It’s a long weekend here in Canada. For some (awesome) reason, we get to celebrate Thanksgiving a full month before our neighbours to the South. It used to be that long weekends meant extra time to play video games. However, as we get older, that time turns to family and friends. Still, hopefully we’ll have some good stuff to talk about from our weekend – if not, we guarantee plenty of XCOM: Enemy Unknown talk throughout the week.

The other thing we guarantee this week is Extra Life talk! We’ll be taking part in the charity video game marathon this week instead of the planned date of October 20th because we said so, that’s why, stop asking us! On October 13th at midnight, we’ll begin our quest (pun intended) to play games for 24 hours as we raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. If you want to join us, check out this page for what we’re playing and how you can add us on the various systems we’re using!

Friday, 12:44 pm – matt

I’M BACK!!!!

after a tremendously long black out period, and an incredibly generous donation to the “matt plays games” fund. I have once again plugged back into the world of the Xbox 360 with internet connection being hooked up soon!

and the community hides in fear now I have returned.

speaking of the marching band, while very cool from the bleacher seats, anyone sitting anywhere near the sideline would have absolutley no idea what the hell was going on aside from chaotic running around…

ahh perspective….

Friday, 11:54 am – Gavin

Yikes, what a poor contributor I’ve been this week. Hope I can shore up a few deficiencies today and over the weekend.

Best of luck to the Extra-Lifers. I’ll be swinging by Ricky’s place on Saturday morning to help him through the mid-day grind. I’m secretly hoping to obliterate everyone at Trials HD again, which will go over well because everyone will be exhausted and I’ll be fresh and all up in their business.

First off, great video from the Ohio State Marching Band. That kind of coordination is great, and it’ s always fun to see “video games in the real world”. With the Pokemon segment at the beginning, it really made me think about how ubiquitous Pokemon is to so many people, age groups, cultures, etc., but how I’ve managed to get by in life without not only never playing a Pokemon game or watching a Pokemon cartoon, but also not knowing a single person who has ever played a Pokemon game or watched a Pokemon cartoon (though I’m sure someone on this site will now correct me).

Secondly, great write-up, Albert! As I’ve mentioned previously, I never played any of the previous X-COM games, so I don’t have any kind of burning desire or nostalgic pull to get this one, but the major reviewers are all giving it the thumbs-up, so perhaps next year when I find myself shy of titles, I can pick it up. Now, when you say the world is fully destructible, is it all actually fully destructible? Or are there invisible walls, or set pieces that can’t be destroyed? I long for the day when a game is put out where the environment is actually fully destructible but doesn’t look like Minecraft. If the latest offering from X-COM is that game, then I might just have to pick it up. I want nothing more than to pick up a first-person shooter where the environment is fully destructible, and then just lob RPGs at walls to make my own paths. I’ve yet to find that.

It’s a pretty quiet gaming week here. It was my real-life anniversary with my wife on Wednesday, so obviously that took precedence. I’ve got a some dedicated hours this weekend for firing through things. I’m currently still going through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, looking for completionist bonuses wherever I can find them. The game remains fabulous, but (and I really shouldn’t complain about this), I suppose I’m just too familiar with the original Deus Ex, because I can’t find my way around Detroit well enough. The apartment buildings are all something of a blur to me. I needed to find the arms dealer in the apartment block, and it took me three tries to get the right building, because they all kind of look the same.

I started up a run of Gears of War 3 again while the wife occupied the PC. I have to say, some of the complaints I had about it are fading away. I’m not desperately far into it again – I’ve just hijacked the Gas Barge and I’m on my way to Anvil Gate, but I’m realizing that it is slicker than I remembered. My biggest complaint remains, which is that there is no “fundamentally creepy” level like there was in the first two (the mining facility in 1, and the New Hope research facility in 2), and that was a major downer for me. You had some well-crafted levels, like the city covered in ash, but the creepiness just wasn’t there the way it was in the first two.

I also fired up the intro to Metroid Prime. Yargh, what a perfect goddamn adventure game that is. Like, if you like adventure games and games involving deep exploration, do yourself a favour and pick up a Wii and the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Between the three games, you’ll probably get about 100-150 hours of play time with crazy replayability, and while there were marked differences with Echoes and Corruption, you’ll see what is effectively a 3D transcription of Super Metroid, one of the best-designed games of all time.

In closing, try to see how many video game asses you can identify from this picture. I suppose it’s NSFW if you work for a nunnery.

Friday, 8:17 am – Ricky

Well, tonight’s the night! Don’t forget to check our main Extra Life page for details on how to connect with us and to see what we’re playing in the moment. We’ll be tweeting as well so you can reach us there! Now, to the day job!

Thursday, 9:01 am – Ricky

Great write-up on XCOM Albert – I haven’t spent more than an hour in the game, but that’ll change this coming Saturday with Extra Life.

I forgot about another title that released this past week – Retro City Rampage. Some of you may remember the trailer we posted here a few months ago; if so, you’ll be happy to learn the game is not available on most systems. I’ll probably pick it up for something to play on the couch during Extra Life and while my fiancée watches wedding programs.

I don’t think any of us are going to play Dishonored right away, so you’ll just have to research it on your own. XCOM and Retro City Rampage have the Gamentary Seal of Approval® this week!

Thursday, 6:53 am – Ricky

Albert, I’mma let you finish, but the award should go to the Ohio State marching band:

You can read more about the making of the show here.

Wednesday, 10:43 pm – Albert

Wing Commander: Star Citizen eh? I’ll have to keep that in mind, but in the meantime, XCOM: Enemy Unknown has been taking up a lengthy amount of my time… in case you were wondering where I was…

Guys — Play this game.

That is all.

OK, that won’t do…

I’m about 12+ hours into the game and I put about 100+ hours into the original X-COM: UFO Defense so I was initially skeptical that Firaxis would be able to duplicate all the different aspects that I enjoyed so much about the original game released in 1993. I spoke about playing the Demo last week so once I went through the tutorial again in the game I was on my way to saving Earth from little grey aliens. My initials impressions with this game went beyond my expectations. XCOM has always been two fold – geoscape tactics and turn-based action. Both have been tremendously streamlined. Now, usually, when I read or say streamlined, it’s “dumbing down” a product. With XCOM, this is not the case.

Explosions.. Explosions Everywhere!

There are some notable changes that have been done with the game that really improve the quality and convenience of the game. For example, in the original, you had to place multiple bases on the geoscape map in order to detect aliens and have the ability to scan actitives with your radar. In the newest iteration, you only have to create one main base. However, you create different hangars and satellites in which you place around the world, which gives you the ability to just concentrate on one base and not have to spend time sending these resources over to another base and planning multiple bases. I found myself spending so much time juggling resources, personnel, and tasks with various bases in the original that it would consume most of my time. Another change that has happened is that you are only able to engage one aircraft against UFOs at a time (as far as I know). I’m not as happy about this change because I loved having multiple fighters take on a UFO but this is to make every aircraft count.

This is something that has changed with the way that Soldiers are viewed in XCOM: Enemy Unknown as well. Soldiers are much more of a precious commodity than they were in the original. In the original I packed about 16 people into a Skyranger and landed them next to a UFO with a rifle and a grenade. No extra clips, armor or what have you. If they killed someone -Great. If they died, I would buy more soldiers. The point is, that the latest version has you caring about your squad. You are limited to six spots on a Skyranger this time around and each time you soldier performs well in the field, he/she is awarded with a promotion (similar to the original). However, with the promotion comes new abilities. While I wish I could have more control on how many squad mates I could deploy, the inclusion of classes has made each soldier important and unique. The classes range from Heavy, Sniper, Support, and Assault each with their own strengths and skill trees, i.e. Heavy can use rocket launchers, etc. I have to say that losing a high ranked solider can have you screaming at your computer. One critical shot, or a well executed flank can have your soldiers name up on the memorial wall. Speaking of which, the combat in the game has been improved in numerous ways. In the original, I would run all my guys out and always leave 3 Time Units to have them kneel. Kneeling made you hard to hit and quite frankly, sounds/looks ridiculous if you think about it. I mean, you take a couple of steps forward and just kneel in the middle of a field hoping that the enemy shoots over your head. This has been changed. Your units automatically snap to cover when you move them into positions that can provide protection. Oh yeah, and you don’t have to constantly juggle ammo/clips for your soldiers and ships. At first, I was missing it, but then I thought of all the hours I put into being “Well… I have 5 jet fighters, and they each have one avalanche launcher, and one plasma… i just went on a mission and used 2 grenades… shot about 7 clips worth…carry the ten….”

The world is fully destructible as the original, but there are a couple of things that I miss about UFO Defense. The shooting in this game is purposeful, and that might sound like a silly thing to say, but what I mean is that when you shoot at an enemy, you either hit him or it goes past him. In the original I remember taking shots and accidently hitting another alien or missing an autoshot and hitting my own teammate. Now, why would I want that? I don’t know, but it was always hilarious to know that the possibility of me missing my target and hitting his buddy next to him would result in a funny surprise. There are also some slight UI and environment issues in the game. There have been times where I am trying to explore an enemy ship but the wall keeps flickering or does not show me the roof where I can have one my men grapple onto it. Besides these minor gripes, I have to say, as an old XCOM fan, that the newest version has brought me all the emotions that I experienced with XCOM: UFO Defense. It was clear that Firaxis paid close attention to the original and if you’ve played the first one you’ll notice that they use the same names and even include some of the original pictures.

WOW. That was long. I’m sure i’ll yammer on in a podcast soon!

In other news, extra life is coming up fast! Our main alpha man Ricky has been fund raising and planning his 24 hour gaming session in which I plan to be right there with him gaming away. XCOM, Borderlands 2, Company of Heroes, Diablo III, TFC: Mann vs Machine, and more shall be played! Donate now! Who doesn’t love games and healthy kids?

Wednesday, 3:55 pm – Ricky

DUDES!!!! From the creator of Wing Commander: Star Citizen.

Wing Commander + Freespace + Privateer = Star Citizen. Would you like to know more?

Read articles from Shacknews and Rock Paper Shotgun to whet your appetite, then pledge on the (back-up) Star Citizen site! (since the main went down in minutes due to overwhelming traffic) Unfortunately, I don’t have more time to talk about this right now, but wanted it out on everyone’s radar. PLEDGE!!! DO IT!!!

DO IT!

Wednesday, 8:17 am – Gavin

I also know little to nothing about either game. I know of them, but that’s about as far as it goes. Dishonored was in the pipeline at the same time as Darksiders 2, and I kept confusing the two of them even though there are little to no similarities beyond a name starting with D, so I just decided to abandon ship and return to familiar territory.

The whole steampunk genre never really captured my attention. Perhaps because my initial exposure to it wasn’t literature or games, but rather cosplay by fans of both. I had heard it described as “when goths discovered the colour brown” and it just stuck with me. Advertising something as being in a steampunk environment, or being inspired by the steampunk art style, does absolutely nothing to grab my attention. Zeppelins! Zeppelins, cogs, and gauges EVERYWHERE.

Tuesday, 5:27 pm – matt

I burnt myself out working on the graphic for the homepage… 😉

In all seriousness I have little to no knowledge on xcom or dishonored, guess im just out of the loop these days in console gaming. I just recently unlocked the Platinum trohpy for compelting soundshapes, does that count for anything?

Tuesday, 8:27 am – Ricky

Wow, guess we’re all recovering from a turkey coma. I’m sure XCOM will jump start the conversation today – I plan on playing later tonight with initial impressions coming tomorrow! Reviews for both XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dishonored have been great so far, making for some spoiled gamers in October. Looks like it’s the PC version of Dishonored that you want, with screen tearing and other visual hiccups affecting the console versions. XCOM seems to be showing well on all platforms, and I have assurances from the 2K community manager that playing with a controller feels natural, so I might give that a shot on PC (though, I played the demo with mouse and keyboard at it felt great).

Rise and shine gamentarians!

Monday, 12:01 am – Ricky

Not actually posted at this time – I used sneaky Internet skills to get it done so I don’t interrupt one of my few chances to sleep in.

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