StarCraft 2, man

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Over the last few weeks, I kinda dedicated a good portion of my leisure time to playing StarCraft 2. Well, more than “kinda.” I have dedicated a good portion of my life to the game. It’s been a ride, man — a 0-60 thing where I’ve started from zero skill to being able to handle some business at the top of Silver league 2v2. It wasn’t too hard. I had a new pal really hold my hand through the learning process and I’ve approached the game in an oddly academic way, soaking up what I can from professionals and wikis. Currently, I’m banging my head against a skill wall. I’m just… not fast enough to roll with folks in Gold. It’s frustrating beyond belief that finger speed, of all things, is killing me.

I’m writing this, I guess, because a lot of folks are like “what are you doing this is not a Brad Nicholson joint.” They’re right. This is not a game I’d usually play. I don’t know exactly why I’m being drawn to it, but I can say this: this game’s competitive play is on a different plane of existence compared to every other game I’ve checked out. It’s harder and faster and requires more skill, knowledge, and dexterity than shooters and, to some degree, Lord Managmenent games like DOTA 2 or League of Legends. Maybe I just subconsciously love the weird challenges this game brings into my life. I gotta admit, the winning feels good. On the other hand, the losing is awful because you don’t just lose, you get ANNIHILATED.

Anyway, basically I don’t know why I’m playing. But it has sucked up all my free time. Crazy, right?

SimCity needs more servers, is probably getting them

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JC Fletcher, writing for Joystiq

In order to help get more people connected to SimCity during a launch period plagued by intermittent (at best) access and data loss, EA has begun adding more servers for the online-only game.

Read Maxis’s official response through that link. Instead of being like “oh god we really messed up here’s what happened,” it’s more like “yeah, yeah, there were problems and we’re fixing them; also, by the way, people have been LOVING this game let me tell ya.” Not really sure that’s the way to address this. At all. More servers should help, though.

I’m not so sure about the PS4

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I guess I should write something about the PS4? That seems like a thing people want me to do. Look, I’m not too stoked, and it’s not because the system isn’t beefy enough or that it won’t have OK-to-great support from Sony throughout its cycle. I’m not all that stoked because launch hardware usually isn’t good. Neither is the software. Chances are that it’ll take up to a year for this thing to hit its stride and by then there’ll be a new thinner, and presumably, much more technically sound and less expensive PS4 on the market. This is just how this stuff seems to play out.

Granted, there’s a lot of cool ideas going into this thing. For one, I really dig the “watch you buddies play the game you want” feature. Now, if that actually rolls out on the console at launch or not is another thing entirely.

Side-note: man, it’s been forever since the last console launch.

[image via The Verge]

On Kentucky Route Zero

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If you’ve got 20 bucks, about an hour, and a love for the surreal, Kentucky Route Zero seems like a game that’ll be up your alley. I’ve been playing through the Steam version this morning, soaking up the all the oddities and thinking about how different it feels from everything else I’ve played. It’s definitely an edgy adventure game. There’s really no puzzles. Instead, what you’re tasked with is figuring out the meaning behind what you see, do, and experience.

It’s kind of a trip, really.

Dead Space 3 and horror talk

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Over the last few days, there’s been a lot of discussion about horror games and what makes a good horror game in light of Dead Space 3′s reviews, which have pounded the game for not being scary enough. People are settling on pacing and combat design as the culprits since the game is kinda twitch-y. The faster pacing just isn’t turning the collective crank, so to speak.

Conversation’s good, but I don’t think I like how we’re all kinda agreeing on what makes horror a thing. Horror, like comedy, is subjective. Stuff that scares you might not scare someone else, sort of like how some folks think Dave Coulier is the funniest guy on the planet and some of us don’t. To each his own, right, so can we cut it out?

I’ve been playing Dead Space 3, too, and yeah, it definitely hasn’t had me shaking in my boots. But, it’s not like it doesn’t have horror elements — isolation, chaos, dread and hopelessness are all conveyed at some point or another. I’m curious to hear what the wider audience thinks as they really start digging in.

XCOM the shooter is still on

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Jessica Conditt, writing for Joystiq

XCOM, the shooter from 2K Marin, is still a part of Take-Two’s future launch plans, scheduled for fiscal year 2014. Take-Two’s fiscal 2014 runs from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014. This is the same release window XCOM received in May 2012, which is also the last time we heard any significant news about the game.

It’s easy to get dismissive about XCOM the shooter. It’s a shooter, for one. That’s kinda hard to swallow. Also, it seems like its development has had a lot more downs than ups.  Despite this, today’s news strikes me as exciting. It’s an indication that someone got the idea to work.

The Witcher 3 is coming

David Hinkle, writing for Joystiq

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been revealed, appearing on the cover of the next issue of Game Informer.

The issue is available to digital subscribers now, ahead of the expected February 5 announcement CD Projekt RED teased in mid-January.

You know, I don’t think I could be happier with this game’s setup. I want to play as a Witcher who isn’t locked up in some vast, sprawling storyline. Nah, I’d rather hunt and kill some monsters in a huge open world. Fingers crossed that CD Projekt will be able to jump over all the technical hurdles.

Dirty Bomb’s closed alpha is definitely a thing

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John Walker, writing for Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Splash Damage’s Dirty Bomb has entered the mystic realms of “closed alpha”. Is that a thing? Surely that’s just “development”? Oh, players are getting in. Then that’s beta, isn’t it?

I don’t know anything about this game. I don’t think anyone does, outside of the folks who are forking over money to get into the game’s alpha. Speaking of that, take a look at this page. You see the part where you can pay up to 320 bucks for access to a bunch of trivial stuff, including access to what’s really a beta for an eventual free-to-play game? Gross.

Tons of THQ assets are owned by other publishers now

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The landscape of the industry changed a bunch yesterday after the THQ auction. A lot of studios where sold to other publishers and a lot of IP changed hands. Here’s an quick run-down of what went where and for how much:

  • Sega purchased Relic for a cool 26.6 million
  • Koch Media / Deep Silver grabbed Volition and Metro: Last Light for 22.3 million and 5.9 million, respectively
  • Take-Two bought Turtle Rock’s “Evolve” for 10.9 million
  • Ubisoft purchased THQ Montreal and its two games plus South Park: The Stick of Truth for 2.5 million and 3.3 million, respectively
  • Crytek secured Homefront 2 for 500K, oddly.

In a big bit of bummer news, Vigil Games was left out of the bidding party. Apparently, the studio shuttered immediately yesterday following the news, which probably says a lot about its financial situation following Darksiders 2. Regardless, this blows. Darksiders was a breath of fresh air and there was a ton of talent at that place.

I don’t think it’s any secret that THQ has published some of my favorite games over the last two years. I really clicked with the “core” stuff it was pushing out. I hope we’ll see a lot more of the same from the studios that went to other publishers.

Also, Space Marine 2 NEEDS to happen.