GamerSushi Asks: Franchises that Tanked?

Sonic the Hedgehog

Is there no greater pain than watching a franchise fall from grace and into the gutters where only the video game slime lives? I’d submit that for a series’ greatest fans, there probably isn’t.

On the subject of great franchises that have sadly lost their way, GamePro has put together a list of The Greatest Franchise Nosedives in the industry. It’s a funny yet sad look on the titans of old that, for one reason or another, tumbled down to earth after seeing great success. While there are a few on there that are givens (Sonic, anyone?), there are also some that I hadn’t considered in a while simply because of how irrelevant they’ve become in recent years.

In terms of other franchises that I’d like to see find their way back to prominence, I would have to say that I think Starfox is due for a comeback sometime in the near future. And while I don’t think Final Fantasy is in the hole as of yet (XIII was a good time, if flawed), I do want to see them find the same sweet spot they used to last decade.

What do you guys think? What franchises have really tanked in your opinion, and which do you hope can make a comeback? Go!

Source – GamePro

From Dust is a God Game with a Twist

from dust

The second offering in 2011’s Summer of Arcade came out this past week, and like Bastion before it, the materials I saw before release intrigued me enough to pick it up. I am speaking, of course, of From Dust, the environment-manipulation game from UbiSoft.

In From Dust, you control the Breath, a deity of sorts that has the ability to manipulate the landscape. You can pick up anything from water to lava with the left trigger and drop it with the right. At first you’ll just be using earth to make bridges over water, but later in the game things get more complex as you’ll be sculpting the land to re-direct lava flows or using wind to part the seas.

No god would be complete without people to worship it and From Dust supplies you with devotees in the form of the Men. These little guys are your responsibility as they seek out to populate the land and rediscover connections to their ancient heritage. For the most part the Men do what they will, you only command them what to do when you want to recover an artifact, found a new village or move on to the next area.

From Dust is a little different from other games of this type because it puts you under a lot of pressure in the later stages, forcing you to move fast against the overly-aggressive nature of the world. Erosion happens very quickly and lava can overwhelm your poor Men if you’re not careful. You’re not omnipotent here, the Breath has a very defined set of powers and it’s up to you to work within those limitations as best as you can. The only problem I’m experiencing with From Dust so far is the controls; they’re a bit too loose for my taste, requiring a lot of compromise on your part as you’re not able to fine tune your movements with the analogue sticks.

Other than that, though, From Dust is a very interesting game and carves out its own niche in the Summer of Arcade. God games are something we don’t see a lot of on the consoles (or even on PC anymore), so if you’ve been missing those types of games, I recommend checking this out.

Has anyone else grabbed From Dust? Are you waiting for the PC/PS3 releases? What are your thoughts?

Robot Tells the Sad Truth About Working in the Games Industry

So, you want to work in the games industry? There are a few things you should know first.

I came across a humorous video today in a thread where people were discussing the now somewhat viral video made by a girl who wants to get a job at Valve. What hers and many other pleas from gaming industry hopefuls often miss is the kind of work that goes on in that world. It seems like the best piece of advice is to learn to make games on your own, and work at it until one of them can get noticed.

Anyway, I thought the video was full of a few megaton truth bombs, as cynical as it is. It’s a bit old, too, so forgive me if you’ve seen it already. Thoughts?

GamerSushi Asks: Origin Versus Steam?


In recent weeks, we’ve seen a bit of drama when it comes to the digital delivery of some of EA’s games. This has mainly occurred on Steam, where Crysis 2 was removed from Valve’s platform, and just this morning, Dragon Age 2. While there are a number of reasons for this, overall it stems from EA pushing their new content delivery system, Origin, as a competitor to Valve’s monopoly.

Here are some thoughts from EA CEO John Riccitiello about the future of Origin, given in a recent conference call with video game press.

“We’ve had a lot of inbound inquiry about getting on. I think forward-looking publishers really want their content on any and every platform possible. One more sale is better than not… We hope to be HBO meets Netflix for gaming. But we’re also very keen to have our content distributed to anywhere and everywhere gamers are.”

So while that does sound like they want to keep their future releases on platforms like Steam, it also sounds like they are setting up a rival system all the same. I’d bet that a big portion of their hopes hinge on The Old Republic and Battlefield 3.

As someone that hopes to play Battlefield 3 in the coming months, the idea of yet another content platform on my PC is kind of irksome at the moment, but I’m willing to see how it plays out. What are your thoughts? Is this like trying to take on iTunes in the music industry? What do you think of EA’s goals here?

Source – Gamasutra

Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Fun or Shun?

Welcome to a new GamerSushi feature, gents. In Fun or Shun, we set our sights on an upcoming release that we are on the fence about, and make final declarations of our allegiance (or lack thereof) to the title. In the first edition of this endeavor, we thought we’d tackle Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the long anticipated follow-up to a legendary series.

Each of us have fallen off the fence about this title in recent weeks. See where we’ve landed below. Continue reading Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Fun or Shun?

Civilization 5 Makes Me Miss Other Genres

civilization 5

Over the past weekend, Steam had a sale where Civilization 5 was on offer for seventeen dollars. At that price, you would have to have a very good reason not to pick that up. I tried Civilization 4 on my laptop a while ago, but I never really got into it. After hearing all sorts of great things about the game from when it released last year, I decided to tuck in and seen what it had to show.

I played a few games over the weekend and I have to say that Civ 5 is quite addicting. Once I got a hang of the mechanics and how everything gelled together, I was really digging the nation building aspects and avoiding combat whenever I could. The Barbarians can’t be avoided, but other Civilizations will parley with you peacefully if you’re not too aggressive (small City-States, on the other had, will hate you unanimously if you go around conquering them willy-nilly).

The first game I played like this was Rise of Nations, a real-time game (Civ is played in turns, if you didn’t know) that was as much about building a strong country as it was building a strong army. Civilization is a little bit more focused on the cultural aspects, but it made me miss the hours I spent playing RoN all the same.

Since so much of what I’m playing these days are shooters, Civilization 5 and Bastion were a great one-two punch combo of different genre hotness. It’s nice to play a game where the main objective isn’t “kill all the dudes” and it kind of makes me wish I had bought it earlier.

Did anyone else grab Civilization 5 during the sale? Have you been playing it since release? What do you think of it?

Does Halo: Anniversary Pack a Next Gen Punch?

As many of you know, Halo: Anniversary releases this November, right in time for the 10th anniversary of Halo: CE, a game that changed the landscape of FPS gaming on consoles. All we’ve seen of the game thus far has been shown to us in a slew of E3 trailers, but no more. The dudes at 343 have been kind enough to put together a walkthrough of The Silent Cartographer, one of the original game’s more famous levels, in the brand new engine.

So what do you guys think? Do you think the graphics go far enough to make this a contender with some of the other big titles of today? How excited are you that they used much of the original game’s code? Who will be buying this? Go!

Bastion is a Callback to the Games of Your Youth

bastion video game

Bastion was released this past Wednesday, ushering the in the annual Summer of Arcade on Xbox LIVE. Made by Supergiant Games (and published by Warner Brothers Games), Bastion is an isometric RPG-style beat-em-up that is supposed to invoke the feeling that games gave us back when we were kids. The folks at Supergiant have said this repeatedly since the game was announced and I’d say that they really nailed it.

Taking on the role of “The Kid”, you set out to restore the Bastion, a safe-haven where the residents of Cealondia agree to meet during a catastrophe (called “The Calamity” in this case). Along the way your adventures are narrated by one of the other characters and it’s this persistent monologue that really makes the game shine. The presentation of this game is fantastic, from the dynamic narration to the visuals and the music (oh man, that music). Supergiant has made a classic here, if only in the new steps it takes in storytelling.

The game isn’t exactly perfect, though; the combat is a little too simplistic and repetitive, even if you can apply new attributes and boosts to your variety of weapons. Aside from that minor blemish, Bastion is really, really good and has already given me another music-in-gaming moment that might just top Read Dead Redemption (please be careful clicking that link if you don’t want to be spoiled!).

Is anyone else playing Bastion right now? What are your thoughts?

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Pre-Order Debacle

star wars the old republic pre-order

Some exciting news out of Comic-Con today regarding the Old Republic, but maybe not the kind that people were expecting. It’s not the release date as many people might have hoped, but rather the news that you can pre-order Star Wars: The Old Republic in one of three flavors (regular, Digital Deluxe and Collector’s

Pre-ordering is all well and good and as natural to the video game industry as wetness is to the ocean, but letting people pre-order without a release date is a little strange. Beyond that, the Collector’s Edition was very limited (it was sold out by the time I looked at the page this morning) and apparently the Digital Deluxe version is in limited supply as well. You can still pre-order the DD SKU, but after dropping your cash-monies on it you’ll be informed that you are “likely” to receive the thing you paid for.

I’m going to try and not editorialize this too much, but there’s something wrong if you can’t guarantee people something they paid money for, especially if it is digital. What many people suspect EA and BioWare are attempting to do is limit the amount of people logging in on day one in order to transition smoothly from development to MMO-sentience, but they way they’re going about it is all wrong. Opening pre-orders before a solid release date and telling people that they might get what they paid for smacks of under-preparedness among other things.

EA will no doubt bequeath people their Digital Deluxe editions, but whether or not you’ll be in the first run remains to be seen. I get that the Collector’s Edition is supposed to be rare (given the number of Halo 3 boxes I still see in stores makes me scoff at that notion), but putting a limit on a digital item will no doubt raise eyebrows.

What do you guys think of EA’s move? Is it a little too much taking money before putting out a release date?

Review: Bastion

bastion review

Bastion was a curious title that was on the GamerSushi radar for a quite a while. A downloadable isometric brawler/RPG with charming graphics, great music and the unique aspect of having your entire adventure narrated by a silky smooth voice? Color us intrigued.

Even though we were hyped for the game when it dropped, how does it fare when stacked up against the GamerSushi grade chart? Continue reading Review: Bastion

GamerSushi Asks: Gaming Shame?

game shameToday, while talking with several co-workers, I mentioned that I enjoy playing video games. This turned out to be a mistake. I was basically the butt of every joke for the next several minutes, and even subjected to statements such as “ugh, you’re a gamer?” and “your poor wife!” In the year 2011, I’m actually surprised this still happens, but it does.

As a nerd, I’m generally used to people teasing me a bit about my hobbies (heck, I’m making fun of myself for it more often than not), but I was pretty confused by the lengths that the conversation went in terms of putting down gaming as a whole. It makes sense to me that there’s a certain stigma attached to the guy that plays nothing but Call of Duty (or any game, not just singling out that series) for 30 hours a week, but I figured gaming is widespread enough these days that it’s just accepted.

For the most part, I let these comments slide off my back, but it did stir me to start a few conversations about it over the course of the day. I was curious if you guys ever still run into this kind of thing in your lives? Do people ever give you a hard time about playing video games?

Metacritic Founder to Game Reviewers: Use the Full Scale


One of the things that we try to do differently around here than at other game sites is handle our reviews with care. We do our best not to rush them, we try to tackle them thoughtfully, and really consider our scale when we assign grades. This hasn’t always worked out perfectly, and sometimes I still question the way we handle this, but I think we do a decent job. Other game reviewers? No comment.

Metacritic founder Marc Doyle, however, has some choice comments of his own. Talking with GamePro, Doyle expressed his opinion that game reviewers, quite frankly, need to play more crap. He believes that the sliding scale of game reviews to higher ranges is in part due to reviewers not playing truly bad games often enough.

Below-average games are not being reviewed as often as they once were and, partly as a result, critics have not honed their skills at assigning scores from the lower end of their grading scales. The question of exactly how bad a game has to be to merit a 1 score instead of 2 on the 10 point scale, for example, is not being contemplated with as much experience, care and precision as the 8 versus 9 consideration.

Later he goes on to talk about how the film industry is used to these bad scores, and knows how to adapt itself to them. He believes that playing bad games would help reviewers at their trade more, and would benefit the industry as a result.

So what do you guys think about this? In my mind, this could easily be a chicken vs egg argument. Have reviewers done this because of Metacritic, or did Metacritic come about because of this trend in reviews? Or is it the publishers who have put too much pressure on reviewers? Who exactly is to blame for this strange relationship? Go!

Source – GamePro

GamerSushi Game Night: StarCraft 2

gamersushi game night starcraft 2

It’s been a long time coming, but the GamerSushi staff are finally ready for another game night. The last official one we had was in Halo 3, with a few random Halo: Reach sessions when that dropped. Now that Eddy has built his new PC, we’ve decided that the time is ripe to have another GamerSushi Game Night.

This time around we’re going with StarCraft 2, so you PC gamers will finally get a chance to trash us. Nick may put up a fight, but Eddy and I will basically roll over and die as soon as you start harassing our mineral lines (seriously though, don’t do that).

While we still need to nail down a specific date (it will be sooner rather than later, don’t worry), what we need you guys to do is put your Character ID below and give us an indication of what time works best for you. Obviously, with the time differences, it’s going to be hard to get it perfect, but we’ll give it our best shot. Much like Halo 3, we’ll probably do this a couple of times to ensure that you’ve had your fill of beating the crap out of us.

Sign up below so we can get an idea of how many people will be participating and we’ll go from there!

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Microsoft Admits they “Lost Their Way” with Halo: Reach, ODST

halo lost its way

I know, I know, this is another gaming industry trash talk article, but bear with me for a minute. Now that Bungie has said good-bye to Halo, Microsoft has taken up the banner, trumping up their upcoming schedule of Halo titles like the Combat Evolved remake this fall and Halo 4 later next year. Since Halo 4 features the return of Master Chief, Microsoft’s Corporate VP Phil Spencer talked with OXM about bringing back the O.G. Spartan and why Halo 4 evokes the spirit of the first Halo. I get that he’s promoting Halo 4, but the way he does it is kind of odd. Have a look at the quote, and see if anything strikes you as unusual.

“The key question for me in managing the studio and the creatives is ‘what is Halo?’, making sure Halo lives up to what I think gamers fell in love with [playing Combat Evolved],” Spencer told OXM at E3 after the new game’s official reveal.

“What does that mean? Playing Master Chief,” he said. “We kind of lost our way a little bit, I’ll say. And that’s why I wanted to make sure that at the unveiling of Halo 4, you knew you were playing Master Chief, that John was back. Because Master Chief is the John Wayne character of that universe, and that’s who you want to play.”

It’s the “we kind of lost our way a little bit” coupled with the fact that Mr. Spencer seems to think that Master Chief is what makes Halo Halo. Now that Bungie has officially parted ways with their old publisher, I think a little bit of resentment is starting to crop up in the 343 Industries office. Saying that Halo lost is way in ODST and Reach was a bit unfair, especially considering that Reach was lauded as the closest the series has ever come to emulating the magic of Halo: Combat Evolved.

I guess you could look at this from a story standpoint, but I just don’t think that gamers care that much about who they’re playing as in Halo, as long as the combat is fun and there’s co-op and multiplayer to boot. What do you guys think? Is Phil Spencer dissing Bungie, or does he geniunly believe that people want the Master Chief back really, really badly?

Source – OXM

Warhammer 40K: Kill Team is an Ork-Slaying Good Time

warhammer 40k kill team impressions

I’m a big fan of Games Workshops’ sci-fi table top game Warhammer 40,000, and I think I’ve mention my affection for the Dawn of War series here on the site a few times. To get in a little extra revenue (and free advertisement) before the release of this Fall’s third-person action game Space Marine, Relic Entertainment has released Warhammer 40K: Kill Team, a twin stick shooter.

Out today for Xbox LIVE Arcade (and next week on the PSN), Kill Team takes the action to a series of levels stuffed with Orks (and maybe a guest appearance by another race) and has the players run through them, trying to get as many kills and points as possible. Being a twin stick shooter (think Guardian of Light but without the awesome puzzles) Kill Team is very basic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. If you’ve got a co-op buddy, there’s a decent amount of entertainment here for ten dollars.

You can play through the game as one of four different types of Space Marines (each with their own unique skills and special moves) and you can gain boosts and new gear to max out your damage. Facing down hordes of Orks with a buddy and mowing them down with your rapid fire rocket launcher while he rips it up in melee is a sight to behold. When you’re done that, you can run through the levels again with a different Marine, or you can try out the ubiquitous survival mode.

Where the game does fall flat, though, is the fact that co-op is local only and only the lead player can get Achievements. If you can get around these two stumbling points, Kill Team is a blast and exponentially more so with a co-op partner.

I don’t know if any of you were even aware of this games existence, but if you’re hungry for a quick shot of downloadable co-op action without much brain strain, Kill Team should be on your radar. As a bonus, completing one mission in Kill Team gives you access to the Power Sword when Space Marine hits. Are any of you going to try this out, or will you pass on this year’s Warhammer 40K offerings?

Final Fantasy Versus XIII Creator Skips Cut-Scenes

Final Fantasy Versus XIII

In news that could only be described as “shocking” or “total bullcrap”, Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura, the acclaimed and maligned creator of Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy VII and a host of characters with too many zippers/buckles/amnesia has stunned the entire world with the following statement to Famitsu via 1UP:

I suppose it’s a matter of opinion, but I wind up skipping most cutscenes I run into because I want to get back into the game.

Frankly, I’m stunned. If you’ve ever played or indeed even heard of one of Nomura’s games, you would know why this news really should have shut down the Internet today. I’m kind of disappointed.

Oh, there was some other news too, namely that Final Fantasy Versus XIII is coming along nicely and will have a new type of story-telling element that Nomura says are “realtime event scenes that the player can control. These scenes are part of a new gameplay feature which, as far as I know, hasn’t been done anywhere else.”

To me, that’s a good sign. It shows that even one of Japan’s biggest developers can try new things and seek new ways to tell their stories. I have no idea what this new feature will be or if it will work at all, but I give him an “A” for effort.

What say you? How can games tell stories in new and exciting ways?

Source: 1UP

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You…Reading?

a dance with dragons released

Today is July 12, GamerSushians, and if you’ve been keeping up with the world of fantasy literature for the past six years, this is the day that George R. R. Martin’s long-awaited fifth tome in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons, hits shelves. After A Feast for Crows came out in 2005, fans have been waiting on baited breath to find out what has been happening in the world of Westeros and beyond the Narrow Sea.

I just picked up a copy of the book myself; alas, the book is only being released in hardcover right now (at least in Canada) and the cover design doesn’t match that of the preceding books, something that will surely drive me mad until I can get my hands on the paperback copy. I’m a completionist, you see.

With my TV in a less than perfect state (the lamp has either burned out or it’s a more sinister issue), this is the perfect time for me to tuck into the new, massive work of GRRM. Since I’m so enthralled with the written word, I thought I would ask you guys what you’re reading. Are you also devouring A Dance with Dragons? Got some other books that you’re reading at the moment? Anything you consider essential reading that you want to recommend? Go!

Bungie’s Farewell to Halo

Master Chief

It had to happen at some point, folks. As somber as it is, Bungie is finally saying their official goodbye to the Halo series as of August 2nd, they’ll be handing control of Halo: Reach’s matchmaking, etc. over to 343 as they send their legendary franchise off to sea. Or the stars, as it were.

Here’s a bit from their farewell post:

Halo is yours now. In many ways, it always has been. Its new caretakers will strive, just as we did, to be worthy stewards but you have the package. Hold these characters and stories and worlds to the same unflinching standards you did while we were at the helm, but allow them all to blossom and change and grow in the ways that they must.

As such, Bungie says they’ll be running dark after August 2nd, as they continue work on their newest endeavor, a brand new universe that they’re building for publisher Activision. Their final words? “See you starside.”

So how do you guys feel about Halo passing hands? I know some of you don’t care very much about it, and I know we also have some fanboys, myself included. Love it or loathe it, it’s hard to deny such a monumental series and its power, and I’ll be curious to see what happens to it in the future. Thoughts, friends?

Source – Bungie

Twenty Minutes of BioShock Infinite Gameplay for Your Friday

Yes, you read that right, twenty minutes of BioShock Infinite gameplay have been gifted to us by the boss of all bosses, GTTV’s Geoff Keighley. In reality it’s a fifteen minute demo book-ended by Ken Levine of Irrational Games chatting about Infinite, but that’s nothing to scoff at either.

One of my big gaming resolutions for 2011 and beyond was to not get dragged into the hype train and consume every piece of media I can get my hands on, but given the quality of what I’ve seen, that pledge has been tough to hold up. Even though BioShock Infinite isn’t coming out until 2012, it’s got me salivating like a fat dude jogging past an ice cream store. What did you guys think of this demo, which was originally shown to journalists at E3? Looking good?

iCEnhancer, the Stunning Grand Theft Auto IV Mod

Hello, gorgeous Liberty City. If you haven’t heard, iCEnhancer is a mod, created by modder iCE La GlacE, that will add a set of visual and behind-the-scenes improvements to Grand Theft Auto IV on the PC. Among these technical upgrades are new car models, high-res textures for roads, buildings and the like, some fancy visual enhancements and even smart new AI that allows NPCs to break the law. While some of that might sound like old hat, a new video demonstration of the visual effects should prove otherwise.

This video pretty much did what I thought was impossible – it made me miss Liberty City and also made me hungry for Grand Theft Auto V. As much as I’ve bagged on GTA IV in the past (which I won’t do again here), the city was seriously a technical marvel. Even in the midst of some of the game’s issues, I was always amazed at what Rockstar did with Liberty City, and to see it re-created in such a way is actually sort of breathtaking. See for yourselves.


Source – Edge