Archive for September 26th, 2012

, | Games

Craig Reynolds at The Paranoid Gamer explains who that guy is wandering around Sanctuary handing out sweet guns, asking for nothing in return.

Michael John Mamaril was big fan of the original Borderlands who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He and his buddies enjoyed a special companionship, and played Gearbox Software’s game together every day until Michael passed away in 2011, aged 22 years old.

In honour of his memory, close friend Carlos contacted Gearbox to ask if a short eulogy could be read by smart-mouthed robot Claptrap. It was a touching speech, during which voice actor David Eddings promised that Michael would live on forever in the Borderlands. One year on, he does in Sanctuary, a name given to a sacred place that offers refuge, asylum and safety.

Be sure to check out the Claptrap euglogy here. Classy stuff, Gearbox.

(Thanks, lordkosc!)

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, | Games podcasts

Are you busy training up your “don’t-call-me-Pokemon!” battle pets in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria? We take a break from not playing the World of Warcraft expansion to consider other games within games. Then we consider our options for the Wii U launch, how to get the most out of Torchlight 2, which platform is best for Borderlands 2, and how long it’s going to take for this whole Guild Wars 2 thing to blow over.

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, | Game reviews

My first playthrough in Torchlight II was with an outlander, a ranged class that relies on guns. I set the difficulty level to veteran, which is one notch above normal. This was partly because the first Torchlight was forgiving to a fault, and partly because I wasn’t eager to repeat the experience of Diablo III, in which the first playthrough is basically a tutorial on the way to the actual game. I wasn’t really interested in just plowing through the content before the challenge started. I wanted some resistance. I wanted my choices to matter. I wanted to see if that was an action RPG that would push back.

After the jump, Torchlight did not disappoint Continue reading →

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, | Movie reviews

I was surprised to see this show up on Amazon’s Instant Video and iTunes as new releases, since I’d already seen it a few years ago and didn’t really care for it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a little horror in my Westerns. Josh Brolin was good enough as a zombie cowboy, even if he did have to talk around that silly scar make-up. But it was ultimately too goofy, too poorly paced, and too cheap looking. Speaking of which, Meghan Fox was in it. She wasn’t nearly as memorable as the horse with twin mounted gatling guns.

But then I realized I was confusing my Biblical Name + Laconic One-Syllable Name movies. It turns out Solomon Kane is not a comic book, but a lesser known character from Conan creator Robert E. Howard. Who knew?

The movie opens and ends with sequences that any Diablo player will appreciate, but it’s got an awfully muddled midsection as it traces Solomon Kane’s journey from ruthless pirate (!) to reluctant monster hunter to avenging lawful good paladin. It takes a few suitably grim turns, but the script is too obvious, with an all too predictable third act twist. Furthermore, it mostly looks like the cheap Czech production that it is.

However, it is much better than Jonah Hex, and the similar Season of the Witch, and the shamefully bad Conan movie with Jason Momoa. Solomon Kane even has a little Postlethwaite, a touch of von Sydow, and a solid performance from James Purefoy in the lead. Purefoy knows how to scowl Jackmanly under the brim of a Puritan hat, tuck a flintlock resolutely into his belt, swoop his cape, and stride off into a flurry of CG snowflakes. Overall, he lends Solomon Kane a lot of its endearing dopey earnestness, which reminds me of 80s fantasy fare like Conan, Beastmaster, and Warlock. I can’t help but think that Robert E. Howard would be pleased.

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, | Game reviews

Puzzle Craft is the epitome of corporate casual gaming. It takes an established idea — in this case the excellently endless Dungeon Raid variation on match-3 games — and adds long drawn-out grinding to encourage micropayments and a coat of spit polish to stand in for value.

Not that it’s entirely ineffective. The basic minigame works well enough, adapted to the concepts of farming and mining. You draw a line to connect contiguous icons on a grid to collect them, at which point new icons drop into the grid. After a certain number of moves, you spend the resources you’ve collected to build buildings to gather more kinds of resources to build more buildings. The limit on moves is the game’s cleverest bit. Farming is time limited based on seasons, and mining is time limited based on the amount of food you bring from farming.

A lot of the game is spent messing around on a city display, crafting tools from a list, and hiring workers, all of which make incremental improvements to the basic minigame. But nothing changes in any meaningful way. You need cats to eat the rats in your fields, and then you need guns to shoot the wolves, but they’re ultimately the same thing represented by different icons. But if you just want to get the new icons faster, you can just buy them and bill it to your iTunes account. Hint, hint, says Puzzle Craft.

Dungeon Raid was based on building up your RPG character and earning high scores. But with its crass Farmville skin, Puzzle Craft is ultimately a variation on one of those godawful free-to-play play-now-m’lord microtranscation boondoogles. It’s like a time waster wrapped around a time waster. Time wasters all the way down.

2 stars
iOS

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