I bought Firewatch a few months ago when it went on sale. I’d been really looking forward to the game before it came out because I loved all of the promotional art, and I was hoping that it might deliver a gaming experience that matched that obviously high level of design.
However, the initial reviews were a bit lukewarm, so I didn’t pick it up immediately when it came out. When I did finally buy it, it sat on my PS4 unplayed for a few months because I have more games than I have time to play them. (This is also true about books, movies and TV shows, much to my annoyance; if I could freeze time, I’d use my powers to catch up on pop culture.)
I finally played through the game a few weeks ago, and I can definitely see why the reactions were so mixed. It’s gorgeous to look at, and it’s am ambitious hybrid of storytelling and interaction, but unfortunately all of that good work is undermined by flawed storytelling. I’m going to go into nitty-gritty spoilers here, so if you care about such things, now is the time to stop reading. Continue reading Firewatch Promises, but Doesn’t Follow Through
Sunset Overdrive definitely wasn’t on my radar when I bought an Xbox One. I vaguely remember seeing ads for the game when it first came out, but forgot about it almost immediately.
That all changed a few weeks ago when I heard rumblings that Sunset Overdrive was actually a pretty great game. Around that same time, Amazon put it on sale for $15, and you can guess the rest. A few days later I had it in my hot little hands.
If you’re a long-time reader of this site, you may remember how much Saints Row 3 surprised and delighted me when I finally got around to playing it. Sunset Overdrive gave me that feeling all over again. It’s in the same absurdist action-comedy wheelhouse, and it feels fresher than the fourth Saints Row game.
That’s right, an Xbox One! I’m as surprised as you are. At the end of the last console generation, I was pretty sure I’d be a PC-only gamer for a good long while. I definitely have enough games in my Steam library to keep me busy until the heat death of the universe.
When I sold it for about $50, I hadn’t powered on my Xbox 360 for at least a year. My PS3 had transitioned to being a box for Netflix and blu-rays. I’d resolved to hold out for as long as possible before maybe picking up a PS4. After all, I’m obsessed with the Souls games and I knew Bloodborne would be irresistible. Sure enough, when Anthony had an extra PS4 thanks to a prize giveaway, I decided to buy it, thinking that would be it for me and the current generation.
So, what changed? What made me decide to drop several hundred dollars on an Xbox One less than a year later? The short answer is that I’m a sucker for a deal and I’m ready to cut the cable cord (again).
Don’t freak out or anything – GamerSushi is still stored in carbonite for the foreseeable future – but if you have a hankering for a little bit of that GS flavor, you might want to check out recent episodes of Rooster Teeth’s The Know.
Our own Eddy Rivas is using his wordsmithing skills to write two videos a day for their channel, which oftentimes requires spending way too much time on VGChartz.
Here are his first few videos:
(Eddy made a point of letting us know that his script did not call for Meg to do that with her tongue.)
Anyways, just wanted to share. How’s everybody doing? Still playing games? Good.
From Software announced a three-part DLC campaign for Dark Souls 2 today. This is the first time a Souls game has received any kind of significant DLC, so that’s kind of exciting news, even though DS2 is my least favorite of the three games so far. I’ll probably still pick up the season pass, though, because I’m an addict.
The first Dark Souls did actually have DLC – included free with the “prepare to die” edition – but it was designed so that the mission unlocked once you were pretty far into the game and only if you had a particular item. I missed it during my first play through and didn’t make it far enough into NG+ to take a crack at it.
Anybody else besides myself and Anthony playing the newest entry in the Souls series?
Microsoft just announced their virtual assistant software for Windows Phones, and the connection to Halo isn’t just her name:
Cortana is named after a virtual character in Halo, Microsoft’s science-fiction video game series, that uses her encyclopedic knowledge about the universe to help the game’s protagonist, Master Chief. The actress, Jen Taylor, who does the voice for the character, also provided recordings for the phone assistant’s voice.
If you’ve been playing Titanfall, you may have noticed that some of the matches can be a little one-sided at times, with opposing teams full of players several generations ahead of you. Most of the time this all comes out in the wash, but occasionally this results in a painful rout. Luckily Respawn is releasing an update that addresses a few of these concerns. This in particular caught my eye:
Rather than playing against the same opponents over and over, the game will periodically split the teams apart and search for new opponents for each team. This means if one team is dominating, we will update the skill for all of the players and then find each team a better suited match for the next round.
I made it through this year’s Steam sales largely unscathed, if only because I already own most of the games that went on sale. I did still pick up a few things (because I have no willpower), but the one game that has captured my attention the most is Spelunky, a “procedurally generated” platformer that is maddeningly difficult, occasionally cruel, full of cheap deaths, and surprisingly addictive. I’ve already put in more than eight hours of playtime, and I’m starting to wonder why I do this to myself.
Spelunky has a lot of mechanics designed to make you throw your controller at the wall. Health is limited and hard to refill. Dying means starting over completely. Checkpoints are non-existent and short-cuts require beating every world multiple times under specific conditions. Half the monsters in every level can kill you with one hit, and most of the traps you come across cause instant death. Sometimes the levels are dark or under water or full of the undead and oh if you take too long a giant ghost starts chasing you around until you die or manage to escape. You get the picture.
I have an admission to make: I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIII all the way back in 2010 (paid almost full price, too!), played it for about an hour and twenty minutes that March and then proceeded to leave the game untouched for more than three years. Even still, when Final Fantasy XIII-2 came out, I went ahead and bought a shared copy with my brother. He beat it immediately, and I let the game sit on my shelf unplayed until just recently. Why did I put off playing these games for so long? A combination of things, really: I tend to avoid long games until I’m in the right mood for them, and a lot of people were super-critical of FFXIII when it first came out. It sounded like a disappointment and a time-sink, and I wasn’t in the mood for either.
However, after I recently knocked out Demon’s Souls, I found myself craving more good RPG experiences. The FFXIII games were the most logical place to look, if only so that I might finally clear out my backlog of 360 and PS3 games in preparation for trading in one or both systems. I started out with XIII-2 because conventional wisdom is that it corrects all the missteps of XIII, but even though the game was a lot of fun, the story was convoluted and confusing. I felt like I was missing something, so I decided to give XIII a shot after all. Much to my surprise, I’m really enjoying it – the battles are a lot of fun once you can paradigm shift – and I’m already a good twenty hours in after just a few days.
So why was everyone so hard on the game? Was it just a case of preconceived notions, or is there something genuinely missing?
To give you a peek into the inner workings here at GamerSushi, we recently discussed the fact that there are several prominent games out there that we haven’t actually reviewed yet. Like, for example, Grand Theft Auto V, which landed a solid #12 in our list of the top 20 games of the last generation. We are aware of the oversight, we are, and we hope to make amends soonish. Personally, I planned to start my attack on un-reviewed games by diving into one of my recent purchases, The Stanley Parable by Galactic Cafe. I figured it’d be both quick to play and reasonably timely. It’s still a fairly new game, after all.
Accordingly, late one night I sat down with The Stanley Parable and played it for about an hour and a half. I think I beat it. In fact, I may have beaten it several dozen times. I’m honestly not entirely sure. I am sure, however, that I haven’t experienced everything the game has to offer. It’s hilarious, confusing, surreal and nearly impossible to summarize. Part of the reason summaries won’t do it justice is that the experience is built entirely around the fact that you are playing a game and bringing certain expectations to the table.
Telltale Games just released the first part of their follow-up to our favorite game of 2012, The Walking Dead, and I think it’s safe to say they’re still in the zone and only getting better. The Wolf Among Us is a prequel to Bill Willingham’s long-running Fables series, which focuses on the lives of creatures from fables, stories and legends who escaped from their home world into the “real world” and are hiding their true identities from the “mundies” around them. The main character of the game and comics is Bigby Wolf, formerly known as The Big Bad Wolf, now reformed and working in human form as sheriff for the Fables community. He’s gruff, dangerous, and chain-smokes his way through the entire game.
Knowledge of the comics isn’t necessary to enjoy The Wolf Among Us, but reading them will help you catch a few references here and there. Readers of the comics may also be interested to know that the game is considered canonical. The first episode sets up a noirish murder mystery occurring about twenty years before the start of the comics, in the sleazy, neon-filled 1980s. The art style and music are pitch-perfect for the material; as soon as the game loaded up, I already knew I was going to love the music, and by the end I was ready to drop money on a soundtrack album (not that one exists right now, of course). It took me just over two hours to finish the first episode, and I’m already considering replaying it so that I can try different options.
In some ways I think I might actually prefer this first episode of The Wolf Among Us to The Walking Dead. Shocking, I know. Part of it is that The Wolf Among Us builds on and refines the style first perfected in the previous game. The same tense dialog choices are there, as are the split-second decisions and visceral quick-time events, but the art and music are even better, and the world of Fables is far weirder than anything in The Walking Dead. That extra bit of oddity piled on top of a gritty mystery is right up my alley. Several reviews I’ve read call out the fact that Bigby doesn’t have a moral compass like Clementine to influence his decisions, and it’s definitely true that this makes Bigby’s world that much more of a moral grey area. If you liked The Walking Dead, you should definitely check out The Wolf Among Us.
Due to some recent security issues we’ve experienced with the site, I’ve deleted all existing GamerSushi “subscriber” user accounts and have turned off the registration option.
Don’t worry, though – all of your comments are still in our system, and you can enter new comments by logging in with Twitter, Facebook or a wordpress.com user account (or without logging in at all if that’s what you prefer). I haven’t found any evidence that your login information was taken, but if you were using the same ID and password on another site, it can’t hurt to change your password. Sorry for any confusion!
If you’ve played many games on an iPhone or iPad, you’ve probably spent a little time in Game Center, Apple’s achievement and score tracking app. If you did, you may have noticed that the public leaderboards for most iOS games are almost entirely full of impossibly fake scores at the very top. I’d always hoped that there weren’t actually people with enough free time to make it to level 10,000 in Infinity Blade II, and this article at Edge confirms my suspicion. Apparently leaderboard hacking is incredibly common in iOS games, and it’s oftentimes perpetrated by teenagers playing around with programming.
If you think about it, it makes sense. A lot of iOS games were created by very small developers who don’t have much time to spend policing bogus scores on the global leaderboard. I’m occasionally interested in seeing where I stand on a big leaderboard, but most of the time I only really care how I’m doing in relation to people I actually know. In the big scheme of things, bogus scores on the global leaderboards don’t have much impact on my use of the app. They’re just an oddity I’ve always been curious about.
My favorite quote in the article comes from Terry Cavanaugh, developer of the punishingly difficult Super Hexagon:
“If it was really quite difficult to hack, then I could understand it,” says Cavanagh. “But it is so easy that a kid could do it. Maybe [the person] wants to pose as an elite hacker, saying, ‘Oh look what I was able to do,’ but even to hackers that must look pretty pathetic, because there is no protection in the game… If somebody wants to set a fake score on the leaderboard, it’s just kind of an embarrassing thing for them, really. It’s just so shameful; I feel like by deleting it I’m covering up just how awful they are.”
When it comes down to it, iOS games will probably never be a big deal in the world of eSports, where leaderboard scores actually matter, so for now the hackers seem to be doing it just for the hell of it. It’s fascinating the things you learn about people on the internet.
You’re probably familiar with the Humble Bundle and its regular offerings of pay-what-you-want games bundles, but they’re not the only bundle in town. Most of the well-known bundle deals are focused on software or games, but there’s also a site called StoryBundle that sells collections of DRM-free ebooks from indie authors. Previous bundles have all been fiction offerings, but the newest bundle focuses entirely on the games industry, including criticism, game history and a scifi novel about alien games. Pay at least $10 to get all ten books, including two from Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia and Karateka. You can also choose to donate part of the proceeds to charity.
If you’re at all interested in the history of the industry or game development, this seems like a pretty fantastic deal. I’ve never purchased any of the previous bundles, which were full of indie authors that didn’t appeal to me, but I might pick up this bundle just because it sounds like a pretty wide-ranging collection. For example, one of the books, Killing is Harmless, consists entirely of a long-form critique of Spec Ops: The Line. I’m also really curious to read more about the history of the industry going back to the very beginning. Anyone else thinking about picking up this bundle?
In a perhaps unsurprising move for our litigation-happy society, a disgruntled owner of Aliens: Colonial Marines has joined forces with a lawyer to start a class-action lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega. According to the article over at Polygon, his argument is that “Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised Aliens by showing demos at trade shows like PAX and E3 which didn’t end up being accurate representations of the final product”. Combine that with a review embargo that didn’t lift until the game was released, and anyone who preordered the game or purchased it before reviews were released got burned by what was universally rated a hugely inferior game.
Now, a $60 game purchase hardly seems worth clogging up our legal system with yet another lawsuit, but I do see the logic behind the complaint. Extensive game previews far in advance of the release are standard practice in the industry, as are pre-rendered cinematic trailers that avoid showing any gameplay. Even though the film industry has a reputation for spoiling nearly everything in its trailers, I’d argue that the games industry goes much further and tends to release an even bigger barrage of promotional materials far in advance of game releases. However, what does it mean if we can’t even trust their spoilers? I have a feeling that this isn’t the first time the industry has pulled a bait-and-switch on consumers with faked game footage or exciting cinematic trailers that fail to capture the actual game. Dead Island’s buzz-worthy cinematic trailer comes to mind.
Can you think of any other examples of a major bait-and-switch where a game was hugely different from its previews? Have you ever been burned by a demo or trailer that made a game seem more exciting than the reality? I’m wondering how long it’ll take before we hear about a SimCity class-action lawsuit…