Tuesday, June 30, 2009

StarCraft II: Let's Ignore How People Play Our Games

I think Blizzard has some serious server myopic. Perhaps they've concentrated on World of Warcraft too long. Maybe someone got hit on the head. I dunno.

There has to be some explanation for why StarCraft II won't support LAN play. No LAN play? Well I guess I won't play it at my LANs, or at all! Blizzard, that's a terrible idea. Until we get 100Mbps fiber to our house, getting a dozen people together behind one cable ISP and playing on Battle.net just isn't gonna work out.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sacktue of Liberty

Looks like Media Molecule is releasing another freebie costume, this time to celebrate our country's Independence Day. The Sacktue of Liberty costume will be released on July 2nd. It follows the Druid costume released in celebration of the summer solstice a week ago. Go grab both of the costumes while you can, because they're both available only for a limited time!

Does A Bear Crap In The Woods?

I think we all assumed that World of Warcraft held up development of StarCraft II. But in a recent article from Eurogamer, Blizzard's Vice President of Game Design confirmed that the work on World of Warcraft consumed the time and resources of StarCraft II.

I was surprised to read that there has been a playable version of StarCraft II for four years now. I did see a playable version at GenCon 2007, so it's not that much of a total mindblow. But they've been sitting on it for a while, taking their sweet time.

You can hardly blame Blizzard for it, though. They make upwards of a hundred and fifty million (or more) dollars every month on World of Warcraft just in subscription fees, not counting the games that are purchased and registered. I wonder why Blizzard bothers making any other games, let alone two sequels.

Boardgames in the Basement

Paintball, it must be said, was a blast, even though I have more than my share of bruises from shots and soreness from the running around.

Afterwards, the party was fun but a little subdued, at least as far as our parties go. There was still plenty of shouting over one another as we played a couple rowdy boardgames. Cory was good enough to bring his copy of Settlers of Catan over to the post-paintball party this weekend, so we had to play. The ladies (and Alex) tried their hand at Redneck Life while the guys played Settlers.

I'd never played Settlers, but of course having heard of it I'd really wanted to try it out. It definitely didn't disappoint. We had a big five-player game, and it was really fun. Cory showed us the ropes and having had some experience with the game he won, but it wasn't a blowout by any means. Both Greg and I were pretty close on his heels, and everyone who played got pretty far along. Except Mike, he got pretty screwed on resources.

Anyway, I've really got the bug now. I know there's an electronic version on XBLA, but not be a 360 owner I can't really get in with that. I'd get a paper copy, but it's hard enough to get people together for D&D let alone other activities. Guess the rarer sessions will just have to be all the more fun!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Starbase Beats in Sins

Entrenchment is fun. I just finished up a multi-day game with eight players in a 2v2v2v2 arrangement. Pictures below of an epic battle against an offending starbase. It was no match for my long-range torpedo boats with front-line escorts.

Above: Kol Battleship and escorts draw the installation's attention. Below: Incoming! Torpedo salvo, see it in scale with the light ship (Cobalt Frigate) to the left.

Above: The Kol flagship blasts the starbase while the Dunov Battlecruiser supports as a torpedo salvo explodes. Below: The starbase erupts in the flames of defeat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Over In Four Seconds

This game had Greg, Alex, and I cracking up to no end. It was over so fast, we couldn't believe it.

Oh There You Are!

We were just talking about it, and finally it arrives, popping up on the taskbar: the Demigod 1.1 patch. I haven't played the game for a couple weeks but with this update I'm ready to dive back in. Updates include balance changes, the Concede feature, and new AI enhancements that should prove to make comp stomp matches a little more competitive. Update away!

Little bit more to add, here's the developer pre-announce for the v1.1 update. Haven't seen the actual announce.

Bowser Remade

Normally we think of Bowser as a barely credible threat, a comic figure who is constantly stymied by Mario and Co. at every turn. While Mario and Peach can always be cute and soft, Bowser's art design typically straddles the line between silly and barely menacing. The Paper Mario series did little to bolster Bowser's standing, painting him in comic 2D and illustrating him as bumbling at best.

However, Bowser's portrayal in Super Smash Brothers Brawl allows Bowser to get a little pride back. In normal guise, he's a hulking, threatening beast, but when he gets a Smash Ball, well... See for yourself.


It feels good to smash Peach and Mario as a great, powerful, hulking beast once again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

War in Spaaaaaace

Yeah I'm playing Sins of a Solar Empire again. I got the Entrenchment DLC a while ago, but hadn't had a chance to do much with it. But I've since played a couple really big games and really used the starbases and newer units to great advantage. I especially like the long-range installation bombardier vessels, like the Advent Solanus Adjucator. The new upgrades makes for even sexier screens:

Above you can see the Deliverance Engine in action. Below just a shot of my fleet hanging out on a border world, letting my culture do the talking as the enemy lost their worlds because I managed to sway their population to my way of thinking.

New Mass Effect DLC?

With Mass Effect 2 on the horizon, and Dragon Age and Old Republic in development, you think BioWare has their hands full. Apparently not full enough, as the original Mass Effect may be getting some DLC. In Kojima-style announcing an announcement, only a Twitter post really clues us in. More to come later in the week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Starcraft II This Year?

I'm not holding my breath, but in an interview, a Blizzard developer says we may be graced with the second installment of StarCraft this year. I'll believe it when I see it. Blizzard is second only to Polyphony Digital when determining release dates. And maybe even better in quality of product, so I think I can let it slide this time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Scribblenauts: Scribble Nots?

I suppose I should write something about Scribblenauts. The darling of gaming blog Kotaku, declared Best in Show at E3 2009 by IGN and many other gaming outlets, and all-around good guy, Scribblenauts is billed as a puzzle game with action elements. It also seems to be somewhat of a sandbox game, as the main game mechanic centers around being able to scribble in one of thousands of nouns (family-friendly nouns thank-you-very-much) in order to gird your character, the Naut in question here, otherwise known as Maxwell, with tools and allies to work through the two hundred levels in the game.

All of which begs the question: Could this be the most hilarious game ever? Already we have God vs. The Kraken. What could be next? David vs. Goliath? Peanut vs. Jelly? Who knows the storm that will unleash when Dogs vs. Cats battle?!!? I can't wait.

Scribblenauts releases on September 15, 2009. View the actual, for-real trailer here.

I Am Terrible At Video Games

I enjoy gaming. I think gaming at its best is a cooperative experience. Even with single-player games, video games are like alcohol -- best when shared with others. Being able to tell your friends how you beat the boss, racked up the highest score, overcame the puzzle, or beat the entire game, all those things are worthwhile when you can cheer or chagrin your activities.

It's a good thing, because I'm really terrible at video games.

Modern video games are foam padded rooms. You bounce off of objectives and keep coming back for more, because it's hilarious to just jump around and never get hurt. I'm playing inFamous, and I must have failed a hundred times already, but the game is kind, and I pick right back up from a checkpoint maybe 30 seconds back in the game. One of my favorite modern series, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and the new Prince of Persia actually had plot points integrated with gameplay that could save you from death or literally rewind time to avoid that character death. Other games have saves that you can reload, whatever. I enjoy that, because it lets you create moments of fun without catastrophically failing and starting over from the beginning of the game.

So, like a fool, I decided to harken back into a dark time where game designers didn't allow such kindnesses. I downloaded Super Mario Brothers 3 on the Wii Virtual Console. Big mistake. Try as I might, I just can't get past world 2-4. I just get crushed. I don't know what it is, if I've lost my edge, if I'm not used to the platforming, what. I don't remember this game being that hard. I mean, it was about fifteen years ago that I played it, but I'm not a newbie!

I think the last ten years of gaming have softened me. The good life and easy games with checkpoints and rewind buttons have spoiled me, until I am terrible at video games.

Back to inFamous, I guess. It's more fun, anyway. No leaping off of skyscrapers and landing in an electric cloudburst in stupid Mario Brothers!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Shooters Aim for Wallets

Today Ghostbusters launches, available on just about every platform imaginable. Early reviews from IGN and UGO rates the game as fair to middlin'. Seems the spirit of ghost busting is there, but the uninspired and bland levels and enemies make what should be an exciting experience dull. Maybe one for the real fans.

Next week, The Conduit finally arrives on Wii. I've been following this game for literally a year. Videos of it look great, and I've been hyping it like crazy. So I'm going to look like an idiot if it's not good and I don't play the hell out of it. So, come on guys, deliver on all those promises! I'll have my Wii ready to rock.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Burnout Paradise -- Big Surf Island

The Big Surf Island expansion for Burnout Paradise came out last week, bringing the number of downloadable content expansions in Burnout Paradise to approximately eighty-three hojillion. While I personally haven't paid for any additional content, this might be the one I get.

Big Surf adds an entire new playground, with bigger jumps and different race styles. In addition, it seems a quartet of new toy cars, based on the previous movie-inspired Legendary Cars DLC, are unlockable in Big Surf. So, there's even more to do!

At $12.99, Big Surf is a good value, adding a quarter more of the city to bum around in, with new trophies, cars, jumps, and gates to smash, leap, collect, and achieve. Seems like a must have for Burnout fans.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spore: Galactic Adventures Trailer

Pretty much everyone I know who considers themselves a "gamer" made fun of me for really enjoying Spore and playing it endlessly. Maybe they just take themselves too seriously. But maybe they had some legitimate complaints about the game feeling like it was stretched a little bit too thin, with not enough to do, and more of a toy to create objects than a game in and of itself.

Well, Galactic Adventures aims to change that.

The new trailer here demonstrates that new, more complicated adventures await in the Spore universe.

Looks pretty exciting to me. I'll have to dust off the game and give Galactic Adventures a shot. I know my kid will love it, at least.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cargasm: Forza 3

Being a car lover, and following the British television car series Top Gear, there's a term that I've referenced and come to understand when speaking about the technique of shooting video automobiles in the closeup and quick style so often used in car commercials and television shows: car porn.

Forza 3 appears to be constructed 100% out of it. The screens in the Kotaku article are pure car goodness.

The series has long made me miss having a 360 -- the only games that really have made me want to join the Microsoft platform. The third game will be a Xbox exclusive, and the look of it makes my eye wander to the green machine. I hope I can hold out for Gran Turismo 5!

... giggity.

Infamous: More Infamouser

That title looks really wierd.

Infamous continues to be fun. It gets a little repetitive -- I've made it to about the halfway point of the second island and you keep doing some of the same things. But it's a little like Assassin's Creed: if you enjoy wiping out tons of enemies in new and interesting ways while climbing all over buildings and other architecture, it's a lot of fun. And I'm having a lot of fun. The sense of speed while skimming around on power wires or electrified train rails is a blast, and I get real satisfaction out of cleaning up the ruined city bit by bit.

Had a cool boss fight with a gameplay mechanic that was pretty fresh, really enjoyed that. Getting deeping into the storyline as well, cool trying to puzzle out just what the heck happened. I've even enjoyed going and grabbing the collectibles, especially since they are either A) give backstory tidbits or B) give you greater energy capacity.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gran Turismo 5 E3 Trailer

Oh well I guess there is a little something to report about Gran Turismo 5.  That is basically all forms of car-based motorsport will be included in the game.  From the trailer we can see not only do we have the typical forms of racing such as road cars and grand touring, but now we also have the World Rally Circuit and Nascar.  Assuming F1-type cars are still in the game, plus drifting, I'm almost certain those pretty much cover the bases.

What's next, go-karts?  Crap, I better keep my mouth shut or Yamauchi will add that too and we won't see GT5 for another century.  I guess we know what's been taking them so long.  

Here's hoping we see it by Christmas, so I can split my holiday time between that and New Super Mario Brothers Wii.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E3: Sony

Like Nintendo, Sony had quite a lot of announcements at their keynote.  The biggest for many was the announcement of the PSP-Go, a new, smaller form-factor portable device similar to the PSP-3000.  The -Go has no removable media (other than flash media storage) so all the software you want has to be downloaded through the Playstation store.  Oh yeah, and the device itself costs $249.  Not exactly a paradigm shift there for Sony.

A new game from the group behind Ico was announced: The Last Guardian.  Ico was praised as a arty, emotional game, and is one of the best-looking titles (at least from a design perspective) on the PS2.  The new game has a lot to live up to.  Maybe this time they'll spring for some voice actors.

God of War III got a release date: March 2010.  Gran Turismo PSP also got a release date: October 2009.  Gran Turismo 5 release date: probably at least a year off.  No mention of it from Sony, and they'd let us know if it was coming, I'm sure.  Maybe once the PSP version is done.

Also Final Fantasy XIV.  Seriously, fourteen games?  I've played one.

Well, Assassin's Creed 2 should be good.

E3: Nintendo

E3 is going on this week, and Nintendo's keynote today brought a lot of excitement!  Three big franchises are coming back around in the next year from Nintendo.  The new Zelda game for the DS is going to be very exciting.  A new Metroid game, revealed at E3 and called Metroid: Other M proves to be a great action title.  From the Mario crew, the inevitable Super Mario Galaxy 2 should be gret.  However, the best surprise of all though is a new Super Mario Brothers for the Wii!  It will have drop in and out four-player co-op, and just looks fantastic.  Nintendo even says that it will be out for the holiday season.  With the recent release of Punch-Out, The Conduit coming this summer, and all the new titles from core franchises, this could be a revitalization of the Wii and more attraction for core gamers to return to the Nintendo fold.