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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 22: Scribblenauts, Muramasa, and Are games too hard?

Do games need to be easier to attract a wider audience? Or are games too easy as it is? Where did all the hard games go? What role does culture play? Will "Autoplay" features reduce frustration or just make gamers lazier than ever? With your help, we attack these questions from all directions. Also: quick hits on Scribblenauts and Muramasa: The Demon Blade. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, and Tim "If You Lose at Candy Land You're Banished to the Woods" Spaeth.

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Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Review

No laughing matter

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Screenshot

HIGH The Cloud Sephiroh fight.

LOW The rest of the game.

WTF Doing a William Shatner impression does not count as a "joke".

Interview with Jim Deal of Airtight Games on... Dark Void

Interview with Jim Deal of Airtight Games

At the most recent PAX show, I was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with a game I had been greatly anticipating: Dark Void from Washington's own Airtight Games.

Produced in conjunction with Capcom, Dark Void is an adventure game featuring aliens and jetpacks inside the Bermuda triangle. With tight transitions between air and land on top of clever vertical combat, this title is definitely one to watch—it also doesn't hurt that the people behind it are some of the same folks who worked on one of my favorite Xbox titles, Crimson Skies.

Airtight Games' president and creative director Jim Deal was kind enough to spend a few moments talking with me about this upcoming title and I'm quite glad to share what he had to say.

The Horror Geek presents: Zombie Apocalypse comes to PS3 and Xbox 360 next week

zombie Apocalypse

Konami’s announced the official release date for their downloadable zombie slaughterfest, Zombie Apocalypse. Anyone with a hankering for killing hordes of the walking dead will want to mark September 23rd and 24th down on their calendars. Xbox 360 owners will be able to download the title one day earlier than their PS3-owning brethren for some reason. When I last saw the game, it looked a lot like Smash TV with zombies. Since I happen to love Smash TV, this got me very excited.

Demos: Free Monkeys, Banchos, and Wii-views

A while ago, I complained about demos that failed to impress, and wondered why it seemed so difficult for developers to accomplish what appears to be a fairly straightforward task.

At the end of the piece, I invited developers to write in and school me if I was off-base, and one actually did. Talented game dude and all-around good guy Andrew Rubino dropped me a line not too long after my blog ran, and this is what he had to say:

In summary, making a demo is harder than it seems, especially for some games. A demo for something like Gears of War would be relatively easy – have a couple combats and the player walks away with a good understanding of what the game is about. But a demo for something like Batman is harder, (something that I can see now that I’ve played the full game, which is awesome, btw). (More after the break)

Bionic Commando Second Opinion

He's not angry, just misunderstood

Bionic Commando Screenshot

HIGH Hanging motionless for a split second a hundred feet in the air above a boss before crashing down on it bionic fist first.

LOW Fumbling ineptly with certain biomech enemies for a large amount of time before discovering their weakness.

WTF When replaying certain sections, the in-game chatter is sometimes replaced with more profane versions of the same sentence.

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions.

Disclosure: This post has nothing to do with gender, sexism, or the like.

Playing inFamous made me think of other games that I've played where I have the ability to make choices that effect the story or other parts of the game—to be "good" or "evil" so to speak. And after some thought on the subject, I discovered I was hungry and made a sandwich. After that, games such as Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, BioShock, Morrowind/Oblivion, and Fallout 3 came to mind. The question that I pose is this—what makes a good way to allow the player to "choose" their path while not pandering to ideological extremes and still providing an engrossing experience? Ideally I would be able to chose virtually any action I wanted, and have the game respond accordingly regardless of what I chose. Is this even possible? Or has it been done already?

Back in action!!!

Apologies to all my readers. I completely forgot to post a message here to let everyone know that I would be skipping updates for a few days due to my wife and I moving to a new place. My computer has been in a crate since I posted the last update about PAX Day Two, and with all of the hubbub and box-lifting, it didn't even occur to me that I had forgotten to say something until this afternoon. If you've been checking in and wondering WTF was going on, wonder no longer.

Anyway, although I haven't quite gotten my office space properly set up, the blogging will commence... Now!!

Beyond Gender Choice: Mass Effect's varied inclusiveness

Beyond Gender Choice: Mass Effect's varied inclusiveness

Overall, Mass Effect took huge steps forward for inclusiveness in games. Its racial diversity is unlike any I have seen in a game: nearly all of the major and minor human NPCs are people of color, and none of them are stereotypes. In another impressive step, not only is there an important character—the Normandy's pilot, Joker—who happens to be disabled, but a conversation with him reveals the many different layers of ableism he has experienced throughout his life. Unfortunately, the game stumbles when it comes to gender inclusiveness.

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