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Impressions: Dragon Age and that other Bioware game…

Posted by deckard47 on November 6, 2009

So I played an unhealthy amount of Dragon Age last night. I now have two characters, a female City Elf Warrior (dual wield, thinking of going Templar and Berserker for her) and a male human noble Rogue (dual wield backstab specialist, going assassin and dualist). I liked both origin stories, although I’m still unsure what I think about the City Elf origin. It was extremely unpleasant in its subject matter, and the way the bad things were portrayed (rape, murder, and racist oppression) were very abrupt and matter-of-fact. It was very George R. R. Martin, which I don’t really mean as a compliment (to Martin, that is). I’m not sure, as I said, how I feel about it. Another playthrough is in order before I come down hard on Bioware (if I come down hard).

I think he brutalizes his characters just to show how REAL his world is, and I got tired of watching him murder, rape, and abuse them after a few books. Bioware likes its characters more, and isn’t as willing to destroy them to keep their world Dark, which endears them to me. I like people who like the fictional worlds and people they create.

I also love Alistair and the Dog. Alistair is hilarious (the actor who plays him does a great job), and the Dog is really impressive in how it is animated and characterized. I already like it better than the Fable 2 dog. But back to the origin stories. It is obvious that Bioware was keen to create emotionally charged stories, and I think they succeeded. As a City Elf, I was perfectly happy to murder the man who had my friends murdered and raped, and my fiancée killed. My only complaint was that we didn’t get to know any of the elves in the alienage. As a noble, I met and got to know my whole family. Thus, when they were murdered while I slept, and their murderer escaped, I was ready to track him down and kill him. And then stupid Duncan whisks me off to fight the Blight. It made sense as a delaying tactic narratively, but I wanted to get straight to the revenge. I still don’t know what happened to my brother. Is he dead too?

The combat is uniformly excellent all of the skills have their place, as do the spells, potions, poisons, and various abilities. I’m still trying to figure out how to use traps well… I suspect I’m not being sneaky enough with them. I really enjoy playing as a back stabbing Rogue. It’s much more complex tactically than playing my fighter is. I can already tell that I want to play certain classes as certain races. Right now, it breaks down like this: Dalish Elf/Warrior Sword Shield, Dwarf Commoner/Ranger, Elven Mage. I will of course play all of the origins eventually, but I want to do it too much for fear of overplaying Ostragar and the Korcari Wilds.

Finally, I think I like the morality system better in this game: it doesn’t exist. Instead, you can make people in your party like you or not like you, just by doing things they would or would not like. So far I’m sucking up to everyone, but I might make my human be a little more picky. Also, I love Sten. I really need to talk to him more. It’s a huge game, and I love wandering about and fiddling with things, talking to my party members for hours (really, I spent an hour buttering up Morrigan, Alistair and Leliana), and fighting tough, exciting battles. Oh, and as expected, the lore is deep, well-written, and very fun to read. I’ve read every one, from the religious songs and histories of the chantry to the constantly-updated history of my doomed noble house.

So, after reading this, I hope you get the sense of how big and varied this game is. All of that was just me rambling about what I like. I could have talked about a dozen other things (gifts, armor set bonuses, shape changing!), and lauded those things just as much. It’s a great game, and it has its faults, but it’s the best RPG I’ve played since Mass Effect, and it’s great in a way that is very different from Mass Effect.

Which reminds me. Here is an absolutely amazing set of videos from Mass Effect 2. Things to note: Garrus, I love you! The dialogue and cutscenes look even better this time, as do the character’s reactions and expressions. I can’t wait for this to drop!


Posted in Impressions, Videos | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Impressions: Waiting in the Torchlight

Posted by deckard47 on October 26, 2009

The first and most important order of business involves our guy Mal. This video from Castle (not great) of Nathan Fillion (great!) dressed up as Mal breaks my little heart. Shit, he even walks like Mal here. It’s almost cruel.

I don’t know why I write those “Clever” titles up there. It’s the kind of thing a horrible Yale graduate working for the NYT gets paid way too much money to do for a certain kind of article. Oh well.

This weekend belonged to two games, Torchlight and Tropico 3. Tropico 3 because I am really bad at it. I played the same scenario (the first mission of the campaign) for hours, suffering from bankruptcy, political defeat, and other indignities. Finally, I created a stable economy (more focus on cash crops and less on plain old food) and managed to start kicking ass. We’ll see how the next scenario goes. As it goes, here are my thoughts, so far: it is extremely pretty, the music is catchy, and I like the building/gameplay UI and interface. On the other hand, it is offensive in a reductive, Othering way, and as a result all of the voices/writing are kind of racist. I suppose when a game is called Tropico and has a bearded “Generalissimo” on the front you should expect this kind of shit.

Torchlight, on the other hand, I love and adore unabashedly. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. It’s as if Diablo II got very pretty and lush and almost Borderlands-y (with a bit of WoW), got rid of those dour riffing guitars and replaced them with slightly more instrumental stuff (the music is still beautiful though, and done by the guy who did the music for Diablo II, I think), and added in a ton of cool little things that make the whole game a jaunty, familiar, sublime experience.

I mean, you have a cat companion! She can take your items back to town and sell them for you, bringing up the question: how do they communicate with the vendors? Perhaps, as I’ve always suspected, they ask the the Question of the Animal. Which translates to “will you buy these Sabatons?” There, I just saved you all the trouble of reading any fucking Derrida. Win.

You can fish for fish (which turn your cat into spiders, elementals, and more), you can learn, cast, and level up spells, you can dual wield with anybody, and specialize with in any weapon skill with anybody. My Alchemist dual wields a wand and a hammer, my Vanquisher (lvl 20, I think) rocks it with two pistols, and my Destroyer is still getting off the ground. The enemies are all cool-looking and interesting (I think these are the prettiest blobs ever to slime RPG players), and there are a fair number of fun little “puzzles” and secrets. Enchanting and socketing is really fun, as are the awesome mini-dungeons you can buy from vendors. They sell you a map, which when used teleports you to a small 2-level dungeon. You can’t TP out, so you’re stuck there with your potions and items, and you have to get to the end to escape. It makes things much more tense.

Really, it’s Diablo, without some of the more “hardcore,” needlessly gamer-y elements. It isn’t about punishing you for dying (you have three different options when it comes to resurection, and they all make sense), or leveling wrong, or buying the wrong thing. It’s about letting you have fun, and then getting the hell out of your way. And the music really is amazing. Check it out, over at the cool Torchlight site.

Really, I’m completely taken with this game. I played from 9:30am to 5pm yesterday, and built three characters. Most of my time went into my Vanquisher, who is really fun to play. She uses guns and traps, and my cat (named “Battle Cat,” of course) helps out a lot, when I haven’t turned her into an Ent. Playing it is an effortlessly  enjoyable experience. It’s like playing the new Prince of Persia. You have so much fun, and you do it in an enthralling world whose goal is to subtly trick you into having even more fun. I can’t imagine Dragon Age or Borderlands will be able to attain this level of easy fun. I think Borderlands will come close, but it’s going to be a bit more intense, a bit more tricksy. I feel like this two-week period is a great time for PC RPG players (honestly, screw the console versions of Dragon Age and Borderlands). We’re being treated to three great Western RPGs, and they’re each quite different from each other. Lucky us.

Still very excited for Borderlands though. These two are going to suck away all of my time. I lead a rough life.

Posted in Impressions, Videos | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Interesting Things

Posted by deckard47 on June 10, 2009

Sorry to do another of these posts, but since I don’t have Randy Pinkwood at my disposal, these will have to do for now.

Here’s a ton (5 minutes worth) of zombie fighting from Left 4 Dead 2. Why is everyone so angry about this game again? I think it looks sweet, and when I contemplate those many other sweet 60 dollar deals I could be finding, I think I’ll stick with Valve, thank you. I mean, isn’t anybody else excited to see where they take their background, as-you-play characterization and dialogue? I am! Are we only able to conceive of new games as new missions, graphics, and weapons? I’m excited to see what changes, large and small, they make. I’m not sure how else to put this: they’ve never made a game I didn’t love (except Half Life. Please don’t hurt me).  I think I’ll allow them to try and work with their formula, try some new stuff, and deliver a better, different product.

Speaking of games that didn’t change much between sequels (unless you count that horribly unimportant story), Max Payne 3 is being slowly teased. I’m not sure how to put this, but the new info on Max Payne made me want to laugh a bit. I guess he’s even more depressed and stuff now? He’s gained some wait and lost a lot of hair? He’s living in South America (oooooh, so depressing! How does he carry on?) too. Take an (amused) look: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in News, Videos | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

New Drake’s Fortune E3 Trailer is AMAZING

Posted by deckard47 on June 5, 2009

First of all, here it is. Second: Elain’s back! Yay! I’m fine with new friends, but the voice actress who plays Elena (Emily Rose) not only has great chemistry with Drake as a foil to his asshattery, she rocks a lot. Also, the rest of the trailer is just sweet. It mixes the “oh shit I don’t know what I’m doing” Drake with the “I’m kind of a badass” Drake. There’s no way I’m not going to absolutely love this. Fall can’t come soon enough. Oh, and the multiplayer is pretty sweet too. I suck at it, strangely. This is all so exciting.

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Random Updates (meaning Dragon Age and Heavy Rain)

Posted by deckard47 on May 19, 2009

I’ve nothing terribly exciting to talk about today, except a list of stuff I thought was interesting. Now, to the linking!

Sneaky Update: My Evochron Legends review is up at Gametopius… I liked this game, way more than I liked X3, for instance. This might make you ask me why I wrote about X3 in such a glowing/angry way over at GSW. The answer is I hadn’t gotten in to Evochron Legends yet and thus hadn’t seen the light. Evochron Legends is a really interesting, impressive game, and if you like space sims, try this one before you hit up its competitors. The BSG physics alone are cool to play with, but it’s also fun and easy (once you get over the mile-high learning curve at the beginning).

The Dragon Age site has a new video and screens up of the (apparently) important War Dog that will be eating you (or your enemies?) a lot. It looks scary and big, and makes me hope that you can have one in your party in some way (although that might be weird). Anyway, the video is cool and all, as are the pictures. They’re really serious about character models getting bloody. One of these dogs looks like it showered in blood. I am struck (again) by the fluidity of the animations in these videos. Not necessarily the facial work, but the bodily motion of people and animals. Neat.

1up is using all of this week to slowly dribble out information on Heavy Rain (which is now called Heavy Rain: Origami Killer, in a move I can only call “highly amusing”). That’s the next game after Farenheit (from French developer Quantic Dream), which looks all kinds of cool. Right now they only have an interview with the studio head up, but it looks like they’ll be releasing some actually cool stuff soon (character reveals, gameplay videos). Stay tuned, I suppose.

Nothing else new is occuring to me. Still plodding through Mass Effect, finishing up Plants vs. Zombies and Defense Grid: The Awakening. The last is peculiar in that it gets so hectic I’m not always sure why I win/survive. I have fun doing it though, which should be enough for me. I’m also trying to be nice to Dokapon Journey, but it’s trying my patience. Mostly it has to do with the fact that my success seems almost 60% luck-based, and because I only kind of enjoy playing it even when I’m winning. This is a board game-RPG, right? What’s wrong here?

Valve outdid itself, compelling me to play TF2 without actually having seen the new movie that’s such a big deal (I watched it eventually, it is indeed amusing), eagerly awaiting the updates for the Spy and the Sniper, my favorite “I’m not actually that great at them” classes.  Been playing a lot of TF2 as a result, and as always I play the Medic exclusively. He’s fun and no one else plays him! Oh, and I believe that Demon’s Souls will be shipping to me soon. Terribly excited for that one. There’s a new piece on it over at Bitmob, if you’re so inclined. I’m really looking forward to this, despite not having the time to play it. Thaks for being in the way, TF2.

Posted in Impressions, News, Videos | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Uncharted 2 Singleplayer: Updated 5 Minute Video

Posted by deckard47 on May 15, 2009

I’d be remiss if I let Mass Effect 2 steal all of the thunder today. Other games need thunder too. Like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I’d be especially remiss if I didn’t clue you in one Mr. Drake’s latest (admittedly only minorly sexy) escapades, which involve a video of him shooting and punching some dudes (with what looks like some cooler, enhanced hand-to-hand combat), and then almost getting blown up. Sweet. Here you go. I’m happy to say that the bottom half of his pants are wet after he jumps in the pool. The magic is back!

Update: Here is the new video, via Joystiq. It’s 5 minutes long, and shows scenes from before and after what’s shown in the above video. What it shows us is that the platforming and exploration will be much more integrated into the experience (to the point where I was wondering why the person playing didn’t have their gun out all the time), and the combat looks even more fluid and dynamic than before. The melee kills look just a bit more smooth (and they already worked pretty well), and most importantly, stealth kills will obviously be a much bigger part of play. Check it out, it’s well worth the 5 minutes.

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Update: Dragon Age + Thief 4

Posted by deckard47 on May 12, 2009

As you might suspect, this post is concerned with one of my favorite franchises and one of my favorite developer’s new games.

Dragon Age has a new trailer out, which has to be viewed on two levels. The first is: what the hell is that song doing in there… It’s called “This is the new shit,” by Marilyn Manson, and it sounds like the new shit smeared all over a set of speakers. It’s awful, and a very unsuccessful attempt by PR people at EA to make the game more “h4rdkore,” or something. I’d recommend watching it sans sound, but there is some dialogue in there, so maybe you’re willing to sit through it. Here it is, ready to scar your eardrums:

Now, I’d like to address the fact that this trailer reveals a few things: people will be really mean to each other and stab each other in-cutscene in this game, which seems George R. R. Martin-esque to me. People will be very bloody, as well. Finally, people will have creepy-looking sex. That’s all well and weird, but I’m excited by how smooth the animation looks. I’m not alone in thinking that this is where cutscenes (that are in-engine) need to go? The battle scenes look chaotic, yet the actors all look like they have a sense of weight and heft as they stab each other. This isn’t like watching Neverwinter Nights 2 or Fallout 3‘s battle animations and snickering. These characters look amazingly good, in that weird Bioware way. I know it’s all scripted, but think how the scripted in-game animations for most games look…

Anyway, I’m hopeful, especially if Bioware manages to escape from the Xtreme Hardcore hole they and EA are digging for themselves. Time will tell. There’s an interview here with Mike Laidlaw, the game’s lead designer. Some of it sounds cool, and some of it worries me. This gives me hope for the game’s PC-ness, if you’ll allow me that almost meaningless word:

But you can tune right in, and set it so that – say – if my elf is less than this percentage health, I want you to do the following things… When we give that level of control, you can take some of the micromanagement away so you don’t have to flip between them all, all the time.

I like the sound of that. But oh no, I speak too soon:

The nice thing is that it’s all player-driven, when you think about it. Is there sex in the game? Sure… it supports the concept. That’s why I talk about lust. It’s more about sexuality than just sex. Because otherwise that’s childish. But it’s really based on the player’s experience. And some of your party really are quite cute and flirtatious. If you go I-am-not-interested-in-talking-to-you-I-have-a-dragon-to-kill, then that’s cool. That’s your game. But I want to make sure it reacts to that. That they react to that.

Um, I guess I like the fact that you can avoid sex, but I’ll wait and see if it actually is about sexuality. And that’s assuming that will be a good thing anyway. Plus won’t it be weird to have your perpetually silent hero having sex with a talking person?

Ok, I apologize for this, but there’s also two write-ups of the new level that was demoed for press recently. Joystiq’s is pretty basic, and talks about how the game was fun/difficult. 1up’s is really fucking exciting. They talk about how the game will have spells and counterspells (think Cloudkill v. Zone of Clean Air, Globe of Protection v. Breach, and protection from Physical v. Magic Missile from BG 2. Yeah, I just went there), and spell combinations. That’s two dissimilar spells when cast together unlock a new, combined, badass spell (for people like me who don’t know what it means). They talked about the pause feature, the ease of control within combat, and the tactical nature of the fights. It sounds sweet:

Of course, when a BioWare employee who tests this very encounter for hours and hours on end is showing off his skills, the battle looks easy. The demo-er played in real-time for the whole encounter — never pausing at all. He switched rapidly between the four party members, and used a combination of hotkeys and tactical scripting (where you create a set of rules for each party member to follow when not being directly controlled by you) to tear through the encounter.

I want to be that person!

Oh, and Thief 4 (to be spelled Thi4f, wonderfully) was announced, to no surprise. I’m excited, but if this game delays my rabid consumption of Deus Ex 3, I will go to their studios and make mean faces at them. I guess that’s enough for now? I feel some kind of “series” coming on, perhaps a long, windy, discussion of why I love Clear Sky so much, piece by piece. If it happens, I apologize in advance.

Posted in Impressions, News, Videos | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

BG&E 2 Video!

Posted by deckard47 on May 9, 2009

Yes, here it is, I recommend you go watch it now! Are you back? What did you think? I think it looks like a bissare cross of BG&E and Mirror’s Edge. You have the perspective and cinematic camera of BG&E, but the pseudo-parkor and “combat” of Mirror’s Edge. I think it looks sweet. It is a bit weird how free running has suddenly become so hot in games, but I think that the platforming aspects of BG&E could only gain from these acrobatic antics. I know that some of my esteemed colleagues aren’t hug fans of the original, but I’m still excited, and I wonder (aside from a interesting story and setting) what the game will hinge on. It seems like combat and platforming will be back, in some form, but I suddenly hope that Jade is done being a photojournalist. Maybe she’s a different kind of investigator now? I don’t want them to scrap the whole sensibility behind her and her camera, but it would be interesting if they problematized it or made her use a different aid/medium for her investigations. Maybe kind of like Condemned? I’m not sure how one can make a cool, game-spanning mechanic like that, but I never loved the camera that much, and as Simon says (bwahahaa), the camera and the way it was treated in the first game were a bit of an issue. I should have linked to that article earlier, but it’s about Jade, the camera and “objective” reporting. Check it out, especially if you liked BG&E. Still. It looks pretty pretty. Excited!

Posted in Videos | Tagged: | 4 Comments »


Posted by deckard47 on April 28, 2009

Damn you Tom Chick. I was going to post something quick about Among Thieves, about I couldn’t care less how the multiplayer is, if they keep what made the first game great. Well he went ahead and already said it. He’s absolutely right, if the writing and style sucked, who would care how many players can go “head to head” or “duke it out” online? This won’t be what makes this game good. Still, I’m not worried or anything. It’s the same people, so I expect the rest of the game will be just as rocking as the first.

On another, lighter note note, my strategy to stop Chick from saying things I wanted to say involves a sandbag, some trashcans, a Denomolous-sized cage, a fake gun, and a planted key. Or maybe just future Tom Cruise.

Also, you’d better know what the post title references:

Posted in News, Videos | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

This Will be the Last Resident Evil Post Today

Posted by deckard47 on March 12, 2009

Really, I swear, I’m getting tired of those guys, all they do is ask for my brains. Anyway, the first official trailer of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronciles is out. It looks like a better looking sequel to Umbrella Chronicles, which I don’t mind, honestly. Once Owen gets back in town, I’m planning on hitting up House of the Dead and Umbrella Chronicles with him, so it’s good to know that they’re making another, and that it will be more “advanced.” Apparently, Capcom is also bringing us ports of the Wii conversions of RE Zero and RE Remake, both of which have been out in Japan for a while (both of which aren’t supposed to be any good). Too bad. I guess some people want a return to RE form, and some want more stuff like 4 and 5. I’m sure, either way, it’ll satisfy somebody, somewhere (it would be tough to top 5‘s bad moves, though). So, here’s the video, enjoy. Oh, and wait for some amazing dialogue: Leon “We should stock up.” Claire “What?” Leon “The weapons.” Fantastic.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Dante’s Inferno

Posted by deckard47 on February 24, 2009

Not much to say about this game or the new trailer, besides “looks cool, wonder if it’ll hold up to actual playing.” I will admit that it does have a head start in the me liking it department, especially over good old God of War. I mean, Dante must have something more to say than “I am the God of Waaaaaarrrrrrrr!” I want to mention again that every time I did that ringed Poseidon lightning shit, Kratos would yell that. It was so fucking dumb. Or he’d just roar. It was like controlling an angry William Riker: huge, frothing, dangerous, insufferable. Anyway, the monsters look interesting (especially the last room full of tentacle sponge mouths). Finally, as Owen pointed out, Wayne Barlowe (of awesome Barlowe’s Expedition fame), is working on the art and creatures. Let me just say, check out this book, its like Dinatopia in space but creepy. Anyway, must be going back to work, but this looked kinda cool, so I thought I’d bring it up (plus, I am the God of Waaaaaaaawwwwwr!).

Posted in News, Videos | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Mass Effect 2!

Posted by deckard47 on February 20, 2009

Mass Effect 2 teaser trailer! Yes! Watch it! What do you think? I’m excited, especially because we’ve been told that our actions (betraying/ helping the council, killing Wrex) will carry over to the next game. So excited. I guess that’s it, there are lots of little bits of preview out there to read, if you’re interested. To to prepare for a party! Bye.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Dragon Age, Over and Over

Posted by deckard47 on February 8, 2009

I’ve been remiss in not posting this, so here it is. There are a whole lot of Dragon Age videos from Comic Con, and these first two are of a new section ( I don’t think we’ve seen t before), where the mage hero and her cohorts attack a bunch of dark guys (who I know aren’t called “Morlocks,” but “Genlocks” is so close…), and eventually some mini-siege engines. That’s what the first two are of, and they spend most of their time in the game’s Mass Effect-ish camera mode, where characters can be controlled directly or put on auto-pilot (like ME or KotoR). I just realized that Mass Effect abbreviated spells me! Weird. Anyway, at the end of the videos they switch to the good old NWN/Baldur’s Gate 2 vision, which is good to see. I’m hoping that this will be runnable by whatever crap computer I have then, because it looks amazing. I really don’t want to break down and get the console version, we saw what happened with their last effort on a non-PC platform. There’s two other videos up there, one that shows the big battle cutscene (after you’ve lit the signal fire post-ogre killing), and a higher res version of the siege weapon assault that the first two videos show. In this last one, it seems like a non-Bioware person is playing. Instead of doing everything slowly, they switch between PCs at will, pausing as soon as enemies die, making sure everyone is doing their job. Good times. Looks like this might actually be “spiritually” related to BG after all. Excellent.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Slumdog, Drake, and Purple Gangsters

Posted by deckard47 on February 4, 2009

A lot of things (and by that I mean like, three) today, but first we’ll start with the most awesome: Dev Patel was on the Daily Show last night, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t follow this link and watch him joking about stuff with John Stewart. He’s awesome, in the movie and in this interview, and now I want to watch the movie again. Nothing wrong with that.

Second, Naughty Dog did a lengthy interview with Gametrailers about the next Drake game, Among Thieves. It’s not a ton of crazy or exciting stuff, but it just reinforces the notion I have in my head of these people as being really talented. The way he talks about level design, gameplay and acting are just awesome, I think. Below is the first video, the second half can be found over at Gametrailers.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Lastly, I’m waiting waiting waiting for Saints Row 2 to arrive, because ever since I blew through Crackdown, I’ve needed a new open-world action game to have fun with. I do of course still hop back into Crackdown every once in a while to find more orbs (so addictive!), but I’ve needed something else for a while now. I tried to go back to GTA IV (shame on me), but it drove me away with how not fun it is. I hate the driving, the shooting, and the story. Oh, and the way your battleship of a fucking avatar moves. And sprints. Awful. What’s left again? Regardless, the Saints stymied me today, but I plan on creating my fabulously scabrous gangster tomorrow sometime. See you in Stillwater.

Agh, one more note, I had an absolutely awesome experience in Left 4 Dead last night. Really chill people playing (on both sides, I know, amazing), and we all had a lot of fun. I should probably check to see if Hell is frozen over.

Posted in Videos | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Hype/Screens/Videos: I am reminded of Zeno Clash

Posted by deckard47 on January 30, 2009

I dunno if y’all saw that Steam advisory about a sweet new game using the source engine called Zeno Clash, but RPS has a very interesting interview/writeup about it, and I’d suggest checking it out. After that, I would also recommend checking out this rocking trailer from their site. The colors and art are amazing, the combat looks fun (and will hopefully be as fun to play). Basically, it looks like nothing I’ve seen before, so I’m eager to get my hands on it. Soon, it would appear, I’ll get my wish, and through Steam no less. Awesome.

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