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Jumping the Shark Podcast #98

No High Scores

The whole crew is back together for Jumping the Shark #98. This week Bill gives us his latest installment of Dark Souls torment, I take my first wintery steps into the world of Skyrim, Brandon goes on and on about Batman’s ball-stomping abilities (don’t ask), and Danielle makes her very own HTML 5 bowling game complete with unique ball physics and actual PBA players and season play. (I may be exaggerating.) Our topic this week is games we hated that everyone else loved (and vice-versa), as inspired by Brandon’s rather surprising dislike for Uncharted 3.

On a personal note, this could very well be my only post this week. Between a bunch of work in my inbox that I didn’t expect and holiday travel, there’s not much time for writing. So, if this is where we part for a few days I wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. Go Lions!

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READ ALSO:  Jumping the Shark Podcast #67

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at

22 thoughts to “Jumping the Shark Podcast #98”

  1. Todd, there were two of us who responded to you in the GWJ thread and neither of us praised the voice acting. We said that the voice acting was a lot better than the first game, which had THE worst voice acting of all time.

    A number of us, however, did feel the writing had it’s merit. Yup, main quest was pretty lame, but it’s more about exploring and finding interesting things. Much like Oblivion, which you didn’t care for, and, frankly, neither did I.

    For the record I quit playing the game because it was so awful looking on console. It’s been a part of my “I’ll get it on pc eventually” and I’m actually interested in giving it another shot. I’m close to 30 hours into Skyrim and amazingly I’ve just now gotten bored. Perhaps I’ll go exploring in … whatever the place was called in Two Worlds II.

    One last thing, I truly hope you watched the video I linked in the thread (which is below) from the first game. I’m not trying to sway you at this point or anything, but this is the sort of crappy voice acting that needs to be seen. It’s even worse than the soldiers in Men of War. Germans and Russians just can’t seem to get good English voice actors, I guess.

  2. Hearing the honorable Abner discuss, with restrained glee, Dark Souls makes my day. Having spent nearly 80 hours in my playthrough, his experience makes me revisit my own travails in the hardest dungeons and boss fights. Eagerly awaiting his jaunt through Tomb of Giants and subsequent lamentation.

    Once again, good discussion, one step closer to your milestone!

  3. I’ve always played Bethesda games from 3rd person camera view. Obviously not Daggerfall since it wasn’t an option, but Morrowind and beyond always 3rd person. Now I do sometimes zoom into 1st person to shoot arrows or pick up objects, but melee combat is definitely in 3rd. Am I the odd one out here? Does this camera mode just not click for most people? Other than the enjoyment of seeing my character’s often-mismatched armor, it just gives me a better sense of where enemies/allies are in the world.

    Also I will miss the Dark Souls recaps. When Ornstien and Smaugh were mentioned I sort of chuckled to myself in rueful commiseration.

  4. The 3rd person view in the ElderScrolls/Fallout games always just felt so janky to me I could never stay with the view. Maybe I should give it another shot with Skyrim just to see? (I really only tried it for any length of time with Fallout 3 and it never felt quite right.)

  5. I think Dragon Age 2 is interesting because it is so incredibly divisive. There’s not much middle ground with that game. You either love it or can’t stand it. (Well, I didn’t hate it at first, but I grew to dislike it a lot in retrospect.)

  6. LOL. Sorry Garion. I didn’t remember who replied in that thread, just that there were people who didn’t think it was as painfully awful as I did. I knew (and cringed) while editing when I heard myself say like “eight” people that it was hyperbole, but I could’ve of sworn it was least four as I remember thinking to myself, “How does no one else find this as distractingly bad voicing as I do?” Ah well.

    It’s funny. What kills me about the acting in that clip you linked (I skimmed through it) wasn’t just how bad the voice acting was, but the writing there… good lord.

  7. Thoust sayest that thee writering wilst cunningly displayeth a mastery of linquistical poetics … okay, I’m not really saying anything here.

    I hope whoever did the translation in the first game learned their lesson. All that thee and thou … man, so stupid. That’s why they threw this into the second game:

    Anyway, no harm, no foul. There were probably 4 of us who played the game around the point you showed up … and probably about 8 total now. The game was not very popular around the forums. Can’t blame them, it’s still very rough around the edges. Looks good though.

  8. I’m getting there. I’m about to fight Seath and also drained the Ruins and am about to go Abysswalking.

    Upgraded the Quelaag Furysword to +5 but am using the ridiculously good Black Knight Greatsword. (holy shit that thing is mean)

    Also using the complete Smough’s Set of heavy armor which is odd because I didn’t use any heavy armor the entire game. This stuff is just too good though.

    FINALLY killed that damn Stray Demon back at the Asylum.

    Tough boss.

    Considering going to Painted World…

  9. Third person is actually not terrible. The character models look good, the animations are solid and movement is fine. The camera is the last thing they need to fix. It is still kind of “wonky” (I’m not a pro journo like you guys so wonky will have to do). I switch back and forth between 1st/3rd person without much of a problem. It’s worth playing for an hour or so just to see how far they have come since Fallout 3/NV.

    Go Pack Go

  10. After Thursday their division lead narrows! (Gotta talk big now because by Friday I’ll be hung over and crying a lot. It’s tradition.)

  11. I’m generally not a fan of first-person view in fantasy RPGs. It could just be habit, since the first RPG of this type I played was Gothic. In Morrowind third persion was a bit flawed and killed the immersion for me, but in Oblivion and the Fallout games I hardly ever used anything else.

  12. I think we all have them. One of the games where I am certainly in a small minority is Prototype. It’s gotten a lot of hate, but for some reason the presentation, story and mechanics just clicked with me. I never finished the game, but played very far, and certainly enjoyed most of it.

    On the other hand – do we really have to talk about Dragon Age 2? The community is split right down the middle about that one, and for me it’s one of the very few games that I actually regret buying. Crackpot storyline, characters as flat as a coaster, and mechanics that just kept pissing me off.

    Another one, somewhat less high profile title, is Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. That game seems to get >80% reviews all over the place. Either all these reviewers have never played the predecessor or the similar HAWX, or there’s just not enough games of this type. AC:AH is a rather bland and very repetitive game, that barely hides its inadequacies under a layer of nifty little mechanics (Dog fight mode) and a surprisingly intense multiplayer component. Still, a 70%/B- game at best.

  13. Well, the mechanics haven’t changed that much in 3rd person but the animation has definitely improved. Gone is the drunken little hop-skip jumping of fallout to be replaced by a truly gravity-defying spring. It’s not perfect but it looks much better.

  14. Just started listening to your podcasts a few weeks ago. I have enjoyed the detailed discussions about Dark Souls (even though that’s a game I will never play) and Saints Row, etc. I was really looking forward to similar treatment for Skyrim. Needless to say I was disappointed to hear 10 minutes of complaining about the UI…. and that was pretty much it.

  15. The Painted World is a nice diversion though I couldn’t bring myself to kill Priscilla. Don’t want to spoil it but you don’t have to defeat her; it is completely optional. It’s akin to slaying Sif; who wants to do that?

    Pack a divine weapon and the light spell for the Catacombs and save your humanity stones if you’re planning on using a shortcut in Lost Izalith…yes, it’s worth it. I don’t want to spoil the entirety of the experience; I remember walking into that dark Tomb and weeping like Todd when he sees a spider.

  16. When the game first came out there was a rumor that by leveling up in the forest hunter covenant you would get an option to spare Sif when he was almost all the way down in health and started limping. Everything I’ve read since has said that this was only a rumor and not actually possible.

  17. Tempest is right. Although I meant to say that I felt despicable for slaying Sif; who doesn’t want a giant wolf to guard their tombstone…with a GIANT SWORD! The world of Dark Souls relishes in taking the faint glimmers of hope and crushing it.

  18. I just was able to listen to this week’s podcast last night, and I will say I love listening to Bill talk about his Dark Souls exploits. I am not nearly as far into the game (I am at the Caprademon block, but I WILL get past that when I have time this weekend), but I can relate to Bills adventures.

    I think Arkham City is a nearly perfect game, and I love it, but I would vote Dark Souls as GotY for me. It really reminds me of something like World of Warcraft in the first few weeks of release, when you were always stumbling on mysterious things you didn’t understand….like being thrown into an entirely new world. The game is just so deep and beautiful. And I say that even though I am *not good*, either at this game or Demon’s Souls. So it’s usually a struggle for me.

    I find that, unless I’m just farming an easy area, I need to take a break after a while — it’s just too intense.

    Hope to hear an update from Bill next week!

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