#egmr » Caveshen http://egmr.net Let's Talk Games — Videogame News, Reviews & Opinions Mon, 17 Aug 2015 07:30:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 The EGMR Offensive #13: Outrage Hour http://egmr.net/2015/08/the-egmr-offensive-13-outrage-hour/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/the-egmr-offensive-13-outrage-hour/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 09:00:12 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174206 Welcome to a brand new episode of our premier podcast, The EGMR Offensive. This week is all about the outrage, whether it’s extra-dimensional superheroes, expansion packs, or egregious adverts. We’ve […]

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Welcome to a brand new episode of our premier podcast, The EGMR Offensive.

This week is all about the outrage, whether it’s extra-dimensional superheroes, expansion packs, or egregious adverts. We’ve got something for everyone… to get angry about.

Here are the topics discussed during this week’s episode:

  • Fantastic Four
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Outrage
  • Gamescom picks
  • Questions

Keen on getting offended? Here’s how:

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | Android | RSS

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What Would You Like Us To Discuss On This Week’s EGMR Offensive? http://egmr.net/2015/08/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-5/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-5/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 09:00:24 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174152 Tumbleweed. Everywhere. Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would attempt to answer them. With our new podcast, […]

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Tumbleweed. Everywhere.

Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would attempt to answer them. With our new podcast, the EGMR Offensive, we want to try something slightly different.

We want you to suggest topics for us to discuss. Because it’s a much more topic-based podcast, we’ll be discussing a few of the biggest news stories for the past week or two. So we thought, why not just ask you guys and see what you’d like to hear us talk about? This article is your opportunity to do just that.

If you would just like to ask us questions as usual, then by all means do so. However if you have some hot topic you’d like us to dig our teeth into, then by all means do that too. Either way, the comments section is your friend. Go wild.

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Review: Absolute Drift Is A Sideways Sensation http://egmr.net/2015/08/review-absolute-drift-is-a-sideways-sensation/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/review-absolute-drift-is-a-sideways-sensation/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 06:00:13 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174030 Visit review on site for scoring. How do you know if someone is in love with drifting? Who would even want to know that… in any case: Strike up a […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

How do you know if someone is in love with drifting? Who would even want to know that… in any case: Strike up a conversation on the topic and within five minutes if they don’t bring up Initial D, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, or Need for Speed: Carbon, they’re probably lying to you. However if they immediately bring up Absolute Drift then chances are you’re not just talking to someone who is crazy about drifting but someone who has probably spent many hours trying to perfect the art. Within the safety of their homes, of course.

And yes, drifting is an art.

But art is nothing without a canvas and the right tools, and that’s what Absolute Drift is, in many ways. The indie racing title developed and published by Funselektor Labs exists to be that canvas, with your controlled vehicle as the tool. All that’s left is for you to go and create some works of wonder with screeching tyres and a handbrake.

Absolute Drift is a little different to your typical racing title. For one, it offers a rather peculiar isometric viewpoint. We know that drift-racers love looking at the world sideways but this can actually get quite a bit much at times, especially when you’re trying to learn the controls and seeing “right” but turning “left”. All the same, it lends to the otherwise extremely simplistic aesthetic that favours whites, blues and reds over a vast array of colours, with levels broken up only by your dark tyre trails as you drift along.

At the core of the driving experience is drifting by forcing your car sideways and then navigating it skillfully to earn points. You also earn multipliers for chaining drifts and really, that’s all there is to it. You’ve seen this before in the likes of Need for Speed, GRiD, and a bunch of other titles. It should be nothing new for you. In Absolute Drift there are three game modes: Driftkhana unleashes you in a sandbox area and tasks you with choosing your style in getting as many points as possible, Drifting circuits task you with scoring as many points as possible within a 3-lap circuit, and Mountain Drifting levels are similar but with the addition of the downhill drifting that popularised the whole sport (and the utter destruction of rubber as we know it) in the first place.

This might not seem like a lot but it’s actually a gross simplification of the number and variation of tracks on offer. Also included is a fully fledged free roam mode, which lets you drive your car as you please, completing a bunch of missions including doing donuts, drifting over, around and under things, doing spins within areas, and ramping over stuff like buildings and rivers. The more of these missions you complete, the more areas you unlock in free roam, the more tracks are available for you to race. There is a hell of a lot to do here.

Add to that six different drift cars, although for the most part I couldn’t really determine the difference between them. They all handled the same but just made different sounds and looked like slightly different boxes, so to each their own I guess.

Throughout all of these events are leaderboards, which tell you how well you placed overall internationally. Or more to the point, tell you just how badly you drifted. Team Lower 5% woohoo!

Complimenting all of this racing is a soundtrack that is easy on the ears, mostly consisting of music by C41 and Nyte. It doesn’t get old, and if a particular track annoys you there is always the option to change it. What’s really cool on the subject of pressing buttons is that Absolute Drift comes with controller support, and I daresay actually feels better to play when using a controller — I learned this very late into my time with the game, unfortunately.

Now if all of this sounds like a really fun time, I should probably add that yes, it is, but it’s also an extremely frustrating time. See, and the isometric view probably doesn’t help here, unless you are a god with your fingers (cough) chances are you’re going to be bouncing from wall to wall like a Down Syndrome child with a club foot trying to perform a choreographed dance routine. It’s going to be tough at first. Really tough. You will wonder if you have arthritis, are going senile, or just don’t know how to do the controlling on your controller.

But eventually you will get it, so I suggest you stick with it. Thankfully, there is a lot of game here to supplement you along the way. And to its credit, Absolute Drift is very forgiving. I passed countless missions by just bumping clumsily into everything as if I was a blind man trying to navigate an obstacle course at running speed.

In all though, my experience was mostly fun, and the admittedly small criticisms I have of the game aren’t enough to really tip the game over into mediocrity. Make no mistake, this game is one of the purest, most accessible and downright fun games with drift racing in mind. And you should definitely be checking it out if you’re an Initial D waifu fan or enjoy drifting without wanting to actually try it yourself.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: A Moment Of Appreciation For The Women In Our Games http://egmr.net/2015/08/life-the-universe-and-gaming-a-moment-of-appreciation-for-the-women-in-our-games/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/life-the-universe-and-gaming-a-moment-of-appreciation-for-the-women-in-our-games/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 09:00:38 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=174063 Yesterday was National Women’s Day in South Africa. The annual public holiday was originally meant to commemorate some 20,000 women marching to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition the […]

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Yesterday was National Women’s Day in South Africa. The annual public holiday was originally meant to commemorate some 20,000 women marching to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition the 1956 Apartheid era Population Registration Act. Today we use the day to celebrate all the women in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few days a year when we celebrate all the women in our lives (yes, it’s going to be that kind of column today but I urge you to stick with it).

In recent years the topic of sexism has become a massive talking point in videogames. We already know that most publishers see the world with male-focussed tunnel vision and developers have to work extra hard to ensure their version of the game is what’s presented. Now someone could argue as I previously did that the tunnel vision is validated by the purchasing trends of gamers, but let’s ask a slightly tougher question here: What if the issue is not about wanting more women to play ‘male-focussed’ games but rather about ‘male-focussed’ games offering a wider spread of content? In much the same way that The Office has a character for everyone to adore, over and above Jim, Pam and Dwight.

Excuse me for a moment while I recount my fondest memories of The Office. *cries violently*

I think I speak for most of the mature gaming audience (male, female or otherwise) when I say that we do want a wider variety, and we want more of what is missing, but we also want better of what is already there. And that’s a very delicate line to tread, that regularly requires fact-checking, humility, and the willingness to admit when you’ve misread a situation — so basically, not Feminist Frequency’s version. But the push for better representation has got nasty lately, and it’s reached the point when many people are being alienated into opposing something they once stood strongly behind as a direct result of the ensuing conflicts.

I am one of those people.

There was a time when I didn’t dare speak up about representation of women in games. How could I? I am but a young male who has no context for how to effectively represent women in games. I could not hope to fathom why the likes of supporting characters with snarky one-liners were not good enough. So I silently supported the conversation. But as politics embedded itself within the gaming industry, the topic became muddied to the point of losing context. It was inescapable, and so I tried to learn as much as I could about it. And I struggled. For a long time, I struggled to reconcile the very real and serious issues that women were experiencing in gaming, against the sort of bandwagon-riding women who managed to find sexism in air-conditioning. I found myself consistently speaking against what I saw as malpractice in the discussion, constantly pointing out that there are many women who prefer not to be considered perpetual victims, and I ended up coming across as sexist for it. Not at all what I wanted. As if there are only two extremes…

But the truth, as always, can be found somewhere in the middle of all that. And so today, after that lengthy build-up, I’d like to talk about a few games that I feel offer the kind of representation of women that I think should be celebrated. For one, because I am sick and fucking tired of seeing games picked apart for everything wrong with them instead of celebrating the ones that do things right, and for two, because hey, it’s Women’s Day. So why the hell not.

 

Tomb Raider

TombRaider 2015-07-20 21-00-10-68

This year, at last, I played the Crystal Dynamics 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider. Previous to this, I had only heard bad things about the game. That it was an Uncharted clone (ironic since Uncharted was effectively a Tomb Raider clone), that it constantly put Lara into the most dangerous situations to the point that it became torture porn for players, and that it was strongly dissonant between narrative and gameplay. But then I played the game, and sure enough in the beginning Lara flailed her way around like a ragdoll on a caffeine high. But I kept playing, and later there was a moment, a very distinct moment around halfway through, when I saw in Lara the kind of fire that would ignite the hearts of millions. The kind of inspirational flame that would make Katniss Everdeen look like a glorified cheerleader. I saw in Lara, growth and empowerment, when playing Tomb Raider. She started off the game as a victim of her circumstances, powerless and afraid. By the end of it, she was the embodiment of true empowerment, the victor of her situation. What I found incredulous about all of this was the argument that “true empowerment” in this sense was based on a male perspective of what empowerment is. Meanwhile, the sequel follow-up had been criticised for being disempowering of Lara’s already strong character, in a bizarre twist of logic.

Let’s take a moment to highlight some of these arguments that I’ve struggled with.

  • Strong character who fights back with violence — Male empowerment
  • Strong character who is beautiful and sexually empowered — Male gaze
  • Not so strong character who experiences real and human feelings — Emasculated female stereotype

And so on, ad nauseam until you give up and go home. Poor Lara cannot win.

This one's called the "euthanised damsel" trope, apparently.

This one’s called the “euthanised damsel” trope, apparently.

If I had to judge Lara’s personality for myself, I would think of her as a strong female character. One whom, in spite of Crystal Dynamics producers, does not require protection from players, but in many ways is the protector of her friends and fellow survivors. In that way, Lara is the antithesis of many arguments against Tomb Raider, which makes me wonder how many people actually played it, and if they did then how they interpreted all of it.

 

Let’s take a moment to establish a few things…

I don’t like gendered arguments because I feel they’re often unfair and not contextualised enough, and they will typically be reversed as a means of discrediting them. For example, you’ll often hear complaints that there are actually many female characters in games so what is all the commotion about, or why does nobody take issue with a sexualised male character? The likes of Chell (Portal), Faith (Mirror’s Edge), and Samus (Metroid Prime) are mentioned as strong counter-arguments to the notion that women lack for strong protagonists. And that’s fine, it really is. But the idea in all of these is that you don’t see the characters, and you don’t really get the best idea of their motivations, their character, their agency. And that’s important because in order to fully characterise especially a protagonist, they need to have some backstory, some reason for what they’re doing, and some personality. Nobody gives much thought to Gordon Freeman from Half-Life or Jack from BioShock. But Half-Life and BioShock are considered classics, why? The way the world treats you in Half-Life, and Andrew Ryan (and the subsequent twist) in BioShock. These games are classics because of the worlds they’ve built, the atmosphere they’ve created, the context for which they exist. Not because of their playable characters. So in the cases of Portal, Metroid, and to a lesser extent Mirror’s Edge, the characters themselves are irrelevant. It’s more about why they are who they are, and what is going to make them the people they become.

This is why Elizabeth from BioShock: Infinite is such a strong character, despite being a glorified “press X” object at times. This is also why Ellie from The Last of Us is the star of that particular game. Not because they’re playable characters (for the most part, they aren’t). Not because they’re themselves empowered (for the most part, they aren’t). But because over the course of each game they show real, human growth. In whatever direction that may be. It could be argued that by the end of The Last of Us, Ellie gains a dependence on Joel as her father and protector (and he likewise is dependent on her as a companion and ward). Is that sexist? Of course not. It’s beautiful and harrowing, and the mere notion of it being sexist sounds silly. But that’s what happens, and we’re okay with it because we understand why Ellie (and Joel) reached that point within the context of the game.

We understand her (them).

And that’s, I think, what’s more important. Not just representation for the sake of it. Not a pointless count of the number of female characters at a bunch of press conferences. The point should not ever be, “Let’s pack as many female characters (with different races and sexual orientations for good measure) as we can into this game and release it to the world, to pander to their desires for representation,” but rather: Let’s create believable character development in our games.

Unfortunately, that kind of counter-revolutionary heresy is liable to get you labelled, drawn and quartered on the internet.

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

witcher3 2015-07-05 22-31-56-87

I’m planning an extended piece about this one, so for now let’s just all go and read Paul Sr’s excellent piece on choice and consequence in The Witcher 3, a game that has some of the strongest, most believable and human women ever written for a game.

 

Other mentionables

Because this is getting a little long now, I’m going to list a few other strong, female characters from games that I feel you should either already have played, or have on your to-play list. They are:

  • Jade from Beyond Good & Evil
  • Aveline from Assassin’s Creed: Liberation
  • Lilith from Borderlands 2
  • Sam and Anya from Gears of War 3
  • Chloe and Elena from Uncharted
  • Bayonetta from Bayonetta (yes really, Tarryn)
  • Literally any BioWare-written female character barring a few exceptions

In each of these cases, the characters have agency, motivation, and importantly, show some element of growth throughout your time with the relevant games. In some cases such as with Sam from Gears of War 3, they’re just the coolest, most badass characters in an otherwise overly testosterone-infused game, making for a refreshing breath of fresh air that’s really fresh like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

And that’s where I’m going to leave it today.

I'm hoping we can set our differences aside, for gaming, you monster. (Or: This was a triumph?)

I’m hoping we can set our differences aside, for gaming, you monster. (Or: This was a triumph?)

Could there be more well-written, strong female characters in games? Absolutely, there could be. Does that mean male characters are threatened in any way? No, not at all. There can be both, and there is certainly enough potential for all of these characters to share the game-space. The existence of Tomb Raider did not remove the existence of Uncharted. In much the same way, the existence of more well-written, strong female characters in games should not remove (or to use the buzzword, erase) the existence of well-written, strong male characters in games. Yes, even if nobody is actually making a big deal about the existence of well-written, strong male characters in games, even if as I explained above, the issue is not the actual representation but more the way characters are portrayed.

It was recently brought to my attention by fellow writer of the site, AG, that a lot of the women already being represented in games come under a strong microscope of critique, something previously absent from traditional games journalism. In this way, it’s almost self-defeating, this… call for better representation and subsequent tearing apart of anything that ticks the checkbox. In a way it does keep people honest, but I feel it’s also just a means to perpetuate a misleading, badly intended sub-narrative of an otherwise pertinent and relevant discussion.

Put simply, the internet is full of shit. People on the internet are full of shit. Don’t let the horrendously vitriolic and vile sentiments of some outweigh the well-intended conversation topics of the rest. It’s true that the politicking in gaming is getting a bit much, but that should not discredit everything being said. In much the same way that only a few trolls ruin it for the rest of us gamers, no matter how loud their arguments may be, don’t allow your contempt for the bad apples to cloud your appreciation of the arguments of the good.

Let’s be humans about this. We could all stand to gain from it. I know I did, from the awesome games I played, as mentioned above.

Happy Women’s Day to everyone reading this, and in the words of Tupac Shakur: “I think it’s time to kill for our women, time to heal our women, be real to our women.” It’s not about being a white knight or anything (although I’d find it hilarious if I was actually accused of that, after I’ve been called fifty different kinds of misogynist) but about respect. Pure and simple. I’ll leave it at that.

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Review: Ant-Man Is More Than A Puny Sideshow http://egmr.net/2015/08/review-ant-man-is-more-than-a-puny-sideshow/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/review-ant-man-is-more-than-a-puny-sideshow/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 06:00:27 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173927 If there is any movie deserving of a review (insofar as advice on whether or not to watch it), it’s Marvel’s Ant-Man. By rights, it should not exist. Marvel’s Cinematic […]

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If there is any movie deserving of a review (insofar as advice on whether or not to watch it), it’s Marvel’s Ant-Man. By rights, it should not exist. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe certainly had no plans to accommodate it and for good reason which we’ll talk about shortly (heh). That it exists at all is due in no small part (heh x2) to one Edgar Wright, who believed in Ant-Man so strongly that he created a concept clip to show to Marvel, and blew them away. He was scooped up but unfortunately departed the movie due to scripting conflicts midway through last year. All the same, every success Ant-Man accrues will be accredited directly to his writing, vision, and belief in the character of Ant-Man.
Update: Thanks to @TheKervynator from The Movies for pointing out that Edgar Wright had an Ant-Man movie in the works long before the MCU existed.

See, the Ant-Man movie that exists takes a few liberties with its story. But in a totally natural and believable way. I’ll explain…

The original Ant-Man from the comics was one of the founding members of the Avengers, the true creator of Ultron, and a visionary named Henry “Hank” Pym. He was the creator of the Pym particle, a scientific discovery that allowed him to shrink or grow himself, thus calling himself the Ant-Man (and various other names like Martha). Armed with Pym particles and a helmet that allowed control of ants, Hank Pym was a stalwart Marvel Comics character. However like all Marvel Comics characters he had a darker, more human side as well. You see, he was a wife-beater, and at times his decisions were morally questionable. Plus he has, in the past, openly fought against the Avengers. So not quite the best candidate for a political-correctness-obsessed world, and Marvel Studios had the right idea to simply pretend he didn’t exist.

But Hank Pym was not the only Ant-Man, only the first. Step forward Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man in the comics and the star of the cinematic retelling of Ant-Man’s origin story.

The story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe interpretation of Ant-Man involves one Scott Lang, a Masters post-graduate in Electrical Engineering who spent his life as a cat burglar, robbing the rich but stopping short of hurting anyone. Capitalism being what it is, he was eventually caught, locked up, and has just completed his sentence in jail. Now back in the real world, he is looking to rebuild his life, and re-enter the life of his daughter who is being brought up by his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, a policeman no less.

Meanwhile in Soviet Russia one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D (see how they still made him relevant?) Dr Hank Pym, who has spent the latter half of his life hiding the fact that he was the secret Ant-Man super-soldier from the world, is facing the cold hard truth that his estranged protégé has finally discovered a way to mimic the mythical Pym particle that Pym himself was rumoured to have created so many years before. Fearing the weaponisation of the Pym particle for tactical espionage action (wait, wrong series) in the form of a super-suit called the Yellowjacket armour, Dr Pym decides to steal the suit and put it in safe-keeping.

But how? Cue a recently released ex-con whose speciality was cat-burgling, and a rebellious daughter who plays the role of double agent.

And that’s it. Seriously, that’s all there is to it.

If you were expecting a more convoluted plot, you would be excused. After all, recent Marvel movies have been so packed full of characters and story that they would rival HBO’s Game of Thrones. But to tell the truth, Ant-Man is a lot simpler than your Winter Soldiers, Galactic Guardians and Ultron Ages. It’s a lot lighter.

Ant-Man is, at its core, a heist movie.

The objective: Steal the Yellowjacket suit. The rest of the movie simply serves to establish the characters of Dr Pym, his daughter Hope, and their tentative ally Scott Lang, as they set about achieving this objective. And really, there’s not much else to it. Sure there’s still the interconnectedness, and to be honest it was actually a little jarring to see exactly where in the MCU Ant-Man squeezes itself in (I expected something less serial and more parallel) but it works, and it feels natural enough.

Ant-Man explores the ideas of decreasing the space between atoms. Now this is obviously akin to magic or pseudoscience because it is entirely fictional. Matter doesn’t work this way. But all the same, an important factor here is this: If you took a single speck of dust as the core of an atom, then the rest of the atom would span a football field. Get the idea now? But more than that, Ant-Man explores the ideas of going “sub-atomic” where quantum theory takes over and matter stops strictly obeying the laws of physics. For stringent fact nerds, a disappointment. For literally anyone else, a really interesting point of view.

It also serves to suitably (heh x3) explain the characters of Hank Pym and his wife Janet, whom you might know from comics as the character Wasp.

As fan service, Ant-Man plays its part, but it definitely doesn’t feel like an epilogue to phase two, or a prologue to phase three. Rather, Ant-Man is a breather, a spinoff, a slightly detached telling of a story in a very “Elsewhere…” manner. There aren’t many Avengers showing up to talk about some future plans, there is very little sequel-baiting of any kind, it’s all one neatly wrapped up movie presented to you with a definitive start and a mostly definitive end.

And that’s just fantastic.

This might upset you if you’re one of the MCU hardcore who swears by the interconnected nature of everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rightly so, because I too was expecting a bit more interplay here. But honestly, it shouldn’t. It just shouldn’t. Because Paul Rudd, Tauriel Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas are at their very best in this film, and they all gel perfectly together to present a light-hearted but solidly entertaining movie that is the textbook definition of popcorn viewing. It wants you to walk away from the cinema not with a hundred questions, not aching over a two year wait for some more, but rather it wants you to walk away feeling entertained. And on that note, it not only succeeds but is refreshing in a series of films that has no doubt started to take its toll on the average movie-goer.

That doesn’t mean it’s perfect by any shrink stretch of the imagination. To tell the truth, I preferred the Marvel Comics version of Yellowjacket which is essentially Ant-Man 2.0 after Hank Pym decides to go solo and become a vigilante while Scott Lang is busy playing Avenger with the Ant-Man suit. In that case, Yellowjacket was one of the coolest anti-heroes in Marvel Comics history but here the villainous protégé played by Peter Russo from House of Cards only served to be a means to an end. In describing this film I called it Ocean’s Eleven meets Iron Man, but more to the point it’s Ocean’s Three plus a few comic relief characters. The humour won’t always hit, but the hope is that for the most part you will laugh, and you will laugh heartily.

Perhaps the most compelling argument in its favour is that I had zero faith in this film; I expected it to bomb and bomb hard. How on Earth can an Ant-Man movie ever work? Well… it did, so I guess I should find a sock to eat, or something.

Special mention once again must go to how well Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly pulled off their roles, and I’m expecting to see a lot more from those two in future MCU movies. For now though, Ant-Man earns a decent enough rating with a definite recommendation for light-hearted humour and a heist movie with a decidedly Marvel-infused twist.

Oh, and watch this one in 3D. It’s worth it.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Enters The Vault Ahead Of Descent DLC http://egmr.net/2015/08/dragon-age-inquisition-enters-the-vault-ahead-of-descent-dlc/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/dragon-age-inquisition-enters-the-vault-ahead-of-descent-dlc/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 09:30:15 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173881 Dragon Age: Inquisition was our game of the year last year. Sure, you couldn’t stack commands, but we loved it for what it was and it was spectacular. Until this […]

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Dragon Age: Inquisition was our game of the year last year. Sure, you couldn’t stack commands, but we loved it for what it was and it was spectacular.

Until this year when it was so gloriously overshadowed by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, in much the same way that Dragon Age II was by The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

This week Dragon Age: Inquisition enters the vault for EA Access users on Xbox One and PC. This means you can play the game entirely for free, for as long as your EA Access membership is valid.

But since there hasn’t really been much reason to replay Dragon Age: Inquisition apart from finding out how other important decisions would have played out, BioWare have gone ahead and released a trailer for a brand new expansion, the second following Jaws of Hakkon earlier this year, for the game.

Whereas the first expansion featured a lush new land to venture into (and a rather large one, I might add), the new expansion entitled The Descent will take players into the darkspawn-infested Deep Roads once more, tasking players with solving “Thedas’s greatest mysteries” which can only mean it’s time for some puzzle solving. Ah, Dragon Age expansions never fail to bring back stuff from the first game.

The expansion will release as DLC on August 11th in NA, and August 12th for EU on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Question is, are you still playing Dragon Age: Inquisition and is now the time to pick it back up for another go? Also, BioWare really take long to do these DLC packs. It’s nice to have a game supported nearly ten months after its release. That reminds me, I still need to finish the first expansion… Maker’s breath.

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The EGMR Offensive #12: Green Animated Suits http://egmr.net/2015/08/the-egmr-offensive-12-green-animated-suits/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/the-egmr-offensive-12-green-animated-suits/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 09:00:23 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173822 Aaaaaaand we’re back! Welcome to a brand new episode of our premier podcast, The EGMR Offensive. Since it’s been a while, we spent a fair part of this week’s episode […]

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Aaaaaaand we’re back!

Welcome to a brand new episode of our premier podcast, The EGMR Offensive.

Since it’s been a while, we spent a fair part of this week’s episode catching everyone up on what’s been going on (the cliffnotes version, don’t worry). We’re also trying to figure out what we missed, while discussing the recent goings-on in the internet world. There’s movies, there’s tech, there’s gaming but most importantly: There’s sewed up mouths.

Here are the topics discussed during this week’s episode:

Keen on getting offended? Here’s how:

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | Android | RSS

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Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Trailer Shares Mafia III’s Penchant For Family http://egmr.net/2015/08/assassins-creed-syndicate-trailer-shares-mafia-iiis-penchant-for-family/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/assassins-creed-syndicate-trailer-shares-mafia-iiis-penchant-for-family/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 06:30:25 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173885 Question: What do you do when the realities of game development prohibit you from creating a believable female assassin character for your game but your fans have been clamouring for […]

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Question: What do you do when the realities of game development prohibit you from creating a believable female assassin character for your game but your fans have been clamouring for one for a very long time now?

Answer: You make her a twin of the male protagonist, obviously.

Now that’s a rather snarky shot at Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s horrendous PR, I know, but I couldn’t resist. Especially with this trailer that continues Ubisoft’s trend with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate of emphasising time and again that this game has a female assassin sharing the spotlight. Holding up a large neon sign with bright flashing lights going: “Look, everyone! We can be so PC!”

All joking aside, Ubisoft has released a brand new trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate that allows for some insight into the twin assassins, Jacob and Evie Frye, who will be playing the roles — no pun intended — of protagonists in the upcoming title set in Victorian London.

Say what you will about the game, that trailer has one killer line: “When you steal from the rich, it’s criminal; when you steal from the poor? That’s capitalism.”

Assassin’s Creed: Victory will be releasing on October 23rd for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The question is, has the series lost your faith or are you still very much invested in it? Let’s not kid ourselves; chances are every single one of us reading this (all five of us) will be picking the game up at some point. I know I will. I really hope Ubisoft make it worth my while.

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Mafia III Reveal Trailer Is Rather Family Oriented http://egmr.net/2015/08/mafia-iii-reveal-trailer-is-rather-family-oriented/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/mafia-iii-reveal-trailer-is-rather-family-oriented/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 06:00:28 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173878 When Mafia III was revealed last week nobody was surprised but everybody was excited. Previous games in the Mafia series were cult classics that portrayed gritty but entertainingly dramatised stories […]

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When Mafia III was revealed last week nobody was surprised but everybody was excited. Previous games in the Mafia series were cult classics that portrayed gritty but entertainingly dramatised stories of the infamous Mafia, as popularised in shows such as The Godfather and The Sopranos.

More than all of that, we just fell in love with the settings, the ambience, and the characters. Mafia has done storytelling right in the past, so of course we were all very excited to see what Mafia III has in store for us. Last night the trailer was finally released worldwide, and we have it right here for your viewing pleasure.

Developed by Hangar 13, Mafia III is going to be taking things in a slightly different direction.

It’s 1968, and New Orleans is a haven for organised crime. This is where the Mafia comes in. The Italian mob are in control of illegal gambling operations, drug trafficking, prostitution, and even have the city’s law enforcement on the payroll.

Orphaned war veteran Lincoln Clay is back home from Vietnam, only to find that the family he grew up with, the family he chose, has been betrayed and murdered by the Italian mob. Thus begins his journey of vengeance, and his attempt to wage all out war against the Mafia. In doing so, Lincoln will align himself with various criminals along the way, building his own empire and finding a new family to belong to while transforming the city of New Orleans.

It’s all rather intriguing and finally offers a chance to get back at the Mafia after what they did to Vito in Mafia II. Albeit as another character.

Mafia III is slated for a 2016 release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Do you like what you see?

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The EGMR Offensive Resurrects, This Evening http://egmr.net/2015/08/the-egmr-offensive-resurrects-this-evening/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/the-egmr-offensive-resurrects-this-evening/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 09:00:42 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173804 It’s been a long few weeks, hasn’t it? Remember the days when we could do this every week? When the only thing that got in our way was the length […]

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It’s been a long few weeks, hasn’t it?

Remember the days when we could do this every week? When the only thing that got in our way was the length of the episodes?

Unfortunately life happened and we had to push our podcast to a future date. We never wanted to give it up entirely but sometimes priorities dictate, and as a result we were forced to move it forward. Now that it’s August, and the gaming has kicked into gear again, we’ve decided it’s time to ramp up and resurrect the EGMR Offensive.

It’s time for a good old fashioned resurrection story.

Are you ready for it?

We’ll be recording episode twelve tonight, so if you have any long-outstanding questions to ask, or discussion points to raise, be sure to ask us in the comments. Then look out on Thursday at at 11 for the episode on here, or on a bunch of other places. But check out the article anyway, okay. And definitely comment to let us know what you think.

It’s good to be back.

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Review: Spectra Is A Suitably Solid Blast From The Past http://egmr.net/2015/08/review-spectra-is-a-suitably-solid-blast-from-the-past/ http://egmr.net/2015/08/review-spectra-is-a-suitably-solid-blast-from-the-past/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 10:00:12 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173643 Visit review on site for scoring. If you grew up before the 2000s then chances are you spent some time in a games arcade. Heck even if you grew up […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

If you grew up before the 2000s then chances are you spent some time in a games arcade. Heck even if you grew up more recently you might have stumbled upon one, old and decrepit and struggling to hold the attention of all the kids with iPhones.

Spectra is designed to give you the feel of exactly that. From the initial screen that asks you to “Insert Coin” by pressing A, to score attack gameplay comprising an on-rails spaceship, to everything else. It is themed in the 8-bit retro style of old to create something that actually plays and feels surprisingly functional, while having the undeniable charm of a classic.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Spectra is its soundtrack. It was certainly the part that was shouted loudest in all the marketing blurbs about this game, and rightfully so. The soundtrack comes courtesy chiptune artist Chipzel, whom you may know from the likes of Super Hexagon, Size Does Matter, and Interstelleria. From the moment you start the game, the soundtrack blares at you and makes you feel altogether as if you were back in the nineties, hands coated in pizza grease, hastily shoving in a coin so you can get your game on. It’s loud, it’s frantic, it’s a total blast.

The game itself is rather colourful with purple and orange hues all over the show. Gameplay is mostly on-rails where you are tasked with moving a space ship left or right to collect blocks that give you points, dodge obstacles that dock your hard-earned points, and try as far as possible hit the speed power-ups that give you bonus points while not falling off the track. Falling off results in an instant game over for you.

Unfortunately that’s pretty much all you get, with no real variation over and above that. There are ten unlockable tracks on offer, each procedurally generated for dynamic gameplay, but those ten tracks effectively boil down to a specific musical piece from the soundtrack and a few different turns. Once you’ve played through enough of all ten tracks, you unlock Hardcore mode which adds more blocks, more obstacles, and a faster pace to the proceedings. But after a while they all blur together and even the ten tracks start to feel rather old.

You could clear all ten tracks twice (once for Hardcore mode) in just over an hour, and even then you could probably fail a few and retry them. Getting 3 stars on each one should push the longevity a bit more on account of the tracks being procedurally generated and therefore requiring some twitch-skills, but still not by much. Now for a game at this price point that ought to be fine enough, but the thing old arcades were never good at was holding your attention in the face of something better. And that’s more than likely what will happen here. You’ll get a day’s worth of fun out of it, and then you’re going to want to play something else.

Still, it being a score attack game, you could turn Spectra into a mighty fine party game when friends come around; giving each person a turn to try and post the best score. Alternatively, you could very easily use this game to kill a few minutes, perhaps when waiting for your partner to get ready so you guys can leave home. Or, and this is perhaps what it was originally designed for, you could get this on your Windows Phone instead and use it to kill a few minutes while you’re on the toilet.

In the end, Spectra is a fun game, definitely an enjoyable blast from the past, but one that doesn’t last very long and once you’ve played all the tracks, you’re not going to want to keep playing. No matter how nostalgically stimulating it is.

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Get Ready To Survive The Metro With Metal Gears In August’s Games With Gold http://egmr.net/2015/07/get-ready-to-survive-the-metro-with-metal-gears-in-augusts-games-with-gold/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/get-ready-to-survive-the-metro-with-metal-gears-in-augusts-games-with-gold/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:00:23 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173502 Now that we’re approaching the latter half of the year proper, the games will start to release in stages until the massive blowout that is the October-November period when most […]

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Now that we’re approaching the latter half of the year proper, the games will start to release in stages until the massive blowout that is the October-November period when most of us are busy with exams (or crunch time at work) and entirely unable to enjoy them.

That’s still a little bit away but with the likes of Rare Replay and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition releasing next month, things on the console exclusive side are about to kick into gear. In preparation for that, if you play your games on either of Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, you’re in for a treat next month. That is, if you enjoy really great games for entirely free.

These are the games on offer in August:

 

Xbox One

Glorified Paid Demo Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes — August 1 – 31

Just when you couldn’t wait a day longer for your Metal Gear fix, Games with Gold comes through with a chance to play Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes completely free on your Xbox One. If you haven’t had a chance yet, this latest chapter in the outstanding Metal Gear Solid stealth-action series is set in 1975 during the Cold War era. The player takes on the role of Big Boss, as he infiltrates a U.S. military black site in Cuba to rescue a couple of high-value allies who are being held captive. Players will use gadgetry, stealth, and plenty of quick thumbs (and quicker thinking) to overcome the game’s challenges. They’ll also find that Ground Zeroes is far less linear than previous Metal Gear Solid titles, with a more open-world feel – and many different means by which to accomplish objectives.

Store page

Nobody Will Play This How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition — August 16 – September 15

Just when you couldn’t wait a day longer for your Metal Gear fix, Games with Gold comes through with a chance to play Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes completely free on your Xbox One. If you haven’t had a chance yet, this latest chapter in the outstanding Metal Gear Solid stealth-action series is set in 1975 during the Cold War era. The player takes on the role of Big Boss, as he infiltrates a U.S. military black site in Cuba to rescue a couple of high-value allies who are being held captive. Players will use gadgetry, stealth, and plenty of quick thumbs (and quicker thinking) to overcome the game’s challenges. They’ll also find that Ground Zeroes is far less linear than previous Metal Gear Solid titles, with a more open-world feel – and many different means by which to accomplish objectives.

Store page

 

Xbox 360

Metro 2033 (The one that’s decent) — August 1 – 15
Metro: Last Light (The one that looks great) – August 16 – 31

The Metro series of post-apocalyptic first-person shooters is multi-award-winning for a reason. Both titles, Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, are set in the Moscow subway system in the decades following a nuclear holocaust. Surviving humans huddle in the subway depots and eke out a living tinkering with old technology, raising the few animals and plants that they can, and by scavenging in the unexplored tunnels – and, if they’re really daring, on the partially irradiated surface. Bullets function as currency for buying and selling stuff, and it’s also (obviously) ammunition for the game’s weapons. So players will need to be very careful about how much they spend – both in the hands of greedy merchants, and in the skulls of Metro’s many horribly mutated baddies.

But, for the most part, players won’t need to shoot their way through obstacles; sneaking, tinkering, laying traps, and working with fellow humans are all viable ways through the Metro series’ many dangers. Of course, your human allies can just as quickly become enemies, as no one can be trusted in a world where life is cheap and survival is paramount. Did we mention that both games have fantastic, compelling storylines based on a series of acclaimed novels?

Metro 2033 store page | Metro: Last Light store page

August’s Games with Gold is looking pretty solid, but what do you think? Does all of this interest you? Will you be picking any of it up? I will say that it’s really nice seeing another somewhat-triple-A-ish title available for download on Xbox One, after Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag last month.

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How Much Better Does Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition Look? Check Out This Comparison http://egmr.net/2015/07/how-much-better-does-gears-of-war-ultimate-edition-look-check-out-this-comparison/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/how-much-better-does-gears-of-war-ultimate-edition-look-check-out-this-comparison/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:00:01 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173461 If you’re as much of a Gears of War fan as I am, then you’re probably a little upset that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition consists only of the original […]

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If you’re as much of a Gears of War fan as I am, then you’re probably a little upset that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition consists only of the original Gears of War and not the entire quadrilogy in much the same way as Halo’s Master Chief Collection.

Even so, it’s very difficult to ignore the fact that the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition has been developed from the ground up and will still offer a refreshing digital recreation of the original Gears of War — the game that popularised gritty balls-to-the-walls action games and cover shooters — on your Xbox One. The game developed by a team known fittingly as The Coalition is going to revitalise the online multiplayer scene on Xbox One.

Here’s the blurb on the official Gears of War: Ultimate Edition website which offers many more ways to compare the Ultimate Edition to the original which released on Xbox 360 in 2006.

The story of “Gears of War” thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surfaced from the bowels of the planet. Players live and breathe the role of Marcus Fenix. A disgraced former war hero, Marcus seeks personal redemption as he leads his fire team against an onslaught of merciless warriors from below.

  • Remastered for Dolby 7.1 Surround
  • 90 mins of new campaign content from the original PC game
  • New Xbox Live achievements (1,250 Gamerscore)
  • Concept art gallery and unlockable comics
  • Modernized Multiplayer featuring:
    • 60 frames per second
    • Dedicated servers
    • Skill-based matchmaking
    • New game types – Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill (Gears of War 3 style), and new 2v2 Gnasher Execution
  • Total of 19 maps, including all DLC and PC-exclusive maps
  • 17 unlockable Gears of War 3 characters for Multiplayer progression
  • More Match customization including Actives, Respawn Time, Self-revive and Weapon Respawn
  • Modernized gameplay with smoother movement and updated controls:
    • Alternate Controls and all new Tournament Controls
    • All controls tuned for Xbox One
    • Adding the Gears of War 3 features you love: Enemy Spotting, Multiplayer Tac-Com, Improved sensitivity customization

Check out the trailer comparison above and let us know what you think, will you? Is the fact that it’s just the first Gears of War a deal-breaker for you, or are you keen like a VREEM VREEM for more Gears on your Xbox One, in any way you can get it?

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: Rekindling That Gaming Flame http://egmr.net/2015/07/life-the-universe-and-gaming-rekindling-that-gaming-flame/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/life-the-universe-and-gaming-rekindling-that-gaming-flame/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:00:04 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173393 Being a gamer isn’t easy. If it isn’t society telling you that being a gamer is (still) lame, work colleagues telling you to grow up and be an adult, social […]

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Being a gamer isn’t easy.

If it isn’t society telling you that being a gamer is (still) lame, work colleagues telling you to grow up and be an adult, social media telling you to get a life, and the internet telling you to stop self-identifying as a “gamer” because what even is that, it’s your ever-growing backlog of games that you just can’t seem to get around to because you’re so busy being awesome. And let’s be honest with each other, gamers are awesome.

But sometimes life gets us down, as it does anyone really. Sometimes we wake up and we just don’t feel like playing games that day. Perhaps it’s yet another thing that’s going wrong with gaming, or perhaps the backlog is just too daunting. Perhaps it’s some new criticism of gamers that sours our mood for games. So often these days, people are eager to find every possible criticism of games without taking the time to celebrate what they do right! Positive reinforcement is non-existent and what’s left is a sullen depression, an unwillingness to consume our favourite passion, and an excessive amount of time spent on Twitter or Reddit, being angry with the world. Full of contempt, and feeling misunderstood.

Let’s change all that.

First I’d like to talk about myself.

Over the past few years I’ve been slowly saving up and putting together the parts of a new gaming PC. When the new generation of consoles was revealed, I wasn’t particularly blown away by them and so I figured now would be the best time to move back to my roots; it was time to go back to PC gaming. And why not? There were just too many positives here. Steam has simplified the purchasing and playing of games to the point that it’s as easy on PC (if not more so) as it is on console (literally click to install, and play when downloaded). Graphics card drivers are downloaded and installed automatically, so I never need to worry about that any more either. Even my games are optimised for me, but I always have the option of control if I should choose to exercise it. Add in controller support through a simple USB cable and I would have to be a stubborn old fella, to not play my games on PC by choice.

But the truth of the matter is that despite all this, I was still a little tired of being a gamer.

For me it was the overwhelming negativity surrounding gaming. There is always some problem with it, and gamers are just the worst, and so on. I have been extremely critical of games in the past (The Last of Us, Destiny, Halo, and so on), but for the most part I’ve tried to keep my criticisms aimed squarely at the games, or the publishers and developers responsible for those games. Recently I’ve seen more criticisms of gamers than anything else and that truly depressed me, so much so that I stopped playing games a whole lot and decided to just do other things. In a way it was like gaming burnout, although in that case you’ve just played too many games in too short a span of time, and you just needed some time away after effectively playing yourself sick.

I would come home, tired after a day of work, and want to just watch series or read articles online rather than play games. It’s not that I didn’t have an extensive backlog of games to get through; I just didn’t feel up for it, especially when I would hear echoes of the things I’d read online about how awful gamers were, and how we should be ashamed of ourselves and so on. Thankfully I didn’t allow this to get the better of me and I managed to come up with some simple ideals to live by, in order to excite myself enough to rekindle the flame for gaming that had once gone out.

BioShockInfinite 2014-01-25 03-08-22-79

Today I’d like to share these with you all, here. I like to think they are equally effective for regular burnout, and culture burnout as well. Let’s rock this as Cavie’s Tips For A Better Gaming Lifestyle:

  • If you’re feeling upset about some critic pointing out a flaw in a game that makes absolutely no sense in the context of the game as a whole, don’t be. Try to think for a second how many of these critics actually talk about playing games. Once a day? Twice a day? Once a week, perhaps? Now sure, gaming is not everything and an entire life revolving around games is unhealthy, but if they spend more time complaining about gamers and games than they do actually gaming, perhaps they’re not the best influence in the first place?
     
  • Remember that no matter what anyone says or thinks, nobody can take your feeling or opinions of games you like away from you. They can call a game you like sexist, racist, ableist, or any other “-ist” and it just won’t matter unless you allow it to matter. Don’t let it. Do your best. Try your absolute hardest to not let it matter. Here it must be said that while the discussion might be considered healthy, it doesn’t mean you are forced to engage in it and if it ultimately ends up ruining your gaming experience, then it’s not healthy for you so you can safely distance yourself from it. There is no boogey-man who is going to remove or erase your gaming experiences. Try to remember that, and nobody else’s opinion can hurt you.
     
  • If you find yourself struggling to motivate yourself to play games, try to formalise the process. Make a list. Lists are great. For each game on the list, think up some pros and cons to playing them right now. Try to mix them up, with longer games in between a bunch of shorter games. Try to vary them, so mix up your role-playing with your shooters and action adventures. Create a priority list from that, and try to stick to it as best as possible. Sometimes you’ll just want to play something else, and that’s fine too. But for the most part, if you can follow a list, you’ll find yourself naturally playing more games and enjoying them again.

witcher3 2015-07-05 22-31-45-34

  • When you’ve completed a game, try to write out how you felt about the game. Somewhere. Anywhere. If not a blog, then try a Word document. It doesn’t matter where, just that you get your thoughts and feelings out of your mind and onto some written format. This helps you to effectively express exactly how you felt about the game, so you’re not left later feeling unsure about something, and when you read a criticism of the game you are more easily able to judge that criticism as fair or unfounded. It’s a therapeutic release as well. Try it, next time you finish a game.
     
  • Pace yourself. This one’s important. You don’t need to finish a game in a day. Nobody on the internet will care about your boasting. People might express some shock, but ultimately they will assume you have no life and go about living theirs. Don’t even bother. Just give yourself enough time to really take in a game, and enjoy the thing you are playing. The best way to do this is to set aside a specific amount of time each night to play games. This might sound silly, but I promise that when you have a limit on your game time you learn to appreciate every second of gaming that much more. Set aside two, maybe three hours per night. If you’re a really busy person, try a single hour instead. And then stick to it. Enforce that gaming curfew on yourself, and don’t be afraid to be wasteful of it if you’re playing the kind of game that allows for gratuitous time-wasting.
     
  • Finally, and this one is a mix of previously mentioned ones, craft your own opinions of what you’re playing. Don’t let other people tell you what to think of a game. And don’t let their opinions of a game influence yours. You have your own brain, your own feelings, your own emotions. Use them. Use them well. Experience a game for yourself, then decide how you feel. Yes, games are expensive and you might need help making informed purchasing decisions. Learn to separate consumer advice from critique, and always form your own opinions of what you’re playing. This can be easily done by, as mentioned above, writing them down as you play. If you have your own opinion of a game, you are empowering yourself as a gamer. You are uniquely creating your own impression of a game, not going off someone else’s. You will feel better for it. You will feel more in charge of your feelings. You will feel more confident in your opinions. And most vitally, you will feel far less insecure about someone else’s criticisms of a game you’ve played.
     

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in my transition from “I can definitely foresee myself never playing another game again” to “Baby please can I just spend another hour playing? I know it’s past midnight but I have to” has been the ability to filter out what I don’t want to hear, not because I don’t want to learn but because I know the other party does not want to have a conversation about it, that is, I don’t want to be preached to.

I learned this, unfortunately, far too late: If someone says something disagreeable, the worst thing you could possibly do is draw attention to it. You are only helping them, and that’s rather self-defeating. So if someone has an opinion you don’t agree with, learn to filter it out rather than trying to counter them with superior logic and expert argumentative experience. It just isn’t worth it, in the end. They will continue to have their opinion, and you will just end up being made to look like the intolerant asshole. Instead, just filter it out and focus on what’s important, and that’s the games.

I sincerely hope that this has helped at least one person reading this.

Gaming should be fun, and sure it has some growing to do but in my books that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to enjoy your gaming while it undergoes that growing process. Nobody will ever take away your precious gaming memories, and as long as there is an audience for a particular type of game then nobody will take that away either. Remember that, and try not to let the drama going on around it affect you. Follow my tips, and hopefully you too can have your gaming flame rekindled. Failing that, try adding some nitroglycerine.

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Star Wars: Battlefront Cares About Your Input — Game Changers, Customisation And Darth Vader Explained http://egmr.net/2015/07/star-wars-battlefront-cares-about-your-input-game-changers-customisation-and-darth-vader-explained/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/star-wars-battlefront-cares-about-your-input-game-changers-customisation-and-darth-vader-explained/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:00:48 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173247 Everything is proceeding as we have foreseen. Ever since Star Wars: Battlefront of the Sith was revealed to the world, it has been received with mixed amounts of fan fervour […]

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Everything is proceeding as we have foreseen.

Ever since Star Wars: Battlefront of the Sith was revealed to the world, it has been received with mixed amounts of fan fervour (for after all, this is one of the biggest franchises in the world, and a guaranteed money-maker) and hearty criticism — the reveal left a lot to be desired and while it’s always cool to fight Darth Vader as Luke Skywalker, how similar will the new Battlefront be to the Battlefront titles of old? Is this game releasing just to cash in on the renewed Star Wars hype generated by the upcoming movie, or is it EA’s next proper attempt at a solid multiplayer offering… you know, after Battlefield 4, Hardline and Titanfall.

If you groaned as much as we did, congratulations! You’re a cynic.

To make a good Star Wars game, it’s best to consult with your fans and find out what really intrigues them. After all, as much as the Jedi and Sith are badass, nothing could stop The Force Unleashed from being terrible. But Republic Commando was considered a cult classic, and the original Battlefront games remain multiplayer offerings that many swear by, even now.

A while back EA DICE started collecting feedback for Star Wars: Battlefront via the Game Changers Program. What exactly is this program? We needn’t speculate because as it so happens, Reddit to the rescue once more! The_Poolshark clarified:

So, I think a few people on here are a bit confused on what this program is, so I am making this post to clarify what it is, who is involved, and what we did while in Stockholm. If you guys don’t want to see this, just downvote it off the front page, but I felt you all needed to see a bit of explanation as to what this is.

Game Changers is a program which the community manager pulled a group of individuals from various backgrounds in to give feedback on very early code of the game.

Sledgehammer, the community manager, had a list of people from previous game changers events, and he could pick and choose from them. The group of people who are a part of the current program have a background in Battlefield, Star Wars knowledge (way more than I know), Battlefront games, YouTube, Twitch, and the EA community. Our feedback comes from the various communities in which we represent, as all of us know what a large majority of you all like.

We had no limitations as to what feedback we gave, as some of it was positive, but when we got there in April, and again in June, it was a lot of tweaking to things to hopefully make the game more enjoyable. We critiqued many things, had discussions with developers as to what we liked, what we think the fans would like, among other things. I cannot obviously discuss what we gave feedback on, but we did go hands on the game.

The biggest issue I have seen is that most of the people call us EA shills, and other extremely negative things on here. I really don’t care about that since being a moderator on Battlelog has gotten me much worse names thrown at me, and even death threats, so these names aren’t even on the radar for negativity to me. If any of you know me from there, I have my opinions on things, and they may go against the grain of EA, they may be pro EA, but I will not bad mouth them just for the sake of bandwagon hate, and if you think that makes me a shill, you are an idiot.

What I am getting at is that this program is there to try and help the developers gain insight on what us, the gamers, want out of this game. Most of us want the game to be one thing, fun. Others want a carbon copy of BF2 with a ton of new stuffed crammed in. I am here to tell you that nowhere will this ever be the case when a new developer takes over an IP from a dead development studio. This is a reboot, and you should treat is as such. That was how most of us game changers went in to this program, and I think you all will love it (unless you are part of the BF2 nostalgia group).

The program’s goals and effects were then clarified for Redditers by Community Manager Mathew Everett who added:

The collection and feedback tracking of what gamers wanted within a new Battlefront had taken place well before the game started development.

Feedback is always collected and noted and acted upon if at all possible. But this program kicked off with 20 participants from around the world. As The_Poolshark mentioned, it isn’t just YouTubers and streamers. But Battlefront fan sites, Battlefront fans, Star Wars Fans, Star Wars shooter fans, YouTubers, Streamers, and general gaming influencers. Honestly, anyone who has shown interest in the game could potentially become a Game Changer.

But to be more specific, participants are known for understanding game mechanics and features, or they have a desire to understand them.

While some feedback was very much ‘Holy shit I go to play’. But those same people also highlighted key issues and suggested potential changes and workarounds that many people on these very pages of Reddit also mentioned around key mechanics. (Some of which have been changes and or adjusted)

The programs name is ‘Game Changers’ as that is what participants help do. Change the game to become a better offering for all fans. The program is still running and will continue to run as we look to gather more feedback around all aspects of the game and who knows, maybe even you could become a part of the program.

As a member of the Game Changers Program, The_Poolshark has seen some things, man. And having done so, he offered a glimpse of what to expect with some quick impressions:

Nope, not really… I have seen way more of the game than anyone else at this point. If you knew anything about me, I do not always paint a positive picture of things regarding EA, and will always give my opinion of things, regardless of the impact. I mean, look through my replies, I have tons of opposing viewpoints here. It would be biased if they expected me to act like that, but I know EA is not this god send of a publisher.

I think the game is a ton of fun, I always go into new games with one question, “Is it fun?” and with this game, it is a resounding yes.”

“It really depends on what you are looking for. If you are hardcore BF4 player and like that level of play, you may not like this game. If you played PvZ: Garden Warfare and could get fun out of that, you will like Battlefront a lot. I am moving to this game over the Battlefield series as I found myself still wanting to play after 15 hours in the alpha, and seeing the changes suggested at the game changer events.

All of that shows me DICE have learned (at least a little) about what people want, and are willing to take constructive criticism to improve the current game and any future iterations they may make.

I have no clue about DLC, and think Jakku will be a cool quick addition to the pretty thought out base content. I may be the minority, but I think the premium way of things is great for longevity of a game, it keeps the game fresh with new content over set amount of time, and if done well, doesn’t allow the content to become stale too fast.

Further information was then provided by Everett on the subject of in-game customisation, which exists but not quite as flamboyantly as you might like:

Yes, you will be able to customize your character in a number of ways, from selecting various character models and loadouts to choosing emotes that best suit your playing style.

But I should note, we’re going for an authentic, immersive Star Wars experience. That said, we won’t be letting players create orange Stormtroopers or change Darth Vader’s suit to pink. We want to maintain a level of immersion that the development team is striving to create.

Finally, Everett strongly refuted rumours by players who got a chance to sample the game at industry events that Darth Vader will not be playable, nor has he ever been in any build previously. Where are the ethics? He will most certainly be present, but they’re not revealing anything more just yet.

But yes, Luke and Vader will clash Lightsabers. We will reveal more details in the near future.

And there you go. Quite a lot to take in, but it looks as if DICE are really taking player suggestions into consideration when working on Star Wars: Battlefront. The jury remains firmly out on the final product, but it’s definitely neat to see this kind of dedication to fan service. The question is, are you sold on it yet, or do you need more convincing? Do or not comment, there is no try.

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FIFA 16 Showcases Overpriced Players In This Real Madrid Likeness Trailer http://egmr.net/2015/07/fifa-16-showcases-overpriced-players-in-this-real-madrid-likeness-trailer/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/fifa-16-showcases-overpriced-players-in-this-real-madrid-likeness-trailer/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 09:00:20 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173242 I’m just waiting for some website to use the phrase, “The beautiful game just got more beautiful.” FIFA 16 is going to be one of the most popular sporting releases […]

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I’m just waiting for some website to use the phrase, “The beautiful game just got more beautiful.”

FIFA 16 is going to be one of the most popular sporting releases in recent years, purely by virtue of finally including playable female football teams. This is a great thing, and something that should be encouraged across the board purely for the sake of player choice.

But this FIFA 16 trailer has opted for a different kind of effeminate, by showcasing the Real Madrid football team, as digitally recreated by the EA Sports team for their upcoming football title.

The deal goes further than that, with publisher Electronic Arts announcing that FIFA 16 will be the official videogame partner of the Real Madrid football club.

Jamie McKinlay, EA Sports Vice President of Marketing, had the following PR to convey to us all:

We’re honored to welcome Real Madrid as an official partner club and the opportunity to bring fans even closer to the team through unique experiences and authentic player likeness in the game. Real Madrid is one of the most popular clubs in the world and that’s also true within our game; we are looking forward to building a deeper connection with the club in the coming years.

Emilio Butragueño, Real Madrid C.F. Director of Institutional Relations, added his own PR:

We’re delighted to be working with EA SPORTS as our official videogame partner. They’re the market leading brand in football videogames and we can’t wait to start working together to give both our fans unforgettable experiences. Many of our players are big FIFA gamers and I know they can’t wait to play FIFA 16.

The deal includes Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, as well as so-real-it-physically-hurts updated scans of fourteen of Real Madrid’s most popular man babies players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez, Luka Modrić and Karim Benzema.

FIFA 16 releases on pretty much everything that survived the last ice age on September 22nd, just in time for the next big gaming controversy. Will you be picking it up? Let us know in the comments below how much you love Barcelona.

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Quantum Break Will Be At Gamescom — Phil Spencer Is “Very Happy” http://egmr.net/2015/07/quantum-break-will-be-at-gamescom-phil-spencer-is-very-happy/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/quantum-break-will-be-at-gamescom-phil-spencer-is-very-happy/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 08:00:42 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173239 Personally I’m a little tired this morning, but there you go. It’s no secret that press conferences at big events such as E3 tend to use footage that has been […]

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Personally I’m a little tired this morning, but there you go.

It’s no secret that press conferences at big events such as E3 tend to use footage that has been creating specifically for the purpose of demonstrating that game. You might call it doctored, and you would be correct for the most part. Gameplay demonstrations are created, sometimes in-engine sometimes not, apart from the final product which typically isn’t even ready to be shown yet.

They’re working examples of what you should expect once the final game is out, and that can lead to a whole bunch of issues with managing player expectations, as has been noted following E3 2015 where it was one of the biggest talking points following the reveal of Fallout 3, Doom, and a bunch of other hotly anticipated titles.

Next up on the gaming roster is Gamescom, and for many it has become the preferred gaming event of the calendar on account of it being a bit friendlier than the stock-investor, press-frenzy, “trade event” that is E3. Gamescom is for everyone, and everyone loves Gamescom. So much so, in fact, that gamers are really keen on finding out more about Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break, which was revealed a good few years ago now.

Thankfully it looks as if we’ll be seeing Quantum Break at Gamescom, as confirmed by Xbox’s Phil “What Kinect?” Spencer, who tweeted the following in response to a fan question.

This, for me, is great news. Remedy won my heart with Max Payne and held strongly onto it with Alan Wake. While it’s possible that Quantum Break might now move away from the TV-interactive style originally proposed, with Xbox’s renewed focus on pure gaming, we’ll find out that and a lot more when Gamescom comes around. The question is, are you interested? Let us know in the comments below.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: Quality Assurance — The Batman: Arkham Knight Story http://egmr.net/2015/07/life-the-universe-and-gaming-quality-assurance-the-batman-arkham-knight-story/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/life-the-universe-and-gaming-quality-assurance-the-batman-arkham-knight-story/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 09:00:26 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173093 Quality assurance is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in gaming. Too many games are releasing broken and it’s time developers stepped up to ensure this doesn’t happen in future […]

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Quality assurance is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in gaming.

Too many games are releasing broken and it’s time developers stepped up to ensure this doesn’t happen in future or they are risking consumer faith and support. This should be a very straight-forward thing, right? So why then are games still releasing in a ridiculously broken state? Why then can I not play Batman: Arkham Knight on my PC?

I’m so sick and tired of people dismissing gamers as entitled. There are many situations (Mass Effect 3 ending anyone?) where yes, gamers act like complete children by holding developers directly responsible for much they enjoy a game, and in those cases it is completely justified to make the assertion. But I often feel that context should apply, and in many situations if it does not affect a particular person it results in that person immediately dismissing the issue. Why? Quite simply because it doesn’t affect them so why should they care to find out more, it’s obviously just whiny, entitled gamers again.

I would know; I was guilty of this for many years.

And since many of the louder-mouthed critics online could be held to very serious allegations about how much they actually play the games they talk about (*cough*), it’s rather easy to see why they are so quick to dismiss gamers. They’re out of touch, they lack context, and at times they’re just being a bit pretentious about things. “Why don’t you just get the console version if you care so much?”

We often use allegories and metaphors when describing the problems gamers face. Ever wondered why? It’s because if we stated them straight-forwardly they would immediately be dismissed as childish or irrelevant. After all, people are angry about games. Games. Things people do for pleasure. Why would anyone getting upset over a pleasurable pastime ever be taken seriously, right?

All good and well, except we’ve spent a lot of money for those pleasures.

Batman: Arkham Knight runs terribly on PC. How terrible, you might ask? So terrible, in fact, that Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment were forced to suspend PC sales while Rocksteady and Nvidia worked to fix the game. Meanwhile sources close to the game have come out and said that they knew all along just how broken it was but Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment never endeavoured to fix this.

The problem is obvious. Quality Assurance was lacking, in preparing this game for its final release.

The question then becomes: Whose problem is Quality Assurance?

You could lay the problem squarely at the feet of Rocksteady, but they were busy at work developing a game that had already been delayed a few times. You could lay the problem at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (a publisher that has gained infamy in recent years with Arkham Origins and Mortal Kombat X on PC) but many publishers outsource their Quality Assurance, so can they be really blamed here. You could then lay the problem at Iron Galaxy studios, the developer that handled the PC version, but they were taking someone else’s game and doing their best to translate it so is it really their fault if the original developer was focussed squarely on consoles.

Ultimately, it becomes a bit of a sticky mess and everyone has an equal share of the blame.

Rocksteady for not putting more consideration into PC, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for ignoring problems with the final product and not prioritising their flagship release for 2015, and Iron Galaxy for taking what was no doubt a lot of money while not standing up for themselves and saying that the game is not in a fit state to be released.

As it so happens, I have some fledgeling experience in Quality Assurance — I started a QA job only this year, at a local online game development company. And for the most part, I can get behind the claims made by inside sources based on personal experience. Sometimes you are forced to work on offline environments and those environments, because they are virtual, have problems of their own that cause delays or interruptions in testing. Sometimes those environments do not provide sufficient load and performance testing. Sometimes they skew test data and you think you’re alright but live testing (done at a much later stage) proves otherwise, resulting in further delays. Most importantly, sometimes you will find hundreds of bugs but because developers have limited time, only some issues will be addressed by the developers, prioritised over others where the rest are either fixed at a future time, assessed for viability, or outright ignored as acceptable failures.

This happens. And it happens often. Far more often than you would think.

All the same, the responsibility falls on everyone to ensure that the game promised is the game delivered, or at the very least that the game is a complete product. The problem in this case is even more staggering when we think that Batman: Arkham Knight looks and plays perfectly fine on consoles, which are comparatively inferior to modern PCs. So what gives? Surely there’s a large enough contingent of PC gamers around that they too deserve the same attention and care. Over and above all that, games are developed using PCs. Sure, PCs are finicky creations, but is it really asking a lot to optimise a game before accepting money from consumers for it?

Surely I am not asking a lot by directing the following request to Rocksteady: “I want to play Arkham Knight on my PC. Please can you fix it?”

No boycotts, no petitions, none of that silly business. Just a pure and simple request from a fan who wants to enjoy a game along with everyone else, without needing to look elsewhere.

Give us the game we deserve; not the one we have right now.

But hey, maybe I’m just entitled…

Ultimately though, Batman: Arkham Knight is not the only game that is currently broken to the point of being unplayable. Too many games are releasing, nowadays, with massive day one patches or worse. Some of them take months to get fixed, literally months before you can play the game you paid for. It’s not about how much you enjoyed the game you played but rather whether the thing you paid money for was the thing you got. I cannot emphasise that enough. I refuse to use an allegory here but I’m certain you can think of a hundred and one other things that, if they were broken, you’d immediately demand a refund for. Entitled, or just being a responsible consumer? You decide.

I’ll conclude this short but somehow convoluted column with the following sentiment: Quality Assurance is vital in today’s game development cycle. It’s probably the single most vital part of the process, nowadays. A Quality Assurer would say, “It’s not about making games, it’s about making games better.” And sure enough, it’s all in the title. Quality. You don’t pay for broken games. Nothing can ruin consumer faith faster than paying for a game you can’t play.

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Now That Everyone Has Had A Chance To Watch Game Of Thrones http://egmr.net/2015/07/now-that-everyone-has-had-a-chance-to-watch-game-of-thrones/ http://egmr.net/2015/07/now-that-everyone-has-had-a-chance-to-watch-game-of-thrones/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 10:00:10 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=173066 We’re in a strange and enchanting place, fellow fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. We stand on the precipice of the new and untold, the fresh and unexpected, the […]

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We’re in a strange and enchanting place, fellow fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones series.

We stand on the precipice of the new and untold, the fresh and unexpected, the tragic and unfortunate; we can’t rightly say what’s coming, and that’s just magnificent.

But just for the moment, let’s instead take a look back at what was. Naturally, this article comes with a great big —SPOILER ALERT— so you have most certainly been warned.

For as long as I’ve been a consumer of popular media, anything adapted from a series of novels has been fiercely critiqued in adapted form. Whether you take Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, or more recently The Hobbit, there have been many people who simply said, “the books did it better,” and scoffed at anyone who said differently. For as long as I’ve been a consumer of popular media, I have scoffed at those people as pretentious cynics, incapable of appreciating something that wasn’t what they had imagined on their own.

But to tell you the truth, I found myself in this group for a long time when watching Game of Thrones. See after being entranced by the first two seasons of Game of Thrones and not having the patience to wait another year, I went ahead and read all of books upon which the series is based: A Song of Ice and Fire. I realised that the nuance and careful scene-setting was absent in the TV series. Character motivation was certainly there, but you didn’t gain the level of understanding you got from reading their thoughts first-hand. The adage quite simply was that no one understands Game of Thrones because no one has read the books.

And then the end of season 5 happened and I sat there with a mix of emotions. I was sad because the scene I was expecting had finally happened, and while it had been left to your interpretation in the books, it was anything but, in the series. But I was also happy because finally, at long last, steadfast TV series viewers finally understood just how painful this series can be. They had experienced the final heartbreak that anyone who had read the books had to endure (and keep a secret) for years.

It felt great. It felt like a family reunited. And in a twisted way (now that I think about it) it warmed my heart.

Season 5 of Game of Thrones has certainly been a contentious one. It has contained a bunch of scenes that are entirely brand new, some of which I feel were completely unnecessary insofar as beating dead horses, but some others which were excellent and intriguing enough for me to not mind at all. I enjoyed it and hated it in equal measure. Let’s recount some of these in bullet point form.

  • Sansa’s forced marriage to Ramsay — Or more appropriately, Theon’s reaction to off-screen marital rape. This was probably the most controversial scene of the season and has led to many outright boycotting the show. Why people are so triggered outraged over fiction, I’m not sure, but I too was upset about this scene because for most part, it seemed entirely unnecessary. Sansa was not even at Winterfell in the books, but rather still at The Eyrie. In her place was Jeyne Poole, who mind you was having an even worse time than Sansa ever did, but we hadn’t had much time with Ramsay Snow by that point in the book (he was only introduced in book five, whereas the series introduced him in season three) so we needed to know what a bastard he was. In the series, we already knew what a bastard he was so this scene was just beating a long-dead horse.
  • The character assassination of Stannis — Another confusing and unnecessary scene. Let’s make something abundantly clear: Stannis is the most true-neutral character of the entire lot; he is fair, brutally so at times, and he is just. This man you are seeing in the show is not Stannis, he’s some bastardised alternate version. And while that’s fine enough, I feel the real charm of Stannis has been forever lost, now. Stannis is, by all the laws of Westeros, the rightful king. He is also a rather snarky man, to go with having a good head for war tactics. Most importantly though, Stannis is the perpetual underdog. He only begrudgingly trusts Melissandre and this is vital to understanding his character; he does not want anyone burned, and plain refuses her requests to do so. There is none of this “here’s my daughter, have fun” bullshit.
  • Jaime in Dorne — Mostly just an excuse to keep Bronne in the show for another season, fan favourite that he is, Jaime’s trek to Dorne was actually a much better take on his story than what happened in the books. There he was stuck outside Riverrun, effectively laying siege to it in an attempt to recapture Blackfish, Catelyn Stark’s uncle. Remember him? In truth it was a rather boring story that was spruced up nicely and subsequently used to introduce some of the Sand Snakes to the story. So well played on this account.
  • Tyrion’s journey to Meereen — Another much better version in the series, Tyrion’s story took many more twists on his way to Danaerys. He encountered more dwarves, got captured and sold into slavery (which… kind of happened), joined a circus, and basically just mucked about on his way to Meereen, and when he finally arrived he barely managed to get a word in with Danaerys before she went dragon-up. The series did it a lot better, cutting out the fluff and giving you a prolonged discussion scene between Tyrion and Danaerys that was just a treat to watch. Finally some excitement out of her storyline.

While we all wait for season six, a bold new adventure in which nobody knows what will happen, book readers and series watchers alike stand united once again. And that’s absolutely great.

But for the moment I strongly encourage everyone, if they have the time, to try out the books. Give ’em a read. Do a chapter a day, go slow, you’ll finish it up really quickly I promise you.

Why? Well what if I told you that Game of Thrones accounts for roughly half (1/2) of the entire story that is contained within A Song of Ice and Fire. You’ve not even experienced the stories of the rest of the Greyjoy family, Young Griff and his followers, the rest of the Sand Snakes, Arianne Martell, Arys Oakheart, Strong Belwas, and Lady Stoneheart. While these names might mean nothing to you right now, I promise that these names will bring vivid memories to your brain if you only give the books a chance.

While it’s true that the series and the books are very much their own entities now, it still lends a lot to the experience if you know how the other side operates. And I think that’s a vital part of consumption for a series as vast and deeply intricate as the Song of Ice and Fire series. Certainly not the most intricate, but I would argue one of the most accessible and mature.

Sales pitches for the books aside, the fifth season of Game of Thrones has been a mixed bag and I am at least glad that come season six, we’ll all be in pretty much the same basket. No more book comparisons (mostly), no more fighting about how they’re ruining a great thing, and so on. Pure and simple revelation, one hour per week. And hopefully not too many spoilers along the way.

I love this series. I love it so much I got my favourite quote tattooed on my arm along with the house sigil it represents. And I can’t wait for more, season six or sixth book, whichever comes first.

Let us know what you thought about season five of Game of Thrones in the comments below, and definitely tell us if you’re thinking of picking up the books any time soon. Already, many friends are telling me they are glad they did, so what are you waiting f– [dies]

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: PC Master Race Vs Console Peasant – Dawn Of The Hybrid http://egmr.net/2015/06/life-the-universe-and-gaming-pc-master-race-vs-console-peasant-dawn-of-the-hybrid/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/life-the-universe-and-gaming-pc-master-race-vs-console-peasant-dawn-of-the-hybrid/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:00:03 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172720 I’ve always considered myself a bit of an outlier in most situations of my life. Rarely on purpose but usually because I’ve found something to agree with and something else […]

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I’ve always considered myself a bit of an outlier in most situations of my life. Rarely on purpose but usually because I’ve found something to agree with and something else to disagree with at the same time. So I err on the side of indifference, or if sides are picked, neither. Not quite Team A, not Team B either. The only hint of taking a side typically showing its face when I try to tell the less popular story, for the sake of fairness. You’ve seen examples of this in columns past, but it also extends to my life away from EGMR, where I am neither nerd nor geek but a bit of both, neither small town nor urban but a bit of both, and so on.

With all of that in mind, because we really need to establish how I see things (and I hope they’re at least similar to how you see things too), this week’s column is going to seem only natural for my type of person. Or it will, once we get to the end of it and start talking hybrids. For now though, let’s build it up.

Originally this column would have existed in two parts. The first part would have been a sort of where are they now? for the new generation of consoles, with a follow-up second-parter about how best to enjoy gaming given recent games and what’s been going on with their relevant platform releases (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight in particular). I decided to merge those two ideas into something a little more cohesive, to keep the flow. So first, let’s talk about the new generation of consoles by starting with the old generation of consoles.

When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 originally released, they demonstrated a processing power that was at the time unaffordable or unrealistic for most gamers on PC. I remember thinking to myself after watching videos of rubber ducks in bathtubs and blades of grass that numbered in the thousands, a PlayStation 3 could very well be used for supercomputing. And for a while, it actually was. There was no way Sony and Microsoft were getting a cent of profit out of the sales of those powerful consoles, so the near-extortionate prices of the games felt justified and necessary, and gamers accepted it.

Fast forward a few years to around 2007/8 and we found ourselves stupefied by the visuals on offer in games such as Assassin’s Creed, Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge and so on. There was a firmly established template now for visual fidelity, and so the focus shifted to narratives, and providing games with solid content, be it action set-pieces (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare) or harrowing stories (BioShock). We’ll just ignore the fact that the Wii was outselling both consoles at the time because as far as I’m concerned, Nintendo was marketing toys to parents, not games to gamers, at the risk of sounding elitist.

The only real graphical powerhouse game of the time was Crysis, and not much else (including the horrendous port of Grand Theft Auto IV) was superior on PC, over console counterparts. This existed for quite some time until a few years ago (around 2011/2) when it became blatantly apparent that every PC release looked vastly better than its console iteration. And suddenly the veil was lifted, and the generation gap between consoles and PC started to show.

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At this point I’d like to add a little disclaimer that I know gaming platforms are about more than just graphics. However they do provide a solid framework upon which to build a larger argument; in other words, better visuals implies better hardware, which implies better technologies and could extend to better netcode, better processing, lower power consumption (especially relevant in South Africa), and so on. The idea being improvement over predecessors. If you’re inclined to enjoy a Gameboy Advance all your life, that’s fine, but understand that some folks are going to want to get a DS at some point and that’s fine too.

In 2013, the new generation of consoles was revealed to the world. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were punted as gaming consoles for mainstream audiences. Catering not just to gamers, the new generation of consoles catered to everyone and included things like television, streaming, sharing, and more (some available on previous gen, but not punted as much). But the new generation was not as easily celebrated as the previous generation. For one, features promised were absent on release, either being added in later or still in the works even now two years later. For two, the processing power of the consoles was brought into serious question — and this is going to be the focus here — and for three, there was nothing on the new consoles that really wowed audiences from the get-go, the way previous generations of consoles did.

Further to this, given the graphical fidelity and hardware on offer versus the introductory pricing of each, it seemed as if Sony and Microsoft would be selling these consoles at a slight profit. The question then shifted onto the cost of games. Why are they so expensive, if the consoles themselves yield a profit now?

The core conclusion that was made in 2013 was that the new generation of consoles were just slightly complicated, dumbed down PCs. Which has its pros and cons, no doubt, and that’s what I’d like to get into here today.

2871309-witcher3_gfx_gsss

It is now 2015. It has been two years since the advent of the new generation. Already, games are releasing for console and PC, that look superior on PC. Already, there are serious questions being asked about the longevity of these consoles, not just in terms of visual fidelity but in terms of cost for content.

Let’s work it out using some quick South African figures. A PlayStation 4 will set you back around R5500 give or take specials. You then have a 500GB hard drive to play with, that can store maybe ten games worth if you don’t download anything. Games here cost between R800 and R1000 on release. So let’s say you play, on average, ten games per year (I think that’s a fair estimate, don’t you?). This means that by the end of the first year, without downloading anything, you’ve spent an average of R9,000 on games, and R5,500 on the console. We’ll factor out electricity and bandwidth here. You’ve spent R14,500 on your gaming purchases, but now your hard drive is full so you have to remove some games from your hard drive to accommodate more, or spend even more money on an expansion drive.

Now consider that for R14,500 you could have bought a kick-ass gaming PC that is vastly superior to the hardware in a PlayStation 4 with ample storage, and had all the benefits of a PC over and above gaming, and still had some pocket change for a Steam Sale.

Kinda seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

And sure, there is a reseller’s market for console games that effectively cut your spending on games, but it also means that you will not get as much in return for the games you sell, whereas if you factor in Steam/GoG/GmG sales, you could get tens of games for the price of a single console game. Again, no-brainer?

Now I say this as someone who has spent years dedicated to their Xbox 360. For a long time the only gaming I did on PC was Dota, and even then it was minimal (*cough*). I was obsessed with achievements, and I found them to not just be rewarding/gratifying/vindicating, but just a neat way to make me feel happy for playing a game.

I’ve sampled the Xbox One, and I’ve sampled the PlayStation 4. I don’t get that kind of joy playing these consoles. Don’t get me wrong there are still plus points, and I’ll get to that, but for the most part it just seems as if I’m going out of my way to try and enjoy games on console now. Having to deal with remakes, hard drive space management, and nasty 10GB+ game updates. It’s just a bit much, for an inferior version of a game that costs quite a bit more on a console I paid quite a lot of money for. What is the point of any of it, especially when Steam makes things far simpler than anything available for consoles right now?

And that would have been all she wrote, if not for one factor: The new generation of consoles (somehow) has more mainstream appeal than a gaming PC.

Take a look at this video above, which provided the source image for the header of today’s column. It shows Batman: Arkham Knight on the three big platforms. The PC version of the game which has since been pulled from retail is actually inferior to the console versions. In fact, many have called it outright broken. Besides being locked at 30FPS and missing certain post-processing effects that are present on console versions, the game is rather glitchy on PC and a hot mess for those who have played it. A direct result of Rocksteady’s outsourcing of the PC port, but also a big plus in favour of the console versions.

This is not the first game where this has happened, and in fact quite a few games have, in the past, released in broken states on PC. Let us not forget Ubisoft in particular, gaining notoriety and infamy amongst PC gamers for releasing major titles on PC in a shoddy and dysfunctional state — almost as if they were pushing gamers onto consoles. So it seems that in terms of the consumer, nobody really wins. It’s all about the way you want to get screwed.

Do you want to pay a lot of money and use a lot of bandwidth for an overpriced games console with overpriced games that is easier to use, or do you want to try the trickiness of managing a gaming PC while still getting shafted by game developers who are focussing their efforts on console games for better control of your gaming? It’s entirely up to you.

But! And here’s where we bring it all around. There is a third option, if you can afford it.

That’s right: Go hybrid.

01-2011-toyota-prius

Just kidding…

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As I became more and more disillusioned with owning a console and seeing yet another remake, with yet another 20GB update that took up a total of 50GB on my 500GB hard drive, I moved further and further away from console gaming. But every now and then a game like Batman: Arkham Knight would release and make me want to turn on my console again. Not to mention those free monthly games. And so I became a hybrid of gaming. A Divine Hybrid, as it were.

Step one: Cut a hole in a box Save up for a games console. This one will take a while, but once you have it you’ll be able to live off the few-months-old resold games until you can afford a gaming PC.
Step two: Save up for, and acquire a gaming PC. If you can set aside R1,000 a month, you’ll have your gaming PC in no time at all. Get a decent operating system, get Steam, git gud.
Step three: ???
Step four: Profit.

And this is basically where I am now, in my gaming. It is expensive in the short term, yes, but I promise that if you weigh up the cost of being a gamer today it’s actually not that unreasonable any more. You can always still focus on one platform, but having a second around gives you options. Some games are easier or more accessible on console, whilst others are cheaper and better on PC. You’re likely going to use the PC for other things, such as browsing the internet or watching totally legally acquired series and movies. It needn’t be one of those heavy desktop options either; it could be a gaming laptop for all you care. Portable gaming? Why not!

I have very little faith in the new generation of consoles, right now. I see already that promises are not being kept and better gaming can already be found elsewhere. I can store as many games as I want on my PC without needing to delete or uninstall some. I can do other things on my PC as well. And if I’m absolutely forced off it, then yeah, I can get down with some console gaming as well. It’s the better life for a gamer, and arguably more affordable over the long term. A consideration for everyone, perhaps?

Now all we need is consistent power availability, amirite Eskom?

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The Future Of Gaming Ensures There’s Something For Everyone http://egmr.net/2015/06/the-future-of-gaming-ensures-theres-something-for-everyone/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/the-future-of-gaming-ensures-theres-something-for-everyone/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:00:52 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172535 We gamers love to think of ourselves as special. Whereas bookworms might be restricted (or unrestricted depending on who you are) by their imagination, and cinephiles are restricted by agency, […]

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We gamers love to think of ourselves as special. Whereas bookworms might be restricted (or unrestricted depending on who you are) by their imagination, and cinephiles are restricted by agency, gamers tend to enjoy both of those and more.

We have agency, in that we can move around in the world presented to us. We can interact with it. We can influence it. And most importantly, it plays out before us so we don’t have to necessarily rely on our imagination. It’s the kind of wonder and amazement that comes with witnessing something you could previously only dream about, playing out before your eyes. A childlike innocence as you experience something your mind can properly wrap itself around.

It’s beautiful. And it’s just one of the reasons we think of gaming as a much more better, more fulfilling medium.

But gaming is still very much a medium that is still maturing.

We can see evidence of this everywhere, at this very moment. We glorify controversies and dwell on issues that have long been resolved, and the celebration of something good is rarely based on why it’s good but more on how excited it makes us. Calling for calm heads attracts accusations of cynicism or sympathising, depending on what’s going on. We openly share opinions and then take any opposition as attacks, and we then use it to justify retaliation that demonises others. All because we feel our opinions of our medium are somehow better than others.

I can never take away your enjoyment of a game by criticising it. However you are welcome to call me out if my criticisms are misguided. I ought not to react antagonistically, and I certainly ought not to surround myself with people who agree with me, glorifying their support while vilifying any opposition. There should always be the possibility of discussion without it devolving into attacks and petty arguments. In an ideal world, this is how it should be. But in the gaming world, this is usually not how it is.

All the same, in these ways books and movies have long surpassed gaming. Criticism of a book does not detract users from reading that book, and movie reviews either speak to you or they don’t. They all exist in a critical safe space and no amount of critique will take away the joy that was experienced by someone else when consuming them. Likewise, everyone has a particular genre in which they shift their focus. For example you might enjoy medieval fantasy novels and movies, whereas someone else is more inclined towards science fiction. You might be a Dan Brown fan (you poor thing) and I might be more Sidney Sheldon. Avengers movies or RomComs. Stuff like that. There’s something for everyone.

And that’s important, so I’m going to reiterate: There’s something for everyone.

That’s how I felt about this year’s E3 press conferences. Now mind you, I will be the first to admit that all those smoke and mirrors should not be taken as gospel. But I’ll get to this in a moment. I’ve reached the age when I am no longer as compelled as I once was by shooters. As a direct result of this, I no longer look at a press conference packed full of shooters and think, “Yeah that was alright!”

I appreciate variety, and I think that if our medium is ever to mature to the same level as, if not surpass books and movies, we are going to need to be welcoming of that variety.

Remember: There’s something for everyone.

So when I see JRPG fans get excited over JRPGs, I’m happy for them. It doesn’t take away anything from me to be happy for them. I just am. Likewise when I see fans of sports games saying they enjoyed all the sports on offer at EA’s press conference (said no-one ever). Even if I’m not particularly a fan of these things myself, it’s just common courtesy to let someone else be happy for it without ruining their fun. The difference between critique and nitpicking is, after all, an ability to identify when something harms the experience for everyone.

Kinda like how The Witcher 3 being accused of racism is the silliest thing all year.

It's imp-ortant, okay

It’s imp-ortant, okay

Now with dividing lines brings some inevitable conflict. Some people like to call it “tribe mentality” or “mine is better than yours” but ultimately it boils down to a picking of sides. And that’s easily understandable. For example, you paid a lot of money and committed to your PlayStation 4 so you won’t take shit from someone else who owns an Xbox One, about how terrible the PlayStation 4 is.

Thing is, does it take away from your experience even if those points are valid?

Before we discuss that, let’s talk about the idea that more of one type of game means less of another. I can understand if you’re one of those folks who has hundreds of hours of play time available that need filling and one more game that isn’t a shooter means one less game you care about. I’ve been there, you know? I was one of those play ALL the games types but for singleplayer games, and I felt the onset of multiplayer-heavy games meant less singleplayer stories for myself, on account of not having the best internet in the world. At the same time it meant that another crowd was able to enjoy a passion I enjoyed, and so while I had a little less to play, more people had something to play.

It’s the little things.

So to come back to what I was trying to say, and to finally wrap this bitch up — As gaming and the market grows, gamers and the consumer base increase along with it, meaning that more types of people are now inclined to play games, and more types of people are looking for something they enjoy. The onus is on us to adapt to this. Why restrict yourself to only shooters, or only RPGs, or only sports games? Why not try something else instead of hating on others for taking gaming away from you? That’s what a logical person would do in a mature medium, isn’t it?

While the stuff shown at E3 should never be taken at face value, it nonetheless gives the world the best representation of gaming, and it tells the world that the medium of gaming means business. So while we must always, always try to downplay hype and call for calm heads rather than going off in a throe of excitement and fanaticism, we can also sit back and go, “Hmm, yeah, if I had a bunch of very different kids/friends/cats, there’s definitely at least one game that each of them could play.” And I think that’s just really cool.

Gaming is getting so diverse and varied now that it’s getting impossible to play and experience everything (trust me, I’ve tried). But the direct result of this is that, you guessed it: There’s something for everyone.

So try your best, I know it’s difficult because I’m with you on this, but try your best to not get upset when another fanbase gets a game it wants. Try your best to not attack them, flame them and belittle them — even when the worst of them are making fights on Twitter, or making blanket accusations that you don’t agree with, because once again it doesn’t take away any of your own enjoyment (you’re the one who does that). For one, it’s just not cool to stoop to that level. And for two, surely there are other games that cater directly to you?

Speaking personally, I no longer have the time I used to have for games. So I cherish the few games I do get to play. And nobody, and I mean nobody, can take that away from me. Which is why it’s so easy for me to let others enjoy their other games that I’m not even going to play in the first place.

What matters, and this is the last time I promise, is that there’s something for everyone.

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Sony Are The Masters Of Making Us Cheer, But For What? http://egmr.net/2015/06/sony-are-the-masters-of-making-us-cheer-but-for-what/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/sony-are-the-masters-of-making-us-cheer-but-for-what/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:00:26 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172409 Every E3 for as long as I’ve been an EGMR writer we have made it a tradition to open up Mumble and watch the E3 presentations together. Camaraderie aside, it’s […]

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Every E3 for as long as I’ve been an EGMR writer we have made it a tradition to open up Mumble and watch the E3 presentations together. Camaraderie aside, it’s vitally important for two reasons; it allows us to cover all of the important news and announcements, and it allows us to banter and throw thoughts at each other with the effect being deflating the hype and getting to the critique behind what we just witnessed.

And every year by the time Sony’s press conference comes around we no longer know how to react to what we just saw.

Perhaps it’s unfair that Sony always gets to go last, perhaps it’s the most suitable thing at E3 given that Sony are the masters of show. When I saw a list of all the actual game announcements (discounting DLC, expansions and so on) I saw a completely different picture to what I had witnessed when I watched the press conferences. Because you see, no matter how much we say that we won’t get hyped this year, up pops Sony invariably, inevitably, to blow our freaking brains out.

And you know what? It just works.

Two years ago Sony promised a whole bunch of things for the PS4 that they took a very long time to deliver (some are still awaited) but nobody remembers that because all we think about when we try to recall that press conference is that moment. This year we had a few of those moments. After watching some magnificent press conferences, all of the pressure was on Sony to really produce. And somehow, like only Sony can, they took the things we hate, and made us cheer for them. Like so.

 

The Last Guardian

Before the press conference even started, people were making the usual jokes about The Last Guardian being announced. It was a long-running joke for Sony fans, and a cruel one as well. And then just like that, Sony opened up and silenced all laughter with a new trailer for The Last Guardian.

But The Last Guardian is a game that, for a long time, had been in development hell. It was revealed later that the game had to be specced up at E3 2009, when developers were having a nightmare getting it to work properly. As far as games in development hell go, The Last Guardian shares a space also occupied by the likes of Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines, two games very much universally abhorred. And yet, we cheered. Some of us were in total shock, others excited to tears, but we cheered for Sony because after all that time, The Last Guardian was not in fact cancelled but still existed and was still going to happen.

Despite The Last Guardian not having a release date after many years of being in development hell — a state shared by two of the most disappointing games in recent memory — and despite the gameplay looking every bit as if it came straight off the PlayStation 3… we cheered.

 

Final Fantasy VII

Perhaps the moment of the E3 press conferences was when we got a glimpse of Cloud’s Bastard Sword and the words Final Fantasy VII showed up on the screen. This isn’t some shoddy remaster, or some lazy port. This is the business. This is a fully remade Final Fantasy VII release, and we cheered for it.

We could have got a new Final Fantasy announcement (although to be fair, Square Enix had enough of these already), or the announcement of an entirely new series. We could have got the announcement of a spinoff series featuring Cloud or Sephiroth. We could have got new IP from Sony. We could have got so many other things, but when we saw that we were going to get a graphically modernised version of a classic title, it awoke the nostalgia within us all and we cheered.

 

Shenmue 3

Not content with watching us cheer for a game that many thought cancelled, and a game that we’ve already played before, Sony decided to push the boundaries of what they could make us cheer for. Sony revealed a Kickstarter for Shenmue 3. In that moment, gone were the criticisms of Kickstarter. Purged were the memories of all the other Kickstarter projects that made millions in a day. Forgotten was the notion that Sony were only willing to release a game if it was paid for by fans.

By god, we cheered and we opened up Kickstarter until the crowd-funding site crashed. Tweets went out that Sony broke the internet. Fans erupted with joy. Tears were shed. Incredibly, astoundingly, we cheered at the thought of paying for a game because a console manufacturer at a multi-million dollar presentation that was part of a multi-billion dollar event, asked us nicely. Oh boy, did we cheer.

 

Bonus: Destiny, CoD & Batman

Special mention must go to the likes of Destiny, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Batman: Arkham Knight for offering console-exclusive DLC. There aren’t many people who offer pre-order incentives and get cheered for it. Likewise, many gamers express frustration at not being able to experience this, that or the other content because of their chosen version of console. This one is here because it has the double-effect of strengthening the PlayStation 4’s position in the market, while sacrificing consumer agency and market choice. You either get this version with all the shiny bits on PS4, or this version with a bit less on other platforms.

All the same, we cheered.

 

Well played, Sony

I have to give it to Sony for this. It was brought to my attention by AG that the Sony press conference held zero innovations in terms of the evolution of the PlayStation 4. At the press conference there were no announcements of a 1TB version (later revealed), a new controller, or even just cool new features. Rather, it was all about how many games the fans wanted, and how many multi-platform games they could get some exclusivity rights on. Despite all this, fans cheered and Sony came out looking like absolute stars.

You can only revere that kind of consumer faith and loyalty. We are wary of games in development hell, but everyone was excited to see The Last Guardian. We don’t like remakes but the roof near tore off with our excitement for Final Fantasy VII (and I have to say, speaking personally, I’m looking forward to it a lot). We didn’t even consider the oxymoron that was Sony asking us to fund a game at an expensive event, because it was Shenmue 3. Only Sony can inspire that kind of excitement from its fans.

Hats off to them for it.

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E3 2015: Our Impressions Of Sony @ E3 http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-sony-e3/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-sony-e3/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 09:30:05 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172293 When all is said and done, Sony always gets the last word and it was the same during E3 2015. Not just because they went last, either. We got together […]

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When all is said and done, Sony always gets the last word and it was the same during E3 2015. Not just because they went last, either. We got together after we collected and reassembled our brains into our craniums, and shared our impressions.

Here’s what everyone had to say.

AG writes:

To echo the words ringing throughout the internet right now, Sony brought it and they brought it hard. It was mostly all flash and not much to actually hold onto for themselves aside from extra DLC here or bonus content there. Sony’s conference was designed to look good, to wow people and so it did. It didn’t do too much for Sony itself but it did a hell of a lot for Sony’s image because they “brought us” Shenmue 3 and the Final Fantasy VII Remake. It was quite unbelievable to see The Last Guardian resurface and No Man’s Sky continues to impress. Even Media Molecule’s Dreams seems a peculiar and intriguing toolset to play around with. It was an exciting conference but one that was more about putting on a good show than about PlayStation, as was perfectly evidenced by the 2 seconds afforded to the now dead Vita. Son’y conference was a platform for other publishers to peddle their wares really and although Guerilla Games showed us Horizon, where were Sucker Punch, Sony Santa Monica and Quantic Dream?

Marko writes:

Sony really went for fan appreciation this year. Starting off with the mammoth and, I would even say, mythical announcement of The Last Guardian, Sony came out cannons firing and siege weapons flaming. When the bombshell dropped that the Final Fantasy VII Remake exists, the place went nuclear and for good reason. Then the existence of Shenmue got confirmed and you could almost hear the collective fangirling across the world.This is what fans wanted for literally decades. Sony basically made fanfiction true during their conference. While one may argue that they only really showed three new AAA exclusives, their presentation still remained staggering. I was left satisfied after the Sony conference, but I can’t help but wonder where their other studios are in all of this and if we can expect even more from the entertainment giant.

Caveshen writes:

Sony once again showed that they are all about the flash, when it comes to E3. They know how to feed off the hype and they used multi-platform titles and crowd-funding to create one of the biggest and most hype-filled E3 in quite some time. It was staggering to behold, especially right at the beginning when the running joke of many prior E3 press conferences was actually confirmed. In the end another solid showing, it gave us a hearty glimpse at the kind of goodwill that can be courted if you only listen to your fanbase and give them what they want.

Azhar writes:

I’m fairly certain Sony shocked the world with The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII and Shenmue 3, and very little can be said about that to emphasie how huge it is. On top of that Media Molecule captured my interest at least to see more of what they’re working on, and Guerilla Games may be onto something although I’m unsure what the main gameplay sell is at this point. Uncharted 4 looks as good as you’d expect it to, with the wit that I’ve missed intact. The bad of the conference involved Sony hardly selling Project Morpheus, the Vita and strangely the indie segment feeling entirely obligatory rather than genuine and them being the only ones talking about TV and other such things.

Dom writes:

To be perfectly honest, very little of Sony’s press conference interested me. Before anyone brands me a heretic (or worse, a Microsoft shill), think about this: Sony’s E3 conference this year was one for people who are already Sony fans. Their big hitters were The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII remake and Shenmue 3, games that mean very little to someone who never owned a Playstation or PS2. I’m excited for all of you that are hyped for them, but I’m sure you can understand why I’m not hyped myself. That said, the Uncharted 4 was absolutely stellar and I’m very interested in seeing more of Horizon: Zero Dawn. It looks a bit like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West with added bows and mechasaurs.

What did you think of the Sony press conference? Roger we’d like to know, moving out to the comments, watch our backs soldier.

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E3 2015: Our Impressions Of Ubisoft @ E3 http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-ubisoft-e3/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-ubisoft-e3/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 08:30:10 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172288 It’s another year for Aisha Tyler and Ubisoft at E3 2015, and the press conference that mixes awkward adult-natured jokes with F-bombs and strangely scripted co-op banter saw another solid […]

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It’s another year for Aisha Tyler and Ubisoft at E3 2015, and the press conference that mixes awkward adult-natured jokes with F-bombs and strangely scripted co-op banter saw another solid showing of games, be it new IP, sequels, cinematic footage or gameplay. Once it was over, we wanted to note down our thoughts before it was too late and the image of the lord of vikings escaped our minds.

Here’s what everyone had to say.

AG writes:

Ubisoft was doing rather well until Jason Derulo appeared on-stage. There’s something worrying about a publisher that feels the need to make such a pageant of an annual dance game release. It was great to see Ubisoft open with South Park to set the tone for their conference and Aisha Tyler was more tolerable than usual. Games and announcements were handled with a swift efficiency and then they went and di a bait ‘n switch making us think we were about to see some AC: Syndicate gameplay. The Division’s dark zone and betrayals look worthwhile as does Terrohunt in Rainbow Six: Siege. Hell, even TrackMania Turbo got me a little nostalgic. With a few months to go it would be madness for Ubisoft to not show us gameplay footage, right? Right?! The buzzwords may have been in full swing and while their self-awareness was admirable, the wounds are too fresh for Ubisoft to be making DLC jokes. On the whole it was certainly a better showing than last year.

Marko writes:

Obviously Ubisoft hasn’t been the fan favourite, but their games do have their merits. The announcement of a new South Park game was a strong start and the bumbling “we’re just one of you guys” presentation style had its moments. But at the core of the conference was something severely missing. There was no magic whatsoever. The only new IP was For Honor, which honestly looks like a simple battle arena game and the rest was your pedestrian expectation from Ubisoft. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s lack of a gameplay trailer was also a giant misstep, especially after the faith in the series has been faltering. The Tom Clancy games looked decent and Ghost Recon Wildlands was probably the game I got most excited for because of how unique it looks as a Ghost Recon game. Average presentation overall with nothing special.

Caveshen writes:

There was no Beyond Good & Evil 2 and that made me very sad. End impressions. No, but it was actually really great having the show open up with a new South Park game, and then moving on to showing us just how diverse and incredible our gaming developers are; so many women and people of colour. That delighted me to see, if only because it was nice to silence the “there are no women in gaming” crowd. Apart from that, the games announced were more or less as expected. Lots of gameplay which was great, even if we had to endure those awful co-op moments. A bit less shooty-bang would have been nice but hey, when you start with South Park I think you’ve already done enough.

Bracken writes:

Ubisoft is a tough one to judge — we haven’t exactly got any reason to be faithful in what they have to offer, but they had a very impressive line-up of games on show at E3 2015. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on their new IP, For Honor, which promises large scale medieval combat including challenging PvP sections, The Division, which promises co-op betrayal shenanigans and Ghost Recon Wildlands offering the beloved tactical third-person shooter in an open-world environment. Rainbow Six: Siege, South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Trackmania Turbo also look quite promising, though not quite my cup of tea. While I’ll reserve my judgement — even of the games I’m excited for — until release, I do think Ubisoft had a stellar E3, and hope to see these games running stably on our systems soon.

Azhar writes:

Before E3 I predicted Ubisoft would have the most boring conference, but EA saw to that, and rather pleasantly Ubisoft weren’t so bad. They started off well with the South Park announcement, and Aisha Tyler was a little less obnoxious than usual, which helped proceedings. The Division actually looked decent and interesting for the first time, and Rainbow Six Siege isn’t too shabby. I am cautious about the obsession with CGI trailers for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate despite it releasing in a few months. Another good talking point is the refresh of Ghost Recon with Wildlands, which looks great but will probably get a downgrade.

What did you think of the Ubisoft press conference? Roger we’d like to know, moving out to the comments, watch our backs soldier.

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E3 2015: Our Impressions Of EA @ E3 http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-ea-e3/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-ea-e3/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 07:30:19 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172287 The EA press conference at E3 2015 was more or less exactly what you’d expect, with a whole bunch of sports and some sequels in between. But there were a […]

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The EA press conference at E3 2015 was more or less exactly what you’d expect, with a whole bunch of sports and some sequels in between. But there were a few surprises to be found as well. We asked the dudes what they thought of the press conference, immediately afterwards.

Here’s what everyone had to say.

AG writes:

Jesus, where to even begin? It wasn’t all bad but it was mostly pathologically boring, horrific in places and wildly bouncing around in tone and marketing focus. One minute it’s showing us Mass Effect and literally a few seconds later it’s talking to us like brain-dead children telling us how fun the banal Minions and PvZ: Garden Warfare 2 are. Mirror’s Edge did not disappoint despite being in-engine and not in-game footage, Need for Speed looks interesting and Star Wars Battlefront looks good despite how raw a deal the game is. It’s worrying when every few minutes someone asks “how fun does that look?” I don’t know, not much at all to be honest. While it was cool to see Pele make an appearance, he was there for far too long and with meandering anecdotes that bore no real meaning or impact. They were just simply a bore. The emphasis on marketing sports games which almost literally print money is… inspired in some perverse sense. It’s scary to think that this was rehearsed. Mercifully, the Unravel dev will stand out as perhaps the best part of EA’s conference and the most genuine human being on any stage at E3. All praise be to Hoop God who placed us upon this green and blue basketball and blessed us today by walking among mortals.

Marko writes:

EA has never perfected the art of delivering an entertaining and all-inclusive conference. Because of their propensity to show all the sport games, they seem to lose half their audience and it makes for quite the frustrating showing. This year was probably the most disastrous showcase from them. For the record, I want nothing to do with sports and three quarters of the show did not account for me whatsoever. Unravel looked like a cute experience I’ll totally play, Mirror’s Edge looks great and I’m excited for it and Star Wars Battlefront looks nice and fun to play. Those were the only games worth caring about, which is a testament to how disastrous EA’s showing was. The 2 minute Mass Effect Andromeda teaser wasn’t nearly enough to save it and the lack of gameplay was sorely missed. If I can give EA a suggestion, make the EA Sports section separate next time.

Caveshen writes:

Sportsysportsysportysports. That’s all you really need to know about EA. And when they’re not punting sports, they’re punting their Frostbite engine. It started off looking promising with another Mass Effect 3 trailer, and the promise of Star Wars. Over time however, the press conference began to unravel and what we were left with was a bunch of pandering to fans; the question is, which fans were watching? Who was really excited for all that sports? Coincidentally, the game of the press conference was a quaint and cute little title called Unravel, from one of the most amazingly inspiring developers I have seen at E3. And of course, Star Wars. Never forget the Star Wars. A mixed showing that was mind-crushingly dull with a sprinkling of charm to keep it from being a complete train-wreck.

Bracken writes:

EA’s conference was quite a dull affair in my books; for all the hype around seeing Star Wars Battlefront, which looked excellent running on the PlayStation 4, the rest of EA’s conference was comparatively disappointing. There were a couple of exceptions to this — the new Need for Speed didn’t look entirely awful, though it was only an in-engine teaser, the teaser for Mass Effect Andromeda was promising, the open-world Mirror’s Edge Catalyst bodes well and the indie puzzle platformer, Unravel, which was presented by a very passionate and nervous Martin Sahlin from Coldwood Interactive, looked both charming and innovative. The rest of the conference was incredibly flat: A couple of big sporting names do not an interesting conference make and EA struggled to keep any sort of momentum throughout their conference, which was littered with sports, franchising and mobile expansion.

Azhar writes:

EA quite frankly were horrid and a complete bore. Only they could make us all want to rip our eyes out when they had the likes of Mirrors Edge Catalyst, Star Wars Battlefront and Mass Effect 4 to show. Apparently EA thought it won E3 by simply having Star Wars gameplay and verifying the existence of the other two games. I wasn’t surprised by the obvious sports focus, but I expected more emphasis on the big three, yet EA failed to come to the party. Having Pele on stage is cool, but listening to him talk for ten minutes in a gaming conference isn’t. And as for the rest of the sports? Only EA was clapping for that. However Star Wars Battlefront looked excellent, so hats off to that at least.

Dom writes:

While EA started off strong with the announcement of Mass Effect: Andromeda (!!!), their conference quickly devolved into the kind of mundane drivel we’ve come to expect from them at E3. Don’t get me wrong; FIFA and its ilk are extremely popular titles that top the charts year after year but for the most part, the people buying FIFA are not the ones watch E3 press conferences. Their presentations for these games feel forced and awkward, especially when they bring sporting celebrities who clearly don’t have a place at a gaming conference into the mix. It’s quite telling that they had a countdown to Star Wars: Battlefront footage popping up every few minutes as if to say, “Don’t leave, we’ve got something you’ll actually want to see once we get through this boring stuff.”

What did you think of the EA press conference? Tell us about it in the comments below, so we can discuss.

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E3 2015: Our Impressions Of Xbox @ E3 http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-xbox-e3/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/e3-2015-our-impressions-of-xbox-e3/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 06:30:31 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172285 Following the Xbox press conference at E3 2015 that happened last night, we decided to go around the table and ask everyone what they thought of a show that included […]

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Following the Xbox press conference at E3 2015 that happened last night, we decided to go around the table and ask everyone what they thought of a show that included the likes of Halo, Gears of War, and loads and loads of indie gaming.

Here’s what everyone had to say.

AG writes:

As in 2014 Microsoft went big and put on a great show. The games were predictable and hardly exciting but the other things were what stole the show. Backwards compatibility is huge, as is the deal with Oculus and the interconnectivity with Windows 10. Xbox Game Preview could be good for ID@Xbox but Early Access has far too bad a rep for there not to be doubt surrounding it on Xbox. HoloLens, while impressive to gawk at, is not something that can feasibly catch on in gaming. It’s a gimmick and a little impractical aside from for corporate applications. Ultimately, the games failed to wow and were exactly what I expected to see but the other announcements were what really stood out. Next year Phil Spencer should descend from the sky like that Ford GT did.

Marko writes:

Microsoft are continuing their recent trend of focusing on games within their conference. There’s very little dead space to be found and their increased focus on bringing us games has been noted. While they did come out strong with the backwards compatibility, I’d say that the conference was actually fairly predictable. We got Gears, Forza, Halo and Tomb Raider which were the headliners as well as a couple of new IPs. Nothing game changing and we can only wait to see if the backwards compatibility will actually viable in the future. There was also nothing that made me want to go, “I need to buy and Xbox now!” but the offering was still stellar. Good job to Microsoft.

Caveshen writes:

A few years ago Microsoft announced the Xbox One to the world and at E3 they tried their level best to convince us that Kinect was the future, and we could do all sorts of other things like sports and streaming on our consoles. This year they decided to forget all of that and just show us what we wanted; they showed us games. Credit goes to Phil Spencer for that, because since taking over he has been a stalwart for giving gamers games. We saw some great reveals, even if we already expected most of them, and all in all it looks like Xbox and Windows 10 are going to make for a very powerful interconnected package. Add in backwards compatibility and HoloLens, there’s a lot of potential here. Now we just need to see all of it realised.

Azhar writes:

Microsoft started off exquisitely with the backwards compatibility announcement and the big trio of Halo 5, Forza and Gears. It was only after that we discovered the rather poor backwards compatibility support at present, and we’ll have to wait a long time for more to get added. Still they enjoyed a strong conference that left me with very little to be disappointed over, even though a lot of the games were expected. Rise of the Tomb Raider though, by no fault of Microsoft, looked fairly bland compared to the rest of the line-up.

Dom writes:

Games, games and more games. For the second year in a row, Microsoft have shown that they (finally) understand that games are the thing gamers want to see on a gaming console. Who woulda thunk? From the expected Halo and Forza showing to surprises like Rare’s first new IP in years and ReCore from the legendary Keiji Inafune, we got a glimpse at quite a varied selection of titles coming to Xbox One in the next year or so. However, what blew me (and the crowd at E3, judging by the cheers) away was the announcement of backwards compatibility. If it works as one would expect, it’ll be a huge blow to Sony that may allow Microsoft to finally catch up in the next-gen console race. That said, my favourite announcement came right at the end of the conference: Gears 4. I’m ready for some more vreem vreem in my life.

What did you think of the Xbox press conference? Sound off in the comments below. We’d love to discuss.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: The Witcher 3 Is A Reflection Of Your Personality http://egmr.net/2015/06/life-the-universe-and-gaming-the-witcher-3-is-a-reflection-of-your-personality/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/life-the-universe-and-gaming-the-witcher-3-is-a-reflection-of-your-personality/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 09:00:09 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=172055 The title might sound a bit silly but given how I agonised over it before eventually deciding to just go with it, let’s just assume there’s a point to be […]

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The title might sound a bit silly but given how I agonised over it before eventually deciding to just go with it, let’s just assume there’s a point to be made here.

All games are what you choose to make of them. That’s the commonly held belief. I would however argue that a fair majority are rather more heavy-handed in the messages they wish to convey. You could absolutely choose to see them as what they aren’t, but I would wager that nobody is going to consider Duke Nukem to be a bastion of artful expression and character development. The same however, might be considered to be true for Bastion. Most games are forceful in their execution; they tell you something, you understand it, you move on.

The Russians are the bad guys always, a shifty-looking character will eventually double-cross you, a family member must make tough choices to protect their family, if you pick the evil choice then you are a bad person. And so on and so forth.

However every now and then a different sort of game comes along, one that doesn’t want to hold your hand and push a particular set of beliefs onto you. It just wants you to play and decide for yourself, what you think of what’s going on. Oh you’re certainly doing a thing and it seems like a good idea… but is it? This might touch too close on reality for some but arguably that’s the point. This game wants you to think about the repercussions of your decisions, as much as it wants you to think about the presentation of the world. And ultimately it tells us as much about ourselves as it does about the world we immerse ourselves in. In this case, that game is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen anything like it.

To break from that rather densely worded introductory section, the truth of the matter is that I began this column not really having much of a point to make here. I simply wanted to address some of the accusations thrown in the way of The Witcher 3. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised I was onto something here and so I went with it. Changed the title from The Witcher 3 Is What You Make Of It to what you see above, and here we are.

Last week we released our review of The Witcher 3 which scored it at 100/100. I’m not going to rehash that review here apart from saying I fully stand by it but definitely check it out for yourself when you have a chance, if you haven’t already. Rather, I’d like to talk about my personal experience of playing through the game — a time in which my dear and poor girlfriend has gone ignored, as have rather important email chains, my actual dayjob, and pretty much the entire world including social networks — and how it has shaped my thinking of this game, from prologue to where I currently am, which is smack bang in the middle of a crime war in Novigrad. Oh Geralt…

Prior to playing the game, I had read many, many, many think-pieces from a bunch of folks. Two particular points of criticism stuck with me. That The Witcher 3 is racist for only having white characters, and that The Witcher 3 is sexist for continuing to portray women gratuitously — both points best summarised here. The common argument seems to revolve around the idea of fantasy versus realism. “It can have monsters, why can’t it also have non-whites?” My typical response, “If the game is fantasy, why have clothes on characters at all?” Sounds silly but I like to think the entire thing is as silly as that retort, so the level of response is justified (plus I just think arguing on the basis of historic accuracy versus fantasy is besides the point — it’s a fantasy setting rooted in historical representation, take it or leave it). A further argument has been made that the game caters to the male fantasy of RPGs, and I will once again ask: What is inherently wrong with that?

All the same, let’s just accept these criticisms for the purposes of argument so that I may present two tweets of mine from this past weekend. Like so.

The harsh truth of the matter is that when playing this game, I never even noticed many of the criticisms people had made of it. I tried at times. Actively forced myself. The only conclusion I could come to was that people making frankly utterly fucking retarded comments of the game had either not played it (this happens more than you’d think), or were suffering from a hearty helping of confirmation bias and although downright stupid, their opinions made it big on the internet because they touched on issues that are currently massive online.

To simplify: They imagined issues based on personal bias, and because those issues took root in hot topic discussions online, they blew up.

A shame.

I’ve been accused time and time again of being a bit of an overly cynical cunt towards games. I don’t hold back and if I feel a game is overrated (see: The Last of Us, Watch_Dogs, Destiny) I will not just say so but do my best to explain why I think so. Not because I want to pee in everyone’s delicious chai tea but because I want to introduce an alternative perspective to the commonly held notion towards a game — lemon flavour, if you will.

I tried very hard, and I could not find something to really hate in The Witcher 3.

I mean I tried to pick on the glitches that are omnipresent and happen seemingly entirely at random, but the truth is none of them broke the game for me and most were actually rather amusing. I tried to pick on the cardboard-like look of the world especially when wind is blowing or rain is pouring, but there are sections of the world that look nothing at all like cardboard and are in fact some of the most well-crafted and delightful places I’ve ever visited in a game. I even tried to pick on the racism or sexism angles, and I just couldn’t see it.

There is one thing I particularly looked out for, and that’s the alleged jiggly boob physics. But after many hours of trying to figure out if it was just my imagination or the game, I concluded that you would have to be quite the pervert and actually physically spend every interaction with a female character staring at their breasts in order to determine for certain whether jiggly boob physics actually existed here.

But you know what else happened while I was holding up a magnifying glass and looking for cracks? I had played through some of the most magnificently crafted storylines to the point that honestly, I would be very upset if this game didn’t win every story-related award this year — or alternatively, I would be truly surprised if another game came along and had a better story to tell. And it’s not just the concluding bits (which I have yet to see but I’m told are golden) but even early content. Early on you meet a character who promises help with your quest in exchange for your help tracking down his family. What follows is perhaps one of the most deep, engaging and brutally mature questlines I have ever had the pleasure (or pain, given how it ended) of playing through.

I’m saying, this questline would make Game of Thrones, Vikings and House of Cards look like children’s animated series, it was that incredible.

witcher3 2015-06-14 00-20-21-41

And I got to experience that despite the game’s apparently rampant sexism and racism. Mind you, I royally messed up that mission but it was entirely my fault. I simply had not done the reading of the relevant book that would have given me the vital information I needed in order to achieve the outcome I desired for that mission. But ultimately, and here’s the kicker, I played the game the way I wanted to play it. The way I would have played it, were I Geralt. There was no good guy or bad guy choice to aim for. There was no this is the enemy and that is the friend exposition. Everything was entirely up to you, the player, to decide. You hated, loved, admired and felt sorry for the same characters all throughout, and you came out of it feeling as if you learned a valuable lesson in life. It was tragic and yet beautiful to play through.

And ultimately that is what The Witcher 3 is able to give you, if you’re only capable of experiencing it.

And hey, you can absolutely hold that a person’s opinion is their own and so it’s their right to have it. I will grant you that critique always has its place. But as much as a person has a right to an opinion, we also have a right to call that opinion utterly myopic and silly if we deem it so. Peer-reviewed or gtfo, amirite?

Importantly, just like every person’s right to an opinion, a game that is created by a developer has every right to exist as its own form of art. You are not being forced to play it, you are not being told that if you don’t play it you are a lesser person, and therefore the game has every right to be its own creation without being held to the internet’s expectations of what a game of this nature should be (and hey, if you really want games that deal with racism and sexism, those exist too!).

The choice is yours, and so you are liable for your decision to either play it or not. If the game doesn’t cater to your unrealistic expectations — and trust me, I know a thing or two about being hyper-critical of games — but everyone else is enjoying the hell out of it… maybe the problem is you?

I’ve probably spent around forty to fifty hours playing and I can honestly say I never once thought it to be glaringly white nor misogynistic (in fact, some of the strongest and best characters are women). Now you are more than welcome to accuse The Witcher 3 of being guilty of whatever the internet deems to be a crime against humanity this week (coincidence that it’s a popular game that will rake in the views, I guess?), and that’s your prerogative, but in the end it speaks far more of you as a person, than it ever will of the game itself.

And I think that’s absolutely magnificent.

To wit: Sod off, you SJW peasants.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: The Effect Of Buzzwords — A Case Study Of The Witcher 3 http://egmr.net/2015/06/life-the-universe-and-gaming-the-effect-of-buzzwords-a-case-study-of-the-witcher-3/ http://egmr.net/2015/06/life-the-universe-and-gaming-the-effect-of-buzzwords-a-case-study-of-the-witcher-3/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:00:56 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171521 Have you ever struck up a conversation with someone and had it move towards gaming? The two of you becoming more and more united in your shared passion. Joyful. Exuberant. […]

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Have you ever struck up a conversation with someone and had it move towards gaming? The two of you becoming more and more united in your shared passion. Joyful. Exuberant. “Finally, someone in this crazy world who gets it. Finally someone understands how it feels to be a gamer, and to play the games I love. Wait, what’s that? They preordered a game?! Well I guess we can just never be friends now, goodbye.”

Readers. Friends. Gamers: Why do we do this to ourselves?

A few years ago I realised that the problems plaguing gaming are cyclical. They come, they go, they return later. Honestly, I just got tired of talking about the same things over and over, and I felt the critical side of gaming was already rather oversaturated on those topics. So I made the active decision to move away from all of that; far more interesting for me was the psychological effect of gaming. Why do we flock to it? Why do we value this interactive escapism so much? How much of us rely on it to the extent that if it went away we would cease to be ourselves? And how many people presume to know gaming but ultimately fail to realise its truest potential as a medium of entertainment that stands unrivalled?

Put simply: What makes gamers tick?

One of the things I’ve been noticing recently, in this regard, is that there are certain words in gaming that seem to tick gamers off. Mentioned in the vicinity of a gamer, it turns the conversation downright nasty. And no, I’m not talking about a certain group of gamers on the internet who are either misunderstood or monsters, depending on whom you ask. Rather, I’m referring to buzzwords. Gaming buzzwords. Things that you hear floating around in the gaming industry that, let’s be honest here, have been bastardised to the point that they cause gamers to cringe upon their utterance. Kinda like the “C” word or the “N” word, but more gaming-focussed.

The thing that fascinates me about them is just how nasty the reaction of gamers is, when these words are mentioned. Take for example “DRM” which stands for Devils Rejoice Majestically Digital Rights Management, and is easily one of the worst acronyms on the internet. Why? Because DRM is everything wrong with the world. DRM is the thing your parents warn you to watch out for. DRM is what inspired Hitler. DRM is just bad. Except for all those uses when DRM is perfectly fine — Steam, DVD players, etc. One of my favourite articles on the internet states the following of DRM:

The problem – or at least a big part of it – is DRM, and I don’t mean any particular DRM policies, I mean the actual letters “D”, “R”, and “M” assembled in sequence in the same place at the same time. It’s more or less the orthographic equivalent of a huge neon swastika superimposed on an inverted crucifix beamed out onto a gathering storm over a grim, sooty industrial citystate where bar-coded citizens in orange jumpsuits hunch between mounted camera arrays and gunship spotlights on rainy streets patrolled by anonymous, visored police as loudspeakers issue proclamatory reminders of the punishments for subversion.

The truth of the matter is that DRM breeds sour sentiments from gamers because it is seen as a hostile and controlling creation. When used deftly and without inconveniencing gamers (see: Steam), it goes right by without notice. But dare you outright state the term DRM… you’re in for some trouble. And the same would apply to many other phrases. But the thing is, just like with DRM, there are some uses of them that are just fine and dandy. Exceptions to the rule, so to speak. And then The Witcher 3 released…

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been, in every possible way, a game changer. It has caused so many people to experience personal conflicts where they have eventually realised they were perhaps being a little too hard on games, and maybe they are better off being good humans. Or, you know, it’s a game that has been blamed for a long list of things that are unfair and undeserved but hey. That’s popularity for you. Happens to the best of ’em.

But the thing about The Witcher 3 that really gets me, personally, is how effortlessly it contains a whole bunch of those nasty buzzwords and nobody actually cares at all (save for one, which we’ll get to).

Usually in a game when you hear about DLC (downloadable content) or season passes, you throw your hands up in anguish. There it is! Another game that is trying to take all of our money before it’s even been completed! What horrible cash-grabbing developers these are! And yet, The Witcher 3 offers a host of entirely free DLC — a grand total of sixteen, to be exact — as well as two chunkier expansions which form the game’s version of a season pass. Not too shabby, eh?

People typically caution against preorders and in fact, you might notice that Ubisoft is pushing a different word entirely, for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate preorders. But the thing is, The Witcher 3’s collectors edition is just freaking incredible, and you can bet your ass those stocks are limited. And hey, so there’s a day one patch that you’ll need to worry about when you get the game; who cares? It’s an open world RPG, there are bound to be some issues that need to be fixed first. Think of it like paying for an early access version of the game, and then in a few weeks it’ll be working even better than when it’s originally out.

And yeah, you might see their optimisation of the game’s visuals and think it’s a downgrade but this is CD Projekt RED. They’re not going to just leave the game looking like it is. Remember that entirely free 11GB Enhanced Edition they released for The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings? What’s to stop them from doing the same this time around? Once again, the game only gets better the longer you have it. And it still looks absolutely incredible, for what it is right now.

Finally, and this is a personal point of contention, The Witcher 3 being the third game in the series doesn’t make that much of a difference. For one, most people skipped the first game entirely. But also, this game manages to build on its predecessors and create something that stands as much on its own as it does, part of a long-running series. It’s magnificently well-built in both size, scale, and story.

Now I should probably say that this is not meant to be a sales pitch for The Witcher 3 and this certainly might read as a bit of an excuse-spree. But I like to think of it as a problem of psychological behaviour. People enjoy controversy, and they respond better to criticism. You can be encouraging to someone nine days out of ten, but if you criticise them on the tenth day, that is what will stick with them (I speak from experience on this one). So when people use these nasty words I’ve highlighted for you, they tend to use them in harsh tones and with a fair amount of contempt.

But as I’ve demonstrated today, there are also practically sound ways of using them as well. And they are not always bad, as a result. Sure, we don’t want people preordering games blindly. But that doesn’t mean you should never preorder a game. If you’re a fan of a series, and you want that really cool collectors edition, what are you waiting for? If a game looks a bit downgraded from its original trailer but it’s still the best-looking game you’ve ever seen, what is actually the problem here? And finally, if a game has a whole bunch of DLC planned and you don’t need to pay for it, why are you complaining about it?

By all means, hold developers accountable for their actions and don’t make exceptions based on personal bias. But don’t let the majority speak for everyone (not a political statement, but that too) — there are some folks who mean really well but ultimately fail to please.

Sometimes it’s important that we take the good with the bad. I get accused a lot of being negative all the time, when in reality I’m a very positive person who has occasions of cynicism. Who doesn’t? But let’s not let our bouts of cynicism cloud our judgements from the times when there are really good things. Specifically, let’s all play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and have a good old time. Okay so maybe this is a bit of a sales pitch. But really, this game sells itself. Why aren’t you playing it yet?

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No Podcast Today, So Here’s An Infographic For Geek Pride Day http://egmr.net/2015/05/no-podcast-today-so-heres-an-infographic-for-geek-pride-day/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/no-podcast-today-so-heres-an-infographic-for-geek-pride-day/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 09:00:15 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171443 Bet you didn’t even know such a day existed? Then again, isn’t that every day? Excessive use of caption subtitles here. In case you didn’t know, and how could you, […]

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Bet you didn’t even know such a day existed?

Then again, isn’t that every day?

Excessive use of caption subtitles here.

In case you didn’t know, and how could you, this past week saw Geek Pride Day pass us by. Now for a long time we’ve all argued over what exactly “geek” means, with some saying that it could mean a distinct interest in comic books, or gaming, or movies, and some asking why that couldn’t extend to anything else; music and cars for example. Then there are the obligatory “geek is the new sexy” folk, who couldn’t tell you what LLAP meant if you held a phaser to their head, set to disintegrate.

Now since we were unable to record a podcast this week — exams, load shedding, reviews, the usual stories — we don’t want to just leave you all completely in the dark once again. Instead we thought we’d share a really cool infographic that was shared this week, that deals with exactly the definition we’re looking for; happy belated Geek Pride Day everyone.

a4dX68y_700b_v2

Click to enlarge

Let us know what you think in the comments below. We’ll be back to regular podcasting next week!

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What Would You Like Us To Discuss On This Week’s EGMR Offensive? http://egmr.net/2015/05/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-4/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-4/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 09:00:05 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171340 We haven’t so much downgraded as we’ve optimised our experience, but don’t you worry; an enhanced edition will be out eventually. We never said we were heroes. Previously on the […]

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We haven’t so much downgraded as we’ve optimised our experience, but don’t you worry; an enhanced edition will be out eventually. We never said we were heroes.

Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would attempt to answer them. With our new podcast, the EGMR Offensive, we want to try something slightly different.

We want you to suggest topics for us to discuss. Because it’s a much more topic-based podcast, we’ll be discussing a few of the biggest news stories for the past week or two. So we thought, why not just ask you guys and see what you’d like to hear us talk about? This article is your opportunity to do just that.

If you would just like to ask us questions as usual, then by all means do so. However if you have some hot topic you’d like us to dig our teeth into, then by all means do that too. Either way, the comments section is your friend. Go wild.

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The EGMR Offensive #11: Fabulous Witcher Fun http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-egmr-offensive-11-fabulous-witcher-fun/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-egmr-offensive-11-fabulous-witcher-fun/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 09:00:59 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171159 Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive. This week’s episode is filled with a diverse mix of people except that they’re all male. It’s […]

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Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive.

This week’s episode is filled with a diverse mix of people except that they’re all male. It’s not so much that we’re sexist but rather that we just prefer to bring out the female part of ourselves in each episode. There’s also some talk about games. Just a little…

Here are the topics discussed during this week’s episode:

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Female superheroes
  • NAG closes its doors
  • Game of Thrones outrage
  • AMD problems with Hairworks
  • Questions

Keen on getting offended? Here’s how:

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | Android | RSS

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And Just Like That — CD Projekt Responds To The Witcher 3 Graphics Complaints http://egmr.net/2015/05/and-just-like-that-cd-projekt-responds-to-the-witcher-3-graphics-complaints/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/and-just-like-that-cd-projekt-responds-to-the-witcher-3-graphics-complaints/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 08:00:49 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171251 Because in 2015 visuals are still a big freaking deal, man. Yesterday we asked the question of whether the media should be covering The Witcher 3’s apparent graphical downgrade a […]

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Because in 2015 visuals are still a big freaking deal, man.

Yesterday we asked the question of whether the media should be covering The Witcher 3’s apparent graphical downgrade a bit more than they were. As it turns out, that was a premature sentiment because the media is now covering The Witcher 3’s apparent graphical downgrade.

Following Digital Foundry’s analysis of the game on consoles, as well as many fan complaints on PC, CD Projekt RED have finally come out and addressed the issues… and honestly we feel a little bad for even asking the question.

“If you’re looking at the development process, we do a certain build for a tradeshow and you pack it, it works, it looks amazing,” explains co-founder Marcin Iwinski, “And you are extremely far away from completing the game. Then you put in the open world, regardless of the platform, and it’s like, ‘Oh shit, it really doesn’t work.’ We’ve already showed it, now we have to make it work. And then we try to make it work on a huge scale. This is the nature of games development.”

And that’s fine, because nobody here at EGMR or on the internet in general would begrudge that point. Game development is a long and arduous process, most gameplay trailers and pre-release footage is crafted specifically for the purposes of demonstration and not actually pulled from the version you’ll play in your living room later on, and as we all know, they need to blow away as many people as possible. Even if the visuals were not the core marketing focus of The Witcher 3.

But that doesn’t really answer the question of why CD Projekt RED said previously that the game would not be downgraded, and would actually look better, an obviously very conflicting statement to what has actually occurred.

So like Watch_Dogs, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Killzone 2 and other games before them, we are forced to call out bad practice, even from a developer we otherwise adore. And now that the game has released, it’s a little disheartening to see the tune change to admitting that things ended up a little shaky, with no way to avoid it. Going on to admit that the PC version of the game was in fact held back by the console editions.

“We didn’t see it as a problem,” Iwinski continued. “In a way, because of us not seeing it as a problem, and working hard on the game until the very end, that’s where we are today and that’s why we have to explain. I hope it shows our intentions, because we are not hiding anything.”

On the one hand, they could have come clean about this earlier. On the other hand, they seem genuinely sincere about not seeing it as an issue prior to this point in time. And for what it’s worth, I don’t either. As I said in my previous write-up on this, it’s not the core selling point of the series. All the same…

“Maybe we shouldn’t have shown that [trailer], I don’t know, but we didn’t know that it wasn’t going to work, so it’s not a lie or a bad will – that’s why we didn’t comment actively. We don’t agree there is a downgrade but it’s our opinion, and gamers’ feelings can be different. If they made their purchasing decision based on the 2013 materials, I’m deeply sorry for that, and we are discussing how we can make it up to them because that’s not fair.”

What’s perhaps important to note is that without the console editions, The Witcher 3 could not exist and hope to sell as well. That should be noted before we start getting angry at the “console peasants” here, but CD Projekt RED if you’re reading this: We love your games, and we want you to do well, this is all very heartbreaking for us. In future, just please have a watermark in the trailer that states, “Not representative of the final product”. Your marketing department might not like it. Your fans will respect you for it. Cool?

We’re fully expecting graphical updates in future patches to the game, or even a free Enhanced Edition a little later but for the moment, Good Guy CD Projekt RED has assured the gaming world that they’re working on it.

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Is The Witcher 3’s Graphical Downgrade Something Media Should Be Discussing? http://egmr.net/2015/05/is-the-witcher-3s-graphical-downgrade-something-media-should-be-discussing/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/is-the-witcher-3s-graphical-downgrade-something-media-should-be-discussing/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 09:00:46 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171170 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt releases today and I’m honestly quite excited for everyone who gets to play it. I’ll be picking it up next month but for the moment […]

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt releases today and I’m honestly quite excited for everyone who gets to play it. I’ll be picking it up next month but for the moment judging from reviews it’s looking like a solid release with some really high scores and a lot of positive chatter around it.

But there is one thing that many are glossing over, or perhaps choosing to ignore. The game does not look like its reveal trailers.

Now let’s just get one thing clear out of the way: I am not being critical of The Witcher 3 here. I do not think that The Witcher 3 is comparable to Watch_Dogs in terms of lying to its audience, and I believe the reason people aren’t as upset about the so-called “downgrade” is because we have learned to manage our expectations better. Further, I think the only people bringing this up are those doing so based purely on principle rather than on any actual attempt at finding answers here.

Nonetheless, resident tech guru Marco brought it up on social networks this morning and we got to discussing it. He believes that it’s an internet double standard that folks were highly critical of Ubisoft following Watch_Dogs releasing last year, but nobody is getting on CD Projekt RED’s case about The Witcher 3. You can read that chain of tweets which also includes boardgame guru Paul, here:

As far as my sentiments go, they echo that of former writer for our site and Lazygamer turncoat Alessandro, who wrote a column on the topic before, asking whether we should be allowed to get angry over visual downgrades. The short answer, is no. We can still opt out of the game, and as long as we are not being outright lied to (read: blatantly) then we only have ourselves to blame if we get hyped up.

I would also add that I think there’s more to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt than the visuals; I mean, it’s still by far and away one of the most beautiful games ever made, but there’s also a massive open world and a deep and engaging story to sink your teeth into.

Unlike Watch_Dogs which completely transformed between reveal and release, The Witcher 3 does not rely on its graphics to push sales. And this for me, is the core difference. And why worrying about graphics — in this case — is nitpicking.

What about you? Do you think think that the graphical downgrade should be a topic of discussion? Do you think that, on principle, we should be treating all games equally and affording CD Projekt RED and The Witcher 3, the same scepticism and accountability that we afforded Ubisoft Montreal and Watch_Dogs? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.

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NAG Magazine Closes Its Doors After July Issue http://egmr.net/2015/05/nag-magazine-closes-its-doors-after-july-issue/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/nag-magazine-closes-its-doors-after-july-issue/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 12:00:29 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171141 Today is a sad day for South African gaming. One day long ago, when accompanying my parents to buy the daily bread and milk at a nearby corner store, I […]

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Today is a sad day for South African gaming.

One day long ago, when accompanying my parents to buy the daily bread and milk at a nearby corner store, I saw a shiny magazine that had gaming content on the cover; I believe it was an image of Tekken 4. I begged and pleaded with my parents to buy it for me and a few days later I returned to that store to buy my first ever gaming magazine; it was the March 2003 issue of New Age Gaming.

Fast-forward to 2015 and although I stopped buying NAG a few years ago, I have accrued a near-mint-condition “NAG shrine” consisting NAG magazines from that momentous March 2003 issue all the way to July 2011, without a single missed issue in between. I was relentless in my collection and consumption of NAG magazines. I went to crazy lengths to get my hands on a new copy when it was out.

Over time, while the loyalty remained, the need to have the latest NAG faded. Print magazine was just too slow, and as much as I always wanted to consume the magazine’s opinion columns, the asking price was getting a little too much for me, and in July 2011 I made the conscious but very painful decision to stop collecting the magazine.

But NAG did so much for me. It introduced me to so many of my writing heroes, and showed me whole new worlds of gaming. Because of NAG, I was introduced to the Half-Life series, and to Freelancer, and to Dungeon Siege, and to so many other games. It feels like a part of my childhood now, and rightly so because I grew up with my nose stuck in the latest issue.

But now the news has come through that NAG Magazine is closing its doors and I felt a need to cover it here, if for nothing else then for sentiment’s sake. Here’s what former editor-in-chief and owner of Tidemedia Publications Michael James had to say:

The July 2015 issue of NAG magazine will be our last issue.

The print industry is diminishing quickly and because NAG speaks to a very connected, early adopting reader it has seen a faster than predicted drop-off in advertising and readers. We’re kind of in the middle of a storm of fewer people buying magazines, fewer companies spending money on print advertising, and an ever-volatile gaming industry.

To those readers who are upset about this, I’m sorry. There’s just no way that we can keep this amazing publication alive anymore. I don’t want NAG magazine to become an anchor that drags the rest of the company down, so it’s time to accept the inevitable.

I must take this opportunity to thank three sets of people. First up, the readers. Without your fiercely loyal support over the years we’d be nothing; there’d be no rAge and the gaming industry as a whole would be far weaker than it is (bit of trumpet blowing here). Secondly are the people in the local industry that have supported us over the years. Lastly, thank you to the staff that worked on the magazine over the years, without your energy NAG magazine would never have made it across the deadline stretch each month. We’ve had a lot of fun and probably played too many games when we should really have been working. This is a one of a kind environment.

Really fucking sad. First PC Format, and now NAG Magazine. We’re out of proper recognised gaming magazines in SA, people. What that says about SA as a gaming community, you can decide.

In any case, the NAG website will still exist and be around, and while technically it might be our rival website, I am not above asking anyone who will miss NAG to head onto their website and check it out every now and again. It’s got some really great people behind it, and hopefully more resources will be dedicated to it once the magazine is done and dusted.

On that note, the final edition, which will no doubt sell out everywhere, releases on July 9th. Join me in the comments on wishing the folks at NAG Magazine well in all their endeavours in the future. Godspeed, guys.

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What Would You Like Us To Discuss On This Week’s EGMR Offensive? http://egmr.net/2015/05/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-3/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-3/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 09:00:10 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171111 Do you know what the biggest outrage is? That you don’t have questions for us. Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and […]

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Do you know what the biggest outrage is? That you don’t have questions for us.

Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would attempt to answer them. With our new podcast, the EGMR Offensive, we want to try something slightly different.

We want you to suggest topics for us to discuss. Because it’s a much more topic-based podcast, we’ll be discussing a few of the biggest news stories for the past week or two. So we thought, why not just ask you guys and see what you’d like to hear us talk about? This article is your opportunity to do just that.

If you would just like to ask us questions as usual, then by all means do so. However if you have some hot topic you’d like us to dig our teeth into, then by all means do that too. Either way, the comments section is your friend. Go wild.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: Games As Products — AC: Syndicate, And The Ubisoft Quandary http://egmr.net/2015/05/life-the-universe-and-gaming-games-as-products-ac-syndicate-and-the-ubisoft-quandary/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/life-the-universe-and-gaming-games-as-products-ac-syndicate-and-the-ubisoft-quandary/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 09:00:54 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171076 Last week Ubisoft revealed Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate to the world. It was a two-parter, with an initial cinematic trailer and then a gameplay trailer following immediately afterwards. Great! We always […]

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Last week Ubisoft revealed Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate to the world. It was a two-parter, with an initial cinematic trailer and then a gameplay trailer following immediately afterwards.

Great! We always criticise developers for revealing games without any gameplay footage, so well done to Ubisoft for showing us some gameplay. Right? Sure. But you see… when you eventually get around to watching the gameplay trailer, you start to realise why other developers don’t reveal games with any gameplay footage.

When I initially watched the cinematic trailer, I thought to myself, “Yeah okay, they’re not doing a traditional Assassin’s Creed game but that’s fine because honestly if a self-aware action third person adventure title is what they want to do, then awesome.” And I maintained that opinion for a few days thereafter. It looked as if it could be proper fun if we just get over the fact that it’s not Assassin’s Creed 2 again.

Then I watched the gameplay trailer, and I couldn’t even finish it the first time. It took less than two minutes for me to rage-quit the trailer, go away for a while, actually exclaim in frustrated anguish, and then return later to finish watching the trailer. Why? Because honestly, after watching it the first time, I felt as if I was being marketed to. Treated entirely like a potential customer rather than a gaming enthusiast or fan of the series. And I absolutely hated being made to feel that way. Observe:

Fast-forward to around 1:34 in that trailer, and listen to what the dude says. “New to our game are iconic modes of transportation.” Might seem like an innocuous statement in all honestly, but I lost it at that point. “WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?!” I exclaimed. It is a running joke with Ubisoft games that they overuse the word iconic, whether it’s Aiden’s hat in Watch_Dogs or the hoods in Assassin’s Creed. There is no definition of the word for which this applies. So my natural assumption was that Ubisoft are trying to market something to me.

It was their product. I was their consumer. And they were trying to seal the deal.

This was doubly emphasised by the word “Reserve” which had replaced the now-ugly “Pre-order” in the eyes of gamers.

We won’t talk about the actual gameplay, but needless to say, I agree with Azhar‘s sentiments regarding soulless Assassin’s Creed entries. The game sure as hell looks stylish and great, and will no doubt boast ridiculously high production values, but it is ultimately a product that is being packaged as such, marketed as such, and will no doubt be sold as such. It inspired nothing in me, and actually made me feel a little queasy while watching it, and I started to regret ever buying into this series. Extreme, I know, but it was how I felt as a fan.

Where was the passion that made me want to tattoo a part of this gaming series onto the back of my neck?
And then the realisation dawned upon me…
valiant-hearts-the-great-war-review_fwdx

It’s staggering to think that Child of Light and Valiant Hearts came from the same publisher that is force-feeding us release after release of the likes of Rainbow Six, Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon and now Watch_Dogs and The Crew. But then I got to thinking about it, and I compared and contrasted it with BuzzFeed (of all things). Political stance aside, BuzzFeed has some interesting articles every now and then, mixed between the things you most likely already know (and either love or hate) BuzzFeed for; you’ll never believe what I’m talking about. The answer will surprise you. Readers hate what I know! Etc.

Perhaps then, Ubisoft operates on a similar principle? They put out their cash-grabbing, soulless products to the world and make all of their money from them. The direct result of this is that smaller but arguably riskier titles are also allowed to be created, the likes of Child of Light and Valiant Hearts. Hell, even Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles isn’t that bad, for a side-scrolling platformer.

When I think about it this way, it becomes worlds easier to live with. Doesn’t it? We know that Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate will doubtlessly release with a myriad of issues, have day-one DLC, microtransactions and a season pass, as well as all sorts of other content including companion apps and unlockables and so on; all of this is a given. We don’t blame the developers, because they typically don’t want to put all of it into the game just as much as we don’t want to see it there. But they must live with the hand they’re dealt, and so must we.

In exchange, we get the likes of Valiant Hearts, Child of Light, and so on. Games that, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, make up for the other soulless entries under Ubisoft’s yearly release schedule. Games that we don’t even need to be franchises, despite Ubisoft’s insistence that they won’t pick up anything that can’t be a franchise.
That reminds me…
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There is another game that made me fall in love with Ubisoft, many years ago. More so than Assassin’s Creed, more so than Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, or any of their other games. And it was Beyond Good & Evil.

When Ubisoft said that they were only interested in games that could be franchises, yes I lamented the many The Last of Us type games that they could have made (but arguably, Child of Light and Valiant Hearts?) but my actual immediate thought was, “So why have we had to wait this long to see Beyond Good & Evil 2?” I could arguably answer why it is so by considering the niche nature of the game, the cult fan-base that did not represent a larger portion of the market, the female protagonist and her porky sidekick, or the shoddy port of the original game. The HD release that came out a while back renewed my hope that Ubisoft were looking into the possibility of a sequel. Since then, we’ve had rumour after rumour after rumour.

But now, I can honestly admit this to myself: I don’t want a Beyond Good & Evil sequel.

Naturally, given that Murphy’s Law is that most powerful of laws in the observable universe, now that I don’t want it, at E3 2015 we will likely see it revealed. But I just don’t want to see the franchising and soulless product-marketing of one of my all-time favourite games (alongside another Ubisoft release entitled Dark Messiah: Might & Magic, Microsoft’s Freelancer and Vivendi’s Half-Life 2).

I could be woefully incorrect about this, and Beyond Good & Evil 2 could also benefit from the serialisation of Assassin’s Creed into a product to be sold to customers, and if that is so I’ll be the first person to declare renewed love for Ubisoft. But right now, all I can think of when it comes to Ubisoft is a publisher that sees moneybags whenever it looks at its consumers; nothing more. Unfair treatment, perhaps. But I’m more than happy to be proven wrong here.
So what did you think of that Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate gameplay trailer? Is it right up your alley? Is it iconic enough? Will you be looking forward to more? I’d love to discuss it with you guys in the comments below.

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The Postal Developers Have A Message For The Internet About Censorship http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-postal-developers-have-a-message-for-the-internet-about-censorship/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-postal-developers-have-a-message-for-the-internet-about-censorship/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 15:00:18 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171061 “We’d like to make this official statement as a team to the perpetually offended who wish to censor art.” We’d like to dedicate this one to the folks who demanded […]

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“We’d like to make this official statement as a team to the perpetually offended who wish to censor art.”

We’d like to dedicate this one to the folks who demanded BioWare change the Mass Effect endings, the folks who criticised a host of female-empowering games for being sexist, and the folks who think The Witcher 3, a game steeped in Polish origin, lore and concept, is racist for not including people of colour. And everyone in between.

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Phil Spencer Is Ready To Rock At E3 For Xbox http://egmr.net/2015/05/phil-spencer-is-ready-to-rock-at-e3-for-xbox/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/phil-spencer-is-ready-to-rock-at-e3-for-xbox/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 13:00:42 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171057 As far as E3 press conferences go, Microsoft is typically the one to kick things off for Xbox, followed by Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and finally Sony, with the likes of […]

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As far as E3 press conferences go, Microsoft is typically the one to kick things off for Xbox, followed by Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and finally Sony, with the likes of Konami and Nintendo having since dropped out. This year there is an added PC-related press conference but otherwise the order will remain.

Now two years ago, Microsoft went first and revealed some interesting Xbox One games to the world. But then Sony went on and, well, we all know how that went down.

But Xbox’s Phil Spencer isn’t intimidated by that. In fact, he’s not worried at all.

Forever the nice guy, Phil Spencer has really been a class act in dealing with rival PlayStation. Time and time again, where PlayStation has opted to take shots and make quips at Xbox’s expense, Phil Spencer has taken every opportunity to congratulate and show respect to the PlayStation 4. In keeping with that tradition then, he also downplayed the “competitive” factor between the two companies at E3.

While we still don’t quite know what is planned for the Xbox press conference, there is certainly a lot of consumer faith in Phil Spencer, and we’re hoping he’ll come through and show the world what the Xbox One is going to do for the next year or so. As to whether PlayStation will get another chance to fire off some shots this year, we’ll have to wait for June to find out. Let us know in the comments, what you think will go down. Give us your best predictions.

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Expect No Man’s Sky To Be “Treated Like A First-Party Release” http://egmr.net/2015/05/expect-no-mans-sky-to-be-treated-like-a-first-party-release/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/expect-no-mans-sky-to-be-treated-like-a-first-party-release/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 09:00:00 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171052 Do you know what compels me to get a PlayStation 4 the most? Not PlayStation Plus, I get that in Games with Gold; not 1080p 60fps, I get that on […]

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Do you know what compels me to get a PlayStation 4 the most? Not PlayStation Plus, I get that in Games with Gold; not 1080p 60fps, I get that on PC; but rather, No Man’s Sky.

Yeah, sure, there are other games coming out that also try space-faring; the likes of Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen immediately come to mind. But nothing like No Man’s Sky. Nothing that was done by so small a time, with so large an ambition.

Sometimes you really wish indie developers (the ones that deserve it) get some extra help along the way, to realise the full extent of their ideas. The likes of Dust: An Elysian Tail had a decent amount of help along the way, from Microsoft’s Xbox. Thankfully, Sony’s PlayStation will be doing the same now for No Man’s Sky.

According to PlayStation UK’s Fergal Gara, No Man’s Sky will be treated “as if it is one of our internal studios” going on to state that they “are going to put the full weight of PlayStation behind it,” adding, “If it all comes together as well as expected, it will be treated like a first-party release; it is not a self-published small indie title on the platform.”

And we think that’s really important, and certainly a lesson Microsoft could learn with the Xbox One. Because right now, there are quite a few indie titles over on PS4 that are doing spectacularly, and even more have the potential to do just as well, and receive equal backing from PlayStation. They could transcend the digital-only limitations and become full-on physical products in their own right.

Imagine that kind of world. You walk into BT Games and a bunch of indie games are staring back at you. How awesome, right?

The PS4-exclusive No Man’s Sky is due out later this year. Will you be picking it up?

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The EGMR Offensive #10: Steampunk Syndication http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-egmr-offensive-10-steampunk-syndication/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-egmr-offensive-10-steampunk-syndication/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 09:00:44 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=171003 Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive. Oi Guv’nor! What’s this ‘ere ‘en? A new bloody podcast? A new bleedin’ episode? Blimey! These wankers […]

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Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive.

Oi Guv’nor! What’s this ‘ere ‘en? A new bloody podcast? A new bleedin’ episode? Blimey! These wankers are talkin’ all sorts of bollocks about games and social ‘etworks and other such things, the pisspots. Check it out, o’roit?

Here are the topics discussed during this week’s episode:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Twitter
  • AMD vs Nvidia
  • Questions

Keen on getting offended? Here’s how:

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | Android | RSS

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Review: Avengers: Age Of Ultron Merges Comic Book And Movie Masterfully http://egmr.net/2015/05/review-avengers-age-of-ultron-merges-comic-book-and-movie-masterfully/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/review-avengers-age-of-ultron-merges-comic-book-and-movie-masterfully/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 08:00:20 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=170688 Movies are a lot like medicine, in that there is an accepted practice that has been used for a very long time and it takes someone very gifted to truly […]

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Movies are a lot like medicine, in that there is an accepted practice that has been used for a very long time and it takes someone very gifted to truly work miracles with what they get. Like medicine, movies are healthy for us in good moderation. Like medicine, we feel better after watching a movie and will recommend it to others looking for a pick-me-up. Like medicine, movies have long stagnated in terms of structure and are in need of a modern shake-up.

This is where Marvel comes in, with Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. To call it a movie would be to tell a third of the story. To call it a comic book movie would be two thirds there. But ultimately what Avengers: Age of Ultron is, is something that transcends both of those and manages to become something else entirely. Something that, admittedly, requires lots of investment on your part in order to truly appreciate.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which now counts the following under its ever-growing pool of established stories: The Incredible Hulk; Iron Mans 1, 2 and 3; Captain Americas 1 and 2; Thors 1 and 2; Guardians of the Galaxy; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Daredevil and finally, Agent Carter. Also in the pipeline are Ant Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, and more movie sequels to the above-mentioned, including, importantly, Thor 3, Captain America 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The reason I need to recount all of these is because it’s important to establish just how large this growing universe has become. We’ll get back to this later.

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers are called in once more to put an end once and for all to Hydra’s plans, and recover Loki’s lost sceptre from the first Avengers movie. Having achieved that right at the beginning of the movie, the Avengers decide it’s time to have a good ol’ party to celebrate, and then go their separate ways.

But the party ends sourly thanks to Tony Stark’s latest creation, after the genius / billionaire / playboy / philanthropist together with Bruce Banner, discover a powerful stone within the sceptre and try to create the Ultron A.I. using its power. According to Stark, the stone has a brain and can therefore be assimilated into current technology to create a peacekeeping force of super-suits that will bring about “peace in our time”. Instead, Ultron quite hilariously spends a few minutes on the internet and decides humanity isn’t worth saving, and instead decides to bring about an extinction-level event so that life can begin anew, and kill anyone who opposes his version of peace. Most notably, the Avengers.

That’s the basic, spoiler-free version of the story, and that is where we’ll leave it in terms of whether you’re still deciding to watch the movie. The short answer is: If you thus far haven’t really been into the MCU movies, you’re likely not going to be that into this one either. If you’re a fan, you’ve likely already watched it more than once.

If you’re on the fence, Ultron ought to persuade you to give this movie a watch. Voiced by James Spader, the maniacal villain spouts memorable lines throughout the film and gives viewers a sense of reality and perspective, almost forcing you to think of it from his side to the point that you start rooting for him, against your better judgement. Beyond that, there is also a bunch of thrilling new character introductions, including Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Vision. The latter in particular brings the movie’s aaahhh moment, whilst all of them contribute adequately to the larger universe as much as this single storyline.

Apart from that, returning characters include pretty much everyone from the previous movies (besides of course Guardians of the Galaxy), barring a few exceptions. Characters who weren’t given as much screen time in the previous films were allowed much more this time around, and gave a stronger showing as a result. The world is also that much bigger this time around, leaving the dreary New York setting and going international; a much better version of “saving the world” all things considered. The acting is on point, the sound and visuals are about as good as you can find on a big screen, and everything blends well together to form a spectacle of a blockbuster movie.

Ultimately, this is going to be one of those movies that you’ll have to watch before you can decide whether or not you’ve wasted your time. A large part of it will depend on your investment in the MCU, but it can still be enjoyed as a single movie; just don’t expect the same sort of experience. It would also do you well to not treat Avengers: Age of Ultron like a movie, but rather like a celebration of movies and comic books. If you do that, you should have a splendid time of watching it. And hey if not, get the Blu-Ray from a friend later.

 

Super Mega Ultra Spoiler Alert

From here on out, it gets spoilerific so please, watch the movie first and then come back. This is for those folks who either don’t care about spoilers, or want to discuss the critical aspects of the movie. This is the Movie Critique section of this review. Cool?

Avengers: Age of Ultron breaks a lot of core movie-making tenets and it does so deliberately and unashamedly. There is most certainly a first, second and third act. But a lot of what is contained within does not necessarily pay off later, or follow on from previous set-ups. Don’t get me wrong, of set-ups and pay-offs there are plenty, but Avengers: Age of Ultron treats itself less like a single standalone entity but rather one part of a larger whole, meaning that some set-ups are not meant to pay-off just yet, and some pay-offs were set up in something else previously. It’s an organic and highly ambitious world that, for the most part, pays off with the right amount of personal set-up investment.

To run through each and every example would take quite a while (and likely not make for the most interesting read) so instead let’s just touch on a few of the more contentious areas of the movie’s critiques thus far. Starting with…


The pacing and interconnectedness

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a movie that moves very fast with its story. You can tell that a lot of the story was cut up in the interests of time (and in fact, Joss Whedon himself revealed the Blu-Ray release will feature a three-plus-hour extended version) so the result is a movie that moves at breakneck pace and forces you to keep up. There is no quiet moment when you can sneak in a toilet break, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Instead, the movie trusts that you have been invested in the MCU enough to know what is going on, more or less. We’ll come back to criticisms of this.

But for example, consider the beginning sequence which played out like the pages of a comic book throughout, culminating in the slow-motion shot of the entire team together, as if mirroring a splash panel of a comic book, it was truly beautiful. That sequence followed directly from the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D that set up the conflict and ended with, “It’s time to call in the Avengers.” The episode had set up Sokovia, Strucker, and “the twins” as part of story. Much later in the movie, Nick Fury is seen to have reclaimed a Helicarrier but it is never explained within the context of the film, but in the follow-up episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D it is resolved.

Similarly, in other areas of the film, Black Widow is seen to experience flashbacks of a murderous training academy for assassins… which you might recognise from Agent Carter. Peggy herself makes an appearance during Captain America’s ‘greatest fear’ sequence, much to my personal delight. Thor meanwhile experiences a vision of things elsewhere as part of his ‘greatest fear’ which causes him to journey to an Infinity Well and seek answers (admittedly something that could have been explained better within the context of the story).

So much is going on in this movie that you can’t help but sit back and feel impressed at just how marvelously, if you’ll excuse the pun, Joss Whedon has not just moulded so many stories together, but how effortless he made it all look given licensing restrictions and pressure from executives. We see threads that came in from previous movies such as Iron Man 3, The Winter Soldier and the Marvel TV series, and threads that will eventually lead to future movies such as Thor 3, Captain America: Civil War and more. And we finally got a solid explanation of how Loki was able to mind-control people with his special sceptre — now you understand what The Other was referring to during that scene in the first film, when he said that Loki had been given a great power. Suddenly it makes sense: Loki was gifted the Mind Stone by Thanos, and has since lost it. When that clicks, like so many others in this film, you can only sit back and appreciate what you’ve just watched.

There is another point to be made about the interconnectedness regarding Black Widow and the Hulk, but we’ll come back to that. Let’s first talk about the movie’s main baddy.


Ultron is a metaphor for movie-making in today’s world

As a fan of Boston Legal, it was enough for me just to have seen James Spader playing the role of Ultron, and he certainly did it to a tee. Not quite so pure-evil and calculating as the comic book version of Ultron, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spader’s version is somewhat more grounded in narcissism, psychopathy and tragedy. He was born to a world he did not understand with his only imperative being “peace in our time” and anything else he learned, he learned from humanity. But more to the point of what Ultron is, he’s a parody of the movie-making world as it is today.

Remember my opening paragraph? Movies are getting stale. After sequelitis wasn’t good enough, we got movies based on books and even holidays, and now we are getting the eighties remade. Only Marvel has managed to stand out with movies that guarantee a decent time at the least, over and above the folks who just can’t be entertained despite Hollywood’s best efforts. But the thing that Marvel does well is that it understands its audience and respects them. And it understands that comic books break a lot of movie paradigms. Thus, it seems only right that comic book movies should try things differently, weaving stories together like connective tissue and breaking from the traditions we are so used to.

One clever way it does this is through Ultron. He is not a traditional villain; he was designed for an ultimately benevolent purpose, and the conflict came in when he realised that the ways currently existing were not something he agreed with. Ultron says to the Avengers, “You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change.” Doesn’t that sound as if he’s addressing Hollywood? As if he’s saying to the movie-making world, “This is the MCU, this is how we do it.” In that sense, you can’t help but gape when watching him work his magic on-screen, as Ultron attempts to justify his actions through not just memorable monologues but also pushing more and more for perfection; evolving. All this from a few moments on the internet.

And that is where the brilliance of Vision’s character comes in. He is the evolution. He is the best of Ultron, without the corrupted power and misguided thinking. He encompasses a very human form of passion and naivety in his weird android brain. You don’t need to explicitly be told in the movie, what it is he does, what his powers are, or even his motivations. As he puts it, “I am.” And that’s all you need to know about him because what he is, is better than Ultron and the Avengers. He is worthy. And in this case, he is the MCU’s greatest representation. Cape and all.

Similarly, I regard Avengers: Age of Ultron as something more than a traditional movie and more like a transitional piece of art. It flagrantly pokes fun at itself throughout the film, and it picks up and drops plot points throughout because it knows it doesn’t need to resolve those plot points now. It can do it in a later film, or has already done it in a prior film. In this regard, the MCU transcends traditional movies. It is a metaverse, just like the comic books we know and love.

Nobody disliked Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for being the connecting tissue between the other two stories, and in this same respect I feel that one day we are all going to look back at Avengers: Age of Ultron, after the Civil War, after Ragnarok, after the Infinity War, and we are going to be staggered at just how well this movie tied everything together.

There is of course one problem with this…

Consumers of media are woefully inept at paying attention

It’s an unfortunate fact that most media consumed by the masses does not get stored in the memory banks of people who just want to see two things punch each other. People watch Game of Thrones without ever remembering the names of anyone who isn’t a Lannister, Stark or Targaryen. And like that, many folks will watch this film and forget everything that happens within it, or not remember what happened previously, choosing only to remember the clever one-liners rather than the engaging and thought-provoking dialogues. Is this the movie’s fault? Arguably, no.

We often criticise movies for dumbing themselves down and going heavy on the exposition, explaining things too much and sacrificing precious screen time (see: Christopher Nolan). Avengers: Age of Ultron forgoes all of that unnecessary exposition and just goes on with it, operating immediately on the assumption that you’ve watched previous MCU films. You saw the Avengers struggle to learn to work as a team before, and so you understand why they are united in Avengers: Age of Ultron. You saw Tony Stark want out of the Avengers, so you get why he wants to create Ultron in the first place. It’s confusing to then see people turn around and say, “Marvel can’t expect us to keep track of everything,” and sure, you’d be justified in holding that opinion if you treated the MCU as simple standalone movies. Oh don’t get me wrong, they were, once. No longer.

Now you actually have to pay attention and if you can’t, that’s fine too. There’s still decent enough entertainment to be found. But if you do invest yourself in this, then the reward is quite stimulating, doubly so if you’re someone who grew up reading these comics and now get to see them play out before your eyes.

Some might call it pandering, but is it really pandering when you’re offering solid fan service and rewarding the people who showed faith in your product for decades? You decide.

Some common criticisms

Perhaps the biggest controversy of the movie’s release has been Black Widow and Hulk’s romance arc. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a problem with it. You certainly could see it building from the first Avengers film, and it pays off beautifully here. Tragically as well, since neither hero can realistically have a normal life. And that’s what makes the whole thing so powerful and moving. Here are two heroes without powers; one is slave to his alter-ego, who is the most powerful of them all, the other is a human who trades punches with gods, and yet both of them suffer from a very human, and very disempowering failing. Is it really so unthinkable that Black Widow being infertile could affect her as much as it did? Especially in a moment of weakness like that? The MCU has in the past shown characters to have human weaknesses, for example Tony Stark’s PTSD in Iron Man 3. There is no actual problem here, having two more characters show real and human weaknesses. If anything, it’s grounding.

Another criticism was the way the Avengers always got on with each other. I’m not sure if these folks were watching the same movie, because the Avengers absolutely experienced conflict. They argued and disagreed with each other, even trading blows when they had to, and yes, they came together in the end but let’s not forget that they had just shown themselves to be dangerous with the entire world watching. People kept expecting Civil War, and why when it’s coming soon? Perhaps the problem here is that people expect it, so they are impatient for it.

Meanwhile, criticisms of previous movies were that “saving the world” typically implied New York, and nobody knew why Hawkeye was even around in the first Avengers movie. This time around, both of those are addressed splendidly while also addressing another criticism I have for these movies, that being the over-reliance (much like Wolverine with the X-Men) on Tony Stark. It is always Tony’s inventions that cause problems, or Tony’s clever dialogue that people laugh at. This time around, not only did the movie go worldwide from South Africa to South Korea, even setting the final act in Eastern Europe, but the star of the show, if one could be named as such, was undoubtedly Hawkeye.

Jeremy Renner’s standout performance was delivered as a result of the greater focus on him this time around, with the revelation of his hidden family and his consistent delivery of solid, memorable dialogue. No matter who I ask, the favourite line from the movie amongst everyone is, “The city’s flying, we’re fighting evil robots, and I have a bow and arrow! None of this makes any sense!” It was a magnificent performance to watch.

Finally, if you are ever in two minds about this, know that no movie has ever done fan service like Avengers: Age of Ultron. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at these:

Is Avengers: Age of Ultron perfect? No, of course not. And in fact, there are some plot points that either go entirely unexplained or operate on viewers just not realising, for example the dark-skinned woman in the trailers never showing up, or Tony Stark suddenly not just building but operating his own suits again. Following from that, many fans questioned why the Avengers would come together for the Avengers movies but were absent during Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and importantly, Thor: The Dark World — the latter in which the entire known universe was at risk of destruction due to The Convergence. This one has some validity, however as the comic book loves to state, the Avengers come together during the darkest of hours, and then go away once the danger has passed. This is possibly why everyone departed at the end of the film with the option of returning remaining open. Those who were left alive anyway.

Does Avengers: Age of Ultron pander to its audience? Absolutely, it does. I’d argue that I’d rather have a movie that is “for the fans” over something that was created just to feed off the hype of a license, amirite Green Lantern, X-Men 3, Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man movies? With Marvel and Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron you are at least guaranteed a wild ride of comic book action, complete with a fair amount of universe-building, delicately weaving the strings for many stories to come.

It’s easy now to look back at the first Avengers with rose-tinted spectacles, forgetting all of the criticisms that were once held against the film; teething issues, you might say. It’s easy to forget that, because now that the Avengers movie is so otherworldly popular, its flaws just don’t matter to anyone who cares about this franchise. Meanwhile, Avengers: Age of Ultron manages the mammoth task of not just improving on its predecessor but also building a universe that circumvents the mutants and other licenses Marvel cannot touch — or do comic book fans forget that mutants play a massive role in Civil War? — while simultaneously introducing a fitting story of its own in between all of that. It is expertly done, assuming you are able to appreciate the underlying framework that is being laid down. And if you can’t, that’s fine too. Come back in a few years and let’s see how you feel about this one.

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What Would You Like Us To Discuss On This Week’s EGMR Offensive? http://egmr.net/2015/05/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-2/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive-2/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 09:00:00 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=170894 This one’s for all our favourite fictional moms, and the very real people who post pictures of their own mothers for the internet to creep to. *wink* Previously on the […]

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This one’s for all our favourite fictional moms, and the very real people who post pictures of their own mothers for the internet to creep to. *wink*

Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would attempt to answer them. With our new podcast, the EGMR Offensive, we want to try something slightly different.

We want you to suggest topics for us to discuss. Because it’s a much more topic-based podcast, we’ll be discussing a few of the biggest news stories for the past week or two. So we thought, why not just ask you guys and see what you’d like to hear us talk about? This article is your opportunity to do just that.

If you would just like to ask us questions as usual, then by all means do so. However if you have some hot topic you’d like us to dig our teeth into, then by all means do that too. Either way, the comments section is your friend. Go wild.

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The EGMR Offensive #9: Rage Of Ultron http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-egmr-offensive-9-rage-of-ultron/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/the-egmr-offensive-9-rage-of-ultron/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 09:00:26 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=170591 Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive. This week is all about Avengers: Age of Ultron, although there is some gaming discussion before and […]

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Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive.

This week is all about Avengers: Age of Ultron, although there is some gaming discussion before and after. Not too much. There are many spoilers in this episode so definitely be aware of that, and definitely only listen if you’ve seen the movie or don’t care about spoilers.

Here are the topics discussed during this week’s episode:

  • Obligatory gaming talk… for a short while
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Questions

Keen on getting offended? Here’s how:

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | Android | RSS

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: We Are All Soldiers In The Gamer Culture War http://egmr.net/2015/05/life-the-universe-and-gaming-we-are-all-soldiers-in-the-gamer-culture-war/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/life-the-universe-and-gaming-we-are-all-soldiers-in-the-gamer-culture-war/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 09:00:42 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=170483 Let’s begin today’s column entry with some revelatory exposition. Since January this year, I have used my semi-regular column entries to write up a series of opinions that delved into […]

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Let’s begin today’s column entry with some revelatory exposition. Since January this year, I have used my semi-regular column entries to write up a series of opinions that delved into the highly politicised goings-on within the gaming industry right now, specifically focussed around the so-called “culture” of gaming. While I didn’t explicitly label these opinions as a series, I felt they were a natural progression along some arbitrary sequence until this point in time.

Because today, dear readers, is when it all comes together. Today is when we hit that conclusive sweet-spot that has taken months to build up to. Today is that moment of climactic relief at the end of a great session of sex, or your preferred medium of entertainment. The swell of the orchestra, the resolution of the final act, the– eh, maybe I shouldn’t build it up so much. But I certainly do hope that today helps bring it all together adequately enough. So strap in, get settled, and brace yourselves for another long read that should hopefully adequately conclude my recent foray into games culture.

Before we go any further, I’d just like to share a few words on the idea of “gamer culture” because some have deemed it to be a fallacy. You know the types, the ones who claim that only “gamers” would self-identify in such a narcissistic way, despite words like “bookworm” and “cinephile” existing. People who insist that if you identify as gamer then you must be an awkward, reclusive shut-in who’s probably a virgin and will die alone in your mother’s basement. So let’s first establish that gamer culture does exist. Granted, it was coined by the sort of folks who convinced the world that we needed tablets; in other words, it started as snake oil. But over time, we’ve embraced it and made it our own. So now that we’ve got that sorted out…

Let’s recap the coverage we’ve had thus far.

For today’s topic I would like to conduct a case study using a talk on games culture by Leigh Alexander, who is a women I have deep respect for and tremendous admiration, but who nevertheless has disappointed me immensely following the fallout from the abhorrent Quinnspiracy saga of last year.

 

Are gamers over?

Last year Leigh Alexander released an article entitled Gamers don’t have to be your audience. Gamers are over in which she made some very valid but ultimately controversial points about the gaming community, citing that it was resistant to change and stubbornly holding on to a past paradigm that has begun to leave it behind.

When I first read this article, I have to admit, I needed to go away and think about it for a while. But the more I tried to rationalise it, the more I came to understand that the same stigma that has troubled gamers our entire lives is now being perpetuated by others gamers. In other words, we have now turned the marginalisation and animosity we used to experience from outsiders, or non-gamers, in on ourselves. And as a result, we’ve started what can only be described as a culture war.

I could see where Ms Alexander was coming from with her article, gaming is absolutely bulldozing its way forward and there are many who strongly oppose this change. However I felt that the topic of conversation was one that… let’s say was a little misplaced.

It’s almost as if two conversations were going on at the time. One was about accountability and integrity, and the other was about women being persecuted, harassed and subjugated by the internet. I found myself in favour of both arguments, which put me in a strange middle-ground between two conflicting sides who, despite arguing for different things, were in direct opposition to each other. I do want accountability and integrity; I mean, I have my own stories of favouritism and unfair treatment within this industry, I too can tell stories about game developers quietly promising us codes for games if we retract negative statements about them. But at the same time, I hate seeing the kind of treatment women get online. And likewise, I hate that there are some women who become “professional victims” for profit and subsequently end up devaluing the very real suffering of other women.

Mostly this is because the entire conversation is all too complicated but is nonetheless being oversimplified into “these people hate women” and “these people want to empower women” where the conversation is anything but simple. For example, does a game character with large breasts signify a sexist representation of women, or an empowered and therefore sexy representation of women? A woman with large breasts might think differently to someone else. There are subtle nuances here, and deep intricacies that can’t be ignored. Nonetheless, they are ignored in favour of a blanket condemnation of any critique or discussion that might imply that women on the internet are not always victims, and games do not exist purely to be sexist.

Put simply, the overwhelming majority of gamers are not killers. We are not rapists. We are not sexist, as has been proved by science. We simply are, and our passion is what can sometimes get the better of us. To be grouped with terrorists and hate groups for having an opinion is… honestly a little dramatic. But now let’s get to the talk I mentioned, and discuss from there.

 

Games culture: A case study

If you don’t have the time to watch the entire video, Leigh Alexander gave a talk at Aalto University in Helsinki entitled ‘stupid and contagious’ which discussed videogame culture, and compared and contrasted it with the prevalent culture of music and TV in the eighties and early nineties.

Now sure, Leigh Alexander has two books, and writes for a whole host of websites so in terms of exposure to games culture, she might well be superior to me by a country mile. But all the same, I’ve grown up in games and I’ve been known to exercise a half-decent point or two, so I thought we might discuss the video I’ve embedded above.

There are certain things that Ms Alexander and I absolutely 100% agree on. They are, as follows:

  • Gaming is for everyone, and everyone can be a gamer. Whether you have only ever played Candy Crush, or you have played every single game to ever have released on a particular console, you are a gamer. Whether your preferred platform is your smartphone, or you own all gaming consoles and a gaming PC, you are a gamer. Gaming should never be exclusionary and should welcome all types of gamers from the casually-oriented to the hardest of the hardcore. Yes… even Halo fans.
  • Gaming culture not only exists and is thriving, but is slowly, inevitably, moving beyond past paradigms and shifting, morphing, evolving into something more than just memes. It is becoming an unrivalled artform that has transcended the likes of contemporary literature, film and music, combining all of those with a unique interactive element to create something more than the sum of its parts. Incredibly, gaming culture thrives because gamers have direct involvement in its progression.
  • Game reviews and consumer advice have their place, but they are not the only aspect of gaming and a far more interesting aspect should be that of one’s personal involvement in gaming, the so-called human element within the culture of being a gamer.

However there are other aspects of gaming culture that I must disagree with her on:

  • She calls gaming a boys club, yet says she’s been a gamer all her life. This doesn’t follow. I can understand if she said that it was geared towards men but ultimately, she still played the games and in her words, was fascinated by them. They did not make her feel excluded and they were culturally in line with everything else that was going on at the time, so of course they’ll be backwards if we look back at them now. Ultimately however, this is a difficult point for me to reconcile.
  • She calls games wondrous and magical, yet further into the talk she also says they’re boring. I’ve chosen to take this to mean that over time the magic fades and something new is required. But is this an argument in terms of gaming culture, or an argument in terms of exposure? Which then leads me to…
  • It feels as if she is speaking from a point of privilege. She had a gaming console back in the early nineties. You have to ask yourself: Is she speaking for the majority of gamers here? Games are expensive, not everyone has the same level of exposure that she has had. Not everyone feels the need for alternatives in the same way that she does. Is it not unfair on the majority to then push this desire onto them? Or should we rather start early and push for diversity from the get-go?

For a long time now, I’ve argued that indie developers, though ridiculously talented and unarguably necessary for the gaming industry, are by virtue of being actual persons (that is, not hidden behind a corporate logo) far more susceptible to critique, and therefore far more liable to snap. In her talk, Ms Alexander cites Phil Fish, and his sentiments that gamers are “the worst fucking people” and states that you can’t blame someone like Fish for not liking gamers.

I can’t help but feel that sentiment should work both ways. Recently people got upset at gamers for their incendiary reaction towards Valve’s paid mods idea. Gamers were once again called entitled. I have in the past called gamers entitled, but I’ve since come around on that thinking. You see, when you look at it from an aerial perspective it’s easy to look down on gamers as scumbags and just the worst people, but the truth is that gamers made Valve what they are today (with some healthy amount of good decision-making on Valve’s part) so gamers have every right to be entitled.

Nonetheless, despite helping to create this multi-billion dollar industry, gamers are seen as entitled, spiteful and backwards, and I can’t help but feel that the marginalisation gamers have felt all their lives, is now being done to them by their own media and fellow gamers.

And it honestly hurts me to see it.

 

Narratives and accountability

I read a rather interesting essay on media effects and cultivation theory in video games recently. It helped me to reach what I feel is a very pertinent point about this entire discussion, regarding the gamer culture wars.

Right now many level-headed, rational gamers (read: not sexist monsters) feel as if they are under attack by “radical” feminists who want to bastardise gaming into a progressive-catering medium, and “rip the fun out of everything”. These feminists, as far as I’ve seen in all my months of research, are predominately white, affluent, and with some stakes in the gaming industry, either as media or indie developers. They have spoken on behalf of women and people of colour, despite being opposed by women and people of colour, pushing a “listen and believe” narrative that forgoes discussion in favour of unchallenged critique of the gaming industry, and gamer culture.

As we know, art imitates life and right now, we’ve got a lot of discussions focussing on the hot topics of late: representation, gender inequality, oppression, rape culture, sexual harassment, and so on. Naturally then, as gaming has permeated the mainstream, it has inherited all of these political debates, despite their validity or relevance to gaming. You might feel compelled to step away from it, but it will inevitably pull you in and more than likely make you really, really sad about the state of affairs. You are either “with” or “against” them.

It’s important to then learn to embrace all sides of an argument before making the final judgement call for yourself.

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Part of the reason there is a culture war right now is because one side is pushing a narrative that is effectively above reproach. Now let’s establish that the feminists in question are not representative of all feminists; the so-called third wave “modern” feminists are quite radical in their thinking and determine any women who disagree with them to be “internalising misogyny” with the result being that those women and their opinions are effectively silenced. This is not fair. But it happens because the modern feminists do not want to introduce critique of their arguments, presumably for fear that it devalues the narrative.

Here’s the thing, though. That in itself, devalues the narrative. You cannot blindly push a narrative without accepting its faults. You cannot assume that every critic of your argument is a troll, and yes, trolls are inevitable. But I see it far too often when someone provides fair and honest critique and is either outright blocked or vilified as something they just aren’t. “You’ve hurt me by disagreeing with me” happens far too often online, alongside “I’m going to harass you because you support a movement I believe to be filled with harassers”. Learning to accept criticism, even if it devalues the argument, is… honestly, the scientifically accurate way to go about doing things.

The nature of the internet, with the easy anonymity and such, allows for lots of abuse. This is an unavoidable truth of any discussion that takes place online. But that doesn’t mean that every critic should be condemned. And you are not immediately better than those critics because you’ve rationalised your own arguments and therefore feel it to be the most correct and therefore most valid argument. You learn to easily identify the folks who exist only to push their own agendas, rather than have a discussion, based on what their responses are to criticism of their statements. Stay away from these people; they are toxic and they will not help you.

This comes back to what I said earlier, regarding the oversimplification of an otherwise complex argument. Personally, I question why they’re called “feminists” and not “humanists” if they’re claiming to fight for equality. I question the notion that reverse-sexism (and by extension reverse-racism) doesn’t exist because these things are about power and the subjugated do not have power. I question the imagined cases of sexism, where victimhood is chosen over empowerment, because controversy better pushes the narrative. Ultimately though, I empathise with those few who are trying to have an actual, valid discussion (and sexism is a very valid discussion to have) but are being drowned out by the noise of the far-more-vocal. Folks who do something like this:

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We need to be accountable for our arguments. We need to be able to stand up and say, “This is what I believe in, let’s talk about it,” and then allow others to discuss with you and have an actual, honest-to-god discussion about it. Not talk at but talk with people. We need to learn to reconcile our differences and start looking at things from multiple perspectives, not simply assuming that the other person “doesn’t get it” or is irredeemable (though in some cases, yes they absolutely are) because most of the time I can guaran-damn-tee you that two conflicting people have a very real sense of justification for saying the things they’re saying, and both of them involve the love of gaming.

As Leigh Alexander explained in her video, it’s time we learned to embrace alternative aspects of the gaming community. Gaming culture is such a fascinating thing, and can have so many different perspectives. Rather than ignoring or attacking those who disagree with us, let’s instead evaluate every experience on a case-by-case basis. If someone is guilty of being a hypocrite, call them out on it. If someone holds a particular opinion and you feel you can better inform them then by all means, try.

In this gamer culture war, the moment we stand by and do nothing, we allow others to move in on our beloved pastime and make it something it isn’t. We allow ourselves to be marginalised and mistreated. And not just women, but everyone. We worked so hard for so many years to gain acceptance, why would we now allow it to be thrown away by our own community? If we must fight, then let’s fight to end narratives that are beyond reproach, and challenge every misguided assumption, but let’s do it respectfully and show that we are not vindictive, sinister types but genuine human beings with integrity and humility. There is an actual story to tell within that narrative, and it does need to be heard. We just need to learn to ignore the people who are out for personal gain and instead talk to the people who really, genuinely care about this gamer culture we are all a part of.

I don’t think that’s asking a lot, is it?

Gamers can be your audience. Gamers are not over.

We’re just evolving.

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Bomb Threat Leads To Evacuation At #GGinDC Meetup In Washington http://egmr.net/2015/05/bomb-threat-leads-to-evacuation-at-ggindc-meetup-in-washington/ http://egmr.net/2015/05/bomb-threat-leads-to-evacuation-at-ggindc-meetup-in-washington/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 06:00:10 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=170473 The #GamerGate saga has been running for nearly eight months now, after beginning around September last year. Depending on your level of interest, you are either for the movement, against […]

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The #GamerGate saga has been running for nearly eight months now, after beginning around September last year. Depending on your level of interest, you are either for the movement, against the movement, or entirely indifferent towards it.

Those who are against the movement have declared issues with #GamerGate’s treatment of women, and compared #GamerGate to ISIS, the KKK, and “terrorists”, calling the group a “hate movement that exists to oppress women and stubbornly resist change in the gaming and tech industry”. Those who are for the movement, have stated profusely that the conversation is about ethics in games journalism, a multi-billion dollar industry that is currently suffering from clique-esque relationships between predominately indie developers and games journalists.

Both sides have received widespread support and many friendships and reputations have taken hits as a result of the entire ordeal. But you more than likely already know all of this.

Last week members of #GamerGate had a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant in Washington DC. The meet, hashtagged #GGinDC was not the first meet to have happened by members of #GamerGate, with a London meet having previously occurred, and a Bay Area meet currently in the works.

Pro-#GamerGate folks were invited to meet some of the bigger names in #GamerGate and just have some laughs and discussion about gaming and other things.

Kinda like we used to have.

Anti-#GamerGate folks strongly opposed this meet-up, with the likes of Arthur Chu spearheading the campaign to stop the meet from happening at all costs, going so far as to tweet the following:

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Later it was revealed that he had emailed the restaurant’s owner to try and get them to stop the meet from happening:

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Meanwhile, the meet went along anyway, with the restaurant’s owner citing that “this is America” but only until a bomb threat was tweeted:

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This resulted in the police being called in to investigate, and the meet being evacuated.

This isn’t the first time that bomb threats have been associated with #GamerGate. Last time around, Anita Sarkeesian endured a bomb threat that was then associated with #GamerGate despite the threat having occurred months before #GamerGate was conceived. And of course this time, the threat was levelled against #GamerGate members.

Meanwhile, pictures and tweets from the event began to surface:

This is the second incident within the past month, of members of #GamerGate being forcefully ejected from an event despite posing no visible threat.

Last month the Honey Badger Brigade — a group of women who identify as MRAs — were asked to remove themselves from the Calgary Expo in Canada, with the police eventually being called, after it was revealed that they were using a #GamerGate logo at their stand:

It was later revealed by show attendees that the Honey Badgers were disruptive during a discussion on women in comics, at the expo. Eventually though, the truth outed with the following video being released, showing first what the Honey Badgers said during the discussion, and contrasting it with a related incident (although not confirmed to be from the Calgary Expo) of the conduct of other feminist groups:

The Honey Badgers have since declared their intention to sue citing that their expulsion from the event — and all subsequent expos — was unfair, unnecessary and uncalled for.

We now have two incidents of events that were previously condemned by anti-#GamerGate members, that anti-#GamerGate members are now guilty of not just perpetuating but celebrating.

For as long as I, or any of you can remember, gamers have always been belittled, ignored, and misunderstood. The awkward shut-ins, the recluses, the victims. We’ll let you decide who the victims are, here.

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What Would You Like Us To Discuss On This Week’s EGMR Offensive? http://egmr.net/2015/04/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive/ http://egmr.net/2015/04/what-would-you-like-us-to-discuss-on-this-weeks-egmr-offensive/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 09:00:33 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=169948 Remember, kids: What doesn’t kill you only makes you stranger. Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would […]

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Remember, kids: What doesn’t kill you only makes you stranger.

Previously on the eGamer Podcast we would ask you guys for questions each episode, and during the recording we would attempt to answer them. With our new podcast, the EGMR Offensive, we want to try something slightly different.

We want you to suggest topics for us to discuss. Because it’s a much more topic-based podcast, we’ll be discussing a few of the biggest news stories for the past week or two. So we thought, why not just ask you guys and see what you’d like to hear us talk about? This article is your opportunity to do just that.

If you would just like to ask us questions as usual, then by all means do so. However if you have some hot topic you’d like us to dig our teeth into, then by all means do that too. Either way, the comments section is your friend. Go wild.

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The EGMR Offensive #8: Dawn Of The Force http://egmr.net/2015/04/egmr-offensive-8-dawn-force/ http://egmr.net/2015/04/egmr-offensive-8-dawn-force/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:00:28 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=169850 Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive. This week is all (mostly) about trailers, after a whole bunch of them released last week. We’re […]

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Welcome to a brand new gaming podcast, which we’re calling The EGMR Offensive.

This week is all (mostly) about trailers, after a whole bunch of them released last week. We’re also taking some time to discuss things only the PC Master Race would care about, but also things only consolefags would care about. It’s another week of pure offence so we hope you’re ready for it. I guess what we’re asking is, do you bleed? … you will.

Here are the topics discussed during this week’s episode:

Keen on getting offended? Here’s how:

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | Android | RSS

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Review: Ori And The Blind Forest Is Simply Spectacular http://egmr.net/2015/04/review-ori-blind-forest-simply-spectacular/ http://egmr.net/2015/04/review-ori-blind-forest-simply-spectacular/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:00:06 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=169476 Visit review on site for scoring. The first game I ever completed was Super Mario Bros 3, back when I had milk teeth. At the time it was the most […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

The first game I ever completed was Super Mario Bros 3, back when I had milk teeth. At the time it was the most diverse and extravagant game I had ever played, with a multitude of environments, enemy types, power-ups, and play-style requirements. Importantly, it was the first game I ever played that had actual non-linear progression. Oh you had somewhere to reach and only a few ways to get there, but you ultimately still had some choice in how you went about it. And it was the one thing above all the other cool things that really shone for me.

Many, many years later, this is one of the best parts of Ori and the Blind Forest. It is a game that empowers the player by allowing them to play along particular paths but entirely through their own choosing. Likewise too, the multitude of environments, enemy types, and power-ups. But perhaps that’s getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s start with the basics.

Ori and the Blind Forest is an independently developed game by Moon Studios, published by Microsoft Studios on PC and Xbox One, with an Xbox 360 version coming later. Moon Studios (not to be confused with High Moon Studios) comprises a range of experienced former triple-A developers, and has no central location. This is important because it means that Ori manages to come together as part of a larger whole, and yet does not suffer for it. Something larger studios such as Ubisoft Montreal could possibly learn from.

Taking inspiration from the likes of Rayman and Metroid, Moon Studios have developed Ori and the Blind Forest using the Unity engine from the ground up as a 2D platformer, meaning that it will look and feel like the Metroid games of old, but with the colourfully vibrant worlds of Rayman, and more. While playing it, it felt more like a mixture of Braid, Super Meat Boy and Limbo, but faster. In that respect, in terms of playability, it is a delight.

I’ll let the screenshots do the talking but suffice to say, if you’re looking for something pretty to gawk at then Ori and the Blind Forest more than has your number. It’s got a wide variety of colourful areas within the game, going from windy canyon-like passages, to fiery volcanoes, to murky swamp-land, and more. Interestingly, it also goes from night to day in certain areas, offering up even more variety.

Mix it together with the aesthetic of the titular character and a self-aware ‘camera’ that pans back and forth along with what’s going on, on-screen, and you’ve got a very beautiful game on your hands.

The story behind Ori and the Blind Forest is certainly one that attempts to tug at one’s heartstrings but whether or not that is effective remains entirely up to you. It tells the story of the titular Ori, recently adopted after falling from a Spirit Tree in the forest of Nibel, having to survive and fix the world after a cataclysmic event leaves him orphaned, alone, and hopeless. Thankfully the light-hearted nature of the rest of the game more than makes up for the emotionally heavy prologue sequence.

While playing through the game and attempting to set things back to the way they were, restoring light to the fallen forest, you encounter another spirit of the forest who teams up with you and allows you to use it to help you. This grants you an attack; a mild one at first, but one that gets progressively stronger as you go along. You also have various abilities that will unlock as part of story progress, so don’t be afraid to just play the story and explore later.

Along the way your character may collect souls and use them to create soul-links. These are very important resources in the game for three reasons. For one, they allow you to upgrade your character, selecting from three paths (which you can eventually max out by exploring enough) each with their own strengths. For two, they allow you to release a charged attack that does extra damage and creates pathways for you during navigation. Most importantly though, soul-links allow you to create save points.

That’s right. Saving is a resource in this game. Granted there are checkpoints and a few free save points because they don’t want to make it too unfair on you, but because souls are a limited resource you are forced to be very tactical about when you save. The result is a game with just the right amount of challenge, and the levels don’t make it too easy on you either. You’re going to need some solid hand-eye coordination, and time everything from jumps to attacks to some really crazy set-pieces. Don’t worry, we won’t spoil it for you (spoiler: they’re fast, frenetic adrenaline rushes of note).

There isn’t really much more to Ori and the Blind Forest. The soundtrack mixes delightfully with the aesthetic and creates a warm, welcoming feel while playing. It flares up at just the right time for just the right reason before calming down to soft and soothing again. I can honestly say that it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve had such a happy, truly joyous feeling while playing a platformer — and I say this as someone who hasn’t enjoyed a platformer since the above-mentioned Braid.

Navigating the levels of Ori and the Blind Forest is utterly sublime.

If there is one criticism to be had, it’s that sometimes the game doesn’t quite register what you want to do, so for example you’ll try to do X and because of the sheer amount of ways to control Ori, the game does Y. It can be quite frustrating when you’re doing it as part of a sequence that disallows saving and forces you to complete it. But honestly, it’s a minor niggle and more to do with knowing what to press and what not to press, so we can’t really completely blame the game for it.

The game will take you a solid eight hours to finish, and that’s if you speed through it and only try to collect what you are already able to, along the way. The entire world remains open to you throughout your playthrough, allowing for backtracking if you so desire. This is especially handy when going back later to explore areas previously inaccessible. Overall if you wish to go for total completion you’re looking at perhaps fifteen hours worth of fun here. Which is quite a lot for this game’s asking price and digital nature.

Unfortunately that’s where it ends, because the game features no multiplayer component to speak of. But that’s fine because on its own, it shines as a singleplayer offering. And is by far and away one of the best platformers, not just this year, but in indie gaming as a whole.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: On Media, False Narratives And Truth http://egmr.net/2015/04/life-universe-gaming-truth-not-always/ http://egmr.net/2015/04/life-universe-gaming-truth-not-always/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:00:44 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=169707 Today we’re going to do something a little different from usual column entries. Usually what happens is, I have this extensive list of topics to discuss and I choose one […]

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Today we’re going to do something a little different from usual column entries. Usually what happens is, I have this extensive list of topics to discuss and I choose one that is most relevant at a point in time, and then spend a week or two researching before finally writing up on the topic. I give informed, educated opinions which make no presumptions about being anything other than self-involved research pieces, and I then leave it up to you guys to decide how you want to receive the information being provided.

Let’s not do that today.

Instead, let’s just have a bit of a freestyle session in which I throw thoughts onto a screen and see what sticks. No supporting sources that can be accused of cherry-picking, no vigorous research prior to claims made, none of it. Just me, my thoughts, and you, our dear reader. I should probably say now that if this isn’t your cup of tea then by all means give this column a skip and return in a few weeks. Shall we?

I had originally written this column to completion before scrapping it and deciding (after consultation with the relevant parties) that the content coverage was too edgy, too controversial, and just a little bit too alienating. I delved into the likes of societal norms, culture, religion, and cultivation theory. In the end, I felt it was just too harsh and would win me more detractors than supporters, despite the quality of those supporters perhaps balancing those scales.

Why do I feel this relevant to discuss? Because it speaks in and of itself, of a world that is too afraid to be edgy, controversial and alienating. It speaks of a world so ready to be offended that an opinion columnist would think twice about releasing an article because it might upset too many people.

And frankly, I think that’s outrageous.

There’s something I’ve been battling with in recent times, and it involves the idea of truth. What is true, and who’s to say that it’s the correct version of truth? After all, truth is relative. We’ve all heard the saying “history is written by the survivors” right? So how do we factor truth into the beliefs and mindsets of such a diverse people as humankind? Who’s to say that your truth is the preferable one to mine, and who’s to say that we’ll believe the person who says that? In most situations it comes down more to personal belief than to objective fact.

One of the greatest and most difficult life lessons I ever learned was that most people don’t want to be corrected, and don’t care for your version of the “truth”. More especially, nobody cares if you’re “right” about something. By claiming to be right where others are wrong, all you are doing is hurting the egos of others, and creating animosity towards you in the process. This is especially difficult when you’re an opinion columnist on the internet, because seemingly everyone thinks you’re wrong, and if you ever end up being right about something you are forced to take it on the chin, forget about it, and move on to other things. Frustrating, agonising, part of being an adult. So fair enough.

I lament that I haven’t studied up enough on the ideologies of culture, politics, psychology and religion. Because I would probably have a better idea of how “truth” is perceived and how to reconcile the best version of “truth” from these parties.

For instance, let’s say you take some proven scientific theories to a person of religious faith. These scientific theories may contradict this person’s faith. They may choose to accept or reject those theories, but what do you think will ultimately happen to the religious person’s faith? That’s right: Nothing. Because that is what faith is; it’s unwavering. They might argue that your scientific theories have no say when compared to their god, and who would you be to argue with that? Each person then believes their own version of “truth” with neither able to reconcile, because nobody is willing to concede their side in the absence of evidence that the other party is willing to accept.

And so we end up in a frustrating stalemate, unable to prove either “truth” to be more correct than the other. So once again, truth becomes relative. In this case, contextual. Based on who you are, perhaps the way you were brought up, and the way you think. And also based on what evidence you bring to the table.

There is a going belief that the US government is being run by lizards. Most sane people would laugh that off relatively quickly, right? It’s an absurd sentiment by all accounts. And yet, to those people, it’s their truth. Their version of honesty would be to claim that Lizard Obama is the one calling the shots, but only until Lizard Hilary Clinton takes over. In this respect, we accept many truths based on compelling evidence. For example, if you hold two magnets together there will be a force, either of attraction or repulsion. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. It’s an accepted “truth” because it’s compelling enough that all parties are willing to accept it.

But what if we took a slightly different example. What if we looked at an online movement, and one person called it a “harassment campaign” whilst another called it a “consumer revolt” and neither party was willing to let up. Who would you side for or against, if I said that both sides possessed compelling supporting evidence of these claims? More than likely, it would depend entirely on who you are, the way you were brought up, and the way you think.

not-this-shit

I regret how consumed in the politics of the gaming industry, I am. However I feel it is my duty as a representative of gaming (albeit to a far smaller audience than the giants of this industry) to see that the truth is outed. Yes, I have a personal interest in a particular side and that will always motivate me to argue in favour of that particular side, to the point that my arguments, though clearly labelled as opinions, are construed as self-involved. But ultimately, I have reached this point of personal interest based on particular experiences in my time as a representative of gaming.

Before we get to that, let me first substantiate in terms of the “way you were brought up” part; I don’t trust the media. This might sound a bit like a conspiracy theory but ever since seeing articles outing Pokémon as Satanic, I’ve always eyed media reports with an air of suspicion. This was not helped by Fox News attacking Grand Theft Auto as a game that promoted and trained violence within children who played it. As gamers we know that this “truth” is anything but. We know that this “truth” has no compelling evidence to back it up. Put simply, the media is and has always been self-serving, capitalising on a trend and creating controversy in the interests of self-preservation, profit and power.

After all, what is more believable than the news?

Effectively, the best way to convey a “truth” then becomes the media.

That is, until the media is challenged. And this brings me to the second problem I have, and that’s the power of the media. In gaming, we’ve had to endure many months of #GamerGate, and the movement that has many labels seems not to be going anywhere. Every few weeks when you think it’s starting to die down, another scandal erupts and it begins anew. And nobody on either side of #GamerGate has their hands entirely clean; whether it’s blocklists or organised assaults on companies.

We as consumers of the gaming industry then have the choice of staying out of it, something that many have done quite admirably, or jumping into it on either side (with “side” used very graciously). Some of us claim first-hand experience to justify why we stand in a particular camp, whereas others are simply willing to accept a narrative proposed by media.

As an outsider, I came into #GamerGate with my mistrust of the media, and I saw that lo and behold, the media was once again misrepresenting certain arguments, and despite my disinterest in throwing in with people who think that tweets on Twitter are so important, I was taken by the idea of giving the world the truths the media didn’t want them to see. After all, what seemed more obvious than the media trying to cover its tracks by negatively portraying #GamerGate? I certainly do still believe this, especially after the events of this past weekend.

Anti-censorship. Getting censored for having a booth about anti-censorship. A “hate movement” that is dedicated to silencing women, and yet it was women who were silenced for being part of it. Ironic, wouldn’t you say? It takes me back to a George Orwell book called 1984 (which is one of the most important books ever written) which discusses “truthspeak” and “doublethink” and the art of censoring the truth to keep a specific narrative going, and maintain control of the population.

So again we come back to the idea of “truth” and what exactly constitutes telling it. Compelling evidence? Who’s to say the evidence can be corroborated, and who gets to decide whether to accept the truth in the face of the evidence presented before us?

It’s a difficult ask, to expect someone who disagrees with you to let go of their beliefs and try to see the world from your side. Not just try lazily and then claim to have done so, but really put themselves in your shoes. Sure it makes life interesting to have disagreement, but how rad would it be if we could instantly get someone to see our point of view when we needed them to.

Unfortunately for all my efforts, I’ve only ever been met with frustration and contempt when I tried and failed at changing someone’s mind. Learning to let go and accept that people will disagree and there’s nothing I can do about it, has been undoubtedly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s agonising, painful, I feel powerless whenever I see people who believe what I construe to be a false narrative, and yet I see that they are led in that direction by a perceived truth, and who am I to argue the merits of that truth? More importantly, what difference does it make if I can’t convince them otherwise? And why should I even bother, if they were willing to accept that truth in the first place?

World-famous cosmologist Carl Sagan once said: “In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”

Alas, living in the real world means having to make peace with the fact that no matter how “right” I think I am, and how much I believe in my “truths” I will not convince others of these things because they believe themselves to be equally “right” in their “truths” and it’s for this very reason that #GamerGate, and all the relative parties, are not going to be going anywhere for a very, very, very long time.

The best we can do is try to educate the world and hope that someone somewhere is willing to accept all sides presented to them, before making their call on what is “right” and what isn’t.

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Screencheat Wants You To Cheat To Win http://egmr.net/2015/04/screencheat-wants-cheat-win/ http://egmr.net/2015/04/screencheat-wants-cheat-win/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:00:15 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=169674 Ever play a game with your friends and have to hide your screen so they don’t try to cheat and see where you’re at? Ever try doing that in a […]

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Ever play a game with your friends and have to hide your screen so they don’t try to cheat and see where you’re at? Ever try doing that in a splitscreen competitive match?

Well now we have something entirely different with a game that is actively encouraging screen-peaking. Yes really.

Screencheat is a game developed by Samurai Punk that uses screen-peaking as its core gameplay mechanic.

In Screencheat, players are invisible and the only way to know where someone is, is by looking at their screen, tracking them down, and shooting them to shit. And not with the kind of weaponry you might imagine, either…

The game will feature ten guns that seem to take massive inspiration from Sunset Overdrive and other zany titles, the likes of exploding teddy bears, a ridable horse with lance for skewering other players with, and even a candelabra. How do you find players? Well for starters, maps will have specifically coloured quadrants which will help you track down players, and then there are also distinctive landmarks scattered around.

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Before you think that this could only work at parties, and only offline, the game does support online multiplayer. The way it works is that everyone’s screen is displayed on everyone else’s, meaning you can look at everyone’s screen at once. As a result of this, games are limited to eight players, which can still be a party if you think about it.

The game will be releasing on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 “later this year” although exactly when remains to be seen.

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