, | News
Chaos_Reborn_law_mode

Add Julian Gollop’s once brilliant Chaos Reborn, a precious relic of another time, to the list of games that didn’t have confidence in their original design. Today’s update adds something called law mode. Which drastically overhauls the gameplay without bothering to explain the changes. It’s furthermore how the single-player campaign mode plays now. How does it work? Who knows. The developers can’t be bothered to include an explanation. All I know is that whereas units used to exist in a binary state of either fully alive or fully dead, now they have a hit point bar. Gone are the days of dramatic reversals of fortune at the hands of a ruthlessly random random number generator, which is exactly what random number generators should be. Instead of a dragon dying on a die roll as surely as a rat, now you have to whack away at it. Now I’m calculating attack power vs hit points. I think that’s what I’m doing. Until someone gets around to actually explaining how law mode works, I can’t be sure.

To be fair, this overhaul isn’t mandatory. You can play Chaos Reborn one of two ways. Either the way it was designed, or the way it was redesigned to pander to people who didn’t understand the design. There are advantages to game design being an ongoing process. There are also disadvantages. Chaos Reborn is an example of one of those things.

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, | Game diaries
Witcher_3_noticeboard

I’ll get around to finding my lost baby in Fallout 4 when I get around to it. Right now, I’m helping Cate kick her drug habit. I couldn’t care less about rescuing some captured rebel leader in Homefront: The Revolution — what was his name again? — which frees up plenty of time to liberate patches of territory. In Dying Light, uh, something about secret files. Who can be bothered to care when there are safehouses to be cleared, parkour races to run, and skills to level up? Name a game by Ubisoft that isn’t called Far Cry 2. I probably can’t tell you the first thing about the main storyline. All the better for all the Ubistuff that needs doing. There’s hardly a game with as rich a setting for side quests as Watch Dogs. One of the best things you can do for the side quests in an open-world game is a lousy main quest.

After the jump, ciriously cidetracked Continue reading →

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, | Games
Mordheim_Witch_Hunters

One of the benefits of the Warhammer license being handed out like candy is that some of the games that use the Warhammer license will be good. Perhaps even very good. And some of those games will keep on giving. Today, the Space Marines arrive in Battlefleet: Gothic Armada, the Witch Hunters arrive in Mordheim: City of the Damned, and the Eldar arrive in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. All on the same day! Space Marines cost $7, Witch Hunters cost $10, and the Eldar are part of the ongoing process of adding content to Eternal Crusade’s ongoing early access. Which I wouldn’t normally mention, but it’s worth mentioning any time space elfs show up.

You’re up, Creative Assembly. Not that Total War: Warhammer is hurting for content, but we’re all eager to hear who the new kids in class will be. Skaven? I bet it’s the skaven.

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, | Game diaries
Witcher_3_refills

In Dying Light, another game I’m catching up on these days, I can make five fire shurikens with a blade, some gauze, and a can of aerosol. So far, the blade and gauze are easy enough to find. But I also need the gauze for medkits, so tough choices must be made. The real bottleneck is the aerosol. I’m constantly on the lookout for aerosol. I’ll even buy it from merchants if they’re selling it. Every time I find an aerosol, I think, hey, now I’ve got five fire shurikens! Conversely, every time I throw a fire shuriken, I think, well, I’m going to need to find more aerosol. This fits well enough with a post-apocalypse. When the world ends, I expect to scavenge. I accept non-renewable resources as a facet of any apocalypse.

After the jump, you gotta spend to earn? Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries
Modern_Family_Witcher

Since this game diary will progress alongside my playing time with The Witcher 3, I should warn you there will be spoilers. Never before the jump. I’d hate to ruin anything for the casual skimmer of Quarter to Three who hasn’t played The Witcher 3 yet. But anything after the jump is fair game. I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you’ve made progress in the game yourself.

After the jump, Ciri has two daddies Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews
Overfall_review

It’s hard not to like Overfall. It’s has such an eager-to-please enthusiasm. The way it talks to you in tiny snippets so as not to wear out its welcome. The ingratiating pop culture references. The simple breezy battles with a thick gooey center of complexity. Its archipelago busy with criss-crossing little boats going about their business. All these cute NPC classes waiting to join you. Ice Maiden. Wrestler. Knife Juggler. Kirinborn, whatever that is. Unlockable weapons like Bloodfang, Nightbane, Harvester of Sorrow, Deepest Ocean, The Butterflies. The elliptical hints for how to unlock them. Overfall is playful, sly, sleek.

And, after the jump, overbearing. Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries
Witcher_3_books

I have to really like a game to read its books. Actually, that’s true of pretty much any flavor text. But it’s especially true of ingame books. I suspect game developers think they’re tricking me by putting backstory into ingame books. They think I’ll read every single ingame book just in case it teaches me a spell or gives me experience points. They’re right. Finding a book and not opening it to see if anything happens is like finding a chest and not opening it. You just don’t do it.

After the jump, Nilfgaardian best sellers Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries
Witcher_3_GD_velvet

Stories are weaker when they have a blank slot where a protagonist should be. MMOs are a worst case example of this, because the developers — the storytellers — have no way of knowing what race, class, sex, or morality you’re playing. What sort of story would Star Wars be if George Lucas asked you, “Hey, should Luke give the droids to the Imperials or should he fly them to Alderaan?”

After the jump, how many paragon points are we talking about here? Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries
Witcher_3_late

The tricky thing about top ten lists for videogames during any given year is that it’s difficult to play every game that comes out on any given year. It’s even more difficult to spend the time it takes to really get to know a game. And by difficult, I’m pretty sure I mean physically impossible. If I calculated how many hours it takes to suss out every game released in a year compared to how many hours are actually in a year, the math wouldn’t add up. Let’s see, 365 times 24 is, uh, six thousand something, which will get you through about one MMO, one Paradox game, four shooters, and about a hundred crappy iPad games. Congratulations, you’ve played 5% of the games that came out that year.

So while I did play The Witcher 3 last year, I didn’t get very far before moving on. I had other things to do. And besides, Nick Diamon did a fine job writing a review, so what did it matter if I played it? Hence its absence from my top ten list. I don’t doubt it was great. I played The Witcher 2 so I’m well aware of what CD Projekt Red can do. But it just wasn’t part of my 2015.

Fortunately, there’s no law that says you have to play a game the year it comes out. So as of today, I’m beginning my official playthrough of The Witcher 3, and I intend to go all the way to the end. Wait, does The Witcher 3 even end? How far did CD Projekt Red go with the new open-world conceit? I intend to find out at least once a day for the foreseeable future. In case you’ve already played it and you’re interested in following along someone experiencing the joy of discovery, I’ll be chronicling that discovery — and hopefully joy — here. Besides, I can’t think of a better way to commemorate this year’s E3 by ignoring it in favor of playing an old game.

Tomorrow: My Geralt. Let me show you him.

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, | News
Heores_of_the_Storm_Medivh

Since MOBAs are apparently like sharks — they need to keep adding content or they die — I got this announcement from Blizzard today about the latest new character:

Medivh, The Last Guardian, has been added to Heroes of the Storm and is now available for play! Read on for a brief overview of his Abilities.

That’s confusing for a couple of reasons. Isn’t The Last Guardian a Sony property? But it’s also confusing because I recognize that name. Where is Medivh from? Starcraft II? Diablo III? Those are the only recent Blizzard games I’ve played that aren’t Heroes of the Storm. I don’t remember him from those. Then where do I know him from? And then I realized, oh yeah, Medivh is what everyone in the Warcraft movie kept calling Ben Foster, who is SPOILER until it turns out SPOILER at which point he SPOILER. That’s where I recognize the name.

Anyway, he’s in Heroes of the Storm now, where he can turn into a raven. Which explains at least one of the confusing scenes in the Warcraft movie.

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, | Game reviews
Homefront_The_Revolution_zeppelin

The deck is stacked against Homefront: The Revolution from the outset. The forgettable first game; the license dumped into a fire sale; the project in progress passed around among publishers and developers like a too small T-shirt with a logo no one wants to wear; the eventual developers’ most recent credit for a full game is the half-baked Playstation 3 boondoggle Haze; the pile-ons about the silly story in a genre where almost all the stories are silly anyway, so I’m not sure why this is everyone’s new whipping boy; the Crytek engine at its level worst. Really, you don’t even have to play it to know Homefront: The Revolution is a stinker, right?

After the jump, what you find out when you actually play it. Continue reading →

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, | Games podcasts
Homefront_Revolution_sniper

Tom Chick and Brandon Cackowski-Schnell talk about the current crop of shooters. What works, what doesn’t, why are we playing what we’re playing, how is Doom like an Akira Kurosawa movie, why would someone not be playing Overwatch at this point, why would someone be playing Battleborn at this point, and are Key and Peele actually funny?

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