The TBoD Podcast – 106 – Telling Tall Tales

Hello everybody, remember us?

It’s been too long since we were last on air but we are back and ready to entertain once more. This week Quim and I are discussing the latest teasers coming out of the telltale HQ featuring the latest Batman trailer and the latest Walking Dead Season 3 screens and info.

We round up the show by talking about our personal top couch multiplayer games, we’d love to hear what yours are in the comments below.

Thanks for listening as always and hit us up through the usual channels.

Right click ‘save link as..’ download

Batman is Archer

Do you want Batman? Cause that’s how you get Batman.

 

The TBoD Podcast – 89 – Fallout of Halovember

Halovember is over teabaggers and you know what that means… a return to our usual musings and ramblings about games and gaming. This week we’re talking Fallout, Hearthstone, Halo vs Destiny and the everlasting importance of solo gaming expeiriences.

Be sure to give us your thoughts on all of the topics discusses in the usual places as always.

Right Click and hit ‘save link as..’ to download.

The TBoD Podcast – 52 – Nintendo Don’t cry

Hello boys and girls,

Welcome to another edition of the TBoD podcast, the topics up for discussion from our likely lads this week are;

Xbox updates,

The power of 4

Red Guy – “Oh Shit!”

After our too long absence Quim has talked about his enjoyment of the Master Chiefs fourth outing so what I have to say is hardly going to be surprising but since we love Halo so much I thought I’d mutter on about it for a bit.

It’s a mammoth task 343/Certain Affinity have taken on. In attempting to recreate an experience which defined the console multiplayer fps experience, it was never going to be easy. So how close have Microsoft’s in house design company come to taking forth the mantle from Halo’s original creators? Damn close, so close in fact that Bungie would feel the clamy breath of the new wave Spartan IV’s on the back of thier necks, were it not for the Mjolnir armours visor being in the way.

For me this is the stand out new weapon, it was hard to believe any pistol could top the magnum or the plasma but if anything can this is it.

The pace and flow of the game is perfectly measured and all of our fears about ordinance, weapon waypoints and instant respawns were completely unfounded. What 343 have achieved here is nothing short of spectacular dragging the most possible from the 360’s ageing hardware but more importantly making sure Halo once again feels special and different to the other fps offerings out there.

As a Spartan the idea is that you are a super soldier, gun fire, explosions and vehicle warfare hold no fear for you and your mastery over any weapon you lay your armoured hands on. This is the essence of Halo and it shines through once again. The rush you get from scoring multikills, headshots and vehicle takedowns is something that just can’t be matched by other shooters. We’ve played it half to death now and each match is still insanely enjoyable and leaves you gasping for breath and wrestling with the familiar Halo shakes.

New game mode Dominion is certainly the pick of the bunch, taking elements from Battlefields Conquest mode but creating an altogether original monster that creates some really tense and exciting moments.

There are clearly still some teething issues with the matchmaking system and the servers (all of which could probably have been identified and abolished with a brief beta). The strain was way too much on the opening week rendering the multiplayer pretty much unplayable at peak times and more recently problems have been appearing that are at times game breaking, lag, glitches even mini Covies have all been well documented. However all of this can be forgiven because of the love and dedication that has gone into crafting the maps and the game types.

Personally I was never on board with the idea of loadouts and weapon unlocks for Halo as it does detract somewhat from the purity of Spartan combat but I have to say they have implemented them well here. Progress is much slower than it is in some games of this type but that’s to be expected when 343 have worked so hard to maintain the balance of the the previous games in order to make sure no one ever really feels as if they are at a disadvantage simply due to their lack of unlocks. This in itself is testament to the amount of thought that has gone into overhauling a game without destroying it’s core. I don’t think I have come across a single player online who had any problems with the way the game plays the only issues seem to be about the networking. Joining games in progress is never fun especially when you are dropping in so close to the end of a fight but that should mean you get into the game quicker….. it doesn’t work however, the whole matchmaking just seems broken especially when playing in a larger party. Many times we have had to resort to playing custom games which is actually pretty fun, especially game types like hog wars and 8vs8 Griffball which are epic.

All this said weekly playlist updates are working well to keep things fresh thus far and with more game types like griffball and assault on the horizon along with new maps and stacks of forge efforts already kicking about things look good for the future of Halo.

Spartan IV’s ….. they ain’t no Master Chief … but they’ll do.

Also the campaign is pretty damn sweet.

Thanks 343

eremenko

1 1 7th Heaven

Halo 4 Cryptum

Since its announcement in June 2011 all of us here have been on the cusp of spooging our under crackers waiting furtively for the triumphant return of Master Chief.

We have read the books and bulletins, listened to and appeared on podcasts, gone to expos and spoke to and played Halo with fans all over the globe all the while avoiding spoilers in a bid to take our mind off the release date which seemed like an eternity away.

Now, after all the waiting and hype Halo 4 has finally been unleashed in the wild and I thought I would pen a shit load of thoughts about it without getting too fanboyish about the whole affair. (Alert: – fanboy ramblings inbound)

Campaign

This is easily the portion of the game I have most been looking forward to given that it is the only area that 343i have managed to not blurt out every single scrap of information on. From that first cut scene right up until the closing credits my brain was gripped on how much effort must have gone into crafting this delightful tale. The visuals are of artisan quality, the passion that has been poured into this is nothing short of breath-taking and captivated me throughout; partly because of its sheer beauty but also because I was astounded that this level of graphical prowess was even possible given the age of the Xbox.

But then again what are the use of pretty graphics without a compelling storyline? Thankfully 343 have triumphed here too providing us with something almost Shakespearean in its construction. A sci-fi epic come romantic sonnet, this new narrative truly adds something more significant than in my opinion even the mighty Bungie ever did. Drawing on the most recent extended fiction to ensure an unrivaled richness otherwise unseen in any of the series, 343 have pulled off something really rather remarkable, giving us something completely new and original whilst maintaining the bittersweet struggle that the universe is all about.

I have but one small gripe with the campaign and that is with the time it took for me and my fellow Spartans to complete. A mere five and a half hours it took to run through the whole thing from start to finish, which given the promise that this would be the hardest Halo yet made me feel there should have been more to it, perhaps there is an issue with difficulty upscaling because I have spoken to a couple of very proficient players who say the difficulty on solo is more of a challenge. In the same breath I do think the quality over quantity ethos is preferable to a long and unsatisfying slog. My own personal issue though is I want more! I must find out what happens next and I don’t know how I am going to pass the time until Halo 5! But then again this is yet another sign of how great a story 343 have come up with and I guess I will just have to wait it out like every other Halo nut.

Spartan Ops

As a proper admirer of Halo fiction, when Franklez first spilled his love beans about this concept, I was pretty amped about the idea of being given a whole extra campaign’s worth of story thrown into the mix for the petite price tag of zilch dolla. If I had written this as intended last week you would find me fairly underwhelmed by the whole affair given that Team Majestic came across as a bit of a herd of douche shaped buffalo in the initial cut-scene, even the sweet candy glossed visuals of that first cut-scene wasn’t enough to keep the bitter taste of these augmented dolts out of my mouth. Before you say it yes I know we take the role of the competing Team Crimson but these are the not the faces we see. I also know this move is probably intentional to promote some kind of perceived competition between you and Majestic but personally I would have preferred them to be a little less atypical jock. With that said it’s a new week and a new episode, it has started to kick off right royally story wise and all of a sudden I find myself in the same lane again and I am more than intrigued to see where captain 343 will steer UNSC Infinity next and given their track record on delivering an epic campaign I’m sure it will be a smooth jump to slip space.

Multiplayer

The meat and potatoes of all Halo games to me comes from the re-playability and addiction that is multiplayer. I personally have been in the pro-halo camp welcoming all their revamping and in some cases rebuilding of all we love about our Spartan slaying game-types. At first I was totally loving every little sliver of War Games had to offer quickly getting my couple of loadouts sorted and streamlining my play. A couple of days in at about level 24 I had a minor freak out about the unlock system when I compared it to another game I love, Battlefield. With Dice’s military shooter having so much to offer with regards to weapons I was a little nervous about whether or not I would find a bit of a void in unlocks, loadouts wise, between late 20’s and the end game of specializations. However once I spoke to a couple of friends I realised I may have overreacted somewhat. Firstly, I see now that it was a little unfair to compare two relatively disparate games who both have utterly different unlock systems and now I am at level 34 I have found that the perceived unlock void was all in my head and I would say to anyone who may have felt a similar feeling that it’s easily overcome by embracing experimentation. At first I thought mobility and dexterity were easily the top unlocks and I would probably stick with these throughout, true I still have a loadout that I use regularly, however with four loadout slots available to me I now have more space to tweak and hone my setups dependent on map and/or gametype. Now I truly appreciate the method in which items unlock and reckon there is plenty to keep me or indeed any other player motivated to keep on fragging.

I feel I should make a cursory mention of the armour permutations. Personally, I do see what 343i are going for but I don’t really find any of the options compelling enough to change from the Mark VII armour set I was rewarded with from our legendary run. Canonically I know Spartan IV’s are meant to cost less than the Spartan II program so in that respect the armour certainly does reflect that in how cheap it looks but I doubt this was the goal set out for the armour design team. With that said I wouldn’t mind pimping my visor colour for a couple of games.

I thought I would finish off on a high by discussing what really matters: how it plays, and what a high it is! In fact I find it a little hard to breathe at this altitude of awesomesauce. Imagine Halo 2 and 3 combined with Bruce Lee, the movement is so fluid even Bruce would be impressed by how akin to water you are. That feeling of power flowing through my hands when engaging a foe truly gives my Mjolnir clad super soldier the feeling of being just as godly as the weapon in which the name hails from. Combine this awesome player movement with the most evolved and balanced weapon sandbox I have come across and the most gut punching sound effects applied to a halo game yet and you suddenly find that your witnessing a real masterclass in FPS craftsmanship, hooking you to want to play until your thumbs bleed. But it doesn’t stop there, I mean what’s the use in having a pitch perfect Spartan armed with the an unparallelled weapon sandbox without any decent game environments? Well thank Thor that 343 have served up some real classics on this front too. If we hark back to Reach a lot of the community complained that, unlike Halo 3, it did not have any standout maps. For me Halo 4 sits in the same position but for a very different reason and that is, in my opinion, pretty much all of the maps are as strong as the next. In fact I would say (and don’t hurt me for this) our beloved remake Ragnarok is probably the weakest of the pack mainly due to the Mantis unbalancing things somewhat but that is just my opinion. Movement on every single one is never at all awkward, providing multiple routes throughout each map and in any of the environs the places in which a team can camp out and hold can be overturned without too much trouble if the opposing side works together. Could you say the same about Reach? see Sword Base or Power House for proof. If I had to name a favourite map at the minute I would say Exile, Haven and Complex are right up there, oh and Adrift. My point is Halo 4, in my opinion, has the strongest multiplayer yet and can easily compete in this overly crowded FPS market.

A friend of mine known as The Woaf asked me to describe Halo on Day 2 post launch in three words, I said “almost spot on”. A week on I still feel pretty much the same given that the server issues still exist but once they solve that then I will be comfortable saying this  might just be the ‘Best Halo Ever’. 343 have shown that they can make a game that is totally relevant in today’s market which not only keeps up but legitimately locks horns with the big FPS mammoths of recent years, but also feels every bit as ‘Halo’ as anything that has come before. Not only is John finally awake but so is the rest of the world to 343’s ability to make an outstanding game.

Firstly thanks for reading, I hope you can tell that this franchise bears some weight in my life and I would like to hear what you think. Do you agree or not? Is there a particular aspect I didn’t mention that you love or hate? Leave me a comment and subscribe if you want. Also my gamertag is The Quim Ninja. If you wanna play some Halo with me and the rest of the teabagordie crew send me a friend request. Requiem Awaits.

-The Quim Ninja

The DayZ after Tomorrow

Having survived a while with the supplies gifted to me in by the strange rescue party that had helped me out of Chenarus on my second attempt at survival in the wastes it was soon obvious that I was going to have to venture back into the villages once inhabited by the friendly Chenarian people. Now teaming with nightmarish undead.

zombies in the mist

I stopped at a gas station just outside of a small township thinking that I may be able to re-fill my Jerry can to lengthen the lifespan of my already run down motorcycle. The bike had day z petrol stationalready gotten me out of several sticky situations and I was wary of my ever decreasing fuel supply. Pulling onto the forecourt in the dwindling sunlight everything appeared to be clear. Turning off the engine and jumping off the bike I hurried over to the pumps. Nothing, they were empty most likely drained by another survivor who had already passed this way, perhaps it was Merc and his rag-tag bunch of bandits turned temporary heroes. I wasn’t ready to meet up with them again just yet. I turned away from the pumps and headed into the kiosk, hoping to find some food or drink to bolster my waning supplies but there was nothing there either, whoever had scavenged this place had been thorough. I left the small shop heading back to my bike but a Zed blocked my path, my newly aquired AK-47 tore straight through him and sent him straight to the ground, not a wise idea two, three, four then five more of his companions appeared from the surrounding hedges, trees and from behind the cars and buildings in the distance further blocking my route to the bike, I ran cursing myself for not leaving the bike running to allow for an easy escape. As I back peddled up the road I loosed a few more rounds from my rifle, taking down more deadites but alerting more and more with every shot, soon there was a mob chasing me. I clambered over the siding on the edge of the road and started to double back on myself hoping that I could get back to my transport and get away before the shambling horde caught up to me. Rounding the kiosk once more, hope looked lost. A moving corpse standing right by my bike, I had no choice but to try my luck. Gently squeezing the trigger on my Russian Army standard issue AK *blam blam* I felled him quickly and clinically. Sprinting for my bike another walker lurched from behind the pumps moving toward me with alarming speed I pulled the trigger again *click* my clip was empty, Merc and co had been stingy with the ammo. Quickly I leapt onto my trusty motorcycle and pumped the kickstarter the engine bursting into life. Looking back as I sped away across the fields I could see a crowd of roughly fifteen Zed’s frivolously stumbling after me.

day z motorcycle

Having exhausted my ammunition on such an ill-fated affair I had no wish to return to populated areas for a while and instead focussed my attentions on the barns, farmhouses and hunting stands that littered the countryside. The flaw in this decision should have been pretty obvious to me the sun was setting and it was about to get dark, very dark. I followed a dirt track that went up into the mountains as far as I could hoping that I might reach a lodge or shack that I could hole up in before night came and the fear returned.

Darkness fell quickly. Alone on the mountaintop my fuel ran out a short while ago and I have seen no sign of shelter. A track weaves down through the trees but my quick torch bursts reveal little else I’m afraid that keeping it on may attract unwanted attention. I fling a few flares around the surrounding area and hunker down for a cold night spent hiding in the foliage.

a dark forest scene

As you can probably tell I’m really enjoying my time in DayZ although it has to be said that the fear factor involved keeps me from playing marathon style like I can with Halo or Skyrim and I do find myself becoming frustrated by many aspects of the game. It can be irritating to creep all the way up to a building only to find it completely inaccessible for instance and it’s very easy to loose your bearings while fleeing for your life. Of course the game is not going to be perfect mod’s rarely are after all the engine wasn’t built specifically for that which it is being used. All said and done this game is a really exciting prospect that has many console gamers green with envy but that olive tint may not last long. DayZ has been given the opportunity to release as a standalone game entirely separate from Bohemia Interactive‘s Arma series and this has sparked a fever among Xbox 360 and PS3 owners alike in the vain hopes that this may mean a console release. Meanwhile a bunch of quick thinking folk over at Hammerpoint interactive  have been quietly working away on a similar title of their own. The War Z boasts the claim of being the worlds first Zombie MMO ….. lies aside it looks excellent, combine DayZ gameplay with the guns of Call of Duty add a sprinkling of Battlefield 3 graphics, zombies straight out of Left 4 Dead and an interface that looks very much as if it was designed to run on a console  and you’re gonna leave a-lot of jaws on the floor.

Let me know if you think The War Z looks like a DayZ rip or does it stand up as a game in it’s own right? Why has it taken so long for a game like this to be released? Would it be a success on consoles? Comments always appreciated.

see you in the Zedpocolypse.

Elth

DayZ of the Dead

So late as always I finally joined the DayZ party, my first life did not go well. Thinking wrongly,the wise thing to do would be to head straight out to the nearest military complex to arm myself to the teeth. It took a long time to figure out just where I was within the 225 sq/km (that’s a whopping 87 sq miles) map.

Having attempted and failed to scavenge from many small towns, each time being forced to flee when a small army of Zed’s caught my scent, running like Usain Bolt in an attempt to prevent my terrified arse from being chewed off. Finally I managed to escape the attentions of the brain hungry mobs long enough to loot some food and a new rucksack from an abandoned mini mart. Equipped with plenty of food and drink (but still no weapon) I started to feel a little over confident. I found a map, watch and a crowbar so finally I could fight back, things were really looking up. Studying my newly acquired map I found that I was but a few clicks south of an abandoned military airbase “a chance to add some real hardware to my pack” I thought. Little did I know I was barking up the wrong tree.

Continue reading

Random Access Memory Lane Part 2: The fizzy drink diet.

Just before we get going on today’s nonsense I thought I would mention the new banner emblazoned across our blog, it was designed by one of the powerful chaps over at the emperors of design Me and Alan, I think it looks epic so please visit their site to see just how mint they are. Cheers.

If you haven’t read our part 1 you can find it here, if you have then lets crack on.

Its 1992 and shit is going down. For the adult world at least.

It is announced that a third of our coal mines are to be closed, which contributes to a record high in unemployment. A spate of IRA attack occur throughout the year across the nation of which Manchester suffers the worst of it. Windsor Castle is severely damaged after a proper massive fire. The economy is in tatters, so much so that it was decided the Queen is going to have to pay taxes.

For me it was a different kettle of fish, for me 1992 was all about my football team Newcastle United signing Alan Shearer for a record 15 million quid, watching some wicked telly including some particularly epic cartoons like X-Men and Animals of Farthing Wood and experiencing my first beat em up on a console. The glory that was Double Dragon

Now I know that technically Double Dragon had several iterations but I played the one on the Mega Drive which the internet tells me released in this year. This seminal game considered to be the progenitor of the modern beat em up. Taking on the role of either Billy or Jimmy Lee (twin brothers obviously) you are tasked with applying the fictional martial art with some ridiculous name, which incidentally was inspired by Jeet Kune Do and is one of the many references to the great Bruce Lee, to smash the snot out of innumerable enemies as you make your way through each level.

When I think about it, this game’s co-operative was probably the first time I felt that multiplayer buzz which would become the dominating force in my adult life as a gamer. Sure co-op was nothing new in the industry but to be 9 years old and to take on the role of a kick ass, muscle-bound Chuck Norris type with your best mate being every bit as ninja whilst to punch and kick your way through as many hapless bad guys whose skulls are standing in the way of you and justice, well that kind of experience will stick with you.

As a kid you wanted to be a hero, preferably one with granite hands and fly kicks up the wazoo (TMNT was huge at this point) and this game gave you that in buckets. To poach a phrase a friend of mind used to describe Dizzy when he read our last post, Double Dragon was ‘the tits’. End of.

As with my last post that offered up a link to play Dizzy, the generosity continues and this time it’s for you hipsters that have an iPhone. Here is Double Dragon for the iPhone for when you get sick of sketching out the same pictures in Draw Something. You will have to pay for it like I’m not made of money, probably due to the fact I’m always distracted playing or writing about games to achieve any true modicum of success on the career front.

– MS Dosser

Cast your mind back to the previous year. It’s ’91 and none of Dossers depressing issues have come to the fore as of yet. Operation desert storm is over, Mario and Sonic are locking horns in the battle of the consoles, Link has a new quest on his hands and Terminator 2 is out at the cinema surely you’d think there would be no reason for tiny green haired blue smock wearing animals to throw them selves off the nearest edge? Well you’re wrong.

Lemmings
(Atari ST ’91)

Lemmings box art

Blocker, Builder, Basher, Climber, Floater if these words bring to mind seven Dwarves for you then a) you didn’t play Lemmings and b) you don’t know much about Snow White. No these names were not those allocated to the Hi-ho chanting little fellas from the classic German fairy tale, they are in fact some of the skills which made these tykes into the lovable (if somewhat frustrating) stars from one of the most popular video games of all time.

Wiki tells me that Lemmings throughout the years has shipped over 15 million units and honestly I can’t think of a title that deserved more success. The thought and care that went into the level design of this game make modern puzzle game creators cry into their coffee every morning. It was a simple idea taken to monumental levels by DMA design, who it is worth noting are now the amazing Rockstar North, sometimes it would feel as though a level was impossible but once you figured it out it would leave you wondering how on earth you failed to spot the correct path through.

lemmings level

Diggers will be necessary.

So this bunch of ludicrously cute little sprites drop down from a trap door in the sky, screaming their trade mark “let’s go”, and it’s up to you to guide them past the various pitfalls, traps, spikes, lava, fire and whatever other devious little tricks the developers had hidden along the way. Through various typical video game sets such as desert, dungeon, ice land etc.

a gif of the two competing walking animations

This gif actually shows the original competing designs for the walking animation.

Originally an Amiga title its instant success led to multiple ports and sequels (it has even seen a re-release on PSP) and soon people all over the world were scratching their heads and smashing their mouse’s (mousai? mice?) in frustration as the poor little chaps met their grizzly end time and time again.

lemming jumping artwork

Let’s go!

So enamored with the artwork as a child I actually wanted a pet Lemming and I’m not ashamed to admit I would’ve dressed him in blue and dyed his hair green had I ever had one but alas I didn’t so I made do with an imaginary one that lived in my watch (I know, I know but I already told you I was a weird kid.). I even used to spend hours sketching crude Lemmings having fun little adventures, driving cars, fighting monsters and so on.

falling lemming

not one of mine

One of the main things I remember about this game was the music. Slightly akin to being stuck in a lift listening to pan pipe versions of classic pop songs the tunes on display here were midi versions of classical music and various random school yard tunes (I may be imaging this but I’m pretty sure one of them is ‘how much is that doggy in the window’) rather than adding to the infuriating nature of this puzzler I find them somewhat calming but that might just be me. Take a listen to one of the more memorable tunes for yourself and you will (hopefully) see what I mean.

So what is essentially an epic puzzle game becomes without a doubt one of the most phenomenal titles of all time. Don’t believe me? Well some clever so and so has ported it into your browser so you can enjoy the original game in all of its glory.(albeit without the fantastic sound effects.) YIPEE!

– Elth

P.S you ever get to the end of Double Dragon in co-op MS-Dosser? I did with my cousin….. it doesn’t end well.

Hope you enjoyed the second part of our trip along nostalgia avenue. Did you love Double Dragon? or were you more of a Streets of Rage kinda guy? Did Lemmings cause you to punch a hole in the nearest wall/person/screen available or were you lulled into a deep calm by the weird ass music? Let us know in the comments and subscribe to keep up with the continuing recap of the games that caused us to be hopelessly addicted today.