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
Though featuring the word zombies in the title, the developers of this indie project are very insistent on letting everyone know, that this game has nothing to do with the “played out” undead.
Instead this is the isometric adventure of an office drone whose had enough and decides to rescue the innocent people trapped by the zombies of the bureaucratic and corporate worlds, and escape their clutches through extreme violence. Featuring a fun pixelated style and some catchy/trippy music, this could just be the spiritual video game adaptation of the 1993 classic film “Falling Down” that we never got.
Pulsar: Lost Colony
For years gamers have dreamed of the ultimate “Star Trek” game that would allow you and your friends to man a space ship and explore the galaxy. Some games have come close, but nothing so far has truly re-created the experience conceptualized by so many childhood imaginations.
“Pulsar” aims to accomplish just that, and might just have found the formula. Featuring randomized galaxies, you and four friends each take a role with unique responsibilities required to keep your ship afloat. Explore and form away teams as you engage on a variety of assignment, but be careful as the game does feature permanganate death should something go awry. Unfortunately “Wrath of Khan” style space funerals are unconfirmed.
The best part? “Pulsar” supports Occulus Rift
Born in a dark void, the protagonist of Nihilumbra finds himself in a world not different from our own and discovers that he can use these newfound colors to access different powers, and manipulate his environments. You’ll need to master these new found powers quickly too, as it turns out the void doesn’t like to have a part of itself separated and is trying to overtake this new world to get you back.
Incredibly dark and amazingly stylish, conceptually this game reminds me of a twisted version of “Kirby.” Innovative 2D games never really go out of style, and from everything that’s been shown so far, this looks destined to be an indie cult hit on the PC, just as it has been for the mobile scene.
Dubious name aside (it has nothing to do with “Minecraft”) “MouseCraft” may just be the biggest sure thing of the newest Greenlit titles.
In it you are asked to use a series of Tetris like puzzle pieces to complete a path for some rats so they may reach the cheese on the other side. Naturally, the difficulty increases as you go along and new pieces become available to throw a wrench in the works, but even in the early levels demoed show an original puzzle experience that screams addiction. So far this is only set for PC, Mac, and Linux, but don’t be surprised to see this come to mobile very soon.
Hyper Light Drifter
A game that wears its old school action/adventure game love on its sleeve, “Hyper Light Drifter” graphically looks like an extremely well designed Sega Genesis game, and it’s colorful cyber-ish world design immediately makes this game noteworthy.
While it’s gameplay is slightly more mysterious, the developer’s description of it as a cross between “Diablo” and a “Link to the Past” is an encouraging sign it will follow suit and provide an advenure/RPG hybrid in line with so many classic games of past. Simple and addictive old-shcool games of this style are not easy to come by, so if you’re a fan of the genre, this is the one to watch.
Though the full details are still unknown, the basic way the system appears to work is that up to 10 authorized friends can request to access your Steam account and download and play, through the cloud, most games you have available, and vice versa. To prevent abusing the system, if the user whose account you are borrowing from accesses their own account while you are using it, even if they are playing a different game than you are, you will be given a prompt that you have a few minutes to buy the game, or you will be kicked out.
Further details reveal that not every game will be available for sharing, though the specific games are unknown, and that purchased in-game items will not carry over to sharing, though it appears that DLC will. Also actions that can affect reputation in a game that are done by the player borrowing said game will carry over to the lender.
Though a few concerns and questions remain (Can a lender access his account when a game is installing to the borrower? If you’ve installed the game over the cloud and choose to buy it, does it have to be re-installed?) this is a tremendous idea that has been rumored for some time, but is still a welcome and exciting addition to Steam that provides a great opportunity to try out games that don’t usually have demos, as well as revive the borrowing concept, albeit in a slightly limited fashion.
So Valve has been busy updating some games recently to include support for their “Big Picture” mode that will allow Steam to be used on TV. It’s a welcome update for those with the capabilities and, for most games, is taking nothing more than a 70 MB update to help incorporate.
Except for one game though. For some reason “Half-Life 2: Episode 2” is requiring a 400 MB update. This being the internet, suddenly everyone started having a theory of how this would lead to “Half-Life 2: Episode 3” or even “Half-Life 3”. Nobody has any real idea about how this works, but hey, since 400 is a way bigger number than 70, it can only mean the release of one of the most anticipated games of all time right? The madness surrounding the update is so consuming, that a completely unrelated video from Machinima featuring a series of binary code, and vaguely “Half-Life” music playing throughout, was thought to be part of the conspiracy, and players are now feverishly scouring “Half-Life 2: Episode 2” to find any changes.
The “Magic Bullet” Of the “Half-Life 3″ Conspiracy
Of course, the whole thing is nonsense to the sane mind, but it does bring up a very real problem for Valve, in that the next “Half-Life” (in whatever form it may take) is slowly reaching some pretty unrealistic expectations. Whenever an extra 330 MB of unspecified, probably insignificant data can bring the entire PC gaming community to a furor, the hype meter has definitely spiked, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Valve’s exhibited an uncommon level of craftsmanship over the years, but even they are setting themselves up for a scenario where gamers are having years to craft their own game in their minds that even Valve might not be able to match. While this doesn’t mean they should rush the development of a game, it may be time to give gamers something (anything) regarding the next title in the beloved series before the hype machine claims another victim ala “Diablo III”.
Called Scream Fortress, the event (which runs through November 8th) once again includes the evil wizard Meramasus who is back to rule the world of TF2, only this time in the form of a ghost. At his disposal is the wheel of fate which affects a new king of the hill map where players must defeat Meramasus. The wheel produces a variety of random effects that an aid or harm the player. Also, it would appear the wizard of questionable competence Meramasus has left some of his random spells strewn about, and finding them gives player’s items new, holiday specific effects such as new paint on items, or fire and ghost summoning abilities.
I used to love when TV shows had special Halloween episodes, and I really love it when online games do the same. If you for some reason have been waiting to get into “Left 4 Dead” or “Team Fortress 2” now would be the time, as these are some great deals and additions that Valve has once again cooked up for the occasion.