Being Black in Video Games

Being Black in real life isn’t super easy. Sure you always have company whenever you go shopping, even if you started alone. You’re more likely to have a living will or healthcare proxy (at least you should). Because Black folks are dropping dead like it’s Jim Crow again.
South Park’s new game recently introduced a slider that was labeled “Difficulty” and changed the character’s race. The darker you are the “harder” the difficulty. It’s funny because it’s true.

At least Fractured But Whole lets you be a person of color if you really want to. Or if you just really want to see a person of color as a hero in a video game. Continue reading “Being Black in Video Games”

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.]”

E3 Bethesda showcase did NOT answer the most important Fallout 4 questions.

Sure, the showcase told us a lot. Fallout 4 is in a lot of ways a completely different game from 3 and NV. The wasteland is wide and varied, the crafting has been completely overhauled to create a hopefully satisfying and robust experience, and I personally will have a chance to build my own post-apocalyptic settlement, which is basically all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a small child.
Also, you get a super-cool pipboy – yes AN ACTUAL PIPBOY – if you preorder the special edition of Fallout4.
Oh, and Fallout 4 comes out nine days before my 30th birthday, so this is basically the best year ever.
But I was watching that showcase like a hawk, and unless I missed something our most important question about Fallout 4 was not answered.
Continue reading “E3 Bethesda showcase did NOT answer the most important Fallout 4 questions.”

Why you should be listening to Miracle of Sound

Miracle of Sound is the brainchild of Gavin Dunne. Dunne writes songs about games. It sounds simple, and maybe a bit silly, but Gavin Dunne has the enviable ability to capture the emotional feel of a video game in his music while never outright borrowing the games music.
And yes, this counts as apocalyptic, because Miracle of Sound has done music for some of the best post-apocalyptic video games that there are.
This includes The Best of Us, a song for Naughty Dog‘s The Last of Us. The Best of Us is a slow-building, sad song that captures the bleakness and tragedy of the game.

He’s also covered Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas with Beauty Bleak, a song that for me, perfectly captures the Capital Wasteland

Wasteland Soul

And Take a Trip to Vegas, a song which includes cheeky little nods to the glitchiness of Fallout: New Vegas.

Other apocalyptic games he’s honored with a song include Metro Last Light and The Walking Dead


They aren’t just songs that gamers will love. They are songs that are excellent in their own right. And of course, if you are a gamer they have the added wonder of being brilliant songs about things you love.
You can buy Miracle of Sound albums from Bandcamp, and if you like the ones I’ve shown you, you totally should.

Beautiful Borderlands 2 Makeup Tutorial by MadeULook

Borderlands 2  was one of my favorite games. It still is. Every aspect of it was awesome, from local co-op to single-player to the story to the dialogue to the art. So much squee. I’ve always said that art can make or break a good story in comics, film, or video games.
Borderlands 2 was beautiful. I loved the mix of flat and dimensional art with heavy, comic-style contours and shading. It was truly a unique look in a unique world with brilliant characters.
Often inspired by characters, makeup and cosplay, I find YouTube to be treasure trove of amazing work from others with similar interests and more talent and determination. One of these artists is MadeULook. She’s a young, sassy artist with an eye for detail and a creative depth unlike any other.
Well, MadeUlook is not only talented and engaging, she’s also a geek like me. Love!  Being a loving gamer almost all her life she can’t help but be inspired by some of the fantastic artwork and characters encountered in video games. Recently, she created a body paint Psycho from Borderlands 2.
I love MadeULook‘s make up and tutorials. In her videos, it clear that she is not only incredibly talented but also charismatic. Many tutorial videos are too much about the artist and not enough about the artwork. If I wanted a vlog, I’d watch a vlog.
She makes it sound so easy and look so good, I can’t even explain. Just watch and feel the Awe.

Borderlands2boxart3

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A Thug in Time [free app]

A Thug in Time is a new app game coming out for Android and iOS on July 16th featuering violence, the destruction of the human race, and more violence.
We can all agree that humans aren’t the most awesome end-users. Imagine you were the one of the creators the world and popped in to check out how it’s all been progressing. You might be pissed, and like those creators in A Thug in Time you might feel moved to just scrap it all.

A Thug in Time is a free app for iOS and Android and features:

  • Decapitate, freeze, burn as well as riddle with bullet and laser fire your enemies using more than 35 weapons
  • Battle through 65 levels set in four time periods: Viking-Age, Wild West, 1930’s mob infested Chicago and modern-day New York
  • Obliterate more than 20 types of unique enemies
  • No death animations, each kill has its own unique physics based reaction
  • Conquer time travel as well as eight bosses and their mini-bosses

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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.

Post-Apocalyptic E3

Screenshot from The Division, Ubisofts new post-apocalypse game, as seen at E3 2013
Screenshot from The Division, Ubisofts new post-apocalypse game, as seen at E3 2013

Lots of post-apocalyptic games revealed at E3 2013

The big news of E3 was obviously the struggle between the PS4 and the Xbox One. That’s not really of interest to us here at ICoS unless that struggle leads to the destruction of all we know and love. Instead, I’ve found information on post-apocalyptic games of interest revealed at this years E3.  It’s looking like a good couple of years for the apocalypse.
Check under the cut for videos
Continue reading “Post-Apocalyptic E3”

Tower Defense, The Apocalypse, and YOU!

Tower defense games are games in which you have a limited amount or resources available to build towers to defend your safe space from waves of enemies. Each wave defeated gives way to a stronger wave and loot you can use to build more or upgrade existing towers. [Like real life, except with do-overs!]
I like to say things like, “I’m not obsessed with [thing I spend time that should be allotted to other things doing].”
Sometimes I’ll be playing my tower defense game and not realize that an entire flight from Phoenix to Boston has passed me by. Hm… But it’s not because I want to, it’s because I must—I’m the God of Front Doors! I must protect my nouns.
This week (month?) that statement is directed at a tower defense game on my phone called Castle Defense (or Castle TD once it’s downloaded…) Creative moniker’s are not a staple of the genre.
The thing about tower defense games though, is it’s not really about “fun,”“survival,” or even “winning”. It’s about PERFECT!
I don’t know what’s on the other side of that opening but it’s by duty to protect it. Protect it from super fast pigs and hearty Pterosaurs. Maybe there’s a genetic mutation factory and a  pre-school on the other side of the wall and every creature that gets through is morphed into an even more terrible monster with a hunger for innocence incarnate?
I like to think about tower defense games in terms of survival preparation. I might not have everything I need to do the job that needs doing—Surviving—but I’ll need to sort out HOW? I can’t just spam the landscape with trip wires if an air attack is possible.

How can tower defense games help you prepare for the apocalypse?

Continue reading “Tower Defense, The Apocalypse, and YOU!”

[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]