GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

Diablo III Monk

April isn’t exactly the greatest month in the world for gaming, but we’re right up at the edge of it, and we’ve got to play something, right? As for myself, now that I’ve completed both Mass Effect 3 and Journey (both of which I loved), it’s on to a few other odds and ends.

For one, I spent quite a bit of time playing the Diablo III Beta last night, and I have to say that I’m surprised at just how much fun I had. It’s not that I didn’t expect the game to be great or anything, it’s just always been one of those games that I knew I would be playing, so the specifics of the gameplay never really mattered that much to me. I know that might sound strange, but some games are just such a given you don’t even spend that much time getting excited about them, and instead focus on things releasing ahead or behind. I rolled a monk, and in no time at all I decided that it’ll be my main class when the game drops in May. It’s hard to quantify just how joyous it was to pummel hordes of undead creatures and other ghouls in that good ol’ hack-n-slash style. It’s just been too damn long, you know?

In terms of other things I’m playing, I could rave on and on for an entire post about the beauty of Journey, which so captivated me in my one-sitting-playthrough that it’s already in contention for game of the year. The game affected me in a way that’s hard to put into words, which is weird because I consider myself a writer. In short: just go play the thing.

When I’m not Journey-ing or fighting minions of Diablo, I’ll be catching up on MGS HD, Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3 co-op and anything else I can get my hands on – at least until my daughter arrives in just a couple of weeks’ time.

So what are you guys playing? Go!

Breaking Bad in Games

breaking bad in games

One of my favorite TV shows of all time is AMC’s Breaking Bad, the story of how a mild-mannered chemistry teacher becomes a hard-core crystal meth dealer. In the opening few episodes, the central character is told by his junkie accomplice that you just can’t start “breaking bad”, implying that if you’re a kind person at heart, you just can’t start doing things that are incredibly out of the norm for you.

I feel this way about moral choices in video games. I’ve just started replaying the entire Mass Effect trilogy as a Renegade female Shepard and I’m finding it difficult to “break bad” as it were. I subconsciously find my conversation wheel hovering over the Paragon dialog choices before the option is even up, and when it comes time to make a Renegade decision I get a little sick in my stomach. Continue reading Breaking Bad in Games

When Gaming Gets Clever: Zombies, Run!

While I don’t think mobile gaming is certainly the end-all in terms of a handheld experience, I do have to say how much the right app can really take me back in terms of its creativity and design. To this point, some of my favorite experiences over the last couple of years haven’t come by way of a major console or the PC, but rather, my iPhone. Such is the case with Zombies, Run!, a new iPhone app that combines a running tool, audio adventure and town sim/zombie game all into one really smart package.

The gist of the app is simple: run away from zombies. And yes, I mean run in the literal sense. Zombies, Run! uses your GPS to track your pace/distance, interspersing an audio adventure of a zombie apocalypse in with your music library. The game puts you in the role of Runner 5, who’s trying to get supplies for Abel Township. The audio bits are meant to make you feel like you’re actually on these missions, which is a nice touch. On top of that, it uses your GPS to award you random supplies throughout your run such as bandages, ammo and more. Where this gets interesting is that the app will occasionally throw sudden zombie attacks at you, requiring you to move at a faster pace for one minute to outrun the horde. And once your run is finished, you use the supplies you gathered to level up your town and access new missions.

Even though the app is a bit expensive compared to other things in the iTunes app store (it comes in at $8 bucks), I’d definitely recommend it. The game is going to be organized into seasons, with season 1 coming in at 30 full audio sessions, each one taking about 20-30 minutes to complete. Which is a heck of a lot of entertainment, when you break it down. You can also play the game without listening to the sessions, continuing to collect supplies and such.

Anyway, I think if you love running, zombies, or both, you should check it out. It’s already helped my runs in the last week or so. What do you guys think of this idea? Are there other apps or games that have caught your attention with their creativity recently?

The Incredible Travels in Journey

journey

With the video game market being so clogged with shooters and other sorts of violent games, it’s kind of hard to forget that the medium can pull off some really serene, beautiful moments. Thatgamecompany, famous for PSN titles like flOw and Flower, return with Journey, a game about, well, taking a walk through a desert to reach a mountain far off in the distance. There’s very little cutscenes and no dialog, but the bang for your buck offered by Journey makes the trip worth it, and then some.

Starting far away from your target as a mysterious, red-robed traveler, Journey chronicles your sojourn through the vast desert and down hills, into caves and across a snowy tundra. The controls for Journey are quite simple, you press X to jump (the longer your scarf the longer your jump) and Circle to do a little shout (hold down for longer shouts). You don’t even really need much else, as Journey is quite elegant in its minimalism. There’s some cool segments like surfing down a dune through a lost city and swimming through the air in a cavern, but these need to be experienced to really understand how moving they are. There are so many things in Journey I wish I could describe, but it would be unfair to spoil these moments for you guys.

Journey is also quite gorgeous, boasting better sand and lighting effects than Uncharted 3, which had the best use of those two elements to date. Journey has an incredible style and the sound design is superb. The sand crunches under your feet, your scarf snaps in the wind, and the distant call of a fellow traveler beckons you closer. The music is haunting and resonant, and only adds to the already surreal mood. Continue reading The Incredible Travels in Journey

The GamerSushi Show, Episode 44: Mass Cast

Hey dudes, we are back from outer space, here to bring you our thoughts on BioWare’s space opera trilogy ending Mass Effect 3. We’re unfortunately beardless this week, but Eddy, Anthony, Jeff and myself wax philosophic about everything from story beats to the multiplayer, the ending controversy and the ending itself.

There’s no Six Minutes with Resident Evil 6 or a game this week, so I hope that an hour and a half of straight up Mass Effect is good enough to tide you over. Eddy hadn’t finished the game when we recorded, so he dropped out for the ending talk. When you hear Harbinger for the second time, that’s when we launch into the discussion. There was also a technical issue with both Jeff and Eddy’s mics, and the way the cast is recorded means these sorts of problems are hard to rectify. Jeff fixed his junk for the ending talk, but for the first half of the show he is super quiet.

Technical problems aside, the cast is super sweet so I hope you enjoy. If you guys could also rate the cast that would be boss. Enjoy!

50 Ways Assassin’s Creed 3 Will Amaze You

assassins-creed-3

Assassin’s Creed 3, the first game since the 2009 title to make an acutal numerical leap, looks to be making a lot of impressive changes to the formula. If you’ve been worried about AC3 and whether or not it will breath new life back into the franchise, take heart, because this list of 50 Assassin’s Creed 3 facts posted by Kotaku will give you the biggest of mind boners.

The article goes over all the different features being adding in to AC3 including how the game’s two towns, New York and Boston, will work, and it details the hunting that the player will be able to engage in. It also describes how you can assassinate a bear, and if that doesn’t sound like Game of the Year material to you, you need to get your brain checked.

In addition to these juicy details, there’s also some stuff that only hard-core developers or engine-fanatics would find interesting, like the amount of bones in the character’s faces and that fact that Assassin’s Creed 3 will have “twice the production capacity of the Ezio trilogy”. There’s also a lot of stuff about how new protagonist Connor will strike from the trees and how he will get involved with the Assassin Order, so even if you’re kind of “meh” on AC3 I still recommend checking this list out.

What do you guys think of the list? What are your favorite segments? Anything that worries you? What are you hoping to see in Assassin’s Creed 3?

Source – Kotaku

Cabbage Trick Shots: Things to Do in Skyrim

One of the things I love about video games is when you manage to find a “game within the game”, to speak. This has become more and more of a thing in the past generation due to open-world sandbox games, and there’s a certain kind of joy there that’s hard to match. As a kid, I remember playing Mario 64 during the summer when I was bored, just playing the flying missions repeatedly to see how low I could swoop to the ground without touching it and losing the flight. Somehow, we always find new ways to entertain ourselves.

That’s exactly what the guys at Achievement Hunter have done in their newest video, Things to Do in Skyrim, which features them creating trick shots that involve throwing cabbage into buckets. It’s very reminiscent of this Michael Jordan/Larry Bird Super Bowl ad for McDonald’s – and that’s a good thing. Anyway, you should watch it, the reaction shots at the end are priceless.

When’s the last time you guys got sucked into doing this kind of thing in a video game? Did anyone else die laughing when they freaked out?

A Massive Outcry

I’m upset.

Not because of the ending of Mass Effect 3, which apparently is the worst atrocity to hit humankind since whatever that Kony dude (allegedly) did.

I’m upset because gaming sucks today.

Not actual gaming. When you put the game in the console (barring a RROD or a YLOD) and it’s just you, the controller (unless you are playing Kinect) and the game, it’s awesome. All is right with the world. Immersion into a foreign world, excitement, adventure…a gamer craves these things.

No, it’s not games that are the problem.

It’s the gamers. Continue reading A Massive Outcry

The Difference Between Hard and Annoying

gaming difficulty

Sorry about how slow it’s been around here lately guys, but other than Mass Effect 3 dominating our lives (and every news post on every other site), there’s hasn’t really been much else to report on. There’s a new Sim City, I suppose, but what do you need to know? You make buildings, lose them to tornadoes, c’est la vie.

Given the lack of news and new releases, I’ve been replaying Mass Effect 3 on Insanity, trying to make Mass Effect 3 the first game in the series that I get 100% of the achievements on. So far it’s been fine, but the thing about cover based shooters is that on the hardest difficulty, the game pulls some really cheap tricks to make things difficult for you.

Since being in cover essentially makes you invincible (as one would expect), stepping out in to the open means certain death via some BS means like stun locking. Getting caught out in the open in Mass Effect 3 is survivable on normal but on Insanity it’s an instant death sentence. This doesn’t make the combat encounters challenging, but more of a slog because it mainly comes down to finding the one corner where enemies can’t flank you and just wasting them with power and ammo until you win.

Games do a really poor job at being difficult (there are exceptions like Dark Souls and the like) and that’s what makes doing runs on Insanity or Legendary or whatever such a chore. Maybe it’s too hard to design higher difficulty levels because most people just play it on normal, but increasing the amount of damage done to you incrementally doesn’t actually count. Halo: Reach was one of the last games to make a fun, challenging experience on Legendary; there were actually more things done to change the way the enemies behaved, and the energy weapon projectiles were faster meaning that not getting out of the way of a plasma pistol volley could spell the death of your Noble Six.

What games have you guys played recently that have given you a run for your money? What games have really poor excuses for the highest difficulty level? Do game developers need to start making harder games overall? Go!

The Banner Saga: A New Kickstarter Challenger

Although it’s already starting to become cliche just how many people are using Kickstarter to fund any damn thing in the world (why do people need $30,000 to produce a podcast – seriously), every now and then a project will rise above all the noise and show us something very cool.

On the heels of Double Fine’s Adventure game, The Banner Saga, by Stoic, promises us a Strategy RPG title, made by industry veterans, which happens to feature a mature story and some truly breathtaking art. Seriously, just the visuals alone were enough to sell me on the project, before even reading any of the impressive facts about it. I’ll let you watch the trailer.

The game is scheduled for release in June 2012, and just $10 nets you Chapter 1 of the game. I have to say, the whole thing really has impressed me, and I’ll probably be throwing some support their way – plus, it’s based in Texas, which is awesome.

What are your guys’ thoughts on The Banner Saga? How do you feel about the new fad of putting everything on Kickstarter? Go!

Source – The Banner Saga on Kickstarter

Borderlands 2 Promises Pimped-Out PC Version

borderlands 2 pc version

If you’re like me and you played the original Borderlands on the PC then you were probably disappointed by how much the game reeked of “console-itis”. The signs of a hasty port were everywhere and the game suffered for it. With a new Borderlands on the horizon, Gearbox decided to kick their PC support into overdrive and threw up a love-letter from everybody’s favorite (sarcasm) robot Claptrap, listing the features that will be in the PC version of Borderlands 2.

While this is a very nice gesture on behalf of Gearbox (and I hope they carry all this over to their other release this year, Aliens: Colonial Marines) it just strikes me as how odd it is that features that should be included on the PC SKUs of games like FOV sliders and offline LAN support are now considered to be extras by the developers. If anything demonstrates how far down the chain PC gaming is in terms of priority these days, it’s this.

Sure, a lot of the items on the list are things that PC gamers take for granted, but we just don’t get that kind of support these days. Usually these things are added in by mods, so at least Gearbox is taking the time to add that to the game.

What do you guys think of Borderland 2’s promised PC version? Does it get your engine running? What do you think of these features now being considered “bonuses” of a kind? Go!

Source – Borderlands 2 website

GamerSushi Asks: Gaming Quirks?

Deus Ex

We’ve all got our quirks, even in video games. Or at least for some of us, especially in video games. I tend to be an obsessive compulsive searcher/hoarder/stealther. I’m not sure if some of the searching obsession comes from the days when JRPGs didn’t mark every item for you or make them obvious, forcing the player to run around mashing buttons in the hopes of finding some potion or other piece of loot. But even in Mass Effect 3, which marks things for you via omni-tool, I’m still running around mashing buttons in the most random corners, searching every last avenue before moving towards the objective. I almost can’t help it.

I’ve also documented multiple times my obsession with stealing in open world games and how I like sneaking around in stealth games. It borders on unhealthy, and tends to totally hamper the first portion of both of those types of games. Deus Ex: Human Revolution combined both of these things into one package that forced me to actively re-think the way I approach these situations, just to keep my sanity.

I’m bringing all of this up because 1UP has a fun article going on at the moment called You’re Not Alone, which takes a look at different quirky gaming habits from readers and staff alike. It’s kind of hilarious to see that there are other gamers just like me who hoard special items until they’re practically useless, or who hate to use healing items if there’s an inconvenient method to do it for free.

So what about you guys? What are your gaming quirks, ticks and obsessions? Go!

Source – 1UP

Diablo III Has a Release Date

Diablo 3

Zounds! After a week of nothing but Mass Effect 3 ending talk, it seems that there’s finally some news worth posting about — Diablo III launches on May 15th. So two months from today, PC gamers everywhere will be enjoying the great tastes of hack-n-slash dungeon crawling that have been missing since Diablo II came out in June of 2000. Almost a dozen years, gents.

While there was originally a lot of clamor about the art style of Diablo III and some bickering about whether or not it would see the console light of day, all that seems to have died down in recent months. I’ve had a chance to play literally just a few minutes of the beta, but plan on playing a little more now that the game has a proper date. Needless to say, I’ve been missing this type of game for years now – it’s strange that nobody’s really done it as well as Diablo II has all those years ago.

So now, the big question: is anyone else as pumped about this as I am? Who’s going to be grabbing this on day one? Go!

Source – VG247

Game Design Gets Taken to Court

game design lawsuits

In the wake of the recent Mass Effect controversy and all of the other game-design related outcries, I sometimes wonder if gamers would take games to court if they could. 1up recently put up a feature about six game design choices that should be punishable by law, and it’s a pretty good read.

Sure, it’s humorous in nature, but there’s no denying that I feel like I need compensation for the pain and suffering caused by some of their examples. The slow-moving text in Skyward Sword is a great one, and it’s something that a lot of Nintendo games, from Pokemon to Mario, are guilty of. Sure, you can hold down the A button or whatever to speed up the text, but it still crawls pretty slowly. Ninty seems set on doing this and a lawsuit just might be the only way to get them to change their ways.

Personally, I’d like to sue someone over the Journal design in Mass Effect 3. I can get around bad quest logs, but the one in ME3 is just plain unhelpful. Main quests, side-quests and fetch-quests are all lumped together and the damn thing doesn’t even update when you’ve gathered one of the items necessary for your eavesdropping side-business on the Citadel.

I could probably also make a case against some of the things in Battlefield 3, and maybe for the extreme time-loss caused by Skyrim, but I’m pretty sure I have Stockholm Syndrome where that game is concerned. What did you guys think about the article? Are these choices worth going to court over? What games would you get litigious against?

Source – 1up

Today’s WTF: The Petition to Change Mass Effect 3’s Ending

mass effect 3 endingWell, here it is people. The point where I begin my slow descent into quitting video games. I’ve moaned about the entitled attitudes of gamers before, but this absolutely takes the cake. Mass Effect 3 hasn’t even been out a damned week and there’s already a petition to get BioWare to change the ending of the game.

I haven’t beat the game yet (I’m holding out until my Galactic Readiness is 100% in every sector) but I have heard some grumblings about the less than satisfactory way the Mass Effect trilogy wraps up. Sure, not every trilogy has a perfect ending, but demanding that the developers change their vision is a new one.

So far I’m really enjoying Mass Effect 3, even if I have problems with it. The game doesn’t exactly put its best foot forward but the further you get into the game the better it gets and some of the missions are really fun. True, some of the side missions are pretty boring “horde” scenarios but it’s not that big a deal.

I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers which is why I’m linking to the Kotaku post instead of the actual poll on BioWare’s social site. I looked at the poll and almost spoiled myself, so I’m mad at these Gandalfs for more than one reason. I mean, how would BioWare change the ending? It wouldn’t be in a free patch, that’s for sure. What do you guys think about this? Do you have a (spoiler-free) opinion on the ending?

Source – Kotaku

Project KARA Demo Shows Off the Uncanny Valley

Have we reached the Uncanny Valley yet, gentlemen? The place where robots or animation start to get creepy, because of the way they mimic life but happen to be just off? Who knows, but some of the results on the way there are interesting to watch.

Quantic Dream, creators of Heavy Rain, just debuted a new tech demo at GDC this week known as Project KARA, the story of a robot/AI that accidentally becomes self aware during production. Unlike their last project, KARA was created by use of full performance motion capture, rather than separate body/facial animation capture. The quality of the performance is rather impressive (even if the writing always isn’t) in this piece – and what’s more impressive is that all of this is being handled in real time through the PS3.

Cage has noted that this isn’t tied to a specific project at all, but rather a demonstration of where they’d like to go with their next project. What do you guys think of this short? Uncanny Valley territory? Impressive? Lame? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: Mass Effect 3 Roll Call?

Mass Effect 3

Huh. Things were super quiet on the GamerSushi front yesterday. I wonder why that could be… Who knows, but I do hear that this science fiction role-playing game called Mass Effect had its trilogy-ending release drop yesterday. I’m not sure, but I think it was kind of a big deal – although none of us were playing it.

OK, you got me. I totally know what Mass Effect 3 is. I’m sure I had you guys fooled, but you are much too cunning. Anyway, Mass Effect 3 arrived yesterday to much rejoicing from gamers all over the world, and this one in particular. To say that I love the Mass Effect series is nowhere near the proper amount of statement required for a set of games that I feel has defined my console-playing experience this generation. Say what you will about the choices Bioware has made, but I adore this series, its atmosphere and its well-crafted universe.

My guess is that plenty of you do, too – if my friends list was any indication. When I signed on nearly everybody on it was partaking in Mass Effect 3 in some way, shape or form, and I couldn’t help but get that twinge of release-day giddiness. There’s nothing quite like all sharing in the same experience collectively. While I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted yesterday, I managed to get past the intro and subsequent first mission, and I have to say that I’m a fan of the gameplay changes so far. I didn’t have the weird bug that some are having involving the migration of their old Shepard, so that was all fine for me. Can’t wait to jump back in tonight.

So it’s time for a roll call, fellas and ladies. Who got Mass Effect 3? How much did you play yesterday? Did any of you deal with that save file character issue? What are your spoiler-free thoughts?

Assassin’s Creed 3 Reveal Trailer Shows Tree Running

Get it, because it’s called “free-running” but it’s in trees? Ah, never mind. UbiSoft just released the official reveal trailer for Assassin’s Creed 3 showing our new hero Connor (nee RatohnhakĂ©:ton) tearing apart a British patrol then watching a battle between the Redcoats and the Continental Army. This trailer is supposedly all in-engine, making it even more impressive. The fluidity of motion promised for the hand-to-hand combat also comes through in this video with Conner recreating the forest scene from The Patriot to some extent.

Well, I’m sold. It’s kind of funny how life works in regards to what I write on this site and what things happen in the games industry. At any rate, what do you guys think about the Assassin’s Creed 3 trailer? Does it give you more hope for the newest entry? Any secrets that you noticed?

First Halo 4 ViDoc Shows the New Chief and Multiplayer

Microsoft’s internal Halo studio, 343 Industries, just released the first developer documentary for this fall’s Halo 4. I know that just yesterday I posted about avoiding the gaming hype cycle, but this is our first full look at the new Master Chief and the visual direction of Halo 4 as well as a peek at multiplayer. While I expect that we’ll be seeing one of these a month until launch (at least), getting our eyes on the Chief’s new suit is worth it.

Halo 4 definitely has its own style going for it and the Chief seems to have undergone a major revision since we last saw him in Halo 3. One of 343’s talking points is that they wanted the Mjolnir armor to feel like part tank and part fighter jet, sleek yet imposing. I’m also really digging the design of the Spartan IVs that we’ll be controlling in multiplayer. The whole new look also comes off as very “Mass Effect” to me with the segmented armor plates and carbon fiber patterns. What do you guys think of our first look at Halo 4? Feeling the stirrings of desire? Can 343 actually pull this off?

Rumor: Is Valve Working on a Gaming Machine?

Valve Steam

We should really start taking points or placing bets on the things that we spitball on the GamerSushi Show. Eventually, we’d make ourselves some money or score some major Internet achievements or something. As it is, it’s nice when news comes out that we’ve already discussed.

The particular news item I’m referencing at the moment would be that of the rumored Valve gaming console, which has taken tech and gaming sites by storm over the weekend. The Verge wrote of this rumor just the other day, when writer Joseph Topolsky reported that Valve has in fact been working on a game machine for the living. While some are calling this a “console”, it actually sounds more like an affordable PC gaming rig, with Steam at its core. Continue reading Rumor: Is Valve Working on a Gaming Machine?