Today’s WTF: Before Left 4 Dead, Valve Worked on a Fairy RPG

Tinkerbell BraaaaainsYes, you read the title of the article correctly. You know, some daily WTFs are so absurd sounding that they practically speak for themselves.

Earlier this week in an interview with PC Gamer, Valve honchos Doug Lombardi and Gabe Newell let slip some rather interesting information about what the famed developer was doing just before they embarked down the path that helped them create the zombie sensation Left 4 Dead. This little exchange occurred when PC Gamer asks them what they think they’ve failed at:

Doug Lombardi: There were a few failed starts to build Left 4 Dead.
Gabe Newell: Well, there was the flying fairy game. Is that the one you were referring to?
Erik Johnson: That was just a different game that, when we stabbed it… (everyone laughs)
Doug Lombardi: … It turned into Left 4 Dead!

Huh? Apparently, this fairy RPG required mouse gestures to cast spells and such. Newell later went on to say “it was so clearly dumb that it made us say, ‘OK, what are we actually good at that we can do instead?'” However, sometimes you have to fail to learn truly valuable lessons. They went on from there to figure out that the focus should be on AI and the co-operative experience. Well, thank goodness for that little revelation.

Honestly, as ridiculous as this is, I wish more developers would take about the genesis of some of their greatest ideas. I’m sure that Valve isn’t the first studio to start down a really bizarre path only to fail and then find those gems worth polishing. It’s interesting because with movies we’ve gotten so used to special features that walk us through every step of the process. I wish we had more material like that when it comes to games, because the whole thing seems so mysterious to us outsiders.

What do you guys think about this? What games would you like to hear more development stories about? Go!

Source – PC Gamer

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

Tomb Raider Guardian of LightIt’s been a few weeks since we’ve asked you all how your gaming minutes are being spent, so I thought we were about due for another helping of “What Are You Playing?”

For me, I’m trying to get through a little bit of the dreaded gaming backlog and all of its horrors, but I keep getting interrupted by Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, which I am completely in love with at the moment. If you’re unaware, it just released on Xbox Live Arcade last week, and is due out on the PC and PS3 next month.

I’ve never been a fan of the Tomb Raider series, but what they’ve done in this game is turn it into more of a top-down co-op Diablo style game, complete with puzzles, platforms and loot. It’s almost like Diablo meets Resident Evil 5, if that makes any sense at all. While the game doesn’t have online co-op at the moment, it will when it hits other systems in September. I’ve been playing the co-op locally with my brother, and we’re having a blast solving puzzles and doing the platforming. I can honestly say it’s already one of my favorite co-op experiences of this gen. If that’s not a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is.

In addition, I recently completed Alpha Protocol, am moving to 3D Dot Game Heroes next, and hope to tackle Crackdown 2 before Halo: Reach drops on September 14th. Whew. Anyway, now it’s your turn. What are you playing? Go!

New DeathSpank Dropping in September

DeathSpank 2

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

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

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

Source and Image – Kotaku

Portal 2 Co-Op Trailer Shows Robot Buddies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GamerSushi Asks: Classes?

BorderlandsOver the last few days, I’ve been deadlocked in an attempt to clear out my gaming backlog before the big days of Fall land in our laps, and we’re once again swarmed with games to enjoy. Currently, I’m working on Alpha Protocol, 3D Dot Game Heroes and last but not least, Borderlands.

Borderlands is the really curious one, considering it’s a game I stopped playing months ago only to pick back up out of the blue. I forgot just how much fun it is, and the crazed shoot-outs with waves of enemies is satisfying and intense. I’m a level 27 soldier, and my favorite thing is deploying my turret, now sporting caustic damage and rockets that really mess everything up in their path.

While partaking in one of these shootouts, I started thinking about gaming classes. If I had to pick a particular style that suits me for most games, it would have to be some sort of tank or a hybrid of a tank and something a little more specialized, with a few support capabilities. I know that’s fairly vague, but I tend to go all out on offense, preferring chaos over actually racking up kills, and doing what I can to help my teammates in the process. I tend to pick one of the simpler classes in my first playthrough of a game, and then expand from there later.

So, now I’m wondering what your preferences are. What kind of classes do you normally pick in video games? What is your play style for shooters or RPGs? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: Reviewing Free Games?

Alien SwarmAs you’re all probably aware, most of the GamerSushi staff are in the throes of Alien Swarm addiction. The game is really engaging, and it manages to wedge itself nicely into the niche left in my gaming life by Diablo 2. Valve was even kind enough to give it to us for free, and judging by how their servers got the crap beat out of them on its release day, they’re probably kicking themselves for not charging at least five dollars for the thing.

Even though we all love Alien Swarm, it’s not a perfect game. There are a few issues I’ve had with it, but my mind keeps glossing them over because of the price tag (or lack thereof). So I pose this question to you guys: can you even review free games? Price is definitely something that has affected the perception of past titles (ODST comes to mind), so will something that only costs us hard drive space be given an automatic pass in the grading department?

Something else I’d like you to consider is DLC. I’ve played all of the Mass Effect 2 content packs, and, when stacked against ME2 proper, they come up very poorly. Even Overlord, the most recent and best of the DLC, is kind of lack-luster compared to the main game and its selling price. Can DLC be rated on its own merits, or does it have to take the larger picture into account?

Valve Dishing Out Alien Swarm Free Today on Steam

Today, Valve is releasing something special that many PC gamers are sure to freak out over. I have to admit, I am not one of the rabid denizens of the Unreal 2004 community that played the junk out of the now famous mod known as Alien Swarm, but I’ve heard all about it from friends of mine who swear that it is one of the most fun multiplayer co-op games that they have ever experienced.

If you don’t know of the history behind it, Alien Swarm was a top-down mod for UT 2004 that allowed 4 players to battle it out, Diablo style, against legions of aliens with totally awesome weapons. Valve then hired the team behind its inception to help them build Left 4 Dead. Apparently the team has had some free time on its hands these days, and have produced a good and proper Source engine version of their beloved classic, which releases today on Steam.

The best part? It’s absolutely free. I’m going to be playing this tonight for sure. Who’s with me?

Did any of you guys play the original? Go!

Review: Crackdown 2

Crackdown 2Crackdown is one of those games that somehow obtained mythical status among its fervent fanbase, a lofty position almost inexplicable in nature. Originally only noteworthy for the Halo 3 Beta invitation, the open-world super-hero cop game became a cult hit overnight, capturing players with its addictive skill progression and crazy gameplay. Three years have passed, and gamers have been waiting patiently for a sequel. The developer may have changed from Real Time Worlds to Ruffian but there was hopes that Crackdown 2 would retain the same charm that its predecessor possessed. Does Crackdown 2 recapture the magic of the original, or does it play it too safe?

I’m coming at Crackdown 2 with a unique perspective, specifically the one of someone who barely even touched the original. I played a demo of it at EB Games a long time ago for about five minutes, and I remember bounding around buildings until various gang members filled my vaulting body with lead. At the time, I didn’t even have an XBox 360, so I promptly forgot about the game. When I did pick one up a few months later, my chance to get in the Halo 3 Beta had long passed, so Crackdown slipped from my memory.
Continue reading Review: Crackdown 2

Head to Head: Co-Op or Versus

I think one of the most interesting discussions in gaming right now is the idea of what’s more essential in terms of a multiplayer experience.

For years, co-op was the name of the game, with game studios offering chances for us to play through things with two players on our old school consoles. However, that eventually gave way to the rise of the versus mode through PC gaming, which then bled almost a decade later to the consoles. Now, we’re seeing a renaissance of sorts, with co-operative play coming back to the forefront of many AAA games. In fact, if there’s a multiplayer component, co-operative play is almost expected these days, where it wasn’t before.

For me, I think co-op is the more essential experience, but I know that others feel differently. Over this weekend, in fact, I’ve played several bouts of co-op in both Uncharted 2 and Bad Company 2, and had much more fun than I have in deathmatch modes for most games.

So I’ve put together a poll for you guys. Let the answers do battle!

What is the better multiplayer experience?

View Results

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Review: Transformers: War for Cybertron

transformers war for cybertron review

There are some licensed properties that cry out for a decent video game adaption, and one of those is Transformers. When the basic premise is “giant robots beating the crap out of each other” you really have to try hard to mess that up. So far this generation, we’ve had two less than stellar attempts to cash in on the giant-bot franchise, and both of those fell flat (though that may have something to do with them being movie tie-ins). Now, High Moon Studios, the company responsible for the moderately-successful Bourne game, has gotten behind the wheel and is trying to steer Transformers in a better direction. Does the game deliver the goods, or does it perish in a Michael Bay-style explosion?
Continue reading Review: Transformers: War for Cybertron

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

transformers_optimusWelcome to our semi-monthly open-forum post where we pose to you the simple question of “What Are You Playing”? It’s summer now, but the games keep on coming, so much so that I can barely keep up with them. I’ve completely skipped Final Fantasy 13, missed half of God of War 3, only just caught up on Heavy Rain, and I still feel like I’m struggling to stay current. It may have something to do with sinking about two days worth of playtime into Red Dead Redemption, but that game is awesome, so I’ll assume that you forgive me.

Other than that, there’s been a couple of co-op DLC releases, a licensed game that’s actually pretty good, and Steam is having a ridiculous sale right now (you can find all of the delicious savings through this link if you don’t follow us on Twitter). I think I’m going to pick up Torchlight since it’s so cheap. I’ve heard good things about it, but has anyone played it?

Also, before we jump in to your posts, I should mention that next week will be bereft of the GamerSushi podcast since Nick and Eddy are “ascending the slopes of Mount Doom” with Web Zeroes, as they put it. We’ll pick up where we left off with our normal format in a couple of weeks though. Hopefully you can wait a while before our dulcet tones, and my nasally voice, caress your ear canals once again. OK, enough blabbing on my part, get cracking!

Crackdown 2 and Demo Achievements

crackdown2This past Monday, the demo for Crackdown 2, the forthcoming open-world super-hero cop game, dropped on X-Box LIVE, and most of the GamerSushi crew have been getting skills for kills. One new thing that the trial introduced is the notion of “Demo Achievements”, a system where you can unlock specific goals before the full retail version comes out and they will be applied to your Gamerscore. While this is 360 centric, I do think it brings up a neat idea that Sony can probably start emulating in their demos.

While Achievements and Trophies are not popular amongst all gamers, accumulating points is something that most of us enjoy and the prospect of getting a bit more out of demos isn’t bad either. Of course, offering these Achievements may color the perception of the game, or produce a subconscious need to buy the game to get your points.

While I’m all for the prospect of unlocking Achievements in demos, I’d like to know how you guys feel. Is this a good idea, or will it hurt the nature of demos? Do you even care? Also, what are your Crackdown 2 impressions, if you’ve been playing it.

GamerSushi Asks: Favorite Co-Op Memories?

heavy rainEver since we’ve been able to use the internet to connect our consoles to each other, cooperative play is becoming more and more popular. I’m all for this, as I enjoy taking on waves of baddies with my friends just as much as I like shooting them in the face in a competitive match. There’s just something about co-op play that is altogether different and more satisfying than a straight-up Deathmatch game, but maybe that’s just because I’m a team player.

Both Red Dead Redemption and Battlefield Bad Company 2, two excellent games in their own rights, are getting co-op add-on packs today. Since both these games should be a blast to play with friends, I thought I would find out what your favorite co-op gameplay memories are. Do you have a specific recollection of you and a buddy (or several) holding out against AI antagonists, or maybe a particularly epic campaign playthrough to the wee hours of the morning? Let us know!