The resurrection of Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties was almost worth the trouble

, | News

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is the worst game published for the 3DO system. It may, in fact, be one of the worst games ever published for a console. Thanks to the efforts of YouTube personality psychoticgiraffe, we can now bask in the glory of this not-safe-for-work 1994 softcore porn game. Stilted voice-acting, casual misogyny, (including the threat of rape) a bit of nudity, and amateur technical prowess came together to create a game somewhere between a visual novel and a PowerPoint presentation. Unlike previous showings of Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties, psychoticgiraffe is also releasing the PC code for the game, so everyone can experience the wonder firsthand.

It turned out that there was one copy of the PC version of Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties sitting in the Ball State University library. According to psychoticgiraffe, he was able to ferret out the find when he was tipped off by an old archive of the PC Gamer magazine that revealed an obscure PC version of the game. By backtracking through the game’s system requirements, psychoticgiraffe found the sole listing for Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties in the world library database. Good news for videogame historians and game playing masochists everywhere!

Battlefield 1’s fix for too many grenades is unlimited grenades

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Do you love grenades? You should love infinite grenades! Grenade spam made some modes and maps in Battlefield 1 matches intolerable. Choke points like the tunnel in Monte Grappa or the titular space in Ballroom Blitz had a tendency to devolve into explosions and gas on an endless loop. Buried within last week’s They Shall Not Pass update was an initiative DICE is calling “Ammo 2.0” meant to reduce these grenade standoffs. The solution? Take grenades out of the Support’s ammo resupply kit and make them an infinitely recharging power for everyone. It sounds counterintuitive, but the change seems to be working.

We’ve seen around a 7% decrease in grenade throws per second and grenade kills per minute across all base game maps since Battlefield 1 They Shall Not Pass was released.

The Ammo Box gadget that can be thrown out by Support players speeds up the cooldown for grenades, but by making players wait on a timer, DICE is able to reduce the kinds of grenade stalemates seen in the past. Previously, players would throw grenades, resupply, throw more grenades, and repeat. As with any big change, the Ammo 2.0 revamp has been controversial, but DICE maintains that it is working and they are collecting data and adjusting as needed.

Not the worst thing you’ll see all week: Rick and Morty

, | TV reviews

“Did you ever hear about this alligator who went into a restaurant?” Lamar Thigpen took them by the neck and drew them close as lovers.

“No, I didn’t,” said the courteous engineer, though he had. Jokes always made him nervous. He had to attend to the perilous needs of the joke-teller.

–Walker Percy, The Last Gentlemen

Two minutes into this excruciatingly long ten minute video, I’ve seen all it has to show me. But I’m still watching it because my friend thought it was funny. “Oh, let me show you this,” he had said excitedly, typing the words “nightclub mashup” into YouTube.

Instead of telling each other jokes anymore, we show each other videos. Continue reading →

EVE Online’s economic changes may cost its scum and villainy

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EVE Online, the world’s largest economic experiment disguised as a space opera MMO, is changing the way its currency works. One of the attractions for EVE players currently is that the in-game economy is player-driven, risky, and easily converted to real-world money. Unfortunately, that same economic hazard can be off-putting to new players and CCP Games wants to change that.

It’s all a bit The Big Short, but Plex, one of the currencies for EVE, is being made more granular and safer, while Aurum, another kind of virtual funny money, is being done away with. The crux is that for the hardcore EVE Online community, the fact that Plex was an item in-game that had to be hauled in players’ ships as cargo was a feature of the player-driven economy. Attempting to shuttle around with a large amount of Plex was a gamble because if your ship was destroyed, you could lose all your money when it too was blown up or fell into the hands of looters. In fact, a few of the biggest events in EVE’s history were player-on-player piracy. The proposed changes to Plex include a virtual vault that will allow skittish players to move the money without risking it in their ships. While the risky old-fashioned Plex cargo method will still be available, it won’t be required. To concerned players, this new safe option for money transport is contrary to the spirit of EVE Online’s dynamic economy.

Players are encouraged to leave suggestions in the official forum. CCP Games says they will have more information on the proposed Plex changes in April.

City of Heroes’ Statesman is back! Not really.

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Too cruel NCSoft. Too cruel by half. That’s the Statesman, one of the iconic superpowered characters from City of Heroes, repurposed for NCSoft’s upcoming Master X Master. It’s a MOBA, and NCSoft figured they could attract fans of their superhero MMO, (shuttered in 2012) to their latest venture by dredging up the corpse of one of the beloved main characters from Paragon City. A closed beta for Master X Master starts on April 6th and runs until the 27th.

Orisa, Overwatch’s newest hero, challenges the game’s status quo and porn fans

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This is Orisa. She’s the newest character added to Overwatch. Her appearance as a four-legged mech makes it easy to remember that she’s a tank-class character. Armed with a main weapon that deals large amounts of constant damage while slowing her movement, Orisa is the classic heavy. Being an Overwatch combatant means she also comes with an extensive backstory. She’s a Nigerian-made security robot that’s been adopted and reprogrammed by an eleven-year-old girl named Efi Oladele. Overwatch’s numerous porn fans are probably chomping at the bit to use Orisa in their creations. Good luck making that robo-centaur sexy.

Orisa should be live in Overwatch today, although Blizzard is keeping her off the Competitive Play roster while they work out her balance.

Best bad thing you’ll see all week: The Snare

, | Movie reviews

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Some people get in a car and drive to a remote location to have a horror movie. The location is modest, self-contained, and not nearly as impressive as it should be. The cast is small, of varying degrees of attractiveness, and not particularly talented. The script has no interesting ideas. The director has no insight. The movie is terrible. You stop watching it halfway through. It will be frozen in your Netflix account at the 40-minute mark forever.

The Snare is this with a twist: the script does have interesting ideas and the director does have insight. The movie isn’t terrible. It’s not particularly good, but it’s certainly not terrible. It sneaks decisively past the 40-minute mark.

Writer/director C.A. Cooper is working with limited resources. A third of his cast is sedate to a fault. The other two thirds are grating. The location is hilarious. The script calls for an isolated holiday getaway, but all the production can manage is someone’s two-bedroom flat. So it’s up to the cast to pretend they’ve totally found an awesome place to hang out for a few days. It even has a TV set with a 14″ screen! Sweet! The exterior is carefully framed to exclude the apartment buildings next door. From the balcony, you can see the neighboring buildings. Anyone trapped up here could just yell to the next house over to call the fire department to bring a ladder.

But if the model for most bad horror is seminal crowd-pleasers like Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity, or The Exorcist, the model for The Snare is The Shining. This is a director who hasn’t just seen The Shining, but he understands it and he uses it as a template for a nasty little tale about rotting away. Despite his limited resources, he knows how to shoot and construct a creepy slow-burn that relies on unnerving instead of startling. He prefers sickly instead of lurid, nauseous instead of gorey, decay instead of violence. Cooper knows to get under your skin instead of in your face. Someone give this man a better cast and a bigger budget.


Train Sim choo-choo-chooses Unreal Engine

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Train Sim, that internet meme machine from Dovetail Games, has finally upgraded to a new engine. Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul, their latest ode to locomotive fans, runs on Unreal Engine 4 and features a first-person mode so virtual engineers can simulate ambling around the train yard. While players have complained for years about Train Sim’s proprietary engine’s quirks and sometimes primitive graphics, the Unreal Engine changeover is not receiving unanimous praise. Longtime franchise players agree that the game looks quite a bit better than before, but criticism centers on steeper hardware requirements, inconsistent framerates, and some spotty rendering. While some issues were fixed in the beta program, the final release features some carryover and some new complaints. A reminder, perhaps, that progress comes with a cost – as most railroad tycoons could tell you.

Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul comes with the “Sand Patch Grade” route and three locomotives. There’s no word on DLC just yet, but based on Dovetail Games’ history, rail nuts can expect plenty of offerings to come down the line.

If Disney World had a shooter, it would be Ghost Recon: Wildlands

, | Game reviews

Ghost Recon Wildlands is what it would be like if Disney World had a section called Shootland. A swathe of geography dedicated to the theme of shooting guns, expensive looking, consisting of simple and contrived thrills interspersed with waiting in line, built to impress in a compressed burst rather than entertain over the long run. Great place to visit, sure.

But not much of a game. Continue reading →

Take the cold weather fingerless glove challenge in Sniper Elite 4

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Rebellion’s glorious X-ray headshot simulator, Sniper Elite 4, will get its first chunk of DLC on March 21st. Deathstorm Part 1: Inception is the first of three “mini-campaign” DLC installments coming for the game. Set in Northern Italy, the expansion mission will task players with infiltrating a secret Nazi naval base to secure a mysterious MacGuffin codenamed Deathstorm. The mission is playable as a strictly single player affair, or snipers can team up for cooperative shenanigans. Additionally, the Night Fighter DLC pack will release on the same day, adding night-time camouflage skins, two new characters, and three new weapons. Both DLC bits will be available separately, or as part of the season pass at “around” the same time.

There’s free content coming as well! A new Night Woods multiplayer map, and an elimination mode are being released at no charge to owners of the base game.

Check out Tom Chick and Jason McMaster playing Sniper Elite 4 together here.

You now have sixty turns to figure out your feelings on Civilization VI

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Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has been out for a few months and gotten some patches and DLC. It’s Civilization VI, so you want it, but based on some assessments, you may not be certain it’s for you. 2K and Firaxis have a partial solution to your dilemma. A sixty turn demo is now available on Steam. The sample will put you in charge of China’s Qin Shi Huang. Sixty turns may not seem like much, but that’s plenty of time for you to watch the AI-controlled units logjam into each other while national leaders bounce randomly between diplomatic states.

Taxidermy is even creepier than normal in Ghost Recon Wildlands

, | Games

One of the skills you can unlock in Ghost Recon Wildlands is thermal vision, which highlights warmer objects from everything else in your view with splashes of red, orange, and yellow. The image above shows regular vision in a hunting lodge on the left and what you see in the same room with thermal vision enabled on the right. Notice the stuffed animals? Unless they practice taxidermy very differently in Bolivia, this can’t be right.