Out This Week

They Bleed Pixels

Madden As Hell

Football and blood make this week’s releases a sight to behold.

By Steve Heisler • August 28, 2012

Out This Week is a roundup of new games that are out this week. These listings don’t constitute an endorsement or a review of any sort. We also don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list. If there’s a game on the horizon that interests you, share it in the comments.

They Bleed Pixels
PC—August 29

This is a simple platform game where you kick enemies into spikes and watch as they bleed. Or collect red dots that splatter all over you like blood. Or avoid rotating bloodsaws that bloody up your blood blood. Or [reference to There Will Be Blood/Dexter/My Bloody Valentine/Dracula/There Will Be Blood…did I say that one already?].

Madden NFL 13
NIntendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360—August 28

Like Ray Lewis, I’ve also always been told that I’m too small, I’m not big enough, and I’m not fast enough to play professional football. And I, too, would like to be remembered, to leave my legacy on the sport long after I’m gone. He has chosen to be immortalized in video game form as part of an extremely long-running and well-respected franchise. I have chosen to streak across the field and ruin a game—were there a game actually being played right now, because today’s the only day I have free.

PC—August 30

Given how many times StarCraft II has been delayed, this outer-space strategy game will have to do as we continue to wait and wait and—hold on, I’m getting a phone call. What? StarCraft II came out two years ago? And I own it? The icon is right there below this open text document? I’m hanging up in disgust! [Delicately hits “end” button and gingerly places phone back on table.] Starvoid!

Guild Wars 2
PC—August 28

Unlike most online role-playing games, the Guild War series doesn’t require monthly subscription fees, meaning once you buy the game you can play to your heart’s content. Plus, this game promises to smooth out some of the more complicated aspects of the original, making it more accessible. In other words, it’s pretty much the same approach that got my mom to join Facebook.

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342 Responses to “Madden As Hell”

  1. Travis Stewart says:

    Another week, another blandly flavored sci-fi strategy game.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Meanwhile, Cave fires its CEO (having fired its COO already) and Funcom abandons both ambitous online games and graphic adventures for Legos.

      The future is bright!

      • root (1ltc) says:

        From what I’ve read, the new CEO has a few years of arcade company experience, and their announcement of porting Saidaiojou to 360 in light of the new mobile game rules in Japan all leads me to believe that the company will linger on, and maybe still make a game or two per year which I’ll actually want to buy.

  2. George_Liquor says:

    Well, technically a third of Starcraft 2 came out two years ago.

    • Brainstrain says:

      Isn’t Heart of the Swarm supposed to come out this year? I feel like it’s taking as long as the original.

      • HobbesMkii says:

         What’s that you say? Half-Life 2: Episode 3?

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I can’t believe there are people waiting with excitement for Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty Par 2: Zerg Part 1: The Gathering Storm 1: Heart of the Swarm – The Kerrigan Diaries Alpha – Day One
        I applaud your conviction. Or becry a certain amount of insanity. Feel free to choose.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           Hrm… I do detect a faint trace of contempt, perhaps with a delightful zest of scorn, and a garnish of contained disgust?

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          I’m still waiting for Ghost #colddayinhell.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           Uh, there’s definitely some people excited for it. Excited enough to write some sexy, sexy fanfic about sexy zergy Kerrigan.

           Here’s an excerpt:

          “She was so bored that she even tried to take up “Crime & Punishment” before realizing that she needed a life.”

           And that’s before we get to the zerg lady naughty bits. Hot!

           You know, I’ve accused Blizzard of having fanfic-level writing and plotting skills. I’d like to take that back, please. Even after Diablo 3.

        • Brainstrain says:

          Starcraft 2 is a game that took a long time, which has an expansion which is also taking a long time. What-ho! A comedic goldmine!

          Unless you’re making fun of expansions in general, in which case I think you missed the Skyrim thread.

          @dreadguacamole:disqus I, too, accuse Blizzard of having fanfic level writing skills. The distinction I would make is that Blizz makes halfway decent fanfic.

  3. dreadguacamole says:

     Guild Wars 2. Consuming all of my time since last Saturday!
     I wouldn’t say it’s very accessible – in fact, it’s amazingly obtuse at points. And the main story that I’ve played (human street rat) is a shoddy collection of hoary clichés, bog-standard fantasy tropes, and some of the most tone-deaf dialog readings I’ve heard in ages (coupled with Jeremy Soule’s soundtrack, I feel as if I’m back in Skyrim sometimes…)


     Man, the game is fun to play, so incredibly more-ish, and extremely well-designed. And so very stunningly beautiful.
     A lot of the time it reminds me of a high budget, 3D version of Realm of the Mad God.

    • Brainstrain says:

      Have to agree. I’ve been following the game for years, gobbled up every beta, and I still feel lost at times. Regardless, I spend most of my time aiding the baffled in /m. It’s nice to be an expert at something, at least compared to everyone else :)

      And discovering the secret puzzle in Lion’s Arch is, so far, one of my most memorable gaming experiences this year. ANet just NAILED the thrill of exploration and discovery.

    • Asinus says:

      Soule did the soundtrack to the first one, didn’t he? And the last 3 ES games, but I don’t think you’re necessarily saying that as a bad thing, it just got put into that paragraph. 

      Second paragraph gives me hope. That’s what I’m really concerned about! Speaking of skyrim… it’s really a coincidence that GW2 is about dragons returning, isn’t it? Yeah, dragons have been a part of fantasy since the beginning, but it’s just weird that 3 of the big fantasy titles have moved to a “dragons coming back” narrative in the last few years. They’ve been setting this up with GW overtly since GW:EN, so it’s just a milieu, I guess. 

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Well, by all out-of-game information the Norn are so brutally the same as Skyrim’s Nord (who of course are just a pop-culture mishmash of Nordic and Celt mythology, I accept that), the fact that Soule does the soundtrack must have felt strange to him…
        I wonder if he had major deja vu writing the music for the Norn’s home territory.

        • Asinus says:

          Yeah, the norn were introduced in the last expansion for Guild Wars, however many years ago that was and the nords (or at least a general description of them) have been in ES since Arena (and I just found my CD for that while looking for computer parts! Huzzah!), but yeah… they’re both just generic sketches of pop-culture Norsemen. And, um, as a person of scandinavian heritage, I’m offended! 

          *Rolls up nord and norn characters*

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Also amusing for former WoW players…there is an area of GW2 called “Harathi Hinterlands”. Hareally?

      • dreadguacamole says:

        Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game! most of my complaints really don’t make a dent on just how enjoyable it is; I just like to complain.
         And yeah, Soule did do the soundtrack for the first one; besides the main theme, it’s pretty forgettable.

        • Asinus says:

          Oh, I kind of like forgettable soundtracks to games. Well, I don’t mind them– it was pleasant, unobtrusive background music that never seemed to be trying too hard to convince me that what I was seeing was so super duper awesome! It just kind of let the game be itself and filled in some gaps. Of course, there is great, memorable game music that I also love, but there is also something to be said for subtle music that is so congruent with what’s happening on screen that it doesn’t call attention to itself. I guess there isn’t a lot of ego in it. Or something. I’m trying to explain why I like it and I don’t know if I’m doing it very well.

          I’m loving playing GW2 so far. It’s a lot of fun. I don’t like the character chatter in combat– I might try to turn that off, but other than that it is working really well. I’ve never had so much fun waiting in a queue before!

          ETA: For people who aren’t playing– that bit about having fun in a queue wasn’t sarcastic. It’s really fun. I declined when my turn came so I could keep playing around.

        • Asinus says:

          What I’m wondering is who are the parents of all of the tween NPCs running around? All adult NPCs look to be 20 years old at the oldest. There is an NPC called “Old Woman” in Divinity’s Reach who looks like a hot 22 year old (at the oldest). This is bizarre character design. 

        • dreadguacamole says:

          @The_Asinus:disqus: That’s the korean mmo aesthetic – everyone is a beautiful, particularly well-endowed Adonis or Aphrodite-like porcelain doll.
          I wonder if NC soft had any say on Arena Net’s character aesthetic, or if they’re just naturally simpatico. At least GW covers up their characters somewhat, miniskirt obsession notwithstanding…

        • Asinus says:

          I did like that about WoW– there were older characters, ugly characters, etc. Even in the first GW I made a character who looked old– a handsome old guy, but it was possible. Not that I want to make an old man character, but when EVERYONE in the world is beautiful and glowing… I don’t know… it seems like an episode of the Twilight Zone. It would be funny if everything in the world was kind of shoddily built because people only had like 3-5 years to learn a complicated trade before they died of old age at 21. 

          I definitely see what you’re saying about the korean aesthetic. I am constantly reminded of Aion.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I’ve never played/been exposed to Guild Wars before, but I’m thinking about getting my feet wet by trying either this or The Secret World. Any advice? 

      • dreadguacamole says:

         It’s a pretty tough call; I prefer Secret World, but I’m a sucker for setting and writing – both of which it pulls off brilliantly, with a healthy dollop of humor.
         The feeling of being in the world and putting clues together is better there than on any single-player game I’ve played in ages. However, combat and character development take a long time to open up and become interesting, and the feedback is crap – your powers and weapons never really feel powerful.

         GW2, on the other hand, is a joy to play. Fast paced, deep and expansive from the get go, there’s so much to do it’s not even funny. Get ready to cringe on pretty much every cutscene and incidental dialogs, but other than that it puts an emphasis on fun, a fast pace, and giving everyone cool toys to play with. It’s also gorgeous to look at, and a lot of fun to explore. It hurts me to say it, but it’s definitely the better game-game (if that makes sense!) out of the two.

         You can get a three-day demo of Secret World at Funcom’s website, if you want to try it. Don’t think there’s anything like that for GW2. Both are innovative games within their genre, and well worth supporting.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          Exploration and puzzle-solving is what I’m more interested in, so I guess Secret World is the one I have to be checking out. Can you play it solo, or is it better with friends? If so, let me see if I can convince some of my buddies to get in on it.

        • dreadguacamole says:

          @google-19efbd0104cbaffa5782aef5b7104019:disqus : Yay!
           I soloed most of the game myself, but the investigation missions should be great fun if you work through them with friends. Just hope no one cheats and checks the solution until everyone decides to give up. Some of them are insanely hard.
           As for the rest of the game, I don’t think it would make a huge difference. I’m (slowly) playing through it again with my wife, and while combat does become a bit more enjoyable with more players, it doesn’t gain much either.
           Except for dungeons, which usually need full groups, and are an absolute blast to figure out and beat.

           In any case, if you do go for it, try it first, and let me know what you think.

  4. Asinus says:

    Waiting for GW 2 to install. I didn’t realize there was an early play period, or I would have bought it sooner. Anyway, I’m just glad the damn thing is finally out. I remember, back in i think 2008, talking with a friend, not long after we finished the main story in GW, and sadly relaying that I’d just read that GW2 wasn’t supposed to be out until 2010. As 2010 and subsequent years came and went, I really thought it was never going to come out. I don’t mean like an impatient child who believe an inevitable date like December 25th will never get here, I thought it was going to get pushed back until it was finally scuttled completely. 

    As far as simplifying the complications of the original– huh? I thought it was one of the most (overly) simple games I’d played. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but only being able to have 8 skills accessible at a time, not being able to jump or cross much of the terrain turned the game into what was, essentially, a long hallway with very, very pretty walls. After playing WoW, I couldn’t really tolerate the simplified nature of GW (of course, there was a lot of stuff I couldn’t stand about WoW)… nothing I’ve read about GW2 so far makes it sound like it’s going to be simpler, and that’s a good thing. Maybe the lack of dedicated healers? That’s good (except for those unicorns who like to play healers). 

    But for anyone getting it… it took about 25 – 30 minutes to install off disc (and I have a fast system) and now it’s downloading what looks like is going to be 6+ gig. So if you want to play it later this week or this weekend, you might as well get it now and let it start installing. If you live in the boonies and have a slowish connection… yeah… definitely start it before you go to bed or something. 

    I’m not sure why they even bothered with discs if it’s just going to have to download 1.5 DVDs of data right out of the gate. 

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Yeah, that percentage complete bar is BS.  I flipped out on Sunday when I thought I’d lost 1.5 hours of download progress because my connection hiccuped.

      The game itself is pretty fun so far.  I really, REALLY love never having to fight other players for kills, quest objectives or gathering nodes ever again.  Those were 3 of the top 5 reasons I quit playing other MMOs.  And the other two reasons (hating shitty gear-based PvP, and running out of things to do) are quite possibly handled in GW2 as well.

      So far, leatherworking is a mildly annoying crafting skill to attempt though, since you can’t gather materials and have to get lucky salvaging or looting for them.

      • Asinus says:

        ADVISORY: This might be semi spoilery if anyone wants everything to be a surprise… I wouldn’t want to know some of this before I started. Just fair warning. It only covers the first few minutes of the game.

        I just got started (I made 2 characters just to lock down my names, though the probability that anyone would be after them is pretty low…), my warrior Norn started off in some camp for some animal hunt…whatever. But my human elementalist started in a village that was under attack. That was TONS of fun! I spent way too much time killing the invading centaurs (who never kiss, afik) for very little XP, but I did get my first 3 skills unlocked. I really liked the “Defend the bridge” event (or whatever it’s called) followed by the big boss fight where you’re just randomly working with players who happened to get started at the same time you did, was just a fantastic intro. That’s something I really liked about the first GW– they knew how to start the game. Pre-searing is great, and the first actual story mission where you flee from charr is one of my favorite in any RPG I’ve played. The relentless onslaught of the invaders reminded me of that, but it’s not the same sort of helpless terror you feel as a low level toon fleeing for your life. Same is true for the first encounter with the Destroyers in GW. They really know how to make “You have no chance to survive, make your time/run away” missions. I hope there are more of those in store. 

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          I’ve been reading a bit about the issues with grouping and WvW not working right.  I was going to start being annoyed, as those were things I was hoping to check out soon, but then I realized I’m not paying a monthly fee.

          It’s amazing how much more patient I can be when I’m not continually paying for broken content.   (I’m looking at YOU, SWTOR!!)

  5. RidleyFGJ says:

    For anyone still playing the series, episode 3 of The Walking Dead game is due out today on PSN and tomorrow on 360/PC.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Don’t you buy this game as a whole and then gain access to each piece as it’s released? (I ask because it’s up on sale on Steam today, and I’m contemplating getting it.) 

      In any case, the point is: if you started playing the series, you’re likely to finish playing the series, right? Do or do not, there is no still. :P

  6. Rock Band Blitz is out this week. No plastic instruments required!

    I still buy new DLC to sing, but I haven’t played my fake guitar in over a year.  

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I found the game worth it for the DLC alone — 25 songs, mixed bag as they are (Queen! Yay!), are all importable to RB proper. But despite growing up with Amplitude/Frequency and somewhat enjoying Unplugged, I found the leaderboard-chasing antics of Blitz, particularly its insistence on linking everything to your Facebook account, to be incredibly frustrating/tedious/depressing. And while I enjoyed beating other people’s high scores (because I’m fairly decent at rhythm games and figuring out combos of power-ups that yield the best multipliers), the memorization required to do so on a regular basis grew a little tedious, particularly given that you have to pay for each power-up, every time, so there’s no way to really “practice” a song to perfect . . . you just have to nail it through sheer force of will.

      • One thing I wish the game had done on PS3 (although it wouldn’t have been fair to XBOX360 users) would have been to implement Sixaxis support for switching tracks. Trigger buttons really slow things down.

      • root (1ltc) says:

        Sixaxis support would have been OK. I wonder how difficult it would have been to implement.

        My biggest gripe with Blitz is the variable scroll speed. Having the field scroll at a fast pace, which I want, shouldn’t happen only if I have a good streak going and it should definitely not slow down at some arbitrary point if I happen to miss a few notes.

  7.  Not really on topic, but there’s nowhere better to post this: Hayley Wickenheiser is going to be in NHL 2013!

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Did we know that before, or was that just the rumor?

      Anyway, I found the inclusion of females odd but cool.  (I went to Dartmouth and come from Wisconsin; I’ve watched more than my fair share of women’s hockey.  I just find it an odd mix.)  It’s a easy way to expand rosters without the hassle of licensing foreign leagues or minor leagues, and it probably gets them some decent paychecks.  Good!

  8. Aaron Riccio says:

    Steve, in your summary of “They Bleed Pixels,” I think you missed a spot . . . of BLOOD.

    (In actuality, I’ll say that I enjoyed this game a lot, though I’m a biased fan of masochistically difficult platform games already, whether they’ve got one-button brawling combat thrown in or not.)

  9. woca397 says: