“Bioshock Infinite”…and 8 Other Games Well Worth the Wait

I hereby denounce any public or private doubts I had about “Bioshock Infinite.”

The game really is just that good, as you’ve probably gathered from nearly every review and impression.

It’s hard to not have had doubts at some point about the title though, considering the substantial development time and departures of major developers during which. There is, however, precedent for games surviving that type of ordeal, as an elite group of titles managed to survive long delays, and massive amounts of hype and expectations, to emerge as great games. I can think of 8 in particular that were well worth the wait.

 

Honorable Mention – “Fallout 3” – A definite candidate, but “Fallout 3” gets a lot of love on this site, so just once I wanted to give some other titles their dues.

8. Mother 3

I remember seeing the first blurry and ugly screens of the “EarthBound 64” project in Nintendo Power, and being ecstatic about the prospect to a sequel about my favorite game ever.

As time went on screenshots and other news releases became fewer and fewer, until many started to believe the whole thing may have been an elaborate hoax. Then around 2004-2005, word got out that a third entrant in the cult hit “Mother” series would finally see release…in Japan. Not content with letting the land of the rising sun have all the fun, a dedicated group of American fans released an incredible and thorough translation of the title, so almost everyone could finally play the long awaited sequel.

While admittedly not the best game on this list, the “abandon all hope” mentality was strong regarding this one, and the dedicated translation efforts go to show that you can’t get in the way between fans and the games they really want.

7. LA Noire

Not all long awaited game are continuations or sequels.

The only original property on this list, there were rumblings of a 1940′s noire style video game dating back to 2003 when developer Team Bondi was formed. Originally set to be published exclusively by Sony, as the years wore on the game would switch publishers to Take Two, and seemingly grew in ambition as the release date kept slipping and slipping. Until the game graced the cover of a 2010 Game Informer, many even believed it to be quietly axed.

While reception to “L.A. Noire” was somewhat mixed due to its polarizing gameplay style, there is no denying the technical marvel of the graphics, or the pitch perfect execution of its retro style. The first video game to ever be accepted as an entrant to the Tribeca Film Festival, “L.A. Noire” emerged from an endless development cycle quite possibly something greater than it was originally conceived as.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The only reason this one isn’t higher, is because it was somewhat inevitable.

Still it was 1991 when “A Link to the Past” had Nintendo fans the world over gushing over the series’ brilliance, and outside of “Link’s Awakening” for the Game Boy, it would be 1998 before the true follow up to the series would see release. In the middle was a whole lot of nothing, as Nintendo remained mum about their most anticipated theoretical title, only casually referencing it, and often speaking of only delays.

Of course you probably know how this one turned out, as “Ocarina of Time” is widely regarded as one of the best games ever, and shows anticipation is a benefit if you can capitalize off of it.

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Can Drinking Beer and Playing Video Games be an Art?

Gaming and beer may be two of the finer things in life, and while you’ve probably combined the two in the past, my guess is it was done haphazardly by combining a case of the cheapest booze available with whatever you happened to be playing at the time.

I couldn’t argue with the technique either, as I’ve done the same thing many times over. However, there’s at least one beer enthusiast out there who believes that beer and video games can be paired with the same careful consideration of wine and food, or drugs and nightclubs.

His name is Greg Zeschuk, and if he sounds familiar, it might be from this site where I mentioned he was leaving Bioware, a company he co-founded, to get into the world of craft beer. His passion for brewing is such that he recently worked on a miniseries called “The Beer Diaries” which examines the growing art of craft brewing.

Pursuing his other interests doesn’t mean that Zeschuk has forgotten his roots though, and in a recent interview with joystiq.com, he shared some his favorite beer and video game pairings. Among them include IPAs with Action-RPG’s, Adventures with a nice barleywine, and first person shooters with a good pilsner. One genre he doesn’t touch is racing, as you should of course never drink and drive.

Although I’m a little bummed out my go to combinations of PBR and “Team Fortress 2,” Arrogant Bastard and “Hotline Miami,” and Brooklyn Lager and “Far Cry 3” (a little of home, a little of an island vacation) aren’t mentioned, it’s still an interesting idea that drinking could be used to enhance the games you play in more ways than just getting hammered.

So what do you think? Can beers and video games be effectively paired and, if so, what are some of your recommended combinations?

Love Halloween? Apparently so Does Valve

 

Valve has started their Halloween celebrations early, as they announced that today begins their annual “Team Fortress 2″ Halloween content.

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.

Even better, Valve gets to bring in the recent co-op Mann vs Machine mode to the party, as the machines have been turned into (surprise, surprise) a horde of zombies in the newly dubbed “Wave 666” mode. Speaking of Valve and zombies, they’re also taking the opportunity to offer “Left 4 Dead 2” for free this weekend, and are also marking it down to the brain gnawingly low price of $4.99 until Monday.

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.

How Valve is Making Sure Gamers Get the Games they Want, But Only if it Helps Children’s Charity

Valve may be my favorite video game company in the world.

It really has nothing to do with their games either. I mean, I’m as big as a fan of “Half-Life,” “Left 4 Dead,” “Team Fortress 2″ and the rest of the lineup as anyone, but it’s more the general vibe of the company that appeals to me so much. They’re living proof that it is possible to maintain a respectable bottom line, without having to sacrifice artistic or personal integrity. Maybe it’s their supposed ‘no bosses’ atmosphere at the office, but you actually do get the impression that they make moves for the benefit of their fans and not their figures.

Case in point is the new Green Light section on Steam. In case you weren’t aware, Steam Green Light allows indie developers a forum to submit their projects to for approval to be featured on Steam. The games are voted on by the users, and run the virtual gamut of just about every genre and concept you could possibly imagine. It’s similar to Kickstarter, with the key difference being that most of these developers aren’t asking for money, but rather the kind of exposure to open consumer minds that only Steam can provide.

With any open market of this magnitude, there is naturally going to be problems. Already cases of false titles (more than a few “Half-Life 3s” have been pitched) and morally improper game concepts have been reported, plus you just have the general onslaught of pitches that leads to hard worked ideas being buried under a pile of half-hearted hopefuls.

Valve may have found a solution to the problem though, and it comes in the form of a “pay to play” type entry fee. Now for a developer to feature their idea, it’s going to cost $100 dollars. In the grand scheme of things, most developers can easily write this off as a minor investment in their own project, with the potential reward being worth far more than that figure. And in case you actually believed that Valve would do something like  pocket the money, you forget who you’re dealing with.  They’ve announced that all proceeds from this fee will be donated to the Penny-Arcade sponsored charity Child’s Play.

Only Valve could manage to solve a nightmare of a logistical problem in a way that somehow manages to help children’s charities. It’s that surreal level of forward thinking and personal responsibility the company has that even makes me believe that their newly rumored venture into the physical console market that their pet project “Steam” is slowly helping to destroy, might somehow work after all.

Team Fortress 2 and Other Games That Would Make Great TV Series

If you head over to Adult Swim’s website right now, you’ll find an interesting teaser. Apparently, next week Valve and Adult Swim are going to be revealing a collaboration that they describe as “their video game peanut butter… our network chocolate” and “something that you’ll probably enjoy.” The picture accompanying the announcement makes it pretty clear that this is something “Team Fortress 2“-related, and speculation everywhere has it at everything from the long-awaited “Meet the Pyro” episode of the “Meet the Team” series, to a full-on new TV series based on the insanely popular online shooter.

Considering that “Team Fortress 2″ is one of the most purely entertaining games of all time, with a comic style and personality that is unmatched in its medium, and that those “Meet the Team” videos are some of the funniest things ever produced in relation to a video game, whatever comes of this announcement is sure be a bonafide success.

Personally, I’m hoping for a “Red vs Blue” style online miniseries.

It is odd, though, that video games and television shows are two mediums that don’t have much of a celebrated history, or anticipated future of collaboration. Video games made into movies have been a popular subject of discussion for years, but for some reason very few people ever consider the potential for games as TV shows. While “Team Fortress 2” might be the strongest argument for the games to series transition in the history of video games, the truth is that I think there are at least five other titles that would do very well in an episodic format.

“Fallout”

How It Would Work: Three letters. H-B-O. The world of the “Fallout” series is one of the most brutal, bleak and terrifying of all time. Around every corner waits a new horror and atrocity, and just about every person left has become a hardened bastard because it’s the only thing that’s allowed them to survive.

It’s the perfect world for HBO’s no limit programming.

More than the violence, though, this show would need HBO’s creative freedom to really showcase the  ”Fallout” series’ biggest success, and that’s the world it takes place in. The 50s style atmosphere, mixed with the total apocalypse, is the thing that made the series stand out above all others, and it leads to some of the greatest dark humor in any medium. From the always gleeful “Fallout Boy” mascot to the incredibly inappropriate yet oddly fitting classic soundtrack, there is so much in this series that you wouldn’t have to change a bit of to make it shine as something truly unique and incredible.

What’s better is that you wouldn’t be stuck with the parameters of the series story either. There are so many tales waiting to be told that you could just borrow ideas from the established parts of the series and have more than enough foundation for even a mediocre script writer to build something truly compelling with.

In fact, with the possible exception of “Team Fortress 2,” “Fallout” is the series perhaps most primed for television. Just please… no Deathclaws. They scared me enough in the game already when I accidentally found Old Oney too early, and I certainly don’t need any more of them.

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Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade Review: Monday Night Combat

monday_night_combat-title

I didn’t have very high hopes for “Monday Night Combat” when Microsoft first announced this year’s Summer of Arcade line-up, nor was I immediately taken with it after playing a few rounds. (Though that likely had more to do with the fact that the tutorial isn’t very helpful in explaining how to play the game.) But while it’s certainly not the best-looking title of the bunch, “Monday Night Combat” eventually wins you over with its incredibly addictive gameplay. At its core, the game is a class-based, third-person shooter à la “Team Fortress 2,” but it also implements the tower defense genre into basic strategy, and is set in the middle of a “Smash TV”-like game show complete with a sex-neutral mascot named Bullseye who pops up throughout the course of matches to taunt the players. Better yet, when you shoot him, he drops coins, which is the lifeblood of the game. Coins can be spent on upgrading your Pro’s abilities, building and upgrading turrets, or even unlocking jump pads that allow you to reach higher areas on the map.

There are really only two game modes to choose from: Blitz and Overkill. The former tasks you and up to three other players with protecting your moneyball (a New Year’s Eve-sized piñata filled with coins) from an onslaught of enemy bots, while the latter is a 6-on-6 Deathmatch-style battle to see which team can breach and destroy the other team’s moneyball first. Though Blitz is a great place to start because it gives players a good opportunity to try out all six classes (Assault, Tank, Support, Assassin, Gunner and Sniper, each with their own unique weapons and abilities), Overkill is where you’re going to have the most fun. Not only must you figure out how to strike the perfect balance between upgrading your Pros and turrets, but you also have to decide what’s more important: killing enemies or escorting bots to the other team’s base. Only bots can take down the shield protecting the moneyball, but you need coins in order to purchase them. It’s a simplistic yet necessary give-and-take system that forces players to work as a team, and it’s one of the main reasons why “Monday Night Combat” succeeds as a great multiplayer game of the once-you-pop-you-just-can’t-stop variety.

Want more Summer of Arcade? Be sure to come back every Wednesday through August 18th for a first-hand look at Microsoft’s newest XBLA exclusives. Next week: Grab your tomb raiding gear and join Lara Croft in her search for the “Guardian of Light.”

TF2: There can only be one…

TF2 soldier and demoman.Yes, the end of that title is “highlander.” That’s the new mode that made its way into the latest Team Fortress 2 update. The update also includes a bunch of bug fixes and some map edits.

For highlander mode each team can consist of up to 9 players. For each team there can only be one of each different class. I really like the idea. Part of the intrigue of the class system is feeling like you have a special role that others can’t quite perform as well. What better way to showcase it than making each player truly the only one.

Among the other changes is cloud support for key bindings and custom spray tags.

Team Fortress 2 brings the love to Demomen, Soldiers

The Scottish Resistance.The Soldier/Demoman war is almost over for TF2 fans, which means we’re that much closer to getting the new weapons and achievements for those classes. The total frag count is over the 11 million mark, the two sides separated by just 14,792 kills.

In honor of the beginning of the end, Valve has revealed the new weapons. For Soldiers, it’s The Equalizer, a melee pickaxe that does more damage the more damage you’ve taken. As the little newspaper clipping says it, “Get close enough to death and you will become Death himself.” Cool.

The Demoman gets a new gun in the form of The Scottish Resistance. This new sticky launcher allows you to set more bombs, detonate enemy bombs, and set off your own bombs in clusters. The extra utility means the bombs do a little less damage, and the primer is longer – 0.4 seconds – so you’ll need some careful planning to make this thing work. It does turn the Demoman into one hell of a defensive tool, though.

Earn A Halo If You Don’t Cheat At TF2

Team Fortress 2 demo man.Since removing the achievement-based item system, Valve has had about all the grief they can handle from unruly players. Where the old system led to players creating achievement servers just to unlock the goodies, the new system made prevalent the use of idling programs to attain the items.

Well Valve’s not happy with that second situation. They don’t want you idling your way to glory any more than they want you hacking, so they’re removing the items attained by idlers, and giving non-cheating types a little reward. If you didn’t idle your way to items, check for a level 1 Halo in your inventory. The headpiece gives you a level 1 “Aura of Incorruptibility”

As for future cheating, Valve’s Erik Johnson says they will “adopt a zero tolerance policy for external applications used to manipulate the persistent item system.” In other words, don’t do it.

Valve Opens TF2 Closed Beta

Team Fortress 2.Team Fortress 2 developer Robin Walker stopped by ShackNews to give a heads up on Valve’s new closed beta system for the popular shooter. The beta is meant to give Valve playtest feedback from some of the most competitive TF2 players in the world.

It’s not at all uncommon for global changes to affect a mass player base positively while doing what the hardcore players consider serious harm to a game. The most recent TF2 update, which changed item upgrades from “unlockables” to “random drops” was no exception to the rule. The casual players loved it, because they might actually be able to get The Sandman. Competitive players, though, were understandably pissed. All the work they put in just sort of went to waste (though honestly, with all the achievement servers I find it hard to be sympathetic – these guys would have been playing either way).

Valve wants to get an early look at some of that anger with their beta testing. By releasing casual features to the most hardcore players, they can determine what will work across the board and what still needs some tweaking. Overall, I’d call it a smart move. Feedback from the most competitive players is usually feedback from the base of folks that will be playing your game long after everyone else has moved on to Halo: Reach or Bioshock 2.

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