July 18, 2012

Summer Backlog Attack 2012, Week 3

Summer Backlog Attack 2012, Week 3

We chatted a bit about StarCraft: Ghost last week on the show–one game that unfortunately won’t be gracing anyone’s backlog any time soon.

Not that we need the extra weight, of course. Making slow progress and not really enjoying myself, I threw in the towel on Psychonauts, instead starting up Mega Man ZX Advent and enjoying that much more. I may go revisit Tim Schafer’s classic later on, but for now I’m enjoying shooting reploids with my megabuster.

Meanwhile, Paul was still treading water in Bioshock and Randy was still busy at work to even think about the backlog. Besides, there was a new Walking Dead episode out! Check out the episode for their impressions, and tune in this week to find out if anyone gets out of their rut!

July 13, 2012

VGHomework: In the Cloud

Gaikai/StarCraft: Ghost

Every weekend, the VGH crew answers a few follow-up questions from that week’s episode, then turns the floor over to you! This is VGHomework.

We dove a bit into some gaming news this week on the show, first speculating about what Sony will do with their Gaikai purchase, and then getting all misty over some promising games that never saw release.

Q: Have you tried a cloud gaming service like Gaikai or OnLive? Could you ever foresee trading your disc-based/digital download console for one?
Paul (@spaulsandhu): I’ve never tried a cloud gaming service before but when we were spitballing on the show the idea of a Netflix style service but for games came up. I would definitely be interested in a service like that especially if it gave us access to a library of classic games! Man I really hope that comes to pass…

Matt (@mkernan): I’ve dabbled with OnLive a little bit in the past. I came away pretty impressed overall with the responsiveness of the system and the fact that I could play popular PC games on my Mac. I think I could eventually see myself moving to an all-streaming situation, but for the time being I’ll stick with my traditional consoles.

Q: What’s the best way Sony could incorporate the cloud into the PlayStation 4 or Vita?
Matt: I think the current conditions with broadband penetration and speeds in the US mean that there’s not a chance in hell of the PlayStation 4 being all-streaming, but I’d really like to see Sony use Gaikai’s technology to implement 100% backward compatibility. Heck, maybe even just use it to give the users the ability to start playing new games instantly–start off by streaming the game to us, while the full game itself is slowly downloading in the background. I’d be happy to temporarily put up with an ever-so-slight latency and slightly-degraded visuals in a PS4 game just to be able to jump directly into it the moment I’ve purchased it. The technology could make demos far easier to swallow too.

Aside from that, I’d like to see them use the streaming technology to create a much more fluid experience where I can play all of my PlayStation games on any device I own.

Q: What canceled game were you most looking forward to playing and why?
D.J. (@metaly): I mentioned it on the show, but Front Mission 5 and Monster Hunter Portable 3rd are the two biggest casualties in terms of Japanese games that never got their chance in the West. I guess they weren’t technically canceled since they did see an overseas release, but I’d love to be able to play games without having to futz with a fan translation patch.

Q: If StarCraft: Ghost actually came out, what game(s) should it be most similar to?
D.J.: I’d love to see a campaign with a little more deliberately paced stealth, like Splinter Cell pre-… Kind of like Chaos Theory but set in the StarCraft universe. The multiplayer could be larger scale, with ghosts just being one class you could play, alongside squads of marines and StarCraft‘s iconic vehicles. I think they were originally planning to have players infiltrate the other side’s floating Command Centers, and… wait, isn’t that just Battlefield 2142?

Is there cloud gaming in your future? What are some canned titles you wish you could play right now? Let us know in the comments!

July 9, 2012

Summer Backlog Attack 2012, Week 2

Summer Backlog Attack 2012, Week 2

We checked in on our backlog progress in Episode 60. Paul has already blown through Enslaved and has made a fair amount of progress in Bioshock, although he’s not exactly loving it. I ran into a similar situation with Psychonauts–I can see why it garners so much praise, but its flavor of 3D platforming isn’t really my thing. Meanwhile, Randy wasn’t doing much of anything, but he may have been distracted by all the short skirts and zombies in Lollipop Chainsaw.

Will I overcome my platforming apathy and make it to the end (or at least to the next level) of Psychonauts? Will Paul have an epiphany that turns him into an FPS die-hard? Will Randy ever relive those two lost hours of Radiant Historia?? (If only he could go back in time and avert that disaster in the first place.) Tune in to this week’s episode to find out!

Until then: If you’ve got a backlog, does it contain more “short” games like Enslaved or Bioshock, or is it the longer games that end up going unplayed?

July 6, 2012

VGHomework: NSFW

Oh, hello.

This week’s show was even randier than usual since we were talking gaming and sex! Now it’s time for your hosts to answer a few questions the morning after:

Q: Is sex in games exciting, or does it make you roll your eyes?
Matt (@mkernan): I think that if it’s done well in terms of writing, acting, and animation, it has the potential to be great. Most of the “sex appeal” I’ve seen in games tends toward the pointless and exploitative end of the spectrum though.

Q: Have you ever played a game because you were attracted to one of the characters?
Randy (@randy_wrecked): Bayonetta. I had zero interest in the mechanics of that game but I found the character smokin’ hot. I played it on the easiest difficulty just to get it out of my system.

Q: What’s your sexiest gaming moment and why?
Paul (@spaulsandhu): Sexiest moment in gaming for me would probably be the sex scene in Witcher 2 between Geralt and Triss in the elven pool. It has just the right amount of lady butt, man butt, but in all seriousness it was a really nice combination of explicit sex and tenderness that came together in a scene that didn’t cause me to roll my eyes. It was really well done.

Q: Who has the best butt in gaming?
Paul: Best butt in gaming is pretty obvious, feast your eyes on this.

Randy: D.J. Ross does, of course.

Matt: Miranda Lawson.

D.J.: Well, Matt and Randy already stole my choices, so I’ll have to go with the dancer from Final Fantasy IV that they actually censored in the original SNES release. Yow!

Don’t be shy! Let us know if you think games have grown up enough to handle this subject matter, or if they still have some maturing to do.

Image credits: Super Adventures in Gaming, Bioware forums

July 3, 2012

Play More Games: Theatrhyththrymthrhynmythm

omg look at their adorable stupid faces

Each week in Play More Games, members of the VGH team will chime in on the new video game releases that have piqued their interest.

Hey, a new 3DS game! It’s a sure sign that a console has finally gained a foothold when it gets its very own, awkwardly titled Final Fantasy spinoff. For the 3DS, that’s Final Fantasy Theatrhythm. (Or Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, if you prefer.) I need only the slightest excuse to pick up a new music game, so fill one full of classic Final Fantasy songs and it’s a no-brainer. The gameplay looks similar to Ouendan or DJMAX Technika, which have you tapping on-screen targets or sliding the stylus along a track in time with the music. But, drawing from its namesake’s RPG roots, you’ll be doing all this while guiding a party across a Final Fantasy overworld, or tapping notes to help your party battle monsters. That’s cool, I guess, although it’s really going beyond the call–all they had to do was give me some stuff to tap while male cheerleaders chocobos and moogles dance in the background and I’d be set.

Look for my impressions in next week’s episode! (more…)

July 2, 2012

Summer Backlog Attack 2012, Week 1

Summer Backlog Attack 2012, Week 1

As you already know if you’ve checked out Episode 59, we’re launching an all-out attack on our backlogs as we get into the middle of summer. We even came up with a ridiculous name for it, and I figured, while we’re at it, let’s have a huge leaderboard graphic, too. So now, here we are.


June 29, 2012

VGHomework: Backloggery

Typical gamer's backlog

This week on the show, we’re talking about gaming backlogs and what we can do to eliminate (or at least reduce) our piles of shame. How did it get to this point??


June 22, 2012

VGHomework: The Next Generation

PS9 has the mind control system

We’re looking forward to the next generation on this week’s show–actually, we’re compiling our list of demands. What do we think about the inevitable next wave of consoles in general, and what will the big three have to do to pry us away from our beloved PS3s, Xboxes, and–yes–even Wiis?


June 16, 2012

VGHomework: Senseless violence edition


We’re not extra surly this weekend; we’re just continuing the violence discussion from this week’s show! (At least, that’s our story.)


June 8, 2012

VGHomework: E3 hangover

Iwata with bananas

Another E3 has come and gone. Were you left feeling underwhelmed, as seems to be the concensus this year, or were there enough announcements to keep you excited for the next year’s worth of games? We’ve collected some of our thoughts below.


May 25, 2012

VGHomework: DRM from the depths of Hell!


This week on the show, we discussed Blizzard’s always-online requirement for Diablo III and measures other publishers are taking to ostensibly protect their games from pirates. These practices can have the side-effect of making gamers’ lives miserable, though, so we want to know: Have you found yourself caught up in DRM Hell?

Q: Did you have any trouble playing Diablo III during launch week?
Paul (@spaulsandhu): I present Exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKTwDJstN_E

Matt (@mkernan): Nope, no trouble at all. Granted, I didn’t buy it and didn’t try to play it, so I guess that doesn’t really count.

Q: Have you ever had to buy an online pass for a game?
Matt: I’ve never had to myself, but I feel really sorry for the average game-buying consumer who has to deal with this crap. I have the benefit of following the industry closely enough that I am far better equipped to navigate the waters of DRM, online passes, and packed-in DLC. It’s enough to make the average Joe’s head spin, if you ask me. I did recently buy a used copy of Homefront that was missing the online pass, but I paid so little for the game that it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Plus, Homefront handles the online pass issue pretty elegantly – you can play online up to a certain rank, as a test drive of sorts, before the online pass is required. You could even keep playing it indefinitely, if you don’t mind the pretty low level cap.

Q: Would you buy a next-gen console if you couldn’t play used games on it?
Paul: Absolutely not! I would refuse to support any console manufacturer that would do this. I understand that developers want to protect their IPs, but preventing consumers from playing legally purchased copies of used games would be going way too far. If the rumours surround the next Xbox are true, I’d probably just boycott any Microsoft products from this day forward.

Matt: I think this will become an irrelevant question in one or two console generations, with the move to all-digital distribution. So, in that sense, yes. However, if the Xbox 720 and PS4 come out and one makes playing used games more difficult than the other, then I’d lean toward purchasing the more lenient one.

Randy (@randy_wrecked): I don’t have a problem with that. I seldom buy used now because I believe so strongly that used games are a detriment to the industry. Eliminating the market for them would change gaming substantially—no more online passes, no more on-disc DLC, and no more wildly divergent retailer pre-order exclusives. I think Steam is a perfect example of how an all-digital game delivery system can operate and, as long as console developers can learn from Valve’s model to create comparable experiences, I would happily give up on used games and get on board.

Q: Is there a game you can’t play anymore because the servers are down, or for some other reason? (Maybe no one plays it online anymore?)
Matt: Usually when I read about servers being shut down, it’s a list of games I’ve either never played or haven’t played in quite some time. However, the recent announcement that the online features of EA Sports Active 2 were being turned off did ruffle my feathers a bit. But let’s face it, I haven’t worked out with that thing in months anyway.

D.J. (@metaly): OK, I’m cheating a little because this isn’t completely unplayable online yet, but I’m going to say Battlefield 3! With DICE allowing PC players to run their own servers, it’s become extremely difficult to find a one to play on with settings resembling the “vanilla” ruleset—that is, one without astronomically high tickets, a single map in the rotation, tweaked respawn times, or the server owner’s extensive list of banned weapons. This has happened to a degree with Battlefield 2 and 2142 in the past—as the games age, the variety of servers dwindles—but it’s frustrating to see it already happen to a game that’s less than a year old!

Now that you’ve heard from us, it’s your turn! Tell us your DRM woes or your online gaming horror stories in the comments below.

May 18, 2012

VGHomework: Ready for Call of Duty: Black Ops II?

Leaked Black Ops II screenshot

Welcome to your first VGHomework assignment! VGHomework is your chance to get in on the discussion from the latest episode of VGHangover. We’ll be adding our own thoughts as well, and will feature your best comments on a future show.

This week, we talked about the recently announced Call of Duty: Black Ops II and how Treyarch is trying to take the series in a new direction. As always, Call of Duty didn’t fail to bring the controversy. Here are some questions that arose:

Q: Are you looking forward to Black Ops II?
D.J. Ross (@metaly): I didn’t love the original Black Ops, but the sequel’s near-future setting has me interested for sure. It seems unlikely that we’ll see soldiers sporting laser guns and active camo, but I can’t wait to see what kind of futuristic gadgets, perks and killstreaks Treyarch will add to the game. Unleash the robo-dogs!

Q: Is “modern warfare” played out? What time period should Call of Duty invade next?
Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): While trying to occupy a genuine historical period is certainly “on brand” for Call of Duty, I think it lends a stuffiness to the series that keeps me from appreciating it. I think they should go completely off the reservation and invent their own time period: muskets and jetpacks, rocket launchers on horseback, and giant steam-powered robots that shoot water balloons. Take the insanity and unpredictability of games like TimeSplitters, Ratchet and Clank and Armed and Dangerous and dump them in to a competitive online FPS and I’ll happily pony up my $60.

Q: Do you want a game’s story to change depending on how well you play?
Paul Sandhu (@spaulsandhu): I’d definitely be more interested in a game if it had a branching story that changed depending on what or how I did during certain segments of a game. But the devs would have to strike a very delicate balance and make sure each outcome would be equally “fair” and interesting for the player. Otherwise people will just try to get the “ideal” outcome during the branching segments. My advice, do what CD Projekt did with The Witcher 2. Make the branching paths and decision points quick, and subtle and have them play out hours later so the player is surprised by what actually happens!

Now that you’ve heard from us, it’s your turn! Comment below with an answer to one of these questions, or just tell us what you think about Black Ops II!

May 18, 2012

Contest: Win Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition!

Win Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition

Earlier this month, the infamous Minecraft finally arrived on the Xbox 360. In case you’re not one of the millions of people who have experienced it on the PC (or one of the million who helped it shatter sales records on Xbox Live), we want to let you have the chance by giving you a download code for the brand new Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. We’ve only got one copy to give away, though, so pay attention if you want to be punching trees and interfering with sheep from the comfort of your sofa.


April 10, 2012

Play More Games: Cartoon Girls and Funny Hats


Fez is out this week! For reals! First announced all the way back in July of 2007 (the PS3 and Wii weren’t even a year old), you’ve probably heard of it since then if you follow the indie scene, or at least seen screenshots of its distinctive pixel graphics. I got to play it for a while at PAX last August, and it felt like a solid platformer. The Escher-like core mechanic—rotating the 2D world 90 degrees at a time to reveal new paths—took some time to get used to, but it was a nice twist (excuse me) on the genre.

What stuck out the most in my mind, though, is how one of the PAX presenters mentioned that part of the game’s ambition is to be something you can sit back and take your time with, which the player character’s leisurely movement encourages‐he’s definitely no Mario. That’s really cool, I thought, instantly imagining myself lazily rotating Fez‘s world around as I searched for the key to the next area. Will that fly with gamers accustomed to slurping up the newest releases and plowing through them so they can trade them in towards whatever’s out the next week? I’m a little skeptical, but considering how long the game has been in development, hopefully people can come to terms. I’d hate for everyone to rush through it too quickly.


March 20, 2012

Play More Games: Eggplants vs. Zombies

Kid Icarus: Uprising

This might go without saying at this point, but if you stop by your local games retailer this week to check out the new releases, expect to see familiar franchises from wall to wall. I know that the games industry loves to stick to their tried and true series—this generation more than ever—but even I’m a little surprised at the extent to which they’ve done it this week.


February 28, 2012

Play More Games: Super Über


Shhh… Is everyone who picked up a Vita happily distracted playing their shiny, new handheld? Good, let’s talk about some of the non-Vita games coming out this week, including something that could shake up the whole industry.


February 20, 2012

D.J.’s Top PSP Games*

Fig. A: PlayStation Portable

*which are not named Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

The fancy, new PlayStation Vita might be launching this week, but we’re still looking back at a few of our favorite PlayStation Portable games, as we got into in Episode 41. Here’s my list!


February 10, 2012

BGM Mode: The Soul Still Burns


With Soulcalibur V now unleashed upon the fighting game community, it’s time for BGM Mode to take a look back at the series’s epic soundtracks. And that’s not “epic” in the Internet forum sense–the Soul series has always done things on a grand scale, whether it’s the flashy action, the panoramic stage vistas, or even the ultra corny announcer. It follows that the music would be appropriately grandiose, usually sticking to a rich, orchestral sound but occasionally throwing in the odd electric guitar just because.

Let’s start off with Soulcalibur II‘s opening movie for good measure:

“Under the Star of Destiny” – Junichi Nakatsuru



January 31, 2012

Play More Games: Welcome Back to the Stage of History Thirteen-Two

Let's just pretend this never happened.

It’s the end of January and that refreshing winter lull is finally coming to an end—hope you carved a decent chunk out of your backlog! Triple-A titles are officially back in season with this week’s two big releases, and boy, are they big.

Despite the generally disappointed reactions to its predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 remains the most anticipated game out this week. Following the precedent they set nearly a decade ago with Final Fantasy X-2, Yoshinori Kitase and his team have dreamed up another direct Final Fantasy sequel, which is unusual for a series known for introducing a completely new setting and storyline with each game. You’ll play as Serah, sister of XIII‘s heroine, and encounter familiar faces and locations along your adventure, which is shorter than a typical Final Fantasy but does attempt to address some of people’s complaints about the original, like its infamous linearity.


January 17, 2012

Play More Games: Triple Teamed

triple threat

We’re in a bit of a winter release lull, but that’s OK with all of us at VGH since it gives us time to catch up on all those amazing games from 2011. (Or, more realistically, we’re doing a few more tours of duty in Battlefield 3.) With that said, there are some new games out this week, so we’re teaming up here to give you the lowdown.