College Course to Include Portal on its Syllabus

GladosOne of the things I remember dreading the most in each college course was the handing out of the syllabus. This loaded piece of paper captures your entire semester in paper form, telling you just how busy you are going to be, and exactly what you’re going to be doing. Add five of these together, and they become a horde of wild beasts. Although perhaps I would have felt differently if I were a student at Wabash College this year.

For the first time, a video game is appearing on a Wabash College syllabus as required “reading” for a course titled Enduring Questions, one that all freshmen must complete in order to move on with their college careers. Here is a little bit of a snippet about the course itself:

Enduring Questions is a required freshman seminar offered during the spring semester. It is devoted to engaging students with fundamental questions of humanity from multiple perspectives and fostering a sense of community. Each section of the course includes a small group (approximately 15) of students who consider together classic and contemporary works from multiple disciplines. In so doing, students confront what it means to be human and how we understand ourselves, our relationships, and our world.

Apparently, one of the faculty members is a gamer, and took the charge to think of unique non-text media examples to a great conclusion: Portal. To him, it addresses questions of individuality and the onstage performance of people versus their backstage identities, which perfectly sums up Aperture’s experiments in a nice, thoughtful and engaging way. He pitched this idea to the rest of the faculty, and they jumped aboard, and began testing distribution and Steam installation on a big level, to ensure that many freshmen could all do it as well.

To me, this is a huge and awesome step towards video games getting cultural and thoughtful recognition. It ranks right up there with the way that Shadow of the Colossus was handled in the movie Reign Over Me, as a man tried to deal with the deaths of his family through playing the game.

What do you guys think of this? If you were putting together a video game course list, what would you include on it? Go!

Source- The Brainy Gamer

New DeathSpank Dropping in September

DeathSpank 2

Some developers take years to pump out a sequel, but we gamers are an impatient folk. We want it now, and Hothead Games is happy to oblige. Although the original DeathSpank only came out last month, September 21 sees the release of the sequel on the PlayStation network, followed by the X-Box LIVE Arcade version the next day. DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is going to be about 50% longer than the original, which wasn’t that short to begin with (around 15 to 20 hours). The main difference in Thongs of Virtue is that the puzzle and questing aspects will be more pronounced, but the hack and slash combat that defined the original will still be present.

Since DeathSpank is the brainchild of Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert, gamers should expect more of the same hilarity that permeated the first game. Indeed, the point of Thongs of Virtue is to destroy magical undergarments that are possessing their wearers. Unfortunately, the short time span between the two games means that Thongs of Virtue won’t address any of the issues that were raised with the first title meaning that online co-op is still out. However, DeathSpank’s wizard friend returns for local co-op, along with Steve the Ninja. This new game will also feature a variety of exotic weapons, such as guns.

What do you guys think about this quick sequel turn around? Is it even worth putting something out if you can’t fix the complaints about the original? True, they were few and far between, with online co-op being the major sticking point, but I would have liked to see that included. Let us know!

Source and Image – Kotaku

Fallout: New Vegas Will Not Allow Post-Ending Play

In what some may consider to be a surprise, especially considering the bad taste this same feature left in gamer’s mouths when Fallout 3 was released, Fallout: New Vegas will end when you beat the game. That’s right, you don’t get to keep playing and complete all those side-quests you left unfinished.

Game director Josh Sawyer of Obsidian explained to 1UP the situation, confirming earlier reports:

“We put a lot of effort into the ending slides — we know those slides are really popular with people so we want to make sure there’s a huge amount of variety and reactivity with that stuff. We weren’t really focused on new features so much as to add a really rich sense of reactivity to the players and the choices they make.”

It does seem that you will get a warning before you pass the point of no return and you can always do what we did in the old days, which was reload your final save and keep playing that way. Some might speculate that this will be changed during the inevitable DLC onslaught, but from the article, it doesn’t sound like there are any plans to add such a feature.

On an unrelated note, I had no idea the ending slides were “really popular” with anyone. They were okay, but didn’t exactly rock my world.

Does this affect your outlook on the game? Would anyone not buy this game now?

Source: 1UP

Game Music Face Off!!! Super Metroid vs. Earthworm Jim

16 Bit era music is still my favorite, so I thought two side-scrolling games pitted against each other might be a fun change. Also, Metroid: Other M is coming out this month on the 31st, so I wanted to do something to commemorate it.

Super Metroid’s Lower Norfair is a deeply atmospheric song, a slow burn, with a ticking noise in that plays throughout, heightening the tension as you descend deeper and deeper to the labyrinth of Norfair.

New Junk City, from Earthworm Jim is one of those tracks I love that slowly builds layer upon layer of new instruments, all the while getting catchier and catchier. The funky riff is perfect for a level called New Junk City and I love the bass solo that comes later.

So which one wins this week, kids?

Super Metroid – Lower Norfair

Earthworm Jim – New Junk City

Which song do you prefer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Portal 2 Co-Op Trailer Shows Robot Buddies

Well, I hate to bombard everyone with so much Portal 2 news, but I doubt anyone really minds. The follow-up to Valve’s critically acclaimed title hits in February 2011, and in addition to having a more robust and lengthy campaign, it’s also going to add a new layer of replay value with co-op missions.

Honestly, I’ve been wondering how a co-op Portal game would work for several months now, as I’m sure many of you have. Well, wonder no longer, because Valve has provided a (very) brief trailer for Portal 2 co-op to give a glimpse of how it’s all going to work.

Also, I call the short fat robot buddy. I’ll fight you for him.

Man Sues Publisher, Claims Game Addiction Ruined His Life

lineage is reporting that a Hawaii man (seriously? Hawaii? Go outside, dude!) is suing NCsoft of South Korea because their game, Lineage II, is too addictive and has left him unable to function independently. The plaintiff, Craig Smallwood alleges that the company:

acted negligently in failing to warn or instruct or adequately warn or instruct plaintiff and other players of Lineage II of its dangerous and defective characteristics, and of the safe and proper method of using the game.

He also claims, and this is my favorite part, that he would never have started playing the game if he knew that he would become addicted to it. The suit goes on to say that between 2004 and 2009, he played Lineage II for 20,000 hours. Makes your mom’s Farmville obsession seem tame in comparision, eh?

Now, you get to be the judge. How would you rule in this case? Personally, I am of the opinion that if a few million people play a game or see a movie and only one or two act crazy, the problem is clearly with those one or two people, not the product. What do you think?

Source: Wired

The Rock Band 3 Team Reveals the Set List

While we’re on the topic of leaks, it seems that a couple of days ago some unscrupulous visitor to GameCom 2010 decided to grab a cell phone video of Rock Band 3’s set list and share it with the world. Well, Harmonix has decided to strike back with a rebuttal video, and…wait, in the background, is that what I think it is?

Rock Band 3 Setlist OFFICIAL Comment from Harmonix on Vimeo.

Well played, Harmonix, well played. Full set list is after the jump: Continue reading The Rock Band 3 Team Reveals the Set List

Avert Your Eyes: Halo: Reach Leaks Early

halo-reachSome people are persistent, there’s no doubt about that. Even when games are hidden inside Microsoft’s own fortress of code and priced at over $1250 on Xbox LIVE, pirates still find a way to get what they want. Halo: Reach, which is slated to come out in less than a month, has been grabbed from Microsoft via some skullduggery on their very own servers. The prohibitively expensive version of Reach (statue not included) was intended to be available to reviewers so Microsoft does not have to ship out box copies. Furthermore, even if you manage to scrounge up that many Microsoft Points, you still need a special download code to get it (Microsoft had done something similar with Crackdown 2, which is still not available publicly via LIVE).

While there’s been plenty of debate on this site about piracy and whether it’s good or bad, this is a pretty ballsy move even by Internet standards. Most games are pirated after their release or shortly before, but never from Microsoft’s own website. Spoiler-related threads are springing up all over the Web, so if you’d like to stay pure for September 14, batten down the hatches. Until the Cyber Police get this leak under control, there will be much chaos in the house of Xbox.

What do you guys think about this development? Are you going spoiler hunting or avoiding forums at all costs?

Source – Joystiq

Mitch’s Mods: Star Wars Requiem For Sins of a Solar Empire

Star Wars: Requiem
I don’t know how many of you played Empire at War, the most recent of the Star Wars brands’ long line of mediocre Real Time Strategy titles, but I sank a fair few hours into that game. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it was nothing worth writing home about, either. While the ground combat was severely lacking (you couldn’t build base structures where you wanted them), the space battles were great fun. Taking control of either the Rebellion, the Empire or Tyber Zann’s Consortium, you could duke it out with anything from X-Wings to Super Star Destroyers. As fun as it was, it was fairly limited in scope, and the Galactic Conquest mode made the space battles more of a stepping stone than a main attraction. I’ve longed for the day that I can control the Empire on a mission to take over the galaxy, and it may have finally arrived with this fan made mod for Sins of a Solar Empire.

Sins is a game that focuses on managing a huge empire, so the large scale of its maps (which can range from one solar system to several) is a perfect fit for the Star Wars aesthetics. The mod is fairly easy to install, too, since all of Gas Powered Games’ titles are DRM free and open to modding. As soon as you boot the program up, you’re instantly treated to Duel of the Fates, the song that plays when Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Gin are dueling Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. The whole mod is fantastic, and all of the Star Wars ships look exactly like you would imagine them to. Even ships that are only present in the expanded universe, such as Lancer assault frigates, are represented in game. The models for the ships are really well detailed, and the sound effects are very true to the movies; they even replaced the phase jump sound effect with the noise of a ship jumping to hyperspace. The mod does rip quite a few sound files from Empire at War, so they loose a few points for that. Over all, this is a really high quality mod, and it got me excited enough to install Sins on my machine again. If you’ve got the game and are inclined towards Star Wars, pick up this mod. Heck, even if you’re just interested in high quality homebrew expansions, grab it as well. Hit the jump for a video of a space battle in progress: Continue reading Mitch’s Mods: Star Wars Requiem For Sins of a Solar Empire

Does this Harry Potter Demo Show the Perils of Kinect?

Motion control. I know, we’re all tired of debating the subject to death, but it’s here to stay and we’ll just have to live with the bonuses and negatives it brings. This will be especially true when both Move and Kinect launch this Fall, bringing a whole slew of new talking points to the conversation.

And while I hate to sound like a broken record here: the motion control trend concerns me, but most notably with Kinect. I think the technology that they’ve put together is fantastic and innovative, but the software we’ve seen so far, not so much. Take for example the new Kinect Harry Potter demo shown off this week at Gamescom. What might seem like a perfect fit for motion controls (who wouldn’t want to blast Death Eaters with wands), looks to be a downright mess. I’ll let you check it out.

I think the easiest thing to take note of is something I’ve wondered about Kinect for awhile now. With no buttons or controller at all (like Move or the Wii), how does one, you know… move through a game environment? The Forza demo shown at E3 had no way of accelerating or braking. Likewise, the Harry Potter demo displays no discernible way of moving the wizards through the, erm, wizarding world. Watch as the Weasley twins stop moving—that’s when the characters on screen run.

Basically, when you want to progress—stop moving. The gameplay then stops, Death Eaters appear, and then you engage in completely imprecise looking attacks. The Move equivalent of this game is Sorcery, and it seems to be light years ahead in comparison.

Honestly, I’m shocked at the way all of this is unfolding. Every new demonstration I’ve seen of Kinect leaves me more and more underwhelmed. What do you guys think? Too soon to judge, even though this thing debuts in just a few short months?

What Games Have You Bought This Gen?

Video GamesAs we get ready for the fall gaming season, we’ve had a few discussions lately about clearing out gaming backlogs. For some, this means renting or borrowing from friends to get through as much as possible. For others like me, it means playing through purchased games and trading them back in to get ready for what’s coming next (Halo: Reach and Civilization V, anyone).

The comment thread from our recent podcast delves into the idea of trading in old games a bit, and it got me thinking about all the games I’ve purchased this generation. Some of the ones off the top of my head include: Gears of War 1 and 2, Halo 3 and ODST, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, Valkyria Chronicles, Uncharted 2, Forza 2, Mass Effect 1 and 2, Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3, Little Big Planet, Viva Pinata, FFXIII, Red Dead Redemption and then some.

Really, there aren’t a heaping ton of them or anything, but it still got me wondering: what games has the rest of GS purchased over the last few years? Leave your lists here, people. Go!

Take-Two Responds To Italian-Americans Offended By Mafia II

Mafia II, Take-Two’s newest entry in the open-world crime series comes out later this month, but it has already ruffled some feathers, according to 1UP. In what is literally straight out of a Sopranos episode, UNICO National, an Italian-American advocacy group sent the publisher a letter, stating the game is an:

“inappropriate and insulting perpetuation of the pervasive and denigrating stereotype of organized crime being the exclusive domain of Italians and Italian Americans.
“Why would [Take-Two] foist a game on their target audience of young people wherein they will indoctrinate a new generation into directly associating Italians and Italian Americans with violent, murderous, organized crime, to the exclusion of all the other ‘mafias’ run by other ethnic and racial groups,”

The spokesman for UNICO, Andre DeMint, then called for the game’s release to be delayed until all references to Italians and Italian-Americans can be purged from the game.

Take-Two’s response was matter-of-fact, pointing out that no one at UNICO has to play the game and since the it is rated M for Mature, it is specifically NOT targeted at young people. And of course there was the obligatory reference to all the great crime movies, books and TV shows over the years and games have just as much right to express themselves as any other medium.

So where do you come down on this? Personally, I can’t stand when a group gets offended by this. Just having a game about the Mafia doesn’t imply that every single Italian acts this way in real life. Just like not every Italian acts like Snooki or The Situation from Jersey Shore. What say you?

Source: 1UP

Costume Quest by Double Fine is Adorable, Downloadable

Tim Schafer is one of those certified “video game celebrities” in my mind, so much so that if I walked past him on the street, I’d ask for a picture (I may do this at PAX, should he be there.) Unfortunately, his studio’s last big title, Brutal Legend, didn’t do that well commercially, so Double Fine is having to switch plans somewhat. The first step of their new business model is to release several small downloadable games, the first of which is Costume Quest, a Halloween themed RPG due out on October 31 (clever, huh?). Take a look at the trailer:

Just the sort of thing we wished our costumes could do when we were kids, no? Admittedly, I didn’t play Brutal Legend mostly due to the less-than-overwhelming reception, but Costume Quest looks like it is due to be a hit. What do you guys think? Pumped for the next Tim Schafer game?

Say Hello to Portal 2 GamesCom 2010 Footage

For some reason, GamesCom this week seems to be coming out with all kinds of information that E3 2010 didn’t have, like the fact that Portal 2 releases as soon as February 2011 to much joyous applause and excitement. It’s nice that it’ll be arriving early in the year, and I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on it, especially if some of the new stuff I’m seeing is any indication to the game’s quality.

We’ve seen a few pieces of Portal 2 so far through a variety of videos, but a new Portal 2 GamesCom video shows alot of the new elements working together, with a few new bits as well. If I’m being honest, I felt like the addition of things like a propulsion and repulsion gel, along with tractor beams, could potentially over-complicate what I feel to be a near perfect experience. However, seeing them all work in tandem shows off a crazy amount of possibilities for gameplay.

So, give it a watch. Like I said, some old stuff is in this video, but it does showcase a few new things as well. Who else can’t wait for February 2011?

Halo 2600 Homebrew Brings The Fight To Atari

This is kind of an awesome little story. Ed Fries, former VP of Microsoft Game Publishing division, designed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game made its debut at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this past week, where cartridges were sold for $20.00 a pop. Apparently, Microsoft is okay with this and has decided not to send the Brutes (AKA: Legal Department) after Mr. Fries.

I know what you’re thinking: but, Anthony, I didn’t go to the Classic Gaming Expo and I don’t have an Atari 2600. In fact, some of you are probably wondering what that even is. Well, fret not, because Code Mystics was nice enough to host a flash version of the game that you can play for free! It reminds me of E.T. without the suckiness. Hearing the Halo title screen theme in those old-school bleeps and bloops is more than surreal.

So hit this link to start blasting away at the Covenant in a way you never thought possible:

Halo 2600

Source: Yahoo News

Warren Spector Warns About Video Games Going the Way of Comic Books

Warren SpectorAs a medium, video games have been on the rise for a couple of decades now. We all know the tired comparison of video games outpacing big box office blockbusters, and the like. However, there are some that believe that gaming is perched on the precipice of slipping into obscurity if it does not undergo a shift. Warren Spector, creator of video games such as Deus Ex, Thief, System Shock and the currently-in-development Epic Mickey, recently spoke at Gamescom and had some warnings to current game developers.

Basically, Spector wants games to push forward into the mainstream, such as film, rather than falling to the wayside and classified as the niche, like comic books. While comic books have gained a sort of new life as of late, a lot of that was due to the film industry, as people over the years wrote off comic books as only being for a certain lower audience. Could the same happen to games? Spector thinks so.

“If we don’t break out of the big buff guys with swords, and guys in tights, and space marines in armor, we’re going to get marginalized the way that comic books have been in the United States… I hope we can break free of the content of comic books.”

It seems fairly obvious who Spector is pointing to, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s got a point. Eventually, it makes sense that people would get tired of the same old same old, but video game sales each year favor sequels and the big space shooters, contradicting that idea.

So what do you guys think? Is Warren Spector correct?

Source- CNET

Review: StarCraft 2

StarCraft 2I’m not going to mince words on this one, because if you’ve been even remotely interested in PC gaming since the late 1990s then you’ve probably played StarCraft. Blizzard may have fed their other RTS series to the MMO meat-grinder, but, at least for now, StarCraft remains as the gold standard of old-school strategy games. On the other hand, it is 2010, and the strategy genre has seen some impressive leaps in the area of both gameplay and story-telling mostly thanks to Relic and their excellent Dawn of War and Company of Heroes series. Can the StarCraft formula still hold up, even all these years later?
Continue reading Review: StarCraft 2

Mafia 2 and the Question of Realism

When I first played Grand Theft Auto 4 many moons ago, the city seemed so vivid and real (like a double rainbow) that I was almost afraid to be bad in it. I wanted to obey traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs or maintaining a proper and safe speed limit. Eventually, the guise wears away and you’re off on your mayhem.

However, the release of the Mafia 2 demo (the full game is coming on August 24 to PC, PS3 and 360) brings with it a new question to the method of driving in a sandbox world: if a cop sees you speeding, they give chase. Now, in many other open world GTA clones, cops will pursue you if you are breaking other laws, but speeding always seems to be OK.

My first reaction to hearing about this was that it was cool to have that level of realism in the open world. But the more I thought about it, it would be like asking someone playing Crackdown not to leap across buildings, or someone playing Prototype not to fly. The thought of 20 hours in, obeying the speed limit really doesn’t seem like something I’d like to do. But I could be alone. What do you guys think? Vote!

What do you think of the Mafia 2 driving system?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Insomniac Announces Resistance 3 and Previews New Ratchet With 4-Player Co-op

GamesCom is the new E3 as Insomniac announced a brand new entry in the acclaimed and popular Ratchet & Clank series, subtitled “All 4 One”. The game will have 4 player co-op and have drop in/drop out enabled, which I really like. Players can play as Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark (YESSS) or Dr. Nefarious. See the trailer below:

Also, no details as of yet, but Insomniac did reveal that they are currently working on Resistance 3, which is happy news for fans of the series. As of now there is only a live-action trailer, which isn’t really worth watching. Hopefully we can get something more concrete for you soon.

In the meantime, would you be interested in a co-op Ratchet game? Does this excite you at all? What about Resistance 3? Anything you would like to see in the next installment?

Crysis 2 Multiplayer Up on the Rooftop

Crysis had a pretty decent multplayer offering in its original inception, the gameplay laying somewhere between the open battlegrounds of the Battlefield series and the weapon purchasing mechanic of Counter-Strike. Add in the game-altering use of the nanosuits and you had an interesting versus mode that was open only to those with a hefty PC gaming rig. Now that Crysis 2 is hitting the X-Box 360 and the PS3 in addition to the PC, the game’s unique style of combat is going to be availible to a lot more people. Take a look at Crysis 2 in action:

The on-stage demo is featuring the 360 version, but I’ll admit that I thought the feed was running on the PC for a few moments. The game looks really good, and I’m excited to check it out when it drops in March 2011. What about you guys? Are you ready for Maximum Gameplay?