GamesRadar - DS Features, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:00 -0800GamesRadar+ Christmas offer - get 34 top Eidos games for £20, 22 Dec 2014 04:05:47 -0800 7 video game characters would be awesome as Santa <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When Eartha Kitt rudely requested Santa come and trim her ‘Christmas tree’ in <a href="" target="_blank">the multiple-entendre’d festive tune</a>, she clearly wasn’t picturing the strange assortment of stand-ins below to dive down her ‘chimney’. These weirdos range from a fat megalomaniac to a time-controlling cat to a mournful spider lady. But they share a common trait: they’d all be awesome Father Christmases.</p> <p>How? Why? Read on and we’ll explain all in our follow up to the feature that looks at <a href="" target="_blank">game characters who would make the worst Santas</a>! I say we. It’s actually just me slouched in an office chair writing this without a shred of warmth or humanity visible on my stoney face. Merry, er, something!!</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>“Oak Oak Oak, Mareep Christmas!” That’s what the legendary Pokémon prof and well-known master of puns would definitely say all the time if he decided to don a beard and become Father Christmas. It wouldn’t even get old. Imagine it, a new Pokémon for every girl and boy on Christmas morning. Transporting them wouldn’t be too hard for Oak - he’d need only grab a few hundred pokéballs and toss them out to bug catchers, campers, youngsters and lasses of Kanto. He could even ride a sleigh pulled by Deerlings and Stantlers. And for the naughty kids? Give ‘em a lump of Torkoal.</p> <p>Oak would have competition though. See, Santa actually exists in the Pokémon universe, first appearing in the anime episode Holiday Hi-Jynx where he employs an army of Jynx to prepare presents for Christmas.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>A big part of the whole Santa Claus experience revolves around knees. More specifically, kids sitting on knees, explaining what they want for Crimbo. And annoyingly, old Kris Kringle only has two of them. Weak. Whatever your thoughts on the man are - and let’s be honest, he’s a divisive character - that’s pretty disappointing. This is why Chaos Witch Quelaag from Dark Souls would be an excellent stand-in because, with a whopping eight legs hosting 16 hairy knees, she would boost knee-sitting frequency in Lordran tenfold. That’s simple science.</p> <p>Yes, she’s not very child-friendly what with her vicious nature and toplessness, but give your kid an estus flask to chug on and take them away before she starts spewing fire and they’ll be alright. Probably. Her home of Blighttown contains many suitable gifts, including a plank shield, pyromancer robes, and the extra special Tin Banishment Catalyst, as well as bunch of friendly faces to help her deliver them, from giant mosquitoes to bloated leeches to that old festive favourite: the parasitic wall hugger.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Tingle bells indeed. This notorious middle-aged fairy man comes festively dressed as standard, what with his tasteful all-green bodysuit, bulbous belly, and smart red thong. Simply dye his wispish facial hair white and he’ll be the spitting image of Old Saint Nick. Old Tingle's a cartographer, so he already knows where all Hyrulian children live (in a non-creepy way), and he travels by way of ultra-safe and convenient hot air balloon, which allows him to drop rupees into the wallets of fairy boys and girls everywhere. Kooloo-Limpah! That’s what he says.</p> <p>See, Tingle loves collectibles of all kinds - in Four Swords Adventures it’s Force Gems, and in The Minish Cap it’s Kinstones - so his sack would be positively bursting. His generosity takes on darker implications when you consider that in the DS game Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland it is explained Tingle needs Rupees to live. Does… does Tingle have a death wish?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Einstein famously disproved the existence of Father Christmas when he selfishly declared that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. NOT EVEN SANTA. But hold on a merry minute: did Einstein ever mention a time-controlling cat called Blinx who’s able to alter the so-called immutable laws of the universe. No he most certainly did not!</p> <p>Star of the 2002 Xbox platformer, and another in 2004 that was even worse, this tuna-crazed temporal tabby is billed as the world’s first 4D action hero (CATction hero? No) thanks to his crazy (CATrazy? No) vacuum cleaner that can slow, stop, reverse and fast-forward the very fabric of time. Hey Einstein, imagine how useful that would be at delivering presents, you know-it-all. Let’s just hope Blinx doesn’t use his powers for evil, like freezing time and stripping everyone naked! Haha, oh Blinx. Never change.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ok, so Wario is less of a Santa and more of a grinch, shaking down fools for treasure, shrewdly managing a microgame-making company, and in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coin even tricking poor Mario out of his castle and taking hard drugs in the throne room. But what if the greasy idiot used his powers of greed for good? Why, he’d be able to give children of the world a positively golden shower of unimaginable riches, possibly contributing to the formation of a new 1% and removing the secret elite lizardmen from their seats of power.</p> <p>Plus he’s got an awesome assortment of fast-ass vehicles, including two cars, a tractor, a plane, and a bike, on which to deliver presents. Obviously he couldn’t ride them all at once, but we’re sure he could recruit his WarioWare mates like Kat, Spitz and Mona and to help out. Also his good buddy Dr. Crygor (half robot) once fixed Wario’s GBA, so it’s extremely likely he’d know how to programme an advanced AI into these vehicles so they could drive themselves. Yeah...</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>I'm pretty sure celebrating Christmas is banned in the dystopian, whitewashed city of Mirror’s Edge, but then ‘The Man’ tells you not to run fast or scare pigeons or kill people in cold blood with a series of deadly firearms and Faith does it anyway. Because she’s rebelling against the system, yeah? Barring a poor bit of signposting or amateur-grade level design or something, nothing would stop our nimble Nike ninja from delivering you presents speedily, provided they’re not a tiny bit heavy. You’d need to ask for an iTunes gift card or some stamps - something she could fit in a bumbag.</p> <p>Nope, not low-hanging pipe, steam vent, nor small, jumpable gap would stand in Faith’s way. And let’s not forget her loyal band of runners, just as fast but a touch more forgettable, who’ll no doubt help her with her haul. Careful though, because one or more of them are bound to betray her at some point. That just makes for a better narrative.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Santa’s whole mythology is based on him making snap judgements about people. “Oooh, you’ve been naughty, you’ve been nice.” Dude, you don’t even know me. Who made you the world's moral adjudicator? People don’t get tattoos with ‘only God can judge me (and also Santa)’. It just seems a bit of a dick move to be dealing in absolutes, especially around Christmas. Luckily, that’s Mike Hagger’s whole spiel. And he does it with a lot more class.</p> <p>From the Final Fight series, this former professional wrestler turned mayor rules over Metro City with an iron fist and a waxed chest and a class moustache. If you’re naughty, like the Mad Gear gang who kidnap Haggar’s daughter and send house prices in the area plummeting, Haggar won’t just shove a lump of coal in your face, but a signature reverse elbow too. And if you’ve been nice? Expect a platter of delicious pavement turkey and possibly a confiscated blade or two. Merry Christmas!</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Well, there are my picks for the video game characters who would actually make great Santas. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to decorate my home with festive, parasitic wall-huggers, such is the tradition in my family. If you have comments, and your fingers aren't too full of gifts, leave comments below. On anything, really, I don't mind.</p> <p><strong><i>Want more Crimbo features? Here's one about <a href="" target="_blank">Murdering Santa Claus</a>, and here's a different one about <a href="" target="_blank">GTA Online's Festive Gubbins</a>. Enjoy!</i></strong></p></caption> </div> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 05:00:00 -0800 7… Characters you couldn&#39;t date for some dumb reason <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ah, love in video games. Remember when it was so cool and giggle-provoking that Final Fantasy 7 let you take whichever lady party member (or Barrett) you favored most on a date to the Golden Saucer? Back then, the idea of building a romance in a video game was mostly limited to creepy adult adventures/untranslated dating sims. Not so any more. <p>Thanks in large part to BioWare's brave experiments in high-stakes fantasy smooching, the modern game consumer expects a host of dating options in anything that can muster up a dialogue tree. This critical eye for digital matchmaking reveals a disturbing trend: <i>there are so many good player companions that, for whatever reason, you just can't date</i>. In the following slides you'll find some of the most egregious examples of sadly un-romanceable characters, from the fan favorites to the obscure. Fortunately for you, taking this relationship to the next level only requires the push of a button (instead of, like, three buttons spread out over the course of a campaign).</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Just imagine how things would have been different if these two former crime partners dealt in affection instead of cocaine. Sure, they have their problems - Tommy Vercetti's a control freak who is more comfortable building a criminal empire than talking about his feelings, and Lance Vance is a self-hating coke addict who guards himself from the outside world (most of whom, admittedly, just laugh about his name) with a paper-thin veneer of narcissism. <p>But who doesn't have issues? Instead of doing endless quests to expand the influence of Tommy's various businesses, why not make enough money so you can check Lance into rehab? After he's cleaned up, why not take him out to Club Malibu to show him you can have a good time without getting into the stuff? Once Tommy and Lance have found happiness in one another, rather than in money and high-powered firearms, <i>then</i> they can take over the city. They're still heinous criminals, after all, but at least they have each other.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ok, a disclaimer up front: my Shepard's relationship with Dr. Chakwas was one of my favorite unifying elements of the Mass Effect trilogy, and I don't think I'd change a single thing about it. That said, in another playthrough with another Shepard, would I share more than just a bottle of Serrice ice brandy with her? Definitely. But no dice - the closest the Commander can get to a fling with the wise and witty medicine woman is a cherished friendship. <i>Psssh.</i> <p>This is a BioWare game. If I can't make out with a character just before the climactic final mission, can I even be certain it exists? They'll let you do it with an extraterrestrial that could <i>die from taking off her helmet</i>, yet Dr. Chakwas is left all alone in her little sick bay night after night? I'm beginning to detect some latent ageism at work here and I am not at all happy about it.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You get Seth Green to do a voice role in your game and then you <i>don't let players date him?</i> That's… ok, that's actually pretty understandable. At first blush, going out with a hollow-boned Scott Evil doesn't sound very appealing - particularly when you could instead be dating a sexy space Australian, or a blue empath with a button nose, or a humanoid reptile dying of a romantic disease. Despite the relatively scant screentime that Joker manages to snag across the Mass Effect trilogy (usually while peering back from the helm of the Normandy), his endless jokes and dauntless loyalty still managed to steal hearts. <p>I'm just saying, BioWare would have been much better served making Joker romanceable than Kaidan (yuck). Yet the only time it saw fit to acknowledge the potential pairing was a throwaway line of dialogue in the third game, at which point he already has his sights set on EDI's new metallic form. Damn you, Joker! Her robotic arms may hold you tighter, but ours are far less likely to crush your ribcage!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Can the 'master of unlocking' pick her way into Chris Redfield's heart? Can the pointman for S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team show he's more than a beefcake cop with a burning need to prove himself? I'd like to know, but for whatever reason Capcom left a romance subplot out of the original Resident Evil <i>and</i> the director's cut. Talk about an oversight! What an ideal change of pace it would have been to leave a little love note in a typewriter, or a touching little herb arrangement in a safe room, or to rearrange a bunch of puzzle panels into a heart shape. <p>That's all I'm really asking for, here - they don't need to convert Resident Evil into a full-scale dating sim. Whatever it is, it can't be worse than spending a decade-and-change denying the pair's chemistry as they go from police partners to the co-founders of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance. Maybe the relationship doesn't work out after the adrenaline-pumping thrill of escaping the Spencer Estate wears off? That's completely fine - at least they gave it a shot.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Mario and Peach have been doing this whole ‘I rescue you, you bake me a cake, I rescue you, you give me a kiss on the cheek’ thing for almost 30 years. Clearly the kidnapper-rescuer dynamic did something for them at some point, but it's just become rote by now, and he still hasn't put a ring on it. It would be much healthier if they just broke off whatever informal courtship they maintain and see other people. <p>Peach will have her choice of royal suitors, but who should Mario try to connect with? Someone who doesn't carry around all that royal baggage. Someone who cares about his well-being enough to guide him through tutorial after tutorial. Someone who was happy for him when he and Peach were doing well, even though she cried at the thought of not seeing him. Someone whose bouncy pink braids could be made out of hair or fungus, depending on what Toad Caps actually are. Someone named Toadette.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This must have been one of the many concepts that got left on Irrational Games' cutting room floor, right? I mean, Elizabeth and Booker would just be so perfect together! He's the grizzled veteran who lost his wife in childbirth, she's the smart but naive young woman who is ready to find her place in the big, bright world. Remember when she asked him if there was a woman in his life? And all those coins and ammunition packs she keeps finding? Yeah, she wants the 'D'... as in 'DeWitt'. You're gross. <p> They complete each other so well, it's hard to believe that BioShock Infinite didn't set the two of them up. If only Irrational devoted fewer resources to endless gunfights and more to romance! Admittedly, I didn't finish the game, so maybe this entry is in error. They have to get together in the end, right? <i>What reason could Booker and Elizabeth possibly have to not hook up</i>?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ah, Varric, he whose winning smile and flowing chest hair launched a thousand Tumblr posts. The guy has a lot going for him aside from the amber forest that sprouts from his ultra-low-cut shirt, of course. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more charming scoundrel outside of the Millenium Falcon. And despite his thin facade as a conniving spymaster, he can't help but use his underworld connections to protect his fellow adventurers. <p>In more grounded terms, he's clearly the best-adjusted character in the series, and once he gets too old for the adventuring game he can always retire to run the family business… or write trashy novels full time. If only he hadn't pledged his heart to Bianca - the girl, not the crossbow. Or maybe the crossbow, too? Oh well. Statistically speaking, if Varric keeps showing up in Dragon Age games he'll have to date a protagonist at some point.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You've made it to the finale! Now let me see if you've performed enough favorable actions to get the makeout ending… Hmm, looks like you're still on 'warm handshake' level. Ah well. But before we part ways, make sure to note in a few of your own ideas for companions that should have been romance-able in the comments below. <p><b><i>It's just not fair, considering how these <a href="" target="_blank">8 just-plain-wrong romances</a> made it into games. At least we can still enjoy some of the <a href="" target="_blank">greatest love stories</a> in gaming.</i></b></caption> </div> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:00 -0800 podcast 120: ...And A Happy New Year, 19 Dec 2014 17:00:16 -0800 Fantasy XV dubbed with special fx, 19 Dec 2014 10:48:39 -0800 8 worst uses of DLC in gaming history <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Elder Scrolls: Oblivion marked the start of a new era of gaming in more ways than one. It brought many into then-new-gen gaming, sold people on the Xbox 360, and notoriously set the bar for insulting DLC. Oblivion’s Horse Armor is a famously poor example of downloadable content, charging players $2.50 / £1.70 for some extra equine protection that did absolutely nothing besides make your four-legged ride glimmer in the sunlight. It quickly becoming a cautionary tale in how not to handle DLC- but that 2006 offense to gamer's wallets seems quaint when compared to some of the downloadable mistakes that followed. <p>Despite consumer backlash, publishers always seem a little too willing to test the limits of how much they can charge for additional content. And consumers have always been ready to let them know where that limit is. Read on to see some of the most ludicrous ‘enhancements’ gaming has seen in the recent past...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You won’t hear me complaining about Asura’s Wrath’s on-disc content. It’s an entertainingly excessive quest for revenge fueled by one man’s unending rage, all told in a clever episodic structure influenced by anime. It’s a great story, so you think I’d be hyped for more episodes being offered as paid DLC. However, the excitement recedes when you realize you’re paying $7 / £4.69 for the actual ending to the game. <p><b>Spoiler warning:</b> The campaign ends with Asura discovering who’s really responsible for all the horrible things that happened to him. At first it seems like setup for a sequel, but Asura’s final battle with his nemesis and any actual sense of closure or resolution are all available for purchase in Episode Pack: Part 4. Perhaps worse than ransoming off the finale is the fact that the main campaign’s hard-to-unlock secret ending acts as nothing more than a preview of said DLC pack. That’s like finishing the <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows</i> with a link to a website where you can buy the last two chapters.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Tiger Woods is famous for two things - extramarital affairs and no-nonsense golf. You’ll find a good deal of the latter in his sim-heavy sports games, featuring as many real-world courses as fans can get their hands on. And those fans are fine with working to unlock extras - but not if the game constantly reminds you that you could just pay $5 to get it right now, as is the case with Tiger Woods 13. <p>Even if you buy the full game, 14 of its courses can’t be touched unless you spend currency, either in-game or real cash. But the hard-earned in-game gold only unlocks one 18-hole round at a time, and if you want to fully unlock said courses it takes an ungodly amount of effort and skill to complete the necessary challenges. Concurrently, as you’re slaving away on the green, the game is quick to remind you that it could all be skipped with a little extra cash. If this seems like EA execs chose to follow the poor example of freemium Facebook and iPhone apps, that’s because, well, <a href="" target="_blank">they did</a>.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>WWE is sports entertainment, which is PR speak for pro wrestling. That said, the recent WWE games are certainly acting like sports games, with annual releases and cover athlete photoshoots, and they have an unfortunately similar approach to DLC. Beyond the expected season pass, the last two WWE entries include a paid-for bonus called the Accelerator. That may sound like it makes wrestlers move at triple speed, but it’s a bit more insidious than that. <p>WWE games have <i>hundreds</i> of unlockables, including dozens of playable superstars, and you normally get them by completing the single-player mode’s numerous objectives. It can take a long, long time - especially when facing the nigh-unbeatable John Cena - but for $2 / £1.59 you can save yourself all those hours with the Accelerator, which unlocks it all instantaneously. It’s arguably a low price, though it feels a bit more devious than consumer-friendly, especially when “unlock everything” codes were free in older games. The Accelerator is a necessity for gamers with limited time on their hands, working like a tax for anyone that want every possible exhibition match-up immediately.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The Saboteur tries its best to make something fun out of the extremely depressing idea of freeing occupied France during the second World War. Killing Nazis as an Irish racecar driver certainly sounds like a hoot, as does the idea of the leading man hiding out in a Parisian burlesque house. It’s the setting to some risque scenes, along with one of gaming’s most ridiculous concepts: DLC nipples. <p>See, the ladies of the Belle de Nuit strip club are fittingly underdressed for their profession, but their nipples are usually covered by pasties. If (for some reason) you wanted to go the extra mile and see absolutely everything above the digital waistline, that’ll cost you an extra $3. You have to give EA credit for finding a new avenue to collect a few extra dollars via a player’s libido. The Saboteur’s servers have since been shut off, and the topless DLC has vanished as a result, so count yourself lucky(and a little ashamed) if you were able to get into this exclusive club before then.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>BioWare makes massive RPGs and is also known for selling extra story missions of varying spaces and sizes. Dragon Age: Origins was one of BioWare’s earliest games to normalize this DLC practice, which is fine if that story content is optional (looking at you Mass Effect: The Arrival). However, I’d say it gets obnoxious when an NPC villager becomes a walking billboard for additional content. <p>As you walk around Redcliffe Village, you’ll spot a number of characters with a highlighted objective over their head. Talking to them will further your quest, but one unnamed man starts giving you all the details on a certain quest, then ends with a plea to start the quest by purchasing it with real money. Much like a play would be ruined by an actor stopping mid scene to beg the audience for spare change, this type of DLC destroys the immersion instantly. Would it have been such a crime to simply put that in a menu instead, or was that not aggressive enough for the corporate suits?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This iOS game may seem like a trifle, but it actually represents the current low point in Final Fantasy’s long history. The simple touch interface appears inoffensive, but just beneath the surface are some of the cruelest microtransactions imaginable. Not only are you faced with waiting hours to revive your team or paying Square Enix money to bring them back immediately, but DLC characters are insultingly locked behind a random lottery. <p>Standard Operating Procedure for DLC: Game X offers to unlock character Y for price Z, which you either pay or don’t. If you’re playing All The Bravest and want to add Final Fantasy 7 star Cloud Strife to the game, you can pay $1 and <i>maybe</i> unlock him as a randomly pulled character from the 35 unlockable possibilities. If you’re particularly unlucky and get every character <i>but</i> Cloud, you’ll spend more than $34 before you can play as the spiky-haired icon. Having to gamble to unlock characters that would’ve been freely unlockable a decade ago is pretty obscene, even by mobile game standards.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Sonic Adventure was celebrated when it hit the West in 1999, only to be widely judged as overrated when an upgraded version came to the GameCube in 2003. Because one re-release simply wasn’t enough, gamers would get a whole new chance to reexamine Sonic’s Dreamcast premiere when Sega ported the game to PS3 and 360 in 2010. Unfortunately, it costs you some extra green to get the complete version of this HD remake. <p>For about half of the game’s $5 asking price, you can buy Sonic Adventure’s DX Upgrade, which unlocks all the extra missions and modes that were in the GameCube edition. Of course, that DX version update isn’t all that complete, because the GC release came with several unlockable Game Gear games, none of which are included with the DLC. And really, why would Sega give away those games today when they can just sell them in a separate collection?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>As an American child growing up the 1980s, television instilled in me a near-endless love for Transformers, be they toys, cartoons, or games (but I draw the line at Michael Bay films). War For Cybertron is a loving throwback to the Transformers of my youth, crafting a surprisingly serious tale of Autobots waging their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. You could even reskin the robots to look like their classic ‘80s characters, but only if you bought your game from a specific retailer (or waited for an unspecified amount of time). <p>As I <a href="" target="_blank">documented back in 2010</a>, you had to buy WFC from specific retailers to unlock classic designs of the likes of Jazz and Demolisher, or you paid a crazy price for those codes on sites like eBay. Short of buying the game multiple times at different outlets, there was no other way for die hard fans to play as some of the most beloved Transformers - at least, not at first. Months later, and without warning, Activision made all those skins available in a couple of $5 DLC packs, which must have felt real nice for all the folks that paid $200 for them mere weeks earlier. Maybe next time you can give your biggest fans some advance notice before they spend a small fortune just to play as Shockwave?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Just kidding! But if you recall any DLC that you found unforgivable, tell me all about it in the comments. I promise, there are no hidden fees to do that. <p><b><i>Hungry for more rip offs? Check out <a href="" target="_blank">ways video games have ripped off the Alien movies</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">10 games we're glad blatantly ripped off the Zelda series</a>.</b></i></caption> </div> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:00:13 -0800 is coming: Jon Snow&#39;s guide to the biggest Xmas games of 2014 <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Christmas is a tricky time of year. In addition to working out how to eat your own body weight in Pringles and little sausages wrapped in bacon (without being sick all over your Grandmother's eyes), you need to work out what game (or games) to play during that magical work-free / school-free / parole period. And there are many, many guides clogging up the internet, telling you what to play. I counted at least 37 of them. Never fear, though, your old friend GamesRadar+ is here. He's drunk, belligerent, and has some advice for you.</p> <p>Following the success of my <a href="" target="_blank">Hodor's Guide To 2014's Biggest Games</a> feature earlier this year, which got me nominated for no fewer than zero Pulitzer awards, I turned to another trusty member of the Game Of Thrones cast to give his take on 2014's best. After spending roughly a week getting his phone number from Hodor, I contacted Jon Snow to tell me his top picks for what to play this Christmas. The results are enlightening.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Sorry, I know nothing about this game.</p> <p>Hmm, not the reaction I was expecting. Oh well, it's a bit much to ask someone to play every game in 2014.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Sorry, don't know anything about this one either.</p> <p>Oh. Not a COD fan, eh? Look, I get that. I skipped Modern Warfare to put more time into Destiny, so am sure he did the same.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Nope, no knowledge of this game either.</p> <p>Really? I mean everyone has an opinion on Destiny. Where have you been all year, Snow? Beyond the fucking wall?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> You are going to hate me... I don't know anything about this.</p> <p>Not ringing any bells, Snow? Our #2 Game of the Year? Big RPG? BioWare? Dragons? Dwarf rufty? NOTHING? Are you trolling me?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Um, well, this is awkward. Literally no knowledge of this game.</p> <p>Christ-on-a-bike, Snow. You're winding me up, yeah?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Sorry, not heard of FIFA.</p> <p>Seriously? Because it's the official game of the biggest sport on the planet. It has been running for decades. Just fake a goddam opinion. No wonder everyone calls you the bastard.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Um... I've got nothing.</p> <p>Yeah, fair play, no-one bought LBP3.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> This game is really... um... it's kind of. I really like the, er, robots in it... Dragon-robots. Yeah...</p> <p>You don't know what the hell you're talking about, do you, Snow?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> I... uh...</p> <p>Don't even bother.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>Jon Snow says:</b> Wait, is that Dragon Age?</p> <p>Fuck sake.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Well, that was insightful. I'm calling your agent, Jon Snow, and telling them how utterly useless you are. I might as well have been talking to fucking geese. Even Hodor had an opinion on these games, even if it was the same fucking one. You? Yes, you, the one staring at the screen making that 'I'm not amused by your jokes' look. Have an opinion? Good. Leave it below, and show Jon Snow how it's done.</p> <p><strong><i>Want more hilarious features that are based on repeating the same joke until it gets funny? I've made a career out of those. Here's <a href="" target="_blank">11 Random Objects That Look Like Gaming Executives</a> and another, really out of date piece on <a href="" target="_blank">8 Ways It Could Be Worse For Xbox Chief Don Mattrick (After E3 2013)</a>. Actually, that's still pretty funny.</i></strong></p>.</caption> </div> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 job titles in gaming (and what I wish they meant) <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The bigger the game, the more people it takes to make it a reality. But when you have hundreds of people toiling away on one project, figuring out who's contributing to what can get a little tricky. <i>Super-specific job titles to the rescue!</i> Why have a team of equally responsible designers when you <i>could</i> have Lead, Project Manager, Assistant, Associate and Assistant Lead variations of every position imaginable? That way, there's absolutely zero confusion as to who is doing <i>exactly</i> what! <p>But in the quest to make every piece of the puzzle feel unique, some honorary titles can get a bit... convoluted. Ever watched the credits to a game and thought "I wonder what that person <i>actually does</i>?" Me too! To refresh my memory, I scoured through the credits of some of the past year's biggest productions - <a href="" target="new">Far Cry 4</a>, <a href="" target="new">Destiny</a>, <a href="" target="new">Titanfall</a>, and <a href="" target="new">Assassin's Creed Unity</a> - and omitted names so as not to single anyone out. But rest assured, all of the following are actual job titles that you can spot in credits and on business cards. Maybe you're also looking for a career working as...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> "EUREKA!" moments don't just happen on their own - they're <i>orchestrated</i>. When employees arrive at a brilliant new idea for their game, they assume that it was just a spontaneous stroke of genius; a moment of serendipitous brainstorming. Only the Realization Directors know the truth: the inception of that idea was planned years ago, fed to the game designers through subtle cues and subliminal messaging during the course of their daily lives. Truly, the Realization Directors are the puppet masters pulling our cerebral strings from unseen shadows. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These people assist the creative director to ensure that the game stays true to the team's vision.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> After everyone else is finished with their work and leaves the office, this person diligently walks around to each and every computer, closing files, programs, and browser windows while making sure to Save All Changes. Clicking hundreds of "X" buttons day after day isn't glamorous, but it pays the bills. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Someone who's brought on to ensure that the game finishes on time.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Feeling lazy today? Think your bosses don't have a clue what they're talking about? Well, guess what: the Lead Compliance Specialists have your family, and you don't want to know what they'll do to them if you don't cooperate, <i>now</i>. You think making games is a game? The Lead Compliance Specialists will break you down like cardboard boxes at a recycling center, until you're no longer capable of a generating a single thought that goes against company policy or <i>the brand</i>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The enforcers of rules and corporate policy within the office.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> When you need three cheetahs, a humpback whale, and a gaggle of geese <i>STAT</i>, you call the folks in the Animals Production department. They don't just render or program them in boring old <i>code</i>, either - they <i>produce</i> them, overseeing an extensive network of breeders and animals in heat to guarantee the most desirable traits. Once the requested animal is born and matures over the course of years, only then is it ready to be motion captured into its virtual form. Magnificent. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These people design animals that populate the game.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Your ears do not detect airborne vibrations without the permission of the Sound Masters. An ancient sect of immortal wizards, the Sound Masters have spent eons dictating the ebb and flow of noise. If you hear a melodic harmony, it is because the Sound Masters will it so. If you narrowly avoid a car crash because of loud honking, it is because the Sound Masters will it so. If someone puts an air horn directly to your head and blasts you until your ears bleed, <i>it is because the Sound Masters will it so</i>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Audio engineers who determine what noises sound like in the game.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Rarer than a unicorn and more elusive than the winged Fae, the Ergonome is a wood-dwelling creature long believed to be naught more than a myth. Diminutive in stature, it skulks about the village at night and uses its bulky, gnomish physique to support the lower backs of townsfolk while they sit down. What feels like sturdy lumbar support to them is actually the work of the Ergonome, which chuckles to itself knowing that it has spared another commoner a life of lower back pain. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> This is a respectable job title written in French, which I don't speak. Ergo, gnome.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> You think drawing a straight line is easy? <i>HAH</i>! You couldn't be more wrong. After years upon years of dedicated study and training in a remote mountain facility, the Line Design Director emerges with a prized power: the ability to draw a perfectly straight line, <i>freehand</i>. This kind of supernatural talent fetches a ludicrously high price, whether you're on Wall Street, the black market, or a cubicle in Montreal. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> A producer who manages day-to-day content strategy.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Literally God. I can think of no other entity whose profession expands the far reaches of our seemingly infinite universe, turning that which isn't into that which is. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Someone who writes blurbs to fill any gaps in the game's lore or backstory.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, this person has transformed their skull into a living piece of radiant artwork. As the Head of Art slowly paces back and forth around the office in respectful silence, employees can't help but notice the striking still-life adorning this particular worker's cranium. They'll be so inspired by this avant-garde display of <a href="" target="new">headism</a> artistry that they'll hastily return to their graphical work with newfound vigor, the Head of Art simply nodding with serene, monk-like approval. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Leads the art team.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> A sentient gamepad, given life after a horrific accident involving radioactive AA batteries inserted during a thunderstorm. By day, it improves video games, offering developers insight on the subtleties of player comfort. By night, it goes face-to-face-buttons with the forces of evil as The Controller, a potent piece of psychic plastic with the power to bend minds like it twiddles joysticks. But not in that way, you degenerate. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> This person is in charge of accounting operations across the company.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> An author the size of a skyscraper, forced to use the world's largest MacBook Air in order to sharpen his craft. He knows that any sudden movements would surely crush the innocent citizens below like ants, so he stands stationary, like a benevolent protector of the skies. For a small fee, you can take an elevator up to his shoulders in the hopes of glimpsing some passages from his next literary work. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The person who wrote the dialogue for the Tower, Destiny's main social hub.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Sometimes, when your game's servers keep glitching out, disconnecting players and dropping matches like clockwork, there's nothing you can do to fix the problem. And at that point, you might as well just blow up the whole damn thing and start over. This is where the Server TNT Engineers come in - they'll rig up your server mainframe with indisputably illegal amounts of dynamite, blasting powder, and other assorted explosives. From there, it's just a matter of evacuating your employees from the building, pushing down on the plunger with a satisfying <i>ker-PLUNK</i>, and enjoying the fireworks from afar. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The go-to tech people for fiddling with TNT networking software.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> The Matchmaking Engineering Lead has two distinct, but equally useful responsibilities. When they're not carving small sticks of wood which create fire via friction, they're pairing together perfect couples on internet dating sites. Either way, there's going to be some <i>heat</i>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> A chief programmer that designates how users will be matched up during multiplayer.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> A regal knight errant of the Emea clan, this nobleman has been tasked with bolstering the throne's forces as the kingdom prepares for war. Through his wisdom and guidance, militias will be honed into seasoned troops, and entire provinces will swear loyalty to the king's name. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Someone who handles marketing in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Which is still pretty cool, to be honest.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Beer lovers around the world know its name: Das Boot, the footwear-shaped glass that can deliver 92 oz. of your favorite brew directly to your drooling mouth. Such a terrifying, awe-inspiring vessel of alcohol didn't just pop into existence - it was thoroughly assessed by a team of Boot Flow Testers. They were the ones who discovered the secret to downing Das Boot: <a href="" target="new">remember to tilt it when the bubble hits the heel</a>. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These testers ensure that the game starts up as intended.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> This <i>high-octane</i> sequel to the blockbuster thriller <i>Program Managers</i> will have you at the edge of your seat like a toddler at the grown-ups table. When Jodie and Steven discover that the malevolent computer virus they thought was dead is back on the 'net, it's time to boot up their Uber-laptops for one last job. This time, the code is for keeps in… <i>Program Managers II: Executable</i>! <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> Another team of people who manage programs.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> A <i>delightfully</i> resourceful chap who knows his way around a multitude of gizmos and gadgets. Whatever will he tinker with next? <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> The highest-ranking member of the R&D team at a large corporation.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><b>What I'm picturing:</b> Gladiatorial combat is not for the weak. You must <i>prove</i> your strength as a warrior if you wish to fight for glory - and all pass judgment before the Combatants Testers. They will bend you to the point of breaking, putting your body through rigorous physical exertion and preparing your mind so that you may speak confidently in the presence of the great Caesar. By the time you march out onto the gritty dirt of the arena, thousands of bloodthirsty onlookers fervently chanting your name, you will hate the Combatants Testers for what they put you through - but you will also love them, for they have taught you well. <p><b>The more likely, mundane reality:</b> These people test enemy AI.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Hey, maybe I'm just jealous of these fine workers - 'Editor' doesn't have quite the same flair to it as some of these titles. Know of any other convoluted job titles in game credits? Or maybe you know a few deliberately goofy titles, like the Sleep Deprivation Team, Shadows, and Render Wranglers listed in <a href="" target="new">Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor</a>'s credits. <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more goofy features, check out <a href="" target="new">The biggest spoilers of 2014 that you'll in no way see coming</a> and <a href="" target="new">Everyday gaming phrases that mean something very different to non-gamers</a>.</p></b></i></caption> </div> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:00:00 -0800 7… Painful gaming moments that made us wince <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Pain and injury are usually so abstract in video games. Most of the time you only care if it lops off a portion of your health bar - and even then, only until you can find a medkit or engage in some self-healing breathing exercises. But some video games seem delight in injury so much that they transcend the beatdowns we've come to expect and willingly, <i>enthusiastically</i>, inflict sympathetic pain in their audience. <p>These are some of the worst games to leave you squirming in your seat, clutching at your ribs, and wincing in agony at the events transpiring before your eyes. Sometimes they do it to drive home a point, sometimes they do it to make you sympathetic to a character, and sometimes they just do it to make you uncomfortable. You might want to get some aspirin ready before you click on for these gruesome memories.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Animal Crossing making its players wince in agony? I know what you're thinking, but bear with me for a second here. Yes, most of the game is chill and cheerful, with nary a concern in players' minds aside from when to sell turnips or how to make enough bells to pay off the mortgage. C'mon, is anything more zen than going from one tree to the next, lightly shaking it, and waiting to see what will drop from its branches? Yes. Many things are. Because some of the trees drop <i>hives full of bees</i>. <p>These bees aren't the kind of animal that will write you letters or ask you to bring them a peach. They're the kind of animal that chases you with kamikaze zeal until you dart into a neighbor's house and barricade the door or, more likely, the swarm catches up. When they envelop you, the awful KRSSSZZTTT sound that they make as they sting you <i>right on the eyeball</i> will echo in your mind forever. And the huge welt they leave where your eye used to be will stick around for the rest of the day or until you apply some medicine... assuming that bastard Nook even has any in stock.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's kind of cool to be able to point at one of a character's most recognizable attributes and say, "Oh hey, I was there when he got that!" It really makes you feel connected, and it's the kind of thing you come to appreciate in time. But when you first experience stuff like, say, Big Boss being tortured and then having his eye shot out in Metal Gear Solid 3, it's a little harder to stomach. <p>You may be wondering about the absence of a <a href="" target="_blank">certain other eye injury</a> on this week's 'Top 7', but I had to give it to Big Boss, not least because the torture scene encompassing the incident <i>goes on for nine minutes</i>. Nine minutes of electrocution, bludgeoning, and near-eye-extraction topped off with the little misfire that plants a patch on the face of Big Boss and, in the grand scheme of things, on the faces of his progeny. It doesn't hurt that voice actor David Hayter really made an art of pained grunting in this performance.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Lots of painful things can happen to Amanda Ripley throughout the course of Alien Isolation. But I'm not talking about the deep-seated abandonment issues that stem from her mother leaving her at the daycare center and disappearing into space. I mean the terrible ways that she can meet her end from Sevastopol station's many threats. Among many other candidates, she can be shot to death by panicked survivors, have her neck snapped by unfriendly androids, or, y'know, that <i>alien</i> could show up. <p>The monster has so many ways of snuffing out poor Ripley's life, but the most painful is probably (and yes, this is a tough choice) the good old tail-through-the-guts maneuver. What makes it so bad? I have to give it to the brief pause before she looks down and sees the spear-like appendage quivering in her newly remodeled torso. You spend a moment thinking, "Wait, why did I stop running?" and then, "Oh, hello, that's my diaphragm". It's the anticipation that gets me. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Ok, fair enough, inflicting gratuitous injury is <i>kind of</i> Mortal Kombat's thing. I understand that. But there's a big difference between a pixelated fatality animation and the gratuitous cinema experience that are the X-ray moves, not least because almost every fight is interrupted for several seconds to dwell on them. That's not unusual for fighting games, but at least in Street Fighter it's just Ryu hollering as beams shoot out of his hands. He doesn't pause the game to show you some <i>Un Chien Andalou</i>-grade bullshit. <p>I can't be the only one who feels uncomfortably aware of their own bones after playing a match of Mortal Kombat. The way it zooms in deep to show the skeleton before and after it's <i>shattered in multiple places</i>, turning on the super-slo-mo so you can see bits splinter off and lodge deep inside the body… it makes me ache all over. Drink your milk, kids, or this could be you the next time in you're in a scuffle. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Do you ever put a few shots into a particularly nasty boss when you finally manage to kill it? There's no gameplay reason to do so - it's just as dead before as it is after - but it feels good to celebrate your victory with some macho depravity. Macho depravity is pretty much God of War's schtick, but the final battle of the final chapter takes the beefcake by letting you pound Zeus' face into a lumpy blob of minced meat for however long you want. <p>You might have noticed that this is the only example in which the player character is dishing out the pain instead of receiving it. But this article isn't about characters wincing - it's about players. And if you have even a shred of sympathy for Zeus after all the crap he's put you through, you'll feel every one of those punches… even after his blood obscures your vision and you have to go by the crunching sounds. That didn't stop me from keeping it up for a good minute or two, of course.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There's only one reason the otherwise-forgettable Quake 4 keeps <a href="" target="_blank">getting brought up around these parts</a>. What else could it be but that damn Stroggification scene, in which id's contribution to the body horror genre is delivered with all the subtlety of a buzzsaw? The absolute worst part, though, is that you get to watch the assembly line of suffering have its way with the guy in front of you before you experience the agony in first person. <p>Take special note that, at multiple points in this scene, your vision blacks out and Quake 4 permits you to think that it's just gonna cut to the next scene. NOPE. Your eyes open again (I guess all those Strogg nanites keep you from going into shock and passing out from blood loss) and it's off from the leg-cutter, into the torso bolter! And when you're rescued just before the brainwashing begins, your fellow soldiers spend a whole 30 seconds on genuine concern. Then they run off and expect you to follow on the robo legs that were <i>just attached to your bloody stumps moments ago</i>. Screw you guys.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Oh, God. Just try watching Metal Gear Solid 4's microwave corridor scene without feeling some... phantom pain. And then remember how unexpectedly involving it is to have to pound the triangle button throughout the whole thing. Hideo Kojima loves an over-long camera shot, but every second of this scene drives home the theme of self-sacrifice like another nail hammered through your hand - not a single second is wasted, much as we all hate Kojima for dwelling on our hero's unimaginable suffering. <p>Snake's already limping and grunting when he enters the microwave-trapped chamber, his prematurely aged body having been battered and burned throughout the course of the game. Once he's in, his high-tech octocamo suit starts smoking within seconds. Its panels turn red-hot and burst as he drops to his knees, then to his belly, and crawls. The health meter chirps its familiar little 'Uh-oh' sound as the door opens, revealing another corridor full of lethal radiation. By the time you reach safety, your thumb is so sore from button mashing that, silly as it sounds, you feel unified with Snake in his struggle. Then you both can have a good puke.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Wondering why I didn't put any groin shots in there? Well, 1) they probably don't hurt as much to watch if you don't have testicles so, statistically speaking, the pain averages drop off, and 2) we already <a href="" target="_blank">have another article for that</a>. But what do you think? Any other truly agonizing games you think deserved a place in the Top 7? Let me know in the comments! <p><b><i>Want more Top 7s? Check out the <a href="" target="_blank">game features that no one asked for</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">creepiest gaming urban legends</a>.</i></b></caption> </div> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:00 -0800 podcast 119: Perchance to Dream, 12 Dec 2014 17:27:54 -0800