, | Movie podcasts
THE GUEST

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

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, | Games podcasts
Dead_of_Winter_podcast

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?

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, | Game reviews
DOW_gentlemen_zombie_killers

In Sarah Northway’s zombie apocalypse strategy game, Rebuild, you manage a colony of survivors through hunger, bandits, zombies, despair, and strife. On the way to the end of the game, you might uncover story beats. Many of these give you choices with important gameplay implications.

One of the most memorable was the option to abandon the colony. To basically betray the characters you were controlling, the very game you were playing, in an attempt to secure a solitary victory. You had to lie about going on foraging missions when you were instead looking for a rumored cabin the woods. Then you had to secretly hoard food for yourself. Sometimes you even had to kill characters who figured out what you were doing. If you pulled it off, the colony fell to the zombies but you, the main character, lived happily ever after. You might have even gotten a high score.

After the jump, why can’t they make a boardgame like that? Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews
PA_WWC

Remember what it used to be like in the days of the big publishers who forced developers to release games before they were ready? They did this because they didn’t care about games, about fans, about the industry as a whole, about me, about you. They only cared about profits. They took breaks from counting their money to hold meetings in conference rooms where they showed charts that explained how much money they would make if a game came out on a certain date, usually just before a fiscal quarter ended or in time for the holiday shopping seasons. The people in the meetings didn’t actually play games because they were too busy counting money, plus they were above such frivolity. They might as well have been selling shoes or plumbing fixtures or alt rock albums they didn’t even listen to. And then crowdfunding came along and game developers who loved videogames got to do what was best for the games, for the fans, for the industry as a whole, for me, for you. And we all lived happily ever after.

After the jump, I ruin the fairy tale. Continue reading →

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, | Features
In_defense_of_Halo_library

(NOTE: The following article originally appeared online for Gamepro three years ago. I’m running it again now because I’m hoping there’s something even remotely this good in Destiny. Fingers crossed!)

Depending on who you ask, The Library in the original Halo is one of the most reviled levels in all of videogaming. It features infinitely spawning enemies, long empty stretches of repeating level design, and none of the cool tactical combat against smart AI that has characterized the game up to this point. If Halo were to include a dialogue option like the Modern Warfare games — “This game features The Library, which may offend some players. Would you like to skip this level?” — many of you would select “yes”.

At which point you would miss one of the greatest levels in all of videogaming.

After the jump, that’s right: one of the greatest levels in all of videogaming. Continue reading →

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, | News
Shadows_of_Lochhead

One of my favorite movies from the last ten years is Hanna, a dreamy, sharp, sleek putative action movie that turns out to be about parenting. In ways, it reminds me of Bioshock 2, a fantastic shooter that — wait for it — turns out to be about parenting. I love when genres unfold as expected, and as superlative examples of that genre, only to turn into a story with a powerful and relevant point about something you didn’t quite expect.

Hanna was directed by Joe Wright, who has directed various other movies, none quite like Hanna. Which makes me think screenwriter Seth Lochhead deserves much of the credit for what made Hanna special. Unfortunately, Lochhead has no other credits to his name. Hanna was his first and last movie. But that might soon change.

Sony has been fumbling around with Hollywood-izing Shadows of the Colossus for some years now, including its apperance in Reign over Me, a soggy 9/11 movie that tried to tie the game into some convoluted point about grief. Sony’s last Shadows of the Colossus project, a straight-up adaptation, was for Josh Trank, the writer and director of the found-footage superhero movie Chronicle. But now that Trank has finished his kiddie version of Fantastic Four and is moving on to work on a Star Wars thing, he’s got no time to direct adaptations of niche videogames. Shadow of the Colossus fans who saw Chronicle can breathe a sigh of relief.

Which leads us to the latest incarnation of a Shadows of the Colossus movie. Sony’s current intent is that it will be produced — and possibly directed, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves — by Andres Muschietti, a fellow who made a short movie called Mama that was developed into a disappointing feature film. The more exciting news is that Seth Lochhead is writing the script. Considering Hanna’s blend of languid fantasy with sharp stabs of action, this is great news for a movie doing justice to Team Ico’s own languid fantasy with sharp stabs of action.

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, | Game reviews
80_Days_review

You can always rediscover an old path and wander over it, but the best you can do then is to say ‘Ah, yes, I know this turning!’ — or remind yourself that, while you remember that unforgettable valley, the valley no longer remembers you.

— aviator Beryl Markham, from her memoir, West with the Night

After the jump, some unforgettable valleys I remember. Continue reading →

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, | News
DLC1_LinkBike

One part of me is bummed to see Nintendo going the route of bilking customers for post-release DLC that, arguably, should have been in the game in the first place. But another bigger part of me is elated at the promise of 16 more tracks for the irresistible Mario Kart 8.

For eight bucks, you get three new characters, who are only cosmetic (although it’s hard to argue that a Cat Peach driver isn’t far and away the best way to play any Mario Kart); four new vehicles, which will presumably have effects on your kart’s basic stats; and eight new courses, which is like a whole new game, given how varied and imaginative the existing courses already are.

The first pack, out in November, will be Legend of Zelda themed and the second pack, out next year in May, will be Animal Crossing themed. If you buy both packs up front, it only costs $12 and you get a whole mess of colors for your Yoshi. If you care about that sort of thing. Frankly, with a Cat Peach in the pack, who cares what color you make that silly little lizard guy.

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