It’s official. While the weather outside remains sunny and polite, the release schedule makes a solid counter-point that Fall is just around the corner.

With the releases this week, we’ll start to feel the crunch on our wallets and free time that signify a change in temperature and foliage. United Front Games will release True Crime: Hong Kong Sleeping Dogs; we’ll have Vigil’s Death romping and stomping in Darksiders 2; and, for the Nintendo folks, The Last Story and New Super Mario Bros. 2 drop on the Wii and 3DS respectively. Sorry, couldn’t fit the Bros. in the title.

All that being said, I have no plans to pick up a new title this week. Having just finished Max Payne 3, I’m cleansing the blood from my hands with Sound Shapes on the Vita. I’ll also be starting some Crusader Kings 2 to scratch a growing strategy itch.

Will the rest of the crew succumb to the siren call of new hotness? Stick around to find out.

Sunday, 3:30 pm – Podcast!

August 13, 2012 – BOGO Sale! (where we record in poor quality off-site… twice!)

Gamentary Bonus Round 1 – Dear Esther Protocol August 18 2012 (right click and “Save As” to download the mp3, or use the player below)

Gamentary Round 9 – August 13 2012 (right click and “Save As” to download the mp3, or use the player below)

Saturday, 11:56 am – matt

wow. that has to be the worst thing i have ever seen in a videogame.

but my god the realism…

the vita is absolutely blowing up. sony is in talks with more third aprty dveloppers to push the “cross buy” with their games making the vita version for free with the purchase of ps3 copies. i find myself playing the vita more at home than ever before if i allow my girlfriend to watch tv or something like that.

in other news onlive hit a mjor snag and sorta fired all their employees. but not to worry fans, as the service has apparently been picked back up by a new company and “none will ever be re-hiredmost are supposed to get their jobs back. i have always been skeptical of this “game service” and thought the same of the doomed ouya.

Friday, 8:50 pm – Albert

For the fans of Football (Soccer)

What a glorious… touch.

Friday, 3:48 pm – Albert

Woah! Big Vita talks this week. Without a Vita, I personally don’t really pay too much attention to it, but it seems that it’s almost inevitable that I do start. My problem is that i’m still jaded from purchasing the PSP… and that was really cool and fun but soon mobile gaming on my iPhone just kinda took over. Sometimes it’s easier just to play a quick crappy game on your phone than an amazing almost console game on a portable handheld. I really hope to hear more about the Vita and what it has to offer this weekend when we cast the pod.

I haven’t really paid attention to Darksiders II but I have watched the Quicklook of Sleeping Dogs on GiantBomb and they look PRETTY sweet. Something about the Batman:AA combat system in an open world seems appealing and sounds hard to execute. Taking a look at the videos made me think that they pretty much got it down. Plus throw in the level up abilities and random missions… I MIGHT venture to purchase it. MIGHT. I have tons of Steam games to catch up on.

That’s really been my problem. I have a couple of games that I have downloaded and installed on my computer from Steam but I haven’t had time to devote a lot of attention to one. When I have had time I play something i’m more familiar with that I know will only take 30 minutes or so, aka Company of Heroes. Ricky reminded methat CoH2 is coming out in a bit, which actually brightened my day. JOYS!

Besides that I did a little sneaky investigating into what Dear Esther was and i’m excited to see how it plays out. I do value a good story and that seems to be the sticking point of this game so I think we’ll be good.

I saw this on and I couldn’t not share it. It’s titled, Video Game Companies are you friends. You might already know them IRL. Dude.

Thursday, 11:27 am – Gavin

Tearaway looks like great fun!  The trailer suggests that it really makes use of as many of the Vita’s control and hardware features as possible.  However, perhaps it’s just the trailer, but several of those solutions appear to be hard-wired events in the game.  I wonder to what extent creativity is allowed, à la Scribblenauts, or if it’s just “this is what you must do to solve the problem.”  Games that foster creative solutions to puzzles, be it multiple ways to finish a mission, defeating an enemy with different tools, etc. are always given a leg-up in my rankings.  But how many times have we been misled by games that advertise “You can FLY!  And HACK COMPUTERS!  And DRIVE CARS!  And BLOW UP TANKS!” only to find out that you can only do those kinds of things at fixed points in the game?

One of my most favourite games of all time, Illusion of Gaia for the SNES, suffered from this.  There was almost no variety in how you beat the levels/bosses, you could only morph into special characters at certain points and you were very restricted with what you could do with those characters.  Special skills and special items were only used at specific points in the game.  I still adore everything about that game, but I acknowledge that to be a pretty big flaw in the game’s setup.  Meanwhile, a contemporary competitor, Final Fantasy 3, allowed you to do huge portions of the game in basically whatever order you chose.  Sure, it would infinitely harder to beat certain bosses without learning certain spells first, but it could be done.  You could use a low-level sword to beat some of the hardest bosses in the game if you formulated a strategy that would work.  When your group gets separated, you can get them in quite a few different orders.

A restricted game isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can get gimmicky.  There isn’t actually that much variety in how you beat the levels in Super Mario Galaxy 1 or 2, but they’re still two of the best games of this entire generation.  Hell, you all know how much I adore those games, so I don’t need to go into them any further.  One game that suffered greatly because of its self-imposed restrictions coupled with a unique control mechanism was Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat for the Wii.  Various sections of that game required you to swing the Wii remote and nunchuk as if you are pounding on a tympani.  I hated those sections with a raging passion.  They completely broke the flow of the game and just got damn irritating.  I was happy to see the back of it when some sucker bought it off of Kijiji from me.

I have nothing against Darksiders 2 or Sleeping Dogs, but at this point, I want someone else to buy them and play through them and then tell me how awesome they are, because like an old guy eating cheese and bananas, I’m all backed up.

Wednesday, 9:10 am – Ricky

Yes, yes, yay Gavin. Now back to the show.

Looks like the Vita is picking up some steam at Gamescom! Media Molecule announced their newest title, a Vita exclusive, called Tearaway. Looks quite stylish! Sony also announced firmware update 1.80 coming at the end of August that will re-jig some of the dashboard features of the Vita, but most importantly, it’ll add support for PSone titles.

I finished the main levels in Sound Shapes yesterday – such an amazing little title. I’ll talk about it more later this week, but wanted to touch on Sony’s other announcement: cross buying. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sly Cooper, Ratched and Clank and more PS3 titles will be coming with a Vita title bundled in! As long as it doesn’t cost more, I’m all ears.

Lots of good reviews coming in for Darksiders 2 and Sleeping Dogs! Still no interest?

Tuesday, 5:10 pm – Gavin

Vacation was great, thanks!

Just to clarify – Dear Esther is not a scary game (from what I’ve been told), and thechineseroom, developing Everybody’s Going to the Rapture, is the developer of Dear Esther.  I didn’t make that clear in my previous post.

Tuesday, 4:23 pm – Albert

Welcome back Gavin! I’m glad you had a good vacay and are back in action! I’m looking forward to checking out Dear Esther this weekend and getting a little gamentary on it. I’m sure it’s going to be a wild one. I haven’t really played a scary game in a long time actually. I better bring extra pants.

Sleeping Dogs does look interesting but I feel after Saints Row 3, any open world game has to be REALLY good. The city scenery seems too familiar right now. Maybe i’ll give it a try in the future, but for now i’ll pass.  I watched the joystiq review with Xav DeMatos and Mike Schramm which you can view here. It is the second video they created but I think it showed a little more of the gameplay mechanices. Check it.

I’m just going to refer all Nintento questions, comments and queries to Gavin. He is our info/phone man and he knows all about Nintendo. All hail hypnotoad… knowledge man? We’ll work on it.

In the meantime, i’ve been taking kinda a hiatus from gaming too. Life has been busy but when I have had time i’ve been playing this game called “Smoking Crack” aka Game Dev Story. I keep mentioning it but here is a screenshot of my victory.

Besides that i’ve just been waiting for more games to come out. I signed up for the SimCity closed beta… I suggest you do the same.

Ps. Yes, I made a Mahjong game to win the Grand Prize…. Mahjong Genre + Board Type = Awesome.

Tuesday, 8:54 am – Gavin

Behold my steely resolve.  Nothing new for me this time around.

Sleeping Dogs looks interesting, but after watching several trailers, I can’t help but shake the idea that it’s going to be a lot more style than substance.  However, one thing about SD does interest me, at least on a theoretical level – welterweight mixed martial arts champion Georges St-Pierre is a downloadable character.  Not the first game to feature an MMA fighter as DLC (Saints Row 3 had fellow welterweight Nick Diaz), but considering GSP’s star power and the fact that he is not that barely pubescent assbag Nick Diaz, I wonder if this will be better received.

Bearing in mind that I don’t have a 3DS, NSMBWii2 doesn’t overly grasp my attention, even as a devoted Mario knob-slobberer.  It doesn’t appear to be different enough from NSMBWii1 from what we’ve seen thus far.  I have no doubt that it would be entertaining in much the same way that all Mario games have this base level of entertainment for me, but it’s not going to make me run out and buy a 3DS, and if I had a 3DS, I definitely wouldn’t be lining up on release day.  NSMBWii1 was a highly enjoyable game, but a lot of that for me was the nostalgia factor more than the “great game” factor.  I think this is a case of Nintendo hamstringing themselves – it’s going to be very difficult to compete with Super Mario Galaxy 2 in terms of Mario platforming.  It was such a masterpiece that it’s raised the bar to heights that will be very difficult to surmount.  Can it be done?  Absolutely, because people said the same thing after World, 64, and Galaxy 1, but I fear that any Mario platformer that isn’t as good as SMG2 will sadly be judged against SMG2 and not on its own merits.

I’ve decided that I have a new game to look forward to.  Developer thechineseroom is currently working on a new title, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Admittedly, I haven’t played Dear Esther yet, but I know it to be a very artistic game, and that’s right up my alley (as an aside, make sure you tune in next week where we provide our commentary on Dear Esther, as the crew is doing a playthrough this weekend).  Here’s thechineseroom’s summary thus far, bearing in mind it’s still very much in development:

The story is still very much in development, but the key concept is this: many games set their action in a post-apocalpytic world. We want to try and create a game that takes place at the moment of apocalypse itself. What happens when time ceases to exist, when the world becomes empty. How do normal people respond to the end of the world itself?

It’s so simple, yet it sounds so brilliant.  The ambiguity at this point is enough to drive you crazy, but the very concept of the story is fascinating to me.

thechineseroom is also working on an expansion to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, entitled Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.  Amnesia: TDD is two years old now, and was released by Frictional, which had done well, but didn’t quite have the recognition to make this an insta-grab title for a lot of people.  They’ve since proven that Amnesia is a must-have for anyone even remotely interested in survival-horror.  I have it waiting in my Steam account, for when I’m not feeling like such a little child who needs bright colours and Mario.  Anyway, having seen some Let’s Play videos of a few scenes, I can say that the graphics and sound serve their functions perfectly.  However, they feel a bit utilitarian.  I wonder if thechineseroom will change the art style at all.

Otherwise, it’s the most wonderful time of the year – hearing about all of these games that will be released for the holiday season that I’m going to get for 75% off next summer.

Monday, 9:18 am – Ricky

How could I forget – it’s Gamescom this week! Zee Germans usually put on a good event, but whatever you do, don’t mention the war.

We’ll probably see some Holiday 2012 and Spring 2013 stuff, so we’ll keep an eye on that.

Monday, 9:06 am – Ricky

Just getting things started. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.