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?
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made what amounts to a Herculean effort in terms of my gaming backlog. That means that I’ve utilized the strength of ten mortal men to play lots and lots of video games, and the pile of judgmental game titles, physical and hypothetical, have lessened their gaze of fury, demanding to be played.
Basically, I’m having fun.
The most recent target of my gaming swathe has been Borderlands 2, the ludicrous FPS action RPG that can barely support any more capital letter descriptors. Nick and myself have been tearing through this game like nobody’s business, and just this past weekend managed to smite the Warrior, the game’s final fiery boss (with some help, of course). Naturally, one of the biggest draws of any dungeon crawler like Borderlands happens to be the massive amount of loot that you have access to, and according to legend, the Warrior drops some mighty fine bonuses.
Crysis 3’s multiplayer beta opened up last week and I spent a little time leaping around as a nanosuited operative, trying out the two availible game modes: Hunter and Crash Site, the latter of which returns from Crysis 2.
In Hunter mode, a team of ever-dwindling CELL soldiers has to survive against invisible, bow-wielding predators, and every kill the Hunters get adds to their own ranks. While this may sound like it makes for a tense multiplayer mode, the rounds are fairly short and the Hunters seem a little too over-powered, considering they’re invisible and the new bow is a one-hit kill. At one point I went on a five-kill streak with the bow when I was standing about ten feet from a group of enemy players, so oblivious were they to my presence. While the CELL team gets motion trackers and EMP grenades, the abilities given to the Hunters more than outweighs this puny advantage.
Crash Site, for those of you who didn’t play Crysis 2, is a territory control game type, where alien pods will land somewhere on the map and one team has to hold down that location to gain points. While this mode is a lot more fun than Hunter, there are several balance issues that need to be worked out before release.
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.
For Stop the Presses Thursday, the biggest pieces of gaming news to drop this week happened to come in the form of two trailers.
Bioshock Infinite, coming in March, is a game that I can’t quite seem to peg. It’s well documented that the original Bioshock didn’t quite grab me the way it grabbed everyone else, even though I was appreciative of its dark atmosphere and its art design. Meanwhile, Infinite’s city in the sky, Columbia, is almost the opposite of Rapture in terms of its look and feel, even if its dark underbelly is similar in theme.
This newest Infinite trailer highlights the secrets of Columbia, and gives us a bit more info about the story. This game is tempting me something fierce, guys.
As goofy as it sounds, one of my favorite parts about any RPG is watching my damage number creep up as I progress through the game. Whether this number is ratcheting upward through new equipment or because I’ve hit a new level seems to matter little — what matters is that sweet, sweet damage total. I get kind of addicted to it. This is most evident in Borderlands 2 (which we’ll be streaming tonight), a game that bombards you with more numbers than a Mathletics competition, both in and out of combat.
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.
To continue our theme of What We’re Playing Monday, I thought I’d take us on a dismal tour of my future, one in which I gain 100 pounds, lose my job and become a hermit that only plays Sim City.
OK, so maybe the future isn’t set in stone yet, but seeing as how much I enjoyed my time in the closed beta this weekend, there’s certainly some kind of dark timeline where all of this takes place. Although, considering how much fun the game is, maybe it’s not necessarily a dark time line after all?
I grew up playing the old X-Wing game for the PC and it’s been sad for me to see that genre fall out of favor with gamers at large. True, that game was perhaps a little too complicated, but even simple space combat games have been few and far between the last couple of years.
Born Ready Games, with a Kickstarter backing, has decided to reboot the space combat genre and bring us Strike Suit Zero, a game for the PC that has not only spaceship dog-fighting but also lets you pilot a kick-ass mecha. Yes, you read that right: about an hour and a bit into the game, you get access to a Strike Suit, a prototype fighter that has the secondary function of transforming into a giant robot.
The controls for the game a pretty straightforward: as a fighter you get plasma cannons, a machine gun and a variety of missiles. Using the machine gun to strip the shields of enemy fighters and finishing them off with your plasma cannons keeps your fingers busy and doesn’t make you reliant on one weapon as the plasma guns tend to drain fast, especially when they’re linked. Once you get the Strike Suit, a simple tap of a button (or key, but I really recommend playing with a controller) turns your snubfighter into a death-dealing, missile spewing machine.
One of the most important aspects of a shooter is the weaponry, but beyond that, having a powerful, satisfying shotgun in your virtual arsenal is key. Sometimes a shotgun can make or break a game, so we’d like to ask you what your favorite video game shotgun is.
Personally, I just can’t think of a better shotgun than the M90 Close Assault Weapon System from Halo: Combat Evolved. The first time you find this beastly firearm, you’ve just encountered the Flood and are hoping for a weapon that will put down the larger combat forms in one hit. The M90 CAWS is the answer to that prayer and for the rest of the game, this scattergun will occupy one of your two precious weapon slots whether you have ammo for it or not.
Runners up would be the Gnasher from Gears of War, which can turn you into a living meatgrinder in multiplayer if you can get the hang of it, or the SPAS-12 from Battlefield 3. I recently discovered that equipping slug rounds on the SPAS-12 turns it into a one-hit kill weapon at medium range, and it requires a bit more skill than the other full-auto weapons availible.
I may be skewing kind of modern here, so I’ll pose the question to you guys one again: what is your favorite video game shotgun?
Dead Space 3 will be hitting our screens very soon, but some news about the game dropped this week that may sour your anticipation. According to Eurogamer, Dead Space 3’s new workbench, where you can custom-make your weaponry, will include a microtransaction store for buying some additional resources.
While players will still be able to scavenge the materials for themselves or use scavenger bots to gather crafting resources in-game, real-world money can always be used to circumvent the collection process. This doesn’t mean that eager players can drop a ton of cash at the beginning of the game and get all the top-tier weaponry; they still have to wait for those guns to be unlocked as part of the narrative progression.
Even though this is the first instance of microtransactions in Dead Space, giving quick boosts for cash is nothing new in EA titles. Mass Effect 3 had this, as did Battlefield 3 and I wouldn’t be surprised if SimCity has something similar. What do you guys think about this? Is this a harmless addition for those of us flush with cash but strapped for time? Is it a foul on EA’s part to try and get their mitts into your wallet after you’ve already bought the game?
If you’re captured by pirates on a tropical island halfway around the world, what do you do? According to Far Cry 3, you get some sick tribal tattoos and start stabbing. Far Cry 3 doesn’t waste much time before dropping you into an island paradise full of dangerous predators and even more dangerous pirates and mercenaries and allows you to go about your business as you see fit.
Want to be a master of stealth and roll around with a bow and a machete? Go for it. Want to trundle in with a flamethrower and a bunch of rocket-propelled grenades? Perhaps you’d like the local wildlife to do your killing for you. Far Cry 3 has so many ways to interact with the environment and your enemies that it’s almost insane. Oh, did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?
Every generation represents a new set of hurdles for the medium (or art, if you’re feeling fancy) of video gaming. In the current generation — and yes, I do include PC games in this — I think the most obvious hurdles we’ve cleared have to do with graphics, the ease of connectivity and huge, immersive universes. Within the last few years, it’s easier to play with friends than ever before, or even talk to them across games. I can share games with them on Steam or track their progress through PSN or XBL. Games like Skyrim, Borderlands 2 and Arkham City have given us amazing, huge worlds that we can interact with, and feel like we’re a part of. The Uncharted series and Red Dead Redemption have given us high-caliber storytelling and some memorable vocal performances.
But do I think all of these things are perfect? Not by any stretch. The medium still has plenty of growing up to do in terms of what it can achieve, in any number of arenas. Today’s Pixel Count poll is a big one, representing what I think are the biggest hurdles that gaming still has in front of it.
So, if we’re entering the next generation soon, which of these do you think is the most important issue, from a player’s perspective? Vote and tell us what you think in the comments!
New IPs are increasingly rare as this console cycle stretches on and on. It’s not something I fully understand, as more people than ever have 360s and PS3s, so one would think the risk of funding a game based on a new property would be much lower, but then again, what do I know?
Thankfully, Bethesda feels differently and thus has unleashed Dishonored upon the world. Developed by Arkane Studios, which features the talents of one of the original Deus Ex developers, it is a mix of Bioshock, Thief and Deus Ex, all rolled into one package. Onward to the review!
I love stealth games, but they tend to stress me out. The idea of sneaking around without getting caught always tends to add a pile of burdens on top of me, like the game is judging me if I fail, and will punish me with extra waves of enemies should I find a way of royally fracking things up.
And while most stealth games do a poor job at making stealth just as fun as the shooting counterpart (or throw out a poor attempt at both), FarCry 3 makes sneaking around exciting, challenging and maybe even more fun than mowing down bands of pirates with an assault rifle or rocket launcher. This is mostly accomplished through an excellent skill system that rewards you for stealth kills and chaining takedowns together for some brutal, silent mayhem. It adds a dash of style to a mechanic that is normally slow and methodic, even in a (mostly traditional) first person shooter.
It’s always refreshing to play a new twist on a familiar game mechanic, and FarCry 3 does this in a number of ways. Because of this empowerment, FarCry 3 doesn’t make me nearly as nervous to play in a stealthy manner, and it’s making the game all the more fun for me. I’m not fretting about getting spotted, but rather, given just the right tools to adapt — and have a blast doing it.
How do you guys normally feel about stealthy gameplay mechanics? Do you tend to sneak around or come into a situation guns playing? What are some of your favorite stealth games? Go!
The GamerSushi Show is back for your listening pleasure two weeks in a row! Crazy, right? Unfortunately neither myself or Nick could make the cast this week, but that doesn’t mean that Eddy, Anthony and Jeff didn’t have enough to talk about on their own.
After going over a couple of 2012’s late entries, the guys talk about the upcoming games of 2013 and whether or not we’ll actually see the next gen this year (signs point to yes). There’s much more nerdery in the podcast proper, so what are you waiting for? Listen, rate, comment. You know the drill.
0:00 – 2:06 Intro
2:07 – 10:28 Hotline Miami
10:29 – 16:10 GamerSushi Schedule
16:17 – 21:46 Far Cry 3
21:47 – 27:55 GS Staff Personal Top 10 of 2012
27:56 – 31:50 Ni No Kuni
31:51 – 36:26 2013 and the Next Gen
36:27 – 48:58 The Games of 2013, January to May
48:59 – 52:21 Outro
Sushians! As part of our new content spree of 2013 (which we’ve honorably dubbed as “Year of the Sushi” around these parts), we’ve started up our very own GamerSushi Twitch TV channel.
Last night I streamed the second half of Hotline Miami as a bit of a test, and a few of you joined and hung out for a little bit. And right now, Nick and I are streaming some Borderlands 2. Obviously if you see this a bit later, you’ll have missed out on the fun, but we’re working on some kind of loose schedule when we’ll be streaming some different games.
So yeah, join in on the fun. Year of the Sushi!
Update: All done playing now, but you can find the play session after the jump!
This week, I finally jumped into Far Cry 3’s sprawling green and blue playground of predators and pirates, and like many other gamers, have found myself enthralled by not only the emergent gameplay, but the sidequests that know just how to entice me off the beaten path. But before I started off-roading, gaining experience through stealth kills and skinning komodo dragons, I did what I do for every game — I tweaked the settings.
Starting a new game is equal parts excitement and ritual for me. I’ve got a bit of a ceremony whenever I pop in a new title. First, I turn on subtitles, since I’m usually trying to keep volume low so as not to wake up a sleeping baby (or worse yet, a sleeping wife). Then, I lower the overall master volume of the game. Next, I check controller settings to make sure that the y-axis isn’t inverted, and after that I lower the sensitvity to the point where it feels like the gun is dragging through molasses. No matter how engaging the beginning of a game, if these things aren’t set, I don’t feel like I’m in control of the experience.
So what about you guys? What pre-game rituals do you have before you start a new game? Do you mess with the audio? Is there a particular set of headphones you prefer to use? A particular time of day or a specific position you need to be in on the couch? Show us your OCD side in the comments.
The hits just keep on coming for BioWare and EA’s ill-fated Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic. After a less-than stellar launch and a much maligned move to free-to-play, the game is getting its first major expansion in the form of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel, which will feature, of all things, a planet where same-sex romances are permitted.
This might not seem too strange to people who haven’t played The Old Republic, but Makeb, as the planet is called, is the only place in the entire game where player characters can engage in same-sex romances with NPCs. This doesn’t turn previous companions into romance options, or even add new companions with this feature (because that would be “too difficult” according to the developers), but rather places new characters exclusively on Makeb.
As if that wasn’t strange enough, making this part of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion means that same-sex romances are available only after paying for it. Putting SGR (same-gender romance as the TOR forums call it) on a single planet behind a paywall just smacks of not only laziness, but a lack of respect for customers looking for that kind of content.
Just when you think the game industry couldn’t dig themselves any further into a misogynistic hole, out comes Deep Silver with their Zombie Bait Edition of Dead Island Riptide, boasting a bust of a zombified woman in a bikini. When I say bust, I mean bust: this is just a woman’s torso with no head or arms, and a Union flag-emblazoned bikini barely covering her breasts.
Special editions of games are no strangers to large, tacky statues, but I can’t think of anyone with half of a social life who would want to proudly display a severed torso in their living room. The bust is 31cm high, which means that this is one prominent piece of tawdry memorabilia. According to Deep Silver’s press release, the statue is meant to call to mind a grotesque version of a classic Roman torso sculpture.