the vanishing of ethan carter
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Important Internet Opinion: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I never tire of walking around and looking at stuff in video games, as in life. Walking around and looking at stuff, I’m going to suggest mostly because it just occurred to me right this minute, is one of the great joys of being human. Or being a dog, I guess, but make no mistake friends: dogs can’t play video games, and that’s why they spend so much time licking their own genitals.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you’ve probably heard, is one of the best-looking video game places thus far in the young history of video games to walk around and look at stuff in. What you’ve heard is true. It is breathtaking.

The sounds of loons hooting on the lake, the rustling of leaves and the quiet sussuration of the wind, the play of slanting sunlight through the foliage, and all that’s lacking is the damp autumn smell of leaves to put you right there. It is — as long as you don’t stray too far from the path they developers want you to walk — utterly convincing. It’s a triumph, and I salute the artists and developers who made the place. I recommend it without reservation as a quiet, beautiful (if somewhat eerie) virtual place to visit.
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Dorflike Review: Spacebase DF-9

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Things To Play

Last year when we posted our Dorflike Round-up, Spacebase DF-9 was still in its infancy, but the game was promising. Fast forward less than a year, and Double Fine is announcing that they’re going to release version 1.0 next month and then abandon ship. Fortunately, they’re planning to release enough source for the modding community to take over from here. Then again, the game seems light years from completion.

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buckaroo-large
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Important Internet Opinion: Pinball FX-2

Reviews

Yes, I’ve been flapping my flippers, bumping the desktop with my pelvis, and seeking multiball nirvana in Pinball FX-2, and now I’m ready to share my Important Internet Opinions with you about it.

But first, some nostalgia.

I grew up in a tiny northern BC town in the 1970s. We could, if we had our rooftop antennas tilted just right, get a total of two television stations, and at night, if atmospheric conditions were right, we might pick up more than two radio stations. There was no internet, of course. There were no movie theatres, no video rental places, no malls or skate parks or really much of anything besides trees and water and moose and oceans of booze.

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Rimworld Title Screen
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RimWorld – Alpha Review

Reviews
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I’m not new to roguelikes and I love a lot of the genre. I’m not a Dwarf Fortress player but I could be. My roguelikes? Rogue, played on a PDP-11 – no colors or easy to recognize characters, thank you. Also hack and NetHack and larn. (Even used to play a custom branch of hack that included lemmings.) Fast forward to FTL or pretty much any contemporary roguelike that I can lose badly. I have a special affection for Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.

Having enjoyed Prison Architect, but not as fully as I wanted to (mechanics/philosophy stuff I won’t go into here), I was thrilled to hear about RimWorld’s more Firefly-esque approach to building and cultivating the colony and kickstarter-pledged immediately at a level that’d get me access to the Alpha.
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The Bane to Civilization that is Candy Crush Saga

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture, Reviews

Is it the primary colors? The arcade-game sounds and aesthetics? The casualness? The almost immediate gratification? The strange feeling of satisfaction when you fire off a powerful combo of special pieces? It’s hard to say. Whatever the winning freemium combination, Candy Crush Saga is a runaway hit in Apple’s iOS App Store and on its other platforms as well.
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Minion Rush

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I turn out to be a pretty big fan of Endless Runner/Driver/Flyer/Skier games. On my iPhone I have installed: Jetpack Joyride, Subway Surfers, Ski Safari, Road Trip 2 and Zombie RoadTrip. Most of these games are free or freemium and they try to hook you on buying points or coins or bananas or whatever so you can upgrade and maybe have a longer run or a more varied, fun time.
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XCOM Wallpaper
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XCOM: Enemy Unkown on iOS (versus XBox’s version)

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Software, Technology

Huge X-COM fan here. I liked a lot of the old franchise and really missed the turn-based tactics. For a lot of years. I remember trolling Good Old Games and emulators and other ways to re-experience the game and I’ve always loved the mixture of tactical turn-based (it’s why I started the Fallout franchise too – my love of that cultivated by X-COM), soldier cultivation, resource management, tech trees and light disaster-related political resource allocation that X-COM brings to the table.
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Picture of OUYA with One Controller
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OUYA Gotta be Kidding Me! – the winning edge of content curation and good playable demos

Games and Gaming, Hardware, Retrospectives, Reviews, Technology

Got my Kickstarter OUYA maybe a couple-three weeks ago and I have to say I am not impressed. Actually, I am impressed, but not about playing games on it. It looks nice. The design is pretty good. It’s tiny. Bigger than an Apple TV considering all dimensions (it’s taller) but I think its shelf footprint is smaller.

It’s small and cute and it uses dim white lights for status instead of bright green or red or blue like all the other blinky status LEDs in my now full-to-bursting entertainment cabinet that I wrote about earlier.

But what I’m not impressed by is the shoddy content curation. More about that below.
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Far Cry 3 Cover
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Review: Far Cry 3

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Software, Technology

I am an avid gamer. I enjoy FPS games but they have to bring something extra. I like: The Mass Effect Series (sort of not, sort of yes, an FPS), The Borderlands Series and The Halo Franchise. Mostly I like them on the XBox. I think the XBox controller feels right. I’m looking forward to Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy’s The Division.

So I bought Far Cry 3 on sale because I’d heard great things about it and indeed, there were great things. The way that violence just sort of happens to you in Far Cry 3, even if you are in a protected, friendly area, is really fascinating. I didn’t think I would like it and I sort of don’t, but as you get stronger that violence, while still jarring, can get kind of fun(?).

The storyline is brutal and the main missions are on plot rails even if your method to get from point A to point B can be maddeningly complex with lots of options and sometimes few of them very good. I had a couple storyline missions where I would die and die and die trying variations on a thematic approach until I did something truly original and then had immediate success.

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Important Internet Opinion: Call of Juarez Gunslinger

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I’ve played through most of old-west unreliable-narrator on-rails pistolero party Call of Juarez Gunslinger. I am now prepared to tell you all of the things you need to know about it.

Q: Is it pretty?

Oh, hell yeah, it is pretty like a sunset. It is so pretty that there were more than a few times when I just stood there, you know, virtually, taking in the beauty of the Rugged Western Vista, rays of buddha peeking over some craggy peak, flocks of birds wheeling in the middle distance waiting for a birdy bandit buffet in the trail of corpses I was inevitably going to leave in my wake. The world is spectacular and edges just the right amount into magical realism, and the graphical fidelity, with a powerful enough computer machine, is as good as you’ll see anywhere for current-gen games. Here, marvel in the prettiness:

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SO MUCH TRIFORCE — DiRT 3 REVIEW

Features, Games and Gaming, Reviews

I love driving games. Even though I drive extremely conservatively in real life–and wouldn’t have it any other way–I really let loose with my inner aggressive driver with various video games.

Codemasters games are amongst my favorites. I got introduced to the company through GRID (where’s the sequel dammit??), then DiRT 2 and now the third game in that series. We’ll get to talking about the game itself in a bit but first a little digression about presentation. One of the reasons I hate EA so much, in fact, is that despite buying the rights to use ESPN’s style of broadcast presentation for FIFTEEN FUCKING YEARS is that they have hardly done a damn thing with it until the last few years. Most of us watch football on TV and we’re used to flashy graphics, interesting stat presentations and whatnot. ESPN 2K5–STILL the best NFL football game EVAR–made use of the ESPN experience in a way that still pulls me into the game more than any other. Yeah, EA bought the rights to kill the 2K series but DAMMIT do something with that shit. Grrrr.
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Important Internet Opinion: And Yet It Moves

Games and Gaming, Reviews

This one’s been sat in my steam queue for a while, and finally got around to giving it a go. It’s really rather fun, even if I do now have a tendency to panic when I see the mass of whitespace below this text, and feel the disconcerting need to turn the browser around.

You see, it’s a 2D puzzle platformer with a twist. Literally, a twist. You can run left and right and jump, but the key mechanic is you can rotate the world around you as well. Gravity always points downwards, but it means that you can be safely standing on the floor, then rotate the world and you’re now falling parallel to a wall. Rotate it again, and you’re now falling away from the ceiling. Rotate it 180 degrees, and you’re falling back towards where you started.
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Important Internet Opinion: Singularity

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I’ve played through a few hours of Raven’s everything-old-is-new again First Person Thing, Singularity. I am now prepared to tell you exactly what you need to know about it.

Q: Is it pretty?

A: Yes, it is quite pretty, with the kind of predictable Unreal Engine prettiness that we — or me at least — are starting to get a little weary of. There’s glowy bits and impressive vistas and water that wiggles relatively convincingly, and people almost kinda look like people if you squint at them right. It’s not so much Unreal as the all-too-real duct tape of this generation of shooters, the default choice because ol’ Carmack got interested in rockets on iPhones or something and dropped the ball. Oh well.
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