Carrie Fisher’s death has actually moved me somewhat, this is someone who was in the background of my entire childhood and continued to be a constant (via my obsession with Star Wars) through most of my adult life (not to mention the fact that she was quite possibly my first crush due to that whole metal bikini business 😀)

While I obviously learned of her via Star Wars, I continued to notice her antics through other media such as Blues brothers, When Harry met Sally and – eventually – her own, more personal work: Postcards from the edge.

With the latter especially it was pretty easy to get a feel for her personality. A personality that she unleashed on the public more and more as she got older: Sarcastic with a thinly veiled disdain for Hollywood, Authority and – in general – the status quo, along with an innate ability to be brutally honest in her observations of the World.

Really, things such as political correctness appeared to be foreign concepts to her if it got in the way of a good joke and everyone loved her for it – she was funny, passionate and 100% her own person while still possessing the ability to empathise with the world as a whole via her constant support of issues such as mental illnesses and addictions.
Despite anyone’s personal feelings about the Star Wars films and the like, these concepts are all ideals everyone should aspire to: For better or for worse, be yourself.

“Resentment is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die” – Carrie Fisher 1956 – 2016

Kill the Plumber

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Kill the Plumber is the latest “turn the tables” game. Turn the tables is typically a smoke and mirrors genre in the sense that it’s really just the same kind of games you’ve played before and only gives the illusion that they do something different. Take Default Dan, which appears to twist the Mario platforming formula by doing things like making coins and items kill you, while making enemies and spikes help you. In reality, it  just reskins the formula, changing nothing but the appearance. A moderately skilled ROM hacker could do the same thing to Super Mario Bros. on the NES, swapping the mushrooms with the goombas, or the coins with stationary fireballs. It would still be Super Mario Bros, a perfectly fine game, but the novelty would wear off quick. That’s why Default Dan was just alright as a game. Once you got past the novelty of good = bad and bad = good, the game had to stand on its own, and in the sense, it was just okay. Of course, in game reviews, people associate “just okay” with “likely to resurrect Hitler.” You guys do realize it’s okay to be okay, right?

It looks the part, no question about that.

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The Witness (Review)

Posted: February 3, 2016 in Uncategorized
The Witness is a 3D puzzle game developed by Thekla Inc and directed by Jonathan Blow.Blow’s last release was in 2008 with Braid, a remarkable platformer based around a time-travel mechanic reminiscent of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. If you have not played Braid. I strongly suggest you do.

The Witness was announced in 2009 and scheduled for release in 2013. The delay in the project made many people think that this game would reside in Development Hell, and be another of the many games promised by great auteurs that never saw the light of day.

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The Witness story begins much like Myst and Portal, you wake up and don’t know where you are but move forward. I can’t say much more about the plot or the story without spoiling what you will discover.

This is a game that should be studied if you want to learn how to do tutorials without telling the player to use left stick to go forward. 

The game excels in giving you the basics of what you need and then lets you explore the world.

There are many games that create this wonderful kind of experience but the appearance of control directions can somtimes remove you from the immersion.

In The Witness, the controls are stripped down and simplistic, move, move faster and interact is the simple formula.

There is no jumping or climbing so you have to look for paths to navigate your way around the map. Furthermore, you can’t fall off of ledges which means that thinking outside of the box, or maze, is not required.

The only prompt the game gives is how to interact with the puzzles. The Witness is built around the concept of maze puzzles, meaning that you must traverse from point A to point B. Such is the puzzles of the game and the game itself.

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All is lost (Review)

Posted: February 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

“Oh look, another endless runner.” That’s probably what a lot of people think as soon as they see All is Lost. Well stop it, you sillies. It does share some obvious similarities with other side-scrolling runners, but it… I guess the best way to describe it is to say it “feels” different. It’s also made by Foursaken Media, who have an almost spotless release record as far as I’m concerned. Yes I’m a Foursaken fanboy, and I apologize for nothing!

All is Lost tasks you with evacuating the crew members off of a variety of space stations – all of which are in the process of exploding. Getting them to the escape pods won’t be easy, though; there are all sorts of hazards and obstacles in the way, and one slip up means horrible death. Lower ranking crew have more retries thankfully (for some reason), but officers only have one or two attempts.

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A week ago, BioShock Infinite came to a conclusion with part two of its Burial at Sea DLC. We were once again transported to Rapture, just moments after the ending of Burial at Sea – Episode One. This time, however (and for the first time in BioShock Infinite), you are Elizabeth.

Yes, Burial at Sea – Episode Two finally lets the player take the role of Elizabeth and witness the fall of Rapture through her eyes, while learning of its secrets and connection to Columbia. If you had any lingering questions from BioShock Infinite or even the first BioShock, then Episode Two will prove an enlightening experience. Confusing, but enlightening all the same.

 

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More than ever, Elizabeth proves to be an integral cog in Ken Levine’s machinations. The whole of Burial at Sea – Episode Two is dedicated to explaining the bond between Rapture and Columbia, and the omniscient Elizabeth sits at the center of it all. At times, her place in the greater BioShock narrative feels a tad ham-fisted, but overall, Levine and Irrational pulled it all off with style. Even knowing all this, the finale comes as a surprise, so unexpected yet appropriate; in that respect, it’s very much BioShock.

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Rubber-banding continues nearly six months and three multiplayer expansions on..

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If you ask me, Nintendo fanboys aren’t the ones who should be getting all miffed over the series of (now-deleted) April Fools’ tweets from the Frostbite engine crew over bringing Battlefield 4 to the “powerful Gen4″ Wii U. Nope, the grievances ought to be coming from Battlefield 4 players who have to put up with the jokes over the game’s”netcode” being fixed and optimized “for Zero Latency connections” (exclusively for Wii U!!!) in the process. That’s because the reality is Battlefield 4’s server performance is anything but fixed or optimized even after nearly sixth months.

In its defence, Battlefield and Frostbite developer DICE admits it remain “unhappy” over the game’s online experience. Issues were so prevalent that even publisher EA saw fit to dial down on the release of future Battlefield 4 expansions until the game itself got more or less fixed (that didn’t stop the Naval Strike DLC pack from being released after being pushed back for the same reason). The developer today pledges to make it a top priority to alleviate continued “rubber-banding” (lag and synchronization issues) during 64-player Conquest matches “on certain platforms.” To this end, DICE will invest in hardware upgrades for the game’s servers. It’s a matter of when, and DICE promises to share more details when a solid timetable emerges.

 

Colin Farren
(Contact me: Siosk@aol.com)

Hey you, potential The Wolf Among Us player. If you’re wanting to play The Wolf Among Us, but haven’t started yet then you should probably avoid this news post. There are spoilers herein, particularly in the launch trailer for episode 3, “A Crooked Mile”. Or, perhaps, you just love spoiling yourself, in which case read and watch on. Also, I like the cut of your gib, you maniac.

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Yes, Telltale Games has yet to announced the official release date of the third episode of The Wolf Among Us. It must be close, however, as they’ve now released the episode’s launch trailer. Not having a release date is just a product of trying to launch on five different platforms at the same time as a small publisher putting out episodic content with tight deadlines. That is to say, it’s pretty impressive that Telltale does as well as it has been doing (erm, beyond that huge delay between episode one and two).

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Amazon Game Studios has the burden of Amazon Fire TV’s primary first-party developer, a difficult place to be for a brand new console touting itself as solid gaming platform. They’ve put out a launch title, third-person tower defense shooter Sev Zero, but one £5 game isn’t going to be enough to sell the platform to a core gaming audience. Luckily, it looks like they’re hard at work on a handful of much more interesting games.

Accompanying the launch of the Amazon Fire TV and Sev Zero, Amazon Game Studios released a teaser trailer showcasing a number of what can only be assumed to be “in-development” titles. Many of these games, especially when compared directly to Sev Zero, were quite striking and inspired. Here’s a short list of the different games that were shown, in description due to the lack of titles:

Origami safari, featuring an environment made of folded and cut pieces of paper. A protagonist, perhaps, made of white folded paper runs alongside a yellow bear. Light blue elephants roam an orange plain. Cell shaded and simple. Overall quite beautiful.
3D platformer featuring a red-headed boy in a backpack. He swims through waters filled with ruins, bright balloon mines and giant clamshells. He falls into a giant temple of sorts where mysterious blue light rises out of a spot on the ground. His trusty dog sidekick right beside him teh whole way.
An RPG where adventurous looking characters take turns shooting pistols and swinging swords at each other. A circle around their feet shows each characters’ remaining HP. In the background, island huts made of wood and sitting on stilts. Reminds me of Waka’s home in Final Fantasy X.
A 2D shooter where the player is a caveman fighting dinosaurs geared up with giant lasers and parachutes. Yes, a tyranasaurus rex with a huge laser on its back. Fighting a caveman with a club. Oh no, who gave the caveman the laser? This isn’t going well.
Another turn-based RPG? This one’s set in some sort of jungle ruins with warriors taking turns attacking each other. Much bloodier than the previous RPG. Much more Age of Conan than Final Fantasy X.
A mystery/adventure type game where the player explores what looks like an empty surgery room with what appears to be a time disparity system, past/present switch.
Some sort of action or RPG game where girl with a pipe fights flying globs of goo and teeth with a metal pipe.
A defense sort of game where the player fires a cannon set on the wall of a fortress at an incoming army of all sorts of monsters, including a giant of sorts that could simply reach over the wall and end the battle instantly
A 2D shooter/platformer that looks a lot like Pid, starring a little space man flying around on a scooter and shooting aliens from cover.
If I’m right about which game is which, that’s nine games total. My personal favorites are the origami safari and the 2D Pid-style platformer/shooter, simply because they have such stylized art. The other games, well, let’s remember that this is an Android-based platformer. The graphics are bad, man. You have to try harder than, “We’ve got modern graphics, only with 5% of the polygons and extremely low resolution textures!” I figure everyone’s going to beg for the laser t-rex game, though.

It sounds like Amazon Game Studios have a number of games in the pipeline. I wonder if they’re going to aim for small games released quickly versus larger games released less often. I don’t see people buying a console for 5 cool 15-minute games. Who knows what Amazon’s strategy is. This whole thing is super weird.

Colin Farren
(Contact me:Siosk@aol.com)

Zen Pinball 2 Review (WiiU)

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
Zen Pinball 2 is a title that’s seen its Wii U eShop release delayed from an original December target, as a result of its free download/paid DLC model requiring extra attention for publication. While the actual pinball is polished, fun and generally first-class, the infrastructure behind it is the exact opposite.With 26 tables available at the time of writing — through a combination of four table sets and individual options — there’s a significant amount of choice on offer, with short and snappy free trial runs available for every table that can be played as many times as desired. Surprisingly, the initial download only includes four trial tables, with all others requiring a fresh visit to the eShop; a larger initial package with all trials included would have been far more convenient. Convenience, unfortunately, was completely overlooked when putting together the process for buying and downloading content.ZP2_WiiU_UI-2

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What happens when an MMO dies?

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

That’s something I hadn’t thought about up until recently, with the impending closure of Star Wars Galaxies.

SWG was an odd beast as far as MMO’s go, Sure it was never the most popular game out there and it did have a lot of bad press over a couple of poor decisions way back in 2005 that effectively reset the game. Decisions which unfairly tarnished the games reputation in later life as new content and game systems were added.

One of the things it did have going for it though was a fantastic and dedicated community, a community that had stuck with the game through rocky periods and still held strong.

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The secret of SWGs strong community was down to the sandbox style open-endedness of the game, once you’d created a character and settled upon a suitably heroic sounding moniker the galaxy was yours to explore.

If you were so inclined, you could toil out your days as a merchant and trader supplying galaxy bestproducts, you could spend your time working through PvE and PvP content with self-set goals as any number of classes, run a player city, take up space combat, role-play or simply enjoy your time as a resident of an almost fully functioning Star wars environment complete with supply, demand and social interaction.

Regardless of your choice, each Server in SWG built up it’s own unique community, PvP and PvE players started to build reputations, top of the line crafters began to make a name for themselves, people began to stand out over time and leaders were born.

In short, it felt more personal than most other MMO’s available at the time, In fact, Socially it still trumps the majority of MMOs that have launched recently.

Nick Watson