, | Game reviews
VV_4

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who recognized the brilliance of Sacred 2 and those who don’t like to think when they’re playing an action RPG. In Sacred 2’s German variation on the Diablo formula, you assembled intricate character builds. You might have had to actually read a manual and take notes to know what you were doing (keep in mind this was back in 2008). Then your Teutonic clockwork assemblage roamed around an open world, maybe following the main quest marker but maybe not. It didn’t really matter. All that mattered was leveling up. Sacred 2 was an action RPG for gearheads. Later, Path of Exile from New Zealand would come along to re-fill the niche with its Antipodean clockwork.

Victor Vran, another German take on the Diablo formula, is actually Bulgarian, but close enough. There’s enough wide-ranging intricacy in Victor Vran to warm the clockwork cockles of a Sacred 2 fan’s heart. But Victor Vran lives very comfortably in a post-Diablo III world. Whereas Sacred 2 was fussy and elaborate, Victor Vran is accessible and splashy, brimming with personality and broad variety. “Dumbed down” you might say if you’re impatient with people who don’t like to think when they’re playing an action RPG. “Also for them” if you aren’t.

After the jump, a cerebral action RPG for dummies. Continue reading →

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, | Games podcasts
Qt3_Games_Podcast_07_31_15

Tom Chick and Jason McMaster bring you a summer update, which includes Heroes of the Storm, The Swindle, Fallout: New Vegas, Metal Gear Solid 3, Victor Vran, Guild Wars 2, Diablo III, Her Story, Talos Principle, Infinifactory, Rocket League, and probably more.

Next week: the Arkham Knight spoiler episode

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, | News
rocket_van

With over 5 million downloads Rocket League is a hit. Digging into that number, we can see that roughly 500k come from paying customers on Steam, leaving about 4.5 million downloads on the PlayStation 4 where Rocket League is currently free as part of the PlayStation Plus program. Not too shabby for a game about cars playing soccer.

When you have 5 million players enjoying your game, you can be sure that some of them will buy DLC if you offer it. That’s good because in this case, most of them haven’t paid a cent yet. Developer Psyonix has outlined their strategy in that regard. The San Diego-based studio is going to support their game with a mix of paid and free DLC. First up, is the Supersonic Fury DLC Pack. It’s coming in early August and will feature an American muscle car and a Japanese street racer to round out players’ garages. A slew of cosmetic accessories will be included to collect. The DLC will be $3.99.

Alongside the paid DLC, Rocket League will be getting a free update for everyone that will add the Utopia Coliseum (pictured above) 70 more country flags, and beefed-up graphical effects. A new spectator mode will be added for players that just like to watch.

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, | News

ZombiU is too good a game to languish on the WiiU. That’s the thinking behind Ubisoft re-releasing it for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 18th (or “reanimating” it, as they put it in the press release). They’re partly right. But the part they’re right about is the part that only works on the WiiU.

As a zombie survival game, Zombi (awkward…) should be on par with any middling zombie survival game. A little less than a Dead Island, and little more than the half-baked Dead Rising 3, with a touch of Demon Souls for how you play through the risk/reward of your inevitable deaths. Fair enough.

But the real value of ZombiU is as a multiplayer game, in which two players in the same living room go head-to-head. The main action takes place on the TV screen, with one player trying to stay alive long enough to kill a certain number of zombies. Or, better yet, the mode in which one player tries to capture a certain number of flags. This latter mode introduces all sorts of cool strategy about running the map, collecting upgrades, retreating, rearming, dealing with specific kinds of zombies. The other player uses the WiiU’s gamepad for an overhead view, dropping zombies on the map, researching upgrades, and being the zombie god in a head-to-head real-time strategy game. There’s nothing quite like ZombiU’s multiplayer in terms of two people in the same living room having a grand old time with the undead. You and your friends can squander entire evenings this way.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to recreate this on the single-screen PS4, Xbox One, or PC. The main appeal of ZombiU is unique to the WiiU. Fortunately, you can get ZombiU here for $13. The WiiU will cost you another $300.

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, | Movie reviews
Unfriended_review

To enjoy Unfriended, which is feasible without lumping it into the “so bad it’s good” category, you have to accept a few things. First, it’s about dumb kids. The setting is social media, so that’s expected. But this is also a slasher movie, so the dumb kids are mandatory. Second, it’s committed to its gimmick, so you can’t expect any more than you’d expect from, say, a found footage movie. And third, it’s not good so much as admirably competent for a movie built around a gimmick. Despite the dumb kids and the gimmick, it’s very solidly an R-rated horror movie.

Unfriended relies on a mundane familiarity with Skype, Gmail, Youtube, Facebook, and so forth (either Twitter wasn’t on board or these kids don’t Tweet). It relies on the sounds, the interfaces, the rhythm of copy pasting, alt tabbing, the hitch of a bad connection, how someone might swirl her cursor around before clicking on something. This is the language of Unfriended, a logical next step after the social media mystery Catfish. It plays particularly well streaming to a computer. Ideally, a laptop. I would have felt awfully foolish seeing this in a theater.

Nacho Vigolando did something similar with Open Windows, an Elijah Wood Hitchcockian thriller that goes off the rails and dares you to object as it gets increasingly silly. But Unfriended’s “is it supernatural?” angle lets it get away with a little more. The ensemble cast, convincingly led by Shelley Hennig who could very well kick off a scream queen career, is enough to pad out its 80-minute running time. Contrast this with the brevity of the memorable segment in VHS called “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”, which is a Skype call between two people.

Sure, it’s cheap. But it’s effective, with its share of easy puzzles and expected twists. The inevitable movies that will use this gimmick from here on out are probably going to be a whole lot worse. You might as well get in while the getting’s still good.

Support Qt3 by watching Unfriended on Amazon.com.

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fnaf4

Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 recently released and fans of the simple horror game series seem to like it. Jump scares! Spooky stuffed animals! Boo! Like the previous games, the fourth installment has also attracted its share of critics. It’s not scary. It’s a technical mess. The story is convoluted. All debatably fair criticisms, but creator Scott Cawthon has also become the target of personal attacks. It’s not enough, after all, to pick apart a game on Youtube. You have to make fun of it and the creator. Cawthon previously demonstrated his good guy status by donating to children’s charities, so it may come as no surprise that he has something to say to the haters.

Being good at something is something to strive for, not something to demonize. Criticisms of my games are fine, and a lot of times the criticism is valid. But there are a lot of people out there who will hate anything that becomes popular, just because it’s popular, and hate anyone who becomes successful, just because they are successful. “Haters gonna hate.” – as they say, but I want you to know that focusing on someone else’s failure or success is the wrong way to live. People who make videos bashing other people are like people who run into a public square and scream into a pillow. They’ll get attention, but they won’t change anything. If you strive to be like them, then you’ll spend your life screaming into a pillow as well, and your life won’t mean anything.

Imagine that! An indie dev comes under fire and he does not explode with insults, accusations, and threats.

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, | Game reviews
Guild_of_Dungeoneering_review

I love the idea of Guild of Dungeoneering. As developer Gambrinous explains on their site, it’s an exploration game where “you lay out the dungeon but can’t control the hero”. A turn-based rogue-like in the same vein as free will RTS Majesty? Someone out there has my number. Yes, please!

And from the moment I booted it up, I’ve been chronically infected with the earworm soundtrack (“This is the guild of Dungeoneering…something something never fearing!”) and won over by the precious pencil-on-graph-paper aesthetic. The clever gameplay got its hook into me quickly enough. Dungeon spelunking as deck-building, with sleek card-based battles and longer term unlockables. Imagine Card Hunter minus the grinding and drawn-out tactical battles, but cuter and with that soundtrack I can’t stop humming. Come for the presentation, stay for the slick gameplay.

So, after the jump, what could go wrong? Continue reading →

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, | News
reforged_vikings

Mount & Blade: Warband Viking Conquest has relaunched. When the Viking Conquest total conversion DLC launched in December of 2014, it wasn’t the Viking epic it promised to be. More like a clunky skirmish between middle school reenactors. Bad naval battles, buggy quests, and a general lack of polish hurt its reception. While the original developers of Mount & Blade work on the full sequel, the Viking Conquest team over at Brytenwalda have been toiling to make things right. The Reforged edition of Viking Conquest features a longboat’s worth of improvements. Longer quests, companion dogs, hunting, ambushes, ambient sounds, better naval encounters, and even the drudgery of peasant work (if that’s your thing) have been added to the game. The developers have even spruced up multiplayer with a new raid mode, and added a bunch of arms and armor to the package. It’s a Viking renaissance!

The Mount & Blade: Warband Viking Conquest Reforged DLC is available now. Current owners of the DLC will get the upgrade for free.

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, | News
splattter

Splatoon is getting a major free update in August. Nintendo’s Ink-tastic update to their multiplayer ink-shooter on the Wii U will bring the level cap up to 50 from the current limit of 20, adds private battles for just you and your friends, a squad battle mode for easier team joining, and opens up 40 more pieces of clothing gear like a sushi-chef costume. The update will also add two new weapons to the mix. The Slosher is a bucket-like apparatus that allows players to hurl ink in big globules. The Splatling (pictured above) has a high rate of fire and has the option to charge shots for more impact. If you’re going to be spraying squid ink at people, why wouldn’t you use a Gatling gun to do it?

Splatoon’s Ink-tastic update will be released on August 5th. Nintendo promises that further updates are coming that will add more content to the base game for free.

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, | Movie podcasts
71_podcast

You probably missed Yann Demange’s ingenious thriller ’71 during its limited theatrical release. Your loss. But once you’ve seen it in the comfort of your own home, here is our podcast for your listening pleasure. At the 1:20 mark, we get retro with contemporary movie scenes obsoleted by technology.

Next week: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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, | News

Techland posted the puff-piece video above to crow about the level of support they’ve given their game since launch. Not only have the developers worked on patches and DLC included in the Season Pass, they’ve added freebies for all the regular owners of the game. Gold tier weapons! Special events! Costumes! New Modes! It’s all good stuff which is a nice reminder that CD Projekt RED aren’t the only guys giving away free updates to their games. The interesting part of the video comes right near the end when Techland teases what appears to be a dune buggy idling near some wilderness. Dying Light is already the best zombie parkour game ever. Can it become the best zombie parkour 4×4 game?

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, | News
cs_cheaters

Whether or not mainstream media takes competitive videogame playing seriously, the world of e-sports is about to get more legitimate. Following the revelation that members of Cloud9, a high-ranked Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, was using the drug Adderall to enhance their reflexes during tournaments, the Electronic Sports League will begin testing their players for drugs. That’s right, videogamers. Performance-enhancing drug scandals in electronic gaming are here. We’re one step closer to getting our own HBO documentary about the rise and fall of a cyber-athlete hero.

As recently as April, Michal Blicharz, managing director of the ESL denied that drug abuse in his company’s tournaments was widespread enough to warrant action despite all evidence to the contrary. Although almost all official gaming organizations ban drugs and alcohol during their competitions, the ESL will be the first to take the issue seriously enough to screen players before matches.

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, | Game reviews
Marco_Polo_review_1

From the moment I started playing Voyages of Marco Polo, I knew I would like it. And the more I play — I’ve played at least 20 games in the short period of time it’s been out — the more it climbs its way into my favorite games of all time. Today, it may very well be among the top five. It does about a dozen things I look for in a boardgame and it does them all spectacularly well. How do I love thee, Voyages of Marco Polo? Let me count the ways.

After the jump, look out, China! Here I come! Continue reading →

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The Sniper: Ghost Warrior games have been largely forgettable affairs. They sit squarely in the space between modern Call of Duty games and Rebellion’s Sniper Elite franchise. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 was just a bland sort of me-too game that didn’t really stand out in any way. CI Games says they’ve taken the criticism to heart and are going full-out on the third game. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is in an open-world setting with side quests, crafting, Witcher/Batman vision, and skills to upgrade. In the E3 developer commentary video, CI stresses that they’re really going to make something special.

You play as the titular Ghost Warrior roaming the Georgian countryside making life miserable for Russian bad guys by taking out key personnel. You also get to control drone strikes. It’s an open-world RPG shooter mixed with Tom Clancy’s morality. Wait. That sounds familiar.

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