Monthly Archives: March 2010

Chat Box

FyreHaar: weird, we got backtracked
SonicRob: automatically generated
SonicRob:“may” be related
SonicRob:we have the most random blog on Earth
FyreHaar: hey, that’s an achievement!
SonicRob:10 bloggerscore

Chat Box

FyreHaar: one guy I messaged
FyreHaar: Don’t cap with your whole army
FyreHaar: and they sit there
SonicRob: are you fucking serious?
FyreHaar: yes
FyreHaar: We would win a skirmish and they would want to stop and catch their breath
FyreHaar: I’m like, we need to keep at them, keep fighting
FyreHaar: keep them on the defensive
FyreHaar: we need to play together
SonicRob: why were they out of breath? were they clicking really hard?

Chat Box

FyreHaar: some dude was like, oh if you kill all the bases with you tanks then the SM only have to face heretics!
FyreHaar: jackass
SonicRob: he is a liar
SonicRob: talking out of his rectum
SonicRob: people do that
SonicRob: they know that few have all the facts
FyreHaar: they just assume that will work
SonicRob: so they make stuff up
SonicRob: to take false authority
SonicRob: this is the domain of Tzeentch

Surprise, Surprise

Gamasutra has put up the Brütal Legend postmortem originally published in the December issue of GameInformer. In it, executive producer Caroline Esmurdoc reveals why the demo and marketing for the game played down the clunky RTS aspect of Brütal Legend to the point of obfuscation:

“We learned early on in our relationship with Vivendi that RTS was a naughty word in the console space, so we stopped calling it by that name and, by extension, so did Electronic Arts — positioning the game largely as an action title in the marketplace.”

Yeah? How’d that work out for you?

“Unfortunately, things start to unravel when you get into the meat of the game, the RTS sections. We don’t care what Tim Schaefer says, they ARE RTS sections.”

“Brütal Legend’s gameplay is hard to describe. The back of the box doesn’t even try. All it says, in a bullet point to that effect, is “Vanquish foes with axe and electrified guitar.”

“This is exactly what you do — in the game’s first seven minutes. After that, you’re thrown into your trusty hot rod, the Druid Plow, in which you’ll run over some evil druids and then fight a giant nasty boss monster by driving in circles around it and running over its tongue.

“After this opening segment, you’d think you were in for a goofy God of War–style action game — and you would be completely wrong. A few hours later, what you’re playing is almost entirely a real-time strategy game.”

“As for the story missions, while some of them are basic “kill the enemy” or escort missions, it’s only a few hours into the game that Brütal Legend reveals its hand and makes a surprise turn as a real-time strategy game.

“You read that right: a huge part of Brütal Legend — including most of the missions that will let you advance in the story, and those that serve as boss battles — is a real-time strategy element that mixes the basic concepts of standard RTS games with squad-based console control mechanics from titles like Rainbow Six. It’s unfortunate that this is such a significant portion of Brütal Legend’s core gameplay, because quite frankly, it’s the most tedious, least fun, and most broken part of the game.”

The scary part about this postmortem, a postmoretem being a list of things that went right and went wrong in development, is that Caroline doesn’t mention in her list of things that went wrong “we marketed the the game as belonging to an entirely different genre than it actually belongs to, and as a result some people were surprised and disappointed with it”.


Chat Box

SonicRob: god, let’s hop not
FyreHaar: faith hop and charity
FyreHaar: Seventh Day Advent Hopists!
SonicRob: the greatest of these is hop
SonicRob: faith, hip hop, and charity
FyreHaar: they greatest of these is..
FyreHaar: Krunk!!!
SonicRob: Lil John, our lord and producer
SonicRob: lead us not into drugs and burning out, but deliver us sick beats and ill flow
FyreHaar: In the name of the rapper, the producer, the hype man and the flygirl

Make Me Play Video Games #2: Among the Ruins

For your amazingly belated second voting opportunity, you’ll be choosing whether I finish Shadow of the Colossus or Bioshock.

Shadow of the Colossus (hereafter Shadow or SotC) was released in America and Japan in October of 2005 for the PlayStation 2. It was created by Team Ico, the developer responsible for the cult game of a similar name, and published as a first-party release by Sony. SotC itself is essentially a series of boss battles broken up by travel across a vacant landscape; the player seeks out the colossi and must then use the environment and his own ability to climb on the giant enemies in order to scale them and attack their vulnerable points. The game is noted for its mournful atmophere, lack of enemies outside of the sixteen eponymous colossi, and musical score.

And yes, I’ve made sure my PS2 still works.

Bioshock was released in August of 2007 by Irrational Games, previously best-known for the creepy space jaunt System Shock 2 and the Freedom Force series of tactical RPGs. Bioshock has been described as somewhere between a spiritual successor and an outright ripoff of System Shock 2. Gameplay is strictly in the first-person and consists of both combat and the exploration of a ruined underwater city. Fighting requires using guns as well as what are essentially magic powers such as telekinesis and elemental attacks. Bioshock’s story in particular has drawn a great deal of attention for its exploration of the philosophy of Ayn Rand as well as its deconstruction of various video gaming tropes.

So! This is the time in the post when we decide:

Sotc_boxart or 256px-Bioshockcoverfinalcropped
Simulation of the love life of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman Libertarian Wet Dream

Your comment box is below. Go!

Make Me Play Video Games #1: Far Cry 2

First off, holy crap. I’m sorry this took so long to get posted, but playing this game for such a long time left me with a lot to say and it was murderously hard to pick what to put in and what to leave out of the review. Once again, we find that a long review is way easier than a short one. I promise to try and trim things down next time. For the meantime, however, I give you:

Far Cry 2

Source: Steam Store
Paid: $10 for the retail game including “Fortunes” DLC pack
Play time: 41.8 hours

The vast majority of first-person shooters are roller coasters: they whisk you through a set path, popping up targets and obstacles as you go to keep things exciting and surprising. Far Cry 2 wants to be the entire amusement park, letting you run from ride to ride as you choose.

The result is, to put it mildly, an immense game. I spent almost 42 hours playing it, and that was after I quit playing all the side missions to completion at around the 50% mark and started barreling through the story as fast as I could. The world is huge by first-person standards, fantastically detailed with sun-dappled savannahs and glittering jungle waterfalls. There are newly-abandoned shacks and lost weapons caches tucked away in every corner of the map. You stumble across crashed escape planes and the aftermaths of gunfights over diamonds. But then you see a car patrolling 50 yards down a road, turning around, and then patrolling the same 50 yards in the other direction. Forever.

Far Cry’s story is sketched in broad strokes: you are a member of the mercenary and war profiteer community that seems to have descended en masse on the war-torn country of Nowhere-In-Particular, Africa. A client or clients never-to-be-named have tasked you with killing the Jackal, an arms dealer flooding the country with cheap guns that he sells indiscriminately to everyone with a trigger finger. The Jackal himself, a gravel-voiced Nietzsche fan, shows up almost immediately to taunt you for succumbing just as immediately to malaria; he (naturally) gives you your first gun, then pulls a Gandalf, inexplicably disappearing in the middle of the opening gunfight of a war between the two factions who have been arming to fight over the country. While the Jackal’s motivation is more complex than mere profit, his philosophy, articulated in a series of collectible interview recordings and a few more chance meetings, is also more ethically (and logically) murky than just making money off of war.

Your fellow mercs don’t fare much better. You select one of nine characters at the start of the story. All of them play exactly the same; the only effect of the choice is that the unchosen characters can be met in the game, waiting to be rescued by the player and then putzing around in Mike’s Bar waiting for a chance to hand out missions. One buddy asks you to murder a pair of drug dealers setting up shop in the boondocks of the bush. Another has VD and wants you to gun down the clinician who sold him an unsatisfactory ointment. Yet another suggests stealing an impossibly toxic defoliant, while yet another suggests actually spraying the countryside with it so that it will be easier to kill everyone.

If you demand a story with morality that ranges between gray and black, Far Cry 2 ought to be right up your alley. Games don’t come any grittier. The awful part is that you aren’t any better than the other assholes trying to make a buck in the war.

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Chat Box

SonicRob: Amazon lists Dante’s Inferno as inspired by “the first book of Dante’s epic poem”. Can you imagine someone being bummed out cause it isn’t Purgatorio?
FyreHaar: heh
FyreHaar: “Whaaa, I thought it was Paradiso where you ride fluffy white clouds and have to help ponies get their angel wings?

Analyst: Lack of Twilight Video Game Means Girls Still Don’t Go to GameStop

The Baker and I spent the weekend in Seattle, holding hands with Lenin, eating delicious donuts, and not buying any of the chittering horde of Forks, WA-themed Twilight merchandise currently swarming across the touristy parts of Seattle. Oh hell no, they have no shame about that shit; Twilight is the biggest thing to hit Washington state tourism since Bigfoot. You can buy Twilight shirts (pick a team! Go Edward! Go, um, Cody or whatever his name is!), mugs, chocolate, tampons, training bras, the whole nine dismal yards. Just about the only thing you won’t find available for purchase in Seattle’s finer schlock-pits is a crap-ass Twilight video game, thank Christ.

In an odd coincidence (see what I did there?) MCV reports that analyst Nick Gibson is wondering why nobody has licensed out a crap-ass Twilight video game yet:

With the franchise yet to penetrate the games market, Games Investor Consulting analyst Nick Gibson has told MCV that publishers are missing out one of the most lucrative properties available.

“Given how hot a property it is, Twilight could easily present a seven-figure exploitation opportunity, especially if publishers look at taking it beyond retail gaming and considers network gaming,” he told us.


“It may well be that the rights holders aren’t aware of the potential benefits as they haven’t explored the games market before,” he said.

“It’s not unheard of – although it is increasingly unusual in this day and age.”

The analyst predicts that a Twilight game would have to be targeted carefully in order to be successful, rather than rolled out to the typical gaming audience. But he claims there is still a huge potential market out there.

“Given the demographic Twilight appeals to, there probably isn’t a huge crossover between them and Xbox 360 or PS3 fans,” said Gibson.

“The brand’s appeal could actually extend significantly beyond the expected teen girl market and into the 20- to 30-year-old female market, which has a very substantial crossover into gaming.

So at least he has the good sense to know that a Twilight console title would be laughed off of the shelves and into the bargain bin within mere minutes. And indeed, social network gaming a la Farmville certainly lacks the pubescent, testosterone-fumed treehouse atmosphere of your average video game retail shop. I’d go so far as to say that if one wanted to leverage the Twilight brand into the video game medium, soaking Twilight fans for their lipgloss money on Facebook would probably be the route least likely to fail.Come to think of it, I’m surprised there aren’t more licensed games on Facebook. There are thinly-veiled knockoffs of other franchises and generic taps into the pop culture zeitgeist, but I can’t really name any big licensed properties that have a Facebook gaming tie-in or what-have-you. It seems to me that it would be easy enough to bash out a Flash-based grind-fest a la every Zynga game ever with minimal effort; perhaps that wave is still just gathering force.

The future’s looking so bright you gotta wear shades, eh?

[h/t Edge Online]

Now With New and Improved Hellfire

It’s interesting to me that despite the numerous inducements to go corrupted in Chaos Rising – the nifty corrupting wargear, the ever-growing list of corruption traits, and the bullshit difficulty of some of those secondary redemption mission goals – most of the people I’ve seen writing on the Relic forums, as well as both Fyre and me, have gone as pure as possible for at least their first run through the game. This is in spite of the fact that players who strive for purity will only get a single purity-based trait, as well as having to deal with irritating missions and occasionally needing to literally cripple their troops with redemption items that cause them to take more damage in return for purging a bit of corruption after each mission.

Fyre’s turn away from the Dark Gods in particular is a bit of a surprise. Seriously, Kidd, I though Khorne was your boy. What happened?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case it’s a matter of self-image. I know that the Force Commander, Tarkus, Cyrus, Thaddeus, and (mostly) Avitus are righteous hero types. I’ve been through the fire with them for 20 hours already, and to see them fall to Chaos seems pretty damned wrong. I’m going to try it out, of course; I want to see all of the stuff Relic took the time to craft for my enjoyment, after all. But my initial playthrough, the goody-two-shoes purity one, that’s going to be the canon version of the story for my guys. All the others are going to count as what-if stories.

I did the same thing in the first Mass Effect. The Baker and I sat down to play the game together having already huddled up and determined to make our Commander Shepard a scary badass biotch with incredibly severe makeup. By the second hour of the game we’d gone totally Jimmy Stewart. Our terrifying space lesbian coddled aliens, let criminals off with warnings, and preached tolerance and understanding like it was going out of style. The urge to be good, at least for the first trip through all the content, was just too strong.

Tender, baby-soft spoilers for Chaos Rising and Star Wars after the break.

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