Citizen Game Half robot, half awesome, all man. Wed, 01 Jul 2009 02:00:55 +0000 en hourly 1 Can You Review a Game Without Words? Mon, 15 Jun 2009 05:55:18 +0000 Deviation Arthur Geis of Rebel FM and Eat-Sleep-Game has created a video review for Red Faction: Guerilla… without any voice or text whatsoever. Go ahead and give it a watch: No, the A-Team theme isn’t in the game. It’ just perfect for this video. In many ways, this is just a fan trailer and it’s easy to criticize… but having spent some quality time with the game, I’ve got to say that this “video review” encapsulates every single thing I love about this game. Driving a truck through a building is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in a video game. I thought for a while that this game might only be worth a rental but it’s absolutely worth buying if you enjoy open world destruction. While the game doesn’t have a deep story and there’s nothing particularly novel about the mission structure, the ability to destroy every single building in the entire game is a real advancement for video games. Every object in the game has a material and a weight and it can be destroyed. When you take out supports for a building, you can hear the rest of it creak as it settles on the remaining supports until it falls apart entirely and crashes in on itself. It’s truly unique and I can’t wait until these features are commonplace.

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That gameplay demo footage you’ve heard of… Thu, 04 Jun 2009 06:37:03 +0000 Deviation Can you say set pieces? This one snippet of footage has more tension than most games have in their entirety.

Naughty Dog? These guys are wizards.

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Splinter Cell finally captures my attention… Thu, 04 Jun 2009 05:35:14 +0000 Deviation I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Splinter Cell games. They often seem too focused on being able to do nothing but hide in the shadows while sneaking forward at a snail’s pace. The latest gameplay demonstration of Conviction (after what looks like a complete scrapping of the original project) may have strayed a bit too far away from the stealth aspect and into action game territory… but I don’t care. It just looks fucking sweet.

It looks like Microsoft picked a good project to pin the exclusive dollars on. They have succeeded in what seemed to have been their original intent with the scrapped Conviction project – they’ve made the game feel like the Jason Bourne movies. Too bad they’ve lost the social stealth elements.

A question for series fans: I care a lot about story in games, even if it’s not the primary reason that I play a game. Is it worth swallowing my distaste for the pacing and lack of action in previous Splinter Cell games to catch up on the story for Conviction?

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New Uncharted 2 trailer Tue, 02 Jun 2009 22:49:31 +0000 Nerfgun Apparently I’m a video blog these days, but I just can’t help myself.

I mean, look at this:

Unfuckingbelievable. Naughty Dog are gods.

There’s also a fantastic (if low-quality) extended gameplay clip from today’s Sony E3 conference at GameTrailers.

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Wipeout Fury DLC is massive Tue, 02 Jun 2009 12:11:06 +0000 Nerfgun …for a Wipeout dork like myself, at any rate. This update actually contains more content than the original game did. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a downloadable content pack contain 110% of original size, that’s just unheard-of.

Obligatory techno:


  • 8 new tracks (presumably reversible)
  • 13 new ships
  • the old favourite Eliminator mode returns

There are also two new modes we’ve never seen, called Zone Battle and Detonator:

Zone Battle is about risk and reward! Acceleration is automatic as you swoop over zone pads to fill your zone bar. Your choice is whether to use the bar to increase your speed and boost your ship ever closer to the target zone or absorb it to replenish vital lost energy. Warning, avoid the ‘zone barriers’, obstacles left on the track by your opponents as they boost towards the target zone, hitting these can literally destroy your hopes of victory!

Our Detonator mode introduces a brand new ship model to the game that will test both your piloting skills and your shooting accuracy as you accelerate through as many as 14 stages. Score points by destroying the mines that have been strewn along the track and take out the bomb on each stage to earn additional points. The more accurate you are the more points and bonuses you will score!


Also, I thought this was funny. Marketing drones are so cute:

Just like the original WipEout HD, all the new content will be released in glorious 1080p resolution and will run at a smooth 60fps.

Awesome! I’m glad you didn’t decide to down-rez my game! Thanks Sony! ;)

Anyways, I can’t be too snarky when one of my favourite games gets a huge DLC boost like this. I had sort of wondered what the fate of Wipeout HD would be, seeing as it was a sort of experiment to begin with, and distributed in such a nontypical way – i.e. as a $20 download-only game, from a franchise that used to do ok as a retail game. This proves that Sony is willing to throw more money at it, which tells me it actually sold pretty well. At any rate, I’ll be first in line this summer when Fury hits.

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Some thoughts on the Projects Natal and Milo Tue, 02 Jun 2009 03:10:17 +0000 Nerfgun I have now ingested Microsoft’s E3 press conference, or at least the section dealing with their fabulous new sorta-3D camera, temporarily called Natal. This has been long rumoured and now the day is here; Microsoft trotted out no less a personage than Spielberg himself to tell us that controllers are the actual problem (look away, Boom Blox) and if we can all just do jumping jacks in front of our TVs, it’ll be really engaging and futuristic. He made Minority Report, right? So you can totally listen to him.

Please take a moment to savour this nauseating mashup of Disney, Sims and Ikea:


The Natal sensor bar itself seems like a combined array of camera, microphone, and IR emitter (transceiver?). So what it does beyond a typical web camera is that it can get depth cues from where you are standing, thus enabling z-axis movement. In honesty the tech is pretty neat. It does a fairly respectable job of picking up movements, or at least it seemed to in the demo. The problem is that Microsoft didn’t show any specific game to go with it. Nor did any of the demos do anything that was particularly out of reach of, say, a PlayStation Eye- or Vision camera-based game.

And given this info:

“Prices and timing weren’t available, but it won’t be available until 2010 at the earliest and will probably cost around $200. Microsoft has already given game developers tools to start building games that uses the device.”

…I’d have to call Natal an epic failure, pretty much right out of the gate. If that date and price is even close to true.

The other thing. Milo. Molyneux’s BoyPet. This abomination.

What in the hell is Peter Molyneux thinking? He knows he has a reputation for, shall we say, enhancing the truth. Or at least waxing futuristic on shit that we can’t have for years. Like this total fabrication above, that they are pawning off as some kind of working AI tech.

There is just no way in hell that is real. This is heavily scripted, and moreover deeply misleading. Lionhead has not cloned a human mind, nor can they read subtle grimaces and calculate appropriate responses with perfect speech and animation. The impression this gives, to people who don’t know better, is one that I find shockingly misleading.

(And while we’re at it, just what does this have to do with the Natal device, anyways?)

I’ll be deliriously happy and delighted if he can prove me wrong… but man, this demo. I just can’t see how it could be legit. At all.

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Beyond Good and Evil 2 footage? Sat, 09 May 2009 02:27:28 +0000 Nerfgun Oh wow. Check this out.

Amazing what a little shaky-cam can do, isn’t it?

Found at Kotaku.

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No, no, no, you’re doing it wrong… Fri, 01 May 2009 20:44:10 +0000 Deviation This is the inFamous trailer you’re looking for…

Ability leveling, stunt kills, power line surfing, the choice to be evil, territory control… all in an open world super hero action game that actually has a story.

Anyone have a clue on the song that’s playing in this trailer?

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The Last Arcade in America Thu, 30 Apr 2009 17:18:53 +0000 Nerfgun dscf3969

FunSpot Arcade is not, strictly speaking, the last arcade in America. But one day it will be. I say this not as a practical observation – surely there will always be some sort of underground, stand-up, coin-op, room where retro geeks can get their Ms. Pac Man on. But FunSpot is different, both practically and emotionally. It is Mecca for retro gaming, and famously featured in the documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. This is where North American players go to set records, and there is no other. New Hampshire once had five FunSpot locations, now down to just the one. We came to FunSpot as devoutly religious followers, eager to touch the machines of the famous place and grab a little bit of nostalgia.

I was surprised to learn that the business called FunSpot has morphed into the FunSpot American Classic Video Game Museum – a nonprofit. FunSpot claims that it doesn’t really make any money, and somehow manages to putter along at subsistence-levels, dedicating what they can in the way of profits to maintaining its aging stable of machines. This is why it will one day be the last real arcade: it has long ago ceased to be a viable business, and now runs on nothing but caffeine and love.


The place is really nondescript from the outside. That sounds like I’m being lazy, but nondescript really is the best word for it: a collection of linked pre-fab warehouses sporting absolutely no discerning markings or details from the outside, other than a too-modest sign over the few entrances. On the inside, it is like a tiny casino. It goes on further than you’d initially imagine, and there is certainly no shortage of classic games. To walk through FunSpot is to walk back in time. The coin-ops themselves have been restored and maintained as closely as possible, with the notable omission of the once-ubiquitous metal cigarette trays that used to adorn practically every cabinet. The lights are dim and red. The music playing over the in-house sound system is exclusively from the 80s. Token machines are stationed strategically where they can be accessed and re-accessed with a minimum of walking, and have plastic cups stacked on top for you to carry your credits, like a compulsive gambling fiend. You get 50 such tokens for $10, and they are metal coins, stamped with the year of their making, right up to present. (I took a 2009 token as a souvenir.) There really is no updating FunSpot; it is what it wants to be, and it wants to be in the Reagan years. The arcade machines are not exclusively early-model, but the vast majority are.

And sweet leaping jeebus, they have everything. Defender. Pac Man. Ms. Pac Man. Dig Dug. Galaga. Centipede. Missile Command. Mappy (so that’s what that is – I had never seen one before). Tapper. Frogger. And yes, Donkey Kong. In fact right next to Donkey Kong are Donkey Kong 2 and 3, which as far as I know are illegal ROM hacks. They are like church relics. Space Invaders is there, and I just stood and stared at it for a good thirty seconds. When’s the last time you saw a real Space Invaders machine?


And then more. Stuff you forgot you ever knew about: S.T.U.N. Runner (embryonic Wipeout). Hard Drivin’ and Race Drivin’. Operation Wolf. Black Tiger. The vector-based Star Wars game. The motion-based cabinets for Space Harrier and Afterburner. Dragon’s Lair, that shitty laserdisc thing that everyone hates and yet has been ported almost as much as Tetris. Oh yeah – Tetris. Original-flavour Russian model, check. Jungle Hunt. Commando. Hang On. PaperBoy. Arkanoid. Street Fighter (down for repairs, alas). Stuff you only dimly remember like Juno First and Crystal Castles. Ikari Warriors. Contra. It goes on and on. And that’s just the arcade games.

A solid phalanx of pinball machines adorns the wall of the main retro room: glorious, noisy, garish, chaotic. Downstairs are the carnival amusements. Whack-a-mole, skeeball, that sort of thing. They have a stand-up, four-player version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. They have bumper cars. They have a machine that is called You Always Win, that takes a token and spits out a variable number of tickets, redeemable for unbelievable crappy carnival-style prizes downstairs. We played about ten games of You Always Win, laughing at the sheer inanity of it, the cabinet shrieking ‘You’ve won!’ every single time. We played just to see if it was true that you cannot lose. It is.

They have enormous air hockey tables. They have a bowling alley. They have one-armed bandits.

It is simply everything you’ve ever seen in an 80s arcade, all in one place, zombified and re-animated.


Many of the machines don’t work right, something that you never complain about, because you would feel like the biggest asshole. I threw three credits into Black Tiger, remembering that this was a game I used to be able to finish on a single quarter. I didn’t even remember the name of it before, but it all came back when I saw it standing there. Alas, Black Tiger wouldn’t take my coins. You realize that there’s nothing the staff can do for you on-the-spot, so you shuffle away. This was a bit of a recurring theme. Gauntlet’s sticks were wonky. The aim on Star Wars trilogy wouldn’t go all the way across the screen, leaving you helpless as stormtroopers manage to shoot someone for the first time in their lives. The Space Harrier chair canted dangerously to the left on a sharp turn and never recovered. Part of the FunSpot experience is this acceptance of hardware failure: the shit is just old. Never built to last for fifteen, twenty, thirty years. Hobbyists and weirdos keep this stuff in the half-functional state that it’s in. So you don’t complain. Back in the 80s, if a machine ate your quarter, you’d probably yell your head off at a manger or token-imp. Not anymore. In this context, in 2009, you’re damned thankful for what you can get, even if you’re getting your ass kicked by a gimpy trackball in Missile Command, because you are playing original Missile Command, with a trackball.


That is why, on one of the first beautifully sunny days of the year, we went inside a decrepit old games parlour and scuttled about in the dark and noise, playing the most rudimentary video games, for hours and hours. And we certainly weren’t alone. This being a Saturday, the place was not deserted, but frequented by the kind of crowd you don’t remember from the arcade heydey: families. Lots of young kids, all of whom seemed to be having a fantastic time. There’s a sign out front of FunSpot that gave us a laugh when we first read it – “no swearing, no horseplay” (!). FunSpot has a policy of being family-friendly and they keep machines* that fit that criteria. It’s an almost-quaint notion, yet it seems to work for them. I found myself trying to check my own sailor utterances, surprised that I cared that much, even though there weren’t kids around me. You want to respect what they’ve done, the operators; respect the effort and the dedication that it takes to keep a completely outdated business alive out of pure blinding reverie and nostalgia.

The air of melancholy at FunSpot is palpable. The place knows that it has terminal cancer, and however long the remission lasts for, it can’t be forever. So for my part, I am thankful that I travelled all the way over to Laconia from Toronto – a 12-hour drive each way – because that’s not the part of the trip that I will remember and keep with me. Being there was like having your memory wildly looted, the dusty corners of your brain-attic exposed to sunlight again.

I’ll post some more pictures soon.

* there is an original Mortal Kombat machine, probably not totally in keeping with the G-rated theme, but what’s a torn spine or two between friends?

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God of War I & II on the PS3? Thu, 16 Apr 2009 00:10:26 +0000 Deviation

So, I got an interesting email from Sony today. They’re taking a poll of PlayStation owners to determine what they would want in a collector’s edition for God of War III… One of the options was… intriguing…

PlayStation is currently hard at work developing the latest God of War title, God of War III. We want to hear from you on what would make the ultimate God of War III Collector’s Edition. Review the items below and rate them in order of how important it would be to have in the Collector’s Edition. Please rate from 1-10. 1 = least important, 10 = most important.


See that option in the middle? God of War and God of War II on Blu-ray disc.

Now, obviously, these wouldn’t be touched up in any sort, especially if they’re only available with the CE. But maybe, since they’re already going out of their way to make both titles work on any PS3, just maybe they’ll render in a higher resolution?

Yeah, that’s something I’d pay extra for in a CE.

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