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  1. Day off? Well it's the perfect time to try out #Vermintide2 with @HaxtonIsCool on #Twitch! Come by and watch as I try to learn more about the #Warhammer universe by slaying tons of rat people! ROYZYABOY!
  2. Greetings again, one and all, and welcome to the madly misguided musings of me, the man of many misadventures, Venom! (I had to stop alliterating at SOME point.) As you probably don't know, I sometimes decide to rant about gaming-related things that bug me, and this is where I do it, so hold on tight and get ready for an all-out self-entitled assault of gamer rage at your eyeballs! Today's topic: Why does playing games that were designed for co-op in single player always have to suck? Let's take a trip back to a mythical time of ripped jean shorts and grunge music, a time known as the 1990's. Back in those glorious Cheeto-dusted days, many a game came standard with the option to have a friend, or sibling, or random hobo who came in through your window sit down next to you and play a game in a co-operative mode. You didn't have to - the game would be exactly the same whether you were playing alone or with your brother who knew all the cheats but wouldn't tell you what they were. It was just a holdover from the arcades where you could stand next to another (or three more, or five more if you were playing X-Men) random stranger to make your way to the end of a game, and it certainly helped out those who had trouble playing the game alone. Fast-forward to today, and co-op is all the rage...only now, you're generally forced to experience the game with people you don't know over an internet connection, because that's obviously more fun. "are you even trying, or are you just as brain-dead as these zombies!?" But what if you don't want to play with random strangers? That's why online gaming services let you have a friends list, keeping up with the people you like to associate with and (more or less) not forcing you to interact with Sk8erBoiTHPS6969 if you'd prefer not to. Playing only with those on your friends list may be preferable to some people, like me...but what do you do if your friends don't have a game you want to play? Suck it up and play with randoms? Avoid playing the game until someone else buys it? Plead with the gaming gods to bless your best bud with today's hot new titles? You could do those...or you could choose Option D - the D is for dumb - and forge through a game alone, despite the fact that it couldn't be more obviously made to play with others without the game simply refusing to play without a full party. Why is that dumb? Don't worry, it's not you, the player, that's dumb, it's the game that's dumb for forcing you to play the same experience that would be manageable for four people but a nightmare for one. Unless you're Batman. Batman can manage any situation alone. A recent example would be the Gauntlet reboot that was released last year. It's actually a pretty good game, and each character is unique in their own way to make them all valuable as part of a team of monster slayers making their way through hordes of skeletons, zombies, and other assorted creeps. My point is, the game makes it pretty clear that you'll want to grab a full party before descending into the crypts...because if you don't, you're going to die. And die again. And die some more. And then you'll die one more time, thinking surely, you'd make it this time. This time, you wouldn't need food badly. This time, you'd take out the enemy spawn points before they overwhelm you. This time, you wouldn't shoot the food like a doofus. Yes, if you decide to enter The Gauntlet alone, you're going to be up against such overwhelming odds that the 300 Spartans would probably call you crazy for trying. You'll be drowned in a sea of enemies, struck down by traps, face bosses with ridiculous amounts of health, and sometimes just get straight up killed to death by Death himself, and all because you didn't bring some buddies along, dummy. Blue Valkyrie has never needed friends so badly. Then again, Blue Valkyrie does have a bit of an ego. Another problematic game, indeed, the one that caused me to write this, is Fuse. Fuse is a third-person co-op shooter for up to four players, but if you're playing alone, the other characters are controlled by AI because the way the game and cutscenes are set up, all the characters need to be present. Granted, plenty of games have characters simply appear in and out of cutscenes if they're not being controlled by a player, but they couldn't do that because, shut up, Fuse is talking. Anyway, the problems with playing this one alone are pretty simple - there is way too much going on in every single drawn-out firefight and boss battle, and the AI is pretty much useless. On that first topic, pretty much every room is a new battle against waves upon waves of enemies, to the point where sometimes you might wonder if they'll ever stop coming. With a team of four players, you'd headshot them all in 5 seconds and move along, but with one human and a bunch of drooling babies in the same situation, the fights become an exercise in patience and frustration. Worse is the fact that the enemies tend to focus on human players, and if there's only one, well, you're going to go down a lot and just hope the AI bothers to revive you this time. When not completely ignoring you or objectives directly in front of them, the AI can most often be found standing in front of an enemy's gun as it goes off in their face, or occasionally directly in front of your gun just for a change of pace in the direction the bullets are coming from. The one actually using cover is the only human player here. "But Venom," you say, knowing full well I can't hear you, "you're complaining about things that could easily be fixed by just not being an idiot and playing the game with other people!" Which is true, but not my main issue here, so you're probably now cursing me for taking this long to get to the point. The real problem is...why is the game set up to be the exact same experience regardless of the number of actual players? Look, I'm not a programmer, because programming is hard, y'all, so maybe I don't know enough about it to see why it can't be fixed. However, it can't be that difficult because there are some games, older games even, that scale the amount of enemies or even completely reconfigure sections of the levels (the Lara Croft and the Something Else series is a good example) to suit the number of players. Why doesn't every game do this? Why should I have to wade through 67 enemies that could easily be dispatched by four players when I'm playing by myself? Couldn't it be like, 37 enemies instead? And this isn't a difficulty modifier thing - most games these days, changing the difficulty only changes how easy it is for the player to die, not how many enemies show up or anything sensible like that. It's just baffling and, even more, annoying that developers look at their finished games and say "yes, no one will ever play this alone, because there will always be active players or all their friends will have it" and ship it off without checking to see if maybe they should tone it down for those who power through alone. If a game is made to be enjoyed with others, that's fine, but developers really need to find a way to, you know, make it enjoyable if you're by yourself as well. Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm the crazy one, but it's that constantly getting overwhelmed by enemies when playing these games that's made me that way. Anyway, guess I'll go finish Fuse now. So what do you guys think? If you're playing a game that's absolutely meant for co-op, do you just find someone to play with and have a ball, or do you not really care and take it on by yourself? When you play through certain games alone, do you wish you had a co-op partner, or wish the developers had made the game a little more kind to a lone wolf like yourself? However you feel about co-op gaming in general, sound off in the comments!
  3. Today, Poria Torkan, producer on Killzone: Shadow Fall and Killzone: Mercenary, announced new downloadable content coming to Shadow Fall this June. The online cooperative mode titled Intercept tasks a four player team of VSA special forces to go into Helghast territory and obtain enemy communications. Infiltration is just the beginning as players then have to transmit the communications back to the VSA while fighting off waves of Helghast soldiers. There are four character classes to choose from: Assault, Marksman, Medic or Tactician. Each has a special skill set allowing for different tactical options. Torkan pointed out that enemy strategy would evolve during the course of the battle, throwing different tactics at the co-op squad. He added that, "the enemy can call on special Helghast champions with unique abilities, based on key characters from the Shadow Fall single-player campaign. Expect to go up against some very familiar faces…" In addition to featuring four "arena" style maps the DLC brings a perk system allowing players to call in missile strikes, use jet packs, among other bonuses. The Intercept expansion will be available for free to season pass holders this June and everyone else sometime later this year. Pricing details were not disclosed for the standalone version. For more news on Killzone: Shadow Fall keep it with Game Podunk. Source: Playstation Blog Excited about online co-op coming to Killzone?
  4. Developer: Visceral Games Publisher: Electronic Arts Platforms: XBOX 360, PS3 Release Date: March 26th, 2013 ESRB: M (Mature) This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game EA has made it a personal goal to release a new shooter every year. It began with the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and varied between numbered Battlefield and Medal of Honor releases. Last year, EA faced the hard realization that Medal of Honor: Warfighter was poorly executed and had even poorer sales, shelving the franchise for the time being. It needed something to fill the gap of shooters before Battlefield 4 launches this Fall. The company chose to resurrect the polarizing co-op series, Army of Two. Tapping the creative minds at Visceral, EA looked to inject the ailing franchise with much-needed innovation. Did EA's gamble pay off with Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel or is this just another humdrum shooter? I won't lie; the new Army of Two is a very mixed bag. Scrapping brotastic mercenary heroes Salem and Rios, Visceral went for the serious-toned Alpha and Bravo. Though these guys tell less jokes about your mom, they still have a slightly humorous nature and never take things too seriously. That said, the script writing for their lines is fairly basic and never makes either soldier feel more than a cardboard cutout. Flawed as Salem and Rios were, they at least had personality. Alpha and Bravo barely stand out amidst the streams of bullets and explosions. The semi-serious plotline, which seems to have something to do with dismantling a major Mexican drug cartel, never provides more than a passing reason as to why you're blowing people in half. There's a good local politician who gets abducted and, for whatever reason, you're supposed to torch and burn half of Mexico to get him back. It's a little insensitive to the plight of the Mexican citizens who face oppression from cartel rule, but it avoids belittling the conflict either. Police forces will fight with you side by side to bring the gang members to justice, so the writers get some kudos for not forgetting who the real soldiers of the War on Drugs are. Army of Two isn't about plot or character development. It's about blowing the crap out of everything and everyone around you, and in this regard, it mostly succeeds. Alpha and Bravo have access to a massive arsenal that can be unlocked and purchased as players level up and earn cash. You can equip each character with two weapons and a sidearm. My favorite loadout was a precision-modded L85 bullpup rifle with an explosive-tipped AS-50 sniper rifle, while my sidearm of choice was a silver-colored .44 revolver. Each weapon can be customized down to the paintjob, offering incentive for players to take new contracts and replay missions. The guns feel punchy and tear apart cover, spraying dust and debris about the destructible environments. Thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine, everything blows up and chips away beautifully. Dust and clouds of smoke obscure the battlefield as tracers stream over your head and damage your cover. It can be intense when everything is working properly. When the occasional cover glitches and visual oddities do occur, it can be frustrating and result in unfair deaths. These glitches aren't terribly frequent but do detract from the experience. My favorite part of Army of Two's combat is the appropriately named Overkill mode. As you eliminate targets, the Overkill meter fills. Activating it will unleash an invulnerable, infinite explosive ammo warmachine. You can easily lay waste to ten guys without blinking, and if your partner has his filled, activate both for slow-mo and extended Overkill time. It's excessive and gratuitous but fun. The cartel members break apart, piece by piece, in a satisfyingly awful manner. As fun as the combat is, Army of Two still suffers from a general lack of polish. Hit detection can be fussy and bullets sometimes clip through cover. The visuals, though great when things are exploding, are not great upclose. Character models are especially bad and look a bit like plastic action figures. In contrast, the audio is well done. The voice actors do a decent job of selling their lines and the weapons positively roar. Explosions have that special "oomph" factor and adds weight to the chaotic destruction. As many problems as this game has, I still find it incredibly fun. If you have a partner who can play splitscreen, I guarantee hijinks will ensue. Rushing to save a downed buddy for that life-saving shot of adrenaline, only to be downed right after, is hilarious. Not to mention dual Overkill is absolutely ridiculous. I can think of few things as entertainingly violent and explosive as Army of Two. It's dumb, simple-minded fun. If you're looking for a grade-A shooter, this ain't it. Visceral did a good job of trying to overhaul the series but made a number of missteps. The Devil's Cartel takes a few steps forward while taking several steps back. It's not a bad game, but I can't recommend it at the $60 pricetag. When it drops in price, I do recommend it for the crazy gore, ridiculous set-pieces, and huge explosions. It's disposable, but entertaining fun. Pros: + HUGE EXPLOSIONS + Fun with a partner + Great combat and weapon building + Strong audio and voice work Cons: - Some glaring glitches - Lines can be hamfisted - Plot isn't that great - Visuals can be dated at times Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Army of Two isn't a great game, but it's fun if you're looking for gratuitous violence and entertaining co-op action.
  5. Code of Princess is nearing its October 9th release date, and Atlus has bestowed upon us a look at the action RPG's co-op mode. Up to four players are able to play competitively -- either cooperatively or against each other. Both modes will be available locally and through Wi-Fi. On top of that, we're also given a sneak peek of some sample pages that will be in the Code of Princess Sound + Visual Book. The art book and music CD will be included with every launch copy of the game. Check out our previous coverage on Code of Princess to learn more about this eye-catching RPG from Agatsuma Entertainment and Atlus.