Because I’m Writing So Many Posts For This Site

Looking through some gaming news today, I’m struck by the amount of hilarious negativity going on. There’s this tongue-in-cheek (or is it?) pessimistic preview of The Crew, along with a whole slew of articles like “The Suck of Destiny”, “Destiny’s Squads Are Too Small”, and “Destiny: It’s a small world after all”.

Some of this is just backlash, the pushback against the half-billion dollar hype machine that Destiny embodies. We knew this was coming; we should only be glad that the gaming press and public had the good grace to wait until the game came out to begin rebelling against it.

But I’m struck with a curious idea for a project, and maybe this is so obvious that it’s already been done to death and I just didn’t notice (wouldn’t be the first idea I’ve had after everyone else). How about an enthusiast game site about just absolutely hating the state of video games? I know there are guys out there like the Game Grumps, Curmudgeon Gamer, Yahtzee, maybe more. What I’m thinking is a character who is cynical and pessimistic right up front about everything about modern game marketing and marketing-driven design.

Continue reading Because I’m Writing So Many Posts For This Site

Review: Magpul Industries iPhone 5 Bump Case


Having finally made the leap to a smart phone earlier this year, I wanted to protect my fancy-ass new pocket computer as best I could. I’m not a coordinated or attentive man when it comes to things in my pockets, so I did some research and settled on the Magpul Bump Case, largely on the strength of a very positive review from The Wirecutter. I’ve been using the Bump for around three months now, and I have some thoughts.

The Bump is a single-piece snap-on case that covers the back and sides of the phone. It doesn’t particularly shield the screen, but the case does have a lip that comes up around the screen on all sides; if you lay the phone face-down on a flat table the screen is a millimeter or so off of the surface. The case has holes for all of your cables and for the phone’s speakers, and it has nice integrated buttons that allow a user to click the volume and power buttons under the case easily.

Does the Bump actually protect your phone? In short, yes. I’ve carried out several accidental drop tests with the Bump: having it slip out of a jacket pocket to land corner-first a tile floor; having it fall from the edge of a sink and hit a different tile floor face-down; and another jacket drop to land on its back on concrete. The bump protected my phone completely through this inadvertently comprehensive gauntlet, and at this point the only thing I wouldn’t trust it to handle would be dropping or crushing the phone on its unprotected screen.

The rifle is from Austria, but that magazine is all Belgian.
The rifle is from Austria, but that magazine is all Belgian.

Other than its raw durability, the main selling point of Magpul’s product is the ribbing that runs up and down the sides and back. This is the same sort of pattern that Magpul uses on rifle magazines in order to make them easy to grip when the user is wearing gloves, or when the magazine is wet. In my experience the Bump feels very slightly rubbery, with just enough flexibility to give a good grip. The ribs help with holding the phone securely, so the overall effect is that when I’m looking at a video or making a call I feel as though I have an incredibly stable grasp of my device. The material isn’t actually sticky, so it doesn’t pick up lint in your pocket or anything like that. However, the bump won’t actually grip itself for you, so if you leave it on the edge of a sink (like a dummy) or dump it out of a hoodie pocket while grabbing for your keys (like a dummy), Magpul’s case cannot save you from yourself.

The Bump is available from Magpul for around $30 and only fits iPhones; as usual Amazon has it for somewhat less. There’s also a very similar case from Magpul called the Field that fits a much wider variety of devices, including tablets and Samsung phones.



I’m pretty excited for Destiny, the mashup of Borderlands and WoW from mega-successful Halo developers Bungie. It’s been a while since I had a game that I regularly plop down and play with friends when I have some gaming time, and Destiny sounds like it might have the lifespan to fit the bill. Something’s been nagging me about the look and art style, if not the actual experience of playing Destiny, though, and with the latest update from regarding the way that Destiny will treat sequels, it hit me.

Oh, Mass Effect. It’s Mass Effect. Duh.

Look at those purple psychic auras around the characters, the smoothly planed guns, the portable black hole attacks. Bungie is trying to beat Bioware to the punch of making the next multi-game sci-fi epic. I enjoyed the stuffing out of Mass Effect, but I didn’t play it for the shooting, and I’m not 100% sure that Destiny is going to have enough scenery and story to take and hold my imagination the way Mass Effect did. I’m glad that the market for this kind of setting is strong enough that Activision was willing to sink a reported half a hojillion dollars into propping up the franchise, though. And I’m truly intrigued by the idea that if a player buys Destiny 2 and likes it, they’ll be able to go backwards and play Destiny 1 with the same character. How will that work? And does that mean that the world and story of Destiny will have to be fragmented and episodic enough that it can be played through in any order? How will they have a sense of narrative arc in that case?

Problematic. But this is what you get for trying to puzzle out the entire structure of a large new franchise based on brief promotional videos. I should probably know better by now.


Getting Out Your Ingression

I’ve just begun playing a new-ish mobile game called Ingress. It’s been out on Android for a while but only became available on iOS this week. Ingress is an MMO that allows you to interact with a world map based on where you are in real life – landmarks such as churches and public art installations appear on the map and can be tapped in order to gain territory around them, as long as you are physically within about 40 yards of them. Likewise, a currency called XM is scattered liberally around the streets of the map, and you pick it up by physically walking by. You spend XM to build up friendly landmarks, which then give you weapons that you use to break down enemy-held landmarks and eventually take them over.

The game so far is rather rough in some ways while weirdly polished in others. The tutorial is hidden away in a menu and I required multiple attempts at it before I understood what I was trying to do, yet the map is gorgeous and the missions in the game are fully voiced. The best thing about Ingress is the combination of watching your little phone scanner screen moving you around the map and realizing that there are probably other players out there who may notice you moving toward their territory – in real life, wandering around peering at your phone concernedly like you are trying to use a Swedish GPS app – and prepare to retaliate.

Ingress is free to download and play, and as near as I can tell does not bother you for money. The game will occasional reward a successful hack with an in-universe news item via YouTube, so it’s possible that they are making their money off of YouTube views somehow. Or it’s possible that Google is just fronting the whole thing as an experiment. Either way it costs you nothing to download Ingress and try it out; I’m enjoying the creepy vibe and strange mix of Foursquare and Watch_Dogs.


Polygon is Kind of a Terrible Web Site

Polygon: The Wii U proves you should wait before buying a new console

Yet another stupid stupid STUPID premise from Polygon, home of the scored console review. Guess what: the WiiU proves that if you are interested in next-gen gaming, and particularly in the IPs locked up by a certain console, YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY BUY THAT CONSOLE OR NOBODY WILL MAKE GAMES FOR IT. The damned thing came out, sold OK on goodwill from the original Wii, and once everyone realized there was nothing to play except ZombiU and ports of 360 games, sales tanked. Once sales tanked, WiiU games started getting canceled left and right, and then you have a death spiral. Nintendo is making heroic efforts to finally drag the WiiU up out of the basement by cranking out their own games, but it’s a solo effort; 3rd party enthusiasm from big companies like Activision and Ubisoft has all but dried up.

Yes, the consoles will be cheaper and will have more games worth playing later on. Sheeeeit, they’ll probably even have revised hardware with better failure rates, smaller cases, more sensible features, you name it. Waiting has its benefits. But early adopters drive trends in tech, you cannot argue that. If you want to see electric cars, AR glasses, and proper console gaming then you need to vote for that shit with your dollars or the companies who are putting out the early tentative models of those things are gonna look somewhere else to make their money. Industry cannot read our minds and does not owe us the future we don’t ask for.

Unrelated Chat: This is What We Are Doing Instead of Creating Game Content

Sassy Bobcat: quick: make up funny weed-names for weed from the north pole
Thief of Dream Women: Ho Ho Humboldt
Heirophant O’Tacobell: Red-Nosed Reindank?
Thief of Dream Women: Santa Kush
Heirophant O’Tacobell: Blitzer. (too easy)
Thief of Dream Women: I’m mad I didn’t see that right away
Sonic Rob: Blow, yay, flake, candy, base
Thief of Dream Women: That’s… not weed
Heirophant O’Tacobell: That’s… that’s coke Rob.
Sonic Rob: Cause snow looks like all those things
Sonic Rob: Wait what

Guest Chat: PS4 Launch

Sig Fem Seks: This PS4 launch is kind of a mess, yeah?
Sig Fem Seks: Knack: 59
Killzone: 74
Sig Fem Seks: Pretty shaky launch
Sonic Rob: oh FUCK
Sonic Rob: I feel bad for all the shit I talked about Knack now
Sonic Rob: but anyhow, that’s only 2 games
Sig Fem Seks: That’s the two exclusives
Sig Fem Seks: But yeah
Sonic Rob: I can’t remember the last launch exclusive that was seen as a great game for the ages
Sig Fem Seks: CRIMINAL
Sig Fem Seks: ORIGINS
Sonic Rob: it’s Be Nice Day, let’s be nice about this
Continue reading Guest Chat: PS4 Launch

Chat Box – On Diversions

Sig Fem Seks: Oh wow, I forgot how excited I am about Destiny
Sig Fem Seks: aka Halolands
Sonic Rob: you forgot that you were not excited?
Sig Fem Seks: I forgot that I really want to play it
Sig Fem Seks: and that it exists
Sonic Rob: um
Sonic Rob: oh
Sig Fem Seks: There’s a new video out for it that I’ll need to watch at some point
Sig Fem Seks: but they’re basically talking about the MMO aspects of “All the stuff you can do when you don’t really want to do anything.”
Sig Fem Seks: Which is one thing I felt that Borderlands lacked
Sonic Rob: well, Borderlands is about shoot n loot
Sig Fem Seks: Sure
Sig Fem Seks: it’s like Diablo in that way
Sonic Rob: they don’t really water it down with crafting or anything like that
Sonic Rob: I guess my attitude is “If I don’t want to do the main thing in this game, I’ll be not playing the game”, not “I want this game to have something for me to do no matter what I feel like”
Sig Fem Seks: That’s a fair point
Sonic Rob: which is why GTA 5 maybe doesn’t excite me, now that I think of it
Sig Fem Seks: Well, the missions are the meat of that game
Sig Fem Seks: You don’t have to do anything else
Sonic Rob: I just can’t see myself thinking “man, I really like the avatar I use to steal cars and shoot stuff. I wish I could make him play golf.”

E3 Wrapup

Hey Fyre,

Sig and I just got back from E3, so in the spirit of Games Journalism(tm), here are some awards that I am giving for the games I saw there.

Best Game in a New IP – TITANFALL

I was never a big fan of the Modern Warfare games, and I tend away from military shooting generally, but the move into balls-to-the-wall sci fi seems to have freed the people at Respawn to create a really bonkers team shooter. The action looks fast and frenetic, the guns look weird and varied, and the whole thing looks gorgeous.

Honorable Mention – MURDERED: SOUL SUSPECT

Sig and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one: he thinks Murdered looks linear and dull; I’m intrigued by the premise and characters. I guess we agree that it might not be that fun to play, but disagree about whether that’s a dealbreaker.

Best Game in an Existing Series – ASSASSIN’S CREED IV

A bigger world, seamless travel through all of it, a boisterously badass Kenway protagonist, smoother multiplayer and YARRR pirates everywhere. What’s not to like? Maybe it was a bit unnecessary given that I was gonna buy the game anyway, but Sig and I went to see the short trailer in the Sony theater, then the longer version in the Ubi booth, and then waited in a good long line right next door to play the multiplayer for a bit. I’m even more hyped than I would have been before – if there’s any one reason I’m thinking about buying a next-gen system it’s to play the proper version of this game and not the cut-down 360 version.

Honorable Mention – THIEF

I never played the original Thief games from Looking Glass, but all the beardy old PC gamers tell me they were the cat’s tits. The new game looks like Dishonored but with all the wacky superpowered combat trimmed out and more powers for sneaking and avoiding detection. The level we saw in the demo was titanically labyrinthine, and ended with around twenty minutes of constant explosions. Worth investigating for insanely patient stealth nuts like me.

Continue reading E3 Wrapup

Guest Chat: Fans

Sig Fem Seks: Do you ever think about how Valve must feel when they see the fanbase that TF2 has?
Sig Fem Seks: Because they’re fucking insane.
Sonic Rob: I imagine they’ve all accepted that they will be stalked and killed by a fan who loves them too much not to have a TF2 developer inside of his stomach.
Sonic Rob: you probably sign a waiver to that effect as part of hiring