With the price of games on the rise, so too have a series of complaints risen around the idea that longer games generally mean better games. In particular, RPGs are expected to be bloated to colossal lengths, from the Elder Scroll series to Mass Effect and even Fallout 3. Gamers want more game for their money, more world to explore, more weapons to collect, more foes to conquer and more time to invest. But is this always a good thing?
In a rather interesting (if somewhat controversial) review of the game Dark Souls, Slate writer Michael Thomsen wonders if 100 hour games are a waste of time for gamers instead of a boon to their hobby. Even though I haven’t played the game, and always hear the opposite of his assessment of it, I do have to say that I find his prodding question to be thought-provoking. Honestly, there’s so much that people can accomplish in the amount of time it would take someone to clamber through all of Skyrim – but does that mean that it’s pointless for the person that enjoys it?
It seems that Thomsen would argue that yes, it is. In his view, it’s never necessary for a game to take 100 hours to tell its tale, and that many games have done better with far less time. When put that way, I do have to agree: some of my most favorite games have accomplished what they did in around 20 hours or so, without ever overstaying their welcome.
So, while I’m not sure I’m on board with everything this article states, I did want to kick the question to you guys: are 100 hour games just a waste of time? Go!
While there are a number of troublesome trends in the video game industry (as many of you have noted in the Mass Effect 3 DLC discussion), every now and then someone just gets it right. I think because of the anti-consumer nature of the industry at times, it becomes that much more potent when a company does something on our behalf, or something that goes against the grain.
Today, Sony launched a totally free version of Killzone 3’s multiplayer mode for download on PSN. Yes, Killzone, one of their staple franchises. You can play the game with friends, kill random strangers, and even rank up – although past a certain point you’ll need to pay money for continued experience and trophies. Again, that’s hours of entertainment for the grand total of free ninety-nine.
To me, this is a bold and brilliant move by the company that just a few years back tried to tell us their Heavenly Sword player was worth a staggering fee of $599 with a straight face. This is basically the equivalent of Microsoft announcing that Halo: Reach’s multiplayer was going free to play. Obviously, the business side of this is that Sony hopes that it will encourage gamers to buy DLC packs, maps and so forth, but I think the results will be interesting to watch. A number of MMOs didn’t become profitable until they went free-to-play, so I can only guess that this will have a positive effect for Killzone 3 as well.
What do you guys think of this decision? Would you like to see other companies pull something similar with their big franchises? Go!
Welcome back to the GamerSushi Show, ladies and gents. Due to some scheduling and life stuff, we’ve gotten a tad behind on releases, so this episode was recorded a few weeks back – on Anthony’s birthday, no less. Because of that, Mr. Taylor skipped out to go celebrate getting a year closer to death, while the rest of us drank things and talked about video games.
The main topics we discussed were the Mass Effect 3 demo, fixing the Zelda franchise and great endings. Beyond that, we play a game of Buy/Sell about topics like Team Ninja, Apple gaming and more – all of which result in my inevitable and recurring victory, as always.
I was on the fence about posting an article about the whole Mass Effect 3: From Ashes brouhaha, but an article I read over on Forbes’ website changed my mind. The article is called “Why the Exploitation of Gamers is Our Own Damn Fault” and in it author Paul Tassi examines the recent trend in DLC which, instead of being an expansion pack model, seems more like content cut from the complete game and dolled out piecemeal after launch.
While he makes a couple of statements I don’t particularly agree with, he is right in saying that we’re to blame for current DLC. As he points out, everything that’s happening with post-launch content is an economic experiment. As much as we complain about being “exploited” people are still buying products, so once again money is trumping our outcry.
The title of the article is more than a little sensationalist, but the message underneath it is sound. EA only cares about money and they’re testing us to see how far they can go. For every person who buys From Ashes on day one, that’s another chink in the armor of the old-school method of selling games.
I think pinning the blame on BioWare is unfair, but there you have it. Two different opinions regarding this whole debacle. Personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is about From Ashes. It’s extra content for people who have paid an extra 30 dollars to get the Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3, and it’s available for people who didn’t, or couldn’t given the rarity of the CE, pick one up.
So what do you guys think about From Ashes? Who’s right, Paul Tassi or Total Biscut? Are you boycotting Mass Effect 3, or is this whole thing being blown out of proportion?
Been a while since we had one of these discussions, so I thought it was time for a good old-fashioned “What Are You Playing” from the folks at GamerSushi.
This time of year is always a strange one. It’s about the time that you start clearing out the backlog from the end of the previous year, and you’re moving on to a number of random games that you couldn’t quite find time for before. Sure, there might be the random release like Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Twisted Metal to keep you busy, but for the most part, you’re waiting for one of the big releases from March or perhaps even as far away as the summer.
At least, that’s my story right now. Having just come off of Final Fantasy XIII-2, I’ve been dabbling in a few games that I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I do. For one, I’ve been totally up to my knees in the Mass Effect 3 demo. That one in particular was one that I had mostly written off, only expecting just a few evenings of fun – but it’s had the opposite effect on me. I’m totally suckered into it at this point, and I can’t get enough of the leveling system and the store purchases.
In addition to that, I’ve jumped into the MGS HD Collection, and I can’t believe how much I’ve liked playing Metal Gear Solid 2 again. Sure, I’m still at the early stage of the game (the Tanker), but I had forgotten just how tightly designed that section of the game actually is. I never considered that I would enjoy playing MGS 2, but here I am. And the restoration is great. In addition to that, I’ve been hopping in and out of Battlefield 3 multiplayer sessions with Mitch, and I’m right on the verge of being completely addicted to that as well.
So yeah, that’s what I’m playing these days. What about you gents? What are you playing?
Borderlands was a really interesting game when it came out, a hybrid of RPG, FPS and open-world game with a good bit of loot-craziness thrown in. Even with bajillions of guns, there were a few issues with the game, most notably the somewhat stale environments (would you like desert, garbage dump, or garbage dump in the desert?) and the most nonsensical ending in the history of video games. Secret robot assassins aside, Borderlands did well enough to warrant a sequel and the release date trailer dropped today, revealing the four main characters and adding a bit of the old dubstep.
Borderlands 2 is looking really fun, and if you put WUB WUB over anything there’s a good chance I’ll buy it. The new characters look pretty neat, and the enemy variety looks like it has expanded beyond skags and bandits. Color me excited, which I believe in loot parlance is purple. What say you? Does this trailer catch your fancy? Borderlands 2 launches September 18 in the US and the 21 in the rest of the world.
Look, guys, I’m really sorry, but this is going to be another Mass Effect 3 inspired post. If you read this and rolled your eyes, turn around now. If you’re still reading, I thank you for your patience, and yes, I do know the difference between “best” and “important”.
Last night during the GamerSushi crew’s routine dip into the ME3 multiplayer demo, I did something outside the norm and tried out the Engineer, one of the more “support” oriented classes. My main character is a Vanguard so going from damage-dealer to backup felt a little odd at first but once I made the transition in styles it felt really good. Overload is an essential addition to any party, so if you’re lacking an Engineer in your squad, get one ASAP (the drone is also really useful for taking out shield-weilding Cerberus troopers).
Normally I go for the “DPS” (or deeps as the kids say) build and never touch support, but Mass Effect 3 changed that for me, so much so that Engineer will be my primary in the final product. So what about you guys? What class do you roll?
I’ll admit that I’m pretty quick to judge a book by its cover, especially when that book happens to cost 60 dollars and might take up hours of my life. More often than not I’m prone to judge a multiplayer portion of a formerly single-player game because in the day and age of Internet connected consoles, everyone and their dog are throwing on a multiplayer mode for the heck of it.
Assassins’s Creed: Brotherhood, BioShock 2 and now Mass Effect 3 have all proved that just because a game’s wheelhouse is the single-player narrative, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also dip your toes into the online arena. When AC:B and BioShock 2 were about to launch, there was a lot of noise made about how their online modes would probably suck, but they proved us wrong.
Mass Effect 3 is much the same way. I didn’t want to lead in with it, but Eddy, Anthony and I all played the co-op for a couple of hours last night and we had a blast. I finally unlocked the Nova for my Vanguard and Eddy and Anthony’s classes (Soldier and Sentinel respectively) clicked for them so we were operating in concert as a deadly, efficient team of sci-fi bad-asses.
Given that people (me included) were so ready to write of ME3’s co-op, I’m surprised by how quickly it got its hooks into me. The booster pack unlock system really adds to the longevity; it’s kind of like buying a pack of Pokemon cards and hoping you get a shiny Charizard. Most of the time you get like, a Chancey or something, but it’s the hope you might get something cool that keeps you going.
My whole point with the article, aside from pumping up the ME3 co-op jam, was to ask you guys if you ever decided to give a game a fair shake and chastised yourself for hating on it unfairly. What games did this happen with? What are your thoughts on ME3’s multiplayer?
Welcome, friends, to Episode 41 of the GamerSushi Show, in which we say silly things about video games. As opposed to the rest of our podcasts, which are only super srs in nature. This thing was actually recorded all the way back on February 9, so you can listen to it with amusement and think about how wrong and naive we were all those weeks ago. Oh, the things we’ve learned since then. The places we’ve been. The games we’ve played. It was a different time.
Anyway, you’ll hear a couple of the technical difficulties that we had throughout this cast. Namely, that our Internet connections were goofing with the Skype call, making us sounds like robots every now and then. In addition, I had nearly a whole bottle of wine throughout the recording, so I just gradually transform into a troll over the course of it.
When we’re not robots, however, you’ll notice a number of sweet gaming topics, which range from Kingdoms of Amalur to the Double Fine Kickstarter to Final Fantasy XIII-2 and more. After all that, we play a game of grades in which we act all high and mighty about the whole industry. True story.
With Mass Effect 3 on hot approach, it seems that related articles are crawling out of the woodwork. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that’s we’re prone to sensationalism here at GamerSushi, there’s no denying that we’re jonesing pretty hard for that game.
Much like the Zelda article I posted a couple days ago, this essay on Mass Effect has been making its rounds today. It’s not about fixing the series, though, but rather examining why Mass Effect is the greatest science-fiction universe of our generation. It’s a very long read, but just like the Zelda article, it’s worth it. The author, Kyle Munkittrick, picks apart the many facets of Mass Effect and analyzes everything from the medium it’s presented on to its messages and philosophies.
One of my favorite parts of the article is where the writer touches on my favorite conversation from Mass Effect one, and maybe the whole series: the point of Virmire where you encounter Sovereign and realize that Saren is merely a pawn in this living, almost god-like, ship’s plan to destroy all sentient life in the universe. That’s part of what the philosophy of Mass Effect is, according to the author: the universe is large and uncaring, and what place does humanity have in it. By extension, what place do you as Shepard have in humanity?
I really like the recent surge in quality video game essays recently, ones that take a look at our hobby through a more refined lens. It proves that there’s more to video games than just explosions and scantily-clad women, so I hope this pace keeps up. What did you guys think of the article?
When I first started playing multiplayer games, the realm of online gaming felt like a vast, unexplored world — one that needed conquering by my mighty hands. As the intrepid explorer, I imagined I would venture out into the far reaches of that vast pasture of frags and k/d ratios, seeing everything there was to see. It didn’t matter if I was alone, I could do this for hours on end, slaying the multitudes of faceless, anonymous players that populated each server.
Somewhere along the way, things changed. At some point, I began to need a buddy to help me tackle the vile denizens of multiplayer. This became especially apparent to me over the last week, as I played through the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer demo and Battlefield 3 (for the first time) with fellow GamerSushi writer, Mitch. You see, with early access to the Mass Effect 3 demo, I could have very well jumped into a multiplayer match with total strangers, fighting alongside them against waves of Cerberus bots. But that prospect just didn’t excite me. The same thing was the case with Battlefield 3, a game I’ve owned for over a month but didn’t want to play until I had someone to enjoy it with.
Honestly, I can’t even say why or when this change took place. I’m not sure if it’s because this whole “life” thing forced my gaming time to be more precious or because there are more social gaming options now than ever before, but at some point my tastes shifted. The main point of this was to ask you guys whether or not you tackle multiplayer games by yourself, or if you need a friend with you to truly enjoy it? Maybe you guys can help illuminate some of the reasons why we game the way we do in that regard. Go!
If there’s any game series crying out for a fresh interpretation, it’s the Legend of Zelda. While this belief is a little incendiary, many people feel that the series hit its zenith with Ocarina of Time and has been in steady decline every since. That’s not to say that the games are bad, necessarily, but they are formulaic and in need of a shot in the arm.
During my travels on the dusty roads of the World Wide Web, I stumbled across an essay entitled “Saving Zelda” by one Tevis Thompson. In his piece he runs down what he sees as the problems with the current version of Zelda and where the series went wrong. His comments on how the game world is just a series of locks (and how the items you collect can be equated to a jangling keyring) struck a particular cord with me, and this is by no means the only point he makes. He examines everything from the games’ visual styles to the design of the over-world to the re-treading of the same story over and over.
His article is a bit lengthy, but it’s well worth the read, especially if Skyward Sword left you wanting. The comments about how modern Zelda games do not respect the player is in step with how I felt about Skyward Sword, and the analogy of game designers being helicopter parents was almost too perfect.
I really urge everybody to take a break from their day and read this; you may not agree with every point but it’s a great argument against the staleness of modern Zeldas. What did you guys think of the article? Did the author make some good points? Where do you agree and disagree?
In preparation for the glorious release of Mass Effect 3, gamers everywhere are enjoying a taste of the game’s demo tonight and throughout the rest of the week. With an offering of both single player and multiplayer, it’s giving everyone a chance to see what all the hype (and in some cases, the fuss) is about. To join the Shepard spirit, we thought we’d debut a new feature, a brainchild of the good sir Anthony Taylor. Because he’s cool like that.
This feature, titled Renegade/Paragon, is a look at the video games industry through the brutal cut-and-dry scope of the Mass Effect universe. Here, we grade certain entities and rate them as either Paragons — bastions of light and purveyors of all that is good and true — or Renegades — bringers of gloom, doom and every corridor of evil in between those two. Afterwards, you get to make your own calls on the situations.
I’m going to try and type this post without going into full-on editorial rage mode, but it’s going to be difficult. Guinness World Records recently held a vote to determine which video game had the best ending of all time. A number of “gamers” (13,519 to be exact) cast their ballots and came up with the Top 50 Video Game Endings of all time.
There are some pretty decent choices on the list like Shadow of the Colossus, Portal and Red Dead Redemption but the game that tops the list is last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops. That game had a decent ending, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of any list, much less a list of the supposed best endings in the history of gaming. This isn’t the only puzzler either as Sonic Adventure 2, The Force Unleashed II and Super Mario Bros all make an appearance. I could rant forever about why the Force Unleashed doesn’t even deserve anything but a quick trip to the incinerator, and Super Mario Bros doesn’t even have an ending.
I’ve got mixed feelings on demos these days. On the one hand, the impatient, spoiler-hunting, flip-to-the-end-of-the-book part of me (I’ve done that a couple of times, yes) loves getting a glimpse at a game that I’ve been anticipating. It’s like getting just a bit of cool refreshment in the middle of a ridiculous Texas summer. And if you know what that feels like, it is damn heavenly – at least until the oppressive heat crushes and suffocates you again. On the other hand, the more sensible part of me knows that demos only rile me up and leave me wanting more. And then there’s the mutant third hand, which likes trying out games that I’m on the fence about – but we’re going to ignore him for now.
While tomorrow might be Valentine’s Day for many lucky gamers out there, it’s a monumental day for yet another reason — the Mass Effect 3 demo hits. Now, while I normally try to avoid demos for games that I’ve already pre-ordered and am sure to enjoy, I just stinking love Mass Effect and have been dying to experience 3. Even though the game comes out in just a short month, I still want to get my hands on it as much as possible right now, particularly to experience some of the multiplayer. I also happened to receive a demo code to download it early, so it might be queued up on XBox Live, even as I type this…
My question to you dudes, is this: how do you feel about demos for games you’ve already pre-ordered? Do you not wish to spoil the experience at all, waiting until the moment the game is out to truly play it for the first time? Or do you want a taste as soon as possible? Go!
And by the way, if you haven’t seen the incredible FemShep trailer yet – go do that, too. I’ll wait.
Comics book tie-ins to video games usually disappoint me, but I keep holding out for the one that breaks convention and is actually enjoyable to read. The Halo books were by and large pretty mediocre and the Mass Effect comics failed to catch my interest.
As staunch a supporter as I am of the Assassin’s Creed series, it might not surprise you to learn that I tracked down the deluxe edition of Assassin’s Creed: The Fall, a three-part comic series detailing the purge of the Assassin Order that occured in November of 2000. The comics follow Daniel Cross in 1998 and 2000 and his ancestor Nikolai Orelov in the late 1800s and the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Putting the historical sections of the books in the turn of the century was a really good idea, and the writers dip into some of the mysteries of that time like Rasputin and the Tunguska Event and work them into Assassin’s Creed mythology.
The story is actually quite good, and this probably stems from the fact that the creators were not forced into shoe-horning in an Ezio Auditore story like they had originally planned. Free from the canonical shackles of the game series, The Fall fills in some of the backstory that has been alluded to in the video games; namely how the globe-spanning Assassin Brotherhood has been reduced to three people operating out of a van and a handful of intelligence gathering cells.
There are some weird parts to the story as it is a fairly complicated tale compressed into three issues. Daniel Cross’ transformation from an asshole junkie to an almost messianic figure happens between issues two and three so seeing him as a clean-cut figure preaching to the Assassins is a little confusing until someone addresses him as Daniel. If his speech at the beginning of issue three had been over some pictures of him fixing his life and showing his progress it might have helped to lesson the shock. It’s nothing major, but it is a slight speedbump in an otherwise well crafted story.
Assassin’s Creed: The Chain is the follow up to The Fall, and I’m now eagerly awaiting the next installment of the lives of Daniel Cross and Nikolai Orelov. Has anyone else read The Fall, and what did you think? Do you want to track down a copy having read this? What are some of your favorite comic book tie-ins? Do transmedia efforts like these help breath new life into series that might be getting stale, like Anthony’s post talked about?
We sift through tons of news stories for you kids, always trying to find the gems that are Sushi-Worthy. When a mainstream media site like Yahoo gives us a list of Stale Franchises that need to take a break, my job becomes a whole lot easier. Especially since one of the games on the list is super popular and still critically acclaimed: Assassin’s Creed.
The other games on the list are expected, such as Sonic and Tony Hawk, but the idea that Assassin’s Creed needs a break is one that is starting to gain some steam. I was against turning that franchise into an annual release, but Ubisoft has done a great job at churning out high-quality games. It’s only this year that fatigue is starting to set in. I think they should take a break as well, but after the expected release of Assassin’s Creed 3 in November.
What other franchises could you use a break from? Hit the comments now!
Everyone’s got some kind of idea about where the future of videogames is heading. But beyond the kind of hardware we’re looking at or what kind of input players are using to interact with their screens, what really matters are the actual design trends set forth by developers. Whether it’s cover-based shooting, leveling up in multiplayer or a rush of side-scrolling platformers, every generation sees a number of these defining trends.
So where do the actual developers of today think they’ll be tomorrow? PopSci took a stab at finding out by interviewing some notable talent in the video game industry. In a cool piece that covers Epic’s Cliffy B, Super Giant’s, Greg Kasavin, 343’s Scott Warner and others, these developers talk about the innovations that they’re the most excited about exploring. This includes everything from the wacky — playing trackpad-based games with your nose — to making sure that everyone is connected via the Internet. Regardless of the methods, there are definitely some thought-provoking answers in the bunch.
It’s always cool to see what’s bouncing around in the heads of some of the creative leaders in the industry. I’m sure that a few years back, none of these same guys could have predicted where we’d be today, and what kinds of games we would be playing. Where do you guys think the future of game design is going? Do you agree/disagree with any of these developers? Go!
This podcast is just a tad late this week, but I figured we’re doing good if we managed to get it up early in the weekend. Hey, at least it’s better than leaving you guys podcast-less for almost half a year, right? That’s what I thought. Also, Mitch and Anthony start things off with an extra special intro they worked up for all of you. It’s fairly entertaining.
In this edition of the GamerSushi Show, we chat about the Mass Effect 3 Co-op trailer, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Saint’s Row 3. On top of that we play a game of Fill in the Blank, where we grade a variety of topics like Miyamoto taking a backseat at Nintendo, no next gen consoles in the near future and Zynga’s supposed shady dealings (on which this podcast derives its name). All in all, it’s a pretty decent show, and hey, we even fit in 6 more minutes of Resident Evil 6 talk – because why the heck not?
In next week’s podcast (which we recorded last night), I drink through most of a bottle of wine while we talk even more about Final Fantasy XIII-2, Double Fine and Kingdoms of Amalur. Stay tuned, gents and ladies.
Apparently this is the week where all of our wildest gaming dreams come true. OK, that might be stretching it a bit, but at least a few of our gaming wishes seem to be coming to light. Between Battlefield 3 rumors, Double Fine’s Kickstarter Adventure and Notch talking Psychonauts 2, we’ve got kind of a lot of things worth salivating over. But that’s not all!
You see, DICE 2012 is underway right now, featuring a number of sessions from well known people in the field of interactive entertainment, including none other than Skyrim boss Todd Howard himself. Last night, Todd Howard gave Skyrim fans the world over a bit of a tease, something to get their heads spinning as we look forward to future DLC.
The Skyrim Game Jam is a week-long project where developers at Bethesda were challenged to come up with and implement one feature that they’d love to see in the enormous open-world RPG. While Howard cautioned that some of these things are just tests and might not ever see an actual release, the possibilities are enough to keep people excited about where the game could possibly go. Howard showed a reel which boasted all the things that the developers came up with in just one week’s time, ranging from mounted dragons (!) to seasonally changing foliage. Go ahead, see for yourself.
Although this power gets abused quite a bit, it’s still pretty cool that we live in a time where developers can retroactively incorporate fresh new additions to gameplay that might need some polishing. So my question to you guys is this: which of these features would you actually want to see in the final game? Also, if you could add a reel of features like this to any other game, what would you do? Go!