Archive for February, 2012

Finally, A Practical Use for the Kinect

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Finally! I no longer have to do all that heavy pushing in a supermarket, or even the daunting task of remembering my shopping list. Snarky comments aside this is pretty cool. Obviously this is very early in the development process but hopefully something will come from these experiments. I wonder how it would do with two people around…and who it would follow..and if the Kinect would be able to remember which person it was supposed to follow…and if the Kinect can feel love. At least the Kinect is finally being put to use. Alex, you say you can play vid-e-o game-s with this thing? I don’t know how much I believe that, that’s some imagination you got on you, kid!

It’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were forced to do a dance minigame

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So in post from io9 of an off screen video taken by zoomin.tv I got my first taste of “Kinect Star Wars” beyond the Jedi battle mode. When shown at E3 over the last couple years it seemed well OK. Since the dawn of motion controlled games I think many nerds like me has held on to hope saying  “holy shit we are gonna get the best Star Wars games now!”

Those hoping though for a hardcore motion Star Wars experience though will probably have to wait a bit longer. The latest from the galaxy far far away is a mini game collection for the Kinect. That doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. “Happy Action Theater” is a hoot with the right group of people. But from what I’ve seen in the video there is the Jedi mode (where on rails you slash at droids and use hand motions to push them and such), Podracing (pretty self explanatory from what I’ve seen holding your hands up and pretending to race), a Rancor mode (where one takes the role of a Rancor and just stomps around and breaks stuff, perhaps best played to Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff) then last and probably least there is a dancing game. It comes reminiscent of  “Just Dance” and “Dance Central.” Cards show on the the side of the screen and you do your best to match them. You take the avatar of slave girls in Jabba’s palace and most notably of those Slave Leia.

For me that’s just not the experience I want to have with a Star Wars game. In fact it just feels kind of weird. I don’t want to take the role of an enslaved woman having to dance for her captors. Not only that but I imagine dancing to the cantina music will get grating after a while, exploitation aside. I’m a big fan actually of  “Dance Central” but I would love it if the Kinect which can do some really cool things was pushed in even more new and innovative ways.

Of course this isn’t a game necessarily made for me. The older Star Wars fan still hanging on to fandom after years now mainly content with poking holes in things just can’t always expect everything to be made for us and that is actually OK. Older fans like myself have to keep in mind there is a different generation out there of Star Wars fans, and their Star Wars is much different than ours. We care about the dark depressing side of things and analyzing it to death and they may actually not mind Jar Jar.

Currently the Star Wars game for my demographic is the Old Republic, which is a good. It would be nice to have something more arcadey and on consoles to scratch that itch. Who knows though? The Jedi abilities in this may scratch that itch I’ve been waiting almost six years for. However, it’s too bad when my reason for playing something has moved from interest and hope to morbid curiosity. Developer Terminal Reality (of Bloodrayne fame and the recent Ghostbusters game) is doing their best to appeal to a wide range of fans with this game but clearly I may not a young enough padawan to probably get much if any enjoyment.

However we will find out how strong the Force is with Kinect Star Wars when it lands April 3rd 2012 in the US.
Source:  io9

The best content in life is free but you can save it for DLC: The DLC Quest Review

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As Discussed in the previous episode of the Griefed Podcast DLC is part of the gamer’s life now. Love it or hate it many of us ask ourselves everyday “is this complete?” The games we buy sometimes feel piecemeal, codes inundate us when we purchase new games. The marketplace online is packed with cosmetics, guns, extra XP and even the prospect of proper endings can be dangled over our eyes. “DLC Quest” decides to hold a mirror up to this and show us what a world with DLC gone wild could look like. Going Loud Studios act as our guide through their personal dystopia. It’s kinda like Mad Max but with more downloads and less Tina Turner.

As the Player we must rescue a Princess from the bad guy, something we all should be very familiar with by now. Then the twist comes right as one starts and it’s that everything in this game is DLC. Jumping is DLC, swords, and even pausing! Keep your credit card stowed, all the “dlc” is just unlockables via in games coins. But as the unlocks get more kooky you want to get coins to unlock everything just to see what silly, stupid thing you can add to the world. The platforming isn’t quest the best, neither is the sword you have at hand. But that’s not the point of the game, it’s in the message as weird as it sounds. The writing is also filled with jokes ranging from random encounters to Mass Effect character references. All definitely good for a chuckle or two. The visuals are retro and charming and the music (once unlocked) also does a good job of providing a nice throughback.

Coming from Xbox Live Indie many people have low expectations or may miss it entirely. But I do think this one is worth a look. “DLC Quest” is a goof, but a great one. Yeah the game itself is short and can be completed in much less than an hour. There are “awardments” to keep you going back a bit. For a dollar I don’t mind giving some money to a really clever indie developer. The subject is ripe for satire and they nail it. Sadly this reality could be closer than we think which makes me hope that the bigwigs see this somewhere out there. Needless to say if available I look forward to purchasing additional episodes and content soon over Xbox Live.

Official Going Loud Studios Site

Lana Del Rey done better by people other than Lana Del Rey

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Who would have thunk a song called “Video Games” would have fans turn into songs really related to video games? Kotaku over the last week or so has posted links to some great takes on Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.”

The video up top comes from Jenny Bede who channels Del Rey into a forlorn Princess Peach crooning about settling for Luigi (aw cmon guys he isn’t so bad, he traps ghosts)and letting Mario go. It incorporates everything from” Mario Kart” to ”Super Mario All Stars.”I can honestly say I’ve never heard the phrase “frog suit” be so touching.

Then we have the take from chiptune maestro Leeni doing an 8 bit version.  This one recreates everything (video down below) with some great bleeps and bloops.

Bottom line both surpass the original in my opinion. I know we’re all sick of Lana Del Rey by now (love her or hate her) but the more chip tunes and narrative sad Mario related songs the better.

Now if someone could only do the Goo Goo Doll’s “iris” from the perspective of Toad.

Article Sources 1 and 2 from Kotaku

Leeni on Bandcamp

Killzone 3 multiplayer going standalone, free to play for a bit

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According to the Official Playstation Blogcast Episode 013 this week those of you who just want to play multiplayer and don’t want to bother with “stories” and the such are in luck. This Tuesday Killzone 3 multiplayer will go free to play until a level cap. Then after that as reported by Joystiq there will be a price tag of $14.99 to keep progressing.

This is a pretty bold move by Sony. It’s been a while since Killzone 3 was launched so this could be a neat opportunity to bring some new players into the fold. However does this mean a precedent that some day games could be piecemeal?

As someone that missed Killzone 3 I’ll be checking it out and I’ll be curious if this becomes a new way games are released or sustained over a long period of time.

Sources: Joystiq and Official Playstation Blog

Happiness is a bajillion warm guns: Dubsteppy goodness in the new Borderlands 2 trailer

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Gearbox knows what we want from more Borderlands; we want guns and a lot of them. In this pretty awesome trailer get to see the new characters Salvatore, Mara, Axton and Zero  killing a whole lot of dudes and being rewarded with loot. The updated old classes and skill trees look pretty interesting as does the new “gunzerker” class, I don’t even know what that means but I want it.

Also hey Claptrap ole buddy it’s good to see you again!

We can kill lots of dudes with 3 other friends  and get lots of guns on September 18th in the USA (21st internationally) on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

 

Griefed! Podcast #5: DLC

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It’s that time again! The latest episode of Griefed! is hot out of the over and ready for your consumption. Join Alex and Tigs, along with special guests Zack Broussard, Andrew Dunn and Peter Smith, as they discuss DLC in games, Harvey Danger, game boy screen magnifiers, the hypnotic activity of mining and a whole lot more on this episode of Griefed! Recorded on February 22nd 2012 and featuring the song Gasoline by Lightning Crabs.

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Dear Sir or Esther Will You Play My Game? The Dear Esther Review

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Sometimes you will feel like indulging in a Michael Bay adventure other days to keep up some culture maybe you’ll pop in Fellini’s 8 1/2 . Dear Esther by thechineseroom is like an art house film in game form. Chances are a good amount of the audience will walk out annoyed and some will walk out smug with witty retorts such as “oh you didn’t get it did you?”This first person non shooter available now on Steam is destined to garner both of these kinds of reactions.
Dear Esther began its life as a Source mod from a project at the University of Portsmouth. Admittedly I hadn’t played the original incarnation from about four years ago but it seemed to get enough attention that they got help from the Indie Fund to finance the project. Given the level of involvement from all these different areas of the industry it’s a nice moment showing people coming together to help fund and publish more of the artistic sides of video games.

In Dear Esther we are the narrator, well we may be to be honest it’s not really all that clear. We speak directly to Esther in a poetric prose which sounds great coming from the seemingly well trained voice actor.  Things as we have found out didn’t end too well for Esther or any of the other about two people the narrator mentions. As you wander through the island you see reflections of the things that you say in the environment. There is no picking up, no “use” button, no directly interative means of the sort. In fact even your flashlight isn’t controlled by you.

The game looks great though. Source has struggled to stay afloat as graphics have progessed the last few years but the vistas here as well the small touches along the way (weeds, stalagmites, graffiti) all come together to make journey a nice looking feast for the eyes. The score by Jessica Curry can be minimal for most of the time but when it builds its effective and keeps you engaged. Thinking that things could pop out at any moment even if they don’t.

Much like To The Moon much of what happens is hard to construe as a game. This however is a step ever further than that. The story is abstract but I can say that it kept me going. I completed all of the game’s four chapters in one sitting totally around 2 hours.  An experience which is walking around an island may not be for everyone. I think that  these kind of games coming out are important. As an industry it continues the escalation of video games as something diverse and beautiful. Thechineseroom did a great job using environmental storytelling much like Portal did before. If you want a calm thoughtful experience give it a try.  Those thirsty for blood will not be satisfied by the slow moving prose and exploration . There isn’t too much more reason to return though I am curious if there are story bits  I have missed along the way. I can say though during my walkabout I was completely invested. There were times shadows moved in the distance, my curiosity was peaked and I was visually and audibly engrossed. Releases like this make me happy games are evolving and we need benchmarks like this along the way.

Thechineseroom online

http://thechineseroom.co.uk/

I Feel Your Pain Gabe – The Waiting for the Vita is the Hardest Part

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The latest Penny Arcade comic has Gabe doing exactly what I am. Waiting. I preordered my Vita and have two games (wipEout and Uncharted) sitting there with nothing to do for a week. Reviews for both have been pretty mixed (ending up with about 78 or so Metacritic) but really I just need to have it in my hands to stop those SD cards (or whatever they actually are) from beckoning to me. More updates when the Vita actually gets here until then “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty will be on repeat.

Yup, thanks Sony this is my week

Just 6 more days. 6 more days.

Please be good.

Listen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Waiting

Comic source:

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/

Griefed! Podcast #4: RPGs

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Our 4th podcast! Even though we kept refering to it as our 5th. I hope non of that made it to the audio, oh well. Join us for a discussion about RPGs, Kanye West, LFO and listen to Alex’s pirate impression. Recorded on February 15th 2012 and featuring the song Kioko by Modern Major Generals.