Archive for September, 2011

, | Games podcasts

You might call Dony Moore, a.k.a “wigglestick”, the official aesthetician of Quarter to Three. Or at least our WordPress guru. He pretty much built the page you’re looking at. This week, he’s also our guest on the podcast. We discuss which characters he’d be in a Coen brothers movie, the true meaning of urbex, whether Warwick is suited for Dominion, and the greatest open-world games of all time (that were on the Apple IIe). Also, listen closely for an exclusive Mass Effect 3 teaser!

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, | Features

My monthly column on strategy games, From Civ to Starcraft, begins today on Gamepro. However, it feels like I’ve been at it for months. The title has a familiar ring. Weird, huh?

This month, I offer advice, freely and loudly over my headset, to people playing Gears of War 3’s new horde mode. That advice consists of nuggets of wisdom like the following:

Stay at the base, you dummies! You don’t need to venture out into the map to fight them over there so you don’t have to fight them over here. Bush league adventurism has no place in Gears’ horde mode. That’s what the campaign’s arcade mode is for.

Read the column here.

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, | Features

One of the things you have to know going in to the community levels of LBP is that sometimes you’re going to be used as a guinea pig. While I object to this–I have no more interest in beta testing a game than I have in seeing an unfinished preview of a movie–I’ve come to see it as the price of admission in experimenting with user-made levels. In certain cases I will make exceptions, however. If a friend needs to test out multiplayer for his review of an early build I’m happy to help out. If Wes Anderson wants to show a nearly finished print of his next film and then do a Q&A, I’ll go for that. But by and large, no thanks.

So I was annoyed as this week’s level, Boti-Boit, loaded and I realized it wasn’t a level at all, just a concept for a contest. I do not want to test out your contest concept. I finally got my kid to sleep and then had to spend half an hour futzing with my Internet connection because the latest PSN update knocked me offline. I’m bushed and I just want to play a little bit, not do your work for you. Except…

Boti-Boit is a really cool concept. The name is wholly inscrutable, to be sure, but the concept is simple and delightful. Your sackboy is on a huge rubber band ball, and you move him by bouncing the ball, poking in and out of platforms as you advance. That’s all there is to it. Hopefully the designer, someone named Kaumy, will eventually design a real level around it.

Click here for the previous Weekly Little Big Planet

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, | Games

Rage is due out next week and I’m looking forward to it. The Modern Warfare 2 style co-op has ratcheted up my interest level. However, I wonder how long the joy will last. I appreciate a standard FPS as much as the next guy, but in this world of weapon upgrades and RPG elements, how much fun will “just shooting dudes” be? Not that Rage is a plain-Jane kind of shooter. It has gadgets and dune buggies, but it appears to be missing all of the folderol that’s so popular in today’s games.

This could be the breath of fresh air I’ve been missing. I’ve had quite a long run of complex shooters that require upgrades and thought, so maybe this is just what the doctor ordered. Either way, I’ll be tearing it up in Rage starting next Tuesday.

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, | Features

For many games, the multiplayer and single player feel like separate products, connected thematically, but with very little in common when it comes to core gameplay. For instance, I play a lot of real time strategy games. There are almost no real time strategy games in which the single player campaign is even remotely like the multiplayer. The difference isn’t quite as pronounced in shooters, but it’s still there. For some shooters, multiplayer is farmed out to an entirely separate developer. For many primarily multiplayer shooters, the single player seems like barely an afterthought.

The beauty of Red Dead Redemption’s multiplayer is that it feels almost exactly like the single-player, even though it’s an entirely separate experience (contrast this to something like Dead Island, where the multiplayer stuff is the same as the single-player stuff, but with more players). Whether you’re playing the single player storyline, or whether you’re in the free roam online mode where all multiplayer begins, Red Dead Redemption is about being in a wide-open and richly evocative recreation of the Old West, with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to things to do. Several of which we did last night.

After the jump, it’s a hell of thing, killing a man Continue reading →

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, | Movie reviews

I have watched and enjoyed some awful movies solely because Lucy Liu is in them. Cypher is one such movie. This 2002 release is director Vincenzo Natali’s transition from the sleek sci-fi horror of 1997’s Cube to the awkward Cronenberg me-too of 2009’s Splice. Jeremy Northam plays the dupe in a mind-bending game of corporate espionage that ends up exactly where you think it’s going to end up. Liu plays Morpheus, but hotter. She even gives Northam red pills. She will arrive dangling from a wire on a helicopter for a hilarious Liu ex machina.

Northam, a capable and British actor, sports an oddly brittle American accent. Liu, a lovely woman, sports a ridiculous unflattering wig. If Cypher is ever rewarding, it’s when these things are shed.

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, | Games

Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends, pulled a fast one on us. They released Dominion without much ado. The new map, Crystal Scar, and accompanying new game mode are faster-paced than the original style of play. In fact, it now plays like an RTS version of World of Warcraft’s Arathi Basin.You start at level 3 with quite a bit of gold and are tasked with capturing command points. You gain experience and gold via a constant trickle that’s enough to keep the action going. You can augment this with creep kills, but it’s not necessary.

Try it out here.

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, | Game reviews

In case you didn’t know yet from my ongoing enthusiastic burbling, I love Renegade Ops.

In the movie Bad Boys 2, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence drive a Humvee through a shantytown. It’s stupid. Who would do that? People might get hurt. But it’s action movie stupid, no one gets hurt, and it looks grand. This is Renegade Ops in a nutshell, although with more explosions, cars way cooler than any mere Humvee, and plenty of surprises.

Now my love has a score. Read the full review here.

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, | Games

So I’m reading over the press release for the upcoming add-on to Distant Worlds, an ambitious, spread-sheet, AI-driven game of galactic conquest that feels a bit like something Paradox would make if they made games in space.

Then I get to this feature and realize publisher Matrix has pasted the wrong text into the press release.

a brand new character system with skills, traits and advancements based on each character

Ha ha, good one, Matrix. I actually had to scroll back up to the top of the email to make sure the error wasn’t mine, and that I wasn’t actually reading the press release for some sort of RPG. But sure enough, Matrix has mistakenly put this text into the press release for Distant Worlds: Legends. Everyone knows that Distant Worlds is as huge and impersonal as the galaxies on which it plays. Space this big and this busy has no room for individual characters, much less characters that matter or change. That would make Distant Worlds more like Master of Orion 2 or Crusader Kings or Shogun 2.

Among the other features mentioned in the press release:

new race-specific events and victory conditions; a new system for borders and spheres of influence; an expanded tech tree with new weapons, facilities, and wonders; improved AI; improved diplomacy including mining and refueling rights; greatly improved fleet management; new main map overlays to show ship routes and fleet postures; improved mod support,

That’s quite a lot. I’m flashing back to the way Galactic Civlization II improved so dramatically with the Twilight of the Arnor expansion. A basically sound game turned into a game exponentially better once its races were fleshed out to give the whole thing some asymmetry and personality. Those are two things the already fascinating Distant Worlds could definitely use.

Distant Worlds: Legends, with or without characters, will be out “by November”. That means within 34 days. Not that I’m counting.

Oh, and if you have any nifty ideas for a space monster that can prowl the galaxy alongside the dreaded space lobsters and space slugs, Matrix wants to hear about them.

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, | Games

The folks at 604 Republic have approached us with phat loot for a contest. I occasionally get offers like this, but I mostly ignore them because it’s goofy stuff like controller decals or a handful of credits for some online poker shenanigans. However, after taking a look at 604’s catalog, I saw about five or six T-shirts that I would gladly wear. In public. Around girls. Like that epic duel design above, which is way better than Jurassic Park 3. Take a look here for more designs.

And if you see anything you like, post in the comments section for this post. Commenters’ names will go into a random drawing. Additionally, join us for the Wednesday night Help Wanted session of Red Dead Redemption, and five (5!) instances of your name will go into the drawing.

A winner will be selected on Monday morning. Your choice of shirt and mailing address will be forwarded to the fine folks at 604, and they’ll send you some phat loot you can wear proudly!

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, | Games

A friend once described Vegas as “Disneyland for adults meets Wal-Mart”. I don’t get it, but I agree with the sentiment, which is to say Vegas is weird and slightly icky and it’s hard to explain why because it’s trying so hard to do things to make you like it.

I’d like to thank the fine folks at Blue Castle, now an internal team at Capcom, for making Dead Rising 2. I haven’t been to Vegas since playing Dead Rising 2. But I’m here now for a press event and I can’t help but look around at all the kitsch and evaluate its effectiveness against zombies. Thanks, Blue Castle, for making Vegas interesting again.

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, | Features

Welcome to the inaugural Help Wanted, a program sponsored by the National Foundation for the Preservation of Old Videogames. Every week, I invite you to join me to play a game that’s been out for more than a month (i.e. it’s old). It could be any genre, on any platform, and it might not even be very good. The game will be announced on Monday. The playing will take place on Wednesday, hopefully with help from you. A write-up will be posted on Thursday, and I hope you’ll to share your impressions in the comments section if you joined us.

This week, join me at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern for Red Dead Redemption. No paid DLC is required, although you’ll want to download the Outlaws to the End co-op mission DLC, which is free. We’ll mess around in Free Roam, maybe take out some of the gang hideouts, and then try some of the co-op missions. Ideally, I’d like to beat all six co-op missions to unlock the advanced versions. After that, time allowing, we can repair to some head-to-head games. Later in the evening, I intend to try the co-op zombie mode from Undead Nightmares, which is paid DLC you should have if you own Red Dead Redemption. Undead Nightmares belongs up there with Dead Rising, Dead Island, Atom Zombie Smasher, and Space Pirates and Zombies for its canny ability to translate zombie lore into gameplay.

To join us on Wednesday night, send a message to the gamertag “tomchick” on Xbox Live and I’ll invite you into our free roam session. From there, we can form posses and split off into separate missions as needed. Hope to see you Wednesday, pardner*!

* I promise I won’t be talking like that over voice chat.
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, | Games

FIFA 12, a Forumula 1 racing game, is out this week. And X-Men Destiny, a DIY mutant game from the creators of Too Human. And an RTS based on Game of Thrones from the creators of Bloodbowl. And a standalone follow-up to the fantasy dungeon sim Dungeons, called Dark Lord, from the creators of Dungeons. And finally the bundled remasters of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for the Playstation 3.

Don’t worry, next week could be a little brutal.

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, | Movie podcasts

Is Kevin Smith’s Red State a horror movie? A showcase for actors like Michael Park, John Goodman, and Kerry Bishe? A polemic about religion and government? A combination of all those things? We have a pretty broad three-way split on this movie, ranging from a conditional thumbs up to one of us being offended on multiple fronts. Then at the 1:04 mark, for this week’s 3×3, we discuss scenes we wish had been in movies.

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