What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson, writer

The author of Smarter Than You Think relaxes in bullet hell.

By Drew Toal • October 11, 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.

Clive Thompson is a Canadian tech writer, journalist, and blogger who is a regular contributor to Wired and The New York Times Magazine. His most recent book, Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds For The Better was released last month and argues against the idea that over-reliance on Google spells doom for humanity.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Clive Thompson: There’s two games I’ve been playing. One is called Dodonpachi Resurrection. Basically it’s what they call a Japanese “bullet hell” game. I got into it in the arcades back in the ’90s when they first started emerging. I grew up in Toronto, and I was living there until I was 30, and one of the great things about Toronto was that they never had a big moral campaign against horrible arcades ruining our youth the way they had in the U.S. So well into the ’90s they still had a lot of terrific arcades in downtown Toronto. I would go there a lot to blow off steam. The bullet hell games started emerging, and what they are are essentially top-down 2D games, where you’re flying a ship around, and you’re continually flying upward. It’s a vertically scrolling game. What makes them fun is that the enemies come on increasingly fast and furious, and they’re all firing an ungodly amount of bullets at you, to the point where the screen is just filled with mayhem. Within 20 to 30 seconds, you go from starting the game to being pushed to the absolute limit of your perceptual apparatus.

The bullet hell games didn’t even do well in the U.S. at first, because they were just so crazy and insane and demanding. People would die within seconds after putting 50 cents in. Somehow I kind of got into them, and I wasn’t great at them, but I just found them fascinating and compelling because they were so utterly hectic. I didn’t play them for a long time. But the last couple of years they started emerging on the mobile phone. What the Dodonpachi Revolution is, it’s actually a port of an arcade game onto a mobile phone. Again, it’s just this hallucinogenic spray of weapons material. Sometimes you can’t figure out just what the heck it is you’re trying to do. Because they’re so hard to play and you die so quickly, the other nice thing about them is that I don’t play them for two hours, the way I would if I sat down with Skyrim or something. You start working on a quest, you look up and…

Gameological: It’s two months later.

Thompson: Exactly. So the nice thing about the bullet hell game, because it is inherently so impossible to play, you’re dying pretty quickly, and it’s a really great interstitial moment to just sort of clean out my brain in the middle of doing a bunch of reporting or eating lunch or something like that. I’ve also been playing this delightful little adventure game called Reaper: Tale Of A Pale Swordsman. It’s a nice little game that is distinguished by the fact that it has a really terrific set of fight controls based on a bunch of up, downs, swipes, and taps on the screen. I’ve found a lot of attempts at RPG games on the phone sort of flounder over the control mechanisms. They’re sort of trying to emulate game pad controls, and it just doesn’t work very well. Where as this one they just made a bunch of swipe controls, and each one is kind of cool and intuitive, and they all chain together in unpredictable ways. The truth is I’ve always been more of a twitch gamer. I’ve always gravitated more toward those games. I always wished I was one of those people that were like I’m really into Civilization III because I really like the idea of building a civilization over four months. But I’m really just someone who wants to get in there and wreak havoc for like five minutes.

Gameological: The phone works pretty well for that kind of thing.

Thompson: Yeah, it is. And like I said, because you can sort of pull it out and do it, I find that a bunch of my game systems kind of languish for a long time. When you sit down with a console, you’re really making a statement that I’m going to sit here for an hour or hours. And, you know, I’ve got a couple young kids and a job, and I’ve written about this in the past, is that one of the problems with really big immersive games is that you have to play them for like three hours to get deep enough into the problem that they’re facing, so you’re really enjoying what’s deep and complex about the experience. If you only play for 20 minutes, you spend the first 15 minutes just sort of getting back into the groove of how the game works, figuring out what the problem space is, figuring out the controls, and then you play for five minutes. So they’re exquisitely unsatisfying if you play them in increments less than five hours.

Gameological: It’s really difficult to reengage with those games if you’ve put them down for any length of time.

Thompson: Yes, exactly. When they say a game has 40 hours of play, what they mean is that this game has 40 hours of play if you play basically non-stop. If you break it up in any way it becomes 80 hours of play, and it becomes a chore by that time. But I’m not really a fan of the casual click management games, you know. I don’t like casual games on that level either. So I think I really found a bunch of games that really hit that sweet spot for me that are portable on the phone. I haven’t pulled it out in awhile, but my DS has a lot of games like that too. One of the things I’ve always like about the Mario games for the DS is that they’re kind of fractal. You actually can get in there and play for ten minutes and have an absolute blast, and you can also play for four hours without feeling like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. I think that’s actually the peculiar genius of the Mario genre; the fun scales from three minutes to three hours.

Gameological: Your book argues that, contrary to many doomsayers, technology as it is currently arrayed is a net good—that it’s not making us dumber and atrophying natural abilities. Does this apply to games as well?

Thompson: You know, actually I don’t talk much about games in the book, apart from my education section. In a weird way, I think it’s because I’ve always been suspicious of arguments that games improve our mind or somehow improve our skills, because to me they’re an artistic entertainment form, and I don’t turn to art to sort of make me more productive and more efficient. In fact, sometimes I turn to art to make me less efficient and less productive and unhappy, frankly. So there has been this attempt over the last 10 years or so by people like me, who grew up playing video games, to sort of argue that these are good things. That they’re not horrible experiences for kids. They’re not going to turn them into robots or violent monsters. And one of the first lines of attack was to make a counter argument, that games increase your spatial awareness and all these things. I’ve always regarded that as not only beside the point, but maybe a bad point. Art shouldn’t have to justify itself on the level of how it improves our lives. It’s intended to be a metaphysically, or spiritually, or culturally interesting and thoughtful and entertaining and troubling experience, and that’s what games do when they’re really good. So in one sense, I could care less whether they make us smarter or better people, in the same way that I’ve often defended games when people say oh they’re just time wasters. I’m like, yeah, I’m not sure wasting time is always a bad thing. The phrase “wasting time” implies that every moment on Earth should be spent productively, which is some Ben Franklin-like nightmare if you ask me. I enjoy, to use Walt Whitman’s phrase, these moments of idle loafing, you know, where I’m simply being alive, and games are shockingly good at doing that.

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.

[Photo: Tom Igoe]

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  • rvb1023

    Just beat Beyond: Two Souls, might try to see some different scenes before I drop it to try and blast through SMTIV so I can hit Pokemon X ASAP.

    After that no major purchases until the PS4.

    • Gryffle

      I guess I’ll be crawling my way through FarCry 3, which I picked up on PS+. At this point I really don’t care about the story, the side-quests, the levelling-up, the crafting, or the gathering of hundreds of different pointless collectibles. I just want to take out those enemy bases. Man, that’s fun.

      • PPPfive

        It is right! Ignore the god awful characters and story and just do that, I had a blast with it. The hunting and crafting is fun too

      • GaryX

        The much talked about weed farm mission is probably the best that game gets. If it just went full steam with that kind of trippy absurdity, it would have been a much better game.

        • Gryffle

          That was a pretty sweet mission. In fact, anything that involves lighting stuff on fire seems to be a winner in this game. The side-quests are the most tacked on, boring junk though: Talk to some guy, travel 100m, talk to some other guy, fire your gun into the air, quest complete. Seriously?

    • Chum Joely

      So, regarding Beyond: Impressions? (or did I miss your comments on it in the review article?)

      • rvb1023

         If you have played Heavy Rain, you know what you are getting. The writing has again improved (though still not what I would call good), the overall plot and structure isn’t very good, and David Cage just throws ideas at the project and hope it will all somehow work.

        Despite this there are some genuine good moments and some interesting ideas at play, much like Heavy Rain. I still like to think this kind of game can work, it just requires a better writer and more visible acknowledgement of your choices. There is more to it than that, but Cage has yet to prove he is up to the challenge of making a game like this. In the future he has to be less reliant on tropes and more focused in storytelling. His writing has been getting better and since now he apparently works with bigger name actors they go along way in carrying the script for him.

        • Pun-Expected Dave

          In the comments for the review, I noted that Cage’s games create a disconnect between the player and the character. That’s not a criticism; I think that’s a perfectly valid way to design a game.

          The problem I have is with the weakness of Cage’s stories rather than the storytelling method itself.

        • rvb1023

           @$57124394:disqus I agree with that sentiment as I would never want to narrow what a designer wanted to do. Cage is just a bit too big for his britches. I meant to say his stories lack focus and strong central narratives, given Cage’s tendencies to spend a lot of time with the mundane.

        • Chum Joely

          I have indeed played & finished Heavy Rain, and although it was interesting and kept me engaged throughout the game, I’m not especially looking to repeat the experience.

          In particular, the treatment of the female character in Heavy Rain, Madison (?), was incredibly irritating to me and I’m not sure that I want to see that happen to Ellen Page, so to speak. The Madison character was supposed to be a “tough chick” but she sure seemed to spend a lot of time unnecessarily naked and/or dancing sexily to get what she needed in the murder investigation or whatever.

        • Chum Joely

          I have indeed played & finished Heavy Rain, and although it was interesting and kept me engaged throughout the game, I’m not especially looking to repeat the experience.

          In particular, the treatment of the female character in Heavy Rain, Madison (?), was incredibly irritating to me and I’m not sure that I want to see that happen to Ellen Page, so to speak. The Madison character was supposed to be a “tough chick” but she sure seemed to spend a lot of time unnecessarily naked and/or dancing sexily to get what she needed in the murder investigation or whatever.

    • ZTO

      What starter you thinking of going with? It’s broken down to a water ninja, a fire mage, and a grass tank, if you haven’t been following the leaks.

      • Pun-Expected Dave

        But you can also pick the Original 3 starters!

        • GaryX

          This is my problem. Obviously, Froakie is the numero uno starter, BUT obviously, Squirtle is the true OG pokemon, ready to make all other bitches bow.

          It’s a tough decision to make.

        • ZTO

          I mean, yeah a Blastoise with 6 more cannons is kind of cool, but a fire/dragon charizard? That’s kind of the coolER. Or hot because fire and dragons. 

      • rvb1023

         Dragon Charizard is really my choice, it may me flop to X over Y. The final evolutions from the new starters were all disappointing to me, so probably frog ninja because ninja or Fire/Psychic because I like the typing.

        I’m more looking forward to having a team of nothing but Mega-Evolutions of my favorite guys: Charizard, Tyranitar, Houndoomed, Gengar, Garchomp, Aggron, Mewtwo, etc.

        • ZTO

          That’s a really solid team and I don’t think you can lose on the choice of chars. They both sound pretty awesome. I would say Char Y is the hands-down better one, but drought is getting nerfed to last only 5 turns, so it’s not clear it’s straight-up better than tough nails. Also, that 4x weakness to stealth rock isn’t the best thing ever. Flip side is that dragons are getting beat up really bad by Fairy types immunity to/super-effective-ness against dragons. Not too sure it will pay off to be a dragon is the new meta.

          Only other thing I was thinkin’ is that Gengar gains Shadow tag in the mega-evolution, but he’s typically a life orb user. I’m not sure he’ll actually get BETTER by mega-evolving.

          And I’m no glad Aggron’s getting a mega. He’s way too cool to have such crap stats. Hopefully, he’ll come back as a sweet tank in this new meta.

  • zerocrates

    A missing </i> tag at the end of the article?

    Things seem more italic down here than normal.

    • HobbesMkii

      No, you just have always been leaning off to your right, so now that you’ve straightened up, everything seems to be slanted.

      • Chum Joely

        This may actually be true: After playing through some of the Rayman Legends levels in “Living Dead Party” (i.e. all of the musical speed-run levels “remixed” with annoyingly distorted visuals of various types), at about 30 run-throughs each before beating the damn things, I noticed that my entire field of view was persistently drifting rightwards, presumably in some sort of visual overcompensation for the rapidly leftward-scrolling images of the levels.

        “Living Dead Party” is incredibly disappointing compared to the thrillingly impossible Land of the Livid Dead in Rayman Origins. This may be the factor that gives Origins the final upper hand over Legends in my mind.

        • PPPfive

          Guitar Hero/ Rock Band is notorious for this scrolling vision. I was also let down by the end of Rayman Origins, though I love the game to pieces. I hate it that all the ’8 bit’ versions of the songs are very shitty midi versions

        • CrabNaga

          Yup. Land of the Livid Dead was way better than Livid Dead Party. “”"8-bit”"” remixes of the musical levels with (as you said) annoying visual traits does not a good reward make. 

      • zerocrates

        My alternate working theory is that everyone here has been struck with temporary pathological enthusiasm!

        • Chum Joely

          (suddenly snaps back to normal, unenthusiastic self)

          I think I might play a single Sudoku puzzle this weekend. After that, start getting my 2013 tax documents ready.

          Sigh.

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

          I was terrified that you all were reading my private thoughts for a moment.  It wasn’t so much that you had access to my mind, but more that my primary thoughts were apparently about B-level tactics role-playing games.

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

    Canadian Thanksgiving! So on the road to visit family, which means if I play anything it’ll be portable. I’m thinking there’s going to be a lot of Mario 3D Land and Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      Whoo! Canadian long weekend!

      Oh, Caaaaanadaaaaa

      • Chum Joely

        Get this, muthafuckaz: I have Friday off of work as well. FOUR-DAY CANADIAN LONG WEEKEND !!!!

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          That’s an extra day for volunteer work! Hooray Canada!

    • a_scintillating_comment

      Won’t anybody think of THE TURKEYS?!

      • Pun-Expected Dave

        God as my witness, I thought Angry Birds could fly.

    • HobbesMkii

      In America, we call Canadian Thanksgiving “Columbus Day.” They made an episode of the Sopranos about it.

  • PaganPoet

    I just realized that there is new DLC for Guacamelee! So…that.

  • HobbesMkii

    Probably some more GTA Online. They appear to have straightened out most of the problems, but the first thing you see when you log in now is a black box instructing you on how not to lose your character.

    • PPPfive

      that’s cool, I played it for a bit last weekend and when it was working, it was really, really fun. Looking forward to getting on it tonight

    • CrabNaga

      This. I’ve been fully indoctrinated into GTA Online now. I’ve almost got enough in the bank to buy one of the swankier apartments (with a 10-car garage). I love that it’s so varied that once I get sick of doing one thing (like co-op missions), I can go off and do another thing (like a race) relatively painlessly.

      Also this (although you need to have a Social Club account to see it).

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

        You weren’t kidding that she looks like a more badass Olivia Munn.

    • Carlton_Hungus

      Agreed with GTA Online.  I’m hooked on the survival jobs.  

      Although I must say I’m a bit bummed.  I just saved up about $200k through racing and being frugal, and was getting ready to get a 10 car garage in a decent, although not super swanky part of town, and BAM!  They drop the news that everyone is getting $500k for the server trouble, enough to buy the nicest apartment in the game!

      Obviously there’s still a lot to spend that money on (namely cars to fill said garage), and I can’t really think of any other sort of user gift they could have given since nobody is getting there character back, but it’ll definitely shake up the real estate market over the next few weeks.

      Although … perhaps a savvy investor could diversify from his sandwich heavy portfolio into real estate stocks.

      • HobbesMkii

        What? When did that happen? I just bought an $80,000 apartment in the crappy part of town!

        Oh well, I guess I’ll buy a 10-car garage.

        • Carlton_Hungus

          It was announced this morning I believe.  It hasn’t actually happened yet, they’re going to be making two deposits of $250k.  The first sometime around the end of next week and the second at the end of the month.

  • Cloks

    Video games are for dumb losers (and you cool guys and gals) so I’ll be playing board games, which are for cool winners. I’ll probably get in some Bang!, Seven Wonders and Pandemic and maybe some Space Alert and Puerto Rico. I’ll also continue with MGS and Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, time permitting. I guess I’m also playing the waiting game (the waiting game sucks, let’s play hungry, hungry hippos) as I wait to hear back from a company that I interviewed with on Tuesday.

    • Chum Joely

      Good luck! What industry? And what, in your opinion, is your probability of getting the job?

      • Cloks

        Consulting and developing enterprise software solutions. I’d say that I have a good chance of getting the job, because the interviewers seemed to like me and I knew my shit.

        Also, thanks!

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Neat, good luck!

        • Chum Joely

          Ooh, enterprise software solutions. So sexy.

          I joke, but that’s my (very broad) domain too: specifically, “enterprise content management”. Business-to-business can be crazy– get ready for all those exciting client interactions…

    • boardgameguy

      good luck with the job. also, good luck with the board gaming. i’m not a fan of puerto rico, but everything else i can definitely get down with. my puerto rico replacement recommendation: race for the galaxy.

      • Cloks

        Like boardgameguy knows anything about board games.

        I’ll look into it! I’ve heard good things, I was thinking of getting some more space themed stuff like that, Galaxy Trucker or Twilight Imperium.

        • boardgameguy

          galaxy trucker is another game that i rate a 10. absolutely great, but a different mechanic than puerto rico

  • aklab

    This was a really interesting interview, especially in light of all the “but are games art?” discussions happening around Beyond: Two Souls this week.

    I started playing AssCreed II this week, because I bought it in a sale long ago and also so I can call it AssCreed II in online discussion forums. I find it alternately really boring and really engaging, so who knows how long I’ll stick with it. And the voice acting is sooo cringeworthy. But on the plus side, I love assassinatin’.

    • Citric

      I’ve got a game of AssCreed II going too, I’m also conflicted about whether I like it or not. If nothing else, leaping along rooftops is always delightful, even if the streamlined controls mean Ezio does all sorts of things I don’t want him to do.

      He’s more efficient at killing people than Altair, they don’t seem to have time to tell him their life story, but he does kind of announce his presence that one time, which is a bad idea for an assassin.

      • aklab

        Running along the rooftops is definitely my favorite part so far. The kids came in while I was doing so, and said, “whoa! This is just like Mirror’s Edge! Except you’re not falling all the time, dad!”

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

      He has really good taste, too, especially since he seems not to know too much about the history/background of Cave.

    • huge_jacked_man

      ACII is the most atrociously boring game I’ve played this year, I think I played about 5 hours of it before giving up. And this is coming from someone who soldiered through the entirety of both L.A. Noire and Red Faction: Guerilla the month before. 

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         Red Faction Guerilla?  Boring!?!?  Son, you do know there are cheat codes that let you run as fast as a car, leap over tall buildings and send people flying with your hammer of thor, don’t ya?

        That game is a go-to-goodtime on par with Just Cause 2 in my book.

        • huge_jacked_man

          If a game needs cheat codes to be fun then it’s not a fun game. RF:G is basically like playing a GTA where everything is brown, every car handles like the garbage truck and you shoot at the same 2 enemies for 15 hours.

          The only remotely fun things in that game were the destruction challenges and they only had like 5 of them total. 

    • a_scintillating_comment

      I’ve played all five, and upon reflection ACII is the best game–total package, how it all comes together, etc. I hope you enjoy. Also, I think I’m in a small minority when I say Revelations is the best iteration of the AC formula.

  • Chum Joely

    I have tomorrow off by choice, and Monday off for Canadian Thanksgiving by federal law, so there should be significant gaming afoot.

    Binding of Isaac has defeated me on a deep emotional level. I got to the final boss, “Mom”, and ground her down to within 1-2 hits of victory (no visible health bar)… and then I died. My laptop remains in one piece, by some miracle. But I won’t be playing it anymore for a while.

    I still hope to beat XCOM: Enemy Unknown this weekend, like last. But with BoI out of the way, it could really happen this time. I played a ton of it this summer (on iPad, actually, and on Normal difficulty), and after a 2-month hiatus, I have digested the painful lessons of that challenging time and re-shuffled a number of my strategies for my Easy playthrough on PS3 (which I had started well before the aborted Normal one on iPad). Encouraging results so far. I hope to start fast-track construction on my 2nd through 5th Firestorm fighters as soon as payday rolls around on the first of the month, and move from there into total alien domination.

    Might try to move forward with Mark of the Ninja on PC, or else just go shooterly and return to either Spec Ops: The Line if I’m feeling serious, or Far Cry/Blood Dragon if I’m not. Possible issue: I am not very good at shooters, and at least Spec Ops is definitely hard.

    • Ah_good_the_sea

      I’m taking a self-imposed break from my Classic Ironman XCOM playthrough on the PS3 after losing 5 soldiers in a botched abduction mission earlier in the week. It was particularly galling as I’d managed to maneuver two units back to the extraction point while taking down 4 Mutons and avoiding a roaming cyberdisk only to lose my Support Lieutenant to a slight glitch – I hadn’t ended his turn before aborting, so the Skyranger left without him. I don’t know if this is a console version quirk or what, but lesson learned.

      Good luck with your own playthrough!

      • Chum Joely

        Weird, I’m sort of amazed that such a thing can even happen, but I’m sure it was painful. I’ve also frequently quit (for a while…) after killer missions like that– I tend to get really attached to my crew, and only rarely even recruit new soldiers, so when I have occasionally lost 4, 5 or god forbid 6 soldiers at one go, it’s an incredibly hard blow in many ways.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    Wow, I really dug his answer to that last question. So many times I see people wanting to kneejerk against that “do videogames cause violence?” thing that it makes me kind of uncomfortable the lengths people go to defend it. Like, I’m all for not censoring stuff, but I admit that consuming a lot of violent art and imagery has an adverse affect on me probably.

    As for this weekend, I still don’t have a 3DS and probably won’t being doing much gaming. Maybe I’ll chip away at Metroid Prime 3 which I started over the week, but mostly I plan on watching some movies and drinking. Wooooo.

    • Enkidum

      I really like that last paragraph in the interview. Stuff doesn’t have to be “good for you” or whatever – you can’t spend your whole life on the couch, but when you are, why not sink into something kinda fun and dumb?

    • DrFlimFlam

      I generally really enjoyed his approach to discussing games. He knows them, appreciates them, and understands how they’re not 100%.

    • Ah_good_the_sea

       Yeah, I thought his answer was great, and quite apt given the release of Beyond: Two Souls this week. Too many industry professionals and commentators still seem convinced that they need to justify or legitimise games.

  • Enkidum

    Looks like it’s going to be some Kingdoms of Amalur because it was the download last week with PS+ and it’s pretty fun, definitely worth paying nothing for. Very generic setting/quests/storyline, but the combat’s good and there looks to be some deep customization. Shame the company imploded.

    I spent a while reading the comments on the Gamespot and IGN reviews of the game, and IGN gave it a 9, calling it a contender for the game of the year (which it isn’t), and got a bunch of irate comments saying there’s no way it should be higher than a 7, should be a 0, etc. Then Gamespot rated it a 7.5, and got a bunch of irate comments saying that there’s no way it should be less than a 9, best game ever, Skyrim sucks, yadda yadda yadda. Both sites contained numerous people saying that the reviewer needed to be canned or at least was grossly incompetent.

    What I’m saying is, John Teti needs to be fired.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I too have entered the nonsensical, info-dump rich world of Amalur thanks to PS+. It’s a real monkey’s paw having R.A. Salvatore write your game, because it will provide you with a certain amount of fantasy nerd interest, but then you’ll have a game written by R.A. Salvatore.
       But I’m still a sucker for this kind of fantasy cornball shit, so I’m looking forward to playing more.
        And really, all game journalists should be fired. Games should only be reviewed by a council of IGN Commentors. Like the National Guard. They’ll be on rotation. 

      • Enkidum

        What are you playing as? I’m just a straight up mage, totally ignoring all other rogue/warrior equipment and upgrades for the time being.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I’m doing a Melee/rogue build, but haven’t leveled up enough to see what that yields. I like the bow, but I’m going to have to dump a lot of points into archery, I think, to make it more valuable than something you do to kill time waiting for the enemy to get into melee range.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        ‘But I’m still a sucker for this kind of fantasy cornball shit’. Man, doesn’t that just sum me up as well. I got it off PS+ as well, and have been fighting the urge to play it.

        • Enkidum

          Eh, if you’ve got an infinite amount of time I’d recommend it. It’s good, just generic.

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

      How far are you into Amalur? I played it for a while a few months ago, but I only got about 8 hours in. It’s not as if I disliked the game, but there’s so much to do, it’s hard to know what should be done. When I’m faced with 20 different quests, all I want to do is go set crates on fire.

      • Enkidum

        That’s about where I am. I just got to the… uh… something of Ballads and am going to go kick the shit out of some vine monster or something so I can become an honorary elf, I think.

        (Yeah, s’kind of generic.)

        Anyways, doesn’t matter what you do, there are ALWAYS crates to set on fire.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        I know what you mean! When I have to do anything more than take the trash out, clean the cats’ litter tray, or make some food I often consider if it’d be easier to just set the apartment on fire and call it a night.

        • Enkidum

          So what’s stopping you?

        • a_scintillating_comment

          I guess it’s just as much work. I will try Amalur out though, and thanks for the warning.

    • dreadguacamole

       KoA is a tough one. I keep thinking I should like it a lot more than I do, and have returned to it twice since starting it… but still can’t bring myself to finish it. I loved the first five hours, but the further I got into it the more playing it felt like a chore, like an MMORPG with really good combat.
       I still got a good fifteen/twenty hours or so out of it, so I’m not complaining. If you haven’t, check out Dragon’s Dogma, which (to me) feels like a game that tries to do many similar things, and does them a lot better. Except for the plot.
       Maybe difficulty is the key? I never really felt threatened in KoA, mainly because I’m a completionist and thus was over-levelled whenever I got to a new zone. Whereas Dragon’s Dogma takes its queues from the likes of Dark Souls.

      • Enkidum

        Yeah, I’m thinking of switching to Hard difficulty. A lot of the reviews (and an interview with the developer) mention that they really weren’t going for challenge.

    • indy2003

      Yeah, I’m planning to jump into that one once I’m done with GTA V. Glad PS+ put it up there for free, as I had thought about purchasing it numerous times and never could convince myself to do it.

    • GaryX

      Teti should be fired. He’d probably only give that game a 800 word review when really it should get at least a 950 word review. Fuckin NOOB.

      • Enkidum

        And he wouldn’t even give it a grade, so how would we know how wrong he was to a decimal point?

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    My offspring was birthed four years ago, so family will be caravaning into town for the weekend, bringing rare ambergris,  disease infested rats, and hopefully fresh news of the King’s successor with them.
     Normally this would mean no video games and lots of compensatory drinking, but I think tomorrow night we’re going to do a big outing to a local retro arcade and get our Galaga on.
      So then there will actually be lots of video games and lots of just the regular celebratory drinking. 

    • Chum Joely

      Congrats! Every year is a major accomplishment for the parents as well!

    • DrFlimFlam

      Good job keeping the child alive this long.

      Of course after the first year it’s less about what you do and more about what you can keep them from doing to themselves.

    • PhilWal0

      Precious hamburgers?

      • Pun-Expected Dave

        Next to the retro arcade is a joint that does a Whale’s Belly Burger. It’s just like pork belly, except it has an unbelievably pungent fish odor.

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

    I’ve long had an interest in Flight-Plan who were most well-known for the mediocre Summon Night tactics games but who really excelled occasionally with Dragon Shadow Spell (Playstation 2 Japan-only must-play) and Sacred Blaze.  They’re like the Data East of the 2000s.  They closed and became Apollosoft, who did Blue Roses: The Fairy And The Blue-Eyed Soldiers.

    ANYWAY, they have a Nippon Ichi-published game called Battle Princess Of Arcadias out, and it looks like a beat-’em-up inflection on the Saturn’s Dragon Force series, which is awesome.  It got ”just good” Famitsu scores, but they don’t count these days.  http://www.siliconera.com/2013/09/26/battle-princess-arcadia-shows-character-swapping-morale-battle

    In other news, thanks, everyone, for crowdsourcing city suggestions last week.  I really did consider them.  Having desperately searched for a position for months after abandoning a dream job hampered by a sexist, severe, emotionally fragile (if incredibly smart) boss, I passed on the great jobs I did get to go for a dream education job in Saint Paul that I may not.  I’d make a cheesy game metaphor, but this is 1 of the rare times in my life where I didn’t make the sensible decision and it’s legitimately terrifying.  It’s a mediocre contingency plan or lots of responsibility, visibility, and (relatively) cash.  Here’s hoping.

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

    I found this interview super-insightful. A lot of commenters have mentioned the last paragraph – and I think it’s spot-on – but I also think the explanation for why mobile gaming fits into Mr. Thompson’s life was quite interesting. I know that a lot of hardcore gamers deride mobile games as casual garbage, and I’ll fully admit not to playing any such games myself. But for a lot of people, mobile gaming is exactly what fits into their busy lifestyles. Speaking of my own life, I find that I’m often way too busy to find time for games, because I know I need to block off an hour or so to really get into a video game. So as I grow older, I’m starting to see the appeal of mobile, casual gaming more and more.

    This weekend, I’m probably playing some combination of Mark of the Ninja and Max Payne 3. To be frank, I’m not enjoying either very much. The former is repetitive and clunky. I’ve been told it controls fluidly with a controller, but on mouse and keyboard, it feels like trying to run into the wind. As for the latter, the sheer volume of enemies becomes wearying to fight after a while, and because there are just SO MANY of them, the whole game feels absolutely ridiculous. Once I’m done with these games, I think I might need to take a break by diving back into a game I genuinely enjoy. I’ve still got some Dishonored, New Vegas, and Sleeping Dogs DLC to do.

    • Enkidum

      Which Sleeping Dogs DLC? I haven’t done Year of the Snake, but I went through the zombie one and the Bruce Lee one (been a while, can’t remember the names). It was cool to spend a little while longer in that world, and they did a very loving homage to the genres they were borrowing from/spoofing.

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

        I’ve done the Halloween one (Nightmare in North Point). I haven’t yet done the detective one (Year of the Snake), the racing one (Wheels of Fury), or the kung-fu one (Zodiac Tournament).

        I quite enjoyed Nightmare in North Point. You’re basically fighting the same enemies over and over again, but I liked the goofy take on the game’s setting. Plus it’s just really fun to say “jiangshi.”

        • Enkidum

          My wife’s Chinese and used to have nightmares about jiangshi. Apparently they hop around like that because of rigor mortis. The more you know. She said the game looked very legit, then went back to ignoring me wasting my life in ways that Benjamin Franklin would disapprove of.

        • dreadguacamole

          I can really, really recommend year of the snake – enjoyed it immensely. It completely nails the feel of cheesy hong-kong movies (more so than the main campaign, I thought,) and the missions are a lot of fun.

      • DrFlimFlam

        I did not realize that Hsien-Ko is a jiangshi until I started looking them up just now.

    • DrFlimFlam

      My big problem with much of mobile gaming is how much of it isn’t actual fun; it’s just about finding ways to get you addicted to a minimal dopamine rush, and then charging you for it repeatedly.

      I’m starting the think the real apps worth buying are more likely to be $5-10; more of those are complete experiences with or without in-app purchases.

      Also, board games are great on iPad.

    • CrabNaga

      Mobile gaming as a concept is fine. I consider myself a “hardcore” gamer, and I can definitely see the value in playing something simple on your phone, like Plants vs Zombies 2 or Bejeweled Blitz. It’s just something to do while you’re waiting around. It’s the games that are glorified “insert coin to win” games that I have an issue with, like Candy Crush.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Does playing the DLC give you a chance to get skill points you may have missed during the main campaign?  I maxed out my Triad, Melee and Face skills, but missed the last point in Cop.

    • Kyle O’Reilly

      Fur real, Merve, if you’re into PC gaming you need to just take the plunge and drop $30 bucks on a wired Xbox Controller, Super Meat Boy, Braid, Mark of the Ninja, and Fez are just a few of the games that feel way way better with a controller on PC and it allows you to take advantage of Steam’s rockin “Big Picture Mode” with nothing more than an HDTV and HDMI cable.

      Buy it and give poor Markie Mark Ninja a second chance.

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

        *whines* But that costs moneeeeeeyyyyyy!

        Seriously, though, I’m so bad with controllers that I’d probably be worse with one than with mouse and keyboard controls. I think I’ll eventually have to take the plunge and just get better with one if I want to experience all these indie games. I discovered the other day that Derrick the Deathfin is practically unplayable with keyboard controls.

        *sigh* When did gaming turn into work?

        • Kyle O’Reilly

          When we were given the ability to access hundreds of thousands of games with ease.  That’s when it became work.

          Also when you got old.  That too.

    • djsubversive

      Whoa. Hold the phone. You had all summer to play the New Vegas DLCs, like you said you were going to do, and you still haven’t done it? The Sierra Madre, Zion National Park, BIG MOUNTAIN, and The Divide are waiting. If nothing else, just play Dead Money because it’s the best one.

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

        I’ll do ittttttt… eventually…

        *sigh* To quote myself from upthread, when did gaming turn into work?

  • SirExal

    I’ve been playing Rune Factory 4, even if the sheer card space it takes up on my 3DSXL means I’ll have to invest in a new SD card for the inevitable Phoenix Wright: DD purchase. 

    It still has the pacing problem every Harvest Moon type game has had since the godawful A Wonderful Life, namely that when there’s enough time in the day to do everything you can do in a day, things get repetitive and boring very, very quickly.  Fortunately, the dungeons, monsters, and prince features keep ennui from setting in, even if it’s still best played while watching tv or overlong web videos at the same time.

    Combine that with hilarious descriptions ([You shear the wool off the Wooly in winter despite the cold], because that’s how you roll. You monster), occasional surprises, and the good old-fashioned fun of farming, and it’s well worth a purchase, especially for us continually relapsing Harvest Moon fanboys.

    Also, Spider-Woman, one of my preferred party members in the Avengers Facebook game, got a major-league buff.  This made me inordinately joyful.

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

      I think that’s why Rune Factory has remained popular, but I thought this past generation’s games were really good (and consensus seemed to settle on 1 of them being the best since 64).  Thoughts?

      • SirExal

         Mayhaps.  I actually haven’t played all that many, the most recent being A Tale of Two Towns, which had the pacing issues in spades.  (You have enough time to talk to everyone in town, walk over the mountain, talk to everyone there too, and still get back in time for nightfall. Geez.)

  • djsubversive

    probably more Arma 3 editing. I have the basics set up for a couple of missions – one is a spec-ops team “tasked with eliminating key structures and personnel on the island of Stratis.” The team enters by submersible, and has to meet their local contact at a building near the shore. But he’s dead! And whoever killed him stole your intel! Oh no! Get it back! Also, there’s a laptop with some notes about other things going on (side-missions: secure the artillery being kept at a lighthouse and rescue a hostage at a nearby camp). At the camp with the hostage, there’s also a destroyed tank that can be rebuilt by finding and returning three trucks (ammo, repair, fuel). And there’s a mission to blow up radio transmission towers because blowing things up is fun.

    It’s still not done – I haven’t placed enough soldiers or supplies on the island, and I haven’t really even done anything in the southern half apart from renaming one of the military camps Fort Kickass and sticking a small Independent group there. Oh, and the minefield covering Girna. I was checking out the minefield module. :)

    The other one is less military man-shooty and more of a “tactical heist.” You’re part of a four-man crew whose goal is to get at least $5000 worth of loot from a town. You can go for the “big score” (a house occupied by enemies and a couple of cargo crates that represent a drug shipment) and get all the money at once, but it’s more dangerous. Or you can sneak around and find the hidden briefcases and shops with cash registers. When the crew collects more than $5000, the “get loot” task completes and the “make your getaway” task starts, which leads the players up the road to an empty warehouse building with a helicopter parked next to it. Eventually, I want to have the players escape to an actual safehouse somewhere (whether by helicopter, truck, or just running through the woods).

    Right now, the heist mission (and to a lesser extent, Operation Bring Tha Noise) is more of a testing situation for some new scripts and functions that I’m learning. Like the crew’s money – it’s a variable that gets added to (or subtracted from – there’s a group of mercenaries you can hire to provide extra firepower when hitting the drug house, and getting them to behave properly was its own set of problems). The other thing I’m playing with is Event Handlers – specifically, having something happen when any of the players in the crew fire a weapon (they go from being treated as neutral by the ‘authorities’ and ‘citizens’ I’ve scattered around town to being “shoot on sight” hostile). Right now, that’s just a handful of people in places with loot and a single four-man patrol of “police officers,” which are just BluFor soldiers dressed in cop-like clothes.

    I might also play some Payday 2, State of Decay, Warframe (the UI got a pretty major overhaul since last time I played, also there are other things that got updated/tweaked/fixed), Torchlight II (for some reason), and/or a free game on Steam that I just discovered today, Tactical Intervention. It’s a Source-engine fps by one of the co-designers of Counter-strike. But there’s hostages and driving missions (but it’s Source). It has some neat ideas (rappelling down the side of a building and smashing through a window, blind-firing over cover, using hostages as human shields) and some problems (rappelling is less-than-smooth, the driving is horrible and it’s still a source-based FPS). It could be pretty fun with a group of not-random-assholes. Thankfully, you can mute people.

    • NakedSnake

      Hey, how about an Arma III mod-related spoiler tag, buddy? Now how am I supposed to enjoy the twists and tuens in Operarion Bring Tha Noise?

      • djsubversive

        Don’t worry, Operation Bring Tha Noise still has some twists. I didn’t mention the… nevermind.

    • a_scintillating_comment

      Hey, how’s the, forgive the pun, state of ‘state of decay’? Is the early access version quite playable?

      • djsubversive

        Yes, it’s the whole game. The devs are working on kbam, but it’s not officially supported yet. Modders have already found the few keyboard controls that are, I guess, built into the engine they’re using, of course, and Undead Labs seems to be cool with it. There are multiple threads about it on the official forum, and the dev response was basically “don’t get too worked up about legacy code, but go ahead and use it if you want until we’re finished.” Not all the controls are mapped, and the button prompts for menus and actions are unchanged, but it’s possible to use a keyboard if you absolutely have to (or wait until it’s released). I’ve also been seeing stuff for the unreleased survival mode DLC (an icon for the RV and Potential Home Sites out in the world). Occasionally I’ll have issues navigating the Facilities menu, but that could be my controller.

        Graphically, it’s not too bad, but there are some issues. I have a 16:9 monitor, but there’s no support for 16:10 (just 4:3 and 16:9), no ‘advanced’ graphics options, just resolution and a general low/medium/high/ultra setting (ultra has some pretty noticeable built-in motion blur). There are graphical glitches that occur semi-regularly (at least a few times every play session) – mostly pink/white ‘flashes,’ almost like missing textures. They happen more frequently at dawn and dusk, but can occur any time (more often during the day, it seems, but I haven’t done any hard testing). Zombies sometimes clip into fences and walls. I’ve read about a bunch of people just getting black screens and being unable to play, but I haven’t been affected by that. Performance-wise, I only really encountered slowdown a couple of times, not counting the tunnel between the tutorial area and the town, which I assume is a loading thing (it always slows down in the same place, in almost the exact same manner every time). I think I had one crash-to-desktop, but after it happened, I realized that I had minimized SimCity 4 about a half-hour before I started playing, and it had been running a city with about 500,000 people in it the whole time. So that is totally not Undead Labs’ fault.

        It’s definitely unpolished, but the PC version is shaping up to be more than just a straight-up port. If you can handle some graphical strangeness, don’t use a 16:10 monitor, and don’t mind the keyboard support ‘coming soon,’ it’s worth it for the resource scavenging, limited supplies, permadeath, base management (limited, but there’s some), useless survivor traits (Slacker Alcoholic Pack-a-day Ex-College Student with the Beer Pong skill? sure!), Home Events, and something else. Oh yeah, zombies, and the bashing thereof.

  • patagonianhorsesnake

    i’m all for a book that’s not about how doom, doom approaches, all souls shall burn. so go this guy.

    this weekend i’m hanging out with my parents, which means trivial pursuit, and i will lose to them, as i have since childhood. it is the way of the world.

    also my dad and i will play rayman origins on their wii. my parents had a system of that generation years before i did, they will probably get a wii u soon, and i will only get a ps4 in like… 2020. that is also the way of the world.

    i’m rambling, but what i mean for you people to know is that i’m going to have a good weekend.

  • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

    Guys. I caved, you guys. I gave in. I pre-ordered Pokemon Y. I’m picking it up on Saturday. I’ll be playing it over the long weekend. Oh God I’m so weak.

    I also started a therapeutic game of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night tonight. (Yesterday? Depends on when you’re reading this.) There’s been a lot of talk about that game around here recently (…coming from me) which put me in a mood to replay it. Plus, I was in a bit of a funk this week and just wanted to play something comforting and nostalgic. I conquered the entire right-side-up castle in one massive five hour sitting. I’m basically self-medicating with cups of tea, M&Ms, and old video games.

    • DrFlimFlam

      If I could think of some way to pick up Pokemon X this weekend I totally would. It will have to wait, but not for long.

    • CrabNaga

      Symphony of the Night is such a great game and is so hilariously broken that you can skip a huge chunk of the game by abusing the right glitches. There are odd exploits and design decisions such as: backdashing and shield-dashing to travel super fast, holy water doing a huge amount of damage because it hits once every frame, being able to jump in mid-air after dive-kicking something, the shield rod being way overpowered, the spell system that lets you cast any spell as long as you know the input, and the item duplication glitch. You should check out a speedrun of it.

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

         One of the things I love about SOTN is that there’s just so much of it. Every time I play it, I try to do things slightly differently just to experiment with some of the things I have a tendency to ignore. For example, on most playthroughs I make a beeline for the Shield Rod and then basically never unequip it (I trade it for a Crissaegrim later for “everyday” use, but I still sometimes use the Shield Rod for special occasions.) This time I’m trying to toy around with some of the other weapons I tend to neglect. It’s amazing how the game’s various weapons aren’t differentiated from one another by just attack increases. Every weapon has a different length, swing speed, arc, hidden special attacks, etc. So even two weapons that are statistically identical can perform wildly differently. I also learned that if you pick up a weapon that is statistically inferior to one you already have equipped, it’s still worth trying out- sometimes a new weapon’s increased swing speed can net you a higher damage per second even if every individual swing is dealing less damage.

        I’m also trying to experiment with subweapons I never fooled around with before. In my previous runs I usually focused on meat-n-potatoes subweapons like the axe or the ricochet rock, but this time I’m toying with the Vibhuti (pretty cool!) and the Agunea (really fun, but drinks your hearts)

        • PaganPoet

          I’ve always wondered if it’s possible to take Galamoth down without using the Beryl Circlet. It just seems like such a cheap way to win.

    • ZTO

      Don’t feel weak! All the cool kids are still playing Pokemon. I bought a 3DS just to play this generation.

    • a_scintillating_comment

      Arcades were never a huge part of my formative gaming years, but I’ve been in Toronto for a few years now, and if there are some good ones still around I’d love to check em out. Where are the TO arcades at?

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

        As far as I now, most of the downtowny numbers have closed down for various reasons. These days, if you want to hit an arcade you have to travel to one of the neighbouring Greater Toronto Area suburbs. There’s still a Playdium in Mississauga, which has a pretty functional arcade as well as go-karts and batting cages. There are also a couple of decent arcades up in Thornhill, and Pacific Mall in Markham has a pretty good sized arcade on its second floor.

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    I’m a big fan of technology as an overall benefit to the human condition (sounds obvious when you say it that way, but there are plenty of people who think technology is more of a harm than a good or is at best irrelevant to overall happiness).  Dystopian scenarios like to focus on what people could lose — namely determination over their destiny and access to unbiased information.  But the fact is there have always been many many people who had neither reliable information nor real opportunities to plot their own lives.  Technology has been a tool that has provided education and social progress that allows for more people to live freer lives (emphasis on the free-er as opposed to free, but that’s getting too broad). 

    Technology by itself didn’t bring about greater social justice, but its not by accident that misogynistic and racist attitudes finally started to fall by the wayside at the same time that global communication began to blossom.  Books like 1984 and Brave New World certainly have lessons to teach us, but sometimes I wonder if they also confirm peoples irrational fears. 

    Huxley, for instance, made quite a case for the dangers of over-medicating society.  But the truth of drugs often criticized (like ritilin and prozac), is that they have helped countless numbers of both children and adults lead a happier and break free from chains rather than be confined in them.  The chemical zombie we all fear is much rarer than the functioning child who 50 years ago would have been called unreachable and maybe even institutionalized.  I’m going too far afield now so I’ll stop, but my point is that I think Clive Thompson is onto something.

    • CrabNaga

      I don’t think “technology is good/bad for society” is a question that’s simple to answer. I agree with Louie C.K.’s assessment on giving smartphones to kids, since that always-connected lifestyle doesn’t really allow for any time to reflect. I think that GPS navigation in cars is killing people’s ability to navigate, such that most people would just follow the GPS instructions even if it took them in the complete wrong direction. However, I also don’t think Google and being able to get the info you need/want with a single search is killing humanity’s ability to learn. Pretty much everyone has jumped down a wiki wormhole from time to time, gathering all kinds of info that they wouldn’t normally get, and that’s all thanks to technology. 

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

        Speaking of GPSs that take you in the wrong direction, the GPS device in my dad’s car thinks that snowmobile trails are actual roads. That has led to some interesting stories.

        • CrabNaga

          I’m more amused that there are actual designated snowmobile trails in Canada. Where I come from, people just drive over other people’s lawns adjacent to the road when there’s a decent snowfall.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         But what I think the problem this guy is alluding to is that when you can get information at the stroke of a finger that information might not be as likely to sink in.  We process loads and loads and loads of information and this is definitely reshaping the way our brains function.  Now, I’m no high-faluting city neuro-scientist but I feel like there has to be some consequence to constantly having 8 tabs open, each to a different essay about the types of Byzantine wine pilfered by Ottoman raiders.

        • Enkidum

          I’m kind of a high-faluting city neuroscientist (not so much “neuro” these days, but getting back into it) and… eh… I dunno. Books change the way our brains function. Not having books back before there were books changed the ways our brains function. Brains are plastic, that’s why we have brains, to adapt to experience. (Well, ok, there are other reasons too, but you get the idea.)

          The only issue is whether the differences in brain function are somehow pathological (unlikely), or, far more importantly, whether it affects stuff outside the brain. Like, say, do people who depend on GPSes get lost all the time? (And apparently they do).

          Not trying to bag on you, but it always bugs me when people say “Look! Their brains are different! There must be a problem!”

      • Citric

        Honestly, going by the people I know who use GPS most, the only reason they are able to arrive at their destination is they found a GPS store while hopelessly lost and confused, probably at the far end of a one-way street which they were going down in the wrong direction.

        Personally I don’t use it that often, but I generally drive in places where I roughly know where things are. It’s a lifesaver ever since city planners have decided that long, meandering crescents are the best way to plan residential districts, since that messes with my cardinal directions.

      • JohnnyLongtorso

        @Citric:disqus Never move to Virginia Beach. In addition to the endless crescenty subdivisions, most of the main roads that intersect also run parallel to each other.

        • Citric

          Is it also one of those annoying cities that call everything a street, no matter which direction they run in? Once got lost in Halifax because of that. Street and avenue are important clues to which direction I’m going!

  • EmperorNortonI

    My gaming life is much the same as last week.  No, I take that back, it’s even less energetic.  This week all I’ve managed was to barely keep up with my Fallen London turns, and a few missions in Card Hunter.  I think I may have gotten to the end of available content for Card Hunter for the moment, but it’s been a lot of fun.

    This week has also been a time of pretty consistent and severe exhaustion, so things were pretty quiet on my blog.  However, part of that is because I’ve been trying to get my Memoir ’44 blog in shape, and am almost there.  The first content should go up this week, consisting of a few scenario reviews and perhaps a video or two.

  • Chewbacca Abercrombie

    I didn’t comment on here last week, but week before that I beat the story in GTA V. It was kind of depressing that the whole motivation behind most of the game is greed and self loathing and only brings revenge into it for like the last mission, but overall it was a fun game.

    Last weekend I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to play so I settled on finally trying to beat Wolfenstein for the 360 which is actually pretty fun. I don’t really like retreading over the same ground over and over to get to a new mission, but at least it mixes it up a little by throwing different groups of enemies into a repeated environment every once in awhile. I also played a little more Mass Effect which I’m sure will start to interest me a whole lot more once I get through the first game which I’ve already beat once years ago.

    This weekend I’ll probably be playing a bit of Sleep In My Bed Because I Can And I’m Tired, a game I haven’t had much time to play the last couple weeks and would love to catch up on a little. Also probably Mass Effect and I’m thinking maybe some Red Dead Redemption, XCOM and/or Wolfenstein depending on what I feel like and how much time I have. Also been considering starting a new game on Fable 2, it’s been years since I played it and it might be fun. Knowing how I am I’ll most likely play a game I haven’t mentioned here at all. I swear sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat.

    • PhilWal0

      SIMBBICAIT? I’ve heard good things about the multiplayer.

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

        SIMBBIC is the one with the great multiplayer. SIMBBICAIT adds the Not Tonight, Honey DLC. It might as well be a single-player adventure…

    • CrabNaga

      [GTAV Spoilers abound]
      I rather dug the “canon” ending of GTAV, since the game sets up all these jerks who pull your strings for 75% of the game, and then you’re able to take them all out at once. The other endings are super dark, though. And their accompanying missions were really short and simple compared to the “Deathwish” ending. I kind of wish there was a long and intricate mission involving the entire group collapsing in on itself, which would culminate in a three-way firefight in some abandoned refinery or something, and ended with all three of the characters dying for extra tragic irony. 

  • NakedSnake

    Assuming I start to recover from this acute food poisoning (I have really got to stop eatung rotten food just so I don’t feel guilty throwing it away), I will be playing Super Mario 3d Land, which I just bought and am quite enjoying. Its my first mario game since Super Mario World. I might also make a final push to finish State of Decay, since I have finally got my little outpost on a relatively self-sustaining basis.

    • DrFlimFlam

      There’s a John Hodgman podcast about people like you.

      Throw it out.

    • aklab

      I eat all the rotten food in our house as well. It’s so rewarding to imagine the dollar amount saved per bite as I eat it.  
      No acute food poisoning yet though, knock on wood! 

    • NakedSnake

      @aklab:disqus @drflimflam:disqus, it’s completely outside the realm of reason. Sometimes I’ll eat 4 meals in a day even though I’m not hungry if I suspect that some piece of food will go bad the next day. It just seems really wrong to throw food out. As a consequence, I’ll admit that I can feel a bit stressed out when I look in my fridge after going to the grocery store. How will I manage to eat all this food?

  • PPPfive

    This was a great interview, I enjoyed it a lot. He really knows his onions.

    I’m gonna play GTA Online.

    • NakedSnake

      He was suspiciously articulate. Like he had pre-written all his answers to the questions. As a so-called “writer”, I wouldn’t put it beyond him.

  • DrFlimFlam

    I have a Saturday and a Sunday off for the first time since June. As punishment, I’m being roped into going to look at autumn foliage at a state park (since those are open and also Iowa actually has no national parks – just a national monument). Whenever looking at nature’s awesome majesty (ugh) is over, more Skyrim, where I’ve built a few houses and am now going to sprint through Dawnguard, Dragonborn, and then the main quest, Animal Crossing New Leaf because I must have all the Spooky furniture (no good prices on turnips yet, but I promise, I’m watching – today is the last hope for prices to actually bounce up if they’re going to), and FTL, where I am pleased to report I continue to make incremental progress against the second phase of the boss. I am getting close. Verrry close. This time with the Redtail. I bet I could have done it if I still had four mantis boarders, but they got winnowed down to two at the end and it wasn’t enough to overwhelm the rebels.

    Also I got the new Humble Weekly Bundle because I have long wanted to play Game of Thrones RPG and this is the correct price for it. Also there are other games and some of them I may even play.

  • dreadguacamole

     Not really sure. My terraria kick is tapering off a little; might hunt for more secrets in Brutal Legend, continue on with Elemmental: War of Magic: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes (!), which is a lot of fun; it’s finally starting to feel like a little bit like Fallen heaven 2.
     Oh, and The Inner World, which is utterly charming and the best graphic adventure I’ve played since Machinarium.

  • Jackbert

    I’m tired of Mark of the Ninja. I’m tired of X-Com: Enemy Unknown. I never have enough time to do anything productive in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. So, like @caspiancomic:disqus , I’m caving. I’m going to try to get into town and buy Pokemon X this weekend.

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

      You will stop hating yourself as soon as the brilliant soundtrack kicks in.

  • Electric Dragon

    It’s been a long couple of weeks, so I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off. I’ll be getting stuck in to Dishonoured, where I’m about to start the first mission proper. 

    It’s England v Montenegro tonight so I’ll be watching that, with book in hand because England have a tendency to be either soporifically boring or nerve-shreddingly bad.

    • PPPfive

      I loved Dishonored, I rented it and played through it, then bought it and played through it again just for the DLC. Very fun. Enjoy I guess!

  • dmikester

    As everyone has been saying, great interview!  I did indeed beat GTA V 100% last weekend, which weirdly leaves a lot of stuff to do in the game, so I might be going through and cleaning up all of the left over stuff.  However, this weekend and next week are likely going to be minimal game times outside of random iPhone/iPad games due to a business/pleasure trip to Los Angeles that is going to involve bringing my puppy to the west coast for the first time!  So lots of planning and puppy sitting necessary.  Maybe I’ll download the Pandemic app for the plane.

    • DrFlimFlam

       Pretty slick-looking app. I may check it out soon, a friend showed it off, and it does look like something to graduate to post-Forbidden Island.

    • PPPfive

      How was 100%ing GTA5? I’m dreading the stunt jumps to the point where I think I might not bother, despite getting all the spaceship parts, notes, sub parts and nuclear waste already

      • dmikester

        Heh, I’m actually writing a 100% completion guide for GameFAQs right now, so you can somewhat soon know what it’s like in ridiculous detail (this is my life, where when I have a ton of work to do, I end up adding even more voluntary work so that I’m always “in work mode”). But as simply as I can put it, 100% in this GTA is way more fun and simple than it’s ever been thanks to both much better controls and not actually having to do a lot of stuff.  You’ve actually done more than you needed to already with getting the sub parts and nuclear waste, which I haven’t even started. But, the Stunt Jumps and Knife Flights range from doable but difficult for most of the Stunt Jumps to ridiculously aggravating for all of the Knife Flights.  Still, the fact that you don’t have to do all of them (25 Stunt Jumps and 8 Knife Flights) makes the whole thing a lot more tolerable.  It also took me 45 hours to get 100%, which is definitely the shortest amount of time it’s ever taken me.  Considering you’ve done most of the busy work with the collectibles, I’d say go for it.

      • Carlton_Hungus

        It’s interesting this time around for the stunt jumps you only need 25/50 for the 100%.  Although in my quest for the platinum trophy I’ll have to hunt down the rest of those bitches.

      • Enkidum

        Ah, so 100% isn’t actually 100% – there’s the Platinum Trophy, which rewards you for getting the real 100%!

  • stakkalee

    More GTA V with my gaming buddy, old school-style (ie. passing the controller back and forth between deaths.)  We both swore up and down that tomorrow we’ll focus on advancing the storyline by only doing story missions, but we both know we’re lying.  I fully expect within an our of starting I’ll be driving a hijacked fire engine down a mountain while throwing grenades at fleeing wildlife, or watching him try to launch a badly damaged car over an interstate because this time, THIS TIME he’s sure he’ll be able to escape those LEOs.  Oh, and of course clothes shopping, because if you’re going to get in a shootout with some cops you need to be dressed correctly, in a proper 3-piece suit.  I love open-world games.

  • indy2003

    I just finished Rayman Legends – well, the main campaign, anyway – and while it was indeed a terrific game in many respects (replaying the Origins levels offered evidence of just how much stronger the level design is this time around), I left it feeling a little frustrated. I had just reached 400 teensies upon completing the fifth world, so I was excited to check out the bonus world. The first level was pretty cool (if awfully easy for a bonus world level), but I pretty much hate the eight-bit versions of the music levels. Rather than giving us a genuinely invigorating new challenge along the lines of the Livid Dead levels from Origins, the game simply makes the music levels more frustrating by distorting the camera, causing the image to flicker on and off, etc. In their original incarnation, the music levels represent some of the finest platforming I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. Just pure joy from start to finish – “Gloo Gloo” in particular had me laughing out loud as I raced through it. The remixed versions were a chore, and I found them a disappointing way to conclude my experience with the game.

    I’m also 11 hours into Final Fantasy VII on the PS Vita. It took me entirely too long to catch my first chocobo, but I’ve finally done that and crossed the swamp (I, uh, made the mistake of trying to cross it on my own and had a particularly unfortunate encounter with that giant snake thing – it was sad). Currently midway through the mission where Cloud is posing as a Shinra grunt.

    Will probably be sinking some serious time into GTA V, as I’ve only just resumed playing it after taking a break for a while. Finished the second heist mission, which…

    *GTA V SPOILERS AHEAD*

    …ended with me earning absolutely nothing whatsoever thanks to my poor decision-making. I don’t know if taking the alternate route actually earns you a ton of cash, but I have to assume it does.

    *END GTA V SPOILERS*

    I think I’m finally going to bite the bullet and pick up a 3DS XL this weekend. Any recommendations on titles to start with? I know I want to pick up Super Mario 3D Land given that it’s often cited for actually using the 3D element in an interesting way, but any recommendations beyond the obvious Mario/Zelda stuff?

    • DrFlimFlam

      Super Mario 3D Land is sneaky good. It kind of took me by surprise. And yes, for 3D, no game uses it better.

      Fire Emblem
      Luigi’s Mansion
      ANIMAL CROSSING

      • Jesse Fuchs

        Pilotwings couldn’t withstand the weight of being a $40 launch title and thus got meh reviews, but as a $10 used game, it’s totally awesome. Also, Kid Icarus is weird and brilliant and fantastic, as long as you can get used to the eccentric-but-logical control scheme.

        • NakedSnake

          Awwww jeeez, here I was playing Super Mario 3d land and thinking “how good would pilotwings 3d be?” not realizing that it really existed. Even though I have just discovered it, though, it can never live up to the hype I’ve already created for it.

      • NakedSnake

        Yea really. The 3D in that game is so good that it doesn’t seem like a gimmick at all. I have been holding off on Animal Crossing since it seems like a greedy game, time-wise. But I must admit that spending some time in an idyllic, bucolic world seems pretty appealing right now.

        • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

          Animal Crossing is GENEROUS with time!  It is constantly telling you (through mechanical constraints, or the townsfolk just outright saying so), “Hey, take a break, man, those dogs look tired.”

    • Simon21-lufc

      If you like your 2D platformers and never played it on the Wii then I definitely recommend Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Luigi’s Mansion 2/Dark Moon is my favourite game currently out on the 3DS, and it also makes great use of the 3D effect, if only cosmetically. I haven’t played it yet but I’ve also seen a tonne of praise for Fire Emblem: Awakening and check out Resident Evil Revelations if you miss the days when RE used to actually be a survival horror franchise. And definitely make an effort to look for some interesting e-shop titles, which have given me some of my best experiences with handheld gaming.

    • Citric

      Professor Layton if you like puzzles! Even though some of the later ones kind of demand you think outside of the rules they set out, which kept tripping me up. Otherwise, Layton all the way.

  • ZTO

    Pokemon Y while I wait for FFXIV:ARR to find me parties.

    I think I’m going to go with the grass starter for pokemon because

    *possible SPOILERS for new pokes*

    you can apparently get a Kanto region starter later in the game as well as the appropriate stone to mega-evolve it. So I would get a grass type tank and a fire/flying charizard with drought so I can make a nasty little sun team. You also can, apparently, get the other starter that is super effective against your primary starter after beating the E4 for the first time. Besides, the gras starter becomes a giant spikey tank, Chestnaught.

    *End Spoilers for new pokes*

    Also, any of you who are getting the new generation, if you are looking to get into competetive pokemon playing you should check out the Smogon University over at
    http://www.smogon.com/ . They go in depth about the tier-based metagame and optimal move-sets/items for any given team. It’s a very useful tool if you’re looking to take on the new generation equivalent of the battle tower/subway.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    I walked into what I thought was an internet urban legend and got a virus last week and had to do a system restore on my old lappy.

    So my steam library is in shambles and needs to be repaired so I’ll be playing showing my computer that the steam games it thinks aren’t on the hard drive totally are it just needs to look at the right folders!!!

    I did beat GTA V and download Rainbow Six Veggie, for my 360 who must feel like a girl whose boyfriend left her, when a skinnier, more technologically advanced girl who knew more about indie games showed up and now that boyfriend is back cuz the other girl got an STD or something but now girl b is recovering in the hospital and girl a can see the boyfriend starting to drift back towards her even after they bonded over the lengthy campaign of GTA V.

    Give me a break, it’s been a busy week.  I earned that convoluted metaphor!!!

  • WELCOME_THRILLHO

    I sliced two fingers on my left hand at work on Monday and had to get stitches, but fortunately I can still play with bandaged fingers. Working on Terraria in PS3 as my chill-out game, started a huge new world all for myself because I’m scared of people. I like exploring and all, but I have to admit that sometimes I just like building new home bases or improving current ones.

    I also trapped the Guide in my basement behind a wall of glass like Hannibal Lector. I like to imagine THRILLHO holding up various items in tense crafting interrogations while Logan the Guide tries to play mind games.

    Also playing Dark Souls again because new things scare me, though I should just loan it to someone and wrap-up Skyrim or any of the other games just sitting around half finished.

    • NakedSnake

      I remember that when I broke my hand a few years ago, and they said I needed a cast, my first question for the doctor was “but will I be able to play video games???” He said no, but I still figured it out anyways. Happy healing!

      • WELCOME_THRILLHO

         Thanks! I hope you feel better too, food poisoning’s no fun at all.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      In terms of hardcore-ness of the game and its players, would you say Dark Souls is on the level of Tekken? I’ve been considering getting it for a while now but I’m getting too old and decrepit to keep up with the young’uns.

      • WELCOME_THRILLHO

         I haven’t played much Tekken, so I can’t really compare the two. There are a lot of hardcore Dark Souls players out there and there are plenty of people with characters made solely for pvp. But the easiest way around it if you aren’t in the mood to have your world invaded is to play offline or to be “hollow”- which is when your character is undead and corpselike. You can’t be invaded, invade others’ worlds or summon assistance from friendly players while hollow. It isn’t really necessary to play online if you don’t want to- PVE has a lot of rewarding challenges in itself.

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

        @WELCOME_THRILLHO:disqus 
        It’s really not like that at all.  Some communities are bloodthirsty, but Dark Souls is slightly more collaborative.  The game is still the opponent, not the players (usually).  There is also a lot mentioned above about why the experience isn’t limiting even if you avoid confrontation.  (And, really, good old Iron Fist has stacked single-player content these days, too.)

  • a_scintillating_comment

    Great interview! 

  • Passe_Partout

    I’ll be playing some of Pokemon Black 2 and SMTIV to remind myself why I haven’t finished a Pokemon game since the original Silver. And to counteract Nintendo’s attempt at nostalgia baiting me with the original starters in X and Y.

    I will also indulge in some Wonderful 101 and give my thumb a break by winding down with some Pikmin 3 as soon as I can figure out to which of my neighbors it accidentally was delivered.

  • Citric

    It seems like everyone is trying to convince me to get pokemans, I’m not sure if I should resist this or just give in.

  • evanwaters

    Played a couple of tabletop games at a friend’s house. Hanabi is a collaborative card game themed around everyone creating a fireworks display- you’re not competing against each other, you’re trying to get the best overall score. You do this by playing series of cards, but you don’t know what cards you have, and the only way to find out is for other people to give you very limited clues. It’s counterintuitive by design, and an interesting challenge.

    Dixit: Journey is a much more interesting one- sort of a pictorial Apples to Apples but not quite. Everyone gets cards featuring these neat, whimsical art pieces. Each turn one person is the Storyteller, picks a basic phrase or theme and tells everyone what that is, and secretly plays their card which to them evokes that phrase. Everyone else plays, in secret, their choice of which card matches that phrase. The cards are upturned and everyone votes which card is the Storyteller’s. Scoring is tricky but basically the Storyteller wants to get some votes but not all, while the other players want to guess the Storyteller’s card and have others pick theirs. The art is beautiful and lends itself to all sorts of interpretations.

    In The Movies I found myself at a point where you need to win 2 awards (5-year marks that are generally tricky because you need to be at the absolute top) to get a better script office, so I piled on landscaping, lot decorations, star makeovers, and happened to be releasing two movies right one after another, so after some savescumming I not only won the needed awards but am now the top studio, which I have never before managed in the standard game. (You really just win by surviving to the end.)

    Also on Crusader Kings II decided to try a new game with William the Bastard conquering England- which was surprisingly easy though it took me until 1968. King Harold folded way too easily. I’ve got an older game as William the Conqueror but I think I screwed up too much on that one- I had no control over my heir’s traits or personality so he kinda sucks.

    • Enkidum

      1968, huh? That 902-year war must have been a doozy.

      Pretty much any of the three main factions in the Norman invasion is reasonably easy to play as, I found – you just avoid the other two until they weaken each other, then mop up the survivors. Probably easiest as Harold, though.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/himversushergames?feature=mhee thewayigetby

    Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend so I probably won’t have anytime to play but I’m probably going to continue GTA V.

    HOWEVER I am entertaining suggestions on what should be my first 3DS game I pick up. I’m narrowing it down between Fire Emblem, New Leaf or Pokemans. Anyone with experience on the first two weigh in!

  • His_Space_Holiness

    This Week in New Vegas: I finished off Old World Blues at last, which was, as previously stated, a hoot and a half. The Stealth Suit is already my new best friend, despite its insistence on shoving Med-X into me like a drug-dealing porcupine at the least sign of danger. It’s just so cute! And I encountered an amusing bug during my conversation with my brain (sadly, the use of money to acquire peanuts did not come up): as my brain began to reminisce about the adventures we’d had, I was prepared for a clever trip through my save file, as it described our encounters with the ghoul cult and HELIOS-1. Then the ghouls again. Then HELIOS again. And again. And again. At first I thought it was another infinite-loop joke from Mobius, but no, the game actually got caught in a genuine loop and I had to restart from before the encounter with Mobius.

    Which turned out to be a good thing, because the second time around I managed to pick the right dialogue choices so I wouldn’t have to fight him. He’s a sweet old lunatic, he didn’t deserve the righteous beating I served him the first time around.

    Next up: Lonesome Road. I’m prepared to meet my mysterious opposite number, and hopefully perform the Marx Brothers mirror routine with him.

    • djsubversive

      I imagine the guy who did Ulysses’ voice had a day plan that went something like: “Gargle with rocks. Smoke three packs of unfiltered cigarettes. Record voice work. Ulysses’ voice. Cracked and broken, like Divide itself. Voice full of history, remembering America… get milk on way home.”

      Lonesome Road is fun. Keep an eye out for Ulysses pulling a G-Man and watching you from various places during the trip. I’ve only seen him twice.

  • ProfFarnsworth

    I will be playing more Dragon Age: Origins.  I am now working a way through the Mages circle now.  I decided to be a mage (for the first time) and it has been rather fun…A big too powerful, but fun.  I really, really enjoy it.

    I don’t know what to do for the mages.  They are all jerks, but I am not really a murderer, and I think annulling them all would be pretty bad.  What do you all think?

  • blue_lander

    I think I have Dodonpachi Daiojou for the Saturn. I’m going to play that this weekend to remind myself how much I hate bullet hell shmups.

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

      Buy Guwange instead and fall in love.

  • rabi999

    I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do, http://www.works77.com