Change is Afoot

Here’s something you may not know about me, although if you’ve been listening to the podcast you’ve probably picked up on it. I’m real big into routines. Routines, patterns, ruts whatever you want to call it. I’m not a big changer. I don’t like change. Change is scary. Well, not all change. Quarters are pretty cool, even if you can’t do anything with them.

Since we started this site, I’ve had a routine as to when I post. Calendar Man on Mondays, long form stuff on Wednesdays and Fridays with other stuff sprinkled within. Well, the Friday stuff dropped off a few months ago, as did the stuff in between, leaving me with just Wednesday. Now, unfortunately, that’s on the verge of getting dropped too as I’m starting to get tired. It happens. We all have lulls. I’ve been pretty good at fighting them, but the train is presently pulling into lull station and on it, I see a very comfy chair with my name on it.

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Why Metro Last Light Disappoints

Metro

First off, hey, remember me? I used to write here a lot! Good to see you too.

So…first BioShock Infinite and now this.

Metro 2033 was one of the smartest, original and most challenging shooters to appear on the scene in quite some time when THQ and 4A Games released it back in 2010. Flawed? Yeah, but its uncompromising design made for one of the best gaming experiences of the year.

Now, with Metro Last Light we get a drop dead gorgeous sequel set in the same bleak, worn out world but this time it seems…different. Milder. Safer. “Streamlined” and Corporate.

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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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Jumping the Shark Podcast #174

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jumping the Shark #174 features Bill and Brandon’s journey into the depths of Metro: Last Light. I would totally have gone in on this excursion until the reveal of the spiders. Seriously, guys? Just because you lived in development hell when making the game doesn’t mean you have to use that time to bring my nightmares to life. Le sigh. Ah well. At least the follow-up Eclipse discussion and a little TV Time didn’t leave me a quivering puddle of goo and that’s something. AmIRight?

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Calendar Man – Week of 5/20

resident evil revelations shot 1

Nothing too exciting this week for me, although I am curious about the new Xbox reveal thingy. I know that’s not a game, but given the games that are out this week, it’s the most interesting video game related item on the docket.

Let’s see, the 3DS gets yet another remake with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Resident Evil: Revelations (PS3, 360, Wii U) tells you what happens between RE4 and RE5, as if the lack of that knowledge was keeping you up at night and Fast & Furious: Showdown (PS3, 3DS, 360, Wii U, PC) ushers in another summer of movie tie-in games. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing hits the PC and I have the floppy, E3 hat to prove it, Fallen Enchantress gets the Legendary Heroes expansion and LEGO Batman 2 and Sniper Elite V2 hit the Wii U. Good times.

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Cracked LCD- Kemet in Review

kemet

The first thing you’re going to want to do with Kemet is to compare it Cyclades, the brilliant hybrid Dudes on a Map (DoaM) game from a couple of years ago that impressed many gamers including myself with its stunningly economical yet baroque and flavorful design. Like its predecessor, Kemet is a big box Matagot/Asmodee release and it’s of French origin. Both games are well-illustrated and packed with great-looking miniatures and ultra-tight rules that play fast and loose with DoaM conventions of geography, resource management, and process. Both games are completely reasonable in terms of playtime, even with full tables. But whereas Cyclades was about the men, gods, and monsters of the ancient Mediterranean, Kemet goes south and presents us with a surprisingly unique mythic Egyptian setting.

To cut right to what matters most, this is a game where dudes riding scorpions fight dudes riding snakes. You might see your city’s pyramids captured by an army led by a mummy that teleported into your neighborhood and charged straight through your walls. It has a sort of Warrior Knights-derived combat system whereby you can win a battle but lose all of your soldiers trying to wipe out the other side. It’s a tremendously aggressive, fast-paced game where you’re never safe and every turn from the first one on to the dramatic finish will see the sands stained with blood. Sometimes mummy blood. I’ll just stop here for a moment and let you finish that online order that you should be placing right now. Continue Reading…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #173

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Painters and roofers and estimates from hell – oh my! That’s not this week’s Jumping the Shark, that’s my excuse for posting this on Wednesday.  But yes, you people who don’t use iTunes or another subscriptions service (for shame!), we did a show. It featured Bill, Brandon, and Me and, like a fine wine, it was frigg’n awesome and stuffs. This week Bill talks Conquistador happenings and their latest reach out to people ideas, including a kick-ass proposal for doing a video boardgame show. Very cool. Brandon and I talk Star Command and why he saved me hours of frustration looking for diamonds in what is an entirely lump of coal experience. Then we team-up against Bill and the rest of the world to explain why Prometheus is a better movie than you think it is. We’re right. You’re wrong. That’s just something you’ll have to live with.

Oh yeah, and enjoy the show!

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Eclipse and the Art of Losing

eclipse shot 1

By now, I’ve become something of a master at losing against the AI in Eclipse. I’d go so far to say that no one loses in such spectacular fashion as I do. Truly, I have elevated it to an art form.

Come with me on my journey of life, loss and obscene, alien faced excess.

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Calendar Man – Week of 5/13

Metro Last Light shot 1

This week sees the release of the first THQ property of the post-THQ era. Metro: Last Light (360, PC, PS3) must have been pretty much done by the time THQ closed its doors, so hopefully the restructuring will have minimal impact. It is winging its way to me as we speak, and I would imagine Barnes and Bill are also going to play it, so it should be a Metro-palooza ’round these parts.

In other releases, Dust 514 does the free to play thing on the PS3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance gets the Blade Wolf DLC and Anomaly 2 does the tower offense / RTS thing.

Me, I started Deadly Premonition last night. It’s very weird. I’m also enjoying the hell out of Nolan North’s performance in Spec Ops: The Line, even if the combat is somewhat generic and the Heart of Darkness allusions are a bit thick. Etrian Odyssey IV has been shown the back burner in favor of Eclipse and Transformer: Legends with the latter occupying more and more of my time. Card management is hell!

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Cracked LCD- Terra Mystica in Review

 terra mystica 2

Terra Mystica, the new Z-Man title wherein players representing terraforming fantasy races attempt to change terrain hexes to suit their tastes and build structures on them, isn’t really about building civilizations. There is magic, but this is hardly an enchanting, mystical game. The subject matter is little more than a construct to codify its graphic design and nomenclatures. It’s a game more prone to victory point churning than charming you with its fiction with complex mechanics carrying the day over rich theming or a sense of setting. Terra Mystica is ultimately a game more about mitigating and overcoming restrictions or limitations and incrementally acquiring +1 bonuses that affect standard game procedures. This is a fairly common, high level design principle and it’s not particularly a fault of the designers to utilize it but since this is a mechanics-first game it’s immediately obvious and potentially off-putting. Continue Reading…