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Author Archives: Max Urso

Game Review: Randal’s Monday

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Game Review: Randal’s Monday

Randals-Monday-Review

Daedalic has a winner here with Randal’s Monday, a point-and-click adventure game currently available on Steam. The humor is crass, vulgar, and full of nostalgia.  Randal is a kleptomaniac douche who swipes his buddy’s wallet and the engagement ring within.

The bad news, for Randal, is the ring is cursed. What follows is a time-loop scenario with a slight twist: whatever Randal changes stays changed and alters the space-time continuum wreaking havoc on reality.

The dialogue is all spoken, sometimes though with a speed that left me frantically clicking to advance it. The artwork is decent with many hidden Easter-eggs to well known fandoms. There’s even a sci-fi convention, and a guest star (voiced by the actual actor, if my ears are correct) who has slightly more than a cameo in the tribulations of Randal.

8/10 paws

 

Top 10 (Nerdy) Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

So here we are, deep into February with March right around the corner.  It’s the beginning of tax season and with all that’s fit to buy, I’m going to offer up my top ten choices to spend a tax refund on:

10. Steam Wallet

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First off, Steam is addicting. With a sale for every season and weekly deals the year round, I suggest you dump part (or all) of you refund into your steam wallet. When the Spring sale starts, you won’t be able to cry you don’t have money in your bank account; it’ll be right there on Steam waiting for you to spend.

9. Kickstarter

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Following a close second to the constant games on sale are games yet to come out. Feeling nostalgic for a game you used to play? There’s likely a reboot, or an anniversary edition being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. I’ve got my 20th Anniversary Whiskey Box Edition of Deadlands coming and I can’t wait. New ideas abound there as well. There might be an awesome game you don’t know you’ll love just waiting for you to back it.

8. VR Equipment

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Virtual reality is hot, even Pornhub is into it (so I’m told). The high end phones, and even the PlayStation all have VR tech waiting to gobble up your cash.  There are inexpensive models you can purchase for your phone if you’re not ready for a setup the same price as a full console.

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Review: Grim Dawn

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Review: Grim Dawn (7/10)

I don’t know what it is about steampunk and muzzle loader guns that attract me so, but I do love them in an RPG. Grim Dawn (available on Steam) is just such a game.

In Grim Dawn you play one of the Taken, a victim of demonic possession in a world gone to hell. Freed from your servitude at the end of a hangman’s noose, you are left with a connection to those demonic energies. This connection allows you to use Rift Gates as shortcuts to jump to and from the hubs you’ll encounter along the way of the linear story progression.

You’ll also be able to wield magical energies, as well as martial, as you level. The combination of two classes (chosen from a variety pack of 6) each with its own multipath of trees to specialize in. The customizations available are vast, and that’s got to be one the things that draws me to this game time and time again.

To date, according to Steam, I’ve logged 97 hours in the game. I still haven’t gotten out of the second chapter, or progressed beyond the mid 20s in level. That’s my fault though, too many creation choices.

The graphics are gory, the sound squishy, and the color scheme of the first areas a tad depressing. It is an apocalyptic setting however, so I urge you to look past that. With only a single body type of each gender to start with, your gear is the sole way to make you YOU. Find a weapon that suits you in all the myriad of colored-fantasy-rpg-rarities, summon your pets, carry a few potions, and by all means loot the bodies. Iron bits don’t grow on trees.

The Aetherials won’t kill themselves. Go face the Grim Dawn.

Please, Stop.

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Lords, ladies, lads, and lassies, I am Max Urso and I implore you: Please, stop.

This is not a rant, this is a plea.

The gaming industry is inundated with pre-ordered, crowd-funded, early-access betas that fill the internet with hatred and vitriol when they fail to appease. We’re so addicted to instant gratification that we can’t wait for a finished product to come out. The game developers are more than happy to take our money to fund their unfinished products. It’s a dysfunctional relationship, and I’m not sure who the abuser is and who is the enabler.

Mind you, I’m as guilty as the next guy of feeding into this destructive behavior. My Steam library is full of early-access games that I’ve booted up maybe once or twice, only to toss them aside in favor of the next new game that’s not quite ready for the light of day. I have over 100 games in there that aren’t getting played because I’ve drifted back to World of Warcraft and Diablo III. That will change in an instant though, bets are already placed as to how long I’ll stick with my WoW subscription this time. All it will take is a shiny new game on the horizon to catch my eye.

Then, there’s the case of games that are blatant lies. No Man’s Sky sold itself on false promises. There were over 200,000 players on launch day on Steam alone, and today there’s slightly over 2,000. That’s a 90% loss due to features not present in the finished product but talked of in the promotional media leading up to it’s release. These remaining few die hard fans who read between the lines, ignored the hype, and knew what they were buying are the only ones still playing it.

My gaming habits aside, I still play NMS. I like it, but I made it my own (The Lost Files 1). I don’t play it everyday, but I do enjoy it. My point is that we, as consumers, are obligated to think before we spend our money. It’s too easy to click-click-click and purchase a game without thinking of the consequences, but we must. The game developers will keep offering pre-orders if we keep buying into it.

Day one patches, and paid DLCs (that years ago would have been free) are more of the same bad relationship symptoms between us and them. If nobody bought DLCs, then would they still make them? Would they instead offer them for free or as part of the initial content?

Use the power of your wallet intelligently. Wait for the release. Wait for reviews. Sure, most critics seemed biased or possibly even show a preference, but that’s why we need to do our research. Stop giving the game developers an excuse to release a shoddy game. It is the responsibility of the developers to put out a finished, polished product, and it is our responsibility to hold them accountable by not paying for anything less.

 

Top 10 TV Distractions From Gaming

*This Article Contains Spoilers*

Summer is over. Gone are the heatwaves and lovely days spent in air conditioned game rooms, typing away furiously at our keyboards. October, with its fall TV lineup beckons us to give our fingers a reprieve, even if briefly. Here are my choices for worthy distractions from gaming:

1. The Flash

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Season three is coming up and they’re starting off with “Flashpoint Paradox.” Barry’s lost his Dad, his Mom, and has experienced so much anguish due to what he perceives as his actions, that he’s gone back and altered the timeline. With the interconnectivity of the four DC shows on the CW, this will most likely have repercussions for the others as well.

2. Arrow 

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Oliver and Team Arrow have dealt with Damien Darhk, thwarted a global nuclear event, and lost a member of their own team. Has Team Arrow become unstrung? Hitting its fifth season, this gritty vigilante show is a can’t miss! I still believe that Oliver Queen was a replacement for Bruce Wayne, but the CW couldn’t get the IP rights to do a Batman show while the Dark Knight trilogy was on the big screen. There have been several names and organizations that were part of the Bat lore, and this only goes to support my theory.

3. Supergirl

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The Kryptonian 20-something finds herself switching networks this season, and possibly due in part to the repercussions of The Flash. Her cousin, Clark has been cast, and there are rumors that Batgirl and other female DC heroes will make an appearance. With a new network that has a good record with the genre so far, I’m hoping they lean away from the “After School Special” of Kara’s first season.

4. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

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The fourth installment of CWs DC lineup has a time traveling spaceship with several of the network’s second string heroes bouncing through time attempting to fix timeline errors.

5. Supernatural

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The Winchesters and crew have put over a decade on the air dealing with all manner of monsters, reality bending magic, and even self-deprecating humor. A friend of mine has said they jumped the shark back when Chuck revealed himself to be the Creator. Happy Days jumped the shark in its fifth season and went on for six more after that. Not a bad record to follow. With Sam thinking Dean has sacrificed himself, Dean finding his Mother has been returned from the afterlife, and Chuck and Amara taking a powder and leaving earth on it’s own, season 12 has me chomping at the bit to see what becomes of Moose and Squirrel.

6. Luke Cage

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Netflix is doing great with their Marvel titles, and this one looks to be no different. A reluctant hero with impervious skin and great strength, Luke brings a cool element to the planned line-up that’s still rolling out. Next year we are scheduled to get Iron Fist and The Defenders rounding out the last of Netflix’s Marvel heroes and the aggregate team show.

7. Gotham

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This show has gotten a lot of hate, and going into its third year has been no different. Roles are being recast, leaving many fans to wonder if Batman will be fighting villains escaped from the old folk’s home once he gets his suit on. I am willing to let the storyline play out and see where the writers take us. DC is known for its alternate universes and I see no problem with that. I almost wonder if Jim Gordan and Bruce Wayne will be this Gotham‘s Batman and Robin.

8. Agents of Shield

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Marvel TV brings us the fourth season of this super-spy team. Phasing out their X-men comic titles due to property right arguments has brought the Inhumans to the forefront on TV. Things are still a bit rocky as the movie adaptions of the Inhumans has been delayed. I love the dynamic of Coulson, Fitz, Simmons, and the rest of the team, though, and I will be trying my best to fit them into my TV watching schedule.

9. Doctor Who

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What’s this? No capes? The Doctor is still a superhero in my book, and I regret that I must catch him after his seasons have aired.  When Season 10 hits this fall, that should unlock Season 9 on Amazon Prime which has acquired the airing rights here in the US.

10. The Walking Dead

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Rick Grimes is a badass. After dealing with Walkers, The Governor, and the Wolves, he now has to contend with the Saviors and Negan. Somebody will die, and possibly two as the show has a history of running parallel to the comics and making fitting substitutions. I also predict that AMC will be ending the show after this Negan plotline is dealt with.

MaxUrso’s Top 10 Rants From E3

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MaxUrso’s Top 10 Rants From E3

top 10 e3 rants

I’ve said it before: I’m an old gamer. I’m not old enough to remember Pong, but close. The start of each school year found my friend Eric and me exchanging news of what arcade games we had seen in our summer travels. One year it was a boxing game with a swivel mounted monitor. You controlled two arms and had to duck and weave. Now each year I look forward to the news from E3, anxious to see what technology is coming, what titles I’ll be waiting for. This year I’m disappointed. There’s nothing from the highlights that has me excited. On the contrary, I’m finding myself rather annoyed. In no particular order, here are my Top 10 E3 Rants:

10: Microsoft is putting out the Xbox One S.

It’s 40% smaller, has an internal power supply,  and puts out in 4k resolution with HDR. 4k is the latest thing, and I’ve read we really can’t see the difference in resolution that great, so I’ll pass. What has me irked is not only the size of the console, but the INTERNAL power supply. Come Fricking ON! The real estate at my gaming station is so cramped I can’t reach for my ice cold beverage without bumping the power button on my Xbox One. I hate power bricks. If they could make the whole thing smaller and still put the brick inside, why didn’t they do that to begin with?

9: While Xbox is putting out a 4k monster machine with Project Scorpio, Sony is showing off a VR headset.

Wonderful, another new fad that everyone will be jumping on. Does it have to cost as much as the console?! Is VR really worth that much?  I’m sure it will make Final Fantasy 15 really stand out among the rest of the sequels, reboots, and re-mastered games.

8: Speaking of which, there’s God of War.

Kratos has taken off to invade Skyrim it seems and he’s dragging along his kid. Didn’t his family die…at his own hands? Isn’t he covered in their ashes? Is this kid really safe with this god-killer? Who’s going to call Child Protective Services?

7: Perhaps Link will in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

There has to be phone somewhere in this open-world version of Hyrule. It is still Hyrule, right? I mean I can’t be sure, but if Nintendo is finally putting their money maker in an open-world/climb the walls like Assassin’s Creed style game, I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed which world it was in. At least other companies showed off more than one game.

6:  Take EA for example: They had lots of games at E3.

Battlefield 1. Wait what? The series started with Battlefield 1942 back in 2002 and now, 14 years later they’re retconning the whole thing and putting out Battlefield 1?! Sequels normally go up in digits, right Titanfall 2, and Fifa 17? They could also just use the intellectual property and just add a new sub-title, like Mass Effect: Andromeda or whatever laundry list of Star Wars games they’ll put out.

5: Even Bethesda, my current favorite company is resorting to the recycle machine that plagues both video games and Hollywood.

Another Prey that sounds like a reboot and Dishonored 2 gives us another sequel while Skyrim is simply being re-mastered. At least Quake Champions is original…oh wait, another 4 on 4 shooter. Lovely. Fallout 4 and Doom get the VR treatment here as well and that’s a few hundred I don’t have, so pass.

4: Perhaps the rebels at Ubisoft will save us with an original idea?

Star Trek VR puts us in control of the bridge crew. Fine, but it’s VR.  Watch Dogs 2 takes us to San Francisco, or we could head back to Colorado for South Park: The Fractured But Whole and engage in a kids version of Captain America: Civil War. Perhaps one of the snipers from Ghost Recon: Wildlands, another sequel, will put me out of misery. If I’m left with only Steep, an extreme sports title, to keep me interested, then I am doomed.

3: Activision, not satisfied with one re-mastered title, is being back and entire series: Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped.

There’s also another Call of Duty, and Skylanders. Even Disney gave up on the collectible figure gimmick.

2: Repackage, reboot, repeat, resell.

Can nobody create a new game? The list of the rehashed is huge: Call of Duty : Modern Warfare Remastered, Civilization VI, Crackdown 3 Dead Island 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, Mafia III, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, and another Forza title.

1: Now, I’m no prude, and most of my friends would tell you I can be pretty vulgar when it’s funny, but Naughty America had a VR booth at E3. Really?

An adult film studio had a booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo? Isn’t there another venue for this; somewhere better suited like…Fallout: New Vegas? Maybe that’s why it’s finally getting backwards compatibility on the Xbox One.

Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

 

Are Consoles Chasing Gamers Back to PC?

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Are Consoles Chasing Gamers Back to PC?

consoles v pc

Right off the bat I’ll admit I’m a PC gamer. The time came with my Xbox 360, where I realized I hadn’t touched it in 6 months. It sat there beneath my TV gathering dust and cat fur. Eventually, I handed it down to my son. He has a PS4 now, so the old Xbox is again a corpse in the shadows of our basement. I caved in again and now an Xbox One sits beside my PC. It came with 6 games; one of which I gave away to charity, two I’ve actually played (briefly), and the last two have not been touched.

So why am I faithful only to my PC? What has the Xbox One done to earn my ire when I accidentally bump the power button and it turns on? I use a controller with my PC, so I’m not strictly a mouse and keyboard guy. I use headphones for both, they share my monitor, my desk, my computer chair, and my mini-fridge (yes, be jealous). The PC does not have a better location or peripherals.

As society evolves technologically I believe we’re going to become more dependent on the internet and PCs. They have utility. I can write on my PC, the words flowing with ease from fingers to keyboard. I can listen to music, jumping from one streaming service to another all from my browser; all without adding another app. I can practice being socially awkward along with the rest of the web. I can access my email, pay my bills, and shop. Maybe there are apps for all of that on the Xbox, but I wouldn’t know. I’m too busy surfing the web.

Then there is the library. When I’ve upgraded or changed consoles, the games went with them. Even though my PC has changed over the years, I can still play the games I had on the last machine. There’s no need for backwards compatibility. Windows being what it is, I can keep my library and just reinstall the games I love playing when I get new hardware. Perhaps Steam is the culprit then, for that is where much of my time and money has gone in the four years that I’ve owned my current rig. Yes, it’s due for an upgrade soon, but it’s still humming along.

Consoles however…well, there’s no real money to be made in making old titles work with the new system. No remaster, no reboot, no sales growth. There’s quite a few 360 titles available to play on the Xbox One, but it is limited. Mass Effect: Andromeda is coming so you want to relive the original trilogy? Fine, but you better still have your 360 because Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 won’t work on the Xbox One, and that’s just one example. There are approximately 1174 titles in the Xbox 360 catalog and only 204 of them are backwards compatible. Now we both know no one owns every title, so that matters little, but chances are the one you want to play on your shiny new system isn’t ready yet. You’ll just have to wait until they feel like handing it to you.

Sure, consoles are more stable than PCs. It’s easier for publishers to put out games for consoles because each generation is pretty standard. There’s never any major snafus with console games, and they don’t suffer hardware malfunctions like PCs.

{/sarcasm} Nope. Never. {/sarcasm}

Consoles are the family cars of gaming, they’re safe and they can entertain the kids. PCs are the sports cars, fun to drive, but dangerous to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. I don’t think consoles are driving the gamers away; PCs are just naturally more attractive.