Weekend Gaming – Alien:Isolation

As if I’m not stressed out enough. As if by the time the kids are in bed and it’s gametime I’m not already utterly blitzed and in dire need of decompression. Some stupid part of my stupid brain thought it a good idea to purchase and play a game where I am perpetually hunted by a fierce and pure organism. As if my razor-sharp instinct is still intact by the time I press play. Alienz

And maybe – just maybe – that’s why Alien: Isolation is perfect for me at this juncture. I shall not pucker, cower and scoot. I must outfox this cunning beast. I must overcome my IRL fatigue, not use it as a crutch but to dominate it so that I may stand tall and face my aggressor (except when she acquires visual sight… then I scramble like a badger and hide under a desk). Xeno’s got nothin’ on me, son (except for maybe my scent, my anxiety and my audible whereabouts).

I just completed the fifth mission and suspect that this is the mission where the game removes the training wheels and throws them into the pond. Xeno’s prowl is not confined to zones, nor is it a predefined route, always always always seemingly right on top of me. Jumpscares are fatal; they mean I have been outplayed. I must locate my objective and noodle my way there. Increase variance. Confuse the beast.Yes.

Silly anecdotal introduction aside, I made an exception for Alien:Isolation. I had my eye on it for a while, interested in the audio production and setting. I have previously made exceptions for other games, taking that risk, and sometimes I kick myself for not sticking to my instincts. Thus far I’m glad I made the decision for A:I. I dig on the true-to-form 1970’s Ridley Scott Sci-Fi setting. The audio truly is top notch, accomplishing many things. And having completed the fifth mission (twice impaled in the process) I think I am just now comprehending what I am getting myself into…

… Or maybe I have no clue. That’s what this weekend’s gaming will reveal.

What are you playing this weekend?

July Releases

I think this July will be the last Monthly Releases for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. I probably should have dropped them months ago, but it’s apparent now that nothing exciting will be coming out from those platforms, so it’s time to move on. July usually isn’t rife with games anyway, so now seems as good as a time as any. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of July 14th
EA SPORTS Rory McIlroy PGA TOUR

Week of July 21st
Zombie Army Trilogy – I’d like to think I’m fairly current with video game news and what-not, but this was the first time I have heard of a game called “Zombie Army Trilogy”. I mean, for starters, it’s the first game but it’s called Trilogy. That seems odd, but a quick Google search reveals that there were two previous Zombie Army games which were stand-alone “expansions” to Sniper Elite V2. This trilogy has the two Nazi Zombie Army games, along with third, unreleased installment. You learn something new everyday! (Game still doesn’t look that great)
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – … speaking of killing Nazis…
F1 2015 (Formula One)


No notable releases for the Xbox 360 for July.


Week of July 28th
Legend of Kay Anniversary


No notable releases for the Nintendo 3DS for July.


Week of July 7th
Mystery Maze Of Balthasar Castle
F1 2015
The Amber Throne
Knee Deep
Prompt
TIMEframe
Cosmophony – This game looks like it would be right up Buttonmashing Blogger Emeritus Nat’s alley.

Week of July 14th
Guild of Dungeoneering
Legions of Steel

Week of July 21st
Feist
Niko: Through The Dream
Abducted
Kyn

Week of July 28th
King’s Quest: The Complete Collection


PS4 Banner

Week of July 14th
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess
Godzilla – Rampage 2015?
God of War 3 Remastered
EA SPORTS Rory McIlroy PGA TOUR

Week of July 21st
Zombie Army Trilogy
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos – ‘Banana Split’ Edition – “Banana Split” Edition?
F1 2015 (Formula One)

Week of July 28th
Legend of Kay Anniversary


Week of July 28th
Lost Dimension


Week of July 28th
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND
Lost Dimension

Nothing really sets my hair on fire this month, although a couple of the indie PC games look like that have potential. What are you picking up this month?
(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

June Releases

June doesn’t bring much to the table this month unless you have a Playstation Vita or really like LEGO. Another month to work on the backlog! With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World
Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Apparently Elder Scrolls Online is still a thing?

Week of June 16th
Payday 2 Crimewave

Week of June 23rd
Ride

Week of June 30th
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND
F1 2015 (Formula One)


Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World


Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World – Why didn’t they just reuse the model for Emmett from the LEGO Movie? Seems like a lost opportunity!


Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World


Week of June 16th
Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition – Nothing like having adding a ten year old game to your Steam Library!

Week of June 23rd
FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward
Batman: Arkham Knight
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward and Realm Reborn


PS4 Banner

Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World
Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Week of June 16th
Payday 2 Crimewave

Week of June 23rd
Batman: Arkham Knight
Final Fantasy XIV Online
Ride

Week of June 30th
J-Stars Victory Vs+
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND
Legend of Kay Anniversary


Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World

Week of June 23rd
Final Fantasy XIV Online

Week of June 30th
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND


Week of June 9th
LEGO Jurassic World
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy
Terraria

Week of June 30th
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation

What are you picking up this month?
(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

The MOBA effect

Recently, I’ve only been playing MOBAs. I haven’t had the desire to branch out very much, especially into a time intensive genre like MMOs.

I honestly think it’s because of the game progression… or the lack thereof. By ‘progression’ I mean that you aren’t leveling up a character like in an MMO, which would take a lot of time to get that character to the maximum level. That kind of progression definitely has its merits and satisfactions but in my current state of life it hasn’t been as enjoyable with the limited playing time I do have.

I’ve had discussions about this with a good friend from high school (I’m 31 now) and he tends to feel the same. Granted we are both in a similar position – we are both married and have little one(s) that we happily give up time for – but it just doesn’t feel like we have the time or the drive to devote to an MMO. Oh how we’ve tried! From going back to the nostalgic (Everquest) to trying a few of the new kids on the block such as Rift, Neverwinter Online, Guild Wars 2 (debatable). None of them are able to keep me coming back.

MOBAs, however, operate on a different kind of progression. One that, contrary to MMOs, does compel me to log in night after night.

Dota 2 has been my MOBA of choice for a while, a decent run with Smite, a little stint with League of Legends, and a few smatterings of Infinite Crisis but, Dota 2 is my choice. steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_181979094_preview

Smite has kept me playing the second longest out of the bunch. Whether this was because my friend played it pretty much non-stop and my desire to play with a friend kept me going or the change in pace it provided with its different game modes (which could end in a 15 minute match), Smite had me for a while.

League of Legends was along the lines of a standard MOBA but, it felt slower than Dota, the champions didn’t seem to move as fast to me. The movement speed may have been a factor but, the time it took to unlock a champion that seemed interesting was demoralizing. Don’t get me wrong though, my brother and I saved up for characters who were also brothers, which cost a ton to get, and we wrecked face! It was glorious… still, it wasn’t enough.

Infinite Crisis was an interesting occurrence for me. I was able to get into the beta for this game with a friend. Needless to say the game is totally different from what it was back then (for the better). One thing I’m thankful for was that it helped me determine that I don’t want to play games while they are in beta. In this instance the UI was horrid, the game felt buggy, and it was not enjoyable until you were actually in the game and even then it wasn’t the smoothest. HOWEVER, playing as the Flash or Green Lantern was definitely worth it. They recently had a huge patch/improvements and I have been meaning to check it out one more time.

Some of the things that drew me in to MOBAs were the semi-short game length which can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more in rare cases, no need to grind anything if you don’t want to, and you can still get the sense of accomplishment from getting items or even more so from improving your play.

Dota 2 had all that I needed. My friends were playing it, the fun was there, the amount of hero choices was staggering (and continues to grow), it looked great (see League of Legends or Infinite Crisis), and it was Valves baby (I dumped a lot of time into Team Fortress 2 so, I enjoyed the Steam network/Valve’s quality of work).

With a MOBA I feel like I am working on me, on my skill as a player, on my ability to fulfill a role on a team, and it was rewarding. I always thought that I would need progression that didn’t go away for a character in order to enjoy a game (i.e. leveling an MMO character) but, that isn’t the case. I’m don’t feel like I’m falling behind anyone if I can’t devote time to the game like I felt when I played MMOs and my friends would spend more time in-game than me. In essence the effect of a MOBA engages the player more as an individual than the MMO genre which mostly requires your time.

Dota 2 is definitely something that will force you to honestly look at yourself and your capabilities. I have the perfect example!

Let me share a story with you… ready?

I was in a match playing Visage this is a hero which requires the player to control up to three other summoned units in addition to himself, other active skills, as well as any items with active abilities. The additional units Visage controls also have active abilities in order for them to do damage or stun. This juggling act required that I had to be on my A-game, and I knew it. Controlling your hero’s position, timing your attacks with your teammates, using items at the appropriate time, while watching the mini map to make sure you’re not about to get ganked, etc is hard enough. But playing Visage under these circumstances can be a hectic experience. I even thought my history of playing RTS games would help with that some but, not so much.

It was a non-stop match for me, if I wasn’t busy trying to control my units I was trying not to die/kill the other team. There were a few times that I was mixed up and thought, “Why isn’t my guy moving?” or “Oh crap, they are attacking my hero and I’m controlling my units not my hero!” but, overall I was successful and my team was victorious.

After that match I knew I could handle the hero but I wouldn’t want to do it again. Having the ability to do something doesn’t necessarily make it fun. I’m more inclined to play a hero that doesn’t rely on other units to be effective or make a contribution to the team. This made clear that as a player I don’t really appreciate having more units to control/the game is complex enough that I don’t need to ramp up the difficulty for not much in return. After realizing that about myself I steered clear of Visage and stayed with the heroes that were more my style.

My main hero is Sven – he’s a beast that can do a LOT of damage and is a pretty straight forward hero. “Get in there and smash people’s faces”, is the name of his game.Sven!! I’ve also got to the point where I want to experiment with different builds (skill order and item use). Sven is a strength hero that is normally played one way – MOAR DAMAGE!! Looking at some really old Reddit posts has lead to me to the realization that Sven used to be played as a support hero and not a tank. I’ve attempted to try a support Sven once and it didn’t work out to well. I have to admit that my decision was on the fly and I didn’t give the proper preparation or forethought before the match began. I’d like to try it out again but, I’ll probably try it against some bots instead of impairing my team.

Even though the hero is played one way by everyone doesn’t mean he can’t be played a different way and still be viable and effective. It is fun to try and tinker a hero (PUNNY!) to see what they can do and what items can change the way they play. Matching these variables up with a five man team doing the same thing yields a very, very complex interaction.
This complexity can get someone so obsessed with all of the different options, builds, timings, etc. that it can take over their “free thought” time. I felt like this a little bit during the height of my playing. I was playing every night with friends, multiple games in a row, and I would think about it throughout the day while looking towards that night’s game.

Then again, there are people who love to play the game to play the game – they just don’t worry about any of the details and enjoy a fun time with their friends. Personally, I don’t take loses to heart at all – I say, “Oh well” and try to determine where things went wrong or what I did/didn’t do to help my team and learn from it for next time.

The two best ways I improved my play in Dota 2 are – replays and spectating. Replays of your matches allow you to relive what just happened in your game and pause it at any point or even repeat a battle over and over again. This really allows you to pick apart an engagement or determine why a Laguna blade from Lina at Faceless Void just might not be the best idea.

Spectating was key for developing a foundation for any hero I wanted to play. I was able to watch a player who had experience play that hero and watch how they used their abilities, the timing of their attacks, or even, “So, that’s how I missed that gank”. The signs and little queues are what can make the difference in a game where one mistake or taking the advantage of one can turn the tide of a battle.

Coming back to the game has also changed my perspective. Instead of working on the basic mechanics of the game I am giving more thought to parts of the game at the higher level. I would tell you more but, that will have to wait for another post – this one has already become a little long in the tooth.

Hit me up if you’re interested in playing!

(My Dotabuff profile for anyone who may be interested: Semaji Thunder)

May Releases

We’re getting close to the summer, which means there’s not much to see this month. It’s great if you’re a fan of The Witcher Series, but other than that, there’s not much. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

May 5th
Wolfenstein The Old Blood

May 12th
Project CARS

May 19th
The Witcher: Wild Hunt
Farming Simulator 15


May 19th
Farming Simulator 15 – With just one release for the Xbox 360, I think we can safely say that its days are numbered on the Monthly Releases. It had a great ten year run and will eventually be phased out here. It looks like ports and downgrades fromm here on out.


May 26th
Splatoon – The Wii-U, on the other hand, is not in its twilight. It appears to still be struggling to garner any type of third party support.


May 5th
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

May 19th
Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros.

May 26th
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX


May 5th
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Project CARS

May 12th
Final Fantasy IV : The After Years
Airport Firefighters: The Simulation – Not just a Firefighter simulator, but an Airport Firefighter. Sounds like fun for HOURS.
Trainz: A New Era

May 19th
The Witcher: Wild Hunt

May 26th


PS4 Banner

May 5th
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year

May 12th
FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster Limited Edition
Project CARS

May 19th
The Witcher: Wild Hunt
Farming Simulator 15

May 26th
ArcaniA – The Complete Tale


May 19th
Farming Simulator 15


May 19th
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed

What are you picking up this month?
(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Weekend Gaming: Ironclad Tactics, Batman: Arkham City

This weekend shall be one of transition, one of endings and beginnings.

Games of the video variety have been on the back burner these past two weeks. The bulk of my attention has gone into Stephen Hunt’s novel The Kingdom Beyond the Waves.

Kinda sorta pretty alright.

Kinda sorta pretty alright.

I’ve had a curious eye side-glancing at Hunt for a while. He is a step out of my comfort zone as he is wont to mingle Steampunk and Fantasy and SciFi (I guess I am a meat & potatoes, one-or-the-other type of reader), and Steampunk has never really struck a chord with me. But my instinct told me that this book was just the shake-up I needed, enough of a romp to pull me away from compulsively and vacantly scrolling through my Steam library looking for something to play (with one exception as shall be elaborated below).

Even now, some 2/3 into it I can declare that Kingdom hasn’t necessarily blown my skirt up but it has still engaged me enough to follow through to the conclusion. And conclude I shall this weekend. I’m doting as to whether or not I’ll pick up another book immediately after this or if I’ll keep my intellectual faculties in reserve for tackling Neal Stephenson’s newest tome Seveneves, which is primed to break the backs of readers worldwide on May 19th.

Hunt’s world hasn’t been the only presence of steampunk during my leisure hours. Indeed. By neither coincidence or design I initiated the single player campaign of Ironclad Tactics.

Ironclad: 1 Human: 0

Ironclad: 1
Human: 0

The game, true to its moniker, is a tactical deck-building game set in an alternate civil war America where clunky steam-machines are the artillery of the battlefield. The campaign follows a story as it moves from city to city on the map of war-torn America. Each location, be it Tallahassee or the Mojave, requires the player to construct a deck with units and parts to draw from in order to complete that objective – it’s almost puzzle-like. The game puts forth a lot of interesting mechanics and is as challenging as it is flawed as it is fun. I am three objectives away from completing the main campaign, of which I plan to accomplish this weekend.

With the book and the game nearing completion I now see my Steam library with fresh and eager eyes once again. The age of steam is propelling me forward! Propelling me… to Arkham City! Yes. This only seems like a natural progression and change of pace after reading a novel and completing a very tactical game. So, forget starting a new book for now; Sunday night I will throw all in and assume the role of the winged crusader, effortlessly zipping and zooming. And brawling – oh lordy lordy, yes, the brawling. I had a blast in Arkham Asylum, and I’m hearing that Arkham City improves on a lot of it. YISS!

What are you playing this weekend? (how about that Dota patch, eh?)

Weekend Gaming

Pillars Of Eternity Wallpaper High QualityBy the looks of the forecast, this weekend is going to be downright springlike, which means my gaming time may be limited, but after a winter of harsh cold and snow, I think it will be a welcome sight to get out of the house.

That won’t, of course, stop us from gaming this weekend. After a few less-than-stellar Dota 2 performances this week, I’m not sure how high my desire to get back into the game will be. So I think this weekend will be spent with some single player games, most likely Pillars of Eternity. I don’t think I’ve quite hit the five hour mark, but I’m getting close. So far I’ve enjoyed Pillars but with so many complex, contiguous systems, I do feel a bit overwhelmed. There are tactics to be deployed but I find myself more often than not just heading in to battle and focusing down each bad guy. It’s not a great system and I know it’s not sustainable. This weekend I hope to delve a little more into the tactics and actually make sense of what I’m trying to do.

Since my boys are knee-deep in Terraria, I may jump back into my Terraria world and mess around a bit, show them what I have and what I’ve been working on. I sent my gaming laptop back to Asus to get fixed and I’m anxious to get it back so we can play multiplayer Terraria. The boys love playing together on the Xbox 360 but I think playing together on the PC would be even better.

And of course if the invite comes to play some Dota 2, I’ll be playing some Dota 2. What are you playing this weekend?

Road Trip! Funspot Arcade

Since I was exiled to the chilly East Coast for work for the past couple of months, I decided I’d make use of my free time during the long, boring weekends to check out an item on my Buttonmashing Bucket List — the Funspot Family Entertainment Center, home of the “American Classic Arcade Museum” in New Hampshire. If you’ve seen The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (the documentary of Steve Weibe’s attempt to break the Donkey Kong world record), you’ve seen Funspot, as it’s the arcade where he makes his record breaking attempt.

Funspot Arcade

When I first arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was big and I knew I would find more than arcade games (the place has to make money, so I knew there would be skee ball and the ticket machines) but what I found was pretty much like any other arcade I’ve been to. It was dark, loud, had the presence of a slightly off-putting smell and arcade games. Tons of aracde games.Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Off Road

I thought it would feel like stepping into the way-back machine, a trip to memory lane but the arcades I went to (and worked at) were never this big and never had this many classic games. I decided that I had to play some of the games I remember from my childhood/teen-age years and also some of the classics.

Hands-down, my favorite upright arcade game of all-time is Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road. I pop in a token and hearing the familiar rev of the video game engine, the honk of the upgrades and seeing the cheesy bikini glad girls takes me back to 1990. Unfortunately, nostalgia does funny things, like make you forget how punishing and unforgiving the controls are or how often the stupid nitro button sticks or doesn’t respond at all and above everything else — how terribly floaty the physics are in this game. Frustration could have set in quickly, and if this game was released in 2015 it would be eviscerated.

OffroadBut that funny nostalgia still prevails and I have a blast. I remember every track, every configuration, every shortcut and I still try to ruin the silver truck’s (that’d be the CPU-controlled Stewarts truck) race when I find myself in last place with no hope of surviving. Nitro-ing into his front-end will never get old.

I played Offroad first and probably dumped more tokens in it than any other game. After maxing out all the upgrades on my truck, I decided to move on and explore other areas of the arcade.

The majority of the games in the “Arcade Museum” are pre-1988, which meant a few of my favorites weren’t found in the main drag. I went with express purpose of playing some of my favorites along with some classics. I headed downstairs from the Arcade Museum area, in search of a few modern games and found exactly what I was looking for, all lined up in a row:

NBA Jam

This basically encapsulates my formative arcade game playing years — NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat I and II (and III, but I didn’t spend nearly as much time playing III as I did I and II). I written about it before, but Mortal Kombat II was both my jam and my introduction to the nascent internet. I was attending classes at Cleveland State University at the time and had access to Usenet groups, including the alt.games.mk2 group which had daily updates to the fatalities and rumors of babalities, nudalities and something called a “friendship”. I would show up every afternoon with freshly printed out move lists that we would all pore over. When I read about the secret way to get to fight Smoke on the Portal level, I waited patiently as others played over and over again, waiting for the “Toasty” to pop up. I reached over and hit the start button and everyone in the room had their minds BLOWN.

Jax and Scorpion were my dudes, so I spent some time reliving the glory days of MKII and then threw a few tokens in NBA Jam. Hearing “IS IT THE SHOES” as my guy cannon ball dunks from the free-throw line, spitting fire, was a great moment.

I headed back upstairs to play some of the classics. Unfortunately, the lighting there was not conducive to taking pictures so I didn’t get many up there. Because I really didn’t play these games as obssessively as I did newer games, I don’t have the same memories of loving Donkey Kong or Centipede or Robotron 2084. But because I was at Mecca, I had to play some of them. Spy Hunter was a favorite so I sat down to play a few minutes of that but Holy Lord that game is hard. I have these beautiful memories of jamming through levels of Spy Hunter like it was my job and 20 years later it felt like I was driving a red wagon, out of control, down a giant hill. It was not fun.

Ditto can be said about Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior and Zaxxon. These games did not age well. I tip my hat to guy’s like Weibe that have taken the time to master these games. It was painful.

Pong

So painful that when I saw this Pong machine, I couldn’t do it. This is history and I couldn’t bring myself to relive the pain. We lived with games that had this brutal difficulty and we liked it! What was wrong with us?

So toSmash TV end the trip on a high note, I emptied out the rest of my tokens into the Smash TV machine. It was mindless fun and was just as ridiculously hard as I remembered it. I would like to meet the guys who could get through the first level of Smash on one credit. I maintain it can’t be done, but I’m sure it has. One day I’ll have to do a deep dive into Smash TV YouTube runs to see if I’m right.

The trip down memory lane was great and the chance to visit an American Treasure. Not sure if you’ll ever find yourself near Lake Winnipesaukee, but if you do, you owe it to yourself to visit The Funspot.

Weekend Gaming

The weekend is upon us and it’s time to plan out a weekend’s worth of gaming.

I am concluding a long series of trips out of town and I’m taking a 3-day weekend in celebration so there will be plenty of gaming going on in the Buttonmashing household. My gaming cup runneth over. I have been jonesing for some Dota 2, so that will be the first course of gaming. After that, I can finally download Pillars of Eternity, which was one of the first games I ever backed on Kickstarter. I’ve avoided pretty much all the reviews to avoid spoilers, but looking at review scores, I think I’m in for quite a fun ride. I loved Baldur’s Gate back in the day and it looks like Obsidian has knocked it out of the park again. So I’ll be spending a good chunk of my gaming time with Pillars.

And I still have Dragon Age: Inquisition warming on the backburner and I recently re-started my playthrough of Mark of the Ninja. There should be plenty of gaming to go around this fine weekend.

What are you going to play?

Buttonmashing Deal of the Day

For those of you who are PC Gamers: