This week, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Battlefield 4 release on Xbox 360 and PS3 (AC4 will also be on Wii-U, but that’s for another story…). These two titles are big in their own right – arguably two of the biggest this holiday season now that Watchdogs has been delayed – but they’re also two of the first cross-generation titles we’ll see this year. 

In only 2 to 3 weeks, we’ll have 6 major consoles on the market – Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 will all have given way to Wii-U, Xbox One and PS4. But with such a massive install base for the last gen consoles, how will publishers and developers handle this cross-generation gap? If you’re a current and next-gen owner, or soon to be one, how will you approach these cross-gen releases?

Friday, 5:00 pm – matt

things always quiet down here around the weekends. but I thought this was fitting giving the topic of the week, ANOTHER UN-FINISHED GAME WAS RELEASED, BATMAN ORIGINS!

In a post on the game’s forums, WB reassured fans that their posts about bugs have not gone unnoticed: “We know that some of you have experienced frustration when posting on these forums, thinking your posts get lost or ignored and that no one from the team reads them. We can promise you that your posts are being read. We hear your frustration, we understand it, and we are here to find solutions to your issues by gathering the info you provide us, and relaying it to the dev team.”

Three issues in particular, which affect all of the game’s platforms, will be addressed first. They are described as follows: “infinite falling/falling out of world,” “unable to continue story,” and “FreeFlow Focus mode not unlocking upon reaching Shadow Vigilante rank 3.” WB says it expects a patch to be available “within the next week” resolving these issues. It’s noted that a PC fix is already out for these problems and one where some players were unable to make it through the vent in the Burnley tower.

These are not the only problems WB is in the process of dealing with. Corrupted saves in the Xbox 360 version have not yet been resolved, but WB says it thinks it knows what the problem is and that it only needs “a few more days to validate before pushing a patch through.” The same is also true of crashing and freezing in the Xbox 360 version. In the meantime, it’s noted that some players have resolved the latter issue by disconnecting from the Internet while playing.

Friday, 1:00 pm – Ricky

Another delay from Ubisoft. This time, it’s the much anticipated South Park: The Stick of Truth moving to March 2014.

On the plus side, here’s our first look at the gameplay in action! Cannot. Wait.

Spring 2014 is really starting to heat!

Friday, 9:14 am – Gavin

THAT.  ALL OF THAT IN MY HANDS MY GAMEBRAIN.  WANT SO MUCH NOW.

Friday, 8:17 am – Ricky

Welcome to Friday! I’ve got a bunch of non-gaming plans this weekend, but I’m hoping to get some time in with The Last of Us at some point. Starting to get into it a bit more…

Here’s a new trailer for A Link Between Two Worlds to help celebrate the weekend!

Thursday, 11:51 am – Ricky

I wouldn’t say the challenge was about only playing 3 games all year – it was certainly about not PURCHASING more games, since I already have so many. I think it was also a cold-turkey approach to training myself to not always crave and acquire the newest/latest/best.

As Gavin mentioned, when you’re faced with overwhelming choices, many of which are great choices, you can encounter a bit of “paralysis” when choosing what to play. However, you want to adopt a bit of this same approach when it comes to acquiring games – overcoming the feeling of wanting things just because they’re new and popular will undoubtedly lead to a happier life as a person and a consumer.

So, to that end, I think I’ve learnt my lesson. I will admit that I will never be able to play all the games that I own, and I probably shouldn’t try. However, I can control the games that I’ll buy from here on out – how much I pay, how many I get, and when I get them.

I’m not going to go out and buy games for the remainder of the year – I’ll see that part of the challenge through to the end – but I also won’t jump on Preezie or Albert to pay up. Frankly, this whole thing was weighted pretty heavily in my favour, and double-frankly, Albert has already purchased a few games for me this year, including GOTY contender Tomb Raider.

Over the next two months, I’ll focus on my 2014 gaming resolutions, and hopefully come to a more balanced approach vs. this year. One that will allow me to feel the joy of gifting a game to my friends, the pleasure of playing a game I enjoy to completion – without other gaming interruptions and distractions – and marrying all of this to a healthy respect for a pre-set gaming budget.

Thursday, 8:45 am – Gavin

Thinking back to my post yesterday, figured I could also mention which games I started and finished (not 100%, but at least completed the main story) in 2013, and also which games I started and wrote off, in no particular order:

  1. New Super Mario Brothers U
  2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  3. VVVVVV
  4. Splinter Cell: Double Agent
  5. Spec Ops: The Line
  6. Skyrim
  7. Max Payne 3
  8. To The Moon
  9. Just Cause 2 (started technically in 2012, but I played the vast majority of it in 2013)
  10. Bulletstorm
  11. Half-Life 2, Episode 2

Started but written off:

  1. Bastion (yeah, I’ll catch some flak for this, but while it was beautiful, it just didn’t grab my attention and got boring after a while)
  2. Puddle (a small liquid physics game better suited to a mobile device)
  3. Train Simulator 2014.  This one I could see myself maybe coming back to if I need to zone out for a while.  I know lots of new parents who play this game because it’s easy to do while your child is asleep.
  4. Shank.  Dug the art style, but game play wasn’t my thing.

This doesn’t count games I’ve already played, but played again just because I like them, including Portal, Fable 2, my Wii games, and I probably did play through Gears of War 3 earlier in the year, before I packed up my 360.

It sounds like a lot when you consider that I played and finished as many games as Ricky, but he started far more than I did, and several of my games are <10 hour games, including Amnesia, VVVVVV (not going for any of the challenges), Spec Ops, To The Moon, Bulletstorm, and HL2E2), I mainlined most of Skyrim, and I have no interest in destroying every barrel in JC2.

Yesterday’s tabulations really were a reality check for me!

Wednesday, 3:23 pm – Gavin

I think you put a great spin on it, matt.  Taking stock of just how much we fritter away on games gives us a great perspective on our gaming habits, but also our own financial situation.  Steam and Humble Bundle, for example, don’t make it easy, though.  Even without Ricky’s Ubisoft pass, it’s still criminally simple to acquire multiple games for minimal dollars/pounds/Euros/bitcoins.  I’ve made a concerted effort not to pick up that many games this year.  I’m looking at my list of games that I bought in 2013 and so far, it’s at six:

  1. FTL
  2. The Walking Dead
  3. Mark of the Ninja
  4. Gone Home
  5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut: Colon
  6. New Super Mario Bros. U.

Of that list, I have played precisely two of them (NSMBU, and I’m counting Deus Ex in there).  I don’t know why, but I got to a point very recently where I just realized that I’ll never play all of the games I own, so I should just prioritize what I have and move on.  Honestly, I’ll probably never play FTL.  I’ve played it on others’ computers, and I wanted to support the developer, but I’ll probably never pick it up by myself.

What’s helping me with this is the fact that there are multiple games that I wish to acquire for the Wii-U, and most of them are first-party, which means the inevitable Nintendo-never-drops-its-prices thing.  Between Super Mario 3D World, Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (which I understand has been delayed to early 2014), Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Watch Dogs, I could be looking at spending over $300 pre-tax on a small selection of games.  Meanwhile, I just tallied up my Steam purchases, and I’ve spent $212 on myself since December 2011 (more than I thought, to be honest) and approaching $400 in total when you add in the gifts I’ve bought (Mind you, there were several $15-$30 gifts in that pile).  I’ve also been the recipient of some gifts, but that cost adds up quickly.

I look to my own backlog, which admittedly isn’t as extensive as Ricky’s, but it is shameful.  I’ve spent $212 on myself on games, and there are some I’ve just flat-out never touched and I never will.  I think I hit the watershed moment when we were dealing with our flooding issues at the house.  $400 on PC games alone in a little over a year and a half, that’s wild, but it’s a not-insignificant chunk of what we owed our contractors.  I need to stagger out my purchases more, making it similar to how it was when I was growing up.  Get a game and play the hell out of it.  When you’re spoiled for choice, you instinctively are faced with more of a crisis in terms of what to play.

With all due respect to Ragnar Torqvist, the best decision I made in gaming in 2013 was not to burden myself with The Longest Journey.  Same thing with Syberia 1 and 2, Botanicula (while cute, I’m losing my patience for that type of game), Samorost 2, and a host of other large titles which I’m sure are good games, but I just won’t get to them in this lifetime, not when Super Mario 3D World is going to own my soul as of November 22nd.

Wednesday, 3:00 pm – matt

I saw the backlog challenge (and the years of accumulation leading up to it) not as a challenge to “only play three games” all years, but to hopefully open your eyes to the amount of money spent (and in cases of unfinished or unplayed games totally wasted) on buying the next big game. being a gamer-type that only buys a few titles in a year and really play the hell out of those games, this is what I was at least hoping for…

Wednesday, 12:35 pm – Ricky

I want a 3DS, but between my Vita, iPhone, Kindle Paperwhite and Nexus 7, there’s no room for another portal device in my bag or in my life. Still, some amazing titles out or coming out that are going to make that system shine for its owners.

With only 2 months to go in the 2013 Backlog Challenge, I took stock of my completed and remaining games… It’s been a busy year personally, to be sure, but this is still a pretty bad ratio of completed to remaining:

– 11 completed games

  • Assassin’s Creed 3
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
  • Dead Island
  • Dishonored
  • GTA V
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • The Walking Dead
  • To the Moon
  • Tomb Raider

– 184 games remaining

– 27 games started and not completed

– 35 new games added in 2013 (160 starting, 195 presently)

If these numbers aren’t an indication that the challenge isn’t exactly working, I’m not sure what is. Between the games I’d pre-bought, the games that have been gifted to me, Playstation Plus Instant Game Collection titles, and the ones I’ve received as part of my Ubisoft pass, I’ve officially grown my list vs. shrinking it.

Now, there’s some work I could do to the list – I could remove any CBS game (CSI or Grey’s Anatomy) or movie spin-off (James Cameron’s The Avatar) may as well not be on the list. I was never going to play those games anyway, they were free with my pass and they’re in my library whether I like it or not. There are some other games that could whittle down, take or leave, but admittedly, that exercise would make the backlog only slightly smaller.

So the question in January will be, was the Challenge adhered to? Technically, yes. I only purchased 3 games. Realistically, though, the backlog has grown, so does that mean I failed? It’ll be an interesting conversation in January, to be sure.

Wednesday, 9:35 am – Gavin

If it makes any sense, I want to not want a 3DS.  But dammit, Nintendo is making it so hard on me.  Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the best games ever made and it has aged phenomenally well.  A sequel to that, updating the old map and adding new mechanics to a very familiar game is the kind of thing that hits me right in the youth-feels.  Were I not paying off some adult debts related to house renovations, this would certainly pique my interest well beyond where it already is.

As for Julianne Hough in blackface, matt, I would note that blackface is different than altering one’s physical appearance to resemble a TV character (in this case, Crazy Eyes from Orange Is The New Black.  Blackface has a loaded history to it, but simply darkening your skin isn’t blackface, if you are not doing so for the purposes of mockery/degradation.  As for why she didn’t dress as Piper, since Piper is a white blonde woman…it’s because Piper is the worst.

I didn’t mention it too much on the site, but I ended up Kickstarting The Long Dark, an entirely Canadian production from Hinterland Games.  The company received a $1m grant from the Canadian Media Development Fund, and sought $200k from backers to reach their final goal.  They ended up raising $256k, with almost 7000 backers.  It’s scheduled to be released in October 2014, so I’ll have that to look forward to.  It has early comparisons to Don’t Starve, which was received well when it was released, so I’m anxious to give this one a go.  They also loaded up on the voice acting talent – Elias Toufexis, Jennifer Hale, and David Hayter.  I’ve never been one for the survival genre, but this one just clicked with me, for some reason.  The closest I’ve gotten to the survival genre is Amnesia – hardly an apt comparison.

Tuesday, 3:46 pm – Ricky

I have to admit: Nintendo is pulling out all the stops with their holiday bundles. This new Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds bundle has my wallet itching:

3dsxl_3d_prodshot_zeldabundle__1_.0_cinema_720.0

I was mentioning to Gavin the other day that I think I’m going to be a 2014 Wii-U owner. Now that my PC is upgraded and my generous friends have gifted me a PS4, a Wii-U could round out my “living room and group” gaming set-up. The PS4 will live next to the 360 in my computer room, with the PC of course, and the PS3 would maintain it’s blu-ray and Netflix machine status. The Wii-U slots in there nicely as a couch gaming machine, one that I could even use when my wife has control of the TV for the evening.

Plus, Super Mario 3D World … I haven’t been as strong as Gavin, and I’ve consumed everything about the game so far. My. God.

Tuesday, 3:03 pm – matt

This is topic Ricky and I discuss every once in a while, and by discuss I send Ricky thousands of hate-filled texts (now BBM, #BBMFORALL) ripping a game or product for releasing a half hearted P.O.S. I don’t think any industry is crippled as much as unfinished videogames, and like Julian Hough using Blackface, people just don’t seem to learn from past mistakes…

Nintendo historically has the best track record for releasing finished products, considering the meat and potatoes of their time was when internet enabled systems didn’t exist, so the game had better be finished on the 8-Bit cartridge, (and sine their system today still don’t use internet, they are doing a great job of releasing finished games) [joke gavin!]

Anything electronic that can be connected to the internet can pretty much be assumed a patch will be available at some point. But its important to distinguish from a patch to complete a game a supposed to a patch to improve a game. The Wii-U motion plus could be seen as a “patch” trying to fix the poor 1:1 ratio to Wii had, totally necessary and despite pissing some gamers off it was needed. Releasing SimCity with strict internet regulations meant it was a total piece of garbage that shouldn’t even have been released.

As for GTA, I don’t think Rock* ever said online would be available Day 1, and the single player campaign was without a doubt the best the series has ever offered. After the success of GTA 4 online modes, they knew A) people were dying for it, but, B) they probably wanted people to at least play the single player campaign they had painstakingly created so…. Removing online for just a week forced them into it (and that’s what the fans should have been wanting, as GTA has always been a story driven game, not an online shooter looking for the yearly refresh). GTA online is not like Call of Duty where you enter a lobby and away you go, there is an entire new storyline and everything to explore. GTA online is difficult to compare to another game but it’s essentially a MMO GTA style.

Rock* has poured so much into the online component for this version you can tell this is where the series is heading. They are constantly improving and expanding the mode, the planned updates seem huge, basically Rock* could work forever on the online and it still wouldn’t be “complete” in their minds. its almost like they got to a point where they said “we’ve been tweaking for 5 fucking years, for now, lets just get this out” and I totally get it because the online mode is MASSIVE, MASSIVE, MASSIVE and like I said, just keeps getting bigger!

Every year I buy the NBA 2K franchise (since it’s the only basketball game available) and every year they release a slightly worse version of the game with more glitches and bugs than previous year, and I simply wait for the next patch to hopefully alleviate the problem but still, shouldn’t happen.

Why is it when I buy a digital game I pretty much always have an update to download afterwards? Can’t they just update the version they are selling?

and now, moments in GTA:

buddy on an atv

buddy on an atv

chute chute riot!

chute chute riot!

stone cold killer ricky

stone cold killer ricky

helicopter pilot

helicopter pilot

airing out a motorcycle off a vert ramp

airing out a motorcycle off a vert ramp

bridge motha fucka

bridge motha fucka

yeah its a rainbow whats it to you?

yeah its a rainbow whats it to you?

picture of a selfie

picture of a selfie

wall riding motorcycling son of a bitch

wall riding motorcycling son of a bitch

hits from the ....

hits from the ….

dramatic shadow shot

dramatic shadow shot

football coach pose

football coach pose

one word=badass

one word=badass

ricky peering into a telescope

ricky peering into a telescope

Tuesday, 9:39 am – Gavin

I’M BACK.  OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER.  Apologies for my absence – I’ve been wrapped up in a million things with some home renovations.

As leading Gamentary Nintendo fanboy, I can safely say that you all have absolutely no idea how hard it’s been for me not to devour absolutely everything produced about Super Mario 3D World, my next game purchase.  When it was first introduced at E3, it was met with mixed reactions – the world was avidly looking forward to something that would follow in Super Mario Galaxy 2’s footsteps with respect to setpieces and worlds.  3D World was announced, and people didn’t know what to make of it.  Surely, it doesn’t look as dramatic as Galaxy 2, but that’s a tough act to follow, and as a developer, do you really want to follow the tone of the previous big budget game?  Or would you rather take the franchise in a slightly different direction for the purposes of differentiation?

3D World follows the same model as 3D Land – the world isn’t as dramatic as Galaxy, but the gameplay does look fundamentally similar.  Considering how much I adored the Galaxy gameplay, avidly avoiding anything to do with this game has been next to impossible.  New screenshots, music samples, and a whole new trailer have been released since the last trailer release at the beginning of the month.

What else has been happening in my gaming world?  Well, I beat Amnesia, which I’ve been talking about for a while and will probably discuss in more detail on the next podcast.  I acquired Gone Home and will look to start and finish that this weekend.  I keep wanting to start a new game but I haven’t had the time yet, and I’ve been bouncing between Splinter Cell: Conviction (so that I can buy Blacklist for the U), Walking Dead, and Mirror’s Edge, and I did also pick up the Director’s Cut of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so I’d love to give that a go.  Also, with my nice headphones and nice monitor, it would be good to see how those help expand my experience.  Of course, I spent 42 hours in my first runthrough, so can I necessarily afford that much time again?

I’ve also been avidly reading the savage reviews of Batman: Arkham Origins.  Seems as though it’s not being met with the same praise as the previous Arkham entries – complaints of “hollow cash-in” are found frequently.  Not having played City, I can’t comment on the evolution of the series, but Asylum was a tough act to follow and I understand that City did it admirably, so Origins had big shoes to fill.  Complaints about poor characterization, lazy boss design, bad narrative delivery (one comment online I read said that there wasn’t even a single cutscene or narrative element introduced when Batman goes back to Crime Alley on Christmas Day – HIS PARENTS WERE KILLED THERE), and just overall shoddiness, with bugs and glitches galore.

Which brings me to another point – why are we so happy (or at least, not enraged) to accept a retail purchase that simply isn’t finished?  There’s a vicious cycle at play here – developers are rushed by publishers to get a product to market at a certain point, and the publishers are rushing them because the consumers want to buy products at certain points in time (i.e. the holiday rush).  Shigeru Miyamoto has that most famous of quotes: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.  Perhaps he was thinking about console releases, or a world where online updates aren’t a feasibility, but still, why have we lost sight of that kind of mantra?  This isn’t referring to games with deliberately poor design decisions, but games with broken systems.  Aliens: Colonial Marines is probably the most comprehensive example of this in 2013, but even then, consider GTA V Online, a (portion of a) game which was fundamentally broken for the first week of its existence, when 8 million consumers rushed to try it out.  The number of copies of that game that Rockstar sold shouldn’t surprise them – they themselves predicted 25 million over the course of the game’s lifespan.  So why couldn’t they get the online working right off the bat?  Plenty of games can do it – Infinity Ward and Treyarch have been able to successfully deploy online services to each successive Call of Duty franchise, so why not Rockstar?

I mean, imagine if any other retail product was released unfinished or broken.  Imagine buying a full chicken at the grocery store, only to be told that you can’t eat the legs.  You wouldn’t accept that, so why accept a game that’s broken?  Perhaps it’s easy for me to say because I rarely get caught up in launch-day hype, but maybe we need to cool down a bit with our rush to buy games.  Rockstar effectively treated you, the retail $60 purchasers, as beta testers.  Why are you paying to test their product?  Shouldn’t they, in fact, be punished for releasing a game to you, for which you paid full price, that doesn’t work?

Tuesday, 8:36 am – Ricky

There’s been a tiny bit of controversy surrounding How to Survive (it’s 55 on Metacritic notwithstanding). Seems like the publisher approached the owner of a Kickstarter project called Roam in the hopes of publishing the game. Roam’s developer declined, and in May of this year, 505 Games announced How to Survive, an eerily similar game to Roam.

Roam’s developer went of the warpath, posting an update titled “How to Steal”, but later posted this update admitting that he’d made a mistake. Turns out 505 Games didn’t just find someone to develop a game like Roam – there was already a game like Roam being developed in France by Ekosoft, so 505 Games published that game instead. Lots of games borrow from other games; developers just need to be careful when throwing rocks while simultaneously living in glass houses.

Back on topic: Polygon has released reviews for the two big games coming out today – AC4 and BF4 – and in both reviews, they mention the next-gen PS4 and Xbox One versions in comparison to the current gen games. The articles are all well laid out (as they usually are on Polygon) and give a good taste of what game journalists will encounter as we continue through this cross-gen period.

Monday, 8:49 pm – Albert

I am so far behind in that franchise that I’ve completely just written it off. It comes out every year and I just cannot keep up.

Quick update: I’ve beaten How to Survive — released on Steam. First of all it’s a terrible name for a game. How to Survive… that’s like …, when you try to Google it you’ll get “How to Survive… Highschool… Being mugged.. .etc” Random. All in all a pretty fun and short zombie game with some pretty sweet shooting mechanics. I beat it in a weekend and I’ve convinced Preezie to play it with me so i’ll update you all on how it is later. Overall – worth the $10 price tag for some action zombie killing fun with a surprising deep customizable weapon system and skill tree.

Next up: Saints Row IV! I’ve played 2 hours of it — and i’ts pretty ridiculously fun! It’s truly what a sandbox game is. No rules or really deep story but just tons of powers, weapons, and badassery…

Monday, 4:00 pm – Ricky

Here’s a video about the PC niceties of AC4: Black Flag. Nothing “earth shattering” to be sure, but all of these enhancements found in the PC version add up to a better looking game than its console counterparts, particularly current-gen stuff (can I just start saying “last gen” already?)

Monday, 8:19 am – Ricky

This is the first time in 6 years that I won’t be getting an Assassin’s Creed game on release day, and the first time ever that I’m not planning on getting the series’ annual entry for the XBOX 360. Instead, I’ll wait until November 19th for my complimentary copy on PC. Why? Well, because that’s the day Ubisoft will be releasing the game on PC, and yes, my pass gives it to me for free, but also, I have a pretty kick-ass PC. Why would I get the game for a system that, starting November 15th, will only be plugged in to play multiplayer Grand Theft Auto 5? I’m assuming this game will look and play better on PC than on either current gen console, but that could be a poor assumption given how some companies handle PC ports.

I like how Sony and Microsoft have helped gamers with the conundrum of “current or next gen” – pay $10, trade up to a version of the game for the new hardware. However, while that may work for multiplayer-centric games like Battlefield 4, what happens with your single-player save in BF4 or AC4? Sounds like you’re outta luck

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