The beginning of Beyond Earth is all very exciting. I mean the very beginning before the beginning. Before the game has even started. Before I’ve even landed on the planet. I choose my faction first. I’ll be the Franco-Iberians, who earn free technologies every so often as their culture develops. For colonists, I naturally choose artists, who boost culture. Inside the spaceship with the colonists, I’ll carry the machinery that will give me a free worker for a headstart developing the landing area near my starting colony. As for the type of spacecraft, that’s a tough decision. I eventually go with a continental surveyor that shows me all the coastlines on the map. I find a certain comfort in knowing the exact shape of my new world. It’s what the artists would want.
In any other Civilization — in case it’s not clear from the full title of Civilization: Beyond Earth, this is absolutely a Civilization game, and more specifically a Civilization V game — I would have just chosen a faction. France. Rome. Polynesia. But Beyond Earth lets me build my ark/spaceship step-by-step. It gives me a multistep sense of agency in how the early stages will play out. It keeps me busy making choices before I’m even playing. That’s ultimately what Beyond Earth is all about. Making choices. Constant, unrelenting, obsequious, nagging choices that will come together to create something massive, slow, and tedious.
After the jump, a series of interesting decisions. Continue reading →
Look, I appreciate that I can play Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 3DS in the same way I appreciate that I can watch The Dark Knight on an iPhone: it’s an option, but not one I’d ever choose given any — any! — other options. Still, what are you going to do if the only way to watch The Dark Knight is on the iPhone? Not watch it?
So here I am, my fingers clutching the buttons on the 3DS, its corners digging in the soft pads at the base of my thumb, playing Super Smash Bros. because I have no other options available. And I’m playing alone, instead of with my friends gathered around the TV in the living room, where Super Smash Bros. belongs, and certainly not online against legions of Japanese kids who can knock my Kirby out of this world while I stand there sucking vainly. It’s really kind of sad when you think about it. And it hurts my hands.
This hell will end on November 21 when Super Smash Bros. comes out for the Wii U, the way God, Miyamoto, and Kirby intended.
I’d really rather not be here, writing this review right now. I’d just as soon wait until Driveclub, a fantastic variation on the usual driving games, achieves the state it deserves to be in, a state I have every reasonable expectation it will eventually reach, a state I’ve enjoyed firsthand before the launch. But after a certain amount of time, a launch issue is no longer just a launch issue. For Driveclub, nearly two weeks after its release, that time has come.
After the jump, I come not to praise Driveclub. Continue reading →
It’s a bad sign that the weakest parts of Alien: Isolation are the parts with the alien. You’d think getting that right would be a priority. Instead, the best parts of the game involve running around space corridors and turning space handles and flipping space switches and pressing space buttons and getting through space doors and turning on space generators. But then an alien comes along and forces you to play something else entirely.
After the jump, why couldn’t Alien: Isolation be a little more isolated? Continue reading →
This week we tell the story of Dracula Untold, which runs cross purpose to the title of the movie, but whatever. If you don’t want Dracula Untold spoiled before you’ve had the chance to see it, go to last week’s movie alternative at the 1:05 mark for a little talk about One False Move.
Next week: Fury
Like all Forza games, Forza Horizon 2 has a dynamically color-coded line that tells you where to drive and when to brake. If I turn the line off, I’m at a major disadvantage to everyone else playing Horizon 2, some of whom I’m asked to compete against after every race. “Would you like to race against a rival?” the game asks me after I’ve finished a race, suggesting a specific player. It’s challenging me to beat a time on the track I just raced, but without any information about what tools were used by the guy who set that time. How many times did he rewind?, for instance. Which driving assists was he using?
After the jump, red line stop, green line go, yellow line go very fast Continue reading →
All you snooty PC gamers have recently had cause to claim that Diablo III is superior on the PC because the latest patch gave you cool stuff not in the console version. “We get treasure vaults,” you crowed. “And legendary gems. And greater rifts.”
Those of us playing Diablo III on console systems were reduced to the ineffectual rejoinder of “oh yeah, well, we get a roll manuever on the left stick.” You seemed unfazed.
Blizzard and I are here now to tell you that you can shut up already. The latest patch for the console versions gives us everything you PC people have had. And you still can’t roll out of a poison well or molten lava.
I don’t get Destiny. Which is okay, since I don’t think Bungie gets it either, and they’re the folks who made it. It resembles a lot of other games that do what Destiny is trying to do better than Destiny. Sometimes I’m embarrassed for Destiny. It’s like your friend who decides he’s going to wear a cowboy hat because he saw someone famous wear a cowboy hat. “Dude,” you want to tell your friend, but probably don’t, “you can’t just wear a cowboy hat.”
Destiny, you can’t just have meaningless loot drops. You can’t just use the same level over and over and over again. You can’t just make up the endgame as you go. You can’t just stick Peter Dinklage in a sound booth and press record. You can’t just put all your lore on the website. You can’t just dole everything out between long loading screens of a dopey spaceship that exists for no reason other than to adorn the loading screens. You can’t just pretend a gamepad should drive a mouse cursor. You can’t just expect players to do their own matchmaking. You can’t just rip off Borderlands and World of Warcraft without better understanding what makes those games work. You can’t just figure your gunplay is enough to elevate this above Firefall or Defiance.
After the jump, I might be wrong about that last one. Continue reading →
Halflings? Halflings? Really? The race that no one wants to be because you might as well be an elf for the charisma bonus? The most human of non-human races, which is quite an accomplishment next to half-elves? Those homebodies who so rarely go on adventures that when one of them finally does, you can barely get three whole movies out of the tale? That’s what developer Triumph Studios is going to offer as the cornerstone of Golden Realms, the DLC for their arguably incomplete fantasy strategy opus, Age of Wonders III? Halflings?
After the jump, it’s not the size of the race that counts. Continue reading →
This week we see You’re Next director Adam Wingard’s latest love letter to slasher movies from the 80s, The Guest. Then, at the 40-minute mark, this week’s 3×3 checks into horrible things that happen in hotel rooms in movies. Finally, you’ll want to hear some important news about the future of the podcast at the 1:20 mark.
Next week: The Equalizer
So after starting with a terrible Great Gatsby joke that goes over like a lead balloon, I enjoy a great conversation with Dead of Winter creators Colby Dauch, Jon Gilmour, and Isaac Vega about their zombie boardgame that straddles the line between cooperation and competition. What does it have to do with Lost, what did it used to look like, what are the plans for the add-on? And, of course, who are our favorite characters and why?