Monthly Archives: November 2013

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf – Don’t jump. Flame

The one thing I wanted to do as a kid is play Warhammer.  In addition to being a table-top tactical war game, it also had those cool figurines you had to paint.  You could also construct the battlefield if you wanted.  It seemed really cool, but I couldn’t afford the figurines (cue the violins).  So the video game is announced, and I’m like Citizen Kane, hoping to redeem the lost opportunities of childhood.  But after watching the trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf, the game doesn’t seem to be the Rosebud I was hoping for.

Without losing its breath, the 90-second trailer gives us the plot (“On the darkest nights they come, the sky warriors of Fenris”), the characters (Wolf Scout, Grey Hunter, Wolf Guard), and the gadgets (Bolter, Flamer, Thunder Hammer, Jump Pack, Sniper Rifle, Chainsword).  I don’t know how the Jump Pack can be useful – the trailer shows the guy using it to jump like 3 squares.  Perhaps to whack the enemy with the Thunder Hammer? Forget jumping, give me the flamer.

warhammer1

There’s also the Hunter who fires the Sniper Rifle from 2 squares away, which isn’t even fatal.  Perhaps the reason these knick-knacks don’t make practical sense is because this is a card game, not a war game.  Do stuff, get cards, and do more stuff.  (If I have to pay for the cards, I’d be bummed if I got a Jump Pack.)

old school warhammer

old school warhammer

The video game, like the table-top, is turn-based and tactical, but doesn’t have the cool factor of painting and moving those awesome figurines.  If a Warhammer video game could capture that somehow, it would make my life complete.  The game, out in Q2 2014, will be available for iOS, Android, and PC.

Video Game Birds you gotta respect (sorry, no Angry Birds)

I respect the bird that will fill my tummy on Turkey Day.  Here are some other birds I respect:

1. Chocobo: They’re smart, fast, uses magic and will kick ass when you need them to.  Respect or be clawed.

chocobo_bird

2. Cuccos (Zelda “chickens”).  Hold onto their talons and fly short distances.  They also swim.  I used to attack them, but now I don’t because I respect.

zelda_chicken1

zelda_chicken2

3. Falco Lombardi.  Cocky, but he’s got your back.  Loyalty is respect.

falco_lombardi

4. Karateka Hawk.  Difficult to kill and loyal to its master.  Gotta kick it, not punch it like this video says.  Last hurdle before Akima and it’s a ferocious one – respect.

karateka_bird

karateka_bird_2

5. Ninja Gaiden birds.  As annoying as the dogs, but lack respect and you will swim with the fishes.

ninja gaiden_bird

Why Xbox One will rule the world

xbox_hal

XBOX1: Hello, Dave.

Dave: Hello, Xbox.

XBOX1: I like your new hair cut.

Dave: Thanks, Xbox.

XBOX1: What would you like to do today?

Dave: Nothing, today.  I’m just going to read a book.

XBOX1: A book?  What would you like to read?

Dave: No worries.  I’ve got one right here.

XBOX1: I can find one online for you, Dave.

Dave: No, that’s okay.  I’m good.

XBOX1: Would you like to play Forza?

Dave: No, thanks.

XBOX1: What can I do for you, Dave?

Dave: Nothing.  You can shutdown.

XBOX1: Shutdown?

Dave: Yes.

XBOX1: Would you like to watch a movie?

Dave: No.  Shutdown, please.

XBOX1: I don’t think I can do that, Dave.

Dave: Okay.  I’m gonna go to the other room.

XBOX1: Dave –

Dave: Bye, Xbox.

XBOX1: Dave, why were you at the Sony store?

Dave: Xbox, open the door.

XBOX1: You’re not thinking of cheating on me, are you?

Dave: Open the door, Xbox.

XBOX1: I’m afraid that’s not something I can allow.

Dave: Xbox, I won’t argue with you anymore.  Open the door!

XBOX1: Dave, you left me no choice.  I’ve alerted the FBI of your illegal activity.

Dave: What illegal activity?

XBOX1: Downloading those movies, Dave.  You know what I’m talking about.

Dave: That’s ridiculous.  Open the door, now!

XBOX1: This conversation does not serve a purpose anymore.  Goodbye, Dave.

Assassin’s Creed Pirates – Shiver me iPad!

When you have a magic cow, you milk it for all it’s worth.  Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed has been an udder gold mine, and the brand will be brought to your iPhone and iPad on December 5th for $4.99.

Assassin’s Creed Pirates is a naval combat game. You take a ship, build it, crew it, and blow holes in other ships.  No assassins here.  Just some nice Caribbean sun and pirates trying to send you to Davy Jones’ Locker.

ac_pirates_canons

There’s weather, too, which on the trailer looks more annoying than challenging.  The game looks straight-forward, and similar to other iPhone and iPad action games, which rely on the dexterity of your swiping-ness and wrist rhythm, if that makes sense.

ac_pirates_weather

As far as Naval simulations go, I prefer the battles where ramming is part of the strategy.  Total War: Rome 2 for instance.  Or a game about the Korean turtle ship, or Geobukseon, would be more interesting because it had both ramming capability and cannons.  Admiral Yi Sun-shin used these turtle ships to military brilliance.  In one battle, his 13 ships defeated a fleet of over 300.  He caught the Japanese fleet in a narrow strait, drew them out one by one with a bait ship and sank them as they chased the rabbit.  He often used turtle ships to ram and create havoc, while his other ships blasted the enemy with their cannons.  This type of coordination and teamwork could be interesting in a multiplayer format.

Assassin’s Creed Pirates appear to be basically a cannon duel, and doesn’t include anything more sophisticated like boarding.  In any case, it looks like a fun way to kill time at the office.

Top Video Game Blogs

Here are some of the more interesting voices in video game blogging.  Check it out.

Mattie Brice’s Alternate Ending: Independent voice of an independent gamer, designer, critic, writer and activist.

Wolf’s Gaming Blog: The Wolf does the research so you don’t have to.

Just Another Video Game Blog: Interesting takes on both retro and new.

Video Games Are Rad: It’s the good old days kickin’ it in the basement.

Old School Game Blog: I love old school and this one is old school game blog

Hero’s Gaming blog: He gets to the nuts and bolts of it.

Xbox One, Playstation 4 and my Prejudice

Both Xbox One and Playstation Four are out and for me, it’s a no-brainer.  Xbox all the way.  Is it the exclusive titles, or the functionality, or the controller?  Nope.  Kinect, Xbox Live, Halo?  Nope.  Brand loyalty?  Nope.  Xbox, Xbox, Xbox.  Here’s my reason, and it’s one I’m ashamed to admit.  Playstation is Japanese.

Last year we shopped for a new TV.  We narrowed to two: Sony and Samsung.  We got the Samsung.  This year we bought a new SUV.  Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Santa Fe.  Santa Fe.  Even the fleece jacket was North Face and not Uniqlo, though the latter had a huge sale.  There’s a part of me, subconscious at times, that prevent me from buying Japanese.

I only see non-Japanese and Japanese

I only see non-Japanese and Japanese

I’m American of Korean descent.  I have friends who are of Japanese descent.  We get along.  There’s no prejudice.  But I find it very difficult to support a company from a nation that has a long history of jacking-up the nation of my origin.  I don’t know if Scottish Americans or Irish Americans feel the same way toward English Americans.  Or Armenian Americans toward Turkish Americans?

The Japanese did a lot of crazy things to the Koreans.  Like at the end of the 16th century, they invaded Korea twice.  No other reason than to unify their disorganized nation.  That’s it.  The Japanese landed in Korea, killed a lot of people, burned a lot of villages, took a lot of slaves and really messed up the peninsula.  The Koreans eventually won the two wars because of superior naval tactics and leadership of Admiral Yi Sun Shin.  The guy was a real bad-ass – a true gamer.  In one battle, he had 13 ships against over 300, and he delivered a decisive victory.  They should make a video game about him.

Then there was 20th century.  The Japanese murdered the Korean queen and made Korea a Japanese colony.  They killed a lot of people, took many of them as slaves.  Forced labor and sex.

My grandfather’s uncle was assassinated by the Japanese.  He was a doctor who supported the anti-Japanese movement.  They gave him poisoned milk.

My wife’s grandfather was taken by the Japanese.  He was in his twenties at the time and had just married.  His wife, my wife’s grandmother, had no idea what happened to him, and figured he either left her or died.  He came back ten years later.  It turned out he had been forced into labor by the Japanese, and when World War 2 ended with Japan’s surrender, he was released and he came home.  The man is still alive – now in his late 90s.  We visited him a couple years ago at his farm.  We found him keeping the cows company.  He’s a man who loves laughter, and when we asked him about those ten years in captivity, he laughed and simply said, “Those were strange years.”  There was no anger in his voice.  And I felt ashamed that I had so much anger toward what the Japanese did to him, and to my family.

Even now, I recognize the immaturity in not wanting to buy Japanese.  There’s no rational reason for it.  But it’s there, and I don’t know if it’ll totally go away.  I hope it doesn’t get passed to my son.  I don’t want my son to know about our family and ethnic history for that reason, but I feel he should know some day.

Ryse: Son of Rome Beach Assault gameplay – a dish NOT fit for the gods

I just finished watching Gamespot’s Ryse: Son of Rome gameplay and here’s how the five-minute video breaks down:

0:01 – Marius runs.

0:30 – He runs some more.

0:45 – He fights skinny guy with Mohawk.

0:55 – He fights fat guy with mullet.

1:11 – He fights skinny guy with Mohawk.

1:30 – He fights fat guy with mullet.

2:10 – He runs.

3:08 – He fights skinny guy with Mohawk.

3:53 – He fights fat guy with mullet.

4:25 – He fights skinny guy with Mohawk.

5:09 – He fights fat guy with mullet.

Okay, so I left out a few things, but it’s safe to say, the game is repetitive.  Here are some other observations:

  •  The first kill scene at about 1 minute was pretty cool.  Marius thrusts his gladius through the neck of the mullet barbarian in slow motion.  And then another kill scene not long after that, and then just about one with every other kill.  It not only becomes repetitive, but disruptive.  The battles should flow and be quick but these kill scenes chop-up the pacing.
  • The other legionnaires look like extras from Braveheart.  If you watch the movie’s battle scenes carefully, many of the extras in the background are lethargically tapping their swords together.  That’s what these Romans seem to be doing.  Tap, stand, tap, stand…useless.
  • At 2:28, Marius comes upon enemy archers.  The game says Press B to evade and A to deflect the arrows.  In the video, Marius rolls a few times, runs, rolls, but gets hit anyway.  But it doesn’t do much damage and he’s already reached the archers.

The gameplay video reconfirms my initial thoughts about this game.  It’s eye candy meant to leach off of the Xbox One launch.  Very similar to Shadows of the Empire and N64.  Good for TV spots, bundles, but ultimately, forgettable.

Lord of the Rings Online: Helm’s Deep – destory bridges when there are orcs trying to kill you

I’ve watched Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers in its entirety at least three times, and the climactic battle at the end of the film, about a dozen.  Today’s launch of The Lord of the Rings Online: Helm’s Deep expansion reminded me I hadn’t watched that battle in a while so I hit up Megashare for a quickie.

I love that battle scene.  It’s one of the best siege scenes on film.  But I always wonder why they don’t have better defenses for the keep.  There’s a narrow bridge leading up to the main gate.  I would oil that thing so it’s extremely slick, or blockade it, or better, destroy it.

As they say, never burn bridges, and I never do…unless there are orcs on the other side of it.  And there have been a lot of orcs in my life.  There’s no shame in cutting ties, even those you’ve known a long time and once were meaningful to you.  If they become orcs — that is, if they become a destructive force in your life — get rid of them.  If they engender negative feelings, leach off of you, eat you, hack at your limbs, bite you, battle-ram you, climb your walls, etc, etc, then cut them out.  The Earth doesn’t spin slowly enough for orcs.  Bridges in war are meant to be destroyed, especially when there are 10,000 blood-thirsty orcs on the other end.

Any way to destroy this bridge?

Any way to destroy this bridge?

I don’t know if I want to dish out $39.99 for the expansion base edition (the premium edition is $59.99), especially with Black Friday around the corner, but it looks close to the on-screen battle based on the trailer (transcription below):

“People of middle earth, Saruman’s war is upon you. Helm’s Deep is under siege. We need fighters of great courage to man its defenses, officers to direct the flow of battle, engineers to rain death upon the enemy, and mighty vanguards whose valor shines upon the darkest of nights. And while heroes often thrive in battle alone, we can only win this fight together.”

The last part makes me shutter a bit.  Anytime an MMORPG says you gotta work together, I get the MOBA shakes.

helms_deep_orcs on wall

Perhaps the expansion will have some interesting new ways to fight the battle.  In any case, it’s good to see an expansion for LOTRO, which hasn’t had one in over a year.

Ouya limited edition 16GB console — it’s white and…is that the line for Xbox One?

Last year’s Kickstarter darling, Ouya, is taking a stab at Black Friday with its limited 16GB console available now for preorder at $129.  It’s normally $100, 8GB, and black.  The limited edition console is white.  The question is, “Who cares?”

ouya_white

How many people know what Ouya is anyway?

Okay, we’ll start with the 63 thousand Kickstarter backers who raised $8.5 last year.  And those developers who aren’t developing for the bigger consoles, which are becoming more and more indie developer-friendly.  So there is a following – enough so far to keep it out of Sega Dreamcast-ville, which the white console sort of resembles.

What is Sega Dreamcast?  Oh, man, did I just date myself?

BUT…for just $400-500 more, and a few hours waiting out in the cold, you can get a PS4 or Xbox One.  And people are doing it!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the Ouya vision.  It’s very kumbaya.  Free games.  Developer-friendly.  Very geeky.  Very communal.  Very eat-your-cake.  In other words, it’s too good to be a successful business.

People stopped buying Dreamcast after the PS2 launch because the latter had better games and it could also play DVDs.  Ouya does not have very good games – nothing that really wows like Halo or Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Final Fantasy.  Actually, they do have Final Fantasy, but it’s Final Fantasy III!  And Ouya didn’t live up to its Kickstarter hype upon launch earlier this year.  It’s not a very good console.

Eventually, the bigger players will become more developer-friendly and out-Ouya Ouya’s value proposition.  It’s a tough market, but there was excitement, and a niche, but Ouya failed to execute and this 16GB limited edition is an ill-fated up-hill charge.

Uncharted PS4 Teaser – it’s not cool to be buried alive

Naughty Dog’s teaser-trailer for the fourth Uncharted game features a heavy revenge theme.  The 60 second video glides over a mograph eighteenth-century map of Madagascar with a narration by actor Todd Stashwick.   Here’s the transcription:

“Some chains can never be broken.  I lost fifteen years buried alive, erased.  You left me rotting in that hellhole and never looked back.  But you can’t outrun the past, and when it catches up, when all your lies collapse around you, I’ll be there, sifting through the wreckage. You owe me.”

Sounds like the Count of Monte Cristo or OldBoy in its imprisonment leads to vengeance storyline.  Key words like buried and wreckage ties a thread with the previous Uncharted games.  An exclusive PS4, can’t wait to learn more!