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Crashing and burning
People have been buzzing about Race The Sun lately, and so I decided to check it out for your sensual enjoyment. I'm not very good at it, but I'm having a laugh with it, and that's what matters. At the end of the day, that's what bloody matters.  So yeah, watch this video if you like! Oh, and Race The Sun can be voted for on its Greenlight page right here.

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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Some gamers are skipping Grand Theft Auto V, unwilling to play the role of a thief, a gangbanger, or a psychopath. While others may shy away from being the villain, Jim Sterling actively revels in it. Indeed, to play the villain can not only be fun, it can be downright fascinating.

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Very, very drunk
Here we go, at last! The thrilling conclusion to Outlast, played by a man who ended how he started -- completely pickled. In this final chapter, we evade the Nude Brothers, we witness the Big'Un get what he deserves, we reun...

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Three fuses!?
Your good pal Jim Sterling returns to Mount Massive Asylum for another descent into madness. This time, we see yet more naked butts, faff about with three fuses, get chased by the big'un again, and have an encounter with a pair of old, nude, friends.  There. You got another Outlast video. Satisfied? Satisfied, now that you got, finally, your cheesy balls? 

Doorways - Now Bloody Playing

Sep 21 // Jim Sterling
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Scissory, Circley, Skewery, Cage
Discovered a new horror game on Steam last night, so I decided to record myself playing it for your ridiculous entertainment. It's called Doorways, it bills itself as a survival horror game, but it kind of isn't. It's interesting, though! Why not watch the video and see if you, too, find it interesting? Maybe you don't. That's okay too.

Shelter - Now Bloody Playing

Sep 20 // Jim Sterling
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Little Assbadgers
Time for some more stupid gameplay video stupidity for you to swallow into your gawking eyes. Why not watch me play Shelter for a minute? I'm going to wander around and drop onion things in front of little baby badgers.  Well then, that's fun isn't it? Yes. That's fun.

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Podtoid 270: Cookie, Suds Me Up With Soap And Foam!


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage every Thursday!
Sep 19
// Jim Sterling
It's the satire special of Podtoid this week. To celebrate Grand Theft Auto V, we're having Jonathan Holmes commit hate crimes in Boston ... ironically! Elsewhere, Willem Dafoe thinks back on a fine luncheon, Holmes becomes e...

Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Sep 18 // Jim Sterling
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 3Publisher: NintendoReleased: September 20, 2013 (NA), October 4, 2013 (EU)MSRP: $49.99 The Wind Waker debuted on the GameCube in 2002. Its visual style is crafted with such perfect simplicity, however, that the HD coat of paint effortlessly obscures any suggestion of it being over a decade old. From the moment the title screen appears, The Wind Waker HD delights with its bright, crisp, colorful visuals. It's the perfect kind of game to re-release in HD -- something that already looked fantastic, and was held back purely by the constraints of standard definition.  Unlike games that perpetually push the notion of "photorealism" and subsequently look pitifully dated when resurrected in future generations (the original Killzone springs immediately to mind), the elegant cartoon stylings of The Wind Waker lend it a timeless visual quality that raises a huge grin when gawped at for the first time in 1080p. To conclude this shameless fellating of The Wind Waker's art style, and its suitability for high definition, Nintendo made a fantastic call on this one.  Though visually timeless, the GameCube classic has aged in other areas, particularly when it comes to its basic interactivity. This is an issue exacerbated by the Wii U GamePad, the analog sticks of which are a bit too twitchy for Link's movements and have a tendency to overreact to the slightest of nudges. It doesn't help that the combat itself is a little bit clunky these days, while the need to travel across vast quantities of ocean -- helped nonetheless by some excellent background music -- can feel like something of a chore these days -- at least until you get the Swift Sail. There are some gyroscope controls thrown into the mix, because obviously there are, and they're maybe 50% effective at what they do. While I appreciate the theoretical ease of selecting the grappling hook, physically moving the GamePad to aim it, and instantly letting loose, the inescapable twitchiness and sensitive motion input makes it difficult to stay on target, and as such, the intended fluidity only works in about half of its uses. Fortunately, you can turn these features off, or you can use the Pro Controller if you want a far more traditional experience without the modern hindrances and benefits.  Griping aside, Nintendo's done a solid job of streamlining some of the more clanking elements of gameplay. The GamePad's touchscreen does an excellent job of presenting extraneous information, as well as making inventory management a breeze. The ability to swipe items into the action buttons at will eliminates that common Zelda problem, the constant need to pause the game and switch equipment around. Similarly, the lower screen also houses the world map, which provides similar convenience for sailing from island to island. These improvements are merely minor touches and do little to significantly overhaul the experience, but they're all welcome changes that subtly contribute to crafting a superior experience.  On the subject of streamlining, some minor gameplay fixes have been made to reverse some of the game's most notorious drags. The hunt for the Triforce shards has been made far less infuriating, with most of them now available on land with only three requiring tedious ocean fishing. You can also wander around Wind Waker's pretty world in first-person view should you desire, but you won't be able to use all your items.  Other additions include a beefed up Hero mode -- available as soon as you begin a new game -- the ability to upload Picto Box selfies using Miiverse, and message bottles. At the time of writing, this latter feature is not currently online, but when it is you'll be able to write messages that, via Miiverse, shall appear as bottled messages in other peoples' games, floating in the ocean for random retrieval. While currently offline, it's a neat little idea that ought to give Miiverse fans something extra to play with.  At the press of a button, you may switch the entire game from your television to your GamePad, though obviously you'll lose the added benefits of having a permanent inventory/map screen in your hand. The controller's screen is also a subpar method of displaying how gorgeous Wind Waker is, and it's highly recommended you stick to your TV as much as possible.  Most importantly, however, everything irrevocably enchanting about The Wind Waker has been preserved for this HD re-release. Its sense of color and optimism, the overwhelming eccentricity of its oceanic world, the vibrant sense of life and excitement that permeates this particular game more than any other Zelda title to date. There's something innately special lying at the heart of this one, something extra joyful that its series brethren lacks. This is not to say other Zelda's aren't as good, or even better in some ways, it's just that none of them have the same magnetism in the personality department. This is why it's my favorite entry in the series, even if I couldn't quite say it's the best one.  Indeed, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker suffers from some archaic mechanics, its fundamentals not having aged quite so gracefully as its aesthetics. Its unwieldiness and occasional sluggish pace can, in fact, grow temporarily infuriating. However, the streamlined menu system and map access go some way toward making up for any setbacks, while the unmistakable Wind Waker charisma ensures you won't ever stay mad at it for long.  After all, in a world of greedy cartography fish and cynical French Minesweeper purveyors, how could you not keep smiling? 
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'Hoy there, small fry!
[Note: Join us Thursday @ 2pm PST for a live video + chat discussion about this review.] The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is easily my favorite Zelda game in the series -- a not altogether uncommon opinion, now that many y...

Delver - Now Bloody Playing

Sep 18 // Jim Sterling
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Don't go chasing waterfalls
Today I am playing Delver, a roguelike-esque first-person adventure recommended to me after I played Paranautical Activity. For those of you who weren't so hot on that latter game, methinks this one is far more your speed.  We will have more Outlast for you this week, that much is certain, I just felt like trying new things. I may give Shelter a go next. Then it's back to the scarytimes!

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Rhymedown Spectacular: Whine out of Ten


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Sep 18
// Jim Sterling
This week, Yahtzee tackles ludonarrative dissonance and puts forth a most eloquent explanation. Meanwhile, I ... well ... look at the title. You know what this is about. You know.  And you love it. 
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Come at them hard!
Here's some Grand Theft Auto V gameplay to cram inside of your heads. If you are one of those not currently playing it, this will be a delightful little treat for your mushy brains. Alternatively, if you are playing it, come click on the video anyway. My ego needs the views.  Enjoy some moving pictures of me running through GTAV's "Blitz Play" mission. It's a thing you can do!

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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
This week, Jim loads his gun and shoots holes in the argument that certain games suffer from ludonarrative dissonance, just because they're violent. Because really, people, that's not even what ludonarrative dissonance is! If you're gonna use big words to sound smart, use 'em correctly ... guttersnipes.

Review: Grand Theft Auto V

Sep 16 // Jim Sterling
Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Rockstar GamesPublisher: Take TwoReleased: September 17, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Grand Theft Auto V tells the story of not one, not two, but three criminal degenerates, whose paths cross in the San Andreas city of Los Santos. LS is a city of superficiality and vapid trends, a dumping ground for both the liberal hipster and the exploitative corporate suit, and it's here that our three protagonists embark on a series of flamboyant crimes in order to clear debts, settle scores, and eventually get out of their respective ruts.  Franklin is a small-time gangbanger and repo man, desperate to innovate and change the way his old fashioned friends go about their lives. Michael is a former bank robber and murderer, now retired after a bank job gone wrong and attempting to adjust to family life with a wife, daughter, and son who hate him. Then there's Trevor. There is Trevor.  [embed]261879:50494:0[/embed] GTA V, more than any other game in the series, reduces the focus on supporting characters to fully emphasize its main antiheroes. There are no wacky crime bosses and accomplices with their own unique story arcs in this one, replaced instead with a more comprehensive running narrative that switches focus between Franklin, Michael, and Trevor. Franklin becomes the son Michael never had, learning the criminal arts in ways his former lifestyle could never teach him. Michael, meanwhile, is attempting to avoid his old lifestyle, but it becomes clear pretty quickly that he revels in it deep down, and his expressions of regret are mere hypocrisy.  Trevor, meanwhile, is jaw-dropping. A composite of Hunter S. Thompson and every character Jack Nicholson ever played, the meth dealer and gun runner who operates out of Sandy Shores is everything wrong with Grand Theft Auto, dialed up to gloriously entertaining proportions. He represents everything a mainstream news pundit has ever thought about GTA, the quintessential videogame psychopath -- a drug addict, a murderer, an omnisexual driven almost entirely by libido and bloodlust (and yet possesses a perverse sort of nobility). His involvement in Grand Theft Auto V brings some of the series' darkest moments, as well as its most lighthearted. He's disgusting, he's disturbing, and I think I love him.  GTA V's story is about irredeemable people doing unjustifiable things, but balances this against genuinely intriguing characters who, despite their stereotypical foundations, remain at least affable, even if they never stop being terrible. Each character has his own narrative arc, weaving in and out of a joint story that develops their relationship to each other, from uneasy allies to even less easy friends, and it's often hard not to sympathize with characters who, through all their murder and mayhem, ultimately wind up as rather sad and pathetic creatures. Whether it's Franklin constantly being burdened by his idiot friends, Michael's quiet desperation, or Trevor's highly evident mental problems, each character is rendered tragic in some way, but not in the same kind of oppressive depression that drenched Grand Theft Auto IV's Niko Bellic. GTA V allows itself to have a lot more fun, especially where Trevor of Trevor Phillips Industries is concerned, and tells a darker story than GTA IV did, in a far less bleak way.  Taking place in the series' biggest map yet, GTA V allows us to switch between all three characters in a massive representation of Los Santos, as well as its surrounding mountains and the coastal town of Sandy Shores. At any time (save for plot-driven restrictions), players can jump from Franklin to Michael or Trevor and back again, each one in a different part of the city for a range of reasons. You may drop in on Trevor while he's drunk and wearing a dress in the mountains, or swing by Franklin's while he's playing with his dog, Chop. When you're with a character, you're free to engage with Los Santos as you've engaged with every GTA city for the past decade -- use it as your criminal playground, jacking cars to get about, slaying pedestrians for fun, indulging in a wide variety of distractions, and completing story missions.  One major improvement in GTA V is the driving. Cars control so much better than they did in the last installment, no longer sliding across the tarmac with soapy recklessness. Vehicles are a joy to drive around Los Santos, turning elegantly, and allowing greater air control to make stunt jumps and high-speed car chases far less frustrating to pull off. Of course, some cars handle better than others, with top-heavy trucks and the fastest sports cars proving harder to use, but everything is immensely more pleasurable to drive this time. It's just a shame that the same cannot be said for planes and helicopters which, after all this time, still handle terribly -- and are still shoehorned into far more main missions than is necessary.  Attempts have been made to improve the typically clunky combat, though to a less successful degree. The auto-targeting system is twitchy and unreliable, while cover mechanics still come off as dated and unwieldy. However, there are lots of weapons to play with, as well as upgrade, with light attachments, extended clips, and paintjobs to add. It's nowhere near as varied and wild as something like Saints Row, but the weapons feel powerful in the hand, and it's especially delightful to get hold of the heavy artillery, from the classic chaingun and rocket launcher, to the amusing remote-controlled sticky bombs. There's a new way to shake off the cops this time around. When "wanted" by police, players will have to escape out of the line of sight of incoming cops, and then stay hidden. Once out of the line of sight, the map will highlight nearby filth, with a cone of vision representing what they can see. Stay out of the cones, either by hiding in alleys or driving smartly, and the cops will be lost. It's a much nicer idea than what GTA IV did, and I love the stealth aspect of it. I just wish it didn't take so long to lose the cops entirely -- having to engage in stealth for protracted periods of time, just because a cop saw you jack a car, can grow a little tiresome.  Each character can level up various stats by engaging in activities that use them. For instance, the more you run, the more your stamina improves, the more you drive, the better your driving gets. These stats have a subtle effect on the game, allowing you greater control of cars or to sprint for longer, and while leveling them up isn't essential, it certainly doesn't hurt, and doing so is natural enough that you never have to worry about it. Michael, Trevor, and Franklin also get one unique special skill each, activated by pressing in both analog sticks. Michael can slow down the world during combat, Franklin can do the same for vehicles, and Trevor can boost his damage and defense after getting really angry. Again, these skills are far from essential and make no major impact, but their inclusion is not unwelcome.  With its hours upon hours upon hours of content, GTA V provides some incredible new story missions full of explosive setpieces and increasingly frantic scenarios. Each character has a unique series of missions, some of which cross over with other characters, and bring with them a unique flavor. Franklin finds himself embroiled in assassination plots and carjacking objectives, Michael's missions see him juggling his family life and his criminal dealings, while Trevor's experiences all end with equal amounts of carnage and chaos. A lot of classic gameplay, from surreptitiously tailing enemies to sniping key targets, are represented during the course of the campaign, with a few new twists thrown in.  Missions are graded depending on completion time, and the fulfilling of optional objectives, and each one may be replayed at any time for a better score. If you fail a part of a mission three times, you also get the option to skip at in exchange for a lowered mission grade. While some may lament this "casualization" of the series, I consider it one of the best things to come to GTA. Open world games regularly suffer from "that one mission" syndrome, that one thing that hamstrings and gets in the way, or a mission type that drives them wild. Being able to sidestep that one infuriating helicopter sequence or hated street race is a nice security option -- and nobody's forcing you to take it.  The biggest addition to the mission structure is the presence of heists. These are major missions involving all three characters, in which large theft jobs are undertaken. Before a heist can be pulled off, players meet up with Lester, an old associate of Michael and Trevor's, and plan out the attack. Heists usually give our antiheroes one of two choices -- being smart and stealing the goods with little fuss, or shooting their way in and escaping with all the subtlety of Rockstar's satire. After choosing a method, players then pick up a crew, choosing extra characters to act as drivers, gunmen, and hackers. Experienced crew members take a larger cut of the end score, but will ensure the job goes more smoothly. Conversely, you can pick less skilled allies for less cash, but their abilities may make the mission harder (for instance, your choice of hacker can mean the difference between thirty seconds or a full minute to rob a store before the cops arrive).  When the plan is in place, a heist will usually require extra equipment to be procured by the player. For instance, if you choose to rob the jewelry store the smart way, you'll need to complete a mini mission to procure a pest control van full of gas, which will be pumped into the store's venting system and render the opposition inside unconscious. If you take the violent route, you'll instead be required to rob a cop truck of its rifles.  Heists are some of the lengthiest and most action-packed missions in the GTA series. The ability to switch between three characters also works really well in making them more engrossing. One moment you'll be in Trevor's shoes, sniping cops as they descend on the crew from rooftops, before switching to Franklin to mow down the ground-level opponents. Sometimes you'll be forced to play from one perspective before being thrust into another, while other missions give you a choice.  These big jobs are fantastic and include some of the more enthralling missions I've ever played through in an open world game, and the way they change depending on your choices are quite clever indeed. It's just disappointing there aren't more of them. Entire new systems seem to have been included for the sake of heists, but the story includes a comparative handful of them, with a greater majority of missions being more traditional GTA-style experiences. Each heist is unique and memorable, but the unlocking and ranking of crew members, as well as the various choices heists bring, feels a little wasted. What's there is thrilling, but there was so much more potential.  Perhaps complaining about there not being more in a game that does so much is greedy, however. As I said, there are hours of content heaped upon hours of content. As well as main missions, our "heroes" also encounter a range of "freaks and strangers" with their own story arcs and requests. Here, the game allows itself to really go to town in creating eccentric characters, such as the dumpster-diving, celebrity obsessed, elderly British couple who hire Trevor to steal items from movie and music stars, or the sleazy paparazzo who uses Franklin to get close to TV stars and snap candid pictures. A fair number of these encounters are hilarious, and offer many up GTA V's most bizarre missions, whether you're punching out the gold tooth of a member of Love Fist, or using a digital camera to film a sex tape.  Oh, and Trevor -- further cementing his status as a twisted celebration of the GTA series -- brings back the classic "Rampage" missions, having to eliminate waves of enemies to punish them for mocking his Canadian heritage. They're absolutely brilliant.  On top of that, random events happen across Los Santos throughout the day, with players able to get involved or ignore them. A woman may have her bag snatched by a biker, or someone may scream for help and lead the player's into an attempted mugging. These random events often carry little rewards, but there's no penalty for ignoring them, and they appear at regular intervals.  From playing tennis to watching television, more mundane daily activities are also on offer, and sometimes differ by character. Michael, for example, can do yoga in his back yard or visit his therapist for some quality Sopranos time, while Trevor may go hunting and sell the meat for extra money. The city is also full of establishments to be purchased, either to make more money from businesses, or unlock helipads, garages, and docks. Some businesses will text requests to the owner, asking for help in delivering goods. Doing so will ensure greater profits that week. Some properties can only be bought by specific characters, while others are left up to the player. Buying up the city was one of my favorite parts of Vice City, and I'm very happy to see it included here. You can also call up your friends to go hang out -- and it'll be your choice this time, since nobody harasses you to go bowling like they did in GTA IV. You can explore the Internet on your smartphone to see the latest Bleets or LifeInvader statuses, enjoy a full fledged stock exchange to try and make more cash, and go to the strip club if you want to do the dumb things that will probably generate the most online controversies. If you'd like to further compound the teenage thrills of doing the naughty things your mom won't let you do, there is booze to get drunk off and bongs to get high from. Because you're so hardcore.   Despite all this stuff to do, it's still just fun to goof off and go exploring. While Los Santos is not a living, breathing city, Rockstar's done a solid job in creating the illusion of something more dynamic than it is -- provided you suspend your disbelief and go with it. It's obvious that Michael's not out doing loads of things while you're with Franklin, but flitting across the city to see him wandering out of coffee shop while muttering, "Everything hurts," makes you think he could've been out on errands all day. If you wander too far or get lost, switching characters is also a perfect way to get out of a jam or move more toward an area where there's better stuff to do. It's a randomized take on fast traveling, but it's never not amusing.  GTA V's visuals are a little dated, not looking that much better than GTA IV, but one can forgive that given the utter scale of the map. Los Santos is huge, dwarfing the environments of previous games, with undersea exploration and mountain ranges adding a ton of variety to the surroundings. As an analog of Los Angeles, it's also really nicely designed, capturing the overly stylish look of the big city and the darker, nastier elements of the less tourist-friendly areas.  As you might expect, the sound direction is impeccable as always. Voice acting in this series never fails to impress me, and this is some of the best yet. From Franklin's street smart seriousness to Michael's barely controlled rage and Trevor's hyperactive mania, the performances found in GTA V are some of the very best in the series. The acting is backed up by a great soundtrack. Original music in missions does a great job of building tension, while there are loads of radio stations playing delightful licensed music, from Elton John, to Def Leppard and -- of course -- All Saints. If you ever get bored of making your own entertainment, there's also more talk radio, where Lazlow and friends chatter away for your amusement as you drive.  There's no doubt this is Rockstar's biggest production yet. As well as taking place in an utterly massive open world, the storyline is at its most ambitious, and attempts to make the experience as fluid and sleek as ever are highly evident. Though aspects of the game remain old fashioned and more could have been done to switch things up, the end result of still a game of spectacular scope and density of content. And while the narrative is as morally reprehensible as ever, the underlying intelligence backing up the wanton immaturity manages to keep GTA V treading the line of acceptable. There will be much pontificating on the morality of the game, and what its story says, but in GTA V, I see a game that knows its own reputation, owns it, and makes fun of itself in a nonetheless celebratory fashion.  Grand Theft Auto V is both a reflective and deflective game, diving into the heart of the GTA series with more than a few subtle things to say about itself. Michael is tired, and old, and wants to change, but he can't, and eventually he grows to accept and even enjoy that. Franklin is smarter than his surroundings, dreaming big but held back by old fashioned ideas. Trevor is hilarious, surprising, and a disgusting degenerate. All three characters, in their respective ways, feel representative of the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole, and contribute to making GTA V what it is -- the ultimate culmination of Rockstar's beloved and despised series. Personally, I think that's a fine thing to be.  Also, Trevor regularly spoons his juggalo friend's cousin Floyd while he sobs and apologizes to his out-of-town girlfriend for what he's just done.  So, that happens. 
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Heist heist baby!
Writing an introduction to a Grand Theft Auto review seems unnecessary. If you know videogames, you know Grand Theft Auto. Hell, even if you don't know videogames, there's a better than low chance you know Grand Theft Auto. T...

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Hey, buddy!
It's time for the fourth installment of Outlast. On today's spooky chapter, I run around in circles from a doctor as murderous as he is naked, get smashed by a big 'un, and turn some valves in the name of progress. It's all scary stuff! We may very well be coming to the end of the road after this one. It's been fun!

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Dr. Holmes is in the house
It's time for the third part of my Outlast gameplay extravaganza! This time, I get caught down in the sewers with Smashy Smashy Egg Man, I get chased through corridors by maniacs, and I enjoy a session with a naked butt doctor.  How can you refuse, with a summary like that?

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Check out the nonsensical tat we got sent
So, I'll be doing your Grand Theft Auto V review for you, and you'll doubtless want to know exactly how biased and paid off I am. This video, produced in the name of disclosure, reveals the expensive gift items and stacks of loot that definitely swayed my opinion. Or not. You decide.  Check out the towel, bullet whistle, and dog pockets that have bought your upcoming GTA V review!

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Rhymedown Spectacular: Secret Cream


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Sep 12
// Jim Sterling
Your ol' chums Jim and Yahtzee are back with more rhymes for your face. This week, Yahtzee talks about the rigors of guard duty, while I share revitalizing secrets with you. Kweh! As always, the human condition is explored by the pair of us. 
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Podtoid 269: Lick A Frog's Holes


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage every Thursday!
Sep 12
// Jim Sterling
Jonathan Holmes attempts a PS Vita filibuster but is foiled by plans to burn all his possessions, waterboard him with gasoline, and force him to perform gratuitous sexual acts on amphibians in the name of musical theater.&nbs...
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Scary Penis Boys
A more sober version of me returns to the nuthouse for part two of Outlast. This time around, I come face to face with murderous naked men, catch a necrophiliac in the act, and pick up some batteries.  Hopefully you continue to enjoy the series! I love all of you watching so far, I love you on the butts. 

Review: Killzone: Mercenary

Sep 10 // Jim Sterling
Killzone: Mercenary (PS Vita)Developer: Guerrilla CambridgePublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: September 10, 2013 (NA), September 4, 2013 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 Killzone Mercenary is an impressive attempt to preserve as much familiar Killzone content as possible and house it on a handheld system. Unlike previous attempts from lesser studios, Mercenary enjoys the distinction of being the inaugural first-person-shooter to actually get it right on PS Vita. Not only does it function with little in the way of compromise, it looks fantastic and plays exactly how it ought to. The fundamental controls are intuitive enough. You have your twin sticks for moving and aiming, your left shoulder button for iron sights and your right for shooting. Interacting with objects is performed either with the Triangle button or by touching an icon onscreen -- and I really appreciate not being forced to stretch a digit to the middle of the screen -- while sprinting can be performed either by tapping Circle while moving or double tapping the rear touchpad. Considerable effort has been made to keep the Vita's varied input options from overlapping and confusing the game, the only noticeable conflict being when crouching -- an action that required Circle to be tapped when stationary, which one often forgets in the heat of the moment. Switching between primary and secondary weapons, as well as using special VAN-Guard equipment or grenades, is all handled with virtual buttons located conveniently to the sides of the screen, a judicious use of touch controls that I always appreciate. Less convenient are melee attacks which, when initiated, require timed swipes across the length of the screen. It's gimmicky and forced, but it could have been a lot more egregious than it is and, once one gets used to them, they can be quite satisfying to pull off.  The only other annoying touch element is the mandatory hacking sections. Now and then, you'll be required to hack objectives by performing a banal pattern-matching touchscreen minigame. It's not especially difficult, it just feels somewhat unnecessary, and didn't really provide anything positive to my day. When something exists just for the hell of it, I can't say I'm ever impressed.  While Mercenary could easily have just condensed a regular Killzone experience and left it at that, efforts have been made to do offer a handful of unique toys. For one thing, players constantly earn cash as they play, scoring financial rewards for various kills, for hacking computers, and even for scavenging enemy ammunition. This money can be spent at Blackjack arms dealerships, to unlock new weaponry, armor types, and VAN-Guard gear.  VAN-Guard refers to a range of gadgets that offer some new amusements during the course of battle, taking the form of temporary weapons, buffs, and ordnance. You can have one VAN-Guard equipped at any given moment, and most of them are useful in some way, shape, or form. The Mantys, for example, is a remote-controlled bot that can sneak up behind opponents and stab them in the temples, offering silent kills without risking yourself personally. Less stealthy players may enjoy the Porcupine, which sends locked missiles onto any opponent the player jabs with their finger, or the Arc Missile, a bot companion that hovers near the player and fries incoming foes with a blast of electricity. My personal favorite is the Vultur, which locates all enemies on the map and allows every living thing to be seen through walls and floors. It's earned me a lot of kills.  Players earn ranks with every weapon they use, as well as general experience for kills and mission completions. As they rank up, players earn new loadout slots for multiplayer. One is also encouraged to keep playing daily to earn Valor Cards -- personal calling cards that raise or lower in ranking based on how well the player is performing. These cards are dropped whenever an enemy is defeated in multiplayer, earning whoever collects them extra points.  For its solo campaign, Mercenary offers a sidelong view at the conflict between Vekta and Helghan, seen as it is from the perspective of a mercenary. Soldier-of-fortune Arran Danner takes the lead role in a campaign that takes place alongside the events of both Killzone and Killzone 2, with several stages set on Vekta, and the latter half of the story told on the Helghast's home planet. While not exactly an impressive narrative, it's a decent little yarn, and manages to be one of the few sources of Killzone canon that actually portrays the ISA in a less-than-heroic light while making their fight with the Helghast morally greyer.  It's a shame, however, that the solo game is a fairly short experience, completed in a mere few hours. It rushes through itself, as players switch from fighting alongside the ISA to the Helghast and back again in short order -- a far cry from the "choose your side" promises seen in earlier trailers. The final boss also pops up out of nowhere (as well as being a pain in the ass to fight) It's a linear story that offers little in the way of replay value, save the monetary incentives -- and unless you really can't decide on what your favorite gun is, there's not even that much reason to keep earning the cash.  I wouldn't be so disappointed by the campaign if it wasn't consistently fun, however. Aside from making an FPS work on the Vita, Mercenary stands as a thoroughly entertaining shooter in its own right, giving us some unique insights into the Killzone universe while adding cool new optional stealth routes through missions, and plenty of explosive setpieces. The shooting action is solid as granite, with weapons that feel as heavy and powerful as they should, and a pleasant variety of enemies to deal with -- especially once you finally get to fight on the opposite side of the battlefield.  If the campaign is somewhat thrifty, however, its online counterpart holds up an impressive amount of slack. Featuring four-on-four battles across three game types (free-for-all, team deathmatch, and the Killzone specialty Warzone), Mercenary offers lag-free, highly competent handheld multiplayer combat across decently sized maps. While the Vita's less robust thumbsticks make human opposition a little trickier to deal with, it ought not take long to get used to the way things operate, and one is left with a very pleasing pool of violence that can be easily dipped into until the Vita's battery drains to its last gasps.  Adding touch-based interrogation objectives and randomly dropped VAN-Guard capsules into each match makes for an online offering that stands apart from the console alternatives while retaining a familiar series feel. There are no classes to choose from this time, but one can customize a loadout using equipment unlocked at Blackjack's, with funds and progress carrying over between the online and single-player portions.  While I can't quite see myself staying as engrossed in Mercenary's smaller-scale, simplified battles for as long as Killzone 2 had me, it's the perfect thing to crack out for the occasional bit of portable warfare, and it ought to serve fans quite well for those moments when they want to get in on some Killzone, but need something just a little different.  As explained at the start of the review, Sony Cambridge did a great job with the visuals, giving a title that easily ranks among the PS Vita's best lookers. There is the odd graphical glitch, and I did once have my character stuck in a hacking animation, but overall, things run smoothly and really look quite impressive on the OLED screen. There's some solid voice acting and a forgettable-but-suitable soundtrack backing things up, too.  Killzone: Mercenary could have stood to provide more content, but that which is on offer is all very well polished and plays almost impeccably on Sony's latest handheld venture. Distinguishing itself as the first Vita FPS to really showcase the system's strengths, this is one of those ambitious titles the system can be proud to showcase, proving that a console experience can not only work in the handheld space, but be damn fun without suffering too much in the way of compromise.
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Leading the VAN-Guard
This is the game I wanted a PlayStation Vita for. I have a long documented fondness for the Killzone series, and while Killzone: Liberation on the PlayStation Portable was enjoyable enough, I truly longed for a genuine first-...

Review: Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs

Sep 09 // Jim Sterling
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs (PC)Developer: The Chinese RoomPublisher: Frictional GamesReleased: September 10, 2013MSRP: $19.99 With a game as reliant on an unravelling story as A Machine For Pigs, it's difficult to discuss almost anything relating to narrative without ruining the whole thing. To give you the basics, however, the year is 1899, the turn of the century, and a lone man in an abandoned house is in search of his two sons. To say much more about the story itself would serve us a hard turn into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, The Chinese Room weaves a most disturbing tale.  Amnesia benefits from dabbling in medical horror, by far one of my favorite subgenres, and overlaying a genuinely authentic Victorian atmosphere over the environments and dialog. Audio recordings and documents unveil the game's backstory, and all carry with them unnerving surgical detachment married to a stark romanticism of language. As an exercise in period horror, A Machine For Pigs displays its pedigree with pride.  Much of what made The Dark Descent enjoyable has been carried over, too. As one might expect, a vast amount of the game is made up of walking through dark rooms, jumping at creaky floorboards and clanking noises. Every now and then, a minor puzzle may provide a hindrance, though such tasks usually involve very simple activities such as replacing broken fuses or pulling the correct levers. Thorough exploration of each area to find hidden switches makes up much of the experience, and discovering each gramophone or discarded letter is required to further understand what soon becomes a most perplexing story.  [Stay tuned for our official video review, coming soon!] Enemies are few and far between, and cannot be directly combated. As with Dark Descent, the presence of monsters requires switching off the light, hiding quickly, and praying to God you sneak out alive. The fear of making one's move, the often disarming terror at the idea of alerting the twisted creatures that stalk the halls, has all been preserved from the original game, though the instances are incredibly rare, perhaps moreso even than last time.  For all its atmospheric preservations, the influence of The Chinese Room is keenly, sometimes overbearingly felt. For one thing, Pigs is far more about walking and having a story told to you than Dark Descent was. Gameplay elements such as light sources, tinderboxes, and the sanity meter have all been removed, leading to a game with a lot less to worry about. A Machine For Pigs gives you a lantern, that can be switched on or off at will, and that's about it. Even tactical use of the lantern is rendered moot, since there are so few enemies to deal with. Make no mistake, this is a game that wants to tell you a tale, and it does all it can to ensure you pay attention without distraction.  Thanks to this often exclusive emphasis on story, much of the ground-level horror has been reduced. The concepts involved in the narrative are unsettling on a psychological level, but the scares themselves, the stresses of maintaining one's sanity and safety, are at a remarkable low in comparison to The Dark Descent, and fans who wanted more of the same may well be disappointed by what is far more of a guided tour than a survival horror experience. It wouldn't be unreasonable for some horror fans to think, "is that all?" when the game's four hours are up.  Those who find themselves drawn into the story, however, will be impressed by the presentation, especially the use of music and the gorgeous design of the environments, both of which add real weight to the game's most dramatic moments, even at times when the plot itself borders on the incomprehensible. The whole adventure builds itself up to an impressive crescendo, escalating the pace on a subtle level and pulling back the curtain on its weirdest elements at the perfect moment. The evocative imagery the dialog drums up, especially the very real and dismal meaning of the titular "Machine For Pigs" itself, delivers a different kind of horror experience from the jump scares and visual body horror we're so used in games, a mentally alarming tactic not seen since the earliest Silent Hill games. Even if it's low on the scares, there's an undeniably "creepy" vibe that permeates A Machine For Pigs, and it effectively keeps the game tense, even when it's obvious there's no immediate danger.  Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is a threadbare successor to The Dark Descent in several ways, taking out tangible gameplay in order to provide an experience undeniably closer to Dear Esther than many of us may want. Even so, it at least makes an effort to compromise and bring us a lot of the atmosphere enjoyed in both Amnesia and Penumbra, while the perturbing story and half-surgical, half-industrial imagery contribute to an evocative game, if not a wholly satisfactory one.  It's hard to recommend A Machine For Pigs to every horror fan, as it provides something that could so easily delight or dismay, something that is unique and effective, but potentially shortchanging. If you want to be told a vexingly bizarre story presented with a real sense of style, The Chinese Room may have exactly what you want. If you're a massive survival horror fan who wants to be made to scream, however, you probably want to stick your snout in someone else's offal. 
A Machine For Pigs photo
That'll do, pig
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a beloved title for a number of reasons. As well as becoming a viral darling thanks to a cavalcade of shrieking YouTube videos, Dark Descent was praised for bringing back a sense of true survival ...

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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Freedom of expression is not freedom to express without challenge. A game is within its rights to include any content it does, but that content is not sacred. Puppeteer features a boy as the hero, not a girl. Gavin Moore wa...

Outlast - Now Bloody Playing

Sep 09 // Jim Sterling
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That's not good, that's not good!
Last night, I got myself a little more drunk than I'd planned to and, in my feverish state of mind, decided it was a perfect time to fire up Outlast and record myself playing it. Going in blind, this is my first time reaction to what's already turning out to be a terrifying game.  People seem to have really enjoyed this one so far, so I intend to give y'all some more Outlast in future.

Review: Puppeteer

Sep 09 // Jim Sterling
Puppeteer (PS3)Developer: SCE Japan StudioPublisher: SonyReleased: September 10, 2013 (NA) / September 11, 2013 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 Puppeteer tells the tale of Kutaro, an unlucky boy who has had his soul kidnapped by the Moon Bear King -- quite literally a bear that wears a crown and lives on the Moon. Turned into a puppet and ungraciously decapitated, Kutaro is aided by the Moon Witch and a cast of eccentric characters to retrieve a pair magical scissors, Calibrus, and carve his headless way through the Moon Bear King's generals before defeating the evil monarch himself.  As its name implies, Puppeteer is drenched in the aesthetic of an old fashioned puppet show. Curtains raise and fall at the beginning and end of levels, scenery is held up with sticks, characters appear to be fashioned of stitched cloth and wood, while each screen falls apart and rebuilds itself to signify a chance of environment. The visual result is inspiring, taking the handmade feel of LittleBigPlanet and turning it into something even more remarkable. With a static camera and plenty of things thrown at the screen, it's also been built perfectly for 3D televisions, something worth checking out.  [Check back here for our official video review -- coming soon!] Gameplay predominantly takes the form of a classic scrolling platformer, with Kutaro running and jumping his way across each stage. The hero is controlled with the left stick, while the right stick (or the PS Move wand) moves his sidekick: either the sinister cat Yin-Yang or the squawking Sun Princess. By moving the sidekick to a piece of scenery and pressing R2, the environment can be interacted with, either releasing collectable Moon Stone Shards (which grant extra lives when 100 are nabbed) or uncovering hidden heads for Kutaro to place on his empty shoulders.  While Kutaro has lost his own head, there are hundreds of replacements hidden throughout the game, from skulls to spiders to christmas trees and even more exotic noggins. If Kutaro takes damage from a trap or enemy, his head falls off, and he'll have a limited amount of time to collect it (similar to the ring system from Sonic the Hedgehog). Up to three heads can be stored at any one time, and if all three are misplaced, Kutaro will lose a life. A simple enough system, but one that can be tricky, especially with plenty of chasms into which heads may so easily roll.  As well as looking funny, these heads can each be used to unlock things in the game. If the player happens to have the correct head at the correct time, they can perform its special animation with the press of the D-pad and open up a piece of scenery to unlock bonus roulette wheels or even whole bonus stages. Since some of the heads themselves are quite well hidden, and keeping a particular head long enough to have it at the right place is easier than it sounds, it'll take quite a while to uncover everything Puppeteer has to offer.  During the course of the campaign, Kutaro will unlock special abilities, the foremost of which being his use of the Calibrus. These magical scissors allow players to cleave their way through the environment, a skill that really opens up the platforming and adds a uniquely keen angle to platform navigation. Various parts of the environments will take the form of cloth or paper, and Kutaro can hammer the Square button near them to literally cut his way through, defying gravity to cleave a path up paper plumes of smoke, or snip past blockades. The scissors are also put to use against the Weavers -- mini-boss monsters with cloth bodies that must be cut into pieces before they're defeated.  As well his magic scissors, Kutaro will also gain the power to reflect attacks with a shield, toss ninja bombs, move heavy objects and perform power slams, all thanks to unique heads uncovered as part of the plot. These abilities all conspire with Calibrus to create some smart puzzles and navigational hindrances, and while nothing is ever so puzzling as to truly stump the player (one gets the impression this is all designed with children in mind), there is some pleasure in seeing just how inventive Sony Japan has been with a few simple and familiar platforming tricks.  Puppeteer boasts great gimmicks and provides solid sidescrolling action, but it does suffer from a slow pace at regular intervals. Even some of the faster moments, in which you ride on the back of some sort of animal/vehicle in stages reminiscent of Sega Genesis' The Lion King, there's no real sense of speed to the game, and things that could be far more exciting very often fail to generate so much as a raised eyebrow. I enjoyed much of my time with the game, but I can't say it ever overwhelmingly delighted me -- indeed, I was blank-faced for much the experience, navigating a slow character through fairly innocuous and formulaic stages, biding my time until more clever stuff happened.  The action also finds itself subject to the same kind of watery physics seen in spiritual cousin LittleBigPlanet. While not nearly as bad as Media Molecule's games, the tendency to put exuberant animations and exaggerated movements over and above tight controls leads to some jumping sections that feel off-base, especially during those rare moments where precision might be needed.  Fortunately, the game ramps up the thrill factor in its large boss battles, which manage to be visually busy without growing distracting, and play the "puzzle boss fight" card to the hilt. Boss encounters generally revolve around the classic system of waiting for an exposed weak point and making the attack, but the use of the Calibrus to cut one's way to said weak point makes each fight feel far more involved than it otherwise might be. It's remarkable just how varied these battles can be, despite only a limited number of actions available to the player, and it's the kind of invention that really helps make Puppeteer stand out from the crowd.  Though the graphics are impressive, and bursting with an array of gorgeously clashing color, the audio presentation is less consistently brilliant. The music is fantastic, but the voice acting predominantly grates, bursting with the kind of stereotypes and squealing that haunt the ears of anybody whose kids watch too much Nickelodeon. Children may indeed be delighted by the overacting and perpetually unfunny jokes, but most sane adults may want to claw their brains out after hearing a few characters talk. That said, a number of the Moon Bear King's generals are quite amusing to listen to, especially the Rooster who appears to be taking a subtle stand on his transgender rights. Above all, I'm most charmed by how honestly Puppeteer wears its influences on its sleeve. From classic platformers like Mario to more recent excursions such as Rayman Origins, Sony Japan's sidescrolling adventure is littered with nods to the very best in platform gaming -- a genre so criminally underused these days. This is a game that truly loves the classics, and isn't shy from displaying that love while providing its own individual style.  Puppeteer is a bold move for a company as big as Sony, and its presence on the PS3 is welcome. It's worthy of praise that a brand new game property -- a classic platformer no less -- would get a full retail release this close to the end of the console's life cycle. It helps, of course, that Puppeteer is also a genuinely fun game, one that is marred by its sometimes sluggish pace and tendency to be annoying rather than funny, but overall provides some much needed ingenuity at a time when videogames are ramping down in time for the next generation.  While Puppeteer is far from a system seller, anybody with access to a PlayStation 3 could do far worse than taking this little charmer out for a walk. 
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It's no dummy!
One has to hand it to Sony. Of all the "big three" console makers, the house of PlayStation is far and away the most open to risky prospects and new ideas. While Microsoft plays it safe with marketable shooters, and Nintendo ...

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Jawa dead!
I've been wanting to play Paranautical Activity -- the groovy looking roguelike FPS -- for quite some time, but I've been so busy I didn't even see it hit Steam! I promptly downloaded it this morning and decided to record my...

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Annoyed Gamer and Jimquisition explode all over your screen!
During this past weekend, I had the pleasure of sharing some screen time with Marcus Beer, known to GameTrailers viewers as the Annoyed Gamer. In this crossover video, we discuss preview events (and why I don't do them), independent developers, and the classic problem of industry overspending.  I hope you enjoy watching it almost as much as I enjoyed making it, ahur hur hur!

'Hoy there, small fry! photo
'Hoy there, small fry!

'Hoy there, small fry!


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Sep 07
// Jim Sterling
K'EEEEEEEEEEEH?
Now Bloody Playing photo
'I will cry all the way home'
It's time for another playthrough from your best buddy Jim Sterling! This time we're having an early look at Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, the upcoming horror game from The Chinese Room.  Don't expect screaming and yelli...

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Podtoid 268: Anal Gummy Bears


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage when I remember to post it!
Sep 06
// Jim Sterling
Jim is sick with the PAX flu, but still forced himself to deliver a steaming bag of degradation and filth. This week, the gang discusses what they did at PAX, plans for future PAX attendance (or non-attendance), and the prosp...
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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
You don't have to hate downloadable content to avoid ever buying the stuff. Even heartfelt fans of the concept can be thoroughly turned off, and it's all thanks to the idiots trying to sell it. Your old pal Jim loves DLC, as...


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