Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Special Video

Just in time for the celebration of a new year, Aristogamer presents to you our Holiday Special in which we give you our top five games of the year and exchange gifts with one another. Our MW3 vs. BF3 video review will be up in a few weeks, so until then, please enjoy our last video of 2011.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Videos!

Good day, lads! J. here to give you an update on the status of our latest videos. Our holiday special is ready to go and will be posted a week from today, and the MW3 vs. BF3 review is taking longer than expected, but will be posted in the beginning of January. I am not entirely sure you could even fully prepare yourself for how wonderful they are/will be, but I suggest you steele yourselves properly, lest your minds be blown.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Uncharted 3 Review

To be honest, I had never expected much of the original Uncharted. Upon its reveal, I dismissed it as a Tomb Raider rip-off and thought nothing more of it. That all changed when I was gifted the game the holiday season of its release. I gave it a go and have been in love with the series ever since. Of course when I heard of a third Uncharted game, I reacted as any self-respecting fan would—by shaking violently and emitting sounds akin to a kitten in distress. Was my entirely embarrassing reaction merited, or did the third installment blemish my favorite adventure series on the PS3?

Nathan Drake makes his return, this time looking for the Atlantis of the Sands. The third game takes the series back to its roots, in a way, as Nathan’s fascination with this find is driven by his ancestor Sir Francis Drake. The story also includes more about how Nate came to be the treasure hunter he is currently, adding a more personal touch to this game. It was a bold move to make on Naughty Dog’s part, as most origin stories are the most boring part of a character’s development, but this one was brief and action packed enough to feel justified and fun. It flowed quite well with the rest of the game.

In typical Uncharted fashion, Drake embarks on a journey with some friends to find treasure of some sort, and things go completely awry when a foreigner with an accent has other plans. Though the plot is formulaic, having a character as well-written and entertaining as Drake at the helm certainly helps drive the story forward. In a way, the plot takes a backseat to Drake’s character development and his interactions with others, a fact that is bittersweet to me. On one hand, I very much enjoy seeing Nate develop and love his dialogue with others, but on the other, I feel the plot could have been stronger and less convoluted. If you play the game, you will know what I mean when you go from a burning building to some ruins to jumping about on old ships in the span of two hours. As a fan of the series, it feels as if Naughty Dog phoned this one in to cash in on a Subway deal.



The plot could have progressed more smoothly and felt far less forced, though it still succeeds at being entertaining.

The gun combat feels different from the second game, much to the dismay of hardcore fans. Recoil on guns is more exaggerated, making killing enemies difficult. And perhaps I just think myself better than I actually am, but it felt to me as if my bullets would not do anything while enemies were jumping. Other than that, combat was quite satisfying and fast paced, and the variety of weapons available allowed me to play exactly how I wanted.

I oftentimes found it difficult to remain stealthy as I so enjoy giant gun battles with enemies. This leads me to a point of contention amongst fans, and a paradigm in gaming that I believe needs to be addressed. Nathan Drake is a smarmy, good-hearted thief who wants no trouble. Yet throughout the game, he bluntly murders perhaps 500 people.



Granted, those people were shooting at him first, presumably, but this presents a rift in the dichotomy of the character. By now, this is a well-established theme in games like these, so it is not terribly jarring, but upon closer examination, Nathan Drake is really a trigger-happy, blood drunk fiend doing whatever he has to in order to get rich. This problem is not limited to just Uncharted, but I felt it worth mentioning.

The cinematics and climbing sequences are just as tense as ever, breaking your sense of security and heightening the urgency of your actions on a regular basis. Be it ladders breaking, bending poles, or enemies catching you off guard, Uncharted certainly keeps you engaged and on your toes. This flows quite well with the rest of the game, as shifting between gun-fighting and making a getaway feels natural and exciting. Fans of the series may see this coming as it is a sort of hallmark of the series, but it is still entertaining, though less surprising for them.



Where this game really shines is in its online multiplayer mode. Before Assassin’s Creed had an online mode, Uncharted was nearly the only game in which climbing on walls was an integral part of online game strategy. This fact may not seem like much, but when Uncharted 2’s multiplayer was released, it opened a dimension of gameplay that gamers were not used to, and thus was more challenging and entertaining. Uncharted 3’s multiplayer plays like a more refined Uncharted 2, but that is not a bad thing. The controls are tight, maps are fun, weapons are varied, and the breadth multiplayer mode is wide. I can think of very few contenders for a more fun multiplayer experience on consoles.

Verdict:
Uncharted 3 is for you if you like action/adventure games like Tomb Raider, fun multiplayer experiences like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, or feeling like you are part of an Indiana Jones film. If you own a Playstation 3, you should feel ashamed for not owning at least one game in this series, as it is one of the best the console has ever seen. Though Uncharted 2 was a stronger game in my eyes than the third installment, that should not discount it, for it is incredibly entertaining and a worthwhile buy. Uncharted 3 simply feels more "Hollywood" than any other game in the series, and I'm not quite sure that's a good thing. It's like a Michael Bay movie is to a Christopher Nolan film -- similar action, but one is far better than the other at justifying it.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a burnt-out chateau in which to shoot the English waiting for me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sniper Elite V2 & Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2

For the full review of Sniper Elite V2, click here.

Yes. You read that right. If my review on Sniper: Ghost Warrior got any point across, it's that Sniper Elite got right what Warrior didn't. Well as chance would have, the latest news and trailer been released for Sniper Elite V2. Exact details haven't been released for the sequel yet, but we do know that the game will stick with being brutally realistic, especially in stealth and sniper combat. But then again, I can't say I'm surprised by this since the first Sniper Elite showed us what sniper mechanics can be achieved in a game. We also know that the game is take place near the end of the World War II (like the first game) and will continue its defining use of the bullet following kill-cam. This game is definitely going to be at the top of my wishlist.




Also, I just want to point out the ending of that trailer. Kill-cam going into an x-ray view? I had chills. This isn't about just making your one bullet count, this is now about watching said bullet's path of damage through an entire body cavity. Bloody brilliant!


Now as for Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 being on the horizon as well, all I can say is that I sincerely hope for the best. Information does suggest City Interactive has a larger team working on this so perhaps they'll now put in a lot more effort to make up for what the first game severely lacked. We'll just have to wait and see. The trailer does look pretty nifty.


Click here to view the teaser trailer


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monthly Podcast #4

We are pleased to tell you that our next podcast is up and ready for your enjoyment. Granted this is from November and is a little late in posting, but with the busy season delays obviously happened and for this we apologize. But without any more delay, here it is!




And click here for our iTunes page!

Or stream the podcast here:


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sniper: Ghost Warrior


Sniper: Ghost Warrior. The mere mention of this game puts me in a foul mood. I thought it had potential, I thought that just perhaps there was finally a sniper experience to rival the incredible 2005 tactical shooter Sniper Elite. But instead it appears that City Interactive took a look at what Sniper Elite did correctly, copied a few ideas and then decided their time was better spent playing with a paddle ball. Rather than simply listing what this game did right or wrong, I’ll instead look at a comparison of the game to its predecessor. I’ve taken this approach because if you’re playing Sniper: Ghost Warrior, there’s a good chance you’ve played Sniper Elite. If not, I must advise after this sentence you should seriously consider opening your steam account and purchasing Sniper Elite. Or if that is not an option, it is also sound advice to go home and enjoy a refreshing afternoon nap. Whatever suits your fancy, really.
Now luckily for both games, controls for a stealth-based sniper FPS game are not intended to be too difficult in the first place. You have your basic movement, weapon aiming and firing, tactical equipment such as grenades or throwing knives, and breath control when using your sniper rifle. You control a fictional recon sniper soldier going behind enemy lines to eliminate specific targets without being seen or caught. This unfortunately marks the point where the similarities between these two games come to a grinding halt. Now we’ll take a moment to glance at how Ghost Warrior cloned Elite at all the right fundamentals and still managed to get it terribly, terribly wrong.




Stealth. The entire point of a recon sniper. To be deadly without being seen. Shoot and blend into your environment. The modern day ninja as it were. The ultimate game of hide and seek. Both games used similar mechanics for determining how well the player blends with their environment by use of a simple icon. If you’re roughly 25% hidden, your icon is a brighter color compared to if you’re 75-100% hidden, in which the icon transitions to a much darker shade. Ensuring that the icon remains dark isn’t a bad way to keep the player focused on sneaky movements; it helps maintain focus and awareness of your surroundings without cluttering the view on your monitor. However Ghost’s AI difficulty curve nearly renders your stealth focus into a pointless effort. Set the game to its easiest difficulty and one could almost run head first into the enemy compound, stop behind a truck of some sort and pick off all the guards with a damned pistol. Raise the difficulty only slightly and despite remaining perfectly off the grid and out of sight, you’ll still find your every slightest movement amplified to the world. In fact, I will go ahead and warn any perfectionists reading this that if you feel the need to achieve the perfect stealth kill each time with your rifle, you're going to become very good friends with the save/load game button. You can line up a perfect shot, hold your breath, fire your silenced rifle, and the moment the guard’s body hits the ground the ENTIRE BLOODY PLANET IS AWARE OF YOUR EXACT LOCATION AND WILL FIRE 10,000 ROUNDS OF RIFLE FIRE AT YOU AT ONCE. Load your game save, take the same shot, and this time no one’s the wiser. Other reviews on this game have stated the obvious difficulty in the AI curve. Personally, I’ve found the AI in this game to be not only difficult and terribly inconsistent throughout. Any game that makes it feel necessary for even non-perfectionists to constantly hit the quick-save button before each shot obviously hasn’t determined how to reasonably configure difficulty settings. Yes, one could expect such challenges in-game should the game be set to, say, nightmare mode, (no Sniper: Ghost Warrior doesn’t have a literal nightmare mode, just bear with me) but a medium setting certainly shouldn’t be nightmare mode with an improved silencer option for select weapons. Oh! The silencer is itself another damning aspect; if a game chooses to utilize the classic James Bond “pffew!” sound, that’s certainly fine for more fantasy-esc FPS games. But surely a title released under the pretense of being a real-world sniper experience would be well aware that suppressors don’t actually produce such a cartoony tone, especially if it's a suppressor affixed to a firearm of significant size such as the Mk. 12 SPR rifle. (Google it, it's a big rifle) But there again it matters not because once one ventures above the easiest difficult setting, your 007 perfectly-silenced rifle shot at 200+ yards is still going to give your exact position away about 70% of the time.




The actual sniping gameplay is also very similar to Elite, utilizing both breath control and the bullet-camera style kill videos. I will give both games credit in that they recognize at least the basic physics behind a sniper shot. Depending on the difficulty setting, you will need to compensate on your scope for the distance, wind speed, wind direction, height of target, and target movement. In layman’s terms, you can’t always line up your shot in the middle of your crosshairs, you will have to raise and adjust it accordingly. When you feel you have it lined up, you inhale and hold your breath to steady your rifle and finally take your shot. THIS is the moment things become magnificent with the bullet-camera. When I initially played Sniper Elite and got my first kill with this bullet-camera, I admit I was giddy with delight. To hear the rifle fire and immediately have a slow motion angle-changing camera follow this bullet the entire trajectory the moment it leaves the rifle barrel before dramatically striking your target is truly fantastic. Sniper: Ghost Warrior decided to take this concept and make it, quite frankly, stupid. In this we can look past how horrible the scope movement is, though I will say it’s as if the character has never had training holding a rifle and needs to wave it back and forth to keep himself amused. First mission and here sits my character draped in a ghillie suit in the thick of the jungle at the top of a cliff overlooking the enemy compound. Stealth icon is at 100% darkness, a cold pint has refreshed my thirst; it was time to eliminate my objective's target. Taking aim through my scope and inhaling for my shot, I suddenly see the entire screen in my scope reverse colors and add a gray-monochrome tone. While this eye-straining cluster of color changing occurs, my ears were treated to a comical Matrix style time slowing sound. After a few more seconds, my character leaves this silent film mode from holding his breath too long and needs to regain it before trying again. Time was slowed, so why did the shot not happen? Simple. It was impossible to take the shot when I was too busy rolling my head on my desk with laughter.




All that remains is the story, and trust me when I say you should not set any kind of expectations higher than a blade of grass. You’re a recon sniper soldier pursuing a maniacally evil drug lord slash South American General all while leaving a trail of blood in your wake as you hunt him and his cronies down. Sounds like the premise for a Bruce Willis movie, eh? The interchangeable characters one plays throughout the campaign lack any kind of depth, development, or back story. Plot progression? Nearly non-existent. I will say that for this kind of game I wasn’t expecting a Batman: Arkham Asylum level of story depth, but they could have at least tried. With Ghost Warrior, as with Elite admittedly, the story is just a big graphical cliché. In Ghost Warrior, they did at least give the player increased information about General Devilsatan throughout the game and why his increasingly evil plans need a hero to bring them to an end. But trust me when I say that game’s ending is one of the best examples of an anti-climatic conclusion that I’ve ever seen in any form of media. I go from positioning for the final long range shot and getting said kill to having my monitor dissolve to a black background. A white "The End" credit title fades in and out, then the Caribbean techno starts up. I swear to the Almighty I'm not making this up, have a look for yourself.

The Colonel’s Conclusion:
If it’s not obvious already, I was entirely disappointed by this game. I’m rather partial to sniper classes in FPS and tactical shooter games and felt one pang of frustration after another with this title that should have been just my cup of tea. I feel it only appropriate to remove the words “sniper recon” from the game and replace them with “prime murder clown”. This seems to better fit what one plays as in this game: a clown who has somehow blundered down the rabbit hole and entered the Matrix with a scoped high-power rifle.

...

I just watched that ending again...I need a drink.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Batman Arkham City Review

Just when gamers were sure no worthwhile Batman games would ever come, Rocksteady swooped in like the Dark Knight himself and delivered the masterpiece that is Batman: Arkham Asylum unto a woefully unnourished community. Two years later, Batman: Arkham City has been released and expectations are understandably high. Can the sequel possibly rival the original, or was Arkham Asylum a diamond in the rough?



About one year after the Joker’s defeat in Arkham Asylum, a division of Gotham has been sectioned off to house not only the mental patients of the Asylum, but also the criminals of Blackgate Prison. Bruce Wayne finds himself a political prisoner inside the new corrections facility after publically denouncing it. One call to Alfred and a costume change later and the Dark Knight is on the case. From the moment Batman appears on screen, everything from Arkham Asylum comes back, though with some obvious improvements. The first thing you will notice about Arkham City is its colossal size. Gone are the days of running through tunnels to reach other sections of the game as Arkham City is one free-flowing area. If you so choose, Batman can swing from one corner of the map to the other without ever having to touch the ground, just gliding and using the Batclaw. Going from Arkham Asylum to Arkham City is like emerging from a hallway into a theater, an odd claustrophobic feeling you were not even quite aware of is suddenly lifted.

The combat is nearly identical to that of its predecessor. Essentially, you press the attack button as fast as your thumbs will allow until an enemy has lighting around his head, then you press the counter button.



Every battle with a mob of people follows this template, with the exception of knife wielders, those with body armor, and ruffians carrying shields. It can certainly get repetitive, but most of the missions space out combat in such a way that sneakiness is highly encouraged and all-out brawls are rare. The stealth portions of missions are identical to that of Arkham City, though new tools such as the freeze grenades and disruptors certainly make it more interesting.

Come to think of it, the same can be said for most of Arkham City; it’s Arkham Asylum with some upgrades.

One of the most significant updates is to the characters and subplots. I shan’t ruin what villains make an appearance, but their numbers are nearly too great and each actually has a story to tell. One could get easily lose in the side-quests involving one specific villain and deter entirely from the main storyline. This feature is both a strength and a weakness of the game as the player rarely feels an urgent need to continue the main quest line, not unlike Grand Theft Auto 4 or Fallout: New Vegas. However, this is not to say the main plot is not exquisite, because it is. Kevin Conroy’s Batman and Mark Hamill’s Joker seem made for one another and hearing the two interact with one another is a treat. The story takes odd turns here and there, but finishes with one of the most dramatic scenes in Batman history, in my opinion.

The DLC is the only complaint I have about the game thus far. Upon purchase of a new game, you are provided with a code to download Catwoman as a playable character. This fact means that gamers who purchase the game used will have to also buy a Catwoman code in order to play her parts of the story.



Locking off parts of the story to those who choose to buy the game used is a rather dirty tactic. I understand that game makers do not profit from used game sales, but doing about getting more money this way makes you seem slimy, Rocksteady. Gobs more DLC is available including playing with Robin and Nightwing and downloading new skins for Batman if you did not preorder it. Total, that makes over ten pieces of downloadable content for this game, some of which were available on day one. I know downloading them is optional and that they do not impact gameplay, but having that much meaningless DLC rubs me the wrong way and makes me think Rocksteady has gotten greedy.

Verdict: If you liked Batman: Arkham Asylum, you will be pleased as punch with Arkham City. Its additions only help the game along and the larger environment opens a realm of possibilities for the Dark Knight. Even if Arkham Asylum passed you by, give Arkham City a go. Its engaging story, quick combat, and challenging levels make for an enjoyable experience, even if you know nothing of Batman.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Last Monthly Podcast!

...Of the year! That's right, 'tis the season for J. and the Colonel to wrap up the year of gaming with this special holiday podcast! Topics? Not going to list them this time! Is it a surprise? Is it a simple wrap up? Well I can guarantee it's not the later because with us, nothing is ever simple! So you'll have to experience for yourself this special podcast. Hope to see and hear from everyone there this Thursday, December 1st at 8:00PM Central!

Instructions on:

How to download Teamspeak 3 and connect to our server


How to join in the discussion and the rules for doing so


Hope to see many of you fine readers there! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Skyrim Glitches/Bugs Patch

For all of you who have been experiencing the ever increased bugs and glitches in Skyrim, fear not! Bethesda has said that within the next week or two, they 'll be releasing a massive patch that will be addressing a lot of these bugs, including quest completion glitches and that EVER GROWING ANNOYANCE of lag in the game. Though I'm sure my using the massive shout Thu'um to move my hoarded pile of 300 cheeses isn't helping the rendering on my console any. :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RAGE Review

id Software, the game development legend behind such series as Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake, has just released its latest game, RAGE. Expectations for this title have been building for years -- ever since their last game, Doom 3. Seven years later, the developers are back with a new title, hoping to squeeze their way back into the hearts of gamers who may have forgotten them. Will RAGE prove as memorable and prolific as its predecessors, or did id miss the mark with its big bet?

The first thing anyone will notice about RAGE is its horrible rendering issues. From the minute gameplay starts, textures on objects update far more slowly than they should, sucking you out of any semblance of immersion. On hokey shows such as CSI, there are parts where the investigators zoom in on an image, “enhance” it, and then the picture magically clears up. This is exactly what happens in RAGE when the player whips the camera too quickly. Below is a video demonstrating this effect:



Surprisingly, this video actually looks better than when I played it. This nearly unbelievable fact is due to my copy being a PlayStation 3 title, and the video coming from a PC. The worst thing about this issue is that, according to the internet, downloading a modified configuration file will fix the issue on PC, but console owners have no such option and will have to play a graphically broken game if/until id decides to fix it.

The rendering problem is made even more tragic by the fact that the graphics are otherwise stunning. The object details are crisp, lighting is better than most games, and simply gazing around outside is a treat. RAGE is like a delicious cake covered in nightmare icing.

The story of this game is mediocre. A select group of individuals were chosen for the Ark program, which let people sleep in metal shelters while a meteor came down and caused the apocalypse. You play one of the Ark-people who escapes his captivity only to find himself in a desolate wasteland. Wait a tick, does this story sound familiar? It bloody well should -- especially if you’ve played any game in the Fallout series. Down to the pieced-together armor and bandit outfits, this game calls back to Fallout 3 for me, and as such, I began to compare the two. This is the turning point in which my opinion of RAGE went from unfavorable to disparaging.

As I quickly found out, comparing Fallout 3 and RAGE is an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

RAGE is an open-world game whose shortcomings make it seem so much smaller than the visuals let on. Upon first leaving the Ark room, a desert buggy ride introduces you to a wide world with sprawling landscapes, large geometric features, and interesting characters. Everything about the game sets up your journey to be one grand in scale, but that expectation is quickly dashed by how limited you are in your choices. For one, guns cannot be retrieved from enemies. This alone is unacceptable in the King’s year of Two-thousand and Eleven. Just seeing a dead body’s weapon fade away and not being able to retrieve it is unbelievable and frustrating in a modern game. You must instead either purchase new weapons or have them given to you as part of a quest. Perhaps the rest of the game is full of wiser design choices?



Perhaps not. Another feature that confines the player is the rampant use of invisible walls. From places in towns to places inside mission areas, everywhere you turn is an inexplicably inaccessible area. Here’s a wonderous area in which we have room to explore:



Now let’s remove the areas made unavailable to the player by invisible walls:



Simply smashing.

I can understand something like this in a game with a smaller scope, but having such sprawling terrain sets a different expectation in the player’s mind. This expectation is only enhanced by knowledge that games since Elder Scrolls: Morrowind have been doing without invisible walls for years. Perhaps it is my fault for expecting more than I should have, but I believe the game’s style and genre history justify those expectations.

In line with poor use of space is the inclusion of mission areas. Blue zones on your minimap denote areas in which a mission is carried out or a car cannot fit, though both are one in the same. Again, this is just another design choice that id should have thought on more. I love getting lost in a game -- not being reminded that I’m doing a quest by denoting where a mission zone begins and ends. I would expect something like this from a game studio’s first try, but these developers have been around long enough to know better. I feel more like a disappointed parent than a game reviewer. I am not mad, id -- just disappointed.

The only substantial feature differentiating RAGE and Fallout 3 is RAGE’s vehicle system. Within the game, the player obtains a number of vehicles which can be leveled, customized, and raced in addition to being used for transport across the Wasteland and eliminating bandits. The saddest part about vehicles being a highlight of the game is that their execution missed the mark. I will admit that the level of customization is impressive, but the basics of driving in this game are all wrong. The collision physics are incredibly stiff, steering is clunky, and racing is almost a joke. What could have been a killer game feature simply feels like a poorly executed, last minute add-on, much like the rest of this game.



If you like action adventure RPGs set in the apocalypse as someone who just emerged from a place seemingly frozen in time, play Fallout 3. If you want all of that plus vehicles, play Jak 2 on Playstation 2. If you want all of that along with a god-awful rendering engine, absolutely no immersion, a world closed by invisible walls, mission areas, and an unacceptable weapon selection, RAGE is the one for you. I’d say six months could have done the game’s mechanics wonders, but the concept was ill fated to begin with. Making design choices this poor is intolerable, especially for a game developer legend. If you know what game yours will be compared to, at least try to make it better than the competition; okay, id? I like you and I want to continue liking you, so try sticking to poorly lit monster FPS games.

Friday, November 11, 2011

November Video Review

This month, J. and The Colonel play the Portal 2 DLC and wax poetic about this season of games. Reviews for all games mentioned are upcoming, so check back often!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monthly Podcast #4

What's this? Yet another podcast? Yes. Yes it is.

...No more questions. This month's fun podcast will be:

Monday, November 7th at 9:00PM Central

This month J. and the Colonel will be discussing in further details:

-Up coming mega game releases this month (yes again, these are big and we're excited)

-The new Grand Theft Auto trailer

-The new footage of the Ace Attorney movie

- Vita news

- Microsoft vs Sony in the race for 2nd place

-Gaming companies profits/losses in the fiscal year

- Gaming skin downloads as seen in Batman: Arkham City


And naturally these won't be the only topics we cover, anything is really up for debate or discussion so please tune in with your mics at the ready and join us!

Instructions on:




We look forward to hearing from everyone!

Monday, October 17, 2011

ICO Review


When discussing the merits of video games as an artform, gamers generally have two living examples ready to fire off—ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. And that’s not without good reason; visuals, level designs, graphics, and storytelling that artistic are rarely seen outside of games made by the developer, Team ICO. With their next game still well over the horizon, Sony decided to give the fans what they’ve been clamoring for—a remastered release of the two classics on Playstation 3. Since I happen to be such a fervent fan of Shadow of the Colossus and have never played the team’s first game, I decided to relinquish more of my money to SCEA like the filthy consumer sheep I am. Could ICO possibly meet my standards, set by its successor, or was it just a stepping stone to greater things? 

As in Shadow of the Colossus, ICO’s story is quite simple. A boy with horns is brought to a castle by unknown men and left to expire because of some superstitious hogwash. After his escape, he rescues a girl named Yorda from her captivity and the two spend the remainder of the game searching for castle’s exit.  A certain beauty exists in a story so simple, and the presentation is such that the player does not realize its scarcity until another cut scene progresses the plot. That leads me to another marvelous aspect about ICO—its lack of cut scenes. The brevity of the story means fewer cut scenes and thus, less breaks in the action, a trend that is disappointingly absent from the majority of modern games. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a perfect example of what happens when cut scenes go horribly wrong and transform what could have been a magnificent game into an interactive film. Luckily, Team ICO seems to care far more about making a game than a movie, so ICO is assuredly the former.



ICO’s art style should be familiar to fans of Shadow of the Colossus, marked by scores of interesting stone architecture, glowing designs, and wildly varied landscapes. The unique style is absolutely beautiful and provides for an intensely visually interesting game. One distinct difference between ICO and its spiritual successor is that ICO uses far less bloom effect. As beautiful as Colossus was, I certainly could have stood for less amateur Photoshop effects, as the graphics and art speak more loudly than hazy lighting. The art style also does a wonderful job of directing the player through the same rooms repeatedly without boring them to death. A perfectly bad example of level reuse comes in the form of Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. In that game, the player had to go through the same central temple multiple times to advance. Doing so was incredibly painful, boring, and made me face the fact that I was wasting my time left on earth solving the same five puzzles ad infinitum. ICO, on the other hand, reuses rooms the correct way—by either using radically different space within the room, having wildly dissimilar puzzles, or making the room distractingly beautiful. 

Combat in ICO is almost non-existent. You beat shadow monsters with sticks or swords quite easily, so I’m perplexed as to why they were added to the game at all. I’d wager that their true purpose was to make the player drag Yorda around, lest she be swallowed by the baddies and cause a game over. It is a rather cheap mechanism that adds a brand of superficial importance to Yorda. 



If she actually meant a thing to the player, he would have dragged her around the level without the threat of failure. The combat mechanic should have been either improved or removed, as it serves no real purpose in the game other than to lengthen gameplay and artificially inflate Yorda’s importance. It simply feels like an afterthought.

On a related note, the game only took seven hours to complete and I am torn between thinking that’s an asset or a drawback. I usually prefer games to take longer as I tend to revel in and obsess over them for a time and then never play them again. However, I’m not sure ten more hours of climbing, puzzle solving, and woman pulling would have made the game any better.



ICO’s most glaring flaw is the frustrating camera. Barely moving the camera stick whips the camera quickly in that direction, making pinpointing specific objects a chore. The constant slight movements of human fingers make trying to focus on something in the room a bit nauseating as the screen whips about with the slightest pressure difference. One could assume that this issue carried over for the entirety of the camera’s range, but one would be sorely mistaken; the camera’s movement slows down to a crawl at its borders. When approaching its boundaries, the camera’s sluggishness makes looking farther than half the screen away nigh pointless, as it is more frustrating than helpful. If you have ever played a PC game with low mouse sensitivity, you can commiserate. I simply feel as if the developers could have taken some time to fix this obvious flaw. I’d rather be frustrated by my own ineptitude at solving a puzzle than failing to properly wrangle an unruly camera.

ICO is a beautiful game, just like its spiritual successor. It may be slightly rougher around the edges, but Team ICO’s charm is certainly present. If you enjoyed the platforming and puzzles of Uncharted and the art style of Shadow of the Colossus, you’ll love ICO. Though the camera may be a bit of a pain and the enemies are little more than an annoyance, you will find seven or so hours of wonderful fun in high definition.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Monthly Podcast #3

Here it is! The next installment of our monthly podcast for your listening pleasure! Tune in to find out current opinions on upcoming games, new handheld peripherals, and some fun rants on past games.

You can either stream the podcast here:





Or heck, have one more link!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Monthly Video Review Delayed

This month's video review has been disappointingly delayed. Our plan was to review the game Renegade Ops for PC, but its late release ensured that would not be a reality. We offer to you our deepest, most sincere apologies and will update you with news as soon as we have a schedule lined out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Non-Review

Hello ladies and gents! Have you missed me? Or wondered why Aristogamer has been updating less frequently? I'm afraid I fell into a terrible, terrible time trap called Deus Ex: Human Revolution and was having some difficulty pulling myself out.

You see, when I began playing the new Deus Ex, I decided to try my hand at stealth. I wanted to be a sneaky devil whose ability to move in and out of areas without a sound or alarmed guard was highly revered. This critical, highly ill-advised decision is what led me to stop playing the game before I could give it a fair shot.

I spent approximately six hours playing Deus Ex and did not advance the story one iota. I spent my time restarting from a save I made when someone would notice me, then try something different, and repeat the whole process until angry. Remaining undetected in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not like it is in Metal Gear Solid. In fact, comparing the two is like comparing driving to the store to Formula 1 racing because cars are involved.

From what I have played, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a marvelous game. The graphics are spot on, if a bit orange, the controls take some getting used to, but are nowhere approaching annoying, and the amount of quests can only barely lure you away from the intriguing story. My only regret in playing the game is not being able to complete it because of a silly decision I made, which lead to a severe loss of interest and frustration associated with the game. I'll be more careful of that in the future and may end up giving Deus Ex another chance when the muscle memory of pause->load->Save1 has left me.

In short, give Deus Ex: Human Revolution a try, but I implore you to not make the same mistake I did.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Batman: Arkham City

We have learned that Gamestop will, along with the Joker's Carnival Map, offer a pre-order bonus for this incredibly anticipated game. Not only can you play as the cool modernized version of Batman as seen in Arkham Asylum, but you can use the skin from the much missed 90's show Batman: The Animated Series (seen boxed below with incredibly artistic taste).




You may remember the selection of skins that could be possible from a previous post, but this is the first we've learned of one of the skins being offered in an American release. Personally, I would've chosen the Animated Series skin because Kevin Conroy (the voice actor for the Animated Series and for Arkham Asylum) is absolutely the best voice of Batman, so to play the game in the old skin is only fitting. Now I found this out through a PowerUp Rewards email from Gamestop so I can't confirm if it's an exclusive PowerUps pre-order or for all pre-orders, Gamestop's website certainly can't confirm squat. But! It will be available to use throughout the entire campaign and challenge maps, so it's still very exciting!

New Layton vs. Wright Trailer

One of the most anticipated mashups of the impending future just got more exciting with the release of a new trailer at TGS. Layton vs. Wright is, so far, one of the only games I'm excited for on the 3DS and this video only reinforces that excitement. I implore you, join me in squeeing over this new trailer:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bastion Review

Rarely am I excited about games being released for Xbox Live Arcade. I oft look at them as I do PSP titles, with slight interest, but knowing I have other, presumably better games to play. Bastion took me by surprise, however, as it looked like a game I simply needed to play. I am still unsure whether it was the graphics, story, or gameplay that intrigued me enough to want it, but I could not be more excited about its port to Steam. Call of Juarez left me in desperate need of a palate cleanser, and as such I was delighted to start playing this isometric 3D action game. Was my gut steering me straight, or should I have given my purchase a little more thought?


Bastion follows a young man, simply referred to as The Kid, on his quest to rebuild his world after a cataclysmic catastrophe called “The Calamity”. He soon meets up with an old fellow named Rucks who explains to him that in order to get their society back, they must rebuild something he calls “The Bastion”. The Kid is sent to various different locations, each with their own history, to collect Cores that power and rebuild the Bastion. The story is positively the best aspect of this game. With each new level comes a bit about the history of The Kid’s city, Caelondia, and their longtime enemies the Ura. Rather than give you extensive backstory to read through like in Final Fantasy XIII, Bastion takes a somewhat classier approach by giving you a feel for the culture of the world through narrative. The game also knows precisely how much of the story to tell, never boring the player with drawn out explanations or sordid history, just simple stories that open a beautifully executed window into Bastion’s world. By breathing life into the surroundings as well as the characters, this game endears itself to the player on multiple levels and makes him genuinely care about the well-being of not only the Kid, but the entire world.



Breathing life into a story this grand requires careful planning and execution of the tale’s presentation. Or in Bastion’s case, a gruff but tender narrator who tells the story of Caelondia through the actions of the Kid. The seemingly omnicient Rucks is a large draw to this game as he provides the most well executed narration in recent memory. His words match your actions, sometimes in unexpected but pleasant ways. For instance, if I started destroying objects to get items, he might quip something like “The Kid takes out some of his anger on the scenery.” This is of course completely unnecessary narration, but those small touches reeled me into the game far quicker than I had bargained for. Rucks’s voice is hard to describe. Imagine you walk into a bay-side pub and see one particularly salty Captain drinking alone. If you happened to buy him a shot of rye and he spun a yarn for you, his voice and cadences would be akin to that of Bastion’s narrator. That description is the best I can come up with barring a link to an audio file.

The game has mostly standard action gameplay. The Kid has a number of melee and long range weapons ranging from a hammer to a mortar cannon. All of these are upgradable in shops in the game, making weaponry simple while still allowing for deep customization of weapons if you find one in particular that tickles your fancy. You also possess a myriad of special attacks, but can only equip one at a time, forcing you to think about what would be most advantageous for the level. The combat system is quite smooth and responsive, allowing you to plan your battles depending on what weapons you possess. The only aspect that left me yearning for improvement with was the shield, as it only comes out once you’ve finished attacking with a weapon. I cannot count the times I’ve nearly died because I got too carried away with my machete and had to wait helplessly for my attacks to end before the shield emerged to protect me. The only other awkward thing is movement; the isometric 3D layout of the game means that WASD is not the optimal tool for getting about. Of course movement would not be an issue if you downloaded this game on XBLA, so it is a flaw I can overlook.



The graphics look like what 16-bit era graphics would have evolved into had we not added the third dimension. Smooth lines and bright colors set this game apart from the sea of browns, grays, and bloom seen in most recent games. The game is an absolute treat to look at and listen to, as the music fits the atmosphere of each level quite well, though the battle music seems to end too quickly for my liking. Combine those with the narration, story, and fast-paced gameplay and Bastion starts to look like a steal at only $15 on Steam.

Verdict:
If you enjoy games nostalgic to the SNES days, great stories, or action games, Bastion is for you. Its graphics take a cue from Final Fantasy VII and the gameplay is similar to Zelda or really any other action based game. The reasonable price tag, incredible narrator and rich story make this game one of the must by indie games of the year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monthly Podcast

Here it is, a merry time! A time for laughter! A time for opinion! A time for, well, gaming! I'm pleased to announce that our next monthly podcast will be:

Wednesday, September 14th at 8:00pm.

We will be discussing subjects including:

- The 3DS's upcoming attachment for a circle pad

- Tablet gaming (including Gamestop's recent announcement in Android based OS)

-
Final Fantasy XIII (both XIII-2 and Versus)

- Recently released games and initial impressions with Deus Ex and Dead Island

- Star Trek Online going F2P

- Wii U currently in developmental issues

- Halo 4 creative director leaving Microsoft

- Further development in Elder Scrolls vs. Minecraft copyright fight

Others topics may be brought up as well during the podcast since the news keeps rolling in, so be sure to tune in on Wednesday for the discussion, or download via our website or iTunes should you miss this fantastic conversation!

Instructions on:

How to download Teamspeak 3 and connect to our server


How to join in the discussion and the rules for doing so


Hope to see many of you fine readers there!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Call of Juarez Review

Call Of Juarez: The CartelAs I pondered what title to review next, I found myself intrigued by one title in particular.  “Call of Juarez,” I pondered. “That’s a western-type game, is it not?”  No, I concluded, surely I must have confused it with Red Dead Revolver.  This new game seems to have little to no western elements at all.  I shook the confusion from my head and rented Call of Juarez: The Cartel on a whim.  A recent Ubisoft release, Call of Juarez follows three questionable police officers as they are thrust into various moral quandaries, all the while trying to dismantle a Mexican drug cartel.  With a story premise that intense, how could I say no?

In essence, the game is broken into two sections, driving levels and FPS levels. Driving is deplorable. The vehicle physics are completely unrealistic and the steering feels clumsy and awkward. The only comparable game that comes to mind is Cruisin’ USA, but without the benefit of spectacular car-flipping crashes.  Rather, Call of Juarez notifies you that you have mangled your motorcar by simply coming to a full halt on the spot.  The only rightful place for that kind of anti-climactic physics is in an awful mall arcade with tragically dingy carpet. The firearm sections are not much better, consisting mostly of unimpressive gun battles using a rifle weapon and two pistols. If you have played the first level of this game, you have indeed played them all. Next to no variations exist between levels, save for environment changes. Disposable enemies run at you, you dispatch them with your firearms, and you move on. At least games like Call of Duty have an element of tension; Call of Juarez’s only notable element is boredom. On another note, it appears that whether or not you actually hit an enemy depends entirely upon whether they are running or hiding. I found I could never hit anyone running, though that may have more to do with the lag than the gun physics. Yes, Call of Juarez: The Cartel has intense lag issues. “But J,” you may say “lag is simply a reality we must deal with when playing games online.”



I was not playing online. 

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is such an awful game, it lags when played on a console. Perhaps I could understand a hiccup here and there if it was on a PC and I had programs running in the background, but I’m running the game on a system whose sole purpose is running games. Lag on an offline console game is wholly unacceptable in this day and age. Another odd feature is that regardless of what rifle you select, any rifle ammo you have collected will work. It certainly makes collecting ammunition quite a bit easier, but it seems excessively lazy to just label it “rifle ammo” and treat it as an interchangeable item. Could not someone have based the name of the ammunition item on the weapons available? I shall answer that, actually. Yes, someone could have, quite easily mind you, but that exemplifies the feel of the game—slapped together by a team with low standards and not a clue what they wanted to do.

The story flawlessly compliments the incredibly poor gameplay. You begin by choosing to play as one of three cops, all of whom are working toward the goal of destroying a diabolical drug cartel. Each character has their own personal motivations for wanting the cartel eliminated, as well as their own covert agendas to take care of in each mission. These ulterior motives serve to cultivate intense relationships between the three officers. How, you ask, can a story with that much potential turn into a bland, lifeless shell of itself? By crafting characters who are two-dimensional stereotypes with predictable dialogue and having them traverse a meandering plot that knows not if it wants to be about calculated subversion or mindless aggression. I could continue on for hours about how bloody terrible this story is, but I believe you get the gist.

How are the graphics? They are the best part of the game, and Ben’s face gives him the distinct appearance of an addled chipmunk.



I myself may not be fluent in the Spanish language, but I certainly believe that a game taking place partially in Mexico should include more than the same seven Spanglish vulgarities awkwardly heaved about in unconvincing accents.



After completing Call of Juarez: The Cartel, I felt so unsatisfied that I decided to specifically seek out the name of the development team responsible for it. After partaking in the Googles in my search for Call of Juarez, I made a discovery.  There were indeed two Call of Juarez games before this one, and they were both westerns. I’ve never played them, but apparently they had something to do with the Treasure of Juarez, a seemingly intriguing plot point that naturally was mentioned in this game perhaps three times before being forgotten all together. I am hereby officially requesting back the six hours of my life Ubisoft has swindled me into wasting. As I played, I found myself hoping that perhaps the tension would rise and lead me to overlook the gameplay and lag in exchange for a captivating story. Alas, the ending is just as unsatisfying as the rest of the story, leaving me asking why I persisted in playing it through.

Verdict:

I would recommend Call of Juarez: The Cartel to people who loathe their free time. It is a dreadful rehash of Call of Duty that reaches new lows in character development, story, driving, and romance languages. They may have made Assassin’s Creed, but I’m certainly disappointed in Ubisoft for this game. For shame.

AristoGamer In the Wild!

We at AristoGamer can appreciate that all games need not be of the video variety. Close to the Colonel's heart is also the world of motor sports. In honor of that, we sponsored a car in the 2011 Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships.


We trusted these two brave souls to set sail on this, the most sophisticated of automobiles:



We thank these brave men Nick and Zack, Apex Vinyl, and Hurst Street Zombie Company for allowing us to contribute to the sport in some small way. God speed, gentlemen.

For more pictures, click Read More below.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Red Dead Redemption Free DLC

After a good amount of time waiting for new downloadable content, Rockstar plans to release a new "Myths and Mavericks" pack for Red Dead Redemption. This pack will include various new locations and character models for online play (and not just in free-roam mode), which will be listed below. It will be entirely free to download and will be available September 13th.

Locations:
- Cochinay: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout, Stronghold
- Nekoti Rock: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout
- El Presidio: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout
- Plainview: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout
- Gaptooth Mine: Shootout, Gang Shootout
- Perdido: Hold Your Own, Grab the Bag
- Benedict Point: Hold Your Own, Grab the Bag
- Beecher’s Hope: Stronghold
- Torquemada: Stronghold

Characters:
- Landon Ricketts
- Vicente DeSanta
- Drew MacFarlane
- Deputy Eli
- Deputy Jonah
- Javier Escuella
- Nastas
- Uncle

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Aristogamer From Dust Video Review

It's the first of the month, chaps. And while that may mean rent is due, certainly the latest video review will lift your spirits. J is joined by the Colonel via webcam in reviewing Ubisoft's latest game "From Dust." Did the nature simulator/strategy game live up to its hype, or is it in the shadows of the more well known "Black and White?"

Monthly Podcast #2

J. Wellington Rommefeller and the Colonel cover this month's topics in gaming news including: Gamescom news, Trading hats for games in Steam, How to do DLC properly and more!

iTunes link for subscribing here

Or you can stream it from the player below:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pokemon Black/White


Pokemon - Black VersionI would like to start by stating that yes, the target age of the Pokémon game series passed me by some years ago. In fact, I have been playing the series since the first games, Pokémon Red/Blue version(s), were released in the United States in 1998. Since my youth, I have played absolutely every installment and enjoyed them thoroughly. Perhaps it may be due to a yearning to reliving my childhood that I continue to play these games. Whatever the reason, it seems Pokémon discovered a formula in gameplay that has worked so soundly that is has remained unchanged for well over a decade. In fact, with its phenomenal global success, the series is Nintendo’s second most lucrative, losing only to Mario. Pokémon remains a perfect example of the idiom "if it is not broken, I see no reason why I should attempt to repair it, as that would be foolish". The only exception to this rule is the ice cream cone Pokémon Vanillite. Honestly, it's an ice cream cone that evolves from a small cone to a single scoop to a double scoop. Ice type or not, Pokémon that idiotic make me want to void my life.

If you are reading this review, it is likely you’ve played a Pokémon game in the past, so I will not bother going into details in the basics of gameplay. You begin as a trainer starting a Pokémon journey, obtain a starter Pokémon, have a rival, are required to trade between both White & Black versions in order to complete your pokedex, eight gyms and the Elite-Four, all quite standard by now. However, Nintendo has added minor changes to the latest entries in the series, as they have done with each previous generational release, to make the new experience feel renewed. First off, rotation battles have been introduced. By now, we have already become quite acquainted with dual Pokémon battles, so Nintendo decided to change the styles around a wee-bit when going into a triple battle. Rather than just lobbing out three Pokémon simultaneously, a turn-table is used as a platform to spice things up a tad. This subtle change means the one on one aspect of battles remains intact, while allowing Pokémon to change positions on a whim, adding a new dimension to gameplay. Additionally, a new wireless system has been added to the game, allowing players to trade and battle with other players in the vicinity without needing to even go into a Pokémon Center. This feature makes the gameplay more versatile by giving players the option to be more spontaneous in their battles, greatly increasing player interactions.



The Nintendo giveth, and the Nintendo taketh away, however. Instead of simply including berries or mini-games or making pokeballs out of dried fruit, Nintendo decided to force a radically new limitation in the game. In the past, trading was available between old and new generations of Pokémon, allowing players to create any team they desired based on their previous games. Of course there were limitations in how far one could level them up between gym badges, but it still did not stop players from mixing and matching as they pleased. This time around, however, the trading is limited exclusively to other Black/White cartridges and that limitation is not lifted until after defeating the Pokémon League. In my opinion, this was a fantastic idea on Nintendo's part. Instead of just introducing a new region with new Pokémon, this restriction forced the player to actually use what was in this new area without resorting to older Pokémon and strategies they already understood. This situation is not unlike having to use a new rifle because of its scarce availability. What’s a Colonel to do when his trusted Lee-Enfield finally wears out while he’s taken up residence in Germany for a short while but learn to use and appreciate the Mauser? Push your comfort zones, chaps! 

Though the game is quite fun and is overall enjoyable, it is not without flaws. The game’s graphics appear to be approximately 85% unchanged since the series’ inception. Cut-scenes have been added and a few areas such as a metropolitan city look graphically impressive on the DS, but otherwise the game still has the same over-head, simplistic interface. Most frustrating of all, places like the city in comparison to the graphical boondoggle of the rest of the game make it painfully apparent that Nintendo could be doing a better job, but simply is not. In fact, several of the newer Pokémon are just recycled versions of older Pokémon, such as Excadrill and Sandlash. Honestly, use the Googler Machine to find an image of those two and tell me they are not related in some way. Another minor detail of note—technical machines (TM's) that can teach Pokémon different attacks are now reusable. This subtle difference completely changes certain strategies from previous games in a negative way. In my opinion, it seems a bit of a mistake to allow powerful TM's to be used infinitely instead of forcing the decision to be upon only one Pokémon, but it is a factor that does not impact gameplay in a detrimentally large fashion. Honestly, I adapted to it just fine. What I certainly have not adapted to is that ice cream cone Pokémon! I apologize, but that incredibly ludicrous creature is just…it's an ice cream cone! AN ICE CREAM CONE, BY GOD!
The Colonel's Conclusion:

In short, if you're already a fan of Pokemon, nothing will stop you from playing this new generation. The new game’s style of catching small woodland creatures to force into gladiatorial combat is mostly unchanged and equally as enjoyable as its predecessors. In all honesty, Pokémon Black/White is a fresh semi-reboot of the series and I felt more nostalgic in playing through it with new Pokémon because I could not rely on my past accomplishments in my new journey. It felt exactly as I did when I played Pokémon Red/Blue so many years ago, banking only on the sense of familiarity within the context of the game universe. If you're a fan, you shall most assuredly want this, and if you are not, welcome to a new adventure!

...

Honestly, an ice cream cone? Bloody hell….

Friday, August 26, 2011

Counter Strike: Global Offensive Debut Trailer

Although I am more than heartbroken about my dreams being crushed, my excitement for a new Counter Strike title is unmistakably high. That excitement has been amplified by the release of two CS:GO videos earlier today, the first of which is the official preview trailer:



If you simply cannot get enough of CS:GO, the video after the break will showcase some of the weapons that will be available upon the game's launch next year on PC, XBLA, and PSN. It seems like the PS3 version may be the best version for consoles as it allows for keyboard and mouse support and cross-platform play with PC and Mac. CS:GO for 360 will be terribly lonely.

It did not dawn on me until recently, but Call of Duty is now a direct competitor to Counter Strike and both series have a rabid fan following. I wonder if the same level of rivalry and bickering seen over Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 will come to light over these two series in the next few months. CoD has console loyalists, ready to yell obscenities into their headsets from the couch, but CS has PC diehards, and they have what I hear are "1337 h4x0rz". I am not sure what a h4x0r is or why there are 1337 of them, but they certainly sound formidable. Call of Duty fans beware, the bomb has been planted and you did not buy the defuse kit.


Quantum Conundrum Trailer and Gameplay

Kim Swift, the brilliant mind behind Portal, has done it again. It seems making interesting, charming puzzlers comes naturally to her, as she revealed her latest endeavor Quantum Conundrum. You take control of a kid looking for his mad scientist uncle in a comically large mansion armed only with a dimension shifting glove. Does it already sound wonderful? Just wait until you see the trailer!



If you are as intrigued as I am, click the Read More link below to see the gameplay and creator narration video. It is difficult to not compare this game to Kim's earlier masterpiece, but I believe it will not matter in the end. Quantum Conundrum appears to be building a new puzzle game paradigm that I am more than excited to jump into.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monthly Podcast

It is that time again, my friends. The Colonel was in London,taking care of some looting hooligans and as such, the podcast had to be delayed by a week or so. Fear not, however, as our second show will be this week!

Tuesday, August 23rd at 8:00 PM CST

Join us on our Teamspeak server to participate in the conversation or download it afterward from iTunes, podbean, directly, or stream from our site. To join in live, just follow the following instructions:

How to download Teamspeak 3 and connect to our server

How to join in the discussion and the rules for doing so

We shall be discussing topics like this:
  • Gamescom news

  • 3DS price drop

  • Hats for games in Steam

  • DLC

  • Gamefly's PC game service


We certainly look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday. Tell your friends, acquantainces and enemies to listen in and participate.

Gamescom 2011 Wrapup

I know I said we would be covering all six days of Gamescom, but there simply was no news left to report over the weekend! To close the Gamescom chapter of our lives this year, I submit to you this summary of noteworthy announcements:

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Link's latest adventure will be released for the Wii on November 20 in the US. We tried our hand at it at Comic Con and it's certainly one of the most exciting titles this year. November is already a busy month for games with the new Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, Battlefield and more being released, and with Nintendo adding a Zelda title, the Colonel and I should be quite busy this Thanksgiving!

Ubisoft Announces Six Titles for the Vita
Did you think Vita was only going to have Lumines and Assassin's Creed? Nay, says Ubisoft, You shall have not two, but six titles from us to sample. These titles are "Assassin’s Creed, Rayman Origins, LuminesTM, AsphaltTM, Dungeon Hunter Alliance and Michael Jackson the Experience." Hey, I said six games, not six good games.

To The Moon:
Nostalgic for Chrono Trigger? Looking for a game that makes you teary eyed? To The Moon looks to deliver on both. Freebird Games says its latest indie game is about "two doctors traversing through the memories of a dying man to fulfill his last wish." The graphics are 16 bits of elegence and the story is certainly a heavy one. If this sounds like the game for you, watch the trailer and visit the game's website for more information. It will be released this fall and I've already got my tissues handy.

Infamous 2: Festival of Blood
Cole McGrath is getting a superpowered expansion with Festival of Blood, an expansion that adds vampires to New Marais. It's not clear how this will tie into the story, but it seems to be not unlike Undead Nightmare was to Red Dead Redemption. If you cannot get enough of zapping people, have become enamored with the more appealing, but equally undead cousin of zombies, or both, then this trailer is for you.

Zone of the Enders:
Hideo Kojima tweeted the following image, invoking both fits of joy and rage from long time fans of the series:



I'd wager we shall hear more of this either later this week or at Tokyo Games Show next month!
Battlefield 3:
Are you ready to team up with 31 of your closest friends to anniahlate your opposition? Do you even have 31 friends? Well you had better make more, because Battlefield 3's latest trailer shows of it's 64 person multiplayer. I was convinced with the tanks trailer, but adding in deadly vehicles and a hoard of enemies just sweetens the proverbial pot. If this trailer does not warm you to the idea of buying Battlefield 3, I think nothing will.

Guild Wars 2
The sequel to the popular free MMO Guild Wars is looking better than ever. Gamescom was rife with press demos and trailers, two of which are here. The game looks beautiful and it seems the combat system has been revamped. With the inclusion of PvP and slick enemy designs, I would have to say this is the MMO to beat.
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