Out This Week

Disney Infinity

Toy Story

In this week’s new releases, Disney finds a new way to sell merchandise, and the president discovers there is no spoon.

By Sam Barsanti • August 20, 2013

Out This Week is a look at a few new games that are out this week.

Disney Infinity
Nintendo 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360—August 18

Skylanders has to be one of the smartest ideas ever. Combining real-world collectible toys with a video game is such a surefire way to make money that I’m amazed Nintendo didn’t come up with it first. But if any company is going to run with this idea (other than Nintendo), it has to be Disney. It has a massive stable of characters to pull from and legions of people who will buy anything with the company’s name on it. I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t turn out to be a huge hit. Maybe if Disney can prove that this model will work for brands other than Skylanders, more companies will give it a shot. Like, let’s say, Hasbro. I would never go to the store and buy a Mike Wazowski toy so I could play as Mike Wazowski in a video game, but a Transformer? Be still, my beating heart.

Saints Row IV
PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360—August 20

America has had plenty of badass presidents—like President Bill Pullman and President Harrison Ford—but for some reason, the commander-in-chief hasn’t had very many starring roles in video games. Metal Wolf Chaos let you play as a president who piloted a giant robot suit, but that only came out in Japan. I’m hoping Saint’s Row IV will finally give us the leader we deserve. Someone who is willing to steal cars and blow people up while hacking into a non-union equivalent of The Matrix and getting crazy superpowers. Sure, Joe Biden does those things all the time. But he’s just a vice president.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist
PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360—August 20

Splinter Cell protagonist Sam Fisher has always had a grizzled “I’m too old for this shit” attitude when it comes to saving the world. Blacklist is Ubisoft’s seventh game in the series, and according to Wikipedia, Fisher is almost 60 years old. This raises the question: When will he literally be too old for this shit? Will Splinter Cell 10 feature a moment where Fisher falls down the stairs while doing his laundry, and you have to press the Life Alert button? Ubisoft hired a new voice actor for Fisher this time around, replacing Michael Ironside with a guy who is almost half his age and doesn’t have a voice that sounds like marbles getting ground up in a garbage disposal. Maybe Ubisoft is hoping we won’t notice as it slowly de-ages Fisher? With a younger main character, it can keep making Splinter Cell games forever. Or maybe there’s a narrative purpose to all of this, and Blacklist will reveal that Fisher is a cyborg. I’m hoping it’s something like that.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360— August 20

Last week, the government officially acknowledged that Area 51 is real, which means two things: Aliens are also real, and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a documentary. Why else would the whole marketing shtick focus on faux-redacted information? Until now, it actually was being redacted by the Men In Black or the Cigarette Smoking Man or whoever the government has in charge of its vast conspiracies these days. Since I’m telling you this, it probably means that next Tuesday, Out This Week will be written by someone else (probably a patsy put in place by the government) and I’ll have been taken to a location that is even more secret than Area 51. Maybe Area 52? Avenge me!

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85 Responses to “Toy Story”

  1. KingGunblader says:

    The government’s admission of Area 51’s existence basically amounted to “Yeah, there was place we called Area 51.” Not exactly the boon for government transparency I was hoping for.

    On a related note, The Bureau is the only release this week I’m interested in. But I’ll probably never play it as I’m eternally trying to get a perfect run through XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      “Aliens? Heavens, no! Area 51 is simply the U.S. military’s massive repository of foreskins, that’s all.”
      “Why is the U.S. military stockpiling foreskins?”
      “Hmmmm… Um, that’s classified.”

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      Maybe there just wasn’t anything interesting there. Like it was where they kept spare Jeep parts or something. I’d have been more interested if there had been an Area 50 and 52 but not 51. Like how buildings don’t have 13th floors.

      • Carlton_Hungus says:

        They the real “Area 51” could hide in plain sight, just like those 13th floors.  You’re not fooling anyone 14th floor, we know who you really are!

  2. Fluka says:

    So in Saints Row IV I get to play as any race/gender/sexuality, gather a diverse crew to fight an alien menace, destroy said menace with ridiculous guns, telekinesis, and/or charging into them at near-light speeds, complete loyalty missions and gratuitous romances, and hang out with Keith David?  

    Man, why did no one tell me that Mass Effect 4 was out?  *Waits patiently for end of work day!*

    In all seriousness, it’s always refreshing to play a big AAA game that actually has a sense of humor.  Also, after finishing the beautifully restrained Gone Home last night I am looking forward to throwing cars at people.

    • PaganPoet says:

      I’m going to play as the country’s first latina drag queen president! Her name is going to be Paloma Llorar.

    • Roswulf says:

      Heh. One of the voice in Saints Row 3 was just close enough to Jennifer Hale that I decided from character creation that Saints Row 3 was my own Shepard’s deeply disturbing fever dream.

      Girl never got tired of whacking folks with the Penetrator. It didn’t NOT add some new wrinkles to my understanding of her committed, three game relationship with Liara.

      For Saints Row 4, I’m leaning towards playing the deeply disturbing fever dream of President Laura Roslyn.

      • Fluka says:

        Saints Row 4 is the weird alternate universe created when you choose Synthesis in ME3.

      • mizerock says:

        Ah, dammit, is it out TODAY? Time goes fast when you’re old. So it’s too late for me to get in on the pre-order now … I hope I didn’t miss much on that deal (other than “getting to play it right now)(which I can still do by buying it via the PSN at home, or a real disc from BestBuy on my way).

    • Hang out with?  Hell, you can Romance him if you want!  Though after trying that with Kenzie and she punches me hard in the face first, I’m afraid Keith will re-enact They Live with me.

  3. Fluka says:

    Speaking of Gone Home.  PLAY IT FOR GOD’S SAKE.  That’s right, you there.  Yeah, you.  Go buy it.  I’ll wait.  

    It’s fucking sublime.

    • SamPlays says:

      Alright, alright! Sheesh!

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      But Steam sales (eventually)!

    • beema says:

      It’s on my wishlist. Waiting for a sale.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I’m a bit ashamed to say it, but yeah. This game is probably a $5 purchase for me, and I’ll wait until it hits that price point.

        • beema says:

          Yeah, same. I know it’s not equal across the board, but I sort of require any game I spend $15 or more on to be like 20+ hours of gameplay.

      • Fluka says:

        ACCEPTABLE

    • signsofrain says:

      It’s definitely worth the 17$. Also hey @Fluka:disqus did you find the key that leads to the part of the house with the kitchen, greenhouse etc? I was never able to find it! I had to run a new game with the ‘all doors unlocked’ modifier to get in there and catch the last journals and clues. Also is there anything in that super-dark hallway beyond the safe?

      Also wasn’t that part where the light goes out when you pick up that certain object creepy as hell? I was playing on a 72″ projector in the dark with headphones on, I nearly pissed myself.

      • Fluka says:

        Game spoilers:

        Holy crap that moment with the lightbulb made me yelp.

        I think the key is down there in the basement, in the room where they’re making the zines?  The super-dark hallway contains an old note, and a toy, which thematically connects to something in the safe.  I wasn’t able to open the safe, which means I missed some subtext in the story with Oscar.
        LITERARY MEEEGGAAA-SPOIIIILEERRZZZZZZ:
        If you piece together every bit of the Oscar and Terry stories, and are more clever than me, things get very dark.

      • Fluka says:

        More spoilers!

        No, wait, scratch that.  There’s no key to the East Wing of the house.  You have to go up a staircase somewhere from the basement, which leads you to the hallway next to those rooms.

        • signsofrain says:

          *SPOILERS*

          Yeah I read that article… I had pieced together that Oscar had probably molested Terry (a letter in the safe clued me into that). I didn’t realize there was a false bottom in Terry’s desk drawer though with another Oscar letter! I’ll have to check that one out, and obviously I need to explore the basement more carefully.
          The combination for the safe is written right near the safe. It’s a 4 digit number that’s significant to Terry (and to Oscar too, I guess!)

          You know that last Sam journal? (The light in this house is so sad… I think I’ll go up to the attic… and wait.) Oh man, I was so scared what I’d find up in the attic. The creepy red-lit hallway did not help.

        • Fluka says:

          *SPOILERS*

          The irony being that I already tried that date on Terry’s filing cabinet upstairs, and didn’t think to try it again!  

          I, too, was expecting a tragic ending.  What we actually got, though…  Well, I’m not saying that I cried.  But I cried.

        • signsofrain says:

          *SPOILERS*

          Haha, I tried it on the filing cabinet too! 
          Did you catch the page of Sam’s journal about sex with Lonnie? I was so pissed when the game just disappeared it before I was done reading! I started a new game, headed straight there, and took a screenshot. You can carry your parents’ condom around everywhere with you if you want but Katie absolutely refuses to look at her sister’s sex life twice? Took me out of it a little bit. I also liked the bit in Lonnie’s letter about how “I’ll have lots of pictures… we’ll have to spend A LOT of time in your dark room!”

          But yeah… those last 2 journals put me on an emotional roller coaster. That second-to-last one where Sam doesn’t sound too good and the final one… yeah. Best of luck S+L <3 

          Other notable journals "Dying someone's hair is kind of… intimate" and Lonnie's last show with her band… man.

    • GaryX says:

      Man, I need a better PC.

    • huge_jacked_man says:

      $17 for a 2-hour “interactive experience” with no gameplay beyond clunky FPS scavenging is a bit steep. Wait for a sale.

      • signsofrain says:

        If you’ve only played 2 hours I can almost guarantee that you haven’t seen everything. 

  4. SamPlays says:

    Sorry but the only US President who meets all the criteria in the Badass Inventory is David Palmer.

  5. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    “Maybe Ubisoft is hoping we won’t notice as it slowly de-ages Fisher? With a younger main character, it can keep making Splinter Cell games forever.”

    So Sam Fisher is The Doctor?

    “They’re night vision goggles.  I wear night vision goggles now.  Night vision goggles are COOL.”

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      Reminds me more of James Bond, except without the tacit understanding that each Bond both is and isn’t the same character.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        I find it amusing that in the complaints some reviewers had about Skyfall (which I enjoyed despite its many flaws), they pointed out that Bond had gone from “fresh new agent” in Casino Royale to “good God, Bond, why don’t you retire, you’re so old” in a span of six years.

    • beema says:

      No Michael Ironside means no Sam Fisher. Fuck this noise

  6. SamPlays says:

    It’s probably a good time for Sam Fisher to pull a Clint Eastwood and start directing movies about old guys who may be grey but are still a shitkicker at heart. 

    “Press Y to take angina medicine.”

  7. PaganPoet says:

    I’m glad that GS is upkeeping The Onion’s tradition of making Joe Biden into a bumbling ne’er-do-well.

  8. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

     My ideal video game/toy hybrid would be Dollar Store Adventures.  Instead of each figure activating through a chip in the base, the game comes with nozzle attachment that can read the levels of noxious phthalate gas that wafts out of the toy’s cheap plastic for recognition.
       You can unlock the singular abilities of Batman-symbol Spiderman with two left hands or terrifying army “Force!Solder”, who’s poorly applied paint job makes his eyes look like they’re melting out of his skull. Provide your character a power-up with the Indian bow-and-arrow set glued to a 30’s mobster backing card or replenish their health with the “Assured high-fangled Sandwich kit!”
       We could get the developers of NinjaBread Man for the Wii to make the game portion.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Okay, so you’ve covered the toy section of Dollar Tree, but can I use my slightly off balance wine glasses? My Dora the Adventurer paper plates? Or what about the carton of Mike and Ikes that you sneak into the movie theater because your parents refuse to pay the concession stand prices.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Don’t forget about Barbie knock-off/Sloth hybrid: http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/enhanced/webdr01/2013/8/6/6/enhanced-buzz-29979-1375786237-9.jpg

  9. HobbesMkii says:

    So, Sir, You Are Being Hunted was released as a public alpha very recently (yesterday?). It’s $20. Is the alpha worth it? Keep in mind that I just today spent $24 on the board game Casablanca (also known as Conspiracy is places where they don’t speak German) today. 

    I’m charmed by the idea of the Most Dangerous Game being reenacted by British Robots, but put off by the fact it would mean constant use of stealth mechanics.

    • Fluka says:

      Oh damn, that’s right!  I backed it on KS, so I technically have alpha access right now.  I have a weird aversion to playing pre-release builds, however (just want the finished version, plz!), so I guess I need to wait…  NB: it’s apparently very stealthy game.

    • MintBerry_Crunch says:

      Skulking through the (depressing) British landscape is in itself quite fun! Laying in wait between the blades of grass, pulling out binos that give you a vignette effect as you track for the visors of nefarious Brit bots before scurrying towards a small settlement in search of provisions.

      Having bought it in the small torrent of games released that interest me (Saints Row and Gone Home, I would say wait a bit if it hasn’t sufficiently charmed you—just to see where it goes because I get the inkling it could get a little wearisome after you’ve grown familiar with the standard survival procedures. 

      There are no interiors though! Which the developers have lamented and explained many times. It’s a pity, if only because I really wanted to see those robo visors light up the interior of a room as you survey whether it’s safe or not.

  10. Roswulf says:

    Sam is of course completely right that Disney Infinity is a terrifying commercial monstrosity, but let’s also take a minute to shake our heads at a shining moment of sexist idiocy.

    While Mr. Incredible is included in the standard game, Disney is selling Elastigirl in a “Sidekick pack.” Which…just…ugh…no.

    • Merve says:

      Actually, not a single female character is included in the starter pack: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_Infinity#Featured_characters

      I consider this way worse than GTAV’s failure to include a female protagonist. At least there’s the possibility that GTAV is a commentary on machismo and the American dream. But Disney has a large stable of highly popular female characters to draw on. It seems like they’re actively alienating a large portion of their fanbase; this can’t even be defended on commercial grounds.

      • Roswulf says:

        I do have SOME sympathy for Disney, in that the vast majority of their showcases female characters are not great vehicles for the running-jumping-hitting-people-with-things part of life that the game seems to spotlight, especially after the nightmarish princess branding. Not, you know, a lot of sympathy for Disney, but some. I can see going with Jack Sparrow over Jesse the Cowgirl on commercial grounds.

        The solution of course is to put Elastigirl in the starter pack and sell Mr. Incredible as a #@$*# sidekick.

  11. beema says:

    I has been a long long time since I gave a crap about any new releases. This has not changed that.

  12. DrFlimFlam says:

    As someone who is bought in fully to Skylanders (we have every single character at least once save one that goes for $100+ online), I don’t have any interest in starting all over with Disney Infinity. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun, and the creation tools could extend the gameplay indefinitely, but this stuff is EXPENSIVE. As a core platform concept for a company that was hemhorraging money on terrible games, however, it’s brilliant, because the infrastructure is already there. Just twist the gameplay to meet the franchise and add it to the core experience.

    As for me, with an entire bookshelf full of Skylanders, I’m going to pass.

    Unless they make a Sugar Rush game built on it. Then I have no choice.

    My best guess is that Infinity will be the Rock Band to Skylanders’ Guitar Hero, ushering in the “golden age” of the collectible toy videogame era but also leading us to the precipice. No peripheral wave lasts forever, so Disney better get it while it’s good.

    • Merve says:

      They might release a Sugar Rush game; Vanellope von Schweetz is one of the upcoming characters.

    • mizerock says:

      For many AAA games, I just wait until the “Game of the Year” version comes out, and it usually includes a complete set of DLC for $20.

      … that’s not going to happen in this case, is it?

      Rock Band had a great model, they were able to come out with $10-$25 worth of DLC every week for years and years, and I regret nothing!

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        The one thing I can tell you from my experience is to just be patient. Never pay full price. FOR ANY OF IT.

        The Skylanders Giants starter pack was $40 on sale last Black Friday and often hit that price this summer, and at one point even hit $30 this year. Characters and combo packs were often made available as part of weekly deals (B1G1/2, or Amazon would put the most common ones on individual discount, for example) at local stores and/or online.

        They try to goose full price sales with “special edition” characters, but it’s just part of the collecting gimmic.

        For all the money I put in, I can safely say we really did get our money’s worth. It was the #1 game for FlimFlam Jr. from Christmas through Easter, and he still revisits it occasionally, and the figures will be compatible with the new game as well.

        Which we will buy on sale and wait a long time to get more figures for. Once you pass 50 characters you just kind of slow down.

        • Myles McNutt says:

          To your above point: signs point to no full-scale Sugar Rush experience (Toy Story is the only “game-sized” add-on announced, but Ralph/Venellope figures are coming).

          And to the price question, my going in on Infinity had everything to do with a series of launch sales: 50% figures at Wal-Mart, 50% off playsets at Target, and then 20% off the base game at TRU with a coupon. Without those, I wouldn’t have the game at all: with them, I own thirteen figures.

  13. boardgameguy says:

    Sam apparently believes a newly-married Drew Toal is nothing but a patsy:

    “Since I’m telling you this, it probably means that next Tuesday, Out This Week will be written by someone else (probably a patsy put in place by the government)”

  14. NakedSnake says:

    Wow, apparently Sam Fisher is from Maryland, too! But he’s from Towson, so he’s probably a Ravens fan. 

  15. caspiancomic says:

    I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for games that interface in some way with physical objects, probably due to a childhood spent experimenting with Monster Rancher. I know companies are keen to go the “collectible figurine” route, since they can charge people a fortune to access parts of the game that would come standard (or be unlockable in-game) in any other game, but I think somebody could find success with a game that revisited Monster Rancher’s formula of integrating crap from around the house into gameplay somehow. Maybe a game that comes with a barcode scanner, or a game where you can add to a stockpile of magic spells by inputting ISBNs from your book collection? I dunno, my point is basically that “Monster Rancher was cool.”

  16. Matt Koester says:

    Does Disney Infinity actually have the ability to be, well, infinite? I think if they had an automatically updating platform that they could release new toys for, with new movies being integrated in, it would be a very interesting product. The character selection now is okay, but with a back-catalog like Disney’s, I can name more characters that I would rather have than ones I’d actually want to play as on the roster. Like, if I could fight monsters as any Winnie the Pooh character I’d be happy. 

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I think that’s the idea, though I haven’t experienced it firsthand. It’s got a hub world, and a creation tool, and each character can access their own game world (I do not know about variations within, such as Fix it Felix or Sugar Crush worlds).

      It’s a good idea that seems different enough from Skylanders to be its own thing. I think the hope is that it reverses the trend of licensed games being universally terrible.

    • Myles McNutt says:

      Yes and no. Yes, it can technically work in the sense that new movies can be integrated into the game world through the release of new figures (which starts with the addition of Frozen characters tied to that film’s release in the fall).

      But the LEVEL of integration is the matter of debate: if a character is released without a corresponding playset (a 5-6 hour open world adventure game based in a particularly Disney universe), they are only able to be used in the open world Toy Box mode. So while the platform has the potential—as it did for Lone Ranger or Monsters University—to effectively streamline licensed game development for Disney, the stress of the development cycle means that there is only one additional playset planned (Toy Story, in October) which could keep the “infinite” possibilities feeling limited until they get around to a sequel (which I’d have to bet features a few more animated classics).

  17. DrZaloski says:

    My guess is that each Sam Fisher is actually a clone especially designed to not care about wearing stupid head pieces and to hate Russians.

    Also, the day Disney Infinity is release is the day all parents die a little inside. But not as much as their wallets will!

  18. Andy Tuttle says:

    A couple of my friends have been working on The Bureau since the beginning. I’m glad to see it’s finally coming out.

  19. rvb1023 says:

    Not one mention of Divekick? For shame. For SHAME.

  20. Guillermo Jiménez says:

    “I would never go to the store and buy a Mike Wazowski toy so I could play as Mike Wazowski in a video game…”
    What about Mia Wasikowska?