What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Brian Stelter

Brian Stelter, reporter

The New York Times reporter talks Halo multiplayer and freelancing for IGN at 15.

By Matt Gerardi • August 24, 2012

In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.

Brian Stelter has been writing on the internet since he was 11 years old. In 2004, and at the age of 18, he founded TVNewser. The blog offered a glimpse into the infamously insular industry of broadcast news. He left the site for The New York Times in 2007, where he is currently a TV and media reporter (you might have seen him in the documentary Page One). He’s also writing a book about morning television that is tentatively titled Top Of The Morning.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Brian Stelter: When did the most recent Halo game come out on Xbox? Because that’s all I play. That’s the only video game that I play. I have a weird video game habit where I bought my Xbox for Halo, and I only play Halo, and I haven’t bought an Xbox game since. So that’s what I’ll be playing this weekend.

Gameological: Is that Halo: Reach?

Stelter: Yeah, Halo: Reach. I don’t ever play campaign. I’ve never started the campaign. I always play multiplayer. It’s my stress reliever. It’s a really good one. I’ll get home at 9, 10, 11 p.m., play for an hour, and go to bed—not every day, but a couple of times a week. Every once in a while, I wake up at 8 a.m. and play before work, also.

Gameological: Are there still a lot of people playing it?

Stelter: Whenever I go in to start a match, there are still several hundred in every—I don’t know what you call it—room or whatever it is that I look at. So yeah, I’ve never experienced a little delay. I’m dreading the day that there aren’t enough people to play with in the multiplayer, but I think there’s a new Halo coming out, what, later this year or next year?

Gameological: There’s one coming out in November.

Stelter: I was going to guess November. So I will buy that one. I’m a very weird Xbox player. I literally bought the Xbox to play Halo because in college I played the original Halo with a bunch of college friends—eight-player, physically. I’d lug my television set over to a friend’s house and we’d hook it up in the basement. We’d play eight-player, two TVs, across two rooms. It was amazing. It was a great college memory. So when Halo: Reach came out, I decided, sort of on a whim one weekend, to go out and buy the Xbox and buy the game. I know I’m missing a lot on the Xbox, and there are times where I wish I went out and bought more games and learned them, but oddly it’s sort of the right amount of video games for my life. I know if I bought more video games, I would play too often and I would spend too much time playing.

Gameological: I did the same LAN stuff with the first Halo, lugging TVs across suburban Long Island to play with friends. There’s something about that which is so great and I feel like you lose it a little bit when you go online.

Stelter: You lose it you do, but at the same time it’s so easy and so convenient and there’s always someone to play with. And the reason why I haven’t gotten tired of it is for a full year all I was doing was 10-people sniper battles and then one day I discover capture the flag and I did six months of just that. There’s something very boring and repetitive in it, but it works for me.

Gameological: Why do you think it’s a stress reliever? Why do you think it works for you?

Stelter: I might offend some fans out there by saying this but to me it is relatively mindless. It’s not like campaign. It doesn’t take all that much strategy. It’s short, maybe 10 to 12 minutes at a time. It’s very digestible and I’ve gotten good enough and I win often enough that I feel good. [Laughs.]

Gameological: That was my next question: Do you think you’re good at it?

Stelter: If I won every time it wouldn’t be fun, but I win often enough to make it rewarding. I usually quit once I’ve had a really good game.

Gameological: You’ve really never split off from Halo?

Stelter: The last time I bought an Xbox game, it was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and that was the only game that I would play. But the current iteration of Halo is all I play. There are probably other people like me. It’s casual, almost a different kind of casual gaming. It’s not casual in the sense of going home and playing a Facebook game, but it is casual in the sense that I know if I buy more games, I’m going to play them, so I purposely don’t. [Laughs.]

Gameological: I once heard of a concept called “gamer shame” that theorized that once you cross the plane of 20 hours of play time in a week, you start to feel bad about it.

Stelter: I don’t know if I ever feel bad. I fall into two or two-and-a-half hour periods that I play in. I will admit to being late for work a few times when I played in the mornings. But I will also admit to having written a story in between games, in the few minutes that it takes me to start a new game. You can get a good amount of work done while the server is finding other players.

Gameological: You founded TVNewser while you were in college, but your internet publishing life started even earlier than that with game reviews. I actually found a Star Fox 64 review you wrote. You must have been around 12 years old.

Stelter: I was something like that. There was an interesting period in my teenage years when IGN.com was paying me 500 bucks a month to write reviews. This was the height of the dot-com bubble. It might have been 2000 or ’99, but let’s call it the height of the dot-com bubble. This was before it was bought by News Corp. and back when they were flush with cash. I don’t think they realized I was a 15-year-old. They just needed content and had the money to buy it.

Actually, my very first website was a Goosebumps books website. After that, I worked on Nintendojo. I freelanced for IGN. I started a couple of my own sites about Nintendo and Microsoft. That all kind of trailed off toward the end of my high school years.

Gameological: Obviously you’re very ingrained in The New York Times now as a TV reporter. Have you ever thought about covering the games industry again?

Stelter: The short answer is no. I sort of feel the same way about video games as I do about HTML or web design: I knew it then, but I can’t possibly know it now. It’s become too complicated, too big, and too hard. That said, it’s a fantastic niche. It is a fantastic story, and it’s a story that’s only going to get better for the next 10 years or the next generation. So, I understand the impulse. The thought just hadn’t crossed my mind.

And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.

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696 Responses to “Brian Stelter, reporter”

  1. Mike Mariano says:

    Thanks for making me feel old, Gameological! I’m like a decade older than this kid and I suck at Halo.

    I finally beat Oblivion and the Shivering Isles expansion, just in time for my Xbox to die. Is there a good site to look at to build a living room gaming PC? Or should I just buy a MacBook Pro and plug the HDMI output into my TV?

    • Cheese says:

      The only thing different about a tv gaming PC is the case, and that’s if you want to get really fancy. Look for a home theater PC case, make sure the motherboard fits, and you’re good to go. Or just build with a normal case. Or buy a Macbook Pro.

    • Enkidum says:

      Speaking as a mac user since 1984, it’s gotten a lot better, but still I wouldn’t buy a mac for gaming. It’ll play nicer with your TV and so forth, but there just aren’t as many games available.

      • Raging Bear says:

        I eventually got a copy of Windows for Boot Camp purposes (my brother had a copy with an extra license – I still refuse to give Microsoft any money), and that’s opened a fair number of gaming doors.

        • JoshJ says:

           Parallels is a great windows-on-mac program. I play a couple of games on my macbook, but I’m predominantly an XBox player. It’s easier to lounge and not be locked into “computer posture.”

        • Enkidum says:

          @yahoo-7434UGH3EEMU2AUKTGMU3NLDZA:disqus Parallels is fine in principle, but unless you’re loaded to the gills with RAM and processor power you’re better off using Boot Camp for gaming, since you’re going to be sharing all resources between two systems. Fine for playing stuff from 10 years ago or whatever, but I’d be (pleasantly) surprised if your average macbook could handle any AAA release from the past 5 years without serious issues.

          I haven’t used Boot Camp for a few years now, but even with it I always ended up running into some kind of problem getting it to recognize different bits of mac hardware or whatever. They’ve probably sorted a bunch of these problems out by now, I guess.

    • PPPfive says:

       Buying a mac for gaming is a foolish prospect indeed

      • George_Liquor says:

        I agree that buying a Mac for the express purpose of playing video games is a bad idea. However, the Mac gaming scene isn’t quite as barren now that Steam is available for it. There may not be near as many games as in Steam for PC, but there are enough to keep a body entertained.

        • Enkidum says:

          True that. I’m obsessively playing CK II on my macbook these days. (And that’s probably my only real answer to the article’s question this weekend.)

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Back in 2001 I found a net cafe five minutes’ walk from my house that had four XBoxes.  One of the owners would challenge anyone who was there at the time to beat him at the original Halo, and usually won.  He was the master of stealth pistol-whip kills.  After playing against him for a few months I got pretty good, but I’ve barely touched a Halo game since.

      Lots of good times at that net cafe…just found out this morning they shut down in January of last year.  Not bad…they lasted longer than most of those places did.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Oh oh! I know this one!

      A) you’ll want to build a PC yourself if you want to have a good gaming machine. It’s really not as expensive as some people make it out to be and the actual assembly is super easy. 

      B) Look at THIS GUIDE for an easy starting point and to get an idea for how much you want to spend on any specific component. For further research check out Tom’s Hardware and if maybe the build a pc reddit if you want some more advice.

      C) You really should not get a mac if you want to play games. Not only does OSX have pretty bad compatibility with most games (though valve are trying their darndest to change that, thank goodness) but the hardware you get for the money is just pathetic. Any computer you build yourself will blow a mac out of the water in terms of bang for your buck. For that matter, you generally don’t want to get a laptop to play games on. You can’t upgrade them and you’ll end up paying more for weaker hardware.

      D) You still need a monitor and keyboard and mouse assuming you don’t have those. You can plug a computer into an hdtv, which is cool, but it comes down to preference. So don’t forget to budget for that stuff while you’re planning out how to build your pc. 

  2. blue vodka lemonade says:

    I’m going to be spending Saturday and most of Sunday driving from Chicago to western Virginia for school, and then it’s all the fun of unloading crap into a dorm, meeting bewildered freshmen, and starting my new campus job as “person who makes sure that no one dies during Blogger training sessions.”

    Most likely I’ll just be playing Sims Social and some mobile games, which for me means Dark Meadow and Temple Run. Tomorrow is packing day, but there will be at least a little time set aside for a couple rounds of Binding of Isaac. So, it’ll be a low-impact gaming weekend, but with more than enough real-world work to fill the time.

    • Cornell_University says:

      My Grandma lives in Western VA.  if you see her, tell her no, I still haven’t gotten married.  and yes, I know I’m not getting any younger.  Don’t bother trying her Welsh Rabbit though, it’s just Velveeta on Wonder Bread.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         If she’s anywhere near Lynchburg, I’ll swing by with a can of Ro-tel and teach her how to make queso.

  3. Sandwichands says:

    Counter Strike. That is all.

    • Fixda Fernback says:

      Just coming here to post that I was probably gonna spend 1200 MS points off the 1600 point card I bought a few weeks back on CS:GO. Any Gameological users on Xbox 360? If so, my screen name is DigThatFunk, add me as a friend for Counter Strike (or any other games) fun! You played any of it yet? I haven’t tried GO at all.

      • Sandwichands says:

        Started playing. Its great, just like old times, except with a whole bunch of crazy achievement shit going on. I am not massively into that stuff but the game is great. It is however very busy visually.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         I think I’m one of the few regulars here that isn’t a PS3  owner or PC purist (I mean, I have a PC, of sorts, but it is definitely not a gaming rig).  However, I’m not sure I have much interest in CS:GO or any other gunwank-game.  It’s nothing personal against that type of game; I’m just kinda shit at them. For example, I recently tried out the Spec Ops:  The Line demo, just to see what all the fuss was about (Extra Credits is currently doing a two-part episode on it).  I agree, it seems to have a unique angle on the usual realistic military-grade shooter, but I was just terrible.

        Still, if you ever want to look me up, I’m DormantParasite. Most days, I’m probably either getting my ass handed to me in Dark Souls, helping my friend’s 6-yr-old daughter look for bling deep under the (virtual) surface in Minecraft, or watching something on Netflix.  I suppose it’s possible there are days I’m not doing anything on the 360, but that seems unlikely.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          I would just like to state for the record, that trying to find a fortress in The Nether of Minecraft SUCKS.  That’s a big reason why I finally quit playing Survival mode.

          • The_Misanthrope says:

            Well, Minecraft 360 doesn’t even have any fortresses in the Nether (or a Survival mode, for that matter). Sometimes, when I’ve been sprucing up the homestead and feeding my eternal mineral-lust, my pride at doing all this impressive stuff in a virtual space dims when I realize I haven’t done anything all day in real life.

        • Fixda Fernback says:

          Haha, finally got around to sending the request! So, if you’re wondering who the hell is adding you… it’s me!

  4. Mookalakai says:

    Gamer shame at 20 hours a week? Ugh, sometimes I don’t like to reflect on my life.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       I’m reading “Reality is Broken” and the number 21 comes up as the magic point where gaming ceases to be beneficial. Like, playing games is good for your mental health up to ~20 hours per week/3 hours per day, and after that you’re not spending enough time doing other things so it starts to have a negative impact.

      • JoshJ says:

         I’m more like ten hours a week. I have art projects and I play guitar in a fairly tight flamenco group, so I gotta keep the practice up. Between those things, gaming is my “brain: off” activity, like channel surfing used to be for lots of people. It’s a totally unproductive activity (for me). In my own personal view, too much time spent gaming is time wasted, while no time spent playing guitar or creating or performing never, ever is.

      • The Guilty Party says:

        That’s interesting. What’s the justification for the 20 hour number?

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           I don’t recall where the specific number came from, but I think it’s just that once you’re spending more than 3 hours on a single, sedentary, probably non-social activity each day, you’re not spending as much time as you should on other activities.

    • Enkidum says:

      I definitely feel shame at 20 hours, but all that means is that I’m often in a state of shame. 

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      That’s nothing.  The first time I was invited to join a raid in vanilla WoW, I spent SIXTEEN HOURS on it.  In a single day.  And we didn’t make it past the second boss.  (It was a really shitty raid, and soured me on them for at least a month before a friend invited me to one where people had brains.)

      It really scares me to realize how much time I spent on WoW in the four years I played it.  The only time of that I don’t regret is when my then-future-wife and I would play together while we were dating.

      Thankfully, no other MMO has come even close to consuming that much of my time since.

      • Mookalakai says:

         At least in WOW you interact with other people, even if it is in the most business-like and nonsocial way possible. I almost exclusively play single player games, which doesn’t do much for social development. And if you’re playing a game with someone on a date, that shouldn’t count towards your 20 hours, because that sounds awesome.

  5. Glen H says:

    KOTOR II just came out on Steam so I’m going to play the hell out of that. I have pretty high expectations from reading people on these boards rave about it but so long as it doesn’t have Mission I think I’ll be satisfied.

    • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

       If you’re going to play KOTOR2, do yourself a favor and install the Sith Lords Restoration Mod. It improves so much in the game. Including some very important story bits.


      • djsubversive says:

        yes. TSLRCM does what Team Gizka’s been promising for years. “We’re almost done, we’re almost done!” Then the RCM slipped right under their noses.

        It does seem to add some extra unnecessary fights, particularly on Nar Shaddaa, but the story bits that are restored (and the HK Factory!) make up for it.

        Kreia is one of the most well-written video game characters I’ve seen in a while, and HK-47 has become more of a philosophical murder-bot (“What is love?”) than just a regular murder-bot. I think you’ll enjoy it even if you don’t use the RCM.

        • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

          Kreia. An important plot-centric female character who isn’t an incredibly beautiful piece of eye-candy. For that alone the character deserves praise, but then she has to go and be incredibly deep as well as having fantastic voice acting.

          Also, George Lucas, if you’re reading this, since you’re already willing to completely rewrite your movies, I have one suggestion: Replace every scene with C-3PO with HK-47. Because a droid whose definition of love is “hitting the knee of a target from 120-kilometers with an aerotech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope” is much, much preferable to a whiny butler.

        • Arthur Chu says:

          I started playing The Old Republic, then dropped out due to real-life time commitments, and am now thinking of picking it back up now that it’s going F2P.

          I’m really really worried that a lot of the new content is HK-47-centric, because I worry that just as with GLaDOS and “The cake is a lie” and whatnot his incredibly amusing shtick will be totally run into the ground and infuriatingly annoying by the time they get done with it.

          It seriously does seem like any time a Star Wars-IP project starts to founder they decide to go back to the HK-47 well because everyone loves HK-47. They did this with Star Was Galaxies too.

  6. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    I’ll be wrapping up my final Pathfinder session as DM.  I really enjoy running a campaign, but it is actual work.  Especially when my understanding of rule minutiae is very watery.
       Other than that, my brother’s giving me a Super NES he says is laying dormant like Crom’s sword in the closet of his job, so I’ll see about hooking that up.  Super NES remains my most beloved of systems, so I’m actually a bit excited.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

       Man, I miss being a GM.  I haven’t had a gaming group since I left LA for grad school, and it left a hole in my life that has never been filled.  Running a campaign was the perfect balance of creative writing, meeting management, and improvisational acting, and there’s not quite anything else like it.  Other than teaching, but since I’m at a school that likes to pretend to be serious and has a strict grading policy, it’s not all that fun.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Maybe you can GM the part of an eccentric outsider teacher who turns these stodgy kid’s buttoned-down world upside-down.
           But yeah, this brief campaign is my first attempt at running one since I was twenty… many, many years ago.
           I enjoy it, because you stay engaged the whole way through, as opposed to being a player where there are long stretches of doodling and flipping through books.
           And also, on the very rare occasions where some set piece you rig actually executes how you wanted, and you’re excited, and the players are excited… It’s really gratifying.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        The last time I successfully GMed a campaign was for the old West End Games Star Wars system back around 2000.  Being a huge SW fan helped me greatly…I had tons of fun writing and preparing stuff for the group, and the group loved the game even though half the players rotated out each week, which made it hard to keep track of everyone’s stories.  I combined premade modules with my own material, often confounding players who’d read those modules before.

        I tried last year to start running a D&D 4th Edition campaign.  My neuroses about coming up with original ideas, combined with having far less imagination in fantasy setting ideas than in sci-fi, and a group that couldn’t meet more than once a month, ended that after a single gaming session.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I seriously miss having a good gaming group.  The last one I was in, the GM was fantastic, and ran the same/similar Pathfinder campaign for two groups on different nights.  I was enjoying my swashbuckling rogue greatly until I quit going due to one annoying player and my job stress seeping out into my personal life.

      Since then I’ve realized that, though I might have legitimate issues with the way some people play their characters in a gaming group, I honestly think I’ve let that get in the way of my enjoyment far more than it should.  And because I left that gaming group without any advance warning, I alienated myself from them and lost any chance of going back when my life got better (like when I finally quit that damn useless job).

      tl:dr version: Pathfinder is fun, and even if someone in your gaming group is being a douche, enjoy it while it lasts.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

           Finding a good group to play with is a surprisingly major challenge.  I was playing with a group a few years ago to get my role playing fix, but there were some pretty fundamental personality conflicts.  The group I’m playing with right now is part of a network of friends that are something of a holy grail for me.  They enjoy gaming in role, board and video varieties as well as sharing the same humor, world-view and general sensibilities as me.
           It’s almost silly, ‘cuz I’m a peripheral, borderline acquaintance-type friend to most of these guys, but I have this pre-pubescent urge to be their friend.  But they’re pretty happy with the stability of their circle and I’m a grown-ass man with a family.  So I don’t see many sleepovers in the future.
           But as it is, I’m just happy to be able to play a campaign with other nerds I respect, even if it is ephemeral.  Like being able to pet a unicorn before you eat it and it’s gone forever.

  7. HobbesMkii says:

    I got beta access to two upcoming games this week: War of the Roses, which is an attempt to take the CounterStrike model and apply it to medieval combat (I got the beta by preordering it), and Heroes & Generals, which is a WWII FPS/RTS freemium game. So my weekend will be playing those.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I’d like to hear back with your impressions on War of the Roses.  I don’t think it’s the type of game I’d play, but I think the conceit could be pretty rad if well implemented.
         If poorly implemented, it’s likely just a high-concept, derivative palette swap.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        It’s not M&B just in different colors and Deathmatch if that’s what you’re wondering. It takes it cues from a lot of the FPS games, where as you play more, you “level up” and gain access to new stuff.

        It may just be the beta version, but I’ve found it frustrating at times. If anything impedes your swing, you’ll be unable to land a blow. A number of times I’ll be fighting a guy alone, driving him back, only to have a teammate (who was fighting another person, and hasn’t yet finished killing that guy) attempt to run in and “help” by cramming up beside me and causing my next swing to land in his back. Invariably, this turns the tide, as the guy I was fighting will kill me using all his available space to swing his weapon, then kill my teammate.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          My initial comment was on the understanding the game is emulating Battlefield more than Mount and Blade.  Which on the one hand, makes ample sense and could be super cool.  But on the other, the It’s like Call of Duty, but with x, y or z! has yielded some awful games.
             And thinking on Skyrim nothing is more frustrating than meticulously preparing that perfect arrow shot, only to have your companion doop-de-doo in front of you, only to get shot in the back of their head.

    • Priest Kristoph says:

       Me too! Mount & Blade has convinced me of TaleWorlds’ competence, particularly when simulating medieval combat.

      Plus if you have Mount & Blade you get a 20% discount on the pre-order! :)

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I got early access to Rock Band Blitz, so I’ll be revisiting my plastic instruments. Wait. No? My controller? Ah. So….

      • HobbesMkii says:

         I have heard nothing of this game. What’s its improvement on prior Rock Bands?

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          Absolutely no improvement — it’s a step-back, i.e., Rock Band played Amplitude-style. (And this is spoken by someone who LOVED Frequency and Amplitude.) However, it’s $15 for 25 new songs, some of which are fairly good, and they all import into Rock Band 3 for free, so the value is still worth it, even if you never actually play Blitz itself. 

          What it boils down to is this: did you play Rock Band-type games for the STRATEGY of properly selecting and then deploying power-ups, and was MEMORIZING the timing of each section’s fade-in and fade-out the most important part of the game for you? If so, you’ll LOVE Blitz’s gameplay, which seems less about performative skill than premeditated approaches to gaming. 

          I just realized, by the way, that this’ll be the second Blitz I cover for XBOX Live Arcade (NFL Blitz being the first).

          But I’m still playing through — and I am still PLAYING, so that’s something positive! — and finding new things, so it’s not a BAD experience, and I haven’t fully fleshed out an opinion yet. 

  8. Merve says:

    I find it odd that someone can get hooked on a single game for so long, but Mr. Stelter explained it really well. If it works as a stress-reliever, then all the more power to him, I say.

    Currently, I’m gaming less than 20 hours per week, so I haven’t hit gamer shame yet. It’ll happen eventually, though. And to help me get there, I’ll be playing some more Sleeping Dogs this weekend. And while I’m on an East Asian kick, I might throw in a little Jade Empire as well.

    Sleeping Dogs doesn’t even have a multiplayer component, yet it’s turning me into a hyper-competitive asshole. There are leaderboards for almost any stat you could imagine, and I constantly find myself trying to better Http Lovecraft’s (Sulaco on Steam) stats. He beat my time in one of the races by exactly 1 millisecond, and this bugs me to end. So basically, leaderboards are the devil, and you should all play Sleeping Dogs on Steam so that we can compare meaningless stats.

    • Girard says:

       Yeah, it felt a little strange at first, that the guy plays Halo pretty much exactly the way my mom plays Tetris, since the latter is much more ingrained in my mind as a “casual” experience. But ultimately, it makes sense.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      If you’re playing on PS3, try to beat the crap out of IllogicalJoker’s stats. Shouldn’t have any problem.

    • Alkaron says:

      Re. being hooked on Halo: I’m the same way with Left4Dead 1 and 2. Honestly, give me a 360, those two games, and a couple of friends to play with, and I probably wouldn’t miss playing other games ever again.

    • Bahaha, that’s amazing, Merve, I didn’t realize you could compare race stats.

      I spent 20 minutes yesterday trying to beat your ‘clean drive’ score, only to finally give up because I made it to just ONE SECOND less than your time before hitting the back of another car, distracted by my overconfidence.

      Oh, hubris!

  9. Nudeviking says:

    Guild Wars 2 comes out this weekend, so I’ll probably be playing that with a motley assortment of friends, former coworkers, and siblings who have long since left upstate NY for the four corners of the globe.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      After reading a bit about it and watching some videos, I ended up buying GW2 on Sunday.  After six hours of downloading I was able to check it out briefly before bed.

      I remain cautious in my optimism, but so far I am really impressed with all of the things they’ve done specifically UNLIKE all other MMOs.

      No monthly fee after game purchase?
      No killstealing/fighting with others for quest targets, as everyone gets their fair share just by joining in the fight?
      More XP for participating in events, gathering and exploring than for endlessly grinding mobs?
      Automatic sending of crafting mats to your bank, and access to the bank from crafting windows?
      Instant travel between waypoints for a small fee?
      A human capital city that is BIG ENOUGH for people to actually live in?  (Holy crap it’s huge, and I love the buildings on top of the outer walls!)

      Give me a couple more days and I might be totally sold on this.

      • Nudeviking says:

        The other thing I like is the story mode, which apparently is unique based on the character you create and random choices you make (basically it’s like a choose your own adventure book).  In WOW or Everquest it didn’t matter if I was a halfling cleric or a elf warrior, they ended up doing the exact same crap.  At least the storyline stuff makes each character quasi-unique.

        My wife and my brother both ended up making human mesmers (or whatever that job is).  Wife’s was a lady from a noble family.  Bro’s was a street urchin dude.  Otherwise they were the same character, but they ended up with really different questlines fairly early on. Just because of those two differences.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Yeah, I’m wondering how much the stories really differ based on profession, or if it’s solely race and upbringing that determine it.

          Also, story mode is fun, but damn it the mission I was doing last night was infuriating.  Stop a well from being poisoned, where I kept getting ambushed by four enemies at once, and the “awesome” guard captain fighting with me dropped like a rock.

          I literally only made it through because it appeared to glitch out when I got to the “boss”, and she respawned at the start point of the map so I could keep attacking her immediately after I died.  Even after she was beat, about four more waves of enemies appeared right there and killed me (completely) over and over until my armor almost disintegrated.

          Considering how relatively sane the story missions before that were, the jump in difficulty was a real pain.

  10. Fluka says:

    Juuuust finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution about 5 minutes ago, after having thoroughly enjoyed all 30 hours of it.  Some (PRETTY MUCH ALL SPOILERY) thoughts on it…

    A) Boss fights got so much easier once I got the typhoon system.  Like, done-in-5-s easy.  Seriously, I ended up youtubing both the Yelena and Namir fights to see what I had missed (happily, had rejected the replacement chip).  Having to stealthily move around all of those crazy folks in the final section was much harder.

    B) Aaalmost didn’t kill anyone.  Stupid first section.  And stupid Belltower guards during the helicopter crash (it was too sad to let Malik die).

    C) I am somewhat meh on the silly-public-domain-footage-montage endings.  I ended up siding with Sarif, because I am a godless scientist, but I kind of feel like I should have just brought down the whole laboratory and said “And we shall never speak of it again.”  If it didn’t mean, you know, killing all those folks inside too, which would be kind of dickish.  At least the game was nice about acknowledging the fact that I waited around  in air ducts for hours to nonlethally punch people out cold, instead of just Typhooning the lot of ’em.

    D) Pritchard is totally crushing on Jensen.

    • SamPlays says:

      I started playing this game recently although I haven’t gotten too far in. I did the prologue section and have arrived at the front door of the factory with the (dead) hostages. What’s not clear is whether the hostages would still be alive if I hadn’t spent so much time dicking around in the office building just prior to this section. Pritchard kept telling me to hurry up and then finally said things have gotten worse. My OCD-ish tendancies may have killed those hostages! Can anyone confirm if the hostage-dying is scripted or was it truly due to my negligent “Let’s talk to co-workers, check e-mails and canvas the building” attitude?

      • Mike Mariano says:

        It’s true!  The game does require you to head out to that first mission when ordered to.  It is possible to save those hostages.


        • Glen H says:

          I like this idea in theory but in practice it really irritates me. It’s standard rpg practice for the game to tell you that a mission is critical and that you have to do it right away… but then let you dick around for as long as you like. So when games occasionally do have time-sensitive missions the prompting is pretty much indistinguishable from standard-issue hyping.

        • Merve says:

          @twitter-205637245:disqus: My memory might be a little fuzzy on this one, but I think the quest becomes timed when you reach the area where the hostages are located. You can dick around in the offices as much as you want before then.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @Merve2:disqus    I was wondering how they timed it.  I was unable to save the hostages with my run through, which bothered me.  The fact that it’s essentially the first mission and you’re still trying to get a grasp on the mechanics, as well as this being the only real mission in the game where you’re responsible for someone other than yourself makes it feel like a poorly place objective.
             Still a great game, though.

      • Fluka says:

        Ugh, my hostages died too, but I think it’s for even stupider reasons.  I’m pretty sure I ran to the helicopter quickly enough to save them, but after that I just couldn’t find the room, as the game never bothered to put a marker on the map.  I figured I’d find them somewhere near the end of the primary objective, but it didn’t happen, and I was too stressed out by my horrible sneaking skills at that point to do any freeform exploration.  A similar thing happened right at the end of the game, where I was supposed to talk to Sarif, but the game never actually told me until I was riding the Elevator to the End and I got “QUEST FAILED” mark and had to reload.  Bah, stupid free will and consequences!  

        • SamPlays says:

          Seriously, it doesn’t get any dumber than reading the name plates on office doors, which is what I did. It was worth the ives of the hostages because I found an office with my own last name – Malik. I suppose if you’re going to give me free will, people will suffer the consequences:)

    • Destroy Him My Robots says:

      I’d go a step further and say the end was plain dumb. (more SPOILERS of course) Burying evidence critical to making sound judgment somehow equates enabling mankind to make its own decisions without spin. Showing Darrow’s speech somehow means mankind embraces luddism because augs are dangerous since they can potentially be manipulated. Siding with Sarif somehow merely means more government oversight because augs are dangerous since they can potentially be manipulated. You can’t create four dumb choices with consequences that don’t logically follow and just not make a button for a rational alternative so you can claim IMPORTANT CHOICE!, Eidos Montreal. That’s not how it works.

      • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

         I’m with you on that. I wanted to show Darrow’s version not because it would destroy augs but because it was the whole, unequivocal truth. If you could tell the truth and have people realize “Hey, science is pretty important and throwing it away because some jackasses MAY use it for evil is basically damning human progress forever.”

      • Count me in for the disappointment in the ending(s) as well. I don’t why you could just expose the conspiracy and then simply let the pieces fall where they might. All 4 endings seemed so forced, like the game demands you to moralize something that doesn’t really need moralizing. I mean, it DOES have its morals, but as you mention, they don’t really make logical sense, only “game” sense.

        If I HAD to choose, I’d side with government oversight of augs usage, because people are fucking crazy, but again, it’s really a moot point.

        • Fluka says:

          Yeah, that’d be my choice too.  Moderate, sensible government regulations of a potentially dangerous but *profoundly* useful and life-changing technology.  But that’s not really a choice in the game.

        • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

          Is that in reference to the Purity First ending? Because in real life, I’d certainly prefer government oversight to something like augs, but in that game world, considering “government oversight” translates to “what the Illuminati want” I decided to side with Sarif.

        • Fluka says:

          @AHyperkineticLagomorph:disqus Yeah, I’d be all about the Taggart ending…if he and Humanity Front weren’t such anti-science bigots and if he wasn’t secretly an Illuminati autocrat.  By all means, make an augmentation FDA, but this guy is not the guy to do it.

      • Fluka says:

        Part of my problem with it is that I found the whole “Augmentation research: good or eeevil?” question to be kind of silly.  Speaking as someone who already has “augments” which allow my horribly nearsighted eyes to see, and my body to temporarily not produce babies, the whole thing seems somewhat single-sided to me.  We already give people pacemakers and prosthetic limbs.  Besides, if companies like Sarif aren’t doing the research, because it’s been regulated half to hell or because people decided to be all “human”, what’s to stop this secretive organization (the Illuminati, for crissake!) with just kidnapping more scientists to get better *secret* tech?  Regulate the use of the augs, and regulate the testing of the augs, but research?  It’s gonna keep happening.  Frankly, at the end, I was less worried about the biochip and more about the fact that Hugh Darrow has a bunch of very unhappy sounding pod people plugged into a massive computer.  Wait, can we go back to that?  What the hell was happening there?!  Can’t we talk about *that* instead?  And they never really went back to Megan’s aug compatibility research that will change the course of human evolution – that seemed like it should have played a larger role in the end.  I liked the game immensely, but by the end it somewhat fizzles out, thematically speaking.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          Have you played The Missing Link? If not, I’d say go for it. If yes: I had wedged it chronologically into the main game  (something I can’t recommend) and my main priority at the would have been “Have Eliza Cassan leak the dirt I have on Belltower”.

      • Save in the last room. Hit a switch, watch the crappy ending. Repeat until you’ve seen them all. Stop thinking about it.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Yeah, I loved just about everything about that game except the clip-show endings.  I forget which ending I chose to be my “real” one…whichever one meant people got to keep their augmentations, because they’re too awesome not to.  Was that Sarif?

      In-character, I played Adam as being resentful/reluctant about his forced augs at the start, but accepting and liking them by the end, which is how I would react IRL to a similar situation.

      Okay, that’s a lie.  I would cut off my own limb right now if I could replace it with a stronger/faster cybernetic one.

      • Fluka says:

        Sarif was the one where you alter the message blame the whole incident on Taggart’s group and anti-augmentation terrorists.  So people get angry about bioterrorism rather than augmentation.  Which seems about right to me.  Lack of oversight is definitely a problem (But look over here!  Hugh Darrow is ripping out people’s spines and plugging them into the Matrix, for heaven’s sake!) but there’s nothing to say that government regulation won’t follow later, either.  It seemed like the only ending which didn’t end in reactionary luddism or just “giving up.”  However, it would have been nice if the game would have let me tell the truth without telling me I’m stopping scientific progress.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        Actually, I just recently talked with a friend about that last part of your posting. Considering the price of praxis kits (you have to sell a whole bunch of automatic weapons to get one, so I doubt they come at, say, one monthly salary a pop) I feel like I wouldn’t get one. The Icarus landing system would certainly be fun, but getting stealth or social would be plain creepy. Plus it’s not like you could just talk to your boss and go “Oh, he’s a gamma, I’m gonna intimidate him into giving me a raise.” I don’t think I need the one that lets you breathe poison gas either, unless that also means safer cigarettes. Radar seems useless, too, and there are zero occasions in my life where I wish I could jump higher. Not to toot my own horn, but my stamina as far as running is concerned is already way better than a fully augmented Jensen’s. Being able to carry really heavy stuff might be useful, I suppose. But on the other hand, you might just as well let one of your friends get it and pay him the usual beer and pizza when you’re moving. Seems so much easier.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Oh, I agree with most of your observations there.  I was referring more to the idea of cybernetic implants in general, not stating that I would get Deus Ex’s implants.  I’ve never been very athletic, so being able to run fast and jump far would be fun.  The Icarus Landing System is cool, except I found it totally absurd that you could use it stealthily with the giant glowing ball of light it emitted.  (As if anything could be less absurd than all of your augs running on candy bars!)

          I’d be more likely to get the cybernetic arms from Ghost in the Shell, that split and allow you to type lightning-fast on multiple keyboards.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus I’m getting tired of reading smart books and staying stupid, so I settled on “computerized memory” for my dream augmentation. Complete information retention! Selectively and temporarily lock memories to experience favorite pieces of entertainment for the first time again! Fix that bug where I stand in line in the supermarket and a propos of nothing remember something embarrassing from middle school!

    • Mookalakai says:

       Not to make you feel bad about yourself, but I saw a youtube video of someone who saved Malik and still managed a pacifist run, which was damn impressive. When I played it, I killed most of the guys I saw, because the arm blades were cool, but I couldn’t save Malik, which still haunts me to this day. I liked her, she and Jensen could have ran off together.

      • Fluka says:

        Oh, I know it’s possible, and I started out by trying to just tranq people.  The time frame is so short (and my FPS hand-eye coordination so crap) that I just gave up and started ‘sploding people, having already lost my chance at the Pacifist achievement.  In retrospect, I should have used all of my gas mines.

        On the subject of them running off together, Adam Jensen: Laideez Man.

      • Merve says:

        Happy coincidence: every time I failed to save Malik, I ended up dying. The one time I did save her is the one time I made it through that firefight alive.

      • Yeah, I definitely “noticed” how to save Malik without killing anyone, but that was easily said than done. You need gas grenades, EMP grenades, and whatever your tranquilizers are called. What helps is augmenting up the ability to stabilize your shots.

        But I didn’t do it cause I was itching to kill at least a few people. I mean, come ON.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        I did that! I used cloak to get from one enemy to the next and used takedowns on the enemies on the ground while wolfing down granola bars, with occasional tranq rifle shots at enemies upstairs. Used an EMP on the mech and quickly carried a knocked out enemy out of the mech’s blast radius. That’s how nice I am. Still didn’t get the pacifist achievement, though.

  11. caspiancomic says:

    I thought the idea of someone literally only playing Halo was some kind of feverish Sony-zealot straw man?

    Anyway, this weekend I will continue my rousing game of Half-Life 2. I’m driving down the coast right now, and having a pretty good time. Not sure how far into the game I am, but I’ve put in about 6 hours and I’d say I’m like halfway done? I will also, for the millionth week in a row, try to finally play Dear Esther, since it’s all fixed up and playable now. I usually try to wait for a nice rainy miserable sunday afternoon to get into the right frame of mind, but it’s been nothing but fucking majestical 30 celsius scorchers here, so I haven’t had much luck. Maybe I’ll just close the blinds or something. I’m also going to try and get a bit of writing done, I’d like to have one more article about The Void up before I move on to a new topic. I may also get Tomba! off the PSN.

    Speaking of PSN, apparently Psychonauts is coming to the PS2 classics section. Since the OSX updates have been so incomplete and infrequent, is it worth just cutting my losses and grabbing this version? I’ve heard the PS2 version of the game is inferior to the XBOX and PC versions, but the OSX version is still a mess. Plus, I’d really like to be able to play with a controller. Thoughts?

    • Girard says:

       I don’t know first-hand, but the PS2 version was reportedly plagued with graphical issues, including lower res textures, and lower/choppier frame-rates (the latter to the degree that if affected playability). Load times were increased, jaggies abounded, and there were (reportedly) more bugs.

      That said, it’s possible emulating/running the game on PS3 hardware might fix issues like frame rate and loading and so on. And if the game is literally unplayable on your computer, then it might be worth getting the only reportedly semi-unplayable version for PS2.

      • Raging Bear says:

        I’ve only ever played the PS2 version. The choppiness was enough to bother me at times, especially what with the fact that it was common knowledge that this was entirely due to a shoddy port job, but overall it’s perfectly playable. I’d say @caspiancomic:disqus should go for it.

  12. Nightmane says:

    Guild Wars 2!  The betas have been fantastic, as well as the stress tests.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      Stress tests? Is Guild Wars 2 some sort of Scientology-based RPG? I’d like to think that by doing the first stress test you unlock the Audited! achievement. 

      Note that the Zombie Hubbard boss fight is pretty tough, you probably shouldn’t tackle it until you’re at least a Level 8 Warrior Thetan. I ran out of Gold before that and couldn’t afford the Xenu perk unfortunately but got through by spamming the Dianetic-attack. The bonus multiplayer co-op horde mode where you fight wave after wave of evil psychiatrists was a nice addition, I thought.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        The Hubbard fight is much easier if you remember to drain power and money from your new recruit slaves prior to the battle.

    • The Guilty Party says:

      I’ll be playing too, although to be honest I’m a little worried about the community. I’ve been browsing some fansites and they’re very much on the level of 15 year olds saying how awesome everything will be and how it’s so much better. The fact is, even if it is totally awesome, it will never live up to these expectations, and that can create some incredibly bitter, negative people.

      On the other hand, the first thing I do in these games is figure out how to turn off General chat, so maybe I won’t notice.

      • Nightmane says:

        I think that kind of reaction is pretty typical for MMOs, to be honest…lots and lots of excitement, and then lots and lots of bitterness when the game fails to meet the player’s generally unrealistic expectations.  Turning of General/Trade chat is always a good idea.  I haven’t had those channels on in any MMO in at least 5 years.  I keep it to friends, guildies, and whispers.

        What I can say about GW2, from what I’ve seen, is they seem to have taken lots and lots of notes about what sucks with other MMOs, and eliminated that suckitude.  That, and the visuals are stunning.

        • The Guilty Party says:

          I gotta admit that as I read more about it, it does seem like they’ve taken interesting, bold steps away from the WoW model without discarding it entirely.

          It’s also charming to see a game that feels like it’s stuffed with things you can just see proposed in a meeting as ‘Wouldn’t it be totally cool if…’. We’ll see if they work out. For their sake, I certainly hope so. Popular fun games are good.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      I was kinda hyped for GW2, but I can’t really remember why anymore. MMOs are totally not my scene, and I am not willing to drop $60 for a single game right now. I may pick it up at some later point, but I’m kinda doubting I’ll ever buy it now.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Fair enough, but a point I just made a bit above here – it’s $60, but with no monthly fee after that.  So it’s like you get four months free for the price, and…a lot more months free too!  Or something.

  13. I’m going to be tackling 1995 in my quest to play for at least two hours and write chronologically about every PC game I own digitally. That puts on my plate Star Wars: Dark Forces, X-COM: Terror from the Deep, Crusader: No Remorse, Hexen, The Dig, and maybe a quick and dirty trip through the Master Levels for Doom II. I’m anticipating affirmations of my hatred for key-and-maze-based FPS level design, unapproachable isometric action control schemes, and the unbridled complexity that so easily and immediately defeated me in the first X-COM. Hopefully The Dig will be cool.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      Dark Forces was a lot of fun, and had one of my favorite guns in a FPS ever, that gun that shot the little blue plasmas in a straight line, very fast.  Also, to the best of my knowledge, it had the only variable grenade throw mechanic in an FPS – you could give it a little toss, or a giant heave, by holding down the mouse for more or less time.  I’ve missed that ever since.

      X-Com 2 was bloody impossible.

      Crusader, however, was a lot of fun.  I was sad about it in an existential way, as it was clearly the game that the Ultima 8 engine was best suited for, and the creation of it had resulted in Ultima 8 being a sad shell of a game.  I never played the others, though.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         X-Com 2 was a quick cash grab.  I don’t think they ever expected the first to succeed.  Suddenly, they had to put on their thinking hats and think of a way to justify a second alien invasion, since we kicked their ass back on their home planet in the first.  The best solution they could come up with:  the aliens had these, like, secret underwater sleeper cells that got triggered when a signal went off.

        Still, I loved it anyway, since I’ll take any excuse for more X-Com.

      • I put about an hour and a half into Dark Forces earlier, and yeah, it’s awesome. It feels like a kind of missing link in the FPS genre. In Doom all you’re doing is running through same-y environments finding keys and opening doors, but in Dark Forces each mission feels and looks different. Half-Life is one of my favorite games, and Dark Forces feels like a big step toward that revelation.

        That’s an interesting tidbit about the Ultima 8 engine. This project has had me playing quite a few Ultima games (IV, VII, VIII, and the two Underworld games), and while none of them has really grabbed me, my brief time with Ultima VIII has been the least fun I’ve had, maybe with any video game ever. As a gamer, I’m most thrilled by artifice, and the Ultima games seem fairly systems-focused. At the very least, there’s nothing about their storyline or world or art that really grabs me. I’m sure they’re revered for a reason, but they’re so not for me. Hopefully Crusader will prove more my speed.

        • EmperorNortonI says:

          Ultima was a touchstone of my youth.  However,  it’s definitely its own kind of thing.  They went much farther down the “rational world building” route than pretty much any other RPG has done ever since – day and night, NPC’s with work schedules, food, etc.

          If you don’t mind the 8-bit graphics, go for Ultima V.  It’s dark and brooding, it has the biggest world of any of them, and it’s bloody hard.  Horribly, horribly hard.

          Ultima VI is a bit more approachable, and has perhaps the best set of items in the world of any of the games.  You can use flour and water to bake bread in an oven, or milk cattle and churn butter.  The main quest is perhaps the least interesting of all of them, but it’s certainly not bad.

          Ultima VII is considered the height of the series by many, but I was spoliered-out of enjoying it by my friends who had better PC’s and played it first.  Also, the story is kind of silly.  Ultima VII-Part II has wonderful atmosphere and is just gorgeous, but the endgame is oddly . . . truncated thanks to what were apparently developer conflicts.

          Ultima 8 was no good, and Ultima 9 was an abomination.  Both of them were examples of serious technological over-reach, with the team at Origin trying to push the boundaries WAY TOO FAR.  Both of them look and play like games released two years later, but in a bad way – because PC’s just weren’t ready.

    • Girard says:

       The Dig is cool. It’s a lesser LucasArts adventure game, but that still makes it better than most adventure games.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        The Dig’s greatest strength is in just how alien it was. You communicated through pictures, the game never explained how its devices worked (you learned through trial and error, sort of like Myst’s mechanics), and the plot was actually fairly good, to the point that I’m surprised they never adapted it into movie form. 

        • Girard says:

           Probably owing to the Spielberg involvement (which varied between notable and nominal over the game’s development), it indulges in some Hollywood sci-fi cliche that might be held against it more if it were a movie or TV series.

          I also found it similar to Myst. It was kind of like LucasArts doing a Myst-style oblique puzzle-adventure via SCUMM. As a result, it was a lot more approachable to me than Myst,which, with its first-person perspective and scarce NPCs, felt a little too spare and lonely to me at the time (though I can appreciate that tone now, and do intend to eventually play the copy of RealMyst I have purchased on my GOG account…).

      • I already had a great time with Loom as the third game I played for this. For some reason, The Dig and Loom are associated in my mind. Maybe because they stand well away from the other LucasArts titles of the time.

      • Another game from my past I never finished. It’s downloading now. Thanks for reminding me it existed.

    • duwease says:

      I’d almost forgotten about Crusader.  Warren Spector, you mad genius.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Oh, gosh, you have the same full name as my best friend and I almost died.  Phew.

      I think I’ve exhausted my list for pre-2005-or-so PC games (though 1995 was a vintage year), so I’m jumping into Japanese computer games.  http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/JPNcomputers/Japanesecomputers4.htm  That’s a good list to start.  I HIGHLY recommend for you Geograph Seal.  It’s like Jumping Flash (remember that) plus Star Fox.  It will remind you a bit of X-Wing Versus TIE Fighter and a bit of Half-Life 1.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqxsq8Sb6hI

      • Girard says:

         Good gravy, I need some kind of stasis booth or timeless pocket dimension in which to process my fractally unfolding “to-do” list of books, interactive things, films, etc. as well as actually productive/creative projects and vocational obligations.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      WOW, what an awesome flashback list!  I loved every single one of those games (even X-Com 2) except The Dig, which I never played at the time.

      I actually enjoyed a lot of those isometric action games.  Crusader:No Remorse and Crusader:No Regret, if I recall correctly, were odd because they had interlaced video between levels.  The Twinsen games were fun too.

      • I just played the first Twinsen game. I was completely unable to make any headway with the control scheme. The weird French charm was interesting, but the controls were too great a barrier for me to overcome.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Weirdest part of the Twinsen games – the way the narrator pronounced the word “magic”:

          “You found the meeyagic ball!”

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      So. 1995 was a good year for games. I think I was playing Rogue Squadron or whatever it was called around that time.

  14. TomElman says:

    will continue playing orcs must die. for me it’s been exactly as Stelter is describing halo for him, mindless fun that’s good as a stress releaver. my only quibble with the game so far is that the fireball spell thing seems pretty overpowered.

  15. KidvanDanzig says:

    KOTOR2! Finally!

    Actually it was on Steam before but the CD-Key based DRM did not foresee the rise of digital distribution and it had to be taken off the store when they literally ran out of possible licenses.

  16. I can certainly relate to being “monogameous”, if you will, for the bulk of my game playing life.  From about the first Metal Gear (NES) on, anything with a remotely exploratory or RPG element, I just would take it and try to exhaust the thing’s entertainment value, with no distractions. 

    That changed around the time Steam was launched.  “Ooh, here’s this cheap deal that I gotta snatch up!  I heard this was good.  But I gotta try it to make sure I like it.” (10 hours later) “More research needed.”  Lather, rinse, repeat every weekend.  It increased my options to the point that I was drowning in them.

    I’ve calmed down a bit in recent months.  Other than a nice mindless title I have for practicing poker, I still tend to pick just one big, thick game–e.g. Arkham City–and get into its groove for weeks or months on end, whatever kind of gaming “mood” I’m in.  It changes me more than I change it, in that respect. 

    And now you know what I’m playing this weekend.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I do that too with the big games.  Skyrim, then The Old Republic, then Minecraft…but for the past couple of months, I’ve been sticking to smaller Sawbuck-style games to avoid getting sucked in for months at a time.

      I will be playing games on Kongregate in order to enter to win a T-shirt for their anniversary.  (Screw you, food-making restaurant games!)  If/when I finish that, I might start on Stronghold or The Witcher.

  17. fatsmanmcgee says:


    • stuartsaysstop says:

      Me too! With Darksiders II out and getting pretty great reviews I decided it was finally time to tackle the first one. I’d played the demo and enjoyed it thoroughly, and hearing that it was a mix of Zelda and GoW AND fairly lengthy I couldn’t resist. Plus it was $16 on newegg with free shipping.

  18. Sean Smith says:

    Heh, I will also be playing Halo: Reach. In fact I’m about to go hit it up to knock out today’s daily challenges.

  19. Maudib says:

    In my slow quest to conquer Uplink, I am slowly earning enough money to buy high enough decryption program to start mass copying and dumping files. 

    In my muddling, I didn’t have the right programs (bypassers and HUD) or hardware to do the intruding into government databases, banks, and file servers that sprung up.  I ended up accumulating a backlog of over 15 missions filling up my lower screen.  Half of those are missions I took because they offered half the payment up front, the money which I used to get what I needed to finish the previous missions.  Also my ranking among other hackers is shot to shit since I did a lot of framing of other hackers and pandering to corporations/deadbeat rich kids.  Not my fault being unethical was the only way to dig myself out of my own jam.  I refuse to start over until my ass is nailed to the wall.

    While hectic and frustrating, my messing up has made me love this game a whole lot more than I would otherwise.

  20. eggbuerto says:

    After finishing Gravity Rush I’ve been using my Vita mostly as a PSP (which I never owned). I’ve been playing Patapon 2, which everyone knows, and some game called Cladun: This is an RPG. Cladun seems kind of incredible so far. It’s some ARPG with planned out dungeons but also rogue-like random dungeons. Are there other games like this on PSP? The PSP Metacritic section seems dominated by launch titles and pared-down console games. I don’t really know where to look for other weird stuff like Cladun. 

    • RTW says:

      There’s a sequel that supposedly has about twice as much stuff in it. Appropriately, it’s called Cladun X2. I’m thinking of picking it up, since it’s on Steam, but it’s also on PSP I believe.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Man, I talk about the same 10 things all of the time, just because of the nature of The Gameological Society, and I still blow it.


      0.  http://www.gamefaqs.com/psp/995902-jikandia-the-timeless-land/data  Time Of Fantasia is by the team that did some technology development on the Hero 30/Half-Minute Hero series, but it’s actually segmented, time-dependent, and customizable like System Prisma’s games.  You might like it.

      1.  Dot Defense is pretty fun, but ultimately not as clever a take on the genre as their other games are on theirs.  http://www.prisma.jp/web/products/dotdefense  It’s a customizable tower defence game.

      1.  Classic Dungeon: Assistance Of The Magic Circle IS incredible, as it’s an incredibly innovative team-based take on dungeon crawlers.  Everyone, it’s exactly what a stereotypical portable game should be, and it’s as rewarding as you want to make it.

      2.  Classic Dungeon: X2 is even better.  You can still play it the same as the 1st, but they added more complex systems and harder dungeon generation to allow you to go hardcore if you want to do so.  Both have soundtracks that are so, so good that I hyped in the year that they were released.

      3.  I wrote about it in the new releases section and have beaten the Japanese version, but Tower Path Legasista/Legasista, their newest game, just came out this week here.  It’s made on an even smaller budget than the Classic Dungeon games, unfortunately, and it’s not quite as tightly designed.  However, it plays like Marvelous: Another Treasure Island/The Lost Vikings/Terror Of The Stratus in that you have a live-switching job system depending on the predicament in which you find yourself.  It’s very clever.

      4.  The last is by Nippon Ichi, not System Prisma, but they’re buddies.  Absolute Hero Modeling Project/Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger Versus Darkdeath Evilman is, I think, my favorite dungeon crawler ever.  It’s funnier, but it still has great aesthetics, a smart tactics-dungeon crawler gameplay blend, and great dual difficulties for people who don’t want to be beaten up.

      Play them all!

  21. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    Every once in a while, I wake up at 8 a.m. and play before work, also.

    Oh Stelter, I hate you so very very much.

    I have no games to play this weekend. Sure, there is Deus Ex: The 6 Million Dollar Man, but every time I fire it up it makes me hate it so much that I am strongly compelled to take the disc out of the PS3 and see how far I can fling it off my balcony – current record is 23.2m but that was wind assisted. Everyone says DE:HR gets a lot better because that is what everyone says. Is it worth my valuable time to persist with? Find out at 11 (after the late news). 

    Then there’s the Orange Box sitting there leering at me. The Gameological Hive Mind demands that I play Half Life 2 and lose my shit with excitement when it comes up in conversation, because games often come up in polite conversation, like the other day:

    Mama Stew Bum: “Have you experienced the new Ninja Gaiden yet?”

    Me: “Of course mother, but I think that it fails to capture the evocative themes of the previous games developed by Itagaki, and the protagonist comes over rather poorly as a result. Also, did I tell you I am writing my thesis on the works of Hideo Kojima? My supervisor says that I am the most naturally talented games analyst that he’s ever had the fortune to meet, and my work on the Snake-Liquid dilemma will surely astonish scholars for decades. I say, mother, would you mind pouring me another glass of that delightful Krug Clos d’Ambonnay?”

    Anyway, I’m stuck on the canals in HL2, playing on easy mind you, and bugger me am I crap at this game. I’m going to do what I haven’t done since the good ol’ PS2 days – admit defeat, swallow what remains of my pride and scour the seedy alleyways of the internet for some sort of cheat code. Because if I went through life having to change the subject every time the Nova Prospekt level comes up in conversation at my regular Thursday night Narcotics Anonymous, well there’s no point going on is there.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

       What is is that inspired the hate?  The fact that he WANTS to wake up early to play Halo before work, or the fact that waking up early means 8:00 for him?

      I am rather envious of someone who is allowed to wake up so late for work.  I start at 7:30.  Not fun, but there’s a lot worse out there.

      Despite that, I wake up at 5:00, so I have time to eat a leisurely breakfast, and then play a round of Memoir 44 over coffee with my carpooling co-worker.  It’s worth it.

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        The second one, “the fact that waking up early means 8:00 for him”. Plus, scroll back up to the top of the page and look at that photo of him. That smug little prick has a face that just demands to be slapped.

        Anyway, 5:00am is a little early for me because I live in a cold miserable shithole, but I’m usually dragging myself up for the work routine by 6. First thing in the morning is great though, being able to have breakfast in peace and entertain pathetic notions of calling in sick before eventually capitulating and trudging out the door…I was briefly free in my mind, they can’t take that away from me.

        The internet tells me that Memoir 44 is a board game. So when you play this you let co-workers into your home….are you crazy? Maybe in the future you could make them sit on the porch and set up the board through the front window. Much safer that way.

        • Girard says:

           Ooooooooh oooh! Can you un-redact your redacted statement, but just, like, bracket it or something. I’ve suddenly developed a keen anthropological interest in the difference between the AVC and GC “mindsets.” Was it excessively vulgar or snarky? Or just reference a gimmick poster, or something?

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          It was probably snarky/vulgar. I’ve noticed that here people tend to not be douchebags and try to be more thoughtful and reasonable, which I love. People on the AVC proper are still mad about TVDW comment about all those shitty comments on the Girls reviews. AVC still has better comments than most other websites, but here is a major step up in terms of being far less “internet-y.” Which is fantastic, obvs.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          Yes, @Douchetoevsky:disqus has it. I made an unkind joke about the photo of Stelter but I realised it was not the sort of comment that belonged in what John Teti is trying to foster here, so edited. 

          I love the AVC commenting, but Gameological is a different thing entirely. In AVC I tend to stick to the Newswire and Q&A articles, the commenters in the TV club articles are just weird (have been reading the Breaking Bad reviews and wonder why all of these people even watch the show if they hate the main character so much). Anyway, as I’ve mentioned here before, my AVC handle is “Diplomatic Immunity” though I don’t comment much because of time differences.

    • JoshJ says:

       I played HL2 fairly late. After all the fuss about how great it was, I was kinda irritated that the shooting element (at least in the first sections I played) is pointless. Just find the thing that gets you out of the 20-foot section you’re in. It’s a nice take on the old doors/keys mechanic, but the fact that there’s no point in taking out the shooters (they respawn immediately) bugged me. It’s more a puzzle game than a story shooter. I didn’t play very far into it before I dropped it.

      • Enkidum says:

        Oh no, after the first level or so shooting becomes very important, and there’s very little respawning. There’s some places where you’ll get maybe 3 waves of enemies, but eventually you can clear out almost every section.

    • Merve says:

      If you don’t mind my asking, how far are you in DE:HR and what’s causing the rage? It does indeed get better because it’s the kind of game that becomes more interesting the further you get into it. But if you have a fundamental problem with the way the game plays, it might just not be for you.

      And that’s fine. I don’t need everyone to love my favourite games. *puts @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus on list of “Most Hated Australians”*

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        1.  Yahoo Serious

        2. @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus 

        3.  Nick Cave

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          That’s not a list, this is a list:

          1. Gotye

          2. Keith Urban

          3. Baz Luhrmann

          Also, Mel Gibson doesn’t count, you guys can have him.

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        DE:HR is promoted as a game where there are many different ways to accomplish your goal. I disagree strongly with this. I have finished the factory mission where you talk down the Pirate wannabe and save Generic Hostage #1 and have been dispatched to the local police station to get a look at the body of the human USB in the morgue. But playing as a pacifist, I can’t actually get into the police station:

        Sneak round the back? Nope, there is an electrified cable that way.

        Talk your way through the front? Nope, your whiney ex-colleague denies access no matter what speech options you pick.
        Other way in? Well it’s very well hidden if there is one.

        Consult an online guide? Already did, it gave me the speech options to convince whiney child-killer guy and it doesn’t work.

        Throw game disc off balcony? Why, don’t mind if I do!

        • djsubversive says:

          To be fair, the electrified bit (zappy-floor hallway area, if it’s the one I’m thinking of?) can be easily bypassed (there are movable boxes nearby, and that should be enough of a hint), the whiny desk-cop can be talked into letting you through if you’re not a total asshole to him (he IS a whiny motherfucker, though, no arguments there), AND there’s another exterior entrance to the police station, but it requires exploring (it’s an upper-story entrance).

          I’m not trying to sound like an asshole here, but Detroit is not the place to point out the lack of different ways to accomplish your goal. In fact, it’s probably one of the better areas for that, simply because it probably had the most work done on it (being the first hub area in the game).

        • Fluka says:

          Like @djsubversive:disqus says, go up.  There is an upper-stories entrance.  The Megan’s Mom quest area is up there anyway, so you can kill/takedown two birds with one stone.  That was the point where I realized I absolutely loved the game, actually, after knocking out three police offers in a row and stacking their sleepy little bodies in an air vent. <3

        • Merve says:

          “DE:HR is promoted as a game where there are many different ways to accomplish your goal. I disagree strongly with this.”

          You know what? You’re actually kind of right. For a lot of missions, the game gives you more than half a dozen solutions. But there are more than a few things in the game that can only be accomplished in one or two ways. (A couple of sections in Tai Yong Medical come to mind.)

          It’s possible you ran into an unfortunate series of glitches in Detroit. DE:HR isn’t a particularly buggy game, but when it bugs out, it bugs out spectacularly. One time, when I tried to move a corpse, it didn’t just refuse to move with me; it flew straight across the hallway, jerking around as if it were receiving a series of electrical shocks. So I’d say you should give it another go, maybe reload from an earlier save if possible (provided you haven’t irreparably damaged your disc in throwing it off the balcony).

    • Enkidum says:

      With HL2 I’d recommend looking for a walkthrough or two prior to cheat codes. You might just be missing the next step – it’s usually telegraphed pretty clearly, but sometimes you can miss it and. There were two bits of the canals where I thought I’d gotten to a point where I had to proceed on foot, and it turned out that I could jump my boat over some debris that I thought was impassable. Took me like three days to realize this.

      BTW if you’re getting taken out at some sort of corner place by dudes with rocket launchers and tanks, don’t sweat it, it gets easier.

  22. Captain Internet says:

    Well, it’s the Ludum Dare this weekend, so I’m going to be writing a game for a change. Or at least attempting to. Last time I got bogged down in learning Blender, but I’m not going to make that mistake again.

    Anyone else joining in?

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      There’s no point in trying to start learning programming from scratch in a weekend, so no.  It took me nearly a month to get competent in the scripting code for Europa Universalis III, and two weeks before I could even start to comprehend the scripting language for Neverwinter Nights.  Neither of those, you may note, are real programming languages.

      However, I have been inspired to get a copy of RPG Maker.  I may be able to use it to create my level-less kung-fu RPG that I’ve been dreaming of forever, or a seriously odd Japanese high-school delinquent RPG.

    • Girard says:

       One of these days. This weekend being the first weekend back at grad school, however, definitely puts the kaibosh on any extracurricular fun or creative activities…

      • Captain Internet says:

        I think it’s worth doing. If what I produce isn’t a ghastly, humourless mess I’ll post a link to it here.

        • Girard says:

           Please, do! After those drawings last time, I’m looking forward to the first ‘Comment Cat’ to feature a bona fide, playable game from the GS commentariat. (Maybe a ‘Parameter’-like competition could even be in the site’s future…)

  23. EmperorNortonI says:

    This week was a time of tragedy and triumph.

    I’ve been playing through FarCry 2 for the past couple of weeks, and absolutely loving it.  I was about to hit the 70% mark, and figured the endgame must be coming up soon . . . and then the game crashed while it was saving.  I make a point of only creating a single save-game file for this sort of game, so that I can’t do load-restart kinds of things.  Well, my save game was corrupt, so it was game over.  I uninstalled it.  The missions were already getting rather repetitive, but I loved the terrain so much that I didn’t really mind, and they did all play out differently due to the random enemy locations and behavior.  But I didn’t love it enough to re-start from the 40% mark.

    On the other hand, I found a way to get around the region-code problem I’d run into for Dark Souls.  Steam wouldn’t sell it to me, but for some reason GameStop forgot that people in Japan weren’t supposed to buy it, so I was able to get a copy.  Yay Dark Souls!  WooHoo!

    Oh, and I also got Binding of Isaac, and have rather enjoyed it.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      And in case anyone is wondering, Dark Souls on PC rocks.  I played it on the XBox, and I’m using an XBox controller for my PC.  I’m just about to the first boss in Undead Burg, and it’s been utterly problem-free and wonderful. 

      • I’m glad to hear that. The other gaming boards I check over at reddit were whining about the graphics like petulant children.  I’m really excited for the DLC to come to 360.  Dark souls is a real classic in my eyes.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        Okay okay okay, so fine. Maybe I’ll give it a shot. If there’s a Gameological group to prod/shame me into this sort of gameomasochism, then I’ve got no excuses left.

      • That’s my next purchase, but not on Steam so I can mod it with fan made graphics fixes and whatever else may come out. I’m glad I bought my 360 controller despite the amount of time it sits by my machine gathering dust.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I know a lot of people who actually prefer post-Cryktek FarCry to the 1st or to the Crysis series.  Which do you prefer?  Did you appreciate FarCry 2’s storytelling?

      • djsubversive says:

         I know this wasn’t to me, but I’ve developed a soft spot for FC2. The respawning checkpoints and “they’re always faster than you” is bullshit, but the playground they give you is pretty. Jungles, rivers, savannah, desert, a full day/night cycle (with the usual video game problem of it being far too bright at night – I was wandering around at 3 am wondering when it was going to get to night-time conditions)…

        Now, I haven’t beaten the game (haven’t even gotten to the second map), but the missions I did do fell into a boring pattern – get a mission to kill someone, one of your buddies calls you with something else to do first that will change where you kill the guy. Then you go kill the guy and get some diamonds. The arms dealer jobs were a little different, but once you figure out that they just drive in circles, they’re basically an excuse for you to use IEDs (which you should use all the time because they’re awesome).

        I really like the buddy concept, though, where they show up after you go down in a fight, get you to safety, and give you a second chance.

        It’s a flawed gem (uncut diamond?), but a pretty fun one. Play in short bursts, and put it down for the day when you start to get frustrated by the respawning checkpoints and ALWAYS-faster-than-you enemy vehicles (so, like ten minutes after the tutorial, ha ha).

        Also, there are golden AK-47s. Those and store-bought weapons are all you should use unless it’s an emergency (or, say, some poor sap had an SVD and you just knifed him in the gut).

      • EmperorNortonI says:

         I haven’t played FarCry 1 or either of the Crysis games, so I can’t really comment.  I’ve been away from single-player FPS games for a while.

        The things I really like about FarCry2 are the terrain and the vastness of everything.  Yeah, the missions are repetitive and the re-spawning checkpoints are annoying.  However, the world is big enough that quite often I figure out ways to just walk around them.  I’ve been playing big on stealth, and my main weapon has been the sniper rifle.

        Oh, and the story-telling is good, but flawed.  On the one hand, they really got a lot right with the mission structure and the warlords.  On the other hand, the game seriously hurts for the lack of non-violent NPC’s, especially women and children.

        Think how painfully brutal this game would be if, at all times, there were ordinary people hanging around the gunmen and going about their lives?  Cooking food, serving drinks, shining shoes, getting stuff, etc.  And if their life or death made absolutely no difference to how the game played out?  Yeah, you can use heavy explosives to take out that target in town, and also kill 40 or 50 innocent people – and it doesn’t matter at all.  Except for the few who just look like innocents, crying and huddling in the corner and hoping they don’t get shot, until you show up, and they shoot you in the back.

        Even better, as you gradually destroy stuff in this poor country, the living situation for the ordinary people could gradually get worse.  They run out of food, then water, electricity, medicine, etc, as your various missions have you destroy crucial bits of infrastructure in this petty war between two petty warlords.

        • djsubversive says:

          @EmperorNortonI:disqus This would have been an awesome game. “African S.T.A.L.K.E.R. with infrastructure and civilians” sounds like a game for a very niche audience, though (I’d be part of that audience, obviously).

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I just picked Far Cry 2 up on Steam, so I’m looking forward to playing it. I’ll be sure to create multiple save states; repetition isn’t my thing and I have a very hard time playing even something that I’ve *SEEN* other people do. (I never beat FF8 because I saw someone else beat the game. And because the loading times were horrendous. And because the Draw system bored me to tears.)

    • Mookalakai says:

       It seems like Far Cry 2 is getting a lot more retrospective praise than it did initially. I think it was one of those games that was pretty well put together for the most part, with an interesting setting at least, but it wasn’t very fun to me, because repetitive missions, the long drives and the constantly having to stop to kill dudes.

  24. Swadian Knight says:

    I’m still far from done with DA:O and I haven’t even started Dragon Age 2 yet, so I imagine there’s going to be a lot of that.

    I’m also contemplating going back to Dead Space, since I sort of left it about six chapters in, due to the game’s apparent insistence that I do so. Seriously, whoever thought a near impossible, almost luck based asteroid shooting minigame should be followed by a multi-stage regenerating boss must have really wanted people to quit halfway through.

    • stuartsaysstop says:

      Last year I was on the second to last chapter of Dead Space and my PS3 died, taking all my saves with it. I’ve been contemplating replaying but after being reminded of the asteroid section I think I’ll just watch the ending on youtube and pickup the sequel when it’s super cheap.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        The sequel’s been super cheap on Steam for like a year. The wait for console price drops is far too long. 

        • stuartsaysstop says:

          Sadly I don’t think my 4 year old vaio is up for that. Console prices aren’t too bad, $15-$20, but I’m not feeling pressured just yet.

  25. PPPfive says:

    Gameglobe beta. Boy is it fun. Is anyone on it by the way? Wanna trade levels?

  26. Finished up Sleeping Dogs, which was pretty good. Nice mix of gameplay with the hand-to-hand combat and then the gun fights later in the game. The driving felt slightly weird to me though, something about the way the camera shook made it feel like going slow, but it was being played on fast forward.

    Now playing Dead Space, which I bought, along with Dead Space 2 for cheap during the last Steam sale. Scary stuff, but enjoyable.

  27. Raging Bear says:

    I might see how far I can get in Mass Effect 3. I liked 2 fairly well, although I probably wouldn’t have played 3 unless it was quite cheap. Then I was unsolicitedly loaned a copy, and I’m actually quite curious to see this ending that destroyed so many lives.

    In fact, I’m liking the story so far, since I’m a fan of overwhelming bleak despair. I’m definitely not a fan of the combat movement controls, which are still fucking bonkers.

    • Fluka says:

      Press spacebar (A button, whatever) to do whatever the fuck the game wants to do!

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        I had the same movement issues in Spec Ops: The Line. Take cover . . . no? You want to run over there? Or heal that guy? Sure, I guess that makes sense . . . considering that you’re flanked and being shot at from all angles. By all means: make the worst possible move you can make.

    • Merve says:

      The controls take some getting used to, but eventually you become inured to making sure you’re facing the right direction before pressing Spacebar or the A button or what have you.

      As for the ending, I’m guessing your reaction will be some combination of “That was was okay but not great” and “Really? That’s what got people so pissed off?”

  28. lylebot says:

    Arkham Asylum.  The first time I played through it, I didn’t get deep into the combat system at all.  I tried the combat challenges, decided there was no way I’d ever get 3 stars (or even 1 star) and said “pass”.  Then a week or two ago I had an urge to try again, and now I’m very close to 3-starring all of them.

    Incidentally, I was looking at my achievement history for that game.  I first played it in August of 2010, just long enough to get the first two achievements.  Then I put it aside for almost a year.  I picked it up again in May of 2011 and finished it in June of 2011.  Then I put it aside again.  And now it’s August of 2012 and I’m playing it again…

  29. doyourealize says:

    Besides the ever-present Morrowind, it’s Dark Souls weekend! Yes, I know I’ve already played it, but that won’t stop me from buying (which I already did) and playing the PC version.

    And while the co-op isn’t exactly straightforward, you know where to find me on Steam if you want to try to play, or even if you just have questions.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

         It’s said that the PC version looks fairly poor compared to the console iterations.  If you’re playing both, I’d be interested in a comparison; mostly for entertainment.  If I pick up a copy, It’ll likely be console at steep discount. 

      • doyourealize says:

        The game looks pretty good. The problem is the graphics are set at 1024×720, so you can’t take advantage of the PC’s power. Not that they’re necessarily worse, although I guess they could be depending on the size of the your screen.

        Some modder has already come up with a fix, but it requires some geekery that I’m not fully aware of. When I set it up, the game screen fills up only a quarter of my screen (although the graphics are nice), while the HUD fills up the whole thing. It’s probably something stupid I’m doing. If anyone reading this here knows what I’m doing based on this description, any words of advice?

        For now, I’m psyched to be playing a “new” world again. Piles of blood stains early on and what not. For a week or so, I’m actually an “elite” player.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

         I didn’t notice any difference at all.  Haters gotta hate, I figure.

      • doyourealize says:

        After playing for a while, I can say the graphics after the mod are noticeably better, crisper. This isn’t to say they were bad beforehand, just not as nice.

        Even with the mod, however, the HUD is huge, which is apparently a symptom of a straight-up port to PC, although I’m not the most knowledgeable person about these things.

        I’m sure someone (maybe the same guy) will shrink the HUD, but neither of these things is reason enough to not buy the game…but of course I would say that.

  30. Jonathan Scheer says:

    -Rayman 2 for dreamcast:  Got it hooked up to my HDTV via VGA box, and it actually runs in widescreen!

    -KOTOR 2: Enjoying the restoration patch.

    Going to be a great weekend.

  31. Matt1267 says:

    For me it’s The World Ends With You. Hadn’t touched it in two years and last week I decided it was time for a replay so imagine my delight when I found out they’re starting to tease a sequel. I’ve actually finished the storyline, but I’m going to see how close I can get to 100 percenting it before I give up

  32. boardgameguy says:

    played power grid last night and will likely be playing mare balticum or scotland yard tonight.  maybe7 wonders on sunday when a friend is in town.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Good games, good games. 7 Wonders has swiftly become my icebreaker game; it seems to get everybody’s competitive juices flowing.

      • boardgameguy says:

        there isn’t an easier mechanic to teach than “pick a card”

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          And yet, it’s amazing how poorly some people seem to do. Or how much AP (analysis paralysis) this provokes. Those people will not be drafting occupations and playing Agricola with me, let me tell you.

  33. Priest Kristoph says:

    Mount & Blade: Warband, with Floris modpack. So good!
    That and DUST 514.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      It is!  I’m really pumped for 2 and for Caribbean.  Or, I guess, Caribbean!

    • Mookalakai says:

       Same for M&B! I find it a wee bit disappointing that the best mods like Floris that have the most bug fixes and generally logical features (like new castles with 3 siege ladders) don’t change the setting of Mount and Blade. I really love the Shogun and Peloponesian mods, but there were a lot of little bugs and other obstacles that make them less enjoyable than Floris.

  34. I’m hoping to get some MS points and pick up some of the games in the Indie Uprising for XBLIG.  I missed a lot of good ones last time so I’m hoping to get at least half of them this year.


  35. Destroy Him My Robots says:

    Just finished the main story of FFTA2 and DQ9. So now I’m playing SaGa2 and I’m now able to understand the parts that weren’t in the Game Boy original, which I wasn’t when I got it last year. It also means I’m playing the less fun “guess what radical this is supposed to be so you can look up the character and make a flashcard” from time to time because regular DS resolution is… not great.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I’m a bit of a Grimoire Of The Rift superfan (I think it’s the endless collecting and job segmentation; I really do like it more than War Of The Lions), but I know that’s not a popular opinion.  Thoughts?

      I also wonder what you make of the Saga 2 changes.  I think, like Final Fantasy II Advance, they bring out what’s great about the core mechanics.  I wasn’t thrilled with the aesthetic changes, from what I played.  (I just played a friend’s save game for a bit.)

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        I thought it was really sound, mechanically. Lots of different win states and, thanks to laws, tons of semi-fail states which means you can’t just do the same thing with the same clan members all the time. Other RPGs need to learn from this (and MMOs need to learn from DQ9’s side-quests). Also, Into the Fantasy is amazing.

        SaGa 2 has been a genuinely good remake so far. Attack chains are great because, like you said, it’s entirely in harmony with the rest of the gameplay. You can only use them so often, but doing so makes you stronger in the long term. Just like weapons! Story-wise, adding the Muses and Fates into the mix is obvious, but still something lesser teams might not have come up with. I like that robots aren’t so easily overpowered anymore, but on the other hand I’m also glad fun exploits like healing before going to the inn for free magic/robot weapon refills are still in place. The new overworld system is pretty good and puts more emphasis on exploration thanks to the map abilities. Also, the encounter rate in the original was a bit high. It’s much more relaxed now that you can pretty much engage when you want to. As for aesthetics, it’s a bit mixed. I’m glad they kept it SD, but it’s a bit more colorful/saturated that it needed to be. The giants’ town didn’t work as well as it did in the original, and I’d say some remixes take some time to get used to, but then again this was basically MY GAME for years and certainly one of the most formative gaming experiences for me. With that in mind, I’d say it’s a crazy success just because I don’t hate everything about it.

        • Girard says:

           I had no idea that they rereleased the SaGa games for DS. Apparently SaGa 3 – my first ever JRPG experience! – was also remade. And has a fan translation patch. My curiosity is piqued.

  36. GhaleonQ says:

    I posted what I’m playing on Ben Villeneuve’s message, but I wanted to throw this out there for any REALLY old school people here.


    NeoGAF had a brief Magnavox Odyssey2 thread that had me pick up Killer Bees again.  Does anyone have games that they actually, genuinely like today on pre-1985 hardware?  I can recommend Archon and Warlords 1 to start.

    • Destroy Him My Robots says:

      Easy answers: M.U.L.E., Paradroid, The Castles of Dr. Creep. Bubble Bobble of course. Early adventures. I’m sure there’s more. This doesn’t seem to be so hard.

      • Girard says:

         That Dr. Creep description sounds awesome, but I can’t find any depictions of the co-op gameplay anywhere – was that only one mode of play, or only on certain versions of the game?

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          I think there only was one version, for C64. I only remember it as a two-player co-op game, but I guess you could play it on your own with two (joy-)sticks, like Kuri Kuri Mix. Here’s a decent video. You’ll have to give it a couple of minutes, though. It starts slowly, but overall seems like a good introduction that shows every element of the game.

          And if MobyGames is to be trusted, the man behind it is now doing hidden object games.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      My favorite games of all-time were the platformers from Windham Classics – specifically Alice in Wonderland and Below the Root for C64.  I replayed both of them on emulators around 2002, and am probably going to locate them and play them again soon if I can find the time.

      Someone was working on an unofficial conversion/update of Below the Root (the first game that was a direct sequel to a book trilogy), but I haven’t found any info on it more recent than about a year ago, so I assume it was cancelled.

      • Girard says:

         I remember reading about that game back the The Underdogs was an unmitigated (and unlitigated) haven for abandonware back in high school. It sounded so vast and awesome. Unfortunately, I think at the time I couldn’t find a way to run a C64 game on my computer. I wonder if I could still get into it, or if it’s more of a “you had to be there” thing.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          I think you could get into it if you have the instructions, and possibly read the young adult novels that came before it, or at least a summary of them.

          They were a really neat combination of fantasy and sci-fi, similar to the back story of the Dragonriders of Pern, if you’re familiar with that.

          It’s basically a non-violent platformer with exploration and minor RPG elements (gaining of psychic skills).  If someone ever did revamp it, it would be great to glide between the trees with a scrolling view instead of static screens.

  37. sirslud says:

    Gamer shame? Hehe. I’m over 70,000 frags in QuakeLive – more than 2 months of in-game time. Yikes.

    This weekend? Uh, Quake. And possibly Sleeping Dogs.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Yeah, the amount of time I’ve put into Dota 2 — still in beta — and all within three months would shame me, if I could be shamed.

    • Merve says:

      Are you playing Sleeping Dogs on Steam? If so, feel free to add me (merve3) so that we can compare stats. (Apparently, I’m really good at flying jump kicks and really terrible at counters.)

      • sirslud says:

        Yo dog, couldn’t find ya. Try adding me, kraftboy, on steam.

        • Merve says:

          Sorry about that. It appears that my profile doesn’t show up in search results. I might have to contact customer support to get them to fix this. I was able to find your profile, though, so now we can compare stats.

  38. Effigy_Power says:

    Now that Dark Souls is finally out, I will be testing that this weekend.
    I also grabbed on to Just Cause 2 which is on Steam for under $6 including all DLC, so that’s a good deal if you just consider the map-size.
    And there’s will probably be some test runs for our ArmA2 mod.
    Besides that I will be sorting through a whole new heap of Arabian and Korean Metal that I got my hands on (Metal as in music, there is no heap of iron, steel, tungsten and so on at my house) and thinning out my WinAmp playlist.
    So all in all not that much. The week was exhausting and I need some piece and quiet… I don’t know if running willy nilly into a massive hydra is going to be relaxing, but hey…

    • doyourealize says:

      So you need some “piece [sic, haha] and quiet”, and your options are Dark Souls or Korean Metal? What the hell is going on in the Eff household?

      I better see you on Dark Souls, by the way.

    • Hope you enjoy Just Cause 2. I’ve spent way too much time on that game. When you get bored of the single player there’s a multiplayer mod some fans from Germany made that lets you play with thousands of people.


    • BarbleBapkins says:

      I would recommend playing JC2 on one of the easier difficulty modes. For some reason you can’t switch difficulties once you’ve started playing, and its much more fun to try absolutely ridiculous stuff like destroying a military base with a makeshift wrecking ball (read: double-decker bus) attached to a helicopter than it is to get into boring ol’ shootouts, which the higher difficulties make hard to avoid.

    • Scored the same deal on Just Cause 2, looking forward to fiddling with it.  (I semi-admit I just want the extra costume for Sleeping Dogs)

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      If you can offer any links or suggestion to some kick-ass Arabic or Korean Metal, it would be greatly appreciated.  

  39. Cornell_University says:

    jeezus I wish I had thought to try to get published on niche websites when I was in high school.  I mean, I wrote Assuck lyrics on my wall in sharpie, but I’m not sure if I ever got paid for that.  I also wish I could just go to the store and buy a current gen system on a whim.  it took me like 12 years just to make it up to a PS2 for fuck’s sake.

    I’m most of the way done with FF1 Dawn of Souls (I called it Dawn of Fates like ten times last week, thanks for nobody correcting me).  The big difference I finally noticed aside from glitch fixes are the bonus dungeons every time you beat one of the elementals.  I’ve spent so much time in the Earth and Fire caves: if you haven’t played, there is a level in the fire cave or cavern or whatever it’s called that looks exactly like an alternate world map, airship and all, but is still part of the dungeon.  You can’t use the map and for some reason my Exit spell wouldn’t work, so I was lost in there for a t least an hour.  as a result my team is now WAY over leveled, and I one shot the Water Boss with my Master.  And I haven’t even gone to the Water bonus cave, so that’s gonna be eating up time, but with my team so over-developed the rest of the game should progress fairly quickly.

    I look forward to the FF2 portion, though according to @GhaleonQ:disqus the stat leveling glitch is gone in this version, so grinding will actually take some time to it.  I can’t remember if I ever beat the Origins version, so I might be at it longer than I think.

    oh and I’m totally going to download Wizorb on my laptop this week.  Unless I don’t.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       I almost had a nervous breakdown when I found myself standing in line about to buy the Wii on launch day.  Wasn’t freaked out at the system per se, it was just the first (and still only) time I had ever paid original launch-day price for a system.  Six years later, I call it my “$300 emulation station,” which is my way of never forgiving myself for getting caught up in the hype.  tldr: I don’t like spending money.

  40. AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

    Work and such tends to keep me so busy during the weekends that I usually spend more time thinking and talking about what games I’m going to play than playing said games. Add to this that I’m usually playing 4 or 5 games at a time and my plans couldn’t be predicted by an elite team of psychics. So here’s a quick list of games on my already playing/plan to play very shortly:

    Persona 3 Portable (male protagonist run), Persona 4 Arena, Steins;Gate, Sleeping Dogs, City of Heroes, pretending to know what the hell I’m doing with Source Film Maker, Ace Attorney Justice For All, Eterian Odyssey III, and maybe a few rounds of Team Fortress 2.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Got a copy of Persona 4 Arena on rent from GameFly (so coming soon), and I’m very much looking forward to it. The lack of a story is usually what keeps me from really bothering to learn each character or to play through and refine my moves, so this game should encourage me to do more than just mash buttons and hastily return the copy. 

      • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

        The story in P4A is a long one. And I mean a LONG one. For example, one character’s story mode lasts several hours. 3 to 4, maybe. And it contains exactly one fight.

        This would be a tragedy if the writing was poor, but fortunately, it holds up to the high standards of the Persona series. It also gives some great characterization to the cast. In particular, I loved Naoto’s story route because not only does it let us see some real detective work, but in the original game, Naoto didn’t get quite enough screen time, in my opinion, because almost as soon as the Detective Prince joined the game, the game started preparing for the ending.

        Also, apparently the fighting game mechanics are very well done, but for someone like me, who thought False Roman Canceling was a new-fangled dance move, that doesn’t really mean much.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          Only Persona could make a fighting game in which there aren’t actually fights for a long period of time. I love it. Can’t wait to pick up my copy and start playing. Shit. Maybe I’ll just buy the sucker.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I really hope that you enjoy 2/Justice For All.  Big Top Turnabout is my favorite case in the series, but everybody hates it.  *frowns*  It’s where Maya stops being annoying, where the series gets a real injection of idiotic, endearing humor, it has a fun enough plot, and it’s 1 of the few cases with genuine tragedy in it.  Go into it open-minded.

      • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

         Well, now I feel silly. I meant to say I’m playing Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. Mostly because I just beat Justice For All. I’ve played them before, but sometimes I just need to go back and replay them for the great stories. If only my 3DS had a microphone so I could still scream “OBJECTION!” in public again.

  41. Brainstrain says:

    Guild Wars 2. Ohhhhhh yes.

  42. djsubversive says:

    Another Friday, another mod progress report!

    -The first helo insertion ended up working, and I even got compliments on it feeling suitably cinematic. However, I did… something… and the insertion chopper started crashing into the ocean before even getting to the island. *sigh* ah, well. I took what worked and started over.

    -I figured out a way to bypass my “only vanilla units in the Ambient Combat Module” problem – no Ambient Combat Module! the ACE mod comes packed with something called DAC, which is similar to the ACM, but it allows for non-vanilla units and is more easily configured through trigger zones. Haven’t done an actual prolonged test with it, but the few minutes at a time that I’ve been wandering around Namalsk, there’s a lot of ambient gunfire. And for some reason, the other independents that spawned on the island keep shooting at each other because I keep seeing radio messages from squads with stuff like “You’re shooting at friendlies!” and “Check your fire!” to each other. It can’t be us because I don’t see anybody except the 4 looters I placed (who’ve killed me a few times because they hide in the trees).

    -I can have an event (helo crash) trigger an ally spawn (survivor) – when you find him, there’s an option to talk to him, if so, he gets recruited into your squad. When you reach the “rally point,” any stragglers you’ve picked up should leave the squad and join the squad that’s guarding the area. This has a lot of potential as far as other survivors and temporary allies. 

    -Circling crows, a scrolling title, and music playing from the helicopter as your 4-person squad rides in on a Little Bird ( http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/imgs/md-ah6-mh6-little-bird_3.jpg ) – unintentionally but awesomely timed so the line “the gal you love is dead” is sung right about the time the first helicopter explodes. I am getting the important things figured out. Also, the chopper is named Serenity and it’s commanded by Mal Reynolds. :)

    -I seem to have solved (hopefully) the issue where Effigy and Mooy wouldn’t see tasks or markers or destinations – it was a locality thing. Short explanation: I need to make sure that player stuff (tasks, objectives) gets done either globally on all computers or specifically on that player’s computer (for individual tasks or actions).

    All in all, a bit of a slow week as far as learning new stuff (except for the DAC – I was able to set up the entire island with 3 different factions, and with only infantry units, that will randomly spawn and randomly choose waypoints that are randomly generated in the zone, in just one afternoon), but we’ll be testing it tonight. *crosses fingers*

    • doyourealize says:

      Looks like you might be the right person to ask about this, but I’m kinda new to modding. I just downloaded Dark Souls from Steam and also the DSfix, which allows you to play in higher resolutions. However, when I install the files into the folder with the exe file and change the settings on the text file, when I play my game the play screen only takes up about a quarter of my monitor, and the HUD stills fills the entire thing. Any ideas on this?

      • djsubversive says:

        I’m probably not the right person to ask (my modding experience is still pretty limited), but this quick google search result might be helpful:
        https://www.wsgf.org/forum/forums/multi-monitor-gaming/multi-monitor-gaming/22410/dark-souls-locked-1024-720 (I’ve found that widescreengamingforum can solve a lot of resolution problems, even if they’re not necessarily widescreen-related).

        Are you sure that the Dark Souls folder isn’t set to read only? And/or you’re doing this editing with admin privileges? Those are the two biggest issues I’ve noticed with mods/editing not taking effect. Oh, and Steam versions of games can sometimes not play well at all with mods. There are a few mods I’ve seen that have either “Does not work with Steam version of the game” or an extra set of steps to get it working, so good luck!

        • doyourealize says:

          Yeah, that’s the mod I have installed. I turned off the anti-aliasing, which seems to have worked, though I thought he wrote that was fixed, but I’m the idiot for not checking in the first place.

          I’m not sure about NEOGAF, but the original meta class of nil site has comments that are nothing but thankful for the work this guy has done to improve on the game. The PC community can sometimes seem like a bunch of self-congratulating elitists (and there’s plenty of them), but lately I’ve been finding plenty of helpful and patient people as well. I have a feeling there’s more of the latter, but those former are the one’s that are easier to remember.

          In any case, thanks for the help.

    • djsubversive says:

      There’s a bit more, but I was running late before.

      -I can set up character-specific briefings now, and even have different tasks for different characters/groups. I’ve got Echo Team coming in from the south in a helicopter, while a mercenary wakes up on the other end of the island next to a liferaft and a corpse. They both have separate sets of tasks – Echo Team is there to “investigate Tara Island” and then gets distracted by Delta Team going boom. As for the merc… being wholly unoriginal, I named him “Marked One,” he’s in the “Stalker” group, and has no memory of what happened before he woke up in Lubjansk, a small harbor/warehouse area). His first task is “find supplies,” and the only other task I have for him is a generic “Namalsk Island” one when he leaves Lubjansk.

      -I’ve gotten a basic format for Locations of Interest – a trigger around the area will show the name of the location (eg: “Old Hospital”), then fade out. If there’s a task at that location, I’ve been assigning it through that trigger, and making it the current one.

      Example: You get within 150 m of the hospital (whether driving or walking) and you get a popup saying “Old Hospital”, and a task pops up to “Investigate the old hospital”, with a destination waypoint (the yellow arrow, if you’re familiar with ArmA 2) showing up near the main building. There’s a doctor who, when searched, gives a new destination – another doctor. This other doctor was shot in the back (“Doctor Hladik, NOOOOOO!”), but nearby is a file folder that gives a “Pick up” action. Doing that will pop up some flavor text (“It has a big red ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ stamp on the front, so of course you pick it up and start reading.”), delete the world item, give the player a similar “file folder” inventory item, and set the “Investigate Hospital” task complete.

      In Theory. (those two words have become my unofficial motto during this project)

      -The newest problem is getting Task Hints and other pop-up text to only appear for the players who are currently involved in the task. It turns out that even though Marked One way on the other end of the island doesn’t receive the Delta Team tasks, he gets the “Delta is down!” task hint that pops up. And the pda beep and “Investigate Tara” message that appears when Echo Team gets close to the island. I’ve sort of gotten around it by keeping the task hints to a minimum, but I’m sure there’s a way to get it to show only to the players with the related task (side note: task hints are not task-specific. it’s just another form of on-screen text).

  43. OhHaiMark says:

    I’m the complete opposite type of gamer, frankly.  I have trouble playing just one game at a time. Usually I’ll start four or five games in the same week and play through them as I see fit.  Unfortunately, this style leads me to not play a lot of my games right away and I rarely beat a game 100%.  I move on quickly.

    Naturally there are exceptions to this rule, I beat a lot of my anticipated games right away, but I’ve always got other games on the go.   Right now I’m running through Mirror’s Edge (I always thought the game was a lot of fun, though lacking a little cohesion), Metroid Fusion, Resident Evil Revelations, The Last Story, and Rogue Galaxy.  I’ve finished Mirror’s Edge and Fusion before but sometimes you just get a craving to come back to a game you had fun with. 

    My playing style kind of mirrors the way I am, though.  I phone people and while I do that I usually watch TV and read a book.  I have to overload my senses to focus on one thing specifically.  I’ve always had to. 

    The funny part is that this is never manic or stressful. I’m a pretty calm-tempered person.  It stresses my roommate out, the way I work.

    • doyourealize says:

      How are you liking The Last Story? I know I’ll pick it up at some point, I just can’t justify it right now with so much to play.

      • OhHaiMark says:

        Y’know, it’s really great. I’m not terribly far into the game but I already like the characters well-enough that I know I’m gonna hop right in when I have more time.  For a Wii game it looks pretty fantastic, the music is exceptional (of course). 

        I’m very excited by the game.  I would comment more on the gameplay but I’ve just barely started so I don’t feel I can. 

        Between it and Xenoblade the Wii has been on a lot more than it used to be.

  44. I’m somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the way through Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, having played through from BG and Tales of the Sword Coast.  A month or two ago I was playing the Icewind Dale games because I never had, and they simply pale in comparison to the expanse and storytelling of BG.  I do recall Throne of Bhaal being disappointingly linear, and much more like IWD in that regard.

    I’m curious about the re-release of Baldur’s Gate for modern hardware.

    What are the games that have been comparable, in people’s minds, to something like BG (especially BG2)

  45. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    this guy sounds like exactly the kind of gamer that I hate.  “Oh, it says halo on it?  guess I’ll buy it!”  Suppose I can’t expect him to do a little research into other, possibly better, alternatives.  Not like he’s a reporter or something.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       Yeah, as opposed to all those people who will go see movies just because the name “Christopher Nolan” or the name “Peter Jackson” appears somewhere on the poster.

      It’s still a person’s hobby. They’re allowed to do it however they please. It seems awfully small of you to treat him with derision because of it, especially as you’re presenting yourself as somehow enlightened in your videgame oeuvre. His profession doesn’t have anything to do with his personal taste in videogames. For him, there aren’t better alternatives. And if you read the interview through, it doesn’t necessarily sound like he’s picking it up because it says “Halo” on it, but because that’s where the player base will be.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         ok, good points.  I did come off stronger than I meant.  What I was clumsily trying to get at is that I don’t think it encourages the industry to be innovative when people are willing to plunk $60 down for every title in a franchise without seemingly reading a single review.  Its his money and his free time, but I don’t think it encourages creativity.  Regarding “Peter Jackson” vs “Halo,” though, a person’s name carries the weight of his past work.  A franchise name is owned by a company and can be plastered on anything.  I wish that instead of saying “Halo, Halo, Halo” he had said “I am a big fan of Alex Seropian” or even “I like the games that come out of Bungie, I hope 343 can live up to the legacy.”  What he said isn’t along the lines of liking Christopher Nolan, its the equivalent of saying “I like Batman.  I buy everything Batman.  When’s the next Batman?”  Which people certainly do, but its not an attitude that I feel encourages quality in the products.  That’s what I meant.

        • Enkidum says:

          Well, with some series, Halo being a notable example, you pretty much know exactly what you’re getting. I mean, AFAIK all the Halos are essentially the same game with updated graphics and improved gameplay (never having played a Halo game for more than about 20 minutes, I can’t be sure about that, but I’ll pretend it’s true). 

          If it ain’t broke, etc. If you want to play a specific type of game, go nuts and play it. You don’t need to do a lot of research to find “really well-made FPS with lots of online players and good graphics”.

          Most people aren’t interested in encouraging quality in any medium, because they’re consume media for its moral worth or artistic value, they just want to chill out. Which is fine enough. Snobs like us can direct our own money to improve the quality of the industry, but we’re fooling ourselves if we think that our votes (=dollars) amount to anything more than a drop in the bucket in comparison to the average player.

  46. BarbleBapkins says:

    If I am really, really lucky (and the news from Twitter is to be believed), I might be playing the Planetside 2 Beta this weekend. I am embarrassingly excited about this game, it looks just absolutely stunning. However, I have a sinking feeling that it is going to be the last straw on the camel’s back that is my old PC and will finally force me to upgrade, which is something I am not looking forward to.

    Once it comes out it might make a nice addition to the Gameological Steam group’s ever expanding number of games being played. Its supposedly being released on Steam, its F2P (always a plus for groups) and seems to encourage playing with a consistent bunch of people.

  47. TelephoneToughGuy says:

    Playing Dead Space 2 for the first time, which is a whole lot of fun.  Don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it, but I’m glad I finally did.

  48. Bullet_Sponge says:

    I just rapped up a trial for The Secret World, and was considering signing up. Before I do, I wanted to ask what people’s experience is at this time. So…Is anyone still playing?

  49. ferrarimanf355 says:

    More Forza 4 for me. Am I the only one here that loves this game?