What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Brian Clevinger

Brian Clevinger, cartoonist

The creator of Atomic Robo is ready for his wiseass bot to take on the games world.

By Rob Wieland • April 5, 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.

Brian Clevinger is the creator of 8-Bit Theater, a long-running web comic loosely based on the characters of the NES game Final Fantasy. He parlayed that success into the creation of Atomic Robo, a wisecracking robot who, in his eponymous comic book series, battles menaces throughout history alongside famous scientists. The Gameological Society talked with Clevinger about Borderlands and the two Atomic Robo games due out this year: a mobile platform game called Violent Science and a tabletop role-playing game from Evil Hat Productions.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Brian Clevinger: Too much of Borderlands 2. I’ve got a level 50 Commando, Siren, and Assassin. I finally got back to my Gunzerker who’s clocking in at 29. There’s a new character and higher levels and stuff coming this week, so I’m basically screwed.

Gameological: What do you love about Borderlands?

Clevinger: I have a soft spot for the franchise because the original was unexpectedly brilliant. It had no reason to be anything but a straight-up, “grim and serious” shooty game with some RPG elements tacked on. But the art style was a breath of fresh air, and when it came out, it was the first big budget game in a while that admitted it was a video game.

Gameological: It also enjoys taking the piss out of shooter conventions from its more serious Call Of Duty brethren.

Clevinger: Yeah, and I don’t think it’s malicious, but anything that’s so overly self-serious makes itself a juicy target.

Gameological: Part of the major-studio mentality seems to be, “This is art! Never mind the 10-year-olds teabagging you and calling you terrible names!”

Clevinger: Video games are in this weird apologetic mode where they’re so sorry for being forms of entertainment that they’ll gut themselves of any sense of fun. Corporate comic books do this too. “Dear me, we can’t let these fantasy adventure stories be fun! Cram some rape and gore in there so everyone knows how Very Serious and Mature it all is.”

Gameological: While Borderlands embraces a love of just blowing things up.

Clevinger: The Borderlands franchise and Saints Row just knock all that crap off and go: Hey, why not rocket launchers?

Gameological: Would you ever consider licensing Robo for a downloadable add-on in a game like Marvel Vs. Capcom?

Clevinger: After carefully scrutinizing the contract for loophole backsies clauses where they try to own Robo? Yes, where do we sign?

Gameological: Is that why you developed Violent Science, for some future Robo on Ivy action?

Clevinger: One step at a time. Today, a mobile game. Tomorrow, boob physics.

Gameological: If you use Boob Physics as an issue title, we will expect a cut of the sales. What differentiates Violent Science from other cheap cash-ins?

Clevinger: Nothing! [Laughs.] Wait, no. Don’t print that. The good folks at The Fictory are working on an Atomic Robo animated short. They also branched out into a little mobile game studio and decided, hey, let’s put some peanut butter and chocolate in an iPad, and out popped Violent Science.

Gameological: So is there a cross promo with Jif?

Clevinger: Don’t do the peanut butter thing. It voids your warranty. Just download the app. It’s a fun little run-and-gun-and-jump side scroller. I usually can’t stand anything where the controls are on the screen, but the inputs here are simple enough that it doesn’t bother me at all. Also? I’m not at all biased.

Gameological: It seems like a banner year for Robo between the Kickstarter film, mobile game, and tabletop game.

Clevinger: We’ve also got Volume Eight and Free Comic Book Day this Spring. And the next series of Real Science Adventures. It’s our spin off where we show off parts of Robo’s world that we don’t get to see in the main series.

Gameological: Real Science Adventures focuses on other characters in the Robo series?

Clevinger: Yeah. This time around it’s six issues of Tesla’s team back in the 1800s. And, hopefully, we’ll get started on Volume Nine and the third Real Science Adventure toward the end of the year.

Gameological: You’ve written a lot of backstory for the Atomic Robo RPG. Is that what spawned Real Science Adventures?

Clevinger: No, there’s just a lot of history to the setting. It’s a bit like the research I do. Maybe 5 percent of it ends up on the page. But the other 95 percent isn’t a waste because it informs which 5 percent should be in print. Y’know? So this is our chance to put the other stuff out there.

Gameological: Video games seem like a great choice to explore a world since you’re involved with the world for a very long time. But few games want to take advantage of the depth.

Clevinger: Y’know, everyone thinks of games as cinematic. And delivering stories in cinematic ways. But cinema is passive. Games are active. Portal tells a story through player action. It’s not a better story than Citizen Kane. But Citizen Kane: The Prequel: The Game would probably be shit.

Gameological: A good game hits a middle ground.

Clevinger: Yeah. You can tell stories either way. But with games, I feel like at some point there’s a guy near the top who gets cold feet and makes an executive decision to just clone the last big hit and call it a day.

Gameological: You don’t want to hit cutscene after cutscene, but you also want to feel like what you blow up matters to the story.

Clevinger: It’s not easy. It sounds like it should be, right? But getting all the elements together into a coherent story and game—and game as story—is some kind of fifth dimensional hyper-chess.

Gameological: How would you do a studio-style Atomic Robo game?

Clevinger: If we do a big-time Robo game, I’m just gonna say, “Y’know what, let’s do it like Earth Defense Force.” Bam. The characters you love plus tons of ridiculous explosions. Maybe include a random level generator so I never have to write another script again.

Gameological: So you’d be the suit saying “Do it like X—I’m off to do some blow?”

Clevinger: Yes! [Laughs.] In my defense, EDF is by no measure a hit franchise. So, even when I’m selling out for blow, it’s to an unprofitable niche market.

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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  • dmikester

    I’m taking the weekend off from video games, as I just finished Mass Effect 3 and need a break.  I’ll likely be playing board games again, and I’m hoping for another round of Cards Against Humanity.  Next week I’m going to start Dragon Age: Origins, and something tells me I’ll be playing that for a while.  If y’all will indulge me, I’m going to give my final, pretty much non-spoilery Mass Effect thoughts below, and then I promise I’m done posting about it for a long while, at least until I eventually decide to replay it as a female biotic…

    I’m divided when it comes to Mass Effect 3.  A part of me thinks it’s clearly the worst game in the series, with many plot points feeling rushed, one note characters like Kai Leng, repetitive gameplay with a lot of padding, and graphics/game engine issues that result in absurdly long loading times and gameplay glitches.  But then there’s a part of me that loves the game too.  Many of the character interactions are fantastic (especially anything with Garrus and EDI), and as usual, just walking around the Normandy to chat is great fun.  Despite the glitches, the graphics are pretty amazing, and the way that a lot of the conflicts between races get wrapped up is wonderful.  And to my surprise, I liked the ending.  I think the three choices are solid and present strong dilemmas and decent reasons for choosing or not choosing any of them.

    Of course, the original ending is rushed like a lot of the game, and I can understand the frustration that led to the Extended Cut; it was something I was feeling the entire game.  The Extended Cut proved my feeling that with just a bit more time spent developing the story for the game, it could have felt so much more satisfying throughout.  Not counting the extra conversation with the Catalyst, the Extended Cut added what, roughly six to seven minutes of extra cutscenes, maybe less?  And yet with even that small amount of extra material, everything worked so much better.  There are many examples where adding a minute of extra dialogue or a short cutscene could have made characters feel more nuanced, plot points feel clearer, and the whole game feel more polished.

    In the end, Mass Effect has involved me more deeply than almost any video game franchise I can think of, and it boils down to how well thought out the universe is and the incredible characters.  I’ve never felt like I had a group of friends in a game series like I do in Mass Effect (which is why the Citadel DLC is such a perfect ending), and I’m really going to miss them.  So kudos to BioWare for a remarkable series of games, and I can’t wait for the next one.

    • Saltonstall

      Before I got to the ending of Mass Effect 3, I thought “this can’t be as bad as all the fanboys are making it out to be right?” I got to the Catalyst, and the three optional choices of different explosion colors, and as the credits rolled, I went “it’s actually WORSE than they imagined”.

    • KidvanDanzig

      Mass Effect 3′s problem is that it ended before it could wrap up. There were the two plot threads – the genophage and the Quarian / Geth conflict – that paid off immensely (well, the genophage did) in the third game of the trilogy, because if you’d been playing since the first game, they were conflicts that you kept going back to, that kept deepening, and yet never became less problematic (shame that the Rannoch missions in ME3 made the Geth/Quarian conflict a lot more black and white). That’s what made the choices in those sequences have weight.

      Where I think the ending really stumbled, beyond being initially incomplete, was in its identification of the central defining conflict of the Reaper war. Unlike Rannoch or Tuchanka, the choice you’re asked to make is not telegraphed nor anticipated. It was sort of an unsatisfying synthesis of the two existing dilemmas – (A) can synthetics and organics coexist? and (B) can you justify genocide when the life of the entire galaxy is at risk? Hell, if Shepard went full boy/girl scout on Rannoch the answer to (A) is already resolutely answered, until star boy decides it isn’t.

      • dmikester

        I think what makes the ending unsatisfying is that you’re forced to choose something from the ultimate evil machine created by the original evil indoctrinating race in the galaxy, and that none of the choices are particularly appealing (personally, as someone who likes to play these kinds of games as a Boy Scout, Synthesis is the clear answer, as it doesn’t involve exterminating an entire species and EDI, and you can get all idealistic and sappy and say that Shepard will now live inside everyone forever because he’s in everyone’s DNA).  But for whatever reason, none of that bothered me, and I’m not sure why; maybe it’s because I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to sci-fi, and I don’t mind an ending that doesn’t wrap up everything nicely.  It doesn’t excuse the sloppiness of how it was executed, but I think that’s true about a lot of the game’s plot.

        • DrFlimFlam

          **ME3 Spoilers**

          I thought the Boy Scout answer was clearly for Shepard to take over. It made the ending very poignant for me, especiallya s my character was always a “me-last” guy who was willing to do what was right no matter what. He made the ultimate sacrifice of keeping the galaxy intact at the cost of his own humanity.

          Which could set up a neat game in the far-flung future where he has gone absolutely mad.

        • dmikester

           @drflimflam:disqus That’s an interesting perspective, and it certainly seems to be supported by BioWare by that being the “blue” choice i.e. Paragon.  I’ll need to think about that.  Of course, that also means that Shepard’s more or less becoming what the Illusive Man was trying to become, which bothers me a bit, but I guess that’s the point, that the Illusive Man was too self-centered and focused on humanity to understand what the implications of controlling the Reapers really meant.  The one issue for me with the Synthesis ending is that I assume the new DNA contains evil Catalyst DNA as well, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything’s going to be all perfect, but it still strikes me as the best option.  I guess taking over does ensure that everyone gets to maintain their individuality at the sacrifice of Shepard’s and doesn’t have to be forced into becoming an organic/synthetic hybrid, but I feel like they present that choice as nothing but positive for everyone.  And yes, a future crazy Shepard Catalyst could be really interesting.  I wonder if BioWare’s ever going to establish a canon ending.

        • Halloween_Jack

          Even with the EC, the three endings are still all problematic. The Control ending is tainted by it being TIM’s plan, and it’s also kind of ludicrous to imagine Shepard’s disembodied consciousness being able to control hundreds or even thousands of enormous ancient cyborgs, some of which have gone through thousands of cycles. With Destroy, you commit genocide against all AIs in the galaxy, including your own ship, something that’s sure to register negatively with the next emergent synthetic race (and you know that, sooner or later, someone will come up with one, probably for the same reasons that the quarians did: in an attempt to make their bid for the dominant race in the galaxy). And Synthesis simply makes no sense: why would putting every race on the same organic/synthetic basis ensure peace? Homo sapiens all have the same genetic basis, and how has that worked out for us so far? The only real solution is some sort of Borg Collective-type imperative; so now everyone’s assimilated, yay. (Plus, there’s something just a little too hand-wavey and demanding of suspension of disbelief about how the Crucible actually brings any of these changes about, even given that the mass effect itself, particularly how it applies to biotics, is basically space magic.) 

          I still think that the way to go would have been to make the Synthesis ending something like being able to convince the Reapers to self-destruct after they’d downloaded all the accumulated knowledge of the civilizations that they’d harvested; it would have been a harder ending to unlock WRT game achievement requirements (possibly dependent on saving both the geth and the quarians), and also be the only ending requiring Shepard to sacrifice herself, but it would have had the best results for the galaxy overall. 

        • KidvanDanzig

          FWIW, I think Bioware tried to pull a fast one on folks with the colors of the endings, and I believe there was some quote from a dev to back that up. Obviously green ending is optimal paragon, but the list in order of “goodness” would go green > red > blue. Shepard says through the entirety of the series that he’s going to destroy the Reapers, and given the unknowns at play, Red’s a pretty smart option even if it does involve the extinction of the Geth / EDI.

    • neodocT

       *SPOILERS*

      To be honest, I feel the ending would have worked better if you weren’t even given a choice in the ending scene. I hate the whole “pull lever A for ending A” mechanic, and it sucked to have it be the end of Mass Effect.

      Personally, I believe that if the ending had been predetermined in accordance to your choices during the game (or series?) the ending would have been more poignant. Something like: “did you choose a peaceful resolution between the Quarians and the Geth? Well, then you get the synthesis ending!”, but more refined.

      That way, I wouldn’t have felt limited to three mostly sucky choices. It would have been the one moment where Shepard is stripped of choices, and has to live with the consequences of his/her actions during the big conflicts in the series.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I wholeheartedly agree with that idea, that the ending should be determined by the sum total of all your prior decisions, rather than a single choice in the final act.

        I talk about Pandora Directive below, and one of the reasons I love that game so much is that the ending you get is based on the way you played Tex throughout the whole game.

        • KidvanDanzig

          ohhh but they are. 90% of your decisions in-game are converted into Choice Omnigel, and when you’ve collected enough choices, you go after the Reapers.

      • dmikester

        I like this idea a LOT.  For some reason, I actually kind of liked the “pull lever” mechanic here only because it was a physical representation of what you had been doing the entire series, which struck me as kind of eerie and fitting.  But yes, I agree that it could have been great if they had taken away the mechanic and made the ending a more nuanced result of your actions throughout the game.  Even though I’ve never played a game in the series, I’m very intrigued about The Witcher 3 with the announcement that it’s going to have something like 30 different endings based on even minor things you do throughout the game; it sounds like it could lead to an ending kind of like what you’re describing here, where the consequences of what you do throughout the game directly impact the end result.

        • neodocT

           I’ve never played a Witcher game either (but Witcher 2 is sitting there on Steam…) so I don’t know how you go about making choices in the game, but something like that, where there would be a couple of major endings with several minor variations is my ideal image of what the ME3 ending should have been. 

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

           Oh, man, TW3 will be *brutal* if they go through with that.  There’s few-to-no indications throughout the series as to when you are making world-changing decisions, as you are (like most people) operating from a position of not having all the answers, not being gifted with foresight, and having your own, more-immediate (and possibly selfish) concerns to deal with. What seems to be a tossed-off line here might impact the fate of entire kingdoms in The Witcher series.

      • Drew Toal

        Second.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          Motion carried. Okay, who’s going to volunteer to write the appropriate Mod?

        • neodocT

           @twitter-493417375:disqus I say we rile up gamers again and force Bioware to release Extended Cut 2: Asari Boogaloo.

      • Electric Dragon

        Something like the ending structure of Deus Ex, perhaps, where you have a choice of final missions which determine the ending, with added Mass Effecty (Mass Effective?) twists like: you can freely choose the missions, previous decisions influence how hard the missions are or which squad mates are available to you in it.

      • Halloween_Jack

        My second choice, after the one I outlined above, would have been something like Shepard activating the Crucible (after a big end-boss fight with TIM; sorry, Marauder Shields, but that just didn’t cut it for me), then sitting down next to Anderson to die while they watched the fireworks. And, of course, EDI doesn’t die, nor do the geth (if they’re still around). Big funeral scene. Everyone pours one out for Shepard at the Normandy memorial wall. Roll credits.

      • KidvanDanzig

        Nice as that would be, Shepard is essentially a superhero and Bioware doesn’t really sketch too far outside the lines of outright power fantasy when it comes to these things. More importantly, while consequences to actions make for richer and more complex games, people don’t like them when they’re hard. I think the community at large would be just as pissed off if the ending amounted to an FMV. This is a big criticism leveled at Bioshock: Infinite’s final 15 minutes, but B:I never had pretensions of being an RPG, so the complaint is baseless.

    • Simon Jones

      I think Mass Effect 3 kinda suffered from being a bit disjointed. There didn’t really feel like there was a strong central thread to it compared to Mass Effect 2, which while also piecemeal, managed to keep it’s shit together enough to feel episodic.

      Actually…

      If you’ve ever played Xenogears?

      Mass Effect 3 felt a bit like the second disc of Xenogears with a lot of ‘This happened and then this happened and then this happened’

      Also, I think it got judged perhaps more harshly than it should have in light of the leftover, kinda visceral anger people seemed to be feeling over Dragon Age 2.

      • neodocT

        Haha, disc 2 of Xenogears was the weirdest thing ever. Suddenly the game lost its open world freeroamy map and became this strange storytelly mission based structure thing that was being told inside the character’s minds (maybe?) and a giant pendulum was involved.

        And it’s almost the exact same thing that happens in the final episodes of Evangelion.

        Man did I love those angsty Japanese giant robot stories… glad I grew out of them, though.

        Having said that, I do think ME3 holds together much better than people usually give it credit for. It has problems, sure, but I feel it works in closing off major plotlines steadily as Shepard brings the galaxy together to fight the Reapers.

        Of course, this gathering of species is mostly told through text as part of the construction of a giant space thing you only see in the last cutscenes. The story is there, it’s just not executed as well as it could have been.

        • Simon Jones

          Xenogears began life as a plot treatment for an angsty japanese giant robot anime. That then instead got turned into an angsty giant robot anime game. That then ran out of money and produced the honestly strange second disc of Xenogears.

      • dmikester

        I totally agree about ME3 feeling overall disjointed, though I think ME3 feels more well put together than the second disc of Xenogears, which is just such a nutty experience.  I really wonder what would have happened if they had gotten an extra year to develop the game, since that amount of time between 1 and 2 led to easily the most fun and well put together game in the series.  I’m just about to start Dragon Age, so I’m bracing myself for 2 already.

    • KidvanDanzig

      What I really missed in ME3 was something like the Assassin network mechanic from AC: Brotherhood. Zaeed survived the Collector base mission? Send him and his mercenary buddies to rout an attack on some colony, gain war assets. Send Kasumi to steal Cerberus intel, etc. It would have been fun, and more involving in the whole “war effort” thing.

  • Citric

    Still Shadow Hearts, Splinter Cell and Ys Seven, I sure do play the same thing every week. I decided to stop Retro Game Challenge. I mean, I finished the small challenges, but the beat every game one requires beating Gaudia Quest, and nope, not happening. I also started Contact, which has a seriously nifty world that is undermined by an absolutely terrible battle system. But the world is so nifty I feel compelled to keep playing. Imagine how great it would have been if the battle system wasn’t so bad!

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

      LOVEDELIC GAME ALERT.  *GhaleonQ sprints to topic*

      It sounds like you’re cursed with playing quality games with vastly superior sequels stuck in Japan.  Game Center CX 2 is a DS highlight, with everything that the 1st has and more.  (I’m also a sucker for Japan-style graphic adventure games, which it has.)

      Contact’s a good egg.  You’ll find that the problem isn’t the auto-battle (which is like Final Fantasy XII or whatever), but that the stat-tweaking items/costumes/et cetera require multiple dungeon crawls.  This is fine design-wise, but the battle system isn’t fun enough (like, say, Ys VII’s) to justify the choice.  It’s a very inferior Lovedelic-style game (the plot gets crazy), but it’s still fun.

      Sakura Note: The Future Connected To The Present, on the other hand, was a sales bomb that did NOT deserve it.  It cleans up the battle system and eliminiates the guesswork while retaining the sense of humor and making a graphic adventure or adventure game of things.  To pick something with which you might be familiar, it’s like My Neighbor Totoro.  Also, it has Uematsu proving that he still had it.  Americans didn’t play Softboiled Hero, obviously, so his last great work was in Final Fantasy XI.  There was much mediocrity for awhile. After that, he had Sakura Note, Final Fantasy XIV, and Fantasy Life right in a row.  It was such a surprise to enter a Contact-like battle and then hear fricking Final Fantasy V-style music blasting out of my DS.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x7jyadBt-k

      Space Agency is on hold while Ueda makes junk games to get money, sadly.

      (The rest of your list is obviously awesome.)

      (Also, since commentary on the guests are rare: Brian Clevinger is legitimately the best.  He obviously actually knows video games, and he hasn’t yet coasted on Atomic Robo .)

      • Destroy Him My Robots

        Huh. When I think of Final Fantasy V music, I think of airy arpeggios and one of my all-time favorite genres of music, Fucked Up Gamelan Stuff.

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

          Oh, Lord knows I’m a fan of gamelan freakouts, but I always associate V and VI with his progressive rock phase.  III was much airier to me, for instance, although I guess it’s hard to generalize.  Distant Home from V is 1 of my favorite Final Fantasy/Uematsu pieces, and that’s just a strophic ballad chorale straight out of a Lutheran hymnal.  It’s not rockin’ 1 bit.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      IIRC, there’s a cheat code in one of the virtual magazines that will allow you to beat Guadia Quest in ten minutes.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I sure did like Shadow Hearts. I’ve played a ton of RPGs and honestly haven’t beaten most of them, but I did nail that one down.

      If only I’d gotten the good ending.

      • Simon Jones

         If it makes you feel any better, the bad ending is apparently canonical.

        Man, I really did like Shadow Hearts.

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    EDF 2017 was goddamn lunacy in the most entertaining way. I’d be shooting my ridiculously tiny rifle at a horde of incoming giant bugs while running for my life with a giant grin on my face. 

    It’s a pity that EDF: Insect Armageddon doesn’t quite recapture the feeling but the multiplayer is ridiculously responsive and I’ve often been the only North American player on a team of Japanese gamers. The hilarious part is that usually I’d be playing on Sunday afternoon which is in the wee hours of Monday in Japan, meaning that my team mates must have been unemployed slackers (my kind of people).

    As for weekend gaming, I’m kind of backed up on tv and books so I might not get around to it. I’m also in a bit of a lull. How’s the online for Tekken Tag Tournament 2? I may actually buy it one of these days, though I’ll have to resign myself to getting my ass kicked by high school kids again.

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

      Tag Tournament 2: It’s wonderful.  As with Virtua Fighter 5 (which you should also buy), the value is unparalleled and the gameplay’s spectacular.  You will be UTTERLY brutalized online, though.  Imagine what you think’s going to happen now.  Triple it.  It’s also not high schoolers; it’s the bro fighting game superfans.  That’s worse, because instead of ethnic slurs getting hurled at you, you just get dismissed like you’re not even worth getting called “homo-face.”  *tear runs down cheek*

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        Yeah, I’ve read the Tekken forums, the peeps there analyze the freaking frame rates for each character to squeeze out the last millisecond of possible advantage.

        Still, didn’t the last Tekken have ranked matches and like, pussy matches? I remember I’d actually find players of my level when I did the hippy “no one’s a loser” unranked matches.

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

          It’s still crazy.

    • Army_Of_Fun

      Have both the EDFs you mentioned (for 360). Love them both. XBL: ShananaGoatGruf.

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        Sadly, the 360 was sacrificed to the gods for a propitious harvest (i.e., sold for rent money when I was  unemployed). Well, I barely played it anymore by the end, whereas the PS3 as a media centre is still practically in daily use for me even if I’m not gaming.

  • Colonel

    Age of Empires 2!  Age of Empires 2!  AGE OF EMPIRES 2!!!

    Seriously, nothing else.

    Edit: Okay, maybe some Rock Band but then it’s back to War Elephants and Turtle Ships.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

      Turtle Ships? I am intrigued.

  • BillyNerdass

    I’ve been reading through Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress and hoping to crack it open wider than Finnegans Wake. All I can say is I didn’t name my first fortress Crypt Hills for nothing.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    Bioshock: Infinite again on a second playthrough. This time I’m running through on the unlocked “1999″ difficulty, but I’m not seeing much difference compared to playing on Hard. I’m much more interested in picking up on any elements I missed on the first time through and seeing how events stack up knowing the plot in advance.

    Speaking of which, I don’t know if we want to have a spoiler thread yet, so I’ll add a few minor comments on the game:
    • The Luteces (the brother and sister that show up a few times and give you the shield) still have some of my favorite scenes, especially since they manage to suggest the direction the plot is taking without spelling anything out before it’s necessary.
    • I also sorta like the throwaway choices that pop up throughout the game; they don’t change much, and I think they could’ve had a few more, but they tie in nicely with the themes.
    • I was surprised that the game didn’t really explore the setting as much as it could’ve; I agree with Teti’s review about the “false equivalency” of the two different factions that antagonize you throughout the game, but I also think the game was close to something that could’ve tied into its themes better.
    • Embarrassingly, I missed out on at least one major plot point near the end and didn’t realize it until reading about it later; everything made much more sense once I read up on it.
    • The ending wasn’t quite as strong as I liked the first time I played, although that might be because I failed to recognize some important details, but overall I really liked the game.

    • KidvanDanzig

      There’s a lot of really smart foreshadowing that warrants at least another half-run after your first game.

      As for the choices, what’s more interesting to me are the little touches, little things that change between playthroughs that you can easily overlook. They’re all very thematic. For example, the poster you see of yourself later in the game will have a bandaged hand if your hand was stabbed earlier in the game, and the face of the coins that Elizabeth flips to you stays consistent through 100% of the game – always heads or always tails.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        I never noticed that about the coins, I’ll try watching for that next time. I have been trying out some of the alternative choices, like pulling a gun at the train station, but I’m not expecting much beside a few details here and there. Only exception I made was the first choice at the raffle… I was thinking about it, but Jesus did I choke once the option came up.

    • Captain Internet

      SPOILER WARNINGS obviously
      I didn’t see that much was made of the Vox Populi at all- they were set up to have a genuine grievance, but never really broke from the well-established ‘revolutionary’ template of painting everything red and drawing up posters of men in overalls staring up and to the right. I wasn’t too surprised when the leader had her “He who controls the past, controls the future…” moment, because it was yet another thing that could be plucked from the Big Box O’ Socialist Clichés.

      Still, Booker’s dismissal of all groups as essentially the same fits his character- self-hating, weary, miserable… which leads into the bit I find the weirdest – Booker’s transition into Comstock.

      I certainly didn’t see it coming, but that’s only because there’s such a disjoint between the two characters. Booker doesn’t seem to have a problem with non-whites, so why does Comstock? Is the game really saying that if you become a born-again Christian you’ll become an extremely rich quasi-fascist?

      There may be some smart indication of how exactly that works, but I’ll need to do another playthrough- and that’s waiting until after the weekend, when my new computer components turn up. 

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

        SPOILERS CONT.
        The Booker-Comstock thing begins to make sense when you think of them both as villains.  This also helps justify the game’s ridiculous violence.
        We all know the terrible things we see in Comstock and I can believe that a man, whose defining life event before baptism was Wounded Knee, could go two ways on race, either realizing it was a huge mistake, or absolving himself of any blame, by saying he was doing it for the good of his pure race.

        But Booker is a just as much a villain in my opinion, in the sense, that he murders hundreds of people across a city and brings it to it’s knees.  Shooting people in Bioshock 1 didn’t have the same, “oh my god, this is wrong” effect that Infinite had because they were twisted, mask wearing freaks of nature.  In Infinite, they’re just regular people, yes some of them are racist, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to die. Also, the over the top violence, makes what you’re doing seem all the more morally suspect. Seriously, even Elizabeth found the executions shocking, and Booker’s hyper-violent reaction to having his arm grabbed at the Lottery was very jarring. I think it is supposed to draw attention to the fact that maybe he’s not a hero after all.  

        When Elizabeth asks him how Columbia will come back from this, after the Vox Revolution, he says it doesn’t deserve to.  Only someone with the ego the size of Comstock’s would think he has the right to decide the fate of an entire city.

        • Captain Internet

          Perhaps, but watching the lottery scene again the other people attack Booker first- he’s not exactly given the opportunity to come quietly, and from then on he’s attacked on sight.  

          He’s still pretty shady, but he’s definitely not as outright nuts as Comstock is. I thought Booker saying that the city doesn’t deserve to come back was just Booker being a miserable git. 

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          The game doesn’t hesitate to paint Booker’s past in a negative light, but his violence in Columbia seemed more akin to the actions of a typical anti-hero. At the very least, some would argue that the violence is excessive compared to its narrative purpose. The violence doesn’t bother me, aesthetically, but I largely agree with his editorial.

          In the game, Booker has sympathetic motivations for being where he is and the “mandatory” violence is mostly reactionary, as  @Captain_Internet:disqus pointed out. In comparison, I think a game like Spec Ops: The Line did a better job of painting violence in a negative light rather than a means to an end.

        • Vervack

           Yeah…I’ve only watched a playthrough of Infinite, but I’ve been having trouble with how the game handles violence. Given the shit I’ve seen in games as of late, Infinite‘s violence definitely falls into the realm of Poe’s Law. It also seems to cause unfortunate clashes with other elements in the game; there’s far more diversity in the enemy NPCs, but when you listen to a woman soldier scream in agony as she’s torn apart by crows or watch as you saw through a black guy’s neck, you begin to feel like things are operating at cross purposes.

          That being said, I actually like the raffle scene. It’s an interesting juxtaposition; the “stoning” (they’re not using stones but “balling” really is not the right word) is horrific by both our standards and that of the time, but it’s an evil that’s been naturalized and sublimated into their society, and is even in the process of being domesticated. After all, this isn’t a lynching by Old Man Halloran’s peach tree or a stoning in an alley, it’s a “delightful” carnival game with baseballs. Doubtless by the 1930s they’ll have evolved to using tennis balls. Booker’s outburst and overreaction is a way of breaking this status quo, of revealing the terrible impulses that are woven into the fabric of Columbia.

          That being said, I wasn’t really able to get a proper handle on what Infinite wanted to say about violence. I was quite disappointed that the game didn’t seem to be that interested in comparing and contrasting the differing attitudes and beliefs concerning violence that a millenarian Christian authority and a radical leftist revolutionary movement (similar outward forms, but the devil is in the details). Then again, there is quite a bit of muddle in this game.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        The fact that Booker and Comstock are alternate versions of each other is actually what I missed on my first playthrough, but it can make sense depending.

        It seems that Comstock’s largest flaw compared to Booker isn’t his rampant xenophobia, but his twisted idea of divine forgiveness. There’s some dialogue mentioning that Comstock left his sins “on the bank of the river” at his baptism, but apparently he came to the conclusion that being forgiven for his sins absolved him of responsibility or change. In comparison, Booker decided he couldn’t wash away the things he did and becomes as he is; he isn’t shown atoning for his past, but he does seem legitimately rueful of it.

        The part of the game in the Hall of Heroes hammers home parts of Booker’s history that he really regrets. Since those things happened before the baptism, it’s safe to say Comstock did the same things but Slate doesn’t recognize him due to name and appearance. There’s also one audio log where Comstock mentions burning down teepees with “squaws” inside because others accused him of having Indian blood, which suggests Booker’s past is similarly… troubling.

        They may have been going for something similar with the Vox Populi, how events and decisions can shape us into something terrible despite being essentially the same people, but I don’t think it came across. The Vox only have their violent uprising in the alternate timeline where Booker led the Vox into it and became a martyr for their cause, but the game didn’t convince me that Fitzroy would have acted any differently in the original timeline.

        • neodocT

           I also don’t get where people got that only alternate-reality Daisy Fitzroy was violent. As far as I saw it, the only difference between them was that Daisy 2 had guns.

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

           The audiolog you find in the original time-line paints Fitzroy as a bloodthirsty vengeance-freak. The 2nd (3rd?) time-line that you hop to, with the Vox in full-on revolt and burning Colombia down, the Vox have guns, but Fitzroy has not changed significantly from the vibe I got off her initially.

        • Vervack

          Truth be told, I didn’t really care for Daisy Fitzroy. She didn’t strike me as a Lenin so much as the sort of mid-level foot soldier that orders the execution of the royal family, spends the next two decades as a mid-level party functionary, then winds up getting purged and shot in 1937 without understanding why.

          Say what you will about Lenin and Stalin (and there is a lot to say, believe you me), they at least has vision and an understanding of nuance.

    • Simon Jones

       Spoilerific:

      It’s kinda subtle but it’s interesting to note the Luteces aren’t brother and sister. They’re just alternate reality versions of the same person.

      The statue of her, for example, briefly flickers to him and back again like with the other quantum mishaps.

      It’s why in the recordings, she keeps mentioning that her ‘brother’ is having the issues with his brain. Because he’s been displaced.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        Yeah, definitely spoilerific, but “brother and sister” was more accurate than my first impression. Given how they bickered, at first I thought they were married!

  • Saltonstall

    Hmmm… I finished up BioShock Infinite (the ending of which I will probably end up discussing for the rest of my life), so now it’s time to retreat into the back catalog until June, when The Last of Us is released. What should I play first, the second half of Assassin’s Creed III, the second half of Gears of War, L. A. Noire, Fable III, Max Payne 3, or Devil May Cry HD?

  • conditionals

    Me play Bioshock Infinite weekend.

  • Zach Adams

    Console, Bioshock Infinite.  Will probably put some commuting time into Knight Storm on iPad and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on Vita as well.  And Star Trek in Pinball Arcade, because I have impulse control and obsessive behavior problems.

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

    “I’m sorry, what?  I haven’t heard a word you said ’cause I was staring at your gazongas.”  – Black Mage

    I’ll still occasionally pull that out as a non-sequitur when the conversation gets too dull.  Thanks for that, Brian.  I’ll send you the medical bill for all my punches to the face one of these days.

    Finishing up the quite-entertaining Deadlight over the weekend.  I know many have complained about its length, but it’s turned out to be ideal to play in short hour bursts before bedtime during a work week, which maybe says more about my job than about the game.  But I find the background art really lovely, the soundtrack scratches that Explosions In The Sky/Godspeed You! Black Emperor itch, and the Prince Of Persia action is a welcome break from whatever FPS I was playing before. 

    And it’s the first time in quite awhile where I’ve been more interested in the gradually-accumulating background story (Randall’s diary pages) than the game itself.  Curious about whether this game is ultimately drawing more inspiration from Vanilla Sky than The Walking Dead

  • EmperorNortonI

    This weekend, should any time at all present itself given that I’ve got to work straight through thanks to the dumbass brilliance of my non-existent management who thought that it was a great idea to schedule an opening ceremony on a Sunday, and then have a straight week of ordinary classes, I’ll probably spend on Warframe.  And shaking my fist in rage.

    • djsubversive

      Hey, I found out that pretty much ANY flat surface is runnable. It might only be for a second or so, but it’s possible. Things taller than your character’s head are still a little iffy.

  • Zach_Annon

    Looks like it’s going to be some more Fallen Enchantress for me.  Was playing the beta for a new, small 4x RTS called StarDrive the last couple weeks, but I’m putting that off for now until new content gets added so I don’t burn out on the game before it’s even properly released.  I hadn’t played Fallen Enchantress in months before picking it up again last weekend, and the patches have greatly improved the AI, fixed a lot of the bugs that were still kicking around immediately after release, and balanced things out so that most paths to victory feel pretty viable.  My most recent game has a large world filled with monsters, with fewer enemy empires than the map recommends, and I’m finding that this makes for an entirely too peaceful mode of play.  So after I finish my massacring spree in it, I’ll start a new game with a few more enemy rulers in it; hopefully the extra numbers will lead to someone wardeccing me rather than forcing me to go on the offensive.

    Of course, playing a fantasy strategy game always makes me want to pick back up a fantasy RPG, so I will more likely than not end up playing Skyrim at some point this week as well.  I haven’t yet purchased the Dragonborn expansion, which will give me a reason to play as my wood elf Archmage who’s already killed Alduin and saved the world from vampires.  Before I buy it, though, I’ll probably slink around on my Khajiit, stealing and murdering my way to the top of the underworld.

  • Destroy Him My Robots

    I just saw that it’s WAYPTW time already and I didn’t know what to do, so I panicked and opened another tab and ordered 3D Dot Game Heroes (and also the first volume of Saturn Apartments). Good timing, actually, since I feel I should be done with Luigi’s Mansion 2 and Monster Fridays by the time it arrives.

    • Raging Bear

      I am absolutely going to send you the 3D Dot Game Heroes character I designed. It’s a bear.

      (Also: Luigi’s Mansion multiplayer?)

      • Destroy Him My Robots

        “Yes” to both of these!

        I haven’t touched LM2′s multiplayer yet, but it’s for 4 players, right? So if anyone else wants in, dump your friend codes here, I guess.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    Well, the closing of LucasArts is all the excuse I need to break out Day of the Tentacle.

    • dmikester

      Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango are my two Schafer faves.  

    • boardgameguy

      is there a simple way to play Day of the Tentacle on a modern PC?  is there a browser version now?  would love to know how you are doing it and how easy it would be for someone like me who doesn’t want to put a lot of work into making old games work on newer hardware and OSes

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        The easiest way to play 90s adventure games is an emulator called ScummVM. DOSBox works well too.

        I’m not sure if the game is available anywhere for legal download; I still use the original CD-ROM.

        • boardgameguy

          thanks for the tip!

  • SamPlays

    You people, always with the Mass Effect *sigh* Instead playing ME, why not just watch it this Saturday morn?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOqHUa2LfNY

    I haven’t been able to play much lately but I’m hoping to find time to watch some Herzog films in memoriam of Roger Ebert passing away yesterday. Definitely Aguirre, maybe Fitzcarraldo if time permits.

    • The_Misanthrope

      I’m sure, to a lot of younger gamers, Ebert will be known as that out-of-touch old critic that dissed video games, which is a shame.  Sure, I get that video game enthusiasts can be an insular and defensive lot; It’s hard not to be when video games come under scrutiny every other time a youth is involved in a violent incident.  But to bear this man animosity or indifference is a disservice. 

      • SamPlays

        I think Ebert was off in his assertion that games cannot be art. But the guy was a great writer, highly intelligent, accessible and often very funny. He will be missed but it’s probably “Game Over” on the whole video games as art debate – I’m pretty sure he was the only substantive figure on his side of the argument. That said, Ebert was apparently tech-savvy and not that out-of-touch: he was an early investor in Google.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

          The great thing about Ebert was that you didn’t have to agree with him to be interested in what he had to say. I don’t agree with his assessment of video games, but it did make me think.

          (And no, video game nerds of the world, Bioshock does not prove him wrong.)

    • Fluka

      That ME cartoon is as charming as it is bewildering for featuring, of all characters, Diana Allers.

      I’ll say the same thing I did on the AV Club.  While I disagree with Ebert 100% on the games-as-art issue, he was always gracious in dealing with his critics, responding to them in good faith and even moderating his position in response, eventually.  He also, paradoxically, helped pushed the whole “Are games art?” question into the forefront of the modern discourse on games.  It was, in the end, an important provocation, and he was a class-act about it the entire time.

      Also, Aquirre is not only a stone-cold classic of German new wave filmmaking, but also has my favorite monkey-based scene of any movie.  If you watch Fitzcarraldo, make sure you watch Burden of Dreams too!  It is, dare I say it, a documentary that is even better than the movie it’s about.

      • SamPlays

        I think you’re right about Ebert’s provocation. The position that assumes games are a form of art was probably taken for granted within the gaming world. The idea of games as “art” brings a sense of legitimacy, not necessarily those who interact with and understand the functions and forms of games (we’re the choir), but to the outsiders who mindlessly label games as “kid stuff”.  Ebert, the noble outsider, bothered to ask the question and it resulted in a huge dialogue that exists well beyond the confines of Video Games. Were his views accurate or even fully informed? Hell no – he admitted to not playing video games. But he was definitely a class act and his role as devil’s advocate produced a lot of great writing about the role of video games in contemporary culture. 

        As for Aguirre’s monkeys, I had mixed feelings when Kinski seemed to manhandle one of them a little too much. I’ve never seen Burden of Dreams but my Herzog/Kinski box set includes a copy of My Best Friend. Watching it you get the sense that “Friend” could easily be replaced by “Fiend”. I’ll try to track down Burden because it no doubt has some classic Kinski drama.

        • The_Misanthrope

           Isn’t the name of the documentary My Best Fiend already?  Not being pedantic…that’s just what it was called when it aired on IFC.

        • SamPlays

          @The_Misanthrope:disqus This is like when you suddenly realize you’ve always been singing the wrong words to a song. I had another recent experience: a few months back there was a lot of media attention on a Canadian Aboriginal movement called “Idle No More”. For weeks I thought they were saying “I Don’t Know More”. Consider me served, my good man!

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        Ebert may have been out of touch regarding video games but he was definitely willing to engage people intellectually. Personally, I’m hesitant to refer to video games as an unqualified art form, and I think he sold video games short, but he also touched on a lot of the reasons why most games aren’t the kind of thing we think of as art as opposed to good entertainment. I don’t think anyone would deny that cinema is an art form, but most movies aren’t trying to “be” art in the same way most games aren’t trying to be art. In comparison, paintings and music are generally given the privilege of being art on aesthetic quality alone.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus Video games seem really hard to properly criticize from an artistic perspective. Part of the reason is that gaming academia doesn’t seem to have its own lexicon yet.

        I agree heartily that we shouldn’t take a game’s artistic merit for granted. To use an analogy from the visual arts: If Picasso’s “Guernica” is art, does that mean that a jigsaw puzzle depicting “Guernica” is also art? If so, does the puzzle become art only when it is assembled, or is it art even when it lies in pieces?

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          Yeah, when talking about video games as a medium or an art form, the closest medium would be film, but comparing the two diminishes what is inherent to video games, the interactivity. If we wanted to talk about interactivity in art, it brings up some significant questions:

          • Is the interactivity, itself, art? In another way, can Super Mario Bros. or Canabalt or any other game be a great work of art because they are a pure expression of the form?
          • How can game designers or developers use the interactivity to communicate their messages? What are the “semiotics of play”?
          • Can a video game have artistic merit removed from the interactivity? There’s probably a number of games you or I have played where the gameplay wasn’t as interesting or exciting as the atmosphere or the story; are they still art, or “great” art, in spite of how they play?

          And so on and so forth. The first question is the main reason I have reservations about calling video games an unqualified art form, but I do like reading up on the conversation.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

          The other issue is that the vast majority of games have the same artistic ambition as the Transformers movies.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      Harry Partridge? Good stuff, but I prefer Saturday Morning Watchmen. I haven’t played Mass Effect, though, so what do I know?

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

         Absolutely nothing, Jon Snow.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    I just finished replaying Pandora Directive, an adventure game from the 90s. I took the “dark” path. 

    I honestly think Pandora Directive has the best morality system ever in gaming. Some of it is pretty unsubtle (an envelope of cash addressed to an orphanage? really?), but I love that people actually respond in a realistic way to douchebaggery. Winning a person’s trust requires more than a single speech check; you need to lay the groundwork over the course of the game. Plus, the “goody-two-shoes” dialogue options are usually just as hilarious as the jerkass dialogue options. 

    I’ve started replaying the much-maligned Star Control 3. I remember mainly the negative things (unbalanced combat, blind exploration, lots of waiting, certain annoying races) so every positive moment has been a nice surprise. There’s a lot of neat sci fi ideas in here (albeit patently ridiculous).

    • neodocT

      I hadn’t heard of Pandora Directive before, though the plot and plot mechanics seem pretty interesting.

      I’m kind of wary of it being a 90′s adventure game, though. How heavy on “glue cat fur on your lip with syrup to fake a mustache” would you say it is? 

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        There are some object puzzles, but they aren’t as silly as what you’d expect to find in a more cartoony game.

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

    So, having a little extra time this week (Thesis is done, and the public schools where I’ve been doing fieldwork/teaching are one spring break), I decided to finally try the copy of Mass Effect I got on Steam sale a jillion years ago. I figure it’s important to kind of see what’s up with the biggest AAA games every so often.

    So far…it feels like a AAA game. There’s a dispiriting grind to it that reminds me a lot of why I drifted away from GTAIV: “1.) accept mission, 2.) do some interminable, boring, floaty driving, 3.) enter a building and do some samey, boring, cover-based shooting, 4.) repeat.” It’s not terribly compelling, gameplay-wise! There are veins of more interesting (to me) gameplay running through the experience, though. Since my Shepard is a charismatic paragon, a fair number of situations can be solved by navigating dialogue trees, which lets me take a break from shooting and engage in some adventure-game-style dialogue puzzling, which is kinda fun. Occasionally I’ll even get to make a complex, Walking-Dead-style decision with consequences (or, more often, I’ll get to make an overly binary, black-and-white, KotoR-style decision to accrue Paragon or Renegade points…).

    Every half hour or so, though, the gameplay will pause, and I’ll get to watch some TV-grade sci-fi story – your basic Chosen One fights Implacable Giant Evil stuff. Beyond the plotting, another very “TV sci-fi” decision is to inexplicably make almost all of the alien races (and definitely all of the ones you have on your party) humanoid (to the point that both female aliens, despite not being mammals as far as I can tell, have prominent mammaries – because in the AAA video game world, a character isn’t female unless she has prominent T&A, I guess?). I can understand on a TV show like, say, Farscape, the need to have most of your aliens look like people in rubber masks or facepaint – it’s a practical design choice – but in a game, where things can literally be any shape you can imagine, the fact that all of the aliens just look like humans in masks feels like a major failure of imagination.

    Despite these gripes, I have been powering through, and played quite a bit this week (I feel ambivalent about having spent as many hours of my life on this one episode of Farscape as I would have on, say, two seasons of something substantive, like The Wire, or reading the entirety of Infinite Jest, or something…). Anticipating the outcome of my decisions is engaging, in a Walking Dead sort of way, and I have some investment in my created protagonist (a charismatic paragon who visually combines three cool-headed sci-fi badasses: Gillian Anderson, Jodie Foster, and Sigourney Weaver). I don’t have high hopes that the story will actually become very good or affecting, but I’m engaged enough to see how things pan out, and how decisions made in this game propagate into the next. I will likely play more this weekend.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      “Mass Effect” does provide some non-humanoids (Elcor and Hanar) but they are woefully underused. 

      As someone who has read/watched a lot of sci fi, I also found the story to be pretty conventional. At the risk of POTENTIALLY INADVERTENT SPOILERS, I will say that it improves immensely in “Mass Effect 2″, which focuses more on character vignettes than on a Giant Evil. 

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

        This game would be so much interesting if I could have an Elcor and Hanar on my party. Maybe throw in a hyperintelligent shade of blue, too.

        The game would be even more interesting if I could then end up boning the Hanar.

        • DrFlimFlam

           ”Aroused response: I like what you are doing, Shepard.”

        • Bad Horse

          “This one has a boner.”

        • Chum Joely

          I totally wanted an Elcor teammate and/or romance option too. Those guys are awesome.

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

          @ChumJoely:disqus : My Shepard is a towering, imposing, unstoppable hero of a woman, who obviously would have a sexual appetite as voracious as Catherine the Great’s. Barring the presence of…equine bedfellows in the ME universe, I think an Elcor would do just fine.

        • dmikester

          *Sort of spoilers about an incidental line in ME3 that gives away absolutely nothing about the plot or characters* 

          The very last line that I heard during my first playthrough of the Mass Effect trilogy involved “adjustable massage wands.”

    • SamPlays

      Depending on how skin tight the clothing is, you might need to add a “V” in with the “T&A”. At this point, I’m wondering if my only Mass Effect experience will be with ME2. I’ve heard enough about the clunky aspects of the original that it doesn’t seem overly appealing. And after playing a demo for ME3 I was left a bit disappointed. Interestingly, the game seemed claustrophobic – I couldn’t shake the feeling that the characters were the wrong size (too big) or the camera was misplaced (too close). 

      The next AAA game that seems pretty interesting is The Last of Us – the story seems to be derived from The Omega Man/I Am Legend and 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later… but with more fungus? 

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

        Weirdly, the clunkiest aspect of ME isn’t any actual part of the gameplay, but the super-awful UI. The game is constantly dumping inventory on you, reminding you how limited your space is for it, and then giving you the most unintuitive, obfuscating, awkward UI possible for trying to filter through, compare, and discard equipment.

        • SamPlays

          The UI is the main gripe I’ve heard about. Apparently ME2 fixed this issue to large extent but I have no reference point since my life is so far ME1-free. I tend to enjoy the inventory management side of games – it’s like a mini-game unto itself when it’s done well enough. Some games, like Deus Ex: HR, have an option to let the game automatically manage your inventory. No dice! Granted, DE:HR had an interesting inventory where you had to fit items in like Tetris pieces. 

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          ME2 and ME3 don’t really have an inventory system. They use a research and manufacture system, like you would expect to find in a strategy game.

        • Bad Horse

          @SamPlays:disqus ME1′s inventory management is nothing like a metagame. No strategy involved. Weapons/armor/grenades/everything has a rank and the only difference between them is a stat boost on higher ones. For instance, if I’m rocking a Stiletto VII and I come across a Stiletto VI, I know automatically I will never use that gun. And you pick up a LOT of guns that you will never use. It’s just tedium until you haul it all back to the Normandy quartermaster and sell it for a half million quid. Then it’s fun, briefly.

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

          @Bad_Horse:disqus And if you aren’t in a position to go back and sell stuff and need to free space in your inventory, you need to melt your stuff down into “omni-gel.” And if you pick up something useful, but your inventory is full, there’s no option to melt down stuff from your inventory, only to melt down some of the shiny new stuff you just found. And you have to melt down each inventory item individually (with no keystrokes, so you’re clicking “okay” buttons all over the place), and there’s no way to see all of your inventory at once, so you have to go into each sub-inventory for each type of item, scroll through them, and select the ones to melt down. It’s a total exercise in tedium.

        • Halloween_Jack

          I’m totally with you WRT the ME1 inventory and omni-gel, and so were the developers, who got rid of both in ME2. (It’s even lampshaded for a joke in one of the ME2 DLCs.) 

    • The_Misanthrope

      Yeah, as much as the characters and dialogue drew me in and kept me playing, the gameplay never rises above serviceable.  Everytime I think about  replaying the series, I just can’t bring myself to slog through it all again.

      @paraclete_pizza:disqus ,  your sidenote about spending time on other pursuits gets to the heart of a  problem I’ve been having with video games for some time:  they are, in general, so time-intensive compared to other free-time pursuits.  Even if the game was worthwhile, it still eats up a ton of time.  If you enjoy many other pursuits, it can be hard to strike a balance.  Sure, I could just speed through games, but that doesn’t suit my play-style:  cautious and explorative.  I’m playing through DX:HR and one of the better aspects of the game for me is finding all the little secret paths and hidey-holes.

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

        Yeah, and I’m not above investing time in something really worthwhile (War & Peace – totally worth it. The Wire – absolutely.), but big-budget video games require the time investment of an epic novel or television serial, yet are typically about as substantive as your average daytime drama, which makes that time often feel wasted. I’m curious about where it’s going, but I’m fairly certain I won’t have much to take away from this experience, which is a shame (I’m totally happy to have the game prove me wrong, though – we’ll see).

      • Steve McCoy

        This is why I like short games. When people complain about games being short, it’s like they feel like they’re paying per hour, regardless of what’s in those hours.

        I was shocked that people weren’t up in arms over the length of a Revengeance playthrough, so maybe that sentiment is dying out.

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

          I likewise enjoy short, thoughtful games – when people complained about the brevity of Shadow of the Colossus back in ’05, I think that was the first time I encountered that particular gripe and also the first time I realized it was typically missing the point.

          There’s a lovely little video over at Polygon where two of the staffers try to do a “good cop, bad cop” bit, alternately praising and tearing down games they saw at GDC. Eventually, they realize the format doesn’t work, because, unlike E3, the smaller, more independent GDC games they’re talking about generally have less to grouse about, because they’re made by people who give a fuck, and aren’t bloated soulless exercises in box-ticking excess.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          People hardly ever complain about short games anymore, especially when they have multiplayer modes that you can play indefinitely. That’s been one of the biggest paradigm shifts in the last 5-10 years.

        • Bad Horse

          I think Portal is mostly responsible for this. Nobody complains about Portal’s length, but going back and playing some old PS2 games – I mean, man, those games are LONG. This generation has put an emphasis on focus that I find welcome – ME1 is probably going to take me 20 more hours than ME2 and ME3 did, and it just feels old and bloated sometimes for that reason.

        • Professor_Cuntburglar

           Short games are okay when there’s a lot of good stuff packed in there, like Shadow of the Colossus. They’re much more annoying when it’s COD.

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        Whenever people praise ME they never talk about the gameplay (“I remember when I was surrounded by twenty geth soldiers and I blew them up using psionics”) but rather the characters and dialogue (“I remember when I made Shepard punch a reporter”). The gameplay aspect itself is so-so and yes, there’s nothing compelling about the plot.

        Speaking of which, no one must ever read the ME novels, they are utter shit. Don’t buy it or borrow it from the library in case book publishers think there’s actual demand for books more useful as toilet paper, and only then after a nuclear apocalypse had destroyed all supplies of TP. I actually felt embarrassed for the writer when I was reading the books. In my defence, I read the the first two novels because I was unemployed and doing everything I could to distract myself.

    • Captain Internet

      Yes, the first one is pretty turgid- I played Mass Effect 2 first, and had much the same impression when I went back to see what I’d missed. The day Bioware can create a game that doesn’t feature a character speaking the words “It is a custom amongst my people…” will be a happy day indeed.

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

        I got both games for dirt cheap in the sale, so I do have 2 on the docket. The fact that I’ve already paid for it, along with your assessment that it’s a step up from the first, probably mean I’ll give the second one a shot, even if the first is less than stellar.

        • Captain Internet

          Well- I don’t know how far through you are, but if you can ignore the monkey-chasing side missions and power through the main plot it’s worth doing. 
          Importing a save to ME2 helps a lot, and if nothing else you’ll be able to compare the awkwardness of the ‘romance options’.

          I think it’s sad that even though many consider games to be art, time and again the artistic establishment snubs them when it picks out nominees for the Bad Sex Awards

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

          The romance options, to the degree that I’ve encountered them (I think I just let my only potential human romantic interest get blown up by a nuclear bomb, but that guy was boring as hell, and I needed to keep Ashley around, as she’s a key part of my Charlie’s Angels Amazon Ass-kicking Squadron) have felt kind of shoehorned-in and a little silly.

          I haven’t activated the actual alien-side-boob ‘adult’ content (which I think would result in my death from my skin crawling off of my body in embarrassment), but I have had a lot of conversations with Liara that had kind of jarring and gratuitous sex/romance talk that seemed to come out of nowhere, considering the entirety of our relationship involved three conversations in a room behind the doctor’s office. It felt slightly less nuanced than I imagine your average Japanese high school dating sim is.

        • Fluka

          All the folks that complained about “accidental romance content” with Anders in Dragon Age 2 clearly weren’t paying attention in ME1.  Unless you’re actively rude to her, she’s constantly trying to make a move on you.  (Ooooh, they didn’t mind because it’s accidental straight/lesbian content, instead accidental of male gay content!  That makes sense!)

          Do play ME2 if you get a chance.  A) It has much better sidequests, better leveling/powers, and not stupid inventory screen, and B) The game is mostly broken up into hour-long, character-centric quests, which are Perfect for Busy Working People (TM).

        • Simon Jones

          Anders was honestly worse because it was usually such an abrupt and awkward tonal shift. 

          Liara was flirty which was kinda irritating but ehn.

          Anders was more along the lines ‘Oh, this pile of dead babies is certainly terrible.” *Hawke agrees* ‘Sounds like someone wants a piece of sweet, sweet Anders ass’

        • Fluka

          @google-aa3d3e69ad6ac05b510b07fa7ce00830:disqus At least for a female Hawke, he just never seemed that flirty after you reject him the first time?  He gets all grumpy, but then he goes back to being his platonically needy self.
          I think I remember hearing rumor of some bugged romance dialogue for male Hawke, though, so perhaps that’s part of it.  That was the case for Liara, I know.  My husband accidentally slept with him too, so it clearly seems to have been a common issue, hehe.

        • Simon Jones

          I really do have serious problems with your party in Dragon Age 2.

          The only one I could really tolerate was that Dwarf. And Maybe the lady with square jaw whose name I forget. Which is a shame because your party in DA1 was genuinely fun and likeable.

          And DA2 Anders was the worst of them. Just a horrible clump of awkwardly executed concepts squished together into the worlds most irritating man.

        • Fluka

          @google-aa3d3e69ad6ac05b510b07fa7ce00830:disqus Aw, see, I actually prefer the characters in Dragon Age 2!  Mostly Aveline and Varric – the former because she’s my go-to example for “female character done right,” and Varric because he’s essentially Garrus Vakarian reborn in Thedas.  I’m actually quite fond of Isabela’s arc (and despite her fanservice-yness, think there’s some interesting feminist/gender stuff going on with her character), and even like Fenris (for, uh, reasons).  I mostly like the way they they’re not Hawke’s adoring followers, but a motley bunch of people with their own (frequently awful or clashing) personalities and opinions who sometimes get together for Adventures.  Long story short: I’m a lot happier with Anders if I view him as *intentionally* being a needy jerk who lies to you, and I like Dragon Age 2 a lot more if I view it as a tragedy.

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

          @Fluka:disqus I haven’t played Dragon Age, so I can’t campare to Anders in how overt the characters’ advances are, but another weird thing with Liara (that makes her interactions different than just ‘flirty,’ as Simon posits), is that the dialogue is shoehorned, intrusive and unsubtle, but the writers seems to be trying to dial it back, but in doing so they make it kind of even more gratuitous.

          Like, they have this character that brings up sex a bit too frequently and too casually, and propositions you pretty early on, and it seems like Bioware’s strategy to make this seem less overt or porny was to make the character sexually reserved, a virgin, etc., rather than some fanservice boob-delivery service sticking her hands in your pants right away.

          But rather than make it less prurient, the resultant virginal “I’m just a child in my people’s years, Shepard…I’ve been cloistered in the lab so long…who will teach me the ways of love?” feels even more pandering and obligatory and weird.

  • Jackbert

    Continuing my slurry of PSP games during car rides. Mostly been playing Lumines and LocoRoco 2 so far, going to start Ultimate Alliance next. Since it’s my first time in the Northeast, I’ve also been playing Questioning the Legality of Roads Being This Curved and Holy Shit, Lots of Fucking Trees Out Here: Treevengeance.

    • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

      I haven’t touched my PSP in a long time, but I should break it out again sometime and play some of the games I’ve had sitting around unfinished. I only barely scratched the surface of Metal Gear Acid; I really need to dive in and play that one some more.

    • Link The Ecologist

       Cool trees in the Northeast (a very abridged list)

      Eastern white cedar Thuja occidentalis
      Ironwood ostrya virginiana
      Tulip poplar Liriodendron tulipifera
      and of course the rare and elusive
      American elm Ulmus Americana

  • doyourealize

    This guy seems like he knows his shit, and he’s got some interesting things to say about video games. Enjoyable interview, GS! Maybe I’ll get around to checking out his work at some point. The other day, I finally started reading Ready Player One. My interest in it was mostly influenced by the GS interview with the author, but it’s been critically appraised as well. I’m only around 40 or so pages in, and it’s a bit exposition-heavy in the early-goings, but it’s an interesting enough premise, so I’m expecting it to pick up soon. Also, because I started getting into Arkham Horror, I’ve been reading some Lovecraft as well. Currently reading “The Colour out of Space”.

    As for games, I started going through Dark Souls again, and while I sold my copy of Skyrim on PS3 a while ago (I just couldn’t get into it), I picked it up on Steam last weekend and I’m giving it another go. Makes for a much better PC game so far, especially with those easy-to-equip workshop mods, including new item menus, which are a lifesaver. Hopefully this time, I’ll figure out why everyone loves it so much, but it’ll never be Morrowind.

    • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

      Ready Player One is pretty enjoyable, especially once it gets going and the stakes get big. Lots and lots of nerd references throughout, mostly from the 80s. I dug it, for the most part.

  • stakkalee

    I’m super close to the end of ME3 – I’ll probably wind up finishing that up sometime tomorrow.  I haven’t decided what I’ll play next – I’ll probably hop back in to Skyrim and get some DLC.  I still haven’t even finished the main quest, but if I remember correctly I just maxed out my smithing and enchanting so I’ll probably whip up some kickass adventuring gear and go wander the countryside killing bandits and Forsworn.

  • TaumpyTearrs

    I hope Mr. Clevinger reads the comments to this, because I want to thank him for Atomic Robo on behalf of my fiance and myself. I discovered it a few Free Comic Book Days ago and it was my favorite book of the day. I decided I would buy the first trade next time I had money (a rare occasion then, I have gotten 4 volumes over the last 2 or 3 years). The last couple years have been an often depressing and difficult time for us, but Atomic Robo is always guaranteed to put a smile on our face. Your silly robot book is full of wit, wonder, adventure and fun characters in a comics world that is often sorely lacking such things. I frequently encourage people on the AV Club to read your delightful book, and now I will proceed to do so on here (their sister site).

    Everybody else, check out Atomic Robo on Free Comic Day Saturday May 4, its free dammit! And its awesome! And the Free Comic Day ones usually feature Dr. Dinosaur, one of the funniest villains I have ever seen.

    I’ll probably be driving around on motorcycles on Battlefield 3 until I get bored this weekend and then read some comics. Its stupid and fun, which I need.

    • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

      I concur; Atomic Robo is a great comic. It’s hilarious and full of awesome action, and Clevinger built up a great sense of history that allows him to tell stories throughout something like a century of history, pulling in all sorts of historical figures and events and throwing his own spin on them. It’s definitely one of my favorite comics of the past decade or so.

  • JohnnyLongtorso

    Wow, 8-Bit Theater, haven’t thought about that in a long time.

    Since I finished Bioshock Infiite, and the next thing I’m interested in (Star Trek) doesn’t come out for a while, I’m catching up on a couple games I didn’t get around to play when they came out. Silent Hill: Downpour should be coming from Gamefly soon. I’ve never actually finished a SH game besides 2; I lost interest in 3 and Homecoming partway through.

  • Chip Dipson

    I’m foregoing games this weekend, and having a good ol’ fashioned double feature movie in tribute to Roger Ebert. I know the AV club is already doing an admirable job commemorating his life’s work, and that a video game website isn’t the most appropriate forum for such a topic, but you can undoubtedly see Ebert’s influence in how things are reviewed and discussed on this site. Ebert was a controversial figure in the gaming world for his stance on video games not being art (a position he would later turn around on, if somewhat half-heartedly). I didn’t agree with him in that instance, but it speaks volumes of his talent and clear-voiced writing that I understood why he held such a position. For a man that was unable to speak in the final years of his life, he was the great proponent of intelligent and civil debate and conversation. I miss him greatly.

  • duwease

    Finishing up the post-game stuff in Ni No Kuni.

    I’ve got to say, the battle system in the game is incredibly disappointing.  They drop all this stuff on you early on.. alignments, elemental affinities, hundreds of familiars… which make you assume you’re going to have to build a multi-faceted team.  And then they basically throw it all in the corner in favor of just levelling the hell out of the same three guys, because high stats trump everything.

    Disappointing, yet my OCD demands I finish it all.  Sometimes I hate myself.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      I took an indefinite break from Ni No Kuni. I had just received the alchemy pot, and there was a pretty big difficulty spike. I’ll almost certainly return to it this summer, though.  

      • duwease

        The only advice I have is to just look up online advice as to good early familiars and just get them and lean on them.  There’s no real way to tell what familiars are going to be good without levelling them up for dozens of hours, which is a pretty crap design decision.  I did alright with the Mite, Drongo, Tin Man, Monolith, and Danglerfish.  Monolith and Tin Man use “Yoo Hoo” to draw the damage, and everyone else just wails.  Sadly, that’s about as complex a strategy as I needed for the whole game.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          The Ni No Kuni strategy guide looks mighty tempting. In Pokemon, using a guide never felt like cheating; catching and evolving involves such obscure trickery that it felt mandatory.

        • duwease

           @twitter-493417375:disqus Here they’re straightforward to catch and evolve, but there’s no way to know which ones are good without spending hours farming the highest XP monsters in the game to level each one.  Apparently they each “bloom” at different points, and the stat gains don’t indicate who blooms where (if ever).  I’d skip the guide and just read the reposts on Gamefaqs though..

    • dmikester

      This big time.  I don’t think I ever swapped out familiars after about 15 hours in (and never swapped out the starting familiars for any of the characters) because they were so high-powered that it didn’t make sense to mess with anything.  I also pretty much never fed my familiars after a while and I had no problems being overpowered throughout the game.  A lot of wasted potential, but maybe that’s partly because they were trying to make it kid-accessible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

    Outside of taking breaks for Magic and Wrestlemania, I will continue to be hunting monsters like it’s a second (third?) job. This wroggi armor isn’t going to forge itself, you know.

  • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

    This weekend I’m giving Defiance a swing. I don’t know how that’s going to go but I’ve enjoyed the little bit I’ve played so far.

    I got Demon’s Souls for free from PS Plus this week. I played it for a few hours and… I don’t think I’m doing it right.

    • Raging Bear

      Demon’s Souls never really clicked for me, but the sequel did. I thought I might revisit the first to see if the clicking would be retroactive, but, you know, backlog.

      • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

        I LIKE games where I run around and hit folks with swords so I really thought this would click for me! So far I don’t think I’m making any progress. 

        I set off to go kill people — slay a few dozen, collect souls, pick up dropped equipment, use consumables to stay alive until eventually I’m overwhelmed and die. I lose all the souls and respawn at the beginning. I don’t think I’m making any progress. 

        The point is just to get to the end of a level (the levels have ends, don’t they?) without dying and then…? Does leveling happen in this game? Is the only way to get stronger to find better equipment? I thought souls might be like exp but I think they’re actually currency? I haven’t figured out how to use them. I usually like to feel my way through new games but I’ll have to do some internet research before I give it another go.

        • Raging Bear

          Souls are both XP and currency: you buy things with them, but you can also spend them on stats (I think? That’s definitely true of the sequel, but I’m not 100% sure about Demon’s Souls). And the levels of the 5 (?) worlds kind of blend together, with the end of a “level” marked by a point at which you can return to the hub and from which you can restart next time.

          I don’t think I got more than two level-like-things through any one of the worlds before I got worn down. The freer, less linear exploration of Dark Souls was the pull I needed to stick with it long enough to get on board with the combat.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          @Raging_Bear:disqus is correct on all counts. Souls are XP and currency but you could only use them to level back at the Nexus. If you return via the bonfires, you can keep any souls you were carrying, so consider getting a few level ups before trying to complete the first area.

          I assume you’ve completed the tutorial (which is supposed to kill you at the end, mind). If you haven’t completed any of the levels yet, focus on the first part of Boletaria. There are a few areas you don’t need to visit to complete the level, so avoid the red-eyed knight on the ramparts and the dragon on the cliff. You do need to get past the fire-spewing dragon on the wall, though, so be sure to bait him into breathing fire before running across. Any shortcuts you open up will still be there if you die.

          Nothing, with the possible exception of the multiplayer, will scale based on your level, so don’t worry about spending all you have on stats, just remember that the cost grows each time and there’s no easy way to undo a stat gain. You will want more HP and endurance sooner than later.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      Hasn’t the multiplayer for the game been shut down? Never played it but I know people thought the MP played a big part in the gameplay.

  • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

    ALSO: Brian Clevinger! Love your work. Only read a little of Atomic Robo, but I read 8BT cover-to-figurative-cover. 

  • Steve McCoy

    This weekend I *will* finish the last 14 MGS1 Snake VR missions in MGS2. Those hold-up missions, though — those are gonna be tough.

  • DrFlimFlam

    I always forget that this is the early morning one, and Comment Cat is the late one. I intend to finish BioShock Infinite this weekend but can’t decide if I’ll want to take a leisurely stroll through the game again, if I want to get back to that replay of BioShock I started a few weeks ago, or whether to head back to Skyrim. Either way I will be complementing the experience with LEGO Lord of the Rings, which is definitely part of the return to LEGO form aside LEGO Batman 2.

  • rvb1023

    Try to finish up my 1999 run of Infinite while picking up every voxophone and upgrade and whatnot. So far not too much more difficult but less money is annoying, haven’t been able to upgrade anything yet.

  • Morgan Filbert

    Fire Emblem: Awakening has been consuming the majority of my game playing the past week, and I don’t expect it to stop.

    Getting to watch the relationships of your team develop, and then get cut short due to someones death on the field has really ratcheted up the tension. Similarly to XCOM, but because the Fire Emblem characters have more personality the losses seem so much worse to me. One particular point  of this that stands out for me was one couple that had begun a romantic relationship, because they’d fought as comrades enough. It was my choice in pairing the two of them on the battlefield so frequently that caused them to begin to take an interest in each other. I felt responsible for them, like an insubstantial, warlord cupid.

    The male character was working up the nerve to propose between battles, only to have him get killed before he could pop the question. I checked online, and this wasn’t a scripted event. It wasn’t to create an artificial sense of drama. Had I played the level better, positioned him in a different location, or noticed the damn archer on the wall, he would have survived; they would have gotten married and…

    *spoilers*

    They would have had a child that would have eventually been a playable character. This character does not exist in this game now, because I screwed up and got her would be father killed.

    *end of spoilers*

    I like that this game actually had me scream “Noooo!” when a pixelated, non-voice acted character got killed. Didn’t do that for XCOM, didn’t do it or ME3.

    • DrFlimFlam

      For my birthday, someone bought me Fire Emblem. Which would be great, because I LOVE Fire Emblem.

      Except I don’t own a 3DS.

      • Morgan Filbert

        That’s really unfortunate. Sorry to her it, Doc. DO you have a regular DS? Just trying to figure out why someone thought you might have a 3DS.

        • DrFlimFlam

          I do have a regular DS, but it’s from my mother, and she didn’t even know what platform is was for when my wife said she got me a 360 game. Oh, parents. You mean well.

          I still enjoying reading about Fire Emblem. I re-started levels endlessly with the first two GBA entries to keep my teams intact. I only ever lost one guy, and I was crushed when his story at the end of the game was that he died.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

      You let him die?! I played on Casual (no permadeath) and still reset whenever one of my team fell.

      • Morgan Filbert

        I’m playing on Classic and refusing to reload if a character dies… it’s been a rough war.

        • DrFlimFlam

          I like games where you can do that. I wish I’d played Bastion choosing the one ending because it would have made a second play-through make more sense.

  • boardgameguy

    having a big board game weekend with my best friends.  things that will definitely hit the table: TZOKLIN, AUTOMOBILE, SEASONS, SPACE ALERT, and BRASS. if i’m lucky, we’ll even have a go at THROUGH THE AGES.

  • ChicaneryTheYounger

    In between researching an essay due for the 15th, I’ll probably be playing DmC. I’m absolutely in love with it, even if it is a little slow paced for its genre and even if it isn’t particularly difficult.

    Getting SS rank is a little awkward, mind, can’t work out why they named it that.

  • neodocT

    I’ve played way too much stuff these past few weeks.

    I plowed through Metal Gear Solid 2 until the Fatman fight, at which time Bioshock Infinite came out. I’m enjoying MGS2, it certainly adds a ton of complexity since the first game, and it’s impressive this game came out relatively early in the PS2′s life. There are some problems: it’s annoying to backtrack between shells when they’re all filled with enemies, and the hold-up system is mechanically annoying (you need to press some weird combinations of buttons in order to move without lowering your weapon…). I am having a blast overall, though.

    I also bought and finished Bioshock: Infinite . It was a pretty good game, but by no means as flawless as most of the gaming press found it. Gameplay is motly a slog that in no way encourages creativity. I used the same few vigors for most of the game, and regretted my decision anytime I abandoned my trusty Shotgun and Carbine combo. There’s also some thematic confusion. I have no idea why racism is in the game, for instance. Despite finding it very shocking in the game’s early going, it’s mostly abandoned later on and doesn’t really gel with the game’s themes of choice and duality. The vigors also feel out of place in the setting, though I do believe they make sense in the plot. I feel that if they had been mechanical in nature they wouldn’t have seemed so odd and would accomplish the same purpose.

    I got XCOM as a preorder bonus and it is fantastic.

    Lastly, yesterday I was poking around my Steam library and found The Walking Dead, which i hadn’t played yet. Two hours later I finished the first chapter and actually became a bit emotional about my choices. I think this game is going to fuck me up.

    • DrFlimFlam

      I’m still working through BioShock Infinite myself, but yes, the actual gameplay leaves a bit to be desired. I thought the gunplay in BioShock was adequate, but in Infinite the areas are quite open, and too often I have to locate enemies by the directional markers because the wide-open areas, while gorgeous, are mostly just a way to be assaulted from all angles. And yeah, shotty+carbine became my very favorite combination as soon as it was available. I would have liked a third weapon slot because then I could experiment more than when I run shy on ammo. The automatic weapons especially run out so fast that they’re really hard to stay with. And I love me some miniguns.

  • Drew Toal

    Civ V, I think. It’s time for my Communist-Muslim-Space Empire to rise up once again.

    • Enkidum

      Thanks Obummer! (Though really, shouldn’t your empire also be homosexual, just to include the Big Three evils?)

      • Drew Toal

        Goes without saying.

    • His_Space_Holiness

      Fun fact: Malaysia developed prayer rules for Muslim astronauts specifically for their first citizen in space. Praying to Mecca entails pointing yourself at Earth (with some help from your colleagues) and the time for religious purposes is calculated as aligned with whatever time zone you were in when you were last standing on Earth.

      • Morgan Filbert

        I love the concept of special prayer rules being developed for space travel. It makes perfect sense of course, but it’s not something I’d really thought about before now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

    I’ve been reacquainting myself with Fallout 3. I beat the game way back when it came out but as I was looking through my achievements list I noticed that I had missed some of the side quests. I figured it had been long enough that if I just started over again it’d be like new again.

    • djsubversive

       F3 does the “urban ruin exploration” bit better than New Vegas (well, duh, NV is in a desert), and I kind of like the (non-green-tinged) Capitol Wasteland a little better than the (non-orange-tinged) Mojave, at least as far as how things look. I’m a fan of bridge-camps and blasted suburbs.

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

    BIOSHOCK INF. SPOILERS! SCROLL PAST YE UNBAPTIZED SHEEP

    As you can guess, I beat Bioshock Infinite last Saturday, and I have yet to play another video game since finishing it.  It’s very weird to go an entire week without playing video games for me, but I actually finished a book and am catching up on Mad Men!!! Anyhoo time for Bioshock discussion.

    Holy God tits in heaven, I might still be wrapped up in the grasp of it’s hype-train, but I’m not afraid to say that what was the best single-player experience I have had in a video game, bar none.  The range of emotions I felt, from the obvious adrenaline pumped rush of combat, to the quieter moments of joy and companionship, and the darker feelings of guilt.  I kid you not, the story of Hattie Gerst and her husband, told through voxophones had me cry real tears (something only Red Dead Redemption had been able to do up to this point).  I am literally tearing up at my desk thinking of those Vox Populi, smiling for the camera, standing over the body of the Handyman as the voice of Hattie Gerst, said I love you over and over again.  Goddammit, you find me another game, that can tell a story this big, with a combat system that exhilirating, a world as gorgeous and real as Columbia, a character as human as Elizabeth, and still fit an incredibly real, heart-braking story like that of Hattie Gerst in without detracting from anything, but in fact, building upon the lore.  You can’t it, because another one doesn’t exist!

    Elizabeth!  Such a lively, helpful and compelling character! I felt terrible  after she found out I wasn’t taking her to Paris.  Me! The person slouching in front of his laptop, playing a damn game. I felt fucking terrible, like I had to make it up to her.  Busting her out of the torture seat in the tower, I came this close to murdering the two defenseless scientists who were by the levers to set her free.  I didn’t but the feeling was there, I wasn’t racing from Objective A to Objective B, I was freeing Elizabeth dammit, and I had the emotions to go with it!  

    You wanna talk about emotions? Let’s talk about that ending.  I was able to piece it together about 10 minutes before they told me, but I’m still impressed with the twist.  I replied to Captain Internet with my thoughts on that if you want to check it out.  Now for the obvious, like Bioshock 1, Bioshock Infinite is a video game, about video games.  It literally transpsorts you to a different fucking video game in the end!!! A million worlds, constance and variables but it’s all the same.  It’s a first-person shooter that is deriding game’s for all being too similar.  That’s one interpretation, but what is beautiful about Infinite over Bioshock 1 is that it’s big enough to have multiple meanings.

    A lot of people have made a point of harping on Inf for not going into American Exceptionalism and Racism and as hard as Bioshock 1 went into Objectivism, but I think this works to the game’s favor.  BS 1 will always be the game about Objectivism and player-agency, but BS Infinite has so many things to pull from, from the idea of infinite video games all basically the same, to the idea of identity and how we react to the different events in our lives can shape who we are (but can it change what we are?), how people who believe in an absolute philosophy will always be doomed no matter the philosophy, and it will leave us with so many other things that I don’t have the energy left to go into.

    Yes, I do have complaints about the game, it’s not perfect.  I’m not interested into getting into that right now.  Who could hate a game with a pump organ version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” anyway? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nutwpPv2iE

    ALSO If you’ve finished the game, this video round-table with Ben Kuchera, Chris Plante, Adam Sessler and more is required viewing.  It’s worth the 47 minutes trust me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=y_uFNsDQyqg

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      The relationship between Booker and Elizabeth was definitely my favorite part of the story in Infinite. A lot of the alternate reality stuff was logically coherent but didn’t feel as satisfying as the interpersonal drama between the characters.

      I wasn’t certain whether the visit to Rapture was meant to suggest that Rapture and Columbia are just alternate ways that the beats of the game could play out. It’s very clear what they mean when they talk about the myriad ways Booker and Elizabeth’s story could have happened, but when they stretch that to actual “infinite” worlds, well, infinite is a big concept to wrap my head around.

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

        I feel like Rapture is going to be a very controversial part of the ending for obvious reasons.  It almost felt too-meta for me, as did the 5 Elizabeths as one of them is clearly the scrapped Elizabeth from the 2009 trailer*. They’re basically acknowledging this is a video game, and we’ve been working on it for about 4 years so those old scrapped versions exist because Infinite!

        It fits very much in with the “their will always be a man and a lighthouse” interpretation too, but I find it less inspiring in that use then the “this is all a game, and games are infinite, but they’re going to keep playing by the same rules until somebody gets in there and shakes things up” theory.Still the fact that the ending can be interpreted so many ways is a testament to this awesome game.* http://img.playground.ru/images/4/8/Bioshock-Infinite-Elizabeth.jpg

    • Morgan Filbert

      Strictly speaking wouldn’t we be unbaptized goats? As far as baptism is concerned being a sheep is definitely on the positive side of the bovid scale.

      After all, sheep go to heaven. Goats not so much.

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

        Makes sense.  I suppose that’s what rock band Cake would say…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzKUzRJUzQ0

        • Morgan Filbert

          You know I tried linking to that, but for some odd reason it kept coming up as a link to Gameological’s Sawbuck Gamer covering of “Snakes on a Cartesian Plane.”

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      I suspect you would get a kick out of this if you haven’t heard already, but apparently the sound the Songbird makes on dying in Rapture is actually in the first Bioshock. I read rumors, but this is the first time I’ve seen it with video to back it up. It’s actually kind of quiet, but it’s quite distinctive.

      • Vervack

        Damn, I’ve been replaying Bioshock and I got through Fort Frolic last night, and I never noticed that screech. Didn’t check the ocean outside the welcome lounge for Songbird’s corpse, either.

        Though, now that I think about it…the Rapture Elizabeth sends you to at the end of the game might not be the Rapture from Bioshock. In Bioshock, one of the stairways leading up to the Gatherer’s Garden machine is collapsed, but in Infinite they’re both intact. I figured they arrived long before Jack crashed the plane (and the fact that there’s no torched couch at the bottom of the stairs leading down to the station would bear this out), but if that screech was Songbird’s…gah, I’m putting to much effort into this.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

       You are a better dude than I am, Kyle O’Reilly, because when I busted into the Torture Tower (I wasn’t calling it that before, but I am now) and there were scientist-dudes cowering as they electro-siphoned Elizabeth?  I made sure the birds got them.  Two Unkindesses of Ravens each.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

     ”“Dear me, we can’t let these fantasy adventure stories be fun! Cram some
    rape and gore in there so everyone knows how Very Serious and Mature it
    all is.””

    I… I kinda want buy this guy a drink or eight. Does he live in NYC? Hell, does any of the Gameological team?

    Gamewise, I’m playing Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. It’s refreshing to play a 3D platformer in the era of AAA, ultra-violent shooters and fighters. While the core mechanics are the same as the previous games, I think the controls are tighter – you’re less likely to miss attaching yourself to certain spots, for example.

    Badguys respond to noise this time, which adds a needed complexity to it. Sly’s VO improved immensely, so he’s a lot more sympathetic, beyond being a sardonic, fla man-of-action. I love the revised character designs – they look much better in action than in stills. Lots of fun, interesting ideas that I’m hoping will pay off in the long run.

    • Citric

      Isn’t Gameological based out of New York? You could be stalking them right now!

    • http://pseudonymjones.com/ Pseudonym Jones

      Ah thanks for the reminder! I need to finish Sly Cooper. I’m at the point in the game where I can either finish the story or go back and collect all the collectibles — I tried to do the latter and got burnt out quick.
      I had a chance to use the PS Vita AR-type-deal and it’s actually really cool! It helped me locate a couple of treasures I just couldn’t place otherwise, and raised my opinion of this sort of dual-screen gameplay. I’d like to see it implemented more on the Vita (so I can see some return on that investment) or the WiiU gamepad (ditto)!

    • TaumpyTearrs

       Its wonderful to know this guy is as witty and fun in conversation as his writing is. Seriously, if that quote rang true for you, check out Atomic Robo. It is the perfect antidote to the violent, unimaginative and plodding stories that fill far too many comics. In a time when superhero comics often feel like episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Atomic Robo is a ray of sunshine and imagination. How you can you not love a hero who has a rivalry with Stephen Hawking?

  • Bad Horse

    Mass Effect, probably. I’m excited to actually do Virmire after hearing so much about it.

    Also I will probably continue to be infuriated and fascinated by FTL. I had a ship that I thought was a lock to kill the end boss – I had full shields, a shitload of really awesome guns, a full broadside of which would kill or disable most anything if timed correctly (Burst laser II, heavy laser I, hull laser II and hull laser I), defense drones, and a fairly full crew, and they took me out like a chump with AP drones. Fuckin A.

    • duwease

       You really have to be well-rounded for that final battle.  The two crucial things that I skimped on at the beginning are cloaking, and teleporting.

      Cloaking for dodging the ridiculous drone/missile spam that’s the special attack in form 2, and teleporting in order to really get in there and disable those isolated weapon compartments easily (not to mention kill off most of the crew members and disable stuff.. but not all members, as it will trigger a pox on your head)

  • Fluka

    With all the BioShocky hype and praise and controversy going around these past two weeks, I finally got around to starting Bioshock the First this past week.  And…it’s okay, I guess?  I’m honestly surprised at how muted by reaction to it has been.

    First off, the game is utterly beautiful.  Winding glass tunnels connecting a massive, cold, underwater Art Deco city – what’s not to like?  And the environments are a great amount of fun to wind my way through and do a great job to telling the story of a society and its downfall.  (Though I get tired of sitting and listening to audio diaries sometimes – there are almost too many of them, and their impact wore off after the first ten or so.)  So, major points for style and world-building.

    I just wish the game wasn’t otherwise based around shooting people in the head?  (Or setting them on fire, bee’ing them, etc.)  Maybe it’s because I’ve recently watched my husband play System Shock 2 – the exact same game, but with a different skin and lots more RPG elements.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by Dishonored having similar environments and powers, but allowing me to just sneak by people unseen.  Or maybe FPS games just aren’t for me.  I know that part of the greatness of the game and its twist is that it’s supposed to be a commentary on freedom of choice in FPSes.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s not still a very linear FPS.  (I understand that SPOILERS FOR INFINITE I HAVE NOT PLAYED IT BUT WHATEVER Infinite, in its twist, plays a similar game in explaining why it’s still pretty much the exact same game as the first. END SPOILERS.)  Clever, but couldn’t you just make a game that’s not a linear FPS?  I’m gonna keep with it, though, trying to keep my mind open.

    Otherwise, I made good on my other promise from last week, and I’ll be hanging out with my new best buddy Python.  After years of hanging out with that drama queen C++, it’s so nice to have a new friend where I can just say, like, “Yo, I just typed some stuff.  Let’s loop over it.” and it’s all “Yeah, sure thing.”  It’s gonna stab me in the back at some point, but for now we’re BFFs.

    • Bad Horse

      You have to get to a certain mid-to-late-game confrontation before Bioshock’s greatness is revealed.

      • Fluka

        Yeah, I’m going to keep giving it a chance to surprise me.  (I know about the famous “Will you Kindly” bits, but not much else about the latter half of the game!)  Just as long as “Atlas” doesn’t send me on on another long fetch quest, grumble.

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

          You’ve had a lot of Bioshock spoiled for you.  It should still be a great experience but it’s kind of like going into the Usual Suspects and knowing who Kaizer Solze is.

        • Fluka

          It’s trueeeee.  I’m never going to have that thrill of discovery.  Though I’m also of the opinion that a good plot should be able to stand on its own regardless of whether one is aware of the Big Spoiler or not.  (Exception: RPGs where knowledge of plot can affect the choices you make.)

    • Enkidum

      You don’t have to sit and listen to the audio diaries, you can let them play as a sort of narration to your ongoing exploring, which I found really wonderfully creepy. But I basically finished the first level and then kind of gave up after about 20 minutes of the second. Will come back to it some day, I’m sure. 

      You’re right about the world-building, though, some of the best atmosphere of any game, ever. 

      Nicest thing about python is that you type any issue you have into google, and someone somewhere has described it in more detail than you and how to solve it. I’m pretty much Matlab-centric these days, which is great for matrices and kind of mediocre at everything else. Should really learn me some more python.

      • Fluka

        Unfortunately, I’m also an active developer of software for my project, so I’m permanently chained to our terrible, bastardized version of C++ (“It’s C++!  But we melded it with some horrible CERN-based legacy code and class structure and totally got rid of STL support!  And we made it ungoogle-able by naming the framework “Root”!  Have fun, fuckers!”).  My husband’s project uses almost entirely Matlab, however, and they seem like much happier human beings – is it decent for making pretty plots, at least?

        • Enkidum

          Plots can be beautiful, but where Matlab really shines is the GUI and the help files. Seriously, the help files are incredible.  Every single function has a detailed description of what it is and what standard uses are, all written in an identical format. 

          And basically everything is a matrix of one kind or another, which is an ass-backwards way of dealing with many kinds of data, but then you realize that you can develop all sorts of weird shortcuts to very rapidly get to specific cells in each matrix. And doing matrix-y kinds of things is so much easier than in any other language I know of.

        • Fluka

          “Every single function has a detailed description of what it is and what standard uses are, all written in an identical format.”

          That…that sounds beautiful.  *Sheds a tiny tear.*

        • duwease

           From doing a lot of open source work, I have to say, documentation is the most underrated part of any software project.

          Sure, people get into holy wars about how this or that implementation of array iteration is slightly better, but… when it comes down to it, the metric by which a piece of software is judged is how much time it saves you.. and if its workings take hours of Google to decipher, who cares how ingenious they are?

        • Fluka

          @duwease:disqus Yeah, my team is trying to fix a 5-6 year old piece of software right now, and not only is there no documentation, there are no comments.  Actually, scratch that: there are comments, but they’re in Italian, and say stuff like “Fix this part later.”  It makes me want to give up my job and go live as a hermit in the woods, where there are no computers.

        • Enkidum

          @duwease:disqus @Fluka:disqus 

          Yuuuup. I also do a fair bit of work in the open-source R, which is truly a lovely bit of software, but the documentation is simply incomprehensible in many cases (and the forums are fairly aggressive as well). If I knew what I was doing, I could probably do a lot of work there 3 times as fast as I do in Matlab, which is frankly complete shit with memory allocation and dealing with large data sets, but it would take me 3 times as long to learn how to do it.

          And seriously, if you want to see an example of how documentation should be done, look at something simple like the help file for Matlab’s “find” command: http://www.mathworks.com/help/matlab/ref/find.html

          Look at how it gives you every possible variation on the call to find, progressively adding more input arguments and then more output arguments, and explains each one in turn, and then gives you detailed examples. Ahhhh…..

          If you want to cry some more, Fluka, wait until I tell you that all of Matlab’s error messages make sense! They tell you what line of code went wrong, and the specific nature of the error. Seriously, between that and the documentation, it’s practically better than sex.

        • Fluka

          @Enkidum:disqus Damn.  I wish our framework’s help pages looked like that.  I think the #1 cause of productivity loss in my field is from people being stymied by our framework’s intensely poorly written documentation.

          On the other hand, maybe it’s a defense mechanism, and all these terrible documenters are simply practicers of the Art of Writing Unmaintainable Code?  WARNING: LONG, INTENSELY NERDY LINK.

        • Enkidum

          Ahahahahaha… took a look at random of one of your function definitions: 

          “FitMethodFunction class Interface for objective functions (like chi2 and likelihood used in the fit) In addition to normal function interface provide interface for calculating each data contrinution to the function which is required by some algorithm (like Fumili)”

          Totally incomprehensible.

          Haven’t finished that Art of Unmaintanable Code, but it’s beautiful.

  • ferrarimanf355

    I’m making progress on Bioshock Infinite, but Real Racing 3 is calling…

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      Never change, man. Never change.

      • ferrarimanf355

        On the one hand, I rescued Elizabeth and the plot is starting to ramp up. On the other hand, Real Racing 3 is going to get an update soon that adds more events, a new event type, and two new Chevrolets. 

        Decisions, decisions. 

        brb, my virtual Porsche 911 GT3 RS needs a virtual oil change. 

  • His_Space_Holiness

    I just started my third attempt at an Ironman run in XCOM, after my last two went down in flames. Hopefully setting up shop in Africa will allow me to not go broke over and over this time. This time all my soldiers are X-Men, which makes me feel better when they get killed. They’ll be back! Also, the game automatically assigned Jean Grey the nickname “Lady Grey,” which is kind of creepy.

    Over in Skyrim, I found myself highly entertained by Markarth’s noir questline about the Forsworn, especially since I named my character after a gangster in a Dashiell Hammett story. Though I was unsettled that the story ended with me freeing a terrorist leader. On the plus side, I can just waltz into Forsworn camps and do whatever I want now, which is nice.

    I’m also playing Dreamfall, the sequel to The Longest Journey, which is… different. It’s neat seeing a few of the old settings from the first game in a new light, but I also ran into as blatant a Chinese stereotype character as you can imagine, who sounds exactly like Amy’s dad on Futurama. Also, who the hell puts an unskippable dialogue tree right before a failable combat sequence? That’s some amateur hour crap right there.

    • duwease

       Yeah I never finished Dreamfall, despite playing The Longest Journey 2-3 times.  I feel like it fell into that trap adventure games fell into for awhile, where they felt obliged to be 3D modelled for some reason despite the fact that, aesthetically, it was far worse than a 2D game.  It just never sucked me in, atmospherically, puzzle-wise, or plot-wise.

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        So I guess you’re not kicking into that Kickstarter sequel, then?

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      I crashed and burned four times in Ironman before having to admit I’m too impatient to be appropriately paranoid when playing the game. Maybe I’ll try again but right now I’m just too X-Commed out.
      As for Dreamfall, it feels half-formed, to be honest. One of the three characters you play is barely there, too.

    • Bad Horse

      I can’t imagine not doing Africa. Gives you enough money to buy more satellites which make enough money to make more satellites, etc.

    • TaumpyTearrs

       It’ll be even weirder if your Jean Grey ends up having psychic potential.

  • http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/ WarrenPeace

    I’ve been playing a lot of Just Cause 2, which is incredibly fun, so I’m sure I’ll do more political destabilization over the next few days. I’m also planning on messing around with some FTP stuff on Steam; Warframe seems popular, so I might finally give it a try, although my computer might not be able to handle it. Does anybody have any other FTP recommendations? Should I play some Team Fortress 2?

  • Effigy_Power

    Photoshop, Photoshop, Photoshop…
    Hobbes wrote a comic script and I want to see how much headway I can make in a weekend. I generally drudge around in games that aren’t always fun rather than flex my creative love-muscle, so that requires some time-adjustment.

    I’d like to get into Planetside 2 again, but some mental barrier is keeping me from it… could be the fact that the most fun I have is flying the Liberator, which means zero XP and constant death thanks to all the new anti-vehicle weapons. Not sure when I will get back to it… maybe some big upcoming patch with some new additions might tweak me back. They have a lot of stuff that they are convinced will be in the game soon enough, but well… it remains to be seen.

  • djsubversive

    After last week’s Comment Cat mention, the Gameological Warframe crew has grown substantially (the game had just come out a couple days prior, so it was bound to grow anyway). Sweet Ninja Moves galore. I’ve done Captain Vor so many times by now, but that’s all right, because it’s almost always with somebody who’s still new to the game, and getting the Cronus sword is pretty nice.

    I might go back to PlanetSide 2, since we’ve kind of been neglecting it lately. Apparently, there have been all sorts of balance changes and fixes and stuff (as usual). And there’s an Alert system, which gives pseudo-goals (“control the most territory on Amerish at the end of 6 hours” or similar). The “Instant Action” button now actually goes to places other than Indar, but that might just be that we’re on the Mattherson server rather than SolTech.

    Last night, Hobbes and I played Payday: the Heist, and I got the Presidential masks! Nixon, Clinton, Obama, and Bush, Jr. Not totally ‘Point Break,’ but still pretty awesome. And then we beat Heat Street, with just the 2 of us (well, and 2 AI), both with Medic Bags. That push out of the construction yard with Matt’s van is pretty bad, but then there’s that little quiet back alley area after you get to the parking lot. And then you turn the corner and it’s just WALL O’ COPS between you and the street. Hobbes and I both went down at one point, and both of the AI got captured, but we held out long enough for the Assault Wave to end, and had a couple handy hostages run by us, so we got everyone back and pushed to the end. At least we didn’t have to go back down the hill.

    Hobbes and I have most of these heists down to a science. We need non-AI to ruin the plan and force us to improvise (or, you know, not do that).

    Other games that might be played: Alien Swarm (good co-op alien-shootin’ fun), Skyrim (I started a new character, a Nord, but have no clue what I want to do with her), Arma 3 Alpha (last update pretty much broke all my editor missions, so if I can think of an interesting scenario, I’ll try setting it up), and Terraria (an excellent way to burn through 6 hours before you know it).

  • The_Juggernaut_Bitch

    Dammit… another BL2 character?  Shit.  Well… I’m on a Veteran-Difficulty playthrough of the Mass Effect series again, currently in the second chapter of ME2 (personally titled “Getting the Band Back Together”), been screwing around in Rift again lately (it’s… not as good as I remember it), been in Tera a bit (action MMOs is where it’s at these days), though I also read some hack’s incredibly misguided take-down of The Witcher 2, so I might load that up and go through that game again, because it is badass.  Or maybe just play Dragon Age: Origins again.  I dunno.

    Anyone here played the new PC/Console MMO “Defiance”, from Trion?  How is it?

  • evanwaters

    Still same-ol’-same-ol’, lots of dungeoning in Ultima IV and Grimrock. GOG just put up a sale for a TON of D&D games for a ridiculously low price so I guess I gotta get Boot Camp working.

    Also subscribed to the D&D Insider even though I’m not in a game now. The tools are really nifty and there’s a lot of good extra content too (Modrons for 4e!) I’m still less than optimistic about DDN but I hope support for this keeps on chugging along.

  • Link The Ecologist

    the article about free to play stuff recently got made me realize that I have never played anything in that category I recently downloaded some stuff and here was my response

    Star Wars: The Old Republic eewwwwww.
    Banner Saga hhmmmm, ok.
    Hawken This could be fun for a bit.

    Over the weekend I might try out planetside 2.

  • Roswulf

    I’m not sure what (or if) I’ll be playing this weekend, mostly because of a deeply conflicted attitude towards Bioshock Infinite.

    I began playing it last weekend, and found it utterly charming at first. The visuals were strong, the world was engaging and coherent, the undercurrent of menace streamed by with just the right tone.

    And then I got to the raffle.  And the game abruptly switched from an immersive experience to being a meaningless gore factory that (bearing in mind that I’m a trackpad-using incompetent who is basically appalling at shooters) frustrated me to no end on a mechanical in addition to an artistic level. So I fought, and I died once, and I quit the game in disgust.

    I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to Infinite. Teti talked a bit in his review about the disconnect between the combat mechanics and the worldbuilding in Infinite, and I agreed with his argument intellectually as I read it. I didn’t love the original Bioshock’s combat, but it never detracted from the parts of the game that did work (the visual and sound design, the tone, the drip feed of history, the REALLY cool twist). Claustrophobic horror gameplay fit Rapture. But I was shocked how violently and emotionally this phenomenon affected me when Infinite became a bloodsoaked FPS. I legitimately hated what I was doing, grinding my inexplicably vicious blade-hand into the faces of mindless hordes and dodging machine gun fire. Maybe I’m overreacting, or even responding appropriately to an intentionally disruptive moment. But I was not enjoying the game on any level.

    I then remembered that I never actually finished Portal 2 almost a year ago, and reminded myself why I like games by throwing bombs at Wheatley.

    • DrFlimFlam

      It definitely feels like a game of pieces. I don’t mind that there is combat, but less mindless waves of it, and less overt gore, would be nice. There seems like some commentary about it, and part of Elizabeth’s growth is accepting what must be done to get through the events of the game, but it’s half-hearted at best.

  • aklab

    Going to finish up both Beneath a Steel Sky. I’ve really enjoyed it but Mrs. Aklab tells me the voice acting sounds too much like porno acting. 
    Also going to play some Little Inferno. It doesn’t have the incredible replay value of World of Goo but is to me a surprisingly clever satire, with a pretty mind-blowing coda. 

    Finally, just started some Company of Heroes… first RTS I’ve played since Warcraft II! 

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