Tower of Guns

image credit: towerofguns.com
image credit: towerofguns.com

Tower of Guns by Terrible Posture Games is deceptively simple first person shooter that I think older gamers will find enjoyable. Frustratingly hard at first you might be tempted to give up but close  your eyes and get in the mind set of those unforgiving FPS from the 90s.

Random levels, enemies, bosses, and power ups make Tower of Guns interesting if you are willing to accept death and start over again and again. Depending on how good you are a complete game session lasts anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour, but you will get better because you start to figure out what works and what doesn’t each play-through. You also unlock new weapons that might better suit your play style. You figure out how that weird spinning enemy attacks.

Chockfull of weird visuals, secrets, humor, and randomness the game grows on you  despite having barely any story or point beyond destroying everything (except maybe hugbots because they’re so cute… they just want a hug!). Were you once obsessed with Doom and Quake? You might like this quick blast from the past with some features that make it more fun in this modern era of gaming.

Fibbage (PS4)

Fibbage
image credit: jackboxgames.com

Fibbage is a 2-8 player game played with the Sony PS4 and your smartphone/computer/tablet. The Fibbage game asks obscure questions and you and your friends make up plausible answers. If your lie is picked you get points. If you pick the truth you also get points.

In our experience the game is best played with 4 people or more. There is a time limit to creating lies and picking answers which helps keep the game moving. If you submit the same answer as another player you both get points if that lie is picked. We haven’t seen repeat questions yet but we’ve only played about 10 games. So far everyone has really enjoyed playing and for $6.99 it is a great party game for a great price. I give it 4 fart noises out of 5 drunkenly misspelled words.

Nintendo preparing new hardware

With the success of the Wii, Nintendo is working hard on their next console.  Here are my predictions for the next Nintendo console:

  1. 4 Game Cubes = a Nintendo Sii!!!There will be no support for HD out of the box.  You will be expected to buy a special cable that will be extremely hard to find and if you are really lucky and the stars align just right and Nintendo does not go ultra cheap you might maybe just possibly get 720p, but my money is still on 480p.
  2. It will still not have a hard drive.  The new console will have a memory slot and you’ll be able to save your Mii Version 2’s on flash cards, but games like Rock Band will still require you to buy another disc for new songs, and no one will bother to make additional add-on content because it is such a pain in the ass.
  3. In an attempt to keep all the casual users hooked they will include motion control in the next console, but in an effort to be new and exciting they’ll forgo the controller and have a motion tracking camera called SiiMii that will work poorly because a $250 console isn’t going to be able to include a military-grade motion tracking camera.  The camera will require players to draw large red dots on their foreheads to properly track them.  Special markers for this will be sold exclusively at Game Stop.
  4. The media will be based off DVD technology, however we will either get square, triangle, or star shaped discs, just because.
  5. They will finally have support for mulitplayer gaming from 3rd party developers, however they’ll dumb it down so much that you won’t be able to see friends, join games based on certain attributes, chat, see stats, or setup rules for your own multiplayer match.  You will click a large button that says “PLAY ONLINE” and it will connect.  You will be teamed up with whoever Nintendo feels like and you will be promptly disconnected when the game is done.
  6. Widescreen games will be allowed but to avoid alienating retirement home gamers with square TVs developers will be required to make all their games 4×3 and then either crop to widescreen or stretch the image for widescreen TV owners.
  7. 2 years after the console’s release they will announce SiiMii-2, the replacement motion tracking camera that does a better job at camera motion tracking.  Developers will throw up their hands and start canceling game projects.
  8. The top selling games will be Super Mario Monkey Tree Farm, Mario and Friends Super Party Game Pack, Mario Kart Kollision Kaper (which will quickly become known as Mario KKK and will be renamed to Mario Diversity and Friendship Kart), Zelda and the Lost Hardcore Gamers, and 6 other games with Nintendo characters in the name.  There will be a total of 490 party games released for this console.
  9. They will start with a console name like Nintendo Fuse or Nintendo Ultra but end up naming it the Nintendo Sii (pronounced “see” as in it has a motion tracking camera that can see you).

Look for your Nintendo Sii sold out at a store near you sometime in 2010!

A Year in Review

Top tech, movie, tv, game, and music stories in 2007:

  • > The Nintendo Wii was unavailable for yet another Christmas shopping season. Nintendo seemed to care very little until the last minute when it was too late to do anything about it. If they don’t get their act together, your Grandmother, Nintendo’s new target audience, might riot.
  • > 2007 was one of the biggest years for video games with a ton of A-list titles released across all platforms. Halo 3 was the first video game to surpass any of Hollywood’s opening week theater sales. In fact, Hollywood blamed it for low ticket sales.
  • > Warner Music has agreed to put DRM free MP3s up for sale on Amazon leaving only one music label left to hold out.
  • > Speaking of music, the EMI label pulled funding from the RIAA potentially marking a change in the way the music industry treats it’s customers.
  • > Up to 20% of new HDTV owners will return their shiny new TVs and go back to 4×3 analog. Content is everything. HDTVs without high-def content is like the perfect screwdriver without any screws that work with it. Crappy video blown up 2.5 times is crappy video 2.5 times bigger.
  • > The PS3 finally has some decent games after a slow start, the Xbox 360 continues to get great games, and the Wii continues to have crap 3rd-party games.
  • > DVD sales have slowed because 1. People are waiting to see which High-def format wins. 2. Hollywood has been making shit movies for the last couple years. 3. Very few catalog titles are left to be released.
  • > 2007 was the year of the flat-panel TV. Sony has ditched rear projection televisions as of late December 2007. I predict Plasma will fade away next.
  • > Everyone suddenly realized after 25 years of electronics that they used electricity while “off”. I imagine once this “problem” is solved, people will bitch about electronics no longer having instant-on.
  • > Apple Computer became Apple Inc. due to the obscene amounts of money they make from iPod sales.
  • > DirecTV, Dish, Comcast, and Time Warner all scrambled to be the source for HD content. The crown easily goes to DirecTV, who seemed to add new HD channels every other week.
  • > The writer’s strike has doomed us to months of horrid reality TV and reruns. If the Actors and Directors also strike, we could be in for a year or more of no new television or movie content.
  • > The BCS, yet again, was a complete mess. I know they will never allow a playoff system, but college football needs it.
  • > Apple gave the world the iPhone and, once the reality distortion field faded, the world said “meh”.
  • > Microsoft gave the world Vista and almost immediately the world said DO NOT WANT!
  • > OLPC’s made their big debut in 2007 and if you have no idea what an OLPC is then you are not alone. The ultra portable devices failed to impress anyone. They are too expensive, screen is too small, and no one knows what they would do with it.
  • > Google announced Android, the open phone OS. A lot of people got excited, but I have a feeling we will be waiting a very long time before any phones actually ship with the OS.
  • > The HD format war was not decided. Every time it seemed like maybe there was a chance one side was winning the tables turned. Don’t count on the war being decided in 2008 either.

The winner for 2007? Video games. It is an industry threatening to take over Hollywood and has managed to work it’s way into non-gamer households thanks to the Wii. Bungie’s Halo 3 managed to be the top entertainment item of 2007 and broke every game sale record ever despite being released on only one platform. You know the game industry is becoming huge when 40, 50, and 60 million dollar budgets are being talked about for creating next-gen games. 2008 has some big shoes to fill when it comes to gaming.

Everyday Shooter

Recently released on the Playstation store for $9.99, Everyday Shooter by Jonathan Mark is a dual-analog arcade style shooter. While it may appear to be the same as every other dual-analog arcade shooter, as its name implies, Everyday Shooter actually feels much different. The screen shots and even video you may have seen of this game don’t do it justice.  You actually have to play the game to really see how unique this game is.

You are a dot in a world of lots of other dots and blobs who are either actively trying to kill you, or simply floating around in random patterns. You shoot dots out of your dot that kills the other dots and blobs floating around in your world. That’s it.

No super power ups, no shields, no deflectors, no multi-shot, no upgraded weaponry, no super bombs.

Just you and your dots shooting at other dots and blobs. It turns out this is fun, very fun in fact. The game is designed so you can win each level with just your dots being shot at other dots and blobs. The game doesn’t utilize gimmicky or cheap tactics to extend play time.

The game is hard. You start off with very few lives and it may seem like there is just no way to win even the first or second level, but there are two things that will help you. First, you collect points after you kill certain dots and blobs and these points can be turned in to buy more starting lives. Second, after playing a level a few times you start to get a feel for what the other dots and blobs are doing or going to do. They have patters you will pick up on. It was not an active effort on my part to figure out what the other dots and blobs were doing, I just kept playing through the game over and over. Each time I was a little better at staying alive because I learned how certain enemy dots and blobs move around the world.

What adds even more to this game is the music which isn’t just background, but a part of the game play. There is a  guitar based song for each level, but when you shoot and eliminate dots and blobs you add to the music with short guitar riffs and single notes. This makes a level unique each time you play it.

Some of the unlockable features of the game include single level mode where you can play an individual level rather than start from the beginning. You can also unlock a variety of visual effects making sure these handful of levels will get you quite a bit of play time.

In a world of 200+ person development teams and 100 million dollar budget games it’s nice to see one person can still make a great game without the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster.

5 words or less: Hard, great music, frantic fun.

6 out of 7

Warhawk

Warhawk BundleOnce touted as a Halo killer, Warhawk has arrived for Playstation 3 owners as of August 28th and is available either through the Playstaiton Store for $40 or retail locations for $60 (retail version includes extra video content and a Bluetooth headset).

Halo killer it is not. Development of the Warhawk single player portion of the game was discontinued and scrapped in favor of the development team spending their time perfecting the multiplayer. As Incognito told Sony: You can either get a mediocre single player and multiplayer game or a great multiplayer game.

With a single player story out of the way the only thing left to do is hop online and battle it out with other Warhawk owners. Sony offers many of their own servers (racks of PS3s) for online play denoted by the blue text in the server list, but you can also find a large number of games hosted by other players or create your own server. There is always a server with empty spots available, but not necessarily for the game play type you want (Capture the Flag, Death Match, Team Death Match, and Nodes). Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are the most popular, at least in the first week of Warhawk’s release. For those of you looking for a traditional Warhawk experience, you can join the dogfight-only DM and TDM servers.

Warhawk, originally intended as a flying-only game, might surprise many people with the quality of the ground battle it delivers. It has similar elements to the Battlefield series in terms of being able to jump into any vehicle (plane, jeep, tank, anti-aircraft gun) and start using it. While there may not be the huge selection of vehicles you get in the Battlefield game, you won’t notice since the action is incredibly fast. A dogfight can be going on above you completely separate from an intense ground battle giving you the sense that you are fighting in a much larger battle. That feeling is intensified with 32 player games, especially in Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, where crashing planes and exploding jeeps burst onto the scene while you battle it out with other players on foot.

Warhawk is fun, and often funny. A player may be sniped from a tower across the map, but once they respawn they’ll be jumping in a plane and lighting up that tower until the machine gun overheats and they are out of missles. I will often find myself saying “Is it over already?” when a game ends, usually oblivious to which side won. It really doesn’t matter to you who wins in Team Deathmatch because you were having too much fun lobbing grenades at the guy in the anti-aircraft gun who shot your Warhawk down a few minutes ago.

Warhawk jeep

The maps are big, with nearly end-to-end view distance. I was impressed with the variety of different landscapes, many with unbelievable heights to fight from. Some maps have land masses floating in the sky, designed for the Warhawk dogfight modes. The foliage, water, clouds, and Warhawks are all well designed. There clearly was no motion capture for the soldiers, and the tanks and jeeps leave something to be desired visually, but due to the fast paced action they are not a hindrance to the fun.

My biggest complaint with the game is the Sixaxis control. You can turn it off, but it will put you at a disadvantage since you will lose one of your analog sticks (the aiming stick, in fact). Sixaxis works and can work well… if you are out for a leisurely flight to take in the sights. Unfortunately, you are usually being targeted by guided missiles, RPGs, and anti-aircraft nearly from the moment you spawn. The problem I have is the delay. When I rock the Sixaxis to the left or right I want the plane to turn right away, but there is a slight delay that throws me off just enough to cause me to either crash into something or overcompensate and make a wrong turn, taking me off target. Using the analog stick results in instant control, but as I said this puts you at a disadvantage. I haven’t tried Sixaxis in any other games to compare to Warhawk. If this is a common issue, it makes the last-minute motion control add-on by Sony a gimmick and not a great control feature. Sixaxis control cannot be assigned to just the plane, so you have to go into the menu and turn it off if you want to use the Jeep or Tank without Sixaxis (trust me, you do).

My second problem with the game is the server list and join-game system. Warhawk will pull down the 1000+ servers and you’ll see 27/32 players on one which means there should be 5 slots available. In my experience you have about a 10% chance of getting in on that server. It takes about 30 seconds for it to tell you the server is full, then you have to reload the entire server list again. This is dumb and is the biggest reason you won’t be able to connect up and have a quick game before you go shopping, out to eat, or wait for your significant other to undress. They need to update number of players (and other server information) on the fly as you scroll through the list of servers. Update: You can press the triangle button to update the server information when you have a server selected, but it continues to say things like “22/28” and return “Server Full” messages despite this supposedly updated information.

Warhawk can be a load of fun once you connect to a server. If you can successfully use the Sixaxis controls, it will make the planes a blast to play and add so much more to the Warhawk experience. In the dogfight battles there were a number of moments where I saw a glimmer of what fun the air battles could be with more a responsive Sixaxis controls, but for me the real fun can mostly be found on the ground.

5 words or less: Sixaxis issues, fast, fun, funny.

5 out of 7