I missed this week’s Jumping the Shark in order to play a little Witcher 2 preview build (post coming soon), but somehow the gang manages to carry on without me. (Perish the thought.) This week, courtesy of some more legwork from Brandon (who also edited), brings you an interview with Mark Yetter from Timegate Studios, makers of Section 8: Prejudice. From there the gang goes on to chat about Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword, Portal 2, Zelda, and Mario. Enjoy!
This is another ‘gameplay’ video from The Witcher 2, which is set to ship on a rocket fueled PCs in about a week. This video showcases the world in which you’ll be playing. I use the ‘airquotes’ because this isn’t gameplay so much as it is a look into what NPCs do inside a small village, doing daily jobs, taking shelter from rain, and so on.
Todd has a preview build and he’s going to be posting stuff on this one soon. Hopefully later today. Ahem.
Now, this is the sort of pre-order deal I can get behind. Nothing about bonus content or free widgets. But if you give me a $15 Amazon Store credit for pre-ordering — well now we’re talking.
So the question is do you want $15 bucks off your next purchase or an exclusive GameStop mission?
Welcome to Calendar Man, where I tell you about new releases, gaming deals and whatever else I want to blather on about.
This week has the release of Brink, Splash Damage’s long delayed class based, team multiplayer shooter. I feel bad for those guys, what with the PSN now not coming fully back online until the end of the month. Hopefully online play will be restored at some point before then as the gaming world has a short attention span and in three weeks’ time will anyone on the PS3 who hasn’t been able to play Brink want to? Who knows. On a more cheerier note, Lego brings their plastic-y charm to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which is good as that series has been utterly devoid of charm, or competent movie making in any form really, for quite some time.
As I mentioned before, Brink comes out this week and reviews for this one should be interesting. It’s a team based, multiplayer shooter but without the full brunt of the user base on the system can you really review the game? Review sessions have been set up by Bethesda, but it’s not going to compare to the real thing.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has a new movie coming out this summer, a movie that has nothing to do with the previous ones except that Jack Sparrow and Barbarossa are back, which is good on both fronts as the last two movies sucked and those two guys are awesome. The new movie also has Ian McShane as Blackbeard a casting choice I heartily approve of. I guess it’s too much to ask that he drop some Al Swearengen bon mots, but a man can dream. True to form, the Lego Pirates of the Caribbean game comes out on pretty much every platform imaginable. They probably have some Atari 2600 versions kicking around just for fun.
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – Wii
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – 360
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – PS3
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – DS
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – PC
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – 3DS
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean – PSP
- Virtua Tennis 4 – PS3
- Virtua Tennis 4 – 360
- Virtua Tennis 4 – Wii
Hey look, a new Yu Gi Oh game! Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s World Championship 2011 Over the Nexus boasts something like 4200 different cards. That’s a lot of cards. How can you possibly keep track of so many? Oh Yu Gi Oh. You so crazy!
The First Templar comes out this week for all of you Crusades fans looking for a 13th century co-op romp. Play as a templar! Play as a heretic! So many choices!
Virtua Tennis 4 has virtual sweat, which is kind of gross. I think we all know that athletes sweat. I don’t need to see it when I’m playing games. What’s next? The guy in the third row at center court virtually picking his virtual nose? See where you’re leading us Virtua Tennis? Down that path lies madness! Madness!
Dream Trigger 3D is a new 3DS game that’s not tied to eight other versions of the same game, making it noteworthy on two fronts. This game looks like what happens when you use an LSD square instead of an ARG card. The lights! They’re moving!
Finally, the epic struggle between MX and ATV continues in MX vs ATV Alive. From the title you’d think that the two vehicles types come to life and field an army of motorcrossian warriors that are fighting to see which side can grind humanity under their mud-soaked wheels but I’m pretty sure it’s just more racing.
Man, Kinect needs some new games. Not because I have Kinect and want to play new games on it, but because I’m tired of typing the same stupid game names week to week. Oh, look, Dance Central is on sale. You know, again.
Toys R Us – Get free $15 gift card with purchase of Brink. Get free 45 gift card with purchase of MX vs ATV Alive. Get free $15 gift card with purchase of 3DS version of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. Buy Kinect and get any of the following games for $5: Kinect sports, Dance Central, Michael Jackson: The Experience, Kinectimals, Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do, Motion Sports.
Target – Save $20 when buying two 3DS games. Free $50 gift card with purchase of Xbox 360 Slim. Save $25 on purchase of Kinect and one of the following games: Michael Jackson: The Experience, Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do, Body and Brain Connection. Poratl 2, Dragon Age 2 and Need for Speed 2 Unleashed for $39.99. Get any Lego Pirates set priced $11.99 or less free when buying Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (excludes 3DS version).
Best Buy – Free $25 gift card with purchase of Kinect. Free $50 gift card with purchase of Xbox 360 slim. Save $20 on the following: Dance Central, TW PGA Tour 12, Halo Reach, Dragon Age 2. Save $10 on purchase of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean and any Pirates of the Caribbean Blu-Ray combo pack.
GameStop – Portal 2 still on sale for $39.99 ($29.99 for PC). Fallout New Vegas on sale for $19.99. At that price I’d pick it up if I thought that I wouldn’t get stuck 20 hours into it with a progress halting bug.
Steam – Steam is Dead Space crazy this week with Dead Space 1 and 2 on sale. You can find all of their sale items on the specials page.
At least the epic debate is over in the mind of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which, according to this piece at The Escapist, now legally recognizes video games as an art form.
From the piece:
“For those not familiar with the NEA, it is a US government organization-slash-program which funds artistic projects around the country which will “enhance the public good.” If you’re an artist who wants to make a beautiful sculpture for a public place, for instance, and you don’t want to sell it commercially – but you would like to continue eating – you can apply for a grant of up to $200,000 to make your work of art. There are all sorts of regulations and scrutiny in the application process, but that’s the basic idea, anyway.”
Starting this week, starving video game artists can now apply for grants to create culturally relevant work (for grants starting in 2012). As the post points out, this will, of course, not be the sort of thing that will aid/go towards AAA studio development – no, this money will likely be made available to folks more like Jason Rohrer (designer behind Passage and Sleep is Death).
This is fantastic news, in my opinion. I’d love to see more weird, creative important work done in our medium of choice, and of course, more fuel for my inner art nerd. Maybe, just maybe something like this will allow folks to see the light – that there’s room in this world (as there always has been) for both “high art” and “low art” and that popular art spans the whole gamut. Videogames are just another medium in an insanely rich, complicated, messy world of human expression, and there’s no reason not to honor talent and insight in this format as we have with any other.
Writing reviews kind takes courage.
It takes courage in your beliefs, courage in your ability to express yourself in a manner which is clear and concise, and courage in the face of criticism.
Truth is, when you throw your opinion out there for all to see, backlash simply comes with the territory and a good critic is one who embraces it. Nothing is worse to a writer than an opinion that is ignored. I know this from personal experience.
The introduction of the Internet has made this even worse as anonymous comments on blogs and instant fire-brand emails from angry readers are commonplace. It takes time to write and mail a letter to the editor and by that time people have usually calmed down a little. It takes 30 seconds to email that editor and say, “Your reviews suck and so do you.”
That’s an actual quote from an email I received several months ago…
I’m still not sure what I was supposed to do with that information other than feel bad that this angry fellow wasted his time reading our review of whatever game it was. You have to have thick skin when doing this sort of thing because no one likes being told that “their” game isn’t any good. It tends to upset people. It’s a common thought amongst editors that most people read reviews looking for justification of a game they already bought. I don’t know if that’s true but the reason I give that idea some credence is that I have never received an email that said, “Your review was shit and I bought this game based off of it and you cost me money!” The vast majority of angry emailers have already played the game in question.
I have received “You saved me money” emails and the occasional “I’m still going to buy the game” emails but never an angry email after the fact. I’m sure it happens, just not to me.
It’s human nature to defend the things you like, and people who write reviews have to understand this. Ever get into an argument with a friend about a movie? Or a band? Or a book? I have had heated debates on this stuff with close friends. So why a critic would be surprised when they tell a total stranger that the game they love is garbage, that there could be some negative blowback is a mystery to me.
The best thing a writer can do in this case, if the format permits it, is to try and have a discussion about it. Barnes’ Portal 2 review here on NHS is a prime example. Of course most people disagreed with him, but if a critic can defend his/her position then most people will come to a point where the review makes more sense – even if they still disagree with it. Better still, it might help the reader feel more justified in their purchase. Having that debate is a good thing. A fast way to lose credibility with people is to write a review that looks inflammatory then bail out on the post review discussion as if your prose is somehow above being criticized. I can assure you it is not.
As an editor you want reviewers which look at things critically, reasonably, and above all else – honestly. You’d be surprised how much “reviewer fear” exists in this industry. The abject terror of giving a high profile game a bad review is a real thing. I have seen reviewers wait for early reviews to come out before writing their article just to avoid rocking the boat. “I think this game sucks but man…it’s a big release and it HAS to be good, right?” You don’t want those folks around. Conversely, you don’t want the contrarian, either—the writer who simply goes against the popular feeling toward a game just to get a rise out of people. If an editor can find a team he/she trusts, then it makes the job so much easier.
If you’re an up and coming critic here’s some free advice: never lie to yourself, never try to convince yourself of something based on an outside influence, know that when you’re done that you can intelligently defend what you wrote, never accept an assignment you feel unqualified to do—oh, and remove the words ‘very’, ‘really’, and ‘I think’ from your vocabulary.
Anyway, most people are reasonable if you can engage them directly. It’s a big reason why we all like to post a lot in the comments here. I think it helps a great deal when the readership gets to know the people who are offering up their opinions. Of course there are those who you simply will never reach, those who think your review of game X is so bad that they call you every name in the book and go totally off the deep end in a 1,000 word vulgar rant. I have a form letter reply for those emails.
“Thank you for reading! Your feedback is invaluable to us and we appreciate the correspondence and we encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter!”
Hey my skin is plenty thick, but who says I can’t have a bit of fun, too?
OK it’s time for some contest winning awesomeness.
A ton of responses for this one, who knew you folks would want two free games?
Random.Org has spoken and the winners of the Double Dip Contest for Outland and Capsized are:
I’ll email the winners today and congrats on winning two good ones. Thanks for entering and we’ll have another contest soon.
Quick to issue a fix for troops upgrades, Taleworlds has released a 1.139 patch for With Fire and Sword. This update does the following:
Version 1.139 Change log
- Troops can now upgrade properly.
- Fixed bug with grenades exploding at wrong location.
- Squad size limitation bug is fixed for multiplayer.
- An update is made for preventing graphics glitch on some ATI cards.
- Several text corrections for all languages.
- Scene fixes mainly on the custom battles and village/town scenes.
- Fixed a quest bug with persuading Obuhovich.
- AI behavior changed so that musketeer troops can now close up on the enemy properly.
Grab it here: http://www.taleworlds.com
As annoying as bugs are, it’s made less so when a company realized it goofed and is quick to issue an update. But now…I think I have to start a brand new game with the new patch in order to properly review it. I spent most of the day yesterday playing M&M Warband so as to get a feel for how the games differ. Hello Niklas V! If this patch fixes the upgrade bug as advertised, I think the two games compliment each other fairly well.
But they *are* different in many ways.
In Warband you get: more terrain types from desert to grassland where in WF&S you get…grassland, a wider assortment of troop types (at least in appearance), tournaments, female player characters, you can get married, faster combat from what I can tell, and the ability to rule a kingdom. Plus all of the incredible mod work. There is a Britannia mod with Picts, Jutes, and Saxons and the rest of the gang that is unreal cool. Total Bill Wheelhouse stuff. And you can make a case that there are mods out there that do a lot of what WF&S is trying to do or at the very least alters gameplay so much as to make it a totally new experience.
With Fire and Sword has: Historical post Wallenstein Thirty Years War setting, improvements to the general interface, you can go to market and other things in both cities and castles, you can’t hire farmers from villages to join your army you have to buy troops in taverns and camps, mercenary camps for buying troops and outfitting them with better EQ, various firearms, universities and academy and other training centers, and storylines for each faction which will take a while to get to, and the ability to make a lot of money via caravans.
If you go to the Taleworlds forum you are going to see Warband fans carrying Forum Pitchforks ready to burn the company to the ground for somehow tarnishing the M&B name with this game. That’s a bit of a reach. “I probably wont buy another Paradox or Taleworlds game ever again!” Come on…
From what I have seen after spending about 17 hrs with WF&S–this is not Warband with historical figures + guns. A lot of fans wanted that, I think. There are things in this game that you won’t find in Warband but the issue many are having is the opposite: there are features in Warband that are absent in the new game which is leaving a lot of longtime fans, well, rather pissy.
If you’re so excited for Saints Row: the Third that you can’t wait the six months until the game comes out to make your violet hued super-gangsta, Volition has you covered with the upcoming Saints Row Initiation Station. At some unannounced time in the future, earlier if you pre-order Red Faction: Armageddon, the Initiation Station will drop, allowing you to create all of the whacky Third Street Saints characters you can shake a ninja-pirate at. Customize them! Dream about their exploits!
Do THQ’s PR work for them! Share them with your friends!
Personally, I don’t need this as my two characters will be coming with me from SR2. Which one is still to be decided, but if I play co-op with Petey, and I know I will, Frecklebitch’s return is a certainty.
Looks like Deus Ex will get the Steam treatment when it ships in August.
Pre-Orders Now Available; Pre-Orders To Receive Special Discounted Price For a Limited Time
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is making a
triumphant return to its franchise PC roots, with digital availability on Steam®, the leading online platform for PC games and digital entertainment, as well as in boxed copy form at retailers worldwide at launch in August 2011. Eidos-Montreal has chosen this agreement with Steam because of its esteemed capability for an enhanced experience for the PC gamer, with boosted functionality and easy accessibility.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution will support a host of Steamworks® features such as auto-updating, Steam Achievements and Steam Cloud support. Available in the standard version and the
robust Augmented Edition on Steam, gamers will be able to enjoy the Deus Ex experience of their choice. The Augmented Edition boasts a digital 40-page art book, a “making of” special, trailers, animated storyboard of the CGI trailer, motion graphic novel, soundtrack, and a free download of the Deus Ex Game of the Year Edition.
Telling the story of Adam Jensen, a man cybernetically augmented against his choice who finds himself in the middle of a global conspiracy to which he holds the key, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set in a near-future world where humanity is at a turning point. By offering players the chance to play the game in multiple and different ways, Deus Ex: Human Revolution
challenges the foundations of gaming and (wow…that’s some Grade A PR right there folks) provides an immersive experience where every choice has a lasting consequence.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is available now for pre-order on Steam at special limited-time pricing of $44.99 (standard version) and $53.99 (Augmented Edition), for release on August 23 in North America. This title is not yet rated. For more information about Deus Ex: Human Revolution visit www.deusex.com and join the human revolution at http://www.facebook.com/DeusEx.
You’ve got to understand that I am an Alan Moore worshiper, so that’s why this barely-news story made the cut. I have the “dog’s head” Rorschach inkblot tattooed on my arm and I’ve read just about everything he’s ever written. I also thought the Zack Snyder film was absolute garbage that seemed like it was made by a twelve year old boy who completely didn’t get the book at all. Completely juvenile, needlessly exploitative, and the worst use of a Leonard Cohen song in the history of the world.
Over at Shacknews.com they’re reporting that at a recent Q&A in London, the Great Bearded One was asked if he had ever considered getting into the video games racket. He responded with a cryptic answer suggesting that he’s working on some kind of transmedia project that might include game material.
It’s nebulous, sure, but the thought of Alan Moore writing a video game is terribly exciting to me- until I start to think about it critically and I realize that the reason that he’s the best comics writer of all time is that he has an almost unnatural, genetic understanding of how and why the comics medium works. And I think he’s too much into magic and Victorian pornography to really get into video games enough to have a similar handle on how to get the most out of them. So, who knows what could come out of this.
But still, I’m intrigued. Here’s hoping it’s “The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels- The Video Game” with Glycon as the end boss and a score by David J.