November 6th, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over by Flickr user kmevansI commonly experience flashes of euphoria for which I have no account. What I’ve felt over the last several weeks, however, is something different. It’s a sustained state of contentment — something that I can account for. It’s a feeling of fullness, and it’s because of video games.

I am full because of Brutal Legend. This game was almost perfect, from its story, its humor, and Jack Black’s performance, to its RTS and driving systems, and even its side missions — but I did say almost. The rate at which new Solos unlocked disappointed me; I think it was poor design to have four at the beginning, four at the end, but none in the middle. Still, I loved this game. I bought it on release day, and I finished all the missions by the end of the next. I never do that.

I am full because of Defense Grid: The Awakening. Tower Defense is a genre that gets a lot of flack — and it’s true, there are a lot of bad games out there — but if there’s a game that the skeptics should play, it’s Defense Grid. Its difficulty curve is fair, and its challenge modes suit it for repeat play. It even has character, an uncharacteristic attribute for a Tower Defense game that isn’t based on a license.
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October 8th, 2009

Hype DMS LosAngeles Graffiti Art by Flickr user anarchosynWhen the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2 was pushed to 2010, I knew that my fall would not go as I had planned. And I was right — for the PC versions of multiplatform games, this fall has been, and will continue to be, an odd one. Borderlands’ PC release, for example, has been delayed one week for “optimization,” and since Gearbox has said in the past that PC is Borderlands’ lead platform, I think a more likely reason is that 2K wanted to give the console versions a week where they didn’t compete with .torrents of the PC version – a futile act. Still, the promise of add-ons would keep me from playing Borderlands on release day anyway, just as with Fallout 3. Similarly, the purported delay of Modern Warfare 2 PC (though it may only apply to the UK) doesn’t dissuade me from buying it on November 10th as much as its $60 price. There were also rumors leading up to Alpha Protocol’s delay; paying customers, including myself, were not sure of their validity until October 6th, the day it was meant to release. Even then, there was no formal announcement – the game simply didn’t launch, and Sega updated their store to say “Spring 2010.” Were I not confident in Obsidian’s ability to deliver, I’d ask for my money back.
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September 12th, 2009

I’ll be glad when the word “save,” as a verb, is no longer used when speaking of PC gaming. While not without its problems, the platform is no longer in danger. Regardless, Brad Wardell is making some valuable observations here.

Speaking of Stardock and digital distribution, Impulse Phase IV has just launched. The new website design is much easier to navigate, and I appreciate being able to filter by price. Ready To Play appears to be Stardock’s answer to Steam Community; I’m interested to see if Impulse will capitalize on what I think is a unique opportunity to one-up Steam on community features.

On a related note, EA has just partnered with, and added several games to, Impulse. Among them is Dragon Age: Origins (pre-order), The Sims 3, and Red Alert 3 along with its expansion, Uprising, which was previously exclusive to EA’s own digital distribution service.

Although Peter Moore’s view is probably limited to consoles, technically, the PC platform should be credited with having “laid the ground” for online multiplayer, communication, and content distribution.

News of this acquisition came as a relief to me because, due to 3D Realms’ tenuous existence, I’ve had concerns about Prey 2′s status. There is no telling if Human Head is still developing it, but the Prey IP should be in good hands now, at any rate.

This is nearly 30 minues of Jeff Gerstmann and Tim Schafer walking around at PAX while talking and letting their humor play off each other. Also, nerds.


July 23rd, 2009

Raz at summer camp, aka Psychonauts training grounds“Mmmm… Bacon!” If that doesn’t ring a bell in your ear, you may have a gaming nutrient deficiency. Previous sources of this vitamin include the Monkey Island games and Grim Fandango. The most potent of Tim Schafer games, however, is the mind-blowing Psychonauts, released by Double Fine Productions in 2005. Initially overlooked by most gamers (except maybe the color blind), Psychonauts went on to garner Gamespot’s “Best Game No One Played” award among numerous other commendations for writing and voice acting.

The story begins with Raz sneaking into summer camp. You know, the one where it’s actually a secret government training ground for psychic soldiers, also known as Psychonauts. Consequently, his dad is called to pick him up, so Raz is determined to train as much as possible before that happens. What Raz doesn’t know yet is that he’s more special than the other kids at the camp (and trust me, there’s some “special” kids there). What’s more, it’s the start of an adventure only a madman like Tim Schafer could produce.
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April 4th, 2009

I purchased Mount & Blade during its Steam sale some weeks ago, but I still haven’t tried it out. So although I still haven’t played any of their games, Paradox is a publisher / development house whose games I’ve kept an eye on. There’s just something about them that screams “PC”.

Tim Schafer spills the beans on his Legend most Brutal. Very disappointed that no PC version was mentioned; Brutal Legend will be Tim’s first game without one — for now, that is. This is a two part interview; the second half is here.

Meta.

December 3rd, 2008

1UP.com produces many fine gaming podcasts such as 1UP Yours, Retronauts and LAN Party (previously GFW Radio). While they are all worth listening to, the podcast formerly known as EGM Live and currently known as 1UP FM offers something unique: The Backlog.

The Backlog is a feature at the tail end of each week’s episode where some 1UP editors get together to discuss some cult classic games that the majority of gamers probably skipped in favor of some of the more well-marketed releases of their time. The game that the editors play is voted on by the community in forum polls. The editors all play separately, on their own time, often on differing systems. Meeting each week, for as many weeks as it takes, they discuss their progress and give their thoughts on the games. Each segment runs for about thirty minutes or more. So far Backlog has featured Shadow of the Colossus, Psychonauts, Indigo Prophecy (AKA Fahrenheit), and STALKER. Special guests relevant to each game are not a rarity. During the final segment for Psychonauts they were joined by lead designer Tim Schafer. After playing Indigo Prophecy they interviewed producer Constantine Hantzopoulos. I don’t believe they had a special guest for Shadow of the Colossus or STALKER; it’s likely that a language barrier was to blame.

If you’re wondering why I’m turning you on to this now, it’s because this week on the 12/01/08 episode of 1UP FM (at 73:15!) began the discussion of Beyond Good & Evil. You may recall BG&E being featured here at Downloadable Suicide as a cheap game that you need to play back in June. Did you play? Doing so has never made more sense than it does now.