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#1  Edited By sbritton

TIME... 

...is a two-faced bastard.   

Time moves fast when you are having fun and being productive, and loves to slow to a crawl when you are miserable.  
 
Time laughs at us when we grow older and realize that we don't have enough of it anymore.  
 
Time kicks you in the ass when you stop to smell the roses.  
 
If time were a person, I would make a pie out of mud, dog vomit, and old man farts and apply it directly to time's face.  
 
So how do I exact my revenge on this sadist we call 'time', you ask? It is a weapon that has suited me well over the years.... a holy cross to time's vampiric gaze... I give you one of time's most dreaded enemies: turn-based gaming (don't laugh... this is serious!).
 
Turn based games are a welcome respite to me from the constant drone of time's weary engines. The passage of time is frozen in this world where I can take as long as I damn well please to make my next move. No one tapping their foot behind me as I sit back and take a sip of coffee and plan my attack. No deadlines, no stress, no dropping all the things which make the journey enjoyable just to reach the goal with mediocre results once again... nay! Time is not welcome here!  
 
There are a lot of good turn-based viddies out there - though really good ones are not overly abundant. So recently many of the turn-based games that I find myself really interested in have been table top games... you know... sans electronica... everything from Arkham Horror to Deadlands to D&D to card-battle games like Game of Thrones LCG and it's ilk. The only issue is that rat-bastard time... many of these last 4+hours just to play, and that doesn't count time spent reading rules etc. and who the hell has that kind of ... yes, time.  
 
Recently I discovered a couple of sites/apps which let you play some very interesting turn-based games with one or more friends via the nets... log in, play your move with a somewhat decent representation of the game's board and/or components, hit send and go on with your life. When it's your turn again, you get an email notification... take as LONG AS YOU WANT to play your next move... whenever that annoying S.O.B. (time) has decided to give you a moment, and do your thing. In effect, you are stopping time in it's unholy tracks!!!
 
Two I'd like to mention - both free:  

  • yucata.de ...yes it's a german site, but hit 'Switch to English' and away you go - Lot's of cool 'german style' strategy games (whatever that is) here - I suggest 'stone age' to start :-)  
  • vassal ...this is a desktop app for mac and windows that allows to play A LOT of games you'll find in the local game store (Arkham Horror is one of my faves).  


There are lots more out there, but I haven't had the TIME to look into them yet - so I thought I would ask you loveley peeps for your turn-based favs - be they viddies or table-top. The only requirement is that they are turn based and somehow playable over that other bastard, time's equally evil twin brother: DISTANCE. 
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#2  Edited By sbritton
The WSJ reported that the game had over 40 veterans contribute to the project.
The WSJ reported that the game had over 40 veterans contribute to the project.
According to an article out of The Asahi Shimbun, Konami has dropped out of publishing controversial shooter, Six Days in Fallujah. The news comes within a month of us first hearing about the game, a fact-based shooter set in Iraq being made by Atomic Games. The article blames Konami's decision on the overwhelmingly bad reception the title received from Western audiances after its announcement.
"After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it," a public relations official of Konami said. "We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there."
As a sensitive subject, there's not a whole lot for me to add to this one other then ask what you guys think. Is Konami chickening out? Is there anything different about playing a game set in Iraq based on real events then one based on Vietnam or World War II? Do you think Konami would have even been in this mess if the game had a less in your face name? Would a publisher based in the United States run into the same problem?

I'm curious to know who will jump in to pick this one up, given all the hoopla. My guess is the guys at Atomic, who acording to their site make training sims for the world's leading military and intelligence organizations, won't have any trouble finding a new backer. If not, here's hoping they decide to make another Close Combat game instead. The early strategy titles for the PC were some of my favorites in the genre.
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#3  Edited By sbritton

No Caption Provided
Joystiq believes this is the new main character for Assassin's Creed 2. According to a tipster over there the image was up on the official Ubisoft boards briefly before being quickly pulled. Screw Attack has more details on the game which seem to confirm it is indeed within a renaissance setting, specifically 1476 Italy and you play as Ezio Auditore de Firenze, a nobleman from Florence, Italy. Rumors abound that you'll be able to pilot Da Vinci's flying machine and hang out with historical figures like Machiavelli (author of The Prince). I'm sure there'll be some, you know, fascinating assassinating as well.

The best news though is that there are apparently 16 mission types this time around. That's definitely an improvement on the three or four from the last game. I'll admit that as soon as I got to the third city and realized I was playing the same stuff over and over, I quickly abandoned the first game. Still, I can't not be excited about a sequel to the series, mostly because the world and climbing mechanics were so unique. If they can do something about the repetitive combat then I'll start to get really excited.

Now to take this news post on a tangent. Whoever can leave the best caption for our new friend Ezio by 5PM PST today in the comments to this post will get a free Giant Bomb Jeff t-shirt. If it's really good I'll find some goodies from the office to throw in as well. I'll announce the winner in this post and get your shipping info by private message. Let the contest commence!

Update


It was a tough vote with so many submissions, but the team narrowed it down to a couple standouts. Eventually though we couldn't resist an appropriate Mortal Kombat joke.

Runner-Ups


iamcool388  - Yo FITTY, where mah Jazz Hands?
FallopianTube - I stole this dress from Jade Raymond!
yoshimitz707 - Hello. My Name Is Ezio Auditore de Firenz. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die.
pakx - As you can see, Michael Jackson's new look is, as ever, risky and colorful.
x52z - Assassin's Creed 2, starring Grammy winning musician Prince.
lind_dc - Your Mission: KILL THE MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER!

Winner


Matt Bodega - BARAKA WINS. FATALITY.
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#4  Edited By sbritton
GT5 is still on the practice lap for now.
GT5 is still on the practice lap for now.
Over at vg247 John Koller, SCEA's director of hardware marketing, hinted at the possibility that Gran Turismo 5  could hit more platforms. While I can only assume he means a PSP or PS2 version, here's what Koller had to say about developer Polyphony Digital when pressed about the release date of the upcoming racing sim:

“Ultimately, they are a developer who makes a lot of their own decisions, but we are looking at GT5 across all platforms, just to see what makes the most sense.”
When poked further about how long we'll have to wait for GT5 he added:
“Well GT5: Prologue’s out. Seriously though, there is really nothing we can really say about it, other than it’s a franchise we would like to continue. So, other than that, we don’t really have any announcements regarding the game at this time.”

At this point does anyone care when the newest Gran Turismo comes out? Even as a fan of the series I'm starting to get a little tired of the smokescreens that get thrown up any time this game is discussed. As a flagship franchise for the PlayStation 2 it's starting to get a little weird that we haven't seen much of it this far into the PS3's life-cycle. Sure, Prologue was a nice teaser, but even with that game's regular updates I still feel pretty jipped for what seems at this point like an expensive demo. Then again, maybe that's just because I have a barely used Logitech G25 Racing Wheel sitting at home. 
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#5  Edited By sbritton

After a muted reception of the DS version of the game, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is set to beam into your homes via XBLA in a short week on April 8th, with a PSN version due in the Spring. Being a huge fan of the original, I can't help but be a both cautious and optimistic about this one. Although most reviews of the DS version commented on some pretty tough loading-time issues, there was also a lot of backlash in regards to simply moving along on the space map. Still, the DS is a totally different bird from my X360 and I'm at the very least hoping for Warlords in a space setting. If they can simply pull that off, Infinite Interactive will have a new customer.


For those unfamiliar with the series Puzzle Quest games are part puzzle game, part RPG where you take on quests from a variety of NPCs as you move around a Heroes of Might and Magic style overhead map. All fights boil down to puzzles that you can increase your chances of winning by leveling up your character class a certain way. The last game used a traditional high-fantasy backdrop. The new title, pictured below, moves the series into space. 

Update: SpaceInsomniac points out the PC version is today's Amazon deal of the day and can be purchased for a cheap $10.


 
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#6  Edited By sbritton
SIMPLY GLORIOUS.
SIMPLY GLORIOUS.
You know, as much as we'd like to think we've done all the sorting, categorizing, rating, and ranking of things as is humanly possible for five dudes in a basement to get done in one day, a pundit's work is never truly finished. You can always squeeze out another list, right? Observe.


It's a topical list, don't you think?

If “Weird Al" Yankovic were a game developer, these are the ideas he'd be pitching during GDC.

Let's Party!

The best of the famous plumber's many faces.

No one is safe from Top 10 fever. In this one, Giant Bomb's cold-hearted businessman shares tips YOU can use to stay paid!

Dave brings his sword to the table to discuss some of the PC's best RPGs of the last decade.

Have you even played any of these games?

Free Porn Downloads XXX Torrents Get Pills No Prescription Show Her Your Girth

We had a few ideas kicking around... but yeah, whatever.

Because recursion is awesome and we're a bunch of nerds.
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#7  Edited By sbritton
Atari dropped by last week to give Brad and me a look at the Xbox 360 and Wii versions of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. In addition to getting some hands-on time with these versions, we also sat down with Andrew Bermudez, associate producer on the Wii version, and Alexis Habert, a tester at developer Terminal Reality, and recorded a brief podcast discussing the game.

Wii


No Caption Provided
Atari's paranormal visit to the Giant Bomb office kicked off with a look at the Wii version of Ghostbusters. When dealing with multiplatform games these days, it's a pretty natural instinct to dismiss the Wii version out of hand, so I feel it's important to make it clear here that Ghostbusters on the Wii isn't going to be just an ugly, slapdash port of the “real” game. It certainly shares a lot of key elements with the other versions of Ghostbusters: The Game, such as plotting, voice-acting, and so on. But Atari's claims that developer Red Fly--which most recently produced the well-received Mushroom Men--developed this version of the game specifically with the Wii in mind seem to hold water. Or at least, ectoplasmic residue.

What's most immediately striking about the Wii version of Ghostbusters is the cartoony art style, which may be somewhat reminiscent of the old Real Ghostbusters cartoon if you yourself happen to be old, though I think that's selling the look of the game short. All of the returning Ghostbusters look like extreme caricatures of themselves, which seems to benefit Egon in particular, and the environments are similarly colorful and playful. This art style seems to allow the game's visuals a level of simplicity as a choice, rather than a technical necessity. This, I think, will be key to making Ghostbusters on the Wii feel like a real, standalone game, and not just a cheap-looking afterthought.

Once I actually started playing the game, more unique features became apparent. The controls have, of course, been custom-built for the Wii, and in my short time with the game, they seemed relatively intuitive, letting you move with the analog stick on the nunchuk and aim with the Wii remote. With your unlicensed positron collider strapped to your back, the game basically plays like a third-person shooter, and while I encountered a number of enemies that could just be blasted out of existence, there were some that still required the old wrangle-and-trap method, a process that seems to benefit in particular from the Wii controls.

The Wii version of Ghostbusters promises some platform-specific touches, which we got to see a few of during our demo. Unlike the other versions, you'll be able to play as either a male or female version of the silent rookie character that joins the Ghostbusters at the start of the game. While Atari isn't talking about co-op play in the other versions of the game, we got to participate in a little two-player splitscreen action, as well as a single-screen battle against the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, which saw our characters dangling over the edge of a skyscraper whilst Stay-Puft climbed it, Kong-style.

I'll admit, my affinity to the source material could certainly be clouding my judgment here, but I came away from my time with Ghostbusters: The Game on the Wii eager to see more.




Xbox 360


No Caption Provided
In terms of broad game mechanics, not much has changed since the last time I got my hands on the Xbox 360 version of Ghostbusters. You've still got multiple weapon types installed in your proton pack, many of which approximate existing shooter weapon archetypes. There was a general level of refinement in this new build, though; the Ghostbusters' character models are looking more like their real-life counterparts and also a little more animated and lifelike than they did a few months ago. Atari was showing off a couple of new levels, one in the bizarro alternate dimension you'll enter from time to time, where everything is off-kilter and creepy-looking. The other was set on top of a building, where I had to trap the spirits of some lewd-talking construction workers before facing off against none other than the Staypuft Marshmallow Man. Or, at least, I got to see him climbing up the side of the building--then I had to give the controller back.

Even though you're not shooting and killing stuff, per se--the ghosts, ghouls, and specters are already dead, I think--the game seems like it will be immediately accessible to anyone who plays third-person shooters. Your nameless rookie Ghostbuster has a lateral dodge move you can use to get out of the way of trouble, and you can go into a short sprint, Gears of War roadie run-style, to cover ground quickly. The process of wrangling a ghost with your beam, throwing out a trap, and maneuvering the ghost into it is different enough from a typical shooter to give Ghostbusters a unique feel, though.

In the last preview, I talked about how you can use your PKE meter to investigate the scene for paranormal clues. This time, I saw how Terminal Reality has taken a cue from BioShock's camera mechanic by also letting you scan and research ghosts with the PKE device. When you jump into first-person view, you can target and scan an enemy to add it to your database. If you only catch it in the side of your viewfinder, the enemy merely goes in the list. If you get it centered right in your reticle, however, you get a full scan that adds a lengthy description (written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) to your library. You also get a 10 percent damage bonus against that enemy, so it will be pretty worthwhile to get some scanning done

Lastly, I feel the need to point out that everyone's least appreciated Ghostbusters villain, Vigo the Carpathian, will figure into the game. During a cutscene in the Ghostbusters' firehouse HQ, I noticed Vigo's painting hanging out in the background, and a rep for the game remarked that you'll be interacting with the ol' prince of darkness from time to time during the storyline. Add Vigo to the list of minor characters from the series, like Walter Peck and Annie Potts' Janine Melnitz, who are popping up in the game, and you get the impression Terminal Reality is really cramming everything but the kitchen sink into this game.


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#8  Edited By sbritton
  


Overlord II


The key thing to take from our early look at Overlord II is that the game is being designed to let players be a bit more evil. What's the best way to get that across? By having you prove your worthiness as an overlord to your potential minions... by clubbing a baby seal. The game picks up where the first one left off, putting you in the role of the original Overlord's son. You'll get to play a bit at the beginning of the game as a seven-year old before warping ahead to adulthood.

At its core, Overlord II doesn't look like a dramatic change for the series, with basic control concepts carrying over and lots of focus on controlling both yourself and your minions. You'll be able to possess minions and take direct control of one in some cases, and we were shown a bit where your little gremlin-like posse got disguised as Roman centurions in order to walk past some guards undetected. From there, you got control of a catapult, which is used to clear the way ahead (and take out a bunch of enemy troops, if you're into that sort of thing). It looks like precisely the sort of thing that fans of the original game will eat up when it hits 360, PS3, and PC in June.



Jumpgate Evolution


Our time with Jumpgate Evolution, the upcoming space-combat MMO from Auto Assault developer NetDevil, was admittedly less than ideal. Playing on a machine that wasn't hooked up to a populated test server, outer space was especially vacant, save for the NPC ships that served as mission fodder for us. Our time with the game was also quite brief, as folks were being rotated out every 15-20 minutes. So, it should speak volumes to the game's accessibility and the current speed of the player progression that we still managed to get some small sense of what Jumpgate Evolution's all about. 

Right from the start, the game seems set up to jump you into the action as quickly as possible. The character creation was limited to a single faction for the purposes of the demo, though it didn't seem like a particularly complicated process either way. Since there's no out-of-ship interaction in Jumpgate Evolution, our character was represented with one of just a few painted portraits. Similarly, the giant space cruiser that served as our starting home base appeared as little more than a menu screen. It had immediate effect of making it very easy to get into the game, cash in and take on missions, buy and sell gear, and get back into the outer-space action, but we have to wonder how much these kinds of decisions will undercut how vast and immersive the end product will feel.

When we were actually out in space, dog-fighting with enemy ships, Jumpgate Evolution had a nice action-oriented feel. It was straightforward and moved quickly, with a targeting reticle that would lead your target that made the combat easy to get into. Jumpgate Evolution is looking pretty sharp, though we'll be curious to see how the performance holds up once we're playing on a server that's actually thick with other players. What was being shown worked well enough as a light and brisk Wing-Commander-style single-player experience, though the real test will be when we see it on a populated server. Still, what we played was intriguing enough that we're eager to jump into the game's beta, which should be jumping off fairly soon.


FUEL

Since Codemasters released the racing games DIRT and GRID over the last few years, you might expect the upcoming FUEL to fall right in with their ilk. It's got a four-letter, all-capital title that refers to some aspect of automotive racing, right? But you'd only be partially right. FUEL, in development at France-based Asobo, is quite different from those other games. It envisions a post-apocalyptic future ravaged by violent climate change where gasoline is scarce. The survivors compete for the remaining gas by racing against each other. So to get fuel, you have to burn fuel...wait, what? Hey man, don't question it. In the future, you do what you have to do to get by. And the future is ugly: It seems the crazy weather will hinder your racing from time to time with the occasional tornado, lightning strike, and so on, though I didn't see any such disasters in my brief hands-on time.

The most interesting aspect of FUEL is its incredibly large open world, which stretches over several thousand square miles of the midwestern United States (or at least what used to be the U.S.; the Codemasters presentation even pointed out the huge gouge in the landscape representing the Grand Canyon). The game's closed-circuit race courses, however, are confined to small areas. I imagine the open world will primarily come into play as you travel from one race to the next, sort of like in Burnout Paradise (only several hundred times bigger). You'll also be able to stretch your legs in all that open space by defining your own races courses, which you can share online for other players to compete in.

FUEL has been in development for the better part of four years, but seems like it's on track to finally hit shelves later this year.


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#9  Edited By sbritton

try it now.

cheers!