Wednesday, 01 August 2012 16:35

Opening Pandora's Gearbox

No balance is good balance for Borderlands

Before I even start, let me say three words, just three words that will guarantee at least a curiosity in this article. You ready for this?

Rocket. Shooting. Shotgun.

No, you didn't read that wrong. This is only one of the many, many reasons that I absolutely and utterly love 'Borderlands.'

Why's that? Well for starters, just to describe it, you have to group in a whole bunch of awesome concepts from other games. 'Call of Duty' precision controls? Check. 'World of Warcraft'-esque flexible talent tree leveling system? Also check. Randomized loot that seems to pour out of chests, lockers and various enemies? Superbly executed check. And to top it all off, the vehicle driving scheme is modeled off of the greatest in the world: that of the Warthog from 'Halo.' Now throw this mixture of absolute awesome on a 'Mad Max'/'Fallout' wasteland planet, and you have 'Borderlands.'

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:09

Old-School Payne

Coming back to a classic

The pressure bore down on me like a lioness hunting for her cubs, relentless and cunning. I sat in a daze at my computer, $20 in credit for Steam in hand and a mind muddled by multiple shots of Mountain Dew. The Summer Sale was clamoring for my attention, the various sellers virtually leaning out of their stalls in an attempt to tempt me to pay them some modicum of focus. I hadn't seen this many $5 deals since I'd worked my gig at Wal-Mart. Then it hit me: I should find something I had played as a child and hadn't really had the intelligence to think through and fully understand. Cocky and precocious as I was, there was still so much lost on my adolescent mind, a sin that I had to redeem. If buying older games was holy, I was the Pope.

I sifted through the various offerings, feeling the overweight monkey of decision eating bon-bons on my back. 'Delta Force'? No, there are places even this grizzled gamer doesn't go anymore. 'Tachyon: The Fringe'? I hadn't piloted a starship in years. Perhaps 'Thief'? The steps to get it to work on a Windows 8 machine formed a rap sheet as long as my arm. It seemed my nostalgic quest had evaporated with the heat before it even had a chance to see the light roasting it into oblivion.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:01

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar'

EA and Bioware return to Britannia in new free-to-play RPG

FAIRFAX, Va. BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts Inc., recently announced 'Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar.' Expanding the legendary Ultima franchise, 'Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar' combines accessible action RPG gameplay with trademark BioWare storytelling, immersing both longtime fans and new gamers into the deep and engaging world of Britannia. 'Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar' will be available on both the iPad and PC later this year, with fully integrated, cross-platform play so gamers can experience all of the rich and deep RPG elements with friends, wherever and whenever they choose to play.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 14:25


'Spelunky' is a 2D jump-and-punch with randomly generated stages. You jump high enough that you can land one block higher than you started or grab onto an edge that's two blocks up. Your whip attack spans the length of a single block in front of you, and it doesn't hit above or below. Bombs and ropes, which must be stumbled upon and collected, allow you to twist the stage's layout to let you get where you want to go. The game is inspired by 1985's nail-hard 'Spelunker,' though the characters here move with a momentum much more like Mario's. Sprinting around with a rock and hucking it at an enemy is a kind of mechanic homage to shell-throwing in 'Super Mario World.'

That 'randomly generated stages' part is The Thing About 'Spelunky,' though. The game is about the precision with which each of its obstacles is designed, and the smooth way all of these obstacles click together in each stage. Every screen is a new puzzle, and the complexity that you can comfortably handle goes up as you learn the ways that the enemies and items all interact together.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 14:18

Romantically Influenced

Best couples of the digital age

At the time of this writing, I'm getting married in two and a half days. Two and a half days until my inner bachelor dies a bitter death (but not before consuming a last meal of Hot Pockets and Ramen), so you'll have to forgive me, because romance is one of the only things on my brain right now. Romance, and the savory taste of pork-flavored Maruchan deadening the pain of the last few fleeting moments of being able to sniff-test the wearability of my laundry. Seeing as you're not going to get much out of me other than that, I've decided to put together a list of my favorite classic geeky couples.

Published in Tekk

I guess there's a certain novelty here if you're already the kind of guy who knows that a Charmander evolves at level 16 or that flying-type pokemon are invulnerable to ground-type attacks. Here are all the perfectly simple mechanics we fell in love with (?) in 1998, only now you have to move your Pikachu around on a grid and line him up to thundershock the Squirtle in question.

I guess most important is The Gimmick, which is that 'Pokemon Conquest' is a crossover between Pokemon and a mostly-Japanese series called 'Nobunaga's Ambition,' which is about a bunch of samurai trying to take over Japan. So, yes, 'Pokemon Conquest' takes place in an alternate feudal Japan where the samurai use Pokemon to do battle instead of swords.

Published in Tekk
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 17:11

A Choice From Hell

Alienate Newcomers or Longtime Fans?

Blizzard, I want to be completely up front with you here: I absolutely love your games. The amount of polish you apply to your games is legendary, and the sheer scale of the gameplay has always been incredibly accessible, yet is always paired with a Marianas Trench depth that takes hours upon hours to master. There's a good reason you have a fanbase that is bigger than most countries. You've created a national sport for Korea with 'Starcraft.'Basically, I'm not trying to toot your horn here, Blizzard (unless it gets me free stuff). The fact I'm trying to get across is that as an experienced game production company, you generally know what you're doing.

Except, perhaps, with 'Diablo III.'

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 17:09

Bastion of Storytelling

The Kid wrote an article...

It's a long-accepted fact that I have a thinly-spread attention span when it comes to gaming. I'm constantly bouncing between four or five games at any one time, so when you can actually lock me down with one game for more than an hour or two, you've accomplished a feat that few can actually lay claim to. In 2011, two games did this: one was the open-world opus known as 'Skyrim,' and number two was a little indie number called 'Bastion.'

Easily one of the most beautiful games I've ever had the privilege to play, 'Bastion' has a bright, light palette that disguises one of the most deeply-narrated stories you will ever be involved in. You're dropped into a world that has literally fallen out of the sky, with no backstory or driving force other than to move forward and seek out shelter and supplies.

Published in Tekk
A Review of the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo

There's a reason it's called a power chord. I'm not going to put it into words - that wouldn't be fun. If anyone ever tries to explain to you why they're called power chords, they're a jerk. (That's not what I'm doing. I'm talking about videogames.) You can figure it out yourself, if you don't already know, and you don't even have to read any words; you just have to spend enough time completely alone with a guitar. In fact, reading words can only hurt you. This is crucial information, here! (If you're a game designer!)

The TV in front of me just played a commercial for Pizza Hut P'Zolos. They're like Pizza Hut Hot Pockets, or something. I guess. The name stems from the word P'Zone. A P'Zone is like a calzone, but with that special Pizza Hut touch. It is also evidently a product of such success that its very name is spawning new products. Did you know that there were once Doritos that were coated in a mystery flavor, and that that flavor was literally Mountain Dew?

That's one way to use the word literally. I heard another one on Spike TV last week. A girl said 'We literally won't be taking a breath for the next three days.' I only watch Spike TV once a year. Yes: It was The Holidays.

Published in Tekk
Thursday, 14 June 2012 09:56

Bit Tunes With Brain

Musing underappreciated game soundtracks

5. DuckTales' - NES

Brain: Aaron, no one else played this game as a kid. No one.

Waite: I know of at least two others.

B: Your siblings don't count.

W: Anyway, most of this game would meet your exact expectations for a Nintendo game based

on a Disney Saturday morning cartoon. The gameplay is bizarrely unrelated to the cartoon

(Scrooge's attacks consist of bouncing on enemies with his cane). However, the strange and pleasant surprise came in the form of the game's fantastic music.

Published in Tekk
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