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David Houghton

A Guide To Recognizing Your Gamers

Apr 20 // David Houghton
#1 – The Back-Seat Gamer  Behavior “No! Leave that! Go that way! Kill that guy! Circle strafe, circle strafe! Jumpjumpjumpjumpjump! Chainsaw, chainsaw! Rocket launcher on the guy at the back! NOOOOOOOO! Told you you shouldn’t have done that. My go.” Think you’re a good gamer? Forget those aspirations my friend. You are not as good as this guy. He is at one with the games, symbiotically tuned with them in body and mind. He sees all, he knows all, and he will pre-empt any AI script created. Every map of every level of every game is seared into the very matter of his brain, and he can walk any section by simply closing his eyes and recalling his surroundings down to the pixel. There are no surprises. There are no challenges. He laughs at player’s guides and devours opponents by the crunching meaty handful. He is, quite simply, unstoppable. In his mind that is … You see unless he’s actually playing, this guy knows everything. In theory he can destroy any game, rendering it to a small quivering puddle of blackening disc plastic by his sheer presence. In theory he’s the guy you want, no, need on your side. In theory, he skips straight to the most punishing difficulty level on a new game and burns through it in no time with his legendary gaming insight and lightning-fast precision skills. In theory … In practice however, the only recorded noise in human history louder than his militant bestowing of “advice” and proclamations of his gaming qualifications is the sound of the servers emptying whenever he enters a lobby. You see, the simple fact is, he’s not actually that good … Oh of course, he can talk a good game. Some of his aspirations of game knowledge are probably even plausible. He’ll have played enough to learn level layouts, know where the power ups and weapons are hidden, and understand exactly where you’re supposed to hit the boss. That doesn’t however, mean that he can actually do it. Thus, he will make up for his shortcomings (again, in his mind) by making sure that you know he could do it. Oh sweet Ghandi on a hover-board, he’ll make sure you know. Every move you make, you can bet he’ll be watching you like a video gaming overlord Sting, correcting you every time you move a pixel off the exact course he would have used. Change weapons or power up a second after he recommends it and you’re playing the game wrong and will fail. Achieve the miracle of success without following his instructions however, and well, you can do it that way, but you’re supposed to. This is the reason people online know him and fear him. There’s no avoiding it if you have the miserable, Dickensian street-orphan’s luck to end up in a game with him. Whether co-op or versus, he’ll be the same. Whether commanding the team or merely controlling an underling, it doesn’t matter. He’ll let you know where you’re going wrong (and you will be going wrong, don’t doubt that for a second) for every step of the miserable, grinding, teeth-gritting, face-bursting, hernia-inducing, mind-raping, sanity-haemorrhaging way. And that’s nothing compared to the supernova of aural abuse you’ll suffer if his team loses. Which it probably will, as by that point his comrades will have thrown the match just for the spectacularly horrific comedy of seeing him go into meltdown. Games PlayedAnything. It doesn’t matter. He’s better than you at all of them. How To Deal With Them If you’re playing anything, from Solitaire to Gears Of War, it’s best to be out of visual and sonic range of a back-seat gamer. Preferably in another room. Or another house. Country even. Actually screw it, if at all possible, you should endeavour to be in a totally different area of the space-time continuum to any back-seat gamer. It seriously is worth travelling in time to avoid these people. And never play them at co-op anything, least of all FPS, as that way lies only Lovecraftian madness and despair. You’ll make it through three minutes of play at most before you end up shooting them. With an actual gun. You’ll go and buy a really big one specially, trust me. #2 - The Closet Gamer  BehaviorA tragically repressed game lover, the closet gamer has not come to terms with the modern, accepting gaming climate. It’s probably not their fault. Maybe they weren’t lucky enough to grow up with a supportive gaming crew around them. Maybe they were forced to spend their younger developmental years trying to fit in with an unsympathetic crowd, and had to hide their true urges by mocking the school geeks at lunch time. Or perhaps they had over-protective parents who fell victim to the tabloid hysteria of the early ‘90’s, and were beaten senseless with warnings of social ostracising and the deadly gaming-transmitted diseases of psychosis and epilepsy. Whatever the reason, the closet gamer is a troubled self-hater, constantly struggling with his or her inner desires to break out into open gaming, for fear of the recrimination of a cold, cold society that just doesn’t understand. I have a friend like this. His is a sad story, but it needs to be told, if only for the hope that it will help others in his situation. He’s been game-curious for years, having the occasional quiet dabble in casual games when they were presented to him, but never allowing himself to be seen actively seeking them out. He’s always loved a bit of Tetris or a quick blast of Street Fighter II, but he’s never owned a console. However a couple of years ago while he was at university, his guard slipped and his true nature started to show itself for the first time. Living in a house with an N64-owning friend, Mario Kart 64 became his gateway game and things began to change for him. Of course at the time, he passed it off as a mere temporary phase, a bit of harmless experimentation with an accessible party game. He was just trying it out to see what it was like, and of course, it didn’t mean he was a gamer. Over the course of the year however, the inner depths of the game began to take hold, and something inside him began to stir. His hardcore side slowly but steadily awakened, and after a prolonged diet of daily binges he was talking about power slide physics and correct item usage like a pro. Though he still wouldn’t admit to anything.It all came to a head last Summer. His parents were away and he had the familial home to himself, so he invited me round for the evening. However what he proposed shocked me. “Come around, bring the SNES, and we’ll get drunk and stay up all night completing Mario World”This was unprecedented behaviour for him. Maybe it was the opportunity of being safely alone in his own house, away from the prying judgemental eyes of his university friends, and maybe the planned heavy drinking was his way of building up the courage to go through with it. Whatever the reason, it was clear that this could well be the night of his outing, and if it was going to happen, he’d need a sympathetic guide to help him through the process. Obviously, I deigned to be the friend he needed. Everything went brilliantly. After a couple of beers, his inhibitions dropped quickly, and in no time at all we were ploughing through the first island. By 3AM we were well into the Vanilla Dome with all secrets unlocked, and a whole new world was opening up for him. His future life looked to be one of well-adjusted self-acceptance and healthy, peaceful happiness. The next morning however, it was a different story. With sobriety and the cold light of day came his previous guilt and repression, worse tenfold now following our nocturnal activities. I don’t mind telling you it was an awkward morning. He couldn’t even look me in the eye for the first few hours, and even later in the day conversation was stilted at best. Still clearly trying to come to terms with the events of the previous night, he’d fallen back on his safe-zone of denial rather than embracing who he is, and my disappointment for him was crushing. Things are getting better now, and we are talking again, but it just isn’t the same. I still have hope for his future happiness though. I’m currently using the casual fun of the Wii and DS to get him back on the horse, and the news that his new housemate is buying a 360 has warmed my heart. A bit of experimental co-op over Live, taken at whatever pace he’s comfortable with, and hopefully we’ll start seeing some progress. Games PlayedAnything casual and quick, and easy to hide if interrupted. The odd bit of Tetris or Minesweeper at work is okay “just to unwind”, and retro games give them the excuse that they’re “just laughing at the graphics”. The advent of the DS is a major help for these people, given how quickly it can be closed and pocketed in standby mode should prying eyes arrive. How To Deal With ThemDon’t push them. Try to subtly bring them into more overt gaming over time, but do it with games and a pace that they feel okay with. Too much too fast and they’ll retreat into their shell faster than an agoraphobic snail at a rave. And never use leet-speak around them. Simply being in the presence of someone who uses the word “owned” will sent them spiralling down into more counselling sessions than anyone can afford. They’re not going to be ready for that kind of heavy exposure to the hidden world they crave for a good long time, so don’t rush them. -- Next week: Chavs!  (view all chapters)
Recognizing Gamers photo
Told you you shouldn't have done that. My go
[Originally published in 2007, one of my favorites from Destructoid's Golden Archives! -Niero] It used to be a lot easier to stereotype a gamer. It used to be that all that was needed was some greasy hair, thick glasses, and ...

David is leaving Destructoid, let him give you some swag before he does

Nov 11 // David Houghton
1st prize 2x Rock Band hats2x Rock Band t-shirts3x Rock Band key straps1x Dead Island t-shirt1x Warhound t-shirt1x Dead Island key strap1x Warhound key strap 1x Nyko Intercooler EX for Xbox 3601x PlayStation 3 key chain1x copy of RF Online1x copy of Archlord1x strange German WiFi booster thing. At least that's what I think it is. The box is all in German. 2nd prize1x Rock Band hat3x Rock Band key straps2x Rock Band t-shirts1x England football team hat1x Clive Barker's Jericho t-shirt1x PlayStation 3 keychain1x trial copy of Lord Of The Rings online 1x Codemasters Online Gaming mouse mat 1x The Witcher temprary tattoo3rd prize 1x Rock Band t-shirt 1x Rock Band hat 3x Rock Band key strap1x Sensible Soccer 2006 t-shirt1x PlayStation 3 key chain1x The Witcher temporary tattoo1x copy of Schnappi Das Kleine Krokodil. God knows what this is, but it apparently includes 3 games and involves a crocodile, and as we all know, crocodiles and 'gators are f*cking cool. So what do you need to do to get your hands on some of this stuff? Simple. Just do something funny or cool with a picture of me. I give you free reign to do whatever you like as long as it stays pretty much SFW, and you can use any image of me you find around this site. Add captions to pre-existing pictures, photoshop new ones together, take screen grabs from the videos, do anything you want. Go crazy and make us laugh, and the top three selected by the staff will win the above prizes. You've got until the 25th of November to post your entries, which must be posted using bbcode in the comments section of this story. If you're stuck for images to use, these three stories are a good start, and I've attached a few more random ones I've found about my laptop as well. 
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Yes, it's true. After what has been in all honesty the single best year of my life by a very long way, I'm having to leave the Destructoid staff, as I've been offered a new job in journalism which is pulling me away from the ...

Destructoid interview: Redspot Games on refusing to leave the Dreamcast for dead

Nov 11 // David Houghton
Destructoid: So how did the whole thing start? Max: Well in 2003 we established Dreamcast-Scene as a web site. There were already sites around like DCEmulation, but we felt like "Okay, there's this whole emulation thing, but there really has to be a site about the whole history of the Dreamcast." We needed some kind of Wikipedia for the Dreamcast. So we started the project with software similar to what they use on Wikipedia and started writing articles, and it grew and grew. Many people came to the community and also put their own thoughts into it, and at the end of a year we had contact with Sega Germany - I'd had contact with them before, because I was an editor for various German videogame magazines. They were like "Okay, that's cool. Why don't you use the Dreamcast.de domain?" They also offered us the Dreamcast.jp domain, so we used them for different languages. We now have six different languages and everyone translates the articles into different languages. And then it grew and grew and grew and then it was the biggest. [Laughs]Right after it started it was only a web site with the history and the news, but now we have new goals like helping small developers or individuals who'd like to do something on the Dreamcast but don't have the necessary hardware. Nicky: We like to guide them and show them how they can do this and that, and give them a little bit of help. Max: The whole scene should be around one place and sharing its ideas. And money if they need money. And hardware. The basic idea was to find a place to have everything for a Dreamcast scene available. Destructoid: There is such a strong community around the machine and people are still so passionate about it. It just makes sense to keep them all together. Max: Yeah, exactly. In the end we recognized that we can't bring everyone together, but we wanted to make a basic ground for the whole scene. There's a very big scene in Spain and in France but they both have their own communities, and to navigate Dreamcast-Scene you have to have basic English. I think many Spanish people don't like Dreamcast-Scene as much as DCiberia.net, because that's in their native language. Of course we recognize that we can't bring everyone together, but we want a basic ground where we can support everyone from the whole scene with everything they need. Even money. Destructoid: So have Sega been fairly supportive of the whole thing? Max: They were like "Okay, that's cool, that's fine." We don't deal with Sega Japan because they don't care any more. It's not their concern right now because they have to bring money back into the company and grow with their software titles, not the hardware. We contacted Sega Japan and they never had much interest. Not in a positive way, but not in a negative way either, which I can understand. Destructoid: How many titles have you got out at the moment? Max: Well, you have to remember there are two different things. There's Redspot Games and there's Dreamcast-Scene. Dreamcast-Scene is the whole non-commercial thing and Redspot Games is a young company from Munich. Our main goal is to bring software titles to classic platforms with classic gameplay. We started three years ago, but in February this year we released Last Hope for the Dreamcast. We're going to release some other Dreamcast titles as well as a GP2X title, and maybe we'll have a Nintendo DS license very soon. We have two new Dreamcast titles on the booth this year. The first one is Dalforce, programmed by some guys from the UK. Nicky: The main thing was done by just one guy and the music was done by another guy. Max: DJ Sasha? Yes, he did the soundtrack for Dalforce. We Googled his name and looked on Wikipedia and it was like "Oh my god!" He was in second or third place in the UK chart and he was world famous. Destructoid: Did he contact you about that? Max: No, that came from the original developer. Dalforce grew out from another project which was shareware on the PC. They used it for the groundwork of Dalforce, but it now has new levels, new sprites, new effects... Everything looks like new and feels like new, but it came from that original idea. And the other one is Wind And Water Puzzle Battle. It's a classic puzzle game, but it also has a lot of other stuff working around the puzzle game, because we have about forty mini-games. There's a classic Outrun style game for example, and it's all embedded in the gameplay. There's also a story mode with a map like in Super Mario World, where we have one hundred different stages and you have to battle with characters based on the original developers. They've all got their own sprites and they're all like "Hey, I created this game. I'm going to kick your ass." The whole game's very funny and the whole story mode is all about making fun of ourselves. We've had very very good feedback. People have been saying "Oh my god, it looks like a Nintendo DS title, if not better". It'll be coming out for the GP2X by the end of this year and for the Dreamcast next year. We wanted to have it as a kind of prestige title for us, to say "Hey, we can not only make shareware-looking games, we can make games with a lot of content that are a lot of fun, and that are high quality, just using the old styles."Some GP2X fanboys have been looking at it and saying [squealing fanboy voice] "Wow! Great! Awesome title!", and we were like "Yeah, it's only the second commercial game on the GP2X so it has to be at least the second best. [laughs]Lukas: You've got to put that on the box. All: Second best game ever! [Laughter]Destructoid: So how are you supplying the games? Is it all going through the Redspot Web site, or have you got separate distribution? Max: Well for the Dreamcast we took a trip over to Japan and Hong Kong to look for distribution partners for the Asian market, and we found two wholesalers in Japan and one in Hong Kong. They distributed it very very well. In Chibuya in Tokyo in fact, we have even found some gamer stations with Last Hope in them, so they're selling it in the stores as well as on the internet. In Europe it's a bit different, because in Europe the Dreamcast is more dead. I don't like that word, but it is more commercially dead. So the main problem we have in Europe is that we can't give it to wholesalers, because they'd be like "What the hell?". We've actually been contacting the retailers. We've been phoning but it's like "Hello, we're Redspot Games, sell our stuff? Oh no? Okay, thanks a lot." So we have only a few contacts in Europe. About the best thing to do in Europe is to order it from Play-Asia. [laughs] We're working on it for when we release the first Nintendo DS title. I've had business negotiations at the Leipzig booth and it's gone pretty okay, but for the Dreamcast it's pretty difficult. For GP2X though, we have business negotiations with Gamepark Holdings, so let's see what happens.---------------Right, and now onto the competition. With the prizes being new Dreamcast games, I only want them to go to those who seriously love the machine, and so to that end you're going to have to work to prove your fandom. What I want from you guys is a written tribute to the lost but not forgotten format in the form of a poem. Yes, a poem. I'm English, what can I say? Your writing can take any literary format you want. Sonnet, haiku, free verse, all these and more are available to you, and you can make your poem as long, short, serious or funny as you like. All entries must be posted in your community blog (and if you haven't got a community blog, get one here, enter the competition, and then realize in how many other ways being a registered member of Destructoid improves your life - Hint: All of them) under the title of "Dreamcast Love Letter", followed by the title of your poem. This part is important, as it makes it actually possible for us to find all the entries, so if you don't do it, I'm afraid you won't be eligible. Entry will close on the 18th of November, so you have exactly one week before the judging starts. Get writing and see if any of you can make me cry. 
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Way back in the mists of time (Well, only a couple of months ago, but I've never been one to stickle when there's an dramatic effect to be had) you might have read my post-Leipzig Games Convention story on Redspot Games, an i...


Destructoid review: Clive Barker's Jericho

Oct 31 // David Houghton
Clive Barker's Jericho (PC)Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC Developed by Mercury SteamReleased on 23rd October (US), 26th October (PAL Teritories) Clive Barker's Jericho is a game with flaws. Definite flaws. While on an artistic level it's very hard to fault anything of its content whatsoever, - indeed, as punishing horror experiences go in videogames, it's one of the best I've ever experienced in terms of production design and atmosphere - there are certain niggles in the actual mechanics of its gameplay which just can't be ignored. How fundamentally those flaws affect your enjoyment of the game however, will depend on the level of perfection you demand from your FPS gaming, how much of a horror fan you are, and to a degree, how much of a love you have of Barker's work in general.  As you may well now know, the game is a brutal, squad-based FPS following the journey of a special paranormally gifted combat team, the titular Jericho, sent by the US government's Department Of Occult Warfare to investigate a high level disturbance in the Middle-Eastern city of Al Khali, a disturbance with a very big source of evil at its centre. That source has been connected to the region for millenia, and it's Jericho's fate to travel back through every era of the city's existence, from present day to pre-Biblical times, in order to track it down and cleanse the area of its taint. What all of this boils down to in gameplay terms is a strictly single-player campaign in control of the entire seven man (and woman) squad simultaneously. Each member of the team has his or her own weapon specialties, ranging from sniping to heavy weapons, to incendiaries, to sword-based melee, which are complimented by personal paranormal gifts covering telekinesis, pyromancy, astral projection, healing, and manipulation of both enemies and the passage of time. While the player will only have direct control of any one member of Jericho at a time, the rest can be directed in terms of position and defensive or offensive stance, and the team member under control can be quickly and easily hot swapped on the fly. What really surprised me upon my first play of game on my own time was the overall pace and approach to it takes to combat. I've mentioned in my earlier previews that the game is an absolute assault, mercilessly throwing fast and capable enemies at the player thick and fast and allowing little time to breathe. I've also mentioned that the dense and frenetic gameplay has caused me a few issues in the past, at times becoming overwhelming to the point where there seemed very little opportunity to actually take control of a situation before being savagely and swiftly wiped out. I've now discovered that those occurances were partly down to my misunderstanding how the game is intended to be played (Note I said 'partly'. I'll come back to that later) at early previews. While the temptation with a gory and visceral game such as Jericho, particularly when having a relatively large squad at hand, is to charge in guns ablazing in an effort to make the most of all the blood-drenched carnage available, it's an approach which will end in rapid failure nine times out of ten. Combat in Jericho has to be taken more slowly and thoughtfully than that. The overall pace and structure is closer to Gears Of War than something like Quake 4 or Doom 3, each level in general terms comprising of a series of skirmish areas made up of environmental cover which needs to be moved through carefully, ground taken progressively as and when it's safe to do so and not a second before. Try to meet the oncoming enemy halfway in a toe to toe encounter and a swift and bloody death often results. At it's best, combat in Jericho is very satisfying indeed. It takes thought, sure, but if you're up for that then the victory of a well-executed battle gives a very rewarding feeling. There's not really any such thing as a random grunt amongst Jericho's enemies. Whilst Quake 4 has its low level Strogg soldiers and Half-Life 2 has its blue Combine, both of which become a secondary consideration with practice and experience, virtually any monster in Jericho is capable of seriously messing you up, and every one has to be thought of and dealt with as a potentially serious threat. Those zombified Nazis and Crusaders with only a melee attack to show for themselves might seem less of a priority compared to the big guys packing the artillery, but let one of them get close to the squad in a tight corner and it's going to be lights out in no time. The sheer speed and dexterity of the foot soldier-style enemies combined with the way the larger and better armed ones will usually hold back in cover to bombard the team from a distance makes almost every battle a challenge. Every monster in Jericho knows its individual strengths and weaknesses and noticeably plays up to them. Nippier ones will run to the front to distract you. Explosive ones (Yes, some monsters explode, and they do it gloriously) will stumble through the center of the battlefield to clog up valuable space and force Jericho to be very careful where it aims. The guys with the heavy missile attacks will hold back to preserve their side's hardware advantage. Enemies with  fire attacks will dowse the whole battlefield to force you back, flying creatures will flit around randomly and attack in short bursts, and snipers will snipe. All in all, killing monsters in Jericho is far from the basic run and gun splatter-fest I'd feared, and you'll need to take proper advantage of the environment, often holding the team quite a way back in safety while drawing out the enemy gradually with a single scout or sniper in order to avoid being over-run. Using that brief mention of the game's environments as a slightly less than subtle way to sidestep onto the game's look and feel, you're well overdue a discussion of the game's production design, the very thing, apart from Barker's name, which attracted me to it in the first place. One word: Filth.  Jericho really is one of the most excessively horrible games I've ever played. As myself and Jim have detailed with great enthusiasm a few times before, there's a utterly disgusting, glistening wetness prevalent throughout the game which imbues everything from monsters to scenery with the feel of a pestilent slaughterhouse. You'll flinch away from the screen the first few times a zombie gets too close, repelled by the dripping ooze coating its rendered skin and exposed flesh, and as you get further into the game you'll almost begin to watch where you step as floors and walls become drenched with nigh tangibly sticky flesh and dark, congealing, viscous blood. And blood is one thing that Jericho has a lot of. A Hell of a lot. If it's not being showered spectacularly across a radius of several feet every time you shoot a bad guy then it's being poured upon your head by the tens of gallons from the split gut of a naked fat man. Or if not that, then a boss is virtually showering in it or the team is fighting knee deep in a river of the stuff. Let it be known without a doubt, Jericho has some very satisfying head-shots. It's not just about the gore either. The game makes use of some brilliantly evocative ambient effects, particularly in the mist and lighting departments, to create a genuinely dense, cloying and oppressive atmosphere in its environments, thick with hazy claustrophobia and with a dank feeling of age. It sometimes goes overboard with the smoke effects following explosions in battle, leading to a few cases of "What the Hell am I aiming at?" syndrome, but overall everything works very well. Also worthy of a very special mention is the game's score, which at times is incredibly emotive and even quite moving, and adds heavily to the increasing tone of doom and hopelessness which builds throughout. I will be buying a copy of the soundtrack CD soon, no question about it. Congratulations though on your 20/20 vision if you've already spotted the great big "But..." floating ominously overhead. For everything it does right, and it does a lot right, Jericho has a more than ample ability to make you scream for reasons other than those it intends from time to time. In a squad-based shooter, the standard of AI demonstrated by your team-mates can easily make or kill the game, and while Jericho's is adequate for the majority of the time, when it fails it can lead to game over far too quickly and with very little opportunity to save the situation. In a game in which combat is so frenetic at close quarters, it's important to know that the computer-controlled section the squad is going to do exactly what it's told, which a lot of the time consists of staying the Hell away until the enemy can be reduced from a safe distance or drawn into an open area. On several frustrating occasions though, I witnessed them piling enthusiastically into the thick of a fight despite my having told them to hold back, rewarded with only a quick and splattery end for their troubles and placing their inert bodies too far into the danger zone for it to be safe to go in to revive them. In situations like these the only option was to leave them down for fear of losing the last remaining team member, which made the fight overly challenging for all the wrong reasons, and more often than not utterly hopeless. Part of the problem comes from the fact that the game's environments often seem to consist of invisible set points for holding position rather than allowing the team to be sent exactly where desired. Miss one of those points and you miss the opportunity to make the team hold back, and you'll soon find team-mates you thought were safely behind you running straight past and into an oncoming peppering before you even reach the fight yourself. While Jericho is a very defensive game which forces the player to prioritize team management and healing just as much as attacking the enemy, when this happens a battle can feel more like a babysitting exercise than a tactical military skirmish. From time to time the Jericho team will also present what seems like a total lack of self-preservation instinct, some of the best examples coming from times when facing off against one of those aforementioned exploding enemies. By the time these unfortunate events took place, the team already had more than enough experience of the buggers to know that they explode with a dangerous blast radius upon death, but what did they still do every so often? Stand around one in a tight circle plugging away until the beast dropped. Hey presto, one completely dead squad from from but a single monster. And a dead one at that. It's highly frustrating in a game clearly set up to be played defensively to realize that you're the only one doing it right. Of course this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time, and certainly not enough to be completely game breaking, but it happens more than enough to be a noticeable issue. In addition to that, while in well-designed areas the game's combat positively sings, - some fights in more open territory, and in particularly the huge coliseum fight you've probably seen in my previews, are an absolute joy as you flick from team member to team member to keep the enemy pinned down and surrounded - sometimes it can become uninspired and tired. In smaller, tighter areas the game for some reason still often insists on a large number of enemies, but rather than swarming the squad with them, sends them in one or two at a time. For a very long time. Thus, situations can arise whereby you'll find yourself sitting with a gun trained on a doorway spawn point waiting for the next in a seemingly never-ending string of monsters to appear so that you can pop it and wait for the next one. These scenarios become very dull and predictable very fast and can eventually feel as much like a point and click game as an FPS as you wait and pray for the game to decide that you've cleared up the necessary amount of enemies to proceed. And that unfortunately harks to a sloppiness in design which rears its ugly, pus-filled head in other areas too. While never overtly amateurish, there are parts of Jericho's design which just smack of a lack of thought for the player experience, and leave certain elements of progression feeling either pointless or frustrating. For example, Jericho's checkpoints are activated by clearing an area of enemies rather than progressing into further territory (No F9 resurrection here). That's absolutely fine, but upon fighting and losing one particular battle against a huge number of replenishing flying monsters for over an hour, naturally assuming that if I survived long enough to kill them all I'd move on, I accidentally discovered that falling down a hole in the ground took me away from all the pain and straight to the next part of the level. Videogames have their own internal logic which is taught to the player through experience of repeated examples, and to suddenly turn that logic on its head without warning results in a very confused player, and in my case, my monitor having to hear a lot of very bad words. Less troubling, but still eyebrow raising, is the game's use of environmental puzzles. With every team member having his or her own set of abilities, the possibilities here were immense, but more often than not Jericho wastes the opportunity. The first few levels, naturally enough, give pointers as to which characters to use to pass certain obstacles, for example using a telekinetic character to clear some rubble from a corridor, or a physically strong one to lift a portcullis. As the game progresses however, it doesn't allow the player to learn from these examples and find their own solutions. Rather it just presents an impassable obstacle, and if they player is controlling the wrong character to work around it, flashes up text explaining who to use. With puzzles rarely more complicated than the two examples above, this reduces their nature to an arbitrary one and makes them feel like a total waste of time, just dropped in for the sake of being there. These issues are made doubly frustrating by the fact that Jericho really can get it right when it wants to. Particularly during the last two time zones, the game really comes into its own, mixing up the gameplay by limiting and varying the team members available and offering up a whole string of large-scale, open-plan boss fights which require some very satisfying, Zelda-style puzzling to win. After suffering from the above design problems, the game suddenly feels unbelievably more fresh and stimulating in its last few hours, and it's a real shame that the designers couldn't have had the confidence to bring more of this sort of design in earlier in the game. Here's hoping the possible sequel Barker is already talking about takes it as a starting point rather than working up to it again. For the frustrations of it's flaws though, and believe me, playing through Jericho has definitely been a frustrating experience at times, there's just something about the overall game that kept me coming back and had the experience haunting a place at the back of head for some days afterwards. I can't promise you a perfect horror FPS in Jericho, in fact I can promise you that it won't be, but somewhere between the dense oppression of its atmosphere, the unapologetically, almost decadently horrific nature of its production design, the satisfaction of its gameplay when it's firing on all cylinders, and some rather broken protagonist characters who I was surprised to grow rather attached to by the end despite the script not making the most of their backstories, I find myself unable to write it off. If you can handle the issues, it comes recommended, albeit with reservations. If you can handle the issues and you're a gore-hound horror fan or someone who appreciates Clive Barker it comes more recommended. Everyone else, rent it, give it a try and see if you can forgive its failings. Rating: 7.0Verdict: Rent it 
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I've been awaiting the chance to play through the final build of Clive Barker's Jericho with some degree of trepidation. You see on a personal level I've had rather a lot invested in the game since its announcement. Ever sinc...

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Video Games Live, London: simply staggering


Oct 25
// David Houghton
Video Games Live is one of those things that sounds like a cool idea until you get there. Upon experiencing it however, you realize that far from being merely cool, the show is actually one of the most enjoyable, stirring, mo...
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In what looks to be a new series of articles in the style of his talks with Sigestato Itoi, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is conducting a series of interviews with the development team working on Super Mario Galaxy. Hosted ...

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Promising talent unveiled for Sin City game


Oct 18
// David Houghton
You might remember that a while ago I got rather excited about the prospect of a Sin City game based upon Frank Miller's original graphic novels. It was one of those deliciously frustrating announcements guaranteed to spin a ...
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First (clear) gameplay shot from Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix


Oct 18
// David Houghton
Rapidly following the cell phone footage, NeoGAF strikes once again, this time giving us a clearer look at Capcom's upcoming Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (What is it with all the excessively long titles today?) with...
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New book says "Games are good for you"


Oct 18
// David Houghton
Games don't make us kill, maim or rape, or mentally retard us into small lumps of drooling pus. We all know that. But a new book by software developer Mark Prensky is rallying to our cause one further step by espousing the ma...
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Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles WiiWare scans dispel the nightmares of Pop


Oct 18
// David Houghton
Some new scans from Famitsu (Who else?) have appeared on the ever useful NeoGAF forums, showing off some new images of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: The Small King And The Promised Land, and they're looking...
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World-wide Final Fantasy concerts announced


Oct 17
// David Houghton
December the 4th, 2007. Mark it in your diaries and burn it into your skin, Squenix fans, for that is the date upon which Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy, a new global tour of symphonic FF concerts kicks off, coincid...
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New WiiWare title Pop announced, simulates all the fun of soap


Oct 17
// David Houghton
And Nintendo's WiiWare roster continues to grow in the run up to the system's March 2008 launch, adding another new third party title to the announced line-up today. Is it another game from Square-Enix? Is it the Wii's Geomet...
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Bionic Commando remake trailer hits the Web to the sound of gruffness


Oct 17
// David Houghton
It was only announced yesterday, and already opinions are highly divided on Capcom's Bionic Commando remake. So far voices tend to fall on either side of a binary split, either gushing with the misty-eyed enthusiasm of a nost...

Destructoid interview: A pleasant lunch-time chat with the makers of Postal

Oct 14 // David Houghton
Destructoid: How's Postal 3 coming along right now? Vince: It's set to come out in the fourth quarter 2008. Everything we've released so far has been prototype footage and we just let it out because so many people asked "Can I see it?". You know, in the old days you never really wanted to show anything this early, but now I take the approach that we've still got eighteen months, so I'm not going to worry about it. Destructoid: Development schedules are so long these days, but people have got so used to having access to things through the internet. Vince: In the old days if you sent something out early you could die by it, but thankfully now that's changed. But what's really important to us is that it's the premier of Postal on consoles, so we're very concerned with the overall quality. The good news for us is that we're not under any financial pressure to have to release it for Christmas next year. Oh course I hope to, but I'll only do that if it's really optimized. It's got to come out strong. But we're really excited. It's got all the things Postal is known for, the crazy weapons, a lot of humour, the mature adult attitude, but also this time we've done something very different. This time you're going to be able to play the game three different ways, which is going to make the game very big and add a lot of replay value, which is what I'm a big fan of. I'm an old-timer in this industry and I go back to the old design philosophy of replay being important. A lot people today believe that games should be more like movies. Destructoid: Or people design games more for the multiplayer. Vince: Actually another thing about Postal 3 is that it will ship with multiplayer. And we're not just talking ten maps, we're already over twenty. So when you consider the game, I don't want to say it'll be 50/50, but it'll have very strong single player and very strong multiplayer. We're fortunate in that there are a lot of Postal mods out there. This Postal community is just... Postal's a cult. Destructoid: If you can capture the fan imagination and build a community like that you'll just run and run. Vince: People will ask me a lot, "Did you plan this?" and the truth of the matter's no. We just designed a game that we thought would be fun to play and that was funny. Half of what occured afterwards, we had no idea. It was never our intention. The same thing goes with a lot of the negative attention. I was like, "What is everyone so upset about?". But I think because we were a small independent developer we came in for a lot of scrutiny because we couldn't defend ourselves as effectively. Not because I'm not willing to, but because nobody wanted to give me a chance. Destructoid: No-one wants to listen to the little guy. Vince: And we were easier to pick on. Destructoid: If you'd been bigger or more established...Vince: Take2 has gotten away with murder. But the reason they're suffering now with Manhunt 2, or even prior to that with GTA and the  Hot Coffee thing is that they f*cked up. Hot Coffee came out and they didn't know how to handle it. It was like a polititian getting caught with his... It was like Bill Clinton saying "I never had sex with that woman". Some guy from Rockstar comes out and says "We don't know anything about Hot Coffee". And everyone's like "You are so full of sh*t dude". It was one of two things. One, you're stupid or two, you're lying. And neither's good. And so really what's happened now with the whole Manhunt 2 thing I think is that if they hadn't got themselves into so much trouble with Hot Coffee, they might have had more co-operation. And the same thing in America with the ESRB. I don't really blame the ESRB for taking the position they did, because they got f*cked by Take2. Mike: Well on top of getting f*cked by Take2, the ESRB fuck themselves. It's a good ratings system overall but it's just not implemented well. Destructoid: It's a similar problem in the UK. It's just not respected or enforced properly. Mike: It's not just that it's not respected by the public either. They just don't respect themselves, I don't believe, because it's kind of obvious they don't play through all of the games. They seem to just give you a rating based on what they know about the game, what you tell them about the game, and what they've seen. They don't have a team of people playing through every minute of the game. I mean it's fairly impractical, but a true ratings board should have it. Destructoid: The movie boards watch the whole movie... Mike: Yeah, they don't just watch the first ten minutes of a movie. You have a hundred people watching it right through and coming to a consensus. Vince: What I'd really like to see, and I don't think it's going to happen, at least in America, is that we need to simplify it. It's so f*cking... You can walk into a store, pick up a box, and spend a half hour figuring out the bullsh*t. To me it's like Under Eighteen or Over Eighteen. That's it. That's all you need. And guess what? If on the box it's a racing game or a Tony Hawk game, I think I can work out what kind of game it is. It's like, "Aw gee, it's a racing game, there's a guy on the box in a race car. Hmmm, I wonder, is that an action adventure?" No dude! It's a f*cking racing game! Mike: Let's put a race car on our next box. [Laughter] Vince: Just simplify it, please. Rather than making it easier, they complicate it. And then they come up with these descriptors, so you could have a game like Postal 2, which is M-rated, and then you have all these words like "Blood", "Violence", "Adult content", "Adult language", "Drugs". And Postal 2 was responsible for a new one, "Extreme violence". [Laughter] I mean you know, why not just make it eighteen-rated and we all live happily ever after? Destructoid: Just treat human beings with the respect of allowing them to make a decision and judge what's in front of them. In the UK now we've got descriptors on posters for every movie that virtually describe the whole plot in terms of the content descriptions. Harry Potter's a 12-rated movie, but you'll have "Mild to strong fantasy violence and minor peril". How do you define "minor peril"? Warning: Harry has a bad day and wakes up feeling a bit sh*t? Vince: "Harry Potter jerks off and discovers manhood".Mike: "Hermione gives him blue balls. He doesn't know what to do." [Laughter]Destructoid: Right down to kids' movies everything that's not a happy scene from start to finish is described in detail. It's ridiculous. Vince: We're not that bad but we're getting there. And here in Germany... Destructoid: Half the games here will not be released here. Mike: I heard at the EA booth, when the Crysis video comes up there's a big thing on the screen that says "Not allowed to show this trailer at GC". [Laughter]Vince: The industry, while we are maturing, we are actually regressing. Destructoid: We're becoming too aplogetic. Vince: The whole thing that Postal is about is that it's politically incorrect purposefully. Personally I happen to be a very big animal fan, but that doesn't mean I don't like throwing a hammer up a cow's ass in a videogame. Destructoid: Some things are just funny. Vince: That's exactly what I mean. I'm not advocating, "Okay everybody living out there in the countryside, PICK UP YOUR HAMMERS! Start throwing them up your cows' asses!" I mean come on! We're supposed to tell people "Don't do this"?Destructoid: I'm the most pacifistic person in the world, but I grew up on Warner Bros. cartoons, so I appreciate over-exaggerated comedy violence. Vince: Oh dude! Destructoid: You just accept that it's violence in a completely different context. Vince: You know when I was a kid I watched a lot of The Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, all the Loony Tunes, Warner Bros., all of that crazy stuff. Now I didn't go out and immediately start beating animals. Every now and then a stray cat got lit up, but that was just the neighborhood. [Laughter]Mike: Wrong cat, wrong time. Vince: You never wanted to be a four-legged animal walking around Brooklyn on the fourth of July. Mike: Nothing like a little M80. Destructoid: Did you hear that Manhunt 2's actually just been passed with an M in the US? Vince: I read that this morning. They've modded it though. I don't know what they've done, but it's stripped. Mike: Maybe they just lightened the color a bit so it doesn't look so gritty. [Laughter]Vince: I don't know what they did, but you've got to understand that the ESRB in the United States is pretty much owned by the top ten publishers, Take2 included, and you can't bite the hand that feeds you. So they need to work with them. So I never had any doubt that it would get passed, it just had to go through this process. There's so much money involved. You know, it's a Take2 title, it's Manhunt, I mean it's not going to do GTA numbers, but... Destructoid: It'll going to do bigger numbers than it would have done now. Vince: Oh yeah, it'll do better now, and the thing is, those retailers want to make money. Those distributors, they want to make money. This issue you know, it's the M & M factor. Money and morality. Well I've found in my lifetime that money always wins. Just go ask your local priest. [Laughter] It's all bullsh*t, it's all crap.
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I like the guys from Running With Scissors. Far from being the baby-eating, kitten-punching corrupters of children that certain quarters would paint them as, I've always found them to be thoroughly funny and intelligent peopl...

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Games Media Awards: the images (quantifiably NSFW)


Oct 13
// David Houghton
Having vague and hazy recollections of this week's Games Media Awards, I found myself quite looking forward to going over the photos and video from the night so that I could piece together everything that went on. Alas my fri...
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Hitman movie censored already?


Oct 10
// David Houghton
The inner workings of the minds of Hollywood's executives often make very little sense. That's as true a statement as saying that the sky is blue or that Snowboard Kids is better than Mario Kart 64. The modern Hollywood exec ...
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Mistwalker confirms Blue Dragon DS and a shiny new title


Oct 03
// David Houghton
I couldn't be more thankful for Mistwalker's existence right now. As a long-time JRPG fan, these last few years with my once beloved Square-Enix have been like watching a much-loved family dog slowly die while a relationship ...
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Destructoid interview: Pure Pwnage


Sep 30
// David Houghton
If you haven't seen Pure Pwnage yet, - and frankly you have very little excuse at this stage - stop reading this right now, head over to the site, and come back and resume once you've watched all fourteen episodes. Go on. You...
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Bungie: Internet Matlocks correct, Halo 3 not running in HD, but so what?


Sep 29
// David Houghton
It's a universal law of human snarkiness that the bigger the game launch, the more attention will be paid to any hitches, large or small. It's also a universal law of videogames that the more you hype, the more trouble you te...
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Ghost Squad trailer shows off some slick shooting


Sep 29
// David Houghton
While probably not a release likely to be setting Wii owners' pants on fire with anticipation in this year of incoming Mario and No More Heroes, - and with Metroid still to come if you live in Europe - Sega's port of arcade l...
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Dead Island site goes live


Sep 28
// David Houghton
Techland's up and coming zombie dismantlement simulator caused quite a stir when it was unveiled at the Leipzig Games Convention, due to its smile-inducing two-hit combo of gorgeously idyllic tropical vistas and savagely brut...
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Jack Thompson sends gay porn to judge, doesn't even buy dinner first


Sep 26
// David Houghton
My friends, it's almost time to start popping champagne corks, for the glorious day must surely be soon upon us when Jack Thompson's legal career is curb-stomped savagely into a fine red mist. For quite some time now things h...
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Valve uncertain about the future of episodic gaming


Sep 25
// David Houghton
Valve might be dropping the whole concept of episodic gaming once Half-Life 2: Episode 3 finally sees the light of day. While that release may seem like a distant prospect with Episode 2 still awaiting its delayed release, Ga...
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Timesplitters 4 looking probable for the Wii


Sep 25
// David Houghton
Some new tips drop into my in-box like a shiny big dollop of liquid gold. From the day the Wii was announced, FPS on the machine has been at the forefront of my mind, and I've had a vaguely realized image of a perfect example...
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Wii availability creates tourism boost in rural Japan, seashell art sales stable


Sep 25
// David Houghton
Nearly ten months in and still the Wii is only marginally easier to get hold of than rocking-horse manure. Having pre-ordered mine before launch, I had to be honest, pretty much stopped tracking their proliferation in stores,...
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Surprise of the week: Jericho banned in Germany


Sep 25
// David Houghton
In a move which has stunned the entire population of those who have actually been living under a rock for the last ten years, - incidentally a proud people who are sick to death of being reduced to a semi-humorous cliche in t...
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Coming to America: Square Enix looking for US partnerships


Sep 24
// David Houghton
First Capcom, now Square Enix. This generation is seeing some big westard steps taken by Japanese publishers eager to lap up some of the creamy monetary goodness waiting on the other side of the globe. Its not a surprising si...
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New Seaman 2 video: Man-faced fish-birds and cell phone-using cavemen aplenty


Sep 23
// David Houghton
 I was expecting most things relating to the sequel to Sega's Dreamcast pet simulator to be pretty weird, but after watching this Japanese gameplay overview, I'm less dazed and confused and more disturbed and utterly con...
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TGS 2007: New No More Heroes video brings your dreams of a laser crotch to life!


Sep 23
// David Houghton
 No More Heroes gets more and more screwed up the more we see of it, and I for one thoroughly approve. So far we've had otaku buying light sabers from Ebay, arm-mounted rocket launchers, explosive gore and mandatory Wiim...
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Jack was right all along! Chinese cops train with Counter-Strike


Sep 23
// David Houghton
It seems the anti-gaming lobby aren't the only ones operating under the apprehension that sitting in the comfort of one's living room, pressing a series of buttons in order to incite some on-screen animations, is exactly the ...

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