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
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?
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
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!
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?
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?
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!
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!
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!
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!
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?
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?
Sometime last year I made the promise to myself that I would stop trying to consume every piece of promotional material put out by the publishers. This included trailers, developer diaries, screenshots and anything else that came out of the hideous maw of the PR beast. It’s been a tough endeavor so far but I think it’s been worth it.
One of the main reasons I stopped partaking in this circus is that most trailers and screenshots for video games actually contain some pretty significant spoilers. You don’t realize it at the time because they’re out of context (and just a bunch of clips cut together), but you could be watching a really cool moment or a crucial plot twist. Movies are the same way, but games are so much more of a time investment. Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: Resisting the Hype
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?
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!