Out This Week

The Book Of Unwritten Tales: Critter Edition

Cry For Help

Will Far Cry 3 save the gameless doldrums of December?

By Steve Heisler • December 4, 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.

Far Cry 3
PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360—December 4

Con: While on vacation in a tropical paradise, your friends are captured by pirates, and you must rescue them using the little-to-no training you possess. Pro: You get to punch a shark. Pretty much evens out in my book.

The Book Of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
PC—December 5

In the original Book Of Unwritten Tales—a German point-and-click adventure game—hero Nathaniel Bonnet was kind of a douche who thought only of himself, referring to his loyal follower merely as “Critter” because he couldn’t be troubled to give the guy any sort of name whatsoever. This is Critter’s tale, which may or may not include eight hours of crying alone in his bedroom.

AirBuccaneers
PC—December 5

The description of this game wastes no time: The first sentence is literally, “You play as a Buccaneer or a Viking, and fly around in hot air balloons armed with cannons.” Sold! But it continues to tout the game’s multiplayer capacity, and most of the reviews posted thus far accentuate this feature. Perhaps Buccaneers and Vikings could learn to play together? Perhaps…love one another? [Poof!] (That’s the sound of a Buccaneer hugging a Viking, which sounds like jumping on a stack of couch cushions.)

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  • Effigy_Power

    I saw some preview videos for “Book of Unwritten Tales” which were dominated by very lengthy dialogues, worse even dialogues that ended back in the game and then had to be picked up again by clicking on the same character again. Basically: “To continue the game, talk to this very slow slurring mummy 5 times in a row for 2 minutes each”… No thank you.

    Far Cry 3 however is turning some of my non-gamer friends into believers, so I guess I am almost obligated to try it out. My pal from New Zealand especially is delighted with the large number of Kiwi-accents that are apparently in it.

    AirBuccaneers sounds too fucked up to be fun. Just a gut feeling.

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

      Book of Unwritten Tales (I haven’t played it) gives me the same kind of crummy feeling that Daedelic games give – like there is the promise of something really great, but it is hampered by hidebound decisions at every turn. The artwork is obviously very refined- but the art direction is banal and ultimately pretty ugly, the lengthy dialogue is fully voiced – but the writing and translation are both piss-poor, they are bothering to work in a genre (graphic adventure) that is exceptionally good at facilitating characterization – but they’ve opted to make their protagonist completely insufferable (maybe in a miscalculated attempt to ape ‘anti-heroes’ like Guybrush Threepwood?).

      • Moonside_Malcontent

         Your latter point I especially agree with, and I think it’s part of a broader trend in gaming that seems to think “character nuance” means “make the protagonist an asshole”.  I have to say one thing I really admire in games is when they do let you have a great deal of control over how your character’s personality trends while still making sure (and this is critical) that there are consequences for acting the way you do.  I can’t get behind the “charming anti-hero who plays by nobody’s rules and is beloved by all except THE MAN trying to keep him down”.  It’s like watching a 16-year old’s 3rd period homeroom daydream with sorcery or submachine guns.

        • Effigy_Power

          I read that as “3rd period homerun” and was wondering where they play Basehockey…

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

          @Moonside_Malcontent:disqus: I’d say that it irks me when characters don’t face consequences for their asshole-ish behaviour in any medium, not just video games.

          @Effigy_Power:disqus: Basehockey is Gameological’s official sport.

        • dreadguacamole

           I think they’re trying to pull rogue, Han Solo-ish characters; it makes sense, since the adventure game puzzles are often fairly morally challenged*. The problem is that their writing really doesn’t even begin to approach the level where they could pull that off successfully. Or the translation doesn’t, 
          anyways; I’m happy to give them the benefit of doubt. It is a bit weird that supremely unlikeable protagonists are mainly a problem with european adventure games.

           *: Distract this guy so you can steal that from him and use it to start a fight between those other two so you can steal their stuff! In some of the first person games that were everywhere in the nineties, you even had puzzles to kill people who weren’t obviously evil or even your enemies…

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus , calling Guybrush an anti-hero sits wrong with me – I guess you’re right, but at least he’s a completely different type of anti-hero than what these other games are shooting for…
           I guess the diference is the type of comedy; Guybrush is very much a part of the humor in his games, while daedalic and the others would rather have their protagonists as the… not straight men, exactly, but they’re supposed to be the ones laughing at everything else.

  • Fluka

    Right.  I saw the title and clicked through, figuring this was a Far Cry 3 review.  So I was very confused by the screenshot at the top of the page.  I never thought the game would be so…cuddly.

    • GaryX

      I’d like a review of it. People seemed to be surprised with how good it is.

      • dreadguacamole

        I think it might be a tad overrated, but it really is surprisingly good – very much the game I kept hoping part two would be.
         The story is frankly crap, and I’m not too crazy about the overworld exploration part of it, but the game is huge fun, extremely generous, lavishly produced and, well, fun.

    • Moonside_Malcontent

      If the smiling yeti with the post-it notes on his cauldron hood is a member of a pirate clan then sign me up.

    • Chum Joely

      I’ve been itching for a review as well. It’s been getting excellent reviews, and the FC3 team gets free shots every time a review is published/posted with a 100% score.  They have been permanently buzzed for a week. Ubisoft HQ is so pleased with it that they are immediately applying lessons from the development of FC3 to other current projects (basically by greatly extending the debug/polish passes– see also the less stellar reviews of Assassin’s Creed III, which did not have the extra debug and polish like FC3 did).

      But I want to hear a Gameological take on the story. I did a script review at one point and the core story really did read like a lazy, entitled gamer’s fantasy.  Basically, his girlfriend is a nagging harpy who criticizes him for being a layabout, but it turns out that his innate skills (learned through gaming?) turn out to instantly make him into the hero of the island who attracts the attention of the sexy, exotic Citra (you know, the one who was topless for no reason in the E3 trailer).  Grrr.  Not sure how that comes out in the actual game, though, since a lot more editing and stuff happened after I saw it. 

      • Chum Joely

        PS. Apparently the emergent gameplay of tigers randomly killing pirates when you lure them into villages, etc., makes this a really fun game to play. Not denying that it’s probably a fun experience in that regard. But I have reservations about the story from what I’ve seen.

      • Chum Joely

        P.P.S.  I hope I don’t get fired for making this kind of comment in public. Probably not. But still.

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

          Chum, this is your boss. YOU’RE PROMOTED for reading the Gameological Society! Report to my office immediately for your sash.

        • Fluka

          Chum, every one of us is actually one of your coworkers! Girard gave you the sash, now we need to show you the secret handshake!

        • Chum Joely

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus  @Fluka:disqus Oh… oh WOW, this is dreamier than my dreamiest dreams! What a relief! Thanks so much, guys. (wipes away tear)

        • Effigy_Power

          Chum, this is your entire family. You have always been our favorite. Have some turkey.

        • Chum Joely

          @Effigy_Power:disqus Liked because that is exactly what my family would say when drunk at Thanksgiving. And they’d say the second bit even though I am vegetarian. Because they know I still love me some Thanksgiving turkey.

        • AHyperkineticLagomorph

          Chum, this is your childhood friend of the appropriate sex that you secretly had a crush on. Your posts on this site have finally won me over.

        • Chum Joely

          I have to say I’m kind of liking this thread.

        • Electric Dragon

          Chum, this is the Duke of Cambridge here, taking a minute away from my wife’s bedside to tell you what a bang up job you’re doing and to ask if you’re available for dinner at Kensington Palace next week.

      • Fluka

        Yeah, I’ll be curious to hear a review as well.  Open world messing about with tigers (TIGERS!) and all that.  But there are some other parts about it which have been giving me pause (the white-dude-hero-on-island story, the apparent lack of more than one save slot!).  RPS’ John Walker did both a “I love this!” and an “I hate this!” article this past week.

        • Fixda Fernback

          If I hadn’t already just gone out and bought this game, this sentence from his Love! article would’ve done it for me:

          “ So I’m pootling around in boats, killing anyone with red clothes on for sport, waiting for sharks to turn up, because my wallet has run out of space for money. Just take that sentence in. It’s hideous. It’s glorious. What have we become?”

        • Chum Joely

          There’s also this first-impressions video from TotalBiscuit/The Cynical Brit that’s pretty fun.

          It’s really fun to see all of these videos where spontaneous crazy shit just happens as the AI interacts with itself. I think it’ll be worth checking out just for that alone.

        • GaryX

          I thought the Polygon review was good because it touched on that. Basically that the story was still juvenile  and it does try to do some thing but they’re all underdeveloped.

    • WL14

      SPOILER: Wampa-Totoro is the final boss of FarCry 3.

  • http://twitter.com/HttpLovecraft Http Lovecraft

    Just watched the trailer for AirBuccaneers above…

    When did this happen, that even an ostensibly quirky, lighthearted, far-from-AAA game about Air Vikings fighting Air Pirates, has a trailer scored like it was Christopher Nolan’s Batception?  Is this the defecto score for EVERYTHING now?

    (Sidenote, how are there no Air Corsairs?  Come on, it’s right there!)

    • ToddG

      Yeah, I can’t tell if they’re doing it ironically or not.  I would guess that you are correct and they are not.

      Also, I have never understood the appeal of trying to emulate what the Family Feud buzzer would sound like through a distortion pedal.

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

      I want to make a game called “Coarse Hairs,” where you are charged with administering a Brazilian wax to each member of a swarthy crew of pirates.

      • Effigy_Power

        It will cost only 10 doll hairs.

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

          In the early levels, the Brazilian waxes are voluntary. Then the difficulty ramps up pretty abruptly.

  • ToddG

    Only Buccaneers and Vikings?  What if I want to play as a Saint, or a Patriot?

  • http://twitter.com/knarfblack Knarf Black

    It’s only a gameless doldrum if you’ve somehow managed to already play every other game ever released.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      And it’s a pisser of a week for those of us who have.

    • Chum Joely

      But I want NEW STUFF all the TIIIIIIME! (crosses arms sulkily, somehow sinks even further into the basement couch)

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

    http://gunsoficarus.com/ beat Air Buccaneers to the Steam-Punk Air Battle punch already.  

    Also one of my pet peeves in video games is cannons or grenade launchers where the arc of the projectile isn’t specified so you have to shoot a few times and guess where it’s gonna land.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I find Gears of War’s “Here is exactly where your grenade is going” system to be marvelous.

    • EmperorNortonI

       Well, on the one hand, a lot of us have enough intuitive sense of where an object thrown by hand SHOULD go that, given a reasonable mechanic for simulating the important variables in a hand thrown item (direction, strength, weight of object, etc) and a bit of practice, it shouldn’t be a problem.

      On the other hand, I can barely think of a game that has such a system.  Further, the overly-burly dudes in GoW oughta be able to throw a grenade well beyond the limits of the map, making such a system a bit inappropriate – unless their grenades are made of pure neutronium or something.

      Now, cannons and mortars are another beast entirely.  Those are hard to aim, and trained professional crews are usually responsible for that.  If the game wants to simulate you being an inexperienced noob firing professional-grade hardware, then yes, an unspecified arc is entirely reasonable.  If it wants to simulate you being a feared pirate commander, then you should just specify a target and have your crew do their best.  If it wants you to specify being a member of starboard gun-crew 6, then the designers made a real mistake in the early phases of game design.

    • wzzzzd

      Air Buccaneers has been around in the form of an Unreal Tournament 2004 mod since like 2006.

  • ferrarimanf355

    Shark punching is awesome.

    • Chum Joely

      That does seem to be the consensus.  Blowing up bears with C4 comes in a close second in the awesomeness sweepstakes.

      • GaryX

        PETA must be losing its shit over this game.

        • Chum Joely

          Well, it’s only “virtual” animals, and there’s not much chance that people will be re-creating these interactions in real life, so… Never mind, it’s PETA, they’ll find a way to lose their shit over anything.

          It’s too bad, because cruelty to animals really is a serious issue (it’s why I am a vegetarian), but PETA just makes it look shrill, uptight, and dumb to raise questions about how animals are treated. Sigh.  ACTIVISTS.

      • GaryX

        Well, yeah, you would think so, but it’s also the people who did this: http://kotaku.com/5949895/humans-are-the-enemy-in-this-ridiculous-peta-pokemon-parody