July 18, 2013

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 7/11/2013

Taking up arms against the dandy band of rogues lead by Richard Hemmingsworth, Gentleman Thief, our heroes jump into battle in order to protect their mechanical friend, Murdock. Murdock takes quite a beating as the enemies gang up on him, trying to deactivate him. Glyff Searclaw, however, helps out, showing how he got his name by mowing through scores of crossbowmen with flaming claws, and a few strong hits from everyone, with a little help from the Ballad of the Wonderheart, manages to subdue the gang. Richard, however, teleports away with a smoke bomb trick, living to fight another day. Should Murdock be wary of this future threat?

Glyff then shares bad news with the party: the raid on the caravan has injured most of the horses, making continuing on a problem. He could heal the horses back to pulling strength if he had access to the supplies, but unfortunately, the closest town is that of Tilltram, a town he normally avoids. He tells the party to be wary as they slowly limp towards the town for help.

It turns out Glyff is wary of the town because it is filled with Demontouched, changed humans with horns and red skin, marked by the Diabloist. As soon as Heathcliff learns this is why Glyff is wary, he gets confident, promising Glyff he can work out something. However, all the townspeople are afraid of the group, especially Murdock and Nimrod, who radiate holy energy. Realizing he needs to help his group get in good with these people after Glyff’s attempts to negotiate help just result in people running away from him, Heathcliff plays a powerful hymn of the Diabloist, helping to gain favor with the townsfolk and greatly disturbing Murdock, wondering what exactly he has gotten himself into in his quest with this potential revelation. Once the town warms up more, Heathcliff gets a secret letter from his beloved, the Diabloist, who details that this town has been under attack by horrifying winds, and if Heathcliff could be a dear and deal with that, she would make it worth his time.

Talking to the townspeople about the attacks, they sound bad, but it gets worse as everyone hears a scream. An attack is on! Murdock uses his data banks to determine that the these are angels of Kyte, God of Winds and Change. Trying to negotiate with them, Murdock and Nimrod do not get far. They seem to be very simple creatures, only programmed to do a very specific task, which is destroy the crops of the people of Tilltram! They’re not messengers who can negotiate and listen to reason. As the winds get worse, our heroes look to each other, and pull their weapons. They must put a stop to this!

July 11, 2013

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On The Whim of a Coin Flip for 6/20/2013

Our heroes rush back through the MURDER MAZE, triggering one of the traps along the way to slow down and weaken their opponents. They get out of the maze in time to get the healing potions, but soon Ingrid Stomphowler, and her two companions, Virion Iroquois, the Mist of the Battlefield, and Frank Jones, come out of the maze, a bit singed, but ready to fight. What follows is the most dramatic battle in MURDER MAZE history. Everyone but Murdock tries to gang up on Ingrid, who hits hard, while Murdock chases Virion around the battlefield, constantly frustrated with how he teleports away. Murdock eventually gets him weakened, and Heathcliff finishes him with a crossbow bolt. The crowd loves it! Heathcliff soaks in the admiration of the crowd, and decides to take the final blow in a similar fashion on Ingrid and Frank as well! The crowd loves him! The Wonderheart is now an arena star! And the rest of the party is a bit miffed at him taking all the glory!

After basking in the glow of their fans, and getting what they are owed from Mott Battleman, they head to the temple of Slyce for a victory party. The followers of Slyce are overjoyed, and present Nimrod with a holy artifact to attach to his shield, the flattest of all gear, as reward. Nimrod accepts the artifact humbly, glad to help his fellow worshipers.

The next day, the party prepares a plan to head towards Horizon, but first goes to a local wizard in order to check out Zardy’s chest. After a long bit of research, the wizard determines the magical lock on the Falconcats Chest was made by someone of almost ludicrous magical power. His guess is either the Archmage, the Blue, or the Elf Queen. Zardy takes his chest back with new things to ponder. Since no normal sailor is willing to take a chance on buying their weird magical ship, the party also negotiates with the wizard about the Fore Sail. He says he knows a guy who may purchase it, and promises to barter the ship for magical items that may be of use to a group such as them, and give them the payment when they get back to Axis. The party agrees.

Searching for a safe way to get to Horizon, the party eventually finds a caravan going through Horizon and the Golden Citadel to reach the Red Wastes. This caravan is lead by Glyff Searclaw, a Dragonspawn businessman and ranger, and realizing that the party is the Slyce Flatteners, he agrees to give them free passage if they’re willing to work as guards, as he’ll be able to get more passengers that way.

The party agrees, and the caravan soon sets out, with the party entertaining the passengers with tales of arena glory and other adventures.

On the second day, though, there is a problem. Crossbow bolts shoot out of the woods, and injure most of the horses in the caravan! It has to stop. The party meets Richard Hemmingsworth, Gentleman Thief, and his band of well-dressed thieves. After having hit a caravan-load of expensive clothing, Hemmingsworth’s band upgraded their image, and they have been terrorizing this route ever since. However, Hemmingsworth has his eyes on something different this time: the mechanical man, Murdock Steelbeard! Clearly, the party are not going to deactivate and give up their dear friend! Combat is afoot! Will our heroes survive?

June 13, 2013

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 6/6/2013

After surviving their brush with the Lich King’s forces aboard the abandoned ship, our heroes finally manage to sail into Axis, the City of Swords. Once there, Zardy tries to convince Sylvia to unlock the Falconcats chest, but she claims she can’t because the enchantment is very strong, and she’s a sorcerer, and enchantments are technical and less natural like her magic. Sylvia heads off of the ship, to complaints from our heroes. She claims she only agreed to ride with them out of Santa Cora, and nothing else. Still, after being pressed for how they can help her deal with Baal’s Throne, she tells them to meet her at a secret address in Horizon once they get there, but she needs to travel alone now, in order to prepare as quickly as possible. She leaves.

Once exiting the Wavecutter, however, after deciding to tentatively put it on the market to see if it would be worth abandoning or keeping and renaming it The Fore Sail, a strange little gnome runs up to Nimrod with an excited expression. It seems he’s with the local cult of Slyce, and he’s overjoyed to see a real, true Paladin of his god! Nimrod tells of his quest to get Slyce recognized by the Priestess, and he says that the small local chapter is helping too, and shows a flyer advertising an exhibition match in the MURDER MAZE of Slyce’s followers versus the Dragon Empire’s finest in order to prove the strength of their god, seeing as only strength is valued in the City of Swords, or so the little gnome claimed. He rushes the party back to the local Slyce shrine, a unfortunate, unpleasant location in a basement near an arena, to show Nimrod off and give our heroes a great… well, okay, a questionable place to crash while in town.

Our heroes meet with the combatants that the local cult of Slyce has picked to fight, and it’s obvious they are going to be murdered immediately in the MURDER MAZE. Pulling Heathcliff into another room, Nimrod reveals that he knows about Heathcliff’s coin, and that he believes it to be an instrument of his god, seeing as it’s so flat. He forces Heathcliff to use it to determine if they need to help these people, and Heathcliff gives in. The coin says they do in order to further their goals. Hearing this, Nimrod and Heathcliff find it easy to convince everyone to change plans to our heroes entering the fight as the Slyce Flatteners, since Zardy is interested in making a comeback in the arena scene and Murdock is wanting to help these nice people in any way he can.. Zardy and Heathcliff take the required change of combat forms to the arena and attempt to convince Mott Battleman, the Arena Event Coordinator, to make this fight a huge deal. When that doesn’t work, Heathcliff uses a bit of charm magic to get the job done, and they arrange not only the pot for the cultists to get them a better temple, but a little prize on the side if they win the fight.

Soon, it is time for the MURDER MAZE. Zardy learns that his old rival for the affections of the arena-going public, Ingrid Stomphowler, has forced her way in as his opponent so that she would have a chance to defeat him once and for all. Zardy fails to intimidate her, but stands his ground.

Once the MURDER MAZE has begun, our heroes barrel through the traps, braving the danger and using endurance and physical prowess to get through the first two, and a little ingenuity and Murdock’s knowledge of Dwarven machinery to get through another. Their great brains solve some difficult riddles to get through a locked door, and finally they engage in combat with a room filled with horrible, poisonous spiders, which Nimrod helps to fight with more righteous fury from Slyce than ever before, in order to obtain the key to the main battle area, as well as the key to activate the traps of the MURDER MAZE on the other team. Armed with these keys, our heroes must now make a choice: will they rush back and try to beat the other team, securing the healing for themselves to prepare them for a tough fight with Ingrid and her team, or will they hang back and try to weaken them with the traps they have barely survived, risking giving them the healing potions? We’ll find out, tonight!

June 6, 2013

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 5/30/2013

Hearing the Crusader forces outside of the shack Sylvia Highstack is hiding in, our heroes burst into action. The Wonderheart takes position outside of the shack, acting as a street performer, to keep an eye out. Nimrod joins him, pretending to enjoy the music and try to sell him on his religion (which is something he probably wants to do anyway). Inside, Zardy and Murdock attempt to figure out how to hide Sylvia. Eventually, Zardy just busts down the back wall of the shack until there’s a hole big enough for the Elf to sneak through, then covers it up with furniture as Sylvia makes her escape to the Wavecutter. The Crusader leader gets there, and Zardy poses as their friend, leading them on an investigation of Sylvia’s shack. Murdock poses as an investigation robot. They cause the Crusaders to waste time searching, but eventually find evidence she was there. Nimrod then creates a distraction, saying that a woman just stole the cart where he keeps his Slyce Pamphlets! The Crusaders run off after the non-existent thief, and our party runs back to the Wavecutter, taking the long route to make sure they aren’t followed.

Once back on the ship, they find out that the ship itself is actually a special Archmage ship in disguise, and is designed to be driven by wizards and sorcerers, not sailors. They do this via metal cords throughout the ship, and an Attunement Rod, which can focus magical energies to make the ship go. Syliva is willing to do the ritual to set up the rod to her and Heathcliff’s frequency, but needs Phalanthum Dust, rare in these parts. The party sneaks out to find some, and Murdock runs into an old friend, the dwarven merchant Gladys Nightstone, who points Murdock in the right direction of someone who can hook him up with some (admittedly marked up) Phalanthum Dust.

With preparations complete, and not a single ship sank, much to the chagrin of Zardy, our heroes set sail for Axis. Along the way, moving a bit too close to the Necropolis, perhaps, our heroes encounter a mysterious ship filled with horrible skeleton creatures. Nimrod tries to keep them contained in a door, while everyone else attacks horrible skeletal scorpions and a nasty skeletal lich. Even Sylvia gets in on the fight. After destroying the evil on the ship, they search for anything valuable, and Zardy finds a strange chest, marked with the symbol of Clan Falconcats, sealed with some sort of odd magical energy. What could be in this strange chest? And what will our heroes find awaiting them at Axis? Have they made a clean getaway? What’s their next move?

May 30, 2013

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 5/16/2013

Following their impromptu leader Heathcliff, our band of heroes attempts to sneak onto the Wavecutter, a ship chartered by Seymour Beuttes to return him and his group to Horizon. Heathcliff attempts several fancy moves, even a magical charm, to try to whoo his way past the guards and security on the ship, but fails. Murdock and Zardy look to each other, shrug, and wade into the fray, starting a fight against Lord Captain Sebastian Wavecutter, a deadly ship captain with a huge scythe which he uses to cut through his enemies like water, and his crew. Throughout the brawl, Nimrod attempts to convince the crew to jump into the water to save their captain, sometimes subtly pushing them forward. After the crew is dispatched, our heroes fish Lord Captain Sebastian Wavecutter’s body from the waves, and place him in the captain’s chair, hoping nobody will realize what happened. They also discover Seymour’s journal, which highlighted that Heathcliff’s coin is needed, at least in part, to try to finish something called Project Baal’s Throne, which is attempting to control one of the hellholes of the Diabloist for some purpose. It also outlines a rebel who was trying to stop the project, the large-chested, apparently, Sylvia Highstack, hiding somewhere in the city.

After trying to get some sleep on their newly “acquired” ship, during which Nimrod sneaks a peek at Seymour’s journal and learns of Heathcliff’s coin, our heroes are woken by the rabble of Crusader forces returning to their ship in the harbor. This causes the team to go to the nearby Seaman’s Cannon, a bar frequented by seamen of all sorts, and learn that these Crusaders are looking through each quadrant of the city in turn. Murdock uses a connect with someone at the Grand Temple’s library, his friend Demitrius Dule Dirigibule, to find out Sylvia’s more specific location, and the party sets off to rendezvous with her. After some tense negotiations, Sylvia agrees to, at the very least, join them on the Wavecutter to escape the Crusader forces for the time being, and suggests that, even if they are going to Horizon, they not dock the Wavecutter there, as it would be instantly recognized. She suggests docking at Axis instead, and going to Horizon on foot, and the party agrees this is a good idea. However, as they are about to leave the building, Crusader forces can be heard outside the door! Will our heroes be able to dodge the forces outside, or will they have to overcome them? And how will a group with no sailing experience pilot a ship with no crew? We will find out… tonight!

May 16, 2013

13th Age Adventurer Tier: On the Whim of a Coin Flip for 5/9/2013

Last time, on On the Whim of a Coin Flip,

Murdock Steelbeard, mechanical dwarf made by the Dwarf King himself, found himself called to the chamber of the Priestess. The Priestess had a vision, and there is someone in the city of Santa Cora he must help. Following the will of his teacher and his goddess, he sets out on his quest, only to immediately bump into Nimrod the Odd, a half-orc cultist who is trying to get the worship of his god, Slyce, recognized by the Priestess so he can spread the doctrine of how flat the world is. Murdock and Nimrod come to an understanding: if Nimrod can prove his worth and strength, Murdock will attempt to use his connections to get Slyce recognized. Without much guidance, the pair set out into Santa Cora.

Meanwhile, Heathcliff, bard extraordinaire, known as the Wonderheart for his prowess, sits in a bar called Bellaluna’s Cup, trying to keep his head down. His demonic lover has tipped him off that he’s already been located in this place, and he must be wary. He’s accosted by a half-drunk and merry Zardy, however, who demands music and ends up taking a liking to the man. As he gets swept up in the revere, Heathcliff notices outside his nemesis, Seymour Beuttes, a lacky of the Archmage who has been chasing him for some time in an attempt to acquire his magic coin, which can answer any yes or no question. He attempts to make an escape through the back, being forced to keep Zardy in tow due to his insistence that he not leave the party.

At the same time, Murdock sees a holy sign in the sunlight, and he knows the goal of his quest must be near. This causes him to be right in the way as Heathcliff races into the alley to get away, causing a collision. Deciding he must be the goal of his quest, Murdock gives chase, attempting to help the man, but the noise of him attempting to get him to slow down draws the attention of Seymour and his goons. While Heathcliff beats feat, Murdock gallantly stands against these enemies, and Nimrod tries to talk them down, still eager to be helpful to the mechanical dwarf. Zardy, however, is filled with the power of the Red coursing through his sword, and urging him to kill, and he’s more than happy to do so in order to help his new drinking buddy. Seeing the bravery of his group to protect him, Heathcliff also rejoins the fight to help, glad to have Seymour out of his life once and for all.

After dispatching of these foes, the group finds out that they were to return to a ship in the Santa Cora harbor, called the Wavecutter, according to a writ of passage on Seymour. Heathcliff secretly flips his coin, and it tells him that he should proceed to the ship itself, and after buying a round for everyone in the bar, especially his new barbarian friend, the group decides what to do next.

January 1, 2013

My Top Games of 2012: Honorable Mentions

Welcome to a new year! Last year was basically the best year of my life, so I’m really looking forward to trying to beat that this year!
But for now, let’s look back at more games of 2012. There are always good games that don’t make the top ten for some reason or another, and I like to at least point them out. So here they are, in no particular order.

Blacklight: Retribution
How did a free to play shooter get on here? I was really obsessed with this one for awhile. It’s basically Call of Duty, but it nails Call of Duty, and had enough little tweaks, like robot battle suits and basically building looking through walls into the game, that it felt fresh and fun. What’s more, I somehow got pretty good at it. By the end of my time playing it, I was consistently getting first, second, or third place in matches, which shocked me every time. The only bummer was the way you bought items. It costs way, way too much real money to unlock guns permanently, which makes me sad, because I would have totally given them money if that wasn’t the case. Still, you don’t need to pay money to have a great time. If you want a free multiplayer shooter, Blacklight is actually really good. Download it on Steam, shoot some dudes for a week, and enjoy yourself.

Virtue’s Last Reward
Horrible, unforgivable save bugs aside, this game really got its grips into me. However, then I got busy and didn’t finish the story. Shame on me. Still, I loved 999, and this game was, up to where I played, better than it in every way. It’s really good. I need to finish it. Since I didn’t finish it, I wouldn’t put it on any top 10 with a clean conscience. But seriously, I’m glad I bought it.

Orcs Must Die 2
I thought the first game was a fun little tower defense game, to be sure. But the sequel added co-op, which is a blast, plenty of new weapons and traps to try, a new character with different equipment, and way, way more content than the first game. They also changed the unlock system so you don’t have to grind levels over and over again, hoping to get one more skull, but can instead play a different mode or just get skulls for trying to beat your high score, even if you don’t. It’s basically the best tower defense game out there, and as you shoot orcs with your own weapons, you feel powerful, but not powerful enough to do it without traps. It hits a good medium there. Especially if you have a buddy, pick this up for cheap on Steam. You won’t be disappointed.

Persona 4 Arena
Goddamn, what a fun fighting game. I really felt like I had a good grip on it, too. It felt simultaneously more complicated than something like Street Fighter IV, but also more simple. Plus, I love Persona 4, and I was super attached to all the characters. Once our little tournament was over, I stopped training. I’m just not a repeat over and over kind of lady in general. But damn, it’s a fun little fighting game. Highly recommended.

Hotline Miami
So I just bought this like 3 days ago? I thought I understood it from watching CJ play it, but fuck, I did not. It is so intense and so fun, and the music! Oh fuck the music! This is a great game, and if I had grabbed it earlier, it may have snuck onto my list. As it is, though, just know murdering so many dudes never felt so good, and leave it at that.

Resident Evil: Revelaitons
Look, that’s how my box spells it, okay? But seriously, the 3DS Resident Evil had some problems. There aren’t many enemies, and the story is pretty awful, even for Resident Evil. But this is no RE6. The game plays great, just like RE5, but on the 3DS. Sure, you could use the circle pad pro to make aiming better, but it does not need it. The tense stopping to aim gameplay is fun as ever. I really enjoyed this, despite its flaws. If you like RE4 or 5, don’t let the mediocre reviews scare you away. Pick it up for cheap, and give it a try.

This tiny little game has some really amazing ideas on what makes a good video game story. The way you shape the story is pretty genius, and the atmosphere, especially the sound design… fuck. The game pretty well terrified me. I jumped at several points, mostly from CJ walking in. It’s a great experience, it’s cheap, and you should spend the hour, maybe, it takes to play through it.

Frog Fractions
Hilarious and grin inducing. You should play Frog Fractions. Just don’t give up on it until you see what the Warp Drive does, okay?

And that’s it. Bye, 2012! Hello, 2013! Hope you’re as awesome as last year.

December 31, 2012

My Top Games of 2012: Top 5

Okay, let’s keep this rolling with my top 5 games of 2012. Tomorrow I’ll give some honorable mentions that I couldn’t put on the top ten list for one reason or another, but I still think are pretty swell.

Number 5 – Binary Domain
Sega trying to do Gears of War sounds really terrible, but Binary Domain is something special. The voice commands just do not work. Don’t try them. But the smaller system of pressing buttons to respond to your allies’ comments is actually pretty cool. The combat is solid. The enemies are bullet sponges at times, but it’s still quite fun, and the upgrade system really does change you from a really weak character to a guy who can take a lot of abuse by the end of the game. The real spotlight here, though, is the story. All the characters seem like horrible caricatures, but end up being really well realized and endearing by the end of the game. There’s a crazy twist by the end of the game, but when you get there, you’re so engrossed in this weird world of French Robots and Cup Noodle that it makes perfect sense. Like Spec Ops, you’re probably best off just playing this one on easy and enjoying the story, but the story is super enjoyable, and you should really give it a try.

Number 4 – XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I must admit it’s kind of painful to put XCOM so low, but I couldn’t move my top three around to make room for it. So it goes here. In a different year, this could have been Number 1. But holy shit, XCOM. Obscenely addicting tactical combat that, unlike the original XCOM, clicked with me immediately. When I make mistakes, I know why, instead of just dying and being confused. There’s so much depth in setting up your team, determining what to fund when, balancing the needs of all the countries giving you money, and so on, that you can just play this game for HOURS. I don’t have much time for binge sessions of video games anymore. I tend to play in hour chunks, then quit. Even on my winter break here, that’s what I’ve been doing. I have only played XCOM in like 4-5 hour blocks. It is so good. SO GOOD. Play XCOM.

Number 3 – Cook, Serve, Delicious!
I e-mailed the guy who made this game, and I told him that it was one of my top games of the year. I meant it. Cook, Serve, Delicious! is some of the best fun I’ve had this year, hands down. This little restaurant simulator is so fast-paced and challenging, but in a way that slowly ramps up with you, so you never feel like you can’t do the crazy challenges it throws at you. The adrenaline I get when I play this game is insane. I cannot remember feeling so pumped and “in the zone” when playing a game since back when I was obsessed with Tetris Attack. Apparently this just came out on iPad as well, which seems like a good fit. You really need to give this game a try. Once it starts to click with you, it will not let go.

Number 2 – FTL: Faster Than Light
I played this game to death, but still, months later, I’d throw on a podcast and go, “I need something to play while I listen to this” and play a few more rounds. The game is so simple, but so deep. That feeling when I first beat the rebel flagship was AMAZING, even though it was on easy. I never thought I would! And still, I wanted more. I wanted to unlock more ships, which drastically change your playstyle. I wanted to try more weapon combinations and new types of crew. I wanted to see everything. The fact that you can pause this game at any time, and the combat still often feels overwhelmingly intense, says something about how awesome FTL is. The music is solid too. Fucking buy FTL right now.

Number 1 – The Walking Dead
The countdown to tears is over. Walking Dead made me cry at its ending, and I nearly teared up at several other points throughout the game. Few games have made me more attached to its characters, and the decision-making you do in this game feels so brutal constantly, even if I can realistically separate myself from the game and realize how much of it was smoke and mirrors. I have always supported Telltale Games, but with this game, they have really come into their own. I don’t give a shit about the comic, or the show, but I have constantly evangelized this game to everyone who would listen to me. The Walking Dead might not be the most game-like game, but it shows how the medium can be used to have a really, really affecting story that makes you feel like a game story might actually be able to stand up against a well-written TV show or movie. The Walking Dead is a triumph.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about some stuff that couldn’t make my list, unfortunately. Have a fun New Year’s Eve, everyone.

December 30, 2012

My Top Games of 2012: Numbers 6-10

Well, it’s been awhile since I blogged! Fuck, I’ve been busy. Then, when I wasn’t busy, I was doing things like playing video games and reading. I thought that was pretty fun! But the year is about over, so hey, let’s take a look at what my top 10 games of the year were. I didn’t review every game I played like previous years, because I was so busy, but still, this should give you a little idea of what I found particularly awesome this year. 6-10 today, top 5 tomorrow, honorable mentions the day after. Okay? Let’s do this.

Number 10 – Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is not a perfect game by any means. The combat is completely fine, but there’s little to make it pop, perse. However, it is willing to have a strong story, and try to get that across. I’ve heard complaints that it is a bit heavy handed in its delivery of said story, and removes choice from you in parts. Maybe that’s the case, but I never felt that way. The story was moving and made me think, and the cleverness of using things like load screen tooltips to really set the paranoid, strange mood they were going for was really genius. If you haven’t played Spec Ops, pick the game up for cheap, set it to easy, and try the story. You won’t be disappointed.

Number 9 – Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode 3
I had thought that, other than the occasional Shin Megami Tensei game, I was pretty well done with Japanese-style RPGs. The combat felt so boring and I always felt like I was going through the motions. Somehow, Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode 3 managed to fix that. Classes like the Apocalyptor and Gardenar really change up the normal RPG combat. Trying to juggle prophecies with the Apocalyptor and setting up recurring buffs you don’t have to babysit with the Gardenar was really fun. The other classes were solid too: I really enjoyed the Crabomancer and it’s crazy defense. The way MP builds over time and makes you have to choose between waiting for a big attack, or using a skill now, was brilliant. And even though I don’t really follow Penny Arcade any more (they’ve just kind of rubbed me the wrong way one too many times) the writing was still fucking hilarious most of the way through. Plus, there’s furry mode DLC. This is a great little game to blaze through in an afternoon.

Number 8 – Mass Effect 3
It kind of makes me sad that this game is so low on my list. I LOVE Mass Effect as a series. However, the game really did have tons of problems, storywise and otherwise, that really hampered this offering. Still, I’m not sad that I took the journey. The combat in this game was top notch. My Engineer was more fun to play than ever, and there were some really great character moments in there, I must admit. Plus, the surprise of the century was that the multiplayer was really goddamn awesome, and I played it for quite some time with friends from work and just randoms. Being able to be an Engineer and sling spells instead of shooting made the standard horde mode game play way, way more fun for me. You should play Mass Effect 3, if you haven’t. Just don’t expect a masterpiece like the game that preceded it.

Number 7 – Paper Mario: Sticker Star
I love Paper Mario, and this game is no exception. Nintendo proves that it knows how to be damn funny when it wants to be, with dry humor all the way through the game that made me constantly grin. People were down on the combat system, but it never bothered me: I enjoyed the combat all the way through. The game does have some huge problems though, as it’s very obtuse, and requires you to basically lose boss battles a few times to figure out the trick if you aren’t just using a walkthrough. It’s kind of bullshit. Similarly, like so many Mario RPGs, the lass boss is obscenely hard and even more obtuse than the rest for no reason whatsoever, causing me to get to the last boss and stop. Still, it was one of the more enjoyable experiences I had on my 3DS so far, and I do recommend it.

Number 6 – Dragon’s Dogma
Dragon’s Dogma is a mess, but it’s such an endearing and fun mess, that you can’t really fault it that much. Capcom’s attempt at making Skyrim was clearly a failure, but they made a weird RPG where you raise and share NPCs and engage in an obscenely fun combat system. You have to repeat some fights as you wander around the huge world, but these fights never feel like a chore. They’re always action packed and fun. Similarly, your pawns, which you’d think would get annoying with all their repeated phrases and whatnot, actually get extremely endearing. They feel like your dumb little kids, and I personally enjoyed their company. You can look at all the parts of Dragon’s Dogma, and say that each part of it is weak, but somehow it adds up to an extremely fun whole. And I mean, that title screen song, goodness. Stick with it until the drop.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for my top 5! Or not. But it would be cool if you would.

October 9, 2012

Be sure you Dubai this game. (BAM! Hilarious pun.)

Spec Ops: The Line is kind of boring as shit until it’s not, and then you’re glad that the rest is boring as shit because it all kind of makes a clear statement, and fuck, games don’t do that enough.

The reason to play this game is the plot, and so I am going to spoil the shit out of it because I want to talk about it and dammit, I will. Don’t read this if you haven’t played it. Just go play it. Seriously. It’s already pretty cheap. I bought a copy for CJ for 6 bucks. Play it and enjoy it. If you can enjoy a 3rd Person Cover Shooter, and like games that try new things, it is clearly worth your time, okay?

Anyway, spoilers ahoy from here on in, alright? Seriously, don’t read all this until you’ve beat the game.

I’m serious.

We good now?


The opening of this game could not be more generic. It’s like… painfully generic. Like, if you imagined what some movie person who doesn’t understand video games would imagine as a video game, it would kind of be that. It just has so little going on, besides sandstorms, I guess? You shoot guys, and you move on, and you do “good” stuff. It’s very mindless.

Slowly, though, it starts to become less so. Your character and team get really fucked up and injured. They look bad. It’s clear this mission has had lasting effects on them. There’s inter-squad fights about really serious things. The game, slowly, starts asking you to make choices that really do affect how encounters play out and how you feel about yourself. Very quickly, the simple plot starts seeming much less white, and a lot more grey. Even what the characters say in the game gets all broken up and messed up. They go from calm, cool “Tango Downs” and whatnot to screaming obscenities when they’re hit and yelling in frustration “Tango Finally Fucking Goddamn Down!” as they face more and more dudes. It’s really quite effective in showing that hey, what’s going on is not cool.

The real genius of the game, I think, are the loading screen messages. They get so goddamn awesome. Most of the loading screen messages are your normal stuff. “Hit A to get in cover” and so on. You know, tooltips. But some of them are comments on the plot. “You need to get to the Nest to find out what’s happening.” However, as you get deeper into the story, those messages get really fucked up. The first one I saw was “You are still a good person.” I laughed, to be honest, but I was wowed. From there, they just kept coming. “If Ludo were still alive, he would probably be facing PTSD for the rest of his life so, you know, he got off easy.” “The rules of the US Military state that you are not allowed to shoot unarmed combatants, but this is a game, so who fucking cares.” They so reflect how crazy the game is getting, and also give you a kind of strange insight into where your character’s mindspace is. It breaks the fourth wall very clearly, but it does so very well.

In the end, the game is very much a critique of military shooter games. It makes a clear statement on how little they actually show the horrors of war, and how incredibly abstracted a game is from the reality of being in a warzone and having to do awful things to survive. For example, the sequence when you’re firing the mortar that is a clear critique of the sequence in CoD4 where you shoot the airplane gun at the little blips is one of the clearest callouts of this. The minigame you play shooting it is so abstract, but then it makes you walk through the devestation and see that, no, you weren’t shooting little blips. You were shooting people. War is not a fun game.

That message stuck with me. It’s not about to make me stop playing silly fantasy shoot dudes games, perse. But it really brought their inherent ridiculousness to light, and said, “Realize what this is trivializing.” I really appreciated that. It said something. Games really don’t do that enough.