Space, the endless sky above, is the final frontier according to popular sci-fi lore. Few games allow you to get a taste of that, though. Endless Sky is a top down spaceship simulator that allows you to trade, fight, and flee at your will. You play through the game as an up and coming captain looking to make his mark on the world.
Whenever I hear about “game changing” features in new games my eyes tend to roll back. Usually said features aren’t really changing anything, instead they are just rather ho hum features that we’ve seen before with their own, small twist on them. Character creation is nothing new, in fact, when it comes to Bethesda RPGs it is the norm. At some point in the opening portion of the game the game is going to take a brief reprieve to allow you to define how your on-screen character looks. They’ve always been pretty good and had a good deal of options in the past, but Fallout 4 takes the idea of character creation and really honed in on what it takes to make a character look realistic, while still giving you control over most of the appearance.
Competitive gaming isn’t something that I’m necessarily into. Mostly because the games that tend to be played in the competitive world aren’t my cup of tea. I’m not that into MOBAs, not into Call of Duty or Counter-Strike. That being said, it’s impossible to ignore just how big of a deal they are becoming. Unlike traditional sports that require different levels of organization and physical abilities to play, most games that are played in competitive gaming are easily accessible to anyone and everyone depending on the platform they choose, making the connection for gamers a lot more personal. Watching players who are very good at a game that you understand quite well yourself creates an instant understanding for most, much like those inclined to play sports will have more incentive to religiously follow their favorite sports.
I have thought about the survival instincts on my dog, Q-Tip. He’s not an aggressive dog when it comes to cats, other dogs, humans, baby humans, the mop, the broom, or even the vacuum. He also hates New Year’s Eve and the Fourth Of July -- I try to stay in to comfort him while the fireworks go off over our heads. Q-Tip is a medium sized dog who once ran from the chihuahua that terrorizes my street -- it was hard, but I kept loving Q-Tip even after that. Is it my failures as a dog father? Would he have been better off growing up in the streets of Houston? Absolutely not. If I continue to wonder how my dog would have fared out in the harsh, urbanized world I have the opportunity to simulate his experience with Home Free.
Everywhere I look of late the talk is about Fallout 4. This is in the face of a new Halo release and Kojima’s love letter to Metal Gear fans in Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain having been out since early September. While Fallout 3 was a pretty big deal, the popularity of Skyrim undoubtedly helped to push more players towards Bethesda’s other games, mostly Fallout 3, leading to Fallout 4 being one of the biggest releases of the year.
Since as long as there were professional wrestling games I’ve been a huge fan of them. Of course, I grew up watching pro wrestling so it wasn’t some tremendous stretch, but I had a lot of friends who either didn’t know a single thing about wrestling or didn’t like it. They still played wrestling games, though. Most gamers who were old enough to be playing games in the N64 era will probably have some sort of memory of the old AKI games that were released here in the United States. Everything from WCW/nWo World Tour to WCW/nWo Revenge to the WWF games like Wrestlemania 2000 and Revenge.
Most of our childhoods were spent in front of a computer playing The Oregon Trail while your incompetent teacher filed her nails at her desk. Yes, this happened to you, too. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Oregon Trail: Read this article and then stand in the corner for thirty minutes. No marijuana for you, either. Once you have completed your punishment, only then you can come back here and continue reading this thing. Don’t think you can fool us. We at The Stoned Gamer follow your every move. We know everything. We’ll add on some Hail Marys -- watch out.
Now, I’ll start this off by quickly explaining that I don’t own an Xbox One. I probably won’t until the price drastically drops or there is something on there exclusively that I just can’t miss. Until then, I probably won’t play Halo 5. So no, this isn’t an article about how I think that Halo 5 is bad, how the gameplay hasn’t improved or anything else. Instead, this is more of a matter of creativity and how the gaming world has seen growing pains of sorts that involves immediately turning towards Hollywood levels of ridiculousness.
You all remember how you felt when you played Silent Hill. It was a terrifying experience, every single second. I keep trying to convince myself to buy it at my local retro-gaming shop but then I tell myself that my money could be better spent on Argentine beer. In reality, I believe that I am terrified to relive that game again as an adult because it will only exposes me to the fact that I can never be tougher than Silent Hill. There’s a part of me that wants to stay away from the thought of Silent Hill, unfortunately, nobody mentioned it to the team of sadists working on Mist Valley.
After six grueling months as a school teacher, Seth Alter had to quit and become the captain of industry behind subalterngames.com, which is preparing for the release of indie game No Pineapple Left Behind. Seth created the game as a reaction to his short tenure as teacher, which was apparently really soul draining. In No Pineapple Left Behind, the player is tasked with running a school full of pineapples and children. Pineapples just take tests and get grades; children, on the other hand, also have traits (like cross dresser) or quests (like ask Mary Jane on a date) that distract them from taking tests and getting good grades. The grades “earned” by your school’s pineapples and children determine how much money your school earns. The money is then spent on teachers and the teachers teach the kids, the pineapples, the kids… What’s the difference again?
“Oh, another new one of these. I thought you hated these now?” That’s what came out of my wife’s mouth when she saw me sitting on the couch on Friday playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Over the past few years I was tasked with reviewing just about every Assassin’s Creed (outside of IV, which happened to be the best of the bunch), which led to me shifting my stance on said games from “fun, worth playing” to “end me now, dear god.” I’ve drifted in and out of the whole game writing scene, mostly because I’ve had a hard time assigning value to it, or events like last year’s #GamerGate left me with a bad taste in my mouth all-around. The process of reviewing games on a deadline, though, can really sour someone to actually enjoying and being able to really reflect on these games.
Would you believe me if I told you that popular gaming and computer hardware company Thermaltake once made an item for stoners? The Thermaltake Xray 5.25” drive bay kit was first introduced in 2004 and was advertised as “convenient for the lanparty gamer.” As smoking cigarettes suffered massive loss of public approval in that decade, this product had to be phased out even before the LAN party itself stopped really existing. Since the last Thermaltake $10 overstock sale of these kits in 2010, the Thermaltake Xray has become a lost unicorn in the annals of computer accessories, only remembered by a select few geeks. Out of the 6 Amazon reviews for the Thermaltake Xray, the most recent (dated 2013) explains the current status:
I’m freely willing to admit that I’m a bit of a fanboy when it comes to Telltale Games. The evolution of the point and click adventure genre has led to Telltale’s games and I’m not going to complain about that at all. The times have changed and the old LucasArts formula is still charming to some degree, but evolution was needed. Fans are quick to pick up Telltale games with bigger licenses, like the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, but at times I worry that their “lesser” licenses get a bit glossed over, like the Wolf Among Us and the recent Tales From the Borderlands.
My entire life has been consumed with console gaming. I never put the money towards building my own PC to its optimum performance. Instead, I opted to take what was given to me by console developers. However it's hard to ignore the competitive nature PC gaming has harnessed in the past few years, especially one of the biggest eSports league titles on the planet, Starcraft 2.
Destiny is a game that had so much potential, yet failed to deliver on any of the real promises when it was launched. While the new expansion, The Taken King, has kept some hardcore Destiny fans happy and fixed some of the previous problems, it is difficult to ignore how much of a mess Destiny was. A big part of what made Destiny such a mess was that the promise of an expansive universe akin to a new Star Wars was not only under delivered, but Bungie didn’t even come close. From an outsider’s perspective looking at Destiny it felt like something went very wrong in the course of the development and what we were given in the end was some sort of hack job. There was just no way that Bungie, the folks behind Halo, could bungle something this poorly.
When the Witcher 3 came out I was on the fence. All due respect to the Witcher 2, but there were just some things about it that I didn’t want to have to live through again. The Witcher 3 seemed to be different, though. This was being marketed as one of the killer apps for this generation of consoles and they were not only marketing it, they were putting in a ton of effort into making sure that everyone knew about this game.. I caved. It simply looked too good, the hype had swept me up and I decided to dive in.
The folks at Random Design have created yet another computer case mod worth raising a piece of glass to. The MSI Battlecruiser Behemoth has the newest Intel 5820K CPU, the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING Motherboard, 32GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 RAM, and an nVidia 780Ti Lightning video card. Random Design is a duo of German artists that create works of art with everything from using photograph, 3D printing, prop making, and other handicraft skills. Other games that have been honored by Random Design include Warhammer 40k and Borderlands.
The Hangover is the most overrated comedy in recent years -- it’s just not that funny. I didn’t have cable growing up so I watched a lot of PBS as a child. I watched it at all hours of the day which meant I was exposed to British comedy early on. PBS was my nocturnal guardian and she fed me a continuous stream of adult British humor like Red Dwarf, One Foot In The Grave, Keeping Up Appearances, etc. I am not trashing American comedies -- Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development are the US's saving grace.
Film adaptations of video games have not had the best track record of success. Whether it’s shitty acting, shitty CGI, or just shitty adaptation, I’ve left many a theater with only one desire: medicate until I conveniently forget what I just saw.
Starting on last Thursday I found myself sinking a lot of time into the Star Wars Battlefront beta. The meticulously-detailed battle on Hoth was enough to get my juices flowing and to play that damned mode on that damned map for almost 20 hours. Sure, I tried the other two modes as well, but they didn’t hold my attention quite like Walker Assault mode did. Walker Assault felt a lot like Battlefield’s Rush mode but on Hoth with everything Star Wars and not some amalgamation of a real life war. My time with the game was great, but now that the beta is over, I’m not quite sure how to feel.
If you're still wrestling over the brain-numbingly dope aesthetics of Sony PlayStation's WipEout series, attribute all of that mental anguish to The Designer's Republic. They're the graphic design studio based out of Sheffield, England that essentially gave WipEout that neo-Tokyo futuristic appeal that has persisted for nearly two decades. Those guys made Angelina Jolie look cool in that movie Hackers, so it's only natural they get a hearty amount of love on The Stoned Gamer. According to their website, The Designer's Republic is still around, although you have to email them to check out their design portfolio now. They're probably responsible for elements of our culture we're not even aware of -- like the shape of a Pop Tart, or the invention of Taylor Swift.
The media is always talking about millennials and generational divides, how the millennials live an entirely different kind of existence than the previous generation because of living lives immersed in technology from the start. For those of us that exist on the very fringe of those generational gaps, though, we don’t tend to fit into either category comfortably. There have been articles about this, talking about experiences with early computers and how games like the Oregon Trail helped to define our childhoods by the way of time wasters in the computer lab. Seriously, they used to take us to a room full of old, crappy computers in school and let us play games so that they could check off that we got in computer time on some state mandated checklist.
Halloween wasn’t an integral part of life for Fabian Funez. I asked strangers for candy once -- that'a all I really remember. My mother and father didn’t want to waste too much money on real costumes so they painted my face completely white with black circles around the eyes and mouth. I am not too sure what I was supposed to be, but we ended up looking like forgotten characters from that movie Dead Presidents.
Man, people sure do whine a lot, don’t they? They can also shift their position on a subject on a dime as their emotions fluctuate in real time. People fucking suck. That is what I’ve taken away from my time of visiting Cities: Skylines After Dark and trying to make these goddamned people happy. That’s all that I want. Well, actually, that is a bit of an embellishment on my part. I really don’t care about their happiness, misery or any other personal issues, I just want them to leave me the fuck alone so that I can live out my vision for their fine city. Move in, get an education, get a job, live your life, I don’t care what you do, just move in. Please.
I’ve already made it pretty clear that I’m not entirely enthused about the concept of shelling out another $60 to give Bungie’s Destiny another chance. Destiny “year one” was just kind of a bummer overall. I had some fun with it for a while, as did a lot of my friends, but when the DLC started dropping so did our interest in plowing forward and doing raids and retreads on the Crucible together. Other games came out, our interest diverged and Destiny was in our tail lights. Over the past few weeks Destiny has dominated the thinkspace of the gaming world, heralding “year two” as a vast improvement worthy of a second chance.
When it comes to games I’m one of those people that thinks that one of the best dev teams out there right now is Telltale Games. Born out of the love for those old adventure games but looking to adapt them to the future, Telltale was founded in 2004 by two ex-LucasArts employees after the cancellation of the Sam & Max sequel. While they did eventually release a Sam & Max sequel what kept them afloat were license-driven, episodic adventure games like CSI, Law & Order, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. The thing is, nothing was really catching on with gamers. Even the return to beloved LucasArts series like Sam & Max and Monkey Island was met with some fanfare, but not much beyond the hardcore fans who were eagerly awaiting those trips down memory lane.
In 2013 Sony won over the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere by launching an offensive against Microsoft’s Xbox One for not being about the games. PlayStation was about the games, you see. The PlayStation 4 has handily outsold the Xbox One since then, with Sony living up to its promise with the PlayStation 4. Their handling of the PlayStation Vita, though? Promises were made and Sony failed to deliver, turning the Vita into a glowing paperweight. Sony’s excuse is that the handheld market just isn’t doing well.