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Quick Take on the X-COM: Enemy Unknown Demo

To dismiss with this point first, I know Firaxis calls the game XCOM and not X-COM. Screw that noise. We all know better. As for the demo, there’s not a whole lot that can be said about it. It’s very, very brief, taking you through two largely scripted missions and then depositing you at the menu. This isn’t a demo so much as it is a guided tour, so there’s a lot we don’t know (at least those of us, like me, not on the golden ticket list for preview code), including just how much freedom of play the actual game will offer. This was extremely restrictive, but it hints at a world of promise. Here’s what I can tell you based on the 50 or so minutes it took to go from beginning to end on the PC…

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The New Science Overdrive

Today was an interesting day.

It started off with Kickstarter promoting our boardgame The New Science as “Project of the Day.” I assume by the time some of you read this it will no longer BE “of the day” but as I type this…yep…there it is front and center on Kickstarter.com.


It was followed by distributors contacting me wanting to carry the game. Funny how that works, eh? A few hours later we zoomed past our $15,000 goal and we’re currently sitting a tick over 17 grand with three weeks left in the campaign.

Surreal 2x.

Last weekend I was able to show the game off to the masses at Buckeye Game Fest, a small local con with a solid core audience. Richard Launius was there but I never got to meet him. Damn it. But The New Science was a clear hit. People are digging the theme, even the die rolling–sometimes the absolute bane of hardline Eurogamers– fits the theme so well than they don’t seem to mind. I tell you it’s crazy town.

I still need to write the Dark Souls PC review, which is coming along, even though I haven’t technically “finished” the PC version and have yet to see the new content. GFWL really hurts this game, but it’s impossible to not recommend. I’m also playing Borderlands 2, which I find fun, if a bit formulaic at this point. EA didn’t send me FIFA so I’m not covering it. Atlus is sending the new Sherlock Holmes game which Brandon can dig into as soon as I send it to him.

I have a demo for Card Hunter which I need to get to as well. That looks so damn cool, I just need to find the time to get into it. So I am alive, just sort of lacking the time to do a lot of game writing at the moment.

Oh, as for “other” boardgames, the new Star Wars X-WING minis game is freaking amazing. A-MAZE-ING. Yes it’s ridiculously overpriced and is a clear money sink (FFG knows this game…and knows it well) but hot damn if this isn’t awesome. It’s a pretty simple game but it’s exactly what I want out of a Star Wars combat game.

I defy any group to play this game without at least ONE “Stay on target!” quote coming out of someone’s mouth.


Dishonored – The Tales from Dunwall, Part 1

Behold this new, animated short about beautiful Dunwall before plagues and assassins and murdering people became normal parts of every day conversation.

I knew that whale oil was important to Dunwall, but I didn’t know that the guy who made it so important did so after seeing some homeless people throw it on a fire. No one ever figured out that whale oil was flammable up until that time? Not exactly dealing with a bunch of Rhodes Scholars, or the Dishonored equivalent, are we?

You may recognize Chloe Grace Moretz as the narrator, or maybe you stopped listening ten seconds into the clip due to how overwhelmingly terrible the narration is. Hey Bethesda, if you’re going to go through the trouble of hiring a famous person to do your narration, you might want to find out if they can, you know, narrate.

Calendar Man – Week of 9/24

Are you ready for some football, and by football I mean soccer. Sorry rest of the world, but we decided that our football was better than your football and now we just call it football. But hey, soccer is a perfectly nice name! And don’t worry, once we leave our shores, we’re pretty clueless, so feel free to prank us accordingly.

This week also has a new Dead or Alive game, a new Sherlock Holmes game, pandas running amok in Azeroth and other delights to go along with your footie.

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Ciao, Vita

Yesterday I packed my PS Vita back into its original box and shipped it off to some guy in Texas that Bought it Now for $200 on eBay. Before that, I wiped the memory, flushing away Persona 3 and a couple of other games along with save data for others that I’ll never finish. I kind of grimaced, holding it for the last time because it’s such a damn good handheld, probably the best I’ve ever seen. Probably the last one I’ll ever own. Continue Reading…

The Good and Bad of Borderlands 2

For a game that was one of my most anticipated of the year, I haven’t played Borderlands 2 for nearly as much as I would have liked. Alas, just as I got started getting into it, something else for review dropped into my lap and I had to devote some time to it. Such is the way of a game reviewer, you go where the money takes you. Wait, we’re not getting paid for this?

Get my agent on the phone!

I have put in enough time with the game to talk about some of the stuff that I like, and some of the stuff that I don’t, though and I’m happy to share it, thereby gaining me a small respite from Bill’s incessant cries for a piece about my Borderlands 2 impressions. A real taskmaster, that Abner.

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Dungeon Command Review

I’ve made no secret of my basically limitless adoration for the new range of Dungeons & Dragons board games from Wizards of the Coast. It’s great that there’s another big beast on the publishing block, better that they’re putting out superbly designed and innovative games. So I was obviously keen to take their newest offering, the modular tactical miniatures game Dungeon Command for a spin.

Each box of Dungeon Command comes with a set of pre-painted miniatures, some double-sided jigsaw board pieces and two decks of cards, one that has the stats for the creatures in the set and another with orders to make them do neat stuff. You need access to at least two boxes to play a proper game, and if you have more then you can have three or four player set-ups. Everything in each box is interchangeable so the potentially bottomless nature of recombining these things should be obvious. And online retailers are offering sets at prices that make owning several of them entirely feasible.

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Farewell to the Doctors

Yesterday it was announced that BioWare co-founders and the bane of gaming journalist spell checkers everywhere, Doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk were retiring and not just retiring from BioWare but retiring from gaming altogether.

To be honest, this comes as no surprise to me, although I am saddened to see it happen. I work for a small company that was bought out by a very large company and the person who built our company lasted about as long under the new company as the doctors lasted under EA. That’s not to say that EA is the cause, or that EA is a horrible company to work for, but it’s been my experience that people who build companies traditionally want to keep building or rather than maintain that which got them bought out.

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Humble Indie Bundle 6 has arrived

Man, these Humble Indie Bundles. Not only do they just keep coming, they are also pretty much perfect for me, the psuedo-new PC gamer (on a Mac, yes) who has basically gone 75/25 indie. Oh, sure, I still play “big” games, usually something like a year after they come out, and I take my sweet, sweet time with them. But really, most of my playing time these days comes courtesy of crazy Steam sales and humble bundles, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m sure you know the drill by now. You set your own price to receive 5-6-ish well-received indie titles from the recent past. Most of the money goes to the developers,but you can set it up so that the EFF and Child’s Play get a cut of your contribution, as well as the Humble Bundle service itself. So it’s a win-win-win: you get good games, you get them for ridiculously cheap (if you care to), and some of that money goes to charity.

Of course, none of this helps you if you’ve already got the games. This time around, the bundle includes Torchlight (which everyone loves), Rochard (which is excellent – I reviewed the PSN version back in the old GameShark days), S.P.A.Z., Shatter, Vessel, and Space Pirates and Zombies. If you pay higher than the average, you get Dustforce thrown in for good measure.

Everything works on PC, Mac and Linux. No excuses, people.

Dragon Age III: Inquisition Officially Official

The worst kept secret at Bioware is that Dragon Age III is in production. Today, franchise Executive Producer Mark Darrah makes that all official-like with an open letter. Given the lack of any detail to speak of whatsoever, there’s not much to report here. Here’s the most relevant bits from the letter.

So here’s what I can confirm for now:

  • The next game will be called Dragon Age III: Inquisition.
  • We won’t be talking about the story of the game today. Though you can make some guesses from the title.
  • This game is being made by a lot of the same team that has been working on Dragon Age since Dragon Age: Origins. It’s composed of both experienced BioWare veterans and talented new developers.
  • We are working on a new engine which we believe will allow us to deliver a more expansive world, better visuals, more reactivity to player choices, and more customization. At PAX East, we talked about armor and followers… Yeah, that kind of customization. We’ve started with Frostbite 2 from DICE as a foundation to accomplish this.

You check out the rest here, if you’re so inclined.

After the break, however, I can offer you an NHS-exclusive look at the main Foozle in DA3! (Yes, this is an excuse to make you click through to see something that is decidedly not the main Foozle in DA3. It’s worth it.)

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