The Matrix and its sequels are old, if treasured, news these days, but that same respect is rarely afforded to its imitators. Complaints of bullet time and rampant slow motion have been common critics’ fodder against action movies ever since 1999. It’s a testament to Max Payne’s appeal—or the follow-the-leader nature of shooters, or both—that Rockstar Entertainment decided to buy the IP wholesale from Swedish developers Remedy Entertainment (who are currently known for Alan Wake). Rockstar spent an estimated $105 million and eight years creating Max Payne 3, instead of putting that funding towards a surefire Grand Theft Auto expansion pack or three. If it’s a follow-the-leader gaming fad, it’s passing in appropriately slow motion.
Dungeons & Dragons has come a very long way from the game that Gary Gygax played in the basement with his friends and family. In the past 30 years, it has gone through many incarnations, and, right now, it is about to evolve again. Wizards of the Coast is currently playtesting the 5th edition of D&D in a massive playtest with gaming groups all over the world. They are calling this fan feedback playtest experience D&D Next. As an avid RPGer and a game store manager, I just had to get in on this.
Fanboy Comics' newest contributor, Jordan Callarman, advises gamers about the path to glory.
By Jordan Callarman, Guest Contributor to Fanboy Comics
In light of Double Fine’s epic Kickstarter to fund an old school point-and-click adventure game (which is still happening! Click here to donate!), I’ve been thinking a lot about this style of game lately. I mean, I was raised on classics like the King’s Quest series, so this genre is nothing new to me. But, for younger generations, and even a large percentage of my own, these types of games go unplayed. They’re viewed as antiquated and lumped in with all the other old and obsolete games. This is the future! Why play something like Pong when you can play Mass Effect 3?
Which is not to say that point-and-click adventure games (hereafter known as PACAs, because I am lazy) don’t have their supporters. Telltale Games has been releasing episodic PACAs for a few years now that are set in universes like Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. The genre soldiers on, and it’s a good thing, too, because there are modern gaming lessons to be learned from PACAs, and I’ve got the list to prove it!
I’ve never really understood Facebook games. Everyone’s heard of Farmville and its ilk, all the big time casual games on Facebook that are built to appeal mostly to the middle-aged women demographic. These are video games designed for people who don’t like video games, in that they can only be defined as games in the loosest sense of the word. As an example, Farmville and all of its copycats are civilization sims stripped of most of their gameplay elements: you obtain structures and place them wherever is most aesthetically pleasing to you while you’re working towards unlocking the next thing you can get and place in your farm or town or whatever. The game spurs you on by presenting you with “quests” like “Build a henhouse!” or “Harvest 30 carrots!” and that’s essentially it. Don’t get me wrong, I see the initial appeal. I’ve played a few of these games on Facebook, and they’re great time wasters, but, eventually, I get bored and stop, because I realize that what I’ve been doing is uncomfortably close to cleaning and redecorating my room, only far less productive.
But, Marvel Avengers Alliance is different.
Who doesn't want the opportunity to be a superhero? Mutants & Masterminds, Savage Worlds, Champions, and other tabletop roleplaying games have already given us their take on creating and playing a superhero, and now, with the blessing of Marvel Comics, Margaret Weis Productions have given us their take on the genre. MWP has a reputation for tailoring games for a specific feel using their Cortex Plus system such as heists and capers in Leverage and relationships in Smallville. This is not the first game to bear the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying name, but it is nothing like its predecessor, having been reworked from the ground up.
If you’ve been following North American E-Sports lately, there’s a new FPS on the scene that stands out from Call of Duty (a franchise that is fast becoming the new standard indie game makers measure themselves against, or better yet, away from). Tribes: Ascend is the latest release from Atlanta-based HiRez Games, the makers of 2009’s Global Agenda MMO. While both shooters are free to play and feature futuristic weaponry and jetpacks, Tribes: Ascend distinguishes itself from Global Agenda and other sci-fi fare such as Halo:Reach.
Tribes followed on the tail end of the '90s mecha simulator wave. In an attempt to cash in on the success of Mechwarrior, Dynamix released Metaltech: Earthsiege and later, its Starsiege sequel. In 1998, Dynamix and Sierra teamed up to capitalize on the buzz created by Unreal and Quake. The result was Starsiege: Tribes, a well-balanced yet somewhat derivative product, an entirely different genre of game set in the Starsiege universe essentially for the sake of name recognition.
And, that’s when emergent gaming’s invisible hand took over.
When you have multiple balls coming at you from all sides, usually you're either working in the adult film industry (ask for extra pay) or you're the last kid on one side of a dodgeball game. Nay, perchance you're playing the game of kings (most commonly that royal title is of the burger variety or McCheese Mayors), a game of flippers, spinners, locked balls, extra balls, and many a ramp (again, not porn), I speak of Pinball!
By Kristine Chester, Guest Contributor to Fanboy Comics
I had never played an Elder Scrolls game before and knew little to nothing about the world outside of people's funny Oblivion glitch and overpowered guard stories. But, as a fan of RPGs and with so much buzz surrounding Skyrim, the latest entry in the series, I had to check it out for myself.
It didn't take me long to realize that I had played an Elder Scrolls game before; it was called Fallout 3. While I knew both games were made by the same development team, I was shocked to find the gameplay was virtually identical. It's a simple formula to get Skyrim from Fallout: replace radiation with magic and guns with swords and you're done. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fallout 3 was a great game with a ton of content, and Skyrim delivers the same addictive gameplay in a different and fresh (at least for me) setting.
Oh boy, where to begin with X-Men Destiny? When I first heard of the game about a year ago, it just didn't seem like something that grabbed my attention. Sure, it's a cool idea to play as an original character, choose your own powers, and fight alongside the X-Men, but something just didn't sit right. You know that feeling when you're reading previews for games and you just KNOW it's going to be terrible? This is that game. And, the fact that I played it coming right off of amazing games like Uncharted 3 and Arkham City made this experience just that much more painful.
At the start of the game we find ourselves at a rally following the death of Charles Xavier. Here we meet our 3 main characters to choose from. But, choose wisely, my friends! For the choice you make probably doesn't make any difference whatsoever, besides each character's own personal "story line." I chose the little Japanese girl, Aimi Yoshida, voiced by Jamie Chung, since I like faster characters, but, again, I don't think it really would have mattered. The mutant power I chose was Shadow Matter, which is a quick teleporting-type ability that's fast and manipulates matter into shadow-like blades. Hence the name. The other 2 powers that I didn't choose were Energy Projection, which I think is pretty self-explanatory, and Density Control. Density Control sounds interesting when you first read the description...
Most contemporary game franchises have taken an “every other year” approach to releases. Call of Duty is the biggest first-person shooter today that demonstrates how successful this habit can be. Every other year we’re treated to a Modern Warfare title, interspersed by Treyarch’s even-numbered year offerings. So, when Battlefield 3 comes along five years after its sci-fi predecessor Battlefield 2142, there’s a natural expectation that something special is in store for gamers. The Bad Company spinoffs have ensured that the franchise hasn’t been entirely devoid of new blood in the meantime, but they’ve explored different play styles as opposed to the main series and aren’t comparable. Surely, the logic goes, Battlefield 3 has great things in store for its loyal fanbase.
I was still enthusiastic even after Electronic Arts became more involved than they have been in the past. EA has a notorious reputation amongst gamers that’s mostly deserved as a result of interfering with game development out of short-sighted marketing plots. The major claim to fame for the Battlefield franchise has always been its deep multiplayer and primary focus on its PC-based users. EA has decided to cash in on that fact.