Reviews of video game related television shows, movies, books, and soundtracks. Plus, reviews of downloadable content, our Half-Hour Handheld featurette, and video reviews.
I loved Borderlands 1, but was always little cool on its downloadable content. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned was a tedious addition with boring enemies, and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot was just an endless barrage of arena battles, better tuned for testing weapons out than actually having fun. So while I also loved Borderlands 2, I was very leery about its additional content available for purchase.
But Nate treated me to the season pass, and a few weekends ago Steve and I took down the first DLC released, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty (there’s a pun in there somewhere). Turns out this release is a much more traditional release featuring a half dozen new zones, a bunch of new enemies, over 20 new missions, a new vehicle, and at least one raid boss (okay, there’s two, but we couldn’t beat the first one).
There’s honestly a ton of content here for a DLC, it probably took us about five hours to reach the first raid boss and lose to him a couple of times, so you’ll certainly feel like you got your money’s worth. But at the same time, it’s kind of a slog. All the new missions are self contained in the new Oasis zones so there’s a ton of backtracking and retreading ground. The central hub is also kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and if it wasn’t for the new skiff, would be exceedingly obnoxious to get to. This is one of those cases where there just might be too much.
So many video game movies are such serious affairs. Not so much serious as in humorless conversions (though those certainly exist), but serious as in serious business: the producer stands by checking off things that will make a successful video game a successful video game movie. Hitman, Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Doom, the list goes on. And generally these fall flat, they don’t ring true to the built-in gamer audience and they certainly don’t draw in regular movie-goers.
I recently rewatched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which isn’t really a video game movie, but thanks to a snappy script filled with gaming references and action scenes that pay homage to the 8-bit classics of our youth, it bucks the system. Instead of a video game based in reality, Scott Pilgrim is reality based in a video game. This idea inspired me to find at least one other entry in this genre, and I discovered Video Game High School.
You get what you expect in Video Game High School: a high school about video games. Set in a world where e-sports make headline news and its players are superstars and celebrities, VGHS imagines a Hogwarts-like school where potential prodigies are invited to learn about music games and try out for FPS Varsity. While not as sharply written or acted as Scott Pilgrim, it still manages to be a really fun two hours.
Trine 2 was a fun game, and its simple but challenging formula of platforming meets cooperative puzzling should be pretty easy to extend. Thus enter Goblin Menace, the first DLC available for the late 2011 release. We don't cover a lot of downloable content here, and most of it is for games like Mass Effect or Borderlands where the developer has so many more ideas for new characters and storylines that just couldn't fit in the original game. Frozenbyte, on the other hand, is less concerned about introducing some new class to play as or world to save, but they do seem full to brim with ideas of completely awesome and insane locations to send our heroes.
Goblin Menace was released in September and can be purchased for $8 on Steam. The DLC was not released on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, but will be available on the Wii U along with the full Trine 2 game when the system is launched next month. Two Steam keys for Trine 2: Goblin Menace were given to us by Frozenbyte.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to some proper Mass Effect 3 single-player DLC. I loved the game and the series as a whole, and I'll take any more content I can get in the universe before it's gone forever. Since I haven't been playing multiplayer, the numerous map packs do nothing for me, and while the Extended Cut was welcome, I didn't see it as totally necessary. Welcome, sure, but it didn't add much to my overall experience.
So finally being able to download Leviathan is exciting! Mass Effect 2's bonus content ranged in quality quite a bit: Lair of the Shadow Broker made for some of the best levels in the game, bar none, but the Firewalker Pack? Not so much. So it's certainly a point of concern to worry about the $10 download I just made, but hopefully my review presents a concise answer on whether it is worth your money or not. Since there's no new vehicle, my money is on "yes".
Along with Leviathan and the Extended Cut, I also reviewed Mass Effect 3's day one DLC, From Ashes, which included the exclusive squadmate Javik. Keep an eye on First Hour for future reviews of Mass Effect 3 downloadble content.
I didn't mind the original Mass Effect 3 ending that much, but others did, hated it even. But even I can admit there were some reasonable arguments against the game's last few minutes, and maybe BioWare did too, because here we are with the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut available to download.
This introduction will be spoiler free, but after that, I'm not going to hold anything back. Nonetheless, the endings are now availabe on Youtube, but I still woke up at 4 AM this morning to download the update and replay the last few hours of the game. The developers recommend that you begin your Extended Cut journey before you enter Cronos Station, which is Mass Effect 3's point of no return. I'm not sure if it's totally necessary to start that far back (took me five hours to beat the game from this point my first time through, and over three hours my second time), but I wasn't going to take any chances the first time.
Before I go on, I believe the Extended Cut is a decent addition to Mass Effect 3, it does clear many things up, but I'm sure some will still be disappointed.
My first exposure to the G4 network was its acquisition of TechTV in 2004, my absolute favorite station on cable at the time. I was obsessed with The Screen Savers and all the schlubby hosts the channel featured. TechTV embraced nerdom while G4 mocked it, this wasn't a happy marriage and I bailed almost immediately, along with most of the original hosts.
I've carried a hatred for G4 ever since, and find schadenfreude in its slow demise and collapse. However, amidst all of the grating personalities G4 featured about eight years ago, there were a few interesting TV shows that caught my eye. One of them was Icons, a half-hour documentary on different visionaries, studios, and game series in the industry. Spanning five seasons on a range of topics from Atari to the history of E3 to Tim Schafer, even die-hard enthusiasts would probably learn something new when watching.
I surely won't be covering every episode (famous last words), but I'll start where Icons began, with the developer studio Oddworld Inhabitants, who obviously made the Oddworld series for the PS1 and Xbox. But before I begin, take a look at the episode list of Icons, it mirrors the fall of G4 rather well as the first four seasons are about actual video game related topics while season five covers The Onion, Lollapalooza, and Kevin Smith.
Earlier this month, I played through the original Kid Icarus for the first time. It's a golden-age Nintendo oddity with a novel mishmash of action and RPG (novel in 1986, anyway) that provides more frustration than fun. It's okay, I guess.
But through the years, enough fans yearned for a revival of Kid Icarus that an online petition could always be found on any sizable video game forum. Unfortunately for these die-hards, Nintendo never gives its fans exactly what they want: it instead creates something new that resembles fan demands. Besides, Kid Icarus was a strange game. The only aspect of it I could see living on was the oddball Cupid Versus Eggplants theme.
Apparently Nintendo saw that too, because the new Kid Icarus: Uprising celebrates its strange heritage in a game style closer to Star Fox than a return to the original's platforming-action formula. Lifetime Kid Icarus fans are no doubt disappointed, but I couldn't be happier: the rail-shooting half of Uprising bears a strong resemblance to my 2010 Game of the Year, Sin & Punishment Star Successor, and the on-foot arena melees look no less enjoyable. Could Kid Icarus: Uprising be the 3DS's first worthy purchase of 2012?
There doesn’t seem to be a major release from one of the big name publishers that hasn’t received negative attention for one reason or another lately. Whether it’s nasty DRM, a lack of dedicated servers for multiplayer, or it simply doesn’t meet expectations in previews, a minority set of gamers love to complain vocally. The gaming press gives these guys attention and highlights the low-rated user reviews on Metacritic as evidence of either ignorant gamers or evil publishers, but the same development team is back in the office the next day making a sequel.
Mass Effect 3 is the latest target, and while a variety of complaints have bubbled to the top ranging from complaints about the ending to homophobic insinuations that Shepard could never, ever be gay, the main factor seems to be about the day one downloadable content, From Ashes. Similar to Mass Effect 2’s launch day Zaeed: The Price of Revenge, From Ashes features a new level and a new playable character.
I haven’t beaten Mass Effect 3 yet, but I have played this DLC and spent some time with the new character. Here’s my review on From Ashes, the first of undoubtedly many DLCs to come for Mass Effect 3.
This console generation will probably be well remembered for the rise of downloadable content. In an era where publishers whine about used game sales, they certainly found one of the most effective ways to further their profits. Whether it’s armor for your horse, patches that turn burlesque breasts tassel-less, or multiple hours worth of new content, DLC is here to stay.
I generally have little problem with it, most of the time I pass, especially when I pick up games used for cheap and I have to spend more on the DLC than the actual game itself. But I’ve also bought some quality downloads that are worth the money. I begin to have issues with it when a game is advertised in such a way that you expect that content to be there in the first place.
Take Batman: Arkham City, an excellent game starring the caped crusader. When Game Informer featured the title on its cover, we got an artsy and sexy preview for it with Catwoman right alongside Batman. That pairing, however, is not guaranteed for all owners of the game. Here’s my review of the Catwoman DLC in Batman: Arkham City.
After languishing in a void of lackluster retail releases, lame battery issues, and an eShop brimming with nothing original to play, the Nintendo 3DS is starting to come around as a solid system to have and to hold. Okay, well, the battery issues still remain a problem, but whatever, at least there's befitting videogames to finally play on the dang thing. Since launching in June 2011, the system's eShop has featured 3DS Classics, such as Excitebike and TwinBee, Virtual Console re-releases, such as Kirby's Dream Land and Mario Picross, and then original 3DSWare games, such as...well, not much really. A handful of titles, but nothing too memorable.
However, word around the Interwebz is that Pushmo (called Pullbox in Europe), the newest release for 3DSWare, is pretty stellar, akin to Picross 3D in terms of its puzzles and addictive nature. Seeing as I ate up over 350 puzzles in Picross 3D, more puzzles for on the go is something I need and quickly handed over my ecash to Nintendo.
So, let's push and pull some blocks for thirty minutes and hopefully have a fantastic time.