Archive for March, 2012

, | Games

The various sprite packs Paradox has been selling for their games — basically skins for the units — is one thing. That stuff is silly and if anyone wants to buy it, he and his money deserve to be parted. But charging for basic personalization options? It’s not unlike THQ charging you for cheat codes in Saints Row 3.

With the new Crusader Kings II: Ruler Designer DLC all these are in your hands. Customize your character your way. Tweak and change any aspect of the character or even create an all new character and dynasty to play with. Create your portrait, change the name and dynasty and even customize your coat of arms. Change traits and stats at will and decide the size of the immediate family. The game that lets you choose your goals will now let you choose your character.

In my day, we could name our dudes in X-Com whatever we wanted and we didn’t have to pay $5! If I want to do things to customize my experience in a game, I shouldn’t have to pay extra. DLC should be content, not options that already belong in the core game.

The Ruler Designer will be available for $5 in a few weeks. Don’t buy it. You’re just encouraging them.

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, | Game diaries

No one is trying to sell me content when I play Xenoblade Chronicles on my Wii. There are no retail exclusives and even if there were, there is no place to enter a code to activate them. There will be no DLC. No one is going to vaguely promise to change the ending. No one is going to sell me a new gun or add skins for Sera or Garrus or Magneto. It’s almost enough to make me not mind spending literally dozens of hours on my Wii playing a single game.

After the jump, the character that would have been DLC Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries

There’s no undo button in Unity of Command. If I move a unit accidentally, I can’t take it back.
The developers say they’re working to add this feature. In the meantime, I can always redo the
scenario. I’m starting to understand how that’s part of the appeal.

After the jump, wargaming’s relationship with history Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries

Despite being currently mired in a slump with no end in sight, I’m tickled pink with this game as of late. The game’s inherent frustrations (in that it accurately models a sport where succeeding a mere three times out of ten can grant you All-Star status) can be maddening while packed in amongst the hordes on a crowded, jostling subway car, but last night as I returned home from my level one Spanish class on a largely empty F train, the enormity of what I held in my hands took root. A burgeoning baseball world, beautifully rendered, creating a portable bubble of alternate reality (I know that’s just a flowery description for any successful handheld game, so sue me).

After the jump, all thumbs Continue reading →

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, | Features

A creepy scientist named, uh, Creepy Scientist, has experienced something called the YLoD. My sackboy naturally feels bad for the guy–who wouldn’t?–and allows himself to be miniaturized and transported into the scientist’s PS3 in order to fix it. The result, Electric Momentum, has some of the coolest and quickest platforming I’ve played in a long time. That little spark in the middle of the screenshot there? That’s my boy, translated into electricity for a moment.

Bring your reflexes.

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, | Game diaries

The real time combat in Final Fantasy XIII-2 is quite the cinematic spectacle, thanks to that game’s impressive production values. But as the game itself soldiers on, the spectacle wears off. Eventually combat is just a formality. Battles in Final Fantasy XIII-2 are speed bumps between the cutscenes. Filler. Busywork that isn’t even much work. When combat is one of your primary ways of interacting with the world, you better get combat right. You hear that RPGs? You hear that Final Fantasy XIII-2? You hear that Skyrim?

After the jump, Xenoblade Chronicles hears that Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries

Unity of Command isn’t just a cute game that’s easy to pick up. It also uses an historically relevant supply system that significantly affects gameplay. Without fresh supplies each turn, my units lose combat effectiveness. Even the lowliest Russian peasants can defeat once-mighty panzer divisions that have been cut off too long from supply.

After the jump, we’re not playing Panzer General anymore Continue reading →

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, | Games podcasts

On this week’s podcast, we take film restoration technician Seth Berkowitz to task for defacing Dr. Strangelove. Then we derail into some movie talk that ranges from Citizen Kane to Chelan Simmons. In case you’re not familiar, Citizen Kane is an old timey movie by Orville Welles and Chelan Simmons is one of the stars of Chupacabra Terror. And since we finally have an assembly of three people who’ve finished Mass Effect 3, we variously offer our two cents on the ending (but only after a spoiler warning that will tell you exactly how far to fast-forward to avoid spoilers).

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, | Game diaries

Erstwhile infield rival Chase “Frenchie” D’Arnaud got promoted alongside me, up to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. I know we had our beef, but it’s cool now, honestly. He’s playing shortstop over on that side of the bag, and I’m over here playing second base. Hell, I might even turn the fielding back on for a little while so we can turn some double plays together. And here’s the kicker: Chase D’Arnaud is a real life dude! Goes to show you what I know.

After the jump, random hearts Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries

Xenoblade Chronicles is the latest RPG from Monolith Soft, the Japanese developer of the Xenosaga series. It was released last summer everywhere in the world except for stupid America, where it comes out next week because we’re slow, dumb, loud, and too busy playing Mass Effect 3.

Despite the prefix, Xenoblade Chronicles has nothing to do with the Xenosagas. I don’t know this first-hand, since I’ve never played a Xenosaga game. They were on the Playstation 2 when me and my PC were busy playing Western RPGs with the Dungeons and Dragons license. The occasional Final Fantsy excepted. But I read on Wikipedia that Xenoblade and Xenosaga are separate things, so I know it’s true.

What I can tell you from experience is that Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the best RPGs I have ever played, right up there with games as diverse and superlative as Planescape: Torment, Lord of the Rings Online, The Witcher 2, and especially Dark Cloud 2. I am head-over-heels in love.

After the jump, the story so far. Spoiler-free, of course. Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries

It’s my Road to the Show player’s virtual birthday, and the Pirates organization has given me two very special gifts… a promotion to play Triple-A baseball with the Indianapolis Indians, and the return of my starting second baseman job! See, the disappearance of my advancement goals wasn’t some glitch or show of organizational apathy. It was simply a dark, quiet room full of friends and co-workers, waiting to jump out and shower me with love and presents.

After the jump, built to Lastings Continue reading →

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