, | News
france_truck_simulator

You might have thought the release of American Truck Simulator would mean Euro Truck Simulator is old and busted, America is the new hotness. That’s how it works with sequels. In with the new, out with the old. Euro truck drivers can still play in their old world, but the developers at SCS Software have moved on to the New World, right?

Not so! Today they added France. The whole country. $20 gets you the Viva La France DLC. With Euro Truck Simulator 2 now includes France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Italy, Holland, and the UK (pending Brexit). American Truck Simulator includes California and a chunk of Arizona. Who’s the new hotness now?

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, | Game reviews
carma_review

If you had told Charles B. Griffith he was responsible for one of the most perfect comedy videogames, he probably would have asked, “What’s a videogame?” Griffith was a prolific screenwriter from a bygone era. In the 50s and 60s, he was a go-to guy for producer Roger Corman when Corman needed a template for another crappy low-budget movie. I don’t know most of the movies based on Griffith’s scripts, but I can imagine what they’re like based on the titles: It Conquered the World, Attack of the Crab Monsters, Ski Troop Attack, Beast from Haunted Cave, A Bucket of Blood, Not of This Earth (apparently the last two aren’t as terrible as the others). Griffith is best known for Little Shop of Horrors, which was a crappy Roger Corman movie before it was a Steve Martin movie adapted to a hit musical. From this, you might guess better filmmakers could have made good movies from his scripts. We may never know.

But Griffith’s most enduring contribution is a videogame he had nothing to do with. Continue reading →

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, | Movie podcasts
loving_review

A movie making an Important Historical Point starring the woman who played Queen Something or Other in the Warcraft movie and the dude who played young Uncle Owen in the Star Wars prequels? For this week’s 3×3, at the 1:16, we change into a podcast about when one character is played by multiple characters in a movie.

Next week: Manchester by the Sea

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saints_row_iv_iron_man

Saints Row IV wasn’t exactly hurting for post-release content. I count 25 bits of DLC for sale for a grand total of about $60. Or you can get it all for $4.99 when you buy the Game of the Century upgrade pack. It’s your call. Most of the DLC is new costumes. Let’s face it: part of being a crazy over-the-top superhero is deciding what you’re going to wear. And now a lot more options will be available for free, because Volition announced official support for Steam’s Workshop. Now user-made mods can be easily added, browsed, and installed. Although some stuff has been available for a while, with official support, we can expect more stuff, and more quality stuff. For instance, this in-progress new textures mod could be promising for making the world look more “SR Miami style”, according to the author.

So what else is on the Steam Workshop? A lot of the items are more new clothes. For instance, a mod that lets you buy clothes you might see NPCs wearing, but that aren’t available in any stores. Now you can play as a cheap Iron Man knock-off (pictured). Or don this tasteful party dress. If it weren’t for the sultry off-the-shoulder style, I might want this T-shirt in real life.

Some of the mods break the game in weird ways. You can find the usual cheats, but you can also find some interesting gameplay tweaks. Here’s a mod that lets you bring different styles of homies into the game to fight with you. No, there’s no nude Kinzie. I checked for a friend of mine. You can be the Doof Warrior. This lets you fly beyond the actual sky. Apply weird rifts affects across a city block, or even throughout the whole city. Saints Row IV is, after all, a game about hacking the matrix. And now the matrix itself supports hacking the hacking. Whoa.

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, | Game reviews
shadow_warrior_2_zilla_city

As you play Shadow Warrior 2, one of things you learn is that the absolute batshit over-the-top nonsense isn’t, in fact, nonsense. But who could blame you for thinking this is all just a glut of silly killing? The game seems to say as much. Here, have some guns, it says. Have some spells, have some gear. Oh, have these special melee moves. Now have some burning and freezing and poisoning. Have some more guns. Have even more special melee moves. Have more guns. Have a second kind of chainsaw. Now have some slo-mo fury. The more you play, the more of this stuff spills from the absurd gaping maw of the Shadow Warrior cornucopia. It’s overwhelming in the same sense that a Christmas morning would be overwhelming if you thought you’d opened all your gifts, but you kept finding another one behind the tree.

Oh, look, here’s another one! Continue reading →

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rift_starfall_prophecies_release

You know how when older celebrities die, sometimes you hear the news and you think, “Oh, I didn’t know he was still alive…”

The MMO Rift gets an expansion today. Starfall Prophecy is the first post-free-to-play paid DLC for a game that was released somewhere around 2006. I could be off by a few years.

…explore the ominous Comet of Ankhets marshes, forests, deserts and volcanic wastes with five new zones, two new dungeons, a new level cap of 70, new Fortress Sieges and much more.

That screenshot sure does bring back memories. Those holes opening up in the sky. Everyone converging to fight whatever fell out. I really liked the character progression, in which you combined two classes to make your own class, Titan Quest style. I think I even had a mount. A giant turtle, if I recall correctly. Maybe I dreamed that.

Rift is free-to-play. Starfall Prophecies is $40. Yikes.

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frozen_synapse_2_delay

You know why you should be looking forward to this year’s release of Frozen Synapse 2, don’t you? I mean, even if you weren’t super jazzed about the first game’s turn-based plotting in real-time combat arenas. Because this is the elevator pitch from developer Mode 7:

It will feature a vast procedurally generated city, where tactical encounters can occur within any building, or at any map location. AI factions will vie for control over the map, issuing contracts, taking on missions and engaging in diplomacy in just the same way as the player.

Frozen Synapse busting out of its combat arenas into a procedurally generated open world is the sort of thing that might make a fella clear a date on his calendar. Unfortunately, that date will no longer be in 2016. The release has been delayed until 2017. Which should be a very good year for Mode 7, who is also publishing Tokyo 42 in 2017.

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, | Game reviews
clockwork_empires_ghosts

If I was to make a game that I didn’t want anyone to actually play, it would look a lot like Clockwork Empires. A torturous interface with lots of busy little buttons and information spilled across various mutually exclusive screens. Basic tasks that require about two too many steps. Lots of waiting among the various stages of any process, so when you went off to do something else, you might forget the first thing you were doing. One way doors into unrecoverable economic death spirals that you don’t know you’re in until it’s far too late.

Also, it would crash a lot.

After the jump, steamedpunk Continue reading →

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tpm_01

Stardock tracks data about how people play their election strategy game, Political Machine 2016. They call these post-game stats the “exit polls”. In terms of which candidates people have been playing, it doesn’t look good for Hillary Clinton.

And in case you haven’t been told enough times, if you live in the US, vote.

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, | Movie reviews
loving_review

Not so long ago, the term for interracial marriage was miscegeny. Today the term for interracial marriage is marriage. An important step in that process was the Supreme Court in 1967 telling Virginia, “Okay, look, you can’t make laws to stop certain people from getting married.” It would take another 48 years for the Supreme Court to really follow through, but they got there eventually.

On one level, Loving is about our country recognizing that falling love and marrying is part of the human condition. But mostly, it’s about two people who love each other and decide to start a family. The man happens to be white and the woman happens to be black. But the social ramifications, the political issues, the march of the Civil Rights Movement, and all that stuff is relegated to the background. Not because it’s less important. But because that’s not the story writer/director Jeff Nichols wants to tell. A through-line in Nichols’ movies is simple characters bearing up under the crushing responsibility that comes with caring for a family. That’s what this is. For its power, intimacy, and optimism, Loving is his masterwork.

This is easily the performance of Joel Edgerton’s career. It will hopefully be the richly deserved breakout for Ruth Negga’s. The movie opens on her face. It lingers there. Her wide-eyed openness is nothing short of angelic. Her smile is beatific. How else could I have watched so much of that dreadful Preacher series? Their relationship is a fascinating conjunction of a woman before her time and a man out of place. She is the driving force when it comes to introducing their case to the legal system and presenting it to the newly media-fed public. He’s a white man born and raised in a black community, who has learned to keep his head down. Edgerton plays him with a whupped and laconic doggedness. They’ve found their time and place in each other’s arms, and that’s where Loving finds a fiercely quiet and gently powerful portrait of everything that’s right, wrong, and then ultimately right with our country.

Loving is currently in limited release. It will open in additional cities throughout the month.

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