Recently I was contacted by, Fun to 11, the company responsible for Miskatonic School for Girls regarding another Kickstarter project he had set up: Flame War. The basic premise is that you are in control of threads on a forum (or a comment section--it's pretty open-ended in that regard), and looking to have the most engagement without things getting ugly.
The measure of success, or how you win, is by accumulating the most interaction: the most single cards in a thread?
How does that happen? In a fairly simple and straightforward manner, you start a thread with any card, and then anyone can post to that thread with a card whose numeric value is equal or greater to the current top card; they likely will, since you can put down two cards every turn. The goal is to close three threads and have the most cards by the end of the game.
Everyone with the sense God gave a sack of potatoes knows that the great dictators of history were Reptilians, despite the attempts of the NWO media machine to convince us otherwise. Such must be the conceit of Unstoppable Gorg, the story of a megalomaniacal space tyrant hailing from the fabled "Planet X" (i.e. Space Reich IV, one can assume), whose stated mission is to commit global genocide against the denizens of Earth. In order to stave off the alien menace, our intrepid protagonist, Captain Adam, must marshal his towers and wage war against this madman/lizard - one who has employed robots, organic monstrosities, and of course, flying saucers to do his evil bidding.
As the trailer showed, part of the game's charm is in its source material. Yes, the 60's may have given us "2001: A Space Odyssey," and the early 70's foisted the 2 1/2-hour head-trip "Solaris" upon an unsuspecting audience, but riddle me this: Did the post-Eisenhower era give us the cinematic majesty of "It Came From Outer Space," or "Invaders From Mars?"
Didn't think so.
Indeed, Unstoppable Gorg prides itself on humor, advancing the story through homages to 50's sci-fi conventions, as well as newsreel-style snippets, reminiscent of WW2-era propaganda. Silly, melodramatic facial expressions are displayed, model spaceships hang tenuously from visible wires, newsmen speak in frantic, tinny tones, and in true 50's fashion, the cast is whiter than the first snow of a Minnesota winter. While it may seem a bit old hat, the cinematics before and each mission are clever enough to be a cut above outright silliness - in fact, they're done rather artfully - while not taking themselves too seriously.
Read more, and check out the trailer, after the jump!
If you're a big Mass Effect fan and can't wait until next year to play the final game in the trilogy, you can still get your fix from the novels and comic books. I just finished the first issue in the four-issue mini-series Mass Effect: Invasion from Dark Horse Comics, and thought it was actually pretty cool.
The plot involves an attack on the space station Omega, which naturally involves Aria T'Loak, the Asari who runs its crime empire. You might recall running into her if you played Mass Effect 2. Basically, these crazy biomechanical creatures are swarming all over the place, and Aria must team up with Cerberus agents to take them down and ultimately take the fight straight to them. Of course, when the Illusive Man is involved, nothing is ever as straightforward as that!
The story is by Mass Effect game writer Mac Walters, with a script by John Jackson Miller. It's a little dry, but it gets the job done, and Aria is appropriately bad-ass. With Walters involved, it would be nice if the series included some secrets or details that might inform the upcoming game, but just from the first issue, it seems unlikely. The art is by Omar Francia, and it's nice and clean. Scenes with spacecraft are a bit stiff, but the aliens and action look fantastic.
The only thing that bugged me about this issue is that Aria's squad defending against the initial attack was a little too multi-cultural. It felt like they were deliberately including one of each popular alien race just to give the artist some variety and let the reader recognize each one. It just seemed a little awkward to me. I did like the idea that the menace was a result of human tampering with Reaper technology. It wouldn't be Mass Effect without a conspiracy! And I also enjoy Aria just because she's kind of awesome. Being a first issue, it's a lot of set up. And I honestly reached the end thinking, "Eh, it was okay." It just hadn't hooked me. But then the last couple pages threw in a bit of a twist that made me go, "Okay, maybe I do want to see what happens next!"
The first issue of Mass Effect: Invasion is $3.50, and is in comic shops (or available digitally) now. The other three issues will follow monthly! (You can also read a few pages of issue #1 at the Dark Horse Comics website here.)
Prepping for them. Going to them. Recovering from them. I spent this past weekend at NYCC meandering the halls of vendors with other comic lovers and rubbing elbows with other gaymers.
During my stay I was invited to spend some time at Square-Enix's booth. While there I had an opportunity to play some of the company's coming titles for some of its hottest franchises and even got a chance to see an interresting new MMO.
In the wee hours of the morning, a leaked trailer for a canceled game adaptation of the upcoming Avengers film leaked online. Unlike the masterpiece mediocre tie-ins from Sega, this game was being developed by one of THQ's many now-defunct internal studios. It's a shame, really, because what you're about to see looks pretty cool.
Note: This game trailer may reveal some stuff about the upcoming movie, so don't watch if you don't want to be spoiled.
There's a ton of apathy among gamers today. Everyone's tired of shooters, nobody's interested in anything that's releasing from the major developers, there's sequel-itis everywhere and life sucks. You know what I think sucks? Saying that everything sucks. I am tired of all the negativity, so I'm going to be doing a little miniseries that looks on "The Bright Side" of gaming. Hit the break to begin the end of your misery!
Though I didn't get to spend much time at Sega's booth on the show floor at E3, I did have the chance to see some behind-closed-doors footage their upcoming games. And while I was disappointed to find out that Aliens: Colonial Marines wasn't on the menu, I still came away with new impressions on Sonic Generations, Anarchy Reigns, and Binary Domain.
Sonic Generations was first on my plate, and was definitely the game I was most interested in. While on the show floor there was a playable demo of the re-imagined Green Hill stage, behind closed doors we got to see the new City Escape level inspired by Sonic Adventure 2. We started with the classic Sonic version of the level, which meant it was strictly 2D platforming. And it actually looked pretty good. The level had multiple layers, both in terms of height and paths twisting through the background. Supposedly the background paths are accessible, adding new routes through the classic Sonic levels, but none were actually shown during my demonstration. The level also did an excellent job of incorporating elements from Sonic Adventure 2 into the 2D framework. There was even a skateboard power-up to collect (by breaking a TV, as is classic Sonic tradition) to pay homage to the original City Escape's skateboard sequence, and the truck chasing Sonic through the original level returns to crash through the level and close off certain paths if you don't reach them fast enough.
Next was modern Sonic's stage, and it looked pretty much the same as the original Dreamcast level. There were some aesthetic changes, like spinning blades added to the front of the truck to make it appear more menacing, but even the level layout seemed essentially identical. Whether that's a good or bad thing will depend on how much you enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2. The developers did say that it's possible to play the game 80% in one style or the other, so classic fans don't have to play every modern stage to complete the game and vice versa. Sega also talked briefly about the 3DS version of Sonic Generations, which will feature entirely different levels than the console versions. For the 3DS version, modern Sonic will use the gameplay of the Sonic Rush series, since that is the modern connotation on handhelds.
After Sonic, I got to take a look at Anarchy Reigns by Platinum Games. Though Anarchy Reigns is being billed as a multiplayer online brawler, for the behind closed doors presentation Sega was showing off the single player campaign. And while the multiplayer is packed with characters to choose from, most of whom haven't even been announced yet, the single player only lets you play through the story of Jack (of Mad World fame) and Leo. Since this was a strictly hands-off demonstration, there really isn't much to comment on about the game. Combat seems fairly standard for a button-mashing brawler, with none of the interactive environments of Mad World or the flashy combos of Bayonetta. This is likely necessary to scale the game for online play, but it doesn't make for a particularly convincing single player demo. What little information the developers did divulge was that the campaign is expected to run close to ten hours, and the story has no connection to Mad World despite sharing its lead character. If you're a hardcore brawler fan who wants to play online Anarchy Reigns may still be a solid bet, but it's clear from seeing the single player campaign in action (which isn't co-op by the way) that multiplayer is the game's real focus.
Finally, I got to see Binary Domain, a squad-based third-person shooter in which the entire planet seems to have declared war on Japan for building an evil army of life-like robots. Coming from a Japanese developer, the psychology that motivated the game fascinated me, but the developers didn't want to comment on that. Instead they wanted to show gameplay. From what I saw, trust is the most important gameplay element for your squad. Every squad member has their own level of trust in the player, and this can be changed depending on your actions. For example, if you give a squad member a command and they take significant damage or have to be revived because of it, their trust will deplete and they may not follow all of your instructions in future missions. The AI will also call out and suggest strategies to you, such as flanking routes, which you can accept and build trust depending on your performance. Binary Domain's new wrinkle to all of this is that it can be performed entirely through voice commands with a standard headset. Or at least, in theory it can. The voice commands didn't always register properly in the demo, with the developer finally admitting "sorry, we're still in the alpha stage." When it did work though, the AI response performed well above what is expected of friendly AI, so with some more polish Binary Domain could be a solid shooter when it releases in February next year.
I did manage to get a little time in at the Sega booth, where I felt a need to satisfy my curiosity with Sonic Generations. Unfortunately, I have some bad news for Sonic fans. Either the controller being used at the E3 kiosk was broken, or there is currently a full half-second lag between pressing jump and any action appearing on the screen. This was true of both the 2D classic Sonic levels and the 3D modern Sonic stages. The speed and physics seemed to be much improved from Sonic 4, but I found the game frustrating to play because of that button lag. I want to believe that this is just one faulty demo, so hopefully the final game will get it sorted out.
At last year's E3 XCOM was announced, and stirred up quite a bit of bile in the stomachs of fans. The classic tactical gameplay had been replaced by an utterly generic first-person shooter. We haven't heard much from the game since then, and after seeing the game in motion at E3, it's clear why. The developers have been working hard at revamping XCOM into something that comes closer to living up to the series' tactical legacy.
Before the demo, the developers helped set the stage for the game's setting. Taking place in the 60's, XCOM's story tells an alternate history where an alien invasion interrupts the Cold War right before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy is still the president, and civil rights movements are in full swing. Keep that last point in mind as you continue reading.
I'm not really the biggest champion of Sony's systems in general. I had a PSP once, but hardly played it, and generally only use my PS3 for exclusives. So it's fair to say I wasn't expecting to be impressed by Sony's new handheld system at E3. It didn't help that with all the tech packed in the system it would surely be ridiculously expensive, looking at the system it is clearly too big for any pocket.
Then Sony's press conference happened. The price, $250 for the wifi model, definitely caught many gamers' attention, and announcements like a new Bioshock title pretty much sealed the deal. But how does the thing actually play? Thankfully, immediately after the press conference Sony had a number of systems on hand ready to show off what the Vita can do. And it can do quite a lot.
I'm weird with the first-person shooter genre. If someone were to ask, my first response would be that FPSs aren't really my thing, particularly on the console. Yet when I look over at my Xbox I have The Orange Box, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, and Bulletstorm all stacked on top of it. This little mental dichotomy of mine followed me to my preview demo of Codemasters' Operation Flashpoint: Red River and I wasn't particularly excited to go but wound up having a great time once I got there. There was surprisingly little schmoozing when I showed up and instead my greeting could be condensed into a rather refreshing, "Welcome to our game! Here's a controller." So I gave the control setup a once-over and joined right in.
I got a brief chance at GDC to run into D3, the publishers behind the sequel to 2007's quiet fan-favorite Earth Defense Force 2017. Looks like they're pushing some new titles, most notable Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon for the Xbox and PS3, and Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury for the Xbox Live Arcade.
I know you're probably busy training your Oshawotts and making your male Hawkes as hot as possible and then installing nudity mods. but if you get a chance and happen to be a sports fan you might want to check out this week's other big release. And by other, I mean the only release worth mentioning: Ubisoft's Petz Bunnyz Bunch for the DS 2K Sports' Major League Baseball 2K11.
Now unless you're a baseball or baseball game fan I'm sure you're asking, "Why should I take any interest in this game?"
Brian Wilson and Brian Wilson's beard; that's why.
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