Holy crap, are there ever a lot of games coming out this week. We’ve got Saints Row 4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and the little-fighter-that-could, Divekick.

matt suggested a great topic last week that kind of ties into the glut of releases at this time of year: Do you prefer to play lots of wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am short games that are awesome and compelling, or an equally awesome long, drawn-out game that requires an immense amount of time and your complete attention, stopping you from playing other games? 

I think we’re lucky enough to have a large sample size of both types of games. We saw The Fullbright Company’s game Gone Home release last week to great reviews. It’s a 2-3 hour title that’s packing a punch with critics. Other short titles that I’ve enjoyed over the years are Journey and Bastion. Of course, I’ve also sunk hundreds of hours into Rockstar titles. Assuming the quality of the content is equal, which type of experience do you prefer: Short and sweet? Or long and loving?

Thursday, 2:10 pm – Gavin

Note that my comment should not be interpreted disparagingly towards Nolan North.  Nolan North is an excellent voice actor. The reference to Nolan North specifically in Spec Ops was that North’s Captain Walker is a fairly generic character.  He’s got war stories, but he looks like any other soldier out there – there’s nothing distinct about him, which is completely the point of Spec Ops.  The player is supposed to meld into Walker so that the choices you make for him are the choices you make for yourself.  It was a game that pulled it off perfectly.  North was meant to be fairly bland, and he accomplished it extremely well.

However, I’m a slave to tradition, and Michael Ironside IS Sam Fisher to me.  Ironside’s voice is extremely distinct and his inflection perfectly matched the dialogue – serious, but with an ever-so-slight immaturity that only an aged and grizzled spy can pull off.  He wants to succeed, but he’s not quite taking it too seriously, like an aged spy with a death wish.  Very much like Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

I don’t know much about Eric Johnson beyond the fact that he’s been in a bunch of Canadian movies.  I hope that the new voice will grow on me, but I am doubtful.  It doesn’t mean he’s bad, but it’s not desperately distinct right now.  Kind of like Thomas Gibson from Criminal Minds.  Workmanlike, gets the job done with no complaints, but I don’t think I could pick his voice out of a crowd.  Meanwhile, someone like Ironside, or say Kiefer Sutherland, their voices are easy enough to pick out of a lineup that it works.  Sam Fisher’s personality has always been an omnipresent factor in the Splinter Cell games.  I know that this is something of a reboot, so I hope that as the game progresses, they carve out an appropriate identity for him.

Game looks ridiculously beautiful, but I haven’t played Conviction yet, so I’m not fully familiar with all of the controls.  I died a couple of times yesterday simply because I didn’t know what buttons to press; I had just been playing Double Agent with M+K anyway, so I was used to that.  It’s definitely bright and shiny, whereas SC 1-4 were much more muted and toned down.  Also, LENSFLARELENSFLARELENSFLARE everywhere.  But once you get past that, the level of detail is just spectacular, and the opening cutscene looks incredible.

Looking forward to picking it up for the Wii-U!

Thursday, 8:47 am – Ricky

Mobile platforms have definitely become a bigger part of my gaming life in recent years. I think it ties into the “short experience” idea: I don’t have a lot of time, and don’t want to invest too much of that time into learning new systems and mechanics. Hey! I have this mini-computer in my pocket that has thousands of low-cost or free experiences I can have wherever and whenever. They definitely aren’t of the caliber of most console or PC titles… yet. But they aren’t half-bad either! I’ve been playing:

  • Pocket League Story 2 from the amazing folks at Kairosoft
  • Breach & Clear, a Frozen-Synapsesque strategy game. It’s not turn-based really, because you input commands for each unit during the “Command Phase”, and your opponent does the same. Then, the soldiers on both sides carry out the orders at the same time.
  • Other mobile games I’ve downloaded but haven’t played include Sage Fusion, which was free on iOS until today (now $2.99 again), and Plants vs. Zombies 2, only on iOS right now and also free-to-play.

Gavin was over last night and we booted up Splinter Cell: Blacklist for the PC. Initial impressions were pretty good! It definitely carries over the graphical treatments from Conviction. The environment in the opening level looks great, character models all look phenomenal. I should mention, I’m playing this on my new MSI Nvidia GTX 760 – aside from my RAM, my machine is no slouch, so YMMV. That said, the recent strategic partnership announced by Nvidia and Ubisoft really shows in the title. Can’t wait to see what Assassin’s Creed 4 and Watchdogs look like.

But while the game looks good, I can’t help but admit that I immediately felt the absence of Michael Ironside’s voicework. Gavin nailed it (paraphrasing): “He sounds like Nolan North in Spec Ops: The Line. The character looks like your generic, muscle-bound, white male lead, and now he has the voice to match it”. It was Ironside’s voice that gave Sam Fisher the edge, that helped him seem like more than just a throwaway hero with a generic look. The new voice won’t grew on me, but I can at least hope that it doesn’t distract me.

I probably won’t be getting back to Blacklist for another few months. There’s too much to play, and tonight, I have a date with either Dishonored, The Last of Us, or that podcast we recorded before my wedding. Yeah, sorry, that’s a bit late…

Wednesday, 12:22 pm – matt

lets talk some gaming! ive been across all platforms these last couple of days, switching from PS3 to XBOX, VITA, BlackBerry, Ive done it all! I recently re-purchased RockBand and DJ Hero 2 for Xbox and PS3 (RockBand on X, Dj on PS) and been having a blast playing a few songs here and there. Its pretty crazy to think of how popular the music game genre was and literally overnight was gone. The market really didn’t justify the number of games, and more focus should have been on marketing a single game with an insane amount of DLC to find new songs, but I digress…

HotShots golf continues to be the best golf experience you can find, mixing an arcade approach to a generally boring game with the physics engine of a real golf game to deliver a fast and enjoyable experience. courses are broken down into 9 hoe challenges, perfect for a quick play session here and there.

Finally ive really started to look in to mobile gaming after I bought my Blackberry Z10. im not the biggest mobile gaming fan, and really didn’t buy a whole lot on my iPhone, but find myself supporting the BB platform a little more and willing to spend the money on games. So far Ive bought and really enjoyed the classic “World of GOO”, and recently picked up an RPG type game called Sage Fusion, which instantly reminded me a little of Final Fantasy and I immediately sent a link to Ricky to download it as well.

Want more mobile gaming? CrackBerry has an interesting read on whether consoles are dead (they ARE NOT) and the future of mobile gaming and its place in the concole-pc-mobile gaming eco-system:

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The numbers for smartphones sales are ridiculous, and with them all being able to “play games” the market of mobile gaming is ridiculously high when compared to the Nintendo DS or Playstation Vita portables; consoles that are designed exclusively for gaming. Most IOS games are a fraction of the price (even with micro transactions) than console titles, but offer a much more reduced gameplay experience and length. However are the two destined to be rivals, or should they adopt and embrace partnerships with console games, creating apps or games that connect to console games to extend their play past the living room, much like what Sony plans with the VITA. I would like to see IOS developers continue to make mobile games (because they are some great companies making some really good games) but I see the future needing to interact with console games as the limits of mobile gaming are hard to overcome when making unique experiences that aren’t clones of previous successful games. Hit up the CrackBerry talk gaming for more!

Tuesday, 3:22 pm – Ricky

November 15th, 2013! That’s the day North America gets introduced to the PS4. My body is ready.

Tuesday, 1:17 pm – Ricky

Sony’s Gamescom press conference is on now! If you’re here while it’s live, enjoy the show. If not, the link should take you to an archived version on Twitch.tv. Or not. What am I, your mother? Find it yourself!

Monday, 6:01 pm – matt

I thought of this topic while playing Forza Horizon, my game of the year entrant for 2012 is still going strong today. while I peer over to my library of AAA titles that don’t get much play anymore I started to wonder what is the more satisfying experience, a shorter title that delivers everything you want despite maybe leaving you wanting a little more, or a lengthy title (either story, or sheer gameplay size, or continuous DLC packs) that requires an investment of time and neglect of other titles?

As with Gavin and Ricky I don’t mind whether a game is long or short so long as everything in the game has a point and contributes to the overall experience. Anyone can take a short ass game and try to lengthen in with repetitive side quests that end up taking away from a game, and even worse when developers have a great long game, and fuck the consumer over by tearing it apart and selling it piecemeal as DLC.

Forza is a game that has organic length for me. I haven’t bought any DLC, and continue to play the online events and co-op challenges with friends, and I still play the exact same game I did last year.

Monday, 9:57 am – Ricky

Great post Gavin – I tend to agree with you on a couple points: I like having a short, compelling experience because my gaming time is so limited, and there are so many great short games out there. That said, I also love losing myself in a world for hours and hours, ignoring other games and human needs such as using the bathroom and eating. It’s much, much more rare for me to enjoy that kind of extended experience these days, and I have a feeling it’ll be that way for years to come.

However, I’m still willing to go forward with a long game, taking in a bite and seeing if it sticks with me. If it doesn’t, I can move on after 3-4 hours and start something else. Maybe I’ll come back, maybe I won’t. How sticky a game is with me depends on a lot of things… maybe that’s worth discussing, too!

Oh yeah, and Gamescom starts tomorrow in Germany. Here’s a good breakdown from Polygon detailing what you can expect from Europe’s biggest show.

Monday, 9:05 am – Gavin

Man, I really, REALLY want to play Gone Home, and that jumped up a trillion percent when Steve Gaynor posted his explanation for why he pulled out of PAX East.  I want to give them all my money, and GH is getting fabulous reviews everywhere, less on the gameplay side and more on the storytelling side, but I can’t put it out of my head that this is a game that I will probably only play once, in much the same way that I could only play To The Moon once.  As such, I hate putting a price on my principles, but $20 seems like a lot for that title, especially when you know it’s going to drop substantially over the next year.

I do dig a great, really long gaming experience, but I have to quantify my game playing.  I only have so many hours in a week to play games, and there are tons of great games waiting for me to get into them.  I can drop 50 hours into one title or 10 hours each into five titles, and I’m not necessarily guaranteed to have a better experience with the long game.  Skyrim is a fabulous game that can easily absorb hundreds of hours of your life.  Portal 2 is done in about ten hours, multiplayer aside.  I appreciated the hell out of Skyrim, but Portal 2 was a better game, in my opinion.  I played Spec Ops: The Line for about 9 hours and everyone knows how insane I went for that game.

My last huge experience was Skyrim, at 33 hours.  I know that’s barely scratching the surface, but I have to parcel out my time.  My last medium experience was Splinter Cell: Double Agent at about 15 or 16 hours.  Now, I’m jumping on Braid for a smaller experience.  I like larger games, but my gaming time is limited, so I’m very picky about my large games.  I’m missing out on tons of great games because I just don’t have the time anymore, and I don’t want to spend three or four hours in a big game just to decide that I don’t care for it.  After Braid, I’ll dip my toe into something larger – perhaps Mirror’s Edge, or Splinter Cell: Conviction.

Anyway, as promised, a few shots from the Splinter Cell: Blacklist launch party!

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Monday, 8:31 am – Ricky

No gaming time for me this weekend, and this week isn’t looking much better. I’m prepping for a fantasy football draft next week, but hopefully I can get some time in and finish up The Last of Us and Dishonored. I’m not feeling overly compelled to tackle a “stealth” game right now, which doesn’t bode well for me jumping into either, and that probably means I’ll let Blacklist sit and wait until later in the year.

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