The PS4 Unveiled

ps4 announcement

The PS4 was unveiled last night, in that people talked about it but didn’t show it, say when it would be available or how much it would cost. I’m not going to go down the list of promised features, as there were plenty of other sites on hand to cover the event and you’ve probably already read about the PS4 from those sites.

I will, instead, point you to John Teti’s excellent post at the AV Club’s Gameological Society. It hits on everything I think was wrong with this kind of event as well as the the fallacy that more power is the only thing artists need to make good art. Here’s a taste of John’s piece, but you really should go read the whole thing:

Expanding the technological capabilities of our game machines is not inherently bad, but treating new tech as a magic bullet is a self-destructive delusion (if a familiar one). The reason that so many games suck is not because the technology is too modest. The reason that so many games suck is because so many games suck. Making art is hard. No microchip changes that.

Grand Theft Ukulele

gta v michael

No, I did not steal my ukulele, as the title of this post may imply. I bought my uke fair and square from the magical leprechaun that lives in the hollowed out oak tree on the edge of my property. I got a great price, but unfortunately all I can play is Danny Boy and if I go thirty minutes without playing, I bray like a donkey.

What I’m finding out as I navigate the twisted paths of musical incompetence, is that there’s a lot to learn when picking up an instrument, and if one isn’t careful, one can get lost in the weeds, spending more time deciding what to work on than actually working on it. Don’t get me started on watching YouTube videos. Man, it’s great that there are so many resources available for free lessons, but when you’re in the middle of watching your tenth video on chunking, you realize that at some point, you have to just start chunking yourself.

Thank heavens I have all of this open world gaming experience to fall back on.

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MGS: Revengeance Makes the Cut

calendar man revengeance shot 1

I’m going to do a full review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance but since Gamefly somehow managed to get my rental to me on release day, I thought I’d share some first night thoughts.

Those thoughts are as follows:

  • OK, that’s pretty cool.
  • Oh ho ho…
  • Wow.
  • WAAAAAAGHHHH!
  • Oh hell yes.
  • Cut that guy into exactly 262 pieces. That’s what I call a microtransaction.
  • THE FIRST BOSS IS A METAL GEAR RAY?!?!
  • Eff you, chainsaw-tailed wolf (repeat x57)

More to come. But without spoiling the review, I will say that as someone that loves Metal Gear, Bayonetta, and general video game greatness this game is fucking awesome and I would be shocked if they blow it by the end. Classic, overblown Kojima production design and melodrama paired up with raw Platinum-style video gaming. And Raiden wears heels better than any man since Prince.

Jumping the Shark Podcast #163

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re all in the house for Jumping the Shark #163, which features a lengthy recrimination of Gearbox for murdering joy with their insipid release of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Bill, finally -finally- dips his toe into the cool, delightful waters of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and promptly wants to know why he can’t use a fallen squaddie’s medkit. To be fair, it’s a reasonable question. Brandon gets in bed with Sly 4, Dead Space 3, and Little Inferno. And I hop into a decrepit old starship, hoping to rebirth humanity in the recent iOS release, Shifts. All this and a little TV talk await you in this week’s thrilling episode!

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Calendar Man – Week of 2/18

calendar man revengeance shot 1

Welcome to the “Dudes in Weird Suits” edition of Calendar Man. It’s Raiden vs guy from Crysis! Woohoo! I have Metal Gear: Revengeance heading to me from GameFly and I’m looking forward to stopping Dead Space 3 to play it, trading in one guy in a metal suit for another one along the way.  In other news, there are some strategy offerings this week as well as Assassin’s Creed: III’s first bit of evil King George DLC.

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Android: Netrunner Wave 1 Data Packs Review

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About the only major issue there was with FFGs reboot of Netrunner in the Living Card Game format was that the starter box encouraged deckbuilding but didn’t give you the tools to do it. Whether it was the somewhat mean choice to only supply one or two copies of powerful cards when the maximum was three, or the limited pool of cross-faction cards, it didn’t quite make the grade when it came to constructing your own decks.

But Living Card Games of course get boosters from time to time. Now the first ones are available for Netrunner labelled, rather curiously, as Trace Amount and What Lies Ahead. The names may appear rather meaningless. But I’m glad to say that between them they pretty much perfect Netrunner as a system.

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Cracked LCD- City of Remnants in Review

 remnants

The new Plaid Hat Games title is City of Remnants, designed by Colby Dauch (Summoner Wars) and Isaac Vega (the upcoming Bioshock Infinite board game). I’ll cut right to it, this game is bad ass. Especially if you’re looking for a game that somehow magically combines a plot development/harvesting mechanic with a light dudes-on-a-map conflict game featuring massive die rolls and plenty of battle incentives across tight quarters. Call it Aggro-cola if you must, but this is an easier and far bloodier design. Oh, and to top off this delightful layer cake of a design, there’s also simple deckbuilding element with multi-function cards that have different values for each player.  There are a couple of unclear rules mostly owing more to its dynamism than a substandard rulebook, but on balance City of Remnants is poised to be one of the top games of the year. Continue Reading…

Aliens: Colonial Marines- Yes, It’s That Bad

 Aliens Colonial Marines

 

A copy of Gearbox’s (?) Aliens: Colonial Marines arrived at stately Barnes Manor yesterday.  I just had to load it up and give it the same chance I give every other game, despite the fact that it’s received absolutely scathing reviews from every publication except a 9.0 from an EGM reviewer that apparently either has no taste or really is one of those infamous, paid-off journalists. Before we get rolling, let me go ahead and state quite clearly that I am an Aliens fan. When I was four, I had the legendary Kenner Alien toy. When I was 11 years old, I saw Aliens in the theater and as soon as I got home I took my list of favorite movies off the door of my room, crossed off Big Trouble in Little China, and wrote “Aliens” in the #1 spot. So let’s head off those “well, he must not be a fan of the property” claims at the pass. Continue Reading…

On Tenors and Necromorphs

tenor

My time with Sly 4 lasted about as long as my time with my soprano ukulele, about a week. Sly 4 is a very good looking game and it has all of the things you would expect to see in a Sly Cooper game, had you played Sly 2 and/or Sly 3. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t have is any sense of forward momentum. This is a very well done game that does absolutely nothing to move the franchise forward. I’m not of the mind that every game has to redefine the genre or their respective series, but when I play the newest entry in a series, I can’t feel like I could have saved my time and money and just replayed an earlier game. Unfortunately for Sly 4, that’s exactly how I felt and once I hit a boss battle that was irritating me, I ditched it.

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So Sick of Your Excuses

 excuses

It’s not uncommon for folks in the video games industry to say incredibly stupid things- the kinds of things that point out how clueless, in denial, and utterly corporate the business has become. Two recent items caught my eye and ire. One is a statement made by a Capcom executive during a 3Q shareholder call. The question was point blank- why did Resident Evil 6 miss its sale mark of 6 million copies sold, landing somewhere around 4.8 million? The response was typical corporate bullshit, saying absolutely nothing in a way that sounds important. There’s talk about analyzing causes, validation that 4.8 million sales indicates a popular title, and a bunch of unmitigated corporate  bullshit about how marketing and “internal operating frameworks” need to be examined to determine shortcomings (you can make your own “jackin’ off” gesture at home). The other is a comment made by Puzzle Clubhouse CEO Jesse Schell  (who?)  at last week’s DICE conference about how releasing a demo harms game sales, potentially halving them. He went on to explain that the best way to sell games is to release a trailer and provide the consumer with no possible way to try it before you buy it. Love you too, buddy. Continue Reading…