What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Keisha Howard, robot pugilist

Robot Combat League jockey Keisha Howard is ready to give up bots for BioShock.

By Ryan Smith • April 19, 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.

Keisha Howard is the founder of a female gaming organization in Chicago called Sugar Gamers. She recently appeared on SyFy’s Robot Combat League, a real-life version of Rock’Em, Sock’Em Robots (also see Hugh Jackman’s flick Real Steel) in which eight-foot-tall, half-ton humanoid bots battle each other in a series of arena-style fights. Howard was the “jockey” of a two-person team—the one fitted with an exo-suit and asked to execute shadow boxing moves that translated into metal-on-metal jabs. Unfortunately, her robot, Game Over, lived up to its name and lost to a hatchet-faced robot named Axe. Howard’s now ready to move on and get back to video gaming.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Keisha Howard: Hopefully, I’ll be playing the new BioShock Infinite. I know I’m a couple weeks late, but I still can’t wait to play it. I played the first two, and I’ve only heard great things about this one. I’m expecting it to be as good as the first one, because BioShock 2 felt more like DLC and not its own game. So I’m hoping with the creation of this brand new world, environment, and storyline that it’ll be just as fresh as the first one.

Gameological: So you’re staying away from robots for a while?

Howard: No, there might come an opportunity where I can avenge myself. So, I have to practice more. But yeah, I’ve never actually played many robot games. There’s a level in Little Big Planet I like with these little robots that follow you because they love you and they have these little hearts in their eyes. There’s Super Scope 6 but nothing on a current system. I like my robots cute, so there’s not many current games to choose from.

Gameological: Speaking of which, talk about what happened in your Robot Combat League match.

Howard: I went in and gave it all I had. I decapitated a robot. But robot rules are different than other rules, because decapitation doesn’t mean an automatic win. They put the head back on and beat my ass in turn. [Laughs.]

Gameological: That’s crazy because in most walks of life, a decapitation in a fight would lead to a win.

Howard: Yep, but that’s how it goes. They lost their head, I lost my arms and that equaled getting our ass beat. Done.

Gameological: Can you compare the experience of controlling a giant robot to any kind of video game?

Howard: It was sort of like playing a fighting game on Xbox Kinect. I personally have the most experience with the fighting game SoulCalibur, but it reminded me more of a game like Tekken. SoulCalibur has these really fluid movements, whereas Tekken, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing, can be sort of jerky. It was pretty cool experience though.

Gameological: Your robot was game-themed too, right?

Howard: Yeah, his name was Game Over and it had a caged-in static video screen for a head. It was an ominous, foreboding presence that kind of felt like, oh my God, SkyNet is truly coming. Get ready, we’re about to die. [Laughs.] I mean, I loved Game Over. It was a perfect blend of things we wanted to express as far as robots, gaming, and science fiction.

Gameological: Do you think your video gaming experience gave you any advantage?

Howard: Well, in retrospect, maybe being an MMA fighter would have been better, but I think gaming gave me the confidence to go out there and helped me believe that there was a chance I could win this crazy thing. And I think there was. We definitely gave a good fight. Who knows, maybe we could have sliced our competitors in half if we had another chance.

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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264 Responses to “Keisha Howard, robot pugilist”

  1. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    As a guy who has a lot of gay gamer friends, I think I take the opposite approach.  I know you get the occasional “look at me, I’m a gamer girl cuz I run around in a shooter and talk shit,” but for the most part being a gamer while gay or female means you have to hear a lot of nasty things said about you, so unless you really just love the video game experience (or love to fight with strangers), its not worth all the trash you have to put up with.

    • Enkidum says:

      Yeah, and I really don’t want to be the guy who makes it uncomfortable for them. I guess that talking about this stuff is a lot more overt these days and making people like me think about it before we open our fool mouths, which probably isn’t a bad thing.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Ugh, I hate playing multiplayer in a game to find out someone is wearing a headset.

      I wish I knew more gay gamers. Most of my gay friends somehow never grew up playing video games.

      • Girard says:

        I blame the industry’s general abandonment of joysticks in favor of cross-shaped gamepads.

      • PaganPoet says:

        @paraclete_pizza:disqus No offense taken here, hehe. That’s precisely the sort of joke I would have made myself.

  2. Citric says:

    So, since I don’t feel like putting down everything – I’m sure if anyone cares they can find the post last week – I’ll just mention what’s in and out of the rotation.

    Out: Contact. Finished it. Story-wise, it’s pretty great, but I know I missed a huge swath of content and I’m not sure the actual game is quite good enough to go back for it. Still a pretty nifty game, and I like how it tried to (literally) break the fourth wall in the ending. Get these writers hooked up with someone who knows how to make a battle system and we could have an all time classic on our hands. As is, it was alright.

    In: The World Ends With You. I kinda hated the protagonist at first but he’s starting to be less of a pain and more enjoyable to play. Plus it’s got a pretty cool universe building, and I like the problem solving aspects. It’s neat!

    Driver: San Fransisco. I kind of wish they went whole hog with the Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes thing – it would be so cool having it set in the ’70s or ’80s London with Gene Hunt barking at you – but the body hopping gameplay is so nifty and I like how you’re encouraged to screw around. It’s probably more a weekday thing than a weekend one – NFS: Hot Pursuit was my previous “I feel like smashing cars after work” thing, but I kind of ran out of content I wanted to play on that – but I like!

  3. Merve says:

    I feel silly. I always thought that robot fighting leagues existed only in fiction. Now I’m disappointed that I’ve never been a robot boxing match. Are they held in major cities across North America? Where can I buy tickets?

    This weekend, I’m playing some combination of the very charming Scribblenauts Unlimited, the very difficult Frozen Synapse, and the very generic Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

    I might be able to finish up Scribblenauts this weekend, so what do you suggest I swap in for it when it’s done: Costume Quest or Fahrenheit? (I’m midway through both.)

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

      yeah, about ten years ago I remember there was not just one but two or maybe even three robot combat shows on basic cable.  It faded after a while but appearantly it never went away.


    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Hit me up for some Frozen Synapse! Seriously, I’m not that good at it.

      • Merve says:

        I failed the first mission of the second operation more than a half-dozen times before I finally got lucky and one of my green dudes killed all four of my red opponents. The dude was fuckin’ Rambo; he killed 3 of them in a single turn.

        I haven’t even created a multiplayer account yet. When I get around to it, I’ll let you know. I’d definitely like to get a few matches in over the summer. I don’t think I’ll get any better at the game by then, though. I’m sure you’re going to whoop my ass. :)

    • Girard says:

      I assumed that this was one of those RC-controlled little roombas-with-buzzsaws robot wars shows like they had in the late 90s/early 00s, and the comment that it featured “8 foot tall, half-ton humanoids duking it out” was a joke. But, nope, that’s actually what’s going on. Which is nuts.

      • WarrenPeace says:

        I kind of half-watched an episode a few weeks ago while I was doing something else, and it seemed so bizarre, I could have sworn it was fake, a staged recreation of what this kind of reality show would have been like if large robots actually existed. There was a lot of dumb posturing, and they had some sort of MMA trainer come in to teach the exosuit-wearers how to punch or something, which doesn’t really make sense. I dunno, the whole thing seems really weird and iffy to me. It wasn’t especially entertaining either, so it was pretty easy to write off.

    • duwease says:

       It’s pretty new.. I think it started a month ago or so?  And it’s fairly wild, although I’ve only watched the first 3-4 episodes on DVR.  The robots really tear each other up (although it’s hard to get a visceral feel for the power that goes into each strike).  Hell, in one match, a robot literally chopped the other one in half.. it was epic.

    • neodocT says:

      You should finish Farenheit, if only because of the utter insanity of its last levels.

  4. Fluka says:

    SCREW YOUR THESIS.  Run away and become a robot pugilist!

  5. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    What I won’t be playing this weekend is the recently
    completed Bioshock Infinite

    Bioshock Ending Real Talk

    Firstly, I loved this game.  It is certainly imperfect and I agree with much of the criticisms discussed on this site. 
    The socio-political element, while initially exhilarating, tapered off to an anemic nothing.  The rifts felt
    poorly implemented in the places they forced the narrative forward.  It seemed like a cheap way to skip a few
    chapters.  And neither the abilities nor characters felt as holistically integrated as the first.

    But thinking back on the experience, I’m still only left with, “Wow.  What a fucking great and enjoyable game.”

    Even Levine’s more pretentious and half-baked notions are intensely satisfying to experience in a game.  And that’s not just by the bumper-bowling or tee ball shoulder-pat we usually extend to game writing.

    I’ve loved everything ’ve read here about people’s analysis of the game’s ending.  There are so many angles to approach it from, there’s always something interesting to explore.

    For myself, the reveal of Booker as Elizabeth’s dad was, while not strictly surprising, very affecting.  Since becoming a father, I have developed a completely unearned susceptibility to the cheapest of emotional pabulum.  What prior to parenthood would make me roll my eyes and scoff now makes me weep.  Cheap shit. Emotional shit.  Did you know Folger’s changed their returning vet family member ad template to a returning AmeriCorp volunteer?  I do because I was tearing up while watching it.

    So the forced act of pressing ‘x’ to relinquish my own daughter was very difficult.

    But then, that ends up being one of my biggest problems with the ending.  This incredibly rich and intense element of
    the story is barely telegraphed throughout the game, only to become the crux of the ending.

    The filial relationship Elizabeth ­has with Comstock is established early.  He’s a tryant and not a father at all.  That kind of thing is pretty well-tread for any genre.  Hell, Tekken has a storyline about it.

    But to find out Booker has been drowning under the weight of his own failure as a parent and to have that written off as creating a defensive wall to forget his sin is both too easy and cuts off a fantastic story element.

    Elizabeth’s pinky is the symbol of Booker’s failure as a parent. A bit on the nose, perhaps, but still succinct.  And seeing that pinky snap outward upon the closure of the portal was painful.  So to have it just kind of dormant until the end of the game neuters the impact of that discovery.

    But what I did like was the very end.  As a parent, the worry that you are failing your child is not uncommon.  So naturally Elizabeth is the only one who can absolve Booker.  No priest of any god can wash away what he had done; that could only be granted by his child.

    And it’s not just a matter of knowing Booker can only pay for his sins with his life.  But knowing that It’s imperative for your child to outlive you.  That final scene is a powerful closure to a very intense story that was sadly only relegated to the last twenty minutes of the game.

    Sorry for going on so long, but I tried telling all this to my daughter and she just told me there are alligators in the bathtub.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Did you wait for the after-credits scene? It’s brief, but I thought it changed a couple important things about the final events of the game.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I just wish I could decide if that makes it hopeful or staggeringly cynical.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I did.  It’s hard to know how much traction to give that little snippet.  Also, what @drflimflam:disqus says.

        • The_Helmaroc_King says:

          I had been assuming that Elizabeth used her abilities to, literally, drown Comstock in the past, which means Booker(s) never gave her up, but quantum quantum quantum.

          I mean, if they decide to actually continue the main story with DLC, they’re probably going to quantum mechanic all over the place, but I thought it was an optimistic thing, especially since it came just after drowning someone.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus   But as Elizabeth herself said, where does it unravel?  Even without Comstock, Would DeWitt be capable of being any sort of parent to Anna?  It might not be dimension-hopping gingers buying babies on behalf of megalomaniacal sky-racists, but there was still the issues of his debts and his drinking.
             Make no mistake, I very much want a happy ending.  I love happy endings.  But my own jittery nature around the rest of humanity makes them suspect enough to me.  The best I can hope for is finding a modicum of peace at the cold forgiveness of your own child.

    • Cornell_University says:

      Johnny’s home for Christmas!  And he made Folgers!

    • FreeAsABird
      I hope bald Elizabeth is DLC.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I have to answer some of these as best I understand them because playing BioShock Infinite is how you pay to talk about it:

      1 – He doesn’t remember because he’s being yanked from his own universe. Every Booker that comes to Columbia (and remember, your first visit is #123, and every visit thereafter that starts in your office – dying without Elizabeth nearby – is another turn) is not from this universe. It is when he remembers parts of his real life that his nose begins to bleed because of the dissonance of realities. The only problem I had with this is how it doesn’t seem to pop up until it becomes effective to the narrative. If his nose bled during the fascinating Hall of Heroes section, it would have given a twist up too early.

      2 – I agree with you about being a parent and how it impacts this game. If the story wasn’t so compelling, the discussions so ripe for joining, I would not have been able to give up the baby. That was difficult. You’re right; as a parent, you question yourself constantly, about whether or not you’re doing the right thing, and you just have to live with the choices you’ve made, and try to do better when you know you could have. Being a parent makes your more vulnerable to loss, especially that kind of loss. If I watched a mashup of parents coming home from military deployments at sporting events on loop, I would devolve into a shuddering lump of tears. Also that part in The Two Towers. Oh, God, that part in Two Towers.

      3 – Glad you enjoyed the game. I have tried to review it proper, but I just can’t. There’s too much that doesn’t hold up about the gameplay, but I love it anyway, perhaps in part because of how flawed it is. Levine and Irrational games reached for the heavens, and even if their reach exceeded their grasp somewhat, it’s so worth it.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

           Booker’s infinite incarnation is functional as a device within the game logic to explain why a given version of him may not remember giving up Elizabeth.  But it gives short shrift to a really compelling story angle.
           I don’t think he should have full recollection, but highlighting that particular theme a bit more would be satisfying.
           From a game play standpoint, my only real complaint is setting vigor bombs was often useless because the enemies are prone to camping.  But maybe I was just placing them in stupid spots.
           And I agree that Levine still hasn’t worked out the kinks with everything he wants to say about the act of gaming, free will and human nature, but I love his attempts.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       Pshh!  Kids these days just don’t understand ludo-narrative analysis!  Bunch of spoiled brats!

      I’ve arrived at the conclusion that all the socio-political themes are just a sideshow to the Booker-Elizabeth-Comstock storyline.  It hooks you with some very obvious moral lines that lead you to think this is going to go along the same lines as the original Bioshock, but then it goes in a different direction.  If you take a step back, Columbia almost feels like Booker’s personal hell, a dark reflection of both his soul and America after all the bloody deeds he had to do in its service.  In this way, it almost makes sense that the power struggle between Comstock and Fitzroy to feel unresolved and shallow, since Booker sees both himself and America as unfixable and broken, stained forever by blood and sin.

      Of course, this probably is a bit of a cop-out, too.  Why isn’t there a path for Booker to mend his ways?  He may never be able to fully atone for his misdeeds, but the binary choice of the self-destructive Booker or outwardly-destructive Comstock seems a tad limited.  It seems like the post-credits coda may be hinting at a redeemed Booker, but it may also be Levine fucking with us.

      The vigors/plasmids still don’t make a whole lot of thematic sense, but I guess they make some sense in the narrative.  I don’t think I even see anyone but Booker use the vigors without some power-suit to harness it, so maybe that sorta explains why everyone else isn’t running around with crazy powers.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I agree with your assessment of the socio-political role in the game.  But Levine has to be careful with creating such an enticing sideshow.

    •  This guy gets it!

      I’m glad that you can see past Infinte’s flaws because I feel like the critical gaming community hit the game with a backlash hard, not just because of the hype but because they expected it to be the game that represented what the medium could be.

      It’s not.  No game will be “that game” but this game is one helluva an amazing shooter and that’s an irrefutable fact.  The first time I died and ended up back in the office, I had just as much of a “WTF” moment as Booker which was cool.

      I’m excited for my own analytical pistons to cool on it so I can compare it to some of it’s contemporaries in the field.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        So you do like it from the shooter angle?  That’s the element I feel east qualified to reflect on.

        • In the unstoppable-bullet-spitting-track-star shooter ideal popularized by Call of Duty, no, but I think the combat has a very distinctive feel and while it took me a while to warm up to the sky rails, I eventually found them to be a blast, especially when a wildcard Handy man was introduced into play.

          The fight inside Comstock’s Flagship comes to mind in examples of crazy, kinetic fights in Bioshocks mold.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I had several problems with the shooting. The first is the shield, which makes sense in a game like Halo but makes none here. For games that are about how to deconstruct games, Ken Levine sure likes health bars and now, apparently, shields.

          The other problem is that the game does not equip you well for the large, open enviroments. Sky-hooking is chaotic and pretty fun, but there’s no way to effectively employ cover in a modern way; you’re using it as if the last ten years of shooting games never happened. And enemies get you from everywhere. I often had to wait to get hit so I could start to parse out their locations, and with some snipers, had to DIE a few times to figure out where they were.

          I also found that traps weren’t very effective. I had Crows ratcheted WAY up and I still didn’t get as much out of it as I had hoped. Too many camping enemies. Also, enemies seemed to pop up behind me when I least expected it. Something about how the experience tracks enemies just doesn’t work as well as it does in most shooters.

  6. PaganPoet says:

    Finished up Guacamelee!, but I’m going to replay on Hard and try to get 100% completion. I only found 4 of the pieces of the luchador mask. I’m not sure what it does, but I’m guessing it leads to a happier ending because, man, that was actually really sad.

    Also getting further in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time; Finished the Japan world (although I didn’t collect everything there), so now I’m in the Old West. Pretty fun so far, I like a good ol’ fashioned PS2-style platformer.

    Also pulled out Arkham City again because I was itching for some of the combat, and I never did finish all the side missions, challenge maps, etc. I love the combat in this game (and Arkham Asylum, for that matter), but I was never able to pull off a “perfect combo.” This is especially frustrating in AA, actually, since that is the only trophy standing in between me and the platinum trophy.

  7. Fluka says:

    Also, more seriously, being aware of your brain’s less progressive urges is decidedly a very good thing.  The conditioning and social structures behind sexism, racism, homophobia etc. are really, really ingrained, after all.  If they weren’t, we’d have probably solved these problems years ago…

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Yeah, it took me a while to realize that thinking stupid things doesn’t make a person a bigot, recognizing them and not giving them any traction is what makes a person not a bigot.
         I had this epiphany while sitting next to a filthy Netherlander.
         They all have such coarse hands from carving their ridiculous wooden shoes and stink of Heineken and hard-boiled eggs.  How I hate them all.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Fuck, ain’t that the truth! After 30+ years on this earth, I still have to occasionally force myself to stand back and take an objective re-analysis of whatever bigoted, racist or sexist thought just wormed its way into my stupid monkey brain. 

      I fear shit that’s different from me, and learning not to fear shit that’s different from me is fucking hard.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        I’m REALLY glad it isn’t just me.  When I have a thought that’s prejudiced and stop and say to myself “where the HELL did that come from?” I still feel horribly guilty for having it in the first place.

      • SamPlays says:

        @George_Liquor:disqus & @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus Rest assured, deep down we’re all a little racist. We’re subject to many different forms of priming with respect to outgroups (i.e., anyone who does not look or sound or act like us). For example, the mere appearance of an outgroup is enough to arouse negative affect outside of conscious awareness. There’s a primitive side to how we automatically experience others who are different. For example, white infants (like 4-24 months) exhibit more anxious-avoidant responses to a black stranger than a white stranger. So chances are your kid will be racist before you even have a chance to talk to them about race relations, gays and joining the local militia.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I had started to “credit” Ms. Howard as a female who know SC over Tekken was science when I realized it didn’t matter, that a PERSON who knew that mattered, and it’s because of this place. There is no difference, no extra layer of discrimination I should be adding, accidentally or otherwise.

    • duwease says:

      Interestingly, this line of thinking kept popping up while playing The Walking Dead.  Not because there’s any particularly sexist or racist decisions to make, but because it constantly asks you to make decisions on a very short timer, which often caused me to make snap decisions which I was immediately critical of once given room to think.

      It makes you sympathize with people in surprising and stressful situations who make publicly bad decisions and are roundly criticized by the rest of the nation once they’ve had time to listen to Captain Hindsight.

      • SamPlays says:

        I played episode one this past weekend and it was awesome – the only time I’ve ever played something twice in a row. 

        *SPOILERZ*On first play I chose the hot reporter with a gun over the AV nerd who could program universal remotes. *ENDZ SPOILERZ*Turns out at the end of the episode that 76% of players made this same choice. It stood out to me because every other choice had about 50/50 distribution. It would be interesting to break down these choices by gender to see if male and female players differ in any way. The game developers have basically recreated the prejudice studies from the 80s and 90s in zombie form.

      • duwease says:

         @SamPlays Perfect example.  (SPOILERS) I went for her as well in the heat of the moment.  Thinking back with the benefit of logic however, she was a much bigger threat and smaller asset than the other guy.  So I don’t know exactly what my brain was thinking.. was it a primal “woman in danger” feeling, or was it just that she had more characterization, so she felt closer than the person I only had a few friendly words with?

      • SamPlays says:


        I think my initial reaction was that she had a gun and could use it reasonably well. I’m guessing she was analogous to Andrea from the show (no idea what she;s like in the comic). So my gut was based on saving someone who could adequately pull off head shots. But on my second play-through, I realized she was pretty dumb because she couldn’t figure out the radio didn’t work because it was missing batteries. Furthermore, after obtaining batteries, she put them in wrong despite there being very clear instructions on the inside of the cover. Based on that alone she became an instant liability, so I saved the AV guy without any reservations.

      • Enkidum says:

        I picked the reporter because @SamPlays:disqus ‘ logic – I figured someone with a gun was a lot more useful than some pudgy guy who seemed destined for being eaten.

  8. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    I powered through Dust: An Elysian Tail last weekend, and I liked it; it’s impressive for a game mostly developed by one person. The voice acting was decent, too, but I suspect that part was helped along by Microsoft’s involvement.

    The game was fun overall, but I do have a couple of criticisms. One, the story was a little too serious for its own good at times, but I may be biased against cartoon animals. Two, the gameplay was a little looser than I would’ve liked, and the difficulty fell way behind the character progression later in the game. However, I would still recommend it, since it’s easy to get into and looks great.

    This weekend, I’m planning to start Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. I had mixed feelings on the first game, but I’m positive enough on it that I’ll give this a shot. I just don’t expect to care all that much about the story, given how goofy it was by the end the original. I don’t think I’ll have enough time to power through this game in one weekend, so we’ll see how far I get into that.

    •  American Nightmare pisses me off.  While the first game was flawed as all hell, it was committed to it’s story and it made the story a driving point.

      American Nightmare said, “Story?  Meh, we’re gonna fiddle with atmosphere and provide you with none of the Stephen-King-vibe that you liked in the first game. Surry!”

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        If I were to be brief, my opinion on the first game could be summed up as “not as good as I had hoped”, and in more ways than one.

        To be particular, I liked the atmosphere the story had (despite the ham-handed narration) but by the end of the DLC, I was wavering on any emotional interest I had in it. I suspect this is in no small part because the “dark presence” they were fighting didn’t really feel all that menacing, but it’s been a while so maybe I’m misremembering things.

        Also, while I suppose it would make sense that a best-selling author like Alan Wake could be pretty schlocky, I can’t say I was super impressed with his writing or narration.

        • Alan Wake does deserve a special place in Video Game-dom for “worst, most-tacked-on DLC ever”.

          I didn’t even finish the DLC I got with the special edition because as you said, it just turned into a retread through old locales shooting at frustrating shadow dudes.

  9. Fluka says:

    I’m traveling for work and chained to the unix terminal on my laptop right now, producing shitty, shitty powerpoint presentations, so very little.

    But!  When I finish, I’ll think boot up something nice and easy.  Something that will make me feel good about myself and my abilities as a human being.  Ooo, I have Atom Zombie Smasher!  That should do the trick!  Or even better, FTL!  Hello old friend…let’s never fight again…

    • PaganPoet says:

      Grol, doing a Taco Bell run for your office mates does not count as “traveling for work,” sry2say.

      • Fluka says:

        So you’re saying, if I get a *real* job, there is no compulsory burrito-retrieval service period?

    • Merve says:

      Working on PowerPoint presentations through a Unix terminal? What black magic is this? Does your terminal even have a GUI? Or are you hand-coding LaTeX Beamer slides? But then how would you view the compiled product without a GUI? Are you FTPing the output from the server to your local machine so you can see it in a PDF viewer?

      Your life raises so many questions! You’d better answer them swiftly, lest cries of “SHE’S A WITCH. BURN HER!” fill the streets.

      • Fluka says:

        Beamer is a lifestyle choice, and one that I am not willing to make.
        I’m not actually *making* the talks in Unix (actually, a Mac OS X terminal), but I’m making the (not so) pretty pictures that go in my talk. Which is like 95% of my talk, because people in my field are functionally illiterate.

        I actually know a guy who makes all his talks in Beamer, though.  He loves it, because “It’s really easy to make a talk with a hundred data plots!”  The downside is that his talks have a hundred data plots.

        • Merve says:

          Haha, I coded my first Beamer presentation a few weeks ago. I felt so proud of myself. Then when I actually presented, I realized that I’d made a typo in the most important formula. Oops.

          Seriously, though, LaTeX is cumbersome for making fancy diagrams, but if your presentation is full of equations, then it’s your best bet.

        • Fluka says:

          @Merve2:disqus Oh, mathematicians and theorists (or anyone else who needs to make a talk full of math) are completely justified in using Beamer.  Just…don’t make me listen to the talk…

        • Mr. Glitch says:

          Lucky you. I’ve been using this Moba X-term thingy to emulate a UX environment on my company Windows laptop. It works well enough until I actually need some low-level UX functionality, like the ability to scp big, honking core dump files to a home dir that doesn’t actually exist in Windows. I would without hesitation give my left nut for a real Linux workstation right about now.

        • Fluka says:

          @Mr_Glitch:disqus Oooff, yeah, I remember tussling with Cygwin, PuTTY, and other horrible xterm emulators a while ago.  Either they don’t work…or as you say they *do* work, until you are given some horrible reminder that you’re still using Windows.  My gravest sympathies!

        • Merve says:

          @Fluka:disqus: Ugh, Unix & PuTTY. I was working with a very unreliable server this past summer, and when I forgot to run overnight jobs with nohup, I would wake up to a very nasty (and frustrating) surprise in the morning.

        • Enkidum says:

          LaTeX is this foreign country I refuse to enter yet – I know I’m going to have to do it someday, but for some reason I’ve never even dipped a toe in yet. Of course I very rarely have to write an equation for print, and I can usually get away with (ugh) Microsoft equation editor. But I should really learn to get full control over my pages.

        • Fluka says:

          @Enkidum:disqus The people of the nation of LaTeX may talk in a weird language, and occasionally be belligerent and/or smelly, but the quality of living is *very* high once you become acclimated to their culture.

        • Army_Of_Fun says:

          @Fluka The most recent version(s) of Cygwin are apparently pretty great. I have a co-worker who is a super old school Unix guy (he’s ~ 60 yo) and he wouldn’t shut up about how he was able to get his xterms set up exactly how he likes them after a recent update (in win7).

        • Fluka says:

          @Army_Of_Fun:disqus That is good to know!  I’m completely indoctrinated into using a Mac for this stuff now (*zombie-like stare and groan*), but I will pass on this information to various folks, including Mr. Fluka (who I think gave up Cygwin in anger years ago).

        • Merve says:

          @Enkidum:disqus: Dip a toe in; it’s not that hard. Once you’ve got the basics down, almost anything you want to do is a quick Google search away. Plus, if you work with a simple, lightweight tool like Texmaker, the most commonly used symbols can be inserted into your document with a few clicks, many lengthy commands will auto-complete, and your code will be colour-coded. (Indentation is your responsibility, though.)

  10. ferrarimanf355 says:

    I should get back to Bioshock Infinite, but Forza Horizon got a free add on.

    Forza Horizon it is, then.

  11. I just finished the first disc of Final Fantasy VIII. I’m now starting to remember why I was so disappointed with the game back in 1998. 

    But first, the positives:

    + The story continues to have a strong theme. Squall is now starting to question his worldview that there’s no such thing as good and evil. The youthful characters continue to act like kids who are in over their head.

    + I love the junction system. It’s fun to breeze through with over-powered characters. 

    The Negatives:

    – PACING! This is the big one. As a cinematic experience, FF8 fails miserably. The assassination attempt on the Sorceress should be tense and thrilling. Instead, you have a lengthy sewer sequence that completely kills the momentum. And don’t even get me started on the Laguna flashbacks. 

    – FF8 is very light on exposition. You need to read a lengthy in-game codex to understand what’s happening. When combined with the poor pacing, it’s very easy to forget the immediate goal.

    • Citric says:

      I keep thinking I should replay that, but then I remember how much I hate Quistis. “Doof, we hurt someone’s feelings! Sure, we ONLY HAVE ONE FREAKING JOB but let’s NOT DO THAT, and wander off and get caught in a stupid trap. Durrrrrrr!”

      Hate her so much.

    • Cornell_University says:

      I loved the junctioning system too.  honestly, I think that and the endless drawing of new spells was the best part of the game.  the story, while sort of alluring and all EPIC at the start, really fucking goes off the rails in the subsequent discs.  when it’s revealed who the Sorceress really is, I had an overwhelming, almost violent “wait, that’s IT?” reaction to it. oh man.  I could go on for ages with all the shit wrong with the game and all the missed opportunities, I think buried underneath all the garbage and stupidity and annoying one note characters and ugly sprites there is still a worthwhile game, but I have gone on about it for ages in the past.  so I will merely say good on you, I tapped out about 2/3 of the way through on my last attempted playthrough.  godspeed..

    • Nudeviking says:

      Final Fantasy 8 was the first game I pre-ordered.  It was also the first game I had to force myself to finish.  I rage-beat that game.  

      Unlike FF6 and FF7 where I spent hours grinding and getting ever last hidden item (hey you never know…I might need Strago to have Ultima or Yuffie to know how to do Knights of the Round) Final Fantasy 8 was an exercise in minimalism.  “How can I beat this expending the least amount of time and energy?”

      That game was like a job and when I finally beat it I think I just turned off the Playstation.  I don’t remember watching any kind of end cinematic or credits.  I don’t know if there’s New Game+ or anything like that.  I beat the last boss and was like, “Done,” and shut off the Playstation.

    • Jonathan Dewar says:

      I’m one of the few people who thinks Final Fantasy VIII and IX are infinitely better games than VII.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved VII back in the day, but now that I’m older and I can look back on all three games without the wonderment of being a teenager glued in front of his friend’s PlayStation, it’s easy for me to say that Final Fantasy VII is highly overrated.

      I think a large part of why I feel this way is consistency.  VII was all over the place – tone, presentation, setting, gameplay.  VIII and IX weren’t filled with such disparate parts.  They both had distinct identities and stuck with those identities over the entire course of their stories.  It’s probably worth noting that as a kid who grew up in an abusive family and was ostracized at school as well (plus had a thing for a girl that was sort of out of my league), I find myself better able to relate to Squall and Zidane than I can to Cloud.  So personal experience does color how I feel about all three games.

      Overall, IX is my favorite game in the series.  IV and XII are a close second and third, respectively.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        X is still my favorite, but I’ve come to enjoy IX more over the years because of that consistency. It’s a storybook fantasy and doesn’t try to be anything more. And it’s better for it.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          It’s been a while, but I remember it as one of the most thematically ambitious (and successful) games I’ve ever played. Every character arc illuminates a different construction of identity (like, Quina starts out by defining his self through consumption, Steiner through loyalty to others, Garnet is defined through heritage and so on). They all question their assigned roles at some point, struggle with how to define one’s self (and whether that’s even possible), and… I dunno. It’s been a while. We both should probably replay it some time.

          There’s this but I could swear I read something similar but more in-depth years ago, but I just can’t find it.

      • neodocT says:

         I agree with you on IX, my personal favorite, but VIII kinda blows. It was my first Final Fantasy (I was a late Final Fantasy bloomer!) so my emotional attachment to it makes me okay with the plot and Squall and even Quistis. Hell, the floating school alone makes this awesome for me.

        But I really, really hate the battle system and the way the game kept annoying you at every turn. Like the sewers during the assassination, or the final dungeon, where all your powers are stripped away.

      • FF IX, wins me over not only on the relatable characters but on the pure-joy that is funneled into the world they created.  You can tell the artists at Square jumped at the chance to blend old Final Fantasy styles with new ideas and it lead to a truly memorable world.

      • Simon Jones says:

         I will defend VII as a great game simply because I think it’s joined the Call of Duty series in ‘The really impressive games that we just aren’t allowed to critically like anymore’ panetheon, where I actually kinda suspect Bioshock Infinite is gonna end up.

         Which always strikes me as fucking stupid.

    •  Even though I had to restart my game shortly in the second disc because I realized I had completely misunderstood how the Draw system works, FF8 is still one of my fav RPGS of all time.

      It didn’t rest on it’s laurels, it went full-blown nuts with story, gameplay and world.  Not to mention, when you’re a sad confused 8th grader, all of Squalls “it’s easier to shut people out so you don’t get hurt” emo talk makes sense.

  12. Gonna finish Far Cry 3 followed and then follow it with a pre-order for Blood Dragon

  13. Vervack says:

    Well, it’s fitting that she mentioned Bioshock 2, because I did a marathon playthrough of it two weekends ago, and I found I enjoyed it a lot more than I did on my first run. This time around I didn’t bother with reading a political critique and just focused on the emotional core of the story and it honestly made the game much better. In the end, the game is really the story of a daughter from a broken family who tries to rise above her upbringing and become her own person. I feel like Infinite is really treading some of the same ground 2 covered, though I liked 2‘s handling of the material better (partly due, I suppose, to the fact that 2 makes is clear that Eleanor is the protagonist of the story, and you are more a supplemental part of it).

    Also, Bioshock 2 has Gil Alexander/Alex the Great, who is more terrifyingly delightful than half the secondary characters in Infinite.

    I also replayed Outcry, a small Myst-like adventure game from Russia that I dearly love. It’s short, and it has some weird issues with its structure (there’s lots of exposition and easy puzzles in the beginning, then in the second half there’s very little and the puzzles become increasingly non-intuitive), but it’s melancholy and surreal, which is right up my alley.

    As for this weekend, I want to replay Dishonored before I get the Knife of Dunwall DLC, and I’ll also see if I can get 1953: KGB Unleashed, which is another adventure game the guys who made Outcry did. (Bit of an odd outfit, those guys; near as I can tell they’re a musical collective who occasionally make games. They go by the handle Anthesteria, and they’re the ones who did the soundtrack for Metro 2033, which I think actually reuses some music from Outcry.)

  14. beema says:

    Holy shit, an interviewee who actually plays legit games!

    This weekend I will be continuing my 2nd month of no games and wanting to die.

    • Merve says:

      Hang in there, man. I hope things look up for you soon.

    • Fluka says:

      Was trying to think of something encouraging to say, but Merve pretty much already said it.  So…seconding his post.  You’re awesome, man!  Hang in there!

    • Girard says:

      If the “wanting to die” is a hyperbolic response to not being able to play games (I think it was you who mentioned your job recently got shittier when your computer was moved to make the screen visible to everyone in the office?), I hope that it’s just a temporary time-crunch, and your game-playing time opens up soon.

      If it’s part of a larger pattern of soul-destroying crap your life is presenting to you, I’m really sorry, and know that feeling. And I hope you feel better soon. I hope being active in these generally positive comment boards is somehow helpful in alleviating (or staving off) the bleakness, and the vicarious engagement with game culture through those comments at least kind of scratches your game-itch.

      Even if gaming simply functions as an escape or a release from life’s stressors, games can be invaluable in helping you weather those shitty times (which are temporary, but never feel that way when you’re in them), and having work/life either be too hectic or too draconian to afford those opportunities for distraction/release can totally erode your resolve. In the absence of games, I hope you can find, or make, space for other moments of joy to help make things bearable. It’s a cliche to say, but it will get better, hang in there! And try to be alert to anything you can do to make that “getting better” come faster (sometimes all you can do is weather it, but sometimes there’s a moment to be proactive).

    • Simon Jones says:

       I was gonna say ‘Yes. Holy shit. Someone who actually played games instead of vaguely mumbling about words with friends.’

  15. Mr. Glitch says:

    Zelda: Link To The Past. I’ve been working on a Better Late Than Never-type feature for my doofy blog site, and I hope to kick it off with this game. I’m pretty sure I’m no more than a few hours away from rescuing Zelda’s scrawny, crystalline butt.

    • I’ll be anxious to read your thoughts on it. I always found “Link to the Past” to be a tight, virtually flawless experience.  

      • Jonathan Dewar says:

        I play through Link to the Past at least once a year.  Watching the ending scenes where it shows you what everybody is up to after it’s all over still gives me the awestruck chills because of the music.

  16. Cornell_University says:

    I’m still entrenched in the endless level and loot grinding of FF12.  Still don’t really know what is going on, still don’t really care (guys are injecting magic into their bones?  the guy killed his dad because he hates God?  I feel like the tagline to this game should have just been “OR SOMETHING”)

    In addition to that I will be playing a fun new party game.  It’s got a few crucial main stages:  1.) reminisce about good times and friends and tell everyone how lucky you are to know them 2.) cry during hockey games you’re streaming on your laptop because you moved away from home 3.) get irrationally angry when dopes post Alex Jones videos on facebook.

    call your mom and dad.  and your brother and sister.  and that cousin that is kind of a dick but means well.  hug your kids.  snuggle your dog and cat.  hold the door for the person behind you.  give blood.  don’t get mad at your cellphone service.  life is short and beautiful and incredibly happy and unbelievably sad.  make it count.

    have a good weekend everybody.

    • Jonathan Dewar says:

      As I mentioned above, XII is one of my favorite games in the series and I think my biggest reason for that is the way the story is told.  XII isn’t a story about a single character or a single pair of characters, XII is really a story about everybody.  I also loved the fact that there was no love story in the game – the pure focus on the intrigue and politics of Ivalice was a great change, I thought.

    • djsubversive says:

      Okay, after last week’s FFXII = Star Wars discussion that reminded me, hey, FFXII is Star Wars, I hooked up the PS2 and gave it a shot. I got about ten minutes in after loading my very first save (after the tutorial with Reks-who-is-awesome, when you’re given control of Vaan-who-is-not-Reks), then hit the almost-15-minute cutscene with Vaan and Penelo and the long-ears dude who is “overly fond of formality” and the long-hair-covering-half-his-face androgynous-but-totally-not-evil-I-mean-really prince from the evil empire.

      At that point, I said “fuck it,” turned off FFXII, and played Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction for a while because I had forgotten I had that game, too. :D

      I did go back and give it another chance later, and now I’m with Penelo in the desert looking for some kid with a crystal that I need so I can pull off a heist. This whole Vaan-and-Penelo bullshit goes on way too long. I said it last week, but they really should have started with Balthier and Fran and their side of the heist.

      • TaumpyTearrs says:

        I just picked up a used copy of Prototype 2, so I am also playing Hulk: Ultimate Destruction! It says something about how fun that game engine is that I have played it through 3 titles across 2 systems and 8 years, and I still enjoy it.

  17. Bakken Hood says:

    As much as I should work on my thesis, the ME3 Citadel DLC is too delightful to neglect.  I will win a Mirror Match, dammit!

  18. The Guilty Party says:

    Playing The Old Republic on and off, because that’s what I do, but also a lot of Dragon’s Dogma lately.

    And thank you to the person who mentioned it around here who I totally forgot even though I tried to look it up in the abominable disqus history, but the comment made me look into it and holy damn it’s a pretty great game. Lots of crunchy rpg goodness, a fighting system that requires a bit of coordination, pawn trading… it’s awesome. It requires/encourages a more relaxed pace of preparing at the Inn for a quest, trying not to get caught at night, and then getting distracted and ending up ambushed at midnight on a beach by some giant damn cyclops, that you then proceed to spend 10 minutes frantically killing. It reminds me of getting overwhelmed and lost in Morrowind, back in the day.

    • Simon Jones says:

      It is an awesome game and I’m glad you’re enjoying it because I have this old man who can take one hit from a low level monster. He needs escorting to the furthest possible point on the map from where he starts through an area filled with chimera and high level bandits with bows.  And will o’ the wisps.  Also, there will be a gryphon who will swoop down try to kill you like the almighty wrath of god itself.

    • Jonathan Dewar says:

      I’ve been holding off on replaying Dragon’s Dogma for a fourth time until the expansion/re-release comes out.  Thinking about it, it’s probably one of my favorite games this generation.  The way they blended the bigger characteristic of series like Final Fantasy with series like The Elder Scrolls or Gothic is fantastic, in my opinion.

      • The Guilty Party says:

        I’m just shocked they managed to get so many things right about it on the first try. I guess they got to copy from things like Elder Scrolls & Gothic, as you mention.

        It’s also a wonderful exhibit A to pull out whenever some whiner complains about consoles dumbing things down.

        • Simon Jones says:

           It’s actually interesting because Capcom expected it to be a weird little mid-budget title that they put out because the guys doing it bugged them into letting them do a thing.

          And then it apparently blew the fuck up in Japan so they’re not exactly sure what to do.

  19. Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

    I’m really hoping to get in some Tabletop gaming this weekend. I’ve had BSG for a few months now and have yet to play it. I think i’ve got a handle on the rules and flow of the game enough to teach it to my friends now. Anyone here played it? Any tips for a group that has never played before? Tips on teaching it? anything at all would be much appreciated, even just mentioning if you had a good time with it or not.

    • boardgameguy says:

      it’s a fun game. i don’t know that i would share this up front, but if you are a cylon, being revealed is not the end of the world, but you want to reveal in a way that gives the humans as much trouble as you can.

      i would just emphasize that the first game is a “learning game” for all parties involved, to try out different things, and then be ready for a really strong second play. but i feel this way about most games.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        Yeah, I learned to not go into a game with only half knowing how to play when I tried Space Alert the first time. I have printed out player aids and a condensed, better formatted rules sheet and watched a tutorial video for BSG already, so I’m hoping it goes a lot better.

        And I plan on playing like 20-30 minutes of a “practice game” instead of a full one, because I think that might be a bit of a slog and make people not want to play it again.

        I’m also going to have to stress the importance of knowing how to play a cylon, because if whoever ends up a cylon needs to ask a question the game would sort of be ruined. So I’ll try to explain basic strategies for cylons and humans as far as I understand. 

        • boardgameguy says:

          yeah, even playing for two practice rounds so everyone gets the idea and can ask questions could help significantly

  20. Jonathan Dewar says:

    I’m in a bit of a bored spell lately, bouncing around from game to game without really getting in to any of them.  A large part of it is that I’m currently watching through The Shield (nearing the end of season four) and I have a sizable backlog of TV episodes to catch up on.  Another part is that I think I’m just gamed out with all of the high profile releases that hit in such quick succession.  Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, God of War: Ascension.

    That said, if I do end up playing something this weekend, it will probably be the classic MMO fallback.  In my case, that’s Guild Wars 2.  Maybe throw in some Diablo III since I’m finally making a bit of headway in Act II Inferno (got into the sewers which means no more sand wasps, thank the stars). 

    Finally, I might play Need for Speed: The Run again.  I think I’m one of the few people that actually liked this game.  I thought the concept was great, if the execution a bit flawed.  It could be way too difficult at times even on the easiest setting, but it looked great, the story was engrossing enough to push me forward and I actually enjoyed the QTEs.  I’m genuinely disappointed that we’ll probably never see the series or the concept improved upon.  I think it’s a real shame.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I got excited about trying Guild Wars 2 again when I got the “Super Adventure Box” email.  Then I go in, and it says “Recommended: Five Players.”

      Dammit.  I’m a solo gamer 90% of the time.

      • Jonathan Dewar says:

        That’s the main reason I haven’t tried it as well.  I could go with my guild, I suppose, but they have a silly “Must be on TeamSpeak in guild groups” policy that a lot of guilds seem to be pushing these days, which I can’t comply with for various reasons.  Which sucks because it looks like a fun diversion from the rest of the game.

  21. Girard says:

    Being self-aware of an enculturated habit like that, as you are, is a big step toward breaking the habit, or at the very least not acting upon it.

    There are an awful lot of folks who just uncritically accept the fact that their brain does that, and assume it must just be natural and good, and that any sort of reflection or caution amounts to self-censorship and a violation of both their manhood and their right to free speech (perhaps Reposted Kotaku Comments can swing in and provide an example…).

    • SamPlays says:

      Two points for consideration:

      1) There’s good research that suggests racist responses are partly innate (see my comment above about studies examining infant reactions to strangers). Furthermore, our prejudiced “habits” (i.e., thinking and saying negative things about others) can only be partly affected by our self-awareness. Outgroup prejudice/aggression/hostility is a function of cognition (e.g., stereotypes, appraisal) and affect. By affect, I mean states of arousal (i.e., positive or negative emotional responses) that are caused directly by the subject (e.g., a black person approaching you) and indirectly (e.g., your mood prior to seeing the black person). The affect component of prejudice is often uncontrollable, or at the very least it occurs unconsciously, though I’m sure any amount of conditioning can change our heuristics and associations. Furthermore, these internal factors (cognition, affect) are mediated or moderated by real or perceived contextual factors like retaliation, anonymity, provocation, triggering actions and social norms of fairness and justice. Self-awareness is essential to self-improvement but I don’t believe that innate evolutionary psychology and socially-historically ingrained dynamics can be overcome without self-delusion.

      (On a related note, the AV Club touches on this idea in their article about how white critics have approached Tyler Perry’s work.)

      2) As for manhood I’m pretty sure there are plenty sexist, racist, asshole females on this planet, too. 

      • Girard says:

        I’ve read similar research about infants and very young children expressing innate racism – kids’ brains are category-making machines, and when presented with images of people, they will tend to categorize them by race, and when asked to attach value to the categories they’ve made, will tend to express a preference for the group of people that look like themselves or their family (if they are in a racially homogenous family, at least). This data would, in my eyes, corroborate the need to be aware of these tendencies – the book where I read about this study suggested that it served as a caution against American parents’ well-meaning ‘race-blindness,’ and refusal to acknowledge or talk about race, which leaves kids to draw their own conclusions about race, which can sometimes be pretty problematic conclusions.

        Cognition can provide a conscious frame for affect, can process our affect reactions and allow us to reflect on them, which is that self-awareness I’m talking about. Affect most likely can be impacted to some extent by conditioning – at least that was the conclusion of studies of affective empathy I’ve read.

        However, I don’t think Enkidum’s increased scrutiny of her nerd trivia accuracy has very much to do with affect response (beyond maybe just the initial recognition/response to the person’s gender and age). The expectation that a woman would have less knowledge about video games than a man, or that she deserves more scrutiny when talking about video games seems pretty clearly a culturally-based categorization error, and pretty thoroughly cognitive and correctable, even if it has precipitated an unconscious habit.

      • SamPlays says:

        Good parenting definitely goes a long way in shaping egalitarian attitudes and beliefs. In terms of Enkidum’s reaction, there’s a theory called ambivlance/amplification, which could explain the increased scrutiny. Enkidum clearly values egalitarian norms but the primitive, innate part of his brain activates his/her “prejudice” (i.e., sexist) conditioning (i.e., men are dominant forms in patriarchal communities, women are a subordinate group). The balance of these attitudes/beliefs is a  sense of ambivalance (he/she is pulled between opposing attitudes/beliefs). A result of this ambivalance is an amplification of how the subject is appraised. In other words, appraisals become more extreme. So, a female who demonstrates adequate-to-impressive opinions/knowledge about a male-dominated part of society leads to excessively positive opinions. Conversely, a female who demonstrates less than adequate knowledge is likely to be derided more severely than her male counterparts. Sigh, even good intentions are rooted in human nature.

  22. GumptheGreat
    what about headless Elizabeth?

    • Fluka says:

      Theeeere you are!

      • The Guilty Party says:

        But how I wish they weren’t.

      • Girard says:

        With a vengeance, apparently. There are reposted kotaku comments all up in this comment section.

        And my goodness, how pleasant a person must you be to ‘like’ this, Fluka?

        • Fluka says:

          @Reposted_Kotaku_Comments:disqus is fulfilling his/her stated goal perfectly!  They pour over the Kotaku comments, culling them to find perfect shining diamonds of shitty comments which pithily crystalize everything that is wrong with the world!  They suffer for that goal, so I feel the least I can give in thanks is a like.

        • Girard says:

          @Fluka:disqus Your kindness rating: “beatific”

    • Jonathan Dewar says:

      Ms. Winters no longer uses the MinecraftChick alias as far as I know.  She uses her real name now, probably to keep her online identity more in line with her job as a community liaison.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Is there a more mouthbreather combination of words than “female gamer?”

      • djsubversive says:

        “female” anything, really. What’s wrong with saying “woman”? Does it remind them that these are, in fact, human ladies, and therefore, icky?

        I’ve got this dumb fascination with horrible people (well, gamers) saying horrible things, and people who use “female” to refer to women are pretty high up on the list.

        • Girard says:

          I just indiscriminately use the term “girls.”

          …Did I mention that I’m a horrible person?

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus If you refer to dudes with “men” then I’d argue that that is at least a little skeevy. At least “girls” implies that they are human though. Anytime I see a comment on the internet with “females” i read it like some alien is saying it. “FEEEMALES.”

        • djsubversive says:

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus “The hoo-man fee-male is prone to excitement, e-mo-shun-al outbursts, and other illogical processes that defy our cold calculating robot-brains. Beep boop girls are scary.”

          That’s how I usually read it.

        • WarrenPeace says:

          You could always go Full Asshole and just refer to them as vaginas: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/gop-rep-hansen-calls-women-vaginas-in-email.php

        • Enkidum says:

          I’m writing a chapter of my thesis that deals with sex differences in rates of various kinds, and the dozens of times I’ve swapped in “male”, “female”, “women” and “men” is driving me crazy. So maybe I’ll start using “chicks” and “dudes”.

        • Girard says:

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus I was making a joke. I definitely don’t make a habit of calling grown-ass women ‘girls.’ That would make me a horrible person.

          I find ‘girl’ more objectionable than ‘female.’ The former is invariably infantilizing, the latter I think could be used in an okay way, provided you weren’t using it to do something like distinguish between ‘normal gamers’ and ‘female gamers,’ implying that men were the norm.

        • Girard says:

          @Enkidum:disqus : You should start going wild with your labelling choices. People of the male sex are “gynecologically challenged individuals” and people of the female sex are “phallically challenged individuals.”

          (Tying it so much to physiology might not work, though, if your stuff covers gender as well as physical sex, though. Gender-wise, there are of course women who are not “phallically challenged,” etc. Actually a pre-op trans woman might take great offense at being called “gynecologically challenged.” Ack! This joke has gotten away from me! Shut it down!)

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          I figured as much, @paraclete_pizza:disqus . You never can be too sure on the internet though. 

  23. DrFlimFlam says:

    Mass Effect. Cmdr. Claire Shepard is about to step off of the Citadel as soon as she tracks down wherever the hell that 21st Keeper is. I feel bad that Kaidan, Tali, Liara, and Williams are on the outside looking in, but I don’t know what kind of party a slightly renegade ass-kicker would roll with but Garrus and Wrex. It’s the best party imaginable.

    Maybe some LEGO Lord of the Rings with Jr., and I have gotten back into Fallout New Vegas. Imagine my unbridled delight when I realized that Freeport wasn’t just a quest hub, but an actual doorway to THE STRIP! AAAHHHHH!!! FINALLY!!!!

    But also I work on Saturday so not that much gaming.

    • neodocT says:

       Even as a Goody Two-shoes Paragon, Garrus and Wrex are the best party imaginable. Though I ended up using Liara a lot more towards the end because she got way overpowered. Stupid, powerful Liara…

    • Merve says:

      Re: finding the Keepers – Did you check at the end of the loading dock where the Normandy is? Did you check in all the wings of the Council room in the Citadel? Finding that last Keeper can be tough; it took me several hours on my first playthrough.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I did check that, and many others I know were hard for me the first time. I’m on the Normandy right now but will go back and check, one by one, until I find that last one.

    • The Guilty Party says:

      There is one keeper that is slightly bugged. If I recall correctly, it’s the one in the Elcor/Volus Embassy. In some situations, when you go in, it won’t be there! Leaving the citadel, coming back, and going straight for it should solve that. I think. You might want to check the wiki for exact details.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Thanks! I was able to find them all once, but it was just that once, and it was with internet help. I’m trying to make this run my uber-run, the one that puts Mass Effect on the shelf for ten years while I enjoy other games.

    • djsubversive says:

      Freeside tip: the 2000 cap “credit check” is just that – a check to see if you’ve got 2000 caps. They don’t take anything away. Enjoy the Strip.

      Also, it’s totally worth helping Mick and Ralph with their Omerta problem. The Pimp-Boy 3 Billion is the definition of “bling.”

  24. Girard says:

    Probably not much game-time this weekend. If I can snatch a few hours, I’ll probably do a mission or two in ME2.

    Slightly off-topic:
    I don’t know how many folks use ad-blockers, but there’s a really interesting piece of PA Report that made me legitimately think more critically about my use of them, especially when visiting sites I like, and especially when visiting a particular gaming site I like a lot that I imagine faces some of the same issues highlighted there.

    Basically, I used to have my ad-blocker on set-it-and-forget-it blanket blocking mode, because my internet connection is awful and large ads, especially flash ones with video, can significantly slow down site loading. But after reading that piece, I’ve made the effort to go in and whitelist sites that I care enough about to support in spite of the bandwidth hit.

    • Enkidum says:

      Ad-blocker these days specifically whitelists small, non-intrusive ads by default, and there are several on this site that are of that nature (I know because I’ve got adblocker running right now).

      • Girard says:

        My AdBlock (I think the common one on Chrome is actually made by different folks that the common one on Firefox) blocks all ads, as I never saw any on GS. I do have the check box checked for “allow some non-intrusive advertising,” but nothing has ever come through for me on this site, or most others I’ve visited. (I do see Polygon’s big-ass Speed Stick ads for some reason…)

        • Enkidum says:

          Don’t you get the “From around the web” column of five text ads or so, right next to the “More from Gameological”, just underneath the main article? Those are ads. And those are the kinds of ads Adblocker is trying to encourage by leaving that box checked by default.

        • Girard says:

          I scroll right past those with so little thought or attention, I’d totally forgotten they existed!

          Which is probably why those kinds of ads earn their host sites so little money. (Though I can understand the notion that if everyone blocked the graphical ads, then the text ads would be worth more and perhaps become bigger earners…I don’t know if that would ever actually come to pass).

    • Most of the sites I visit these days have pretty non-intrusive ads. It was much worse five years ago.

      • Bakken Hood says:

        I’ve whitelisted much of my usual routine, including this excellent site.  The AV Club, however, with their slightly delayed popups that don’t pop up until you’ve already scrolled down past the “Proceed” button, make that site practically unusuable without Adblock.  They’re getting whitelisted when they ditch those damn popups and not a second sooner.

        • Girard says:

          I love AVClub, but, yeah, anytime I visit it on a public/school/other computer, I’m always taken aback by the huge and intrusive ad presence there.

  25. Raging Bear says:

    I’m housesitting away from my PS3 for a couple of weeks. I have no idea how I’ll even cope. I mean, having brought the Vita, 3DS, iPad, and iMac with Steam will help, but will they be enough?

    So I’ll keep chipping away at Guacamelee, Luigi’s Mansion 2, RE: Revelations, Anodyne, and a cute iPad thing called Fetch.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Just out of curiosity, have you been able to find any pieces of the hidden luchador mask in Guacamelee? There are 6 pieces total, and I’ve only managed to find 3. One of them was in an area that had some serious platforming challenges.

      • Raging Bear says:

        I hate to say I haven’t found even one, and didn’t even know that was a thing to find. But I’ll definitely keep an eye out now. I definitely need to go back through some of the early areas now that I’ve unlocked all the colored-block-smashing moves.

      • zerocrates says:

        I’ve found only one.

        But I also quit in fury after having to mash on the shoulder triggers a few too many times to travel upward.

  26. stakkalee says:

    Well I finished Mass Effect 3 this week, so it’s only appropriate that I talk about it in the What Version of Mass Effect Are You Playing This Weekend? thread.  SPOILERS, obviously.  First, not a big fan of the ending – I don’t want to complain too much about the 3 choices, but I don’t think any of them really represented a true Paragon ending.  Synthesis seemed like the Paragon choice (and was my choice,) but Shepard effectively commits suicide to achieve it.  Death in battle would be one thing, overcome by insurmountable odds, but to simply leap into a beam of energy based only on the words of the enemy is out of character for Shepard, either Paragon or Renegade.  My first instinct was to go with Destruction and the more I’ve thought about it that’s the ending I should have chosen.  Sure, it would have resulted in the destruction of all synthetic life, but I bet human ingenuity could have gotten EDI and the Geth working again in a couple of months.  My ideal ending would have been for Shepard to say “Hey starchild, how about you call off this war?  I’ve got an unused rec room on the Normandy, you guys could probably all scrunch up and fit in there – we’ll fly around the galaxy fixing problems and rescuing kids and you guys can learn to appreciate diversity and working together!”  As to the other part of the ending, the stargazer telling the story of Shepard to the child, well I absolutely detested that. It was unnecessary and confusing, and at first I thought it was setting up some sort of “It was all a story!” framing device.
    With all that out of the way, I really enjoyed the journey these three games took me on.  It was thematically rich, examining the idea of preemptive genocide from multiple angles, raising a ton of questions and leaving the player to find their own answers.  I thought that the Paragon/Renegade system was implemented better than many other games “moral choice” mechanics.  It had its problems, but at least the Paragon and Renegade dialogue choices seemed more considered and motivated than many other games’ systems (looking at you, Bethesda!)  Also, I think EA really refined some of the storytelling methods that are unique to video games over the course of the trilogy, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing many more games “borrowing” these methods over the next decade or so.  Major props to Jennifer Hale, but she’s a voice-over veteran so what would you expect?  I’m not a fan of cover-based shooters, but I am in favor of the minimal hand-holding the games did during the initial tutorial phases – I think ME3 barely had any tutorial at all.  Of the three games ME2 was my favorite because it was essentially a heist movie – you put together your crew and you executed a plan to get access to somewhere you weren’t supposed to be.  I wish EA hadn’t hewed so closely to the Star Trek method of creating aliens but both the Elcor and the Hanar were interesting races and the Reapers’ visual design was great even if their motives were confusing.  I guess the only real complaint I can make is that there wasn’t nearly enough Blasto.  Otherwise the Mass Effect series was an excellent sci-fi shooter with a better-than-average story and it deserves most of the praise it gets.  8/10, Would Recommend, etc., etc.
    So this weekend I’ll probably start a new playthrough of Fallout 3 – I’ve been weirdly jonesing for it for the past couple of weeks.

    • neodocT says:


      I had the same doubts. I really wanted to go with the destruction ending, but it would have been prety antithetical to my Shepard. Problem is, that the other endings also didn’t feel like something Shepard would have done…

      I don’t feel the ending is terrible, like so many complained, but it isn’t fantastic either…

      And I liked the Stargazer thingie! They got Buzz “Would you like to yell at the moon with Buzz Aldrin?” Aldrin to tell us everything ended up okay. That’s priceless!

      • stakkalee says:

        I didn’t realize that was Buzz Aldrin, so props to EA for getting him to do it, but I still think including that part of the ending was confusing and unnecessary.  We already know that Shepard saved the galaxy because each of the 3 choices is a “solution” to the Reaper problem.  The after-credit stinger is basically saying “You know how you just saved the galaxy?  Well you totally did.  Just wanted to reiterate that.”

        • neodocT says:

           Yeah, it was very unnecessary, and didn’t fit well with the overall tone of the game. Thinking back, what I appreciated about it is that it reminded me of something out of Sandman. These characters way off into the future, still telling the story of the human that saved the galaxy.

          Though I don’t think the game really approaches this angle, I do think it is interesting that, in a way, Shepard takes the place of the Reapers as the mythical creature watching over the galaxy, regardless of the ending you choose.

      • Army_Of_Fun says:

        My justification of Destruction is that I have no reason to trust the Reapers or Starkid when they say it’ll kill all synthetics. It’ll kill the Reapers, and that’s good enough for me. Fortunately, the ending is ambiguous enough that I can soothe myself with this interpretation and sleep at night.

        • neodocT says:

           I don’t like getting too fixated on plot holes, but the idea that the Crucible can “kill all synthetics” really didn’t make a lick of sense. I mean, would it destroy only true artificial intelligences or would VIs be affected too? Would computers? Would all electronics simply explode?

          So if I ever do another playthrough I have decided to kill all Reapers in the end, using your rationale that the Starkid is a little liar, hah.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      The love of Jennifer Hale is the main reasoning Claire Shepard exists. I thought ManShep was fine, did a good job, but I’m intrigued because everyone seems so impressed by her work, so I want to hear it.

      • stakkalee says:

        This was my first playthrough and I went with FemShep specifically because of the praise for Ms. Hale.  Check out her résumé – she was the voice of Samus Aran in 4 Metroid games, plenty of Star Wars video game voices, Mazzy Fentan from the Baldur’s Gate series, plus a ton of tv animation.

      • neodocT says:

        Before I started playing, I read something online about how BroShep has better voicework for Paragon, while FemShep is a better Renegade. Since I wanted to be a Paragon, I went with BroShep.

        Looking back, I think I made a huge mistake.

      • Histamiini says:

        Jennifer Hale has been my waifu since Planescape Torment.

        There’s a recent interview with her and Oliver Vaquer who play the Lutece twins in Bioshock Infinite that might interest other devotees of her and Bioshock fans. It’s sort of fun:


        I think it’s interesting how little space voice work is still given in game reviews. On one hand people wish to treat games as seriously as any art form, on the other hand the reviews barely even mention voice work let alone go into any kind of critique of that aspect. It’s casually recognised as important but at the same time oddly neglected or taken for granted unless it’s really awful, and it’s definitely one of the things in games that has made a huge amount of progress in the 21st century. 

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I loved the voice work in Infinite and notice when it’s awful (Rainbow Six Vegas is some kind of joke with that, right?)

    • Roswulf says:

       I’m a strong believer in the idea that most of the Mass Effect ending problem is a Paragon problem. Most variants on a Renegade Shepard I can imagine would be fine either accepting massive collateral damage (Destroy) or just grabbing the biggest gun in the galaxy and enforcing utopia (Control). But to achieve thematic closure my paragon Shep needed an option that placed faith in the ability of everyone to not be assholes to one another, and the massive genetic engineering of Synthesis didn’t qualify. I think there are independent problems with the Starchild exposition delivery system, but it is the lack of a strong Paragon sacrifice option that disappointed me the most.

      Perhaps Shepard could could have sacrificed her life (I think the writers were completely right that Shepard had to die) to destroy the Starchild and remove the Reaper drive to destroy organics, trusting that even an indescribably powerful and formerly genocidal fleet of independently operating sentient reapers could come to an accord with the races of the galaxy. Or something else noble and hippie-like.

      Oh, and on Blasto, assuming you haven’t already played it, for your own sake avoid Jaavik’s cutscene in the Citadel DLC. It’s more Blasto, but not the Blasto we want and need.

      • stakkalee says:

        I think that’s exactly my problem with the ending – I’m ok with Shepard sacrificing herself to save the galaxy, but the Synthesis sacrifice is meaningless – she just throws herself off a ledge!  Paragon Shepard spent 3 games brokering peace and understanding between all these disparate species, but when she’s finally face to face with her adversary she doesn’t try to understand them, she doesn’t try to reach accord, she just says “fuck it all” and accepts these 3 solutions are the only options.  Paragon Shepard is all about finding another way!

      • There should have also been a way to just give the Illusive Man a hug and instantly cure him of all his megalomaniac xenophobia.

    •  Mass Effect 2 is unarguably the best but it just sucks how hard they pretty much retconned the whole thing with 3.

      “Hey, I know you got together that whole group to fight the reapers or whatever, but now that the reapers are actually here, we’re going to get rid of the people you liked and replace them with this annoying beefcake and not even ONE Krogan.”

      ME3 is still way better than everyone makes out though. 

      I am the very model of a… *sniff* …scientist salarian… *sniffs* with minerals and molecules and… *breaks down crying*

      • Army_Of_Fun says:

        They ret-conned nothing! You assemble a team that gets its paychecks signed by Cerberus. Then Shepard winds up sort of imprisoned on Earth for helping blow up a Batarian solar system AND then the Reapers invade. It’d be a little strange if the whole band was back together within the context of that series of events.

        • Retconned isn’t the right word, but it kind of belittles the whole “build your team” angle from ME2 if your team disbands when the actual threat arrives.

      • stakkalee says:

        Ugh, Vega.  Just ugh.  And yeah, I was a little surprised at how bummed I was with Mordin’s fate – I think he was the best, most fully fleshed-out supporting character in the whole trilogy even though he wasn’t great as a squadmate.

        • Mordin’s guilt is very well handled throughout the series.  He talks about how he thinks the genophage was the right decision for the time, but you can see the doubt scratching at him underneath in every interaction and lastly, in his commitment to helping the Krogans.

      • Roswulf says:

         I actually really liked that going through the ME2 experience gave my ragtag team the confidence and resources to have their own lives in ME3. Even the eternal sidekick Garrus had achieved stature within the Turian hierarchy that gave him an importance beyond Normandy hijinks.

        Yes, it would have been fun to get more conversations with Jack and Mordin (*sniff*), but I thought ME3 did fine by their characters dramatic arcs- and in the case of Mordin did fine is a DRAMATIC understatement (*SNIFF*). For me the only ME2 abandoners that seemed unmotivated were Jacob and Samara, but was anybody really clamoring for more Jacob and Samara?

      • neodocT says:

         I don’t think retcon is the right word, exactly, but the crew of ME3 really sucks compared to ME2. I can’t recall ever actually taking Kaidan or James on a mission, for instance.

        I do think some characters were given perfectly good reasons not to join you (see Jack or Wrex) but it would be nice to have characters like Miranda, Kasumi, Grunt or Mordin in your party, even if they die before the final battle *holds back manly tears for Mordin*

        • Bakken Hood says:

          But Kaidan and James are my go-to Reaper-killing squad…

          If you get the Citadel DLC, you can fight in the arena with some of your old squad mates.  Not the same thing as saving the universe with them at your side, but…

        • Roswulf says:

           I’m with you. The problem isn’t the turnover per se, but the failure to do much of interest with the new characters. This was amplified by the natural comparison to past allies. I’m not sure Vega was objectively duller than ME1’s version of Wrex, but by the third game I had developed awful lot of in-built affection for Wrex and knew why he was interesting. Vega didn’t have enough of a hook to overcome fan bias. See Kai Leng for the villain version (which isn’t to say that Kai Leng wasn’t awful; he was).

          The one caveat here is Javik, a very good idea that was, DLC silliness aside, also well executed.

        • neodocT says:

           @Bakken_Hood:disqus To be fair, I actually liked the voice acting for James, and overall thought he was an okay character. Just not remarkable enough to oust Tali or Garrus from my party.

          @Roswulf:disqus I’m generally really opposed to DLC, so I skipped out on Javik. From what I read, he seems like an awesome character, and I hate that he was behind a paywall.

      • You were building your team to raid the Collector base. That’s only tangentially related to the Reaper invasion. And provided they survive, everyone on your team takes part in the Reaper war somehow. (Mordin doesn’t rejoin your squad, but he helps during the Genophage storyline).

        And given the fact that potentially everyone in your ME2 squad can be killed. It wouldn’t be logical to just start up again directly from there. People who messed up the suicide mission would be far more screwed than they needed to be. 

    • I like to interpret the ending this way: the Catalyst’s conclusions regarding the inevitable conflict between machine and man are false, but Shepard has no choice but to concede that point in the face of the superior firepower of the Reapers. Thus, the ending is an existential commentary on the manner in which might defines “right”.

      I know this is contrary to what the creators intended.

      • Bakken Hood says:

        Apparently, some folks thought the conversation with Space Urchin was indoctrination in progress.  I like that version.  My preferred interpretation was that choosing Control was to sucker for the same gambit that got the Illusive Man (prey on Shepard’s own desire to impose Order on those who represent Chaos), Synthesis was to decide the Reapers had the right idea all along (they’re trying to integrate organic life into the “new DNA” of the Reapers themselves, n’est-ce pas?), and Destroy was to see through the bullshit.  The Extended Cut doesn’t fit with this, unless you interpret the Control and Synthesis endings as Last Temptation of Christ-style hallucinations in Shepard’s last seconds.

      • You know this really bothers me. Maybe I’m just really cynical. BUT THAT CATALYST WAS RIGHT!  Yeah maybe you don’t like it’s “solution.” But I can’t take the position seriously that in the context of the Mass Effect universe that war between synthetics and organics was not inevitable.

        You’ve got the quarians and geth, and according to Javik the Protheons were fighting their own AI creations when the Reapers came. In fact, the Reapers only attack when AI wars begin, they are only a threat to societies that prove them right.

        And no you can’t use the Geth/Quarian truce as a counter example because getting that shit to happen was like pulling teeth.

        Yeah ultimately to use a real world example. The Reaper’s logic would be like someone bombing the whole of the middle east because they’ll never get along. But to think they are wrong about the danger of genocidal organic/synthetic wars going on without them would be powerfully naive.

        I hit that destory button without any existential drama because self preservation demands I ensure that me, my friends and the galaxy live another day. But who am I kinding. I could see the freaking pattern. One day there is obviously going to be another war.

    • Histamiini says:

      Mass Effect 3 spoilers!

      To me it’s important to remember that Shepard has no choice but the get the thing going because they consider it to be their only hope. She is barely conscious, badly wounded, and has one task to perform. And she is the only one there. Every race is in battle to give her the opportunity. It’s their only plan. She has no option but to try even if it costs her life.

      The player is shown that it works but Shepard herself will never know. It shows the desperation of their situation just like the mad dash to the beam of light did earlier. She has her mission. Of course she would like to have a better set of choices and be reassured that it will all work – but when do we ever get to demand that from the universe? No matter what the conditions are, she has to try to perform her duty. To me this forced nature of her situation made the scene much more powerful.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        You’re all a bunch of filthy terrorist negotiators. At least in the extended cut, you do have a choice. This isn’t the last cycle, you know? Embrace your inner anime villain and sacrifice billions of lives for your ideals! What’s that, Bioware? That’s not a proper ending and you won’t give me an achievement for choosing this path? Well, it’s too late now! Nothing can stop me! Behold the birth of a new god!

    • djsubversive says:

       “weirdly jonesing” for Fallout 3 – me too. Then I played it for a little while. Cleared that right up.

      Okay, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game. I think it does the whole “exploring the decayed ruins of a city” better than NV (which didn’t even really HAVE any of that, other than Lonesome Road). It’s also pretty good about just turning you loose and letting you walk the wastes.

      The problem is that things start falling apart as soon as any thought goes into it. What do people eat? Why haven’t raiders and/or super mutants taken everyone from Big Town once and for all? Megaton? Little Fucking Lamplight? It just pushes the boundaries of “suspension of disbelief” and gets into “this is just fucking stupid” territory real quick. Like Canterbury Commons. Not only are the traders (all four of them!) who supply the entire Capital Wasteland headquartered in a shitty little cul-de-sac, said cul-de-sac is ALSO being fought over by two crazy jackasses who dress up like comic book superheroes and send robots and giant ants after each other, and the “town.”

      And it’s not like you can just go around and murder everybody who annoys you, because a third of them are magically immortal because they’re Important somehow. This isn’t including the unskippable immortal kids of Little Fucking Lamplight. Just because you don’t want players killing children so you make them immortal, does NOT mean that you can just handwave away an entire tribe of them living peacefully and unkillably right next door to the source of the East Coast Super Mutants. Also, the slavers of Paradise Falls never once discovered a cave full of kids a whole three minutes walk away from their front gate?

      And what about all the ones they send out to Big Town? How do they know where to go? Everybody who knows where it is was forced to leave Little Fucking Lamplight.

      See, that’s my problem with Fallout 3. I just can’t let that sort of thing go. New Vegas has a pretty solid explanation for why, where, and how things are the way they are. Also, there isn’t a main quest location full of annoying unkillable jackass kids (there are only a couple places where children even show up, and even fewer where they’re part of a quest).

      • stakkalee says:

        I’m stuck on a console unfortunately.  I haven’t had a game-worthy PC for a few years but I’ve been missing it more and more recently; god I miss mods. I’m hoping that 2013 will be the year that I can set aside a bit of cash and do it right.

        And with Fallout 3 I think all I really want to do is explore the city, and especially the metro tunnels, which, as you said, New Vegas doesn’t have.  Plus the first time I played F3 I intentionally left some of the DLC and various mini-quests untouched specifically so I’d have something new to play with on my second playthrough; I basically wrung New Vegas dry on my first time through, which is another reason to miss mods. 

  27. Cloks says:

    I’ll be playing the Dishonored DLC until I remember that my final exams are coming up. Also, thanks to whoever pointed out the ROM Libraries being hosted on the internet archive last week. I’ve beaten Quackshot and Rocket Knight for the Sega Genesis using an emulator on my PSP.

    • djsubversive says:

      Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis is one of my favorite games ever. Never buy frag grenades from the shady guy in an alley. The chances of it being Lone Star undercover are too high, and grenades are too finicky. Plus, they’re not useful in cyberspace, and that’s where the nuyen’s at. :D

      • Cloks says:

        I’m sticking to platformers for now but that’s been earmarked for when I have the time to play RPGs.

  28. dmikester says:

    I’m sure we’ll do another board game/card game night now that the weather’s finally gotten manageable.  In videogame land, I’ll likely be slogging through Dragon Age: Origins.  Yeah, I said slogging.  I started it earlier this week, and I’ve been really disappointed.  While I love the lore and the world, the gameplay feels clunky and kind of dull to me.  I also like the characters, but I don’t feel particularly compelled by them.  Still, it’s early yet in the game, so maybe things will pick up.  

    •  Out of curiosity are you playing on PC or Console?  I played on xbox and it was a sluggy boat ride but I’ve heard it’s better on pc.

      • dmikester says:

        PS3.  I can definitely see how it would be easier to play on a PC, but even so, it’s more the overall design that isn’t appealing to me; the controls and graphics are fine. 

    • Once you open up more skills, the game gets more fun (especially for mages.)

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      I felt the same way when I played it. Clunky controls, endless loading screens, and an ugly, unpleasant world, combined with dialogue and decision trees that never seem to have a good option, bugged me the whole way. I finally quit shortly before the big ending fight when I realized that I just didn’t care whether this shitty world got conquered by darkness or not.

    • duwease says:

      Weird.. I actually liked the complexity of the combat system (once you learn it).  Like a lot of games though, you need to play on a higher difficulty in order to really be challenged to learn and use all the facets.. on normal, you can generally just smash and heal most battles, in keeping with the modern philosophy that normal mode shouldn’t be too hard, to keep the majority from quitting.

      Then again, yeah, early on you don’t have a lot of the cool skills so it is mainly smash and heal either way.

      @His_Space_Holiness:disqus : The “no good option” for decisions was the best part of the game for me!  So many games limit dialogue options to ‘perfect saint’ and ‘complete amoral ass’.. I like that the choices in this game had shades of grey, and had more to do with which arguably equal philosophies you sided with rather than what was obviously good or bad.

      • dmikester says:

        Yeah, I realize that a lot of my dislike for the game so far is a matter of taste.  I’ve never loved super complex game systems, and I tend to be in the camp of less is more when it comes to equipment and general ways to customize characters, but I completely understand why people would get totally into that.  My biggest surprise so far is how little I like any of the characters I’ve met.  They seem boring and not very well written.  Again, very early in the game though, so there’s lots of time to warm up to them.

      • His_Space_Holiness says:

        It’s not so much there being no unequivocally morally correct option that bugged me, it’s that, often, none of the options presented were the least bit appealing. Most of the time I could choose between being an asshole, a different kind of asshole, or a total wuss. Not so much fun, that.

    • dmikester says:

      @facebook-537496384:disqus I love many RPGs, both classic and modern, and I was a huge fan of Neverwinter Nights, which I believe was actually co-written by the same person, David Gaider.  The characters in Dragon Age are dull to me (and actually feel like less compelling versions of characters in both Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights), and the gameplay just feels clunky and boring (there’s a chance that it’ll pick up, but I’m 8 hours in and nothing’s happening yet).  I’m giving it a chance, but so far it’s my least favorite Bioware game (and certainly the only one that hasn’t instantly hooked me), and I’ve played them all except naturally for Dragon Age 2. 

  29. duwease says:

    This lady seems to really know her stuff, gaming-wise.  From what I’ve seen of the show, though, gaming knowledge doesn’t necessarily give you an advantage.  I’m not really sure what at this point gives you the advantage.. the sport is pretty new.

    This weekend, I’m pretty addicted to Far Cry 3, so Idunno if I’ll make it back to XCOM.  I’m kinda surprised.. I’m not a big FPS fan, but I do really enjoy exploring the island.  And the pirate assaults are open-ended enough that they’re pretty fun.  But ultimately I think I’m just expertly strung along by the polish of the Skinner-style psychological reward drip that games have gotten so good at.  I always feel like I’m just 10 min away from accomplishing ONE MORE THING, which seems to be the driving force of my addiction more than any particular aspect of the gameplay.

    Also trying to finish up Antichamber now that I know how to tell which rooms are unfinished on the map.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Have you seen the “ending” of Antichamber yet, or are you just mopping up loose ends? If you haven’t seen it, trust me, you’ll know it when it happens.

      I loved that game! For all its minimalism, that ending sent chills down my spine. I would’ve preferred more of the lateral-thinking or space-defying puzzles, but it’s probably better they didn’t repeat those mechanics too much.

      • duwease says:

        I think I’ve still got some things to do in the “main path” (which is a term tough to apply to this game).  So far I’ve really been enjoying the puzzle selection.. I was actually worried there would be TOO many ‘lateral thinking’ puzzles, and often when I play games with those they just spin off into puzzles that are just guessing random things to do instead of synthesizing the information you have to solve something you’re not familiar with.  In other words, once they’re solved, I just roll my eyes and say “THAT’S what I was supposed to do?  That was kinda dumb.”

        Can’t say that about Antichamber, though.  It doesn’t hold your hand at all, but neither have I felt at all yet like I wasn’t given the information to solve a particular puzzle, once I figured out how to interpret what I was seeing.  Great puzzle design.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      Raiding the pirate camps is definitely what kept me playing Far Cry. I actually quit pplaying for a couple days because I had taken out all the pirate camps on the first island, and all I wanted to do was go to beat the ones on the second island , but I needed more story progress to go there (since I had been ignoring missions for a week to raid pirate camps).

  30. This weekend I plan on putting some time into the de facto Wii Game of the Year, Pandora Tower. When I’m not hunting monsters obsessively, that is.

    • Girard says:

      Please weigh in after you do – I’m genuinely curious about that game.

      • I’m very much doubting it will reach the heights of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story (my #1 and #2 Games of the Year last year, respectively), but we’ll see.

        • Girard says:

          I really didn’t like Last Story, which is what gave me pause on following up with Xenoblade and Pandora’s Tower. Though I’ve heard that, of the three, Last Story is the one that’s the most straighforward JRPG in terms of design and story, while Xenoblade is a little more unconventional and Pandora is pretty idiosyncratic, so I might actualy enjoy those more.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I hope I like The Last Story. It’s in my queue but I also worry I can’t go back to JRPGs I don’t already love. Even playing Skies of Arcadia was some kind of ennui nightmare.

      • Two towers down (of 12 or 13), and I’m wondering why the hell this game was lumped in with those other two. I wouldn’t classify Pandora’s Tower as an RPG at all; it’s far too action-oriented and not level-dependent enough to really meet that definition (IMO). It actually feels closer to a Castlevania knock-off with all of the chain action going on.

        It’s not bad, mind. Some interesting concepts and interesting use of the Wii Remote as a pointer in the midst of the action (sometimes I forget I also have a sword). But it there’s a reason this was the last of the three Project Rainfall games to make it States-side, and I promise you it wasn’t localization issues.

        • Girard says:

          I remember reading there was some weird countdown mechanic (I think you have a love interest who has a timed curse?) that fames the rest of the action. Does that make things interesting in any meaningful way (thinking Majora here), or is it just set dressing?

        • The impact of the timer is well explained in this site’s review; my comment contains my experience with it thus far.

  31. EmperorNortonI says:

    In all likelihood, I’m playing nothing this weekend.  This week my computer well and truly went off the deep end, revealing itself inadequate as a gaming machine. I may try to get a replacement this Sunday, schedule and energy permitting.

    However, my group was able to beat Borderlands 2 tonight, so that was a lot of fun.  Not sure whether to go for the DLC’s now, or just jump into the True Vault Hunter mode.  I’m also a bit curious about the Psycho, and have already seen a few class mods showing up for him.  I suppose it depends on my group.

    I’m really looking forward to Blood Dragon!  And, to all the games I’ve supported on Kickstarter.  I really do see it more as patronage for creatives more than pre-ordering a game, and feel good about myself for supporting the teams I have.  However, just so I’m not such a self-centered prick, I’m also going to try and match my total Kickstarter contribution with some real charitable giving. 

    •  For the first time over the weekend, a Kickstarter I backed didn’t meet it’s funding goal. It was a documentary about the burgeoning comedy scene in Denver, CO, so it’s not universal and it’s not a fun game, but still it deserved to live.

      It’s a weird sensation, watching a KS campaign for a game you’ve supported.  You feel invested, and you want them to succeed so bad!  I almost shat myself when it looked like LA Game Space wasn’t going to make it.  I spammed the bejeezus out of Twitter and everything to get the word out.  I’m getting a 24 hour mix out of it I didn’t even want because I upped my pledge to $30 bucks.  I’m stoked for the games though!

  32. Moonside_Malcontent says:

    I heeded the call of the nostalgia dragons and bought Age of Empires II: HD Edition on Steam, so I’ll probably spend a good chunk of the weekend Celtifying and Gothitating and Saracenning and what have you.  Other than that, a friend of mine has just started a new World of Darkness game set in Philadelphia that is looking to be a pretty cool campaign.  Dunno if there are many other White Wolf players here on GS, but if there are, thoughts on the new Demon module playtests?  Looks pretty cool so far.

  33. evanwaters says:

    Got to the game store over the weekend and picked up Fiasco, which has been described as the Coen Bros. RPG- it emulates the classic “caper gone horribly wrong” genre, and involves very little prep time as setting and character elements are decided at the table. All I need is a shitload of D6s. May introduce this at game night.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That sounds pretty rad.  I’d like to hear how it goes.

    • boardgameguy says:

      for real. session write-up please.

    • Moonside_Malcontent says:

       I’ve played Fiasco a couple times, it’s a lot of fun.  We kidnapped a prize Kentucky Derby horse but failed to properly switch it with the painted nag we stole from a nearby farm.  Hijinks, as you might imagine, ensued.

    • I continue to hear excellent things about Fiasco, but I’ve yet to pick it up. I must remedy this injustice.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      I’ve been thinking of picking this up. The theme sounds awesome and if it’s easy enough to learn and run I’d play the shit out of it. I’ve never really played an RPG like DnD or whatever, so i’m hesitant to pick one up.

  34. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I’ll be continuing my trek through Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.  I’m finally up to Episode IV, with occasional trips back to get the extras in previous levels.

    I keep thinking about starting Arkham City on my Xbox, but our living room is so full of large baby items (swings and playsets) that I can’t really reach it easily.  Someday I’ll get to it.

  35. indy2003 says:

    About to finish up GTA IV – heading into the last mission now, though I’ve lost a bit of my enthusiasm during this exceptionally bleak final act. On a storytelling level, it’s fairly compelling, but it’s gotten increasingly difficult to get invested in the gameplay stuff when it’s clear that some sort of positive outcome is out of the question. I kinda dislike that the playtime is essentially doubled by the fact that there isn’t really a fast travel option, but at least the radio stations manage to make that less tedious than it would have been otherwise (there’s nothing like driving at night to the strains of a Philip Glass score).

    Afterwards, I’ll probably tackle something lighter – Sly Cooper 2, maybe. Or if I don’t have much time, I’ll just do a bit of racing on my Wii U version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted (which is a great option when you just want to unwind for a half-hour or so).

    I tried starting Catherine not too long ago, but I just couldn’t get into it. Didn’t really care for the characters much at all, and the puzzles weren’t compelling enough on their own terms to make me want to finish the thing. I have to say that it’s one of the most overrated titles I’ve played lately, especially in terms of its “mature, adult storytelling.” I’ve played Mario titles with more maturity. 

    • Enkidum says:

      The last mission is brutal – it just never frigging ends and if you die you restart the whole thing, including like a 5 minute tailing scene. Still, fantastic game that’s worth it just to have finished it.

      • indy2003 says:

        Eeesh. Thanks for the heads up. Yeah, the lack of checkpoints has definitely been one of my main frustrations – chase missions are the ones which generally trip me up, and more often than not, the chases don’t come until after you’ve made a long drive across the city and taken out a warehouse full of armed guards. I’m well past the 40-hour mark at this point, and I can’t help but feel that a good chunk of that time could have been shaved off with simple additions like fast travel and checkpoints.

    •  You deserve a medal for just making it to the end of GTA IV, that game loses so much momentum when you cross the river into their “hoboken” equivalent.  I’m curious if they’re going to keep the very dark themes for GTA V this year.

  36. neodocT says:

    I have a gigantic translation I need to turn in Monday morning, so I’ll probably be working on that all weekend. But since I know I will definetely slack off for a bit at some point, my plan is to finish chapter 5 of The Walking Dead


    Chapter 4 was a lot… uh, lighter than the previous one. But I also thought it wasn’t as good. There are a ton of new characters, and it seemed like the Crawford plotline was somewhat cut short. I mean, if you introduce a city of bad, no good, evil people, it’s extremely disappointing to find out they’re all dead when you get there. I’ve already fought zombies (*ahem*, walkers), I want to know that Lee will do when he has to fight a city full of people! I want to be given the choice to steal candy from a living human baby to give to Clementine and then feel bad about it, damn it!

    And I’m also not overly excited with the final twist at end of chapter 4, where Lee is bitten. Though maybe this plotline will be very well executed in the last chapter. We’ll see. I was, however, pleasantly surprised that the majority of players revealed the bite to the rest of the survivors. I guess we really do grow to trust these people.

  37. boardgameguy says:

    will be gaming with about 6 tonight, so planning on bringing some lighter fare. hope to play Saboteur, Incan Gold, or Lifeboats

  38. I’ve started what I like to call a “slow-burn play through” of Bioshock Infinite.  This means that I can play about one scene at a time, before I have to quit and reflect on it.  I just finished the point right after you fight your first fire man, where you fight a troop of soldiers across a roof that is covered in clouds,  I died twice because ‘fuck turrets’, but it’s a very refreshing way to play a game as opposed to my usual bulldoze it ASAP style.

    I’ve been wicked busy with work and other stuff so I haven’t started the numerous new games I want to start but I always have time to bop into my two favorite murder-simulators Hotline Miami and Saint’s Row the Third.  They’re polar opposites on graphics, style, gameplay and just about everything else, but they both elicit an easy “this is fun” response without having to deal with complicated menus or layers of game mechanics that are just there to get in the way of me mindlessly smashing people in the face with objects.  Also I love playing as the Toilet in SRIII.  It makes me giggle.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      Any time I showed someone new Saint’s Row 3 I would equip the toilet appearance and the purple dildo bat. Nothing wins over new fans quicker than watching a toilet beat someone to death with a floating dildo.

      I also love doing all the running grabs as the toilet and the other weird character models, like watching the toilet suplex someone.

      I’m pretty excited for the new Saints Row. Its probably not going to feature any huge changes since its obviously using the engine and lots of content from the third game, but as long as I get more crazy outfits, weapons, cars and missions I will be happy. And running around all super powered in the Matrix looks fun. I would like some new environments, though. The one thing 3 felt like it was lacking was some of the unique locales in 2, like the indoor shopping mall I loved to wreak havok in, or the university, etc.

  39. Morgan Filbert says:

    I’ll be playing Bioshock, not Infinite mind you, just Bioshock.

    I understand I’m a little late to this party.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      But it’s still a party, so enjoy!

    • Razz Matazz says:

      Holy Shit another one! I also just started playing the original Bioshock not too long ago, but its been slow going. I’m prone to shrieking when things jump in my face wielding weapons so I can only really play it during the daytime on the weekends when my wailing won’t disturb my housemates. And this weekend all gaming has been put on hold so I can finish my final seminar papers.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        One thing BioShock has down pat is creeping me the fuck out. I enjo the game, but I often have to chase a long session of it with Star Trek or some other safe, homey, optimistic entertainment.

  40. Jackbert says:

    Keisha Howard has good taste in LittleBigPlanet worlds.

    I don’t have any of my gaming systems this weekend, so no video games for me. I would do sports things, but half a foot of snow got dumped on Minneapolis here in MID-APRIL. Gee, thanks for making me do homework, extenuating circumstances…jerks.

  41. Jackbert says:

    Mass Effect 2 is the best if you like the characters a lot. Almost everybody does. But people who don’t (hi!) get to enjoy the worst gameplay and worst story of the trilogy.

    EDIT: Disqus, you dummy. This is supposed to be a reply to Kyle O’Reilly who you are not letting me tag.

  42. stakkalee says:

    I gotta say, because I keep noticing it when I come back to this page, but Ms. Howard is wearing one bad-ass ring!  That thing looks dangerous!

  43. His_Space_Holiness says:

    Still in Skyrim, and I am about ready to pull the plug on the civil war storyline. I didn’t get into this game to fight wars, I got into it to muck around in caves and temples and toss fireballs at fools. I got to the point where Ulfric wants me to conquer Whiterun, and that’s enough for me. On the plus side, the Thieves Guild story is about to wrap up, and I’ve got some cool-looking armor out of it. Also, the Daedra continue to be the only people in Tamriel who are any fun at all.

    I’m also replaying Psychonauts, because I felt the need to spend time in a colorful, fun world with characters that I don’t want to stab. Good choice, me!

    • djsubversive says:

      I’ve said it before, and a number of times, but Clavicus Vile just sounds like he’s having so much fun, even being stuck in a statue in a cave full of vampires.

  44. ProfessorFarnsworth says:

    Having broke down and bought Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I and II, I will probably spend what little time I can on that.  If remainder time exists (Or my wormhole experiments prove true) I will then celebrate with Neverwinter Nights 2, having just arrived to previously mentioned city.

  45. heavenkey says:

    I will more than likely continue my low chaos playthrough of Dishonored, a fun way to test out the high chaos variation is save my game often, then whenever presented with the opportunity go berserk on the guards, empty all my ammunition and mana ( playing on hard) then load my save and sneak again undetected.  

  46. inamine says:

    Playing Punching Pregnant Women Into Space, or Injustice: Gods Among Us

    Awful story, awful costumes. But very fun otherwise. I really really wish it weren’t so grimdark, then it would be even better and actually make sense. The scene transition attacks and super moves are so over the top and goofy, that it just doesn’t fit with the gritty realism. A more lighthearted approach would’ve likely put this up there in my favorite fighters of this generation.

  47. djsubversive says:

    I took a break from people because I found myself gettin’ angry at non-cooperative gamers the other day, and started up a new game of Fallout: New Vegas. I cleaned out my mod folder and started over, and I’m using Cirosan’s Classic Overhaul and the jsawyer mod instead of Project Nevada – I could probably use all of them, but jsawyer and CCO already change a lot of the tweakable stuff from PN, so I’d have to either figure out those equations and plug them into PN or have CCO/jsawyer override PN. Easier to just not worry about it. jsawyer is pretty much the “harder-core” that I was looking for with PN. Stimpaks now have weight (PN didn’t even give weight to drugs) and are much rarer. Expired and Homemade versions are much weaker and more common.

    On the plus side, since food and drink heal again, Gecko Steaks and Sunset Sarsparilla are once again useful to me (well, Gecko Steak always was – it’s easy to get and make, and great for reducing hunger).

    Also, I tried an Alternative Start mod that lets you go through the character creation process without the Doc Mitchell commentary, and then starts you somewhere in the Mojave. I had one that started me near Death Wind Cavern (where the legendary deathclaw lives). Didn’t last too long that time, since I took a wrong turn and ended up a snack.

    In other games, I got Portal 2 from a friend last night, so we played a bit of that, and might play some more this weekend. But I’m back in the Mojave, and it’ll be tough to pull me out again (unless it’s to go to Zion, the Sierra Madre, the Divide, or BIG MOUNTAIN). :D

  48. Fuzunga says:

    Is anybody else wondering why she’s wearing a spiky death ring?

  49. WarrenPeace says:

    There were a bunch of good sales on Steam this week, so I ended up buying Portal 1 and 2, Spore, Cthulu Saves the World, and Penny Arcade: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness 3. I’ll probably just play more Just Cause 2 though…

  50. They fix that in “Lost and Damned” and “Ballad of Gay Tony”

  51. Saltonstall says:

    I’ve repurchased The Orange Box, mainly to play Portal 1 again before diving into Portal 2. I’ll also be playing Half-Life 2 for the first time. It’s a Valve kind of weekend.