“South Park: Stick of Truth” Gets Approved in Australia Thanks to Some Creative Censoring

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We may never know what exactly is up the collective butts of Australian video game censors, but that hilariously misinformed and outdated group of do gooders is at it again.

The target this time is “South Park: Stick of Truth.” Specifically the censors rejected the game on the basis of a scene involving penis shaped anal probes, and an abortion scene involving vacuums and a wire.

On a side note, isn’t it nice when game adaptations stay so true to the source material?

Anyway developer Obsidian tried re-submitting the game under some slightly toned down conditions, but were rejected at each turn. Finally they submitted an impressively sarcastic version of the probing scene where the image of the scene is replaced with a crying koala while on screen text informs you as to what is actually happening in the original scene.

Unsurprisingly, considering the board’s traditionally misinformed interpretation of comedy, this version was accepted.

So it looks like the fair Australian gamers of the world will get to play “Stick of Truth,” albeit with more static images of Koalas in place than were originally intended, as well as some minor mini-games axed entirely, thanks to some creative skirting of the censors.

Seriously though, what is the logic behind the extreme censorship of gaming in Australia? Considering it’s the year 2013 and I can probably pull up a YouTube video of mass genocides set to a dubstep soundtrack and intercut with images of “My Little Pony” fan porn on my phone, does a cartoon video game character’s anal probe encounter really constitute the ultimate line of morality?

The Popular (and Absolutely Insane) Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Mod is About to Get a Steam Release

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While I have no problem calling “Just Cause 2” a good game, I’m hesitant when it comes to giving it praise beyond that.

See if you attend the open world game design school, there’s really only two classes you can go to. One preaches using the large in-game world to provide a more intensely cinematic experience, while the other teaches the idea of using that same space to let players just go nuts with few (if any) design boundaries to limit or guide them.

While neither is inherently a wrong pursuit, “Just Cause 2′s” firm attendance and devotion to the latter design philosophy meant that while the game was insanely large and incredibly fun to just mess around in, elements like mission quality and story structure were either limited or non-existent.

Some time ago, however, a dedicated group of modders found a way to capitalize off of the built-in strengths of the game and give it a longevity that even a more cohesive and engaging storyline structure couldn’t do by simply adding a true online multiplayer mode to the game.

It’s not an unprecedented occurrence for a single player only game to get a modded multiplayer component, but when you consider that this particular mod allows for up to 600 players at once within the absolutely gigantic world of “Just Cause 2,” and factor in the game’s already zany and ridiculously fast paced nature, perhaps you can see why this drew so much attention from users who would have otherwise most likely stopped regularly playing the game some time ago.

Now it turns out it was not only individual users whose attention was caught by the mod, but the folks at Valve as well as it was recently announced that Steam will soon be making the popular multiplayer mod available for download as an official Steam release. This not only makes the mod much more accessible to the average person, but rightfully legitimizes it as an essential component of the “Just Cause 2” experience.

While the only available release date is still 2013, regardless of whenever this does actually hit Steam it’s already a big win for everyone involved. This is especially true for us, the players, who will now get an even easier chance to experience a sandbox action multiplayer game that is without chaotic equal. Expect to see a popular new wave of insane YouTube videos and jaws on floors when “Just Cause 2′s” multiplayer mode is released by the end of the month

Huge Sales Are Coming to the Xbox 360 Just in Time for the Holidays

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Not able to get in early on the next generation by purchasing an Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4? Don’t worry because with the holidays approaching, you happen to be in luck.

No I don’t mean insane deals are coming on one of those systems (though that certainly is possible), but rather that the previous gen console you own is about to see some serious drops in game prices, allowing you to go back and play some of those great games you may have missed the first time around.

While PC holiday deals started on Amazon and other outlets some time ago, it looks like the Xbox 360 is the first console to throw its hat into the holiday sale madness ring by offering up a host of hugely discounted titles starting today through Xbox Live.

What’s available? Well for now you can get a host of Arcade greats such as “Mark of the Ninja,” “Dust,” and “The Cave,” while some AAA greats like “Fallout 3” (and all the available DLC’s), “Tomb Raider,” “Sleeping Dogs,” and “Skyrim” for 50% – 75% off.

However, it appears that the real deals are coming later in the week, as one day only sales are available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is particularly true of the Cyber Monday collection which features some best of generation titles like “Red Dead Redemption,” “Dark Souls,” “The Witcher 2,” “L.A. Noire,” and “Far Cry: Blood Dragon,” all for 75% off.

The full list of games can be found here and, while this is quite honestly nothing in comparison to the PC sales available this time of year, for 360 owners who aren’t ready to make the next gen jump and need some truly great games to play around with during the holidays, this is a sale you absolutely have to take advantage of.

Blood Bowl 2 Could Be A Much Needed Break From The Same Old, Same Old Sports Themed Game

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One of my favorite game growing up was “Mutant League Football” for the Sega Genesis. A parody of the NFL that read like it might have been proofread by the Cryptkeeper (Bones Jackson instead of Bo Jackson, Killer Konvicts instead of Dallas Cowboys, etc.) the game was far from perfect, but it’s complete devotion to making an over the top, often childishly disturbing version of football as we know it was admirable and almost always entertaining.

It was a game where fireballs and landmines were in play, and you could bribe the referee or even murder him if a call didn’t go your way. It’s carefree over the top nature is an even greater breath of fresh air than it was upon the games initial release, especially when weighed against the increasingly stale entrants in the “Madden” series.

Of course since it was an EA title and that company would go on to make all the money in the world from that “Madden” series, “Mutant League” got the axe before it became a full fledged franchise, and theoretical PR nightmare.

This disheartened me for years as I longed for a football game that actually took a fun and creative approach to the subject matter, without sucking too bad (looking at you “Blitz: The League”). It turns out though, that the “Mutant League” games were actually based on an old tabletop strategy game called “Blood Bowl” which has actually been a tabletop tournament staple for years. Unfortunately I’ve never really been able to get into the tabletop gaming scene, and the video game adaptations of the series have been a real mixed bag.

Even still, it’s getting hard to suppress my excitement for the forthcoming “Blood Bowl 2.” In development by Cyanide Studios (developer of the most faithful adaptation of the game to date), little is unfortunately known about the game outside of its usual promise to be the biggest and best digital version of the game to date, with claims of better graphics and animations as well as new modes to back them up.

It’s the usual sequel rhetoric to be sure, but I’ve got to say that the screen shots of “Blood Bowl 2” provided by the game’s publishers are fairly encouraging, and show off a game aesthetically closer to the “Mutant League Football” proper sequel I’ve always wanted.

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Of course, “Blood Bowl” isn’t meant to mimic the real time mayhem of “Mutant League,” but its still going to be interesting to see if Cyanide can do justice to the popular strategy game, and make it accessible enough so that those of us longing for a football inspired game that doesn’t take itself so damn seriously can get on board and find a new addiction when “Blood Bowl 2” is released sometime in 2014.

The Odds On Which Game Sony Will Reveal in Their Upcoming Announcement

To the surprise of many, Sony recently announced they will be hosting an event in NYC tonight which will air on Spike TV and supposedly reveal a major new game for the PS4. Coming on the eve of the PS4 launch, this is certainly odd timing on the company’s part for such an event, and naturally has curiosities peaked.

While those in the know regarding the event are understandably tight lipped, thanks to a few hints and leaks we do know that the game represents the return of a major exclusive Sony franchise and takes place in space. Based on a tweet from Hideo Kojima regarding the event, it’s also safe to assume that he has some involvement with it as well.

Naturally theories are running wild all over the internet as to what this could be, and while there are some franchises that I’d personally love to believe the announcement pertains to (“Front Mission” and “Legend of the Dragoon” jump to mind), looking at the situation realistically based on the information at hand there are some candidates which seem more viable than others. These are the odds for those candidates.

Blasto

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An early 3D action hit for the PlayStation, “Blasto” was definitely a product of its time and as such is more than a little rough around the technological edges. Still though, there is quite the cult fan base for the title and it definitely meets the return of an exclusive franchise and takes place in space requirements.

However, “Blasto” 2 was scrapped due in large part to the death of Phil Hartman, who voiced the titular character, and since that situation obviously hasn’t changed,  it’s hard to imagine the series getting a reboot now. Also, while popular, “Blasto” is not exactly the kind of game that would generate this kind of hype.

Odds – 100:1

Crash Bandicoot/Jak and Daxter

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If you’re trying to focus on returning exclusive franchises that can be worthy of an event, these are the two names that probably jump to mind first. Developer Naughty Dog is Sony’s greatest exclusive asset, and these two long dormant franchises still have lots of mainstream appeal and potential for follow ups.

However, Naughty Dog has already shot down the idea that their next game will take place in space. While it’s hard to believe anything you hear out of the game industry until it definitely comes to pass, the fact the company directly addressed this already does make it quite the longshot.

Odds – 75:1

Syphon Filter

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Released shortly after “Metal Gear Solid,” “Syphon Filter” provided a more action based approach on the stealth genre and did it quite well. Much like “Blasto,” the original games are hindered by the technology of the time, but the franchise overall remained quite strong through out its run.

I suppose the biggest leap of faith here is the “takes place in space” element, which would be quite a venue shift for the series. It’s hard to imagine the game going in that direction, but all things considered, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this as the reveal.

Odds – 50:1

Colony Wars

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A well crafted and highly innovative space shooter from the PS1, the disappearance of “Colony Wars” from the gaming scene has always been a little bewildering, considering how critically well received the series is and that it sold pretty well.

Buying into the idea “Colony Wars” is the announcement requires you to believe that Sony is willing to reveal a game that doesn’t initially pack a punch, but can impress based on next gen space shooter footage. A “Colony Wars” reveal would send everyone home happy, but it seems slightly unlikely it is worthy of the up-front hype the announcement has generated.

Odds – 25:1

Zone of the Enders

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An exclusive, high-profile, space franchise that hasn’t seen a major new release in a long time but did get a, somewhat, successful HD collection recently and Hideo Kojima is involved in it? I think we have a winner.

“Zone of the Enders 3” was quietly cancelled earlier this year, but the attitude behind the announcement gave off the distinct impression that it was more of a delay than anything. The only real problem with “ZOE” being the reveal is that it fits the criteria so well it’s almost boring. However, much like “Colony Wars,” impressive next gen footage of a major mech battle in space would probably be the real selling point.

Odds – Even

How Adam Sessler, Resolutiongate, and Another Impending Console Launch Has Turned Us All Into Fanboys and Ten Year Olds

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When I was 10, all I wanted was a Dreamcast. It was the first system launch that I was intimately aware of, having just begun to absorb myself in the industry enough to be convinced at the time that it would be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the absolute greatest system quite possibly in the history of ever.

However, as luck and the family finances would have it, I unfortunately did not get a Dreamcast that year, or any other. Don’t feel sorry for 10 year old me though, because the following Christmas I was gifted with a PS2, which was not only the hottest item of the year, but would go on to have a long and healthy life span full of classic all time games. It was, by all logical regards, a win.

Still a question enters my mind from time to time. If I could go back and tell 10 year old me to calm down, and not freak out about not getting a Dreamcast because it wasn’t going to last long anyway, would 10 year old me have listened? There’s a part of me that hates being wrong that believes it wouldn’t have mattered and my thoughts regarding the Dreamcast wouldn’t have changed overnight, despite the recently acquired knowledge of its eventual fate.

Pragmatically, however, that wouldn’t be the case. Had I known, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Sega Dreamcast despite being an incredible system in its own right, would only have a viable shelf-life of just over a year, I probably would have calmed down and transferred my hype to the pending PS2 release. After all, no matter what your age you never want to spend a substantial amount of money on a product that simply won’t last, and doesn’t fit your needs. As such, at the time I would have wished, and even craved, for that person to come along.

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To Buy…Or Not to Buy?

Of course, the above scenario is just fantasy theorizing that’s impossible barring the acquirement of some sort of 80′s sports car time traveling device, but it is, nonetheless, representative of a very real issue facing gamers as we approach another multiple system console launch.

Specifically its in regards to the recent incident where Adam Sessler took a stance on the “Resolutiongate” fiasco that the Xbox One found itself the center of, by saying that at this time its difficult to make the resolution of games the ultimate factor in deciding which system will be best, and that in the long run it’s ultimately meaningless when weighed against the value of good game design. Though it’s a pretty modest argument, and the only people really attacked in it are Microsoft and game developers for not making this information more well known, don’t try telling that to the hordes of people who lashed out at Adam Sessler for downplaying what is in the minds of many a very important aspect in terms of making a decision of which next gen console to invest in.

In an issue that has spun out of control as quickly and amazingly as this one has, it’s extremely important when trying to analyze it, to have the ability to step away from the melee of internet discussion boards and the like, and simply view the issue in and of itself, and really attempt to dissect just what this is and why it is happening.

Do that, and the first word you’ll probably take away from the whole thing is “fanboy.” There are many out there who are writing this off as a fanboy led argument and nothing more. While it’s true that there are certainly elements of fanboyism prevalent here, as with any discussion, fanboys in the accepted sense of the word are meaningless. Fanboys, or trolls, or whatever you want to call them are horrible creatures who live to spread madness and generally speaking make the world a worse place in any way they can. They are devoid of logic, and since logic is the thing needed most to really determine what’s at the heart of this issue, we will not factor the thoughts and actions of those groups in as much as possible.

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After All, Is This a Person Whose Opinions You Want to Validate?

Instead this is really just another in a long line of incidents that show the growing resentment many people have towards gaming jounalism. Many of the people upset at this are actually perfectly rational consumers and gamers, who see this as another example of gaming journalists becoming more and more out of touch with the common gamer, and more and more comfortable with the gaming industry. Citing a prior comment Sessler once made on how 1080p should be the standard in the next generation, many of those same people are saying that his most recent stance on the subject is a hypocritical cop-out and, an indication that he is unwilling or unable to make a definitive decision on the next generation at this time.

Of course the answer to that is, no shit he isn’t able or willing. Adam Sessler is not a prophet from the future who is able to tell us what the fate of either system will be, or which one we would be better off buying. People who are expecting him to be that, however, are in fact the same 10 year old boy I once was who wants a Dreamcast at launch really, really badly and are desperate for someone to come along and give them a compelling reason to either justify those feelings, or banish them from their minds.

Buy into that, and you’ll begin to see that the problem is that the majority of the people on both sides of this issue are either otherwise perfectly rational people who have momentarily turned themselves into 10 year olds again as another system draws near, or are fanboys. Those are, of course, two groups not known for their ability to participate in a reasonable discussion on any matter without things turning messy.

Again ignoring the thoughts and whims of fanboys, and turning instead to solely address those who’ve momentarily lost their grasp of sanity in this issue, I say to you what I wish I could really go back and say to a young, fanatical, Dreamcast desiring me, which is grow up, and calm the hell down. It’s highly unlikely that you are in a situation where your life depends on purchasing an Xbox One or PS4 as quickly as possible, and its even more unlikely that it depends on you selecting the “right” one.

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The Infamous You Don’t Know Jack Series Is Finally Available For Steam

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If you’ve never played the original “You Don’t Know Jack Games,” I pity you for having missed some of the best written, smartest, most enjoyable games ever made. It’s also difficult to blame you, however, consider the irreverent trivia series has never been available for download, and would be relegated to obscurity were it not for a couple recent console releases and a Facebook game which, while good, just do not compare to the originals.

Don’t fret though, as the series has joined the likes of “Earthbound” and “System Shock 2″ by crossing licensing hell, and becoming available for digital download. Available on Steam, you can finally snag the entire “You Don’t Know Jack” collection for either $2.99 individually, or $19.99 for the whole 10 game collection. Playable on just about any modern system, and having only gotten better with age, there is no real reason to not snag at least one of these, and experience the legendary multiplayer mode.

Oh, and if you’re a film buff, the “You Don’t Know Jack” movies edition, is my personal recommendation, and flat out one of the best movie trivia games of any kind.

As The Xbox One Attracts More Controversy, More Importance is Placed On Titanfall

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If you haven’t heard, Microsoft and the Xbox One found themselves in a bit of hot water recently, when some long rumored whispers that the Xbox One is under-performing against the PS4 when it comes to games they share were confirmed when “Battlefield 4” developers DICE revealed that the Xbox One runs at a lower resolution than the PS4, while side by side comparison gameplay videos gave us a pretty clear indication of the difference between the two machines. This was an unfortunate reveal only enhanced by the discovery that some of the footage in “Battlefield 4” Microsoft was using for promos of the Xbox One actually contains some footage of the PC version of the game.

This of course breaks up the relative peace Microsoft was enjoying following the  controversy that followed shortly after E3 and the initial Xbox One reveal, when people attacked Microsoft for many of its policies regarding the Xbox One, as well as its seeming focus on being a device more interested in multimedia capabilities than actual gaming. When Microsoft retracted a number of the more controversial measures, it had seemed they could kick back, maybe hype up the pre-order numbers for the device, as well as any number of its merits, and put that past trouble behind them. That is, until this all happened.

Now the Xbox One is again the goat of the video game world, fanboys begin to wage war, PR companies summon their voodoo spin doctors, and those of us somewhere in the middle find an enjoyment in the chaos. Of course, if you stick around gaming long enough, and you eventually learn to not throw dirt on anything until you absolutely are sure it’s dead, less it come back as a zombie to take its revenge. What I mean is, don’t write off something so adamantly if there is still the off chance that it’ll come back to bite you when you want it down the line.

This is where the Respawn Entertainment developed 2014 shooter “Titanfall” comes in. See, admist all of the trouble that the Xbox One endured recently, one interesting win for the company did emerge, when it was announced that “Titanfall” will be an Xbox One and PC exclusive forever. While that doesn’t mean that future sequels of the game will remain on the Xbox One only, it does still ensure that Microsoft has the immediate rights to the best looking exclusive seen on either system, and one of the few games shown of the next generation so far, that looks like a killer app.

While of course a final “Titanfall” game that falls well short of expectations would lend a different set of problems for Microsoft, the more interesting case comes if the game turns out to be as good as footage and previews have suggested, and as lucrative as well. In that case, then by the time that more systems start to hit the shelves and the non-early adopters start considering making system purchases early next year, “Tianfall” will be in a position to move Xbox Ones similar to the way that “Halo” moved the original Xbox.

What’s interesting about that is that it will be a pretty clear case that in spite of everything that the Xbox One has gone through, it’s all irrelevant compared to the power of a single game. The industry is moving further and further away from exclusive games, and many people in the gaming community are also calling for a more unified gaming experience where all games are available to everyone. However, it does still sell systems, and should it be able to alter the Xbox Ones fate (again, in spite of everything) when the console race gets going in earnest, then it could just be enough to preserve the traditional methods of gaming exclusives, at least for the conceivable future.

What’s really interesting about that is that Microsoft clearly had a plan at one point to take console gaming in a very different path based on the original policies of the Xbox One. Even without those policies, there is clearly still a focus on incorporating  the controversial multimedia features on a level not previously seen out of a console. If Microsoft really gets a hit then with “Titanfall,” do they begin to re-enact some of those policies now that they have a userbase who will remain loyal to them? Do they also see the power of games and begin to turn the public focus of the Xbox One to a game first console, or does the natural increase in multimedia use of its users who purchased the system for “Titanfall” somehow justify their seeming focus on that instead?

Nothing speaks louder than sales in the gaming world, and considering the rare beast that “Titanfall” has the potential to be (a AAA true exclusive of full merit) it’s release and subsequent fallout is one of some importance. It not only has the weight of the Xbox One at its shoulders at the moment, but given a certain level of success could well help answer several questions about what direction the industry is going. Is that a lot of weight to put on a single game? Yes, but that is exactly the role that Microsoft gave it when they pursued this as an exclusive. They have a faith in it that probably cost them a lot of money, but they spent it because they knew it had the potential to define the Xbox One and help to give the system the foothold it needs in the Western market where it’s main sales power is going to come from.

The next generation of gaming may start this month with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, but it’s not until the major games start hitting next year will it begin in earnest. Of those games, none has more to strive for than “Titanfall,” whose success and quality may very well give us an indication of how the future of gaming will shape up, and if Microsoft will be a part of that future at all.

As Halloween Approaches, Games Start to Get in the Spirit With Themed Updates

While the age of Halloween themed TV show specials is slowly coming to a close (we miss you TGIF!), videogames have been more than willing to pick up the slack in recent years by using the beloved horror holiday to unleash a bevy of downloadable frights on gamers everywhere. This year is no exception, and here are just a few of the recent Halloween themed additions made to some popular games.

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The incredibly humorous, and appropriately intense, re-make of the 90’s FPS “Shadow Warrior” continues its in-game trend of borrowing weapons from other series, as it adds an ice axe to the game’s substantial arsenal that comes courtesy of TellTalle’s “Walking Dead” games. While its effectiveness when put up against the katana it replaces is suspect, as anyone whose played The Walking Dead can attest, when in a pinch it can really make a baddie think twice, and should fit well into the game’s selection of awesome weapons best applied with extreme predjudice.

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Popular world building RPG “Terraria” gets a little more into the traditional Halloween spirit by filling it’s world with a variety of Halloween novelties. You’ll find enemies wearing costumes, random gift bags filled with in-game treats, a variety of Halloween themed items, weapons, and locations, to explore and create, and even a special new “Pumpkin Moon Event” challenge which adds a survival mode to the game, where waves of enemies all possessing increasingly better loot descend upon the player.

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The best of the Halloween updates though has to go to “Minecraft,” which has  just unveiled a Halloween update for the 360 version of the game that is simply mind blowing. It essentially re-skins the entire game in a way that lets you build a Halloween world of your own, not unlike that of Pumpkin Town from “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” The attention to detail here is phenomenal, and constantly provides the feeling that the developers are more excited for Halloween than anyone else. There’s too many examples of little Halloween touches to go over, but I have to give a shout out to whoever decided to turn the game’s teleporting Endermen, into the more horror appropriate Slendermen. A free update, everyone who has Minecraft on the 360 needs to experience this, as it just may be the best way to get hyped for “Halloween” available. Browsing the images of this incredible update is also highly recommended.

Of course this is just a sampling of the Halloween updates available, and the biggest annual update (The “Team Fortress 2” Halloween update) is still yet to come. Stay tuned here this week for more updates on that, as well as other horror themed articles in anticipation of Halloween.

Instant Impressions – Path of Exile

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It’s not possible to talk about the recently released free to play game “Path of Exile” without mentioning its strong resemblance to “Diablo.” In fact, lets just call it like it is and say that “Path of Exile” is, for all intents and purposes, a knockoff of “Diablo.” However, I’ve never found being a knockoff a bad thing in the world of video games, so long as said knockoff follows three simple rules:

 

1. Make sure you’re borrowing from an already great game.

2. Improve on any structural flaws the original game had.

3. Introduce at least one unique idea that the original game did not have.

 

Does “Path of Exile” adhere to all of these rules? For the most part, yes.

As mentioned, it draws most of its inspiration from the “Diablo” series (fulfilling the first rule), and does it to a degree that’s worth elaborating on. Right down to visual layout of the menu, this game has the design stench of “Diablo” all over it, to the point where a glance at a screen shot of both games, could possibly cause even a fan of the fabled Blizzard series to hesitate. I don’t really resent it for lifting the “Diablo” gameplay formula (click your way through mobs of enemies while improving your character, and getting better loot) because “Diablo” not only introduced that style of gameplay, but by an large perfected it, however I will say that the sheer amount of little design elements borrowed from that series, can cause you to roll your eyes once in a while.

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Fortunately any lapses in design creativity are largely negated by the admirable way “POE” honors rule number 2. The developers of “POE” recognize that when you are making this style of game, the most important thing you can do is to get the fundamentals right. That’s why extra care has been put into making things like loot drops, enemy balance, skill risk/reward, and combat variety, as sound as possible and implemented in ways that keep you from having to consider any of those elements while playing. What I mean is, the best type of ARPG’s are built in a way that quickly puts you into a zen like focus, as your brain reshapes its perspective to hone in on the gaming world, and all of its functions and rules. The moment that you, say, run into an impossible nest of enemies or wonder why the game keeps dropping the same item, are the moments when you focus out, and begin to lose interest. “POE’s” intent on making the genre fundamentals so solid ensures that these lapses back to reality are few and far between.

Does it do anything outside of the norm to satisfy rule number 3 though, and make its own mark? This is a little trickier than the first two, but I’m going to tepidly say “yes,” and cite the skill system as my justification. See, whereas most of these games work off of a simple skill tree where you choose basic branching paths to determine how you will build your character, “POE” uses a skill grid that is absolutely massive (you can’t capture it in a single screenshot), and as far as potential depth goes, leaves the old tree design in the dust. Trying to break it down entirely would be a fruitless headache, but just know that it allows you to take any of the game’s classes (which are all admirably balanced and equally useful by the way), and build them anyway you like. For example, it might not be as easy or immediately rewarding to build a barbarian character who is also adept in magic, but with the right level of dedication you can do just that, along with any other character combination you can think of.

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Despite fulfilling all three rules to this style of game design, I still find myself slightly resenting “POE” for it’s lack of creativity. Though I do really enjoy the design consistency of the game’s gothic horror elements, and the bleak world they come together to form, aesthetically speaking there is really nothing here you haven’t seen quite a few times before. Similarly, outside of the improved skill system, as far as ARPG’s go, everything here from a gameplay standpoint is pretty commonplace as well. This doesn’t really deprive the game of much at first, but as your journey wears on it becomes more and more obvious that not many original thoughts made it from the brainstorming process, to the final game.

That being said, “POE’s” lack of innovation does very little to harm the overall experience, especially once you factor in the free to play aspect. Yes I know it’s not usually a good sign when the final say on a free to play game is “It’s free,so you have no reason not to play it,” but the fact that this is a free to play game in the true sense of the word (I.E. you’re never encouraged to spend money if you don’t want to) takes it from a game that only dedicated fans will probably be interested in, to something that….well…. you have no reason not to play.

Some are saying that “POE” feels like more of a successor to “Diablo 2” than “Diablo 3” did, and while that’s certainly true in the sense that it carries on so many of the things that made that game great, the lack of progressive design keeps it from achieving the full implications of that lofty goal. However, I will say that with the exception of “Torchlight 2,” this is simply the most satisfying and consistent game of this type that I have played since the seminal “Diablo 2,” and deserves to be tried by everyone reading this.

Download “Path of Exile” for Steam

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