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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

Put THAT on a T-shirt.

Monday, October 18th, 2010

You don’t have to go all the way to Peterborough to get hit in the head with a wooden stake by a cocaine dealer, but as I learned this weekend, It helps.

My grandmother also celebrated her 79′th this weekend which, needless to say, kept us in the liquor until all hours of the night.

I wish I could say the two incidents were related.

Due to these, and other excuses, Call Me Lameish won’t be finished on time this week. Look for it tomorrow as we kick off Fallout week.

-Lameish

Bringing back a classic

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Well folks, I didn’t write my Sunday Soapbox yesterday, and that’s sadly not the only disappointing news for all of you.

That’s right, Lameish had an even more insane weekend than I and thus, his Call Me Lameish feature is pushed to tomorrow.

Still, let’s focus on the positive. Riddles is playing Kirby’s Epic Yarn, I’m picking it up tonight, and Lameish has promised to have Fallout: New Vegas in his grubby little hands soon as well. Maybe he’ll even write something about it? Who knows?! Not me, that’s who.

Either way, I just wrote this post as a good excuse to bring back one of my favourite classic Ethos MS paintjobs.

What have you fuckers been playing?

Scatter Storming. Issue #041

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Once again, it’s been a busy week for me and games, so I’m not going to bore you with three paragraph non-introductions like Riddles did with his Hey! Look! Listen!, but will – once again – dive right in.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Multiplayer Beta

Because of my previously discussed subscription to Playstation Plus, I got exclusive access to the multiplayer beta for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I had no idea what it was about, so let me give you the run down if you are in the same boat I was.

In the only mode that I was aware of, the point isn’t an all out brawl, or even team-based objectives, but rather to carry out the simple task of taking out your target before you yourself are assassinated. You get more points for more subtle assassinations, and these points fill an experience bar which have become popular in hooking in online communities. I leveled up once, so I was able to note that new abilities do get unlocked by gaining levels, and that you’re even allowed to construct a loadout. That gives me the impression that there will be the opportunity for customization later on, because that wasn’t an option during my experience. Granted, I only played one 10 minute game, but whatever.

More than anything, I appreciated that the multiplayer was undoubtedly different than anything else out there. It felt very “Assassin’s Creed” in that it was solitary and focused on stealth, quick reflexes, and badass assassinations. Killing my targets seemed to have layers of depth. There are only about 6 or 7 different character models for players to choose from, and there are only those 6 or 7 models roaming the map, so you have to find your target amidst many like faces. There is a radar that lets you know in which direction your target is and also how close she is. And because there is no way of knowing who is after you – as far as I could tell – you can literally walk right up to your target like a harmless NPC before shoving a hidden blade into their throat.

This is very satisfying as an assassin. However, as a target, I have no idea who is on my ass. I do not know how to hide from my stalker. Blending into the crowd helps me with my target, but doesn’t make me any less vulnerable from the person trying to end me as fast as possible. After gaining a level and gaining my first ability, I was able to briefly take on the form of another character model and then wait for a 60 second cooldown before using it again. So defensively, I had a very frustrating time. As far as I could tell, you were only awarded points for assassinating your target, so I don’t think I would be rewarded for discovering my assailant and slitting her throat.

But who knows? Maybe I would be. The tutorial didn’t tell me so, but it’s definitely possible and would absolutely make the game more interesting. I’m also aware that I barely scratched the surface of the unlockable abilities. But still, I consider that to be a little broken if you have to play the game for hours before even being allowed to play properly. Just like the stinger missile isn’t unlocked until something like level 30 in Modern Warfare 2. What a bunch of broken horseshit.

Met the concept artist. Young, very talented dude.

Epic Mickey Impressions

I have to admit, I barely remember my Warren Spector interview. I was in a conference room with an unbelievable view of the Toronto skyline performing my first legitimate interview with a respected member of the gaming development community. I remember that at one point he had his hands on his head like Mickey ears and said something to the effect of “oh god, am I actually doing this on camera right now?” I also remember admitting to have never played Deus Ex followed by Warren dramatically and jokingly telling me to leave the room. I hope I didn’t come across like a total idiot, but in any case, he was engaging and professional.

My point, believe it or not, is that I didn’t get a chance to actually play Epic Mickey at that interview, but instead went to a small event later that night to get a hands on. That is also when I got the signed poster and DS picture with Warren – I couldn’t do that on the clock! So my SUPER point is that I should talk about my impressions of the game.

My relationship with Epic Mickey has been an interesting one. I’ve been on and off the game in terms of my hype for it. Lately, I had been looking forward to it, but not totally buying the “paint or thinner” choices in the game. It seemed like a masked morality system. And while it sorta is, I was surprised by my strong compulsions to use either paint or thinner in certain situations. I play paragon in Mass Effect, and was a nice guy in Fallout 3 and Infamous, so I expected to use paint over thinner in Epic Mickey. This was not the case. Not only does thinner make platforming more difficult (and therefore more rewarding), but I just found it more interesting. I was shocked at my reaction when I befriended an enemy by painting him and then reduced him to a puddle of ink with thinner immediately after. I felt like an asshole, but not necessarily like a bad guy. The world of Epic Mickey is so twisted and weird, that all of these choices fit without appearing to be black or white.

I tried both the 3D combat sections, and the 2D platforming sections and visually, I was very impressed. The game oozes not only style, but variety. After only experiencing Disney gaming in Kingdom Hearts, it was refreshing to explore the unused and forgotten side of familiar worlds.

I must admit, however, after a lot of Mario Galaxy 2 with my increasingly skilled girlfriend, Epic Mickey’s polish felt a little off. I was reminded often by the Disney dude and Warren himself that I was playing an early build of the game, but I imagine that there will be moments in the finished copy when I will shout “I made that jump!” or just be generally a little frustrated that not every platformer controls like Mario.

All in all, I walked away genuinely more impressed than perhaps I expected, and the game is now my most anticipated of the holiday season. That’s the first time I can say that for a Wii title since 2006.

Sonic 4

This is more 2D Sonic. Not like the Sonic Rush DS games; although those were great. This is Sonic as you used to know with all the ups and downs. It’s not as fast as you remember, but then again, neither are the originals. There are still multiple paths, and things still pop up at you at the last second. Although with the addition of that semi-lock-on zoom-bash move (that’s the official name) from the 3D games, it makes those moments a little easier to handle. That’s really all I got for this one. Just a little juxtaposition for you.

Way better than FFXIII

The 4 Heroes of Light

This game is awesome. Pure old school without having to fight with graphics or interface. I mean, I’m still a little annoyed at the item management and the menu layout, but it’s no Final Fantasy 1. It’s great because it’s a reminder of how games used to let you figure out the story. There are no exposition-packed cutscenes nor lengthy tutorials. In fact, there are no tutorials.

Nope, you have to pay attention and talk to as many people as it takes to figure out what to do next, how to work the game, and get a general feel for the mood and culture in each town. It’s quite refreshing and while I expected to enjoy the game, I’m actually really fucking into it. It’s made me drop Birth by Sleep and Pokémon Ranger, and I love those games. I need to finish Birth by Sleep soon too before Abe80 takes his PSP back. He’s been very patient.

Sad News

Sure, maybe this should go in a news feature, but Riddles decided to post his HLL on a Wednesday, and that makes me less inclined to write a TTKL. Is that just a really shitty way to conceal laziness? Maybe, but it’s true. Anyway, the sad news is that the really promising Pirates of Caribbean: Armada of the Damned action RPG has been cancelled. That’s it really. I was looking forward to it. Seriously. Click the tag. (IGN)

No more! I’ve written enough!

_e

South Park – “It’s a Jersey Thing” Review

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

It’s good to have South Park around again. And not only because it provides ample topics of conversation with my co-workers, but because Season 14 is continuing on quite strongly. This week, the show takes on New Jersey, all the stereotypes contained therein, and a few trashy Jersey-themed shows such as The Real Housewives of New Jersey and (to a lesser extent) Jersey Shore. The result? Once again, it’s nothing terribly deep, and doesn’t offer much in the way of social commentary – but “It’s a Jersey Thing” does bring back some of the irreverent, in-your-face comedy that the previous episode lacked.

The episode begins as a fairly standard (though humorous) spoof of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The Marshes make the mistake of inviting their new neighbors from Jersey over to their home, only to have their dinner ruined when the Jersey wife flies off the handle as only Jersey housewives can. The residents of South Park soon come to realize that there are Jersey-ites all over their town – and if they don’t do something to stop it, South Park is doomed to become “West Jersey.”

There’s some funny stuff here. I particularly liked the attention given to Sheila Broflovski (Kyle’s mom.) After shouting down a bunch of raging Jersey whores in hair salon, it’s revealed that Mrs. Broflovski was originally from – you guessed it – New Jersey. In fact, she wasn’t even called Sheila back then, but rather, “S-Woww Tittybang.” No, really. Sheila doesn’t tend be a character of any real significance, so it was nice to see her given a role, and a hilarious one at that.

Any episode that features Randy Marsh to any extent usually wins with me, I won’t lie. But damn it, there’s just something about the guy. Everything he says and does makes me laugh, and this episode was no exception. When the town of South Park rises up against the so-called Jersey invasion, they are led by none other than Mr. Marsh. The scene where he stands atop a massive barricade, waves an anti-Jersey flag and shouts “FUCK YOU NEW JERSEY!” is priceless and will go down as one of his finest moments.

One of the strengths of this particular episode is that almost every main character is utilized. While Randy leads his bloody campaign against the invading New Jerseyans, Kyle is forced to come to terms with the fact that he has Jersey blood running through his veins. Predictably, this is a fact that a certain Eric Cartman won’t put to rest. Especially after Kyle roughs Cartman up in true New Jersey style, which hilariously reduces Cartman to tears. Stan and Kenny are there as well, though they’re supplementary. Still, it’s good to see the entire gang given a part to play.

After fifteen minutes or so of mostly harmless spoofs, “It’s a Jersey Thing” takes an entirely unpredictable turn for the controversial. To say nothing of the ridiculous. Desperate for help against the invading hordes, and after having been refused by both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Japan, Randy turns to Al-Quaeda. Osama Bin Laden makes his return, as does the grossly irreverent and offensive subject matter that the show hasn’t seen in a few episodes. Al-Quaeda does, indeed, come to South Park’s aid – but I’m not going to tell you how they do it. Suffice to say, it’s fucking hilarious, and beyond inappropriate. But if you’re the kinda guy who watches South Park, I doubt you’ll get your panties in a bundle.

As a South Park fan, I’ve been quite satisfied with Season 14’s return thus far. Looks like the boys are on a roll, let’s hope they keep it going.

SCORE: 8/10

Hey! Look! Listen! #63 – Not So Lost, as it were

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Hm. I’m having a difficult time coming up with something interesting to say for this little intro. Usually I say something self-disparaging, apologetic, or both. But I don’t feel the need, nor really have the cause to be self-disparaging or apologetic right now, so that won’t work.

I’d relate some intriguing story sampled from recent events in my life, but my life is actually really boring, stale, and monotonous. Nothing of particular interest has occurred since… well, probably since I moved into my new place. And yeah, that was fairly recent, but even still, it’s not like any exciting stories have arisen from it.

Sad as this is to say, the most interesting thing I’ve done in the last couple weeks is start watching Lost. Yes, you read that correctly. For no reason other than the fuck of it (and because I enjoy the show, I guess) I’ve begun the sure-to-be-lengthy process of watching Lost from start to finish. I’ve seen a lot of Season 6 (which, by the way, is probably the worst place you could ever start watching the show) but other than that I’m a noob.

So, how does it feel to be watching the first season after seeing almost every episode of Season 6? (I managed to avoid the finale, that was about it.) Well, it’s still an enjoyable thing to watch, but it’s obviously somewhat disappointing that much of what I’m supposed to find mysterious… isn’t. But I can only blame myself for that one. Stupid, stupid me.

The Tragically Comic Rantings of  EA Louse

HEY! – Why I Care I greatly enjoy these rare glimpses into the inner workings of Corporate’s seedy underbelly in the videogame industry. What we have here is a rant written by an employee of Mythic Entertainment – now known as “BioWare Mythic.” The guy’s pissed because he heard he was being fired soon, decided to write a scathing blog entry exposing the incompetency of Mythic and BioWare’s upper management figures. The article is labeled, simply, as “Why Warhammer Failed“.

LOOK! – Why You Care This guy was clearly pretty involved in the development of the now-largely-forgotten MMORPG, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. He tells an interesting story of what “really” went on behind the scenes of the game’s tumultous development. Oh, and if that doesn’t grab you: he blasts BioWare’s upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic. In his own words:

Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too

See? This guy has some crazy shit to say. So…

Listen! Mythic Entertainment has been around for a while. Founded in 1995, they finally made a name for themselves in 2001 with the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. In 2006, EA bought them out, and they were known as “EA Mythic” for few years afterward. Then, as you should all recall, EA merged with BioWare Entertainment. (Y’know, the Mass Effect guys.) Shortly after that acquisition, EA took the liberty of merging Mythic Entertainment with BioWare to create what is now known as “BioWare Mythic.” Dr. Ray Myzuka still runs the entire shindig, Mythic’s general manager was replaced, and things went along with ease and efficiency.

…or DID they? Apparently not, if this dude is to be believed. I mean, sure, it’s possible that it’s all an elaborate host, but it sounds legit enough to me. Hell, even if it’s not, it’s a legitimately entertaining read. The merger between EA and BioWare was a huge, huge deal – a deal that, seemingly, went over without a hitch. We still got our respective Dragon Age and Mass Effect fixes. And oh looky, Dragon Age 2 is set for release in less than five months! And Mass Effect 2 is coming to the PS3! No sign of greedy corporate evil here, right?

Probably wrong. If you still aren’t interested in reading his rant, then at least treat yourself to this glorious excerpt:

Oh yeah, and he needed Paul Barnett. You know him as the crazy British dude that appears in random videos at EA to promote his latest bullshittery. We know him as the crazy British dude who we have no idea of how he still has a job. This man was supposed to be the savior of Warhammer’s vision and design. Now all he can do is promote his strange ideas about his little secret project web Ultima game that’s been almost universally criticized by all of us and focus groups. What’s that? You didn”t know Paul loves one of those old Ultima games sooooo much he’s making a literal copy of it for Facebook? Well, the cats outta the bag. Too bad it sucks ass.

Oh… the hatred in his tone. I soak it up like a week-old sponge.

So, assuming that you’ve read his rant at this point, what are your thoughts? Rightly disgruntled employee with legitimate, if raging, critiques? Or a pill who just got burned and felt like bitching?

Or… both?

Aggregate Ranking Roundup: Final Fantasy XIV, Enslaved, Medal of Honor

Huh boy. It’s that time of year again.

Last year I had quite a bit more money than I do now, so I was set and ready to stem the tide of big game releases. This year, however, I am not so fortunate. One fortunate thing, though, is that it now seems that I can safely cross two games off the list.

Final Fantasy XIV – 55% (7 reviews, PC version) Ouch. Well, I guess we all saw this one coming. Final Fantasy XIV never looked like it would be anything more than a grindy, unpolished mess, and now that reviews are starting to roll out – almost universally negative – I guess we can finally put it to rest. From Kevin VanOrd’s review for GameSpot: “When the simple act of creating an account for the massively multiplayer online game you just bought is a convoluted mess, you know you’re in trouble.”

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West – 82.07% (30 reviews, PS3 version) Yeah. I still want this game. Really badly, actually, and I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve heard that Lameish (or whatever his name is) has it, but despite my repeated demands that he airmail it to me, he has refused. I’d fire him, but then I’d be admitting that I hired him in the first place.

Anyway, yeah, Enslaved looks really good. Granted, an 82 percent aggregate ranking isn’t exactly cause to blow one’s load, but it is quite respectable. General consensus seems to be that Enslaved greatly succeeds as an experience, a story, and a visual spectacle. Why do I want it so badly? Well, for one thing, I haven’t played a good action-adventure game in far too long. Secondly, I find the post-apocalyptic-yet-healing world setting incredibly appealing. In a sea of big-name releases with much larger ad campaigns, it looks like Enslaved might be doomed to obscurity. And while I’ve yet to play (though I promise I will) I think that’s a damn shame.

Medal of Honor – 75.3% (20 reviews, PS3 version) While I may spend a fair amount of time wanking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the only way I’d spend money on EA’s Medal of Honor reboot is if it received sparkling reviews. And, while reviews for said reboot have been positive, they have not sparkled. I’m frankly surprised. Not that the game is only average, but that so many reviewers actually took the liberty of pointing this out. A big, fat, heavily advertised series reboot from EA is precisely the sort of thing that most media outlets would love to fellate. And yet they haven’t. Good for them. Bad for EA’s shareholders, as it were. Apparently, due to the average-only reviews, EA’s shares dipped six percent. Boo-hoo, I know.

QUICKIES – Short and Rough. Uh, Sweet.

The PS3 Will Soon Netflix Sans Disc – Oh thank fuck. The PS3 is my system of choice, so I prefer to Netflix on it rather than my 360. The problem? The PS3 makes me stick a disc in the drive, while the 360 does not. It presents quite the moral impound, but it will soon be a nonissue. Starting Monday, a system update will allow us all to watch Netflix without the damn disc. It will also now feature 5.1 surround sound due to some partnership with Dolby, and it will allow for video qualities up to 1080i. And it’ll look better and move faster. Sounds like epic winsauce all around.

Dragon Age II “BioWare Signature Edition” Announced – Woo. Well, actually, it is kinda cool. If you pre-order Dragon Age II before January 11, you’ll get a download code for a new character and mission, a digital soundtrack, and some kinda digital in-game armory. At no additional cost. I really need to finish Dragon Age Origins.

You Can Get Married in a Chinese McDonald’s – Ah. This is… something. Crazy Hong Kong-ians.

And that’s it. There’s no more. This thing is almost 1500 words long, which is pushing it a little bit given the average attention span of a Riddlethos reader.

Anyway, Ethos should be here tonight with some thoughts on the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood multiplayer beta. The next time you see me, I’ll probably be reviewing the new South Park. (Preview: it’s pretty funny.)

~Riddles

My Day

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Today I interviewed Warren Spector for 20 minutes, played Epic Mickey for close to 45 minutes, then got a signed poster and picture with the man. Solid day, I’d say.

I’ll try to get a transcription for the interview as soon as possible and edit it down for you guys acasap. Until then, I’m going to try to download Sonic 4 tonight (finances permitting), I hear that Lameish is playing Enslaved, and Riddles is going to pick up Kirby much later in the week. I mean, so am I, but I’m just surprised that Riddles is as well. What’s happening to our cold-hearted co-leader?

I also hear that Riddles might try to play Enslaved, but that sounds even less likely based on his also-broke status. Anyway, here’s me and Warren.

Welcome to Autumn Week 2010

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

And, it’s official. Seasonal-themed weeks are a tradition. This is confirmed by the fact that we’re having yet another Autumn-themed week. If you recall, we did last year as well – though we called it the “Fall of Autumn Week” or something sappy like that. (It was Ethos’ idea.)

Since then, we’ve had a week for every changing season. It’s easy, and the banners always look gorgeous. And the banners are easy to make. That’s what you call a win-win-win, at least from where I stand.

So it appears this Lameish character is here to stay. He’s claiming that Ethos and I hired him, and refuses to acknowledge my orders to cease and desist. And, try as I may, I can’t find any evidence with which I might discredit his claims. So. He’ll be here for a while. At least his videos are sort of funny.

And look at Ethos! With his TTKL, Scatter Storming, and subsequent Sunday Soapbox! And I heard he just interviewed Warren Spector? Damn, that guy’s been keeping busy, eh? It’s great to have such a consistent stream of content on the site. Makes me happy.

What do I do around here again?

~Riddles