Ken Block’s latest gymkhana video — this series features his drifting prowess in various souped up cars — follows him and a custom-build four-wheel-drive ’65 Mustang through several Los Angeles locations. What’s striking about this one is how much it reminds me of the basic thrust of Grand Theft Auto V’s action, which taps into man’s primal need to drive wrecklessly through all those familiar streets of Los Angeles, as seen in countless movies and television shows. But unlock Mr. Block, who races through streets closed off by the police, we get to do it with traffic and pedestrians turned on.
Anyone who’s spent time with Fallen London can tell you there are no better writers in the videogame business than Failbetter Games. So it makes perfect sense that Bioware would hire them to bridge the gap between Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age 3 (i.e. Dragon Age: Inquisition). The Last Court, a game in the style of Fallen London, covers the events after whatever happened at the end of Dragon Age 2 and before the events that begin Dragon Age: Inquisition. I can’t really tell you what those events are because I was pretty bored and had stopped paying attention by the time Dragon Age 2 ended — I think it was a boss battle — and I haven’t played Dragon Age: Inquisition yet. According to the trailer above, something blew up and some people reacted accordingly.
The Last Court will be part of Dragon Age Keep, a browser-based questionnaire that stands in for Bioware’s imported save scheme from previous games. You answer about 300 questions and then tap into it when you start playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. That’s a pretty clever way around all the cross-platform shenanigans going on these days.
The Last Court will be live in “a little more than a week”.
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 →