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PUBG and the Trusty Pan

Games and Gaming

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds aka PUBG aka Plunkbat has been cropping up on a lot of people’s Steam friends lists lately. I’m here to extol the virtues of one of its most humble weapons: Pan. On its face, it’s just another melee weapon like Crowbar, Sickle, and Machete. Sure, it’s better camouflaged than the red Crowbar that tends to stick out while prone. The shiny steel of the Machete or Sickle can catch the eye compared to the seasoned patina of Pan. But that’s not what makes it special:

Unlike its brethren, it can block bullets while strapped to your back or held in the hand. As opposed to the game’s purpose-made body armor and helmet, its sturdy cast-iron construction never degrades. Pan is eternal.

In preparation for the next “Battle Royale”, the backstage elves of Erangel (PUBG’s first map) presumably run around quickly restocking ammo from a massive stockpile hidden under Stalber mountain. Mechanics quickly gas up cars and patch up bullet holes in boat hulls. Scores of parachute riggers repack infallible primary chutes that ensure their occupants die after they hit the ground. But all the Pan gofers have to do is round up the Pans from the previous round, occasionally scrape off some flattened 9mm rounds, and return them to the nearest apartment kitchen or warehouse.

Only one squad wins, but Pan lives on.

mass effect 3 pistol
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Chasing the dream of “The Perfect Loadout”

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture

I wish there was a magic formula for setting up the perfect loadout in any game, but there are far too many variables. Including what you like to do, and – in some sense – who you are as a person.

Do you enjoy the satisfaction of rushing right up to an enemy and pummeling them to the ground? Then you’re not going to be happy with a sniper rifle, no matter how good it is. Conversely, if you enjoy peering off the edge of a high ledge and picking enemies off one by one in a courtyard far below, you’re going to hate a shotgun, even if it is the best shotgun. Continue reading

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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Living First Person

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

It’s 1977. I’m 12 years old. It’s a gorgeous Northern BC summer day, one of those glorious fleeting perfect days that are all the sweeter in the frozen north, because the memories of mud and slush barely fade before the leaves have already begun to turn again. Utterly pure blue sky, sun warm on the skin, grass a deep impatient green, a light breeze off the lake that is so invigoratingly packed with oxygen and piney perfume it might as well be aerosolized cocaine. I’m playing third base, it’s what we’d call little league if we called it that in Canada back then, I’m just beginning to feel the awkwardness of adolescence, but the sheer pleasure of being alive and standing on that dirt under that gigantic bowl of sky on that day is more than enough to let me ignore my self-consciousness. I’m a big, strong kid, and even if I’m more bookworm than jock, I enjoy sports.

One of the kids on the other team strikes out, and our gang begins to jog back to the chickenwire fence behind home plate for our time at bat, where there are a few parents hanging out, maybe drinking a beer or three in the sun. I get about three or four loping steps along the baseline before my left leg folds up, with no warning whatsoever, and I go down into the dirt. I try like hell to get up, but my leg just doesn’t seem to want to bend correctly. I don’t remember it hurting as much as I remember being confused, trying to figure out why my leg suddenly didn’t do what I told it to do any more, and then horrified and embarrassed, when my stepdad came out onto the diamond, picked me up, and carried me off.

Turns out that I had Osgood-Schlatter syndrome. I was just growing too damned fast, apparently, and bits and pieces of me couldn’t keep up. The dumbass semicompetent smalltown doctor told us that I’d have to have the left leg put in an ankle to hip cast for six months, and then the other leg — once again, ankle to hip — for another six months after that.

That was pretty much the end of sports for me, at least team sports. That was the beginning — after that long, itchy year, when my first my left and then my right leg emerged, atrophied, pale, and, to my horror, looking like a limb grafted on from a much smaller, sicklier young man — of my lifelong habit of riding bikes with my headphones on down empty highways. And that summer, when the doorway to baseball and swimming and many other things I loved closed, at least temporarily, that the door into computers and the games you can play on them opened. When I learned that it was possible to go places without actually going anywhere. That was the summer my parents bought me my first computer, a TRS-80 Model III.

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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: Who Are You People Edition (11.02.11)

Games and Gaming, News

After a long absence, we have returned! Work and life may interfere, but nothing will stop us from nattering inanely into your earholes about beer! And games! Always with games.

After reviewing what we’ve been doing while we’ve been away, we dive right into the news with descriptions of the new Portal 2 Puzzle Creator, Battlefield 3 sells 5 million units in the first week and simultaneously destroys my faith in humanity and sets EA up for massive disappointment when Modern Warfare 3 inevitably sells that much in a day, the most unexpected Halloween special DLC pack we’ve ever seen, Blizzard jumps the shark and steps in it, and more, in this week’s hopefully final return of the Levels Of Detail Podcast. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 38 (11/02/11)

Intro Music: Caravan Palace – Crash

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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)