What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Bryan Bowden

Bryan Bowden, comedian

The Chicago-based improviser resists the urge to play modern games.

By Steve Heisler • September 28, 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.

Bryan Bowden is a Chicago-based comedian who dabbles in the trifecta of improv, sketch, and stand-up. He’s a judge on the wacky game show Impress These Apes and a teacher at the Second City Training Center. He’ll next appear in a stage adaptation of Troll 2 at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy in Chicago.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Bryan Bowden: I don’t have a cool system. My platform is still PlayStation 2, which is great for me because every game is super cheap. And actually, the game I’m playing now, I found for like a dollar. It’s such an old game, PaRappa The Rapper.

Gameological: What is it?

Bowden: You’re a little rapping dog. It’s one of those games where all the animation is kinda, like, paper-style—everything looks two-dimensional. At each level, you have to do certain challenges. You have to hit the buttons in the same rhythm that the person says. So basically like Guitar Hero or Simon, except you’re a rapping dog. That’s the only difference there. But it’s actually surprisingly fun and very silly.

Gameological: Why the PS2, and not the PS3?

Bowden: It was given to me. My little brother updated to, like, an Xbox and was like, “Do you want this?” I’ve had it for a while and I just haven’t updated. Part of it is that I can’t justify spending money on a video game system, and the other part is I know if I get an Xbox, I’ll get hooked and end up playing Borderlands 2 for a week straight. But with PlayStation 2 games, I can just, like, get in there, and there’s like not hype around the game, so I don’t get as sucked in as I would with newer games.

Gameological: You mentioned filming for an upcoming Gameological video series, where you had very strong opinions about Metroid. What were they?

Bowden: That was a game that I traded a baseball card for. Maybe a couple baseball cards. My friend had it and he didn’t like it. I was like, “Dude, I’ll trade you some baseball cards for it.” I liked it because it was in space, and I thought that was awesome. Mostly, my opinions revolved around the fact that I thought that Samus was actually—you know, the big surprise is that, “It’s a woman!? Whaaaaaaat?!” And I thought that when you put in the Justin Bailey code, where you start off in a leotard, that it turned her into a woman. I didn’t realize she was a woman that whole time. So when I finally beat the whole thing I was like, “Wait! She’s still a lady!” As a 12 year old, that bothered me. “I was playing as a lady the whole time? Nooooo!” Also, it was one of those games that had such a huge map that I was actually drawing maps trying to remember where stuff was. I had this really disorganized system of map drawings. My mom probably thought I was crazy.

Gameological: You perform a lot, so do you specifically make time to play games?

Bowden: There will be times when I’ll try to write something, but my brain is like, “No you’re not. You’re can’t do anything.” So I’m like, “Alright, we’ll play a video game.” Cause you’re doing something. You’re brain is kind of active, but you don’t have to think about it so hard. I have to set timers though, like my mom did when I was 12. Then there’s some games that are my evening payment. I’m just going to sit back, relax, and chop things in half.

Gameological: Because you don’t play any of the modern games, but you see all the ads, what is your impression of what those games are?

Bowden: I’m jealous of people that get to play Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. That game looks really cool. I like big games like that, like Borderlands 2 just came out and that looks really sweet. It’s weird because I never even played the first Borderlands. I don’t even know what the gameplay is like, but just based off the imagery of it I’m like, “That looks pretty cool.” I like fantastic games. I’m not a big Call Of Duty person. I don’t like things that are super realistic. It’s like, “Oh. I’m a soldier in a war.” That’s a real thing. I could actually go and shoot people in a war. I’d rather be something like Skyrim where I’m a viking dude who’s hunting dragons. That feels better to me. I don’t know why.

Gameological: What do you think is going to be the game that finally convinces you to get a modern console?

Bowden: Man, I don’t know. There have been games like Oblivion where I’m like, “That’s look really sweet, I should really get a thing.” And, what was it, Left 4 Dead? If I didn’t buy one for Left 4 Dead, something’s wrong with me. I had so many friends who were online killing zombies and I was like, “I wanna be online killing zombies with my friends!” Maybe if they make a medieval zombie game that you can play online, I think then I’ll cave. [Laughs]…What sucks is I teach kids, so I hear about these games. And as an adult I feel like I can’t say anything, but they’ll be talking about these games and I’ll wanna say, “Oh. That sounds really cool.” Some kids were talking about Arkham Asylum. That sounds like a really sweet game. So I think eventually I’ll just be like, “Okay, I got to play that game. I just gotta do it.” And then after one, I’m going to buy five more. Slippery slope, slippery slope.

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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  • Mr. Glitch

    Justin Bailey was just the beginning. For a real good time in Metroid, you gotta go with NARPAS SWORD!             

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Do you think they could ever successfully design a Metroid prequel where you play as a Chozo warrior/scientist at the end of his/her/it’s/ species life?  Perhaps even the one who found Samus?
         It if the race were already in decline, it would be possible to maintain the same tone of loss, regret and solitude as the rest of the series, but that’s not sufficient to mean it needs to be made.
         I dunno… I still kinda’ like the idea.  

      • PaganPoet

        I’m imagining a crayon-colored Planet Zebes, and the Chozo warrior chasing baby Samus floating away in a bubble, crying at the top of her lungs.

      • alguien_comenta

        If they do it, the warrior/scientist it’s going to be a whiner with daddy issues, so let’s just keep that mythology intact

  • Cloks

    Playing Borderlands 2 because it’s fun with friends and it is really cool.

    • Captain Internet

      You’re, like, so mainstream, man. (I’ll also be playing Borderlands 2)

    • WorldCivilizations

      Playing this as well. I was pretty meh about the game for quite a while, but things have started to click for me – maybe because at higher levels, the weapon mods are getting more interesting and my skill choices are starting to feel significant. I’m the commando and I’ve been sinking points into improving my turret – it has rockets now, which pleases me. 
      I thought about being the ninja character because he’s cool, but I figured, well, most people playing these games are 13 year old boys who love anime, so they’re all gonna choose the ninja. Sure enough, I go on online co-op, and it’s me plus 3 ninjas.

    • The Guilty Party

      It is pretty cool. I like it in small doses though, which makes it hard to get a reliable multiplayer thing going.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    The anecdote of finding PaRappa for a dollar gave me misty, sentimental memories of the time I found Wind Waker at a garage sale for that very price.
       It’s been pretty fun going to garage sales this past summer, because video games have now been around long enough and with sufficient ubiquity that you can start finding some neat relics at these neighborhood sales.
       And also, not to diminish the level of discourse here to those other, base video game sites, but if you don’t like the art style for Wind Waker, you are spent cinder of a person whose heart has long since been stripped away and replaced with a shard of the trash can where Hitler threw all of Germany’s Max Ernst paintings.

  • Mike Mariano

    Bowden’s console purchase methods are my own.  I bought an Xbox for Half-Life 2 and I bought an Xbox 360 for The Orange Box—the rest of my console library was secondary to those two games (well, the same game, really).

    This weekend I’ll play the Return to Ravnica Magic: The Gathering pre-release!  Then maybe some of the Sega Genesis games I mentioned last week.

  • caspiancomic

    Heisler! I will do you the service of assuming you only asked Mr. Bowden to describe PaRappa the Rapper for the benefit of unfamiliar readers, and not out of any personal lack of recognition.

    Anyway, unlike last weekend, this weekend is clear sailing in terms of actual work, which means I get to catch Looper on opening night and play video games until my eyes roll out of my head. Well, sort of. The newest Game Theory article has been delayed for a week, so I’ll be spending a chunk of the weekend working on it (I was far too buried under work to get it done in time for today, but I’ll be posting a preview in Keyboard Geniuses). Besides that, though, it continues to be Half-Life 2 (I can’t believe it’s taking me this long!). Persona 3: FES is still on the horizon, but I don’t want to start it until I’ve finished Half-Life (I’ll probably spend my upcoming intercession week playing it). Also, the forecast for Sunday is rain, which means no Ico just yet, due to my own insanity. But hopefully next weekend! I suppose I could just be a normal person and play it despite the weather, or on a day besides Sunday, but then I wouldn’t be a creepy little gremlin, would I?

    • Enkidum

      I’m curious about your weather-based gaming quirks. Never heard you mention it, and never heard anyone talk about much like it.

      • caspiancomic

         I went into it a bit last week, responding to Stacie Ponder’s insistence on playing survival horror with the lights off to create the right atmosphere. Although it’s not true of all games, I have certain games linked to certain atmospheres, weather conditions, temperatures, seasons, times of day, etc etc. Usually playing these games “out of season” merely makes me nostalgic or mildly irritates my internal calendar, but all the same I find I get the most “complete” subjective experience of certain titles if conditions are ideal. As I mentioned last week, for me the perfect conditions for playing Ico are a cold, bright Sunday afternoon in Autumn. I can’t tell you why that is, it’s just how the game feels to me. I waited until it rained to play Dear Esther. Kingdom Hearts- and the Traverse Town theme especially- is best experienced in December, ideally with snow on the ground. Final Fantasy, especially IX, is best played at the end of summer, with the defeat of the final boss coming as close to the start of classes as possible, but never afterwards- once classes start, the mood is ruined.

        It’s a patent insanity, but it’s how I like to play certain titles. Some of the connections make a kind of sense- I first played Kingdom Hearts after getting it for Christmas, so it’s strongly attached to winter in my mind- and some of them are the result of conditioning, like my fondness for trying to wrap up my ongoing Final Fantasy game before the end of summer. Others, like waiting for certain weathers to complement the tone of a given game, or only playing survival horror titles after dark, are merely my best attempt to bolster the inherent atmosphere- or my interpretation of the inherent atmosphere- of a given game. I’m sure you could stick some electrodes to my head and learn some bizarre and interesting things about gaming habits based on this quirk of mine, but I’m also relatively convinced that a lot of people experience this phenomenon, if in a generally milder form (playing horror games only after dark, or revisiting childhood favourites in the months typically associated with summer vacations, for example)

        • WL14

          It’s funny you describe it that way – I’d never really thought about gaming in this way, but as fall rolls around I’ve been finding a weird urge to pick up Skyrim again. Your post allowed me to make the connection between the two… I got the red ring of death on my 360 about 3 months ago and haven’t bothered replacing it yet, but now the urges are coming so frequently that I’m afraid I’ll have to make the sacrifice on the Microsoft Altar. Damn you Latitude 50!

        • The Guilty Party

          Yep. Xenogears was a christmas-time tradition for me for a while, for reasons that are probably obvious.

          More confusingly, green tea gets me in the mood for old school jrpgs.

    • PaganPoet

      I want to be present whenever you start Persona 3 FES. For me, Persona is possibly the best JRPG series around, and Persona 3 and 4 were such incredible experiences for me, I’m curious to see how other first timers react to those games.

      Do you planning on playing Persona 4 in some capacity as well? There is the enhanced port Persona 4 Golden coming out for PS Vita in November, which I am personally psyched for. But I guess that can only be considered exciting if you own a Vita or plan on getting one!

      • George_Liquor

         I’ve never played any of the Persona RPGs, but I can say the fighting games are a kick in the pants! They had me hooked the moment I saw that little robot bear-looking guy pull a cruise missile out of his mouth and lob at his opponent.

        • PaganPoet

          I’m quite addicted to it as well. I love how well-balanced all the characters, and how differently they all play from each other.

      • NarcolepticPanda

        I’ve heard intriguing things about the Persona series and I’m rather interest in picking one of them up for my PSP. (It looks so lonely…) However, being semi-new to non-casual gaming in general, I have never played any sort of JRPG. Scandalous, I know! I’d like to try the genre though. Is Persona reasonably close to being accessible? Or will I be rendered completely confused right away, have a terrible experience, and never want to play a JRPG ever again?

        • PaganPoet

          Well, I would highly recommend them, but with a disclaimer: If what attracts you about Western RPGs is the high level of customization and freedom to do whatever you like, be warned that JRPGs are very very different. They’re much more about a focused story and characters, and much less about customization and freedom. I mean, there’s SOME of that, don’t get me wrong, but much less than you would find in, say, Elder Scrolls or Fable.
           
          If you want a good starting point for Persona, play either Persona 3 FES, available on PSN for PS3, or Persona 3 Portable, available for PSP or PSVita. They are basically the same game, with a few differences:
           
          P3FES has an extended epilogue called “The Answer” which directly follows the main part of the game. It’s a bit of a grindfest, which some people love, but for a first-time JRPGer, maybe not.
           
          P3P does not have “The Answer,” and also has removed all the beautifully animated cut scenes. BUT, it does have the option to play the game as a female protagonist, which changes quite a bit of the game. P3P ALSO allows you to control all members of your party, which P3FES does not, which can lead to some frustration.
           
          The earlier Persona games, while very very good, employ some gameplay mechanics that are definitely dated, and may turn off a modern gamer. Persona 4 is probably the best game in the series, but as of now, it’s only available for PS2, which is why I’m excited for the upcoming enhanced port for PSVita.
           
          TL;DR version: Play Persona 3 FES or Persona 3 Portable

        • NarcolepticPanda

          @PaganPoet:disqus: Okay, I’ll probably try the PSP version of Persona 3. I do greatly enjoy customization in Western RPGs, and the story in Japanese games I’ve played have been a bit…convoluted, but given the robust amount of great JRPGs on the PSP, I feel like I should at least try some. Persona just happens to be the one that looks most interesting to me.

    • Swadian Knight

      You’re making me miss my Playstation 2.

    • Patrick Batman

      I envy you for still having Persona 3: FES on the horizon.  I can only imagine what it would be like to play it again with fresh eyes.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

    “Hmm, yeah!  I see you’re gettin’ better!  Kick to the limit, the [something that rhymes with better]!”  PaRappa was such a fun time.  Utterly rudimentary as far as today’s rhythm games are concerned, but it had tons of character.  I’m glad to see it’s still gaining fans.

    Playing a bit of a rhythm game of my own this weekend; I’m DJing my own wedding, which is next Saturday (eek), so I’m putting together some finishing touches to hit that elusive spot of charming-but-funky, familiar-but-unique.  While doing everything in my power to avoid that accursed end-level boss, “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Congratulations on getting married, Mattman.  All the best to you and your soon-to-be spouse.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        Thanks!  Between the Treasure playoffs here and the Project Runway board over on the A.V. Club, I’ve been running my mouth off quite a bit in these last few weeks, largely due to nuptials nerves.  It’s been reassuring to hear a lot of positive comments in there amidst all the joking around, and yours have definitely helped, Spacemonkey.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          My six year anniversary is this Saturday, if that provides you any reassurance about the institution.
             I tell you, if anyone ever told me I would one day have a woman in my life who loved me, and a gaming rig capable of running Skyrim on high settings, I wouldn’t have believed ‘em.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Congratulations!  Four and a half years of marriage here.  Does your future wife share your fondness for video games as well?

        • Enkidum

          10 years here. My sole advice: don’t hold grudges. And enjoy every moment.

        • George_Liquor

          Still single here. Ummm… Anyone got a sister?

          Also mucho congrats, @MattmanBegins:disqus

        • Effigy_Power

          Grats also.

          @George_Liquor:disqus: Mine is available, but she has 2 kids. She’s basically on Pro-mode.

        • George_Liquor

          @Effigy_Power:disqus: Hmm… How does she feel about short alcoholic John K drawings who are prone to fits of rage?

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          @George_Liquor:disqus   Marrying my best friends sister did the trick for me!  Sure it only took the better part of a decade to mend the friendship, but omelette, eggs, breaking, etc.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

          @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus :  She does, in fact, although not to the same obsessive degree as myself.  I got her hooked on the little-mentioned-around-these-parts City Of Heroes/Villains a few years back, although we’ve done precious little team or solo missions since wedding plans kicked into gear.  She’s expressed admiration and curiosity about the Fallout universe, an appetite I’m dying to stoke.  And she holds an almost comical level of regard for Kirby’s Air Ride, for the GameCube–hours on end trying to unlock every vehicle, collect those Super Vehicle parts, etc.  Same thing with Bubble Bobble.

          Having a future wife who wasn’t a gaming fanatic was never exactly a deal-breaker with me, but I could never and still can’t imagine myself with someone who actively hated video games.  Thank goodness I found someone who, in addition to her many other invaluable qualities, finds value in my gaming pasttime even when she doesn’t completely share it herself.  She’ll even stand behind me and rub my shoulders during some of those marathon sessions.  Yep, a winner is me.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

          @Enkidum:disqus :  Thanks!  Both empathy and forgiveness are in strong supply with her, and hopefully with me.  Those ain’t the sort of attributes you can just buy at the in-game store, if you will, so it’s looking pretty good.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

          @George_Liquor:disqus &@Effigy_Power:disqus :  Thanks!  Alas, George, I’m the sole heir to the family throne.  But I’m sure your princess is in another castle.

    • caspiancomic

       I think it’s “kick to the limit in order to get her.” And yeah, that game basically ruled. I could play the flea market level with that burnout Rastafarian frog with my eyes closed. Literally closed, I played that level so often I had it memorized.

      Also, holy cow, congratulations! Send my regards to the future Mrs. Begins.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        That sounds about right.  I chiefly remember that it sent the PlayStation owners among us who didn’t have memory cards yet (such a device being a new concept back then) running out to get them, as you could only attain “COOL” ranking and its attendant psychedelic effects if you had a card to save your status to, for some reason.

        And thank you!  She and I will be doing a fair amount of turning and posing in a week, that’s for sure.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Semi-serious question: how does one physically DJ one’s own wedding? Do you set up some automatic playlists and then check on them every 20 minutes or so? Or are you doing some awesome acrobatics involving dancing and scratching turntables at the same time?

      Anyway, congrats on getting married! All the best.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

         It might be an expert strategy to get out of having to dance at your own wedding…In which case, it’s GENIUS!

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        @Merve2:disqus : While I did attempt the latter once (resulting in an embarrassing loop of “…try to discover!” from Erasure’s “A Little Respect” playing for like fifteen seconds while I tried to discover the mixer again), it will lamely be more like the former this time, with me keeping an ear out for where we are in the set. 

        There’s a certain amount of improv that comes with a good mix that it pains me to be unable to fully work around, but…I’ve DJed other weddings before, and my dad did it professionally for fifteen years, so I have a bit of experience in the field, and experience with the field’s clichés.  So I couldn’t, in good conscience, turn The Happiest Day Of My Life over to some stranger who was going to lead out with “Unchained Melody” for the billionth time in history.

        And thank you for the well-wishes!

    • WorldCivilizations

      I once had a subscription to Game Informer or something for getting a membership at my local game store, and I had a disk with some demos on it including a level of PaRappa. Amazingly, my brief experience with that game left an indelible impression on me, as that one song has stuck with me all these years – well just that one line: “kick! punch! it’s all in the mind/ if you wanna teach me I’m sure you’ll find…” At that point the lyrics link up to the lyrics of “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” in my mind. Now that I check the internet, that game and song were released about 5 months apart…

    • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

      Parappa the Rapper 2 had “iller” beats in my opinion. Also congrats on your marriage! I’m getting married 1 week from Saturday but I cheated and hired a dude named Jerome to DJ. 

      We set ground rules though, like “If you play ‘Call Me Maybe’ you’re fired.”

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

        Unless his full name is Jerome Jepsen, I think you’re in the clear.  Even then, at least he has a cool name.

        Thanks for the congrats!

    • ChumJoely

      I have played PaRappa the Rapper exactly once, in about 2001 with my old college friend, Bram Cohen, who had just arrived in San Francisco and was apparently not far away from inventing BitTorrent.  Pretty cool game.  Not particularly cool guy.

  • Mookalakai

    I’m taking an Egyptology class right now, and it has given me some serious Age of Mythology cravings that must be sated this weekend. Other than that, I probably will play Torchlight 2 for many more hours than I would like to publicly admit.

    • Effigy_Power

      I simply can’t comprehend why Age of Mythology didn’t get a second part. The mythology-aspect was surprisingly sound, within the confines of making it playable of course, the tactical aspect was actually more fun than Age of Empires and I found the soundtrack to be one of the best ever.
      Even the characters were pretty damn good and for an RTS, that’s something.

      • Mookalakai

         Well it did get the Titans expansion, but I hate playing as the Atlanteans, and you’re right, it deserves more. AOM was my first ever RTS, and it is still by far my favorite. Definitely agree on the campaign and the characters too, the way they blend a lot of classical mythological tales into playable missions was awesome, like finding the parts and resurrecting Osiris. Just….awesome.

  • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow

    I’m playing the long road to recovery by installing Ubuntu on my old hard drive, after which I’ll update my phone to CyanogenMod10 off the nightly builds. Hooray, insomnia!

    • George_Liquor

      I’ve noticed a lot of bloat lately with Ubuntu. I think they’re trying to cram as much eye-candy into it as Windows has, which is not something I want in my Linux distro.

      • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow

        Yeah, it’s true: but Better The Devil You Know, and all that. Maybe I’ll look into other Debian based distros.

  • http://twitter.com/sarCCastro SarChris Castro

    Probably playing a lot more of Rock Band Blitz. Kind of addicted to it. It’s likely the closest I’ll ever get to playing a “strategy” game.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    Overall a good game and I’m glad I played it and I am equally glad that I never have to play it again.
    - me 2 weeks ago regarding Deus Ex: Human Revolution

    Turns out, I was wrong about that last bit. A couple of days after posting that I was waiting for the bus for work and happened to notice nearby between two office buildings there was a small alleyway blocked off by a security gate and a high fence. I automatically assessed that if I couldn’t hack the gate, I could carry over a dumpster and use the leg augmentation to jump over the fence. This was my impetus to reinstall the game which I then burned through in a week,  this time getting the Foxiest achievement and the platinum. It was incredibly fun this time around, and also much easier when you know where you need to go. Had the ideal upgrades for each boss, cruised through each encounter. And I may not be sated yet, any thoughts on the Missing Link DLC… is it worth me spending ten of my hard earned Australian dollars?

    The big news in my sad and pathetic little life this week is Bioware announcing that the first Mass Effect will finally be released for PS3 sometime after November. Will be nice to play through it without battling those awful keyboard controls, the Mako may actually handle slightly less horribly. But that’s still months away, so my weekend will be bits of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer maybe, bits of Uncharted 2 multiplayer (original and best) possibly, and I recently got back in to Skyrim after completing the main quest months and months ago, so some of that. Spent two evenings this week trying to find a cure for vampirism which was a lot of fucking around. Don’t know where or when my Nordette picked up this disease but it got to the point where I was ostracised from the community and would get chased and shot at every time I went near a village. Fortunately, the internet had a simple 76-step process for curing the curse, and it may or may not have included large doses of penicillin, bed rest, and using a mace to cave in the skull of some poor farmer who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (sorry dude). Anyway, since being cured I have been attacked by a necromancer’s pet goat which made me giggle and also encountered a moonwalking werewolf (gotta love Bethesda) so am encouraged to persist with this game for a little longer.

    In my mind it’s okay to waste away the whole weekend with the aforementioned games, hiding away from the world. This is because this weekend is football grand final weekend here in Australia, where millions of mindless suburbanites come together to celebrate their lizard brains by barbecuing animal parts, drooling, and consuming unhealthy amounts of low price alcohol in order to show support for their beloved blue team, who represent everything that is pure and good, hoping that they defeat the hated red team, who represent everything that is rotten and evil just by wearing a different coloured vest. These two teams, consisting of several dozen brain dead gorillas, contribute to our society by kicking and punching (or kicking and throwing depending on rules of code) a piece of inflated leather around an oval and due to the presence of physical violence permitted in the rules, also feel the need to try and show each other who is a bigger man by shoving each other around even though it looks like they’re aggressively hugging. These people are heroes and role models, despite the fact that since they’re highly paid meatheads with a sense of entitlement and oodles of spare time, they can get a bit rapey. Anyway, since I am The Outsider, I avoid the shit out of all this and will be hiding inside my house with the curtains drawn, not answering the phone or the front door just in case anyone wants to inflict football on me. If anyone infiltrates the house I figure I can just hide behind the couch Jensen-style. And we have come full circle.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I don’t know if The Missing Link is worth ten bucks, but if it ever goes on sale, you should definitely nab it. It’s a very well-made piece of DLC.

    • Effigy_Power

      I love reading what you write, if only because your cynicism and disdain for things so closely mirrors my own.
      We should do lunch some day.

    • The_Forgotten_Quill

      I’m moving rather smoothly through my second playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I finished the DLC last weekend and am now working toward my last two achievements: Pacifist and Foxiest of Hounds (both of which I was going for on my first playthrough and apparently failed miserably).

      RANT AND POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

      I could have sworn I didn’t kill anyone, but someone might have gotten a tranquilizer dart to the face, died and I just didn’t notice. I also EMPed a robot on a certian mission which then subsequentaly exploded and took out a handful of enemies, but I would consider that a second-hand death at best.

      Anyway, this time I’m taking no chances. The most frustrating thing was that had I known I’d blown the achievement on the last playthrough, I would have just gone in guns blazing and mowed down all those “crazies” at the end of the game. Talk about a missed opportunity to take out some rapidly increasing frustration. 

      /RANT AND POSSIBLE SPOILERS

      I’d be playing it again even had I not missed my achievements. It’s one damn good game, and one I’m ashamed to say I let slip by me initially. I’m officially a fan.

      • fieldafar

        I know how you feel. Despite trying to unlock every achievement during my second run, I didn’t get the Foxiest one. Must’ve let off an alarm without knowing. 

        • Effigy_Power

          I think that’s the downside of achievements.
          Without it telling you that you missed a single thing somewhere, you would have ended the game in the belief that you were perfect, whereas the lack of achievement clarifies that you weren’t. It replaces any sort of goal you set for yourself with an arbitrary percentage of things to do.
          Kinda shitty now that I think about it.

    • Fluka

      “Spent two evenings this week trying to find a cure for vampirism which was a lot of fucking around.”
      So it was a standard Skyrim quest?

      (I kid, I kid.)

      I love it when Skyrim breaks juuuust slightly and gets kind of silly.  You get your moonwalking werewolves.  Meanwhile, I was swimming underwater the other day to avoid some guards and also came across a goat, just kinda chilling there on the bottom of the underground pool.  Yo.

      Outsider?  More like The Insider.  *Puts some sound baffles over her windows to keep out sunlight and the sounds of human joy.*

    • NarcolepticPanda

      Hopefully I’ll be able to nab Deus Ex: Human Revolution for my PS3 this weekend and start that up. Any recommendations for first playthrough style? Be a sneaky pete on easy and go for the no-people-killed and no-alarms-triggered trophies? Or jump right in on hard and just try to finish?

      • Fluka

        Definitely definitely do sneak.  It feels so much more fun than just going in and shooting people.  You get a massive experience bonus on the main missions if you aren’t seen by anyone, either.  If you go for the sneaky non-lethal route, the difficulty level actually doesn’t make any difference, I think – it only affects enemy health and damage (and your own health).  Except for the boss fights where you’re forced to fight head-on, which totally suck.  Be prepared for those with *some* kind of lethal augmentations or weapons.

        Note that if you do want to get the no-kill trophy, the tutorial section counts, and the only way to not kill the guards is to sneak around them.

        I had the most fun in the game by getting all of the augmentations which allowed me to find hidden places.  Leveling up my Hacking Capture skill, getting the augs which let me jump higher, fall safely, move heavy objects to find vents, break through walls, etc.  Exploring and finding new paths through an enemy base are super-fun.

        Also, if you do decide to do sneaky, I recommend ironically *not* getting any of the Stealth augmentations.  They are useless.  Get cloak, instead!

        • NarcolepticPanda

          Thanks! Yeah, I always prefer being stealthy in games whenever I can. Even if I started on hard, I wasn’t just going strut in guns blazing, but I wasn’t sure how much difficulty level changed enemy’s abilities to spot me. Hidden places ARE super-fun!

        • Effigy_Power

          The guys in the tutorial count? The guys the game specifically teaches you to moider with precise gunshots? Whose guns you are supposed to loot for ammo? Those guys?
          Who the fuck sanctioned that?

        • Fluka

          @NarcolepticPanda:disqus No problem!  And pick up a stun gun – it’s the bestest!

          @Effigy_Power:disqus I know, right?!

        • The_Forgotten_Quill

          Question…did you get that Pacifist achievement? If so, did you get it and save “you know who” in the same playthrough? Do kills from exploding robots count against you? 

          I wish the game kept stats like “kill total” and “alarms sounded”, so you would know at what point you went wrong. At this point, I’m playing through again and crossing my fingers I don’t make the same mistakes twice. Honestly though, I have no idea what I did.

        • Fluka

          @The_Forgotten_Quill:disqus Uuugh, I did noot.  I had already downed a couple of guys before I got turned into Cyborg Jensen, so there was no chance.  I still used non-lethal for 99% of the game, both on philosophical grounds and to make it a more interesting challenge, but I wasn’t extra careful about checking guards I had shot with tranquilizer darts.  And yeah, after trying non-lethal a few times to save A Certain Someone and ending up horizontal and groaning, I just said “screw it” and started throwing explosive barrels (and finally succeeded!).  People stuck in the blast radius from an exploding robot totally do count as kills, too.  @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus managed if I remember correctly to get both the Pacifist and Good Soul achievements, though, so it must be possible!

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        I’m going to be a contrarian and say that going in guns blazing is fun on an initial playthrough. Well…not completely guns blazing. Sneak around until you get caught. Then shoot everybody.

        • The_Forgotten_Quill

          Better yet, sneak around until the very last chapter and then just unleash all your frustration on those annoying guys at the end. There will never be a more appropriate time to just blow everyone away.

        • NarcolepticPanda

          That’s what I thought I might do on hard. Just wasn’t sure what difficulty level changed. It looks like the type of game I’ll dig though, so I’ll probably finish it a few times.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @The_Forgotten_Quill:disqus : I knew they were innocent, yet I shot them anyway. Self-defense was my rationalization. I’m a terrible person.

      • The_Forgotten_Quill

        Fluka did an awesome job of summing it up, but I will add one thing. If you’re playing on “Give me Deus Ex”, be prepared to hide and I mean HIDE. I found that guards are much, much more likely to spot you. They’ll see you through windows, in vents, as well as windowed doors, and sneaking up behind them has to be perfectly timed.

        That being said, Fluka is right. If you’re going for stealth, go for the Legend achievement.

        Also, on Boss Fights, one word: TYPHOON. 

        Upgrade it to level two, keep plenty of ammo stocked and just go at them. Toss a grenade to stun and hit them with two level 2 typoon hits at point blank range.

        This will end any fight.

        • Fluka

          Hah, I was considering adding “GET THE TYPHOON GET THE TYPHOON” but wasn’t sure if it counted as spoilers or not!  

          Now that that cat is out of the bag:
          TYYYYYPHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!

          (Also, difficulty affects guard awareness?  Who knew!  Reading the wiki now does seem to indicate that there are at least *some* consequences to playing on Hard, like all nearby enemies being alerted if one is alerted, so you could well be right.)

        • NarcolepticPanda

          Thanks for all the tips @The_Forgotten_Quill:disqus and  @Fluka:disqus! I think I’ll start out being stealthy going for the Legend trophy. If I get annoyed, I’ll just switch to easy and continue being stealthy. Hopefully I’ll get at least the Pacifist trophy. If not, it still seems like I’ll really enjoy the game, and I can play it again. *note to self: TYPHOON* 

        • fieldafar

          >Also, on Boss Fights, one word: TYPHOON. 

          This. First time I played DX:HR (without Typhoon), I almost gave up playing it after defeating the first boss. Fortunately I didn’t.

    • The_Forgotten_Quill

      Also, in regards to The Missing Link DLC. I loved it. It fleshes out the 3 days in which you go “off the grid” and I found it to be just as challenging and well made as the inital game. It also has an achievement for using no augments, which initially frustrated me, but I then quickly discovered a new-found appreciation for purposly “tying my hands.”

      It very closely relates to the main storyline, and just adds overall depth to the world of HR. It’s also quite a lengthy DLC. If you’re going for the “Facorty Zero” achievements which is no augs and no weapon fire, it can easily take about 3 to 4 hours to complete. I found it was well worth the money.   

      • Fluka

        Aaah, this is making it very hard to continue my current dedication to playing Skyrim.  I picked up Missing Link for $3 during a Steam sale recently, so it’s sitting there on my computer all smiling and waiting for me.

        Also, do non-lethal takedowns count as an aug?  Or are those disabled with the rest of your augs at the beginning, too?

        • The_Forgotten_Quill

          No, you can still do non-lethals, but the restriction is not to “spend any Praxis points”, so you essentially start the way you started HR. You can do takedowns, but double takedowns are out. You can hack, but only Level 1 doors, etc.

          It’s well worth the time if you enjoyed the game and need/want a break from Skyrim.   

        • Fluka

          @The_Forgotten_Quill:disqus Cool!  Thanks!  This achievement sounds relevant to my interests.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      “Hooray for sports teams!  Go, fight, get some points or something!”

      I share your disdain for the entire professional sports arena.  On its own I think sports can be fun, but the idea of people getting paid millions of dollars a year to play a game just because they’re physically fit still kind of irks me.

      • Effigy_Power

        While I am sick to death with the whole “Hooray we cheer for the guys who temporarily wear the same colored shirt as us” attitude, I don’t have an issue with pro-sports as such. I watch a lot of baseball and enjoy it almost 50% of the time, which for me is pretty good.
        The magic for myself is to ignore who wins and loses, despite coming from an almost religiously “Yankee” family, and just enjoy when the game is played well.
        If the other team is playing better than the one I might subconsciously be rooting for, hey… skill should win it.
        That way I can avoid all the ugly drama and even uglier elation of it all and just watch my favorite athleticism with the attitude of a cold, emotionless researcher.
        -happy sigh-

        • Fluka

          Also, for baseball, sometimes there are beer and hotdogs.

    • fieldafar

      I’m also playing through Deus Ex: HR again, mainly to try out my new PC but to also unlock the rest of my achievements. 

      As for Missing Link, I really liked it so I don’t regret paying full price for it. But I still think you should wait for a sale.

    • http://twitter.com/sarCCastro SarChris Castro

      Sorry to break it to you, but the Mako handles terribly on the console as well. I’m interested to find out if they “remastered” ME1 for PS3 like they did with ME2, making it handle/look more like ME3. I doubt they went to the trouble, though.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Jade Empire and Sleeping Dogs this weekend. Maybe a bit of ME3 multiplayer if I feel like shooting robots.

    • George_Liquor

      Man, there’s just no two ways about it. I’m gonna have to play through JE again. I really hope Bioware’s planning a sequel to it.

      • The Guilty Party

        They talk occasionally that they loved doing it and want to do it again, but the money wasn’t exactly there, and now the Docs are gone, so… outlook uncertain, try again.

    • Fluka

      *Notices her hand involuntarily drifting towards her wallet.  Blocks the Steam Store for the rest of the day.*

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Not to discourage you from purchasing video games, but I’ve seen Jade Empire on sale for as little as $3.74 on Steam. If you wait a couple of months, you’ll be able to pick it up for the price of a Starbucks drink.

        • Fluka

          Okay, that’s as good a way as any to tell my brain to not buy the game RIGHT. NOW.

  • vinnybushes

    I just got my invite e-mail for the Hawken Alpha so I’ll probably be playing way too much of that. Before you ask me for specifics, I did agree to an NDA, so I will probably just tell you its great and leave it at that. Other than that I’m starting to work my way through the MGS HD collection.

    • Mookalakai

      (Lawyers and SWAT teams break down your door)

  • EmperorNortonI

    I’ve just started into Torchlight 2 with my regular co-op buddy, and it’s going well.  Limited play time has meant that we’re not very far at all, but still.  I tried playing all 4 character types, just to try them, and really enjoy the Engineer the most.  But like all loot based kill-em-all games, I find myself quickly losing interest should I try to play solo, so at least I don’t have to worry about it becoming a huge time-suck.

    I’m also still seriously into FTL.  That game is awesome.  I’ve still yet to beat the final boss, argh, but I’ve unlocked the Zoltan and Engi ships, and their alternate layouts.  The achievements for the Kestrel seem impossible.

    I’m starting to feel vaguely interested in playing Dark Souls again.  Maybe soon.

    For the future, I’ve just noticed that Company of Heroes 2 is available for pre-order on Steam.  That’s the only RTS I’ve ever played seriously, and is an automatic buy – especially since this time around, it’s East Front.  The  Red Army Rules!

    For Stalin!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    It’s such an old game, PaRappa The Rapper.

    Gameological: What is it?

    I really really hope that was just interview rhetoric.  I wouldn’t feel good about coming to a video game site where the writers don’t know PaRappa.
     

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      *laughs*  I knew people were going to raise their eyebrows.

      I know 1 works on a Playstation 2, but I assumed that he meant 2.  It’s interesting to see how nostalgia affects people’s views, since I think they’re both equal in charm and design.  The gameplay was really basic for both, so I always preferred Umjammer Lammy in that series.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/EUPDMNIW75KUMC4KJOJUG5WZAU Wade

      It’s Heisler. He doesn’t know much about video games prior to like 3 years ago. Anything prior to the current gen of consoles, he’s clueless.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    FAVORITE PARAPPA SONGS, GO!

    “Bathroom Rap”

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

    I just renewed my subscription to Nikoli.com, so their puzzles will keep me company this weekend. I need something to occupy my mind during commercials. 

    There’s plenty of free apps that generate slitherlink, etc., but it’s so much better to play a puzzle that was designed by a real human being. They have style. 

  • http://twitter.com/MikoSquiz Miko the Squiz

    Maybe continuing Torchlight II, though I’m starting to tire of it a little.

    And definitely playing the XCOM: Enemy Unknown demo, probably over and over and over if it’s any good at all. The original was and is one of the greatest games of all time – I’m not even particularly a turn-based-tactics-with-overarching-stragey-and-management fan, but it is – and the news on the remake has given every indication that it’s going to feel and taste like the original, just sleeker and shinier and a smoother ride. I’m so excited to be installing the demo that I just did a little bit of a sex wee.

  • Effigy_Power

    I gots time this weekend, which is nice, so I plan to finish Torchlight 2, although I have no idea how close to that I am, having just entered the old dwarven mines… it has sort of an endgame feel to it and I am close to level 50, so… we’ll see.
    Gonna do some “oart”, since Mooy is apparently also back from his side-job of contract-assassination which kept him busy.
    Also I found a really easy way to get DayZ going and maybe I am gonna rope Mooy, Sub and Hobbes into that for a day. It’s a bit tedious, but definitely nerve-wracking to the extreme.

    Btw, it takes a blissfully uninformed mind to consider Call of Duty realistic… I wish I had that back.

    • Mookalakai

       Level 50 is supposed to be the endgame for Torchlight 2, but I apparently leveled too much and finished at about 54-55. That’s a problem if you start a New Game+, which begins with all enemies at level 51, and I was over-leveled for a while, until I gave up and now I just dick around in the mapworks for an eternity. So look forward to the sweet allure of endgame loot soon.

    • djsubversive

      “rope… Sub… into [DayZ] for a day.”

      unlikely. I just got Torchlight 2, and have been playing a fuckton of 7.62 and Jade Empire lately.

      Anything ArmA 2-related is going to probably be me tweaking the “Chernarus Survival Effort” – setting up more camps to find/respawn at, editing crate contents, possibly adding more DAC zones for hostiles (right now, they’re still mostly in the northern and southern areas of the map).

      Also, hahaha, Call of Duty realistic. That’s probably the best one I’ve heard in a while. Literally laughing out loud remembering the laser-guns from that video playthrough.

      • Effigy_Power

        After playing a bit of DayZ I will likely NOT rope anyone into it. It’s kinda fucking obnoxious.

        • djsubversive

           ”kinda fucking obnoxious” was my impression, just from trying to learn ArmA scripting. It seemed like every little thing I wanted to do had a DayZ-related topic somewhere, and when I did choose to read them, I got the impression that the DayZ community is as bad (or worse) than the general ArmA 2 community.

  • JohnnyLongtorso

    I bought Game of Thrones for the PS3 from Gamefly. It will probably suck, but it was only $10, so even if I don’t like it, I can resell it on Amazon and get my money back. I also got the latest Humble Indie Bundle, so I’ll probably try some of those games out. Though the two I have played so far have not wowed me (SPAZ, where the “funny” dialog got on my nerves after about five minutes, and that generic sidescrolling physics platformer that I can’t remember the name of).

    • George_Liquor

       Hey synergy! I just watched the Monster A-Go Go episode last night, featuring Johnny Longtorso!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579674289 Morgan Filbert

    I’ll be leading my feral pack of Pomeranian’s through the mean streets of the Tokyo Jungle. 

    • Effigy_Power

      Not a sentence I expected to read today.
      Well played, Sir.

  • stakkalee

    Well, not even Nick Cave could make Red Dead: Redemption click for me (thanks again for the suggestion, @ShrikeTheAvatar:disqus,) so I’ll be playing more Arkham City and maybe pick up Skyrim again since I abandoned my Argonian assassin somewhere in a cave lo those many months ago.

    I’m hoping someone can recommend some good post-apocalyptic sci-fi titles for Xbox – my appetite is still whetted from New Vegas but I don’t want to pick it up again so soon.  It doesn’t even have to be post-apocalyptic – cyberpunk would work, too (I’m looking forward to getting in to Deus Ex: HR down the line a ways.)

    • The_Forgotten_Quill

      If you haven’t already tried it, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was a really, really good game. It’s definitely post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and it has an excellent story. It has a standard, linear RPG-like style, but if you’re looking for a good action game with about 25-35 hours play time (full achievements), I would highly recommend it. Good price, too.

    • NarcolepticPanda

      Well, if you have a PS3, Resistance is worth trying. It’s made by the Ratchet and Clank developers and isn’t nearly as fun or creative, but, hey, you shoot disfigured creatures in a brownish grayish landscape. If you only have a 360, sorry, nothing besides Fallout or Deus Ex comes to mind.

    • Effigy_Power

      Wouldn’t it be funny if after a while those Skyrim characters got up to their own devices after feeling abandoned by their players?
      I imagine my hardy Nord girl is running her own smithy in Whiterun now, after I accidentally murdered the smith-chick in a bout of Werewolf-rage. Probably shares the place with Mjoll the Lioness, who is still just brainlessly squawking on about her dumb sword and accompanied by her toady sidekick telling her not to risk anything.
      If that was happening, I might actually feel obligated to play a bit and rescue her from her life of tedium.

  • Swadian Knight

    I’m still not done with The Last Story, which has again and again proven to be a lot longer than I thought it’d be. I’ve kind of been avoiding it the past couple of days though, since the game suddenly threw a really bullshit boss at me. It’s not that it’s difficult, exactly, but that it does that goddamn JRPG bullshit where the boss has three phases and dying during the third one means you have to start over from scratch. It’s really frustrating. On the other hand, that frustration has led me to cool off by playing Rayman: Origins again, which is a game that I just love. 

    On the PC side of things, I found my old physical copy of Fallout 3, which had been missing for a while. Unfortunately, I can’t get the damn thing to work on my current computer, which means I’ll just default to playing more Dragon Age and even more Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

    • Effigy_Power

      Are you still actually playing Mount&Blade btw?
      I remember you criticizing me for throwing my lot in with the Horsepeople and after for handing my 100% cavalry warband to the Nords. I often feel compelled to return to that, but then I get doubts that I could just jump back into it.
      It’s definitely not a game that works well if you abandon it for a while.

      • Shain Eighmey

        I’ve been feeling the call to return to Mount and Blade again myself! Maybe you should pick up a good mod like Prophecy of Pendor? 

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        @google-75b01ca07f65fad60c1abd1c21d655b2:disqus 
        http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/09/28/its-finally-real-mount-blade-ii

        It looks like I’ll be practicing this weekend for an hour.  Getting embarrassed in a sequel is good motivation to returning to old games.

      • Swadian Knight

        This might sound strange, but I’ve never actually owned Mount & Blade. I was introduced to it by a friend when she moved in with me for a while, and I got really obsessed with it for a while – it was, in fact, my gateway into modern PC gaming, which I’m still pretty new to.

        So yeah, to answer your question, I don’t really play Mount & Blade anymore, and I haven’t in a while; I also hesitate to get it for myself because it’s just such a wonderful timesink. But if you have it and feel the urge to jump back in, just do like I used to and start a new character: Mount & Blade is a lot like a single player board game, and it’s a lot more enjoyable to start a new game than it is to jump back into an old save.

        • Effigy_Power

          I am shocked an appalled. King Harlaus shall hear of this. And yes, there are a lot of games like that. Everything that starts with Sim for example… and since Mount and Blade is basically Sim Warband, it also falls into that category.

  • The_Forgotten_Quill

    Wrong place…blah

  • Fluka

    Woke up to a rainy Friday morning on a day I get to spend working at home instead of commuting, while joined by a similarly non-commuting Mr. Fluka, so starting the weekend off in a very nice way!

    Will probably keep soldering on in Skyrim, continuing the Thieves Guild quest line with my stylish Argonian maid.  Due to a combination of mods and forced-immersive roleplaying on my part, the game is finally clicking on the third time I’ve tried to play it.  Maybe it helps that the stealth quests are usually a lot more fun than “Go to this cave and kill these .”  Pickpocketing jarls in broad daylight in their thronerooms (with lots of quicksave loading) is pretty fun and/or silly, too.  Sneaking occasionally does seem to be kind of broken, though.  Sometimes I’ll be crouching somewhere, like under a dock, and the sneak icon will be closed, and I’ll still have guards shouting at me “You’re not supposed to be here!”  I’m finally enjoying myself, though, and looking forward to starting the Assassins Guild at some point.  I still wouldn’t say I’m in love with the game – I don’t get the same “I NEED TO KEEP PLAYING AND TO TALK ABOUT THIS” instinct that I get with, say, Deus Ex: HR.  I’m happy that Bethesda does what Bethesda does, but I’d hate to see for other games to copy this model (which has now made so very much money).  The world itself is beautiful and o so very open, but something about the combat, or maybe the voice acting and profusion of boring sidequests, always keeps me a little distant.

    Otherwise, biding my time until I am invariably disappointed by my extreme anticipation of Dishonored (please bee gooooood).  And Mr. Fluka has fallen deep deep down the FTL well.  Fun rougelike incident: he killed the rebel flagship with only 1% of his hull remaining in his last game!

    • Effigy_Power

      Some limited Co-op in Skyrim could make that game so much more awesome, but while I don’t think it’s a technical problem (and there are mods for that already), the world is just too stagnant and too limited in what you can do to fit two or even more Dovhakin in there… which is sad. The game could definitely be a great little roleplaying platform.
      That said, I recommend you try the mod “Live another life” some time, which lets you start in one of many different roles, such as an Argonian working at the docks in Winterhold, a patron of one of the Inns or a hunter in the wild. One even has you wake up naked and without any gear in the middle of the wild… if you’re unlucky, in the middle of Blackreach…
      It’s definitely fun and a great way to get some other style of gaming going, like making an immersive character who hunts for money and food and whatnot.

      • Fluka

        Oooo, I’ll need to check that it’s not interfering with anything else, but that sounds like an excellent way to start a new game in the future!  Thanks for the tip!

        • Effigy_Power

          It basically just changes the start (and you can still select the normal one), but it has some oddities. If you select to live a life as a bandit, all bandits on the map become friendly to you, which makes getting gear pretty easy. If you start in a fortress that has wolves in it, all wolves (and werewolves) will also be friendly, hehe. I don’t know if starting as a Necromancer makes undead friendly, but it could be.
          Some of the choices are race-dependent, like being a Khajit Caravan Guard or something.
          Sadly you can’t be a Thalmor (at least you couldn’t be when I played it, might have updated it.) It’s definitely pretty awesome.

    • The_Forgotten_Quill

      Sounds amazingly similair to my experience with Oblivion.

      - Get Quest in Town
      - Walk/Ride to nearby cave-like area
      - Raid cave-like area for treasure
      - Fast-travel back to original town
      - Repeat ad nauseum

      I think the most unexpected thing that happened to me the entire game was contracting vampirism, in which I had to go on a lengthy quest looking for a cure. (Note: I’d been passing up garlic like crazy, but the moment I need it, it’s nowhere to be found.)

      Of course, mid-quest, a man I was supposed to be following got stuck on an uneven paver in the middle of the road and after a good 10 minutes watching him walk in place whist staring at me as if I had some way to free him from his torment, I abandoned him and finished that game as quickly as possible.

      I am not an Elder Scrolls fan.

      • Fluka

        I loved Oblivion, mostly because it was A) The first modern game I played, so I had no basis for comparison, B) It was modded so that the game was nigh-unrecognizeable at times.  Now that I’ve come back to Skyrim, I can see where all the complaints come from.

        I still enjoy the game, but I have to be in the right mood.  I was not in the right mood last night, so that the bugs were irritating rather than charming.  Oh hey Fluka, I see that you’re trying to shoot a bandit from a sniper’s nest?  Why don’t I *put your arrows directly into the ground in front of you?*  Or perhaps you’d like to get caught behind this table?  (Thank god for PC console commands.)  Lydia and I then chased the boss bandit around for a while, getting destroyed, until he disappeared and I assumed he was dead.  As we were leaving, I found him stranded on a log in the middle of a pond at 1/4 health, non-hostile and asking “Do you need something?”  (Okay, that one was pretty funny.)  I then spent 30 min trying to find a path up a straight-vertical cliff.  And then got attacked by guards for intruding while talking to a shop owner whose shop I had entered juuust before closing time.

        Damn it, Skyrim!  If I wanted random cruelty, I’d go play FTL instead!

  • boardgameguy

    on the tabletop front, my father is in town which means we will likely be playing some lighter or card based games like LOOT, TRAVEL BLOG, LOST CITIES (two player game) or SCOTLAND YARD

    • blue vodka lemonade

       Lost Cities can be great fun, especially after I realized you can play it with any old deck of cards. It’s also a hit with the younger set, or at least the 8-12 set, and has saved me from several terrible babysitting jobs.

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    I’m in the final planning stages of a wedding so if I have any time I might bang out a round or two of FTL or some Battlefield 3.

    I still haven’t finished Mark of the Ninja, any of the games from the XBLIG Summer Uprising or Humble Indie Bundle either. And Dishonored comes out in a few weeks. My free time is gonna get neck-stabbed.

    • blue vodka lemonade

       Man! Everybody’s getting married around here. I feel like the 28th dress, or whatever.

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    I realize I’m probably pretty boring with my single-mindedness when it comes to games.  That being said, I’ll be working on Guild Wars 2, alternating between farming for rare materials with my level 80 thief and playing a cactus hunter with my wife’s arugula mesmer.

    • ShrikeTheAvatar

      I, too, will be mashing my 1-10 keys in an effort to make a little orange bar increase in size.

      I may also combine random materials in the hopes that another, smaller bar will increase in size.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        *resists temptation to make penis joke*

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        I was surprised to see that, even at level 80, I still accrue experience and “level up”…I think it just gives me another skill point, but that’s still pretty cool.

        I got frustrated with the economy for a few days after hitting 80, but now am making a bit of headway by farming rarer materials.  Also excited to try out my new Mystic Salvage Kit I made just before logging out last night.  (250 uses equivalent to Master’s Salvage Kit, and one of the few Mystic Forge recipes that saves money instead of costing more!)

  • urthstripe

    I’ll try to get some Borderlands 2 time in. If you’re on PS3 and want to play with me, my sn is Urthstripe.

    I’m also playing through Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and doing bits and pieces of Far Cry 2.

    I’ve kind of put Deus Ex: Human Revolution on hold, but maybe I’ll get back into it. Hopefully I won’t have forgotten all the controls.

    • The_Forgotten_Quill

      I’m looking forward to getting back into Assassin’s Creed: Revelations right after I finish this second playthrough of Deus Ex:HR. I’m a little nervous though because I’ve heard less-than-stellar things and I LOVE the AC series.

      I love my stealthy, augmented Jensen to death, but there’s nothing quite like parkouring with Ezio through Rome.

  • rvb1023

    Finally making tangible progress through SMT: Nocturne, a game I have been neglecting for far too long.  I’m at that point where I want to play it again instead of forcing myself to see if its any good.  Maybe it’s because I’m finally starting to understand how to make fusions work better.  Spent a few hours chasing down materials to make some new guys who look awesome, so it’s actually been giving me something to look forward to.

  • Famous_Original_Feigenbaum

    I just restarted Fallout 2 again for the first time in a few years. I wish I would find whoever designed the level maps and beat the shit out of him for making doors and staircases so consistently difficult to select in 3/4 perspective.

    • Effigy_Power

      I have vague memories of knocking my forehead against the wall left and right of doors a lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=50300736 Shawn Hudson

    So, a writer for the Gameological site doesn’t know what PaRappa the Rapper is? Probably shouldn’t admit that.

    • PhonyPope

      Yeah, I thought that was kind of odd – it’s a fairly iconic game.

      Maybe he knows what it is, but was asking as an audience surrogate?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/EUPDMNIW75KUMC4KJOJUG5WZAU Wade

        Nah, he didn’t know. He’s probably forgotten all about it now.

  • PaganPoet

    Continuing to soldier on in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona on my Vita. I feel as if I’m coming near the end of the main story, but, as I understand, I have to replay it again to do the Snow Queen Quest. So, I imagine I’ll be with that one for a few more weeks.

    Was also checking out all my downloaded games on my PS3 yesterday and realized how many of them I still need to finish: Limbo, Outland, Stacking…I may feel inspired to play some of those as well, depending how busy I am this weekend. I’ve also decided to watch the entirety of The X-Files on Netflix, which is quite a daunting task. I’m currently in the middle of Season 3, so that’s taken a chunk out of my videogame time as well.

    • NarcolepticPanda

      Being a Debbie Downer here, but if you didn’t watch The X-Files on its original run and you’ve became attached to it, for your own sake, stop after season 5. Just make up your own conclusions to the series story arc. Watch the first half again. I don’t know, the last half of the show…well, let’s just leave my opinion at that.

  • dmikester

    Oh PaRappa.  Such a wonderful and annoying game (the controls are so, so, so bad but the music and insanity of the game is so, so, so good).  I’m actually a bigger fan of the quasi-sequel, Um Jammer Lammy, which was guitar-oriented rather than rap-oriented.  

    I’m beyond excited about the Mass Effect Trilogy announcement for PS3; as someone who’s never owned an XBox, I never got around to playing Mass Effect, and even though I understand that 3 is going to let me down or something, the franchise is tailor-made for me; epic story, sci-fi setting, RPG/action hybrid.  Between those three games and Assassin’s Creed III, I think I’ll be set until at least summer of next year.

    In the spirit of trying to get through games I never finished, and having FINALLY gotten 100% in all of the GTA IV era games this weekend, I’m going to try and 100% Just Cause 2 over this and the next several weekends.  I love that game (seldom does a game make me laugh out loud at the sheer craziness of what I’m doing), but the hugeness of it made me stop in the middle for some reason; I guess it just seemed like the end wasn’t close to being in sight or something.  But now I’m committed and ready to grapple hook onto a helicopter while running away from a nuclear rocket I just blew up in a jungle and then jump off the helicopter and grapple hook onto the desert ground that’s five feet away without opening up a parachute and not have a scratch on me.

    • NarcolepticPanda

      Yeah, I’m super psyched for the Mass Effect trilogy on PS3 as well. I’ve been in a bit of a gaming drought for a while now, but that plus Deus Ex: Human Revolution should keep me busy for a LONG time.

      And, ooh, Just Cause 2. I like that game quite a lot but the sheer scale of it is so overwhelming. Sometimes I say to myself, “Today I will reach 50% in Just Cause 2 no matter what.” Then I start the game in the city stronghold and think about how I should just get a nice sports car to drive and then I regain consciousness and I’m driving said sports car of a skyscraper.

      • dmikester

        Sorry it took me so long to respond!  DE: HR is another game I need to play.  I just started up Just Cause 2 last night, and totally did the whole car flying off a building thing about an hour in!   Also, you’re right, the scale is out of control.  It’s telling that the trophies/achievements for the game only require you to get 75% completion (that scares me since I’ve already put in a LOT of time in the game and am only at I think 15%).  

  • alguien_comenta

    So, instead of going thru my backlog I have been finishing the side quests on Arkham City.  I finished everything last night except the Riddler (and Calendar Man, but that’s a different story), I’m not sure if I want to do it, I like the gameplay but everytime I look at the map and see all those question marks, it just seems too daunting
    I’m also playing Ms Explosion Man, which I apparently bought some time ago and completely forgot. It’s hard, seems harder than the previous one
    I also just finished AC: Brotherhood (weird ending as expected), I’ll try to get to Revelations

  • http://playingthecanon.wordpress.com/ Joel of Arc

    Dipping my toes a bit further into the Baldur’s Gate pool. I kind of regret not holding out for the HD rerelease, but Gog.com had a great deal on them and Planescape Torment a couple weeks back that I couldn’t turn down. I’m enjoying Baldur’s Gate more than I thought I would… I was afraid it wouldn’t have aged well, and I’m not a huge fan of high fantasy if there isn’t some sort of hook. But it seems like it has a good heart and a goofy charm, and if nothing else, it’s an interesting bit of history for its genre. (The same reason I’m struggling through the first System Shock despite the spotty controls. I’m really trying to fill the holes in gaming history I’ve missed over the years which, not to self-promote too much too early, but I’m covering in further detail on my blog: http://playingthecanon.wordpress.com/ )

    Other than that, I finally convinced my girlfriend to play through Portal 2′s campaign, so depending on when she finishes that, might finally get to traipse through the co-op with someone. Single player Portal is one of my favorite things, game-related or not, ever, so I have to admit that I’m a teensy bit psyched.

  • Patrick Batman

    I’ll be finishing NIER, a wonderful game that completely went under my radar when it was released.  If not for you beautiful people, I probably never would have tried it in the first place, so thanks!

  • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

    I’ll be playing Assassin’s Creed 2

    I’ve been trying to play through the entire Assassin’s Creed series (never played them before) in preparation of Assassin’s Creed 3

    I tried the original Assassin’s Creed but grew bored with it due to it’s overly repetitive nature, thankfully I like 2 a lot better 

  • ChumJoely

    I am going to try and finish Rayman Origins, even though I am only halfway through at this point.  Also a possible replay of Portal 2.  And the kids will be wanting to play Little Big Planet and (sigh) Wii Sports Resort.

  • daoufsns

     http://tinyurl.com/98tl9j6

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EUPDMNIW75KUMC4KJOJUG5WZAU Wade

    Hooray another what are you playing with 2 people who dont know about video games. Heisler doesn’t know of PaRappa the Rapper? 

    ***yeesh***

  • Brainstrain

    It took me several seconds to figure out whether this guy was attractive or not. The hair threw me. But no. He’s not particularly. Should grow out that facial hair. He has a baby face which looks weird, because he’s obviously in his thirties.

    • signsofrain

      He looks a little like Steve Buscemi.