Console Certification, Capitalism, and You

We frequently discuss topics such as DRM, connectivity requirements, and PR/marketing stunts; topics that don’t necessarily impact our gameplay directly, but ones that most certainly affect our experiences as consumers. Last month, an update (and subsequently retracted update) for FEZ on XBLA brought the issue of certification to the forefront. The gist of the story is that Polytron Corporation had to decide between leaving a bug in the game, or paying tens of thousands of dollars to (hopefully) patch the bug and get re-certified.

Until last month, I have to admit that I had never considered the role of certification in game development and how the results of that process trickle down to us as consumers. Certification on consoles was the topic of recent editorial by Kyle Orland at Ars Technica, but I found the full-length opinions and examples offered by Jonathan Blow especially illuminating.

While certification is meant to provide standards, FEZ shows how the process can be equally counter-productive. In the end, neither the consumer nor the developer come out on top. This is opposed to a PC release that can be patched for free. But, as Blow points out, a major problem concerning certification is the time spent coding and tweaking required features that have little to no impact on the final product.

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Assassins Creed III AnvilNext Trailer

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a conundrum on my hands. On October 30th, Assassins Creed III comes out. I very much want to play this game. Unfortunately, Need for Speed: Most Wanted comes out on the same day. Now, I usually don’t care about the Need for Speed series, but NFS:MW is a Criterion game, as in Criterion from the Burnout series, as in Burnout: Paradise being the greatest racing games ever created.

Yes, ever created. I will gladly plant that flag in the ground and salute it daily.

I usually ask for AC games for Christmas, wait until the new year to play and, as a result, lag behind the Pope punching conversation. After seeing this new trailer though, I’m not sure what to do. This trailer looks sick and aside from some wildly hyperbolic statements, I am nine different ways of excited about this game. I did think it was odd that they mentioned Connor’s Native American background influencing his combat style right when Connor uses a redcoat as a human shield. What’s up with that Ubisoft? What are you trying to say about Native Americans. Also, what about how they mention the Un-United States of America and then mention exploring a continent. What’s up with that Ubisoft? What, do you think the US is an entire continent? Check a map sometime, wait, what? A Mayan Ruins single player level? Uh…well…carry on, then.

Cracked LCD- Hell is Other Gamers


As we speak, the World Boardgaming Championships are going on in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This nine-day event, attended by some 1,500 gamers including our very own Bill Abner, features organized competitions, retailer and publisher exhibits, and of course tons of open gaming.  I was asked by no less than eight people if I was going to put in an appearance, and I’ve also been asked from many different quarters if I would be at Origins or Gen Con. I’m on a large mailing list featuring pretty much every game player in the metro Atlanta area and I get invited to get-togethers, meet-ups, conventions, and other gaming event all the time. The answer to all of the above is always “no, Barnes will not be there”. Usually I cite my “won’t drive more than 15 miles to play games” policy, a parameter that has decreased over the years. But ultimately it’s because I’m done with playing games with strangers- particularly gamer strangers.

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Judge Dredd Gamebook Hits iOS

New Judge Dredd iOS game book from Tin Man Games

Tin Man Games, having published the most successful series of gamebook apps on iOS so far and fresh from winning the licensce to release actual Fighting Fantasy books, continue their run of form with a brand new Judge Dredd book to whet our appetites for all things Mega-City in advance of the new film later this summer.

Casting you in the boots of the legendary lawman himself, Countdown Sector 106 features additions to the well-worn gamebook adventures mechanics to mimic the sorts of fast-paced firefights you’d expect.

Written by a long-time 2000a.d. fan this looks to tick all the boxes for a quality experience. But there’s a full review in the pipeline, so I can let you know for sure once I’ve had the chance to play through it.

Warhammer 40k: Relic Looks Pretty Neat


Yeah yeah yeah, I’ve been lazy about posting anything lately partly because I’m irresponsible, partly because I’m in the middle of both selling and buying houses, and partly because I’m ashamed to be a part of such an anti-Batman site as evidenced by some of the attitudes of its staffers. Anyway, this here board game looks pretty good and I thought I’d share.

If you don’t care to visit the advertisement site, Relic is a new title coming from Fantasy Flight Games that is effectively to Talisman what Scooby-Doo Monopoly is to regular Monopoly. That’s right, it’s a Warhammer 40K roll-and-move adventure game with most of Talisman’s mechanics more or less intact but with several coats of 40k paint (most likely overpriced and shoddy Citadel ones) layered over everything. I am 100% OK with this, although I would have been happier with a Timescape expansion for Talisman. Yeah, I liked it. There are at least 17 more of us out there.

No word on a release date, but it’s $60. I’ll definitely let you know how it is. Continue Reading…

Fare Thee Well, Outernauts

I’m not one for freemium games, but when Outernauts launched last week I couldn’t resist. I mean, a space Pokemon game made by Insomniac? Sign me up, Facebook be damned. Sure, free to play, or freemium or whatever the hell they’re called may not be my thing, but I love Pokemon, I love Insomniac and I’m fond of space in that it is necessary for our survival.

For the past week, I’ve been able to successfully navigate around Outernauts’ weird, free to play restrictions, but all of that has, unfortunately, come to a screeching halt and all over my inability to do two things. Technically that’s not true. I am unwilling to do one thing, well, two really, and that makes me unable to do another thing.

Come with me, to spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

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This Fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free to Play

Well this was rather inevitable: Amid stories of dwindling subscriber numbers and months of rumors Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play this fall (while still maintaining a subscriber option). It’s easy to be snarky and all, “well duh,” about the announcement, but in truth I have to applaud. The Old Republic isn’t a bad game. There’s a whole lot of it that I enjoyed quite a bit, and not just because lightsabers have been and will always be cool. It’s just not, “Here, take $15 of my money every single month,” good. For me, it’s the sort of game you hop into every now and then when there’s nothing else on your plate, and that’s a perfect fit for the free-to-play model. I wouldn’t even mind dumping some money into the game every now and again if I’m playing it a lot in a given week and the benefits seem worth it.

So, how’s this all going to work…

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And Now, Your Daily Transformers Public Service Announcement

If you’re itching to get your greasy paws on Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, today is your day. The demo is currently live for both Xbox Live and PSN. The demo consists of the tutorial level, in which you play as Bumblebee, racing all willy-nilly to find Optimus and stave off a Decepticon attack. Then, if that doesn’t do it for you, the second level puts you in the shoes of Vortex, a Decepticon attack chopper. Once that’s finished, take a gander at the game’s multiplayer customization options and then jump into a Team Deathmatch or Team Conquest match.

I played these two levels at E3 and enjoyed the hell out of both of them. The Bumblebee level is linear, with limited opportunities to transform, but the Vortex level has plenty of open space for flying as well as corridors should you want to run and gun. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t include a Grimlock level, but at the same time, you gotta hold stuff back to keep people excited. Even though I played these at E3, I’ll be booting this up tonight, fo sheezy on the reazy.

Jumping the Shark Podcast #136

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

Bill is back with Brandon and I for Jumping the Shark #136. Special guest, Jason McCmaster, is also in the hizzy as we use our respective gaming lulls to engage in a spoiler-laden breakdown of Rocky III The Dark Knight Rises. For those looking to avoid spoilers, those are restricted to the 10:30 mark on through to the 36:15 mark. After that we get into some discussion of some of the games we’ve been plonking around with of late, including LA Noire, Neuroshima Hex, and some Conquistador Games updates from Bill.

Some extra side note on this one. We did have a few call quality issues with Bill’s voice frequently going robot on us. I cut around the worst of it, but there are a few spots where it remains. I also screwed up the file upload this week, putting the unleveled WAV file on the host site. Brandon caught it and uploaded an MP3 version, but it’s not leveled so if there are spots that are too quiet to hear that’s on me. (If it’s really bad let us know and we’ll see about putting a leveled version up there, but it’s a notable pain as Brandon can attest.)

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Calendar Man – Week of 7/30

And so we say goodbye to July, and with the month’s passing, I can see two of my most anticipated games on the horizon. Until then, though, we have to work through weeks like this one, where not a whole hell of a lot comes out.

Gee, doesn’t that sound familiar?

This week, Kingdom Hearts comes to the 3DS, orcs must die yet another time, apolcalyptic action platforming comes to XBLA and Risen 2 makes its console debut. Not the worst week I’ve seen this summer, but I’m still scrounging for stuff to play. Darksiders 2 can’t come soon enough!

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