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…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #162

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Brandon is MIA this week, but in his place sits the illustrious Jon Shafer, veteran of Firaxis and Stardock and newly crowned emporer of Conifer Games. He joins Bill and I for episode #162 of Jumping the Shark to talk about his newest project, Jon Shafer’s At the Gates, a turn-based 4x game that puts you in control of one of several barbarian tribes seeking to bring down the crumbling Roman Empire. Along the way Bill talks about the latest projects in the works at Conquistador and his sad fall from the wagon as he returns to the haunted halls of Dark Souls. Enjoy!

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Calendar Man – Week of 2/11

Aliens Colonial Marines

Not a lot this week, so I’m going to keep this short. Aliens: Colonial Marines (360, PS3, PC) drops this week, and if my Twitter feed is to be believed, you’re best nuking this one from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. That concludes our constitutionally mandated Aliens references for this post. Until the review scores drop, I have no idea, I’m just guessing at this point. Other releases include Impire for the PC, Omerta: City of Gangsters for the 360 and yet another Brain Age game for the 3DS. Good times.

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A Story about Stories

LA Noire cars

Over a year ago there was a small explosion of outrage in the twittersphere regarding a piece in Edge magazine claiming that games can’t tell stories. It’s old, you’ve probably seen it before but then again the same is true of most of my inspiration for these articles. I was exercised enough about it at the time to want to write about it but I had no suitable mouthpiece. Now that I have, it would seem remiss if I failed to get my thoughts down while still vaguely relevant.

At the time most of the commentary regarding the article focused on the fact that it was clearly nonsense. Philosopher and designer Chris Bateman made a point of collecting gaming anecdotes from people in order to refute it. I mean, seriously, who hasn’t been awed, shocked or enthused at one time or another by the plot of a game? Whether it’s the huge twist in Knights of the Old Republic or the big reveal in Halo we’ve all encountered points in a game with enough intensity to wedge themselves permanently into our memories. So what’s an experienced and respected games journalist doing posting such twaddle?

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Cracked LCD- Manhattan Project in Review

manhattan

Minion Games’ Manhattan Project, designed by Brandon Tibbets, is a great-looking $40 title blessed with much better-than-usual visual style that works to sell its general theme of nuclear bomb-building. The mechanics are rather staid but inoffensive Eurogame fare, focusing on passive-aggressive worker placement and resource conversion processes. However, the game has the balls to let players go aggressive-aggressive and send in bombers to cripple the economic engines of others or deploy spies to hijack personal property. Make no mistake- although Manhattan Project is a very good and sometimes exceptional example of the post-Princes of Florence Eurogame style it’s also a game that doesn’t write player interaction out of the equation. Continue Reading…

Ukulele Hero

ukuleles

On Friday night I finished Assassin’s Creed III, hands down, the worst of the non-handheld Assassin’s Creed games and an absolute bucket of horse piss of a game, series pedigree notwithstanding. On Saturday I bought a ukulele. The two events are not unrelated but not in a “AC III was so bad that it drove me to renounce earthly possessions and go live in a hut” kind of way, more in a rethinking the hobby kind of way.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #161

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s the triumphant 3rd year birthday for Jumping the Shark and to celebrate we’ve done nothing special other than make sure we’re all here. Whoo.

The gang is all in the house for Jumping the Shark #161 and we wile away our hour together by talking about Bill’s latest foray into Risk: Legacies and  Brandon DudeBro’s up for a little Black Ops 2 and a side plate of Little Inferno on the iPad. I put on my best book reviewer’s hat (it looks rather like one of those multicolor beanie deals with a propeller on top) and do a couple minutes on Markus Zusak’s WW2 era novel, The Book Thief (coming, eventually, to a theater near you, if the news I read this week is accurate). It’s all prelude to next week when Jon Shafer makes his triumphant return to the show to talk about his new gaming venture, Conifer Games, and it’s first game, At the Gates, which launched its Kickstarter campaign today. It’s Shafer, people, so go Kickstart the hell out of it.

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Calendar Man – Week of 2/4

Sony handheld preview Sly Cooper 4 shot 2

Greetings, Super Bowl revelers. Hopefully you didn’t get too drunk last night as being hung over on a work day is never a good thing. As much as I hate the Ravens, I’m glad that they won as I didn’t want to be accosted with an endless number of stories about how the power outage caused the Ravens to screw up. That and San Fran’s coach annoyed me.

Oh, and did you see that Fast and Furious 6 trailer? Best. Movie. Ever.

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