Daryl and Merle team up in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct this week. Note that this is a first person shooter, and has no relation to the award winning The Walking Dead from Telltale games last year. Sure, the brand is hot right now, so why not license it out for a few titles? Telltale did good by both fans and critics. Will Terminal Reality (the developer that brought us Kinect Star Wars and Ghostbusters) treat the license the same way?

I’m educated enough in games to know that this one could very well be the 2nd massive flop in as many months (*cough* Aliens *cough*). That said, I wouldn’t stop anyone from buying the game before or after release, regardless of the rating. It’s up to them to decide what they want, even if there’s a critically acclaimed licensed title out there for them to get their fix.

If someone – let’s say a 50 year-old dad-looking dude – were standing in line in-front of you at Walmart and asked the cashier for Aliens: Colonial Marines for his kid, what would you do?

Sunday, 4:48 pm – Team

Consider yourself serenaded (where we talk about all the good things and the bad things we can do) 

We seem to be alternating between live and Skype casts lately – this is a Skype week with Albert, matt and Ricky sharing everything they’ve been up to for the last month.

  • SimCity
  • League of Legends
  • Forza Horizon
  • Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6
  • Lara Croft
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Assassin’s Creed 3 and 4
  • Ridiculous Fishing

Gamentary Round 20 – March 24 2013 (right click and “Save As” to download the mp3, or use the player below)

Friday, 8:09 am – Ricky

So, is Albert a LoL whale or a true fan? I find free-to-play monetization models really fascinating – I’ve yet to read Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future Of A Radical Price, but it’s very quickly moving up my list.

No SimCity for me last night! I was all wrapped up in Lara Croft’s story. I’m about halfway through the main story line now, maybe 6 hours in or so, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. How Long to Beat says a complete run will take 17 hours, but I can see myself spending a few hours longer exploring and soaking in the environment. Every time I discover a secret temple, I dive in and soak up the atmosphere. The dynamic camera in this game is incredibly cinematic, as it tilts and pans to show Lara eyeing ancient carvings and statues, illuminating them with her torch as she moves down a path. These are player-controlled moments, but the game seamlessly integrates player-controlled scenes with in-game cut-scenes to give it an epic movie feel.

Epic. Yep, I said it. I’m not a big fan of throwing that word around, but it fits here. The story, character progression, combat, game design, sound design, you name it: It all culminates in to a game that is quickly becoming one of my favorite games of this generation.

Thursday, 1:41 pm – Albert

Incredible GOTY material right there! The zombies are just very in-tune with the player and are highly intelligent! Their ability to claw at gates no matter what side they are at, or to stay standing when there is crouching/crawling room is awesome. That being said, unfortunately, I do not have gaming time to devote to it… maybe after some Aliens: CM.

In reality – I’ve been making more time for gaming and it’s been divided (although not evenly) between SimCity and LoL.

I’ve realized that although League of Legends is free, I’ve spent as much on it as a mid-tier console game – $40-45. This is how I can justify that it’s a great game. The things that I’ve spent the money on are – 1. Characters 2. Skins. Yes Skins. The hats of TF2. They are addictive but the real spending is on the characters. There are so many characters and new ones come out quite frequently but they are all scaled and balanced. Quite a competitive game and fully understanding each role (i.e. Jungler, Tank, ADC, Support, etc) can be quite a task but when you win and have a great game full of teamwork – it’s all worth it. One last thing about LoL that I’ve been enjoying is the Honor system. It’s summed up like this – if you feel your teammate was: helpful, had good teamwork, was friendly – you can honor them. They get a point and eventually they get a badge displaying that they have good teamwork etc. You can also honor your opponents as being gracious in defeat and humble in victory. You can also report the shit outta someone. Regardless, this user to user feedback is what drives better games and better teamwork in my opinion.

I spent 3 hours with Simcity last night and I have to say that it is a pretty addictive game. It looks incredible and it is easy to lose several hours in it without even noticing. As Ricky had mentioned, we have a new region we are both in. I created my little oil town (which overlays show that it’s 60% oil) and I was pumping out oil as soon as I specialized in Trading and Oil. Within hours I had expanded my town from end to end filled with residential, industrial, and commercial zones. I have fire, police, water, power, schools, waste, trash, bus, streetcar, parks, college facilities… but soon I realized that I was running out of space. The oil derricks took up a lot of my space – as I was specialized in oil, but I realized that the petrol HQ (you get it after you complete all upgrades), needed space for a refinery  This takes up MASSIVE space and it also has upgrades which plop down extra buildings. If that makes no sense all you need to understand is this: Simcity makes the incentive to specialize to play “properly” but it really does not give enough space for you to specialize, create your essentials (and upgrade them), and continue to grow. I always need more workers and I have no space to house them forcing me to rely on neighbors or create another region. Basically making this “Simcities”. While i’m sure i’m not the first one to figure this out it is disappointing that I cannot just create a massive city that is self sustaining. Now that i’m done with that region (albeit forced) I guess i’ll have to specialize in something else on another region… that will be until I run out of regions.

Wednesday, 2:31 pm – Ricky

Well, looks like we have our verdict! The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is GOTY.

Gatorade Nut Punch!

Wednesday, 12:23 pm – Ricky

Of all the weeks for Gavin to be away, this is now officially the worst. Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut has been announced for the Wii U. This version will come with all the fixings, including DLC that’s integrated into the main storyline, “touchscreen hacking, interactive map editing, augmented sniping, grenade throwbacks, and many other neural hub enhancements.” From the Joystiq article:

Eidos Montreal also says the Wii U version brings improvements to the game’s boss fights, balance, combat, AI, and visuals, along with developer commentaries, in-game guides, and Miiverse integration.

While I’m sure fans are excited (we’ve all heard about how awesome this game is from Gavin), there might be a few hang-ups: This is a 2011 game on Nintendo’s brand new system, and it’s likely going to be in the $50-$60 range, where the title is regularly on sale for $5 on Steam. That said, this sounds like it’ll be the definitive version, and assuming we won’t see it anywhere else, the boss fight improvements, balancing, etc. could all justify the price tag and possible 2nd purchase for many folks.

Wednesday, 9:40 am – Ricky

Man, I’m on a total board game kick recently. This article from Kotaku on team-based board games has me all in a tizzy, particularly Memoir ’44 and Memoir ’44: Operation Overlord. We need to get some board game nights going soon!

Wednesday, 8:12 am – Ricky

Looks like there are some positive user reviews of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct kicking around. Metacritic has a few, and the various sites I frequent have a few as well. Of course, there are some negative ones in there, too. The only media review I can find is Polygon’s – click the link, but I can save you the trouble if you like. They hated it.

Forget about bad or even mediocre games! I was in gaming nirvana last night. Everything lined up perfectly: I’d completed my P90X routine early in the morning, my fiancée was out of the house, and all my games were patched up to date and working (looking at you, SimCity!).

So, I went on a tear. First, I got a couple of hours in on SimCity. Albert and I now have a region in North America East 1 with 7 cities and 1 great work. I’ll be specializing in education in the first city, and Albert sounds like he wants to go the oil route. Really looking forward to finally getting more than 1 city going in a region and seeing how the resource sharing works.

Next up, Tomb Raider. If I hadn’t played Spec Ops: The Line this year, this would have already taken my “favorite game I’ve played this year” title. As it stands though, it’s still just simply another stellar game I’ve been playing. The gameplay is smooth, intuitive and rewarding: I’ve been upgrading my basic bow to make it stronger and fire faster. I’ve used it almost exclusively in skirmishes, even ones where I’m out-numbered and out-gunned. Yes, I’ve wounded folks with an arrow to the knee, but I’ve also distracted them by zipping an arrow into a nearby wall then scrambling to a better position, and I’ve popped a lantern or two, setting guards ablaze and panicking others.

The enemy AI is great, and reacts to each situation the way you would expect: long-range weapon-equipped enemies scramble behind cover, while those with swords try to run up close. They’re constantly using the environment to set-up a better position for themselves while I attempt to do the same. Oh, and these environments… So full, rich, and open for discovery. This is a game that I’ll get lost in, where I’ll work on the main story, then double-back and take on the role of explorer, looking for secret tombs and hidden artifacts. Of course, the whole thing looks incredible. The XBOX 360 isn’t showing it’s age with this one.

Finally, I wrapped up with some Forza Horizon and Skate 3 with matt and another buddy of ours. I really am digging this racing game, and Skate is an old favorite of ours. All in all, a great night of gaming! I’ll have some more time to dive into Tomb Raider later this week, and tune in this weekend for a podcast where it will be lauded with praise.

Tuesday, 1:41 pm – Albert

I’m excited to hear how Tomb Raider is! I’ve read mostly good things about it. It sounds interesting but I honestly haven’t really been into Tomb Raider since… like… maybe the 3rd or 4th. There are so many. I hear you can wound guys’ legs and they hobble. Like an arrow to the knee! (ZING)

Anyways, huge news for EA but not overly surprising considering their recent launches have not been successful and cost quite a bit to make. Not sure if SimCity was the tipping point, but maybe they are just trying to revamp their reputation and hope that Johnny boy hauls the “Worst Company Ever” baggage with him.

More to our topic this week – am I the only one late one to this party? I don’t know whether to be excited, or have my usual pessimistic view of TV/Movie to Game expectations set. The last game I thought was good ended up getting  bad reviews (Omerta Gangsters) and I didn’t buy it when it was 10% off on Steam. I regretted it and wanted to buy it but controlled myself. That rarely happens. Here’s another video to go with the first trailer!

Tuesday, 11:29 am – Ricky

Must… play… Tomb Raider. Tonight. Oh yes, tonight.

Tuesday, 8:37 am – Ricky

Wow, big big news at EA. Really interesting that Joystiq thinks Peter Moore is the heir apparent – I’m of the opinion that EA bring in someone from the outside. When a company fails to meet financial projections, a board will often consider a “course correction” or “fresh take” on the business. I’ll be following this one closely.

Monday, 5:06 pm – Albert

Wicked Shoes! I love fallout memorabilia. I can’t wait to get my own working pipboy!

Here’s a post written by Joystiq that I thought was worth sharing. Conclusion: EA CEO John Riccitiello resigns. This is the official one!

What? No? Him? I didn’t see it coming.

Monday, 4:32 pm – matt

check out these sweet vault 101 sneaks from bethesda. awesome?

vault101sneakers-610x350

what other videogame inspired clothing do we need?

Monday, 2:32 pm – Albert

Happy Monday Gamentarians!

Great post Ricky – I always wanted to go to Snakes and Lattes! It sounds awesome! That pandemic game in particular sounds like the iOS game that probably spawned from the board game. Sounds really fun. I actually saw a zombie co-op board game while I was at the mall the other day. Definitely seemed interesting.

Well, for the past week you’ve been hearing Ricky talk about Simcity and its troubles and just issues. I am here to stand by every word. This game, while has some great features, is just not what I expected. And perhaps that is just subjective. I spent my first 5 hours with the game last night and while it did manage to get me to play it for 5 hours, I feel slightly disappointed. Not even touching the server shit that EA put people though (I wasn’t able to find time to play it until Saturday) – I found that Simcity has certain limitations which i’m none too pleased about.

1. Limited Space – Given that Simcity inherently wants to make you specialize in a mining, oil drilling, trade, culture, etc – it makes you scope your overlays. This lets you see your oil deposits for example. Given my experience with Tropico, I usually prioritize money first. So I turned the half of my city limits into industry. This left me with a small section for commercial and residential zoning. Needless to say, I ran out of people to run my industry hub and really… if you try to make your city nice instead of just cramming everything into a block by block soulless city, then maybe i could have maximized the space, but instead I had to create a new town FROM scratch to start to support for city 1.

2. Regions – While these regions are great and ENCOURAGE team play – I cannot help but wish that I had a single player aspect that I could have selected. I was playing a region by myself and ended up having to play both regions to support each other. My city 2 was put together quickly to try and compensate for city 1’s lack of workers. And I thought, well city 1 is based on oil so i’ll just send money over to city 2. Wrong. City 1 wasn’t generating any money while I was in City 2 so I had to just sit there in a city which I couldn’t expand… couldn’t get workers…

3. Where is delete a city? My first city sucked. Sooo I was looking to get rid of it. I ended up just deleting the whole region but there is no delete city button.. I mean, they have to know that almost everyone’s first city is going to be shit… mine was.. haha. It was named City Shrimp.

There are many more aspects but I think I’ve bitched enough. If anyone is looking for a city simulator perhaps give the demo a try first. The always on DRM is annoying and I found myself after an hour exiting to main menu to make sure it saved my city after the warning I got from Ricky. Oh, and I forgot to mention in the tutorial it stalled in the “Reticulating Splines” loading phase for 20 minutes before I restarted it.

While this was only my first experience (and I had some fun… honestly) i’m sure i’ll do a politician flip-flop on the joy I get from this game. Once Ricky and I both get started in a region and I start to play what Maxis envisioned (EA envisioned $$$ and got it), perhaps i’ll like it more…

Oh – and I played some League of Legends – still loving it. Saw my first PENTA-KILL… ACE! Pretty pretty awesome. (If you don’t know what i’m talking about then you probably are cooler than me still)

Monday, 1:31 pm – Ricky

EA and Maxis have issued their email apology for the SimCity launch, and have announced the list of games from which customers can choose their one free game.

  • Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Bejeweled 3
  • Dead Space 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Mass Effect 3 (Standard Edition)
  • MOHW (Standard Edition)
  • NFS Most Wanted (Standard Edition)
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition

Some known and reputable titles, some not so reputable. I think it’s ironic that SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition is on offer – all of these customers ALREADY HAVE A SIMCITY GAME. For my part, I’ll likely pick-up Dead Space 3 with the goal of co-opping it with Preezie.

Is this still the right tactic for EA and Maxis? Sure, the apology and the game are nice, but are customers going to be happy? Seems like there are still some core gameplay issues people are struggling with, like inter-city resource-sharing, and some other gameplay pieces that are still disabled, like Cheetah game speed.

Monday, 9:54 am – Ricky

I had a great weekend of gaming – both of the video and board varieties.

Board Games

I had a chance to visit Snakes & Lattes here in Toronto, where each visitor pays $5 for unlimited board game play-time, there are craft beers on tap, and a super friendly (and extremely knowledgeable!) staff. If you have the means, I highly recommend paying them a visit. It’s so choice.

One of the folks we were with had played a few games of 7 Wonders, so he was able to quickly introduce it to us and get us going. It’s a great card game, with a really interesting “deck building” mechanic. We played with 4 players, and that would be the way I recommend it – it’s a 2 to 7 player game, but I can imagine anything less than 4 players would make the game slightly less strategic. If you’re into games like Dominion and Settlers of Catan, this is another “gateway” board game that’s easy to get non-board game folks to play.

We also played a really fascinating board game called Pandemic. It’s a 2 to 4 player co-op board game. I’d never played a co-op board game before, so the concept of working together was intriguing. The players are trying to save the world from 4 different diseases. Each player has a role that assigns them a set of abilities – for example, the Medic can cure all of one disease type in a city, or a Dispatcher can move other player pieces around the board when it’s their turn. The object of the game is to cure each of the 4 diseases, while avoiding being overrun by Outbreaks and Epidemics. We lost our first game at the cafe in spectacular fashion, but we still had a blast. A board game where you collectively lose but still have a good time? Sold. We bought a copy and played two more rounds at home that evening, both times with 4 players, once on Normal (more Epidemic cards) and once on Beginner, where we removed 1 Epidemic card and finally snagged a victory. A super challenging co-op board game that’s fun for 4, and hopefully works just as well for few players!

Video Games

I was graciously gifted a copy of Tomb Raider for Xbox 360 as an early birthday gift! I dug in to the first hour and a bit of the game and I’m thoroughly hooked. The game looks stunning and Lara controls like a dream. I can already feel myself compelled to find more time to dive deeper into the world, exploring the beautiful scenery and hidden treasures.

I also got some co-op gaming in with matt and another buddy. First, we tried to played Resident Evil 6, but unfortunately, there’s no mode for 3 people to play together in an organized fashion. The “horde mode”, called Mercenaries, is for 2 players, and each of the 4 campaigns are 2 player co-op. There are instances where there will be 4 players in 1 game, but it happens purely by chance, where you’re matched with 2 players at a similar point in a different campaign when the campaign you’re playing and the one their playing cross-over. Sounds complicated? It probably isn’t (hasn’t happened to us yet), but there’s no way to control who’s game you get placed in. Similarly, there’s  a mode called Agent Hunt, where you take on the role of an infected and get placed into someone else’s game. And again, there’s no way to control who’s game you get placed in to.

Instead, we landed on Forza Horizon. Man, this game. I’ve ignored to my own detriment, because it is clearly a stellar title with a lot to do. We played a few co-op challenges and quickly got lost in the game for a couple of hours as we tried to get the right cars for the right challenges. The car models, environment, challenge goals, everything lines up to create the nirvana of racing titles. I haven’t had a bad time with the game yet, but I also haven’t made time with the single player campaign. Hopefully, I can change that, but with SimCity and Tomb Raider now on deck, I’m happy to keep it as a co-op title for the time being.

Hopefully some more gaming for me this week! I have a feeling it’ll be a quiet one around these parts, what with Gavin overseas during the launch of LEGO City Undercover and none of us caring about the system. Granted, the game looks cool, but I’m… not ready for it. If you’re looking for a Wii Mini on the cheap and haven’t played Super Mario Galaxy, Dell Canada has it for $80 plus tax and shipping, so $45 in savings. Not a bad deal, but not one I’m sure many who already have a system (arguably, the majority who are interested in the Wii) will jump at.

Monday, 6:00 am – Ricky

Here’s a trailer to help with all that stuff up top.

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