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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Infiltration Review

infilatration box

Gaming is littered with quirky little titles that play bait and switch with gamers, masquerading as a style of game they don’t actually provide. It’s not a problem, as long as the game is fun. Indeed it adds to the novelty and charm of the title for the open minded. Dungeonquest, for example, looks like a role-play mimic but is in fact a push-your-luck title and a wonderfully brutal one at that.

Infiltration is equally deceptive. At first glance you would expect this to be a fairly straightforward cyberpunk adventure, where the players take the place of criminals attempting to loot a research facility for information before the police arrive based on a partly-random timer. Collect the most data, and get out before time is up, and you win.

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Cracked LCD- Police Precinct in Review

police

Amateurish graphic design and completely uninspired mechanics largely borrowed from other successful games ought to be enough to sink a new board game title- particularly when it’s yet another co-op at a time when that genre has become tiresome and repetitive beyond its absolute top examples like Battlestar Galactica.  Common Man’s Police Precinct, designed by Ole Steiness, evidences all of the above. There isn’t anything on offer at a design level that you can’t do in another game. You’ll cooperate with fellow players to control spawning bad guys, roll dice at objective cards, and race against a timing mechanic to complete a common task. There may or may not be a player secretly working at cross purposes, who can interfere in subtle ways or reveal themselves.

So why would I wholeheartedly recommend a redundant and unoriginal game with ugly art? Because, put quite simply, Police Precinct is a charming fun-first design with a seldom-used modern law enforcement theme. It’s a game that has a sense of unpretentious fun coupled with an uncomplicated process that never gets in the way of the good stuff- player interaction, shared narrative generation, and lots of laughs. Continue Reading…

Saying “No” to Dead Space 3

 

dead space 3

I’m a big horror and science fiction fan, particularly of the more intelligent strains of those genres, and I love survival horror video games. All of the above means that I should be practically spooning with EA’s Dead Space franchise in my wheelhouse. I thought the first game was decent but not great, too often relying on carnival funhouse shocks and Cannibal Corpse-caliber gore while underplaying the more compelling elements of the narrative. But I loved the second game and called it one of 2011’s best, everything from the action to the horror and SF elements were better managed and there was a great sense of world-building that the first game sorely lacked. And here we are on the eve of a new Dead Space game, and I will not be buying or playing it. Continue Reading…

The Q1 Game Check

BioShock Infinite

Man alive, there are a ton of games coming out between now and the end of the quarter. Some of them look good, some of them, not so much. As I know many of you await my opinion before deciding whether or not you should even consider looking at a game, I figured I would bring the benefit of my foresight to bear on this upcoming crop of games. Truly, my benevolence knows no bounds.

Some of these games I will buy, some I will rent, some I will cast aside, their worthiness unproven to me until someone tells me I should play it and then I probably will. I know that there are games coming out that I’m not listing here, so if I have, please sound off in the comments so that all games may benefit from the exposure brought about by my gaze.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #160

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bill is Down with the Sickness this week (literally), so we reprise the Brakke/Cackowski-Schnell Hour of Power (TM) for this installment of Jumping the Shark. This week we run with the, now-confirmed, rumor attaching J.J. Abrams to Star Wars, discussing in exacting detail why Brandon hates Star Trek, except for the Abrams movie, and why I think Abrams is a great fit for Star Wars and a lousy one for Trek. Then Brandon gets in deep with Devil May Cry and why, even though it’s a good game, it takes the easy way out when it comes to mocking the good ole U.S.A.

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Calendar Man – Week of 1/28

calendar man 1-28 hitman hd trilogy

Yet another week of pretty much nothing, which is just fine by me. The Hitman HD Trilogy (PS3, 360) releases as does a co-op action game thingy called Dungeonland, a military shooter called Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear (360, PS3) and the long awaited XBLA title Skulls of the Shogun. For me, I’m looking to finish AC III, keep on keeping on in NFS:MW and start up Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Should be interesting. I haven’t played a Call of Duty game since Call of Duty 2 launched with the 360. I hear this one has ponies!

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