, | Game reviews
BE_04

The beginning of Beyond Earth is all very exciting. I mean the very beginning before the beginning. Before the game has even started. Before I’ve even landed on the planet. I choose my faction first. I’ll be the Franco-Iberians, who earn free technologies every so often as their culture develops. For colonists, I naturally choose artists, who boost culture. Inside the spaceship with the colonists, I’ll carry the machinery that will give me a free worker for a headstart developing the landing area near my starting colony. As for the type of spacecraft, that’s a tough decision. I eventually go with a continental surveyor that shows me all the coastlines on the map. I find a certain comfort in knowing the exact shape of my new world. It’s what the artists would want.

In any other Civilization — in case it’s not clear from the full title of Civilization: Beyond Earth, this is absolutely a Civilization game, and more specifically a Civilization V game — I would have just chosen a faction. France. Rome. Polynesia. But Beyond Earth lets me build my ark/spaceship step-by-step. It gives me a multistep sense of agency in how the early stages will play out. It keeps me busy making choices before I’m even playing. That’s ultimately what Beyond Earth is all about. Making choices. Constant, unrelenting, obsequious, nagging choices that will come together to create something massive, slow, and tedious.

After the jump, a series of interesting decisions. Continue reading →

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devil2

Chris: The great triumph of this bravura bit of filmmaking from American horror auteur Ti West isn’t that he almost effortlessly creates a perfect facsimile of an early 1980s horror movie. Rather, it’s that by 20 minutes in we forget we’re watching a period piece and instead are completely invested in Samantha and the weird babysitting job she takes. What’s up with the creepy couple? Why are they offering so much money? What the heck is going on with the unseen “mother”? We’re so into the movie that we’ve forgotten that we’re not watching some great lost cable TV movie from back in the day.

After the jump, this one…she’s perfect. Continue reading →

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carl

After an achievement list leaked a few days ago, Rockstar has confirmed that a new version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is coming on October 26th. The Xbox Originals digital download version of San Andreas has been removed and will be replaced with a revamped Games on Demand build. The new version will sport 720p resolution, an “enhanced” draw distance, and the all-important achievements for $14.99.

Although only the Xbox 360 version has been locked in, eagle-eyed folks have spotted developer work being done on Steam’s database for the game, which may indicate an enhanced PC version may soon follow. The new high-res Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas comes on the 10th anniversary of the game’s original launch.

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cabin2

Chris: One of my favorite little throwaway scenes in Cabin in the Woods is one where a disembodied zombie appendage distracts a hired gunman long enough to allow our protagonists to render him senseless. No, that’s not the part I’m talking about, not yet. We then get this bit of inspired, silly dialogue: “Good work, zombie arm,” but that’s not the bit either, though also awesome. The part I’m talking about happens as our characters leave the incapacitated gunman. We see the disembodied arm and hand make its way onto the guy’s face, presumably to tear him apart as best it can…as zombie arms will do. It’s one of so many similarly clever and fun moments that exist at the periphery of this film that endear it to me so much.

After the jump, am I on speakerphone? Continue reading →

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hitman

Actually, it’s Keanu Reeves’ grim killer from the eponymous movie John Wick. Overkill Software, in cooperation with Lionsgate has added the guns akimbo hitman to Payday 2 for free as part of the multi-stage “Crimefest” update. (Akimbo guns wasn’t in Payday 2 before this?) Wick officially comes in update 40, which puts it ten behind Keanu’s actual age. According to the trailer, Wick and longtime Payday gang member Chains have history.

Crimefest has thus far added clown masks, new weapons, and a total revamp of the skill trees in the game.

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3drealms_chewing

3D Realms is back. Oh, you didn’t know they were gone? They weren’t really, but now they have Danish investment firm backing along with the partnership of Interceptor Entertainment, the studio that gave us the Rise of the Triad remake. 3D Realms also has new leadership. The new CEO is Mike Nielsen, and Interceptor CEO Frederik Schreiber is now the vice president of 3D Realms. Company co-founder Scott Miller remains with the studio as “Adviser & Industry Legend”.

Back to kicking ass? Not quite. Initial plans seem to be modest. 3D Realms is offering an anthology pack of every game the studio made for $19.99.

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Borderlands the pre-sequel

This week Brandon is joined by Tony Lawrence (Studio Head at 2K Australia), Jonathan Pelling (Creative Director at 2K Australia), Anthony Burch (writer at Gearbox) and Matt Armstrong (Franchise Director of Borderlands at Gearbox) to talk about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Unfortunately technology conspired against us and the discussion got cut a bit short due to a dropped internet connection but not before getting some time in to talk about the secret of Borderlands world building, the Aussie flavor of the game, who knows about what secrets and much more. It’s so much fun that it takes two continents to hold it!

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triangle1

Bill: I can’t possibly discuss the Australian film Triangle without bringing up Timecrimes, a Spanish sci fi/thriller made two years earlier in 2007. And that’s not only because of the similarity of their stories, but also because Timecrimes is a much better film overall. Triangle starts strong, sets up an interesting story, then falls down and spends the last hour of its run time trying to figure out what kind of film it wants to be. Timecrimes, on the other hand, knows what it is, knows what it needs to do, and does it with an eye towards detail that Triangle is frequently missing.

After the Jump: Carnival (Cruise) of Souls Continue reading →

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clash_of_royals

In baseball, it turns out that Clash of Clans is the true enemy. The Kansas City Star reports that the addictive free-to-play iPad game almost scuttled the Kansas City Royals baseball team’s chances for a World Series slot. Early in the season, reserve player Jarrod Dyson introduced outfielder Lorenzo Cain to Clash of Clans. From there, the game spread amongst the team roster until first base coach Rusty Kuntz noticed that team members weren’t spending their time watching plays and memorizing signals via their iPads like they were supposed to.

The game’s verbiage entered the clubhouse lexicon, as players debated the relative merits of their clans and beseeched each other for orders of goblins and witches.

After a series of closed-door meeting were held, players were told to drop the game and concentrate on team improvement. It seems to have worked. The Kansas City Royals were able to recover and are currently in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants. The Royals should’ve played something like Out of the Park Baseball 15. It’s work and play!

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Titanfall_jump

One of the criticisms some players had for Titanfall at launch was that outside of the standard Attrition game type, there wasn’t much variety to the modes. Here comes another drop pod full of dumb-as-a-stump A.I. grunts! Farm away! While that was true to a certain extent (the PC version’s capture-the-flag mode was so empty of players that it was in danger of outright removal at one point), the support Respawn has shown to adding new gameplay modes has been commendable. With Update 8, they’re adding a long-requested feature: cooperative horde mode! Frontier Defense will allow four players to team up against waves of enemies including new units like Suicide Spectres, Cloak Drones, Mortar Titans, and punch-proof Arc Titans.

Update 8 will also features Deadly Ground, a mode to put your parkour skills to the test. Remember when you were a little kid and you imagined the floor in your living room was flooded with lava? Same here, except replace “lava” with “electric smoke”. Get Jumping!

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PA2

Chris: If we know our horror movies, then it should be pretty easy to avoid ever living in a haunted house. For instance, we know that a haunted house needs an old, drafty abandoned place. We know they require some horribly tragic event in their past to bring back the spirits of dead human beings. Finally, we know that if things with the ghosts get too unbearable, you can just leave the house. No problems, right?

After the jump, what happens when the rules change? Continue reading →

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youre_already_dead

The PC version of Dark Souls is moving away from using the Games for Windows Live system. Bandai Namco announced that owners of the notoriously difficult roleplaying game will be able to transfer their GFWL licenses to Steam next month. Save data and achievements will also transfer, but the hardest of the hardcore won’t do that, right? They’ll hunker down and start over from the beginning because adversity is a character-builder.

According to Microsoft, the reports of GFWL’s imminent demise were exaggerated. Despite their assurances, many publishers and developers have opted to leave the GFWL ecosystem and turn to other solutions.

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paranautical_dead

Paranautical Activity, the blocky shooter from Code Avarice came out of early access and launched yesterday. Normally, this would be cause for an indie developer to celebrate, but in co-creator Mike Maulbeck’s case, it’s not because his game is no longer being sold on Steam. Valve removed the game and “ceased relations” with the developer when Maulbeck sent a disturbing tweet (that has since been deleted) regarding a glitch in the launch.

“I am going to kill gabe newell. He is going to die.”

It’s not the first time Paranautical Activity has had issues with Steam. Last year, the game was initially denied approval for listing in the store despite attaining sufficient Greenlight votes because of an existing agreement with Adult Swim. That issue was worked out, but Maulbeck has since been critical of what he calls Valve’s “monopoly” on PC gaming. Paranautical Activity is still available on Humble Bundle and Desura. Maulbeck lamented that his game sold only twelve copies outside of Steam yesterday. Meanwhile, Code Avarice’s other half, Travis Pfenning, calls the situation a “nightmare”.

Update: Mike Maulbeck is leaving Code Avarice and selling his half of the studio to Travis Pfenning.

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splinter1

Grandy: Monster Movies have a rich history, being one of the major sub-genres of horror movies. It was monster movies that best captured my attention as a kid, and I’m glad we made sure to include at least one in the list that didn’t involve vampires or zombies (both subjects worth covering and covered, with excellent examples). Monster movies very frequently veer off into the weird, and they pluck at our imaginations in their own interesting ways (the evolution of this sort of thing would be Pacific Rim: a movie about giant monsters, giant robots, pro wrestling, and dragon slaying all rolled into one). From Godzilla to the xenomorph in Alien to the living nightmare that was John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, monster movies have embraced all shapes and sizes in their quest to scare and terrify us over the years, shapes and sizes great and small.

After the Jump, two guys, a girl, and a gas station in the middle of nowhere Continue reading →

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riggle

Back in June, Legendary Digital Media announced that they were making a movie based on Dead Rising. Legendary has now revealed the cast as well as the full name of the movie. The film’s title is Dead Rising: Watchtower. Rob Riggle (The Daily Show, 21 Jump Street, The Hangover) will be playing grizzled photojournalist Frank West. Joining Riggle will be Harley Morenstein, Keegan Connor Tracey, and Aleks Paunovic. Contrary to previous rumors, it seems the movie will not just be about Frank West chopping up zombies in a mall while dressed as Mega Man.

Dead Rising: Watchtower takes place during a large-scale zombie outbreak. When a mandatory government vaccine fails to stop the infection from spreading, the four leads must evade infection while also pursuing the root of the epidemic, with all signs pointing to a government conspiracy. Politics, public paranoia, and media coverage play an important role in the story’s narrative.

Zach Lipovsky is directing. Dead Rising: Watchtower will debut on the digital streaming service Crackle.

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