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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I think I just heard the audio track of the Fallout 4 Teaser! ...I think.

UPDATE: This guy says he made it up. Thanks PoopF%&r!

Take this with a grain of salt. If it's a fake, it's the best I've ever seen.

I can't FUGG'IN WAIT!!!!

Yes, that did warrant four exclamation points. It's Fallout, man.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hangar 6 R&D Review: Yep, I still love The Bureau.

I booted The Bureau up again the other day out of curiosity, afraid I'd finally see the cracks so many professional and trusted critics wrote it up for. But to my pleasant surprise, I found myself sucked in yet again. Eager to shell out a modest sum for whatever DLC they had on hand. I still think it's more sharply written and plays better than almost anyone I've talked to about it. But I do concede it's far, far, away from anything approaching greatness. It's hobbled scope, conspicuously absent base building, and over recycled talking animations are real issues.

But I have so much fun with it! And the only substantial DLC we'll ever get from the late 2k Marin is an absolute steal for $5. It's a 3-4 hour campaign set a few days before the initial Groom Range invasion staring Agent Dasliva as he volunteers to assist in 11 waves of surprisingly violent psychological tests being run on the Bureau's first captive "sleepwalker."

Naturally I expected some fun waves of combat with truncated and unsatisfying story beats to set up the main game. Wrong again! Beginning with a well staged walk-and-talk with Dr. Dresner and slowly escalating to; well... where it ends, a decent yarn is spun as well as a half credible explanation for how you can fight the outsiders before they actually show up.

 So yes, I still love The Bureau, and Hangar 6 is a solid prologue.

As well as a bitter-sweet goodbye.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sherlock Season 3 Trailer. Has it been 2 years already?

After a very long (very BBC) hiatus, Sherlock will once again return to our respective airwaves. Wonderful. It's a very good show, a real drag on repeat viewings, but absolutely captivating the first time around.

... well that wasn't much was it? What about Orphan Black?

Come on! That could have been a teaser for the first season. Well at least I got a air date that time, Sherlock.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

TellTale Games takes a seat on the Game of Thrones... throne.

Is Tell Tale Games the best interactive storyteller in the business? I'd like to think so, and so do the folks that hold the keys the justifiably popular Game of Thrones IP. Like it or not, this is what the team behind The Walking Dead will be working on now as well.

I haven't gotten around to their "Fables" yet, but I like to wait until the majority of episodic content is released before I go all in. I hate being an early investor in matters not related to The Neverhood and I'm personally just keeping time until their second season of The Walking Dead sets in.

Can they handle it? Absolutely. Will they handle it... well I can't see the future can I?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I can't stand how Bob Dylan just blew my mind.

I am not the world's biggest Dylan fan. My feelings towards him are the same I have for the Ramones. I respect the hell out of him... but I'm not gonna spend too much time listening to his work. That being said, this new video for his almost 50 year old song "Like a Rolling Stone" is incredible. It's like a Warhol masterpiece for the internet age. Ambitious, broadly appealing, yet so deceptively simple I'm kicking myself for not thinking it up first.

So bravo team Dylan, this is one of the greatest music videos I've ever seen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Britney Murphy's Death may have actually been Murder.

I don't like to rumor monger, nor give into baseless scandal, but this is turning into a fascinating little mystery. I'm not here to pass judgment, but if the new medical evidence revealed by the Huffington Post is to be believed, Murphy's hair contained a "high level set" of heavy metals. To an M.E. that's a sign that points clearly to a case of poisoning. That could be an accident... but the plot thickens.

Britney's husband (Simon Monjack) also died of pneumonia after allegedly suffering from similar symptoms associated with metal poisoning five months later. That could have been a coincidence. Murphy's mother had sworn up and down a "toxic mold" found in their home was responsible. Speaking of Sharon Murphy, according to TMZ (and for the love of Christ, take all this with the absolute grainiest of salt) she had been sleeping in her son in law's bed after Britney's death and had purchased medication prescribed to "Sharon Monjack"

Going by Moscow rules here, I believe we can call this enemy action. But this is all speculation at this point. Sure the juicy noir narrative is floating in front of our faces, but please don't go buying into it just yet. Murphy's father has done some great work trying to get to the bottom of her daughter's death, and I'm sure this is far from the last we'll hear about this case. But just because the mother looks really suspicious doesn't mean jack. Not yet, so stay tuned... or bookmarked, or just refresh Huff-Po. I'm  going to draw all my evidence from them anyway.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bethesda might, MIGHT, be teasing Fallout 4.

It doesn't matter though, I'm bouncing off the walls. So what if the only evidence is a teaser countdown site with an ominous morse code beep backing up a suspiciously fallouty type face. I don't care, I'll take the baseless rumor mongering because it's been over 3 damn years since I've heard anything at all about my favorite franchise.

Sure Erik Todd Dellums tweeted the possibility of the return of his DJ persona ThreeDog a while back, but that might also be a Fallout film project. A project that is also so up in the air the only thing confirming it is a character actor's twitter account.

For the record I am absolutely pro "more ThreeDog."

Grump! Fallout is too strong a brand to abandon, but I get the sneaking suspicion Bethesda is getting really sick of it. But maybe I'm panicking for no reason, (I tend to do that) seeing as they have a brand new MMO to promote. They probably don't want to become their own competition by advertising two products at the same time.

That being said, Skyrim was great and everything, but I couldn't be bothered to give two flying sh*ts about TES at the best of times. I can't help but feel like my true love is being held hostage by their pet IP.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

XCOM Enemy Within Impressions: "Solid Copy, Big Sky."

Bah da bam bam ba daaaaah.
So... my day off just disappeared in a puff of smoke. Wanna know why, or more importantly, how? Well, the new XCOM expansion came out today. An expansion so massive it's the size of the main game. Actually, it is the main game; tuned up, tricked out, and packing a brand new story thread. Not only are you facing a global invasion of the martian persuasion, but now you have a more... human threat on your hands. Well, more human than the other guys anyway. But I'm getting ahead of myself, I've never actually blogged about what I thought about this game before, so why don't I get that out of the way first.

Enemy Unknown was a Firaxis game through and through. Meaning it was so mercilessly addictive I'd put it down for months out of fear of what it would do to my social life. I really liked it, but there were some nagging aspects that kept me from letting it in all the way. To my heart, I mean.

Did that sound sexual? It wasn't supposed to sound sexual...
 Things like a shallow pool of maps, repetitive enemies, and having to move your troops by hand outside of combat ground my gears sumthin' fierce. But Enemy Within has been a long time coming; after getting about halfway through the game and finding myself in my first run in with the gene splicing terrorist cell "Exalt" I'm over the moon. There's tons of new maps, oodles of troop upgrades, and several new in-mission objects to spice up your everyday abduction sites.

Is $30 a little much? Yes. Are you essentially buying the same game all over again? Technically. Will you care about any of that 2 hours in? Not a chance in hell.

I got sick of fighting aliens. I was tired of fighting robots. But robot aliens?! I'm... listening.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Long, Sad, Death Throes of Blockbuster Finally End.

There was a time, long before I was even born, when VHS tapes cost almost $100 a piece. In that world, a rental store made almost too much sense. For 20 years Blockbuster dominated, with lesser franchises like Hollywood video nipping at it's heels. That all changed with the advent of the great red menace: NETFLIX.

I love Netflix so, so, much. I've been a constant subscriber for over 4 years now. That's over $400 dollars at least. Though my story is hardly unique because all of the 300 remaining (really?! that many were left?) stores will close this year.

They tried, lord how they tried. They grabbed onto the mail side of Netflix just as Netflix realized the real future was in streaming. So we all knew that was never going to be enough and saw the end coming miles away. They filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Now, three years later, it's finally shutting down the vital organs. I honestly can't believe it hobbled on for so long.

But now I can't help but feel for Netflix's mortality. After Starz picked up all it's toys and went home, I've feared $8 a month will someday only buy you a shallow collection of entertainment, instead of the still pretty monolithic selection ol' Netty has now. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Rest in peace Blcokbuster, I always said $7 2-night rentals were bullsh*t. Now who's laughing?

Me! I'm laughing, by myself, in front of my computer... worth it.

*Update: I called them death "throws"... I hang my head in shame.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bob's Burgers Returns! Seaplane Review.

After a baseball break that went on far too long (go Red Socks or... whatever) I've finally got my Bob back. It's no secret this is my new TV crush, it's been that way for quite some time. It's just been so consistently good for so long I want to shout my love from the rooftops. Baring that, this little blogspot should do the trick.

So what happened on Sunday? Will Forte guest starred as "Up Skirt Kurt" a seaplane instructor with less than admirable intentions for bored married women. After Bob refuses to spice up date night, Linda chooses to learn how to fly by herself and runs afoul of Kurt's master plan: a fake plane crash on "quickie-kiss-it" island.

One of the best things about Bob's Burgers is how each family member is strong enough to stand on their own, but somehow manage to be even better together. So having Linda being blissfully unaware of Kurt's advances is just as much fun as seeing Bob and the kids making a mad dash for aviation's make out point. That and Tina's musical fantasy about an Island all about kissing made me rewind at least three times. There was just really funny stuff from everyone this week.

From Gene's obsession with bread sticks to Louise commenting of Bob's belief that there has to be a boat for hire somewhere "This guy thinks every where's Key west!" to  Louise also commenting on Linda's infedelity "Don't get pregnant, I want to be the baby!" Not to mention some hearty Kevin Kline cameos as Mr. Fischoeder to bring it all home. This wasn't as brilliantly well structured as the Halloween special Fortnight (which was fantastic), or as heartfelt as some of the Tina centric episodes can be. But it was a rock solid episode nonetheless. Bob's Burgers continues to be the best show on fox by a mile these days. I honestly can't recommend it enough.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why absolutely no one in the gaming community is surprised about

I don't like getting political, there's nothing I hate reading more than a partisan political sermon. But I'm not going to talk about politics. I'm not even gonna talk about health care. I'm going to talk about reasonable expectations for internet access and problem solving in this country. Both parties in America have collectively face-palmed over's inability to function. The tone I hear is one of complete surprise at something the pundit community seems to believe is almost unprecedented.

A website not working?! I understand how most folks can go through their professional lives and never feel the brunt of a really nasty connectivity issue. But here in Vidja Gameland, it happens all the goddamn time. Simcity is the most recent fiasco I can think of, and even in the long and storied history of video game launch disasters, it was really sumthin' special. EA had underestimated their sever load (how many people that it can support online at a time) by what seemed to be several million. The game literally didn't work for weeks.

Amazon pulled it from their proverbial shelves and critics (who had played it before release on private servers) updated their reviews to inform the public. Russ Pitts from Polygon had a particularly heavy conscience:

"Given this currently horrendous state of both accessibility and playability, and acknowledging the fact that even the drastic changes EA has made to the game in its attempts to address them haven't worked, it is hard to continue to recommend SimCity. The experience currently on offer is now significantly altered from what was reviewed, and there is simply no guarantee that the existing server issues will go away, nor what further changes may be made to the game in order to address them". - Russ Pitts, Polygon Features Editor and SimCity reviewer

Fans demanded an offline mode until the issues were fixed. But the developer assured the public that because of the way the game's artificial intelligence worked, an offline mode simply wasn't possible. It wasn't long before the game's more industrious fans discovered that not only did the game not appear to have any significant artificial intelligence at all (citizens only would work at the closest job and live in the closest home and a bunch of other embarrassing stuff), but eventually modded a perfectly functional (but very illegal) offline mode all by themselves.

It was plainly clear that the only motivation for the online connection came from upstairs. EA wanted an always-online Simcity no matter the cost. The funny thing was, Simcity was still a pretty big hit that didn't wind up costing them much at all.

That was barely six months ago, and a game that was reasonably anticipated, but not necessarily a blockbuster. But let's wind the clock back bit to summer 2012, and talk about a game that had fans clamouring for over 12 years...

How well did it launch? Well, you could make the argument that for hundreds of thousands of it's customers, it never launched at all. The problem went on for at least two more weeks. Customers couldn't reliably use their product because the demand was too great. So why does this happen? Why can't websites and online games just be "better?" To accurately answer that question I'd need a whole semester of an eerily specific telecommunications class, but here's the issue as I understand it.

Renting servers is expensive and you never want more server space than you need. But no one can see the future and you can never truly know how much you'll really need. "So just buy enough servers to feed the demand." Good point disembodied straw man! But what if you break the bank on enough servers and the demand goes into a freefall? Then you're only doubly screwed.

The whole point I'm driving at here is that the American government doesn't necessarily suck at running a website. Or at the very least, some of the most powerful entertainment companies in America and Canada (whose profit margins are almost entirely based around connecting to the internet) screw up just as spectacularly. This may be a humongous embarrassment to the Obama administration, but he's got so many more important things to do and even other more important scandals to worry about. The best and the brightest of the private sector don't seem to be any more competent.