Cracked LCD- Bioshock Infinite: Siege of Columbia in Review

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Plaid Hat Games’ first licensed title, designed by Issac Vega (City of Remnants) is Bioshock Infinite: Siege of Columbia, based on 2K Games’ hit video game 2K Games’ Bioshock Infinite. This is a huge property for the company, representing a product  has an enormous potential audience including lots of consumers that will buy this game simply because it’s a Bioshock product. For fans of this beloved-by-everyone-but-me video game there is plenty to relish. The game is lovingly appointed with the game’s painterly, Maxfield Parrish-inspired visual style and the fan service is thick.

But differentiating itself from its digital surce material, there’s an interesting shift in perspective. Gameplay is removed from the first-person perspective of protagonist Booker DeWitt and his ammo mule/mystery girl Elizabeth. The scope widens to explore the larger story of conflict between the floating city Columbia’s Founders and the rebellious Vox Populi.

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Brakketology is Keeping it in the Family

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This week Brakketology is celebrating the mere possibility that Steam is making its Libraries sharable with family members (and a bit beyond). As Kyle and Ana begin to clamor for more and more PC time, my need to have my Steam library accessible to more than just myself will become crucial. I’m just not quite sold on the fine print yet. Also making the rounds this week, Bioware is getting interesting again, EA is very proud of all the new IP they’re working on, even if they’re not too sure what the words “new IP” are supposed to mean, there’s a Kickstarter project that you should be looking at, and Blizzard just keeps on being Blizzard. But first…

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Jumping the Shark Episode #190

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s another Bill and Todd show this week on Jumping the Shark. This week we turn our attention back to Paradox’s game of strategic intrigue and outright blundering, Crusader Kings 2. Find out why Bill has a firm grasp on his little corner of Scotland and me… well, my turn ruling in Ireland has had its issues. We also talk Creative Assembly and the fiasco that has been their release of Total War: Rome 2. And Bill has yet another new gig. Find out what makes this one different from all the rest and will surely launch him on the road to stardom!

Enjoy!

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Calendar Man – Week of 9/16

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This will be a good week if you’re looking forward to playing GTA V (PS3, 360) as it drops on Tuesday but it will be a bad week if you’re into intelligent discussion about GTA V as I’m sure it will be near impossible to find, drowned out in a sea of complaints that scores are too high, scores are too low, this person got paid, it’s not on PC and so on and so forth. I like Rockstar games, warts and all, so I’m happy to get back into the swing of things, even if not being able to rocket through the streets and leap tall buildings will make getting around more difficult and less fun.

In other news, Nintendo continues to show a complete and utter lack of respect of the Tuesday release date by dropping The Wonderful 101 on Sunday. MechWarrior Online goes “live” on Tuesday despite having been around for a year so strap in and unleash all your hellfire missiles in celebration. Infinity Blade III also releases this week but after having played the first two, I think I’ve swiped and dodged as many enemies as I can. The Infinity Blade games are very good looking but the repetitive nature just doesn’t do it for me. I wish they hadn’t canceled the ARPG they were building as that would have held my interest. I’m sure they’ll do just fine without my purchase.

Last week I forgot to mention that Card Hunter released. That was my bad. You should play it. It’s rad.

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Dear Esther: Down in the Deep

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Last week I found myself in a twitter conversation about Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs which lead on to the previous game from its developers, Dear Esther. I offered two statements about Dear Esther, first that it was full of faux-intellectualism and second that it wasn’t particularly “deep”, both of which my conversant challenged. I couldn’t really answer properly in 140 character bites, but I think there are some interesting enough questions around this to merit wider discussion.

First, let’s talk about Dear Esther. If you haven’t played it, it’s a first-person experience in which you wander around a small island, triggering a selection of different voice snippets that hang together into a maddeningly incomplete narrative. There’s no enemies, no puzzles and you’re largely on rails, although there are occasional opportunities for exploration. So that narrative, which draws from a very large selection of passages and is different on each play through, makes up much the game’s value.

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Descent: Labyrinth of Ruin Review

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The original Descent was probably as famous for its seemingly endless expansions as its astronomical play time. Some gamers made almost an entire hobby out of trying to collect them all. Arguably, the new edition with its focus on campaign play is even more suited to expansionism that its predecessor. So, after small box addition Lair of the Wyrm we now have the first big box expansion, Labyrinth of Ruin.

And it is a big box, with more of everything. And I mean everything. Pretty much every deck in the base game now has some extra cards, there are new rules (though nothing terribly demanding), new heroes, monsters, tiles and archetypes and, of course, a brand new campaign. There’s so much it’s hard to know where to start.

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Cracked LCD- Dragon Con 2013 Post-Mortem (or, The Misanthrope among the Tribes)

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It’s late in the afternoon, Saturday at Dragon Con, and I’m walking by Malcolm McDowell’s table in the room of “celebrities” that I like to call the Career Graveyard. This man was Alex in Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”, one of the defining films of my life and one of the great performances in cinema. 17 year old me would have lost his damn mind. But at 37 and having seen him at the past three Dragon Cons I’m completely unmoved, unphased as I push the stroller containing Peter Pan and Tinkerbell past the dim stars of shows I’ve never even heard of. My wife, who works in film and television, is irritated by the phony glamour of it all as we edge past the morbidly obese on their mobility scooters, past the muffin-topped jailbait skanks desperate for attention in what passes for “sexy” in the minds of the socially decrepit, and through the pathetic tribal boundaries between Browncoats, gamers, otaku, steampunks, and furries. Amidst the sleazy aura of desperation and the stench of sweltering bodies, she asks “why do we still come to this?”

For the first time in the 21 years that I have been going to what is billed as the Southeast’s largest celebration of pop culture, I don’t have a justifiable response.

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Card Hunter First Impressions

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I don’t like grinding. Okay, so when it’s combined with epic detail and rich narrative, like in Skyrim, or with ball-breaking skill, like in Dark Souls, it can add a fantastically fun and addictive element to a game. What I hate are games based around grinding for it’s own sake, the endless repetition of kill monster, upgrade gear, kill tougher monster in the service of nothing more than pressing psychological buttons. The Diablo series is probably the worst offender, but so are endless cheap and free-to-play role playing games.

Card Hunter falls into that category. A free-to-play browser based flash game, with inevitable in-app purchases, it challenges you to assemble a team of three characters from the classic warrior, wizard, cleric archetype and send them into various brief encounters with enemies in search of loot. So I should hate it. I want to hate it. But I can’t. In fact it’s one of the most horribly addictive games I’ve played in ages.

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Brakketology Gets a Job; Keeps Flying

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In this day and age a guy has to do what he can to get by. That means you have to take a lot of jobs to make ends meet, even legal ones. A Firefly class boat needs parts and supplies to keep it in the air, after all. In this week’s Brakketology, if you haven’t guessed, I got a chance to play Firefly: The Game. Along with some first impressions of that, there’s a promising first look at Banner Saga (via RPS) that demands you pay attention, more Enemy Within bits, Project Eternity continues its climb up my list of most anticipated games, Amazon does something that almost made my life better, a real Ultima lands on iOS, and Xbox One gets a release date…

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #189

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Brandon is back, Bill shows heart and courage by recording on just three hours sleep, and I’m in because I just didn’t have anything else to do. That’s right, it’s a full boat on this week’s JTS! For episode #189, Brandon walks the dungeons of Diablo III only he’s doing it with a gamepad in his hand. It’s a mad, mad world. He also picks up the phone and dials Hotline Miami. He promptly kills everyone and hangs up. Bill and I take a journey into Meh with the new Vic Davis game, Occult Chronicles. And there is much talk of Breaking Bad.

EDIT: I forgot to add! You guys, I have played Firefly: The Game and it is has taken my love and my land, and taken me where I cannot stand. I don’t care, though, because it is frigg’n awesome!

Enjoy!

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