Jumping the Shark Podcast #145

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jumping the Shark #145 begins on a ponderous note as we come up with scenarios to explain why Bill is, once again, absent. Brandon was closest with, “Desperately wants to be here, but is trapped under something heavy.” And what a time to miss, as we discuss our thoughts on the PC demo for Firaxis’s upcoming take on X-COM. What we can take away from it? Where does it look good? Where are the yellow flags? Etc. We all know I’m in on this one, but is Brandon prepared to take the leap into unknown waters? The less than surprising answer is within. After that Brandon digs deeper into Borderlands 2 and I spend some more time with Guild Wars 2 and the iPad version of Bastion. Enjoy!

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Calendar Man – Week of 10/1

This week’s marks a respite from new games for me as I haven’t played a Resident Evil game since the one that was on the GameCube. You know, the one with the President’s daughter and the blonde guy. I never finished it. I’m assuming the girl made it. Maybe not. As much as people like these games, I just can’t get into them. I’m not into inventory shortages as a means of amping up tension. All I see are hours of lost progress.

In other news, NBA 2K13 and War of the Roses are released this week, as well as a bunch of games getting releases on new platforms. Fun times all around.

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Bribes, Guards and White Women – Another Day in Sleeping Dogs

At some point, I started playing Sleeping Dogs. I’m not sure how it happened, but there it is, next to the 360. Sleeping Dogs. I can only assume that there was a lull between finishing Darksiders II and starting Borderlands 2 and the idea of not playing a game was too much for my addict brain to handle. It knocked my conscious mind out, rented Sleeping Docs and here we are.

I’m not proud of it, but at this point in my gaming career, I can’t say that pride has much to do with anything. It’s not the act of playing Sleeping Dogs that fills me with shame, but the fact that the idea of going five days without anything to play drove me to pick it up.

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Last Night on Earth Review

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game from Flying Frog

I don’t believe there’s a meme in all of geekdom that’s been used and abused quite as much as the good old zombie. It’s been in films, books, comics and videogames that span the chasm between sublime art to complete trash. And speaking of trash, you’ll find a hundred of them in Zombies!!! which is perhaps the worst hobby board game ever committed to card and plastic. But game-playing zombie fans need not despair, because there are many better zombie games to try. One of them is Last Night on Earth, and the question is: how much better?

Well for starters, compare the box of Last Night on Earth with that of “generic zombie game #346”. Notice anything different? GZG #346 will certainly have some low-grade pop art on the front. Last Night on Earth, by contrast, features photo-based art of actors and actresses in costumes and special effects makeup. It’s a striking and realistic look (realistic enough to terrify my children) which is carried on throughout the card art. There’s also plenty of well-sculpted plastic miniatures of heroes and zombies inside the box and a pleasingly gloomy modular board. The photo art isn’t to everyone’s tastes: some people think it looks tacky. Personally, I love it and with the other high quality components I felt compelled to list this as one of the five best looking games ever made.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game in Review

The highest praise that I can give to Fantasy Flight Games’ new X-Wing miniatures game is that it makes Star Wars awesome again. It sloughs off decades of garbage with the Star Wars brand slapped on it. This is a game where Jar-Jar Binks never existed and the Clone Wars are just a cryptic reference. X-Wing, as the title suggests, gets back specifically to the really awesome faux-World War II fighter jockey stuff that I particularly loved when I was a kid. It is the spaceship dogfight game that I have wanted my whole life, writ in a modern, masterfully streamlined set of rules that all but step politely out of the way of the fun and cinematic action.

It is not a Wings of War ripoff. It uses some of the great design from that game along with ideas from the old Crimson Skies game, an obscure Euro called Techno Witches, and other games in its genre as a jump-off point to arrive at one of the least fussy, least messy tabletop miniatures games that I’ve ever played. The commitment level is low, requiring no paint, no assembly, and only a couple of ships to get going. Anyone can jump right in and pilot a flight of TIEs, barrel-rolling and blasting through asteroid fields and trying to get an angle on an enemy Y-Wing.

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More Tales from Dunwall

I was lax in posting these yesterday as the thought of hearing more of that awful, awful narration made me want to punch myself. I managed to muddle through it though, for you, so I hope you’re happy!

The first video is a charming story about a boy and his rat friend. The second is about the creator of the mask you’ll wear as you slice and dice your way through Dishonored. Neither make me envy the employees of the Dunwall Tourism and Travel Board.

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Why I Think Borderlands 2 Sucks (But I Like It Anyway!)

 

Borderlands 2 is a terrible game design. It’s boring, tedious, repetitive, and it never actually rewards the player. It’s obviously a successful design because people continue to play and enjoy it. But can you really, honestly say that it’s a great video game? Continue Reading…

Quick Take on the X-COM: Enemy Unknown Demo

To dismiss with this point first, I know Firaxis calls the game XCOM and not X-COM. Screw that noise. We all know better. As for the demo, there’s not a whole lot that can be said about it. It’s very, very brief, taking you through two largely scripted missions and then depositing you at the menu. This isn’t a demo so much as it is a guided tour, so there’s a lot we don’t know (at least those of us, like me, not on the golden ticket list for preview code), including just how much freedom of play the actual game will offer. This was extremely restrictive, but it hints at a world of promise. Here’s what I can tell you based on the 50 or so minutes it took to go from beginning to end on the PC…

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The New Science Overdrive

Today was an interesting day.

It started off with Kickstarter promoting our boardgame The New Science as “Project of the Day.” I assume by the time some of you read this it will no longer BE “of the day” but as I type this…yep…there it is front and center on Kickstarter.com.

Surreal.

It was followed by distributors contacting me wanting to carry the game. Funny how that works, eh? A few hours later we zoomed past our $15,000 goal and we’re currently sitting a tick over 17 grand with three weeks left in the campaign.

Surreal 2x.

Last weekend I was able to show the game off to the masses at Buckeye Game Fest, a small local con with a solid core audience. Richard Launius was there but I never got to meet him. Damn it. But The New Science was a clear hit. People are digging the theme, even the die rolling–sometimes the absolute bane of hardline Eurogamers– fits the theme so well than they don’t seem to mind. I tell you it’s crazy town.

I still need to write the Dark Souls PC review, which is coming along, even though I haven’t technically “finished” the PC version and have yet to see the new content. GFWL really hurts this game, but it’s impossible to not recommend. I’m also playing Borderlands 2, which I find fun, if a bit formulaic at this point. EA didn’t send me FIFA so I’m not covering it. Atlus is sending the new Sherlock Holmes game which Brandon can dig into as soon as I send it to him.

I have a demo for Card Hunter which I need to get to as well. That looks so damn cool, I just need to find the time to get into it. So I am alive, just sort of lacking the time to do a lot of game writing at the moment.

Oh, as for “other” boardgames, the new Star Wars X-WING minis game is freaking amazing. A-MAZE-ING. Yes it’s ridiculously overpriced and is a clear money sink (FFG knows this game…and knows it well) but hot damn if this isn’t awesome. It’s a pretty simple game but it’s exactly what I want out of a Star Wars combat game.

I defy any group to play this game without at least ONE “Stay on target!” quote coming out of someone’s mouth.

 

Dishonored – The Tales from Dunwall, Part 1

Behold this new, animated short about beautiful Dunwall before plagues and assassins and murdering people became normal parts of every day conversation.

I knew that whale oil was important to Dunwall, but I didn’t know that the guy who made it so important did so after seeing some homeless people throw it on a fire. No one ever figured out that whale oil was flammable up until that time? Not exactly dealing with a bunch of Rhodes Scholars, or the Dishonored equivalent, are we?

You may recognize Chloe Grace Moretz as the narrator, or maybe you stopped listening ten seconds into the clip due to how overwhelmingly terrible the narration is. Hey Bethesda, if you’re going to go through the trouble of hiring a famous person to do your narration, you might want to find out if they can, you know, narrate.