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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
The PlayStation Move controller has always held quite a bit of promise in my eyes. The combination of better-than-Wii Remote accuracy with high definition, more powerful hardware has teased me with thoughts of what could be, but the reality of what we’re given has almost always let me down. Though I’ve often appreciated the optional Move support bestowed upon many PS3 titles, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that the existing crop of Move-specific games has been predominantly underwhelming. Sorcery breaks that pattern. Although it may not usher in a huge flock of new motion control supporters, Sorcery is easily the best PlayStation Move game to date.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.