Bioshock: Listening to Rapture

Splicers - the main enemies in Bioshock - have extraordinarily complex and believable vocal sound routines

When I got my 360, with all the enormous catalogue of quality games I could have chosen from to catch up on, the one I picked first was Bioshock. It came top of the list because I was intrigued by the premise behind the game, the lure of a traditional shooter with horror elements in such an esoteric setting. Plus, it was cheap on the used market.

Three chapters in, I have been somewhat disappointed. Bioshock is fun. In fact Bioshock is pretty much everything I was hoping it would be. But the respawn model has really spoiled it for me. Once I realised that there was pretty much zero penalty to dying, other than a short walk back to where you were before, and that you could effectively kill most things in the game by repeatedly hitting them with the wrench, the very first weapon you got, all the challenge and some of the interest drained out of the game. I have a full wallet because buying stuff is pointless: just use the wrench. I’m perplexed how such an awful design choice made it into what should have been an excellent game. Yes, you *could* refuse to use them, and rely on saves but why bother? Plus some of the nasties in the game – Big Daddies in particular – look pretty much unbeatable in a one-off fight with the early game weapons and ammo alone, so re-spawning looks kind of built into the  play. The location of re-spawn booths close to difficult fights would tend to confirm that hypothesis.

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Tin Man Games bringing Fighting Fantasy to iOS

Tin Man Games have the right to publish the new Fighting Fantasy book, Blood of the Zombies for iOS and Android

Tin Man Games, the company behind the Gamebook Adventures apps for iOS and Android, have won themselves the licence to bring the title celebrating 30th anniversary of the legendary Fighting Fantasy gamebook series to those platforms. They’ll be using their critically acclaimed gamebook engine to deliver Blood of the Zombies to a mobile device near you this coming August.

It’s a big win for them, and to celebrate their existing titles are currently running a 40% discount in the app store. They’re well worth it at that price.

Various News Musings

News Round up– Quick Hitter style:

Crusader Kings II, one of my favorite games of 2012 is now available for Mac for $39.99 according to Paradox.

Metro 2033 is now on sale at Gamersgate for FIVE BUCKS. People, seriously, buy the damn game if you haven’t played it and have the PC to run it.

The Mass Effect 3 DLC Pack dubbed Rebellion will be available next week for PC (May 29th) and XBLA/PSN (May 30th). It’s free, by the way. The pack has two new maps and new characters to play in multiplayer.

Blizzard has once again delayed the Real Money Auction House for Diablo 3 beyond the end of May target date. You can also expect a server side patch to drop next week with more game fixes and tweaks.

Konami is being sued by City National Bank for not repaying (any of) a 14 million dollar loan used to fund Def Jam Rapstar. Whoops. Fo shizzle.

38 Studios continues to struggle and lose staff. This time the CEO.

The average Star Wars: The Old Republic server has fewer than 350 people? This isn’t an official report but clearly there is a population issue. Server consolidation this soon? I have seen this movie before. It doesn’t end well. I KNOW that John Riticello, EA CEO, said just recently on an investor call that the MMO was doing just peachy. Something doesn’t add up.

Cracked LCD- Banditos in Review

Banditos, a new and rather under-the-radar game from Baksha games, isn’t going to win any awards for its design. It’s a disorganized, somewhat sloppy game plagued with a badly written and confusing set of rules that fail to convey the relative simplicity of its gameplay. The enormous card deck which drives the game is ridiculously bloated with redundant cards. It’s an amateurish mistake- throwing in the kitchen sink instead of brandishing the editor’s machete. The first third of it tends to be oddly paced and hesitant, with players waiting to fish multiple cards out of that giant deck to really get the game started. There are a couple of errors and the card backs are poorly printed with indistinguishable markings between decks. Banditos, a game about robbing banks, looks like a heist gone wrong at the outset.

I’ve played a lot of games that have robotically precise rules written with the clarity of a diamond. I’ve also played a lot of games that represent the finest in editorial design and production quality. But I’ve not ever played a game that is about crossing the border into Mexico to steal devalued pesos from underprotected banks- in 1982.  Nor have I played a game where I can play a card that causes “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest to come on the radio in another player’s car, causing them to speed and risk getting caught by the fuzz. With a completely unique concept and a spirited- if not technically sound- design, Banditos comes across as a game with lots of heart and a strong sense of genuine fun. And that is sometimes more important than watertight, supremely balanced rules writing.

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The Cave Debut Trailer

Ron Gilbert + Double Fine + Platformer/Adventure. Published by Sega.

The downloadable game will be available early next year.

“If you enjoy rappelling, spelunking and dark rocky caverns then be prepared to be disappointed! And then intrigued. And then AMAZED. And then disappointed again, but only for a minute. Then relieved, amused, bewildered, excited, and satisfied. In that order.”

Metro: Last Light – Enter the Metro Short Film (4 minutes)

Yes, it’s short but I have to say this was shockingly well done.

Absolutely worth the watch.

Binky and The Straw: The Hexathon

Welcome to the first in hopefully a long series of games in which Bill and I fight it out on iPad board game field of battle. To coincide with Neuroshima Hex’s recently released multiplayer add-on, Bill and I went toe to toe in a desperate battle over some hardscrabble piece of post-apocalyptic land. Please forgive the cell phone pictures, but this is the wasteland. We make do with what we must.

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A Game of Thrones: Old School Role-Playing

I finished Chapter 1 today of the Game of Thrones RPG from Atlus/Cyanide. You have to understand that I go into this with a huge deal of skepticism simply due to my experience with Cyanide’s games — specifically Blood Bowl and the Game of Thrones RTS. I like Atlus as a publisher quite a lot so I’m hoping for the best but expecting…well, Cyanide.

This is merely a cursory look as Chapter 1 isn’t terribly long, but so far — I (mostly) like this game.
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Road to 100,000 – The End of the Road

To celebrate me hitting 100,000 gamerscore, enjoy The Doors singing The End. I hate the Doors, but Bill loves them for some unknown reason and right now he’s feeling pretty bad on account of losing to me in Neuroshima Hex last night.  This is the kind of guy I am, when I see a friend in pain, I help him.

In the interest of properly documenting the gravity of this achievement (pun intended), I have enlisted the aid of a crack journalist to interview me. Yes, that’s right, I have decided to interview myself. Boom. You’re welcome.

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Wasteland 2 Project Update – Designing on Unity

I am always, a bit behind the story on this one, but as a “Backer” for Wasteland 2, last week I received a fresh status update on the project, this one penned by John Alvarado, the game’s lead designer. In it, he discussed the team’s (his) decision to use the Unity 3 engine to power Wasteland 2. Danielle could surely tell you much more about Unity than I can. Mostly I know it’s supposed to be a great tool for delivering 3D-driven applications (primarily games) to multiple platforms. Given the team’s pledge to support Windows, Linux, and Mac, it’s easy to see the appeal there. (Evidently Unity, which doesn’t currently port to Linux, is working directly with inXile on the Linux port of Wasteland 2.) But does it suit a game like Wasteland 2? That’s what the rest of the update (which you can read in full here) is there to explain. Here’s a notable chunk…

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