Archive for July, 2012

, | Games

Orcs Must Die 2 is pretty much everything I wanted in Orcs Must Die. Namely, a game as good as Toy Soldiers: Cold War.

To see all that stuff in motion reminds me of a carwash. But for orcs. And with blades instead of brushes and acid instead of soap. In the upper left is a net full of boulders that I can drop at any time. On the right, coming down from the ceiling, is a whirring giant eggbeater called a haymaker. It’s positioned over a set of spikes that thrust up through the floor. To the right are jets that shoot out powerful sticky acid. All this stuff is nifty enough. And then I noticed you can scroll the selection box down. There’s whole other screenfuls of traps down there! With the co-op, leaderboards, and a long long menu of stuff to upgrade, this is a game that’s going to have legs where the previous game had stubby appendages.

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, | Games

Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is the official North American debut of a game previously available only in Japan as Growlanser IV: Over Reloaded. That was ten years ago, and on the Playstation 2. In case you’re curious why the subtitle was changed from Over Reloaded for the North American release, just say it fast a few times. Yeah, that’s what that sounds like.

With yet another SRPG, Atlus continues to show more love for the PSP than Sony itself. And the re-release has new stuff:

New characters, scenarios, and events are complemented by dramatically improved loading times and a message-skip option that allows players to advance the story at a faster pace.

Hard to believe that ten years ago, people would put up with a 50+ hour game without skippable cutscenes.

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, | Games

Orcs Must Die got a lot of things right when it came to crushing, folding, spindling, and mutilating orcs. But it had stuff missing that kept it from being a great game. For instance, co-op multiplayer, a survival mode, and more ways to play than just working your way through campaign missions. Orcs Must Die 2 will include all those things.

And speaking of erstwhile Xbox games — Orcs Must Die 2 is only available on the PC — the pretty nifty side-scrolling League of Legends style game, Awesomenauts, will be out for the PC this week (review of the Xbox version here). If you’ve got a Nintendo 3DS and you don’t mind a little Disney in your JRPG, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is out this week. And Xbox Live Arcade’s summer series is finally putting out a non-Kinect game with Deadlight, a platformer/adventure game developed in Spain.

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, | Movie podcasts

In the summer “comedy” The Watch, a band of misfits takes on an alien invasion at a Costco. No matter who wins, we lose. Speaking of watches, this week’s 3×3 considers the best countdown timers in movies.

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, | Movie reviews

“Heist meets horror”. Surely I’m not the first person to come up with that phrase? It’s a subgenre of horror, where a bunch of characters doing a heist accidentally stumble onto the stuff of a horror movie. I’m not sure how or why it started, and I’m not sure why it’s a formula. As near as I can tell, it’s more established than “romantic comedy meets horror” or “buddy cop movie meets horror” or “historical epic meets horror”. I can think of an example of all of those three things, but not enough examples to consider them subgenres.

After the jump, what if a bunch of bank robbers got possessed by a demon while fleeing a slasher? Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews

I know you’re not going to read a review of a match-3 game for the Nintendo 3DS, even if I start by saying that it’s actually a pretty good match-3 game. I’d be surprised if you’ve read this far. And you’re certainly not going to read anything past the jump, so I can just write whatever I want. I mean, psh, who reads reviews of match-3s? Who even writes them?

After the jump, you won’t find any lurid tales of crime and sex Continue reading →

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, | Games podcasts

Is Summoner Wars a truly awful game, or just an awful game? Tom Chick debates Dave Perkins on the merits of this latest port of a tabletop game to the iOS. After the dust has settled, Jason McMaster joins in to talk Zynga stock, Fez patches, Blood Bowl injuries, Neuroshima Hex DLC, and jerks who are good at Age of Empires III. Plus the latest on Guild Wars 2, Secret World, and a few jabs at that Batman movie for good measure. If you listen to just one Qt3 Games Podcast this week, make it this one!

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, | Games

What a grand time to be a fan of action RPGs. It’s not enough that a AAA juggernaut like Diablo III changed up the action in ways that won over a Diablo II diehard like me. That just gives Torchlight II even more room to breathe with its older school approach to making the hard choices about your character build. But wait, there’s more! A Valley Without Wind is a side-scrolling retro plunge into infinite exploration. Drox Operative is an upcoming sci-fi excursion from the creator of action RPG masterpieces Depths of Peril and Din’s Curse. I’d even count the streamlined Hunters 2 on my iPad an action RPG if it weren’t for the fact that, well, it’s a slow, drawn-out, turn-based game. I’m probably forgetting a couple.

Which is where Path of Exile’s open beta weekend comes in, starting this Friday. There’s no denying its debt to Diablo II — just look at that screenshot — but neither can you deny that the free-to-play approach is, uh, an interesting take on the genre. It’s got a decidedly harder core approach to character builds, and as a fan of the Teutonically demanding Sacred 2, I’m down with making hard choices about wonky numbers. I’m even open to the free-to-play model not utterly ruining it. I’m also intrigued by a couple of Path of Exile’s unique features.

a new end-game system featuring Maps whose properties, risks and rewards can be modified by players

An opportunity to roll my own difficulty? If there’s one person I trust more than developers to determine the risk/reward ratio in my games, it’s me. I also like Path of Exile’s approach to player vs. player much more than the prospect of standing there whacking away at someone else’s character:

The Open Weekend will also feature special events, such as two hour ladder races and competitions to clear areas first.

Events like these take place within “leagues”, which are firewalled areas with their own economy, where you roll a new character who can’t be twinked with your shared stash or microbought advantages. This is how Path of Exile has hardcore characters, competitions, ladders, and so forth.

Since the open beta is a stress test for a free-to-play game, anyone can jump in. Go here for more information, including links to register and download the client.

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, | Game reviews

I’ve never played Small World, a fantasy boardgame published by Days of Wonder, the creators of gateway boardgame Ticket to Ride, the frustratingly frivolous Memoir ’44, and the oddly complex add-on boondoggle Battlelore. Days of Wonder does their thing pretty well, even if that thing isn’t my thing. And I have the big fat boxes at the bottom of the stacks in my closet to prove it.

But what better way to ring in a new iPad than with an iPad only game you’ve been curious about for so long? So now I’ve played Small World. It’s utterly brilliant. This iPad version, on the other hand…

After the jump, stout wizards, swamp orcs, and bivouacked halflings Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries

I’ve been playing Secret World steadily for three weeks, hoping Funcom and Electronic Arts will fix it “any day now”. Today, I’m done. Over the weekend, three things convinced me to throw in the towel.

1) A quest called The Black House is still bugged and I can’t complete it. It’s not the only bugged quest, but it’s the one I care about most. I consider it a barometer for the state of the game given where it’s located (along a major thoroughfare), how simple the fix should be (an item doesn’t appear at the third stage of the quest), and how much I like it (a lot). That it remains broken after three weeks is unconscionable.

2) As of the latest patch, the chat system is broken in an entirely new way from how it’s been broken since release. I’ve previously used a custom chat channel to talk with friends on different servers, who are members of a different faction. Now custom chat channels don’t work. The chat system has had plenty of minor issues, but this latest issue is one step forward, one fifty foot plummet back.

3) Where other games might have a level cap, Secret World has a system of combat builds using different abilities. It’s an intricate bit of statistics wrangling wonkery that I am more than happy to engage in. Except that for the last three weeks, Secret World routinely decides I want to see simplified information for many of the skills. In other words, it will randomly close the statistics I’m supposed to wrangle, leaving me with vague text descriptions. This has been the case for three weeks, so if I want to create and manage character builds — in other words, if I want to play the game as it’s designed — I have to frequently log out and log back in to fix the tooltips. How is it that one of the many patches hasn’t fixed such a serious interface issue?

All of this is an example of how not to release an MMO. So I’m done for the time being. There are plenty of games that work correctly. I’d just as soon spend my time playing them instead.

After the jump, the things I’ll miss. Continue reading →

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, | Movie podcasts

What is the sound of three bitterly disappointed Dark Knight fans? Listen to our Dark Knight Rises podcast to find out. This week’s 3×3 is our picks for awesomest movie summers. It starts at the 55-minute mark.

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, | Games

X-Com was a child of its time. It was a brilliant exercise in taking the basic idea of Aliens, which is the basic idea of Space Hulk, and expressing it with Microprose’s gleeful love of numbers, courtesy of 90s era computer game design. The thinking back in those days was that computers compute. They can eat numbers for breakfast. So feed them! Back then, computer gaming was a small enough pursuit to equate complicated with good. That worked for me.

But numbers have fallen out of favor. Latter day X-Coms are mostly SRPGs from Japan, where numbers aren’t reviled. And while 2K figures out how to update X-Com, other games have found their own approaches. One of my recent favorites is Hunters 2 for the iPad, which presents the X-Com experience courtesy of 21st century videogame design.

After the jump, shooting a forever gun Continue reading →

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