I'm Going to My Happy Place… The Far, Far Range from Slime Rancher.

According to XBox’s statistics, I’ve played more than 72 hours of Slime Rancher. That feels about right.
I’ve mentioned before that Winter in New England is one of the forgotten circles of Hell. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and create the reality you want to live in. The place I want to be my reality is The Far, Far Range from Slime Rancher. I want to live in a place inhabited by greedy slime and stupid chickens.
My husband would pick up Slime Rancher every so often and ask aloud, “How do you win this game?”
Winning isn’t the point. Not for me at least. Sure you could get all the achievements or, like me, aim to finish the Slimepedia. However, I find myself picking up Slime Rancher, not for the challenge of finishing it but for the feeling playing it. I just want to play. The dopey Slimes just want to play (and eat, they eat a lot).
Continue reading “I'm Going to My Happy Place… The Far, Far Range from Slime Rancher.”

Back to the Future: The Game – Ep1 "It's About Time"


Back to the Future The Game... If you just spent three movies traveling to the past, present, and future to cultivate the perfect life for yourself and your family, would you risk it all to save a friend? Would you risk not only the existence you know but also your actual existence?

That philosophical brain teaser is how Telltale Games kicks off Back to the Future episode 1, “It’s About Time.”

Six months after the events of Back to the Future Part III, the DeLorean Time Machine mysteriously returns to Hill Valley… Driverless! 

While that sounds super heavy, it’s actually more in line with the tone of the movies. These issues could be deep and disturbing but they’re handled with shrugs, side-eye, and chuckles.
Why am I seven years late for this game? Because I wasn’t really interested until it was free on Xbox as part of Games with Gold. As my grandma use to say, “If it’s free, it’s for me.” Continue reading “Back to the Future: The Game – Ep1 "It's About Time"”

I tried to make a Community for fun and profit and everyone died [Community Inc.]

Community Inc. is a video game that would fit in a crossroads of genres.

Those genres that Community Inc. bridges are hard to define though they’re mostly exemplified by:

  • Black & White – a God Game Simulator with citizens to tend to and keep happy
  • Viva Piñata – a garden-based life simulator with a community of individuals who each offer something different and outsiders to protect from
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization – a turn-based strategy game centered on world domination via tile acquisition and resource leveling.

tinyBuild tried something different by taking aspects of different kinds of games and putting them into Community Inc. Afterall, Community Inc asks the player to create a whole, fully-functioning community – that they can then sell to new overlords.
The difficulty is that all these aspects are available and in the mix right from the start. Citizens’ happiness, resource planning, enemies, contracts, and more are all fighting for space on the player’s list of things to do. Continue reading “I tried to make a Community for fun and profit and everyone died [Community Inc.]”

Suicide Guy [Game] by Chubby Pixel [Playtime]

Thank you to Chubby Pixel for giving me a Steam code to try their game, Suicide Guy!

Please note:

  • I’ve never claimed to be good at games; I just love them.
  • I’m still trying to figure out this who game recording business, bear with me (PLEASE?!)
  • You might want to watch this with the speed turned up… I spend a lot of time trying to stack a box.

  • Suicide is serious and if you are struggling, please seek help.

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE PHONE NUMBER

  • 1-800-273-8255
Find out more on: Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Continue reading “Suicide Guy [Game] by Chubby Pixel [Playtime]”

First Impressions: FUSE

The final iteration of FUSE is a game for grown-ups with a distinct brand of grown-up humor, weapons, and problems we didn’t see with the Lombax and the robot turning their enemies into chickens.

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
FUSE_Jacob_Naya
Insomniac Games has finally come out with a game that doesn’t star a Lombax and a robot: FUSE. Though my heart breaks at the knowledge that the more non-Ratchet and Clank games Insomniac puts out, the fewer Ratchet and Clank games come out.

Ratchet and Clank is my very favorite franchise. I often don’t finish video games in story mode, but I’ve finished every one of Insomniac‘s Ratchet and clank games. I only own a PS2 for these games. I play on the treadmill and put a PS3 and the Ratchet and Clank games on my wedding registry. I’m a diehard fan of the franchise and thus a die hard fan of Insomniac Games.

Fuse_Echelon_2

Therein lies the problem for Insomniac. A brand and a product are two different things but many people, including me initially, were expecting Ratchet and Clank with humans on a new platform. That’s not the game they set out to make or the game it is– and I’m glad.
Initially, FUSE started out as Overstrike which did look like a human version of Ratchet and Clank. People were excited and set their expectations accordingly. But then Insomniac decided to make some changes and finishing touches that didn’t reflect the game that seemed silly in the announcement trailer.
FUSE_Naya_SoloThe final iteration of FUSE is a game for grown-ups[1. Though no amount of distance between the present day and my date of birth with get me to disown Ratchet and Clank] with a distinct brand of grown-up humor, weapons, and problems we didn’t see with the Lombax and the robot turning their enemies into chickens.
Naya is a mercenary and the only thing between her father (also a mercenary) being taken in alive or in a body bag.
Dalton is technically the leader of this pack though from what I can see his leadership consists of being bigger than everyone else and being the first to shout, “go” and “fuck this.”
Izzy is pretty much a supergeek-mage…
Jacob, the black guy, shouts “That is whack,” and “damn.” JOKES! He’s a former LAPD officer ready to take the law into his own hands.

Developer(s) Insomniac Games
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Engine Insomniac Engine v.4.0
Platform(s) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre(s) Action
Mode(s) Single-player, cooperative,multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

FUSE_Jacob_SoloWhat happens when humans gain access to powerful alien technology they were never meant to have? When a volatile energy source called Fuse falls into the wrong hands, the CIA calls in an elite contact team to retrieve it: Overstrike 9. Join up to three friends in team-based co-op play as you take down the rogue paramilitary corporation behind the theft. Use lethal teamwork, coordinate devastating attacks, and provide cover for one another with fringe-tech weapons and gadgets. The unique LEAP feature lets you instantly shift from agent to agent during combat, allowing you to take advantage of each one’s special arsenal. You’ll need your teammates and their firepower to stop a global arms race from spinning out of control.

FUSE Pros:

FUSE_Izzy_Solo
1. Because I have the attention span of a rodent, I like that I can easily switch between characters during gameplay. Sometimes I’m a dick and I do it when I run out of ammo.
2. I got healed by my teammates a number of times during fights which totally helped me with my run-headlong-into-danger strategy.
3. There is still just enough of Insomniac’s trademark snark to keep FUSE fresh and fun.

FUSE Cons:

1. Some of the mechanics were not intuitive enough to keep my attention on gameplay. I had to level up each character separately when I was playing them, so I could forget and leave Izzy at 1 and have Naya going HAM at a 10 (maybe, that wasn’t really well explained in the demo). Also I couldn’t figure out how to get my party to get the fuck out of cover.
2. I wouldn’t have hated some set up or a bit more… story. Insomniac is know for punchy exposition. It doesn’t need to be more of the same but let me know what’s up in more than one line. We’re Overstrike 9 and we’re going to ______ the ______ so we can finally ______!
3. It did feel very familiar. I play Halo 4 every Friday night with friends. There’s still a bunch of episodes from the free DLC that I haven’t finished. I play them with my husband…

Overall, what I think of FUSE:

FUSE_Dalton_Solo
I enjoyed the demo and the characters and trying new powers. Unfortunately, for $60 while I already have a first person shooter in my rotation, I need to more than like it to buy it. I didn’t see enough to think it filled a niche I didn’t realize existed like War of the Worlds did.
It was fun to play as a group and I could see having friends jump into your open team slots be a good time like it was in Borderlands 2.
If you’re looking for a snarky FPS, with cartoon-style violence that you can play with friends FUSE might be the game for you. Personally, I want it, just not enough to actually buy it. 
Check out the demo before you decide.

Review: Dawnguard | The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

As the site’s resident The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim obsessive, it fell to me to play and review Dawnguard, the latest DLC. (It totally counts for our blog because in the storyline you are aiding or preventing a force that could ‘blot out the sun’, arguably an apocalyptic event. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch, but you don’t get to judge me.)
For this review, I played thtough on the side of good. I usually do in computer games. In this case, I may use my secondary character to play through as evil later in the game. If I do, I will update this review with those experiences.
OK, so first things first, downloading it was quick. This is an important thing. The first thing I did was go make me some DragonBone weapons – I’ve been waiting for them and at 100 blacksmith I might as well. As I was wandering around Whiterun getting firewood for the arrows, a guard told me to join the Dawnguard near Riften, and that he was considering joining up himself. Not very subtle, Bethesda, but more so than the introduction of Knights of the Nine andThe Shivering Isles for Oblivion, so you are forgiven.  Me being me, despite spending 1600 MS points on this, I thought ‘no’ and carried on making DragonBone arrows. Because I’m contrary.
Dawnguard - image property of BethsoftAnyway, so I went ahead and started the plot. The first plot related area I saw was Dayspring canyon, and I was impressed – Skyrim offers beautiful surroundings and this was no different. While not drastically different to any other Skyrim areas so far, it was noticeably lovely to look at. The Vampires castle was equally impressive, and I love the difference between the Dawnguard fortifications and the Vampire fortifications – in completely different parts of the country, completely different buildings styles, colour, architecture – wonderful. It’s things like that that make this such a superior game. The new enemies are exciting too and the crossbow is fun to use.
I did notice, however, that downloading Dawnguard meant slower loading and saving times. It happens. My console has also frozen more frequently. This occured with the add-ons for Oblivion as well, so I’m thinking it’s probably an issue with the console.
Bad bits: Bits that should be fixed:
I think it’s a bit too easy to FIND the Dawnguard. Hear a guard talk, track them down. Perhaps there should be a slightly longer lead-in – perhaps you could be told to investigate, go to various settlements attacked by vampires etc. That’d be nice.
Bethesda games have always had oddish character reactions, but it seems especially strange that vampires can attack and kill members of a community, leave the dead bodies just lying there, and no-one really reacts – even the characters familes. I appreciate it would be hard to get the voice actors in to record new lines for every single eventuality, but an acknowledgement like ‘I’m so sad my sister is dead’ would be good.
Awesome bits (No plot spoilers!)
YOU CAN HAVE AN ARMOURED FROST TROLL HANGING ROUND WITH YOU.
Shooting dragons with arrows made out of bits of their dead mates.
Vampiric architecture.
GARGOYLES.
IT’S SKYRIM WITH VAMPIRES WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT.
However, overall Dawnguard is a great add-on for the game, and sure to be of interest to Skyrim fans.
As for what it taught me about the apocalypse? That it’s fairly easy to either prevent it or bring it about if you’re a destined hero with the soul of an immortal dragon. I’ll get on that right away.
[rating:10/10]
(If you want more info on Dawnguard you should check the Bethesda Blog or the Elder Scrolls Wiki)
 
OK EDIT: After a speed-run of the whole game (which took 12 hours) my opinion has NOT changed. GET IT GET IT GET IT.

First Impressions: The War of the Worlds (XBLA)

Unfortunately (and fortunately because it means I’m driving less), I haven’t had time to listen to any audiobooks lately. That is until recently when I discovered The War of the Worlds video game narrated by Patrick Stewart.

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
Unfortunately (and fortunately because it means I’m driving less), I haven’t had time to listen to any audiobooks lately. That is until recently when I discovered The War of the Worlds video game narrated by Patrick Stewart.
I’m a science fiction junkie. I didn’t  get to be the creator of a website about surviving the apocalypse and fangirling about apocalyptic culture and entertainment without some serious scifi hours logged. Everyone has their preference, be it movies, TV series, books, or games. Personally, I indulge in all of the above but have always had a soft spot in my heart for audiobooks. A well written story read well can immerse me in an author’s world in a wonderfully unique way.
The War of the Worlds developed by Other Ocean for Paramount Pictures was a refreshing re-immersion into the world or audiobooks via interactive gaming. Sometimes I rummage through the Xbox Live Arcade games hoping to find something everyone forgot to tell me about. Well no one told me there was a War of the World game.
The game features narration by Patrick Stewart based on the 1953 film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ original story.
Check out the launch trailer from Paramount (also the makers of the 1953 film).

Published by

Paramount Digital Entertainment

Platforms

Xbox Live

Rating

ESRB Rating: E10+ – Fantasy Violence

Summary

The War of the Worlds is a dark and breathtaking new vision of the classic H.G. Wells novel, retold as a single player side-scrolling action-adventure, narrated by the acclaimed and distinguished actor, Patrick Stewart. Set in London, the gameplay narrative parallels the timeline and events from the 1953 movie adaptation, but introduces a new story arc, characters, locations, and sub-plots. With gameplay paying homage to classic cinematic platformers such as Flashback, Out of This World andPrince of Persia, the game follows the exploits of an unknown everyman struggling to escape the Martian invasion of London and rescue his family. Forced to think through insurmountable odds, players will outsmart an army of alien tripods, spiders and drones as they make their way through a landscape of total devastation.

The War of the Worlds Pros:

1. The game is simple and the controls are easy to figure out. So, even though there’s no tutorial it’s not a steep learning cuve.
2. PATRICK STEWART IS READING ME A STORY! That man was made to read me words. <3
3. Artsy fartsy. This game is like an interactive story and art museum all in one. Every level is a beautiful scene that has details too beautiful not to be explored.

The War of the Worlds Cons:

1. The lack of tutorial is also kind of a downside because for a while I had no idea what was going on.
2. The game is set really far out so you play as this tiny person in this huge environment with can be a little disorienting or detached.
3. You can’t die-die but I died (and came back) a lot because there’s a lot of poke it and see what it does which doesn’t make sense in the story because you’d be dead.

Overall, what I think of The War of the Worlds:

I don’t know if it was fun so much as worth spending time with. Similar to books not really being fun so much as engaging the game is just well done. While, of course, Patrick Stewart knocks it out of the park but that’s then paired with great artwork and smooth gameplay.
For just 800 Microsoft Points, I’m in it ’til the war is won.

Review: Zombie Granny (Android)

So, Zombie Granny is kind of like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds had a baby and it had a sick morbid sense of humor.

Zombie Granny is not a game to just download and play on a whim. Sure it’s readily available and free[1. Our favorite Price] but it’s also missing a shit ton of images that take like eight years to download. My actual grandma’s make shit happen faster and Ms. Pearl was legally blind and thought my computer was damn near magical.
I found if I don’t let the device snooze and keep touching the phone it update more quickly… good start.
Yay! It finally finished.
My first impression is that it’s kind of a lot like Cut The Rope, but instead of trying to feed the frog candy you’re trying to kill the Zombie Granny with a fireball. Then, a few levels in, I thought it’s kind of like Angry Birds.
So, Zombie Granny is kind of like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds had a baby and it had a sick morbid sense of humor.
The gameplay is fairly simple and easy to get accustomed to, especially since the first few levels are tutorial levels. There’s a fireball attached to a rope and you cut the rope and drop the fireball on the unsuspecting zombie granny below.
While the gameplay is straightforward the concept kind of bothers me. Where’s my motivation? This poor old lady is just standing about, not even trying to munch on my brains and I just murder her like it a terrorist.
Next weird conceptual thing? Why are there fireballs just suspended from here and there? This isn’t even like a Mario dungeon level where the fireball are swinging around like traps and trying to impede your progress. These are like decorations.
Morals and logic aside, this is after all just a mobile phone game, the graphics are great and it’s super cute and wonderfully simple. This is a fun little zombie game with just the right about of snark and morbid nonsense to keep you entertained on a long commute or wait in a lobby.
[rating:3.5/5]
I’d let Zombie Granny live– at least until the water got low or she started to stink up the place.
 

Review: The Walking Dead – Episode One: A New Day

Episode One: A New Day definitely has places to be and paths to take you there but to say it’s on rails would be doing it a huge disservice. Maybe a choose your own action adventure on rails would be most accurate as it is most accurately not of any specific genre.

Episode One: A New Day of The Walking Dead[1. A copy of this game was provided for review by Telltale games.] is finally out and it has all kind of expectations to live up to. The comics, the show, and what’s current in action adventure gaming today. Telltale Games set out to please everyone and no one. For the game to be successful it must stand on its own but still make sense within the The Walking Dead universe.
We’re introduced to The Walking Dead universe in Episode One: A New Day at the kickoff of the zombie apocalypse rather than weeks in as we are at the start of the TV series.
Immediately, we’re introduced to our main character, Lee Everett[2. A black man in the back of a police cruiser. Le Sigh.] and we get to decide what kind of person he’s going to be based on how he completes conversations–or doesn’t.  Not saying anything is an option, it’s also the default when you time out.
See, in the story summary video below there are choices being made that bring to along to those places and those conversations–those outbursts aren’t standard. Lee rarely says anything without your consent.

The game definitely has places to be and paths to take you there but to say it’s on rails would be doing it a huge disservice. Maybe a choose your own action adventure on rails would be most accurate as it is most accurately not of any specific genre.
However, to get a bit more specific, Episode One: A New Day offers some first level game things that should be noted.

The gameplay mechanics of Episode One: A New Day:


As is to be expected from a choose your own action adventure on rails, the game quickly introduces the method for choosing. The method is pushing the button that corresponds with your choice.
If you have the hints on, you might be notified after making a choice that you’re now seen as a nice guy, or an asshole, or a sketchball. It depends on what you decide to say.
Conversation choices need to be made quickly (sort of) or you’ll be stuck with the default or your choice will be “silence.” Saying nothing can sometimes say a lot about you.
Action choices, while they need to be made quickly can also be left to inaction like saving This Guy, That Guy, or neither. Though often in action choices you must choose.
Objects also must be found to complete a number or scenarios… So maybe this is a choose your own action adventure puzzler on rails. Anyway, a small number or items are kept in your inventory to be used either on people or thing to either solve them or win them over.

The story of Episode One: A New Day:[3. Of course, I get a little butthurt about the black man being carted off to jail for murder as an introduction, though it’s heavily tempered by my happiness that a mainstream game is actually staring a person of color as a regular person rather than a shaman or witch doctor or gang member or rapper.]

I was immediately engaged in the story presented in Episode One. The officer in the car is transporting Lee to jail but doesn’t believe he’s truly guilty. Out the window you–you’re allowed to look around as much as a real neck would allow– might see shambling people, and car accidents.
Eventually, you hit a person (zombie) and it knocks the police car into a ditch. Sorting yourself out at the bottom of this ditch is where you sort out how to control the character, interact with your environment, kill stuff and really do all the basic tutorial stuff. Lee comes to grips with the fact that something terrible happened and people are all fucked up.
Making your way through a neighborhood, Lee finds a house and is charged with making a friend or three to eventually get himself out of the suburbs.
Lee’s murdering past comes up often as a kind of haunting character motivation piece. Thankfully there aren’t any flashbacks.

Overall Episode One: A New Day:


1. The art style is great. It’s not intended to be Mass Effect-real or straight up cartooney. There’s a great mix of comic art and animated effects. To me, it felt new and worked well with the game.
2. Nobody is perfect. I hated something about every character, which to me is good because it means they’re not trying to make super familiar likable characters. Everyone, felt really regular and realistic. I think they did a better job of humanizing characters than the TV show did[4. Sorry, can’t help but compare.]
3. Maybe because I’m a nerd and I love graphs and stats, but I was geeked to see the comparison at the end of the level about who made the same choices you did. Were you among the majority? Did other people stay silent when they could have spoke up?
It’s a great feature that ads a bit of perspective and community to an otherwise solitary experience.
4. It’s not as heavy as the chow or the comics. People die and impactful decisions need to be made but they don’t unsettle me. I feel like playing through some of the decisions  in the show and the comics would have been really difficult.
5. There can be a lot of hurry up and wait. It’s urgent to get to X or to do Y but you can spend eight years searching a room for the A or you have to talk to every singly person before you can progress. I don’t care about some people and their motives
6. In order button mashing is how you fight. So, a zombie attacks and the screen flashes “x” and you tap it and then it flashes “b” and you tap that and you can win, lose or not die but not really win. Personally, I like being in full control of a hit stuff button.
I’m having fun playing and so excited to find out what happens next in Episode Two.
[Rating:4.5]

Remember, the full five episode season of The Walking Dead for PC and Mac is available for purchase via the Telltale Games Store (http://www.telltalegames.com/store/) and other digital distribution outlets as a season pass for $24.99.  Once launched on Xbox 360, each episode will cost just 400 MS Points, and on PlayStation 3, each episode will cost just $4.99, or $19.99 as a season pass.

Review: Stupid Zombies (Android)

Stupid Zombies by GameResort is your basic time-killing puzzle game.
Every lever hosts a small room occupied by a number of zombies, just standing around, and one gun-toting fighter. “Fighter” is an over statement. The man stands at the edge of the room and is unable to move anything but his arm.
Armed with five bullets and unable to move, the man must kill all the zombies in the room. Luckily, the stupid zombies don’t realize bullets bounce off walls and can move objects so they just stand there waiting to die like losers.
Sure the mechanics don’t make any real life sense but they stand within the confines of the game.  Charged with killing all the zombies in the room, you have a limited number of bullets and each bullet has a limited number of bounces. To win the level, you kill all the zombies without running out of bullets. To get the high score, you kill all the zombies with bullets to spare.
Stupid Zombies is a basic high-score app-game with unique mechanics and challenging levels. I didn’t feel like I was playing [Name of Popular Game] with zombies inserted and a little twist.
You don’t need to have an internet connection to play and it doesn’t draw too much battery power– which is good because my Instagram and flashy  transitions suck enough of its battery as it is.
The drive to get all the stars for the level or out do your last high score is a standard for app-games and works well here. I found myself replaying levels trying to finish with more bullets left over or get all the stars.
There are three sections and tons of levels in each section. You’re required to get a certain number or stars from the previous section to unlock the next.
For a free app-game, Stupid Zombies is fun and I recommend sparing a bullet on it.
[rating:4/5]