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    Hotline Miami: Crime and Punishment

    I thought I heard the door open but I disregarded it. I was too lost in my task, rationing dirty cash for my crew of big money games, to notice even a breeze of wind. My crew is loyal, experienced, and have a variety of skills, but at the same time they're loud, cocky, and always trying to get the attention of the world at large. Tucked away in my room counting bills that I'd not long hold, I paid no mind to the commotion my games were making outside; that's what these guys did during down time. I should've know something was amiss when the flat fell silent, but I wasn't paying close enough attention. Moments after the unsettling quiet my door violently swung open, and before I had the chance to even question what was happening, Hotline Miami crushed my skull with a baseball bat.

    Click to read more ...


    Finally, A Game Worthy of Dikembe Mutumbo

    It's an old wives tale that dates back to the late 1980's when Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, with his Doctoral aspirations, threw open the door to a frat party on the Georgetown campus with a six-pack in very long arm, and exclaimed "WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTUMBO!" After years of dominant, defensive-minded basketball, and 6 strong children each legendary in their own right, it is sad to say that no one was ever up to the task of truly sexing Mutumbo. Or so we thought. Dikembe Mutubmo's 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World is proof that the Old Spice brand along with a few lucky game designers indeed were able to sex Mount Mutumbo, and the offspring is this brilliant episodic Flash game. So far only the first of five chapters are available, with additional chapters unlocking in the coming weeks. You see, Dikembe's journey coincides with the coming of the end of the world, as foretold by the Mayan calendar, and only by changing the path of history will his journey be complete.

    You may be thinking this is just another clever Old Spice marketing ploy, and yes, you would be correct, however this one has some serious chops. It's a collaboration between the creator of indie hall-of-famer Canibalt, the animator of widely enjoyed Super Crate Box, and a few other talented game industry individuals, who have come together and formed a Voltronian force worthy of Dikembe Mutumbo and his Blazing Balls. Also, finger wag. What up?!

    Play this game now, and play it every week after until either the world is destroyed or Super Mutumbo comes through with a huge, game-saving, last minute rejection. Not in my house!

    Dikembe Mutubmo's 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World (via Polygon)


    Curiosity: Curiosity Killed the Fun

    Chisel out exciting messages to share with the world

    Peter Molyneux - the Grand Puba of hyperbole - has returned with his latest, greatest project known as Curiosity. What is Curiosity? An massively multiplayer mobile "game" in which players work together to chip away at a giant cube which is rendered as countless individual cubes. Only one of the horde of Curiosity players will be treated to a secret prize hidden away in the cube, which they can then either share with the world or keep as their own private trophy. Following their decision, no doubt Mr. Molyneux will claim his "game" a success before retiring to his hall of mirrors, where he every night proclaims his greatness which is reinforced by his reflections.

    I hate ripping on people who try, and Lords know Peter does try his hardest, however if there's one thing I hate - well, I hate a lot of things - but if there's one of the many relevant to this piece, it's a habitual liar. Unfortunately, the ex-Lionhead Studio lead is a constant offender, having brought his old ways to his new studio 22Cans. Curiosity isn't so much a product of lies, but rather a waste of time. It's a social experiment wrapped in a loosely termed game, which requires hours of combined player-power with little-to-no satisfaction save for the single recipient of whatever is inside the cube. My guess is that the "winner" will receive a video file containing a talking, floating, Molyneux head, which has some sort of positive bullshit message about Curiosity changing the world, book ended by proclaiming himself the world's greatest human being. Awesome!

    When you launch Curiosity, provided you are able to, as server load prevents connection to the game quite often, you are faced with a gigantic cube. You can pan and tilt the cube to see the world's progress thus far, and if a particular piece of land calls your name, you zoom in and have at it. As you get up close and personal with the cube, you see that each pixel of the bigger piece is individually rendered and reacts to the action taken around it. Tap tap tap tap tap at the cube to chip away, causing the mini-cubes to shake and stir as their brethren are poked to death. The more efficiently you tap, the higher combo you rack, the more coins you receive. Rinse repeat. You can take your coins to a store to purchase utensils that will make your cube-dispensing life that much easier. Rinse repeat. This is basically Curiosity in a nutshell. Wait, no. This is pretty much the full scope of Curiosity. It's an interesting multiplayer concept, allowing pretty much the entire world the ability to work together toward a singular cause, however the reward is not something the community as a whole will profit from. I play games to release frustration, to beat scores, gain accomplishments, admire art and design, or hear an interesting tale. Very rarely do I play simply to waste time. Curiosity offers none of the above, save for the latter.

    It's said the cube will take months to penetrate to its secretive core, perhaps years if these server connection issues continue. As the mobile gaming landscape evolves monthly, will something as vapid as Curiosity have the holding power to keep the demanding mob of gamers satiated for the duration of its lifecycle, or will it fizzle out before being chipped away for good? For me, Curiosity's lack of enjoyment is enough to fend me off while suggesting you do the same. Sure it's free, but so is the incredible Punch Quest, which offers a seemingly endless stream of awesome and feels much more rewarding. The bottom line is that we game for a purpose, a satisfaction unique and individual to each of us. I don't want my experience clouded by an unrewarding social experiment, at least not like this. It's an interesting concept to which I'd be more receptive of if it were presented differently, as in if it were actually fun. 

    The Score: 2 outta 10 Blasters!


    GTA V: Pre-Order Today, Trailer Next Week

    Hey sexy, looking good! No, not you, I'm talking to GTA V, which celebrates its official pre-order availability by releasing the above teaser image. Not much I know, but come next week we'll have the game's second trailer to pick apart and cook up more ridiculous theories about Nico, Claude, CJ returning for more action. Personally, I'd love for Little Jacob to have his own game. Pipe dream, feel me?

    Pre-order GTA V at Amazon (referral) 


    The Great Big Grid of Halo 4 Armor

    Halo 4 will probably occupy the entirety of my November. I should think this is fairly self-explanatory. Which armor has your name written all over it?

    Props to Sithvenator (via Polygon)


    Punch Quest: Raising (and Punching) The Bar

    Not too long ago I heard about a game called Punch Quest which reminded me of the very good (and very free) Jetpack Joyride. Now months later, Punch Quest has hit the iOS App Store and has become one of the most addicting iPhone games I've played all year. Coincidentally, it's the first game I've really put through the paces on my iPhone 5, and the pair is insanely fast, clear, and colorful. In the midst of Hurricane Sandy, with internet service coming and going, and power threatening to shut down at any given moment, Punch Quest was a boon to my fingertips, helping me to avoid boredom.

    Punch Quest is very simple really, you run endlessly and you have two buttons controlling your highly customizable avatar. Left button jumps and uppercuts, useful for platforming and attacking, right causes you to dash ahead and simultaneously throw a straight punch. As you further yourself along the game you gain increasing amounts of Punchos (in-game currency, great name for a cereal) to purchase and unlock loot (in-app purchases to buy more currency) and upgrades, both cosmetic and functional. Once I started unlocking more advanced techniques and learning what the ever-advancing stage was throwing at me - including multiple paths - I realized how complex this little game actually is. Once you begin perfectly stringing together 80+ hit combos while avoiding enemy attacks and pitfalls, it becomes more hardcore twitch platformer a la Super Meat Boy than casual Temple Run-and-jump, without alienating either fanbase.

    + Hardcore twitch-reflex action while remaining casual friendly
    + Tons of customization options (both cosmetic and functional)
    + Insanely addictive
    + iPhone 5 support (both portrait and landscape)
    + Free

    I'm really struggling trying to think of some negative things to say about Punch Quest, but the reality is that there is little to nothing wrong with this rewarding, addictive, free and just plain enjoyable mobile title. RocketCat Games has taken the endless runner genre and has meticulously elevated it to the next level. The bar has been raised, iOS developers better start bringing the heat on their next sidescrolling runner (I'm looking at you Super Meat Boy iOS).

    The Score: 9 outta 10 Blasters!


    Bioshock: Infinite Resurfaces in Latest Trailer

    I will admit, I've been worried about the fate of BioShock: Infinite. It's been months (maybe even a year and change) since we've last heard any good news regarding Irrational Games' latest blockbuster. Losing two, no, four developers being the only headlines the latest BioShock entry has made, things weren't looking very good up until a few days ago. The silence was broken last week when The Ultimate Songbird Edition was announced, a collectors treasure packed with just about everything: a 10" Songbird figure, Vigor bottle replica, lithograph, art book, mini Handyman figure, and an assortment of digital goods. Great! But I need just a little more visual confirmation that BioShock: Infinite is still on track.

    Well, that came just a few days later in a form of the latest trailer, which shows Booker doing marvelous things while Elizabeth offers and requires assistance in bouts. I'm so relieved Irrational continues to chug away at making this game look as incredible as promised (and teased) since day one, even after losing a handful of key developers. Of course, losing said developers could impact the game in ways that are not visible in trailer form, which would probably be the case as always. Hoping all turns out well, and we're treated to a bit of that magic and wonder that we know the BioShock series is capable of, developer hemorrhage or not.

    Pre-order BioShock: Infinite at Amazon (referral link)


    David Fincher's Halo 4 Launch Trailer Makes Me Sad

    For all the years that us fans have begged for a Halo movie, and suffered through all the teases and missteps, and eventual confirmations that the projects have been scrapped, I'm no fan of Microsoft right now after viewing this Halo 4 launch trailer. 

    Produced by David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) and directed by Tim Miller (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), this almost makes up for all the never-quite-made-it Halo film's failings while trying to get off the ground. In the above, Master Chief's humanity is briefly explored, followed by his transformation into a super-soldier and eventual war against and capture by Halo 4's primary nemeses, the Forerunners. 

    The trailer is brilliantly executed, delivering just about everything one would love to see in a live-action Halo flick in just a shade under 2 and a half minutes. I would probably sacrifice a kidney (stone included) to see an hour and a half of this on an IMAX screen, but who am I kidding.. It'll never happen. Sadness.

    Halo 4 releases on November 6 - Pre-order at Amazon (referral link)


    NYCC'12: Cosplay and Toys

    Photography by Ernie Deeb and Eric Blackwood

    Two of the geekiest things in the world, also two things I love taking photos of: cosplay and toys. Any Comic Con is one of the best places to get both rocks off at the same time, and boy did we do just that at this year's New York Comic Con. Along with fellow Gangsta Eric, I am very happy to present to you the best photographic eye of New York Comic Con 2012! Fuck yo' camera, Charlie Murphy! 

    Favorite costume? Coolest action figure? See yourself amongst the photographic beauty? Make sure you lace the comments below to let us know!

    NYCC 12 Cosplay Gallery | NYCC 12 Toy Gallery


    Hands On with God of War: Ascension Multiplayer

    The gigantic Kratos statue outside Sony's God of War: Ascension booth

    Coming into this year's New York Comic Con, there were only a handful of games I was excited to see, one of which was God of War: Ascension. As a frothy-mouthed supporter of the original trilogy, I know single player will be another visceral, beautiful, face-melting affair, however the addition of multiplayer was a bit of a worry point. Thankfully multiplayer is exactly what Sony had on display on the Javits Center floor, so I was either leaving with soothed nerves or the rage of the Gods.

    Disclaimer: like a good Christopher Nolan film, this article will leave a variety of open questions. The kind Sony folks protecting the giant Kratos statue were unwilling to offer answers when questions were posed. Whether or not this was due to my lack of press badge is up for discussion.

    We started with some very underwhelming customization options, as I was only able to adjust my avatar in a few simple ways: choice of two very similar helmets, and choice of either mace or sword. My armor was reminiscent of Hercules' and I believe my name was something along the Herculean line, so I assume I was his champion. Can't say for sure because no one would answer my questions! SCEA: 1, OBG: 0.

    After the cosmetic options, I was given the opportunity to choose a magical skill and was then forcibly ushered into the game by the Sony employees, who had no desire in fostering my snail-paced menu exploration. Due to this, I may have missed some options which would have been nice to mention here, but such is life. The match started with teams on opposing sides of the map, as is the norm for these games. The battle system felt very much like it did during the campaign of God of War 3, which is welcome. The player is blessed with light and strong attacks - both of which can be modified to special attacks while holding L1. My Spartan (from Sparta, not UNSC) could do everything else expected of Kratos, such as jump, block, evade, parry, throw, all the mundane necessities. There's also a Burst move (speaking in Guilty Gear terms) which knocks your nearest opponents back and recovers a bit of health. Yep, all the tools required to become a God of the arena.

    The stage up to play was built as a selection of elevated platforms connected by bridges, ziplines, and hookpoints where 8 warriors fared combat as a gigantic cyclops thrashed the very near background. The game started much as a 4 on 4 deathmatch pit between Spartans and Trojans, but seemed to evolve into an objective piece once the teams realized what what happening. Different points on the map were contested to control the chained cyclops, and when either team held the points, they also held the Gods' favor.

    Battle felt surprisingly tight and well polished, almost as if I were playing a single player affair. The action ran smooth in all respects whether 2 or 8 players on screen, with the titanic cyclops thrashing just behind all the while. During battle, prompts were given for various actions, similar to how Kratos dispatches non-player characters in campaign. There are gruesome quick time events during grapples as well as executions to rid yourself of an opponent. The heat of battle was so frantic I often found myself missing these commands, perhaps they are not prominent enough, or maybe I'm too impatient. Either way, I do think the commands could use a little more visibility.

    Aside from properly thrashing everything on screen, there are other concerns to take note of. The battlefield is littered with respawning chests which contain magic, health, bonus points and other goodies. There are also powerups to grab for a temporary advantage, all in line with the mythos of course, such as Hermes' boots which give you a speed boost and are simply dashing. My favorite touch to the map are the selection of traps laying about, which are triggered by pulling a switch sitting just within spitting range of the hazard. A pit of spikes greeted me once too many during my session, and only afterwards did I begin paying attention to where I roam and when I engage combat. I'm not sure if the traps caused friendly fire, for obvious reasons. SCEA: 2, OBG: 0.

    After each side had hacked, trapped, grappled, platformed, and magicked the Hades out of each other, a weapon of Zeus himself screeched down from Olympus and crashed onto a platform beside the weary cyclops' drowsy head. In the heat of battle and the flurry of 8 player fury, I may have missed what exactly occurred with said spear (SCEA: 3, OBG: 0), but our match was capped with a thrilling cut scene of one of my teammates wielding Zeus's spear and dispatching the cyclops with a clean pierce to the middle of the eye. Sick.

    I will never question the integrity of the God of War: Ascension campaign, as my previous experiences have have prepared me for the enjoyment to come. At a time I was concerned about multiplayer, but after my time spent in the old world, my worries have been surprisingly released as red orbs of joy, and now I look forward to more of the multiplayer of the Gods.