What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Magary

Drew Magary, writer

The Deadspin mainstay can’t get his head around first graders playing Call Of Duty.

By Chris O'Connell • March 22, 2013

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.

Drew Magary is a longtime columnist for Deadspin and Gawker and a GQ correspondent with a penchant for brutal honesty on such topics as the NFL, cooking, and fatherhood. He is the author of a science fiction novel, The Postmortal, and an upcoming book on modern parenting, Someone Could Get Hurt, out May 16. Magary talked to The Gameological Society about finding time to play Angry Birds and why he can’t hang with present-day Madden games.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Drew Magary: [Laughs.] Because I am old, I am lame, I am playing Angry Birds Seasons. Because I’m old. I would like to have better control over my gaming life and have an Xbox and stuff like that. I’m not going to get one for the kids because it’ll just ruin their lives. So I can’t. I had Temple Run on the phone, but as you know, if you have it on the phone, you’ll just play it 20 hours a day, and your brain will just rot.

Gameological: I had to do the exact same thing because I felt like I wasn’t getting any better at it. I just kept dying in the same spot, but I kept wanting to play it for some reason.

Magary: Oh, yeah, you die every time. Existentially, it’s such a rough game because you always start in the same place, and if you’re lucky, you get 2,000 meters. Then you just die.

Gameological: And that’s it.

Magary: I was so pissed when I found out that they had other characters you could play. And I was like, “Oh, I definitely want them because they probably have special powers.” Like, one would jump extra high, or one would have triple sliding powers or something like that. But they did nothing! You turned into a girl. Who cares?

Gameological: I saw one that was a football player, and I thought that looked pretty cool.

Magary: Yeah, but he can’t do anything. It’s not like he’s fast. He can’t nudge the flying monkeys out of the way with his superior hip-checking abilities. Also, I had Dooors on my phone, this puzzle game, and it was like some Japanese game. You always have to sort out a puzzle that opens a door. Like, there was a fire in the corner, and you had to place the fire underneath the chandelier, and stuff like that. I like games like that because it provides me with the illusion that I’m curing my own Alzheimer’s. Like I’m preventing it.

Gameological: You’re keeping your mind active so that it doesn’t go to waste.

Magary: I’m doing this brainless activity, and I’m like, “This is so stimulating! For my brain! This is going to be so good.”

Gameological: Do you pretty much only play games on your phone because you don’t have time or because of the kids?

Magary: I don’t have time to fit it in because of the kids, and I didn’t have an iPhone until a few months ago, so it’s kind of new to me. And it’s nice to have something to do when I go into the shitter. It’s probably ruining my marriage because my wife will catch me playing Angry Birds, and she’s like, “I know what you’re doing.” I just do it right in front of her and don’t think she’s seeing me. She’s totally seeing me. I’m out in the open.

Gameological: I think when everybody gets their iPhone, they go through their Angry Birds thing.

Magary: Yeah. I’ve gone through all of—I’ve almost gone through all of them. This is the last one that I’ve done through. Once I get through all of that, I’ll probably never look at it again. Also, I have the free iPhone, so it has like half a gig in it. So every time I download a new game, I have to sacrifice an old game. It’s video game triage.

Gameological: That’s kind of good, though. You don’t clutter up with a bunch of stuff you don’t ever play.

Magary: I downloaded Real Racing, and this other one where you’re falling all the time. I never play any of it. Stupid. I used to play a lot more before I had kids. I had a Nintendo 64. I was always one behind on platforms. When I was a kid, we had the Sega Master System instead of the NES, and then I had the Genesis instead of the SNES. Although the Genesis had a little bit of a moment. And then I had an N64 instead of the PlayStation. The PlayStation took off when I was in college. I was good at N64 Madden, but all the other kids were good at PlayStation Madden, and my skills did not translate as well. A lot of times, I would just stay in my room and get drunk and play Super Mario 64 or Ocarina Of Time, which is a great game.

Gameological: Do you ever revisit Madden? Do you ever play as the Vikings? I know you’re a big Vikings fan.

Magary: No, because now it’s so real that—like, I used to like the sports game when you could figure out a way to score 100 points. You were like, “Oh, I just do this play.” Or, “Oh, I just run punt block, and they’ll fumble the ball everytime.” I liked it when it wasn’t particularly real. And now it’s so real, and I’m so behind now that I’ll never catch up. I’ll never be as good as I used to be. And there’s just too much other crap I have to do. I can’t get good at it. It’s one of those things where if you’re young, you have the time. You’ll have 40 free hours in a weekend to just dedicate to that. I can’t do that. I have to buy fucking groceries.

Gameological: I spent hundreds of hours playing Joe Montana Football when I was younger. And you’d run a halfback option on first down from your own two-yard line, and you score a touchdown.

Magary: Yeah! Yeah. It’s great.

Gameological: I tried to pick up Madden recently, and you’ve got to call actual defenses and stuff. It doesn’t do it for me either.

Magary: There’s too much actual coaching, which is terrible. Like, the actual job of coaching is just awful. No one would really ever want to do it if they weren’t thrusted into the situation. Only crazy people want to coach. I don’t want to be a coach. I want to be the guy who scores a billion points. I’m a glory boy. I want to be the one who scores all the touchdowns.

Gameological: When you were in college playing Madden, did you ever betray your own team by playing as a team that wasn’t the Vikings?

Magary: I had it when they didn’t necessarily have the agreement with the NFL. So Minnesota was basically “Minneapolis.” You didn’t have the player names, and it was really awful. It just sucked. I’d always play it as the Vikings, but it was always much better when your team was at least named after your city. The fact that the Vikings were in Minneapolis in the game just grated on me.

Gameological: If you stuck around with Madden until the late ’90s, you could have played it as Randy Moss and Culpepper.

Magary: Yeah. That would’ve been great. But now I’d be terrible at all of that. I wouldn’t even be good at old Madden anymore. There was one run where, like, emulators a big thing. Like a few years ago you could get the NES emulators on your computer and I had a Tecmo Bowl run where I played for, like, a year. Like, I did the Bo Jackson thing. So exciting.

Gameological: Are you afraid to get a console in the house because you’re afraid your kids are going to kick your ass one day, and you’ll just feel old?

Magary: I know they’ll kick my ass, but I don’t get it for growth and development reasons. They’ll turn into 500-pound mongoloids, and everything will be ruined if I do that. We’re holding out as long as we can.

Gameological: Do you think it’s because games are so much more realistic now? When we were kids, games were very cartoony. And now there’s Call Of Duty. Do you think that factors into it?

Magary: There are literally first graders that my kid knows who are playing Call Of Duty. That’s insane. Like, you’re in first grade! You shouldn’t be playing Call Of Duty. Even though I support war games and shooting people virtually. I’m all for it. But to have first graders doing it, I don’t know if anything good can come from that.

Gameological: It’s a little too real.

Magary: It’s too real, and plus, it’s so in-depth and so involving, they eventually want to do that more than anything else. The old video games you just had till you’d done enough. And occasionally, they had that glitch where you just couldn’t get past one level and finally got up to go read a book or something.

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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  • PaganPoet

    Any GS buddies out there have Persona 4 Arena for PS3? Add RidiPagliaccio on PSN if you do. I’d fancy a few more sparring mates.

    • George_Liquor

      I’m game! I’ve never played P4A, or indeed any PS3 game online. Look for Micronotz. Hopefully I’ll be online a little over the weekend.

  • tony kaehny

    f

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle
      • Forn

        Ha, sorry. I didn’t realize that if i selected “sign in with gmail” that it would just up and post, without giving me the chance to select a username. Didn’t want my real name on here. thanks for the reply. 

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Honestly, this dude kind of rubbed me the wrong way, not because he’s a “casual gamer” (blech) but because he was so dismissive of it. But so as to not nitpick about the interview subject, I’ll say that I’mma try to play some boardgames this weekend, but will probably end up playing Dota, if anything.

        • George_Liquor

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus  Meh. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. Like any enthusiast, we tend to get too wrapped up in gaming, so some times it’s nice to get an outsider’s perspective.

        • SamPlays

          @Forn:disqus & @Douchetoevsky:disqus Are “casual gamers” really that offensive? I grew up on video games, I still play video games and I do my best to stay abreast of interesting new titles. But, my current gaming habits would probably be best described as “casual”. And I’m not talking about “casual” like playing Angry Birds or Jungle Run (though I’ve played the latter quite a bit). I mean that I only find the time to play infrequently, often for less than an hour. It’s exceedingly rare for me to spend an entire afternoon, let alone an entire weekend playing video games like WarCraft when I have a lot of other priorities in my life (i.e., wife, dog, house, groceries, classes, friends, books, TV, exercise, yadda yadda). Yet, I have this huge interest that keeps me connected to video games. It’s a bit discouraging and alienating to read dismissive comments that denigrate “casual” gaming habits.

  • rvb1023

    Forgot my PS2 at home over break, drowned my sorrows in the very terrible Other M and drowned those sorrows in the infinitely superior Planescape: Torment and KOTOR 2 with the Restored Content mod.

    Planescape is somewhat hard to get into thanks to the dated interface and my lack of knowledge of AD&D, but considering I spent about two hours walking around the hub world listening to people talk it seems to be doing something right and fortunately the little combat I have involved myself in hasn’t gotten farther than “have everybody attack the same person until they die, wash, rinse, repeat”.

    I would also like to find the person that thought it was a good idea to have a 3D game (An action game, specifically) be controlled by a D-pad, especially when the Nunchuck attachment not only adds a analog stick but also a few more buttons so that you wouldn’t be as cramped with your controls and could actually make a well-designed game instead. I am surprised given the amount of hate Other M received upon release that so much of it ignored the fact the game controls horribly.

    • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

      To be fair, “poor controls” is pretty far down in the list of things to complain about for Other M.

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

      But then you wouldn’t be able to do that thing where you turn the controller to face the screen and switch to FPS mode, which is obviously super-awesome and not an irritating pain the ass that doesn’t work properly half the time!

      • rvb1023

         I literally just beat the final boss (The not post credits one) and during this fight in particular it became a real problem.  I was essentially beat it through pure dumb luck.

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

          A really silly thing about that is that they tied that mechanism to certain weapons, seemingly arbitrarily. Like, if I’m supposed to freeze a boss and then hit it with a missile, I need to freeze it from 3rd-person view, then switch to first-person to missile it. For no reason other than to make things complicated and irritating. Why is a missile a more “first person” weapon than an ice beam?

  • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

    Well, not this weekend, but I just got back from my first-ever session of Artemis, the starship bridge simulator.  Me and a few coworkers.  They take over a conference room every week and run a game with the captain’s view on the main projector, and everyone else on workstation computers.  It is damn fun!  A truly unique experience.  We were playing with a TNG patch.

    If you’re unfamiliar with how it works, it’s an asymmetrically designed game (yum) where you have a captain and a variety of crew members, each focused on a different task (helmsman, weapons, engineering, communications, etc.).  The captain has to direct the crew in piloting their ship and fending off enemy ships, while also managing resources (energy level, shields, ordinance).  Also, the captain has no direct control over anything, not even the main screen view (which can show ship damage, the long-range sector map, close-range combat radar, etc.), and has to request that the information being displayed be swapped by his crew members. It also has a cinematic camera so everyone can revel in the spectacle of unleashing a full complement of space nukes at an encroaching pack of six enemy ships. Boom!

    The first two games, I was on helm, which is the actual task of flying the ship around.  I picked up on that role quickly, and did well in enemy skirmishes while the guy next to me was in charge of weapons.  For the third round, since it was my first night, I was cajoled into playing captain, which is a really stressful experience (especially since I knew hardly anything about weapons, ship types, combat, etc… my co-workers are of a ‘sink-or-swim’ mindset).

    We had a lot of close calls and lost 3 of 4 space stations, and got in a dragged-out fight with a super-powerful enemy, but managed to steer it and its escorts into an anomaly (a little wandering hazard that chases you if you get too close and does a bunch of damage), which was hilarious.  Unfortunately, as we were valiantly charging in to rescue the sole remaining station, the client crashed, but we were totally gonna win that one.  Ah well.

    I suppose it’d be possible to organize Skype games for Artemis, but I don’t think anything can match the experience of playing it with everyone in the same room.

  • dmikester

    Nice interview.  I can sympathize with having way too many apps on my iPhone/iPad that were fun for a little while but that I haven’t touched in ages. Hey, it’s spring; maybe time to clean up a little bit.

    I haven’t made that much headway into Mass Effect 3, but man, does it feel rushed narrative wise so far.  It seems like they left out a ton of plot between Arrival and the beginning of the game, and while occasionally there’s some exposition that explains a little bit, in general it just feels off-putting (oh, there’s a new character called Vega who Shepard knows somehow; the Normandy SR-2 got back into Alliance hands somehow and was totally retrofitted, and there’s some weird reason that Joker and EDI had to escape with it at some point or something, just to name a few).  Also, and I don’t know if this is true for any other system, but the technical issues for the PS3 are ridiculous.  Framerate drops all over the place, glitchy sound dropouts from time to time, and the loading times, especially in the Citadel but also during missions and on the Normandy, are among the worst I’ve ever experienced.  It may look pretty, but it sure doesn’t always play pretty.  Still, despite all of this, I’m enjoying it (I mean, it’s Mass Effect), and I’m looking forward to getting farther (I just finished the Grissom Academy mission, which was pretty great).

    The other game I’m going to try to finally get to this weekend is Bastion.  It was one of those games that just passed me by, and thanks to the Humble Bundle weekly sale, I now have absolutely no excuse.  Heck, I even got the sheet music for the soundtrack from the sale, so maybe my wife and I can work out a piano/guitar duet performance and take it on the road.

    • George_Liquor

      Yeah, ME3 is a little hand wave-y in the way that Shepard & The Gang get back together. The narrative tightens up quite a bit once everyone’s onboard, though. I finished playing through the game, including the Citadel DLC, with my Dudley Do-Right Shepard; now I think I’m going to go back through with my Snidley Whiplash Shepard.

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      That sucks, I played through Mass Effect 3 on PS3 and didn’t have any problems with frame rate or glitches. I had to do a reset when it froze once, but over 25 hours that’s pretty good for a PS3 in my experience.

      I didn’t have any problems with the narrative at the start. At the end of the Arrival DLC Shepard talks to Hackett and agrees to come in for questioning over the incident at the end of the Arrival story. Shepard reports in, the Alliance impound the Normandy and subsequently take ownership of it as a mobile command center for Anderson and begin a retrofit. While Shepard is being detained over the Arrival incident he/she befriends fellow soldier Vega, and that’s where we come in. Bioware obviously wanted a fast pace from the start, I thought it worked well.

      • dmikester

        Yeah, the starting narrative’s not THAT bad.  I think it’s that I love how immersive Mass Effect is and how you really feel like you’ve stepped into Commander Shepard’s shoes and experience everything that she/he experiences.  I mean, the transition between 1 and 2 was seamless and was done in a cutscene that barely had to give any exposition.  So while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the narrative, and I appreciate the hit the ground running feel, it feels disjointed in a way that I’ve never felt in the series before (and I still don’t understand that whole story with Joker and EDI getting the Normandy off of Earth under cloak and dagger while it was being invaded, but whatever).

        The graphics have oddly been getting better and less glitchy since I’ve been playing it, and I’ve never had a Mass Effect game crash on me.  It’s really the loading times that are killing me, and there are loading areas that I just don’t get the point of, like that weird room between the tech labs and the command center where they have to “scan” Shepard every time.  I checked a site that does comparisons of different console versions of games, and the 360 version of ME3 has loading times that are an average of 10-15 seconds less than the PS3, which is just nuts.

        • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

          I didn’t understand what you meant before but I do now with regards to being in Shepard’s shoes the whole way, and I agree with that. Perhaps the lost 6 months could be a prequel DLC, where you decide what Shepard does sitting in his room – eat another bowl of Lucky Charms or watch some more Space Operas on the hologram TV?

          That security check point on the Normandy was the worst. These two Alliance officers see me pass through constantly, know I’m the commander of the ship, and they still make me wait every time while they scan me and dribble their boring-ass viewpoints on the war?

  • Vervack

    Lately I’ve decided that try giving Steam and the irrepressible sirens of the Internet a break and start digging through the giant game stockpile I collected in my high school and university days. Since I’ve been trying to stimulate some ideas for a few writing projects, I’ve been looking through any games I have with a…well, let’s just come out and say it, a steampunk style. (Yes, I know. Hell, I’ve made all those criticisms myself dozens of times. But despite all that, fantastic industrial settings are still my bag, baby.)

    Earlier this week I was replaying Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends, which was appropriate because it’s an RTS that pits clockpunk Italians against magic Arabs against the Space Maya. Fought through the Vinci campaign and had quite a bit of fun, but I only got about halfway through the Alin campaign before I decided to hang it up. The problem is that the game has this dynamic overworld map sort of thing, so while you can move between territories and get upgrades to improve your military, there’s other generals running around attacking your territories and occasionally seizing them. Naturally, if they do that, you have to reclaim it by fighting a generic multiplayer map against the computer. It’s just padding, and while teenage me happily put up with it, adult me isn’t interested. Bit of a shame; art design is a bit primitive, but still pretty neat. (My favorite unit of the entire game is the Vinci air destroyer, which is basically what you’d get if Leonardo Da Vinci built himself and A-10 Thunderbolt.

    Still, there’s plenty more to try. The next things I want to try are the Syberia games. Played the first one, but never found the second one until recently. Rather liked the first one, given how it was a journey through a parallel/forgotten version of Europe just drenched in Continental nostalgia. After those two I may do a quick runthru of Outcry, a fairly basic/maddening Myst clone from Russia that I love more than anything, then it’ll be a replay of Dishonored so I’m good and sharp for when Daud’s DLC missions drop in the middle of April.

    In other news, the discussion here has been tempting me to try playing Mass Effect again. I have the first two games, but I’ve never been able to play through the first one. I just have trouble getting myself into the RPG hero mindset. (If there was a game out there that had you play as a party member, I’d be all over that.) So I suppose what I’m asking is…does anyone have some general advice for the first game, just ways for someone who doesn’t think with an RPG mindset to play the game and not get hung up on the more tiresome aspects of the game?

    Finally, Star Trek Online will have a playable Romulan faction by May. Just FYI.

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

      I’ve always approached the Mass Effect games as third-person shooters with cool powers. Occasionally, the game will slow down for a narrative section or a bit of exploration. I don’t know if that’s the best approach for the first game, since the shooting can be a little janky at times, but it has enough action that it works if you think of it as a straight-up action/adventure title.

    • rvb1023

       I loved Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends.  Each of the factions were incredibly unique and all hailed from different genres I just loved. I wish that game had been as popular as it’s predecessor.

    • Chum Joely

      Just don’t take any side missions on the Citadel, most of them involve just talking to people or running from one end of the Citadel to the other to “track a signal” or some nonsense. Other than that, just quickly dropping in at all the star systems and landing on a certain percentage of landable planets should get you powered up enough to make it through the story, while keeping it action-y.

      Also, I think there’s an “Auto Level-Up” option so you don’t have to think about how to distribute the upgrade points when you level up every 20 minutes or so.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    I received Civ 5 as a Bioshock Infinite Pre-order bonus, so I think I’ll give that a go and see if I can attain world domination or if my culture will be eradicated and only be remembered like one of those Old Testament tribes who’s name has become a modern term for someone who hates all local lighting or stone fruit or whatever.
    Also, this is my one-thousandth Gameological post. None of you can see, but I’m currently dropping a bunch of balloons on my head.

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      Congrats on 1000! Speaking of milestones, just a moment ago I dropped by 50th Gameological post. Talking about Mass Effect. In a What Are You Playing this Weekend comment section. It’s so cliche.

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

      Will the real Mafia be looking for their cut of 1000 posts?  If they start bothering youse, come talk to me; I know a guy.

      Congratulations on your 1K run, @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus .  Your observations and jokes frequently make mine feel paltry.  And make me frequently wish all gaming-related sites weren’t banned at my job.

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

      Aw hell yes!  I’m excited to hear what you think.  Civ V is so accessible and addictive I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t make it out of the Bronze Age in one sitting.

  • caspiancomic

    This weekend, like last weekend, my sister and I are gong to be playing The Walking Dead. We’ve already beaten it once, and now we’re giving it another go through basically making the opposite of our every decision from the first game just to see what happens. Spoilers follow!

    Although my heart will always belong to Journey, I’m not surprised that so many publishers selected this game as their Game of the Year. I began to suspect that this might be one of the best written games I had ever played around the conclusion of the fifth episode- the very end of the game. At the game’s start my sis and I were trading snide quips about how it was lucky for this little girl we were on our way to jail for simple murder instead of child molestation, and by the end we were both pleading with Lee between sobs to tell Clem that he loves her because it might be the last time she ever hears those words.

    It’s odd- normally when a story introduces a kiddie-wid to take care of and be all naive and represent hope for the future and whatever that character immediately gets on my nerves. But I really loved Clem, and I don’t chuck that word around often. She had a lot of great little human touches, like trying out the salt lick and then dodging Lee’s questions about it, or being self-conscious about her hair beginning to smell. She was both written and performed perfectly. Basically all the characters were, but Clem and Lee in particular were very endearing.

    After we’ve done our opposite playthrough, I’m going to try the game out making my own decisions. I know that the overall story doesn’t change fundamentally, but it’ll be nice to have a game in which Lee’s decisions are all my own.

    This game, and its borderline official status as 2012′s agreed upon Game of the Year, gives me a lot of hope for this little subculture of ours. When I was a kid, we faced a lot of scrutiny from without, with people wringing their hands over the violence of the medium, and in the last several years we’ve undergone a lot of turbulent soul searching from within as the culture wages war with itself over issues of misogyny, glorification of violence, and explicit unhealthy sexual obsessions in too many games. It’s reassuring to see that a focused, character driven, narrative heavy piece of storytelling is broadly considered the best thing the medium accomplished all year. Maybe we’re not all psychopaths, murderers, and sexual deviants after all…

    Actually that reminds me, this weekend I’m also playing Hotline Miami.

    • Mookalakai

       I agree that at times, it seems like Clem is mostly there to be emotionally manipulative, and a morality pet, but the character works so well, and never becomes annoying. Endearing is an understatement, if anything.

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

    This weekend, I hope to finish Assassin’s Creed II once and for all. I’m not even really enjoying the game; I’m just playing it to see it through to its conclusion. I’m as liable to complain about short campaigns as anybody else, but the AssCreed games could really have used an editor. Cut out half the content, hone what’s left to perfection, and you’d have a pretty good historical assassination/parkour simulator. Instead, what’s there is a bloated mess of a game, most of which I’ll never bother to experience because it’s superfluous wank, layered on top of a nonsensical, convoluted storyline. I know this is the opposite of the popular opinion, but the present-day storyline is far more interesting to me than whatever’s happening inside the Animus. The present-day story can be roughly summarized as: “Assassins. Templars. Fighting each other. Whatcha got?” It has interesting, well-drawn, well-acted characters. It actually makes sense! On the other hand, whatever is happening in Renaissance Italy is impossible to follow. I’ve lost track of whom Ezio has to kill and why. I don’t even care. I’m not the slightest bit invested in Ezio as a character. He started out as a sleazy douchebag, and now he has doesn’t even have a personality to speak of, aside from “generic hero.” Why should I give a shit about him if the story doesn’t even really give a shit about him? I’ll be glad to be done with this game. Hopefully Brotherhood actually has a worthwhile story, like the first AssCreed.

    I might also get in some Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. About 5 hours in, I can say that it really is the most generic RPG imaginable. The genericalness of the quests is only emphasized by the lifeless, apathetic voice acting. On top of that, the stats systems are needlessly complicated, and the UI is clunky as hell. Oh well. Even though Amalur is generic and convoluted, at least it’s fun and colourful, which is more than I can say for a game like Oblivion, which is generic, convoluted, boring, dull, and buggy to the point of being unplayable. I’m beginning to think that fantasy RPGs just aren’t for me. But then I remember the brilliance, simplicity, and inventiveness of a game like Jade Empire. It saddens me deeply to hear that BioWare is reportedly not currently working on a sequel.

    Wow, upon rereading, that post came across as overly negative. I’m usually more positive about my gaming weekends, but this weekend, I want to play games that are okay, not great. I don’t want to get sucked in by a game, because I really want to sink my teeth into BioShock Infinite next week.

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      ::puts consoling hand on @Merve2:disqus ’s shoulder::

      Oh you poor, poor bastard. Brotherhood has as batshit a story as II, if not batshittier. But it’s worth sticking with for Revelations which has an older respectable Ezio still trying to nail anything with breasts, and the best platforming of the series. I have to agree with your assessment of II, a lot of the time you don’t really know why you have to kill these indistinct people with long-ass Italian names, and Brotherhood is the same. Revelations was a bit more interesting for me, and has callbacks to the first game so you’d probably dig it. One big problem with Revelations – the outside the Animus sections were really bad (conversely, outside Animus bits in Brotherhood were ok….these games are completely all over the place in quality). I haven’t played III because come on.

    • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

      I’m mostly with you on your AC analysis. It has some great core elements, but it’s just so damned bloated with miscellaneous bullshit that has no bearing on the story. Brotherhood doesn’t get any better in that respect, and neither does Revelations. I do like Old Ezio in Revelations, but I have to disagree with Naked Man that the story or plotting is any more interesting or better structured. It’s all rather convoluted nonsense and if you stop to think about anything it doesn’t hold up.

      It’s weird because at one point I really liked the series. I kept buying the sequels because I wanted some satisfying closure on Ezio’s story. Each iteration just adds more and more shit in. I actually think AC2 is the best of them all. It shored up all the poor design issues with the first game, and had yet to become too meandering and bloated with minigames, sidequests, etc. Ezio is definitely kind of a sleazebag, but he does have some good character moments that make him somewhat endearing. At its most basic, his story is just a revenge quest for his family being murdered and at some point he stumbles on the crazy ancient-aliens-meets-davinci-code crap and then that gets wrapped in to it. 

      Really the best aspect of AC has always been the ability to climb and free-run through meticulously recreated ancient cities. Just marveling at the scenery and atmosphere is wonderful. Sometimes I feel like it’s worth it to play them just for that. The assassinations, ironically, have always been the weakest part for me. They are usually so scripted and tightly controlled, and blatantly non-stealth that anyone who enjoys other stealth/assassin games such as Hitman (me) is horribly disappointed. I’ve heard that the multiplayer in Brotherhood and Revelations is actually pretty great for this type of play, but being that I play on PC and always buy the games months after release, the multiplayer servers are all ghost towns by the time I try them out :/

      The series also plays to the very worst aspects of gamer “gotta catch em all” OCD. Collect 500 flags! Renovate every smith shop in the city! Buy every kind of armor/accessory to complete your home base collection! Have some minigames and sim-strategy-lite up your ass! etc
      All diversions from the main plot — weakening what is ostensibly supposed to be the driving focus of the game. 

    • caspiancomic

       I actually quite liked Assassin’s Creed II (which I believe I mentioned here somewhere earlier this week), and was about to launch some kind of defense of it here, but the more I think about it, the more I’m not actually sure what that game’s story was. I’m pretty sure it was about a guy in a white bathrobe skulking around the Italian rooftops sliding poisoned daggers between the ribs of completely innocent city guards for absolutely no reason.

  • Citric

    So my list has changed from last week. Shadow Hearts is still there, and I’m in a stupid place with lots of recycled rooms – one of those JRPG mazes that is just an excuse to save money on resources and copy paste areas to be confusing. But! I’m playing two different games as well!

    First, Splinter Cell, the first one, because I got the HD collection for $20 (I’m a console guy, and as wonderful as some PC sales are I think I always will be). It’s nifty, although it frequently makes me feel very dumb I kind of like that, it’s nice to have a game that has absolutely no handholding and kind of works like a puzzle with murdering. 

    Second, Ys Seven, which seems to have potential, though I just started. Kind of starts badly though, with a “find all the stupid NPCs!” section followed by a very wordy tutorial. Now that I’m actually slicing things it’s looking up, though I suspect I’ll need a few more characters and abilities before I’m sure about how good it is. Ys: Oath in Felghana did start better, since it had simple explanation screens and more minimal dialog, and I did adore that game.

    Finally, I’m not going to play Silent Hill Origins, but I do want to talk about it because I did just beat it this week. It’s actually better than I was lead to believe, and I dare say I liked it more than Silent Hill 3. Reason being, it actually made Silent Hill a real town again, and I missed that. It also was a pretty decent game overall, with some pretty good puzzles and part of a compelling story, the tale of Douchey McTrucker’s family was actually really interesting as it was laid out.

    That said, not a perfect game, even ignoring the weird audio glitches that cropped up on occasion. The magical evil cult thing was sort of haphazardly shoved in and really seemed like an afterthought, as though they were told at the last minute to connect it to the main series. Other stuff that is supposed to connect to the first game doesn’t really go anywhere, like the nurse who just kind of shows up because she was a character in the original but doesn’t seem to have a real purpose other than making people go “hey, it’s that nurse!”. Douchey McTrucker had a stupid hat, and they could have given him a clearer reason for sticking around (and made him less douchey.) Also, the weapon degradation is silly, Douchey’s poofy vest was filled with drip stands and portable televisions given the weird way they balanced that out. But still, I really did enjoy it and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

    • rvb1023

       Shadow Hearts is definitely something I need to go back to. I remember when I first picked up a backwards compatible PS3 I was looking for old PS2 games to try out and those games stood out immediately, but I ended up getting turned of by the PS1 graphics and they got lost in the shuffle.

      • Citric

        I’ll agree that the first one looks like dogshit for a PS2 game. It gives the impression of a game that was started on the PS1, but went way over time and budget – crap graphics hastily upgraded for the new console, some areas that are clearly cobbled last minute – but it is a nifty game if you can get past those flaws. Also, if you can get through the Sea Mother’s story time, which might be the worst scene in the history of games, both due to sheer length and what has to be the most embarrassing voice acting. Get past all of that and it’s got a well done timing-based battle system, lots of interesting and well done characters, and a kind of fascinating supernatural alternate history thing that I find really appealing.

        The second one looks perfectly fine, but I haven’t played it extensively because I want to finish the first. I also want From the New World but that’s probably hard to find now.

    • dmikester

      I totally agree with Origins.  I played it out of a sense of duty at the time to play everything Silent Hill (I haven’t played anything Silent Hill since), and I was pleasantly surprised.  It seemed like a pointless and weird story on paper, and turned out to be compelling and tragic, and the gameplay and level design was solid.  I have a hard time with Silent Hill though, since 2 dominates my memories of the series by being so outstanding.

  • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

    These interviews are almost always depressing, gaming-wise. It’s always “I play scrabble on my phone!” or some variation thereof. 

    Even more depressing is that’s more gaming than I’m doing! I have not played a game in 3 weeks. I can’t stand this. fucking work already, medication!

    Games I fantasize about playing this weekend but probably wont:
    - Chrono Cross
    - Dishonored
    - Hitman Absolution
    - Finishing Dead Space 3
    - The 10 games on Steam I started but didn’t complete
    - The 3 games I almost finished on PS3
    - Red Orchestra has some new DLC that looks interesting. I haven’t played multiplayer in forever

  • Mookalakai

    I got a free copy of Mass Effect 3 because I was stupid enough to buy SimCity, and need some DLC advice. Which DLC is absolutely essential to the game, and what can I safely ignore? Obviously I can skip all the equipment pack bullshit, but story DLC still interests me. Keep in mind that I have paid nothing for the game so far, and would like to remain a cheap bastard if possible.

    Also Bioshock this weekend, plenty of Bioshock.

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      From Ashes DLC is essential for Javik as a squadmate. Citadel DLC is essential because it is awesome. Leviathan DLC is interesting and sends you to some interesting worlds, but is not ‘must play’. Omega DLC is inessential, overpriced and boring.

  • http://twitter.com/roundthewheel RTW

    I love that he snuck in a glory boy reference. EASTERBROOK!

    One of my YouTube subs gifted me Incredipede on Steam a few days ago, so I’ll probably mess around with that some, and also get in some Katawa Shoujo while my wife’s at a baby shower on Sunday.

  • jayrig5

    To whomever transcribed this interview, I’m fairly sure that “Paul Pepper” should be “Culpepper”, as in Daunte Culpepper.  I’m unaware of Paul Pepper having any time with the Vikings.  (Although it does sound a bit like a porn name, and there was the whole sex boat scandal in Minnesota…)

  • stakkalee

    This Sunday I’ll be continuing my ME3 playthrough, and I’ve been contemplating trying out some ME3 multiplayer.  On Saturday, my gaming buddy and I will continue our most recent game of Fall From Heaven.  Last weekend my buddy’s civ, the ice shamans, continued their rituals designed to reawaken the god of Winter.  Of course, none of the other civs are in favor of this course of action, and so my buddy is at war with the rest of the world.  He’ll withstand one civilization’s army, but before he can fully regroup, in comes the next civ’s army.  He’s now anxiously scanning his coastline, waiting for the next civ’s stack.

    Meanwhile, as more destruction occurs across the globe the Armageddon counter has started to climb.  The Armageddon counter is a neat game mechanic – as “bad” things happen (cities get razed, civs get destroyed, certain world wonders get built) the counter starts to climb.  At first nothing much happens, but eventually Hell terrain starts to appear on the map, and once the counter gets to 30 a blight hits every city in the world, causing a massive famine that devastates everyone’s population.  Then, as the counter grows higher, the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse start appearing.  These are barbarian units with massive strength and the ability to create an army of followers.  Unfortunately for my buddy, he’s closest to the “frontier” so the horsemen are mainly appearing near his borders (while I laugh and laugh and laugh.)  Meanwhile, my civilization, which I’ve come to think of as Narnia (because some of my units are anthropomorphic animals, and my leader is a 10-year-old child) has finished pushing the paladin civilization into the sea and now controls the entire island continent.  My stack continues to grow, my fleet of airships and arcane barges rules the seas, and I’m about to resurrect my dragon hero unit.  God DAMN but I love this game!

  • Electric Dragon

    Finally finished The Witcher 2. Good, but it took me so long to finish that I was just going through the motions near the end.

    Upgraded to a widescreen monitor and a beefy new graphics card last weekend. After an irritating trip to the shops when I found out I now also needed to upgrade my power supply, I got it working, and have just started Crysis 3 – solely because I got a free code for it with the card. It’s a game I would never have bought on my own, but if they’re giving it away I’ll play it! The main attraction of the deal was a free code for Bioshock Infinite, so this is just a cherry on top of the icing of the AMD Radeon-flavoured cake.

  • PaganPoet

    This is precisely the reason I want more GS friends. Playing against random people online usually results in me having my ass handed to me. I prefer to play against people of a similar skill level to me.

  • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

    I get that a lot.

  • ToddG

    You gotta lead off with the “Don’t judge me,” because as it is written now, by the time the reader arrives at it, it’s too late.  

    Just kidding, I only recently decided I had played enough Gears 3.

  • Chum Joely

    Also she gets pretty good with a gun by the end. I can tell you that from personal experience.

  • Fluka

    Christ, when I was in second grade I was playing, like, Treasure Mountain, or something involving rabbits.  I didn’t graduate to point and click adventure games until I was nearly 10!

    It’s not just the violence, like Drew up in the interview says.  If you’re that young and soaking up everything around you, it feels like you should be doing something that requires a little bit more make-believe and creativity than “shoot man to win.”  Go outside and play!  (Just stay off my lawn…)  Or, I don’t know, play Minecraft or something.

  • The_Misanthrope

    There really is a sort of “proud parent” moment at the end of the game as Clem really starts applying the lessons Lee has been instilling in her–both directly and indirectly through example–as the story progressed.

  • aklab

    I did make it through the first boss fight through some feat of magic — the producer in chapter 3 I think?

    The hundreds of failures make that one successful attempt so damn rewarding.  

  • Histamiini

    Sounds like you connected to an ongoing game that was about to get a wipeout. That’s just bad luck.

    I play a lot of ME3 multiplayer on PC. It’s great but the randomised shop system can be deflating when you’re trying to get ultra rare weapons. It’s challenging, there’s lots of different weapons and characters to try out, and assholes are rare. I think they’ve stopped doing the weekend challenges but there still seem to be lots of players on PC at least, so I encourage people to try it.