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Brakketology: Summer’s Over Edition


Labor Day has come and gone and the last time I penned anything we lived in a world where I could go 48 hours without hearing anything about Miley Cyrus. I didn’t even know what twerking was. Yes, it was a happier, simpler time. But fall is coming and I’m here with renewed vigor to, like, write things and stuff. (Said vigor may least three weeks or three years, get your bets in now!)

After the break, lots of stuff from the past week summarized for your edification…

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Dragon Age 3. Now with 100% More Origins. And 150% More Mass Effect 3! RPS saw the game. They wrote things. (Along with about a billion other hosers.) Many promising things that you should go read, but let me snip this one small chunk from them:

Tales of Grey Wardens and blights are in history now, with the world facing a new threat – a Fade Rift. The Fade is the magical realm that exists alongside our own, filled with horrors and abominations. It is the place with which mages are most in touch, and hence why mages are so feared and vilified in the world. And now it’s torn open, and all manner of beasties are pouring in. And that’s trouble.

However, rather oddly, little seems to be being done about it. Each clan of people, each enclaved race, seems extraordinarily wrapped up in their own disasters, and none is able to tackle the Fade troubles as well. And BioWare were keen for us to know that this just seems a little bit too convenient. So you, whomever you might decide to be (and this time out that can be Human, Elf, Dwarf or new to Inquisition, Qunari), are heading up a new Inquisition, to Get. Shit. Done.

Put in Mass Effect terms, you’re a Spectre and you have to unite the Salarians and the Rodians and the Romulans to combat the Reapers. Yes, the next paragraph (follow the link, follow the link, follow the link) says this isn’t the case, but not with any facts. They’ve got a “just trust us on this” from producer, Cameron Lee. I think Bioware used up all their trust when they told us Dragon Age II was a full on sequel, but perhaps I’m just being catty.

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On the non-catty side of the fence, tactical overhead view in combat is evidently back (YES!), there is not auto-healing between battles (m’kay), and locations won’t scale their difficulty to your level (YES!). These are things you should be excited about.

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Is the Enemy Within Firaxis Itself? You people know how much I love XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I love it so much I eventually caved and stopped using a hyphen in the title. They earned it. This trailer and some of the things I’ve read about the recently announced expansion, Enemy Within, however, have me wary. Sure, I’m glad international troops will have international voice sets, etc., but augmentation canisters on levels that self-destruct if you don’t reach them in time? Is that a bridge that’s just entirely too… gamey? It feels like it. As do the mechs in this entirely too action-packed trailer. Enemy Unknown wasn’t an action game and marketing it like one strips away the qualities that make it unique and awesome. I’ll keep my mind open until it comes out in November, but yellow flags raised and all that.

Outlook Cloudy. Ask us Later. Microsoft is telling people they absolutely will support external storage for the Xbox One. Just not at lunch and, no, please don’t ask us how long you’ll have to wait. Next question. This is the natural evolution of the release now, patch later mentality that began with PC games roughly 20 years ago. It’s filtered through to console games and is now infecting game consoles themselves. (Isn’t the Wii U still promising features that buyers should have had at launch?) How about you guys call me when you’re done fiddling and the console is really complete and maybe then I’ll consider giving you my money… if you throw in a pack of doughnuts and a hooker. (Disclaimer to fiancee: Said hooker is not for me, I swear!)

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Consider Yourself Teased. It’s an actiony Space Hulk game. It has a teaser. It’s also from Focus Home and Cyanide (two companies with spotty track records) and Streum (a company with no track record to me). Given that, showing a pre-rendered space marine stomping around buys you… nothing really.

Balder’s Gate 2 Gets Enhanced. Joystiq says it’s coming November 15th. The first game’s Enhanced Edition demonstrated to me that the Infinity Engine isn’t remotely well-suited enough to iOS to have been worth what I spent on the iPad version. It’s still a terrific PC game, though. For one of my favorite games of all time, I’m willing to buy again from Trent Oster’s crew of merry rebuilders.

Star Citizen. Cash Cow. Having now been funded to the tune of $17 million, I’m starting to regret paying not attention to the game whatsoever. My wallet is in my hand, Mr. Roberts. Dare I pull out more wads of cash for you?

Short, Short Reviews. Bill just wrote about Gone Home and Occult Chronicles. I’ve played both and my opinion can be summed up thusly: What he said.

In Summation. Brakketology as a recurring name at the top of this column. Lame or incredibly lame?

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

6 thoughts to “Brakketology: Summer’s Over Edition”

  1. No auto-healing between battles? That’s lame! Back to afk-ing for 5 minutes to heal my party up before the next fight then! I really want to see more of Inquisition, because right now, it just feels more like Dragon Age: Durk Souls: Witcher Harder: Dogma.

    I really want BGII. And I wanted it yesterday. My only real complaints about the first EE was they didn’t do much with the multiplayer, it’s still incredibly annoying to try to set games up with.

    1. Inquisition could feel more like American McGee’s Dragon Age: NHL ’96 – Friendship Is Magic and it would still represent a significant upgrade from Dragon Age 2. More than Brandon and Todd, I hated that game and its reprehensible storyline long before it reached whatever conclusion it was stumbling toward, making it the only Bioware game I’ve refused to finish.

      1. I genuinely feel… cautiously optimistic about Inquisition, despite the fact that it looks like an ME3 style round up the various civilizations for a big battle thing. Possibly because even if it is a round-up the civs game, there’s a lot of room to do that better than ME3 did. Throw Origin-style battles and there’s enough to keep my interested enough to not write it off. Still a long wait ahead, though.

  2. Look who’s back! I hope you stay a bit longer now than last time, Todd.

    And now on topic of XCOM Enemy Within – I still have to play Enemy Unknown some more (I played it for some 20 small hours), but so far, changes in the expansion sound interesting, even those self-destruct upgrades or whatever they are. They force you out of your comfort zone, adding new risk-reward mechanic. And, aren’t they similar to those bombs you have to defuse anyways? I’m not really sure, since I haven’t played many of those bomb defusing missions.

    1. Yes, hopefully I will stay just a wee bit longer this time. How’s four whole weeks sound? ??

      The thing is, I like the bomb mechanic a lot. But the bomb mechanic fits the scenario. Those do no good aliens done dropped a bomb and you have to go get it before it a’splodes. But not every time. Just sometimes. It’s a change of pace that fits thematically.

      These cannisters sound like they’re just dropped into every mission. Because why? How does having cannisters that can help humans do the aliens any good? Why bring them along? It feels like it’s just stuck in there w/o much regard for context. Hopefully I’m wrong because there are ways to do that, I think. Say, if they only pop up on UFO missions and they’re always on-board the alien craft, then the self-destruct as a way to keep them out of human hands makes sense. I just don’t want to show up in a terror mission or something where there’s no reason whatsoever for them to be there.

      Firaxis got a lot of good will with me for XCOM, so I’ve got an open mind. I’m just… wary.

      1. Oh, now I get what you meant. But still, I probably won’t mind if they don’t offer some story explanation or better thought out implementation of that cannister mechanic.

        Which brings me back to my “gotta play XCOM more”, since I loved it, but I haven’t played it in months, and I almost forgot all those mission types.

        PS – 4 weeks sound better than 1. Any plans on GTA V articles? Or is that Brandon’s area?

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