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.

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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??

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June 28, 2012

VGH #59: The Burning of the Everything

VGH #59: The Burning of the Everything

We start our Summer Backlog Attack this week to avoid the summer gaming lull… but with this many games, is there ever really a lull? We’ve also got a second opinion on Gravity Rush, more Mario Tennis Open, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, your Viewer Mail and Last Call.

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June 26, 2012

Play More Games: 6/24

shootgun

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.

Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): I hope Spec Ops: The Line is as good as I want it to be. It’s essentially just a 3rd-person, squad-based military shooter about a search-and-rescue mission in a fallen desert city–not exactly a premise that would typically pique my interest. But Yager, the developers, have promised new highs in the use of character and morality in the game, reaching for something more akin to the emotional horror of Apocalypse Now rather than the meathead spectacle of a Rambo movie. Early reviews have been mixed (one critic even said it ultimately felt like they were playing an interactive snuff film) but I remain cautiously optimistic that Spec Ops will bring something challenging and new into the crowded “war games” genre.

Paul Sandhu (@spaulsandhu): Oh great, just when I commit to going through my backlog this summer Bethesda has to come around and try to screw it all up. As if 120+ hours wasn’t enough with Skyrim… now Dawnguard, the first DLC/expansion pack for the game, is being released this week. I do however, think it is an Xbox 360 timed exclusive… so I’ll probably be safe until it hits the PC. One does have to wonder if Bethesda can keep up with releasing high quality content for Skyrim on the PC though, what with the modding community finally hitting its stride.

But I digress! In Dawnguard you get to do VAMPIRE quests and can become a VAMPIRE LORD. Bloooooood!

Honestly I haven’t been following this expansion pack at all. I just know it’ll probably be fun, and has vampires in it. I’m sold.

D.J. Ross (@metaly): The Close Quarters expansion pack for Battlefield 3 is out this week for non-Premium Xbox and PC players. I discussed it during last week’s Hangover, but here’s the short version: four new, smaller maps, two new modes, and 10 new assignments and their associated weapons to unlock. The maps are fun to run around in, but they’re a bit small and they, along with the new Conquest Domination game mode, feel less like proper Battlefield and more like–you guessed it–Call of Duty. With that in mind, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace, and the new Gun Master mode (a riff on Gun Game from Counter-Strike and Call of Duty: Black Ops where kills earn you progressively more powerful weapons) is a fun and incredibly frantic race to the top. My only problem with it is I tend to play late at night and the adrenaline rush wreaks havoc on my sleep schedule.

Also worth mentioning is that Mass Effect 3‘s free extended ending DLC is out today. Will this be enough for Bioware to smooth things over with an angry, angry fanbase? Tune into next week’s show to find out.


Other notable games out this week:

Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection (PSN)
The Amazing Spider-Man (360, PS3, PC, Wii, 3DS, DS)

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?

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June 21, 2012

VGH #58: Victory Crouching

VGH #58: Victory Crouching

We state our demands for the next console generation while Microsoft tries to keep its next Xbox under wraps. In the Hangover, Paul experiences a summer lull, D.J. blings out his Battlefield 3 experience, and Matt is head over heels for Gravity Rush.

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June 16, 2012

VGHomework: Senseless violence edition

gibs

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.)

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June 14, 2012

VGH #57: Breakin’ Somebody’s Nutz

VGH #57: Breakin' Somebody's Nutz

It’s our last E3 show! Really, we promise. This week, we take aim at one of the big themes to come out of the Expo: over-the-top video game violence. We’ve also got talk of Diablo III, Mario Tennis Open, Mighty Switch Force! and swanky new music by Jim Guthrie!

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June 12, 2012

Play More Games: 6/10

Pikmin

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.

Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): I’m a little torn on Lollipop Chainsaw. While Grasshopper Manufacture is responsible for one of my favorite titles of last year (Shadows of the Damned), the idea of playing a game as a zombie-killing cheerleader doesn’t exactly sound compelling. On the positive side is the involvement of James Gunn (writer of Slither and Super, two indie movies that I like a lot) and Jimmy Urine (frontman of Mindless Self Indulgence, one of my favorite bands). On the negative side: well, did I mention that you play as a zombie-killing cheerleader?

D.J. Ross (@metaly): Just a week after Shigeru Miyamoto revealed Pikmin 3 for the Wii U, Pikmin 2 finally arrives on the Wii to get everyone caught up. If you never got to play Pikmin 1 or 2 on the Gamecube, this is a great way to try out the better of the two (in my opinion) with intuitive wiimote controls. (And if you still want to play Pikmin 1, well, you can.) The game is easy to learn and full of that signature Nintendo charm, and you’ll quickly become addicted to watching your Pikmin army whittle away at any obstacle or enemy in their path. (It also carries a bargain price of $20, in case you’re wary about picking up a game from last generation.)


Other notable games out this week:

Gravity Rush (Vita)
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (Vita)

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.

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June 7, 2012

Pure Chess review: Get on board

Editor’s note: While Pure Chess is available for both PS3 and PS Vita, this review focuses on the Vita version.

I’m a big fan of Hustle Kings, specifically the asynchronous message play multiplayer found in the Vita version of the billiards game. When I heard that the same development house, VooFoo Studios, was working on a Chess Game with a similar mechanic, my interest was immediately piqued. While the chess pieces in Pure Chess are just as gorgeously rendered as the beautiful balls in Hustle Kings, the “play by mail” functionality just doesn’t quite deliver the same oomph.

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June 6, 2012

E3 2012: Day 2

E3 2012: Day 2

Nintendo takes the stage on day 2 of E3 2012 and our bodies are ready. Hear our reactions to the Wii U gamepad, Miiverse and Nintendo’s online plans, 3DS games, and the all-important Wii U launch titles.

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June 5, 2012

E3 2012: Day 1

VGH: E3 2012: Day 1

The first day of E3 has come and gone but the memories will live on. In this episode we share our highlights (and air a few grievances) from the Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft press conferences.

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June 1, 2012

VGHangover’s E3 2012 Bingo

E3 2012 Bingo
Reggie laughs at one of his own jokes PS Vita price cut, Ambassador program revealed Capcom shows DLC for unannounced game Kudo Tsunoda woefully underdressed G4TV’s coverage is surprisingly restrained and tasteful
Wii U sizzle reel actually all Halo 2 footage Ge4rZ of W4r r3ve4led New Vita feature: take PS3 firmware updates on the road! Peter Molyneux shows new game, overpromises Bioshock Infinite moves back to 2012, blames newly crowded Q1 2013
Microsoft announces Xbox Live All-Stars Teabag Brawl Nolan North is the voice of everyone in everything FREE! Animal Crossing MMO supports up to 8 players Gabe Newell shows up, doesn’t mention Half-Life 3
Jack Tretton’s joke met with awkward silence THQ announces Kickstarter to fund 2013 lineup David Cage looks eerily lifelike ONE MILLION TWOOPS Day 1 of E3 is Gamestop preorder exclusive
Reacting to leaked Final Fantasy XV trailer, Square Enix reveals
Final Fantasy XXVII-4
Microsoft continues to tout “Better with Kinect,” nothing still is Black Ops 2 $190m “Overkill Edition” comes with actual AC-130 PlayStation Suite comes to BlackBerry Playbook OS Microsoft claims timed-exclusivity on Christmas

Download the JPG version and play along during the press conferences, then get impressions and commentary on our special E3 episodes coming out early next week!

Conference Schedule
Monday, June 4
Microsoft 9:30 AM
EA 1:00 PM
Ubisoft 3:00 PM
Sony 6:00 PM
Tuesday, June 5
Nintendo 9:00 AM
(all times Pacific)
May 31, 2012

VGH #56: So Satisfying

VGH #56: So Satisfying

E3 is right around the corner! We’re devoting this week’s show to our hopes, dreams and fears for this year’s expo. Remember: not everything can be a Wii U launch title. We’ve also got talk of Mario Tennis Open, Castlevania, Radiant Historia and more.

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May 28, 2012

Play More Games: Week of 5/27/2012

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.

Matt Kernan (@mkernan): I’m reluctant to proclaim that the PlayStation Vita’s dry spell is over, but the handsome handheld is receiving a much needed boost in the form of both a high-profile retail title and a lower-profile downloadable PSN game this Tuesday. Pure Chess probably won’t launch to much fanfare, but I’m interested to try out its asynchronous multiplayer mode. That functionality in VooFoo Studio’s other game, Hustle Kings, has been a mainstay of my Vita experience. Unlike Hustle Kings, buying the Vita version won’t give you free access to the PS3 version, unfortunately.

If chess isn’t your thing, Resistance: Burning Skies becomes the platform’s first first-person shooter, making full use of the system’s dual analog sticks and utilizing a bit of touchscreen trickery to make up for the handful of missing buttons that its big-boy brethren typically have access to. An all-new story featuring a NY firefighter and an 8-player online multiplayer mode round out the package. As a Vita owner and fan of the series, my interest is definitely piqued. Reviews won’t hit until the day of the game’s release, so how good the game is remains to be seen, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Though not a full release, the demo for the upcoming open world superhero-ish game Gravity Rush rounds out the list of releases that make this Tuesday a pretty big deal for new release-starved Vita owners.

Those of you looking for an inexpensive racing fix filled with stunts and big jumps should take a look at Mad Riders when it hits PSN this Tuesday, as well as XBLA and PC on Wednesday. If you notice that it bears more than a passing resemblance to 2010’s ATV racer Nail’d, that’s because they both originate from popular Polish developer Techland. You know, the Dead Island and Call of Juarez folks. Taking the $10 downloadable route this time around is probably a good idea, considering the lukewarm reception that Nail’d received. I’m not even that big on racing games, but I’m considering picking it up simply because this launch trailer is so hilarious.

Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): I think Matt and I are perfectly in sync this week. I actually don’t know how to play chess but I’m hoping that VooFoo Studios’ Pure Chess will inspire me to learn. I really admire their hardcore approach to casual games and I eagerly anticipate their inevitable take on lawn darts and Chinese checkers.

My most anticipated game this week is a little off the beaten path: Friday will see the release of Home, a pixelated horror/murder-mystery from indie developer Benjamin Rivers. You can pre-order it directly from Benjamin at the link above for only $2.  Details on the game have been scarce thusfar but the trailer certainly intrigues and the price can’t be beat. Be sure to listen to the podcast in the coming weeks for my review of the game.

What are you looking forward to playing this week?


Due out this week:
Atelier Mercury (PS3)
Batman Arkham City: Harley Quinn’s Revenge (PSN, XBLA)
Dirt Showdown (PS3, 360)
Gravity Rush (Demo) (Vita)
Home (PC)
Mad Riders (PSN, XBLA)
Max Payne 3 (PC)
99 Seconds (DSiWare)
Pure Chess (PSN, Vita)
Rayman Arena (PSN)
Resistance: Burning Skies (Vita)
SEGA Classics: Golden Axe (XBLA)
SEGA Classics: Streets of Rage (XBLA)

If you buy your games from Amazon you can help support Video Game Hangover at the same time.

May 25, 2012

VGHomework: DRM from the depths of Hell!

Diablooooo

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 24, 2012

VGH #55: Pleasantly Supplied

VGH #55: Pleasantly Supplied

As anyone who survived Blizzard’s Great Diablo Debacle last week can attest, always-on DRM in single-player games can be a giant pain in the ass. On this week’s show, we’re talking about how some devs are willing to sacrifice player experience in the interest of protecting their products and making a few bucks.

We’ve also got your Viewer Mail, talk of Max Payne 3 and Indie Game: The Movie, and more!

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May 21, 2012

Play More Games: Week of 5/20/2012

What new games are out this week? The VGH crew weighs in on their top choices:

Matt Kernan (@mkernan): Anticipation for Sorcery has been pretty high, ever since the PlayStation Move title was first unveiled way back in June 2010 during Sony’s E3 press conference. After some extra time under development, it’s finally hitting store shelves this week. I played through it for review and came away pleasantly surprised.

Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): Anyone who’s listened to an episode of our podcast in the past year knows that I have something of a love/hate relationship with the Nintendo 3DS. While intriguing games have been few and far between for the device, I do find myself strangely drawn to Mario Tennis Open. I don’t like sports games and I’ve never held a tennis racket in real life so I’m not entirely certain why I’m looking forward to it. Maybe it’s the promise of online multiplayer which, like in Mario Kart 7 before it, will allow me to eke out narrow victories over vicious 14-year-old Japanese school girls? Don’t judge me. I take my wins where I can get them.

I’m also hoping that the arrival of the PS2’s Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain on PSN is part of a campaign to reacquaint the gaming public with Gabe Logan and the excellent Syphon Filter series…leading to the announcement of a current-gen Syphon Filter title at E3 this year. Please please please.

D.J. Ross (@metaly): I’ve got mixed feelings about Dragon’s Dogma. Although I gave it a couple tries, the demo didn’t do anything at all to hook me (aside from having a robust character customization system that let me create a sidekick who looked vaguely like David Bowie). However, I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews saying the game becomes much deeper and involving as it goes on. I’m intrigued—definitely not enough to pick it up right away, but I’ll be keeping my eye on it for sure.

What will you be playing this week?


New releases due out this week:
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (PC)
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (PSN)
Dragon’s Dogma (PS3, 360)
Joy Ride Turbo (XBLA)
Mario Tennis Open (3DS)
Men in Black: Alien Crisis (360, PS3, Wii)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PSN)
Sorcery (PS3)
Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain (PSN)
Table Top Tanks (PSV)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (360, PS3)

If you buy your games at Amazon you can help support Video Game Hangover.