New Space Marine Maps & Modes Announced, Corpse of Last Week’s Mode Not Cold Yet

Relic has announced a new DLC pack just days after we XBox-owning peons were finally allowed to download and then ignore the Exterminatus co-operative DLC.

Long story short, in December sometime all players get access to a new Capture the Flag gametype. Those who pay $10 for the DLC pack get a Chaos version of the Exterminatus horde-mode game, as well as 3 new maps that work for all gametypes. Also, four new multiplayer skins will be available for $3 each. Finally, 10 new achievements will be added, almost certainly all tied into the new game modes.

Capture the Flag sounds like crazy fun, since Space Marine moves so fast and the maps tend to be on the small side IMO. I haven’t played Exterminatus, so I don’t really know what to think of a Chaos version coming out. I’ve played a ton of multiplayer, though, and having the map count go up from five to eight is… well, almost worth $10 to me. I won’t be buying the skins, awesome as the Legion of the Damned one looks, as the game moves too fast for anyone to notice much about what you look like. Besides, I wear camouflage.

Sonic Rob’s Jump Troop Tactica for Space Marine Multiplayer: Part III

Finishing out my series of posts on how I like to go about playing a jump marine in Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine, let’s discuss my two least favorite maps and briefly touch on the use of Perks.



• My absolute least favorite map to play as ASM. There are a lot of covered passages that are can’t be jumped through, as well as long narrow hallways with tall ceilings that basically are setting ASM up to get clay pigeoned by a dev at the other end.
Continue reading Sonic Rob’s Jump Troop Tactica for Space Marine Multiplayer: Part III

Sonic Rob’s Jump Troop Tactica for Space Marine Multiplayer: Part II

Last time I held forth with no real qualifications or justification on how to fight as a jump marine in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Carrying on with the second of three posts on the topic, I’d like to discuss particular maps in the game and how to best use the jump marine’s particular traits in each of them.

Defend. You don't say.

Continue reading Sonic Rob’s Jump Troop Tactica for Space Marine Multiplayer: Part II

Sonic Rob’s Jump Troop Tactica for Space Marine Multiplayer: Part I

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Space Marine’s multiplayer mode, probably more than I’ve enjoyed an online game in some time. It’s pretty thin on maps and classes, but in a way that allows for some very fine tuning. It’s like a really well-cooked steak with nothing on it and no side dishes.

I’ve been looking online for some guides to playing the game, but it’s starting to look like the multiplayer community may be deserted in favor of the big games coming out in the next few weeks. Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are both waiting in the wings to snap up fans of high-caliber online violence, and Batman: Arkham City just ate all of the nerd gamers. Still, they say that if you can’t find what you need, build it, so here are some thought on playing the easiest class in the game and thus the one I feel most confident in holding forth regarding: the Assault Marine/Chaos Raptor (ASM).

At Level 42, Chaos Raptors unlock the Khornate Firebarfer and Tzeenchian Get Stuck in Doorways Backpack

Continue reading Sonic Rob’s Jump Troop Tactica for Space Marine Multiplayer: Part I

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]

What’s my name?

A new weekly feature on handles.  Name yourself carefully lest Sonic and I mock your handle mercilessly!

To start, observations on the nature of handles. A handle is about self definition, naming yourself for an entire segment of reality. Pretty heady stuff! People go for the unique, the funny, the intimidating. Here at we appreciate the multifaceted handle. The handle that can be read and interpreted in multitudinous ways.

Continue reading What’s my name?

Back on the horse

After technical difficulties kept me away for several months I started playing Dawn of War II again this weekend.

The online multiplayer (not Last Stand, haven’t gone there yet) seems to be populated solely with noobs and douchebags. There were a couple of exceptions but the strongest trend I experienced this weekend was what I’m calling the “First Shot Concession.” This consisted of my side losing the first clash of forces, which usually comes in the first 30 seconds to a minute of the game, followed by one of my teammates wanting to concede. I did concede when the match was truly out of our hands but never in the first minute. Nothing has really happened by then.

I get the sense that this sort of player thinks that playing a losing match is a waste of time. At least one of the times I put the smack down on a first minute concession we kept a much superior opposing side on their game for at least ten more minutes, ending with a score of 0-124 . For the uninitiated, that’s pretty damn close considering we were getting our asses handed to us most of the time.

I’ve had a great time playing matches I eventually lost. There is a fantastic feeling to losing a match and coming to the scoring screen and finding out that your moderately experienced team held off a team composed entirely of maxed out, all the way leveled up “pro” players. That you made them work for the victory.

So for all the players out there here’s a point to remember. It’s about playing the game and having fun regardless of the outcome. If you don’t feel that way, go back to Modern Warfare where you belong.


Sonic Curmudgeon: OnLive, Get Off My Lawn

We see in the news for today that Google is – or is not – planning to become a provider of to-the-home gigabit ethernet just as fast as the computer you use to slack off at work:

Google Inc.‘s plan to provide fiber-to-the-home connections at 1Gbit/sec. speeds — that’s 100 times what most American broadband users now get — will have consumers salivating, but some experts say it’s unlikely that Google will ever become a network carrier that regularly installs and maintains fiber connections.

Instead, the announcement appears to be Google’s way of prodding federal regulators and broadband service providers like AT&T, Verizon and cable companies to do more to expand their broadband push.

The goal Google ultimately has in mind, some believe, is to make sure that networks with fat pipes are available soon, so consumers and businesses can use more bandwidth-intensive Google applications.

Of course, it is not only Google applications that would be able to take advantage of generally fatter pipes into homes. One of the major criticisms of the OnLive concept that got people oh-so-very-excited last year was that it simply wasn’t practical to push full-screen video to customers while also accepting and responding to controller input across a network connection in a timely fashion. A bigger pipe would certainly be a step in the right direction as far as games-on-demand providers would be concerned.

And now, a digression.

I don’t really care for the idea of OnLive. A subscription model is a great deal for the type of player who buys a game for full price at launch, then sells it back to GameStop a week later. Assuming a Netflix level of pricing, this sort of player would save a bucketload with a subscription to a game streaming service. I am not that type of player.

I play a game over a very long period of time, the kind of period that makes it a better deal to buy than to rent. I also quite like owning a physical library of games that I can play without a network connection, that I can return to years later, that I have control over. OnLive is another stab at removing control over a gamer’s library from the gamer.

“So what, Rob”, you reply. “If it isn’t for you, don’t subscribe.” Well, I’ll tell you so what: game companies hate selling us physical discs that they can only charge for one time. It removes their games from their control allowing, for instance, used game sales. They much prefer systems like Steam, which require each player to buy a copy of the game. That’s a lot closer to the legal reality of game purchasing, which is that you don’t actually buy the game at all but rather buy a license to use it. Server-side authentication services like Steam allow publishers a modicum of control over the use of their software, but OnLive takes that to an entirely new level: not only do you have no disc, you don’t even have any software at all. You just have a license to view video of the software running on an entirely separate computer.

If they could stop selling discs tomorrow, they would. The choice will be gone as soon as it can be removed, whenever that is.

Is this in itself an awful thing? I am probably overreacting to my gut revulsion. Maybe gaming on demand is as natural as TV on demand. Maybe I’m just being a stick in the mud. Maybe I’m seeing the end of a childish dream: a console under the TV flanked an Alexandrian library of game boxes.

I suppose the big pipe in my living room is a long way off. There’s still time to live the dream.


Last Night in TF2

This weekend while playing a gripping round of Team Fortress 2 I was informed by a teammate that they had “all the achievements.” Like, all of them, for every class. There are more than 100 achievements and some of them are very difficult to achieve without help from either your own team or the opposing team.  I replied “You have no life.”

This might have been overly harsh coming from someone who has played more than 20 hours of video games in a week in which she also worked a full time job and trained for a triathlon.

“You’re right,” he said “I have no life.”

I don’t know how to feel about that. I do know that I spent a very great part of the next day cleaning my house and playing with my dog and cats.

Get out and love somebody in person, you won’t regret it.

And it will make the headshots that much more delicious.


In A Shocking Turn, Sony Attempts to Solve a Problem Via Overpriced Hardware


In what Rachel Maddow might label a “holy mackerel” story, news broke a wee way back about Sony finally launching a new PlayStation console in Brazil. Well, new to Brazil, anyway. At launch the console will cost $445 and have “over 14” (i.e. 15) games available to play.

Oh, did I mention? This isn’t the launch of the PS3; this is the PS2 launch in Brazil. Remember when you got your PS2? I got mine with a college financial aid check, back before anyone in the US had ever heard of Al Qaeda.

It’s weird that Sony would be trying to do this now. Legitimate game sales in Brazil tanked back in the 90s when massive sales taxes were laid on game sales. Game companies fled the market, pirates swept in to fill the void, and now over a decade has passed without any serious non-pirate presence in the Brazilian games stores. I honestly don’t get why Sony thinks that this is going to work out well for them with how far things have slid. It’s not like things have turned around lately in some way that makes a console launch auspicious.

I suppose the question is: if Brazil has gone as long as it appears to without a culture of buying games legitimately, how do you change the paradigm there, given that an entire generation grew up with no non-pirate means of playing current-gen games. The Escapist pointed out in March that you can get games for $5-10 at pirate mini malls, and nobody has ever played a PS2, PS3, Xbox, or 360 game in Brazil that wasn’t pirated. What’s worse, Brazil still has a brutal tax on games that’s close to 100% (which probably accounts for at least some of that PS2 launch price). Good luck keeping your game costs competitive with pirate copies while that’s in effect.

I’m sure that game and console makers would like to break the grip of the pirate market in South America, but I’d be really surprised if they manage to do it anytime soon. In our current gen here in the US, they are using a carrot and stick approach. You start by removing value from pirated games: you create DLC that they can’t access, or you make it hard to use them, for instance by requiring games to log in to a server every time they are played a la Steam/EA Online/MMOs. Second, you add perceived value to legitimate copies by lowering their prices competitively (way more common with PC than console games, but I’d be really interested to see a chart that relates Pirate Bay game crack seeder numbers with price levels for individual games over time) or by adding free content that only works once with a legitimate copy (DragonAge and probably many more to come). The download/online based solutions aren’t really viable in South America right now: Brazil is near the head of the pack in regional internet usage, but only 5% of Brazilian households have a broadband connection. For comparison, the US has around 60% broadband penetration, and that puts us behind 19 other countries. ElectroMegaVideoGameopolis (aka South Korea) boasts a broadband connection in 95% of all households; the rest presumably are presently on fire and cannot connect to the internet for the moment. My point being, there is a way to go before Brazil, and the developing world in general, will have the infrastructure to support the copy protection strategies that have been finding success in the US in the wake of wider broadband support.

And as for competing on value, well… How do you compete with a $5 bootleg copy of FIFA 2010? Especially when tariffs mean you can only charge $2.50 retail for your version, and you can’t even offer any free DLC because hardly anyone has a fast internet connection. Oh, and you haven’t released an internet-friendly console yet. Oh, and your customers have been buying games from the pirate mall down the street for the last 15 years because the sales tax on your product drove you out of the country back when Clinton was president.

I’m not saying Sony shouldn’t try here. Maybe they have some strategy that will help; maybe all this time and effort have been used to develop a more pirate-resistant PS2. Even so, they’ve set themselves a tough row to hoe here. If I were them and wanted to break into markets in developing countries, I would work on lobbying governments and telcos in those markets to encourage the spread of broadband and drop taxes back to the other side of the Laffer curve.