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Gamecritics.com Podcast Episode 82: Thanksgiving Giving and Wreck-It Ralph

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It's a special 1/5 British edition of the Gamecritics.com podcast. This week we tackle Wreck-It Ralph, Thanksgiving shout outs, and what we've been playing during our long hibernation. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and special guest host Sinan "Redcoat" Kubba.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii U   PS3   PC   iPhone   iPad   PS2  
Developer(s): Telltale Games  
Series: The Walking Dead  
Genre(s): Adventure/Explore   Horror  
Articles: Podcasts  

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Missed you guys

:-)

XCOM

Hey, guys. I have enjoyed listening to your podcast over the years. All of you are intelligent guys with generally interesting things to say about gaming. I post these comments with the sincere intention to give constructive feedback about your discussion. And I don't post them intending to belittle anyone, or to condemn someone for having an opinion different from my own.

So it is in the spirit of constructive criticism when I tell you that was the dumbest 15 minutes of discussion regarding XCOM Enemy Unknown I have ever read or heard.

Where to begin?

First off, I call bullshit on Brad and Mike being "huge fans" of the original X-Com (hereinafter "OG"). Both of you profess to be huge OG fans, yet neither of you appear to recall anything substantive about it. Mike repeatedly says that the OG interface was much clearer and easier to understand than the XCOM interface. To be fair, I don't know if he was talking specifically about the OG Geoscape, the Battlescape, or both. But both OG interfaces have aged extremely poorly. Mike, boot up the OG on Steam and fumble your way through a UFO recovery mission or two and tell me again how much clearer the OG interface is compared to that of XCOM.

Second, failure is pretty much inscribed into every inch of OG. To his credit, Chi stepped in and reminded Brad and Mike about how restarts are an inescapable reality in OG. If Mike somehow made it all the way to the end of OG on one single game, with no restarts, even on the lowest difficulty setting, he's either much better at games than me or, to put it charitably, his memory of OG isn't very good. OG, and its successor XCOM, are games with "failure states". It is very possible to play through them 10-15 hours or even longer and, frankly, lose the game. Or reach a point where the game becomes prohibitively difficult, and a restart becomes the best option. XCOM certainly is not unique in this regard. Ever "lose" a game of Civilization? Chi made a good point about whether today's gamer simply does not have the patience to restart a game after reaching a failure state. And I certainly understand why Mike would prefer not to restart the game after 10 hours after making too many poor choices. But as lead XCOM designer Jake Sullivan put it, "that's XCOM, baby." Failure is a part of the game. You fail a mission, you lose a soldier, you learn from your mistakes, you press on.

Third, about satellites. Anyone who has a basic understanding of OG should have no trouble understanding the role of satellite coverage in providing funding and reducing panic. The tutorial even instructs you to build a satellite and explains their purpose. Proper satellite coverage does not make the game "easier" any more than building supply depots makes it easier to play Starcraft. They're just a necessary part of the game. Base management and panic management were essential parts of OG. In fact, they were much more complicated and opaque in OG. To manage panic levels, you had to study the alien activity charts and build bases in different continents, all the while keeping them staffed and protected in case of alien invasion.

All of this is not to say that there are no legitimate flaws in XCOM. There are plenty. But your discussion really did the game a disservice. This game is a pretty massive undertaking, and really deserves a more intelligent discussion than you gave it. OG's own creator, Julian Gollop, has himself tried to replicate the "lightning in a bottle" that made OG so successful in his own games, from X-COM Apocalypse to Laser Squad: Nemesis to Rebelstar: Tactical Command to Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. Many of these games are good, even excellent. But none of them replicate the amazing balance between resource management and tactical combat that made OG so unique. Solomon and his team at Firaxis came closest to replicating it in XCOM, much closer than Gollop himself has been able to do.

I'd like to see some more interesting discussion about the Wii U. I think the idea of the console is much more interesting than you guys give it credit for. I don't need to listen to your podcast to hear a bunch of guys with no personal Wii U experience dismiss it for being short-sighted, underpowered, or whatever. In the coming years, tablets, mobile devices, and downloadable/streaming games will play a huge role in the future of gaming. We've already seen how iOS has changed the games market. Microsoft appears to be responding to this change with its Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface. I suspect that the next XBox will have a rather significant tablet/mobile device component. Again, Chi made an excellent point when he said that his son habitually watches television and plays games at the same time. This is how many of us consume entertainment these days: with multiple devices at once. The Wii U allows people to play games and watch television at the same time. This may sound like a trivial development, but I think it's actually a pretty important one.

yeah, disappointed with XCom commentary as well

I was playing the original recently and just bought Enemy Unknown this week and to me it's like a fun cinematic streamlined version of it. Fair? No. Never was. It's a randomized game. I lost a whole squad once to an alien sniper that was sitting under the ramp of the Skyranger. But that's why I loved it. It didn't give you a break at ALL. And I don't get the satellite complaint. Expanding your coverage area was a key aspect of the original game, ie - removing the Fog of War. I was amazed that the gameplay has been preserved as much as it has. Maybe I'll get irritated later, but right now I'm loving it.

Awesome stuff guys.

Great podcast as always guys, always nice to hear your well-informed opinions. Totally agree with Hitman Absolution. Extremely disappointed in the game, even though technically it's great. Decided that I wanted to replay Hitman 2 after the discussion.

Decided to see Wreck-It Ralph after listening to the podcast, and was quite surprised and not what I expected. While not always a success, I think the overall story tied nicely together, and I agreed with almost everything everyone said.

Can't wait for the next podcast.

GOTY: The Walking Dead

A note for the upcoming show: As I sense The Walking Dead is going to be 2012 Gamecritics GOTY I have to warn you that this choice would reveal this podcasts' BIAS towards GAMES WITH ZOMBIES RUNNING AT YOU IN THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF GAMEPLAY. Come on, Demon's Souls, Deadly Premonition, Dead Island, and now this? (I haven't played Fallout 3 so I don't know about that one). OBVIOUSLY you guys CAN'T APPRECIATE a game unless IT HAS UNDEAD RUNNING TOWARDS YOU IN THE FIRST LEVEL...

/Obviously this post is a joke, just in case I angered someone.

GOTY voting

Goddammit Mousse, I was going to comment with exactly the same thing! Great minds...

I would like to back Mousse Effect's call for a moratorium on votes for Zombie Games. You have clearly demonstrated a bias in this area and another zombie game as GOTY would confirm that you are dangerously out of control. Excluding zombie games is the only sensible decision, or at least a handicap of -3 points to counteract this regrettable lapse in judgement.

On a more serious note, hopefully the listeners get a vote again this year. That was a lot of fun last Christmas.

You guys are killing me.

Oh man, it sucks that you guys are my favourite podcasters, coz not I gotta wait for 2/3 more weeks...

host

How good is it to have Sinan hosting a games show again.

How bout Dylan keeps the regular podcast, Richard pulls it out and does way more After dark podcasts, and add Sinan to the crew doing specialty/topical podcast. Then we can name Gamecritics, ' Podcasts out your butt ' and everyone will be happy.

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