Over the weekend I’ve played a generous amount of XCOM 2, and I’ve also restarted after 10 hours into my first playthrough. I’ve named soldiers, customized them and watched the die to hilariously biased random number generation (RNG) and pulled off more than a few clutch victories. But for all of that, I’m just not enjoying my time with XCOM 2 all that much.
20 years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, in which the alien invasion was successful, you and your ragtag band of resistance fighters are striking back against the extraterrestrial overlords that control Earth. XCOM 2 flips the formula a bit by making you the invading force and you start most missions with a concealment bonus. You can actually plot ambushes this time, a welcome change from the free move the aliens would get when you encountered them in the first game. Continue reading Having Trouble Finding the Fun in XCOM 2
One of the things that I’ve loved about gaming in recent years is the explosion of Let’s Play videos and streaming. With the new opportunities gamers have to capture themselves playing more easily, it’s bringing us back to a day of speed runs, high scores and documenting really monumental achievements that players are accomplishing every day.
Take for instance the Impossible Ironman playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Within by Youtuber Antti Kokkonen, where he managed to beat the game’s new expansion pack on the hardest difficulty, with no saves—losing zero soldiers. It’s one of those things that’s almost impossible to imagine if you’ve played any XCOM, and experienced its startling brutality firsthand. This writeup by PCGamer is incredibly fascinating, breaking down the most nail-biting moments and critical saves that Kokkonen experienced over the course of his time playing the game.
This is one of those things I could totally see myself doing if I had the time. I remember spending hours in front of Mario 64 trying to perfect the timing of jumps and platforming, and running through Metal Gear Solid on total memory in just around 2 hours. What kind of madness have you pulled off in a game recently? Have you watched any of Kokkonen’s playthrough? Go!
As a gamer I’d like to think that my tastes are fairly diverse. Sure I enjoy a good dude-bro shooter every now and then, but I also appreciate stretching my wings, so to speak, and trying something different when given the opportunity.
One genre I’ve never managed to get into is the Strategy RPG (although I suppose the most recent XCOM game might qualify). I’m remedying this right now with Fire Emblem: Awakening, the latest entry in Nintendo’s long-running portable series. Anthony put up a review of the game last year, and I’m finding myself hard-pressed to disagree with him.
While I enjoy the battles in the game, my favorite aspect is purposefully trying to pair up units to get bonuses to my stats; it’s satisfying to have two people back each other up while enemy after enemy kill themselves trying to take my heroes down. I’m really liking the cast of characters as well, as the writing is fairly humorous at times and the anime cutscenes are rather thrilling. Fire Emblem: Awakening is quickly becoming one of my top 3DS games, which is saying something considering the additions to the library of that system in 2013.
What this game is making me want to do is dig deeper into this genre. I hear Valkyria Chronicles is pretty good but I doubt I could find a copy anywhere around where I love. Does anyone have some SRPG suggestions for titles I should check out?
There are just a handful of places in my life where I’m willing to invest actual, valuable man-hours in order to return some kind of benefit. Writing, for one, is a hobby that I’ve managed to turn into a career of some sorts, and I hope to take it even further than I have in the future, through continual practice and repetition. Parenting, for obvious reasons, is another area in which I gladly invest my time. But there are plenty of other “grown up” things that I can’t seem to give the time of day — learning to be handy, taking care of my yard, dressing better.
Videogames have always been different. Every now and then a certain game will come along that captivates me to the point where I want to plumb its depths and learn everything I can about it. Of course, this comes with mixed results (such as StarCraft II), but every now and then, the process of practicing skills and memorizing stats and build orders actually increases my enjoyment of a game.
One of my most anticipated games of the year, Company of Heroes 2, is finally out, and it’s being met with some pretty good review. Well, the number at the end of the review is good, but if you actually read the review, it paints quite a different picture.
Despite the praise heaped upon the multiplayer of Company of Heroes 2, and the new Theater of War missions which work a lot like an RTS version of Modern Warfare 2’s Spec Ops mode, a lot of criticism is heaped on the campaign. I can’t quite speak on CoH 2’s campaign yet, but I find it odd that a review would focus on the negative aspects of a game and then spend a little bit of time talking about the good parts and give it a pretty good score. Check out the reviews below:
Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m criticizing, but if I’m going to give a game a high score I’d list the good things in detail instead of the bad parts. I’m still looking forward to trying out some Company of Heroes 2, but what about you guys? What do you think about these reviews? Are you going to give CoH 2 a try?
The Nintendo 3DS has had some great games in the past few months with one of the most notable being Fire Emblem Awakening. Having a love-affair with strategy games and being a Fire Emblem virgin, I was anxious to delve into the game and see what all the fuss was about.
The story of Fire Emblem is a bit of a mixed bag. It starts off in an interesting, if cliched fashion: your custom avatar wakes up in a field with amnesia. Now, I know what you’re thinking but stick with me, the story gets better. Having been found by Chrom, the prince of the kingdom of Ylissia, and his companions, you help them in defending the countryside from marauders, eventually joining them in the greater struggles that await. These struggles range from demonic Risen to all manner of political intrigue and attemped coups. Chrom’s sister rules the kingdom and he enforces her rule, but there are neighboring nations that have nefarious plans of their own, all of which give you a reason to do what you do best: fight some battles and kick some ass. The story encompasses everything from bandits to time travel to world-ending dragons, so there should be something in here that appeals to everyone. Continue reading Review: Fire Emblem Awakening
I’ve recently started digging deep into Fire Emblem: Awakening and I’m having a great time so far. It’s taken me a bit to get used to its own special brand of SRPG, but I am starting to understand the mechanics and I’m improving with every battle, which is all you can really ask for. You can’t expect to master a game like this from the outset, otherwise, where is the strategy there?
But with this learning curve comes a danger: perma-death. That’s right, the terrible tragedy of losing one of your favorite characters lurks at every turn. To make matters even more frustrating, the enemy has no such fears. They will rush forward in a suicidal frenzy, knowing with certainty that you will kill them on your next turn, but they pay no heed to their own safety. For them, it’s worth it if they can take down one of your squad. It’s not fair and makes the game even more challenging than it would be normally, but that’s what makes it nerve-wracking. Continue reading Resetting the Past in Fire Emblem
After a long wait, the Kickstater-backed iOS title Star Command finally came out today. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, Star Command is sort of a combination of Game Dev Story and FTL where you take control of a spaceship and its crew. There’s permanent crew death as well, so, much like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, prepare to get crushed when your little sprite crewmen die by getting sucked out of the airlock. Here’s the release trailer to get your interest piqued:
I hope you’re all happy to know that we’re bringing the Power Rankings back this year, but in a slightly different format. Last year, the Power Rankings updated at a few key points to bring you our running list of the best 10 games of the year so far. In 2013, the Power Rankings will focus more on our hottest 10 games of the moment, despite what year it was released. Think of it as a “what’s trending” list amongst the GamerSushi staff. These are the games we just can’t get out of our heads, or out of our disc trays (or hard drives, as it were).
Every year, it’s interesting to note the games that stick with you from the end of the previous year’s crazy gaming season. For me, the biggest surprises to come out of the Fall were games like Hotline Miami, but most especially Far Cry 3. While I had no interest in Far Cry 3 for the entire year, I couldn’t put the game down for the entire two weeks that I blazed through it, completing nearly all of the sidequests as well. If you had told me that Far Cry 3 would still be on my mind in 2013 a year ago, I would have snorted and called you a crazy person. Heck, I still might call you one today.
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?
XCOM is a roller coaster. It all starts out very fun, a little daunting, but once you get the hang of things, it seems like it will be a smooth ride. Then, things take a turn. The difficulty jumps up to a degree you didn’t anticipate and suddenly every alien turn is a stress-fest as you wipe your sweaty palms on your shirt while you pray to whatever deity you believe in for the aliens to miss their shot or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LEAVE MY HIGH-RANKING SNIPER ALONE, YOU BIG BULLIES!
But then, with patience, careful movement of your soldiers and a hell of a lot of research and resources, things level off again. Suddenly, that sniper who struggled to finish off a Thin Man is double-tapping (attacking twice in a single turn) her way to victory, seemingly all by her lonesome. Your assault soldier’s useful shotgun is a now an Alloy Cannon of death and you almost feel bad for that Berserker that is about to get shot directly in his ugly face. Almost. This has been my XCOM experience. Continue reading XCOM’s Peaks and Valleys
We don’t get many thinking man’s games these days. It’s usually shoot first, ask questions never, and maybe occasionally press X to interact while the really cool stuff happens in QTEs or cut scenes. But XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a different kind of animal for a different kind of gamer. Of all things, XCOM is the most taxing on your brain — and sometimes your heart. Continue reading Review: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
While Call of Duty moved into the realm of fictional wars with the first Modern Warfare game, the series has never strayed beyond modern technology; indeed, even jumping into today’s battlegrounds was deemed a huge leap for the series. Now that almost every era of modern war has been mined for inspiration (I’m still waiting for Trench Warfare), Call of Duty’s off-year team Treyarch decided to make a bold move and place their Black Ops follow up in the year 2025.
The whole game doesn’t take place in 2025, however, as there are several levels that occur in the 1980s that set up the origin of Raul Menendez, the antagonist of this particular outing. Switching back and forth between the shiny combat of 2025 and the shady battles of the 1980s, can Black Ops 2’s unique narrative break it out of the Call of Duty rut? Continue reading Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Hello, Sushians. I’ve come to give you very bad news: single player video games are nothing more than a gimmick. I know, this may come as a shock to you. What, with games like Dishonored, XCOM, Deus Ex, Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City gracing our screens over the last couple of years. I mean, it’s easy to be fooled by these great titles with fantastic mechanics or engrossing stories. But you really should know that playing by yourself is a gimmick.
At least, according to Gogogic CEO Jonas Antonson. Antonson has a few thoughts about single player titles in a recent interview that might not be too popular around these parts:
“I also think that it is worth to note that the single player mechanic is a gimmick – games are meant to be played with others and it doesn’t matter if it’s in-person or online. The first games were designed as multiplayer experiences, but when computer and console games became a thing there was a need to construct an antagonist and/or a protagonist for commercial purposes.”
Antonson goes on to talk about how toddlers make up someone to talk to when they play games, and even points at the “high score list” in arcades as a way to make games social. I understand what he’s saying — on one level, playing a game in a social setting transforms the entire experience. It’s nice to compare experiences with other people in a meaningful way, as we’re seeing with a game like XCOM. But on the other hand, I think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that all single player titles are inherently gimmicky by not including a social component.
So what do you guys think? Is this WTF worthy? Is Antonson off his rocker in his assessment of single player as a gimmick? Does every game need some kind of social component in order to truly matter? Go!
One PC gaming series I’ve always admired is Total War, mostly because of its adherence to large scale, semi-historically accurate battles. Last year’s Total War: Shogun 2 took us back to medival Japan, and for the next installment, Creative Assembly is taking another crack at classical antiquity with Total War: Rome 2. A recently released video from the developers showcases the upgrades they’re making including the new cinematic camera.
The fact that this game is just pre-alpha is kind of astounding and I can’t wait to try out the finished product. Total War is one of those series that makes PC gaming really shine. What did you guys think of the video?
Man, there has been a binder full of games coming out the past week, and it just isn’t going to stop until December. I’m still finding things to do in Borderlands 2 (like the recently release DLC) and I’m neck-deep in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I’ve also been playing Pokemon White: Version 2 and Sonic Adventure 2, and Sleeping Dogs sits on my shelf, waiting to be unwrapped.
Truth be told, I don’t know if I’m going to have time for anything other than XCOM. It’s just so good, and really, really difficult. You’re constantly spinning plates when it comes to managing the metagame, and I’ve got at least four countries sitting on Level 4 Panic while I hurry up and wait for my satellites to build. If I play that game through again, I’m going to start building power generators and satellite facilities from the get-go just so I can have a stable of the damn things ready to launch if things start to go off the rails.
I’ve also been quite tempted to pick up Dishonored, but I’ve heard mixed things about it despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews. While the game is being praised for a lot of things, I hear that it really can be quite short, and the stealth mechanics are a little fuzzy when it comes to determining whether or a not a guard can actually see you. After Mark of the Ninja (apples and oranges I know) managed to pull off communicating this so well, and games like Chronicles of Riddick have done it too, I feel like Dishonored could have been more tuned up in this area. That said, I haven’t actually played it, so feel free to tell me if I’m talking out of my butt.
Recently I’ve been playing the hell out of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and I’ve been really enjoying it, despite its difficulty and the fiddlyness of the controls (though I hear using an actual controller smooths this out – I’m on the PC). One of the aspects I enjoy the most is being able to customize your soldiers and give them individual names. The problem with doing this is that I’ve grown kind of attached to my little polygonal troops and XCOM has no problem killing them off on a whim.
I try to be as careful as I can in a given mission, but sometimes the game just works against me. For the most part I’ve been quick-saving often (autosaves are disabled by default) but during a particularly tough mission today a box truck exploded, taking out two battle-hardened soldiers. I was almost done the mission and had killed about nine Chrysalids along the way, so I didn’t feel like reloading and doing the whole operation over again just to save two troopers. Granted, they were generic ones that I hadn’t given special names to, but this is the first time in XCOM that I hadn’t felt the need to call a mulligan and rolled with the consequences.
Dishonored is a game where this sort of approach can also apply, given the inherit stealthy nature of the mechanics. While you do have the option to go hog-wild on the guards you’re facing, the game rewards you for taking a quiet, non-lethal approach, something that can make people into perfectionists, quick-saving constantly.
So, my question for you guys is, do you accept the consequences of your actions in games like these? Do you prefer to reload your last save because you know you could have done it better?
Do you ever have one of those games show up on your radar so suddenly that it just kind of takes you back? Like, you’ve got all your priorities lined up, you know where your time is going to go for the next few weeks, and then out of nowhere, you get Falcon Punched by some game you hadn’t even paid attention to?
That’s the case with me and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the new turn-based, tactical role-playing military game from Firaxis. For some reason, I had no interest whatsoever in XCOM for the last year that I’ve been hearing about it. I really can’t tell you why. But then, people started raving about it just a week or two ago. Then they raved more. And harder. We’re talking glowsticks in the air like you just don’t care kind of raving, from all corners of the gaming press.
You can’t help but take notice when that happens. Then I did that thing that we gamers do, when we get on the slippery slope and say that we’ll just read one review or watch just one video of something, just to get our feet a little wet. And then you discover that the game has all kinds of personalization, like naming your team and leveling them up. And you find out how fun the strategy combat looks. And about some of the cool abilities your team gets as the game rolls on. You know, the wonderful stuff games are made of.
And now, dammit, I want to buy XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
So now, a couple of questions: do you guys ever try to resist the temptation to learn about a new game that people are talking about? Who here is getting XCOM? And what is the deciding factor that gets you suddenly interested in a snap decision like this? Go!
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
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. Continue reading The GamerSushi Power Rankings: September 2012