Tom Chick

The Wire, season 1, final episode: where don’t you wanna go?

, | TV reviews

I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I thought the first season would feel like a complete experience from A to B to Z. But just as I think it’s wrapping everything up, it instead resets everything. It goes from A to B to A-point-one. The situation has not changed substantially. Some of the characters’ lives have certainly changed, but the overall situation might as well be a reset to the beginning of the season. Continue reading →

12 reasons Agents of Mayhem isn’t just another open-world playground

, | Game reviews

When writing about Agents of Mayhem, it’s tempting to call out the obvious similarities and influences. The amped up cartoon charm of Overwatch. The infinitely customizable character classes of Diablo III. The gratifying doo-dad hunting of Crackdown. The intricate combat and character interaction of League of Legends nee Defense of the Ancients. The cheery superhero team spirit of The Avengers. The breezy vulgarity of Archer. The purple hues of Saints Row.

But none of that tells the whole story. None of that gets at why Agents of Mayhem stands mightily on its own. This is not just an open-world Overwatch. This is not just Saints Row with superheroes. This is a masterpiece that’s been waiting for 30 years to bust out from the collection of talent at Volition. For a number of reasons, it demands a place among the best of the best. Twelve reasons, to be precise. Continue reading →

Just when you thought it was safe to stop buying Pinball FX tables

, | News

Sometimes I think I have all the Pinball FX tables I’ll ever need. Then the developers at Zen Studios make announcements like this:

[In Universal Classic Pinball] players can get behind the wheel of the DeLorean time machine and travel through different eras of Hill Valley to fix the space-time continuum on the Back to the Future table, take on the terrifying great white shark on the Jaws table, and go on an adventure with Elliot as he helps E.T. contact his spaceship and return to the stars on the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial table!

I didn’t realize until I read that announcement, but I’ve gone my entire life with a hole in my soul the exact shape of a Jaws pinball table. The Universal Classics collection, which might as well be called Jaws Pinball and Two Other Things, will come out with the launch of Pinball FX3. The target date is only “this summer”.

Qt3 Games Podcast: the short Long Dark

, | Games podcasts

One of us is having, uh, issues with Long Dark. Then Tom Chick, Nick Diamon, and Jason McMaster discuss the long shallow difficulty curve of Fortnight, Battlefield 1’s latest maps, Titanfall 2’s new horde mode, and some poop farming game called Slime Rancher. And be sure not to miss the C-SPAN worthy legal hearing to determine whether Mad Max or Shadow of Mordor is the better game.

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Rapture: World Conquest puts the demi- in demigod

, | Game reviews

If Rapture: World Conquest feels like a port of a mobile game, that’s because it is a port of a mobile game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this facile little iteration on the usual “grow your armies and throw them up against the other growing armies” genre is about what you’d expect. It’s got swipe-n’-drag written all over the interface and the big fat buttons around the margins are built for tapping. You can see the micropayment hooks dangling from the edges of the design. You can’t turn off the cheap classical music soundtrack, probably because there’s no meaningful sound underneath it. But you want to know the game’s biggest crime? Continue reading →

The Wire, season 1, episode 12: where’s Wallace?

, | TV reviews

“This is me, yo, right here.”

The epigraphs in The Wire are a great way to call attention to a moment without, well, calling attention to it. I read it, it goes out of my head as I’m watching, and then when the line pops up, I go, “Oh yeah!” This episode’s epigraph suggests Wallace felt his return was inevitable. It implies a certain fatalism. But he made the choice to come back. He made the choice to ask to get back into “the game”. He made the choice to demur when D’Angelo nudged him to follow through with his earlier plans to go back to school. When he says the line in the epigraph, it’s basically a credo. Even an epitaph. Continue reading →

The cruelest thing you’ll see all week: Killing Ground

, | Movie reviews

The basics of Killing Ground are as old as Deliverance. So, uh, 1972, I suppose? When you’re out in the wilderness, beyond the range of a 911 call, it sure is scary that some psycho could try to get you! In the absence of civilization, there is no check on murderous chaos, right? Dog eat dog. Survival of the fittest. Plenty of movies play on this fear. It’s often crass, but effective. Backcountry and Blue Jay are recent dingy little horror movies to that effect. Wild brought it up in a wonderfully unexpected way. Australia’s brutal contribution was Wolf Creek, a horror movie with an uncompromising serrated edge so effective that it spawned a (not very good) sequel and a TV series (that I have no desire to see).

First-time Australian filmmaker Damien Power revisits the same territory in Killing Ground. It’s nothing if not familiar. When you’re out in the wilderness, beyond the range of a 911 call, it sure is scary that some psycho could try to get you! But Powers ruthlessly stakes his own claim. Continue reading →

Hover is as Jet Set Radio as you can get without the Cibo Matto

, | Game reviews

After the obligatory “press this button to do this, dummy” tutorial, Hover drops you into a bright city, stacked absurdly vertical and mildly bustling with activity. Have at it. No agenda. Just get out there. Feel free to tick off the list of activities in the corner of the screen. Or not. Your choice. Of course a game about anarchists skaterpunking sans skates through a plasticky neon dystopia would be this free form. You can run right up to the top or indulge your completionist neurosis in the starting area, which is far more cheerful than you’d expect for a place called “Garbage Village”. Everything in Hover is the opposite of grim. Continue reading →