The biggest news at The Game Awards was Epic’s launch of their store

, | News

The Game Awards 2018 had all the awkwardness, pomp, and marketing one would expect of a video game industry celebration. Between Christoph Waltz going to bat for keyboard and mouse, and Joel McHale not embarrassing everyone, there were premieres for lots of new games. Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds put a thumb in Bethesda’s eye. Ubisoft is actually continuing the story from Far Cry 5 with Far Cry: New Dawn. There was a hint of the next Dragon Age product. BioWare finally showed off some of the story bits from Anthem. The Stanley Parable is coming to consoles with new meta gameplay. Supergiant announced Hades. Avalanche and id’s Rage 2 now has a release window and a map filled with Ubi-stuff. It was all fine.

Buried in the middle of the show was Ashen. Now available on the Epic Games Store. The same being true of Hades and Hello Neighbor: Hide & Seek. Announced as coming first to the Epic Games Store were Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw, Journey, Maneater, and Satisfactory. Epic will also be giving away Subnautica for free starting on December 14th. In short, Epic let everyone know they mean business with their store.

As a bonus, Red Dead Redemption II did not win game of the year.

Will Fortnite be as popular without dancing?

, | News

Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson, a popular New York rapper, is suing Epic Games over the inclusion of a dance in Fortnite. Ferguson alleges that the “Swipe It” emote in Fortnite is an unauthorized copy of the “Milly Rock” dance from his 2014 music video. Fortnite, like many games with a cosmetic element, cashes in on culture by turning memes and pop references into emotes, gestures, and skins. Ferguson is not the first person to complain about the lack of credit or compensation from Epic, but he is probably the most high-profile personality to file papers. “Scrubs” actor Donald Faison similarly accused the studio of swiping his moves as seen in this clip from the show.

Fortnite has drawn ire from many dance creators because of the massive amounts of money involved, as well as the sting of having the dances “appropriated” by the game. For example, many younger Fortnite players call this the “Fortnite Dance” due to it being one of the original emotes, despite it being more properly known as “The Floss” by its creator.

You can copyright “pantomimes and choreographic works” but it’s unclear if the Milly Rock, The Shoot Dance, or any of the other moves used by Epic would qualify under these rules due to the length of the routines.

When videogames turn annoying

, | Features

Why is it doing this? It’s not stopping. Sure, a couple clacks would make sense because something mechanical has happened and that’s a sound mechanical happenings make. Clack. But why is it continuing to happen? Why is it an ongoing thing?

clackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclack

This is utterly insufferable. It’s drowning out everything else. Why won’t it shut up?

clackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclack Continue reading →

The best warlord in Total War: Three Kingdoms may be a bandit queen

, | News

Meet Zheng Jiang. Fierce warrior, rebel, and bandit leader. She’s one of eleven playable warlords in Creative Assembly’s upcoming Total War: Three Kingdoms. According to her character profile, victory with her depends on playing a relentlessly offensive strategy. She needs infamy to succeed, and she gains infamy by capturing territory and winning battles. Infamy slowly trickles away with inactivity, so resting on her laurels is not an option. “Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.”

Best Judy Greer movie you’ll see all year: Adventures in Public School

, | Movie reviews

Judy Greer’s initial appeal was her girl-next-door beauty, straight out of Central Casting into the fantasy waitress role in Adaptation. But as she’s segued from girl-next-door to soccer-mom-next-door, her real appeal has emerged as something else. A quirky but earnest zeal. Sweetness and light, offset by just the right amount of crazy behind the eyes. When she smiles, it’s equal parts maternally beatific and ex-girlfriend lunatic. “You’ll never see these again!” she screeches as she rips open her blouse on Arrested Development.

So far, 2018 has dropped her into a handful of thankless roles. The mom in 12:17 to Paris, the mom in Ant Man and the Wasp, the mom in Halloween. I’m sensing a pattern here, along with a waste of her unique appeal. Fortunately, there is also this year’s Adventures in Public School, a lightly profane but affably Canadian coming of age comedy that gets Greer better than any of the expensive Hollywood nonsense that cast her just because she’s pretty.

The movie opens with a voiceover about the cosmos. Ugh. It seems our protagonist will be a gratingly self-aware precocious teenager written by a gratingly self-aware screenplay writer. Fortunately, our protagonist is played by the immensely likable Daniel Doheny who scrubs any grating self-awareness from the script and replaces it with sincerity. He plays a homeschooled teenager who longs to experience public education, much to the chagrin of Greer as his fiercely helicopter mother. The two of them are wrapped in a mother/son bubble of socially awkward obliviousness. They would be creepy if they weren’t so cute. When she realizes he’s on the verge of a sexual awakening, and probably about to lose his virginity, she steals into his room one night. “Let’s do it now, together, and get it out of your system in a safe and responsible way,” she tells him while they lie in bed, face to face.

“Do what together?” he asks. It doesn’t occur to him what occurs to us because their world revolves around their bond, where nothing is inappropriate because everything is well-intentioned.

“Rebel,” she says. For the next day’s homeschooling lesson, they will practice swearing. Greer will later produce a joint for the two of them to smoke together. “A supervised first try,” she calls it, taking the first hit. “Ooh, it’s burny,” she says. Then, giggling, “It’s Bernie Sanders.” It fits her so well that I can’t tell if it’s improvised. Director Kyle Rideout and his script are in love with Greer’s zeal. His movie is built around it. It thrives on it. It is fueled by it. Although it fancies itself a denizen of Napoleon Dynamite territory, Wes Anderson adjacent, Greer gives it something more. And because Doheny adroitly matches her quirky zeal, their relationship relocates it into the same territory as Eighth Grade. Adventures in Public School doesn’t have the heart, insight, or celebratory joy of Eighth Grade — what movie does? — but they’re still of a piece, exploring the interaction between a child finding his way and a parent trying her best to find the impossible sweet spot between helping and letting go. This is where Judy Greer belongs. Take note, Hollywood. Moms can be more than pretty actresses delivering their lines.

Cowboy Bebop: you don’t even have my curiosity

, | TV reviews

I don’t know much about anime, but I think Cowboy Bebop is one of the fundamentals. The only animes I can name are this, Sailor Moon, and Hello Kitty, so I figure they’re all equally famous. A friend of mine who’s not even into anime is unashamed to wear a Cowboy Bebop T-shirt. He told me it’s good. I believe that he believes that, but I don’t have much interest in finding out for myself. Like sports, James Joyce, and reality TV, it’s a gap in my cultural literacy I can live with.

But I’m about to change that. Continue reading →

Is this what the hipster version of Red Dead Redemption 2 looks like?

, | News

Clothing makes the man, as they say. You want to feel like a cowpoke? You had better dress for the part. You could buy a wide-brimmed Stetson, some Levis, a bandanna, shirt, and a pair of boots for a reasonable sum, but how do you let everyone know that you specifically want to be part of the Van der Linde Gang? Put on some official Barking Irons Red Dead Redemption 2 clothing, and no one will doubt your pretend desperado bona fides. That Gunslinger Jacket (Field Tan) is only $250 and comes with “A. Morgan” printed on the collar, just like an honest-to-gosh rough rider. Barking Irons started in 2003 in New York City, so you know they know cowboys. New York City!

More beasts are just what Battle Brothers needed

, | News

Battle Brothers, the 2017 tactical fantasy brawler from Overhype Studios, just got an expansion. The Beasts & Exploration DLC is the first substantial bit of additional content for one of my favorite strategy games of last year. It adds 25% more world to the map, crafting, armor customization for your little mercs, and the titular beasts. Five of the loot-filled creatures, to be exact. Get your merry band of ne’er-do-wells out there and slowly whittle down your ranks until only a sickly, raggedy squad of survivors remain!

Over Diablo III? Now that it’s on the Switch, I don’t think I’ll ever get over Diablo III.

, | Game reviews

Here I am playing pretty much the exact same game a fifth time over. I first played Diablo III when it came out for the PC. Again when the Necromancer was added. Again for the Xbox 360. Again for the Playstation 4. And now for the Switch. Nothing has changed since the last time. And of course, none of my progress has been carried over because battle.net, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are like divorced parents who refuse to talk to each other, much less come together to support a single game. Everyone’s gotta be his own gatekeeper these days.

So, naturally, the ennui sets in quickly and I commence the dull slog through content I’ve already seen a hundred times, right?

As if. Continue reading →

It’s hard to see the Xbox Adaptive Controller through all these tears

, | News

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a product intended for a limited audience. At $99 a unit, it’s not cheap, but according to the creators, it isn’t meant to make money for Microsoft. Presumably, the return on investment comes from widening their gaming audience and therefore gaining additional Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, Game Pass memberships, and any other purchases for their Xbox ecosystem. Still, the idea is commendable, and we hope the company continues experimenting with niche products that bring more folks into gaming.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is as accurate as Clash of the Titans

, | News

There is always a compromise between being historically accurate and serving the needs of a game. Soldiers did not resolve battles via capture-the-flag in World War II. Pirates did not ballroom dance to further their careers. Rey did not fight Boba Fett on Naboo.

Ubisoft dares to ride that line between history and gaming consistently by having their marquee Assassin’s Creed franchise bounce around time like a sightseeing tour. They even released a standalone version of Assassin’s Creed Origins that was essentially an educational virtual museum romp through Ptolemaic Egypt.

How accurate is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey? Did Ubisoft get their rivet counts right on their staue of Achilles? Our very own forum member, Josho Brouwers, editor-in-chief of Ancient World Magazine, is taking an academic look. In his latest article, he comments on the game’s depiction of Cephalonia, the plausability of Kassandra being a freewheeling mercenary, and notes inspirations from Clash of the Titans. It’s as accurate as it needed to be to offer “exotic” travel while depicting a recognizably popular version of ancient Greece. Good enough for me, except I’m still bitter that Kassandra can’t pick up a shield.

Rainbow Six Siege players can rest easy. Strip club decor will still be in the game.

, | News

Ubisoft is reversing course on cosmetic changes to Rainbow Six Siege. Earlier in the month, Ubisoft had announced that they were making some minor aesthetic adjustments to the game to conform to the Asian market’s censorship rules. Images of skulls, map assets like slot machines and pole dancer signs, and objectionable interface icons were all being removed or swapped with less culturally offensive alternatives. This did not sit well with current fans. A review-bombing campaign resulted in accusations of Ubisoft “pandering” to censors or even facilitating China’s draconian government.

Now, the developers are backing away. Ubisoft is rolling back the adjustments and returning to the “original artistic intent” of the game. Players can have their go-go dancing neon stripper signs and enjoy the blood-splashed paintings that existed previously.