The Last of Us Spoilercast – Part 2 – Castpocolypse now

The Last of us  (3)

*Warning Does Contain Spoilers – may contain traces of nuts*

Right Click and ‘Save Link As’ to download this podcast

Clearly we just couldn’t get enough of talking about “The Last of Us” when we did our spoilercast a few weeks back so here we are again along with some very special guests to discuss the games finer points once again.

Joining us this time out we have fellow TeaBagger Crinbot and regular contributors The Wach and Cartoon Robinson joining the fray and we were delighted to have input from Cruel Legacey making his first (hopefully of many) appearance on the TBoD network.

Let us know what you think of the show in the comments below. If there’s anything we’ve missed we may well have to do just one more TLoU show.

Also please go check out the brilliant stuff all of our guests do (links on their names above).

TBoD Castpocalypse – The Last of Us.

In this incredibly special episode Eremenko, Spacca Attacker and The Quim Ninja sit down to talk about The Last of Us and just how damn good this game is, no bullshit just admiration of the game and the powerful moments created within it.

[WARNING: – Spoilers and awesomeness throughout!]

Clicker on your Right button and ‘Save Link as’ to survive the infection.

The-last-of-us

Thomas Was Alone.

What with all podcasting and video making we have been doing as of late, I thought that it might make a refreshing change to get back to my roots and actually put pen to paper…or keyboard to internet, whatever.

thomas was alone

Certainly a game that, in my mind and indeed that of the BAFTA awards, is worth writing about is Thomas Was Alone. Originally a flash game, this lovely 2D platformer has been out for PC and Mac for a while now and recently made it onto the PlayStation Network. In Thomas Was Alone you take control of some AI’s who find themselves suddenly self-aware and trapped within some kind of corrupted computer system.

Although not graphically stunning, this was never the aim of its creator Mike Blithell, who didn’t have the budget to make a huge fireworks display like the Beijing Olympics, he instead set out to tell unique and engaging story. Without getting too near the realm of spoilerville he achieves this by building an excellent narrative and bringing these little quadrilaterals to life by giving them those every day insecurities we find in our society today. To illustrate what I mean this next paragraph mentions a couple of characters you come across very early on in the game and how they are portrayed. If you really don’t want any kind of spoiler then just skip it.

thomasYou start off as the title suggests meeting Thomas, a fairly optimistic rectangle who views the world with wonder but who doesn’t want to be alone in this strange environment he inhabits, which I guess is the embodiment of the human condition in that we want to live our lives and share our experiences with others. Then there is Chris, a little orange square which suffers from short man’s syndrome somewhat and a general feeling of inadequacy. The first female character you meet is a rather large block named Claire, who on first encounter comes across as a woman worried about her weight and is rather depressed that she doesn’t fit the expectations of society.

Of course a well written story needs an excellent narrator and in the case of Thomas Was Alone this comes in the form of Danny Wallace – a british actor, comedian, writer etc.

Danny Wallace

Danny Wallace

Wallace’s narration really breathes life into the characters, his intonation and humour are as integral to driving this game forward as the mechanics or storyline. He won a BAFTA for his voice work and although I don’t necessarily think that anything that wins an award must be praised, in this case I think it’s deserving. The humour in Thomas is certainly very English but not so much that it would alienate international players, which again I guess has helped in its success.

Gameplay is not challenging really but again for those who may be disappointed with the difficulty level are kind of missing the point with Thomas Was Alone. I played it on the PS3 I thought the ability to use the D-Pad to move through the game was a lovely little hark back to the days of old, not that I did this, after 14 years of having a thumbstick on my controller since the days of my N64, if given the choice I will use it every time, more is the pity for me I guess because playing it the old school way would certainly inject some nostalgia into this modern-day retro platformer. Of course Thomas isn’t just one long nod to the old school platformer, there are plenty of new twists on the platforming genre mechanics found throughout, in fact everything after chapter 5 turns a lot of the conventions on their head and creates its own rules too.

The music, well I don’t have much to say on that front, I certainly cannot criticise the soundtrack at all. At times it promotes a serenity in the player, it is mesmerizing throughout and is perfectly paced to match the evolution of the narrative in each level.

It’s not a long game at all, about 4-5 hours in total, but it tells a story of heroism and selflessness as convincingly as, if not far better than, many triple A titles.

I conclude by saying this, if you need a break from firing bullets into the faces internet morons, or maybe you are just sick of gaining that XP to unlock that pointless bit of gear then give Thomas Was Alone a shot.

If you must to drink gallons of really sugary chocolate milk everyday, once in awhile you need to take a sip of ice water to refresh your palette.

If you have played Thomas Was Alone and want to talk about your thoughts on the game please leave me a comment, or if you think I am talking shit (i.e. that last pretentious sentence) then put me in my place. Thanks.

-The Quim Ninja

Journey – Playing in the sand

So Christmas has been and gone and with it, like many of you, I was given a couple of game related items, the most notable being a PlayStation 3. I have submitted to the dark side but who would have thought it would have brought me to a game as pure and original as Journey. Having made a very late return to the Sony ecosystem I probably wouldn’t have even heard of this game if it wasn’t for Journey being receiving a VGA for PlayStation Game of the Year. With my interest piqued and a PS3 inbound I started doing a little research and found the entire internet gushing salty ‘praise’ all over this game’s face from their virtual wang’s. One site going as far as to say it goes beyond the boundaries of a game and transcends to that of an artistic masterpiece.

journey-game-screenshot-1-b

Anyway with the hardware dropped off by a rather garishly dressed bearded gentleman the first thing I did was purchase Journey and fire it up whereby I was immediately taken aback by what my eyeballs were dealt. The desert vistas that my nomad traverses were simplistic yet somehow also quite intricate, with a shimmer seemingly coming from each grain of sand really bringing the whole environment to life in way that easily rivaled many of the other big budget open world titles. I think I almost prefer the aesthetics of Journey over say Skyrim which admittedly are both very different creations, however they both endeavor to conjure ajourney2 sense of wonderment and discovery. Journey does not use a powerful magic staff held by a great old wizard to do so, but instead accomplishes it using a humble set of tools deftly handled by little known artisan craftsmen. As overly verbose as this analogy is I am basically saying I am more impressed by the accomplishment of just fourteen developers fraught with money troubles than that of one hundred developers sat within Bethesda’s Great Keep and its adjoining treasury.

The game-play itself was a particularly intriguing experience for me given that Journey is the polar opposite to the eye bleedingly frenetic FPS genre which I can usually be found playing, controller trembling between my white knuckles. If I were to use another rather unnecessary analogy to compare the two I would say if the FPS genre was a type of music it would probably be akin to Speed Garage whereas Journey is runs much more in the Enya bracket, I swear it actually slowed down my heart rate at times as it was such a relaxing experience. You tread, glide and fly around in such an elegant and soothing journey puzzlemanner that you sometimes forget about the point of the game – which is to solve a puzzle and progress to the next area. I wouldn’t really call it a puzzle game as the ‘puzzles’ are for the most part totally common sense rather than brain teasers only requiring one of the two buttons you press to be solved. I don’t think it’s a big deal that the puzzles don’t bamboozle you though as Journey is not about the puzzles – oh Jesus I actually am about to type this – it’s about the journey. Cheese aside the game-play is secondary to the journey you are on, think of it more as an interactive story I guess, loosely similar to The Walking Dead game (also a VGA winner) but with little to no mess.

So what’s it all about…well you take on the role of a desert dwelling mute on some kind of spiritual journey toward a mountain where some kind of godly power is present, with each cut scene telling a little piece of how you and your people came to be. But it isn’t just the cinematics that tell the story the highly revered musical score helps shape the story as much as visuals as you progress. The music subtly reacts to every step you take and makes the whole experience just that much more marvelous.

What really clinches this game for me as one of the best games I have had the fortune to play is the multiplayer aspect. I have always been a very social gamer and Journey takes a very unique stance with regards to player interaction. As you go through the game you will encounter other random players, you don’t know who they are and communication is notJourney title screen possible unless you count the little note noises you can make in-game, because of this the whole potential for trolling another player is eliminated and all is left is the drive to aid each other in order progress. I felt quite a strong bond with the my little buddy as we trekked through the each environment, which actually turned out to be six different people when I found out who my companions were at the end of the game. It was this addition of a silent side-kick that made game that much richer.

Overall I found Journey to be totally immersive, full of fun aspects with some poignant moments and an amazingly touching game. It may only be a couple of hours long but much the same as the first Portal it is perfectly formed in every way. So if you are want more than just identikit machismo heroes that saturate main stream titles and levels that merely require you to be quick on the trigger please try this game, it is a true diamond in the rough and it might even make you re-evaluate what creativity in the games industry really means.

-The Quim Ninja

(In)decent Expo(sure) Part 2

So last week I shared my first impressions from the EuroGamer Expo on Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution and Doom 3: BFG Edition and in this post I thought I would finish you off with the other games I managed to have a blast on between rounds of Halo 4. Read on to hear my incredibly noobish opinions on games I don’t fully understand.

The Unfinished Swan

I thought I would start with this little number which I think was probably the most original title I saw. I didn’t even get a go on it as there was only a couple of monitors with it on but I couldn’t help just watching, mesmerised by the concept. This PS3 title was a first person title where the player starts with a totally white screen unable to see anything except some yellow footprints presumably made by a swan, that is until you start throwing clods of black paint all over the shop which helps reveal the level bit by bit. As the player hoys the emulsion about the maze is slowly unveiled to help you find your way with the end goal of catching that elusive hissing bird. From what I watched I was quite taken aback by the cleverness of the concept. I would happily propel paintball’s in this manner for a year. Definitely one to keep an eye on this one as it seems like to me like a sleeper hit in the making. It comes out on the 23rd of October in the USA and the 24th in Europe on PSN, but if you have Playstation Plus then you can bag this oddball adventure on October 16th in USA or 17th in Europe.

Crysis 3

Out of all the games I played at the expo this is probably the one at the top of my shopping list. Having never played any of the previous iterations this one made me feel like I had really missing out. As soon as I got my hands on it I was immediately blown away by the quality of the graphics. I haven’t seen anything that really holds a candle to it, fair enough it was running on a monster rig of a PC but still it looked amazing. The new engine is apparently a real PC melter but obviously you can turn the settings down to run on a regular PC, but where’s the fun in that, I mean who would want to look into the uber realistic water only to not see your enemy reflected in it. I went for the keyboard/mouse combo over the control pad and jumped in. The gametype I played was very team orientated with the objective to capture an area and hold it whilst the enemy super jumped and invisified up to your location to oust you from the hill which is not exactly revolutionary but it doesn’t need to be. It wasn’t quite as frenetic or as frequent as I thought it would be but maybe I was unconsciously shying away from it at times, when trouble did found me though it was very battlefield in the way the guns handled and I even managed to drop a couple of people – which was nice, the gameplay was more disciplined and ‘realistic’ during engagements. I did die a lot though which I put down to my utter noobishness, thankfully I made up for points by getting to the objective which others seemed to ignore. The other game mode I saw being played but didn’t get a shot on was the new hunter mode which involves two players being armed with crossbows and the signature predator like shimmer invisibility going against the rest of the players as they shit themselves trying to work out where the shots are coming from. As I say this was my first game of Crysis I ever played and I really enjoyed it despite my lacklustre performance and for a game to impress me despite being fragged countless time is quite a tall order. Needless to say first impression goes a long way and I will be getting this when it comes out next February.

Farcry 3

Yet another franchise I have never got into (damn you Halo) but as I was on a promise to one of our readers I thought I would give it a go. It did look lovely and I could certainly see the comparisons that others were drawing between this game and the world created for the new Tomb Raider. Being an open world game I just went for a bit of drive, tearing aimlessly through the lush jungle, which was fun for a while but then a guy on the stand told me to activate a radio tower to see the rest of the map. Once that was done he pointed me toward hang glider “sweet” I exclaimed “I am gonna hang glide the shit out of that hang glider!”. So a blasted my 4×4 all the way up this mountain full throttle….only to make to the top a crash straight into the hang glider and smash the shit out of it. My mourning period was immediately cut short when a bunch of terrorists streamed out, which to be honest were pretty easy to drop. Later I found the same when I took on a group of arseholes on a beach, sure they hit cover where possible and tried to make it to mounted guns when they could but I found the AI fairly basic, a little disappointing but on the flip side I did feel like rambo when mowing down these poor saps. Overall I had a pretty good time and am sure the full game will be a varied experience and hopefully the AI will get better on a more difficult setting. If open world shooting is your thing cop this on November 30th

Carmageddon: Reincarnation.

This game has always held a special place in my heart as a wee lad. My teens were punctuated with the sound of engines and the alarm of pedestrians come dog food so when I spotted this I had to have a go. A crowd sourced project that brings an updated version of the driving gorefest to the mobile gaming world and it hasn’t lost any of its charm. With new levels, tweaked car mechanics and most obviously tablet adapted controls this still played just like the original, fast, fun and filled with death. On being presented with the cars to choose from I immediately went chose my go-to Carmageddon ride – Vlad the Impalers Annihilator. As in previous games this is still the fastest shit off a stick and if possible has even less turning ability. I basically straight line wheelied the whole course only turning when a wall forced me to, but boy those mugs in the road near the wall were done for, tasting their own intestines before they knew they had been minced. Thoroughly good fun. Meant to be out before the year is over on at least iOS, keep your engines hot and your spikes sharpened.

Here at TBoD we would like to hear your precious thoughts on any of the games we have mentioned here or in previous posts. Will you be getting any or all of these? Or do you have your hard-earned cash for something else? Thanks for reading and we look forward to reading your views!

-MS Dosser