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Inside a North Korean video arcade. FUN IS MANDATORY REPORT ANYONE NOT HAVING FUN IMMEDIATELY.

Gaming Culture

Mandatory Fun

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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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The Backlog: Torchlight

Games and Gaming

Torchlight is the perfect game for those times when you want some mindless fun or you have a mouse on its last legs and you want to try and kill it once and for all. I’ve started several different Torchlight characters and had abandoned each of them fairly early into the game’s proceedings. There just comes a point where it’s more and more of the same: run through a pretty, atmospheric dungeon, bash the skulls of some monsters in, and then return to town to sell the “goodies” (99% of which are utterly useless, short of their resale value) before repeating that cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, mindless fun. It is. It’s definitely worth the price you can get it for now. But I can’t seem to escape the fact that there is a LOT of filler in the game. From items, to monsters, to skill trees — it seems like all of the creative energy for the game went into the art assets.

Maybe I was doing it wrong.

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My Steam Library Makes Me Crazy

Games and Gaming

We’re deep in the midst of yet another Steam sale. This time, I thought it a near certainty that Valve would have nothing to offer that I don’t already have. For what must make for a dozen-sale-long streak, I was wrong — so very, very wrong.

During the routine task of checking my email on my phone, I got an email letting me know that a game on my Steam wishlist was on sale. Given the sheer number of games in my Steam library that I’ve never so much as installed, I have no idea why I have a wishlist. Nevertheless, the deal — 75% off of Orcs Must Die 2 — was almost too much to resist.

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Technical Peccadilloes Edition

Games and Gaming, News

We return after holidays, work, and the inevitable technical breakdowns, but we persevere to bring you another podcast! This week, we discuss the impossible: Minecraft goes 1.0, the unfortunate: GSC Game Studios and GamePro fold, and the stupid: EA continues their über-ban policy, parents name their kid after a character in Skyrim, Telltale gets caught sockpuppeting user reviews of Jurassic Park: The Game and Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera supports them, the International Red Cross opens their mouths to say that video games might be a war crime, the other shoe drops on the Playstation Vita, Microsoft makes you sign away your right to class-action lawsuits, and Skyward Sword has an unfixable game-breaking bug. And you wonder where our sunny disposition comes from. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 40 (12/10/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Tacticool Edition (11.11.11)

Games and Gaming, News

As is apropos on this Veteran’s Day, we spend most of this week’s podcast discussing the latest in modern military shooters, starting with our review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I ramble for a bit about what I’d like to see in a modern military shooter game, and why the “vision video” concept for Rainbow Six – Patriots is very much not that, Call of Duty Elite is delayed and borked, Battlefield 3 loses first week traffic numbers to a Call of Duty game, Steam gets hacked, and we talk about how Ubisoft and EA will punish us for being good paying customers through DRM. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast – Episode 39 (11/11/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: We’re Horrible, Horrible People Edition (09.15.11)

Games and Gaming, News

And once again, we return to you belatedly and with sadness in our hearts. Real life stupidly keeps on intruding into our efforts to bring you our particular brand of meaningless babble, and so here we are. This week, we cover such late-breaking news as Ubisoft removing the DRM from From Dust, freeing us to wonder why you would want to buy the game in the first place, EA continues making up for lost time with their dickery, the PC is resurgent while Nintendo continues to watch the bottom fall out of their business models, and we promote two things worthwhile: One, a pre-release beta of Minecraft‘s 1.8 Adventure release (which, due to our timeliness, is already out officially), and a Kickstarter donation page for the NASA astronaut sim MMO game, which is still ongoing and can be found here. Please, go forth and donate to a worthy cause, and remember to Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 37 (09/15/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Imposition of Regularity Edition

Games and Gaming, News

For reasons that are entirely unknown at this juncture, the podcast is going up a day late. Still, after enjoying the last blast of vacation before the end of summer, we’ve got a decent amount of news, both good and bad, to share with you today. The full majesty of EA’s idiotic plans with Battlefield 3 have become manifest, Ubisoft pisses off just about everyone, Epic Games hints at a return to PC-focused development, Sony decides to make the Playstation Vita possibly worth owning, and Bethesda decides they own all the scrolls. Plus, a very timely review of Fallout: New Vegas. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 36 (08/24/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Easily Distracted Edition (08.04.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

We’re back from vacation this week, and as a consequence, we’re a little…loopy, and not just from our customary alcoholic beverages. Many tangents are had, odd routes followed, and a higher-than-average amount of movie references made, especially for an episode where so much actual news is imparted. Defense of the Ancients 2 will be revealed to the world at Gamescom in Cologne, the Humble Indie Bundle 3 is here, Australia makes serious steps towards an R18+ rating, and everyone decided to be stupid while we were gone, with Blizzard basically sticking a knife into the heart of their fanbase for Diablo 3, Ubisoft returning to always-on DRM for Driver: San Francisco and more, EA getting Dragon Age 2 pulled from Steam with their “me-first-gimmie-gimmie” approach to DLC, and Nintendo almost halves the price of the 3DS in an attempt to get people to buy their newest shiny toy. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 35 (08/04/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Tranquility Edition (07.18.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

We’re still a little tuckered out after last week’s rage-fueled barreling beast of a podcast, so this week, we decided that there wouldn’t be anything important announced. A fearful gaming industry obliged, and so we present to you a much more low-key, some would almost say sedate podcast. We do follow-up on the horrible, awful things that induced such anger last week (but in a much more calm and relaxed manner), Manhunt 2 goes not exactly into the West, but wherever awful exploitation games go, Planetside 2 becomes more interesting as a possible free-to-play game, EA buys Popcap Games, a cool bit of news about the upcoming Halo: Combat Evolved re-release, we mock poorly written product announcements, and the crew behind The Escapist’s Extra Credits series decide to do something awesome with the enormous pile of money they suddenly find themselves sitting on. Thank you, and please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 34 (07/18/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Bad Words Edition (07.07.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

I, personally, choose to believe that we are all capable of being decent human beings at any time, and that corporations which are smart enough to make a serious impact on the world around us are also smart enough to not intentionally sabotage their own efforts, products, or customers. I also realize that people are jerks to each other for little or no reason a lot of the time, and that corporations can and will choose short-term gains over long-term profits and security almost every single time. You can imagine what this does to my temperament, something which is on full display in this week’s podcast, as last week’s relatively bad news free status is drastically reversed.

Some good news does make it under the wire, Crysis is coming to consoles, CCP decides that screwing their Eve Online customers isn’t such a good idea, the Extra Credits drive to help their artist keep making art was a success beyond their wildest expectations, and I have new hope for a good video game movie as details for a Mass Effect film surface with a pretty decent writer and production company attached to the project. On the bad news front, Team Fortress 2 players are determined to show new players on the free-to-play accounts that they’re not welcome around these parts, and EA continues their charge to be more hated than Activision. Please, put the little ones in the other room and then Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 33 (07/07/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Put On A Happy Face Edition (06.30.11)

Games and Gaming, News

Finally, we have good news to bring you, fair listeners! There’s the obvious announcements of Team Fortress 2 going free-to-play and the Supreme Court ruling video games as protected speech, but other, more subtle things, like LA Noire being announced for the PC and possibly the end of wireless bandwidth limitations. It can’t all be positive, Nintendo decided to kick some dirt in fans of quality JRPGs, Eve Online wants all your money, and Capcom’s rolling out a new and even more restrictive form of DRM, but on balance? I’d say this one’s pretty positive. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 32 (06/30/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Gently Caress Everything Edition (06.22.11)

Games and Gaming, News

Well, today’s podcast would have come online earlier today, but due to a bewildering array of extenuating circumstances, it’s going up late. My frustrating day certainly matches the tone of the news we have for this week, what with EA deciding to retake their Asshole Crown and the gamer bitchfest about every decision made by any game company reaching deafening levels of volume. There was some good news as well, Valve is taking one of their games free-to-play, Al Gore backs gaming as a legit medium, and Microsoft released the Kinect SDK beta. So, please, Share and Enjoy; I’m going to get drunk.

LOD Podcast Episode 31 (06/22/11)