[PAX East 2017] Survival Tip: Do That Thing You Hate – featuring Colina: Leagacy

Hate is a strong word. It’s also accurate enough when describing standing in line sober for something you’re not even sure you’re interested in. I’m cringing just thinking about it.
On the other hand, had Kae and I not thrown our hands up in the air and stood in the first line we saw we would never have tried the first person horror game Colina: Legacy.  First, I’ve never heard of this game or this developer but they went big. They had a replica of the scary house from the game inside and out!
Kae and I reluctantly get in this line and, surprise, it moves fairly quickly. We get to the front of the line and a guy explains to up that we can’t demo the game but we can check out their sweet set up…  Ummm, okay.
We’re both feeling that our suspicions about lines sucking and what not are in the process of being confirmed (the theory can’t be confirmed until the process is complete and we walk away on to another task). Inside, we have to admit, that setup was amazing.  It looked just like the game! The cups on the counter, the kitchen table, the fridge!
About the fridge… One of the developers on site offered us some water. So sweet! But then he says, “It’s in the fridge; help yourself.” …Fear and anticipation. I’m IN a jump scare game right now and being asked to open a door?! Oh dead god. Hand on handle I brace myself and look for Kae to reassure me (she’s sitting at the counter with a headset on- I’ll remember that when SHTF). The Corlina (Chance 6) developer is looking on with an evil-tinged glee. He’s being helpful and generous (water at the convention was $3.50 a bottle)… or was he!? I pull the handle and nothing happens. It’s just a well lit cool fridge filled with bottled water.
“Thank  you,” I say sheepishly then scuttle off to Kae’s side (Weird how she can find me by her side when she’s about to get terrorized).

Wait! I said the guy told us that we couldn’t play the game, we could only look around. That’s the kicker, literally as soon as we walk through the door the next developer greets us and asks if we want to try Colina: Legacy. Uh, yeah?
He explains that they have a fully booked schedule but if people leave early or show up late that leaves demo stations open for us walk-ins. So we waited in line only to jump the queue and get  to try the game.

Was waiting in line for Colina: Legacy it worth this dreaded waiting in line nonsense?

Yes, because:

  • Colina Legacy is a third person horror-puzzle game set at your grandma’s house. Your gran has the scariest house I’ve ever seen complete with writing on the walls in blood AND weird mystical secret messages.
  • We got to play around one level and within minutes I was deeply engrossed in the story and the unique-but-familiar gameplay.
  • The developers! They’re stoked on the  game and they put some serious thought and effort into this introduction. Also, good people make you feel good about investing in their work.

I’m watching and waiting in anticipation. Though I plan to wait for delivery rather than go to a store to find another line…

First Impressions: MARS: War Logs

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
MARS: War Logs is set in the war-torn, waterless future of Mars. Surprise, you colonized Mars and its supply of one gallon of water didn’t last to sustain a whole planet full of people.
According to the Purple Prose introduction narrated by the most pathetic grunt in the Water War, there’s a war on and there are Water Gangs fighting for control and—I don’t think there’s a society anymore. I think this is like post-apocalyptic anarchy on a colonized planet. Deep.
Well, our grunt is in a truck with other folks heading to elsewhere. Apparently he’s been captured and is a POW (prisoner of war) being shipped off to the enemy camp.
(Keep in mind, all this is being told through Purple Prose and cinematics. Try as you might, you don’t get to play in the train, in the loading bay, in the gen pop area… No playing for you.)

Innocence in a box
Innocence in a box – That’s him in the corner. That’s him in the spotlight.

Finally this sad little lad with the emotionless reading voice telling me of all the horrors of war arrives at the enemy base. Yay, I get to play! PSYCH!
The kid’s introduction to the POW is a foul-mouthed gang of other POWs who wish to make passionate love to his butthole. The portly gang leader is Fatso. Literally, his name is Fatso.
Our idealistic little runt fearing for his rear-virginity? His name is *Le Sigh* Innocence. Yes, his name is Innocence.  Take a minute to eye-roll and regroup.
So Innocence is all, “But I don’t want to be but-raped.” And Fatso is all like, “But I’m a villain and this is prison and you’re new so… Dibs!”
(You still not playing the game yet.)
So then this dude comes up and stands at the edge of the argument with his arms folded and I’m like, “YES! Finally I get to play, I’m gonna brawl this Fatso!”
NOOOOPE.
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “Whadda you want?”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “This doesn’t concern you.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “The Boy is Mine.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “You’re Crazy!”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “Let’s get out of here guys, this guy’s crazy.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “This isn’t over.”
WHAT THE FUCK!? (Pause for head shaking and or eye rolling.)
Okay, so whatever, you finally get to play now. Now that nothing is happening, you get to play.
And by play I mean you talk to Innocence and decide if you want to be a hard ass or a nice guy (your reputation matters). Apparently Innocence is just an introduction and Roy is our main character. He’s like, “I’m Roy.” And Innocence is like, “Ohmigawd, ROY? The Roy?”
Roy, local badass and side burn aficionado
Roy, local badass and side burn aficionado

Roy’s like, “Yeah, The Roy.”
So by now it’s very clear that the writing is not good and the voice acting ranges from cringe-inducing to pretty good. However, since I only started actually playing the game a minute ago, I powered on.
Uh oh, Fatso and his gang are waiting for Roy and Innocence in the courtyard ready to pin down Little Buddy and slip it in the back. (There’s a lot of swearing and Fatso is really keen on rape).
Tutorial fight time! I like tutorial fight time. I get to play the game and beat up bullies. X to hit. RT to distract them. A to break their defenses.
Cool got it. Let’s punch more people!
Nope. Time to sit and chat with Innocence. Go hither and fro. Chat with dudes.
Okay, this is an RPG so you’re not going to just side-scroll style fight through the world until you hit a boss. Roy is running around (with Innocence in tow) exploring the base with a surprising level of freedom for a POW.
Mutants are sad
Mutants are like people only mutated and sad. And oddly spiritual.

They fight a few other prisoners and a beast and meet the mutants. The story and the game really start to take off. The dialogue stays horrible but the story is fascinating. In this war-torn world, there are people called Technomancers who control electricity, underground monsters called Moles that make it really hard to dig for water, and possibly mysterious ruins from the colonists who first settled on Mars.

Developer(s) Spiders
Publisher(s) Focus Home Interactive
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network
Release date(s) Windows
April 26, 2013
XBLA
July 26, 2013
PSN
August 13, 2013
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Mars: War Logs Pros:

A mysterious technomancer
Mysterious technomancer is mysterious.

1. The story is interesting a possibly unique. With all the hokey dialogue and waiting around, the story is what kept me around.
2. Innocence fights with you instead of acting as another obstacle to keep track of. He doesn’t finish any off on his own but he’s definitely more partner than package.
3. The game world is large and the menus are extensive creating  a deep and interesting experience for just $9.99.
Mars: War Logs Cons:
I assume this is a boss.
I assume this is a boss.

1. Holy shit the dialogue is bad. It’s outright laughable at some points and not helped by the fact that a lot of the voice acting is sub-par.
2. Can I say the fact that it’s not a book is a con? I truly like the story but didn’t feel like I was a necessary part of it. Maybe that’s because it was a demo so it was just a teaser of what’s to come. I just didn’t feel moved so much as curious.
3. The demo felt long. If a game is truly engaging it should steal hours of your time and have you looking around in surprise because you didn’t realize how immersed you were. Mars: War logs felt like it was taking too long. I wasn’t pushing forward but trudging. I found myself annoyed when I accidentally retraced y steps because UGH I just want something interesting to happen.
Overall, what I think of Mars: War Logs:
Moles are not your friends. But if they were you wouldn't dig through their home and then murder them indiscriminately...
Moles are not your friends. But then again, if they were you wouldn’t dig through their home and then murder them indiscriminately…

During a time where games aren’t launching and tax season may or may not leave you broke, Mars: War Logs is definitely something to look into. It seems like it will provide hours of entertainment with an interesting story.
I realize I’ve mocked it relentlessly but that’s because the game does manage to stumble into a writing trap where things are described too beautifully or characters aren’t dimensional enough. Paired with the voice acting, that would be fine for reading aloud in class, it gets a bit laughable.
The silliness though, doesn’t detract from what is a pretty solid game with decent graphics and a large, interactive world. There are side missions, craftable weapons, upgrade trees and a lot more. For $9.99!
Try the demo and see if you can live with the writing and reading.

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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.

[PAX East '13] The Last of Us Features Happy Bricks and Echolocation.

I played The Last of Us demo at PAX East and felt all the feelings. Happy for a sweet band of misfits sticking together to make their way in this harsh new world. Confused by the MC Escher reminiscent environment that I couldn’t navigate because I could get lost in a cul-de-sac. Scared—no terrified—by the Clickers, cauliflower-faced creatures who use echolocation to ferret out their prey. Proud when I figured out how to distract them and escape. Finally, fun-stressed while I tried to fight off diseased humans from all angles.
It was vital to utilize stealth, cunning, speed, and puzzle-thinking to get through this scene so I can’t imagine what the game will hold. I’ve always thought of Naughty Dog as the story people with a good game keeping you in the seat but I think The Last of Us might have the story and game neck and neck for awesomest.
Now I’m a little worried I’ll miss some of the story because I’ll be so  engrossed in the game! Gah. My life is hard.
Check out the Last of Us Past East 2013 demo video:
Lucky me, I came away from the very stressful demo with a stress brick by the name of Happy Brock.

Happy Brock the stress brick!

Check out the official Naughty Dog write up on their blog.
[More about The Last of Us]

First Impressions: I Am Alive (XBLA)

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
I Am Alive tells the story of a man who spent over a year crossing the ruins of a ravaged country to get back home to his family. He’s practical and cautious, prepared with just enough of the right tools and abilities.
Gameplay is also practical and cautious with just the right amount of badassery.
Ubisoft makes such a wide variety of games from Farcry to Rayman so depending on how you’ve personally interacted with Ubisoft, this gritty, post-apocalyptic, personal journey might be something to add to the deck of awesome or something very unexpected but still very awesome. Continue reading “First Impressions: I Am Alive (XBLA)”

Save the Universe You Love on Valentine's Day


This Valentine’s day Bioware will be releasing the demo for Mass Effect 3. Knowing how hot the gaming world is to finally know what happens between Shep and The Reapers once and for all, Bioware whets our appetites with just a taste of what’st to come in Mass Effect 3 when it launches on March 3rd.
The developed detailed the move in a press:

Award-winning developer BioWare, a label of Electronic Arts Inc., announced today that the demo for 2012’s first blockbuster game, Mass Effect™ 3 will be available beginning February 14, 2012. The extensive demo will allow players to experience the all-out galactic war against an ancient alien race known as the Reapers from multiple fronts, including the mind-blowing opening attack on Earth that kicks off the single-player campaign.  Players will go deeper into the campaign and also get a taste of the franchise’s new co-operative multiplayer mode as they preview the epic story, adrenaline-pumping action and deep customization options that lie ahead when Mass Effect 3 launches on March 6, 2012. The Mass Effect 3 demo will be available for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC. Mass Effect 3 will also be one of the first pre-launch demos to support full voice recognition functionality on Kinect™ for Xbox 360.

In Mass Effect 3, players will be thrust into an all-out galactic war to take Earth back and save the entire galaxy, assuming the role of Commander Shepard, a war-torn veteran who’s willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate this nearly unstoppable foe. With a team of elite, battle-hardened soldiers at your side, each player decides how they will take Earth back, from the weapons and abilities they utilize to the relationships they forge or break. Mass Effect 3 also features a new co-operative gameplay mode that allows fans to experience the war from a different perspective. Players who want to try this new mode will be able to do so on February 17, or by qualifying for early access to the co-op portion of the demo which begins February 14. Gamers qualify for early access if they have activated their Battlefield 3™ online pass* or though other opportunities that will be announced in the near future www.masseffect.com.
(source)

Get ready to blow off that someone special so you can spend time with Shep and some Brave and Beautiful aliens.