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Cracked LCD- Triassic Terror in Review

triassic

Triassic Terror is a new area control game from Australian designer Peter Hawes, who did the somewhat underrated War of the Roses: Lancaster Versus York a couple of years ago through Z-Man Games. This time, the historical setting is dialed back several milllions of years and the publisher is Eagle/Gryphon, but Mr. Hawes has delivered another quality design with some very old school German game sensibilities that may likewise wind up under the radar and underappreciated. It’s one of those games that really should sell itself with the always awesome dinosaurs theme, but the competition in the area control genre is stiff- this game is up against greats like El Grande and more recent masterworks like Chaos in the Old World.

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The Xbox One-Eighty

xboxone

I swear. You go to see Man of Steel and the whole world changes. James Gandolfini, a man who changed the face of television with his portrayal of Tony Soprano passed away and Microsoft reversed all of their crappy DRM and online check-in policies.

What an afternoon.

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Cracked LCD- Quarantine in Review

quarantine

Mark Klassen’s Quarantine, new from Mercury Games, is the kind of title that easily gets lost in the shuffle these days. It’s not another high profile million-dollar Kickstarter zombie game, it doesn’t bear a popular license, it isn’t making the rounds among the video review tastemakers, and it doesn’t feature any deckbuilding whatsoever. It’s really just an old fashioned tile-laying game that smacks of some of the qualities of the old pre-Boardgamegeek.com German games movement, and many might find it unremarkable. But the concept is fun and the theme is appealingly fresh- players are tasked with building a hospital and triaging patients into appropriate care in exchange for resources spent to acquire additional rooms for their facility. Points are scored at the end based on the number of completed nurse stations in your hospital, the special rooms you’ve built, the number of resources you’ve earned and not spent from treating patients, and by not having any patients waiting to get in the door. Continue Reading…

Why The Last of Us Sucks

the last of us shot one

Along technical criteria The Last of Us is a stunning entertainment product. The art direction is rugged, detailed, and presents a post-apocalyptic American civilization both in ruins and in the process of returning to nature. The character animation, modeling, and voice acting (coupled with an attention to body language) is damn close to the best in the industry, setting new benchmarks for the quality of human depiction in AAA design. The sound design is sparse, evoking a quieter world punctuated by the percussion of gunshots or the wet smack of a fist in the face. It’s not hard to be impressed by Naughty Dog’s production work, which may very well outstrip anything they’ve accomplished in the Uncharted games.

It’s really too bad that the rest of the game sucks. Continue Reading…

Fading Glory Review

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I’ve always wanted to like traditional hex and counter wargames more than I actually do. The idea of recreating the strategic intricacies of historical battles is wonderful, but the execution too often involves hundreds of counters, irritating mental maths and quickly becomes dry and stolid. The aspect of Generalship they seem to reward is logistics rather than strategy.

Enter Fading Glory. It’s a collection of four scenarios based on Victory Point Game’s Napoleonic 20 series which is simple to learn, has no more than 20 counters per side, and will play in an hour or two. It’s been given a visual makeover by GMT who’ve added lovely art, mounted boards and a new scenario, Salamanca, not in the original VPG lineup.

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Cracked LCD- There Will Be Games HD #2: Money Is Not Our God

 monopoly_money_1

Another installment of There Will Be Games HD- read #1 if you haven’t already, it’s like a comic book and you’ve got to read it in order.  In this act, we introduce a new character- Money.   He’s a real fucking asshole sometimes.  But then he can be pretty awesome too.  The problem is that the son of a bitch always wants to be the center of attention even when you think what you’re doing is something out of love, passion, or caring. So let’s again return to my first-ever reprint series, and the saga of the ill-starred hobby game shop I co-owned.

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Tuesday Pontificat’n – The Ownership is Overrated Edition

Gamestop Used Games

So, a few more cards are now on the table. I’m not going to write much (this time) about the console themselves. Matt already did a fantastic job assessing each company’s sales pitch. Do go read it, if you haven’t yet. (What I find interesting is that in a generation where both platforms are based on x86 architecture, they’ve certainly found ways to wholly differentiate themselves. Bravo!) What I’ve found fascinating to watch since the initial One unveiling and in the wake of Monday’s E3 press conferences is this love affair we all seem to be having with game “ownership,” now that console gamers everywhere are terrified of losing it.

Right now, the One’s current feature list has precisely one deal-breaker for me. The once every 24-hour check-in required for me to keep access to my games library is a non-starter. It’s a poison pill that will kill the console and I’d be shocked –SHOCKED!– if this policy doesn’t change by release (or within the first year). Take that away, however, and much of the vitriol directed towards the Xbox One has to do with the fact that it’s a blatant attempt to end the era in which we “own” our games, thus killing off the used game market as we know it. This is troubling to people who feel they’ve done quite well by its existence — Gamestop, people saving $5 on a used game, people spending $60 on a game knowing they can get a chunk back for their next purchase by turning it around right quick. It’s been a decent ride for you folks and Sony is shrewd to make continued embrace of this model a marketing point for the PS4. It’s still all going to end, though. It’s a matter of time.

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E3 and the Longest Game

ps4 announcement

Sony has now shown its hand for the PlayStation 4 at E3, and it looks to be aiming squarely at the hardcore gaming market. In what is certainly not a co-incidence their latest press release was at pains to point out that the PS4 will be doing exactly the opposite of all the things that have so annoyed hobby gamers about the Xbox One so far. It won’t need to connect to the internet once per day. It will run used games. It might not be backwards compatible but you will be able to play PS3 titles streamed online through Gaikai. It’ll be cheaper, and have a bigger library of indie games. The message from Sony couldn’t be clearer: we’re the hardware for serious gamers, and we’re listening to what you want.

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Cracked LCD- Warhammer Quest IOS in Review

Warhammer Quest shot 1I’m not the one to ask if Rodeo Games’ Warhammer Quest adequately simulates or replicates the out-of-print and outrageously expensive board game upon which the app is based. Confessional, I never got a chance to play it. By the time I had caught up with wanting to play the widely beloved and venerated dungeoncrawl- regarded by many to be the best of the genre- it was already priced out of my willing-to-spend range and most of my owning friends had moved on to other games. But I also wouldn’t be able to tell you because Rodeo Games willfully back-ended all of the board gamey stuff and turned out a video game based on a board game, most definitely not a “port”. Thankfully, that means there are no silly animations of clattering dice or digital card decks flippity-flapping around. But that also means that the game is often maddeningly opaque and mechanically obscure. Continue Reading…

Tuesday Babbling – Returns on a Wednesday Edition

xboxone

I’ve had this post, half-finished, in the hopper for about three weeks. I call it being fashionably late to the party. Regardless, there’s been much ballyhoo about the Xbox One in the weeks since Microsoft disappointed gamers everywhere by not making them center stage at The Grand Unwrapping of 2013. Why we seem to care so much about this is rather beyond me.

Folks, this one wasn’t about us and that’s neither a slight, nor a problem…

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