Can you guys believe that it’s already May? That means it’s time for another bout of Power Rankings. At about half way through the year, I do have to say I’m surprised with the games on this month’s list, and what a surprise 2013 is shaping up to be in terms of variety and the titles available to us. Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite are still kicking strong, but Blood Dragon is a surprise contender out of the blue. And that’s not even mentioning the two 3DS games that are making waves.
So here’s this month’s list of the hottest 10 games that the GamerSushi staff is playing at the moment. I’m actually really looking forward to the shake-ups that are bound to occur for June’s list, when games like Last of Us and Monaco show up in our backlogs.
What do you guys think of this list? What are you playing right now? Go!
It’s the last day of April and with it comes Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which is the likely winner of this month’s poll. Before that, let’s look at last’s month poll real fast to see who won: Injustice! The DC Comic fighting game won the hearts and minds of our readers in a somewhat anemic month. Did anyone play Injustice? I tried the demo and found it to be about what I expected, which is a lot like the last Mortal Kombat. Not like that is a bad thing, but I already got my fill of that a few years back.
Fun or Shun is making a surprise comeback! In this feature, GamerSushi editors take a look at an upcoming game and give their thoughts on whether or not it will be worth your time to play. We’ve also done this with Dishonored and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This time, we’re giving Naughty Dog’s upcoming survival action adventure The Last of Us a litmus test.
Another month, another update to the beloved, ever-changing GamerSushi Power Rankings. If you’ll remember, March had us loving games like Ni No Kuni, FarCry3 and Dead Space 3 above all others. Well, things have changed quite a bit in April. You see, some of the year’s best games and biggest surprises have all come out one after the other, which leaves us quite a few new contenders. And some of those contenders will probably linger for a while to come.
So without further ado, here are GamerSushi’s top 10 most played games for the month of April. Tell us why we’re nuts, and what we’re doing wrong. We’re listening.
Hey look, a post that’s not about Bioshock Infinite… for now. I actually finished Ken Levine’s masterpiece (and yes, that word is appropriate for Infinite) this weekend, and the game certainly lives up to the hype in terms of what a sheer breathtaking experience it is — even if it’s sometimes lacking in the gameplay department.
One thing that I found disappointing about the game, for all its wonders, was the fact that the game was almost completely on rails. Mighty fine rails, mind you, but still, I’m the kind of guy that likes a hub, or a home base of sorts, where I’m free to weigh my options and pursue them at my leisure.
One of the next big releases on the gaming calendar happens to be the release of The Last of Us in May. Developed by Naughty Dog, this game is set to be a new IP for the PlayStation 3, just in time for the end of this console cycle.
The release of the newest Red Band trailer for The Last of Us shows off even more of the story and the world than ever before. In this trailer we see more than just Joel and Ellie, we see communities, other survivors, some of the infected and different locales as well. Early trailers just showed off bits of the overgrown city, so it’s cool to see that the game opens up in a bigger way, with what looks to be a crosscountry trip of sorts.
What do you guys think of the new trailer? While I’m not completely sold on the actual game yet, I do have to say that Naughty Dog’s storytelling abilities are almost unmatched in the industry at the moment, so I’m excited to see what kind of journey they have in store for us. Some of the thematic stuff looks like what the Walking Dead show tries to tackle but constantly fails. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
You’ve been there before. It starts out as a trickle. A game that wasn’t even a blip on your radar, or maybe one that you had never even heard of before, suddenly shows up. Maybe it’s in the form of a review, or positive buzz from gaming sites. Soon, the trickle gains some steam as overwhelming praise starts to sound from corners of the web. Then a friend plays it and loves it. Then multiple friends play it and sing its praises. And before you know it, love of this game has become an avalanche, ready to knock you from your footing of carefully budgeted gaming purchases.
This is my story right now with the Tomb Raider reboot, especially after our most recent podcast (which will be up on Sunday), and Jeff’s stellar Tomb Raider review. Whenever this happens, I tend to panic. I start checking the game’s price on different outlets. I find myself stopping at Redbox stations to see if the game is available for rent. I wonder what I might stop playing in favor of it. The really silly thing about doing this with Tomb Raider is that I’ve already got an impressive backlog, and I’m in the middle of a Ni No Kuni playthrough. As a scholar once said, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Has this happened to you guys recently? Do you try to avoid the avalanche when a new game comes out that you weren’t expecting to be great? Do you just give in, or wait? What games have done this to you? Go!
Tomb Raider’s 2013 reboot from Crystal Dynamics comes with a lot of expectations up front. Lara Croft and Tomb Raider have been a huge part of gaming and pop culture since the first game was released in 1996. The original series spans a total of nine(!) games including the Anniversary remake, all of which stick to a fairly standard formula: rich, buxom Croft runs around underdressed in ancient tombs, shooting things and solving puzzles.
That formula combined with total media saturation in the late 90s and early ‘aughts meant that Tomb Raider slowly but surely slid into the realm of disappointing sales and irrelevance. If any game franchise was due for a complete overhaul, Tomb Raider is it. Gritty reboots are fashionable these days, but does that mean you should give Tomb Raider the time of day?
Today at Penny Arcade Report, Ben Kuchera interviews Rhianna Pratchett, writer of the Tomb Raider reboot (and daughter of British national treasure Terry Pratchett). In the first part of the interview, they discuss the controversy surrounding the game’s PR blunders as well as Pratchett’s personal history with the Tomb Raider franchise and her approach to rebooting the game.
I especially liked her response to a question about how the reveal that she was the head writer affected perception of the game’s content:
It’s not fine because I’m a woman. It’s fine because we approached it with the right creative sentiments. It was an honest scene for those characters and that moment. It wasn’t done for titillation. It wasn’t prolonged. It was uncomfortable because it should be uncomfortable.
I played through the first two hours of Tomb Raider last night, including the controversial moment that caused so much furor, and I can attest to the fact that in context the scene isn’t at all played for titillation. The game is definitely intense and occasionally brutal – the first time Lara died, I cringed – but it’s all done in service to some of the best game writing and pacing I’ve experienced in a very long time. My heart was pounding for most of those first two hours, and it wasn’t because I was trying to “protect a woman”.
How about you? Did anyone else pick up Tomb Raider? Have you played through the controversial part of the game?
It seems like everywhere I turn, people are talking about the importance of story and emotion in video games. I know that I get sucked into that, too, partially because some of the most meaningful games that I’ve played have had some stellar stories. Games like The Walking Dead, Uncharted 2, a number of Final Fantasies and more have stuck with me longer than most.
The other day, Anthony, Jeff and I were talking about stories in games, and how it’s funny that gamers will excuse even the most absurd stories in favor of excellent gameplay. Far Cry 3, for instance, had a ridiculous premise and a story which made little sense, but I never really cared because the setting and the game itself were so much fun. Likewise, I can’t say I’ve ever been completely invested in the stories of games like Gears of War or even most of the Halo titles. Even Ni No Kuni, a game that I adore at the moment, has a pretty so-so story.
January was a decent month for games: DmC and Ni No Kuni both landed with sizable critical acclaim, but other than those two, the month was bare. It was a good time to catch up on your backlog or even take a break for a bit, maybe read a book or two to pass the time. Two great games in one month is probably ideal.
Well, no more of that. February is here and it’s not “ideal”: it’s here to kick some ass. There is about a half-dozen worthy titles dropping during the shortest month of the year (and my birth month) and while the quality of a few may be in question, there is no doubt that us gamers will have a nice buffet of gaming goodness to sample from this month. Shall we take a look at the menu?
If you’ve listened to the most recent podcast, then you’ll know that Assassin’s Creed 3 left one of the worst tastes in my mouth in recent gaming history. Not only did the game fall short of previous titles — it was flat out bad, something I rarely even say about a game I played all the way through.
From the controls to the story to the overall bugginess of the title, Assassin’s Creed 3 was a failure on multiple levels, and I pretty much have no qualms about saying that. It was an active step back from the excellence of Brotherhood, and even the good-but-problematic Revelations. The one redeeming spot in the game’s 10 hours or so that I spent with it would have to be the naval battles, which were an absolute joy — even more so when you consider how frustrating everything around them happened to be.
But enough of my ranting about Assassin’s Creed 3. I think one of the reasons I was so thoroughly disgusted by the game, aside from it being kind of crappy, is because of the wasted potential. We were given a new setting, a new character, a chance for resolution with a number of story threads and an actual revolution (pardon the pun) in terms of setting, gameplay elements and the like. And it was all a mess. After Revelations came out last year, I was ready to be done with the AC franchise for awhile, but the promise of AC3 lured me back. I don’t know if I’ll make that mistake again, after seeing all the wasted potential that this game lived up to.
So what about you guys? What’s the biggest recent gaming disappointment you’ve experienced? What’s the biggest disappointment of 2012? What made the game disappointing? Go!
It’s been a while, but we’re back. In the month since we’ve been gone a lot has happened, such as Disney buying LucasFilm and a whole bunch of games coming out. We managed to cover a lot of it, leading to what has to be our longest cast in a while.
Nick is absent yet again, but you have the regular crew, albeit with a couple of us fighting off coughing fits at several points. Eddy just plain forgets that he can mute himself, so in a couple spots you’ll hear him coughing or chomping on a cough drop. It’s not too bad, but I’ve decided to christen the cast in his honor.
You know how it goes by now, being veterans of our show. Listen, rate and be excellent to each other. We’ll see you soon!
After being saddled with Desmond the last four games, Ubisoft is looking to bring a bit of finality to his story, and in the words of Masters, “To actually wrap up what you’ve opened and experienced with him”. Traditionally the Desmond segments of the Assassin’s Creed games have always been poorly received, right up from the moment in the first game when we realized that we weren’t technically going to be playing an assassin in the Middle Ages, but were experiencing the genetic memories of some poor kidnapped sod. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the lead designer of AC3 admit that the series did rotate around Desmond for a bit too long, as this part of the interview shows:
“And we wanted you to feel a good sense of progress in what’s going on in the story. A lot of the misdirection and the way we’ve been meandering a little bit has been kind of frustrating as a player and for the audience, so we wanted to make sure there was going to be more substance to get your teeth into.”
While I don’t hate Desmond as much as some, the cliffhanger at the end of Revelations did feel like the modern-day storyline was starting to wear out its welcome. I’m interested to see where the Assassin’s Creed story will go after three, and whether or not we’ll be saddled with another Desmond-type character to keep the sci-fi conceit going.
What do you guys think about this? Will we actually see Desmond’s story wrap up or is this just a developer telling us what we want to hear? Are we saying goodbye to Desmond for good, or will he be back?
Klei Entertainment is known for making 2D games with a really refined art style that are sadly a little lacking in the gameplay. While Shank and Shank 2 were by no means bad games, they were beset by a bit of monotony and a lack of polish in some of the fighting.
Mark of the Ninja is trying a completely different track, though, eschewing the over-the-top action of the Shank games and putting you in the tabi cloth of a ninja, one who has been gifted (cursed?) with an ever-growing collection of mystical tattoos which grant him great powers at the cost of his sanity. Can Klei make the transition from brutal violence to the beauty of a well-timed stealth kill?
What ho, faithful Sushians, we’re back with the opener for Season 3 of the podcast! While the break was a little shorter than we anticipated, we still had lots to talk about, ranging from the recent Wii U announcements to Hero Academy, The Walking Dead, CS:GO and Mark of the Ninja. Oh, we also played a little Over/Under.
It’s a longer cast that our last few, clocking in at about an hour and a half, but it was super fun to get back into the groove of recording it. We’re a bit rusty, and Eddy disappears a couple times, but I think it’s a fine return to form. Oh, also, a wild Nick appears right before we launch into our game, so you’ll get to hear his bearded tones once again.
Since it’s been a while, I’ll remind you how this goes: listen, rate the cast, and always remember, OPPAN SUSHI STYLE.
0:00 – 3:19 Intro
3:20 – 20:31 Wii U pricing and launch date
20:31 – 28:56 FF7 Twenty Fifth anniversary
28:57 – 36:42 Hero Academy
36:43 – 43:50 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
43:51 – 54:14 The Walking Dead
54:15 – 1:04:57 Mark of the Ninja
1:04:58 – 1:24:28 GAME TIME Over/Under
1:24:29 – 1:26:17 Outro Style
Klei Studio’s (the folks behind Shank) new 2D stealth platformer Mark of the Ninja was released on September 7 and when I bought it yesterday it took me at least five minutes and six addition screens (I counted) to get from my ad-infested Xbox dashboard to a page where I could actually buy the dang game. Given that Mark of the Ninja is being lauded critically and is an Xbox LIVE exclusive for the time being, you’d think that Microsoft would be promoting that game on at least the front of the games tab.
But alas, there is not a single mention of Mark of the Ninja until you go to the game’s specific page and buy it. That’s a damn shame, considering that it’s pretty incredible. If you have no idea what this game is, here’s a quick gameplay video for Mark of the Ninja (we really need some more video content around here, don’t we?) which should give you the gist of what it’s all about.
I played it for a couple of hours last night and I’m already in love with it. The game’s visual style is really eye-catching while being informative at the same time: if your character is black, he’s hidden, and if he’s in color, he’s not. This also applies to the various guards you’ll be slicing, letting you know if the body of your latest victim is in plain sight or not. Stealth is also a lot of fun, this being the first game to really do it right for me since Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. You have so many options to be a badass ninja, from hanging from the ceiling to traveling through vents to pausing time in midair to throw your noise maker to distract a guard before you land behind him and shove your sword through his neck.
If you’re hesitant about the 15 dollar price tag, at least download the demo and try it out; chances are you’ll be hooked. Personally, I think everyone should buy this game, if only to shove Microsoft’s poor marketing back in their face. Has anyone played Mark of the Ninja? What do you think of it? Any thoughts on the hoops I had to jump through to find the game?
In my eyes, Assassin’s Creed is one of the more notable examples of why publishers shouldn’t be afraid to take great risks on a new franchise. It was an IP that nobody had ever experienced, and now it’s one of the powerhouse releases each year, right alongside Call of Duty and Halo. Anybody that has concerns about whether or not new franchises can enter the scene with the other AAA giants need look no further than Altair, Ezio and their ilk.
But is AAA going to be as big of a factor in the next generation as it has been for the current one? Assassin’s Creed 3 Creative Director Alex Hutchinson doesn’t think so. Because of free to play, the rising costs of AAA development and more, Alex joins the ranks of other people that feel that at some point, there will be a change. Only Alex thinks this is coming rather soon. A quote, from the latest issue of Edge.
We’re the last of the dinosaurs. We’re still the monster triple-A game with very large teams [and] multiple studios helping out on different bits. There are fewer and fewer of these games being made, especially as the middle has fallen out.
So, Alex thinks that AAA games are going the way of the buffalo so quickly that Assassin’s Creed 3 will be one of the last? While I agree that at some point the industry is going to have to change to get in line with the expectations of the consumer, I think this is reaching just a bit. If anything, AAA games are bigger now than ever, and only seem to be ramping up at the moment.
I think sometime in the next gen, we’ll see that fizzle out some, but definitely not on the timetable that Hutchison predicts. What do you guys think? Are we looking down the barrel at the end of AAA games? Do you think the industry will change at all? When? Go!
It’s been a couple of months since we’ve updated our Power Rankings, and the tumultuous nature of the top 10 list should show that quite a bit of time has passed. This has given some new challengers room to flex their muscles, smashing new resting places for themselves right at the top, casting down all other games in a mighty display of strength. All future games for 2012, take notice. Walking Dead is the way you want to make your entrance.
One game I’ve had my eye on for a while is Papo & Yo, Minority Media’s tale about a young boy and his adventure with a gigantic, poisonous frog-addicted monster. The premise behind the game is that it’s an analogy for Vander Caballero’s (the lead designer) experience growing up with an alchoholic father, something that appeals to me greatly.
Given the praise heaped on the game before release, I was a little surprised that the the reviews for Papo & Yo are coming in all over the map. While the game’s story is being praised, the mechanics are being lambasted as “simple” and there are a lot of reviews complaining about the poor technical state of the game, with glitches and crashes abound. Here’s a round up of some of those reviews:
I think that sort of gives you a glimpse at just how varied people are in their thoughts about Papo & Yo. Even if the scores are all over the map, I’m still going to give this game a try. You might even go as far to say that the lower scores are prompting me more than the high ones.
What about you guys? Surprised about Papo & Yo’s reception? Did you think it would get a higher aggregate score because of the pre-release praise? Will you play it?