, | Game diaries

I’m going off memory for most of this, so things aren’t 100% accurate. Fortunately, it being my own memory means nobody will know how right or wrong I am, leaving me to falsify information as I please. Vote for me in the primaries.

But yes, I’ve been playing Persona 4 for the last four years. It’s still the same PS2 disc and original save file. What’s wrong with me? Maybe we’ll find out. Before that, we have to talk about Persona 3. Numbers come in a certain order, according to some scholars, and it just so happens there’s some groundwork to lay here.

Jump ahead for the story I gotta tell ya first… Continue reading →

, | News

Titanfall is getting an update today that adds private matches and a host of balance changes. It’s always nice to see patch notes that explain the developer’s reasoning behind the changes they’re implementing. For example, a particularly hard progression challenge is getting nerfed based on player feedback. Players will only need to kill 5 ejecting pilots instead of 50 to fulfill the “Gooser” challenge going forward. Killing an ejecting pilot isn’t easy. You have to have some skill and luck to be in the right place at the right time to pull it off. It’s like waiting to spear toast with a fork as it pops out of the toaster – if the kitchen appliance was 50 feet tall and shooting at you.

We had a couple of design goals for Regeneration. One was to give players a structured way to discover and experience ways of playing the game they might not have otherwise tried on their own. The second was to recognize players’ mastery of various skills, going beyond just ‘time played’. We went a bit too far with this challenge, especially considering the unique conditions that have to be met just to have the opportunity to get a kill on an ejecting Pilot. We understand some players have already completed the challenge, or have already earned more than the new requirement so we will be internally noting those players so we can recognize their accomplishments in a future game update.

Those kind of patch notes are interesting to read. It’s a small peek into the minds of the game designers and certainly more engaging than a list of bullet points.

, | News

Sony Online Entertainment has revealed H1Z1, their post-apocalyptic survival MMO. The free-to-play title puts players into a decaying “middle-America” 15 years after an outbreak of the H1Z1 virus has turned most of the population into flesh-eating zombies. Players will be able to scavenge for supplies, trade items, craft weapons, and eventually build shelters. Groups of players will be able to cooperate or fight each other for survival. If it all sounds a bit familiar – *cough DayZ cough* – SOE president John Smedley assures people that their version of the zombified world will offer something the other games cannot. SOE’s proprietary Forgelight engine can handle 2,000 players in a single instance which he hopes will create the kind of interactions that genre aficionados have been craving.

“To use a simple reference I’m sure everyone interested in this game will get… we want our players to make Woodbury from The Walking Dead if they want to,” he said. “Or take over a prison. Or fix an old car so you and your friends (yeah we have multiplayer vehicles) can run zombies and players over mercilessly, and revel in the sheer delight of hearing a zombie scream as you light it on fire, or craft a gun to take down your friends and enemies alike.”

Smedley promises that H1Z1 will not be “pay-to-win” and he also said that the team will be using the extensive player data from PlanetSide 2 to shape the game before it even launches.

, | News

The 4.05 patch has been released for Dominions 4. It’s a significant free update for the strategy game that adds special story events that are more interactive than the random events that you can see during a match. For example, an “unholy flux” could break out in one of your provinces that slowly kills off your population until you bring a priest there to clear it out. Rampaging Northmen could show up all over the map and start raiding provinces! You’ll have to take action to deal with story events directly rather than just letting a random event unfold.

A laundry list of bug fixes and balance changes also come with the update, but you’ll probably be more excited by the Celestial Carp pictured above. He’s one of the three new Pretender gods that have been added. How many other games give you a giant fish diety?

, | News

Forza Motorsport 5 is getting a new environment set along the sunny coast of California. The Long Beach circuit will be added to Forza 5 as a free update on April 10th. The new setting will have three tracks for players to race on, including the full course used by the Toyota Grand Prix. According to Turn 10 and Microsoft, the Long Beach circuit will be fully integrated into the game, and events using it will show up in career mode as well as being available for multiplayer racing.

A Long Beach Booster Pack will also launch at the same time that will feature five more cars for players to hoard. The Long Beach Booster Pack will be available at no additional charge to Season Pass owners.

, | News

Borderlands 2 is getting a prequel installment on last gen consoles and PCs. Borderlands 2: The Pre-Sequel features four new playable characters shooting and looting on Pandora’s moon. Villainous Handsome Jack’s rise to power as the primary baddie of Borderlands 2 will figure prominently in the plot. Randy Pitchford of Gearbox confirmed that there are no plans for a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One version of the game. He explained the reasoning for keeping the Pre-Sequel strictly lest-gen to Eurogamer.

“Currently there is – between PS3 and Xbox 360 – over 150m installed units worldwide – probably 170m is more realistic. There are fewer Xbox Ones and PS4s than we sold copies of Borderlands 2.”

Borderlands 2: The Pre-Sequel is slated to launch later this year on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PCs.


A new generation of hardware should usher in a new generation of not just better looking worlds, but more expansive ones. Infamous: Second Son certainly fits the bill in terms of looking pretty. But it’s a disappointing step backwards in terms of building giant, immersive worlds. The fact that this is an open world game makes this shortcoming all the more stinging. To quote the Talking Heads, “Lights on, nobody home.”

After the jump, it’s a small world after all. Continue reading →

, | Game reviews

Age of Wonders III is almost great. This fantasy strategy game has nearly everything a fantasy strategy game needs, including some things other fantasy strategy games don’t have. Clever combos of races and classes that make you want to keep starting new games. A broad tree of skills and spells that makes you want to keep starting new games again. Distinct and detailed armies that make battles a joy. Superb tactical combat that makes battles even more of a joy. A wonderfully competent AI. Let me repeat that one because it bears repeating: A wonderfully competent AI. Invaluable heroes who develop unique roles as a game progresses. A fantastic terrain model that provides beautiful evocative worlds with meaningful gameplay effects. A welcome flexibility in terms of how you can play. It’s nearly a complete package that rivals Warlock, Dominions 4, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, and Eador for the superlative ways you can get your elf on.

But it’s missing one important thing.

After the jump, the ultimate feature. Continue reading →

, | News

Marvel’s costumed heroes will be coming to Disney Infinity 2.0 Edition. Disney Interactive released a teaser trailer showing Captain America’s iconic shield flying past current Disney Infinity characters such as Sully and Captain Jack Sparrow. Unfortunately, the short video doesn’t clarify what the 2.0 Edition actually involves. Is it just new figures and a software update to the game, or is it an all-new retail game requiring the purchase of a new figure stand as well?

The Wall Street Journal had reported that Marvel’s superheroes would be integrated to the collectible action figure videogame, but details were scant.

, | News

Bohemia Interactive’s Take on Mars is getting a content update that features a manned mission to the red planet. The upcoming Expedition One content update will add a survival and building component to Take on Mars and will change the structure of the game. The game will be divided into two sections. The first half of the game will feature tha current unmanned exploration of Mars via probes and remote-controlled rovers. The latter portion of the game will task players with taking an astronaut to Mars, setting up a habitat, and gathering resources to survive and eventually help establish a martian colony.

“As a studio, we’ve always been obsessed with games that explore topics of human fascination”, said Bohemia Interactive’s CEO, Marek Spanel. “One of those is space exploration. Missions to Mars – from the past, present, and also some ambitious projects for the future – sparked our imagination about what it would be like to be the first human on Mars. We soon felt that this should be the endgame for the Take On Mars campaign.”

The Expedition One content update will be released sometime in Q2 2014. Take on Mars is currently available on Steam early access.

, | Movie reviews

This remake of an obscure Australian horror movie from the 70s is basically Carrie, but where the lead character is comatose instead of a high school girl. Interesting choice. The best thing going for it is its cast, which includes Sharni Vinson from You’re Next, Rachel Griffiths from Six Feet Under, and Charles Dance from everything Charles Dance has been in.

Unfortunately, the movie is a bit too taken with Sharni Vinson. As am I, to be sure. But you’re not going to pay $6.99 for a video-on-demand glimpse into my head. So Patrick’s greatest failing is not appreciating what it has with Griffiths and Dance, who lurk around in the background for far too long in favor of a couple of “belles among the brain dead”, including the lovely lively Peta Sergeant as Vinson’s sidekick nurse, toiling away in a creepy experimental institute for the braindead. But I’ll trade all the scenes of Vinson Googling “moving things with mind”, stumbling around in the dark, and having two too many relationships for one more shot of Dance sticking his head into a door and saying “Remember to tell me when he has a bowel movement, yes?” Is there anyone else channeling Peter Cushing half this well?

The old mansion, the traditional nursing uniforms, and the sometimes ponderous pace set Patrick apart from most modern horror movies. Although it leans too heavily on bad CG backdrops and effects, it offers an intriguing combination of Victorian horror and latter day technology. There are a few fascinating early fake-outs. An old timey phone rings. The camera cuts to a shot of Vinson’s iPhone. It’s her ringtone. Pretty sneaky. But despite occasional sly touches, Patrick goes from intriguing to borderline camp to downright risible, until it quite literally defenestrates itself.

, | Movie podcasts

It’s an epic 2 vs. 1 battle over Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Smartly directed Avengers follow-up or soggy comic book pulp? For this week’s 3×3, we propose a discussion of marriage proposals, starting at the 1:14 mark.

Next week: Oculus

, | News

Viscera Cleanup Detail by RuneStorm is now available on Steam early access. The game puts players in the gore-covered boots of a janitor tasked with cleaning up the bloody aftermath of a firefight between an alien horde and a stalwart space soldier. Experience the excitement of swabbing the decks and wringing out mops! Wipe away the gibs! Perhaps it’s a bit of a one-joke experience, but that didn’t stop you from enjoying Goat Simulator for a couple of hours.

It’s your job to clean up the mess, so clean it up you shall! Use your trusty mop, gloves, dispenser machines, plasma laser and sniffer tool to help you get all that blood out of the floor and off the ceiling! You can even try and punch-out if you think you’ve done your job.

If you haven’t already played the spin-off preview title Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior, or the holiday-themed Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage, then there’s good news! You’ll get both games as well when you purchase access to Viscera Cleanup Detail.

, | News

If you can’t have one big server where all the players play, there are ways to have the next best thing. Funcom’s Secret World, for instance, was really good about letting players bop around among servers to play with each other. You could even chat freely with anyone anywhere, regardless of which server you were on. It was the best kind of MMO spread across multiple servers: one where the server boundaries are invisible.

Guild Wars 2 will do its part to tear down server walls with what they’re calling a “megaserver system”.

With the megaserver system, players won’t be separated into different copies of the same map based on the world they selected on character creation. Instead, you will simply arrive in a map and be assigned to the version of that map that makes the most sense for you as selected by the megaserver system we’ve developed. This new system takes your party, guild, language, home world, and other factors into account to match you to a version of the map you’re entering. This will increase the odds that you’ll see the same people more often and play with people of similar interests.

With megaserver technology, there are as many copies of a map as are needed to comfortably hold the population of players in that map at a given time. Rather than having a separate map copy for each home world and artificially limiting the amount of fellow adventurers you see, the megaserver system brings players together and dynamically opens up new map copies as necessary.

While I’m excited that this will allow me to easily play with friends, I think I’m more excited at what this means for player population. Guild Wars 2 is a rare game that gets better as you’re playing with more people (ironically, Secret World’s downbeat horror setting fares best with fewer people around). There is never any penalty to having other people running around doing what you’re doing. In fact, there are group quests and roaming bosses that feel like content you can’t enjoy if you’re not on a crowded server. The new megaserver system will let Guild Wars 2 be exactly as crowded as it needs to be.

Megaservers go live on April 15. Read more here.