Various Moneysaving Musings

You like saving money, doncha? Of course you do. We all do! Thankfully, our commentors are really into saving money to the point where they point out all manner of moneysaving tips in the comments of posts. What kind of moneysaving tips? I’m glad you asked.

How about getting the Binding of Isaac on Steam for two bucks? Expires 6/2.

That one didn’t grab you, eh? How about the Plentiful Paradox Package which includes Crusader Kings 2 and the Magicka collection for 12 bucks? (Download only, no idea when it expires.)

Ok, I see you’re a tough customer. How about a day of Amazon Gold Box Deals including Prototype 2 for $30? (Only today and only as long as there are copies of the various items.)

Look, if none of that does anything for you, I got the Mass Effect 3 Resurgence map pack thingy for the low, low price of absolutely nothing.

Calendar Man – Week of 5/28

This week has the return of Batman, sort of, Max Payne making his return to the PC and Resistance giving the whole alien killing thing one more go on the Vita. Not a lot to get too terribly excited about, but if you skipped Batman: Arkham City the first time around, this is an excellent time to play it and get the Harley Quinn DLC for nothing. At the same time, I bet you can find a copy of the original Arkham City plus the DLC for a total price that’s less than the GOTY edition. You know me, always looking out for your wallet.

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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier- Who Shoots the Shooter-men?


One of the things that really strikes me the most about Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier isn’t that the gameplay is extremely slick and streamlined without ever feeling “dumbed down”, to use the term forumistas and Metacritic user reviewers often deploy to erroneously describe games that are slick and streamlined. It’s that its action is extraordinarily well-framed, well-executed and unusually well-filmed. The pitch is that you’ve got four sets of boots on the ground for some third-person shooter action with a light (and appealing) overlay of gadgetry and tactics. But it’s evident that there’s a fifth man among the Ghosts- a cameraman.

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Diablo 3′s (Second) Biggest Flaw

As I continue on in my goal of being the last launch-day purchaser of Diablo 3 to actually finish the game, I’ve now trekked my way to the end of Act II, putting me roughly around the half way point. I aim to finish an initial run through of the game by Christmas; maybe Labor Day if I really buckle down. Anyway, Bill raised a good point last week when he asked, “Why am I enjoying this?”  Well, his answer, evidently, is actually not all that much since he dropped the game cold turkey upon finishing the main campaign. Dropping a Diablo game because you happened to have defeated the various Prime Evils is sort of like leaving the theme park after you’ve ridden its best ride just the one time. Sure, you could do that, but it’s only noon and you really haven’t gotten to see everything on offer.

In another corner of the ‘net, RPS’s Alec Meer lamented how easy the Normal mode in the game is and the amount of time it takes to get to Nightmare and beyond before you’ll find much of a challenge. In tandem, these two articles each strike at the heart of Diablo 3′s second biggest problem (the first is the DRM), one the previous game let you skate around – addicting though it is, it takes too damn long to get to the real meat of the Diablo experience. Let me ‘splain….

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Don’t Shoot the Food – Max Payne Memorial Day Edition

As of this writing, I’m about ten minutes into the last chapter of Max Payne 3. Good people of Brazil, I apologize for shooting up your fine country. Good people of Hoboken, I doubt you can tell the difference. I’m not going to get much into Max Payne 3, I’l save that for a post next week, but I will tell you that I am enjoying it as much as the original Max Payne and more than Max Payne 2, a game I barely remember. It is definitely one of Rockstar’s most focused games, which can be a detriment if you don’t like what they’re focusing on, but given that I enjoy a good slo-mo gun battle, I’m quite happy. It also doesn’t hurt that I love most of what comes out of Max’s mouth.

Aside from painkillers, I haven’t seen Max eat anything during his ten hour journey, but that doesn’t mean that we have to ignore Brazil’s fine cuisine. To celebrate Memorial Day here in the states, a day typically celebrated with cookouts and barbecues, I’m giving you a main course, a side item and, for my good buddy Max, a Brazilian cocktail. The food comes from The Barbecue! Bible, by Steven Raichlen, a cookbook that I’ve used extensively. Raichlen traveled the globe looking for barbecue and grilling recipes and while he focused on food found mainly in Rio de Janeiro, the side item could very easily be found in São Paulo. I’m not saying these are 100% authentic Brazilian recipes, what with me never having been to Brazil, but it’s a good place to start before taking Max on your very own blood soaked tour of Brazil.

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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.”