Archive for January, 2011

The end of DC Universe Online

, | Games

So that’s me up there in DC Universe’s Smallville instance, where me and some famous NPC superheroes just finished taking out Doomsday. Pictured are, from left to right, Bizzarro, Orange Boots, Freezer Girl, Miss Chick (me), and Little-Headed Guy Who Needs New Clothes.

Now that I’ve hit the level cap and vanquished Doomsday, I’m am officially in my first MMO endgame. I’ve never hit a level cap before. It feels strange. So this is what you people do when you keep playing World of Warcraft long after you’ve beat the game!

And with that, here is my final field report for GamePro, jointly written with AJ Glasser. After three weeks, is the honeymoon over? What is the situation with bugs? Are we done playing? And, of course, did I really give it five stars?

Daily Little Big Planet 2: but what about “No Russian”?

, | Games

I’m not sure what to make of Jambo_X’s AC-130: Mission Alpha. My first reaction to this recreation of the famously evocative gunship sequence from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was, “Oh, my…” It’s a bit unsettling to see Little Big Planet through an IR lens, particularly looking down from a circling plane, with color-coded IFF signals on a mass of Sack Boys and Girls, trying out the AC-130’s different weapons. “Raining death” isn’t really something I’m used to doing in Little Big Planet.

My second reaction was to admire Mr. _X’s ingenuity. What a clever idea! Just as the Dead Rising level offered a weirdly cheery perspective on zombie gore, here’s a weirdly cheery perspective on the cold remote calculation of contemporary war. Who says Little Big Planet has to always and only be cute?

My third reaction was to play again to try to get a better score.

Mindjack’s ingenious solution to boring singleplayer shooters

, | Games

I kind of don’t want to post a screenshot for Mindjack, because it’s a godawful ugly game and you’re just going to assume it sucks. Look at screenshot. I could probably tell you that was from a PSP game and you’d believe me. It doesn’t look much better in motion.

But the more important point about Mindjack is that there’s nothing else like it. For all its faults, it’s a really cool idea that actually works.

Thumbs up.

January 31, 2011: wallet threat level green

, | Games

It’s all clear for your wallet this week. New releases include a couple of expensive maps for Call of Duty: Black Ops, a new downloadable Bionic Commando platformer, and a Sims 3 patio furniture add-on. That last bit is 100% true. You might think the subtitle “Outdoor Living” refers to camping, but you’d be wrong.

Daily Little Big Planet 2: a thousand deaths

, | Games

I don’t make it any further than the above screenshot in Maniacolus’ lovely Little Big Planet level, The gnome cave. That’s because Maniacolus built it with limited lives. When I lose those, the level ends and I have to restart from the very beginning. So I have the option of replaying over and over on the way back to that jump, or I can go play another lovely level with infinite lives, like Lockstitch’s Vile Anchorage. I do the latter. My Sack Girl still dies a lot, but she’s happier for never going farther backwards than the last check point.

As a guy who’s so bad at platformers that I break out in a cold sweat when I get to a part where I have to jump, I don’t understand why someone would make a level with limited lives. If you want people like me to see your work, don’t punish us by putting us back at the beginning. But that’s just the bad platform gamer in me talking. Part of the appeal of Little Big Planet is that there are so many different kinds of levels. If I wanted to play a punishing platformer, and I didn’t already have a copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns, I might enjoy banging my head against The gnome cave to work my way up the leaderboards.

Get ready to storm another snowy base in Call of Duty

, | Games

Can you feel the excitement in the air? That’s millions of Call of Duty players quivering in anticipation for the First Strike add-on that goes live next week. For only $129.99 USD, they’ll get two new maps. One of them is a snowy base (pictured) that’s totally not Array and the other is a non-snowy base that’s totally not Launch.

Get to AI Wars’ good parts faster

, | Games

AI War’s latest update is now live. If you’ve previously played this epic sci-fi RTS, prepare to re-learn it.

With this update, nearly every combat ship in the game has been rebalanced in an effort to integrate all the new units added over the past year. Golems have been completely revamped and the AI have received major intelligence upgrades such as more proactive retreats, a network of core shield generators, and the new “stalking” mechanic where it lies in wait until the player is at their most vulnerable.

And if you haven’t previously played it, the update intends to make it more accessible.

Players should also be pleased with significant adjustments to overall difficulty and the shortening of the early part of the game — allowing you to “get to the good part” faster. Not to mention tons of performance improvements, as well as more of a general accessibility regardless of what level of player you are.

Additionally, you can get the new $10 add-on, Light of the Spire, to give AI War a new story-based mode and shorter tower defense modes.

* 180 new ships, including massive “spirecraft” (larger than starships, smaller than golems).
* Nine new bonus ship classes featuring oversized starship-like spire ships.
* New Defender campaign type that allows for a way to play shorter sessions.
* New AI weapons: Beachheads AI Plot, 4 core guard posts, and 10 guardians.
* Exciting Fallen Spire story-based campaign-within-a-campaign. Alternate way to win!
* New in-game music tracks.

Microsoft: 1, Cheater’s Angry Mom: 0

, | Games


A Seattle Fox News affiliate thought they had a real “David and Goliath” human interest story when they recounted Microsoft’s cruelty to an autistic boy. It seems the boy was so good at games — think Dustin Hoffman counting toothpicks in Rain Man — that Microsoft thought he was cheating. So they zeroed out his achievements. But the boy’s mother wouldn’t let this stand. Like Norma Rae organizing unions, she rallied against injustice. She called the news to complain and they obligingly ran her story.

Except it turns out he was cheating. He had sent his account information to someone who hacked it offline to enable recon armor in Halo. Oops. Pwnt.

(Thanks Slashdot!)

Daily Little Big Planet 2: the dead shall waddle the earth

, | Games

I’m so predictable. I couldn’t resist jumping into the first zombie-themed level I could find. Which wasn’t hard considering it’s prominently featured at the top of the recommended lists. It’s Dead Rising “mall of the dead” by RLCSAMS. You’re dropped into a sort of mall at one of several spawning points. Around the mall, you’ll find paintguns and throwable dynamite sticks with which to kill zombies. Sack zombies! You earn points for kills, and you lose points for getting eaten. At certain scoring thresholds, you unlock boxes containing advanced weapons. Like a flamethrower. Once the time limit is up, your score is logged on the boards. I’m a bit disappointed there isn’t some sort of getting to the chopper at the end.

There’s a lot of running away, and getting trapped, and dying, which should be features of any zombie encounter. Above, you can see my Sack Girl running in terror, desperately brandishing her paint gun. Despite the earnestly grim soundtrack, it’s the cheeriest and most adorable zombie slaughter I’ve ever seen. When it was all done, I wrote my first online review of a Little Big Planet level. Well, my first ingame online review.

I also noticed that every level has its own web page, courtesy of Little Big Planet’s fantastic community support. You can go here for Dead Rising “mall of the dead”, and if you’re logged into your Sony account, you can even queue it up for download next time you turn on your PS3.

12 things that need to be fixed in DC Universe Online

, | Games

Hi, DC Universe Online! I mostly want to say, “Great job and keep doing what you’re doing!” What a fantastic variation on the MMO theme, not to mention the superhero theme. I like that you have more in common with Crackdown, Infamous, or Prototype than you do with World of Warcraft or some sort of Aquaman comic book.

However — Let’s see, where are all my notes? Ah, here we go! — I have a few, uh, “suggestions”. I make these primarily because I love the game, but also because I’m surprised you don’t know better, being the creation of Sony Online Entertainment, a company with a long and storied history in online games.

After the jump, the nerd rage begins. Continue reading →

Sony to drag handhelds into the next generation

, | Games

Hey, look what Sony just announced! It’s got wifi, 3G network support, two analog sticks, a GPS system, two cameras, motion controls, a touchscreen on the back of the case, a built-in mic, and enough graphics power to run versions of the latest games that don’t look ten years old. In other words, a whole bunch of stuff the PSP didn’t have. So don’t call it a PSP2. Right now, you can call it the NGP, for “next-generation portable entertainment system”.

But that’s just its code name. We’ll be hearing more about its actual edgy name and exorbitant price probably at E3. It’s due out this holiday.

Qt3 Movie Club: Hard Eight

, | Movie reviews

From the mind of Paul Thomas Anderson…
In a world…
where the day’s catch from gambling is all that matters…
where hideous chuds have no problem landing smoking hot women…
comes a criminal with a score to settle…
Philip Baker Hall. Philip Seymour Hoffman. John C. Reilly. Samuel L. Jackson. Gwyneth Paltrow.

Haddo Eight!

Movie Club

The Google results on this site for this flick are not to my satisfaction, so it’s time to add to them. Enjoy.

[Ed. note: The Quarter to Three Movie Club is a monthly-ish event in which someone picks a movie for folks to watch — or re-watch, as the case may be — and then discuss. Then a magical random picking machine chooses the picker for the next movie from the participants in the discussion. We’ve been going strong — if by “strong”, you mean “off and on but never totally out” — for 33 movies and we show no sign of letting up. Join us for the Hard Eight discussion here and check here for the history of Qt3 movie club, along with your odds on the magical picking machine.]