Calendar Man – Week of 6/24

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This week sees the release of Company of Heroes 2, one of the various properties carved up when THQ went under. Bill and I saw it during our last E3 and man, that snow looked amazing. The gameplay also looked impressive and served to remind me that the Eastern Front was not a place I would have ever wanted to be.

We also get the release of Deadpool (PS3, 360, PC) this week, the comic book video game that three, maybe four people have been clamoring for. Nothing against Deadpool, but humor in games is pretty tricky, 4th wall humor even trickier and my concern is that Deadpool will end up being just an annoying mess of 4th wall breaking poop jokes. I’ll still give it a shot, but I’m not expecting much.

In other miscellaneous game news, Project X Zone brings eight gazillion fighters to the 3DS, Spartacus Legends brings gladiatorial gore to PSN and XBLA, Game and Wario brings minigames to the Wii U and Ride to Hell: Retribution (PS3, PC, 360) brings biker club fun to various platforms. It’s like Sons of Anarchy just without an MC member who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator.

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The Xbox One-Eighty

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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

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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…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #178

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s the very bro-tastic Hour of Power on this week’s Jumping the Shark as Brandon and I take in the E3 perspective as, for the first time in five years, outsiders.  Oh the humanity! Hear us wonder where all the games went? Wag fingers at us as we debate games ownership versus licensing. Snack along as we break bread over the sheer audacity that is the One’s 24-hour check-in times. Cry with us as we lament just how god awful Microsoft is at messaging their product. And nod knowingly as we agree that Sony played Microsoft like a drumb with their note-perfect PS4 unveiling. Also, more KOTOR2 and Brandon plays some Remember Me.

Enjoy!

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Calendar Man – Week of 6/17

Muramasa Rebirth shot 1

It’s the week after E3 and all game journalists are either hunkered down, furiously typing away at all of the preview pieces borne from last week or passed out from booze and/or exhaustion. Whatever the case, it’s a light week for releases as you can pretty much guarantee zero coverage. At least that’s my theory. I have been wrong before. New Super Mario Bros U. gets the Year of Luigi DLC, the Vita gets Muramasa Rebirth and the Jak and Daxter Collection. XBLA gets two, count ‘em two Dungeons and Dragons ports in Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara. Meanwhile, the PC gets Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition, MotoGP 13, Magrunner; Dark Pulse and Dracula 4: Shadow of the Dragon.

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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

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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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Point-Counterpoint: Owning is Awesome

Owning things is great. It is what Americans do. We buy things. We buy big things and then we buy bigger things in which to store our big things. We also buy big cars with which to bring our big things into our other big things. Owning things is what tells you that I am better than you, because I have more things. If you have all of your things in the The Cloud then not only do you not really have things, but I can’t see your things so I don’t know if I have to have more things. I am then forced to compare myself to you using other, more arbitrary methods, or worse yet, cease comparing myself to you completely. Who wants to live like that?

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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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