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My Thoughts on The Last of Us

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It’s been a while since the first time I’ve heard of Naughty Dog’s PS3 exclusive, The Last of Us. If you’ve read some of my earlier stuff then you already know that I’m a huge zombie fan. I’m probably the only person in the world who says “Oh great, another zombie game/movie/comic” unironically. Come to think of it, I’m the only one who does a lot of things unironically. But anyway, I was a little surprised when I saw the gameplay trailer and seemed to lose all interest in the game. Let me show you:

I’m not sure why I felt so uninterested about the game. Maybe it’s the style the game is. It reminds me of the first Uncharted game, where it has a big and beautiful environment, yet a single  linear path to traverse it. It just seems like I would end up spending a lot of time trying to find where I’m supposed to go. This was only reinforced by the way that the gameplay demo is so scripted. It was as if I were watching a cutscene trailer, not footage of someone playing. It was as if the game wasn’t even being played by a human. But I suppose after a 169-hour energy drink and candy fueled workweek, the part of the programmer that makes him a person has died a long time ago. But I digress.

The story trailer from the Spike VGAs got me a little bit more excited. Just a little bit, though. Originally, it appeared that it was just the two main characters trying to make it through the world months if not years after the breakdown of society has disintegrated into “shoot first, don’t give a crap about asking questions later”. But now it seems that there are some elements of  a post apocalyptic community. This reminds me of The Walking Dead‘s Woodbury. Oh, and for a game that’s called “The Last of Us”, there seems to be a lot of people running around. Will someone please tell Naughty Dog that Steve from Marketing needs to be let go? Anyway, this new information on the story is kind of cool, but for some reason I just can’t get into this game. Maybe it’s my instincts warning me that beyond all logic this game is going to suck. Don’t quote me on that, though.

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Suburgatory Whored Itself Out to Microsoft

Escape is not an option? I have a feeling child actors hear that a lot.

Escape is not an option? I have a feeling child actors hear that a lot.

Like a lot of people, I’m a big fan of sitcoms. If you’re a sitcom fan, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a rare treat to find one that isn’t either “adventures of a marginally quirky girl” or “it’s like Sex in the City, except we don’t know we’re not funny”. One of the current shows I actually like is Suburgatory. The show is about a teenage girl named Tessa who moves from New York City to a snobbish and prissy suburb. It’s not the best, but it’s worth checking out if you’re flipping channels. I actually had a good amount of respect for the show. Tessa is a great character (a great character who is also my age, which is rare). It even explores the concept of a neglectful mother, which most pieces not produced by an obnoxiously self-righteous black man seem afraid to do. But last week’s episode sure tried its hardest to make me forget all of that.

Last week’s episode has a plot for Tessa, her friend and her dad. Her friend just broke up with her boyfriend and her dad was trying to convince his old friends from the city that he hadn’t gone soft. And what was our hero Tessa’s story for the episode. She got a tablet. That’s about it. It was a Microsoft Surface. The episode is filled with Tessa describing her experience with the tablet as if it was a healthy, human relationship. Although, the name is never said, it’s pretty clear that Microsoft paid some big bucks for this episode. To give some context, I’ll explain a little bit more about Tessa’s character. She’s smart and level-headed. As long as I’ve watched the show, she’s never even showed a sign of being a geek. Out of all the characters, she would be the least likely to become obsessed with material objects. So it makes no sense for her to talk about the tablet so much. It isn’t even the old recycled “character gets obsessed with new gadget then learns the value of moderation” plot. Tessa using the Surface doesn’t cause conflict or advance the plot. It’s just there. You could literally go back and edit the episode, doing minimal edits to replace her tablet with a boyfriend, and the story would make much more sense without changing anything major.

You're at the club and this guy gropes your girlfriend. WHAT DO YOU DO?

You’re at the club and this guy gropes your girlfriend. WHAT DO YOU DO?

I really hope that this doesn’t start a trend. We don’t need an episode of The Walking Dead where Glenn risk his life trying to raid an Apple store. I don’t want to see an episode of 30 Rock with 12 minutes of Tracy playing his Xbox. It shouldn’t become a thing where you can literally run a clip of a TV show as a commercial without a hint of irony. I don’t know if it was the writers, or the producers or ABC who let this happen. But whoever gave the greenlight to let Microsoft write an episode needs to be strapped into a chair and forced to watch Wedding Peach until they forever know what bad TV looks like (which should take all of about ten minutes. It is Wedding Peach after all).

The Late Night Gamer is an independent gaming blog sponsored by Chunky Puffs, Capsule Corp. and Aperture Science. Follow it on Tumblr!

Skyrim Impressions (Shut up; I Know I’m a Year Late)

Skyrim came out a year ago and I’m probably the only one in the world who hasn’t played it until now. I could only get the game on the PS3 and back then the game was disgusting with bugs for the system. Even though they were pretty hilarious, I wasn’t going to pay $60 for a broken game. Now that the game’s been patched and the glitches have been (mostly) sorted out, I figured that it was safe to buy the game for half off. I’ve played plenty of games, but without a doubt I have more to say about Skyrim than any other game I played.

For those who don’t know, Skyrim is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series. Just for the record, I know nothing about the series except that Toonami reviewed Morrowind and Ethan McManus nearly killed himself trying to get an early copy of Oblivion. In Skyrim, you’re about to be executed when a dragon swoops down and burns up the whole city. The land of Skyrim is in a civil war, and after you escape you decide which faction to support. Like most people I decided to go with the side that didn’t try to cut off my head. I was surprised how quickly I broke away from any semblance of linearity. I did it so fast that my prison buddy kept talking about his uncle in the next town without even realizing that I had ran off and started mountain climbing. Let me tell you, I am extremely impressed at how beautiful this game is. I actually went around sightseeing before I decided to go to town and get my first mission.

Trust me, you’ll literally spend more time just dicking around here than it takes to complete a Call of Duty campaign.

I made my way into Riverwood and befriended a shopkeeper who had been robbed of some golden claws. After being assured that he wasn’t talking about the Shen Gong Wu I told him that I would return it in the next 8-10 years depending on how easily distracted I get. I also decided I wouldn’t rob him blind and kill his sister (yet). You know, there really is something terribly wrong with Riverwood. I got into a fight and killed a guy my first day there. I returned weeks later and his body is still there in the street. What the hell, guys? Are you so lazy you’re just gonna let your neighbor decompose in the middle of town?

Nod to Antigone or lazy programming? You decide.

Anyways, my advice is to get familiar with the map system as quickly as you can. It took a day and a half of running in circles before I got to the next town. I finally made it to Whiterun, completely by accident and covered in the blood of animals and an elf who looked at me funny. I got there, blinked and before I knew it I killed a dragon and had a personal bodyguard who, with a wink, swore she wasn’t my concubine.  I then backed away slowly and discovered that the knack to flying is not throwing yourself at the ground and missing, but is pissing off a club-wielding giant.

Come on, just hard enough to get me to Ivarstead.

After completing a few quests and liberating countless corpses of their valuables I find myself constantly needing to drop items to keep from overburdening myself. You see, in Skyrim you can pocket just about anything except horses, which you can steal but no matter how hard you try refuse to fit your coat. Since we’re all kleptomaniacs here (right?), it is essential that every adventurer buys a house. Unfortunately, when I talked to the realtor, I found out the house costs about 5 times more than I had. He gave me a couple of hit jobs but they don’t do much. Once I had to kill a bandit leader and got paid 100 gold. That’s highway robbery! The bandit was literally holding more in his pocket when I offed him! A girl who sells fruits and vegetables paid me 250 to punch a guy who was flirting with her. Why can the Jarl’s (mayor’s) right-hand man only pay me 100 for murder? I guess I’ll check out the Companions Guild and see if they’re offering some better work. If not, I’ll just have to steal some keys and rob everyone blind. I was hoping to save that for later but I’m homeless and haven’t slept in ten days.

Maybe I can take out a mortgage and spread my murders over 30 years.

I’ve had Skyrim since Friday and now all those jokes about people ignoring everything else to play it seem totally reasonable now. I’ve played maybe 15 hours and to say I haven’t even scratched the surface would be an understatement. Once I really got into the game, I subconsciously started thinking of it as a time-consumer right alongside school, work and well, anything that requires me to put on shoes, really. My first time I played seven hours in one sitting and I was totally prepared to play two or three more. Now if you excuse me, I have an appointment with a poorly supervised horse.

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Screw iTunes

A few weeks ago I found something that I thought was a great idea executed horribly. It was a reality show called Start Ups: Silicon Valley. The premise is to show what it’s like to be in a startup in the Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, the show is pretty much just a cookie-cutter reality show, in a genre that could be accurately titled Pretty White People Throw a Party. But I won’t be reviewing that this week. I wanted to, but I can’t. I tried to download it on iTunes, but that’s what I get for being stupid. I’ll download it on my Playstation and probably review it next week. Now, on to the main event.

iTunes is probably the world’s biggest digital marketplace. If you can put it on an iPod, you can likely find it there. It’s really hard to believe that something so popular would be so darn difficult. It started out fine. I installed the program, and unlike the first time I did it, Apple did not take over my entire computer. That’s progress. I found the episode of Start Ups and clicked download. What’s this? I need an Apple ID to download it? Fair enough. I go to make one and it turns out I need credit card information. Yes, to have access to free, non-subscription based content I needed credit card information, reminiscent of shady online websites that require your social security number to play free online checkers.

Pictured: an Apple tech-support employee hard at work.

Since I don’t have a credit card and apparently my PayPal wasn’t good enough, I turned to the internet. After about an hour of hopping from forum to forum I found the problem. See, iTunes doesn’t just give you an option to not put in payment information. Oh no, that would make sense! You have to follow a hidden sequence of steps and the option will appear magically. Just like a video game cheat code! Isn’t that nifty? Turns out that you have to download an app (the last thing I wanted to download on iTunes). Oh, and if you tried to make an account before without getting an app first, say if you TRIED TO DOWNLOAD A TV EPISODE, your account is bad forever. If you don’t want to put in payment info you need to make a brand new account. So now I have an iTunes account with my Hotmail address. The Hotmail address that I only use for work and that one friend I have.

Well it took a long time but at least it’s smooth sailing from here, right? Of course not, you joker! After downloading the episode in 1080p (because I like my pretty white people to be in full HD), iTunes tells me that my computer can’t play it because it’s 1080p. What? Yes it can. It’s done it before, you dumb program. After resigning to redownload the episode in 720p, iTunes decides to bug out. Yeah, now I can’t download anything.

Well, that’s my rant. Unfortunately, I can’t just go and drop iTunes. Not because I have an iPod, but because of Apple’s stupid digital monopoly. It’s the only place where I can buy the entire Kappa Mikey series. It’s also the only place where I can get John Dies at the End a month before it comes out in theaters. And I will not let my hatred of iTunes deny me of cheesy cartoons and the movie version of my favorite book. But just know, that as soon as I download either I am de-DRM’ing the crap out of them.

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My Thoughts on the Wii U

It was like this day would never come but it’s close. Within a month the Wii U will be released in every region and the Eighth Generation of Video Games will be kicked off. I’ve talked about Nintendo and the Eighth Generation before, but I really haven’t said much about the Wii U specifically. My opinion on the console has gained more substance since it was announced back in E3, so I figured it’s about time I wrote about it.

My initial reaction to the Wii U was… well take a look at this. I mean, it just looked so gimmicky. But last week I was at Target, lurking the electronics section like I do whenever I’m forced to go outside, when I saw a kiosk for the Wii U. I picked up the controller and it was way more comfortable than I imagined. That’s not to say it felt good. No, it was too big yet not heavy enough. But I can see myself getting used to it. The thing was sturdy and it’s a pretty attractive piece of technology. I wish I could tell you what I thought of how well I think it can play games, but I can’t.

Allow me to go on a little tangent to let out some of my boiling rage. The kiosk had the Wii U and the controller, but I really didn’t get much out of the experience. Why, you ask? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T USE IT. The only thing the kiosk could do was show game trailers. It’s a quote-unquote “revolutionary” piece of technology and you can only use it as a glorified DVD remote. I seriously think that the Nintendo employee in charge of this was having some kind of existential crisis and decided that the best way to show off the new console was to not let people play any demos or even see what the dashboard looked like. BUT I DIGRESS.

I’m in my happy place. I’m in my happy place. I’m in my happy place…

Okay, back to the topic. A while ago I watched an unboxing video of the Wii U and I learned that the deluxe package comes with what’s called a Pro Controller. It’s for those of us who just want to sit down and play a game with not bells and whistles tied to our wrists. This may be the thing I like most about the Wii U. Making this kind of move is like a signal that Nintendo is ready to be taken seriously again in the console war. I hope that other people see is too and it isn’t just my childhood apophenia flaring up again. What I don’t like however, is the design. It looks like one of those third party Xbox 360 controllers you find at the Dollar Store. I guess Nintendo put so much time into the main gamepad they just said “screw it” and mangled some poor Xbox controller.

Last but not least is the games. Unlike the 3DS, the Wii U will be launching with a pretty decent library. That said, it could be better. At the time of launch, people would have played most of these titles on other consoles weeks ago. And yes, that includes the Mario game that Nintendo has been making since 1985. In my eyes, Wii U will live or die on its exclusives and third-party support. That means they need to either come up with new IPs or make games for those that have been collecting dust. It also means that the Nintendo version of triple-A games shouldn’t be watered down versions like they have been for the Wii. If it’s a no-brainer whether to get a game for Xbox or Wii U, it should only be because the Wii U version is so freaking good.

Oh, one more thing. I could write a couple hundred words on what I think about the Wii U’s online components, but I think John Cheese sums it up pretty well in items #5 and #4 of his article. Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts on the Wii U? Leave them below in the comments section.

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Project Zomboid Review

Greetings, gamer guys and girls. I am finally reviewing the game that I’ve been geeking over for the last few weeks. Project Zomboid is an indie game produced by The Indie Stone (get it? GET IT!? ). Unlike other games where you’re the conquering hero ridding the world of the undead, Project Zomboid is the story of how you die. There is no winning, only surviving longer than last time.

The main story of the game is called Til Death Do Us Part. You play as Bob Smith, an everyman just trying to get by. In escaping his last safehouse, his wife Kate injured her leg. You have to make this house (that you apparently broke into) a fortress and keep yourself and your wife safe. Or you can just forget about Kate. I’ve smothered her more times than I can count. Some would call it a mercy kill. I call it being stingy with my painkillers. Semantics.

[Ctrl-Alt-Del]
Sorry, honey. You knew what you were getting into when I forced you to marry me.

One of the unique things about this game is the crafting system. While it isn’t creative enough for Chuck Greene’s tastes, it’s a lot more practical. With some wood and nails you can make a barricade or a wall. Tear apart your sheets and make bandages. My favorite is, of course, combining cheese with bread to make a cheese sandwich. If you can’t have a cheese sandwich every once in a while then what’s even the point of playing a zombie game?

Another feature you’ll notice is that there are more things affecting your character’s status than in any other game. Click on the heart icon on the left side of your screen and you’ll get a detailed report on your body right down each limb. On the right side you’ll see little moodlets, appearing when your character is anything from “Peckish” to “Utterly Shitfaced”.

I’ve spent hours on this game and it is one of my favorite zombie games. Sometimes I try to go through like I would in a real zombie apocalypse, others I just screw around. I have a great time every playthrough. I suggest this game to anyone reading this article. Tell your friends. You can pick up the game here. The game’s also been greenlighted for Steam, so be on the lookout for that. The game is still being developed, so you play the game as its being built. This of course leads to a lot of bugs and inconsistent versions, so if that turns you off just wait until you can buy it on Steam (also, anyone who buys the game at all will get it for free on Steam). Now if you excuse me, I have to go hide in the bathroom while zombies eat my wife.

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