“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.
Sometimes when planets align, strange occurrences happen in our universe. Perhaps the gravitational pull of a solar system increases, or the magnetic field of an orbiting asteroid belt deteriorates. On October 3-4 at the NOS Events Center inside the XO Gold Cup, the world of cannabis and video games will finally coalesce into the world's first stoned video game tournament, hosted by The Stoned Gamer and our buds at Flytlab.
Part of the grind of playing games is knowing that every fall to brace for the deluge of new releases that are sure to come. Over the past few years it has become easier and easier to predict what will come out each fall; a new Call of Duty, a new Far Cry, a new Assassin’s Creed and so on. Yearly installments have become a tradition, just like ignoring the summer because in the 80’s kids weren’t buying games over the summer break because their parents wanted them to play outside. We as a whole open up our wallets starting in late August and start shelling out for mildly updated games that make big promises but build off of our sense of nostalgia for previous installments to these games. Big sites dole out exemplary ratings for them, we buy them and inevitably love or dislike them, depending on our proclivities to fall on either side of the fence.
Everyone that has ever predicted the end of the world has been wrong up to this point. They’ve come yielding ‘great evidence’ but nothing ever comes that actually wipes us out. And when they’re wrong they just blame it on the Mayans. Sure, blame it on the ancient civilization that can’t defend itself.
One of the greatest ongoing debates in the world of gaming is in regards to DLC and evil, cash-grabbing publishers. In our modern, internet-enabled society the idea of being able to have new, original content for a game that you love delivered right to your home is an idea that if you had told me about twenty years ago I would have been salivating at the very thought of it. Now that our reality involves always-on internet connections, regular patches to help squash out bugs and the ability to purchase and download whatever the hell we please all from the comfort of our couches the game industry has changed. When a new game comes out the asking price is standard at $59.99, but over the past few years the popularity of post-launch DLC and expansions has led to that initial $60 being just the beginning of your wallet’s relationship with your new game. The problem is that most of that content feels like stuff that was withheld from the original game in the first place, not like icing on the cake.
When Destiny was originally announced I’ll admit that I was enthralled. The concept art alone was enough to push me to truly believe that we were all in for something special. Bungie’s Halo series was a landmark for science fiction shooters and while it kind of lost its way when it comes to story, it’s impossible to deny just how important Halo was for gaming. Bungie’s gaming pedigree was a cut above the rest thanks to Halo, which meant that Destiny would, at worst, follow in that tradition. That means that it couldn’t be bad.
I think if we say that we're extremely busy organizing the world's first stoned gaming tournament at the XO Gold Cup on October 3-4 at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA -- someone out there is going to shoot all of us in the head with a high-impact NERF gun (again).
Last week I played Madden 16 and while it was a good game, I have been engulfed by a sense of shame. It feels as if the spirits of athletic gaming have wrapped me in a blanket made completely of the world’s sadness. No matter what EA does with its Madden series it will never be perfect like ESPN NFL 2K5. You are probably telling yourself that the TECMO Super Bowl games were great and you wouldn’t be wrong. I threw many of my SEGA controllers to the ground and became jubilant over every touchdown in my TECMO days, but even those don’t come close to ESPN NFL 2K5. Not. Even. Close.
There are so many things within our biosphere that attempt to kill us for their own survival. This is the reason why people die of disease; the bacteria spreads and multiplies so that they may live. This fact will either frighten you or make you more resilient, and we hope it’s the latter. You will transform into an individual that possess more character and strength than everyone else. Except for those of us at The Stoned Gamer, you can’t be more interesting than us. We fight for the right to freely smoke your marijuana, meet a higher power, and play videogames without the judgmental looks of those who consider themselves ‘morally better.’
If you haven’t taken a course in physics, or even attempted a physics problem, then you have absolutely starved yourself of the realization that math is everything. Your chair, toothbrush, bong -- it's all math! Mathematics are even so intricate that they don’t apply everywhere. For instance; the laws of physics don’t apply in space. You’d have to learn completely new types of equations in order to get stuff done outside of our atmosphere. You better be grateful that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz were not eternal beings because I assure you that they would have invented new math courses for you to take during college.
I have been an avid fan of The Simpsons since the moment I could understand what the television was conveying to me. The recent seasons haven’t peaked my interest but seasons 1-12 are animation gold. It’s great to rewatch old episodes and catch jokes that were absolutely meant for adults and not 5-year-olds. The Simpsons produced magic through their shows but a lot of their video games have been very poor. It’s almost as if they were just trying to cash in on the Simpsons name without concern to actual quality of product.