Friday, July 31, 2009

Feature: No Turtle Soup For You! Come Back, One Year!

At last, after more than 20 years, I have finally conquered a demon from my past. A true gaming achievement that goes in my personal record book.

Ladies and gentlemen, gamers all, I have finally beaten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. No emulator. Old school, blow-in-the-cartridge NES. 'Cause that's how I roll.

This hellish game was relentless to gamers young and old and is still to this day one title that not a lot of people can say they have beaten without cheating. Finally, I am free from this burden.

There I was, rocking out to some Black Mages and kicking some Mouser, Mecha Turtle, Be-Bop and Rocksteady-ass, when I realized that I actually had a solid chance of defeating the Shredder.

The corridor leading up to the final fight is a crap shoot. You never know the obscene amount of enemies that you will encounter. Arm yourself with any projectile and remember to duck under the jetpack enemies.

Before I knew it, I was through the hot gates and on my way to face the Shredder. To be completely honest, it was only last night that I fought him for the first time. Alas, I was defeated, but this day would be different. Today, I get my revenge and freedom.

I had all four turtles still kicking, surprise, surprise. Somehow I was able to make it through the last corridor using Michelangelo and 20 throwing stars. Leonardo and some boomerangs helped, too.

As soon as I entered Shredder's chamber, I selected Donatello and knocked the fiend off the left side of his starting platform. After then, it was all butter. The NES and pattern memorization go hand in hand and I was in a perfect position to defeat my arch nemesis without even receiving one ounce of damage.

As soon as I felt confident that I had him where I wanted him, I selected Rafael and with the use of some scrolls, defeated that over-sized cheese grader.

Delivering the final blow. And one to grow on. Suck it, Oroku Saki.


Why did Shredder spontaneously combust once he dies? What was under all of that armor, thermite?

Splinter giving thanks. Bow down, bitch. He recognizes the skills.

Wow, Hamato Yoshi is one busted dude. He looked better as a rat. Seriously, he looks like one of the vagabonds and rejects from Faxanadu. No, I don't want to buy any of your rotten meat.

Yea! It was hard to stomach eating staring at a rat. Now we can finally eat.


Greatest ending EVAR!!111!1!!1 At least it's better than the ending for Karnov and Contra.

You know, on second thought, I still hate Konami for making this game and ruining my childhood.


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News: Where Have All The Red Pills Gone

RIP Matrix Online
I, too, was one of the Red Pills before deciding to get reconnected. Here's to a great community. If you have any videos or screenshots of today's final jack-in, send them to incomingpull@gmail.com and we will post them.
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News: 38 Studios Responds to False Reports

It looks like the Boston Globe reported incorrect information regarding 38 Studios' financial issues.

As reported on ICP Live, as well as many independent video game media outlets, the Boston Globe reported that 38 Studios needs between $50 million and $100 million to complete project Copernicus.

Aside from the financials, it was also reported that 38 Studios was aiming at a December 2010 launch.

Following the story, 38 Studios contacted Massively and issued their official response. 38 Studios explained that finances were never disclosed to the Globe, however that doesn't mean that 38 Studios is not in need of additional resources. MMOs are very expensive and even 38 Studios admitted to the "tens of millions" of dollars needed to produce a competitive game in today's market. But since they are a private company — with no regulation forcing them to disclose their financials — it is only pure speculation as to whether or not 38 Studios is fine with current production costs.

For the full story, check out Massively.

Let's not just blame the Globe for shady reporting, all of us who reported on that info are to blame as well. Please, Mr. Schilling, don't let this affect my beta application. And there's the rub.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Feature: The Subliminal Evil - Activision

Electronic Arts have been suffering the brunt of gamers world-wide for almost a decade, and yet we’ve never seemed to touch on a much subtler evil. Do’t get me wrong, EA have proven to be dastardly in attempts to make a quick buck, namely their contention to milk the sour teats of each and every IP. But another publisher’s sinister motivations are suddenly coming to fruition: Activision.

Their mission statement was nothing short of saintly at their inception. Following Nolan Bushnell’s departure from the company, Atari began to mistreat their talented designers. Eventually, the staff left to form the world’s first third party publisher, with the intent of giving their most valuable asset – their designers – the credit they deserve.

I don’t quite know what happened since, but suddenly Activison are becoming malevolent bastards. Now my copy of Modern Warfare 2 will suffer a price hike. Not a substantial one, mind you, but what good ol’ Patcher (21st century soothsayer, all around gentleman) claims will serve as a ‘test’ to see if the most insubordinate of consumer will be willing to pay extra -- the ripples of which are sure to affect other publishers.

Soon £55 will serve as the norm, given that publishers and developers alike are crying foul on the used games industry -- it’ll almost be deemed justifiable. Given that peripherals are already priced astronomically, it’s safe to say that this will further undercut the loyal consumer.

Brutal Legend, what could be Tim Schafer’s most promising work to date, just recently became entangled with a lawsuit with Activision after Double Fine moved to EA. There’s something iffy about this scenario: A publisher invests a substantial amount on a property, loses faith and drops it, the abused property finds a new publisher, THEY SUE.

If we’re on the topic of frivolous lawsuits, wouldn’t Harmonix be justified in suing Neversoft for ostensibly plagiarizing the format of the Rock Band franchise in Guitar Hero: World Tour? No?

Basically, Activision are butt-hurt over the fact that the game has been receiving substantial publicity, has a competent publisher and will no doubt garner critical and commercial success. It’s funny actually, in the Activision – Vivendi merger ‘Ghostbusters: The Video Game’ was also dropped. Just look what happened there, the game has been reported to have already shifted a cool million units. Idiots.

Maybe claiming an entire publisher is evil is a little remiss. So for the sake of balance, let’s just place blame squarely on the man who deserves to be reprehensible: Robert Kotick, Activision CEO. Bobby has been bullying Sony as of late, questioning continued support for the platform. While Sony may have suffered a loss of momentum, attacking a hardware manufacturer is like teasing a wild animal with a wiffle-bat. Losing Activision would be no substantial loss to Sony, given they already are a successful first-party publisher themselves.

Activision needs to get their act together, and I’m thinking the best solution would be to drop Kotick. Not only is he a PR disaster, but the harbinger of the gamer apocalypse. Don’t say I didn’t call it.

When not contributing to Incoming Pull, Tim likes to send Robert Kotick death threats... and update his blog at http://syntax3rr0r.wordpress.com.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Radio: Incoming Pull Live: Episode 10

We made it! We finally hit double digits and we're still broadcasting live every week. We hope to continue to grow our listener base, and we'd love to hear your comments and suggestions to make the show even stronger and more relevant for you. Those of you that have been loyal podcast listeners, we'd like to invite you to tune in to us live every Wednesday night and get interactive.

This week's show was full of all your favorites... Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll! Oh, and we even talked about some video games. w00t!

As always, you can stream the entire show in the player below, or you can click the download link under the player to save them to your hard drive for eternity.

Note: We will no longer be providing the partial files for download each week. After 10 weeks on the air, there has not been a single request for any of our partial files (according to our stats reports). However, if our stats are inaccurate and you are in need of the smaller files to listen, just drop us a comment here and we'll make sure that the partial files are made available for you.





alt: Incoming Pull Live: Episode 10


[Download The Podcast]

Tune in next week. Same Time. Same Channel. On UltraWorldRadio.com.

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Radio: The "Mass Effect of Movies" Edition

Incoming Pull is going live again tonight at 10 p.m. EST on UltraWorld Radio.


On tonight's show:

• We explore the new renaissance for video game movie tie-ins,

• We pwn you with some face-melting video game music,

• And, lastly, I explain my thoughts on the Mass Effect.


If you have any questions or comments, post them on this story and we will try to get to them when we are on-air. You can also reach us on Yahoo instant messenger @ incomingpull or hit us up on any of the numerous ways to contact us (hint: you can see the list in the sidebar on the right).

"This radio show requires 4 credits to continue."

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Preview: Tron 2.0 — God, I Hope They Don’t Screw It Up

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. I am a massive nerd. No real shock to most people, but just so there is no mistake, I am a great big nerd. This week alone I have bought a Griffball miniature and a shirt that makes a nerd reference and a Spinal Tap callback as well. Yes, I am that big of a nerd.


So a sequel to the original Tron movie is coming out next year. Called Tron: Legacy, it’s a sequel I never thought would get made but always wanted to, because so much of the technology around animation has changed so much, if any old school movie needs a second part it’s Tron. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, there is a shock twist at the end that will mess with your head. Go ahead and watch the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet, I will wait:



Back yet? Good.

So Tron was one of my favorite movies back in the 80’s.

First off, nothing like Tron had ever been done like that yet, absolutely nothing. While some movies might have toyed with Computer Generated Images, the scale of it was so far above and beyond the norm, and the standard made it that much better of an experience. If you find the two disk DVD, there is a 90 min “making of” on how hard that movie was to make back in 1983. Second, the story from Tron is much more poignant today than it was back then, because the saturation level back in 1983 was so much less than it is now.

But as excited as I am for driving to the IMAX and watching this movie in massive scale, I am really nervous as well. Sequels are notoriously bad, and the recent string of crap-tactular movies this year, having my nostalgia and love of this movie groin-stomped on might be the last straw.

Transformers: Groin Stomp.

GI Joe: the movie isn’t even out yet and I can already call it Groin Stomp.

It’s the very rare sequel that’s actually better than the first movie. Most of the time they are just the same film with a new coat of paint. But if it’s not, if it’s a real movie with a real plot, I will be a happy man.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Feature: Battle of Bethesda — Oblivion vs. Fallout

In 2006 Bethesda Softworks released Oblivion, the much anticipated fourth game in the massive RPG series The Elder Scrolls. Two years later, they came out with the third game in the FPS roleplaying Fallout series, which was also raved about even before its release. The two newest games in these role playing series have a lot of things in common, but which one has better stats overall?

Story: Oblivion
No spoilers here, but Oblivion's many quest lines are much more involving and lead to much nicer perks than Fallout, especially compared to its somewhat disappointing final cutscene. Fallout's story is not without intrigue though; quests often involve more options based on your character's ethics, such as the quest involving Megaton and its unexploded atomic bomb.

Character: Fallout
The ethical system in Oblivion, based on Fame and Infamy points, has been improved with Fallout's spectrum of Good vs. Evil. With dialogue, rather than having to play a simple Speech mini-game, Fallout's options are based on a character's morality and also stats, and there are often many hilarious exchanges possible with the survivors, which include children and zombies.

Environment: Tie
A detailed landscape filled with creepy zombies, abandoned ruins, and strange creatures: this could describe either game, and both pull it off in different ways. Walking into a Necromancer's lair in an Ayleid ruin can be as breathtaking as standing at the top of a mountain and watching the sunrise. Fallout's post-apocalyptic ruins of the Washington, D.C. area are highly realistic, and at the same time the retro-futuristic 1950's-inspired style gives us an interesting and highly-detailed take on life after nuclear war.

Combat: Oblivion
As an FPS, Fallout's combat options revolve around gunplay and, to a lesser extent, melee fighting. The V.A.T.S. (Vault Assisted Targeting System) is a nice way to make every shot count, with the option of turning battles into somewhat more turn based affairs, kind of like bullet-time. Oblivion's options are based on stealth, magic and melee combat. Though the V.A.T.S. system makes battle a bit easier, combat in Oblivion offers more options to combine specialties without forcing any choices.

Overall: Oblivion
Although Bethesda has definitely tweaked some of the engaging elements that made their games great, there are still some features in Oblivion that have yet to be topped by Fallout. But whether or not you prefer fantasy and fireballs to zombies and Vault Boy, you're still going to get sucked into a highly realized world where you have all the power.

Roslyn also writes regularly for her blog at http://roslynayers.wordpress.com/

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Commentary: I Fell Asleep and Found Mass Effect Lying Next To Me

There's nothing like a good 'ol fashioned roleplaying game, eh? Unfortunately, I couldn't find it in Bioware's Mass Effect. However, if anyone has an aggressive stint of insomnia, then have I the game for you.

Now you may be sitting there thinking, "Now, Youngblood, why would you be writing about a game that came out in 2007?" To that I say, "Because it's July '09 and there isn't anything else to play or write about. Now quit being a knob about it already."

Mass Effect was one of those games that I never got around to playing, despite the simultaneous nerdgasms that shook the world after it was leaked (no pun intended) that the game had a sex scene in it. I usually don't want to fall asleep until after sex, but Mass Effect one-upped me by actually louring me asleep way before the sex ever happened. And by then, who really cares.

By that time, my wife has already given up and is back to watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, comforted in the thought that she didn't miss anything spectacular. Well, I know how she feels because I don't feel like I missed anything in Mass Effect.

And just for the record, I've seen more provocative sex scenes watching old episodes of the Golden Girls. In fact, I think even ALF had a better sex scene.

Let me make this quick, the combat was mediocre, the driving felt like I was controlling an icy block of shit or a fat kid on a slip & slide, and I haven't spent as much time in an elevator as I did in Mass Effect since my kid reached up and hit every damn button right as the elevator doors were closing at a local hospital.

I tried. I really tried. RPGs have always had a special place in my heart. Ever since the original Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy, the RPG genre has been my favorite. However, I haven't slept as good as I have playing Mass Effect since I tried to play through Final Fantasy XII.

Even the game engine seemed to fall asleep at times, thus failing to render and load sprites as fast it should have.

The faces of the characters were lifeless and dull and their dialogue made me daydream about what it would have been like had I chosen a different dialogue tree at the local video store. Hell, at this point, I'd be up for playing a game on the Wii.

I wanted to make sure I played Mass Effect before its sequel comes out early next year. Wanna take a guess at which game I won't be starting the new year off with?

Please tell me that Dragon Age: Origins and Star Wars: The Old Republic won't be like this?

I guess if this is the face of modern day RPGs, then I am just one of the dumbed-down masses who doesn't believe a game is good unless they can get their gun off. Well, I'll choose getting my gun off over getting an alien off any day of the week.

Take it away, Yahtzee, you brilliant, Branston pickle-eating poet:



Now, to be perfectly honest, I rather enjoyed Mass Effect once I got past the mind-numbing 3-4 hour intro. From then on, the game was very action-RPG and had just as much story as any Final Fantasy title.

So, to classify this game as something unique in the RPG genre, such as a story RPG, is something that I feel is a grave disservice to the game. Especially considering the amount of running and gunning that is done past the intro.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Review: The Secret of Monkey Island

Nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. On the one edge it can bring you back to a memory of when things were better. On the other it can completely over write what you remember was good and replace it with something that is far, far worse.

The latest bit of nostalgia to hit the Xbox Live marketplace is The Secret of Monkey Island.

For those of you who don’t know (i.e. anyone under the age of 25) back in what I described in the "sprite era of video games," when Lucas Arts made games — other than crappy Star Wars IP games — they made pirate-themed games by Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, and Dave Grossman. The first of these games, The Secret of Monkey Island, has been given an update graphically and musically, and released on the XBLA marketplace for 800 points.

The game follows the adventures of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood and his quest to become a pirate. The game itself was written with what was jokingly called the SCUMM script language, which stood for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion. Maniac Mansion was an earlier Lucas Arts video game released three years earlier.

Graphically the game looks good for an XBLA title, and maintains the feel of the original game. In fact, at any point of the game you can switch back to the original graphical and audio style of the game, which is nice. Control wise it’s about 85 percent there. Movement and character interaction is intuitive, but interacting with items is a bit hit or miss. A few times I had to switch back to old school mode to combine items in my inventory.

The game play itself is very different and will not be easily accepted by people who did not grow up in that era of games. To say it’s a slow paced game is an understatement. Back then, before all the computing power of today, you had to make do with what you had. For example, when fighting a pirate, you don’t mash the A button until you win. The pirate insults you, and you have to know the comeback. Kind of like an early version of a “Your Mother’s" joke.

Puzzles are basic but intuitive, and the game includes a hint button so you don’t have to rush off to Gamefaqs for the walkthrough. Like any adventure game, it consists of getting from point “A” to point “B.”

So the big question becomes, should I get this game? That’s a tough call. If you played the game back when it came out in 1990, then this is a faithful rendition of a game and how classic adventure games should come back. If you missed it but you remember games from back then, it’s definitely worth the time. If you are a newer gamer, you might pass on it. A lot of the “in” jokes are probably going to be missed and the game play itself might not be enjoyable. Nostalgia being a tough call on this one.

Personally I am enjoying playing this game. It reminds me of a time when adventure games had humor and fun, not just Michael Bay-splosions BOOOM BOOM BOOOOOM FIRE FIRE FIRE FIRE.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Radio: Incoming Pull Live: Episode 9

On tonight's show... oh boy... tonight... well, let's just put it this way, if you missed tonight's show, you might be better off. At least you won't be included in the litigation against ICP for all of the racial stereotyping that is peppered throughout Episode 9. Fortunately for us, the majority of those that have crossed the river on our southern border still can't understand anything we say.

We did manage to almost stay within our 1 hour time allotment, for whatever that's worth, and we were still able to crack some jokes and cover this week's gaming news items of note.

As always, you can stream the entire show in the player below, or you can click one of the download links under the player to save them to your hard drive for eternity.





alt: Incoming Pull Live: Episode 9


Download: [Full Podcast] [Part 1] [Part 2]

Tune in next week. Same Time. Same Channel. On UltraWorldRadio.com.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

News: Sam Raimi Signs on to Direct Sequel to Army of Dar- err, I mean World of Warcraft

Who’d have thought it? Sam Raimi, acclaimed director and this author’s personal heart throb has signed on to direct the movie adaptation of World of Warcraft.

The film rights were picked up by Legendary Pictures in 2006, with the production budget reported to be over $100 million. In 2008, Chris Metzen of Blizzard – who has been closely affiliated with the franchise since Warcraft: Orcs and Humans – signed on to write the script.

While we’re all instinctively opposed to any such effort, given history has proven that when the established source material is tampered with it only inflicts pain on the viewer’s behalf — surely Raimi, director of the Evil Dead trilogy and Spider Man can deliver the world’s first decent movie tie-in?

Then maybe we’ll all ride to the kingdom of love and happiness to view said movie on unicorns made of flowers and benevolence. /hyperbole

Source: Destructoid

When not contributing to Incoming Pull, Tim very rarely updates his blog at http://syntax3rr0r.wordpress.com

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Review: Call of Juarez — Bound in Blood

In a market that is not only saturated, but drowning, in alien/military-based first person shooters, one has to enjoy the change of scenery in Techland's Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.

Published by Ubisoft, Call of Jaurez: Bound in Blood is the prequel to 2007's Call of Juarez. Released in the U.S. on June 30 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, Bound in Blood follows the adventures of brothers Ray and Thomas McCall as they make their way through the Old West.

After saving their land from Yankee soldiers at the end of the Civil War, the McCalls decide to search for a mythical treasure outside the Mexican city of Juarez as a means to finance the rebuilding of their Georgia plantation.



Throughout the game, players will experience many gun fights, quick-draw duels and vehicle sections, which encompass everything from stagecoach shoot-outs to Apache canoe firefights.

Most of the game is narrated by the McCall's younger brother, Reverend William. William's devout religious beliefs provide for a strong contrast against the sins of the elder McCalls.

In essence, Bound in Blood is the story of two brothers' descent into madness. The two seem noble enough at the start of the game, but quickly lose their humanity after their family home is attacked. Throw a woman in the middle of this and the pot really begins to boil over. From then on, anything goes.

The game's spaghetti-Western feel is noticed in not only the tasks that the McCalls take part in, but in the McCalls themselves.

The differences between the quiet Thomas and brash Ray — while providing players with a solid contrast amongst the two anti-heroes — gives players a really good immersive look into the Old West and its peoples.

Techland did an excellent job at transposing each character's nature into the gameplay.

Ray's kick-the-door-down-with-guns-blazing attitude can be seen in his weapon specialties of duel-wielding pistols, as well as his ability to use dynamite. The more reserved Thomas, on the other hand, is more suited for using his lasso to get on top of a roof, where he can execute his targets with a rifle or shotgun. Thomas is also able to silently kill enemies with throwing knives.

All of the weapons, from the rusty pistol to the Gatling gun, all carry a very authentic feel to the way they are handled. The game's core gameplay allows players to utilize a cover-based combat system, breathing even more life and realism into Bound in Blood's Western style.

What's even better is the fact that for the majority of the game, players can choose which McCall brother they want to take through a particular section of the main story. Aside from this switch in gameplay flavor and style, players can reveal more of the story depending on which character they play, which opens up the game to at least one solid replay.

Multiplayer is mostly based on teamplay, with one team designated as the Lawmen and the other as Outlaws. The bounty system allows for certain players to be worth more points than others, often times painting a nice bullseye on the best players.

The game is beautiful to look at, but the voice acting can be a little distracting.

Aside from that and the fact that the story seemed rushed, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a solid title that stands apart from other first-person shooters.

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Radio: Guns and "Sasparilly" Edition


Incoming Pull is going live again tonight at 10 p.m. EST on UltraWorld Radio.


On tonight's show:

• Tree-hugging and racial profiling, We've got it all in this week's headlines,

• We review Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood,

• And listeners get more video game OSTs at no extra cost.

If you have any questions or comments, post them on this story and we will try to get to them when we are on-air. You can also reach us on Yahoo instant messenger @ incomingpull or hit us up on any of the numerous ways to contact us (hint: you can see the list in the sidebar on the right).

Is there a Konami code to get more spam?

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: 1 vs 100 Xbox Live (Beta)

Is there anything better than a free beta with prizes?

I have been playing the free beta for 1 vs 100 on XBLA. For those of you who don't know, 1 vs 100 was a game show that had a short run on NBC a couple of years back.

The basic setup is that the player is "The 1" and he/she has to answer a multiple choice answer against 100 other players called "The Mob." For every 10 players that answer wrong, the prize money would increase. At various points in the game, the 1 could either take the prize money and quit, or continue playing trying to beat the mob.

I am not sure when, but at some point the show was canceled and Microsoft bought the rights with the intent of having the game as an XBLA game show.

So far I am very impressed with the game. The game itself is handling almost 90,000 users simultaneously, and even with the fact that the graphics are limited to the game data and the avatars of all the players, that's still an impressive feat.

And you don't just sit and watch, oh no. As part of the crowd, you get matched with either three other random players, or your friends if they are online and playing as well. You answer along with the rest of the game and you have a chance to win free XBLA games.

I played the first few events, then waited till they started giving out prizes. That's right, if you get chosen as "the one" then you are playing for a maximum of 10,000 Microsoft points(approx $120 US dollars).

So far I only have two problems with the game, and they are minor at that. First off is that, in the crowd, you get bonus points the faster you answer the questions. Now the problem lies in that the timer counts down, as near as I can tell, the second the question is asked. Your network connection seems to have a part in this, because even though the players I am paired with all get "instant answer" bonuses, the scores vary by a few points. I only really notice this because the top three point scores in each run are the players that win the XBLA download, and even though I have had several 100 percent correct answer runs, I am usually a couple of hundred points out of the top ten.

The only other real problem is that you can't change your answer. So if you push the wrong button and/or realize that you made a mistake, you are S.O.L. Given the fact that you only have at most seven seconds to answer the question, this seems rather silly. If you don't insta-answer the question then you aren't going to make the top 10 anyway, so why this is locked in doesn't make any sense.

Regardless, as long as this remains a free to play game, this could be a lot of fun if you get your friends on at the same time. The game groups you with people on your friends list, and who doesn't like a good trivia party game?

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Friday, July 17, 2009

News: Spam Sucks

Imagine my surprise when I saw that our Web site has been marked as spam! Spam, while Nate may enjoy the taste, is something I detest. Damn, spam!

Just to make all of our faithful readers aware, Incoming Pull is not going anywhere. The site was flagged by Blogger and should be back to normal soon.

Bunkai said to look at the silver lining: the team at ICP is posting so much with so many great links, that the Blogger Police have compared us to a spam site. Too bad that we are posting legitimate news and features and not spam.

This sort of thing can happen when we have a free hosting site that is garnering so much activity. So, I guess Bunk is right with the whole silver lining thing.

I figured I owed it to our readers to not leave them in the dark. So, as soon as the Blogger Police are finished with their strip search, things will be back to business as usual and ICP will once again be posting all the latest video game news, previews, features, commentary and previews.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feature: You Might be a Perfectionist if... You Play Video Games

Perfectionism. Is it necessarily a bad thing? Perfectionists have a drive to succeed, to complete everything without mistakes, to do things over and over to the point of obsession. They also tend to play it too safe or procrastinate, afraid of the possibility of failure.


I think some games have forced us to become perfectionists. When the penalty is death, you’re not going to take as many risks. For example, survival horror games make you nervous to turn any corner, making sure every move is perfect lest you be caught by surprise by some creepy beast. Knowing you have to be nearly flawless in order to survive appeals to the perfectionist tendency.

This is especially true in games where you can’t save often, meaning sometimes you have to redo areas multiple times, just to make sure you didn’t waste that one shotgun shell, or that you managed to run past Pyramid Head without getting hit. Sometimes you’ll be so bent on perfecting that one speed run that you’ll miss some of the Easter eggs or just a hidden ammo cache.

Multiplayer games can cause this problem as well. In party games like Mario Kart or Rock Band, or pretty much any Wii game lately, it’s not usually as big a deal, but there are always scores, standings, etc. Playing multiplayer Left 4 Dead, or raiding in World of Warcraft, can be insanely competitive, probably because death means having to replay a level or restarting an instance, as opposed to simply replaying a song. Plus you’re also disappointing your team.

Warning: playing video games may lead to perfectionism, among other things (like a grandiose sense of your own achievements or the feeling that you are the only one who can save a village/planet/world). The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Hello, my name is Roslyn, and I am a perfectionist. It won’t stop me from replaying Fatal Frame and capturing all the ghosts, but these things do take time.

Roslyn also writes regularly for her blog at http://roslynayers.wordpress.com/



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News: Darkest of Days Beams Down Release Date

Darkest of Days, the FPS nobody (including myself) has heard of, appears to finally have a solid release date. Now, if it weren’t for the fascinating premise involving time-travel and the assassination of import historical figures by sending them to battles which they have considerably low odds of surviving -- this wouldn’t warrant a mention.

You see, the publisher is Phantom EFX, which solely develops and publishes Casino games. Now, a publisher of this calibre has historically never fared well in the FPS genre. In addition, by all accounts (and by all accounts, I mean Wikipedia) this is 8monkey Labs’ first project. I guess you could say expectations are mixed.

However, the game seems to be doing something truly unique in the trite market it resides in. Plus the footage – embedded below – actually seems to give the title promise.

Darkest Days will transport itself onto store shelves on Xbox 360 and PC September 8.

Source: Destructoid



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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Radio: Incoming Pull Live: Episode 8

[assless chaps guy] "No..., we go in, we kill them all. No more talk, we kill!"

[choke hold!]

[bald hockey mask guy] "Soon my dog of war, but we have to do it my way..."
...'cause your gimp just took one in the head from a bladed boomerang.

What do all of these things have in common with this week's show? Well, you'll just have to listen for yourself and find out. The show was a riot this week; full of energy, comedy, headlines, headlines, and more headlines... bitch!

Reference: Watch the Vid

As always, you can stream the entire show in the player below, or you can click one of the download links under the player to save them to your hard drive for eternity.





alt: Incoming Pull Live: Episode 8


Download: [Full Podcast] [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

Tune in next week. Same Time. Same Channel. On UltraWorldRadio.com.

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Review: Red Faction: Guerrilla

"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unwarily enslave themselves." — unknown


The newest title out of Volition, Inc. studios is the terrorist-driven, freedom fighter inspired Red Faction: Guerrilla. Released for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the PC, Guerrilla is the third installment in the Red Faction series, picking up as Alec Mason, a demolitions expert and mining engineer, works to sustain a new life on Mars with his brother, Daniel. However, it doesn't take but a couple of minutes for players to learn of the tyranny that the local government — the Earth Defense Force (EDF) — is administering on the colonists of Mars.

Soon after learning that his brother is a part of a group of freedom fighters, known as the Red Faction, Mason witnesses the killing of his brother by EDF forces. It's at this point where Mason picks up his sledgehammer, and joins the Red Faction.



The third-person shooter's story — which is minimal at best — is revealed as players run several Red Faction missions, which include escorting valuable information or characters, destroying caravans, assassinating EDF officials and destroying EDF propaganda and strongholds.

The game world is large, but relatively unvaried.

The backdrop of Mars doesn't lend for much of a vibrant color palette. Red and brown rock, no matter how you arrange it, is still red and brown rock. Such is the fate of using Mars as the central setting.

Gameplay is varied through the use of vehicles. While Mason can trek the Red Planet on foot, it's much easier just to car-jack a Martian vehicle to make the journey easier. And since most of the vehicles — which mirror trucks, dune buggies, armored-personnel vehicles, etc. — are driven by miners and colonists, they are more than happy to let Mason take them for a joy ride.

But the root of the gameplay is in using Mason's knowledge of demolition. Through the use of varied means, Mason can level EDF facilities with ease. Remote detonation mines, rocket launchers and even a nano-tech rifle all aid in taking down these structures. And if a player ever runs out of ammo, then just car-jack the nearest armored vehicle — or even a mech if you can find one — and just drive through the facility.

The game is built around destruction and there's nothing like leveling an entire complex. Mason's signature sledgehammer can even be used to destroy buildings. Over-powered, yes, but also fun as hell.

Mason can purchase new weapons and upgrades by collecting salvage, which is earned by completing missions and/or destroying buildings and vehicles.

The missions are fast-paced and varied enough to not let most players fall into boredom. Side missions are abundant, allowing Mason to take part in timed demolition missions or the chance to free or liberate an EDF encampment.

Once Mason has destroyed enough EDF installations and completed the main missions for an area, the zone becomes liberated, allowing the player to move on to liberate another section of Mars.

The graphics are crisp and the character models are detailed, but the red and brown setting of Mars can become tiresome and appear somewhat washed out at times. The constant explosions allow for some much needed visual differentiation. Weapons like the Arc Welder and the Nano Rifle also result in fairly stunning visuals.

Multiplayer — which is comprised of the standard deathmatches and Capture the Flag scenarios — allow for players to gain experience, which can then be used for additional character models and gameplay modes. Other modes include demolition-style matches, where players both work to destroy the other team's facilities, while protecting their own.

If not for the varied manner in which to demolish buildings, Red Faction: Guerrilla would just be another third-person shooter, but it is in the game's clever use of demolitions that warrants the game's market attention.

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Radio: Guerrillas and Zombies Edition

Incoming Pull is going live again tonight at 10 p.m. EST on UltraWorld Radio. On tonight's show:

• We look at this week's headlines,

• We review Red Faction: Guerrilla, as well as the first full campaign released for Left 4 Dead, Death Aboard


• Original video game soundtracks from your favorite virtual worlds,

• And I resurrect the topic regarding the Left 4 Dead 2 petitioners.

If you have any questions or comments, post them on this story and we will try to get to them when we are on-air. You can also reach us on Yahoo instant messenger @ incomingpull or hit us up on Facebook.

Holly Windstalker just got pwned by Incoming Pull.

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Feature: The MMO Experience

With my time in Warhammer Online winding down, I thought I would take a look back at my history with online games and see what worked well, and what clearly was an epic fail.


If I could take aspects of various online games, like picking out offerings in a Vegas style mega-buffet, and merge them into one awesome game, then it would have the following components. It would have the character creation uniqueness of City of Heroes, the trade system of Earth and Beyond, the instance structure of World of Warcraft, and the PVP core of Warhammer Online.

When I did the open beta for City of Heroes, I was completely blown away by how unique you could make your character. It was beyond anything that had been out before, and is still better than most games since. Upper Arms, lower arms, head, legs, etc. There almost wasn’t a single thing that you couldn’t do with the character creator. If you’re character looked like another character, then you were both copying a previously established character.

Unfortunately, as good as the character creator was, the gameplay itself was boring and combat was done for the sake of combat. With no gear and no equipment, all you had were your superpowers and any bonuses you added into them to buff them. So the game was just the long leveling treadmill with no real purpose outside of beating up the next mob. I never got into the game long enough to try the endgame content, it just didn’t seem worth it.

Earth and Beyond was another example of one aspect of a game done very well. Since this was a space themed game, almost all of the weapons were projectile based and as such needed ammunition. You could train to make your own, and that was preferable because homemade ammo had bonuses above and beyond what you could buy from the vendor. There was a marketplace, but it wasn’t as active as it could have been since pretty much everyone made what they needed.

Sadly forming a party was an effort in futility and the combat and endgame suffered because of it. Still, it was a game that was very easy on the graphics processor since it didn’t have to render nearly as much but still looked beautiful. It was a shame when they shut the game down. It brought back fond memories of Wing Commander.

World of Warcraft was my next big MMO experience. It brought a lot to the table. For being an “open world” experience, it was very linear and structured. You knew pretty much which zone to go to, which zone was next. Almost every zone had a related instance for gear, quests supplemented the gear, and each patch brought a new end game instance with bigger and better tier gear.

But in that structure beget the shackles of the game structure. Once you got to the end game, you pretty much had a line of instances you had to visit in a specific order of progression. Skipping one instance might have been ok, but if you got to the party late you were four or five instances behind.

And being in the right guild meant everything. If your guild couldn’t hack the end game, you reached a plateau fairly quickly. And if your guild was hyper-structured (AKA not fun) then even if you did go on the instance runs you probably didn’t get any gear out of it. I wound up quitting WoW, not because I didn’t like the game, but because I was stuck at a point I didn’t see myself getting past.

Which brings us to Warhammer Online. I was looking for something different in terms of gameplay, and WAR was definitely different. I tried Dark Age of Camelot, but never really got into it. The gear degradation was too harsh, but I liked the concept of a 3-sided battle.

Since the game was completely designed around Player Versus Player, it seemed like a good place to start. And from the start, the game impressed me. Having been a long time Warhammer Fantasy Battle player, I found the game did well by the core Intellectual Property. It wasn’t exact, but what is? Plus, while the game itself was completely locked into the PvP battle, the PvP had a purpose. Capture keeps and battlefield objectives to lock a zone, lock zones to attack fortresses, capture fortresses to invade the capital city, pillage the capital city for fun and prizes. This needed coordination on a grand scale, but that was ok since the game had a built in alliance system for different guilds to form up for larger events.

Sadly this was brought to a grinding halt by a flawed contribution roll and the ward system.

The contribution system, in conjunction with the random number loot roll, meant that it didn’t matter what you did, just that you needed to get lucky to get your gear. If you couldn’t get your gear, then you were less than useless in the higher level end game areas. Only some of the gear had wards and you couldn’t get wards anywhere else in game.

PvP was only fun and rewarding by a very delicate concept of class balance. And sadly, this also epically failed in the game. The second big update in the game had the unintended consequence of one single class being able to kill extremely large number of players. This wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been a quick fix or a quick rollback to a previous setup, but this massive error was left in the game for months. After it was marginally fixed, another way to cheat your way to a near god mode was discovered and this also was left in game for a long time with an eventual “fix.”

And even though there were several things that were wrong with the game, Mythic did try to fix things. Taking keeps became pointless, so zone influence for better gear was introduced. Wards were gear locked and almost impossible to get, so wards were moved to the Tome of Knowledge and each ward had five different ways to get it. Characters that already had gear but needed realm experience kept winning loot they didn’t need, so the ability to opt out of the roll was introduced. It’s just the fixes were small problems, not the core failings.

By this time, however, almost all of the friends I made online left for one reason or another. WAR is completely locked into a group experience. During the end of my WoW run, I had a real problem with finding a guild. I would get into one only to have it split apart within a month. It was impossible to get any real progress in the game done and that’s something I have no desire to go through again. If I want a solo experience, I will play a regular game, not an MMO.

WAR, itself, can still be fixed, and my subscription doesn’t end until October. But it will take a major change for me to stick with the game through another six month subscription.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

News: Modern Warfare 2 — Now With Night Vision Goggles

Let’s not be glum about this people, we all can’t wait for Modern Warfare 2. Given Infinity Ward’s pedigree for quality products, we can’t help but have high expectations for the game.

Community Manager Robert Bowling recently unveiled what will be included in the Hardened and Prestige editions of the game. What the f@#*? Night Vision Goggles!

Yep, included in your retail purchase of this fine piece of software will be a fully-fledged pair of restraining order inducing spectacles. Of course, the Hardened Edition will include a supplementary art booklet and a download code for Call of Duty ‘Classic’...Blah, blah, blah we've heard this all before.

I just did a search for how much a pair would cost, which turned out to be upwards of about $150. I can only assume the box will be either retail at a devious sum, or the goggles themselves will be more of a novelty as opposed to an industry standard pair. Probably that latter, speaking from experience.

Modern Warfare 2 will be available November 11.



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Monday, July 13, 2009

Feature: But What About the Poor Children?

School shootings and video game violence go together like peanut butter and jelly. Don't they? I know that after bowling a perfect 300 at Wii Bowling that I can now do it easily at the local bowling alley.

Well, let's see what Penn & Teller had to say about the issue. By the way, if you have children around your computer or you are at work, you may want to use headphones.

Thank you GamePolitics. Thank you Kotaku. And most of all, thank you Penn & Teller.

Sure, the video is absurd, but it's damn funny and if anything else, highlights the position that video game violence is a comical matter, not a tragedy.

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Review: "Death Aboard" Mod for Left 4 Dead

With all of the controversy surrounding Left 4 Dead 2, I beg to ask the question, "Who needs Valve when we've got developers like Diputs?"


Diputs is the mastermind behind the first custom campaign for Left 4 Dead. "Death Aboard" is a player-generated, five-chapter campaign that puts Bill, Francis, Louis and Zoey right in the middle of a prison.

Throughout this fantastic map, players will encounter piles of decomposing corpses — some which are already there and some which the players will amass — in such areas as the prison quarters, prison showers, a mess hall, a container ship and a lighthouse finale. Diputs did an excellent job of pacing and creating interesting crescendo points that challenge players.

The map is very well done and I can honestly say that it is my favorite Left 4 Dead map to date. At one point the players must navigate through a container ship in order to pass it on their way to the lighthouse finale. The details of the ship are fantastic.

Many parts of the ship are tilted, which challenges the equilibrium of the players as they try to navigate the watery grave. The sound of the sinking ship collapsing also provides for a very uneasy feeling. At times, the ship almost seemed to stifle and envelope me. There was a big sigh of relief the first time I exited this nightmare. The sense of claustrophobia was definitely captured and felt.

But it's the finale where heads start to roll.

This finale map is huge, providing a plethora of strategies and techniques for players to explore. I won't give too much away, but rest assured that you will not be let down by neither the scope of the map nor its difficulty.

An update is coming for the campaign, which will fix many things including possible exploits at crescendo events, mob pathing and player spawning improvements. The full patch notes can be found here.

For a short video of the epic container ship, look no further:



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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review: The Sims 3 on the Go (iPhone/iTouch)

The Sims 3 iPhone/iTouch succeeds in encapsulating the trademark gameplay of the series yet fails to add much depth to the proceedings. The usual trappings of the series are present including your average dialogue options, the core careers and the furniture corresponding to a Sim’s needs -- however, there’s little to entice replay value.


As with most mobile iterations for the series, the game allows the player to control a single Sim as they attempt to advance in their profession, fulfill their social needs and ensure that they don’t pass out from exhaustion or starve to death. The customization options for each Sim are basic in terms of appearance, however allow for a variety of traits and a persona ranging from ‘Nice Guy’ to ‘Sleaze.’ These additions add variety to gameplay, with personas such as ‘Maniac’ adding a variety of new conversational options.

As with the PC contingent, the player is given a variety of goals and aspirations to accomplish over the course of the game which are determined by the traits chosen. While this makes gameplay dynamic, these must be accomplished in order to make improvements to a Sim’s abode or unlock furniture. It feels like a cheap way to cover up the lack of variety in furniture as well as a method of compensating for the omission of the ‘build’ function.

The basics are present such as sinks, showers, baths, couches and television sets which usually consist of only three varieties of each object.

Fortunately, the game faithfully recreates the scope of the neighborhood on a portable device with most of the landmarks including the town hall, lake and the essential stores featured in the main game. In addition, Sims are also accessible at their properties as well as in a number of random encounters.

Skill points are attainable by performing a variety of mini-games, with fishing having the player reel in fish by making a backwards thrusting motion with their device, cooking requiring pans to be shook to avoid them boiling over while repairing requires broken circuits to be replaced. However, the fishing mini-game seems to create an imbalance in gameplay given that most professions pay less than alternatively fishing and then selling your wares.

The presentation is astounding, especially given the graphical limitations of the iPhone and iTouch. The models themselves are surprisingly detailed, as are most of the objects. I should probably note that the game was reviewed on a standard iPhone 3G which seemed to suffer from a negligible frame rate; I’m assuming the new iPhone 3GS will be vastly superior.

My major gripe with the presentation however is with the animations. There seem to be few unique animations based on the dialogue options chosen with the most surprising being the infamous ‘Woohoo’ option consisting of a friendly hug accessible while both Sims are standing (I wish I was making that up...). Similarly, my Sim married while his spouse never moved into his home.

As mentioned previously, the game does a brilliant job of delivering the feel of a Sims game, even if it doesn’t carry much depth (justifiable, as this is a portable device). If you want to indulge your megalomaniac side on the go, despite not being able to let your creativity run amuck, this game will serve you well.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

News: What's the Price of a Mech? How About Free?

Well, I am definitely going to have to either find my old Sidewinder joystick or start pricing new ones.

Gamespy is reporting that MechWarrior 4, with all the expansions, is going to be offered FREE!! Mektek.net has gotten permission to repackage the whole game and offer it as a digital download.

"In honor of BattleTech's 25th anniversary, Smith and Tinker has authorized MekTek.net and MekTek Studios to distribute MechWarrior 4 (along with its expansion packs) completely free. For years, MekTek.net has been the central point for online distribution of MechWarrior 4 expansion packs. Now they can provide the core game free to the fans as well. Keep an eye on BattleTech.com... the free download will be available soon!"

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