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.
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:
Hit the jump to read about the announcement plans for the next-gen Xbox.
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.
Here are GamerSushi’s top 10 most played games right now. Feel free to tell us we’re the crazy ones, and tell us what would be on your list.
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.
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.
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?
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.
We said it was going to be kind of dead around here, and boy, we weren’t kidding. I can’t really speak for the other dudes, but summer is kind of the time where real life takes precedent over other things, so sorry about that. When the weather turns grey and people retreat back into their homes, that’s around when gaming news picks up again.
That said, it’s not like there’s nothing to talk about, as my iOS devices have been getting a fair bit of use recently with some newly discovered games I’ve been playing: Pocket Planes and Hero Academy.
Pocket Planes is made by NimbleBit, who struck it big with their tower management sim game Tiny Tower. Those rascals are back at it, but this time you’re trying to turn a fledgling airline into a global powerhouse. You start off with small planes in one region and eventually expand your operation to be global, gathering bigger and bigger planes and opening new airports. It functions on the same “hurry up and wait” mechanic that Tiny Tower did, where you have to just let the game sit while your planes travel from point to point, but you can use Bux to speed them along their way. It lacks the same inherently addictive quality that Tiny Tower had, but hearing the little “ding” notification whenever one of your planes arrives is a Pavlov’s bell that’s hard to ignore. You have the ability to join a flight crew to earn aircraft parts and Bux, and there’s a minimal amount of jobs you need to complete for each challenge to be elegible for the reward. It’s a great way to get a little boost if you can participate and helps make Pocket Planes feel less isolated than Tiny Tower did.
Hello, GamerSushi gents and ladies. You might not remember me, since I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, but my name is Eddy. How do you do?
Me, I’ve been a bit busy recently, which has left me with very little time to both write for the Sushi and play some games, but hopefully all of that is changing very soon. Part of the issue is that this is a slow time for gaming news, because frankly it’s just a slow time for games. Thankfully we all have our backlogs and a ridiculous Steam Summer Sale to keep us busy.
Before the Fall arrives (which I’m considering to be the release date of Borderlands 2), what games do you think you’ll be tackling in the meantime? As for me, my plan of attack revolves around Walking Dead, Tropico 4, Civ 5, Day Z and more Diablo 3. I also finally plan on putting Skyrim to rest after many months of sitting on the expansive main quest. And who knows, maybe I’ll rent Spec Ops: The Line after all the great things I’ve heard.
So what are you guys playing? Let us know your Summer backlog. Go!
One of the most bizzarre crossovers of this year is Pokemon Conquest, a game that mixes up the creature-catching RPG with the tactical turn-based strategy of Nobunaga’s Ambition. If Pokemon in Feudal Japan sounds like your kind of game, then I’ve got good news for you, because apparently this title is pretty dang awesome.
I haven’t played it personally (yet) but this crossover got me thinking about what other games have blended two genres or universes and got away with it. Thankfully, Games Radar was thinking along the same track as me and put together a list of 15 of gaming’s most famous crossovers. There are a couple of obvious ones like the Capcom VS fighting titles and Kingdom Hearts, but there are a few in there that I’m puzzled over how they got the green light.
How many of these mash-ups have you played? Are you going to try Pokemon Conquest? What crossovers would you like to see in the future?
Civilization games are famous for taking a long time to complete, but even your most hardcore marathon doesn’t compare to Reddit user Lycerius’s ten year slugging match between his communist Celtics and the Vikings and Americans.
In the year 3991 A.D., the remaining super-powers have weathered over 1700 years of war and are huddled in dilapitated cities surrounded by infertile marshes and radioactive wastelands.
The stalemate comes from the fact that Civ 2′s late game is perfectly balanced and the Vikings attack every round regardless of cease-fires. Every nation is 100% comitted to war manufacturing as any attempt at peaceful rebuilding means that your nation will be crushed by the other armies. Late-game building units are used only to build roads that take units to the front lines and then rebuild them when the infrastructure is destroyed.
While it’s cool that this guy managed to keep a save file for ten years, The Eternal War is also an awesome post-apocalytpic tale. Commie Celts? Spies slipping nukes into cities? Ice caps melting and reforming 20 times? Sounds like a recipe for a good novel.
Some of the other writers here at GamerSushi may fall into the category of gamers who would agree that developers “just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” With plenty of respectably aging gamers out there who grew up on games that made today’s “Veteran” difficulty look like child’s play, it’s no wonder a change was bound to happen. The crew over at Irrational Games, makers of the BioShock series, is introducing a new level of difficulty in BioShock Infinite with “1999 Mode.” This mode is designed to “challenge players in a variety of ways – each requiring substantial commitment and skill development.” But what does this mean exactly?
I’m an old school gamer. We wanted to make sure we were taking into account the play styles of gamers like me. So we went straight to the horse’s mouth by asking them, on our website, a series of questions about how they play our games. 94.6 percent of respondents indicated that upgrade choices enhanced their BioShock gameplay experience; however, 56.8 percent indicated that being required to make permanent decisions about their character would have made the game even better.” – Kevin Levine, Creative Director
The idea behind 1999 Mode is to make players think much harder about the decisions they make while playing the game. Gone will be the day of rushing in like Rambo without thinking. Players will have to deal with each and every one of their choices – sometimes permanently. This new game mode will also force the player to pick specializations and focus on them. The new mode will also have “demanding” stat requirements including health, power and your weaponry. Respawning will also be much tougher, with players experiencing the old school “Game Over” screen if they don’t have sufficient resources to get back into the action.
So what do you guys think of this new game mode? With games like Call of Duty, where players can charge through recklessly, will BioShock Infinite’s new approach change the way we approach single player campaigns? I can certainly see this sticking with certain types of games. How about you guys? Will we see more of this in games, or can today’s youth not handle the challenge?
Personally, I can’t wait for this new expansion and getting to play the campaign and try all the new units, even if the Terran stuff looks kind of silly to me. I mean, the transforming Hellion is cool, but the Warhound looks like a Gobot. What do you guys think of the Heart of the Swarm trailer? What about the other BlizzCon news?