May 18, 2012

Starhawk review: Team building

From what I’ve gathered, Austin-based Lightbox Interactive had two headlining goals when setting out to create a follow up to Warhawk: to further evolve the already excellent multiplayer-focused groundwork they’d already laid and to also add in a single-player campaign, which Warhawk lacked, in order to further flesh out the new title. While Starhawk offers some of the most satisfying online play I’ve experienced in recent memory, the quality level takes a bit of a nosedive when it comes to the campaign.

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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

VGH #54: The Incident

The folks at Treyarch are feverishly assembling the next Call of Duty game and promising several changes aimed at roping in new players. Will it be enough to get us on board?

In the Hangover this week: we’ve all spent some time with Starhawk but Paul can’t seem to put down Radiant Historia long enough to talk about it. Also, Randy learns a valuable lesson in “save early and save often”.

Lastly: want a free copy of Minecraft for your Xbox 360? Listen to this week’s show for instructions to get extra entries in our contest!

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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.

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May 15, 2012

Play More Games: Week of 5/13/2012

Due out this week:
Max Payne 3 (PS3, 360)
Game of Thrones (PC, 360, PS3)
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PC)
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (PSN, XBLA, PC, AND)
PixelJunk 4am (PSN)
Red Faction 2 (PSN))

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

D.J. Ross (@metaly): I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting Diablo III this week, although it dawned on me a couple days ago that I didn’t even know which character classes the game would have. It says a lot about Blizzard’s track record where I can be set on playing a game having spent a bare minimum of time following it. I do have fond memories of playing a ton of Diablo II waaayyy back in the day—pretty sure I’d slog through a dungeon and a few hundred skeletons on my paladin after coming home from my summer internship in high school. As long as Blizzard can once again deliver that same dungeon-crawling, frantically clicking action RPG experience, I’ll be satisfied.

(Note: I decided to educate myself on the character classes and in the process learned that the demon hunter can wield dual pistols, so pretty sure I’m going to go with that. Also, guns in Diablo? Sure, why not?)

Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): It’s been 9 years since the last Max Payne game but I still have fond memories of trying to exploit the series’ signature bullet-time and shootdodging mechanics to execute the most elaborate kill sequences I could imagine. Jump backwards down a flight of stairs in slow motion while unloading my 9mm into the heads of would-be attackers? In Max Payne, I could do that. It was like someone pulled all of the choreographed insanity from a John Woo movie and dropped it in to a character-heavy tale misery, mystery and revenge. It was exactly what I wanted out of a video game in 2003 and, in this post-Uncharted world, it’s the primary reason I still find gaming compelling today. For these reasons alone (and perhaps for the promise of getting to use bullet-time in the new multiplayer mode), I’ll be picking up Max Payne 3 this week.

What will you be playing this week?

 

May 10, 2012

VGH #53: Führer Furor

VGH #53: Führer Furor

Villainy! Treachery! Deceit!

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’re dedicating this week’s show to the video game characters that only a mother could love. What makes a great gaming villain? Who are our favorites? Tune in to find out.

We also take some time to talk about Catherine, Sniper Elite V2, Awesomenauts, the $99 Xbox and more.

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May 8, 2012

Play More Games: My God, It’s Full of Stars!

2007’s Warhawk was one of the first PS3 multiplayer games that I remember friends talking excitedly about. While I tragically missed out on the game’s heyday, I had enough time with it to develop an appreciation for Incognito Entertainment’s melange of grand scale land-and-air battles with third-person twitch-shooter mechanics. Plus: it had jetpacks! As we’ve established on a recent episode of the podcast, those things go a long way with us here at VGH.

Starhawk, out today for the PS3, is the spiritual successor to Warhawk. The developer has changed to LightBox Interactive (but includes members of the Incognito team) and the game now occupies a Wild West-tinged sci-fi world. The most intriguing and game-changing addition is probably the unique “Build and Battle” system, which allows players to call in supply drops of defensive walls and turrets, vehicles, weapons, and even giant mechs on the fly.

My time with the game’s beta earlier this year was a blast and I was impressed with the high level of polish already on display. I’m easily turned off by run-and-gun multiplayer modes but working with my friends to assemble defenses in massive 32-player matches immediately clicked with me. Looking for an advantage in a Capture the Flag match and realizing that I can call in a tank drop, file the members of my team into it, and then barrel into the enemy compound made the game feel fresh and thoroughly unpredictable.

If you’ll be playing Starhawk this week, be sure to keep an eye out for me. I’ll be the guy in the jetpack.

Also out this week:
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (XBLA)
Datura (PSN)
Nexuiz (PC)

Two quick notes:

If you’re interested in Nexuiz, be sure to check out our review of the Xbox 360 version of the game from way back in February.

I strongly considered writing this entire article about Starhawk, the noted eco-feminist writer and Paganism advocate, but I clearly decided to go another way with it. You’re welcome.

May 4, 2012

Weekend Hangover: Hispanic Superheroes Edition

With Star Wars Day, The Avengers movie, Cinco de Mayo, Free Comic Book Day and a superhero-themed episode of the Video Game Hangover podcast all intersecting this weekend, we suspect gamers and fanboys/girls around the world have no shortage of entertainment options to pass their time.

As if the thought of Scarlett Johannson in a skintight leather bodysuit weren’t enough, the cast and crew here at VGH have found some other worthwhile pursuits for the next three days:

Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked): Saturday is Cinco de Mayo! Who’s your favorite Hispanic superhero? Batmanuel is the only one I can think of. If you don’t know who that is, you should definitely add the live-action version of The Tick to your Netflix streaming queue for this weekend.

When I’m not drinking Sangria and gorging myself on tofu tacos this weekend, I’ll most likely try to wrap up Catherine and spend some more time with The Witcher 2. Starhawk is out on Tuesday so I need to clear my gaming slate by then.

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May 4, 2012

StarDrone Extreme review: Just a fling

StarDrone Extreme is a bit of an oddity. Hailing from Eastern European indie house Beatshapers, it’s pitched as a “high-speed action thriller with a mix of arcade action, pinball, breakout, physics and collect-the-objects”. That’s a pretty wordy bit of marketing, so let’s just classify it as a “flinging” game to keep things simple. StarDrone originally hit the Playstation 3 last year with Move support in tow with little fanfare to relatively mixed reception. Now, the slightly tweaked StarDrone Extreme has made its way to the Playstation Vita.

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May 3, 2012

VGH #52: Squirrel Punching

VGH #52: Squirrel Punching

Inspired by the imminent release of The Avengers movie, we’re setting our sights this week on the best and worst superhero-themed video games. We’ve also got talk of The Walking Dead, Kid Icarus, Modern Warfare 3, and the sexual proclivities of Batman.

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May 3, 2012

Contest: win Awesomenauts!

The awesome folks over at Ronimo Games were nice enough to send along a PSN code for Awesomenauts. Since I actually got the game for free via PlayStation Plus, I thought I’d pass it along to one of our lucky listeners or readers.

Just use the widget below to put yourself in the running for the game (or, if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, just download the game for free and give it a whirl!). Keep your eyes on the blog in the coming days for my written review.

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April 26, 2012

VGH #51: You’re Really Just Playing Pong

We can’t believe that we’ve made 51 episodes already!

On this week’s show, we discuss a whole slew of other gaming-related things that we simply can’t believe: Call of Duty‘s success, the Wii’s dominance, Mass Effect‘s overlooked accomplishment and the possibility of a single-console gaming future.

In the Hangover segment, we explore our love/hate relationships with Disgaea, Radiant Historia, Kinect, Witcher, and Bit.Trip Saga.

Finally, we wrap up with a Last Call that somehow references Kid Icarus, Megan Fox, and collectable fine art pieces.

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April 20, 2012

Weekend Hangover: ‘green herb’ edition

I couldn’t think of anything particularly relevant to discuss in today’s Weekend Hangover post, so I just randomly decided to honor Resident Evil’s infamous green herb and its mysterious healing properties. The kind botanical friend first appeared in the original Resident Evil and the series has never managed to shake it since. It’s made a token appearance in every creeper-filled Capcom joint ever since. Any dope will know that you’re bound to take some hits, so it’s critical to take breaks between shot-gunning sessions and apply the herb as needed. If you don’t keep an eye on your health, you could very easily end up cashed. Anyway, don’t forget to share VGH with your buds!

But enough about green herbs. What games are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’ll be zoning out to:

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April 20, 2012

Four games under 20 dollars

Today is 4/20, so I thought it would be fitting to present you with a list of 4 games that can be had for under $20. This idea came to me naturually and I totally didn’t borrow it from anywhere else. I’ve intentionally stuck to disc-based console games that have dropped in price over time, as downloadable titles are typically less than $20 in the first place. All four of these are excellent games that I had a wonderful time with, each for different reasons, and they all offer a pretty decent chunk of content at a low price.

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April 20, 2012

Contest: Win Fez!

We here at VGH aren’t exactly known for our patience. The people behind indie darling Fez were kind enough to send over a code for the game, but Randy and I both had ants in our pants and had already gone ahead and bought the game. Our impatience is your gain! We’re giving away our copy of Fez to one of you lucky folks. Head to the giveaway widget below and get yourself entered to win! We’ll be announcing a winner Tuesday morning, so get to it!

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April 19, 2012

VGH #50: The Enhanced Edition

VGH #50: The Enhanced Edition

 

Our 50th episode! How freakin’ crazy is that?

Can a game be good without a strong narrative? Inspired by the effusive reviews that The Witcher 2 has been receiving, we’re dedicating this week’s discussion to the importance of story in video games.

In the Hangover, we’ve been playing Fez, Bit.Trip Saga, Driver: San Francisco, and more.

We wrap up the show with Last Call and talk of Record Store Day, the day before Record Store Day, and advice for indie game developers on how to graciously accept praise for their creations.

Be sure to get your voice heard on our monumental 51st episode! Leave us a message at http://audioboo.fm/vghangover or just call us at 682-999-VGH1. What’s your most memorable video game hangover? What should we talk about on the show? Give us a call and chime in.

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April 13, 2012

New Resistance: Burning Skies trailer highlights multiplayer

Sony has just dropped a new trailer for Resistance: Burning Skies which shows off the game’s 8-player online multiplayer action. I’m personally looking forward to getting my hands on it, as I’m really interested to find out first-hand how a first-person shooter feels on the Vita. Find out for yourself on May 29th when the game launches.

April 13, 2012

Weekend Hangover: ‘Fez is out!’ edition

Fez is finally out! For a game that’s been in development for around five years and has won a number of awards, it’s kind of a big deal that you can actually download it and play it today. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it appears to be getting really good reviews.

So what are you playing this weekend? Have you picked up Fez? Planning to play something else? Tell us!

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April 12, 2012

VGH #49: Slinging the Purple Fire

VGH #49: Slinging the Purple Fire

Grappling hooks for everyone! On this week’s show, we’re talking about our favorite (and regrettably underutilized) gameplay mechanics. Red Faction, Crackdown, Super Mario Galaxy, Just Cause, Mother 3, and more are mentioned during our conversation.

In the Hangover this week, we’re revisiting Bioshock, playing with our balls in Hustle Kings, and trying to learn all of the moves in Skullgirls.

We’ve also got talk of poop, divorce, bad-assery, QTE’s and fighting games. You’ve been warned.

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April 10, 2012

Play More Games: Cartoon Girls and Funny Hats

Fez

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.

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