Archive for January, 2012

, | Games

About ten to fifteen hours into Final Fantasy XIII-2, you’ll finally come to Serendipity, the casino dimension (pictured). It features chocobo races, slot machines, and card games. One of the employees tells you more activities will be added later, which is par for the course for this game. New stuff is constantly being folded into Final Fantasy XIII-2.

I can’t make any sense of the chocobo races, in which big slow chickens take far too long to trot around a track. I’m supposed to bet on them. Presumably I should bet on the one I’ve entered into the race. Having accumulated three chocobos over the course of my travels, I proceed to run them into the ground. Each chocobo has so many races in him. They come in last place every time. Short of searching time and space for faster chocobos, I think I’ll stick to the other minigames.

The slot machines are, well, slot machines. I know better than to throw money into those things. Which leaves the card games. Ooh, I like card games! The room of slot machines has card tables on one side, and a hostess offers to explain how the card tables work. Okay, let’s give this a shot. I select the “Learn about the card tables” option.

To be unlocked with future downloadable content.

Now I wouldn’t normally mind if these minigames weren’t all present and accounted for. If there’s one thing I can say after about twenty hours in Final Fantasy XIII-2, it’s that the economy is absurd, pointless, and very likely broken. I don’t really need to race chickens, yank a lever, or play cards to earn FinalBux. But I’m here in Serendipity because one of the characters just told me that he can make me a super paradox-fueled uberweapon if I bring him a Chaos Crystal. And guess what’s at the top of the list of prizes that you can only get by cashing in your casino chips?

I’ll be over here at the slot machine with a bucket of coins.

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, | Game reviews

However you felt about Soulcalibur IV, you have to give it credit for its own sense of style and identity. I can safely say there was no other fighting game quite like Soulcalibur IV. I can say no such thing about Soulcalibur V. Because there are, in fact, several other fighting games quite like it, most of them recently published by Capcom.

After the jump, the Ryu that you do Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews

While you’re playing Oil Rush, a naval themed RTS, you can press the “F” key and the camera will supposedly fly around and show you cool stuff. This isn’t a unique feature — Petroglyph’s RTSs do the action camera particularly well — but it gets at the heart of the main problem with Oil Rush. Namely, that you might as well watch ships, because there’s not much else to do.

After the jump, you go there Continue reading →

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, | Games

An elevated wallet threat level has been issued for die-hard fans of JRPGs or fighting games due to the release of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Soulcalibur V. I’ll have full reviews soon, but at this point all I can say for sure is that one of them is terrible.

On the completely unknown front is Neverdead (pictured), a shooter from the developers of the forgettable but decent Rogue Trooper five years ago and the forgettable but terrible Aliens vs. Predator two years ago. And if you’re a sucker for iPhone games and Cthulhu, make a sanity check against the five-dollar Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, a tactical combat game about fighting Shug Nigguraths and whatnot.

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, | Movie podcasts

The Grey is not the movie one of us wanted, but two of us loved — yes, loved! — it. Listen for a spirited conversation about what Joe Carnahan’s latest movie is, isn’t, and/or should be. For this week’s 3×3, which starts at the 1:03 mark, we talk about those parts in movies where the audience knows something the characters don’t. You know, like when the rope is fraying, or when a cup is poisoned, or when a monster is creeping around behind someone. But we mostly pick better examples than those. Next week: Chronicle.

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, | Features

“So how do we do this?” I ask Alex. We’re driving home from his second MMA class, which was on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, a cardio intense grappling martial art. It left him pretty exhausted.

“Water,” he demands. “You give me water.”

I hand him the bottle, which he begins draining.

“How do we do what?” he asks in between gulps.

“Find our eighth member for the guild. You said it would be hard?”

“Ha!” he lets out a derisive laugh. “That’s not just hard. That’s impossibllllle!”

I think he was doing Luke, but he still has some water in his mouth and it comes out as “impwossable.”

After the jump, Alex and I go on a recruiting mission Continue reading →

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, | Features

What? Why are the sheets wet? Was I drooling? Jesus, that’s sweat. Who’s sweating in my bed? It’s getting all over me. Oh, I’m sweating. It’s me. Right, I’m sick. Is that good, that I’m sweating? Doesn’t that mean I’m hydrated? God, I hope so. I can’t drink any more water. Why are my lips so dry? How long is that D20-sized clot of pain going to throb behind my eyes?

It’s still dark out. I can’t believe I woke up before dawn. Looking at the digital clock — oh, shit, the digital clock isn’t turned on, did the power go out? No, no, it’s on, I think. I just have to squint because my eyes are all bleary and I can’t see anything. It’s 7 o’ clock. Why isn’t it light out yet? I have to change these sheets. I’m wearing my clothes? I went to bed in my clothes? I don’t think I can get up just yet. I feel like I’m going to be sick. When did I last eat? Maybe it’s 7 o’ clock in the evening. It is. 7 o’ clock in the evening. Last I remember it was the afternoon and I was just going to lie down for a second because I could see the dark wave coming. What happened to Tuesday? Or Wednesday? Did I have something I had to do today? Is it still Tuesday?

Where’s the DS?

After the jump, the sickness unto Wesker Continue reading →

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, | Features

Kind of a cool image, huh? Creepy. Evocative. But how does the level play, you rightfully ask. Okay. Fair enough.

I have no idea. My PlayStation is currently waging a war with my LAN. This happens. Usually when there’s an update for either the system or for LBP. My network and that game just don’t get along. The update process starts and my Internet connection gets banished. So this week’s level is one I played a few weeks ago that I meant to revisit. I’d love to do so, but, you know…the war. That’s actually okay, though, since another game has had my full attention all this week, and it requires neither my PlayStation nor my home network.

After the jump, banished and it feels so good Continue reading →

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, | Games podcasts

This week we offer you twice as much McMaster as any other week. What’s more, we also bring you 100% more Brandon Cackowski-Schnell than any other week, lending the podcast some serious Dr. Who and 50 Cent cred, yo.

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, | Games

Remember in Resident Evil 5 how cool it was to have Sheva by your side? She was exotic and sometimes competent and, most important, she had personality. Those were the days.

In Resident Evil: Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS, you get new partners. When you’re playing as Jill Valentine, a character whose cleavage you literally wrestled with in Resident Evil 5, your partner is a rather, uh, portly European fellow. Would husky be a more polite word? I’m not sure if he’s French or Spanish or what, but I get the impression that he reeks of cologne and has a bunch of candy bars in one of those pockets.

But that’s not the worst of it. When you’re playing as Chris “Derp” Redfield, your partner is a woman named Jessica who seems to have been inspired by the Shit Girls Say Twitter feed. Within the first five minutes of the game, she’s complaining about being cold and her feet hurting. Then she starts nagging you about whether she’s better than your last partner. At the end of your first mission with her, you fall down a pit and get attacked by a bunch of zombie dogs. You have to survive the zombie dog onslaught while she makes her way to you. At one point, I thought she said, “Me and my sweet ass are on the way!” That’s what it sounded like and I was too busy reloading my dog-killing popgun to check the subtitles for what she had actually said. But the main point is Jessica is so annoying that’s what I thought she said.

But then I died and had to replay the zombie dog sequence again. Sure enough, that’s exactly what she says. “Me and my sweet ass are on the way!” In this day and age, are you allowed to talk to your coworkers that way? It’s enough to make you long for Ashley’s cries of “Leon!”

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, | Games

One year ago, a fellow in Sweden writing under the name rasmadrak announced that he was going to blog his attempt to make a pinball machine in his living room. The blog continued apace, often with a lot of technical details about electronics and woodwork and circuits and various other things that pinball fans care about nearly as much as movie fans care about emulsion techniques. Several months later, he announced that it would be a Fallout themed table. Ooh, that’s pretty cool! Maybe not cool enough to actually make me want to go to Sweden and knock on his door, but still pretty cool.

But you know what’s cooler? He changed his mind shortly thereafter and now he’s building it as a Bioshock themed table.

It’s really the perfect “replacement” for the original theme – the art deco is there, the decadence and all the major game elements could almost directly be translated into a Bioshock feature…The old theme was based on the early Fallout games! Also a setting very dear to me, but it was really hard to find high resolution images to use and the color palette was mostly brown-isch. With Bioshock, I’m allowed to use blue, red, green, pink, purple etc without it getting weird. It all fits together really nicely.

He still hasn’t tipped his hand about the table layout, but you can see he’s got a Big Daddy figure with a rotating drill and green, yellow, or red lights depending on its hostility state. From bits of the table art, it also seems to have a reference to Big Sisters, Rapture’s disastrous New Years Eve celebration, and the option to harvest or rescue Little Sisters. Rasmadrak read my mind! Or vice versa.

Anyone know where I can get a cheap plane ticket to Stockholm?

(Thanks Robert Bjarmyr!)

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, | Game reviews

It’s a bit of an insult to call Triple Town a match-three game, but technically, that’s exactly what it is. But this is no mere puzzle. It’s arguably a city-building strategy game with just enough abstraction to fool people who like puzzles into playing. Each turn you draw a random item to drop into your city. This is usually a clump of grass. When you drop three identical objects next to each other, they’ll collapse into an upgraded version of those three objects. The three grasses become a single bush. Carefully position your upgrades so they’ll further collapse into even more upgraded objects. You progress from grass, to bushes, to trees, to houses, to mansions, to castles. Okay, maybe it is just a puzzle. But it’s got just enough strategy to fool people who like strategy games into playing.

After the jump, it’s also got terrible bears! Continue reading →

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