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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is Manipulative and Perfect

 Brothers_HandUp

I played Brothers: A Tale of Two sons over a month ago. I sat down on a Saturday afternoon, looking for a break helping my kids cram a month’s worth of science project research into a single weekend. I had no clue what kind of experience I was in for. I thought it was just a cutesy game about two brothers, which you control simultaneously, where you spent a few hours overcoming obstacles, got a happy ending, and then forgot about the game forever.

About three hours later I sat, dumbfounded, as the credits rolled. I don’t know precisely how to frame what this game is, but I do know there is no other game of any kind or length that had me from the word go and wouldn’t release me until it was finished with me rather than I with it. Forgettable it is not.

The question becomes how to describe what makes it so unique and so special. The game, at its core, is horribly manipulative. It’s also heartfelt and full of wonder and sad and note perfect. I’ve put this post off for weeks on end because I simply do not know how to write about it. I don’t know how to do justice to what Starbreeze Studios has concocted.

After the break, I take my best shot in a deeper, rather spoilery dive…

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Outlast Blows it Within 20 Minutes

outlast

Last night I knocked off an inch-think layer of dust from the PS4 to start playing Red Barrels’ Outlast, newly released for the can’t-say-no price of free for PS Plus members. As you may or may not know, I’m a huge fan of horror anything but my tastes run more to stuffy old Hammer horror films and smarty pants spook shows like Rosemary’s Baby than to gore, torture porn and graphic violence.  That means, more or less, I’m usually screwed when it comes to getting my horror show kicks through the video games medium. Continue Reading…

Brakketology Plays The Walking Dead: Season 2, Admires Its Shoes

Walking Dead - Clementine

On this week’s JtS, Brandon and I talked a lot, in spoilery details, about the first episode of  Telltale’s adventure game, The Walking Dead Season 2. We both like it, but where I cannon-balled into this opening chapter, Brandon though it not as strong as the pilot opener for season 1. It occurs to me that the main reason we differ comes down to the notion that our DNA in these things is entirely different. In season 1, Brandon liked entering a world full of characters he’d never met, getting to know them and their histories and developing Lee from an entirely blank slate. I get that. I think that’s how a majority of players are. Or maybe it’s a question of introvert and extrovert tendencies? Being very much the former, I’ve never been big on discovery. Oh sure, once I discover something and like it, then I wrap it around me and live in it like it were a comfy blanket. So warm. So soft. I am home. And safe.

It’s just very tough for me to get to that point. This is true whether I’m playing games, watching movies, or reading books; especially so when reading books. Part of the reason I used to bury myself in fantasy series like Riftwar, and Wheel of Time and Song of Ice and Fire is because I could live in those worlds for so much longer than I could in your typical modern day work of fiction. There was always another book and I didn’t have to spend time figuring out who everyone was and what they were like. I could just jump in and let the adventure continue. It’s the same reason, when confronted with a Netflix list chock full of movies I’ve never seen, that I’m more likely to seek out a sequel or something by a writer or director I already like, or even something I’ve already seen, than to take a risk on something wholly unknown. And so it is that Season 2 of The Walking Dead plays right into my tendencies.

Even with the past set of character largely absent, the central character of Clementine, the one I am to inhabit this time around, is a character I already know. She’s a character that I’ve already journeyed with, protected, and molded. I know who Clementine is and so, when Telltale tells me it’s time to walk a mile in her shoes, I already know how to do that. This makes season 2′s opening chapter much easier to get into. And what an opening chapter it is. (Modest spoilers to follow.)

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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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Microsoft Reveals New Remote Control/Cable Box Combo

xbox

In case you didn’t get the memo, Microsoft just revealed its new $500 (?) television remote control/cable box called the Xbox 361. It also may play some video games, according to some suit in a blazer and jeans for the special occasion.

The new Call of Duty game was shown and it will be a Durango exclusive for a couple of days. As long as you pretend that games like Thief, Vanquish, and Brink never existed it will provide innovative new gameplay experiences like the ability to lean and slide. Also, for the first time ever in a video game, there is a dog. What is most impressive though, according to the video I watched, is how the Xbox Infinity will simulate Captain Price’s arm hairs better than ever before. There were also some wireframes that show how your dudebro entertainment experience will come alive like never before with the NextBox. I thought it was pretty touching seeing those soldiers cuddling up. I hope my bros will purchase the Xbox instead of the PS4 so that we can share the man-love a couple of days early.

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King of the Hill

king of the hill koenigsegg agera r

See that car right there? That’s a Koenigsegg Agera R. It’s a pretty sweet car. It has an approximate top speed of 273 mph. It can reach 200 mph in a hair over 17 seconds and then brake to 0 mph in less than half of that. At the current exchange rate, it costs around $2 million, but that’s for the carbon fiber version which adds an extra $270k.

Along with being a hypercar that I will never be able to afford, or probably even be allowed to look at, it is the final car to beat and then shut down in Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in Review

games of q1 metal gear revengeance

Irresponsible, irreverent, and illogical, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a peanut butter and chocolate proposition for folks that love video games in the classical sense, pairing up Kojima with Platinum for an operatically absurd masterpiece. It is the heir apparent to two of this generation’s best action titles, Bayonetta and Vanquish, and it’s also one of the best and most focused Metal Gear games to date. It’s the kind of video game that makes me want to go out and gut punch every failed Hollywood screenwriter that thinks they can make it in this business by making games more like movies. It’s the kind of game that makes the claim that Japanese design is heartless or passionless look completely wrong, slicing and dicing with a rarified energy and a preposterous- but completely not macho- level of aggression.

With his high heels, eyeliner, and Aqua-Net abused hair, Raiden is a glitter rock cyber-ninja, the blatantly androgynous and homoerotic hero of the greatest electro-chanbara movie never made. He’s had his star turn in the Metal Gear Solid games before, sharing the bill with Solid Snake in Sons of Liberty, but never before has he been so fleet of feet and quick with a blade. Revengeance is fast as a shark, standing in stark contrast to the slower, measured pace and intentionally clunky controls of the core Metal Gear titles. Lightning Bolt Action indeed. The action is furious, with dramatic parries of skyscraper-sized swords and acrobatic counterattacks punctuated by the occasional slow-motion blade mode wherein Raiden can slice through a cyborg assailant and rip its spine out, drenching himself in precious nano-fluids. Continue Reading…

Talking About Television on the Ouya

As I mentioned on the podcast a few weeks ago, Clayton Grey, No High Scores reader and Don’t Shoot the Food Photoshopper extraordinaire is currently working on Television, an adventure game/WarioWare-esque mashup for the Ouya. Clayton and his partner-in-games Sam Strick recently took the Most Surprising award in the Create game jam sponsored by Kill Screen and Ouya.  Clayton was kind enough to answer some questions via email and give a glimpse as to what life is like for independent developers looking to make a go on the Ouya.

Once you’re done reading, be sure to head over to their Kickstarter for Shift, a single card CCG currently in development.

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Aliens: Colonial Marines- Yes, It’s That Bad

 Aliens Colonial Marines

 

A copy of Gearbox’s (?) Aliens: Colonial Marines arrived at stately Barnes Manor yesterday.  I just had to load it up and give it the same chance I give every other game, despite the fact that it’s received absolutely scathing reviews from every publication except a 9.0 from an EGM reviewer that apparently either has no taste or really is one of those infamous, paid-off journalists. Before we get rolling, let me go ahead and state quite clearly that I am an Aliens fan. When I was four, I had the legendary Kenner Alien toy. When I was 11 years old, I saw Aliens in the theater and as soon as I got home I took my list of favorite movies off the door of my room, crossed off Big Trouble in Little China, and wrote “Aliens” in the #1 spot. So let’s head off those “well, he must not be a fan of the property” claims at the pass. Continue Reading…

So Sick of Your Excuses

 excuses

It’s not uncommon for folks in the video games industry to say incredibly stupid things- the kinds of things that point out how clueless, in denial, and utterly corporate the business has become. Two recent items caught my eye and ire. One is a statement made by a Capcom executive during a 3Q shareholder call. The question was point blank- why did Resident Evil 6 miss its sale mark of 6 million copies sold, landing somewhere around 4.8 million? The response was typical corporate bullshit, saying absolutely nothing in a way that sounds important. There’s talk about analyzing causes, validation that 4.8 million sales indicates a popular title, and a bunch of unmitigated corporate  bullshit about how marketing and “internal operating frameworks” need to be examined to determine shortcomings (you can make your own “jackin’ off” gesture at home). The other is a comment made by Puzzle Clubhouse CEO Jesse Schell  (who?)  at last week’s DICE conference about how releasing a demo harms game sales, potentially halving them. He went on to explain that the best way to sell games is to release a trailer and provide the consumer with no possible way to try it before you buy it. Love you too, buddy. Continue Reading…

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