PAX Prime 2014 On The Go!
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 August 2014, 5:44 pm

PAXPrime 2014 is off and running!

Been having technical difficulties (this laptop is not obeying it's Lord and Master!), but stay tuned we'll be up and running here.

I'll just start with the fact that Defense Grid 2 is here, and it is playable in the Expo Hall. More science fiction tower defense with FPS elements for me, please.

If you hear of something you'd like our take on, let me know here in the Comments and I'll try to get one of my intrepid cub reporters out to see what they can see.

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Too Long; Didn't Play: Daikatana
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 August 2014, 6:16 am

Sponsored by: Danopian

Play Time (official Steam log): 98 minutes

TL;DR Review

Superfly Johnson appears to have crushed his skull in a door. You fail at life.

Full Review

Author's note: I'm writing this under the influence of cold medicine, which some might argue is the best possible way to review Daikatana. Please bear with me.

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FEAR Multiplayer Playdate This Friday!
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 August 2014, 12:28 am

FEAR remains a surprisingly popular multiplayer shooter in the long years since its release. Thanks to Psoplayer's support of the 2013 donation drive we're going to have a game night this Friday! Server info will be posted on the front page as we get closer to game time. We'll start 7PM CST and play until our old, atrophied reflexes finally give out.

The best part? It's totally free! Hit the FEAR Combat Community site to get a CD key and download the game files. See you on Friday!

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Gratuitously Functional Gore
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 August 2014, 10:41 am

There are some conversational topics I've just given up on when it comes to my parents or grandparents. One of them is on the topic of gore and whether it is "necessary" or not. Their stance is that film-makers rely on blood and violence too much — that it's only there for horrible people to gain any thrill out of. The notion that a filmmaker wants to show someone in agonizing pain for the sake of making the viewer uncomfortable is foreign to them. They don't understand why you'd do such a thing.

On the surface, a lot of games are the same way. Does a head really need to pop like a melon once you've shot it in the head? Do the monsters in Doom really need to split open and reveal their bones and innards to the player? One could certainly assert that, due to the nature of blood and violence in many games, that developers haven't exactly outgrown their inner thirteen-year-old's fascination with the things their parents forbade them from seeing at a young age.

To an outside observer, the incredible backlash that Team Ninja received for removing dismemberment in Ninja Gaiden 3 would just be proof that game players are all a bunch of sick, disturbed man-children. However, not all things gratuitous need be meaningless, and to many fans of Ninja Gaiden 2 the disappointment was more about the simplification of the combat system.

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Too Long; Didn't Play: Alien Versus Predator Classic 2000
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 August 2014, 10:48 am

Sponsored by: Ccesarano

Play Time (official Steam log): 67 minutes

”I ain't got time to bleed” review

Three species, three campaigns, uncounted ways to get minced.

”Stop yer grinnin' and drop yer linen” review

I have a long history with the Aliens Versus Predator series. Not just the games, but the books and comics too. I even made myself a Predator action figure out of old, broken toys.

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August 25 - August 31
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 August 2014, 10:48 am

The release list for this final week of August heralds the unofficial end of the summer gaming slump in the form of one of gaming's longest running franchises.

Another year, another edition of the John Madden-less, Madden football. For context on the age of this franchise, understand that the first edition of the game came out the summer before I started high school. I'm 41 now.

Every year the release of Madden is a test of gullibility and will for me. If I were to roll a D20 to pass a Madden check, I'd only have around a 10 in Madden resist, meaning it's basically a coin flip.

Madden aside, The Walking Dead's second season comes to a close this week with Episode 5, No Going Back. Super Time Force, previously only available on the Xbox One, hits the PC with a Steam Ultra edition that includes characters from Team Fortress 2. The Metro series goes "redux" on PC, Xbox One and PS4, and the 3DS offers up the franchise colliding Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

Plenty of good stuff to warm up the coming fall season of gaming.

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August 18 - August 24
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 August 2014, 10:22 am

I'd be positively remiss not to give Hatoful Boyfriend our game of the week. An otome game in which you court and date human-sized pigeons, this game is the kind of weird that makes me realize how fall short my weird-fu is compared to so many others. Given a thousand years, I'd have never come up with this premise for a game.

Of course, my personal stake in the game has more to do with Julian Murdoch's exceptional crowd-funded piece on the game than anything else. As we close in on the next donation drive, I can only hope that the GWJ hive-mind comes together again to press gang Julian into some new line of bizarre research. Sparkle ponies, pigeon boyfriends, I can only imagine what's next.

Also this week Diablo 3 comes to the next gen consoles, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare arrives on the PS4 and Tales of Xillia 2 arrives on the PS3 and is my random guess for game most likely to be labeled as robbed in the comments.

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GWJ Plays: Omikron
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 August 2014, 11:15 am

As requested by Graham Rowat in the 2013 Donation Drive, Karla and Shawn Andrich sit down to dive into the world of David Cage's (and David Bowies) Omikron. Do they find the dildo shop? Do they survive the unbearable keyboard controls? Let's find out!

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TL;DR Reviews: Agricultural Simulator: Historical Farming
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 August 2014, 10:21 am

The GWJ community seems to have stumbled across a great idea: Take those odd keys leftover from Humble Bundles and gifts, and give them each one hour. Report back on your findings. This seemed to our editor to be a great source of content for the front page, along with a high probability of weird and humorous experiences, so I pressed a goodjer into service. [It's OK, though. He likes it. I think. I mean, I didn't ask, but I presume he likes doing this.]

Here's the first, courtesy DoubtingThomas396 himself, the originator of the scheme. Let's see how far we can push him before he snaps.

Agricultural Simulator: Historical Farming

Sponsored by: A Humble Bundle mistake

Time Spent: 90 minutes.

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Gen Con 2014
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 August 2014, 10:20 am

It's time for Gen Con!

GWJ is hitting Gen Con in force this year and we're … well, it seems like we're mostly unpacking and waiting in the will-call line right now, but we're super excited!

My personal Gen Con strategy tends to be to set a very loose schedule, except for interview times and GWJ events. That way I'm free to go with whatever random encounter the dice dictate. I know we've got a few important GWJ events, but there's always more fun stuff to experience.

Here's a brief, initial list of events on my radar. Let me know what I'm missing, or what you'd like me to direct GWJ's attention to!

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The Dark Dungeons Kickstarter
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 August 2014, 7:00 pm

What was the best game you ever played? The one that you really got wrapped up in? That one that gave you a pure, unadulterated shot of endorphins every time a beep was made? That beep that let your Skinner Box-trained mind know that you had done a good job? Because for me that game was called, “Kickstarter.”

People spend an inordinate amount of time in character creation in some games, and Kickstarter was no different for me. I tried my best to min-max every backer reward, every stat if you will, so that it would appeal to the most number of people while also bringing in the most revenue. Put too much money on a reward and no one will buy it, put too little and you won’t turn a profit (and then you won’t have any money to make your project).

And just as most people want their character’s faces to be just right, I wanted my Kickstarter to look good. I wanted the font to match the tone, the page to flow, the video to razzle and/or dazzle. Charisma isn’t a dump stat in this game.

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GWJ Conference Call Episode 409
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 August 2014, 12:35 am

Episode 409 - August 13th, 2014
Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 Impressions, Wasteland 2 Beta, Rise of Flight, Fallout New Vegas, Elite Beta, An Interview With Mike Mearls on D&D 5th Edition, Your Emails and More!

Right Click Here and 'Save As' to Download!
(A Rifty 45.8 MBs, 1:20:03)

This week D&D 5th edition lead designer Mike Mearls sits down with Julian to talk about the new D&D!

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Longevity
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 August 2014, 9:24 pm

I’ve spent the better part of the past week wandering the vast wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Nevada in Fallout: New Vegas. Aside from the shocking depth of content provided by the long, bloody trek, I find myself startled at how well the game holds up.

Had you asked me a few days ago how long it’s been since Fallout: New Vegas was released, I’d have likely guessed it probably came out sometime in 2012. In fact, New Vegas hit store shelves all the way back in 2010, and is rapidly approaching its fourth birthday. By extension, the graphics engine on which the game is built is closing in on its sixth birthday. Yet, I feel in no way like I’m playing an outdated or old game.

By contrast, if you revisit the games we recently covered as part of 1994 week, and look at the games that came out six years later, you see the huge leap between Doom 2 and No One Lives Forever, between Ultima VIII and Icewind Dale, between the first System Shock and Deus Ex. These were genuinely transformative leaps.

We’ve talked a lot about the way the differences between generations are becoming more nuanced, but there’s an after-effect of this that I hadn’t really thought all the way through. It’s not just that games visuals aren’t advancing at the same rate, but the gameplay systems themselves are similarly stabilizing, meaning that the game I buy today will likely be functionally similar enough to games in 2020 that I’ll barely recognize a difference.

On the downside, I’ll miss the days of rapid evolution and expansion. On the upside, I can safely wait a few years before I play a game, and not really miss out on that much.

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August 11 – August 17
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 August 2014, 11:13 am

It's been a helluva year for PC Role Playing Games, and there's still a few to go. While Deep Silver brought us a disappointing Sacred 3 last week, seven days heals all wounds. At least, I hope.

With legacy rooted in the old Gothic game series, Risen 3 by Piranha Bytes and published by Deep Silver hits PCs this week. Characterized as a classic PC RPG that challenges players and opens a living world for them to explore, Risen 3 is the latest in a series of games that seem to be stoking a revolution against games that hold players' hands.

With Wasteland 2 still upwards of a month from its official release, I certainly wouldn't be complaining if Risen 3 jumped in to bridge the gap between the exceptional Divinity: Original Sin and the upcoming Wasteland reboot. So Risen 3 gets my nod for Game of the Week. Here's hoping it delivers.

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The Jobs Cast - Episode 4
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 August 2014, 11:31 am

This week Sean Sands and Shawn Andrich talk about moving up in the job world and adjusting to your new role.

Right Click Here and 'Save As' to Download!

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Dungeons & Dragons: Players Handbook, 5th Edition
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 August 2014, 6:26 pm

“Why do we have to move?” I asked.

In my head, I can hear the tone of my voice. It’s hard to listen to. I’m actually whining.

“It’s not fair!” I screamed, and stormed out of the house. I grabbed my backpack from the station wagon and headed down the hill, across the field, and to the horse barn. I scrambled up the hay elevator and found a corner by the window. It was hot. The air was full of hay dust. It stung my eyes. I told myself that’s why they were wet.

It didn't matter much. I opened up my backpack and grabbed the book.

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Gamers Gonna Game
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 August 2014, 10:17 pm

GWJ staff regularly receive questions that presuppose that there is a correct way to play games, some prescribed method of gamerhood. Given the various pressures of time, energy and finance — not to mention social pressures from those who cast games in a negative light — it's only natural that we, as adult gamers, sometimes fret about whether we are navigating those pressures as effectively or appropriately as we might.

We at GWJ have, over time, become comfortable with a few standard responses: If you're not having fun, stop playing. If you're not really interested in playing games right now, then don't. It's important to have ways to relax and unwind, within the limitations of our responsibilities elsewhere; within that context, being a gamer is nothing to be ashamed of.

But what exactly is a "gamer"?

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August 4 - August 10
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 August 2014, 10:43 am

The Week Ahead comes to you this week a day late and with a long list of games I've generally never heard of.

I was hoping that I'd have good cause to call our Sacred 3 this week as the Game of the Week, but instead I've read and heard nothing but bad news about the game over the past week. Your Spidey-Sense should immediately tingle when games embargo reviews until the day of the game's release. That same sense should start screaming when said game stealth releases a day or two before the embargo lifts. Technically this is not even a release for this week, as it's already out and disappointing people around the globe.

There's a big list of releases this week, most of which I've frankly never heard of. Victory at Sea and Frontline: Road to Moscow seem like intriguing strategy options, but I think I'll give the Game of the Week Ultra Street Fighter 4.

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The Quiet House
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 July 2014, 1:17 pm

My wife and two kids are visiting the grandparents on the Gulf Coast for the last two weeks and the next two to come. While I was able to join them for the first week of the journey, I came home some ten days ago so I could get back to work. Since then, I’ve had the house to myself.

When I get home from work tonight, the Xbox controller will be exactly where I left it. My PC will be waiting in its idle state exactly as it had been when I turned off my game last night. There will be no new dishes in the sink. The downstairs room will still be clean, and there will still be plenty of milk left in the fridge. You can see the jealousy in the eyes of some of my co-workers when I mention that I’ve got my place to myself for a month and describe this kind of existence. They’re absolutely right to be jealous.

I have two boys whom I dearly love, but there are days where I pull into the garage and I can hear them crashing and shouting through the house before I even get through the door. I know when I push through into the foyer, I will be greeted with chaos. There will be a wet swimsuit perplexingly left on the stairs, or there will be a small, unexpected pile of Goldfish crackers crushed under my son’s beanbag chair, or there will be a pup tent fully set up in the living room with my boys swinging flashlights at each other inside like they’re lightsabers.

Today I will come home and the cat will quietly pad toward me to verify my identity, and that will be the extent of the chaos. It will be glorious, and also a little sad.

Living on my own is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

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GWJ Conference Call Episode 407
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 July 2014, 12:35 am

Episode 407 - July 30th, 2014
Divinity: Original Sin Finished, Elite: Dangerous Beta, Freedom Planet, Walking Dead Season 2, Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas , Are Games a Little Broken a Little Better?, Your Emails and More!

Right Click Here and 'Save As' to Download!
(Strappy 42.9 MBs, 1:14:51)

Join Shawn, Elysium, Julian, Allen and Rob Zacny as they debate whether or not games are a bit better when they're a little broken.

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July 28 - August 3
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 July 2014, 10:13 am

I honestly had to do a kind of mental double take when I saw that Firefall releases, finally, this week. Announced four years ago at PAX, I've since seen Firefall in a variety of iterations and it has always felt like a cool idea that just needed a little more time to bake. The times I played I would think, this seems like it should be good, so why am I not having fun?

I've been rooting for Red 5 Studios for years, but if I'm honest I packed up Firefall and largely forgot about it some time ago. Now seeing that it's made the long journey to release I'm both pleased and a little ambivalent.

I had considered briefly giving game of the week instead to The Last of Us Remastered which releases on PS4 this week, but then I remembered that if they'd just made this generation's consoles backwards compatible then people might not have to shell out another $50 to play it on a new system. It's funny how game makers seem to not think there's enough of a market out there looking to play last gen games on this gen equipment, but then suddenly there is enough of a market to re-release last gen games at this gen prices.

I've already had multiple occasions when I wished my Xbox One could play my 360 games, and I still have a functioning 360 attached to my TV. It's annoying as hell that backwards compatibility has become a non-starter for Sony and Microsoft, and if they think I'm going promote their philosophy of artificially stripping functionality so they can double-charge fans of a game that was released _last freakin' year_ for a "remastered" version at full price, they can go suck an egg.

Anyway, my point is Firefall is the game of the week.

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Divinity: Original Sin
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 July 2014, 2:45 pm

Divinity: Original Sin may be the best RPG of its kind in years.

It is smartly written, patiently paced, fun to play and hard enough that success feels like an accomplishment. Set in a complicated world that developer Larian Studios has been tinkering with for years, its narrative comes with a rich lore already in place and an easy confidence in its history and foundations.

To say that I recommend Divinity: Original Sin is an understatement. As far as computer role-playing games go, this particular one threatens to steal a place in my mind on the shelf with games like Baldur’s Gate, Ultima VII, Planescape: Torment and Fallout 2. Though I’m not ready to crown it to those heights yet — I’ll need a year or two to ruminate on whether it really achieves that level of greatness — it has passed the first initial gates to get into the running.

I do wonder, though, whether at least part of what makes Divinity so great in the modern age is simply a function of how few games do what it does anymore. It is in some ways as though Divinity is a game that was created mostly in 1996, and fell through a crack in time to the year 2014, where Larian simply added all the technical whiz-bangery of the modern age. There is a sensibility to the game that doesn’t really exist anymore in most western RPGS — or most games for that matter — a sensibility that by its nature spoon-feeds you nothing, but rewards you time and again for just being smart enough to figure the world out.

Divinity’s most daring aspect may simply be that it is unapologetic in demanding the player put in a meaningful effort to succeed. In a way, as a gamer, it’s just nice to be treated as an adult.

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Practical Problems
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 July 2014, 5:23 pm

"How to get your significant other/older relative/etc to play a game" is a pretty common topic in gaming circles. And we have all sorts of advice in various threads about what games are the best gateway games and how to go about leading them down the garden path from there. However, we rarely talk about a real dragon that's snoozing away in the middle of the living room: the person's hardware.

An acquaintance I ran into walking the dog just hit my sore spot. He's upset because he can't get his girlfriend interested in playing games. He's tried several and gotten nowhere fast. He topped off his litany with a lament that she wouldn't even play Minecraft with him.

He's a PC gamer, which makes things both easier and harder. Easier because you don't have to convince the significant other to buy yet another piece of expensive hardware and all its trimmings to get them playing. However, that doesn't let you off the hook the way you think it might.

This became clear when I asked him a simple question. What were the specs of her computer?

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July 21 - July 27
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 July 2014, 12:47 pm

The Walking Dead S2:E4 lands this week on PC, 360 and PS3, carrying on with a franchise that feels like it might be running out of gas. That could just be me, though. I never got all the way on board with The Walking Dead in any of its multiple formats.

I think it's the zombies. As a beloved menace, only vampires seems to gather more prime-time visibility, but I just don't love zombies the way it seems so many others do. I've passed on most of the great zombie flicks, avoided many of the games and, with the exception of World War Z, have read no novels — graphic or otherwise.

I don't have some huge indictment or complaint about tales of zombies, except maybe that it feels like the same story told over and over and over again. I even get that zombie stories are in many ways not really about the monsters, but about us. I see the cool metaphors wrapped into the slow, dead, inexorable doom of the zombie apocalypse. It just doesn't usually grab me.

Games like Dead Rising, Dead Island, Resident Evil and even The Walking Dead — all games I've played — have usually been something I spend a couple hours with and move on. Doesn't mean they're not great games, just games where inevitably the thought of another zombie or another dealing with the problems of a world overrun with zombies sounded like a job perfectly crafted for someone else to deal with.

Which is how I've come to think of The Walking Dead. It sounds like a terrific story and engaging experience that someone else is expertly suited to deal with. Enjoy.

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Earthbound, Never Homebound
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 July 2014, 12:26 pm

Our brief glimpse into 1994 allowed me to relive a part of my life when things were comfortable and simple. The biggest concern I had was usually what to watch on the new cable system, when to finish my homework, or how I would pay for the newest issue of EGM. It was a time when my world was a few blocks big, arcade machines and comic books where everywhere, and where worries about career, life, and love were abstract, incomprehensible fictions in the face of the playground. 1994 was the last hurrah of childhood—of games during recess, of choosing sides in the Nintendo vs. Sega battle, of pizza, sleepovers and friends. When 1995 rolled over, I had lost family members, lost the friends that had been my elementary school life, and was, more and more, being pushed towards adolescence. 1995 brought quiet school days spent on the bleachers reading, a wardrobe of fat-concealing vests (handy for pockets as well as confidence), and the inexplicable afternoons where I would lock myself away, curl up, and just cry.

Somewhere along 1995’s march to middle school, I ran across EarthBound. That’s not entirely true, though. I had known of EarthBound because of the publisher’s extensive marketing campaign, which leaked a number of ads into Nintendo Power as a lead up to its release. As with other games I knew I would never own, EB was recognizable but not formed. I knew it was an RPG, in a time when Lunar: The Silver Star and Final Fantasy II/III were the only RPGs I cared for. I knew that it had gorgeously quirky Claymation ads, which weren’t part of the game proper. And probably most importantly, there were a number of Scratch-n-Sniff promos for the game that made everything just so silly.

It was a game with humor, and a game that smelled. That's what I knew. Now grown, I understand the importance of sense memory – how, neurologically, scents can enhance recall and, when paired with an experience, cause moments in our histories to become inexplicably conjoined. But as a child, smelly ad stickers were probably the best way to get my attention.

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