If you haven’t been following, the oculus rift is an amazing new virtual reality device that will allow the gamer to achieve a sort of free look effect while playing a game. It’s not quite the vision of virtual reality that we pictured from sci-fi, but it does represent the most realistic step towards that vision that video gaming has ever seen.
Now that early units have begun shipping to early kickstarter backers, we’re starting to get some pretty interesting footage of the device showing everyone exactly why that is.
The first comes to us from a gamer playing the free running “Mirror’s Edge.”
“Mirror’s Edge” is the exact type of game that people dreamed about when they heard of the oculus rift, and also the type they worried if the device was capable of handling. From that video, I’m going to say that concern has been addressed triumphantly
In fact, I pretty much just have to say “wow.” While we don’t know how much time was invested in learning to play the game, it doesn’t appear that the user in that video misses much of a step with the rift, and instead the only times he seems disoriented are when he’s in a particularly narrow movement space, admiring the rift’s ability to put a new perspective on the game, or when participating in an awe inspiring free fall which serves as the definitive climax to the video.
While it’s difficult to gain the same sensation that the rift supposedly inspires just by watching a video, it doesn’t take much imagination when viewing that video to see that it has potential to lend a truly unprecedented interactive experience to select titles. Of course when you’re talking creative and imaginative experiences, nothing tops the next video.
In what has to be the most incredible demonstration of interactive gaming ever filmed, the person in that video is using an omni-directional treadmill, which can read and feed your movements to a video game character, and pairs it with the oculus rift to play “Team Fortress 2″ in a manner more in line with the virtual reality experience we’ve all dreamed of, albeit in a much more exhausting manner than previously considered.
The other thing that video shows is that there is a possible future for VR gaming, which is an idea that has never really been given an honest attempt or chance. Whether or not the oculus rift is the device we all look back to when identifying the true turning point of the concept, even the earliest and roughest footage shows a VR device that does something no other has truly managed to do yet.
Yet I can tell you without shame in my heart, or doubt in my words that I love “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.” Truly love it.
While I realized this the moment that I heard “Long Tall Sally” blasting from a helicopter stereo in a glorious tribute to the greatest sci-fi action movie of all time (“Predator”), it’s not even the game’s love of everything sci-fi 80s that stirs these emotions in me. Rather it’s something deeper, more real.
It’s because “Blood Dragon” reminds me that add-on content doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but can actually be fun.
Too often downloadable content is seen as a necessity, or worse a money grab. “Blood Dragon” is the antithesis of that idea. It was the brainchild of a group of developers who saw the opportunity to release the necessary DLC content for “Far Cry 3” as something more than an obligation to bang out some new items, or a side story in the same environment, but instead they took the chance to take all of the original game’s well developed mechanics, and use them as the foundation of something that would not only be creatively satisfying, but that could be as enjoyable to make as it would be enjoyable to play.
In this case it just happened to be a tribute to the world of over the top 80s video games, science fiction, and cartoons. Every aspect of the game is dipped deep into the well of 80s nostalgia, as the cutscense are straight out of an 80’s NES game, there’s a VCR filter over most of the proceedings, and the amount of film references is nerdgasmic. Seriously, if you took a sip of watered down light beer for every “Terminator” reference in the demo, you’d die of alcohol poisoning three minutes in. It’s like the proper video game adaptation of so many franchises we never got, all rolled into one.
But again this isn’t about the content of “Blood Dragon” specifically. It’s about how all other developers need to take notice of “Blood Dragon,” and remind themselves that the moment they feel bored doing DLC, they are probably doing it wrong. Before I saw “Blood Dragon” I honestly never considered that DLC could be a good thing for gaming, but just like “Bioshock Infinite” did for sequels, “Blood Dragon” shows the benefit of preserving the mechanics of a great game, but changing everything else to produce something that doesn’t give you more of what came before, but something more original that reminds you why you loved that game in the first place.
So while the neon infused hyper retro world of “Blood Dragon” should be enough to get anyone to play it (especially as you don’t even need “Far Cry 3” to do so, making it more of a standalone add-on), the real reason you should pick it up when it is released on May 1st is to show developers that gamers are tired of downloads that just put armor on horses, and instead crave expansions that actually expand and explore the possibilities of a franchise.
As I fill out a bracket that will no doubt be null and void shortly after the round of 64, I kick back and smile at the upcoming joy that is the greatest playoff system in all of sports, the NCAA March Madness tournament.
It’s a tale of underdogs and goliaths. It’s one of men who aim to be heroes coming from all corners of the lands to do battle. From the heated debates regarding those involved, all the way to the moment one school, and one team, stand upon a pile of worthy, yet vanquished, foes to achieve the title of champion, there is no event in sports so epic and engrossing.
In fact, it would really make a great video game wouldn’t it?
This time every year, for the last few years, I have to remind myself there are no new college basketball games. The reasons why are nothing quite so epic as the famous tournament, but are as tragic as any great tale nonetheless.
Simply put college basketball games, unlike the NCAA Football games, didn’t sell well at all. Reports even put “NCAA Basketball 10,” the last entry in the field, selling just over 200,000 units total, which for a company like EA (the last developer to make an NCAA basketball game) was not cutting it. Combined with the always tricky NCAA licensing battles stemming from creating the likeness of college players in a game (and the historic so-so quality of the games themselves), from a business standpoint, the answer couldn’t have been more clear.
College basketball games had to go.
And you know what? It’s a damn shame.
While the games were never quite at the same level as their college football or professional basketball counterparts, EA’s series (and 2K’s before that for that matter) was improving leaps and bounds, and that strive to improve it each year washed away that “we’re the only game in town so deal with it” feel you sometimes get with their sports titles.
As for the sales, as atrocious as they were in terms of that type of game, as we near the opening rounds of the great tournament, I can’t help but feel like the biggest issue was the game’s typical release date around November, and not closer to the madness that is March for college basketball fans. Why you wouldn’t try to capitalize off of the frenzy surrounding that event remains beyond me.
You can do a lot of things in video games and get away with it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to sell. College basketball didn’t, and now they’re gone. Unlike that plucky “Cinderella” team that comes just short of the big game though, there is no next year for college basketball video games. Instead there is just time for even the most feverishly adherent of fans to vaguely remember that once, there was a contender.
When you consider the amount of work put into making a complete game even functional, it’s amazing that game developers have the time to create some of the coolest objects in the game, and hide them places where they may never be found. Yet ever since some hidden credits in “Adventure,” video games and secrets have gone hand and hand.
Of these secrets, the best are the hidden weapons. Often maniacally tucked away and requiring a great deal of luck and effort to ever wield, they usually serve as unopposed killing machines worth every ounce of time and energy used to harness them, though the journey to do so is often more difficult than the game ever would have been if you’d chosen not to seek them out.
I love them though for their holy grail like status in many of the titles they are featured in, and these are five of my favorites.
The Sword of Kings – “EarthBound”
Any day I get to mention “EarthBound” is a good day.
While not the most powerful of the 1/128 items, it is the only weapon that one of your characters can use in the game, giving him a significant offensive boost. It also must be unlocked against a very tough enemy at a point where, if you haven’t been level grinding, you are lucky enough to survive a battle with, much less play the odds of defeating enough to find the fabled sword.
To this day I’ve never unlocked the Sword of Kings, though I regularly try.
The MIRV – “Fallout 3″
There is a weapon in “Fallout 3” called the Fat Man that shoots a mini-nuclear warhead that nothing in the game can withstand. The MIRV shoots 8 of those warheads at once.
To unlock it, you must find five transcripts from the Keller family spread throughout the world. Unless you’re cheating, these are not easy to just run across, and even doing so yields no guarantee you know what the hell they lead to. Piece it all together though, and you’d find your way to a hidden section of the national guard depo where the most powerful, and unnecessary, weapon ever in a video game lies.
Even in a world built upon, and still teeming with, nuclear atrocities, the MIRV might just be the greatest war crime ever constructed. It’s also happens to be fun as hell.
Biggoron’s Sword – “Ocarina of Time”
A gaming secret in a major release that few people knew about? There was a pre-internet time when such a thing was possible.
You may think there is no greater sword in “Ocarina of Time” than the Master Sword, but you would be wrong. To get it though, you have to complete a VERY lengthy quest of which there are very few hints of its existence, or where to go next during it. Make it through this hellacious and confusing journey though, and you’ll be rewarded with a two handed sword that does twice the damage as the Master Sword, and looks 10x as intimidating.
Finding the Biggoron’s Sword without the step by step instructions was a truly rewarding experience back in the day. Even with the walkthrough, it is still one of Link’s greatest all time weapons.
Whoever discovered this gun in the game, and the sequence to get it, is an obsessive compulsive evil genius. The Scarab was clearly not meant to be found by 99.9% of the people who played “Halo 2,” as the commonly accepted process to acquire it demands tremendous skill, potential hours upon hours of patience, and a split second moment of reaction thats absence negates the previous two requirements.
Your reward is a normal looking gun floating above a warning marker in a seemingly unreachable part of the level, that just so happens to pack the firepower of a tank, and will obliterate any single obstacle in your path. The gun only lasts one level, but the thrill of acquiring it is forever.
Excalibur II – “Final Fantasy IX”
Though I’m sure this isn’t factually true, from my personal knowledge and experience, this is as hard of a hidden weapon to unlock as exists.
See, if you play “Final Fantasy IX” the normal way (beat the main game, do a few side quests, enjoy yourself) it takes you about 45-50 hours to complete. To unlock the Excalibur II, you’ll need to get to this 4-disc adventure’s final boss in under 12 hours.
It’s not a challenge any sane individual would ever undertake, and requires all of your powers and efforts to complete. Manage to do so though, and you are rewarded with a sword that can deal the series’ 9999 damage max to even the most powerful of enemies at will, not to mention more hardcore nerd bragging rights than you could acquire even through sex with an actual un-paid human.
So I’m very curious to know what your favorite hidden weapons are, and which are the most difficult you’ve ever personally found. Be sure to let me know in the comments below.
While the original “Payday: The Heist” was a fun game, you wouldn’t be blamed for just remembering it as a particularly well made “Left 4 Dead” mod, even if it wasn’t.
The 4 player FPS co-op style was a big cause of this, but it was more the fact that each level played out like the “heist gone wrong” part of the story, and required you to shoot your way through waves of enemies to escape with the loot. It was more smash and grab than the perfect crime.
The details on the sequel (known only as “Payday 2”) are starting to emerge, and it’s obvious that the change of ownership (Starbreeze acquired “PayDay” developer Overkill) isn’t the only thing new in the series as there is a change in philosophy as well. This is evident through the early information, which points to a smarter game, and one not shoehonrned completely into the action genre.
Among the ideas contributing to this are new character classes like the “ghost” class, and varied approach and execution options which will allow for a level to theoretically be completed with minimal violence, assuming you are able to craft and execute the perfect plan for a job. Standing in your way is the usual security and alarm systems, made all the more cumbersome by the introduction of random elements which will change the location of guards, traps, and even the loot on multiple playthroughs.
It’s an exciting step in the right direction, and should still result in an entertaining game, but it’s still not the heist game I’ve been dreaming of.
No, the ideal heist game doesn’t skip to the shootout like so many others, but rather looks to the unappreciated strategy element. The perfect heist game would be 80% planning and strategy, and the rest left to execution, with action only as a last resort. This doesn’t mean that it has to abandon the FPS genre, but rather take the influence away from “Left 4 Dead” and closer to the original “Rainbow Six” games, which required precise planning and loadout selections, as well as effective on the job group management, to even have a chance of surviving a mission, much less flawlessly executing it.
There are other ways to go of course. A “Syndicate” style pure strategy game, an isometric original “Fallout” or “Baulder’s Gate” RPG sort, an “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” simplified grid based game, or even a “Dishonored” or “Deus Ex” think on your feet multiple approach for each problem type would be great.
Honestly though I’d just like to see more attempts at the genre until someone gets it right. Heist games are among the rarest in video games, and ones that approach it with anything more than a shoot first mentality are even more-so. A real shame too considering the inherit potential in the genre.
Not all hope is lost though, as the “Payday” series can still continually evolve, and “Grand Theft Auto V” promises more heist missions than ever. Plus let’s not forget that another “can’t miss” genre, the western, took almost 30 years to do right.
There’s a great line in a “Sopranos” episode where Tony confronts his long loved crush, and therapist, with the possibility that she may not have taken the chance to truly get to know him.
Forget the way Tony Soprano makes his way in the world. That’s to feed his children. There’s two Tony Sopranos…you’ve never seen that other one…That’s the one I want to show you
EA and Maxis must be relating to that quote now as it pertains to the new “SimCity,” because there are certainly two sides of the game. One is the game that critics have informed players is a brilliant mix of every great thing the series has become up until this point mixed with exciting new evolutions to the formula leading to a title every inch as great as it could be.
The other though is the one that the rest of the world is seeing. It’s the one that is causing the entire internet to roar in fury over the fact that they haven’t even gotten a chance to play the game yet due to server issues so encompassing, it can only be classified as an epidemic. Even if you’re lucky enough to log on to the game, you’ll most likely be booted in an instant for your audacity.
There is no greater example of this dynamic than the astounding difference between the critic review score (82) and the user review score (1.7) on metacritic.
It’s as if EA flipped the disaster option available in the game on in real life, and the name of the chosen catastrophe is “DRM,” as just like “Diablo III” you must be signed in to the internet at all times, even if playing by yourself, and just like that game, the server congestion this causes in unmanageable.
Companies say its a feture that will one day lead to better security in games, and unique social benefits. So far it has only led to catastrophic server issues that break games like Ivan Drago breaks opponents.
It must be stopped.
There can be no room for debate on this topic. Not for now anyway. Putting aside the absurd notion that a gamer can’t play the game they bought and installed without a high quality internet connection available at all times, the cases of “Diablo III” and “SimCity” show that any potential benefits this atrocity of an idea may yield are in no way able to be implemented safely yet.
Actually, let’s not put aside the absurd notion of the idea. Let’s hit it on the head, throw it in a bag, chain the bag, put the bag in the car, and drive the car in the ocean and never speak of it again. It’s a terrible concept that becomes insulting when you consider that the only real explanation of its current existence is that gamers will eventually get used to it.
Yeah well you get used to having your hand on a stove eventually, but you’ve still done permanent damage.
That’s what it boils down to. Even though gamers will one day be able to actually play the game they eagerly waited for and quickly snatched up, much like “Diablo III” and its sales records, “SimCity” will be a game forever tarnished by this incident, that no amount of figures or good will gestures will aid.
At the end of the day gamers just want to play this game, and EA and Maxis (oh who are we kidding, EA) have done the one thing that could prevent them from doing that, and seemingly did it knowingly, as there is no way they could not have seen something like this coming, considering the massive amount of pre-sale orders.
It’s a sick joke that a game years in development and all about effective planning, management, and creation, should be affected by problems that exhibit none of those ideas, and leaves what should be a world of thriving metropolises, into a nothing more than a large ghost town.
If Only They’d Known How Appropriate This Video Would Be
LL Cool J warned us all to not call it a comeback, but he never said to not ask for one.
And in the world of video games, sometimes a comeback is just what’s needed. Even in a gaming world where franchise attempts spawn from even the most unremarkable of titles, some games never get the second (or third, or fourth, or fifth) chance they richly deserved. It’s a shame to, as I can think of at least five titles that deserve a sequel.
While technically predating it, the “S.W.A.T.” series is a tactical team based FPS that bears a strong resemblance to “Rainbow Six.” The difference of course being that “Rainbow Six” has you playing a squad of elite globe-trotting operatives, while “S.W.A.T.” has you playing as…well a S.W.A.T. team.
You may think that would be a step down, but the key difference lies in the mission design, as some truly creative scenarios and missions were crafted for this series that were beyond the usual international terrorism intrigue. A great example is a mission in “S.W.A.T. 4” where you have to make your way into a suburban house where a deranged serial killer lives with his mother. Everything looks normal, until you make your way into the basement which doubles as a twisted den of horror. It, along with the well implemented preference towards non-violent solutions when possible, represents what this series does so well even over similar titles.
This license is as cold as it comes, and not a whisper of the series continuing exists anywhere, which is unfortunate as there’s still a lot of potential here.
In 2003 Bioware stopped the video game presses with their release of “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.” While a watered down version of their earlier PC games in many respects, “KOTOR” blew away nearly everyone that played it, and would change gaming by popularizing the idea of good and bad choices.
For their next big release, Bioware planned on taking that same mechanic, and applying it to a world of their own based heavily on Chinese mythology. “Jade Empire” was the result of that creation, and its seamless blend of ancient China design with just enough mythological elements mixed in, resulted in a game world with few creative peers. There was also a fun, if very simple, combat system based around the use of several martial arts, combined with magic attacks, that helped tie the game together.
Truthfully “Jade Empire” had a lot of flaws, but the groundwork was there for something truly great. It’d be incredible if Bioware would take another stab at getting it all to come together, as by all rights this should have been a franchise.
Hunter: The Reckoning
Okay, so this game did get a sequel, but that’s not my point.
My point is that the horror genre is unfairly shoehorned into only a couple of gameplay ideas, and “Hunter: The Reckoning” puts it into the multiplayer action realm where it so rarely gets to venture. You and three friends take the role of some classic horror movie charchter archetypes and fight your way through a gothic horror world filled with wolves, vampires, zombies, and even giant evil teddy bears and Santa Clauses. No horror stone is left unturned, and getting to shoot and slash your way through it with three friends is an experience not found in many games.
Whether as a retail release or downloadable title, considering the brave new online world we live in, now is the time for a new “Hunter” game, and sooner is definitely better.
Here’s another series that got a sequel, but just not enough of them.
“Stuntman” for the Playstation 2 was a gem of a racing title that had you play the role of a movie stuntman, as you perform dangerous driving scenes through various films. Due entirely to its trial and error gameplay which required pinpoint actions at a moment’s notice, “Stuntman” was a brutally challenging game that was constantly frustrating, but always rewarding, and exhibited creative uses of its film based concept, including splicing in your stunts into a trailer for the fake movies you were shooting at the end of each level.
“Dark Souls” and “Demon’s Souls” proved there is still a market for impossibly difficult games, and with its unique concept and fresh approach to the stagnate driving genre, it would be great if someone could put it all together and make the quality of game the series is capable of.
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
Sometimes you have to admit defeat and move on with your life, but in the case of “Crimson Skies,” I just can’t do that.
I will never, ever understand how this game didn’t get a sequel. It takes place in an alternate 1930s where America has taken to the skies instead of the road, and gangs of air pirates rule the day (it’s even cooler than it sounds). As famed air pirate Nathan Zachary, you’re on a quest that sees you run amok of every gang in the country, and engage in incredible aerial battles all the while.
From the great graphics, perfectly implemented arcade style controls, variety of awesome planes, weapons, and characters, insanely inventive world, “Indiana Jones” style plot, intense zeppelin fights, gameplay variety, roaring soundtrack, and still fun to this day (and incredibly welcome at the time) Xbox Live multiplayer, “Crimson Skies” did everything right and is still one of my favorite games of all time. There is really nothing quite like it, which is why it has aged so well and remains enjoyable while other games from the era waste away.
How the game never got a sequel is far beyond me, as it must be stuck in some serious licensing hell. It may not break sales records, but even with minimal efforts, a proper “Crimson Skies” sequel would almost be impossible to ruin considering the wealth of material to work from.
With a wealth of candidates available though, there shouldn’t be much problem finding a suitable replacement, which is more than can be said about the spiritual world in video games where paragons of holy virtue and guidance are few and far between. In fact it’s quite the opposite as some of gaming’s greatest villains derive from the world of religion.
To show you how bad the problem is, here are a few of gaming’s most despicable religious leaders.
Important Note: This is in no way shape or form a commentary on any real religion or religious figures including, but not limited to, the pope or the Catholic church. This is just for fun.
Oh and spoilers. Spoilers are ahead.
Allegro Rasputin of the First Church of LeChuck – “Escape From Monkey Island”
The exact doctrines, words, and many basic day to day functions of the First Church of LeChuck are a mystery to many. It’s origins, however, are very clear as priest Allegro Rasputin was murdered by the ghost pirate LeChuck, and even made to view his still beating pancreas prior to death, while out at sea. Initially upset, the priest came to respect LeChuck for his capabilities and founded a church in his honor.
And what a church it is. Built into a volcano, and resembling a skull castle, the church has a river of lava flowing through it used in weddings so couples can become ghosts, and live together eternally, at the end of the journey. The rest of the church is a none too subtle tribute to LeChuck himself, and Rasputin’s primary goal is stopping the enemy of his deity, Guybrush Threepwood.
While not gaming’s deepest religion, for sheer tenacity, dedication, and even style, the Church of LeChuck is one of gaming’s most memorable religious institutions, and Rasputin’s devoutness to stopping our hero is equal to his faith
The Prophet of Truth of the Covenant Religion – “Halo”
It was “Halo 2” where gamers discovered that the hard fighting and no-nonsense alien enemies known as the Covenant were actually a deeply religious society with a strong sense of organization and hierarchy.
Atop that hierarchy are a series of prophets, and amongst those prophets is the clear leader, the Prophet of Truth. His mission is to lead his people in seeking out and activating the halo installations of the ancient, yet far advanced, people known as the forerunners. They believe that once the rings are activated, they will achieve a form of ascension and become eternal. They are actually aware, that while they have a slim chance of elevation, that completing this mission will more or less result in the complete destruction of every known thing.
Being a real fanatic is both the reason behind the rise to power, and the fall of the Prophet of Truth. While many villains have promised the end of the world or universe, few did it with the smug sense of satisfaction, and feeling of purpose as the Prophet of Truth.
Craig Markoff of Unitology –“Dead Space”
While the Church of Unitology’s primary figure is Michael Altman, one of the true spearheads of the movement is military man Craig Markoff.
A cleverly veiled allusion to Scientology in many ways, the Church of Unitology plays an integral role in the “Dead Space” series, and revolves around the fabled markers, which are artifacts of mysterious power. Formed in a time of dwindling religious beliefs, the church promoted a message of harmony and peace which caught on quickly and turned them into a real power. One of their principle ideas is not burying the dead, and instead keeping their bodies on spaceships waiting to be re-born. In reality, they are aware of the limited power of the marker to grant new and eternal life, though it often results in creating unspeakable atrocities. These incidents were written off as anomalies with manageable spiritual factors contributing to them.
A true and horrible evil in every way, Markoff is one of gaming’s great villains. He cleverly used Altman as a figurehead of virtue shielding him from the many, many atrocities he would commit, and his tenacity in refusing to waiver from his claims, is nearly unprecedented.
Morpheus of the Children of the Cathedral – “Fallout”
A servant of The Master (a downright terrifying mutant, human, computer hybrid), Morpheus is an old styled southern preacher who is clever, extremely charismatic, and downright volatile. Morpheus doesn’t believe The Master to be a god as others in the church do, but he has no qualms with using the influence of the church for his own means, and is a loyal servant of him all the same.
Much like Markoff, Morpheus is a pure evil as it gets, as his short temper and selfish ambitions only further his insatiable ego. It’s one thing to take advantage of people’s spiritual beliefs to further your own causes, but to do so at the end of world when all other hope has gone? Damn.
Sergius XVII of the Ormus Religion – “Xenosaga”
One of gaming’s greatest and most complex universes is that of the “Xenosaga” games. Fittingly, it also contains one of the deepest and most complex religions in all of gaming, the Ormus religion.
It would be impossible to sum up the religion entirely here, but it is spearheaded by the patriarch Sergius XVII and is actually an evolutionary offshoot of modern day Christianity. Their main objective is to recover the mysterious Zohar artifact, and use it to defeat the equally mysterious, and troublesome, Gnosis. Sergius XVII, also has personal ambitions to use this event to further the Ormus’s reach and influence, which is already considerable as the religion has power in nearly every meaningful aspect of society.
A victim of absolute power, it’s easy to write off Sergius XVII as simply “evil”, but his motives and intentions are instead a mix of the blindingly noble and the sadistically misguided. Because of this, he stands as one of the deepest, most influential, and in many ways the most realistically flawed of all of gaming’s evil religious figures, making him more memorable than the usual snarling types.
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?
Until very recently, the world of comic book video games have been an up and down realm of quality, as two mediums that you would think should work harmoniously, end up clashing when it comes to the final product.
The fields become even murkier when talking about comic book video games that aren’t based on existing properties, of which there are astonishingly few. Developers seem to be in no hurry to create super hero style games of their own design, making the sub-genre a near non-existent species. Don’t take that to mean there aren’t standouts in the field though as gamers have, on rare occasion, been granted some truly inspired comic book champions, based on no specific comic at all.
So true believers and gamers everywhere, here are the five best non-licensed super hero video games.
Ok, so the hero of “Comix Zone” isn’t your traditional super hero, but I could never forgive myself if I didn’t take his opportunity to talk about this Sega Genesis gem.
“Comix Zone” puts you into the role of comic artist Sketch Turner as he jumps into one of his own creations, and attempts to save the day, side scrolling game style. “Comix Zone” had a lot of fun with the concept, as stages are broken into comic panels that you actively traverse. The first time you see your character jump to the next panel is a thrilling moment in smart gaming design, and the feeling never goes away as the game continuously explores the better uses of the idea, and never stops having fun with it. This is especially evident in moments like the artist intervening to finish a drawing, power ups that let you manipulate the stages for attacks, or the ability to become an unstoppable traditional hero momentarily, and the general straight from the comics graphics.
“Comix Zone” is brutally difficult and cruelly short, but even over the years it has remained noteworthy for all the original reasons, and remains a must play for fans of super hero games.
City of Heroes
In a massively multiplayer online world filled with raging medival fantasy style hordes, darkness and uncertainty reigned, as the people searched for a beacon of originality. A champion of a new day. Along came “City of Heroes”, a liberator from the same old, same old.
Like so many other MMO’s “City of Heroes” was rough around the edges when first released, but still immediately presented an alternative to the more traditional MMO, that was accessible, wildly entertaining, quicker paced, and so damn fun, as you created a super hero to patrol a thriving metropolis with others. The hero creation process maybe the game’s best feature, as it allowed you to truly play a role that was uniquely yours (the whole point of the genre remember) and create a perfect facsimile of your favorite super hero, or something entirely unique. From there you could form super groups, demolish massively underpowered muggers, or just generally live out your super hero fantasies with a level of depth never before granted.
It was a sad, sad day when NCsoft dropped “City of Heroes”, as we will probably never see a game like it again. It still stands tall though as perhaps gaming’s greatest tribute to the golden age of comics.
Actually if “City of Heroes” isn’t gaming’s greatest comic tribute, it might be “Freedom Force”.
If you’ve never played it, think of it as “Baldur’s Gate” for super heroes. While not quite as grand and near flawless as that series, it does echo that franchise’s level of world depth as everything from character design to histories and motives are so detailed that it’s almost impossible to believe that it wasn’t based on one specific pre-existing long running comic series. It does, however, take cues from just about every single golden age comic, and the love for that source material is so glowing that it will make any comic fan uncontrollably grin while playing it. Comic game’s live and die by their sense of style, an “Freedom Force” thrives from it. Trying to summarize it all would be an insult to the work put into it.
“Freedom Force” took a novel concept and ran with it with such authority that it assured gamers no one could ever take a swing at the idea again, and certainly wouldn’t be able to do it with near the creative level of completeness that “Freedom Force” achieved.
A first look at “Infamous” doesn’t make it scream “Super Hero Game”. The first time you play it though, you realize that it is one of gaming’s most original super hero creations.
You find yourself playing as Cole MacGrath, a bike messenger who, due to an accident, suddenly finds himself with the ability to manipulate electricity. Cole’s path from here is unclear as the player guides him on the path to becoming a great super hero or super villain, and watch his powers evolve and shape based on those decisions. It carried on the open world, task based super hero game idea that “Spider-Man 2” made popular, and, due in large part to some fascinating uses for the electrical manipulation powers of Cole, things rarely became stale as you were constantly uncovering new uses for the abilities and, thanks to the creative prowess of developer Sucker Punch (creators of the Sly Cooper series), constantly entertained by a strong plot and the comic book style story interludes that drove it.
“Infamous” was one of the first must have PS3 exclusives and, as proven by the eerily similar “Prototype” released around the same time, is a difficult to execute idea pulled off to near perfection here. It represents gaming’s most original stab at the idea of a modern super hero tale.
Taking its cues not just from comic books, but cartoons and film as well, “Viewtiful Joe” is an incredible sensory overload.
It was Capcom’s glorious big name return to the 2D action genre, and it paid tribute to just about everything the average gamer grew up loving, including video games itself. However, there is no doubt that “Viewtiful Joe” is a super hero, and his powers of time and distance manipulation are original, and uniquely used in ways like slowing down time to take out helicopters (their blades can spin fast enough). In any other developers hands, the amount of things “Viewtiful Joe” throws at you would become overwhelming, and may eventually lose the intended effect. In the skilled possession of one of the all time great developers in Capcom though, the game is a textbook example of how to properly implement the feeling of handling a super hero in a video game, and of the 2D action genre as well.
Considering it’s all time great pedigree, near flawless execution, and commitment to making every frame and moment an absolute and original blast of creative wonderment, I’m ready to call “Viewtiful Joe” gaming’s greatest original super hero creation.