Games

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evolve2

Pre-order incentives are nothing new. Putting money down on a game before launch may be a sucker’s bet because you don’t know how the game will actually turn out, but publishers love these programs because they lock customers into the purchase. The old reasoning given for preorders, that stores needed them to gauge demand for supply, has nothing to do with digital sales, yet the practice thrives. Sometimes, they’re fun little bonuses like a gold version of a weapon, or an extra mission crammed into a game with umpteen quests, but lately pre-order incentives have either become too convoluted to suss out or place a significant feature behind a paywall. Evolve goes for option 1.

Let’s figure out what we need to buy to get the full game after the jump! Continue reading →

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Vidar

Death isn’t death in fantasy games because it’s never permanent. Just make sure at least one of your party members survives the battle! Barring that, just reload. It’s particularly a non-issue in fantasy games because you can just cast a resurrection spell. You could never have a murder mystery in a fantasy game, because any ol’ cleric of sufficient level would be able to solve the crime by casting resurrection and going, “So, hey, who killed you?” And what’s the big deal with Aeris dying in Final Fantasy? Didn’t anyone have one of those Phoenix down things? Death in fantasy games isn’t death; it’s a nap.

So I’m glad to see what looks like a retro 2D RPG being built entirely around the concept of death. Vidar — yet more evidence that all the good names for videogames have been taken — is based on the concept that the NPCs who are typically unkillable will die, moving the plot along an intricate web of if/then forks based on who’s alive and who’s dead. Each night in the town of Vidar, a beast comes out of a cave and kills one of the 24 townsfolk. You get a limited amount of time every night to work your way into the beast’s cave. Will you find and slay the beast before the last person dies on the 24th night? And how will the survivors who populate the town and offer you quests affect the storyline, not to mention your progress? Which of the various town events will you trigger?

It reminds me a bit of Guild Wars 2, where the dynamic events can result in all the NPCs in a town being wiped out and the town being lost. But that’s a bad example, since Guild Wars 2 is an MMO. The town is just going to be recovered and the townsfolk resurrected, easy peasy. A better example is the action RPG Din’s Curse, where the monsters in the dungeon can rise up and attack the town, killing vital NPCs and messing up your quests. It also reminds me of Westwood’s Blade Runner game from 1997, where a different suspects were replicants in any given playthrough.

Vidar creator Dean Razavi explains his game’s conceit in his Kickstarer video (note that the Kickstarter funds will go almost entirely to artwork). Power through the relatively generic trailer to hear Razavi explain how Vidar handles death and why it matters. You can also vote for Vidar on Steam Greenlight.

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bf2_flashback

Battlefield 4’s recent Final Stand map pack release was the end of new content for the game, correct? Time to get ready for Battlefield: Hardline! Not so fast. According to Electronic Arts and DICE, the Final Stand, er, wasn’t so final after all.

With Battlefield 4 Final Stand released, we hope and believe that you will enjoy it together with the rest of the game for a long time. However, there is one thing we want to assure you: there is more content coming for Battlefield 4.

We will share details on exactly what this new content will be, and when it will arrive, in the near future. We understand that this may lead to even more questions about our plans, but rest assured that we’ll get back to you on the future of Battlefield 4 when the time is right.

The post then asks for players to vote on which past Battlefield maps they’d like to see “reimagined” for Battlefield 4. The survey lists possible candidates from Battlefield 2, Vietnam, 1942, Bad Company and 2142 as well as more modern installments in the series.

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The_Crew_Chicago

So in these early hours, I like The Crew a whole lot. But I can’t say for sure whether that’s because The Crew is a great game or because it’s part of a genre with too few games. Open-world caRPGs are few, far between, expensive to make, rarely as successful as they need to be, and exactly what I want to play when I play a driving game. It speaks volumes that the greatest open-world caRPG is still Midnight Club: Los Angeles, a 2008 game that understood the importance of personality as only Rockstar understands. Personality in the driving model (the fundamental gameplay of any driving game), and personality in the places you drive. There is no game that handles quite like Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and until Grand Theft Auto V, there was no open-world that presented Los Angeles with such ineffable Los Angelesness.

After the jump, we’re not just in Los Angeles anymore. Continue reading →

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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.

Thanks, Charles!

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grass_gtav

Apparently, some people’s decision on whether to get Grand Theft Auto V for the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4 hinged on the amount of grass on the ground. No, really. This is what we’ve become. It was enough of a dust-up that Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry took the time to compare the two versions’ grass and the impact of that on gameplay. (Spoiler: It doesn’t matter.) Not one to be outdone, we wanted to take a look at how other games render those wispy blades of green.

After the jump, who has the best grass? Continue reading →

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For the first time, I’m returning to a game for another Let’s Play. And it’s the one that started it all: Kingdom: The Far Reaches. This capricious fantasy murder simulator has just enough knuckleheaded charm to keep me coming back. It’s like a turn-based Dragon’s Lair, which is no surprise, since Rick Dyer worked on both games. And, like Dragon’s Lair, it made short work of me yet again. I said a lot of bad words in the process.

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reaper of souls ps4

Sony’s 2013 E3 press conference was the exact moment I knew I’d be buying a Playstation 4. It was also the exact moment I knew I’d be buying a Vita for the second time.

I had abandoned my first Vita the previous year due to a lack of compelling games. But the PS4 itself promised good indie support and none of Microsoft’s then draconian policies. I also preferred Sony’s exclusives over Microsoft’s first party stable. But what really pushed me over the edge and back into the waiting arms of the Vita was remote play.

After the jump, is that a devil in your pocket? Continue reading →

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Adweek, a venerable publication that covers the world of advertising, has put together a cute video of some of Kevin Spacey’s appearances in commercials. The Academy Award winner — I’m just assuming since I can rarely remember who actually has and hasn’t won an Academy Award — has shilled for American Airlines, E*Trade, and some bank I’ve never heard of and can’t even spell.

But among the clips from commercials, Adweek includes cutscenes from the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. How are these ads? Granted, they’re used in ads. But they’re not ads. They are scenes from a work of entertainment in which Spacey performs. They’re no more ads than the scenes used in commercials for House of Cards, American Beauty, or Horrible Bosses, none of which appear in Adweek’s cute video.

It’s really disheartening to see the videogame industry growing up and going so frequently unacknowledged. For instance, it really bothers me that publications so often put videogames in the technology category, alongside stories about mobile phones, Facebook’s latest shenanigans, and the ongoing uninterest in Google Glass. That’s not where videogames belong. They belong squarely in the entertainment section of any publication that cares enough to inform its readers about the current state of entertainment.

But at least most publications don’t mistake videogames for commercials. You’d think Adweek of all folks wouldn’t be the ones to get that so wrong.

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wasted

I gave your studio $20 to Kickstart this game and now you’re telling us that you’re making another game at the same time? And you need to Kickstart that one too? You suck! Stop working on other projects! You have an obligation to finish the game you started! Oh, and why are you selling the alpha on Steam early access? Those people shouldn’t get the same deal the Kickstarter pledges did! I’ll never trust Kickstarter, early access, or your company again! Please send me some free swag.

After the jump, what happens when regular Joes see how game companies actually work? Continue reading →

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FarmingSimulator15_logging

Everything you’re about to read is written entirely in earnest. I am 100% sincere and unironic when I say I’m superpsyched for Farming Simulator 15. I haven’t played any of the previous 14 farming simulators. But as a longtime Harvest Moon fan (with the stuffed cow to prove it!) who fondly recalls SimFarm and who has since spent his share of wasted time picking crops in various free-to-play farming boondoggles on Facebook and whatnot, I can appreciate the appeal of laid back agrarian gameplay.

I’ve been indulging this most recently with the curiously sedate but curiously engaging laid back country road gameplay of Euro Truck Simulator 2. Here’s me, hauling 20 tons of sand to Lodz, listening to Led Zeppelin IV on the ingame radio, using my turn signal when I switch lanes just because. I don’t get any points for using the turn signal, but I do it anyway because this is that kind of game. “I’m waiting for the angels of Avalon,” I murmur, “waiting for the eastern glow…” I’m already mentally preparing a playlist for Farming Simulator 15.

Farming Simulator 15 has a bunch of new features, but none of that means anything to me, since even the old features will be new to me. To wit:

…face the daily challenges of a modern farmer as you grow crops, sell produce, rear livestock and manage and develop your own farming complex in two immense open worlds.

But the really prominent bullet point is that Farming Simulator 15 adds logging!

You can now manage forested areas in the game environment using a range of new vehicles and machines designed specifically for this activity: harvesters, chain saws, chippers and even trailers.

Farming Simulator 15 is out in October on the PC. This-gen and next-gen consoles get their turn sometime in 2015.

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Mario_workings_fast_food

You’re playing too much Mario Kart 8 when you look at the above photo of a Mario Kart 8 event at a Los Angeles McDonalds to promote Nintendo-themed Happy Meals and the second thing you think is “you know, those kids might be getting extra top speed by equipping the slick tires, but they’re really sacrificing traction and acceleration, so they should consider swapping them out for sponge wheels, or maybe rollers, depending on the track”.

Of course, the first thing you think is, “man, Mario is really creepy as a life-sized fast food worker”.

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GW2_season_1

In preparation for the next story arc in Guild Wars 2, developer ArenaNet has posted a video recap of stuff that happened last season. I didn’t see any of that! Flamethrower robots? A tree monster? A fleet of zeppelins shooting missiles? A hundred foot tall puppet? I just logged in one day and found the city was gone. I am the Encino Man of Guild Wars 2.

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