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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 65: Batman Arkham City, Zelda Skyward Sword, More Skyrim, Corpse Party, Fate/Extra

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Brad's back with a vengeance, smacking down accusations that he's playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim incorrectly. Also: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Corpse Party, Fate/Extra, and, at last, our semi-epic fight over Batman: Arkham City. Plus: Details on how you can win BIG in our BIG holiday contest. With Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "BIG" Spaeth.

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Damn, I sound so muffled in

Damn, I sound so muffled in this one. It must be something about being around Tim...

In defense of Corpse Party

Seiko, the girl asking for the "butt cream" and drooling at her friend is just a wacky weirdo who hides her lesbian crush by being loud, brash and cheerful. Her weird behavior is noted by the other characters and we see better sides of her soon after. She's pretty much the only oddball character in the game that we're clearly expected to connect with, and the others are far more well rounded with issues that aren't often telegraphed with a spotlight. Even the villains have some kind of reasoning and justification behind the things they do, which is far better than we can say about most horror movies these days.

Richard

Gotta, say I'm with Richard on Skyrim. And yes, I too read the books! Way to hold the line. PS - it's still nice to have brad back in spite of it all :)

Heheh -- the only thing more

Heheh -- the only thing more boring than the endless series of meaningless quests would be actually reading those books. :p

I'm gonna make a "game" where you run around a huge expansive world where you can uncover hundreds of locations through exploration and when you uncover these places you can do exciting things like vacuum them or put the owner's tons of meaningless possessions in order (and the immersion comes from using your imagination to decide whether you want to be a helpful little home invader who creates order or an evil prankster who hides the toilet paper). The "residents" will leave you books and lists filled with their hopes and dreams about how the "Cleaning Fairy" (you) will redesign their abode while justifying these exciting design choices through meaningless and long-winded personal histories and anecdotes. It'll be every bit as exciting as Skyrim. The sense of immersion will make Peter Molyneux weep in envy.

I think I've got two sales guaranteed! :p

Mike Bracken wrote: Heheh

Mike Bracken wrote:

Heheh -- the only thing more boring than the endless series of meaningless quests would be actually reading those books. :p

What if you had to fish endlessly so you could earn enough loot to buy a magical fishing rod that would allow to fish even more and earn more loot? Is that something you would sign up for Mike? ;-)

Not quite the same, Chi. In

Not quite the same, Chi. In an MMO, you have to do something to make money, so fishing for the rod made making money easier, hence making the gameplay experience easier. Reading books in Skyrim has no effect on the gameplay (other than clicking on a skill book -- which, thank god, you don't actually have to read) and is completely extraneous (and boring). And yes, I would sign up for that. At least there was something worthwhile waiting at the end of my quest. :p

Meanwhile, Skyrim sends me on a billion quests that don't do anything with the narrative or have much of an effect on the gameplay. It's like being excited to file papers, except filing papers might actually have an effect on something by making your office more manageable. Man, you're helping to convince me that Skyrim is even more boring and pointless than I already thought...

I'm totally busting balls here. You should have been on this episode. :p

Mike Bracken wrote: Not

Mike Bracken wrote:

Not quite the same, Chi. In an MMO, you have to do something to make money, so fishing for the rod made making money easier, hence making the gameplay experience easier. Reading books in Skyrim has no effect on the gameplay (other than clicking on a skill book -- which, thank god, you don't actually have to read) and is completely extraneous (and boring). And yes, I would sign up for that. At least there was something worthwhile waiting at the end of my quest. :p

Meanwhile, Skyrim sends me on a billion quests that don't do anything with the narrative or have much of an effect on the gameplay. It's like being excited to file papers, except filing papers might actually have an effect on something by making your office more manageable. Man, you're helping to convince me that Skyrim is even more boring and pointless than I already thought...

I'm totally busting balls here. You should have been on this episode. :p

But acquiring that fishing rod was not a part of the narrative right? You decided to make that your own quest in the game. As a fellow loot-whorer, I'm surprised that you aren't able to enjoy Skyrim as a straight dungeon crawler.

The loot gets pretty pedestrian once you master smithing/enchanting (which I'm totally loving), but the dungeon crawling parts still provide the necessary loot to finance my skill building. So whatever quest I'm on, it's most certainly "making the game easier" or rather I'm growing as a character.

While the game mechanics aren't terribly original, the dungeon environments are still stunning and its still no less entertaining than any other dungeon crawler. For me, sniping enemies undetected and getting that awesome throat cutting animation from behind never seems to get old. I keep hoping to get a different death blow animation (which there are many awesome ones). I still strive for that perfect kill each time.

Chi Kong Lui wrote: But

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

But acquiring that fishing rod was not a part of the narrative right? You decided to make that your own quest in the game. As a fellow loot-whorer, I'm surprised that you aren't able to enjoy Skyrim as a straight dungeon crawler.

It is part of the game's narrative. There's a quest and story that go along with obtaining the rod. It's an MMO, though, so it's sort of an apples and oranges thing to my way of thinking. It wasn't my own quest -- it's a quest that all the serious fishermen undertake. It's a sidequest, but unlike so many of the side quests in Skyrim, there's a worthwhile reward for completion.

Like you, I'd probably dig Skyrim more as a straight loot/dungeon crawler if I felt like the loot were more interesting. I didn't find the crafting all that interesting either, but I also played WoW for a few thousand hours and Skyrim is basically like crafting in WoW -- so not too exciting.

Quote:

While the game mechanics aren't terribly original, the dungeon environments are still stunning and its still no less entertaining than any other dungeon crawler. For me, sniping enemies undetected and getting that awesome throat cutting animation from behind never seems to get old. I keep hoping to get a different death blow animation (which there are many awesome ones). I still strive for that perfect kill each time.

I wish the dungeons had more variety. I got bored of running into one and killing the same Vampires/Bandits/Draugrs over and over. It's nice that they upgraded from the cookie cutter design of Oblivion for sure, but they still feel like busywork to me. I'm okay with that to a degree, but at least put some effort into hiding that I'm playing through busywork.

Man, we're gonna be talking about this fucking game for forever aren't we? :p

Mike Bracken wrote: It is

Mike Bracken wrote:

It is part of the game's narrative. There's a quest and story that go along with obtaining the rod. It's an MMO, though, so it's sort of an apples and oranges thing to my way of thinking. It wasn't my own quest -- it's a quest that all the serious fishermen undertake. It's a sidequest, but unlike so many of the side quests in Skyrim, there's a worthwhile reward for completion.

Regardless of it being an MMO or not, I find it hard to believe that any narrative and/or reward justifies the amount of time and effort you put into that fishing rod quest. My main point that I'm driving at (and I promise I won't beat this to death) is that ultimately, a lot of gaming experiences (especially open-world ones) are determined by what we choose to put into it and Skyrim is no different in that regard. A pen & paper game of D&D is either a wildly imaginative fantasy adventure or its several dorks acting silly while rolling dice.

Mike Bracken wrote:

Like you, I'd probably dig Skyrim more as a straight loot/dungeon crawler if I felt like the loot were more interesting. I didn't find the crafting all that interesting either, but I also played WoW for a few thousand hours and Skyrim is basically like crafting in WoW -- so not too exciting.

To be clear, I said that the loot only feels boring once you've become a master level smith/enchanter because at that point you can create any weapon you can imagine. Otherwise, I think the loot is great. The effects are useful. The weapon and armor designs are some of the most bad-ass in any fantasy game. Despite being a light-armor user, I'm tempted to collect some of the heavy armor sets just because of how cool they look. So I'm not clear as to why you think the loot ain't worthy enough for your time.

Mike Bracken wrote:

I wish the dungeons had more variety. I got bored of running into one and killing the same Vampires/Bandits/Draugrs over and over. It's nice that they upgraded from the cookie cutter design of Oblivion for sure, but they still feel like busywork to me. I'm okay with that to a degree, but at least put some effort into hiding that I'm playing through busywork.

Not to straw man you here, but this is similar to your complaint about Tom Chick's review of Uncharted 3. This is more or less the same problem with all RPGs and that's a valid criticism, but not something that should be directly soley at Skyrim. To me, Skyrim was lacking in something, anything that would pass for a major innovation. If it had done that, Skyrim would be worthy of those 9s and 10s. As it is, its still a fine Elder Scrolls Western RPG.

Mike Bracken wrote:

Man, we're gonna be talking about this fucking game for forever aren't we? :p

Since I wasn't able to make the show, I'll make my points here and promise not to beat a dead horse. :-)

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

Regardless of it being an MMO or not, I find it hard to believe that any narrative and/or reward justifies the amount of time and effort you put into that fishing rod quest. My main point that I'm driving at (and I promise I won't beat this to death) is that ultimately, a lot of gaming experiences (especially open-world ones) are determined by what we choose to put into it and Skyrim is no different in that regard. A pen & paper game of D&D is either a wildly imaginative fantasy adventure or its several dorks acting silly while rolling dice.

The thing, for me, is that getting the rod is at least part of the gameplay. I'm actively playing the game while I fish and travel to turn the fish in and so on. Reading the books serves no real gameplay purpose. I play games to play games. If I want to read a book, I've got shelves upon shelves of things that are better written than any of the "books" in Skyrim or the other Bethesda games.

Quote:

To be clear, I said that the loot only feels boring once you've become a master level smith/enchanter because at that point you can create any weapon you can imagine. Otherwise, I think the loot is great. The effects are useful. The weapon and armor designs are some of the most bad-ass in any fantasy game. Despite being a light-armor user, I'm tempted to collect some of the heavy armor sets just because of how cool they look. So I'm not clear as to why you think the loot ain't worthy enough for your time.

Honestly, I'm surprised you think the weapons and armor are that fantastic. I've played a billion RPGs, online and off, and most of Skyrim's weaponry and armor is pretty generic.

I mean, Dragon Armor and all that isn't any cooler than the old Dark Knight AF in Final Fantasy XI, and it all pales in comparison to some of the gear found in the Korean MMOs like Aion for me. That's subjective, of course, but I didn't find any of the weapons or armor particularly exciting -- and it's even funnier since many people play in first person and never see their armor save for the gloves. :p

Quote:

Not to straw man you here, but this is similar to your complaint about Tom Chick's review of Uncharted 3. This is more or less the same problem with all RPGs and that's a valid criticism, but not something that should be directly soley at Skyrim. To me, Skyrim was lacking in something, anything that would pass for a major innovation. If it had done that, Skyrim would be worthy of those 9s and 10s. As it is, its still a fine Elder Scrolls Western RPG.

I acknowledged that busywork is a staple of the genre -- but most games at least make an effort to hide the fact that it's busywork. Skyrim does a very poor job of that, because it's so concerned with being "open ended" that even the main quest has no narrative thrust and feels like an inconsequential time killer. I single Skyrim out because it takes something to a ridiculous extreme -- the majority of its quests are throw-away one offs that are clearly designed to pad the running time. I'd make the same criticism against FFXIII's hunts, which also don't even pretend to have a purpose.

It's really about expectation for me. I expect that games will present me with a certain amount of busywork. I also expect that they'll make an effort to at least create the illusion that they're important as something more than just time-wasters. And again, for me, Skyrim fails miserably at that.

Quote:

Since I wasn't able to make the show, I'll make my points here and promise not to beat a dead horse. :-)

It's good, man -- this is one of those games that just inspires a lot of discussion. I understand why people like it, but at the end of the day, it doesn't work for me.

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken wrote:

Honestly, I'm surprised you think the weapons and armor are that fantastic. I've played a billion RPGs, online and off, and most of Skyrim's weaponry and armor is pretty generic.

I mean, Dragon Armor and all that isn't any cooler than the old Dark Knight AF in Final Fantasy XI, and it all pales in comparison to some of the gear found in the Korean MMOs like Aion for me. That's subjective, of course, but I didn't find any of the weapons or armor particularly exciting -- and it's even funnier since many people play in first person and never see their armor save for the gloves. :p

While I don't play MMO's, last time I checked, the Elder Scrolls games are at the top of the food chain when it comes to graphics in RPGs. If I had to choose between hyper-stylized anime-colorful armor vs understated real-world looking ones with gritty textures, I'll take the latter. And I switch back and forth between first and third person all the time. I also get a good look at the armor when I'm forging or during death blow animations.

Mike Bracken wrote:

I acknowledged that busywork is a staple of the genre -- but most games at least make an effort to hide the fact that it's busywork. Skyrim does a very poor job of that, because it's so concerned with being "open ended" that even the main quest has no narrative thrust and feels like an inconsequential time killer. I single Skyrim out because it takes something to a ridiculous extreme -- the majority of its quests are throw-away one offs that are clearly designed to pad the running time. I'd make the same criticism against FFXIII's hunts, which also don't even pretend to have a purpose.

It's really about expectation for me. I expect that games will present me with a certain amount of busywork. I also expect that they'll make an effort to at least create the illusion that they're important as something more than just time-wasters. And again, for me, Skyrim fails miserably at that.

I agree that this is a problem in that nearly every single character in the game will give you a quest no matter how big or small. Perhaps the radiant engine could have been tweaked so that it doesn't bother a high-level character with silly little quests.

I've resorted to basically saying no or avoiding conversations to not trigger another unwanted quests, but to me this is relatively minor and something that could be easily addressed in design or play-style.

Chi Kong Lui wrote:Mike

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

While I don't play MMO's, last time I checked, the Elder Scrolls games are at the top of the food chain when it comes to graphics in RPGs. If I had to choose between hyper-stylized anime-colorful armor vs understated real-world looking ones with gritty textures, I'll take the latter. And I switch back and forth between first and third person all the time. I also get a good look at the armor when I'm forging or during death blow animations.

You really think the armor and weaponry is that head and shoulders above everything else on the market? I don't know -- I don't really see it, personally. And if we're talking real-world armor/weapons, I don't know that I'd say that Skyrim's armor is really any more impressive than the stuff I saw in Demon's Souls or some other games. That gear was pretty gritty and realistic too.

I'd also disagree about TES being the top of the class for RPG graphics. While the geography of Skyrim is impressive, the character models in aren't anything to write home about. The hair styles are hideous and the third person character animations, while improved, are still pretty lousy looking. Run down a mountain in third person...it's hilarious.

Quote:

I agree that this is a problem in that nearly every single character in the game will give you a quest no matter how big or small. Perhaps the radiant engine could have been tweaked so that it doesn't bother a high-level character with silly little quests.

I've resorted to basically saying no or avoiding conversations to not trigger another unwanted quests, but to me this is relatively minor and something that could be easily addressed in design or play-style.

It seems wrong to avoid talking to people in what's supposed to be a living world to me -- but I'd be all for the Radiant Engine giving me fewer quests based on my level and whatnot.

Endless amounts of quests seems like this great thing, but unfortunately if they're not engaging quests I'm not really sure why Bethesda thinks anyone would want to do them (and continue doing them) in the first place.

Honestly, I just want the game to give me some narrative focus. Open world is fine, but when even the main quest is completely inconsequential I find myself wondering why I'm bothering to play at all. I like freedom, but I don't want complete anarchy. :-)

I don't know -- this game has made me think a lot, and it really was the hardest review I've ever written for a game because it made me question things beyond what I liked and disliked about Skyrim while thinking about those issues in a broader context. It's also weird because it's hard to talk about disliking it while still acknowledging that there are some things it does really well. I think for me, though, all games ultimately come down the highly subjective fun factor -- and I rarely had fun with Skyrim. I can admire some of its technical achievements, but the bulk of the nearly 60 hours I spent with it felt a lot like work.

Mike Bracken wrote: I'd

Mike Bracken wrote:

I'd also disagree about TES being the top of the class for RPG graphics. While the geography of Skyrim is impressive, the character models in aren't anything to write home about. The hair styles are hideous and the third person character animations, while improved, are still pretty lousy looking. Run down a mountain in third person...it's hilarious.

While the models in Skyrim are not great, its a bit better than previous games and I struggle to think of another RPG that has better graphics. As much as I loved Dragon Age: Origins, the graphics were so bad that it was almost a deal breaker for me.

Mike Bracken wrote:

Honestly, I just want the game to give me some narrative focus. Open world is fine, but when even the main quest is completely inconsequential I find myself wondering why I'm bothering to play at all. I like freedom, but I don't want complete anarchy. :-)

I don't know -- this game has made me think a lot, and it really was the hardest review I've ever written for a game because it made me question things beyond what I liked and disliked about Skyrim while thinking about those issues in a broader context. It's also weird because it's hard to talk about disliking it while still acknowledging that there are some things it does really well. I think for me, though, all games ultimately come down the highly subjective fun factor -- and I rarely had fun with Skyrim. I can admire some of its technical achievements, but the bulk of the nearly 60 hours I spent with it felt a lot like work.

That last line reminds me of my review of Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire where I tried to contemplate work vs play. There's a very fine line between the two and your last comment at least acknowledges that and gives the game some credit rather than the game is "boring." I don't doubt that's an honest reaction on your part, but it doesn't shed any light as to why its able to engage so many others.

After listening to the podcast, I give a virtual high five to Richard who did me proud in defending Skyrim. I agree 100% that its a game that challenges a player's imagination and in a lot of ways is more of a platform.

You guys getting old?

I don't know what's happened to you guys, but it seems you've become very curmudgeonly of late. I would guess back as far as August or so?

This particular podcast wreaked of "If I don't like it, it shouldn't be in the game."

First, Skyrim. Look, I don't begrudge someone not being into it. It's not for everyone. It is most definitely for the hard core RPGer, probably people with a tabletop RPG background. I think one has to understand, however, that the game's "Main Quest" isn't that at all, really. It has one on the basis that people expect an 'end point' and I don't believe an end point was ever intended. It's a sandbox.

The "imagination" comment was spot on, though not well elaborated on. The game makes no assumptions of who you are (a traditional element in the TES games), and is specifically designed to allow you to fill in the blanks. This isn't omitted, it's a conscious design decision. Your character's background, motivation, purpose, all that, is entirely up to you. The main quest is only main in the sense that it provides a jumping off point. Once the Thu'um mechanic is introduced, it becomes one of a game full of independent stories, and your involvement in world events is entirely up to you.

As for Arkham... I happen to like the Riddler secrets. It's very video gamey, certainly, and sometimes they are off the beaten path, but I do get a sense of accomplishment in progressing the Riddler storyline. So, I guess to put it as harshly as possible; who are you to say they "shouldn't be in the game".

I don't remember you guys being this damning for optional content in the past. Suddenly, any element that isn't your cup of tea makes it a bad game? It's one thing to say you're not into flying around Arkham City finding Riddler stuff, but to outright say it "shouldn't be there" because YOU don't like it is taking significant steps beyond just coloring reviews with your own bias. We all know a review necessarily is one person's opinion... intentional or not, you're coming off as snobs rather than journalists with the way you frame these criticisms.

Skyrim is a thought

Skyrim is a thought provoking game. It divides people(interested in rpgs) in 2 general categories:

a) Those who are looking for a game to play and enjoy for its gameplay.

b) Those who are looking for a story to immerse themselves and forget the real world.

The first group loves this game, because it is a tremendous bang for the buck value, and the second group finds it boring because it lacks enough hooks to make the real world fade away.

The first group cannot view Skyrim's quests as busywork, because they do not play those quests because they are expecting an outcome in terms of story or immersion, but because the just enjoy the hack n slash/loot. When you enjoy doing something just for the sake of doing it, it is not work, it is fun. And if there is plenty of it, that just means more fun.

The second group finds the hack n slash as a means to an end. They do this just because they are expecting something in return. Something to make them feel better, such as a nice fairy tale or recognition from npcs in order to feel like they spent their time doing something meaningful. But the reality is, there is no meaning in playing a video game at all, no matter how immersive it is. Even if the programmers made the npcs to recognise you as the saviour of the universe, in the end, it is just a game. When what you are expecting from playing a game are feelings of worth, and you play through it just to get them, then the gameplay is work and the feelings the reward. So when the ratio of gameplay/feelings is not what they want, the regard the gameplay as work instead of fun.

It makes me feel sad about the people in group b. If you really want something to make you forget your real life, then it means there is something wrong with it...

Group B

Quote:

The second group finds the hack n slash as a means to an end. They do this just because they are expecting something in return. Something to make them feel better, such as a nice fairy tale or recognition from npcs in order to feel like they spent their time doing something meaningful. But the reality is, there is no meaning in playing a video game at all, no matter how immersive it is. Even if the programmers made the npcs to recognise you as the saviour of the universe, in the end, it is just a game. When what you are expecting from playing a game are feelings of worth, and you play through it just to get them, then the gameplay is work and the feelings the reward. So when the ratio of gameplay/feelings is not what they want, the regard the gameplay as work instead of fun.

It makes me feel sad about the people in group b. If you really want something to make you forget your real life, then it means there is something wrong with it...

Anon, you had me until here.

I think there's certainly something to those differences in what players want that you mention, I also think this explanation comes across as fairly glib and condescending.

I'm not expecting a feeling of worth from a game, but like all entertainment, I do expect them to engage me. I expect films and books and music to do the same thing. They don't need to validate my existence, but just existing isn't enough, either.

It's the last part that really kills me, though. Games are escapist entertainment to the highest degree, because unlike books or film, you (technically) come closer to inhabiting another person and life than in any other medium. That doesn't mean you're hiding from your "real" life, though -- which is a gigantic generalization.

Hi AJ, Thanks for the

Hi AJ,

Thanks for the comments.

Quote:

I don't know what's happened to you guys, but it seems you've become very curmudgeonly of late. I would guess back as far as August or so?

I'm always curmudgeonly. I have been since around 2nd grade. :-)

Quote:

First, Skyrim. Look, I don't begrudge someone not being into it. It's not for everyone. It is most definitely for the hard core RPGer, probably people with a tabletop RPG background. I think one has to understand, however, that the game's "Main Quest" isn't that at all, really. It has one on the basis that people expect an 'end point' and I don't believe an end point was ever intended. It's a sandbox.

I always find the defense that it's for the "hardcore RPGer" kinda funny, since I've been categorized as that for my entire career. If it's for the "hardcore RPGer" then it should have clicked with me in the same way Morrowind and Oblivion did.

The second part is interesting too. Skyrim sold a bazillion units and has garnered almost universal praise -- somehow, I doubt that all those fans are "hardcore RPGers" or spent an extensive amount of time with tabletop RPGs, seeing as both are still regarded as very niche.

I suspect RPG fans are more likely to enjoy it because it's another game in the genre and it does some things very well. That being said, it's not for this "hardcore RPGer".

Quote:

As for Arkham... I happen to like the Riddler secrets. It's very video gamey, certainly, and sometimes they are off the beaten path, but I do get a sense of accomplishment in progressing the Riddler storyline. So, I guess to put it as harshly as possible; who are you to say they "shouldn't be in the game".

Just some guys with opinions, man. :-)

I think what it comes down to (and what we probably did a poor job of articulating) is that the problem isn't the Riddler secrets specifically -- for me, it's more of a feeling of games keep adding more and more extraneous things for players to do in what seems like an attempt to justify the $60 price point.

On one hand, I appreciate that. Games are expensive, you should get bang for your buck. On the other, it's hard to shake the feeling that a lot of developers are just tossing in a lot of filler content to pad running times. I've said it before -- I'd rather play a fantastic four hour game that engages me the entire time than a 20 hour game with some high points and a lot of filler.

What's "filler" and what isn't is entirely subjective, of course. For me, the Riddler stuff is like finding the packages in GTA or the orbs in Crackdown or COG tags in Gears of War. I know people who love to do that stuff. I am not one of them. It seems odd to me that games are more advanced than ever, but some of them want to move back to the days of the collectathon mechanic.

I generally just skip that stuff (although the OCD achievement whore in me cringes the whole time thinking about the points/trophies I'm not getting...), but in Batman's case, it seemed like it was something worth talking about because it's literally everywhere in the game. It's hard to ignore the Riddler stuff because it's constantly in your face. My personal feeling is that it makes the game feel cluttered and dilutes the focus of the core experience a bit. I think those are fair concerns to raise -- but we might not have framed them as well as we could have. That's the thing about the show, though -- it's not rehearsed. We get an outline that's basically a line saying what topic and in what order, and from there it's just guys talking. That's part of what makes the show the show though -- rehearsed would be kinda boring and I'd have bailed 64 eps ago. :p

All that being said, I was still pleased with Arkham City. I would prefer it to be more focused, but that's just my opinion.

Quote:

Suddenly, any element that isn't your cup of tea makes it a bad game?

I don't think anyone said "the Riddler missions make this a bad game" though. Sometimes a single element can make a game bad, other times not. All I know is that I spent time talking about things that I liked about AC and pointed out things that didn't work as well for me too. If that makes me curmudgeonly or a snob, then pass me the Grey Poupon before you get the hell off of my lawn. :-)

Kidding aside, thanks for taking the time to comment. We miss the mark lots of times, and every show for me ends with countless moments in the next day or so where I go "fuck, why didn't I say this?" or "I could have articulated that better" or "I totally should have made this point." The reason we do the show isn't to sit in the ivory tower and proclaim our views as the only correct ones (although I love when you guys agree with me almost as much as I love getting drunk on nerd tears...) but to open up discussions and hear different viewpoints. We love reader mail -- I wish we got more of it.

Chi Kong Lui wrote:That

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

That last line reminds me of my review of Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire where I tried to contemplate work vs play. There's a very fine line between the two and your last comment at least acknowledges that and gives the game some credit rather than the game is "boring." I don't doubt that's an honest reaction on your part, but it doesn't shed any light as to why its able to engage so many others.

Well, I was walking a fine line. During that episode, I was in the middle of writing my review, which does articulate why I think it's boring (the quests have no sense of narrative scope -- most of them feel like the medieval equivalent of "walk to the supermarket in the bad part of town and get some eggs") and I didn't want to make the review completely redundant. Plus I'd said these things in the previous show too. Mr. Ed wasn't quite dead yet, but he was definitely starting to look like he was a few beatings from being ready for the Glue Factory. :p

All that made me feel like I didn't want to tip my hand too much and spoil the review. So, yeah, I fell back on being a little more vague, but the reasons were out there. I would have probably been vaguer on the first Skyrim show too, but I didn't know I was doing a review of the game then -- in fact, I was pretty adamant that I WASN'T doing one. :-)

Great show

Hey Guys,

Just a note to say well done on a fantastic show; it was great that Brad was back as there's a whole different dynamic when both he and Mike are on which I love. This one reached even greater heights than the last couple. Definitely the funniest podcast out there. Keep it up!

Brad you just didn't play

Brad you just didn't play Skyrim right. Just joking even though I enjoyed the game a great deal it's nice to hear dissenting opinions from both you and Mike since almost every other website has cookie cutter reviews that read like a Bethesda promotion.

I think my biggest beef with

I think my biggest beef with Skyrim is that it's hailed as this great 'epic' story...but the story itself just isn't up to par. It's like they tried writing ways in which the player could be this super amazing hero, but then the gameplay nor the actual story actually serves to meet this end. Especially in regards to dragons who turned out to be the weakest enemies in the game which is entirely silly.

On the note of story though, I would love to see the critics here play To The Moon and read their interpretations of the story. I've been a fan of this site for a while now (Ever since the huge series of Deadly Premonition posts) and I love to see how the people here react to the various stories in games. It's been making waves across the internet ever since it came out roughly a month ago.

Batman

Finish Arkham City. I don't think it is as bad as Brad described it but it definitely does not compare to Asylum which I completed twice in the higher difficulty.

I also thought the side quests were pretty unsatisfying upon completion, especially if you expect some story out of them. For example, all you get once you've beaten Szaz or Deadshot is a 5 sec video seeing them locked up. Very disappointing, especially if you're coming from some Bioware RPG.

Anyway, still had a good time with it.

I just listened to my first

I just listened to my first gamecritics podcast and it was great! I like that you guys have the gall to disagree and stay friendly with each other, which is not something you always see in media. You guys have a new subscriber.

aHei wrote: Finish Arkham

aHei wrote:

Finish Arkham City.

Of course i meant 'Finished'. And yes GC critics disagree all the time which is great. Awesomest show ever.

It's been some time since i

It's been some time since i played Morrowind but i can't remember that its leveling system is any different than how Skyrims is described.
I run, i get training in agility (or speed?). I level up speed.
I get hit with heavy armor equipped, i level up heavy armor.
I get hit with light armor. I level up that.
I mix potions. I level up that skill.
and so forth...
I played with heavy swords, daedric items first because i like the brute accessories. After i hit the 100 respectively 105 limit i switched to light weapons and armory just because i wanted to keep leveling up somewhere and that was only possible when using items of categories not capped already.
What's really different in Skyrim? I don't get it. It sounds not only similar but really equal in every aspect except the visuals.

Good to hear some warnings about Arkham City. The good scores have raised my expectations, and although i am always sceptical if i like open world my expectations were pretty high. So thanks for lowering them. Always better to play a game and be positively surprised rather than think the critics missed the purpose of their job.

"Too gamey"!?

Here's something I don't get: what does it mean for a game to be "too gamey"?

Arkham City gets accused of being "too much like a game" and I can't fathom that for the life of me. Do people look at words on paper and go "this thing is way too book-y!"?

"Look at those moving pictures! This thing is way too movie-y!"

Arkham City is a game.
As a game, it's going to behave like a game and do game-y things.
There is nothing wrong with this. On the contrary, it's completely and utterly unavoidable because IT'S A GAME.

You know that game you like? Yeah, that's an EXTREMELY game-y game.
Why? Because it's a game!

What ELSE would you expect it to be!?
Do you want Arkham City to be a movie?

It's thinking like that that results in games like Uncharted 3 being movie-like experiences with far too little player input.

I think you made this comment in regards to the first boss fight in Arkham City, so may question is: how would you have liked to see this battle play out then?
Instead of having a gimmick, should it just have been like a normal enemy, only one that you have to hit a whole lot more? How much fun is that!?

I love gimmicky boss fights, because they are a good change of pace, and they distinguish themselves from the simple combat required for regular battles. The worst kind of boss fight, to me, is the one where you just fight like every other fight in the game, only 5 times as long.

But above all else, I simply do not understand the criticism that a game is too "game-y". It doesn't make any kind of sense to me at all.

Zolbrod wrote: Here's

Zolbrod wrote:

Here's something I don't get: what does it mean for a game to be "too gamey"?

Arkham City gets accused of being "too much like a game" and I can't fathom that for the life of me.

Since i haven't played it, and also have watched almost no videos, this is as i got it: it breaks the immersion of being Batman.
In Asylum the feeling of being powerful and having the control of this trained dude with gadgets was great and in between there were this green marks.
In Arkham city it sounds like its a little too cluttered and almost like it's a meta-game with a style distracting to being the Dark Knight. I guess sort of like the cheap minigame in Bioshock 1.

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