More than few people online and out in the real world complained that last year’s smash hit Lords of Waterdeep was lacking. Lacking depth, lacking substance, lacking narrative, lacking theme, whatever. Frankly, I think these folks are lacking good taste but boy howdy do I have a game on the table for them. If you’re one of these people that liked the core worker placement gameplay- driven by quest cards and featuring more direct interaction and interference than typical of the genre- then Pandasaurus’ Yedo ought to be on your Christmas list this year. The game plays very much like a meatier, richer, and more complicated version of Waterdeep in Feudal Japanese drag but it wouldn’t quite be fair to call it an extrapolation or extension of that game’s concept because it very much marks its own territory in the worker placement genre. I’m not even sure if the designers of Yedo had ever played Waterdeep before working through Yedo’s development, but some notable parallels are definitely there. Continue Reading…
Here there be dragons. We’re jumping right in this week. There’s a 30-minute gameplay video of Dragon Age: Inquisition that has, so far, managed to survive YouTube scrutiny. It’s from Bioware presentation given to attendees at Digiexpo (whatever that is) and, for fans of the series, it’s worth taking the time to watch. Some highlights:
- Right from the get go, they’re quick to point out that the area they’re traveling in is bigger than all of Dragon Age 2. Me thinks Bioware still feels a wee bit stung by criticism of DA2 being too small. The thing is, size and scale were never Dragon Age 2′s problem.
- Combat does look like a meld of both of the DA games. At about 18 minutes in they show off the tactical camera, which is available in the console versions this time around. That said, it still looks a bit arcadey, though it’s impossible to say when you’re watching someone else control the action. There is also a section that shows off group tactics that feels very DA2. I’m hopeful, but this is the kind of thing you have to be hands-on to get a feel for.
- Combat difficulty does not scale based on your character level. This is a good thing, so long as the world is designed properly.
- Lots of emphasis on decision-making in this video. In this case, do you defend a town from vile beasties or do you stock up the nearby keep to prevent it from being lost. This element overarches the entire 30 minute demo and is very promising as your choice does appear to affect both the world at large and the members of your party. Yes, yes, appearances can be deceiving and they often are. If you skip ahead, however, to the 24-minute mark, you get a good (narrated) summary of how this particular decision can effect the world at large.
- Speaking of the world, the 14-minute mark has a world map view that is cool for series fans as it actually shows elements of the DA-verse that we’ve only heard of so far, but not seen. I don’t think I’ve seen a map that showed more than Ferelden (and Kirkwall) and getting to see where some of the nations are in relation to each other was worth geeking out over.
I’ve embedded the video after the break, along with your usual dish of Brakketology-style musings…
This week’s Jumping the Shark brings you a smorgasbord of topical goodness as Brandon cracks the seals on his new Playstation 4 and uses it to play more with his Vita. Bill joins us to talk basketball foibles and a little TV. And I drop more XCOM: Enemy Within truth bombs than you can shake a stick at. Along the way Brandon and I also get into the excellent new movie, About Time, and talk about what makes Thor: The Dark World a worthy entry into the Marvel movie canon.
Here we go again. A week after all the hullabaloo that was the PS4 launch, we’re ready to do it all over again with the Xbox One. Me, I’m pretty happy with my PS4 because Remote Play is the best thing ever. That being said, I do wish there were better games for the system but this is the price you pay for buying a console at launch. If you have an Xbox One on preorder or plan on waiting in line for one, best of luck and be safe. Enjoy your new console when you get home and above all us, keep calm and have fun.
In non-Xbox One news, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds comes out on Friday and by all accounts it’s a pretty rad Zelda game. I’m still knee deep in Pokemon and now have the ability to play every PS4 game I own on my Vita so I can’t see spending money on yet another handheld game, even if it is supposed to be amazing. Luckily, Christmas is right around the corner. Also coming out this week is Mario Party: Island Tour, a game that will have to wait for the Christmas at the heat death of the universe to get played at my house. Hey, do you like farming? If so then Farming Simulator may be for you. If not, well, maybe picking a game called Farming Simulator isn’t the wisest choice. Hey look, another Adventure Time game with a weird name. I’m sure the kids love it. A handheld game I will make time for this week is Tearaway if only to see the game’s cool art style. Hopefully the game itself will also be good. In other news, AC IV comes out on the PC, Need for Speed Rivals comes out on a bunch of non-PS4 platforms, AquaPazza hits the PS3 and the Walking Dead gets a collector’s edition on the 360 and PS3.
As the token Brit on NHS, it’s obviously my remit to drink copious quantities of tea, discuss the vagaries of the weather and get typecast in Hollywood movies as the villain. However I also take it upon myself to bring you occasional snippets of news from the UK games industry.
Here’s the latest: a kickstarter for a new British game, made in Britain starring British people and full of typical self-deprecating British humour. It’s a point and click adventure entitled Her Majesty’s SPIFFING and you can back it at the usual place. Take a look, have a think about it. We’ve fallen a long way since the 8-bit glory days, and frankly, we could do with the business.
I went to go pick up a Playstation 4 this morning at the local Gamestop where over the course of the past nine months I shrewdly traded my way into the $399 Next Generation entry fee. There was no fanfare. Jack Tretton did not show up to shake my hand. Two or three hopefuls walked a foot in the store, asked if there were any, and turned right around probably to go try Best Buy. The store manager, who knows me by name and understands that I have an impossible to beat saving throw against suggestive selling half-heartedly asked me if I wanted any games. I kind of grimaced and said “I really don’t care about any of them.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I got FIFA for free in that Target sale last week, along with Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101. He went into the back and brought out a black opaque bag that looked suspiciously like a body bag for a midget. I suppose it was to help protect me from getting mugged on the way out of the mall. “Have fun with it!” he said. Continue Reading…
I’ve always loved interaction in games. I’d bet that most gamers do, really, it’s just that those who’ve chosen to embrace the bloodless, over-balanced mechanical model that runs screaming as far from zero-sum games as it possibly can think that logic is more important than interaction. But there is, thankfully, an alternative. Instead of having players taking chunks out of each other, you can instead encourage them to co-operate for mutual gain.
My suspicion is that this what Trains and Stations sets out to do for the light family gaming crowd. Clearly influenced by age-old classic Poker Dice, the game sees you roll a handful of beautifully marbled custom dice, picking what they want to keep and rolling the others again. Except that, in a nod to modern sensibilities of choice and strategy you can actually keep certain dice from turn to turn if you find you didn’t roll the combination you were looking for and you have to pay for each re-roll.
This is it folks, week one of our two week entrance into the next generation of console gaming. With both consoles needing day one patches for various levels of functionality, it’s going to be a rough go of things. I think we can take that as a given. That being said, keep calm, keep in mind that all consoles have launch problems and threadbare lineups and for God’s sake, if someone wants to buy a new console at launch (like me) and they’re not taking your games and/or money to do so then by all means, let them have their fun.
The first console out of the gate is Sony’s PS4, which also happens to be the one I’m starting out with. I’ll get an Xbox One eventually, just not at lunch. The PS4 is launching with a bunch of games, too many to list out individually but follow that link and you can stuff yourself with super hi-def goodies. Me, I’m going with Skylanders, AC IV and Killzone. Yeah, two of them are already available on other systems but if I can push more pixels, why not do it? The third is because Killzone is gloriously stupid and sometimes you have to sit back and marvel at Teh Stoopid.