Once a year, gamers are spoiled with riches. This is that time of year. There’s no shortage of amazing gaming experiences to be had, but there always seems to be a shortage of time in which to have them. With the next big thing always around the corner, it takes some good willpower not to jump on a new title each week. I’m sure Albert and I can learn a thing or two from Gavin, matt and Preezie.

We definitely took advantage of the weekend, and with our early run of Extra Life on Saturday, we got to play a ton of games. The next couple weeks also look good for catching up, with only a couple major releases. Plus, this Friday we’ll have a special guest on the podcast! Everything’s coming up Milhouse.

Saturday, 3:31 pm – Ricky

October 20, 2012 – The 5th Chair (where we host Jaime Woo from Gamercamp, and make a right mess of it)

Gamentary Round 13 – October 20 2012 (right click and “Save As” to download the mp3, or use the player below)

Friday, 3:12 pm – Albert

Amazing coverage and post on the latest Assassin’s Creed. I still have to go through AC: Revelations but after reading the post I really really need to do that quickly. I love that you have lots of open space and have other things to do besides killing people. I always enjoyed building up the city and training assassins in the previous versions. Hey, i’m the guy who thought it was cool you could cook meat in Skyrim. I mean… that’s realism.

I’m getting pumped for Hitman: Absolution and after watching this trailer I can’t wait to see what scenarios are awaiting me.

Also! Minecraft is receiving a HUGE update called the Pretty Scary Update. I know i’m the only one who plays it on here but my god people…. check it out! ITS AWESOME.

Looking forward to podcasting with Jaime Woo from Gamercamp tonight! Stay tuned for the upcoming casting of the pod for your ear holes!

Friday, 10:58 am – Ricky

The event took place in Toronto’s Distillery District, which lends itself well to the colonial theme of the game.

Preezie and I had a chance to check out the latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed series last night. Let me preface what you’re about to read with the following: I love Assassin’s Creed. I’ve been playing the series since the start, and I gave it much more love than others at the time. I saw something special: An opportunity to have a free-roaming adventure game in any place, at any time in history.

Since that first game, we’ve spent a lot of time in the cradle of Western civilization. From Damascus, to Rome, to Istanbul (not Constantinople), we’ve seen some of history’s most glorious cities beautifully recreated by Ubisoft Montreal and their compatriots at various studios worldwide. But Assassin’s Creed marks the first time we travel stateside, and specifically, to a period of time when large, scaleable, clusters of buildings weren’t very common. It worried me when it was first announced – an Assassin’s Creed game set in Boston and New York during the civil war? How the heck were they going to pull it off?

Trees. Water. Forests of wild animals. Bustling, growing cities, populated by a variety of characters going about the business of separating from the monarchy. To say that Ubisoft has expanded the horizons of the series is an understatement. This game is ambitious.

This is the Creative Director of Assassin’s Creed 3, Alex Hutchinson, narrating a demo. The guy playing the demo failed 5 times, so maybe they should have switched.

Although the team is used to modelling at least a few cities in each of the previous games, there are only 2 major cities in this game. But between Boston and New York City is the vast wilderness, wild ocean waters, and a smattering of small villages. Traversing between the various missions can be done on horseback, on foot, and likely by fast travel, too. But when we jumped into the game, we found that, much like Red Dead Redemption, the environment between the hubs is just as engrossing. Hunting, fishing, and sharpening your tomahawk skills on smaller batches of guards are part of the game between missions. No doubt there will be side quests and rewards for playing around in the wild.

Like a boss.

When we finally got into Boston, we had a good grasp on things. Some slight changes in the mechanics (loading new weapons happens in a full-screen menu now, and active running no longer requires “the claw” on the right shoulder button) took some getting used to, and a whole new counter system gave us some death screens, but once we got into the flow of things, what we witnessed was beautiful. The animation engine – from fight moves to climbing and everything in between – has been revamped. Hutchinson told us that, when linked together, watching the fight animations would take an hour. We saw a ton of different kill moves, and transitioning from guard-to-guard is still just as satisfying as in previous games. As always, stealth, follow, and protect missions are present, but after trying those out, we mostly just ran around killing redcoats.

Of course he’s back. But will this be Desmond’s swan song?

We also got a chance to go hands-on with the Playstation Vita game Assassin’s Creed: Liberations, staring the series first female playable character, Aveline. Set during the same time period, the game takes on a different environment. We saw the swampland of Louisiana, though I’m sure there’s more to it than just mud and water. We also wrestled multiple alligators and stole their eggs. So, yeah, there’s that. When I first picked up the game, I was in a mission where I was following someone in a canoe. The helpful Playstation rep told me I could use the “awesome” rear touch controls to paddle. After a minute of rowing in circles, the opposite direction of my guide, or into rocks, I gave up and just tapped X a bunch of times. Touch for the sake of touch, indeed. Still, the game looked good, but I had a bit of a cramped feeling. The camera was cropped in very closely on Aveline, and manipulating the camera was often a chore. I’m sure some more time with the game would make me more comfortable with the controls; as it was, i just killed some bandits, looted some treasure, and went back to it’s big brother.

Boston still gets vertical, and the views are still sprawling.

I’d be remiss to omit the following: We were playing on the Playstation 3, and with the release only a couple of weeks away, I would assume the game is in it’s final state. That said, I witnessed both Connor flying majestically through the air on his own, AND while riding a horse. Two separate occasions. I hope these were just glitches in a near final build, but these days, I almost expect there will be launch day bugs.

The venue was great, and there was plenty of space for game kiosks.

Naval warfare, multiplayer, and present-day Desmond are all things we didn’t get to experience ourselves, but we’re both eagerly anticipating the launch. I expect people will be very happy with this latest entry – Ubisoft has my trust, and they haven’t betrayed it yet. I’ll just be picking up the Xbox 360 version to be sure.

Friday, 7:39 am – Ricky

Real quick on advertising – I think the biggest o.o.h. (that’s “out of home” for you non-marketing nerds) advertising I saw for a game was Grand Theft Auto 4. An apartment building on Bloor near Huron here in Toronto had a MASSIVE picture of Niko pulling on a pair of gloves. I was pretty hyped by that point, and that point me over the edge.

Incoming post about Assassin’s Creed 3!

Thursday, 5:25pm – matt

I saw there’s a ps package that will include the new assassin creed game vita version, so keep your eyes peeled for that ubi-fans.

I actually have to disagree with Gavin on the advertising front. I feel big time advertising for gaming came with the original Playstation. I remember seeing commercials for Final Fantasy 7, and who can forget Crash Bandicoot storming the parking lots of Nintendo and Sega challenging them to fights.

Thursday, 7:50 am – Ricky

Today’s the day Preezie and I get to play Assassin’s Creed 3 and the Vita’s Liberations! Really looking forward to the event – we’re both pretty big fans of the series, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table. I think this may be Desmond’s finale, but the introduction of Connor as the new playable character is pretty exciting. The billboard below arouses me.

Unfortunately, looks like the Castle Story prototype went out pretty late in the day yesterday, and the servers were promptly slammed, jammed to the point where I’m not sure if my login troubles are a result of the server or my old brain forgetting my password. Still, looking forward to giving it a run when it finally gets up to speed. I also got an invitation to the Primal Carnage beta. Here’s what you need to know: humans vs. dinosaurs. Yes, you can play as the dinosaurs. Think of it as Left 4 Dead Versus mode in the cretaceous era. I’ll report on it on the podcast tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9:44 am – Gavin

What you might have seen this morning

Above picture from Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.

Do you remember the first time you saw a video game advertisement in a major medium like a billboard, newspaper, or TV commercial? I feel like it didn’t really hit the big time until the latest generation of consoles. I first “big time” ad for a specific game that I recall was the Gears of War/Mad World trailer that really appeared to start the cinematic trailer trend. The Wii had some major advertising pushes as well, but those were for the console as a whole, not for a specific game. I imagine this is different in Japan, and it’s been around for years, but the major media push has only occurred quite recently in North America.

Tuesday, 10:53 pm – Albert

There are some changes in Diablo III with a patch being put in tomorrow which extends EVEN MORE gameplay into the franchise. Ricky and I played maybe 30-45 minutes of Diablo III during the 24 hour marathon… That was… Fun.

We also mentioned we played Borderlands 2 with Preezie and now there is a new DLC arriving tomorrow for all platforms! More content for us to plow through counting numbers and hoping each box we find has better guns! I hope there is a slot machine DLC soon. Check out the video below from Joystiq highlighting the DLC.

Borderlands 2 DLC

Tuesday, 6:52 pm – Albert

I had a pony on Liverpool! I was having a laff!

Congrats Ricky on the ExtraLife Marathon! I’m glad I could be there for 21 of the hours! We went through so many epic games and I have to say that MVM, Company of Heroes, and Left 4 Dead were my favorite games of the night/day. We had some epic battles and lots of amazing gaming experiences. It’s one of those “Be careful what you wish for” opportunities where it feels like there is never too much of a good thing but I think we managed to make it enjoyable all round.

I’m looking forward to trying Castle Story! It really appeals to my addictive side that I love in Minecraft-meets-Stronghold-meets-Terraria type of games.

I’ve been mainly replaying my second playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Unknown on Classic difficulty which i’m finding much, much, harder… and i’m looking forward to talk about it more when Ricky has completed his first playthrough. The first playthrough took me about 25 hours to complete. In other news, I watched this video last week but I have to post it here to make sure no one misses it. It’s about SimCity. It’s going to be on Origin only, what do you guys think about that?

Tuesday, 1:19 pm – Ricky

Ah Gavin, they’re havin’ a laff!

Albert and I will be a having a laff tomorrow with the prototype of Castle Story. Released to Kickstarter backers with a certain pledge level, the prototype of the game was originally planned to be submitted to the IGF (Independent Games Festival), but the plan was scrapped. Instead, the developers will continue to pour hours of their lives into the Minecraft-meets-Stronghold-meets-Terraria point-and-click RPGesque RTS. Confused? Watch the video below.

The beta is set to release later this year, and will follow the Minecraft formula of release by updating the beta to the final version.

Tuesday, 9:42 am – Gavin

I am legally obliged to inform you that the expression “Having a laugh” was popularized Ricky Gervais’ Extras, not The IT Crowd.

Tuesday, 9:07 am – Ricky

Sorry Gavin, the video matches the post title, but I had to throw in the Arsenal mention. HAD TO.

Yeah, Saturday was crazy – I’m still recovering from the marathon. It was great fun for a great cause, and yet I’ve realized I could never do it again. My mind is willing but my near-30 year old body is weak and fragile. Sunday was basically a complete wash and I’m still feeling the effects today.

Here’s a snapshot of what I saw at midnight. As Gavin mentioned: We couldn’t have timed it better.

That bridge blew up, like, .03 seconds later.

Monday, 12:24 pm – Gavin

TV show from headline doesn’t match first video. YARGH NERD RAGE.

Congratulations on surviving a 24 gaming run, Ricky! I sure as hell couldn’t do it. I was happy to take part in the Gears of War 3 running, and in the Left 4 Dead 2 massacre. The blog link doesn’t do it justice, but Ricky advised us that he wouldn’t play any games a minute past midnight, so with Preezie leading the charge, we fired through the Parish campaign of Left 4 Dead 2, and we all piled into the helicopter at the end of the bridge stage literally at dot-on midnight, with nobody left behind. It was quite the way to cap off a great day.

I had my own gaming weekend of sorts, as I played more Deus Ex: Human Revolution than I care to admit. I also finished my own campaign of Gears of War 3, separate from Ricky’s. Had finished it before, but wanted to give it another go. I remain thoroughly committed to completing every single side quest in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and to exploring every room. I want to maximize my experience with this game. I have more “Praxis” points than I expected at this point though (Praxis points are the points you use to upgrade your augmentations). I’ve just reached the third urban hub (Montreal), and I’ve already maxxed out my inventory size, my hacking stealth, my hacking capabilities, my back augmentations, and I’ve almost maxxed out my arm strength. All because I’ve been exploring like crazy and performing all of the side quests. You receive “Praxis” points by either finding kits on the ground, or by completing missions (5000 XP = 1 Praxis Point). I still have a lot to go, but I’ve just entered the third urban hub. If this game is as large in scope as the original Deus Ex, then I’ll be a stealthy walking tank well before I hit the final mission.

I did have my first real “boss” fight (I talked my way out of fighting Zeke Sanders when it was clear that the game did not want you to fight him). I can see where some of the complaints may lie. I had a combat rifle (medium-powered lethal weapon) with a damage upgrade and a laser sight, and the whole battle took me all of about ten seconds – hide behind cover, move slightly to the side, pop up and unload right between the eyes. Move cover once, repeat. Like, 10 seconds is not an exaggeration. I didn’t even need all of the ammo stored around the battle site. But still, I suppose a lot of this was due to the fact that I conserve ammo like crazy, so my guy could have stormed Normandy and not been desperately outgunned.

Other complaints? Nothing much. The game really, REALLY captures the essence of the first Deus Ex, while streamlining appropriately and implementing enough to make it feel new. Square Enix seems to think that women in the future are either scientists or prostitutes, as there is an obscene amount of both in this game, and the effort they put in towards making one specific minor character actually look aged has not been replicated anywhere else so far. But on point? Voice acting. The original Deus Ex was a combination of awesome voice acting (Bob Page, Walton Simons, Jaime Reyes) and TERRIBLE voice acting (almost everyone else). This one is much sharper. The accents of the EFL speakers in Shanghai are great. Obviously, a ton happened in the world of video games over the last 12 years, but you can tell that Square Enix really banked on this being a hit, as there is serious money put towards hiring good voice talent.

Speaking of voice talent, another game that is a good mix of talent and terror is Gears of War 3. The major characters are generally fine (though someone definitely told the voice of Sam to “ramp up the Aussie”), and Ice-T shows up to be a badass for a few minutes, but most of the supporting characters are almost comedic. I feel bad saying this, but Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of Klaus from American Dad, provides the voices for three specific characters (Prescott, Ash Man, The Old Man), and they are all ABSOLUTELY AWFUL. Just pure comedy value, but completely unintentional. I don’t think it’s his fault, but whoever told him to do those voices like that probably shouldn’t be working on AAA titles. I have plenty of beefs with the delivery of the Gears of War story, but in general I tend to dig the art direction, even if the colour palette is as wide-ranging as washed-out greys to washed-out browns. However, some of the voice acting just seems so out-of-place. Lester Speight as Cole fits well considering the nature of Cole’s character. But some of those other voices, they’re Deus Ex-bartenders in the Old China Hand and Lucky Money-bad.

I also spent a good chunk of Sunday wrestling with the Steam Cloud. A good idea in theory, but the saves on the Steam Cloud were not as recent as my local saves, and I accidentally clicked “Use the saves from my Steam Cloud” when it synched, so I lost an hour or so of gameplay as I had to repeat the Detroit Police mission. Frustrating, because it was an accident and I couldn’t recover. The internet is filled with similar complaints to mine. In the end, I just disabled the Steam Cloud for every game so that this won’t happen again.

Monday, 8:00 am – Ricky

The thing about Arsenal is, they always try to walk it in!