For those of you coming to the blog for the first time, I have ranted and raved about this brave little title from Telltale Games, on quite a few occasions. The final episode of season one comes out on Tuesday/Wednesday, and will conclude the story for Lee and Clementine. Jim Rossignol over at RPS claims that most players that play the game are good guys, since they tend to make the “right decisions”. I cannot speak to the validity of the truth of said statement, simply because I think there is a critical factor at play here that Jim may have overlooked.
This season of the Walking Dead is a poignant, emotional story, with Lee and Clementine at its very core. Increasingly, I have found myself making decisions that benefit these two (and largely the group when the interests coincide). This is a real achievement for the studio, where they give you the choice to do something, but through the tale they compel you to the point that almost don’t have a choice. I think part of the reason that the statistics trailer for Episode 4 shows most TWD players to be the good guys is because most of them have been compelled by the game to do so.
Unfortunately, I never played the original XCOM. I have played the sequel though, and I am about to embark on my second playthrough (on classic difficulty this time).
It got me thinking: what classic game I would love to play again. One of them is Earth and Beyond, a short-lived MMO that came out in the early 21st century. Another would have to be the original Fallout in an isometric perspective.
What game would you like to see revived? And when I say revived, I mean in the same vein as the excellent rendition of XCOM that has resulted in the acute lack of sleep in my UFO-raiding-filled nights.
Welcome to a brand new monthly segment here on Are We New At This called “This Month in Gaming”, where I will discuss why this is a great time to be a gamer, the games I was privileged enough to enjoy the month prior, and what I am currently playing.
October 2012 holds the dubious honor of being the first month since at least August 2004, when I did not play an MMO. Not a single one. I even sought public opinion on whether I should play Guild Wars 2 or The Secret World, which garnered a very large number of opinions. The Secret World won in the end, but for some strange reason, even though the installer sits in my downloads folder, I cannot quite bring myself to play it just yet. It is an odd feeling. I have this inkling to get my grubby paws on whatever MMO I can find and play it, just to satisfy the itch. But then I look at the list of everything else I was able to play and enjoy this month, and I realize that maybe this is a good thing!
First, just the list:
- Faster Than Light
- Of Orcs and Men
- The Walking Dead: Episode 4
- League of Legends
- The WarZ (alpha)
- ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic
- Mark of the Ninja
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Aside from XCOM and Mark of the Ninja, I “finished” every other game on that list. To put a long story short, October 2012 was an amazing month for gaming, with some of the best, original and refreshing titles I have had the pleasure of playing in recent years. Check after the jump to see what rocked, almost rocked and flopped altogether!
I have been playing a lot of XCOM: Enemy Unknown lately. If the following is happening to you, you’re doing it wrong! (Via Nerf Now).
Color me unimpressed. It looks just like more of Skyrim.
Man, have you heard of this latest EA fiasco? Let’s see if you can point out the number of ways EA screwed the pooch on this one.
1: Origin users, by filling out a survey, were promised a $20 coupon to spend on whatever game of their choosing that cost $19.99 or more.
2: The coupon was open-ended, so you could continue to buy games after its intended one-time use.
3: The coupon was global, so anyone could use it.
4: Then Reddit found out. Let that one sink in for a moment. For those of you that don’t know the Reddit community, the word “wildfire” comes to mind.
5: EA found out, and completely shut down all coupons. Including those that were given to legitimate players with no intention of ripping EA off.
6: Other players, who had filled out the survey legitimately, were stiffed on the coupons.
7: EA then said that they will honor all the “stolen” games over the weekend. Thus implying that people who filled out surveys after the lock-down are not getting coupons, but people who looted the store with their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Golden Ticket get to keep their purchases of questionable legality.
Kotaku reported some irked customers venting on the forums. Here is one example:
Allow me to put this into perspective for those who don’t seem to get it.
A service was rendered, here. The agreement was that we take a survey and the payment would be $20 off of one game purchase of $19.99 or more, with some restrictions. That was a fair deal, as many people agree.
The code offered was a universal code, one that could be obtained without completing the survey, and used multiple times. This is the fault of EA who obviously does not understand the internet at all.
Upon realizing their mistake, EA immediately broke the code so no one else could abuse it, but they left the survey up. While the survey was still offering the $20 coupon as payment, EA was not. As such, they are now getting free information by offering a bogus payment. This is known as scamming people.
When confronted on this issue, EA has chosen to respond by honoring the purchases of those who abused the system and not the coupons obtained by those wanting to use it properly after the fact. They have rewarded the abusers and punished their customers.
Believe me, for some of these people, it is no idle threat to take this to court. The e-mail clearly states that there is a payment offered for completing the survey, a payment that has yet to be given to those of us completing it on the second day and after. $20 is not the only thing at stake here. That is merely payment for services rendered. There is also the ability to have them pay the court costs and to force them to offer compensation to those who did work for them and have yet to receive their payment.
If a payment is not given in some fashion to the amount of $20 to spend on an item of our choice, then this survey is a scam, something not tolerated by the BBB or the internet at large. EA is in for a world of hurt if it doesn’t get its act together. While I, personally, will not be doing anything, I know how the internet works.
EA will feel the burn on this one.
Oooooh, burn dude. Burn. See why Origin is better (it’s really not)?
First, the gripe. The game is stellar, and was made by Arkane Studios, not Bethesda. Can we please stop referring to it as Bethesda’s latest entry for god’s sake! Give the hardworking developers some credit! Bethesda should be credit with publishing the game!
Second, I love, love, love the lore they have build around Dishonored. And Penny Arcade, as usual, nails the humor within.
Something about games that tout choice as a major selling point, like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Akrane’s Dishonored bothers me. This is not to say they are bad games. If anything they are both phenomenal titles, crafted with meticulous attention to detail, amazing art, stellar voice-acting and set in a poignant, believable world. Yet there is something very wrong with them. And it was not until last night, while playing Dishonored, that I realized what it was.
These games tell you of the variety of ways that you can go about accomplishing an objective. For example, in Dishonored, you can use your abilities, for stealthy stalking or engage in gratuitous violence. It claims that you can choose either path at will, but the fact of the matter is that there is always a dearth of currency (runes in the case of Dishonored), that forces you to take only one path. Once you invest some points into stealth, you will invest almost every subsequent point into stealth in an attempt to continue bolstering your abilities in that play-style. Eventually, the only way you can experience another type of build is by replaying the entire game. This is part of the reason games like Fallout 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dishonored have so many replays. Once you start going down an ability path, there is very little wiggle room.
Again, this may not be a bad thing for people who think it gives the game “replay value”. I personally think it gives it an inflated replay value, but true replay value remains the domain of dynamic multiplayer games like StarCraft 2 and League of Legends.
Now that I have said it out loud: let the flames rise!
This infographic by Riot Games just blew my mind!
EDIT: The review is up now.
Of Orcs and Men is a story about betrayal and redemption, it is a story about desperate times, last stands, and acts of selfless valor. It is a story about two unlikely antiheroes, driven together by equal parts of vengeance, greed and fate. It is a story about facing your inner demons, embracing your flaws, and accepting your limitations. Of Orcs and Men, put simply, is one of the most engrossing RPG stories every told. I just wish they had spent some more time polishing it.
In many ways, it reminds me of the first iteration of Assassin’s Creed. It was repetitive, buggy, and it could have used polish on a lot of levels. However, they improved the formula and the next iterations only got better and better. I love the world they come up with in Of Orcs and Men, and I sincerely hope this review is taken as constructive criticism, that there is a next iteration, and that is significantly improved via all the feedback.
Look for the review on Hooked Gamers sometime later today!
When you start a title, do you have an urge to finish it? I do. It doesn’t matter if halfway through the game I realize it is awful, and I am not even having fun. But I must finish it, obsessively, just to make sure I got to the end, and checked it off of my list. Am I crazy? Or do most of you do that as well?!
Consider the following primer:
The humans are in noble, righteous and peace-loving. Dwarves and Elves are hesitant and peripheral allies. Orcs, trolls, goblins, or some similar, vile, green-skinned, primal species is the main enemy. They are barbaric, unrelenting and murderous. The humans, guided by the light, must tame these wild beats if there is to be any hope for peace in the world.
Now pause here, and tell me which fantasy plot I am referring to. The reason most of you cannot, is because this is the typical tale that fuels the propagation of events in most fantasy books. When these norms are challenged, the result is stunning, unexpected and refreshing.
One example that stands out in my head is the fate of the Elves in Dragon Age: Origins. They were not the reclusive, noble, near-mystical beings that lived in an eternally protected magical kingdom. They were the lower class of citizens, occupying slums and begging on the streets in the game’s many locations. That was cool, it was different, that stood out.
Of Orcs and Men, an upcoming title from Focus Interactive is one such title. I can’t speak much of it, because I have an early access copy and I am in the process of finishing it. But what stands out to me is that it is a fresh perspective on an aging story. It is still humans allied with dwarves and elves against the green-skins, but you get to play and experience the world purely from the green-skin side, switching roles between a diminutive, conniving Goblin named Styx, and a hulking mass of muscle and nerve Orc named Arkail, in a world that shuns, hunts and subjugates green-skins with extreme prejudice.
Can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.
So true. This week I saved the Federation from the rebel fleet in FTL, I cleared entire towns of enemy presence in ARMA 2: ACR, discovered a grenade mod that made my explosives magically transforms into several explosives in Borderlands 2, and I stopped the Alchemist in Torchlight II. What did you panda lovers do?
For all those that feel video games are a waste of time, that gamers are basement-dwelling shut-ins and losers who function socially, here is a scathingly appropriate response. My own coming soon.
I’ve been playing video games since I was five years old, starting with the Atari 2600. On the weekends, if I was lucky, my parents would rent a video game for me. I would always look through the art in the instruction booklets on the ride home, and it got me started with drawing.
In middle school and high school, I was in art classes. I was considered for several art programs throughout, and I graduated my senior year in an advanced placement course.
When I was in the fifth grade, I was pulled out of class to take a test. The proctor had a flip book of words and a stopwatch. She would turn the page, and I had to read the word aloud as quickly and as accurately as I could. The results of the test indicated that I was reading at the level of a high school junior, despite the fact that my parents always struggled to get me to read anything at all.
In my junior year, I tied for highest score in the school in our statewide writing examination.
I’ve had a tremendous imagination all my life. I can find stories, humor, and adventure in even the most mundane tasks. I’m rarely ever bored, and I find myself constantly dreaming up new worlds, characters and situations.
I have an insatiable hunger for learning. I often look into something that has piqued my interest and find myself in an entirely different subject hours later.
I’ve never been in a romantic relationship that didn’t last at least three years, and the friends I made during my formative years are still the very best I could ever ask for.
Now I’m an Intelligence Specialist in the United States Navy and working at the Pentagon.
You look at video games, and all you can see is noise and guns. What you don’t see is creative problem solving, critical thinking, moral choices, conflict resolution, relationship building, cause and effect, drama, comedy, tragedy, learning opportunities, fantastic stories, the rewards of overcoming adversity, attention to detail, music appreciation, understanding different perspectives, and more concepts and situations that run the gamut of all human experiences.
The fact that video games are played in front of a TV makes them no less impactful than literature, film, or any other medium.
Anything in excess is bad for you, and if you’re not putting these kinds of things into context for your children, then you are an example of bad parenting. That’s true of everything; not just video games.
If you don’t understand “so-called ‘gamers’” or video games in general, that’s fine. But passing judgement on the people who do is completely ignorant and unbecoming of someone looking to make a career of shaping young minds.
If I were in your shoes, I’d educate myself on video games to understand why they’re so appealing and how I could use them to relate to my students and enhance their learning.
But what do I know? I’m just a gamer.
I received a ton of a comments, and although GW2 seemed to be winning earlier, TSW has seemed to creep up in the number of recommendations. The following are what some of the readers of this blog has to say about the two titles:
Guild Wars 2
“GW2 will entertain you for 80 levels.”
“The fact it is buy once, play forever is certainly a draw.”
“The sPvP is fun and engaging. The PvP [in TSW], however, is awful.”
“It should certainly be noted that GW2 is far more “populated”. In the starter and ending zones, you will see lots of folks, and you’ll work with them without having to group with them.”
“Hmm I actually think GW2 story telling is decent but more so in the open world, especially if you follow dynamic events and spend time listening to chatter in towns, villages and cities. Haven’t tried TSW yet due to advice from my gaming buds who warned me not to touch it with a shitty stick.”
“If I had to pick I’d go GW2 simply for nostalgia reasons as GW was my first ever online (MMO) game and I played the crap out of it- plus no subs is a winner imo.”
“You must play GW2 because I am a GW2 fanboy.”
“I pre-ordered GW2 before pre-ordering TSW.”
- Winged Nazgul
“[After switching to TSW, no] idea if I’m ever going back but at least the option is always there.”
- Winged Nazgul
The Secret World
“But if story truly is paramount for you – then go with TSW. GW2′s story-telling, quite bluntly, is terrible. The personal story is awful. Awful. The NPCs in general are completely forgettable.”
“TSW, on the other hand, has a cool skill system and really good voice acting and story-telling.”
“But from a pure “story” standpoint, the game is fantastic. Reminds me of a horror-version of Fallen Earth – the game with bar-none the best “world” I’ve ever played in. GW2 just feels ‘plastic’ in that regard.”
“My suggestion – give the TSW free trial a shot when you have a good chunk of free time. It’s three days, but can be extended based on some parameters (30 quests or something) to five days. Try before you buy!”
“I ended up getting the TSW lifetime sub because I feel this is an extremely good value for my money.”
- Winged Nazgul
“GW2 didn’t stick with me and I returned to TSW after about 2 weeks.”
- Winged Nazgul
“To cut a long story short I was bitterly disappointed in GW2 primarily due to poor storytelling and its extremely monotonous ‘heart’ quests.”
“If you love storytelling then you honestly can’t go far wrong with TSW. As others have said it’s by no means a perfect game (actually Drew summed it up perfectly) but from a storytelling point of view there is no stronger MMO in the market right now.”
“GW2 is a good game, but TSW is fantastic, and story-wise it really can’t be beat. In my opinion it’s the best written MMO out there, and this is from someone who previously thought SWTOR storytelling set the bar. But TSW just blows it away, I’m afraid.”
“But if you don’t mind something different, and you’re looking for some fun in a horror-themed story-driven MMO, I say go for it.”
“As for me, I’m still subscribed to TSW at the moment, though I haven’t been playing so much because I’m also juggling GW2 and WoW, but I know TSW is a keeper. My guild is having TSW nights, because every month Funcom updates the game with new content and new quests and there’s always going to be a ton of things for me to do.”
“Played TSW and loved it so much I bought the life time subscription. Try the 3 day trial first (which extends to 5 days) so you can give it a go.”
“Get TSW! Playing TSW for just a month (before subscription kicks in) will already allow you to live out a wonderful story. “
“I’ve been playing MMOs since Ultima Online, and nothing has captured my interest and imagination like The Secret World has. I’m a Rank 13 Illuminati with 65% of the skill wheel completed. I’ve located every hidden lore item in the game, have several Quality Level 10+ (10.4 being the highest in the game) pieces of gear, and I have over 1,000 kills in PvP. Still, even in the end-game, I can recall the names and stories of NPC’s from the very first zone. I know every area like the back of my hand, not because of how frequently I’ve visited them, but because each zone I quested in was so unique and richly detailed that I couldn’t keep from exploring every inch. The dungeons are unlike any other. Each one features its own story, and the bosses are more like puzzles than tank-and-spank throwaways, requiring every member to pull their weight and work together. Few games have given me the same satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. I have the lifetime mebership, and I’ve never regretted it for a second. I bought Guild Wars 2 a few weeks ago because a few of my cabal members were giving it a go, but I don’t have a single character over level 5. Compared to The Secret World, Guild Wars 2 feels so bare-bones, rudimentary, and forgettable. But the price is right. The subscription model doesn’t sit right with a lot of people, but I think the monthly content updates absolutely justify it. This month’s update will add new missions, the games first raid, a theatre where players can put on shows while players in the crowd cheer them on or boo them off stage, and more. Try the trial. I don’t know you personally, but based on your post, I think you won’t be disappointed.”
I thought I could resist, I thought I was done with MMOs for a while. But I keep reading these amazing stories about both of these titles, on gaming websites, on peer blogs, at my local flower shop (don’t ask). The point is I am itching to play an MMO again, and I need your help to determine which one I should invest in. I only have enough time for one.
Story is paramount to me, so The Secret World is a clear winner. But I am also tired of the subscription model, and Guild Wars 2 has everyone beat in that department. Help me? And for the love of god, don’t confuse me with suggesting a third. I am looking at you Gank!
First, watch the trailer.
The fourth episode looks to continue building on the many relationships Lee has forged in his travels since the infection first appeared. Things were bad, got worse, and will only continue to continue that trend the closer we get to the conclusion of season 1. This is not just a game, it is an experience, it is an exercise in epic storytelling designed to immerse you into this world. I care for Lee. I love Clementine. When playing, I no longer make decisions that I would make if I was in that situation. I make the decision that I think would be best for Lee and Clementine.
And that, my friends, is how I know Telltale Games has achieved a monumental achievement in video-game storytelling.
Go play it.
The Medusa has been breached by a three-man boarding party. The next solar flare is imminent. The enemy ship has punched through the shields, and both their weapons are charging to take the next shot, and my hull integrity is down to below 50%. My sensor control is down. The three rockmen promptly proceed to the engine room. This is a bastard of the situation to be in.
Why? Let me tell you one thing at a time. My crew is three humans and two mantis. Rockmen are not built for war, but they are sturdy. In a toe-to-toe fight against humans, they will win the attrition war. My mantis are bred for war, so they must fight the boarding party. The system I am in has a sun going nova, which results in periodic solar flares, lighting parts of the ship on fire. It is only a matter of time before the fires get out of control. Luckily, the first two fires are in the small rooms on the starboard side, so I opened up the airlocks. The oxygen will get sucked out of the room, and the fire will put itself out. My pilot must stay in the cockpit to continue spooling up the FTL drive, so I can jump at the first chance I get.
The boarding party head straight for the FTL drive. They will try to sabotage it so I cannot leave the system. Apparently the idiots are oblivious to the sun that is about to obliterate us all. The sensors are down, disabled by a rocket strike, and I need that functioning to see the overview of my ship and plan my next action. I send one of my human crew members to fix the sensors. The remaining three crew, two mantis and one human, are dispatched to the FTL room to deal with the intruders. There is another solar flare, and now the cockpit, and the FTL drive room (where the 3-on-3 fight isin full swing) are both engulfed in flames. A rocket strike takes out my oxygen system, which will slowly lower the oxygen levels, until it eventually kills everyone on my ship. Hull integrity is now at 35%. One of my mantis crew members die. This is what hell must be like.
Like I said, it is a bastard of a situation to be in. And it is just one of the many, many nerve-wrecking, gut-twisting battles you will fight. This is what Faster Than Light (FTL) is all about.