Out This Week

Omerta

Done To Death

You want someone (or something) dead? This week’s games have you covered.

By Steve Heisler • January 29, 2013

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.

Omerta: City Of Gangsters
PC—January 31

Boardwalk Empire has piqued our collective interest in Prohibition. The illegal sale of booze was romantic, spurred on by men in immaculate suits and women done up in 1920s Great Gatsby decadent-chic. Also: tommy guns. Omerta transports you to the same Atlantic City that Steve Buscemi calls home and makes you the kingpin of a growing bootlegging empire. You’ll hire goons to defend your turf and develop secret distilleries that churn out bottles with “XX” on the label. Imagine the same game applied to the business of selling heroin—the key players wouldn’t be nearly as fetishized in the fashion industry, and the consequences of success wouldn’t be a raucous night out but rather a lifetime addiction to a crippling death drug. Plus, what would the soundtrack be coming out of the old Victrola? Fun.? Omerta is infinitely more palatable.

Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear
PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360—January 29

Speaking of fetishes, it seems like there’s a new game every week where the good boys in red, white, and blue take down some nebulous Middle Eastern superpower. In this one, you head behind enemy lines to rescue a spy who holds targeting information for an Iranian nuclear base, and fire round after round at other soldiers, sometimes from a helicopter. Look, I fully support what those brave people in the real military are doing in the real Middle East. To quote the comedian Mike Birbiglia, “I love the troops, because if they weren’t the troops, I’d have to be the troops, and I’d be the worst troops.” There’s just something unsettling about a game that makes no attempt at masking its merciless killing in any sort of fantasy or irony. There’s enough of that on the news.

Skulls Of The Shogun
PC, Windows Phone, Xbox 360—January 30

Okay, this is what I’m talking about. You are a brave samurai warrior who was killed, and now you’re coming back to haunt your enemies. Well, a little more than haunting—you gather an army of the undead to vanquish your enemies by slashing at them or literally eating their skulls. Murder seems more okay to me when it’s happening a long time ago and carried out by zombies. Clearly, the simple task of existing in reality is too much for me to bear.

Let’s Fish! Hooked On
PlayStation Vita—January 29

Let’s (kill some) fish!

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

  • PaganPoet

    Just what I needed for my Vita! A lolita fishing sim!

    Fishing minigames are the worst part of any game that includes them (see: Okami, Persona 4). I couldn’t imagine playing an entire game of that.

    • Chum Joely

      Maybe it’s a Japanese thing. They just have this deep-seated cultural desire to fish… or simulo-fish.

    • Pandas_please

       My time spent in Animal Crossing was more than enough for me to get my fill of fishing minigames.
      The Zelda ones are always kind of entertaining though, at least to me.

    • Citric

      Would it sell as many copies if the box had pictures of more realistic fishing people on them? Like, 60 year old men with mustaches, maybe their sturdy wives.

      • PaganPoet

        Let’s Fish! The Prince Edwards Island Edition

        Playable characters include Jacques, Hörst, or João.

        • Moonside_Malcontent

          You’ve encroached onto St. Pierre and Miquelon’s territorial waters.  Please wait 7 hours while the French authorities agree to issue you a warning of a potential future fine.  Return to Canada.

        • http://twitter.com/PappyAlabaster Pappy Alabaster

          Not complete without a covert ops mission to burn all the native’s fishing vessels.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Wrong. Fishing minigames are excellent and for winners.

      • Fluka

        I always stop and fish in Torchlight 2 if I find a wild fishing hole, even if I have no need for fish and always forget to use them.  It’s not even a particularly fun minigame.  It’s more just a mental compulsion of “Oh sweet, a fishing hole!  Am I going to go fishing?  YOU BET I AM.”

        • djsubversive

          It’s a short break from the flashing lights and pretty colors of regular Torchlight 2, but without any of those pesky words.

          I also always forget about feeding my pet, until the other night when I put 2 or 3 fish on my hotbar. Having them visible really helps. :)

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          I even enjoyed fishing in World of Warcraft, my only complaint being that I couldn’t just press a key to reel in my catch, as having to sit there and click on the fishing bobber accurately every catch was really annoying.

    • Cloks

      At some level, I’ve known this was coming out for a while but I  always suspected it was a joke along the lines of Crab Nicholson’s Sleepover Adventure. It’s disheartening to find out that, no, this is a real thing.

      • PaganPoet

        Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge

        “Choose a club.” *beep* “You have chosen three wood. May I suggest a putter?” *beep* “Three wood.”

    • Chum Joely

      FROM THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU SEGA BASS FISHING….

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-John-Agnello/1362601810 Anthony John Agnello

        Let’s be abundantly clear about something: Sega Bass Fishing is amazing.

        • PaganPoet

          It just reminds me of being in a random bar, and you see a fishing sim arcade cabinet over by the billiards tables and dart boards and wonder if anybody ever actually plays that thing.

        • Chum Joely

          Guess I’m gonna have to take your word on that.

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

      The phrase “Fishing minigames!” kind of became a punchline-without-a-joke among my high school friends and I. Like, someone could zealously and excitedly exclaim it in any context, and it was funny.

      I guess it was a result of it being the late 90s and so many games proudly boasting their irritating awful fishing minigames – the concept itself had become so inherently ridiculous that even just bringing it up made us giggle.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mjbrady Matthew J. Brady

        When I was in junior high in the early 90s, my friends and I used to read Nintendo Power religiously, and I remember a big joke between us was pretending to be excited about Super Black Bass (which was presumably for the SuperNES?). We obviously thought there was no way a fishing game could be fun, so ironically cheering about its impending release was apparently the height of humor.

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

          It was a similar sense of irony that led my friend and I to consistently choose to upgrade our (seemingly useless) “vigor” stat at every level up in Breath of Fire (itself a series known for…fishing mini-games).

          Forget strength, stamina, or magic ability… I was the most vigorous hero in all the land!

    • ferrarimanf355

      It’s from the guys who made Sega Bass Fishing. I’d overlook the loli crap just because of that.

    • wzzzzd

      On the other hand: Twilight Princess (Wii version)

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    That promotional image for Omerta is a Photoshop nightmare.  I know this isn’t a AAA release, but I’d figure somewhere along the design approval process, someone would point out it’s a touch strange to have clouds floating behind the moon.
       Unless the game is an alternate take onMajora’s Mask or the video game adaption of Un Chien Andalou, in which case I rescind my criticism.

    • PaganPoet

      Well, looking at a shoddy Photoshop job is somewhat akin to having your eye sliced open, so maybe the Un Chien Andalou reference isn’t too far off.

    • Citric

      It’s only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea…

    • HobbesMkii

      The animation and 3D modeling in the game’s trailer doesn’t look that great, either. I was hoping for something sort of 1 step down from XCOM. That’s not what’s in there.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        Yeah, this looks more to be a tripping down the stairs from XCOM.

    • http://ihaterickjones.com/ Seels

      Marketing was confused by all the talk of moonshine.

  • Captain Internet

    As I understand it, Skulls of the Shogun on PC is a Windows 8 exclusive. If you’ve not yet upgraded- and I haven’t, because it looks pants- then you should also know that cost of upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is going up on the 1st of February from $39 to $119 dollars. Skulls of the Shogun is also launching at a discounted price of $9.99. After a limited time, it will be going up to $14.99.

    Thus, for a Windows 7 user, the cost of Skulls of the Shogun will be either $48.98,  $128.99, or $133.99. And that’s if you don’t upgrade by buying a new computer with Windows 8 pre-installed on it.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      It’s a poor sign that Microsoft is discounting 8 to $40 this early in the run.  Everything I’ve heard is that it’s a terrible interface for desktops.  Granted, tech and game enthusiasts tend toward hyperbole. 
         but still, what a strange exclusive. 

      • Captain Internet

        That wasn’t the discounted price, that was the launch price- I thought they were trying to be more like Apple, where the OS upgrade is £15 or something.

        I think they’re completely mad. I wasn’t interested in upgrading before and I’m certainly not going to bother now. 

        Not even for Skulls of the Shogun, as shocking as that might seem

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Even more mad, they’re considering making Office a $100 annual subscription fee.  Uh, how about no…I’m perfectly happy with upgrading one level behind and not having to pay $200 each time.

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

      Funny, when I bought my new laptop, I upgraded it from Windows 8 to Windows 7…

    • alguien_comenta

      I “upgraded” for $15. The odd thing is that for all these new tiles and buttons it has, I’ve been using the keyboard more than ever. Win+D shows desktop, Win+X shows PC settings submenu, Win+I shows the current app settings menu. My favorite has been Win+space bar that lets me change my keyboard language. The loss of the “start menu” is meaningless for me, because I used to search for the apps on Win 7 or do Win+R to execute. Having said all that, I don’t see any benefit in upgrading

  • HobbesMkii

    Lacking a good place to put this, I’m going to start a thread here about it:

    A while ago the Electronic Consumers Association (which I think is mostly about protecting corporate and not consumer interests) had an automatic letter writer for preventing SOPA and PIPA, so I sent stuff out to my elected reps with it. That put me on their e-mail list, and from time to time they send me annoying pleas to get more involved (the last one I got was a call to prevent government involvement in videogame ratings, which I’m not terribly opposed to, given the less than transparent nature of most private entertainment ratings boards). Today I got this:

    On Friday, the Entertainment Consumers Association headed to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to discuss video games and recent legislation introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. We came away convinced more than ever that we need to stand up for our rights. Vice President Biden said we “shouldn’t be afraid of the facts” when it comes to whether there is a connection between video games and violence. Well, even when presented with the facts, those we talked to ignored them, instead relying on their personal tastes.

    Senators are convinced that there’s a connection between video games and violence. One has even said that a proposed study is simply “laying the groundwork for new regulations on video games.” We know that’s not true – so write to them today.

    Yes, even when presented with the facts that violent crimes have decreased since 1980, while video game sales have increased, and that other nations that consume more video games than the United States don’t see the same level of violence, those we talked to pressed forward with the need to legislate video games and waste money to find a connection between games and violence we know doesn’t exist. These Senators believe that playing games leads to real world violence. They have even gone so far to say in private discussions they disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision that video games are free speech.

    We’re not going to take these insults and lies. Video games don’t lead to violence and are protected free speech. That’s reality. We need gamers to speak up and tell Congress this. Write to your elected officials and then spread this action everywhere you can.

    This year is going to be a rough one. No matter how many facts we present, folks seem to want to stick to their fantasy that we gamers are time bombs waiting to go off. It’s insulting to me, it’s insulting to you, it’s insulting to us and just not true. Take action now.

    Keep on gaming,
    Brett Schenker,Online Advocacy ManagerEntertainment Consumers Association (ECA)

    I don’t know if they’ll come through, but each of the last sentences is a link to another auto-letter writer. I’m curious what people think about this. I personally feel that games are as responsible–but no more responsible–than any other given media (television, movies, literature, dance, music, etc) for America’s “culture of violence,” so I guess I hew towards Mr. Schenker’s side, but something about the tone of this letter seems alarmist, to the point of almost preying on my fears/indignation, something akin to the type of vitriol found all too commonly in the comments section/forums of other videogame rags. And that makes me want to step away from him (and the ECA as well) in response.

    • Pandas_please

       It’s standard copy for a lobbyist organization that protects their own interests by pandering to the supposed fears of their base, and happens to insult their intelligence in the process. Being involved in politics for a while now I’ve gotten similar letters, even from organizations I mostly agreed with, and come away only more cynical. Over time you find out they all use the same tactics no matter who they are.

    • GaryX

      Everything about that letter makes me angry.

    • Moonside_Malcontent

       As someone who’s also worked for political campaigns, this definitely looks like your standard lobbyist “rally the troops” letter.  I largely agree with HobbesMkII’s viewpoint on this issue, that media depictions of violence solving problems and righting wrongs is deeply problematic and responsible to some tangential degree for our higher rates of gun violence.  This isn’t the time or place to have a debate about gun crime in America, but I would like to make this point: what does this letter really represent?  Not a political position, even though that’s what it says it is.  It’s the commodification of a political position, activism bought and paid for like oranges or a new 360 hard drive.  This man writing the message couldn’t give less of a damn whether video games cause violence or not; what he gives a damn about is his employers’ profit margins.  And here’s another question, one that Congress and concerned citizens alike should consider.  Why do these violent video games sell so well?  Why do generic Middle-Eastern destruction games like the aforementioned Heavy Fire fly off the shelves?  Because there was a market for this.  Because we have made soldiering and adventurism through firearms an ideal.  Because the crusading private, rifle in hand, is what we think exemplifies our republic.  Video games contribute to gun violence?  Maybe.  I think they might, in a small way.  But they’re easy targets for moral panic.  Support Our Troops ribbons, that’s a much harder target.

      • Pandas_please

         With out getting into the rest,which is interesting by the way, I’ll say that I agree with you wholeheartedly that this reeks of being an “industry” letter using consumers to form a grassroots political opposition to protect their monetary interests.

      • Citric

        I’d probably argue that gun-centric games and gun violence are symptoms of the same root glorification of the gun, which is embedded deep into American culture, rather than causally linked. Guns are kind of tied to a lot of America’s cultural touchstones, and that is probably more important than a bit of CoD.

        I mean, Canadians weren’t that bothered about gun control outside of hunting rifles in Western Canada – which is part of our own making our way on the unforgiving frontier cultural myth (also deer are dicks) – and we shoot each other way less. 

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

          It’s worth noting, though, that Canada actually has relatively high levels of gun violence for a developed country. It’s just that gun violence is so prevalent in the United States that Canada looks like a peaceful, firearm-free paradise by comparison.

        • Citric

          @Merve2:disqus True, but we’ve also got a similar frontier mentality to the US in some places and a hell of a lot of gangs that don’t like each other.

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

      “No matter how many facts we present, folks seem to want to stick to their fantasy that we gamers are time bombs waiting to go off. It’s insulting to me, it’s insulting to you, it’s insulting to us and just not true.”

      You know what? This is true. But you know what’s also true? It doesn’t matter. The people who think this way will all be dead or retired in a decade or two. In the meantime, video games are protected speech. Nobody is going to take them away from us. After that, the battle will be over, because there will be nobody left to fight the battle anyway.The troops were already rallied. We already won. The Supreme Court already ruled in our favour. Who cares what a bunch of gun-toting, buck-passing old fogeys think? They’re not going to succeed in getting “electronic child molesters” off the shelf. So instead of worrying about them and doing the gaming lobby’s dirty work, why not sit back, relax, and laugh at the circus of incompetence that is American politics?

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

      It seems like there’s an interesting conversation to be had about the relationship between sanctioned and unsanctioned violence within America’s “culture of violence” and how various media, including games, contribute to that.

      Histrionic culture warriors point to games as a cause of violent crime (unsanctioned violence), and defenders (rightly) point out that violent crime has decreased over the lifespan of the artform. However, has anyone done an analysis on the statistics surrounding American military involvement around the world (sanctioned violence) over the same time frame? We know that various school shooters probably weren’t driven to kill by digital “murder simulators,” but we also know that American soldiers are trained to kill with very carefully designed digital murder simulators, that games are used as a legal minor-recruitment tool by the military, and that soldiers have described both mechanized and drone-based warfare as being “like a video game.”

      It would also be interesting to see if the increased production of violent games corresponded not just with actual military intervention, but with social perception of that intervention. Are civilian citizens in the Call of Duty age any more likely to be jingoistic? (Not that the causality would necessarily go one way or the other with that stuff…)

      Just because games don’t contribute to a culture of criminal violence doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t contributing (with the rest of the media) to a culture of violence. Admittedly, I haven’t looked at the numbers*. But what surprises me a bit is that, to my knowledge, no one has. But sanctioned forms of violence seem to hold a kind of sacred place in our (and probably most) societies, and maybe it’s simply not politically advantageous to ask questions about how the arts might mitigate that “good,” “important” violence.

      *More explicitly admittedly: I’m totally talking out of my ass.

    • valondar

      Speaking as a non-American, I don’t think games are anywhere near as culpable as assault weapons. The hyperviolent Grand Theft Auto series originated in the United Kingdom, which, while it has violent crimes, does not have comparable kinds and rates of violent crimes.

      Now as a kid, I played a lot of Doom. A lot of kids here in Ireland did. Just like the Columbine killers. But unlike the killers in Columbine, I didn’t have easy access to the obscene amounts of weapons they had at their disposal.

      Interestingly probably one the biggest differences between European and American games in terms of content is you’re slightly more likely to get explicitly sexual material here; Witcher had to tone that stuff down for its US release. To suggest the solution is just less bloodshed and more nudity would be silly, surely.

      But also yes, I find it unlikely that any real or lasting actions will be taken against gaming. Didn’t the Supreme Court find Mortal Kombat’s graphic ultraviolence (that would be revolting if it wasn’t so silly) okay? I think that’s kind of over. Also sure, I also find military shooters like the one currently released to be the kind of game I don’t want to touch with a stick… I guess only with a helpful serving of self-important deconstruction and anti-war cliches plastered over them a la Spec Ops: The Line I find it palatable.

  • Cloks

    I’m going to wait to pick up Omerta until somebody mods it into The Wire: The Game. Sadly, you can’t write anything down.

    • valondar

       The Wire would make a great and/or depressing SimCity game. You don’t win, you just lose more slowly.

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

    No mention of Proteus or Antichamber!?!?!?!?  What the funk?

    http://www.visitproteus.com/

    Everybody go play Proteus! It’s… it is tough to be explain, but it’s a procedurally generated exploration game where the environment makes music based on what you’re standing next to.  Trust me, it’s rad, and just when you think you’ve seen it all and are about to quit, KEEP PLAYING. It’s worth it.  It’s like a religious trance experience but with platinum frogs!

    http://www.antichamber-game.com/

    A first-person game that breaks Euclidean geometry?  Sign me up.  Sign him up.  Sign her up.  Sign up Hilary Clinton now that she has free time.  I bet she’d love this.  (Hit me up on twitter Hilary and I’ll give you my steam id).

    • PaganPoet

      Ooh, AntiChamber sounds pretty cool. I’ve been pretty enamoured with the idea of non-Euclidean spaces ever since I read House of Leaves.

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

      Yeah, I was coming in here to mention Antichamber. I’m excited for a totally brain-bending experience. I made a pledge to stay more current with games this year, so I’ll be picking it up on release day, and I look forward to discussing the mindfuckery with all of you guys.

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

      I have been looking forward to Antichamber for a while now. It’s absence is conspicuous – I hope that means it’s going to get the full review treatment.

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

        If by “full review treatment,” you mean “Steve Heisler tripping balls review treatment,” then I’m with you.

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

          I want a new video feature:

          “We’ve locked Steve in a room with nothing but a bucket and this video game for a week. Let’s see what happens.”

  • Boonehams

    “…the first full-SCALE fishing game on PSVita”

    I see what you did there, ‘Let’s Fish! Hooked On’.