a game, finish it and instantly start a new playthrough; this is one of those games. Westerado is a great package with lots of replayability and can easily be recommended for fans of westerns or revenge flicks. No other experience that I've played has done revenge so well. If you've been hankerin' for a trip to the wild west saddle up and hang onto your hat, Westerado: Double Barreled is a dern tootin' good time.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Yee-haw! Giddy up! Yip! Yip! Do you like spaghetti westerns with charm, humor, hammy accents and over the top violence? How about revenge flicks, video games with retro style graphics? Do you like fun? Are you breathing oxygen?
Well then partner ya... read feature
Apr 27 //
I spent way too much time looking at screens like this.
City of Heroes probably holds the dubious distinction of having the most skewed relationship in terms of “time spent planning characters VS time spent playing characters” in my life. I spent entire nights pouring over different power sets, ability combinations, and team synergies for a game that doesn't exist anymore. I devoted hours upon hours to figuring out the perfect stat progression for super villains that I knew in my heart of hearts I'd never take out of the starter area. The only crime they'd ever commit would be loitering.
However, City of Heroes wasn't the only game to trigger this kind of obsessive cataloging, not by a long shot. I have a stack of character builds and ideas as thick as the Yellow Pages for Dark Souls PvP set-ups, gimmicky X-Com squads, and Darkest Dungeon dream teams. I have concept characters (complete with embarrassing back stories) sketched out for both of the modern Fallout games. All of their would-be perks, S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats, and fashionable item accessories already plotted out -- all that’s left would be to actually wander out in the wastes and find them, but who could be bothered after so much work?
This goes way back, long before I had easy access to the internet where character planners and clever apps make it simple to plot these things out. Go back to the Precambrian era of high school days, dig through the fossil records of my notebooks and I'm sure you could find Diablo 2 skill trees scribbled in the margins of my English homework. The cave wall painting blueprints of a Hammerdin specced holy warrior looming above my predictable observations about MacBeth (probably, hopefully, accompanied by a cool doodle of a flying hammer crushing a zombie's skull).
When I step back and look at the sheer amount of go-nowhere ideas and try to tally up the time I've sunk into them compared to the relatively meager hours I've clocked into some of the games they're for, it dawns on me -- maybe this is kind of messed up. Maybe I've been living all wrong.
Looking at it from a distance, it all seems quietly sad. I've spent more time in my head with some of these games (some of my favorite games, I might add) than I have playing them. There's a small critical voice in the back of my mind that is furious with me for squandering those hours, for not doing something more productive with the time -- both in the sense of actually playing the fucking games, and in the broader and more judgmental “what are you doing with your life?!” sense.
I have perfectly good reasons (or maybe I should call them “justifications”) for all the obsessive plotting and scheming. For one thing, there are just too many cool ideas out there and not enough time to see them through. For as much as I beat myself up for the papery death of my stillborn characters, I never really would have had the time to convert those dreams into reality even if I had the work ethic of John Henry.
How long does a full play through of Diablo 2 take anyway? How many trips through Hell do you need to make to grind through the necessary experience points? If you're after a certain item set (and you know you are because you're the kind of crazy person who didn't stop reading three paragraphs ago) you'd probably need to go online to trade and wheedle your way into a full set to see it done. It's a hell of a lot more of a time investment than goofing off in English class, that's for sure. Sketching out those ideas for gimmicky Paladins and upstart Mages let me stave off the temptation to roll another character while I took my (unfortunately less imaginative) Barbarian to kick the shit out of the Prince of Lies. In a weird (insincere) way, I could even argue it helped me save time.
Besides, an immaculately planned character can be satisfying in its own right. It's always good to get your intellectual hands dirty, to put your fingers into the putty of an idea, to roll it around and shape it. As far as pastimes go, you could do worse. Let's not forget all the situations where actually playing a game would be impractical. You can goof off a little at the office and play around with the Borderlands skill editor without causing much of a scene. But try and boot up your lv 30 Gunzerker at your desk just once and you'll never hear the end of it. Human Resources takes a dim view on bringing akimbo guns blazing justice to the wasteland during company hours, apparently.
Still, I look at the swollen and poorly organized folder where I dump all of my character ideas, filthy with PDF character sheets, webpage saves from online builders, .txt documents imported from PC to PC for games I'm not even sure I own anymore, and I wonder if I have a problem. I can justify all the characters I cooked up sitting in class or during lunch breaks? I know I spent just as many perfectly fine nights sitting in front of the same machine that actually displays and runs the games I was thinking about, tapping away at some poorly conceived concept character while utterly ignoring the game itself.
At the same time though, I love those characters, I love those ideas. Yeah, most of them never made it out of the gate, but those characters had character. If videogames are mostly an exercise in mental stimulation, of burning off stressed out braincells and decompressing after a long shitty day, does it really matter if the satisfaction you get from them is through play or by tinkering with the ideas they present?
If I could swap those hours around, gut about a quarter of that folder and take the time spent on the fantasizing about those ideas to actually playing out a few of them, would I be more satisfied? Or would it shake out to be about the same? I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that while writing this article, I did have an idea for another Dark Souls 2 character, and it's been all I could do to keep myself from drifting over to a wiki to start putting him together. There may be no hope for me.
I'm the man with the plan (and little else) I've probably spent more time creating characters, builds, and dreaming up party compositions in my head than I have actually playing games. It seems odd to think of it in that way, but if I could somehow tally it all up I be... read feature
Apr 27 //
Shadowrun Chronicles - Boston Lockdown (PC) Developer: Cliffhanger ProductionsPublisher: Nordic GamesReleased: April 28, 2015MSRP: $39.99
As a quick crash course on the story, "Shadowrun" literally refers to the act of carrying out plans which are "illegal or quasi-legal." You'll have plenty of chances to engage in said debauchery, as the world has gone through an "Awakening" 65 years before Lockdown, which takes place in 2076. Magic has returned to the world, dwarves, elves, orcs, and trolls are a thing -- oh, and dragons too. Returns took place in Seattle, Dragonfall was in Germany, and this is in Boston. Got it?
Action will take place in an isometric strategic format very similar to the XCOM series. Using a classic mouse and keyboard setup, you'll have two maximum movement grids, the second layer of which will allow you to "sprint," and immediately end your turn. The first threshold will still allow you to attack, use a skill, or interact with the environment accordingly.
Gameplay is all about positioning and outflanking your opponent, as well as placing emphasis on a risk-reward melee mechanic. For the most part you'll want to conservatively duck into various bits of cover, but since hand-to-hand attacks always result in a higher damage output, there's the chance to get up close and personal. It's all very functional, but to be frank, that's about as technical as the game gets.
As you progress and earn more skills, you'll have the opportunity to delve into various trees and specialize in something that's more your style. Beyond your typical passive bonuses (Mind, Body) there's weapon-centric trees (blades, blunt, pistols, shotguns, automatics), summoning, spellcasting, hacking, and rigging -- the latter of which is more like a "gearhead" conceit.
You don't need to hole-up into just one role (although you likely will at first), as you're free to distribute your skills as you see fit. Personally, I went with the automatic rifle route combined with a touch of summoning. Your basic summon includes a spirit bear, which can maul or stun enemies as its own autonomous unit -- it's really cool, but later skills are often less memorable or endearing as more progress is made. With 11 trees that feature anywhere from 13 to 20 skills each, there's a decent amount of options available, but since a lot of those double-up as "advanced" versions, there's not as much variation as I would have hoped.
This is by design, as Cliffhanger Productions has stated that it wanted a more streamlined approach with Lockdown. I'd say that with some sacrifices the studio has achieved that goal (for instance, actual statistical changes for different backgrounds and races are marginal at best), but missions often lack that spark often found in other genre staples.
Most runs are predicated on simplistic kill orders, which often result in a simple flank with a series of firefights. There's very little room for nuance when most of the weaponry effectively feels the same. The script also doesn't feel as poignant as Hairbrained Schemes' titles, and although there aren't a lot of glaring problems with it, it's tough to truly resonate with Lockdown's world beyond the occasional Red Sox reference.
Your gameplay loop precedes as follows: a hub world visit to grab a mission, running said mission, returning to the hub to upgrade, and so on. There's no looming open overworld, no MMO-like exploration -- the hub is one small Boston neighborhood, with a taxi that takes you to each stage, an instance across the city. Along the way you'll earn cash to buy new weapons, armor, and augmentations, and karma nets you more skills -- that's all you need to know. It's a rather confining means of play, but it works, as the almighty call of upgrades and loot is just as powerful as it is anywhere else.
So about that former "Online" moniker -- the first thing I noticed as soon as I booted up Boston Lockdown was the chat function. Nearly every avatar looks different due to the heavy amount of cosmetic options, which range from tattoos to visors that would make Geordi La Forge jealous. Even in the tutorial you're privy to a gathering of players, some of which are looking to help out new players, and others advertising their HP and gear to find a more professional-oriented group.
The entire interface has been vastly improved from its former Early Access state, as players can simply click on someone's name or their avatar in the hub world to form a group. Friending people is also as easy as sending a request, and the UI itself is very clean, completely devoid of clutter. Players who enjoy a breadth of options are likely going to be disappointed, as Boston Lockdown only allows you to tweak your resolution (up to 1920x1080), fullscreen (with no full-windowed option), a few mouse scrolling variations, and volume control. That's about it.
Dedicated Shadowrun fans will likely be disappointed at the lack of depth, and your mileage may vary in terms of the appeal of the multiplayer function, which seemingly took over some of the other more endearing aspects of the series. If you haven't played a game in the series since the SNES however, Boston Lockdown is a decent starting point, and a perfect way to re-acclimate yourself to the genre with friends. If you prefer to fly solo, just go with Shadowrun Returns instead.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Not featuring Boston's Favorite Son In case you haven't noticed, Shadowrun has been making a comeback lately. With Harebrained Schemes' Shadowrun Returns in 2013 and the subsequent Dragonfall follow-up, the series has enjoyed triumphant return to... read feature