Archive for June 26th, 2012

Spinning your wheels in Dirt Showdown

, | Game reviews

Dirt Showdown is all the in-between stuff from other racing games. It’s those filler events you had to play to get to the next actual race. Basically, driving game gametax, now given its own game. It’s as if someone lifted up all the rally races from the previous Dirts, swept out the detritus that was left, collected it into a tidy little pile, and then slapped a name on it. Dirt Showdown.

After the jump, the lowdown on Showdown Continue reading →

Is Tom vs Bruce Hollywood bound?

, | Games

It’s not only official that Tom vs Bruce will begin again early next month, but it’s also official that we’ll be working on articles with Kelly Wand, Stefan “Desslock” Janicki, and Erik Wolpaw, three of the most talented writers I know. Although Tom vs Bruce is a lot of work, it’s the best kind of work a person can hope to do: alongside someone he knows, likes, and admires. And by helping us meet our stretch goal, our Kickstarter supporters basically let me do this three times over.

We’re particularly grateful for our three full sponsors, one of whom is going to basically crowdsource his choice of game. Which should terrify me given all the jokes folks have made about what games they’d pick. Desert Bus. Pokemon: Conquest. Deus Ex. Lollipop Chainsaw. But I can safely say there is no game I wouldn’t enjoy playing with Bruce Geryk. And that’s why our final stretch goal is a bit selfish. If we can reach another $1000 in the next two days, we’ll fly Bruce to Los Angeles to stay with me, specifically so we can do an in-person Tom vs Bruce on video, most likely based on a boardgame.

If you haven’t wondered whether it’s wise to support two writers making a video, you should. Wonder, I mean. And support us, too. But you should definitely wonder whether it’s wise. I know we did. We initially dreaded doing the mandatory introduction video for Kickstarter. And even though it’s, uh, a bit rudimentary, it’s miles and away better than it was when we first put it together. We got feedback from some friends, Bruce did a bang-up job figuring out how to edit it, and then how to edit his edits, and then how to do those goofy videotoaster tricks with scans of our articles. We can’t claim professional quality, but we can claim that we care enough about what we create to fuss over it long enough that it won’t suck as much as it did before we fussed over it. If that’s not a testament to the kind of video you’ll get if we meet our last stretch goal, I don’t know what is.

Oh, and that picture up there? It’s relevant. You’ll just have to read our latest update to find out how.

Marriage is no picnic for Muslims in Crusader Kings II add-on

, | Games

The Sword of Islam add-on for Crusader Kings II is out today. When Crusader Kings II came out, I thought it was an oversight that you couldn’t play Muslim dynasties in a game about the Crusades. But it turns out Paradox wanted to either a) take time to do it right because the systems in place to game European dynasties wouldn’t be a satisfying representation of medieval Islam, or b) make money from DLC. Probably a little of both. And frankly, given that they’re right about a) and given the quality of most of their DLC, I can’t complain.

In the list of main features, alongside things like the new decadence concept for Muslim rulers, more countries, culture specific interface elements, the addition of Shia and Sunni Islam, and reworked combat, you’ll find this:

Wife wants to become first wife

That’s a “main feature”. Sure, you wanna-be caliphs can have four wives, but don’t think it’s going to make your life any easier.

Will Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

, | Games

How extended is today’s Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3? Nearly two gigabytes, that’s how extended! Electronic Arts says they’re not actually changing the ending. According to the download page, here’s what upset fans get:

Additional scenes and an extended epilogue reveal the impact of Shepard’s choices on the future of the galaxy.

In other words, speaking more slowly and explaining more stuff about things that were intentionally ambiguous. Everything I needed to know I learned while playing Mass Effect 3. But the thinking is that more middling writing is just what this otherwise good sci-fi RPG shooter needs, which says a lot about the fans, the writers, and now the publisher.

I’ve lost interest in the whole issue, but I wonder if angry erstwhile fans will find any satisfaction in these two gigabytes. They’ve done very real damage to a series they supposedly loved, out of all proportion with their complaints. It’s shameful how they’ve hijacked Mass Effect on so many levels: as a story, as a franchise, and even just as a darn good standalone game about an alien invasion. But I’m mostly disappointed that Electronic Arts legitimized their complaints with this DLC. The ending of Mass Effect 3 was no better or worse than the ending of most videogames. And while the Extended Cut may not actually change the ending, it certainly changes the narrative.