New reviews up @gametimereviews #outlast #prey #mirrorsedgecatalyst

Hey everyone!

I don’t want to blather on and spoil the fun here, but I’ve got three articles up on Game Time Reviews, where I’ve reviewed Outlast, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, and the new Prey details from E3. Be sure to take a look!

I’m now a reviewer @gametimereviews

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve gotten a gig in game journalism, which combines my two favorite hobbies: the internet, and complaining.

Kidding, of course. As a writer and gamer, I couldn’t be happier that I’m joining this team. For those of you who don’t know, http://www.gametimereviews.com is most well known for adding a touch of the personal to their reviews. While publications like Game Informer focus on the objective things like playability and mechanics, GTR looks at replayability and, overall, if the game is actually fun. 

I’ve repeatedly bashed AAA games like L. A. Noire for being great on paper, but ultimately boring. I’m even a little ticked at Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst for having such a short main campaign (I beat the game and all side missions in probably 10-15 hours, which includes the times I got distracted collectible hunting).

I won’t be reposting my reviews here, but all their content is free, so I’ll be posting links and FYIs every time I’ve got something new up. Until then, have a good one.

#Injustice2 Theories: Lazarus Pit, R’as, Red Hood, and magic @noobde @InjusticeGame

Hi everyone,

So I’m BEYOND psyched for Injustice 2. The first game made great use of story mode, and I had a great time smashing my buddy’s face in as Sinestro.

After obsessively watching the sequel’s announce trailer, and shootin’ the shit with some dudes at GameStop, I have some theories about what the trailer was hinting at for the main game:

Enter the Pit

The narrator says very clearly, “Every time I enter the pit, I emerge reborn.” Sound familiar? This seems to point pretty clearly to The Lazarus Pit, which is known for healing wounds and even resurrecting the dead–except it steals away a piece of the user’s soul/sanity in the process, making the restored “more ferocious” (to use the narrator’s words). In Arrow, we even see one notable character brought back from the dead with no soul at all, causing her to be a bloodthirsty maniac until Constantine shows up to save her.

If you’re looking for further proof, consider that we see both The Flash and Batman die in the trailer, killed by Batman and Aquaman respectively, and you’ll see why we need a little divine intervention.

R’as al Ghul Joins the Fray

The Batman mythos has made one thing very clear: R’as al Ghul doesn’t like it when people use The Pit without his permission. The trailer also says, “Put the devil on the other side, and I will show up evolved, adapted, and prepared to fight.” R’as, aka “Head of the Demon,” is often referred to as a devil for his monstrous violence and near-immortality, from frequent Pit stops. The plot of Injustice 2 seems to say the main crew has really ticked off the League of Assassins.

Red Hood Steps Up

Or maybe not him specifically, but right after Aquaman pulls his trident out of Batman’s freshly impaled chest, he gets hit with a red batarang–the signature color of Jason Todd’s vigilante persona. Todd, for those of you who don’t know, was brought back from the dead and later had his health and memory restored in The Lazarus Pit by Talia al Ghul, R’as’s daughter.

The thing is, that batarang hits him while Aquaman is still looking down at Batman’s body. While the Batsuit we see at the end does have a distinct Batman Beyond feel, the red emblem and streaks could suggest someone else is under the cowl.

Maybe Constantine?

This is pure speculation, but if we’re getting Gorilla Grodd, who has psychic powers, then considering the Pit plotline and the possibility of Zatanna returning to the roster, we might get a certain chain-smoking magician in the lineup.

Additional support? Why the hell would Superman need armor? The only thing he’s really weak against, aside from kryptonite and Aquaman’s trident, is magic. Constantine may be a plain ole’ human, but he’s walked through Hell unscathed and bested the rulers of hell. Odds are, he has a trick or two to put Supes in his place.

Those are my thoughts. Even if I’m dead wrong, I’m excited for the game. Drop a line below and tell me what you think!

Weird crap I’ve said while playing #TheBindingofIsaac @edmundmcmillen

Hi everyone,

As you no doubt gathered from my last post, I’ve been playing lots of The Binding of Isaac lately. It’s a pretty weird game, but here are the weirdest things I’ve said or thought while playing (both alone and with friends).

Let’s take a ride.

  1. I’d prefer to start in the Burning Basement because I can make money off the fire.
  2. The Ocarina of Time has aptly prepared me to chuck a bomb in this tapeworm’s mouth.
  3. The power of flight has failed to protect me from tiny spiders.
  4. If I don’t cry on all this poop, I won’t have enough hearts to kill Mom.
  5. I’m not sure what that is, but I’m going to touch it. *Mortally wounded.* Oh. Note to self: That thing is “a bastard.”
  6. If you’re not using bombs to put out fire, you may not be doing it right. If you ARE using bombs, please direct me to the nearest bomb bag salesman, because I’m all out.
  7. I have more keys than God!
  8. The secret room was full of mushrooms, and the mushrooms were full of spiders. Again.
  9. The shopkeepers don’t mind if you blow them up. I mean, none of them complained afterward.
  10. Using a Devil Room is like gas station sushi. It might seem like a good idea, but if you’re not careful, you’ll regret it.
  11. Using a Devil Room is like choosing the holy grail. You’ll melt Nazi faces!
  12. Using a Devil Room is like insulting your mom during an argument. Sure, it might feel good, but you’re probably going to regret it.
  13. You can touch whatever you want, but don’t go crying about it if it hurts you.
  14. *Follow-up* Actually, since tears are your weapons, continue to cry.
  15. *As Samson* The best thing you can do for yourself is throw that boy on a spike pit.
  16. *As Samson* The redder you glow, the smoother your go!
  17. Remember kids: do all the drugs.
  18. I found a weaponized fetus in the basement. Good times.
  19. I haven’t been this excited for a quarter since the first World War!
  20. I haven’t been this excited for a quarter since S.H.I.E.L.D. dragged me out of the ice!
  21. I haven’t been this excited for a quarter since last week! …I’m really broke.
  22. Most games make you ask, “Why?” This one makes you ask, “What the fuck?”
  23. *As Eve* If you get attacked, your bird will eat people. It’s like Bioshock Infinite, except you’re more likely to accidentally kill yourself.
  24. *As Eve* Isn’t every night a terrible night to have a curse? I’m not less inconvenienced by the horns growing out of my head just because it’s Labor Day.
  25. *As ???, reincarnated via the Ankh* Am I cold, or just really dead?
  26. *As ???* Something stinks, and it’s probably me.
  27. *As plain old Isaac* I love how his first instinct upon finding any given object is to shove it through his head. KID. YOU’RE NOT A CLOSET, THERE SHOULD NOT BE HANGERS IN YOU.
  28. *Fighting Mom* Those calves are not meant for heels. Or going out in public.
  29. Satan can’t be killed by the Bible. Mom can, but not Satan. Why? Because he’s Satan, and you’re a child. He doesn’t have time for these games.
  30. I try to take pills whenever possible. Then I can show up to boss battles like LOOK HOW MANY SPIDERS ARE COMING OUT OF MY BODY.
  31. I’m not sure why that giant ball of crap is so yellow, but Conker’s Bad Fur Day prepared me for this. Now crank up the opera.
  32. This game has a great soundtrack, but it also syncs perfectly to Radio X from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
  33. Pro-tip: Blow up the slot machines. Also, I’m not allowed in AC anymore.
  34. The Devil Beggars are pretty chill dudes. I mean, they’re like Red Cross, but I get floating babies and damage boosters instead of fifty bucks and a cookie.
  35. There’s a fifty percent chance this game is just another set-up from Cabin in the Woods.
  36. Ultra Greed compared to every other boss is like having your girlfriend beat you to death compared to a quick kiss on the cheek.
  37. *Singin’* “’Cause I’m a gamblin’ boogey-man, although I don’t play fair!” *Dies*
  38. *Reading Isaac’s last will* How did I carry all this stuff? And when did I even find half this crap?
  39. This is by far one of the sickest, darkest games I’ve ever played. It should be a movie. I mean, everyone involved would get sued for making it, but it would have such a cult following.

That’s all for now! Keep shining on, you crazy diamonds.

Three reasons #TheBindingofIsaac might be the most #zen #game ever @edmundmicmillen

Life is suffering, and death is inevitable. Buddhism (as well as many other eastern philosophies) teaches that these two statements are parts of the, if not the entire, core of the human experience. After all, nothing is more certain than the fact that, eventually, the universe will self-destruct and everything we know will be erased.

Let’s avoid nihilism, at least for a moment. For those of you not familiar, The Binding of Isaac is a phenomenal game with high replay value. It’s also one of the most shockingly adult games I’ve ever played, with an all-too-brief story of a boy names Isaac whose mother has a psychotic episode and believes God is telling her that Isaac has become corrupted/sinful/impure.

She takes his toys and clothes, and shaves his head, but the voice commands her to kill him, much like how God commands Abraham to kill his son, also Isaac, in The Bible. Our Isaac, though, finds escape through a strange trapdoor in his room which basically leads to an ever-changing hellscape full of monsters. “Mom” is a boss, as is “Mom’s Heart” and “It Lives,” which is basically a vengeful fetus god (lookin’ at you, Silent Hill 3).

Given that your main attack is to shoot tears at the enemies until they die, and many pickups hurt Isaac (by actively damaging him or causing him emotional/bodily distress, making his tears larger/more powerful), it’s clear to see that this game isn’t for the faint of heart. But, despite its incredible learning curve and difficulty scale, it’s the most meditative gaming experience I’ve ever had.

Death is Inevitable

Sticking with this for a moment, I go in expecting to die. Did I get blown away on the first level? No problem! I figured that might happen. Die at the final boss? Well, heck, at least I made it that far, and I know better for next time. I’ve gotten blasted at the last second so many times that I recently had a perfect run (no damage) during the battle against Mom’s Heart, generally known as a Bullet Hell.

Steam user Lunick says, “**** this game,” but I say, “If I’m still alive in twelve seconds, I’m eating a whole victory cheesecake.”

Life is Suffering

The Binding of Isaac uses a couple different sacrifice mechanics, ranging from donating health to get money, which can be donated (for unlockables), spent at shops, or given to beggars (for gifts), all the way to actually sacrificing yourself by impaling Isaac on spikes in given rooms. (Brief note: he’s, like, five. Maybe younger. This game is brutal.)

 

Why is this zen? Because it teaches you not to be prideful by holding onto all that extra health, especially if you’ve left pickups behind in other rooms. Sure, if you’re on your last heart container, I recommend visiting a Great Fairy getting some more health before forking over the rest to a Demon Beggar, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given away most of my life force only to surge back and obliterate all before me.

You are One with Everyone

Isaac is technically the only character in the game, but he takes on the forms of different Biblical characters, like Azazael, Samson, and Lilith (in the new, disgustingly-perfectly-named Afterbirth expansion). He’s always Isaac, yet shares the collective knowledge and experience of these other figures (doubly so, considering unlockables and donations carry across all runs in a given save file).

Buddhism teaches this very same concept: that we share in the collective experience of all mankind. Good things that happen to one of us happen to all of us; trauma and danger–like a child’s mother trying to kill the child–harm everyone, hence why all these other figures are trapped in the magical door to hell too.

Those are my thoughts on this game. What are yours? Give me a shout in the comment section!

Some things @theevilwithin did right, and some it did very wrong #videogames #horror

I’ve been replaying The Evil Within on my PS4 and, as I did the first time, really enjoyed some of the gameplay. Since I’m a pretty critical gamer, I can’t help but praise it–and chastise its creators for some glaring oversights and easily avoidable flaws. Let’s check this out.

Good: Run for your Life

There aren’t a lot of games out there with quality chase sequences, but when done right, those games deserve a thumbs up. The Evil Within is one such game, offering several “Run or you’ll die” moments, many of which are complicated by traps, offering even more ways to get brutally torn into a thousand pieces.

Bad: PS2-Grade Controls

Between a white-knuckled grip on the shake-cam and controls that feel more at home in Silent Hill than a PS3/PS4 title, you’re likely to slam Detective Castellanos into so many walls you’ll wish he was locked in a padded cell so he didn’t keep hurting himself. I’m not suggesting it should’ve been an Assassin’s Creed-style “turn so fast your legs skitter out to the sides” sensitivity, but god damn, this guy turns slower than a cruise liner.

Good: Interesting Monsters

Between the variety of disfiguration the main enemies suffer, The Keeper, The Four-Armed Teleporting Kayako, and the grotesque bosses, there are quite a few baddies to look at while the Detective gets murdered.

Bad: The hell do they look like?

Between the aforementioned herky-jerk camera, intentionally grainy screen, and the background environments, there’s barely any time to actually see what you’re shooting, and when you do see it, it blends into the background. Fuzzy texturing and an over-emphasis on gritty world-building left the creatures feeling lack-luster.

Good: Atmospheric Tension

Some of the early environments do a great job of capturing that survival horror feel, especially if you’re low on green gel and haven’t bought many upgrades.

Bad: They Completely Forget About Tension Halfway Through

Call of Duty style shootouts and an increasing reliance on bosses or subbosses to keep the game challenging cause atmosphere to go right out the window. Bonus Bad: Survival horror ammo scarcity, massive shootouts, and a camera that shakes harder than a fault line during a volcanic eruption gets frustrating very fast.

Ugly: The Main Character is a Moron

I was pretty disappointed with Det. Castellanos’s character. He spends half the game asking obvious questions, and the other half making idle, unthinking remarks. At one point, he even refers to “that red liquid.” …That liquid is called blood, detective.

However, the acting is very well done, and kudos for bringing in Jennifer Carpenter for Nicole Kidman. As a huge fan of Dexter, there’s a certain appeal to having her in the game.

Ugly: Too much Resident Evil

I love Resident Evil, and I’m all for homage, but between Evil being in the name, the final boss getting blown away by a rocket launcher, and the fact that it uses the iconic “zombie hunkered over, eating someone, then turning around slowly while the lights flash” TWO TIMES, I found myself wondering why I didn’t just play RE.

Even the subbosses are copied straight out of RE4, including fighting two giant troll things at basically the same time (El Giganto), a water-dwelling beast that you can’t directly kill (El Lago), and a subordinate of a major boss that uses ground hazards and extreme physical power (Salazar’s Right Hand).

But, when the game actually tries to be its own experience, rather than a fan-service clone, it handles really well.

Ugly: Troped-up Female

There are only two women in the game. Kidman plays the damsel in distress and the femme fatal, while Ruvik’s sister, aka Four-Armed Kayako, is the woman-as-monster. There’s no redeeming element here, and I’ve knocked a full point off its score for that.

Do I recommend this game? Yes. I wouldn’t say I love it, but I definitely enjoy playing, and have bought it twice. It’s not perfect–six and a half out of ten, at best–and it won’t give any seasoned horror fans nightmares, but it’s worth a few playthroughs. If you haven’t tried it, and you’ve got a little spare time/money, give it a look.

I played the Catalyst Beta, and I’m so glad I pre-ordered the collector’s edition #mirrorsedgecatalyst @mirrorsedge

I was one of those lucky people granted access to the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst beta, which I signed up for pretty much the minute I heard about it. As a runner myself, I loved the crap out of the first game, and played it way, way more times than I probably should’ve.

Now, as someone who’s played the beta and has a reasonable grasp on what Catalyst will be like, I can make a few snap judgements reasonable assessments on the final product. Maybe you’re here because you want to know about the game, or maybe you’re here because you absolutely love my blog. Probably the former, but hey, give me a shout if you’re just that into what I’ve got to say.

So, what are my thoughts on Catalyst?

1) The skill tree makes perfect sense

Mirror’s Edge was about a skilled, seasoned veteran Runner fleeing for her life in the face of a totalitarian, militarized government trying to kill her. Catalyst is about a spunky early-20s (if that) woman who recently spent two years in jail and, though good, isn’t nearly a legend among the other Runners.

I’ve seen some griping about how you can’t skill roll or do a quick turn at the beginning of the game, but I didn’t see a gym yard in Faith’s prison. No matter how much stretching or how many lunges you do, you’re not going to keep in top Runner form after spending that long in a jail cell. Giving us a way to watch her grow–and giving us control over her growth, much like how a real person prioritizes, say, movement over combat–was a great decision.

2) Holy Crap Sack, Batman, Look at those Graphics!

My jaw literally dropped when I saw Faith step outside into the halogen glare of street lights on a rainy night, and my eyes watered with awe when the camera panned up over Glass to show off the Catalyst title art and the city skyline at dawn. It’s art in motion, and beautiful even during a speed blur.

3) Combat is way more intuitive

The combat is designed to work with your speed and your controls. In addition to Traversal Attacks, which are only available while sprinting, and allow you to stun an enemy and keep running full-speed, Faith can do direction moves, knocking enemies into each other.

You know what I did the first time I freely (outside tutorial) fought some security officers? I delivered a crushing roundhouse that sent one Dudeman into a second Dudeman. Then they went straight off a roof. I then ran full speed at the last guard, slid, kicked his crotch up into his stomach, and swept the legs, leaving him KO’d on the floor. I’m not sure who got it worse, but I walked (well, ran) away without a scratch.

4) Secrets and Emotions

Icarus, a poorly-named young male who helps Faith readjust to runner life, is seen playing a board game against Noah, Faith’s leader and father figure. He’s an arrogant Bro in his sunglasses and vest, but there’s more to him than the Beta let on.

And, Faye Kingslee nails her deliver, giving Faith’s spare lines a lot of heart and emotion. These don’t feel like scenes; they feel like I’m eavesdropping on someone’s life.

5) Collectibles!

Performing certain tasks causes Runner Bags to appear, allowing you to customize your Runner Tag (which you use to Hack certain screens, displaying your Tag on all your friends’ games) and your Echo, which is a 3D virtual reality Faith that runs out in front of you when you click R3, showing the easiest path through Glass.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a sucker for an in-game unlock.

There you have it: five reasons I was like “OH DANG THIS THE BEST EVER” and why June 7th can’t come soon enough. Even if you’re not a hopeless fanboy like me, it’s worth your time and money to check this out. And no rental crap! Invest in this game. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Pun so intended.