Hoard to Hit Steam April 4th

This is one I want to try but haven’t found the time. Our buddy Tom Chick raves about this little game and now PC gamers will get a chance to investigate in a few weeks. Who doesn’t like dragons? Specifically who doesn’t like playing as a dragon and torching stuff? The above video, just for clarification, is from the PS3 version and is a 4-player match.

PR time…

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Big Sandwich Games today announced the upcoming release of the Steam version of their critically acclaimed strategy arcade game HOARD, which puts up to four players in control of powerful dragons hoarding gold, frightening villagers and ransoming princesses.

HOARD™ will release via Steam for your PC and Mac on April 4th, and will retail for $9.99. Pre-sales will begin on March 21st with a limited time “fire-sale” discount of 25%. In addition, sharing with your friends is rewarded, as a 4-pack of HOARD™ can be purchased for the low price of $28.00. Steam Play is supported, meaning Steam users who own both a PC and a Mac only need buy the game once.

The Steam version includes the same fire-breathing fun (gameplay) as the console release plus some brand new features. The game has 4 modes, over 35 levels, leaderboards, full multiplayer suites (4-player co-op and competitive), and 100+ Steam achievements. In addition, never seen-before features such as Night Mode (for vibrant fiery goodness) (fire looks better at night), a Winter tile set, and new maps are added as a reward for PC and Mac fans’ patience. Finally, cross-play allows PC and Mac users to compete or cooperate in their quests for gold.

“HOARD™ is a great fit for Steam’s vibrant player community,” says Tyler Sigman, the game’s designer. “We’re thrilled to finally confirm a date, and look forward to seeing a lot of dragons flying around on April 4!”

About HOARD:

HOARD™ is Big Sandwich Games’ award-winning strategy arcade game in which you play as a dragon, burning medieval villages, kidnapping princesses, roasting thieves, and gathering as much gold as possible for your hoard. Versions have been released or announced for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, and Steam (PC and Mac). Visit the official website (www.hoardgame.com) or become a fan on Facebook® (www.facebook.com/HoardGame).

Links from the Mothership

Time for a few links from Gameshark which are worth checking out.

We have my review of MLB 11 The Show on the PS3. (B+)

Barnes offers great piece of criticism on Fantasy Flight’s Mansions of Madness.

Previews of L.A. Noire (linked here a few days ago) as well as a preview of the multiplayer mode called F**king Run in Fear 3. (I refuse to call that game F3ar).

Barnes also checks out the just released Warriors: Legends of Troy which is about as good as you think it is.

And finally Brian Rowe reviews a game I will never play because I hate hard games: Hard Corps Uprising .

Tomorrow, we’re running Todd’s Q&A with the developer of the new Mount & Blade game, which I’ll link on Friday, along with Tom’s Homefront review.

PAM Hits Steam for $10

I have no idea if this is good or not but for $10 might be worth a flier if you are in the mood to run buddies off the road or shoot them with a modified range rover.

PR ahead…

Montreal, Quebec, Canada – March 17, 2011 – Post Apocalyptic Mayhem, a intense combat racing game for the PC, arrives digitally. Published by Meridian4 and developed by Steel Monkeys.

“Priced under $10 and with a full slate of new, downloadable content already queued up, Post Apocalyptic Mayhem offers tremendous value to consumers,” said Steve Milburn, Marketing Director of Meridian4. “With top-notch graphics running at 60 FPS, and an creative assortment of futuristic weaponry, vehicles and race tracks, Post Apocalyptic Mayhem delivers big fun at a (game for a) small price.”

In Post Apocalyptic Mayhem, over-the-top vehicular combat rules the day as player’s race and battle through numerous breathtaking tracks. With an assortment of menacing vehicles to drive – each with its own special abilities, attributes and weaponry – the game quickly reaches breakneck speeds and complete destruction of the competition (gets dangerous). Up to six players can race simultaneously online as they compete to earn up to 35+ Achievements.

Post Apocalyptic Mayhem is currently available for digital download on Steam for $9.99, with a 20% discount for the first week and the offer of a 3-Pack to get your multiplayer matches off to a great start for just $24.99. Broader distribution in the weeks to follow and downloadable content planned for the near future. For more information on Post Apocalyptic Mayhem, please visit www.pam-thegame.com.

Seeing A Man About Horse Armor

No High Scores

According to Pete Hines, he of the Bethesda PR machine, people are still buying Horse Armor for their mounts in Oblivion. In the latest OXM podcast, he talks about all things Oblivion, including DLC pricing and mentions that as recently as the day before recording the podcast, multiple people bought the accursed horse armor. Well, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Things that tend to get the hardcore gaming folks in an uproar frequently don’t bother Joe Casualgamer who just wants to prance around Cyrodiil on a bedazzled pony. Plus, while $2.50 looks like a lot of money to spend on equine frippery, plenty of people spend upwards of four bucks every day to drink a coffee beverage that ends up circling the toilet 40 minutes later. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad people got outraged at the horse armor as it hopefully acted as a swat on the nose to developers looking to rape and pillage the Xbox Live Marketplace and Bethesda clearly got the message, going so far as to double the price for one April’s Fools. Still, I guess this just goes to show you that the word overpriced requires context and one man’s worthless pony clothes is another man’s glorious horse couture.

Seen at OXM.

Wii Die


This item came down the pipeline right as I was packing up my Wii to trade in for a decent $100 credit toward a 3DS, thus galvanizing my decision to let the l’il white box go.

Industry Gamers has posted a story wherin EA’s Frank Gibeau pretty much declares the console dead, referring to it as a “legacy” console on par with the PS2. Ouch. It’s worth reading since he points out some of the challenges Nintendo is going to face with the Wii 2, Wii HD, Dolphin, or whatever they decide to call it.

After playing the abysmal Epic Mickey last year, the stultifyingly sedate Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and the triumphantly brutal Donkey Kong Country Returns shortly after those, I sort of felt the doom in the wind, so to speak. With no major releases on the cards other than Skyward Sword (which I wouldn’t be surprised to see re-announced as a launch title for a new platform at E3), it seems that the writing is on the wall.

I can’t say that it was a good run, but it was an interesting one and a pretty lucrative one for Mario’s handlers. We did get two of the best Mario games ever made out of it and a great Metroid collection as well as a couple of culty gems like MadWorld, Star Successor, and Monster Hunter Tri. But oddly, the best game for the system remained the awesome Resident Evil 4 port. But these were islands in a sea of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream games, terrible movie tie-ins, and minigame collections.

I guess I don’t have the industry authority of Mr. Gibeau, but I may as well declare the Wii dead at this point too. Good night, sweet prince.

A Weekend Unplugged: Boardgames, Boardgames, Boardgames!

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This past weekend featured a long-planned venture by The Abner clan to spend the weekend with me and mine for a couple days of some quality boardgaming in Indy. After kevetching over Dragon Age 2 for over a week, it was rather nice to unplug and get back to basics. Bill brought a boatload of titles with him, far more than we would ever make time for, but we definitely gave it our all. Here’s a breakdown of what we played and, most of them being games I’ve experienced for the first time, what I thought…

Innovation

After a four hour drive from Columbus to Indy, with the clock already ticking past 9:00, you need something that doesn’t take 40 minutes to explain and can be played in about an hour. Innovation fit the role nicely. Bill did a pretty thorough write-up of this one already, so I’ll just sum it up as this: If Civilization were exclusively about its tech tree, and a card game, what you’d end up with is Innovation.

We knocked out three games of it before calling it a night and, as an appetizer or tasty dessert, I can see its appeal. Once you get around the table the first time you immediately get a feel for the game and, like Fluxx, the rules are mostly all laid out on the cards in front of you. We played another game of it on Sunday before The Departure and I never did settle on any kind of strategy for it. If you go for points early (to get towards the four achievements you need to have in order to win), as I did, it appears that you stunt your ability to score in subsequent turns by not having enough techs laid out in front of you to prevent the other players from doing horrible things to you. And they did do horrible things to me; with great frequency.

It’s worth pointing out that you do have to be very careful about the fine print on each tech card. It’s easy to forget or misread a rule and have that break the game. Mrs. A put out a card in game three that we were all too bleary-eyed to interpret correctly that resulted in her drawing and playing a ridiculous number of cards, leaving her with multiple big stacks of techs that, when shifted, quickly left us all in the dust.

Fire and Axe

This was, no doubt, my favorite game of the weekend. This one’s basically all about loading up little plastic Vikings, and maybe some trade goods, on a Viking boat and sending them around Europe to do Viking things: Trade, pillage, and conquer. You cannot go wrong with a game about Viking shenanigans. Impossible.

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For whatever reason, boardgames with particular strategy mechanics are easier for me to grasp than others. Four games of Innovation and I still had only the barest sense that I had learned something that would help me win against other players. (It showed in that I didn’t win once.) This game appealed to me on the same level as does one of my all time favorites, Rails of Europe (Railroad Tycoon; Railways of the World). You’ve got a big cardboard map, plastic pieces, you claim land in a variety of ways, and you need to think two to three moves ahead. Where are the other players going? Will they interfere with my plans to trade at a port, conquer a city, or settle a port? How do I manuever ahead of a player going the same way? When do I cut and run, finding a new strategy? You have to really evolve your play as the game unfolds. I live for games like this. Perhaps it showed, given that I won and all.

My only disappointment was finding out the game is no longer in print and is extremely pricey to obtain if you can find it on the used market. Maybe I can trade Bill a can of kidney beans for his copy?

A Brief History of the World

A Brief History of the World is a game in which each player takes six turns, or epochs, playing out the rise and slow fall of a different civilization each time. You get your turn, place your units (possibly also playing a modifying “Event” card), and determine your score for that turn. When it’s done your Civ is retired; the pieces remain on the board, but you can do no more with them. The next player does the same, often seeking to take away or conquer land one of your Civs currently occupies. You can successfully defend, but it gets harder with each successive attempt; ultimately all but the end game civs are doomed to fall. That said, the longer each of your civs lasts, the more points you’ll get at the end of each turn. The player with the highest score at the end wins.

I had invited a few other local buddies to come out and game with us for Saturday; two of them arrived in time for this one, giving us a solid six players. The whole civ retirement aspect of the game gave me a strong Smallworld vibe. Smallworld was another one I’ve played multiple times and still haven’t really figured out how it ticks; not really a fan. I liked this game better than Smallworld, but not by a whole lot and ultimately it showed in the results since I finished dead last. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying to compete, but there’s a strategy to choosing your civ and event cards at the start of each turn that I really struggled to grasp. (It didn’t help that I had to drop off my daughter and pick her back up from a birthday party during the start and end of the game.) It also seems like there’s a bit of a rubber-banding mechanic to the game that keeps a player in the lead from staying there. Nor is a player trailing the pack unable to mount a comeback, though I did my level best to disprove that theory. Although I certainly don’t hate them on spec, I’ve always been luke warm to games that do this. (Powergrid comes to mind.)

Battlestar Galactica + Pegasus Expansion

For the particular group of people who made it out for the night, this game of humans versus Cylon was a big reason why. The gist of it is that the humans have to survive out in space, Cylons pursuing them, trying to make enough hyperspace jumps to reach the relative safety of the planet Kobol. (Am I remembering that right?) If Team Human loses enough food, fuel, population, or morale they lose. If Galactica is damaged too much, they lose. If Heavy Raiders board Galactica and advance too far without being stopped, they lose. Humans lose a lot in this game.

I’ve got some local buddies who flat out love the game as does our buddy, Billy “Baroo” (who also made the trip). I’ve seen some people grow tired of the constant accusations that come from playing a co-op game that features multiple traitors in the midst (Cylons in this case), but with the right group of people the game is more fun than it has any right to be. The last time we played it nearly ended Bill’s marriage (not really) after I asked Mary (who was human) point blank, “You’ve known your husband more than a decade. Is he lying right now? Is he a Cylon?” She didn’t miss a beat in saying, “Yes!”

Not so much. Team human didn’t last particularly long after we put Bill in the brig.

The drama wasn’t quite as high this time around, but we did get to experience the seven player variant made possible using the Pegasus expansion. In this variant you use a revealed Cylon Leader along with six regular players. The leader is revealed from the start, but their goals are nebulous. Some want the humans to win, some don’t. Even if the leader is on the side of team human they may have to do things to sabotage the humans, like ensure that the population is below six or that Galactica has three damaged locations. It’s an interesting variant, but it does seem like the Cylon Leader (me in this case) has less participation, since you’re very often excluded from the decision making of the distrustful team human. Just ’cause a guy all but wiped out most of their race he’s not trustworthy? Sheesh! Also, in a seven player game, you spend a lot of time waiting for your turn.

Still, it was the highlight of the evening. The accusations flew, including a near in-game execution as dramatically presented here:

That’s my son’s Star Wars laser blaster in Bill’s hand, if you’re wondering. It was an attempted execution of a suspected Cylon. Sadly, it didn’t get to serve its purpose; if it had it would’ve helped my cause. I’m the one on the right in the comfy chair. What can I say? Even from that angle I’m gorgeous.

Anyway…

The two Cylons managed to stay hidden deep into the game, but that was in part because nobody got a Cylon loyalty card until the game’s mid-point, not to mention that they reached said mid-point after just two jumps. Usually it takes at least three and it does make a big difference. I think I also blundered badly by infiltrating Galactica following the game’s first jump. It was a wasted turn getting there and another wasted turn getting back later on when I realized there was too little going on around the ship to do much damage (my victory conditions were predicated on the humans losing).

All in all, a very successful day and weekend of boardgaming that provided a much needed break from, well, everything else. It’s always a good time when the Abner clan rolls into town. I’m just glad Bill managed to win a couple games this time. Believe you me, that is not a given.

If, by the way, you’re interested in a deeper look at some of these games, check out some of Mike’s past Cracked LCD columns:
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Innovation
- Battlestar Galactica
- BSG Pegasus Expansion

In Other Homefront News…*Updated*

And the cycle continues as Dragon Age 2 and its “issues” (fair? can we all at least agree to that?) begin to fade to the back burner, Homefront moves front and center to receive the bulk of today’s press. For example:

After news of THQ’s Black Market Tuesday and Metacritic wrangling, and Mike’s glowing mini-review, we now have two stories from CVG that take a different angle.

If you believe Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz (for the record I haven’t the faintest idea who that fellow is) then Homefront is going to sell two million copies–which isn’t terrible. It’s not CoD. It’s not Battlefield. But it IS two million copies. Money quote from the article:

“With over 20 reviews now reported at the Metacritic website, it is clear that Homefront has not lived up to expectations in terms of game quality. While this will likely hamper the title’s ability to achieve breakout success, we still feel reasonably confident that it will achieve sales of 2M units, and see no reason to change our estimates at this time. We note that EA’s Medal of Honor earned a similar 74 aggregate review score last year but has still sold over 5M units to-date, in part due to aggressive marketing by EA and positive pre-release buzz.”

So, take THAT Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey and your “this is a quality based market” mumbo jumbo. As in any consumer driven industry it’s really all about the marketing. Thanks Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz.

In addition,. CVG has another interesting piece today about how Kaos says Homefront 2 will have a longer solo campaign if that’s what people want. Homefront 2? Looks like it.

Update: THQ announces Day One sales…

AGOURA HILLS, Calif., March 16, 2011 – THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI) today announced that first day sales of Homefront™, its thrilling first person shooter with outstanding multiplayer, approximated 375,000 units in North America. The game is scheduled to ship in Europe and Asia Pacific throughout this week.

”Homefront’s excellent multiplayer experience, combined with our commitment to dedicated servers, make this a must-have (potential) purchase for gamers,” said Danny Bilson, EVP Core Games, THQ. “Due to the strong and growing demand for Homefront’s multiplayer, We continue to add dedicated server capacity. We are confident that the large-scale multiplayer maps featuring 32 players, vehicles, infantry and drones, will continue to be a major draw for the huge audience of FPS gamers looking for a new experience over the coming months.”

“We are delighted with first day sales for Homefront and are already fulfilling re-orders for the game from multiple retailers,” said Brian Farrell, THQ President and CEO.

New Battlefield 3 Trailer

There’s no way around it. This looks ridiculously good.

Salty language so maybe NSFW. Although I suppose that depends on where you work, doesn’t it?

Dragon Age Legends Live on Facebook

BioWare and EA have released its Facebook Dragon Age App, Dragon Age Legends. Normally we don’t cover FB games here but this seems appropriate. Plus, we’re going to have Soren Johnson on the podcast soon to talk about this game so…I guess we ought to play it. We’re pros.

For now, get Facebookin’ and check it out. It’s free. Well, sort of.

“We built Dragon Age Legends with one goal in mind: to bring the AAA quality gameplay BioWare is famous for to the social space,” says EA2D’s general manager Mark Spenner.

So go give it a look and report back here, stat.

Rico, I'm sorry…

No High Scores

Hey Rico, what’s up man? Yeah, look, I gotta apologize. Lately I’ve been saying some pretty bad stuff about you and I wanted to talk to you about it. I may have called you incompetent. It’s possible I called you the worst videogame character in the known universe. I know, I know, that’s some rough stuff and I probably went a little over the line, but come on man, we both know you deserve some of it. I mean, you weren’t a very good soldier in Killzone 2 and people died because of it. Not to mention you colossally screwed up your only mission while on Helghan. I mean, that’s bad, right? Well bro, I may have meant that before, but I totally don’t mean that now.

Not since meeting Ishi.

Ishi Sato is your, I dunno what you’d call him, your cyborg co-pirate in Bulletstorm. Cy-jerk is more like it. He’s part of your crew and then you get him half blown up pretty early on in the game. He gets patched up, don’t worry, but from then on he’s a cyborg who is constantly whining about how painful it is to fight the AI in his computer parts. That is when his bad, computer eye doesn’t get all red and he tries to kill you.

Now, Ishi certainly has a reason to be upset, I mean, it is my fault that he’s a cyborg, but he totally was an uptight prick before being turned half-robot. In the obligatory flashback scene where we see why me and my crew are a bunch of drunken idiots, he’s all like “we should take no joy in killing” and being all sanctimonious. I mean, we’re assassins, and aren’t you supposed to enjoy your work? And then I totally take a bullet for the dude and he didn’t seem even the slightest bit grateful. All I get now is “your thirst for revenge doomed us all Gray”, “I’m a cyborg because of you Gray”, “I won’t hesitate to kill you, Gray”. Yeah, well guess what dude, you were a pompous jerk before and you’re a pompous jerk now only now you can bench press a Volvo and take 10,000 volts to the face with no damage. From where I’m sitting, that’s an upgrade.

Now, if Ishi were just a jerk, it’d be ok. Well, better, but not necessarily ok. Here’s the thing though, he’s not just a jerk, he’s incompetent. And not incompetent in a passive way, like you, but actively incompetent in a way that gets me killed. Like, a lot.

First of all, dude can’t aim for shit. I mean I know the guns we get ain’t nothing to write home about, but come on, I’m popping off gag reflexes and head shots all day and he can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Maybe it’s because his idea of firing from cover is to hold the gun above his head and spray wildly, but still. Second, he’ll let dudes just run by him so that they can make a beeline for me. I mean, I know I got him in this mess, but this leash thingy on my arm means that I’m the only one who can move that bus to make a bridge. Without me, Ishi sits planetside until his Energizers run out and the creeps and skulls try to make a stereo out of his stupid, red eyed face.

Still though, that’s not the worst. I mean, you can’t aim for shit either and based on our time on Helghan together, you were more interested in wasting bullets than killing Helghast. What makes Ishi so bad is that he gets in the way, like all the time. If I go to slide into an enemy, he’ll step in front of me and stop me dead so that the enemy I was going to launch into a prickly cactus now clubs me to death. Or, I’ll have an enemy in the sights of my flail gun and Ishi will step in front of me just as I shoot. That’s one round wasted and one enemy still alive to shoot me. Thanks Ishi. Or, even better, I’ll leash a dude and as the guy is being pulled to me so that I can kick him away, Ishi will step in between us and stop the guy dead so that he can get up and kill me. I mean, I know Ishi hates me and all, but this is ridiculous. The weird thing is that Trishka never gets in my way. Even when the enemies have dispersed for the time being, Trishka is all running forward and Ishi is all up in my business staring at me. I mean, personal space dude! It’s like this leash isn’t just for enemies, it also ties Ishi and me together.

Then, to top it off, Ishi doesn’t even have the cyber-stones to stay mad at me. Two thirds of the way through the game he has to give me some speech about how he doesn’t blame me, that my attempt to kill Sarrano, the attempt that got Ishi robotocized, was actually a mission of justice. Dude, it totally wasn’t! I just wanted Sarrano dead for using us! Justice had no part of it! I know that, Sarrano knows that, hell everyone knows that but Ishi can’t even be mad correctly! He’s gotta make it sound like he understands! Let me tell you something dude, if things were reversed, I’d a crushed his throat the minute I realized I was half MP3 player and then gotten off planet my own damn self. Screw this forgiveness noise.

So dude, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I said all of those things about you because for as bad as you were, you never got in my way, you never got me killed and you never backed down from your anger. I wish I could have said the same for Ishi. Worst part is he’ll be back in the sequel. Friggin’ great.

Hug it out, brah.

-Brandon