Inside: Limbo++

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Two weeks ago I returned from work to find Tim Lee sitting on the couch playing Inside. Joining him on his merry adventure, we spent three nights powering through the main story plus the game’s hidden content. Thanks Tim. You saved me $20.

Inside is essentially a follow-up to Playdead’s previous indie darling Limbo, and the games are similar in most ways. You control a boy in search of some unspecified thing in a monochromatic, hostile world. It’s a side-scrolling puzzle platformer where, like Limbo, the world will try its best to kill you in whatever way possible. Limbo‘s gruesome deaths return here – along the way you’ll be tazed, shot, drowned, and mauled by dogs (among other things). You’ll even recognize a couple of familiar environments, such as the forest at the start of the game, and jumping across rooftops adorned with bold, neon letters.

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Valiant Hearts: Surprise, It’s Not An FPS About WWI

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It surprises me that World War I has largely escaped the capture of the public’s imagination. I can only name a handful of WWI movies, and there are even fewer games to speak of. Even my fourth grade teacher, a public official paid to educate children, wasn’t able to tell me how or why it got started. For most Americans, WWI is a gaping hole in history with a beginning and an end and a lot violence in the middle. Spoiler alert: The Allies won.

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Mario Retardy: The Mario Party Drinking Game

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For full rules, scroll down to bottom of page.

It’s no secret that drinking can lead to some bad decisions. Case in point: After several beer-soaked rounds of Jackbox over at Nick’s apartment on Saturday night (note: two Saturdays ago now – I’m late to posting), my friends once again convinced me to a round of the crassly-named “Mario Retardy” drinking game. Full disclosure: The last time I played this game I was so hungover that I had to call out of work.

Most of you are probably familiar with the Mario Party series by now, but if not, here’s a basic rundown: Four Mario characters compete against each other in a dice-based board game where the spaces you land have various effects. Your goal is to collect stars by making it to star spaces before your opponents. In between turns you play minigames for a chance to win coins that you can use to buy stars and other useful useless items.

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5 Games That Disappointed Me At E3 2016

I originally considered telling you my top picks for E3, but then I realized it would be a lot funnier to tell you everything I hated about it.

When it comes to E3, there’s a hard and fast rule that you should always follow: Expect to get hyped by trailers and severely let down by actual gameplay. I consider this a universal rule. In fact, just for fun Randall, Chris, and I went back one day to watch old E3 trailers and then compared them to the actual product that got delivered. What a hoot.

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PAX East 2016: Day Three

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Dawn of the last day. I desperately wanted to try out some VR this weekend, but its a no-go as you basically need to sell your left nut to register for a spot. As such, I decide to at least see what AAA titles are on offer this year. Randall did a good job pointing out that most of the AAA titles this year are simply multiplayer betas that have already been available before. Some examples:

  • Gears of War 4: Multiplayer open beta available starting tomorrow.
  • Uncharted 4: Open beta was available back in March.
  • Battleborn: Open beta available on April 13.
  • Overwatch: Open beta on May 5. Closed beta began several months ago (and closes tomorrow).
  • Doom: Open beta was available from April 15-17.

Building playable demos that don’t crash at the convention sucks a lot of time out of development, so I get it. Plus, open betas mean millions of eyes looking out for bugs in your game. But no one likes to stand in line for two hours to play a freely available demo. I treat the AAA section as a spectator sport instead.

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PAX East 2016: Day Two

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Day two: Foul weather has inched in. I walk to the con as the sky decides whether it wants to rain or not. I overhear some authentic Boston chatter (“I remember the first packa cigarettes I ever stole from the Easy-Maht”). It grows steadily colder. ‘Tis a good day to spend indoors.

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PAX East 2016: Day One

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Dawn of the first day. Weather in Boston is extremely pleasant (for once). There’s a distinct lack of Super Mutants and airships, but I chalk this up to it being early in the weekend.

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Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain: What a Mess We Made When It All Went Wrong (…Actually, It Went Great)

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Considering how much of a Metal Gear Solid fan I am, I’m surprised how long it’s taken me to finally start playing MGS V: The Phantom Pain. I didn’t even touch Ground Zeroes until I knew I was going to be playing The Phantom Pain right after.

I could easily blame the backlog for this, but the truth is that I think Metal Gear has had a lot of weak entries since the release of Snake Eater. I was personally unimpressed by Guns of the Patriots. The pacing made it feel like more a guided tour rather than actual game. The story also tried to tie up way too many loose ends before it could conclude the series, on top of needing to bring back everyone’s favorite characters so that it could feel like a “proper ending”. Peace Walker seemed like a true return to form for the series, but watching Andrew play it gave me the impression that it was simply recycling old mechanics and motifs from the previous games just to churn out a new title. And I won’t even dignify Portable Ops with a comment.

Thankfully, The Phantom Pain (and by proxy, Ground Zeroes) has been a breath of fresh air for me, not just in terms of Metal Gear Solid, but in terms of games themselves. The Phantom Pain is one of the best games I have ever played. Period. The move to open-world gameplay has given new life to the series in a way that not only revitalizes the series, but also makes The Phantom Pain a supremely addictive game.

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Achievement Unlocked: Backlog Beaten

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I’ve been putting this off several months now, but with the new year it felt like the right time to make the announcement: I’ve finally finished my backlog.

Well, I actually finished it back in November, but I haven’t said anything about it until now. I originally wanted to review my last two games as a sort of farewell, but that opportunity has passed by now. Black & White managed to be the final holdout, with Dead Rising not too far behind it.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I spent a year and a half deliberately trying to beat all of my old games. A year and a half is a long time to do anything. Most people don’t even keep their New Year’s resolutions past February. But I managed to stick to my goal, and honestly, it feels good to be done.

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Grand Theft Auto: Let’s (Not) Go For a Joyride

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Next on my countdown of “games that I avoided playing” is Grand Theft Auto for the PlayStation. No, not Grand Theft Auto V. Just Grand Theft Auto.

At 185 million total sales, GTA may be one of the most beloved game series out there these days, but it’s come a long way since its debut on the PlayStation. Grand Theft Auto may have been the first game in the series, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it catapulted the games to greatness; that award goes to Grand Theft Auto III, arguably one of the most important games of all time. The first two games were a tad more… forgettable.

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