, | Game reviews
Arkham_Knight_review_1

As a videogame power fantasy, Arkham Knight is a heady brew. It makes me feel powerful, it makes me feel smart, and it adoringly invokes a pop culture icon and multi-billion dollar franchise that even the stuffiest of non-comic book readers can groove to. We live in a post-Dark Knight world where the Nolan brothers — who, for all I know, are drawing from some Frank Miller or Neil Gaiman thing I’ve never read — have represented the Batman/Joker dynamic as a dialectic straight out of Greek tragedy. Never mind this silly “have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight” nonsense, plucked from a vat of colorful acid. This is Apollo and Dionysus. It is order and entropy, superego and id, lawful neutral and chaotic neutral. Forget mere good and evil. That stuff is easy. This is what D&D nerds in junior high school parsed when it took everyone else until they were gathered together in college dorms. Take it where you can get it. Gary Gygax, Jim Morrison, Nietzsche, Bob Kane.

After the jump, a videogame that goes beyond good and evil. Continue reading →

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thomas

Assassin’s Creed character toys? Call of Duty building brick playsets? Halo cat helmet? That’s no way to establish your gamer cred. For about $31.00, sculptor Kerry Dyer has official Thomas Was Alone “deluxe” action figures available for a limited time. That’s right. It’s a collection of plastic blocks from Mike Bithell’s indie platformer. Now you can settle who is the biggest indie gamer in your circle of friends.

“Thomas looked around his newly three dimensional surroundings. Had the world decided to, through waning success, swiftly build some kind of higher resolution rerelease? Was this, he shuddered, fan art? He felt heavy, plastic. He was suddenly aware of the concepts of being both heavy, and plastic. It was with crushing dread, that Thomas realised he had become merchandise.”

Thomas Was Alone is available on multiple platforms including Steam, Google Play, and the iTunes App Store.

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Butcher

The Eternal Conflict updates for Heroes of the Storm is live, adding a new Diablo III-themed map into a newly stunted rotation. For the next week, the catalog of nine maps has been reduced to just four maps to make sure you see the new heaven vs. hell map more often. Be prepared to have your team run off after treasure goblins and waste their time killing fallen who are just going to be resurrected by their shaman. The Butcher is now available as the first of the three Diablo III-themed characters, to be followed shortly by the Skeleton King and then the monk. For some reason, you don’t see a lot of people cosplaying The Butcher.

Today’s update also changes a whole mess of things. For instance, if you thought you knew The Lost Vikings, Brightwing, Malfurion, or Rehgar, better check the patch notes. The healing column in the score screen, which was useless for anyone who didn’t use a healing support character, is now called the role column. It also shows how much damage your warrior soaked up.

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terraria1_3

Terraria, the 2D sideways survival builder, is getting an update today that adds Steam multiplayer integration, achievements, 800 new in-game items, an “expert” mode, and a bundle of bug fixes to the PC version of the game. It also adds a tax collector NPC. That’s what you’ve been waiting for before you scampered off to fight the giant robot skeleton or the flying pirate ship, right? Settling up with the tax collector. The 1.3 update will likely be that the last official feature patch for the game, according to developer Re-Logic.

In an age of Darkness & a time of Evil…when the world needed a Hero…they got – you. With an array of new weapons, functionality, facelifts, and features at your disposal – will you be up to the challenges posed by the new foes in your path…as well as some old enemies that have learned some new tricks?

Rather than scroll through a list of changes, you can check out the trailer for the 1.3 update here. Terraria is available on Steam.

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knight_cries

If you followed the Batman: Arkham Knight debacle, then you know that the PC port of the game was so bad (it currently holds a “mostly negative” user review rating on Steam) that WB Games pulled the product back and vowed to not sell it again until they could fix some of the more egregious bugs. According to the publisher, Rocksteady, the primary developer of Arkham Knight, has taken the lead on fixing the game’s issues. The first patch was released on Saturday, but PC gamers shouldn’t expect the Batman tank sim to be back on sale anytime soon.

The work is significant and while we are making good progress on improving performance, it will take some time to ensure that we get the right fixes in place.

The PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight was developed by Iron Galaxy Studios. The game is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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, | Movie podcasts
Face_of_an_Angel

Michael Winterbottom considers the Amanda Knox case in Face of an Angel, a meta-mess about Italy, murder, the media, and picking up random barmaids. At the 46-minute mark, we assume the identity of people discussing masks in movies for this week’s 3×3.

Next week: Closer to God

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, | Game reviews
Homeland

“Tom’s the terrorist,” Tony declares loudly, slapping the table and leaning back in his chair as if he’s just issued a legally binding decree and there’s nothing more to be said. “He’s totally the fucking terrorist,” he says anyway.

“Why would you say that? I’m suggesting something that’s perfectly reasonable because you can’t possibly know the intel cards that have been played. Maybe you’re the terrorist.”

I mean, he’s right. I am the terrorist. But there’s no way he could know that, is there?

After the jump, a royal playboy and an affluent politico can’t get me out of this mess. Continue reading →

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, | News
the_general_flee

Apple has de-listed all apps that feature the Confederate battle flag from their iOS App Store. This includes Civil War strategy games. According to reports given to TouchArcade from developers, Apple removed their games because they “include images of the Confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.” The reasoning given to devs seems to indicate that someone at Apple just purged everything with the offending symbol. Game Labs, the developers of Ultimate General: Gettysburg, have decided not to amend their game for resubmission.

Spielbergs “Schindler’s List” did not try to amend his movie to look more comfortable. The historical “Gettysburg” movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money.

While the debate over the meaning and appropriateness of The Southern Cross rages in the aftermath of the tragic Charleston shooting spree, it seems the iconography of the Confederacy is destined for removal from retail storefronts. Unfortunately for us, this may mean that games set in the Civil War will have to adapt or face sales without the benefit of the biggest distribution partners.

UPDATE: Representatives from Apple told TechCrunch that they are working with app makers to reinstate their products if the Confederate imagery is used for “educational or historical” reasons. How that determination is being made is unclear.

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Driveclub_replay

Hey, look who finally showed up to play!

Starting [today], all PlayStation Plus members can download Driveclub PS Plus Edition and begin playing the offline mode. Also starting [today], we will be rolling out online access to the Driveclub PS Plus Edition and will steadily bring more and more players online while continuously ensuring that all game systems are running smoothly. We want to make sure we dont overload the servers as we invite millions of PS Plus members to download the game… We have to take this precaution because Driveclub connectivity is demanding for a multiplayer game, with countless ever-growing social connections across clubs, challenges, multiplayer, and hundreds of thousands of dynamic leaderboards and activity feeds.

After its rough but promising start, Driveclub became a superlative racing game and a real jewel in the Playstation 4 catalog. With an emphasis squarely on driving instead of upgrading and grinding, with fewer cars that matter more, with evocative handling and physics, with tracks brimming with personality and style, and with absolutely gorgeous graphics and sublime sound design, this is the game Forza hasn’t been for a very long time. Developer Evolution Studios even finally added weather and replays. I can’t recommend it enough.

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504

Modularity to the point of not having an actual design is a terrible idea for a game. For instance, here’s the description of an upcoming boardgame called 504, announced today by publisher Stronghold Games.

504 offers the game enthusiast 504 different games in a single box, achieving this via the use of nine game modules, which can be merged together to form 504 unique play experiences. The nine modules are Pick-up & Deliver, Race, Privileges, Military, Exploring, Roads, Majorities, Production, and Shares. Players use the spiral bound “Book of 504 Worlds”, selecting three different modules in any order from the nine available, and thereby creating a unique “World”. For example, the selection of three modules for a World may create a game that is:

A racing game that expands through exploration with technology improving the racing or exploration (World “253”).

An 18XX-style stock game with network building for income and production sites to provide workers for the road building (World “968”).

A wargame with a pick-up and deliver economy and bonus scoring from majorities (“World 417″).

Okay, maybe it’s an intriguing idea, assuming worlds 253, 968, and 417 are enough flavor for you. The fiction is something about scientists creating alternate worlds to study for something something something. The designer of 504 is Friedemann Friese, known for the classic Power Grid. I don’t like Power Grid because it locks my brain up with too much math, but I certainly respect the design. Friese knows what he’s doing. And Stronghold Games has published a few intriguing games in the last year, including Kanban, a soup-to-nuts abstraction of all elements of an automotive company, and Panamax, about managing the actual Panama Canal.

504 is slated for release November of this year.

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, | Game diaries
Massive_Chalice_GD_6_boom

On year 271, less than 30 years before the final battle, a random event arises. Someone calling herself the Commoner Queen has been riling up the people. I can meet with her, refuse to meet with her, or send one of my heroes to disappear her.

Although the results can vary for each choice, I feel like I’m hip to this trick by now. The good choice, the bad choice, and the choice that risks a hero. But Doublefine gets really, uh, playful with these random events. You should see what they do when you start throwing things into the chalice! They’re more than happy to allow bad results for good choices and good results for bad choices, so I’m going to risk a hero. Hopefully, this will avoid one of my territories being put one point of corruption closer to slipping into the sea. Besides, I have heroes to spare. I’m awash in Gaffney girls! So I chose the third option and send a Gaffney girl to deal with this Commoner Queen.

After the jump, yet another Sagewrights Guild sinks into the sea. Continue reading →

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taken_king

If the price tag for Destiny’s upcoming Taken King expansion seemed a little high, would you be willing to pay the ultimate price to get all the content? Would you drink a can of Red Bull? The Red Bull Quest is a “never-before-seen, multi-stage mission” that will be available to players of Destiny: The Taken King that are also dedicated enough to swig 12 ounces of Red Bull purchased from a participating 7-Eleven outlet. Besides marking a low point in your life, redeeming the code on the can will grant access to this quest and a 50% experience boost consumable. If you’re not a fan of Red Bull, you can just wait until January 1st, 2016, when the code will no longer be required to access the quest. You can buy your limited edition Destiny Red Bull beginning in July.

In related news, a 7-Eleven employee posted this image of the flyer that was given to him for this promotion. It includes some details about DLC for less savvy retail partners.

“Destiny consumers are used to paying a premium for downloadable content similar to this quest.”

Truth, friend. Destiny: The Taken King will launch on September 15th.

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arma3_tanoa_screenshot_03

That’s Tanoa, the new fictional playground coming to Arma III. Bohemia Interactive presented the trailer for the new terrain during the E3 PC Gaming Show. The developers have released some more tidbits. First, the island of Tanoa is going to be a premium expansion that requires purchase unless you bought the Supporter version of Arma III that included “all” DLC. Second, the 100 square kilometer island is inspired by Fiji. It’s not an exact recreation, but certain geographic elements and the character of the location is being used as a blueprint. Third, vehicles and other equipment including a new fixed-wing aircraft and a waterscooter are coming with the terrain. Finally, Bohemia is working on improvements like better water reflections, lighting, and shoreline interactions. These engine improvements will be coming to every Arma III owner, even if they don’t buy the DLC.

Arma III’s Tanoa expansion is a work-in-progress and is scheduled for release in 2016.

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This is the trailer for the Director’s Cut of Wasteland 2. Developers inXile had previously announced this expanded, improved, and better balanced version of their successfully crowd-funded RPG earlier, but that was when it was going to be called The Game of the Year Edition. Director’s Cut is a much better sounding name. It suggests that this is the version that people should play because it’s what the creator intended. Game of the Year Edition just sounds like a budget repackage of the game with DLC, which doubly hurts because it’s coming to consoles for the first time. The Director’s Cut brings Unity 5, over 8,000 additional recorded dialog lines, and controller support.

Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut will launch in the late Summer for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Owners of the current PC version will get it as a free upgrade.

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