This week Shawn, Julian and Karla talk a whole lot of Dragon Age Inquisition and game homes!
Don't get too excited by the long release list this week, it's may be wide but it's about as deep as a pothole. This is what I always think of as "stocking stuffer" week, time where companies shovel out a great volume of stuff to stock store shelves both real and virtual.
That might not be a bad thing, though. Word on the street has it that there's a Steam Sale just a few days away. If true, that's going to get my attention, as there's a number of things from the past year that I would normally have picked up, but that I waited exactly for a steam sale to cover.
But, back to the week at hand. I'm giving my nod to Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. I, admittedly, know absolutely nothing about this game, but the original Geometry Wars was the first Xbox Live Arcade game I owned and I played it obsessively for weeks. A week after I picked up the game I bought my first HD television, and I stared at the colors on screen as though I'd had a significant dose of consciousness altering medicines.
For nostalgia reasons alone, Geometry Wars 3 gets my nod for Game of the Week.
Sponsored By: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (I sold all the cards I earned playing SoM and bought Not The Robots with the proceeds.)
Time Played: 37 minutes, but in robot time that's enough
If a game has a loading screen telling you to go play the games that inspired the one you’re currently loading, I suggest you follow that advice.
You know, I don’t really want to hate Not The Robots, and I suppose I succeed on that front. I don’t hate Not The Robots, it’s just that modern scientists have yet to invent an instrument capable of measuring my indifference toward it. You know how people say “I could care less” when they mean “I couldn’t care less?” Well, I feel like both of those things at once.
When it comes to Not The Robots, I could care less about the fact that I couldn’t care less.
Caution: This article will contain spoilers for Final Fantasy VII.
I used to think I was so smart in middle school — so clever. I would insist certain games were only for idiots and smart people only played another type of title. I started to grow out of this mentality in high school, but it would take a long time before I truly understood what it meant to think critically.
It's been over a decade since my last playthrough of Final Fantasy VII, and I have found myself almost experiencing the game anew. It's like returning to a location you haven't visited since your childhood. Your height literally gives you a new perspective, a new way of seeing things. Everything looks smaller than you remember. Stepping through the environment, you begin to remember the actions of your parents, and suddenly you can relate to them just a little better.
Replaying Final Fantasy VII has been a lesson in perspective, and just how wrong many of my assumptions and perceptions were when I was in middle school. An awfully fitting reaction, too, as this playthrough has revealed to me an underlying theme throughout the entire game.
Final Fantasy VII is about many things, yes, but one of the primary ideas is that nothing is quite what it seems.
You could spend a couple of hundred dollars on games this week and still not have picked up everything potentially worth playing off the new release list this week. Though Dragon Age: Inquisition is going to take the top spot on my list, and by extension the Game of the Week title, it's just scratching the surface of games released this week.
What could get lost in the shuffle, though, is that this may very well be the last great release week for the last generation of consoles. While you'll likely still see games released here and there for the PS3 and Xbox 360, their days are decidedly numbered, and the likelihood of seeing another week with several major releases for those platforms is probably not very good.
So, what else besides DA:I is coming out this week? Well, UbiSoft is looking to make everyone forget about last week's Assassin's Creed debacle with the launch of Far Cry 4. The PlayStation 4 brings us the third iteration of Little Big Planet, and with it an official campaign from my kids to buy a PS4 for Christmas. And rounding out the Xbox One and PS4 offerings is a next-gen release of Grand Theft Auto 5.
On the Nintendo side of things, Super Smash Bros. comes to the Wii U, and the 3DS offers up yet another trip round the Pokemon carnival. As for those last generation systems, I mentioned, they get Dragon Age and Far Cry 4 along with the better-late-than-never release of Shadow of Mordor.
If you can't find something you're interested in playing this week, then you might not be looking hard enough. Don't worry about putting it on your pile at this point, because you're going to want that to sustain you through the coming drought.
Sponsored By: DoubleFine
Captain's Log: 69 minutes. (hurr hurr hurr he said log)
Imagine The Sims and Evil Genius got married and decided to honeymoon with Virgin Galactic. It's a 4X dungeon-building personality-management simulator! In Spaaaaaaaaaace!
I'm going to preface this review by saying I know virtually nothing of the controversy surrounding SpaceBase DF-9. All I know is that one day I opened Steam and saw a green envelope with no explanation whatsoever. I googled it and found out that DoubleFine was gifting SpaceBase DF-9 to everyone who owned Hack 'n' Slash, and was gifting Hack 'n' Slash to everyone who bought SpaceBase DF-9, as some sort of apology. I didn't know for what until I dipped my toe into the SpaceBase DF-9 catch-all thread, and limped away to nurse my scalded foot.
Long story short: DoubleFine funded SpaceBase DF-9 through the Early Access model, then canceled a bunch of planned features, released the game as-is and pissed off a lot of people who will now never buy another DoubleFine game as long as ... hey, is that Costume Quest 2?
I don't want to trivialize anything. People are mad and have every right to be, but since I didn't buy into the early access phase of this game, and because I've liked almost everything that DoubleFine has ever released (Yes, that includes Stacking and Brutal Legend), and because I still don't know what features were cut, I'm willing to review this game as is. In other words, this is the review of the game as released, by your typical ignorant consumer, not of the game as promised.
So, how's the game?
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out my review of Hack 'n' Slash!
If I were cynical enough, I might choose to see the endless thanking of the community and attention paid to players by Blizzard throughout last weekend’s BlizzCon as a tactical decision used (to great effect) to build and maintain that brand loyalty that has kept the same millions of people buying Blizzard games for decades. But, in the absence of that cynicism, there was an authenticity that echoed throughout the event that never made it feel smarmy or pandering. From Michael Morhaime’s opening statements — and decision to take some of the toxicity in the gaming community head-on from the word "go" — to Chris Metzen’s obvious near-panic-attack before revealing Overwatch, I believed the sentiment genuinely matched the words.
That’s actually kind of rare for me. That cynicism I mentioned is not a hard vein to tap in most of the conversations I see developers and publishers have with their fans. It’s not that I don’t believe that the people who make games don’t care about the people who play games, but it always feels like the actual message coming out in front of the world has been filtered through so many strategic angles that it loses credibility.
It’s naive, of course, to assume that Blizzard was any less diligent in crafting their message, but somehow through the process it doesn’t feel like they lose sight of an ethos that I can get on board with. As BlizzCon ended I walked away feeling good about the countless times I’ve shelled dollars out of the bank account to buy their products.
I liked who I was doing business with, and that’s not a feeling I get regularly from the big-business side of the games industry.
I watch Connor's knife sink into the wolf's flesh, silencing it with a muted yip. A red dot fades from the radar, but there are still six or seven more. Each indicates a wolf running in circles around me. I wait, completely relaxed, not at all worried, until the camera shifts and the game prompts me. I obey the commands, first the Circle button, then the Square, and execute another wolf without a scratch to my skin.
Lather, rinse, repeat a half dozen more times, and the music finally fades.
I'm surrounded by the slumbering wildlife of the forest, over a dozen wolf corpses at my feet. One by one, I start to skin them, but I quickly grow tired of watching Connor kneel, speak a few words in his native tongue, and slip his knife out of the camera's frame. I decide to leave the remaining nine or ten wolves behind, in search of a tree with good hand– and foot–holds. There's a few feathers in this forest I'd like to collect.
The screen suddenly starts to blink red. Connor's movements are slowed. The audio fills with digital white noise. "You have been desynchronized," the game tells me. The HUD informs me that I cannot leave animals unskinned. I suppose it is in Connor's character to make use of any beast he kills, otherwise it is a waste. As far as I can recall, this was never explained. The game has decided to punish me for acting out of character, sending me back to where I dismounted my horse, forced to trudge through snow once more as packs of wolves race through the trees. Not a single damn branch within reach for me to get off the ground and escape from another conflict I have no interest in.
I just want to climb the damned trees.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article called "Spoiler Alert," in which I posited that people need to stop making a big deal about spoilers. It was not my most well-loved article of all time, and it's generally my sense that it has not impacted the conflict around content spoiling one iota.
Well, actually, it did impact one iota. This iota, specifically. Me. In the article and in the comments, I suggested that I was going to live a reckless life unconcerned with spoilers one way or the other. My media would no longer be sacred texts, their mysteries no longer to be hidden until the proper moment of consecration. I wouldn’t necessarily seek out spoilers, but neither would I restrain myself from seeing them.
The point here was not to spoil anyone else, obviously, because I do not want to live as a pariah for the remainder of my days, but simply not let the possibility of spoiling some narrative impact my actions in either direction. I originally intended just to try it out for a few weeks or a couple of months, but what happened is that it quickly became the norm. In fact, I had long ago forgotten that it was even an experiment, and it instead just became the way I go about things, which is all to say that a disregard of being spoiled became so normal and irrelevant that I’d sort of forgotten that it was anything to be worried about in the first place.
Now a year later, I think I’d say this of the experiment: It changed virtually nothing in the way I consume or enjoy movies, books or television. I enjoy the experience neither any more nor any less. What it did change is my experience of communicating and engaging people in the conversation about media. That was made much better.
Sponsored By My loving wife of 9 years (anniversary present)
Time played 9 hours (UR has been in touch with me about this policy violation)
Inbox Zero Review
Holy Tolkien-Conversion-Mod Batman! They took everything from the Arkham games (from stealth to combat to detective wraith mode) and made it a Middle Earth game!
I am so very sorely tempted to make World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor the Game of the Week, because for me it very much is. I'm back on that WoW tip, as the kids apparently say if video game streamers and podcasts are to be trusted, which arguably they are not. And, in the direct aftermath of a stellar BlizzCon, in which it felt like that august and storied developer could do no wrong, I'm well and fully hyped for a return visit to Draenor and to see the world that would become Outland in the days before it was left a shattered remnant.
But, if I do that; if I make WoW: WoD the game of the week, then that would effectively be the end of Gamers With Jobs, because Shawn would immediately sever all ties with me for snubbing Assassin's Creed in favor of an MMORPG expansion. I, therefore, make this sacrifice for you.
Assassin's Creed: Unity is our Game of the Week. In this installment you get to run the rooftops of revolutionary France, and probably do a lot of jumping off of very high things to land in or on the things below. In what has historically been an unusual move for Ubisoft, the game is launching concurrently on Xbox One, PS4 and the PC, though the company still managed to spook traditionally skittish PC players by getting into some kind of kerfuffle with Steam last week.
Also this week, the habitually delightful Lego games from TT Games returns LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Set aside that this iteration contains a panoply DC characters, that it takes place on multiple worlds, because TT Games had me at including a 1960's Batman outfit. Running around in a LEGO world pretending to be Adam West? Yes, please.
There are a ton of other things to talk about this week, and arguably many games are going to "get robbed." There's not much left of the holiday game launch season, so enjoy it while it lasts.
I purchased Alien: Isolation on launch day, but I'm pretty sure I'm not even halfway through it. I'm only on mission seven out of, according to the Playstation trophies, eighteen. That's some pretty slow progress, for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons relate to scheduling. Another is that Destiny has bounties to be completed and weapons to be upgraded, and good God I could be doing today's Daily instead of sitting at work filling in XML fields why do I even have a job Destiny is life.
The most substantial contributing factor to my slow progress is that every time I slide the disc into the tray, I get a sudden squeegly feeling in my stomach. What's a squeegly feeling? That's an excellent question. Best I can imagine is your stomach becomes an accordion filled with butterflies, and it is ever so gently squeezing in and out while the beautiful insects flutter about your musical guts. That's what it feels like when I consider playing Alien: Isolation.
I am well aware that Call of Duty: Creepy Plastic Kevin Spacey Edition is coming out this week. I can't -- I won't! -- name it as Game of the Week. I assume my contempt virtually ensures that it will make 3 billion dollars for Activision.
I don't actually begrudge people who find consistent joy in this series. It's not like the existence of yet another Call of Duty prevents the games I like from seeing the light of day. Obviously, considering its massive sales year after year, there's something worth celebrating there. I just don't get it, and I don't have to.
That said, I'm definitely not interested in celebrating its release.
Instead, I'll once again give my love and attention to Rocksmith 2014 and its "next-gen" release. If you have the slightest interest in learning to play an instrument and you have access to an electric guitar and the requisite PC, PS4 or Xbox One, I can not recommend this game/tool enough. No, it won't make you a virtuoso guitar player on its own, but it will genuinely teach you the fundamentals in a constantly rewarding way that offers a genuinely fun experience even to someone picking up a guitar for the first time.
I know my interest in learning guitar, basically since Harmonix released the first Guitar Hero, has become its own kind of mania, and as an unbiased source I leave much to be desired, but I ask that you trust me on this one. Rocksmith 2014 is an exceptional piece of software, and there is a huge library of DLC songs and artists already in place. Note: if you have a previous-gen version of the game and are upgrading, your DLC will transfer.
So, Rocksmith 2014 gets my nod for Game of the Week.
Halloween has long held a special place in my heart. It wasn't just the petty vandalism, anonymous racketeering, or sugar highs (or, as I like to think of it, Reeser Madness). It was the spectacle of it. The pageantry. The theatricality.
Name me another holiday where you can dress up as a princess, a pirate, or a slavering beast from Hell (or indeed, all three at once) and people give you free stuff for it.
Well, yes yes. PAX for one. And ComicCon. And ... Look, do you mind? I'm reminiscing here!
What makes a game scary? Is it surprises? Is it gore? Is it psychological?
Well, yes, it's psychological. It's all psychological. Psychology is largely the study of fear. Just as all crime eventually boils down to theft (theft of property, theft of peace of mind, theft of life, etc.) so, too, all the study of psychology boils down to the study of fear. Not just the obvious stuff, like phobias, but the trinity of innate psychological needs for competence (I'm afraid I'm not good enough), autonomy (I'm afraid I can't do this on my own) and relatedness (I'm afraid people won't accept me). Virtually all of modern psychoanalysis is basically finding out what a person fears most and confronting it until it loses its power. So bear in that mind the next time someone says they prefer "psychological" scares to monsters-jumping-out-of-closets-unexpectedly scares. They're both psychological scares, they just poke different psychological buttons.
After the bump you'll find the final list of GWJ. From here on out if you're supposed to be on the list but for some reason not, I'll add you directly to this list instead of posting a new one.
While this list represents an amazing 540 of our donors, there's roughly another 400 who either didn't tie their forum to their donation or don't have an account who supported the site and the podcast. It feels redundant, but I honestly can't say it enough. It's unbelievable the support you guys put in to the site, and, speaking on behalf of everyone associated with GWJ, we can simply not thank you enough.
I appreciate everyone's patience as we went through some internal changes to the donation drive structure, both in how we manage the rewards and process the donations. There were some hiccups along the way, and probably still a few to iron out.
Thanks for sticking with us (or joining us!) in 2014. And thank you to everyone on and off this list that has in countless different ways helped make GWJ one of the best gaming communities on the web.
... But I Gotta Put You Down For A Little While
I was somewhere around the Rail Nomads Camp on the edge of the Wasteland when the bugs began to take hold. The framerate dropped to a slow chug. The camera started freewheeling.
Determined to complete my quest to broker a peace between two warring tribes, I kept walking. The typewriter in the corner spewed out descriptions of stuff I was apparently looking at, but the rest of my screen was a dizzying blur. Somehow I found one of the tribe leaders and struck up a conversation. All my dialogue options disappeared. Then a crash to desktop. I restarted, reloaded, tried again. Crash again. The error message suggested that maybe I tell the developers about it.
Before reloading again, I checked the clock. It was 12:23 am. I sighed, "I suppose I should go to bed anyway." As I got up from my desk I was disappointed, but by the time I was in bed, I had convinced myself to be grateful that Wasteland 2's glitches gave me a relatively early night.
Hi, I'm Felix Threepaper and I have a problem. I play broken games.
I know a lot of people probably think I'm crazy, but the morning after an 800 mile, 14 hour car trip, I feel pretty good. I'm not saying I want to, but I could turn around and drive all the way back today and it wouldn't be that bad. I'm a fan of the open road -- less a fan of the heavy, traffic, lanes-blocked-off-for-construction road -- and even as I closed the last dozen miles last night, bone weary, just the right song came on the radio for the orange lamplight reflecting off the white lines of the road, that I was sort of glad in a deep place to be right there at that moment in that context.
I think I'm part of a relatively small crowd that can recall the particular road-trippy smell a BP station off I-74 can smell as you walk in to get that next giant bottle of water in anything like a fond way. That's not to say I'm fundamentally against public transportation, but airlines can go collectively suck an egg. With apologies to the many fine people I'm sure work diligently in service to the airline industry, and whose livelihood depends on people like me not saying, "ugh, I'd rather drive 500 miles than put up with that unmitigated disaster of a constantly hassling and almost aggressive travel industry," flying is just the worst. If I have enough time and a contiguous road, I will always choose the open road.
Which is interesting, because I know that statistically I'm putting myself at much greater risk of harm. So, I think the conclusion you can draw is that I would rather risk death and the certainty of cramped muscles and exhaustion than take a 3 hour flight.
Oh, this week's game of the week is Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games. It looks pretty fun.
The countdown has almost reached zero as plenty of Goodjers prepare for the twenty-four-hour slog-a-thon that is the Extra Life fundraising drive. You can find all the information in our original post on the subject or through the forum thread.
Visit the Team Page if you would like to donate.
If you'd like to participate, the Gamers With Jobs community will be playing the following games at the listed times on Saturday, October 25th:
We'll also undoubtedly be going in and out of the Extra Life channel in the GamersWithJobs Ventrilo server.
Also of note, I, Chris "C" Cesarano, will have Image & Form Marketing and PR Manager Mikael Forslind as a guest while streaming Steamworld Dig at 1pm Eastern Time.
Sponsored By: Antichulius
What if Microsoft Paint was a really dark, desolate place featuring a lot of nudity and overwrought dialogue? DeviantArt is a good guess, but actually it's The Void.
The Long Sleep Review
The part of Mysteriously Whispering Naked Lady Narrator (MWNLN) will be played by Keira Knightley with laryngitis.
Narrator 2 will be played by Lord Voldemort. From the first movie, not the last one.
The part of The PLAYER will be played by Doubtingthomas396.
It's fashionable to hate GameStop, and I can't deny there are a few good reasons for it. One of the things I love about GameStop, though, is the opportunity it affords spelunkers.
A man with five dollars in his pocket and an hour to kill can find some marvelous tombs to raid. All it takes, beyond the fiver and the lunch break, is an open mind and a willingness to sit on the floor in front of a giant cardboard sculpture of Kratos.
There are important lessons to be drawn from a lifetime of crawling through bargain bins. Important things that make your spelunking expedition healthy and productive. Things like wearing kneepads under your pants so you don't scuff your knees, and to never-ever squat because you could blow out a meniscus. Things like bringing hand santitizer because goodness knows what a person has to do to make a Game Boy Advance box that sticky.
But more important than knee safety and basic flu-prevention is the attitude you bring on the expedition. (These days those things are less important than before anyway, since you can hop on Steam or Humble or GoG and hunt through a bevy of overlooked beauties from the comfort of your own toilet.) Attitude is everything. You want your mind so open it's in danger of falling out of your head and seeking a cauliflower to mate with. Gold is where you find it, the song says, and you can find it if you're willing to see it.
So if you're willing to paw through stacks and stacks of Madden 2007 (Currently $0.99. Ignore the "low-stock" designator. We got 'em. Trust me on that.) you can find all sorts of also-rans, never-gonna-bes and please-don't-short-sell-us-we-fired-everyone-in-engineering-and-marketings.
I'm really not sure what to make of Beyond Earth. I think I still feel a little burned from when Firaxis released a revamp of Colonization, and I ended up playing it for about 15 minutes. It's been a while since I've had the Civ V bug, and Beyond Earth — from everything I've seen — ultimately looks like a really well crafted skin of Civ, but a skin all the same. I'm really not sure how much I want that. I'm really hoping to be pleasantly surprised, which is why I'm still going to give it the nod for my game of the week, but my enthusiasm could certainly be higher.
Want to take a moment here to recognize that our own Alan "Pyroman" Cook is getting married this coming weekend. He has made the disastrous choice to have the Meeples play at his reception, and that's pretty much what the rest of my week is going to be about — practicing four songs over and over again so I can bungle them as little as possible in front of other people. All that aside, I wanted to take a second and wish Pyro congratulations. This is really the big thing happening this week as far as I'm concerned.
It's probably worth mentioning the release this week, also, of Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U. It's been a while (ever?) since the Wii U got a major exclusive that wasn't a first-party title (edit: apparently it is first-party — I was wrong). It will be interesting to see how it's received here state-side, given some of the other ... unpleasantness going on in the broader community. Also this week, Just Dance 2015 and The Walking Dead: Season 2 come to a variety of console systems.
Sponsored By: Steam sale (I am ashamed.)
Behind schedule by: 51 minutes
Hey-HEY! Come on over and have some fun with BUS DRIVER! All right! Let’s get ready to make some BUS money!
YAH YAH YAH YAH YAH!
I’ve heard a lot of praise recently for Shadow of Mordor, a stealth-action game set in Tolkien's Middle Earth. In general, I think the praise is mostly well-deserved, and the game delivers a satisfying experience.
It’s just that, with some six or seven hours played, I’m done with it.
This article isn't really a critique of Shadow of Mordor, and shouldn't be seen as such, but I'm going to use it for a few minutes to illustrate a broader point. I used to be of the mind that seven hours with a game was a pretty satisfactory amount of time. I’m not sure I’m entirely ready to back down from that position, particularly if I’m getting something really unique out of that time. A relatively short Brothers or Gone Home experience, despite not being particularly time consuming, is completely worth the price of admission. But when I think about Shadow of Mordor, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything really that unique about it. As a result, it felt like once the patina washed away I was left with a nugget of a game I’d played plenty of times before.
I don’t necessarily mean that as a criticism. Not every game has to be some hothouse orchid, a rare and beautiful thing. After all, some of the greatest games ever made are really just extremely polished versions of collected ideas gathered from mediocre games that had come before. That Shadow of Mordor is just a Batman game recast in the land of orcs as seen through the lens of Assassin’s Creed doesn’t mean it doesn’t do a damn fine job of being that.
But given the depths to which I’ve plumbed some games over the past year, my context for being satisfied by just playing a game for six or seven hours has changed.
The sun is setting earlier in the day, trees exchange their illustrious emerald leaves in exchange for crinkling amber, and the temperature gradually begins to fall. Autumn is coming out in full, and with it comes the annual Extra Life gaming charity.
If you're not familiar with Extra Life, it is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals across North America. Each year they organize a twenty-four-hour gaming marathon where players of all sorts can test their mental endurance with their favorite hobby. Think of it like the Color Run, only without the physical exertion and with more delirious midnight hallucinations.
Last year Gamers With Jobs organized a team that managed to raise over $3,500 for a variety of Children's Hospitals, and this year we're trying again. On Saturday, October 25th, several of your fellow community members will be logging on to their various streaming channels to prove to the world that they can stay awake for twenty-four hours playing video games, all in an effort to raise funds for Children's Hospitals.