Angry Robot

GTA IV Beats Halo 3 Sales Record!

Dammit! That’s okay I guess, yay for games making a huge assload of cash. $500 million in the first week and 3.2 million copies sold on the first day. Awesome for Take-Two and the industry in general, but what will the numbers look like next month? Word of mouth on GTA IV has been nothing but fantastic and it’s the game of the summer in many ways, but we’ll see if that translates to even more super buckets of dollars. It would be nice. I want games to sell gazillions of copies so that we can have more games as good as GTA IV as the norm and not the record breaking every once in a whiles they have been in the past.

Congratulations Take-Two Interactive!

DRM Issues With Spore and Mass Effect Make Me Mad

I don’t get it.

Why does this need to happen? Apparently, for PC users of Mass Effect and then Spore the status of the installation key must be checked and verified every 10 days. If you don’t have internet for some reason and it’s around verification time, well, no gaming for you. Much like when I couldn’t play all my Live games…grr.

So, it just feels a bit like punishing the innocent for the crimes of a pirating crew. The official post on the Mass Effect forums states that this info is just the way it is right now and it may change, but still way to put the fear of shitty situations in PC gamers.

I do know why companies are turning to solutions like this but it still angers me that the internet is required to play a PC game just for verification purposes. The whole Digital Rights Management argument is one I do admit to not fully understanding, but I hate feeling like I have to pay for and live with barriers that were created because of the actions of a selected group of freeloaders. Yeah, I said freeloaders. Downloading something once and and a while because it is too difficult to obtain in your country or something is one thing, but always downloading all music, tv, films, and games and never paying for it? That’s just pushing the limits of digital charity I think. I’ve always been of the mind that if you buy it in some form at some point in time then it’s okay to download it. That shouldn’t be abused though. People do create these things and they shouldn’t be robbed of payment simply because “it should be free”. It isn’t free, so pay for it. At least pay for some of it!

Gamers have to pay huge prices for games, that is true, but with the future of digital distribution and the elimination of discs and the transportation thereof the costs will one day go down. Still, it’s all a tricky and weird business right now I know that. I just don’t like legal customers having to deal with software ticks to keep the pirates away. They’re gonna crack it anyway, they always do. And they always will. Just the nature of software…if someone makes something eventually another will figure out how to unmake it.

Tested: echochrome

Pretty much all my friends and family who are gamers are currently addicted to GTA IV. That’s super cool and all, but for me no dice. Instead, I’ve melted into the frustrating, confusing, and utterly beautiful world of echochrome and I could not be a more happy addict.

This game is super tits peeps. Super.

echochrome is, for me, a perfect game. It combines seemingly simple lines and imagery with profound spatial problems which can be solved in a variety of ways, you just have to think of them. When I played the demo I was entranced by the music, the gameplay, and the beauty. But all my going gaga over how it looks and feels means nothing without explaining the whole point of the game.

It’s connect the dots, well, connect the Avatar with the Echoes. In this world there are five laws of perspective. Perspective Traveling dictates that if you can line up one pathway with another than they are actually connected and your character can move between them. A slight rotation can change an entire pathway, even if one level is high above another. Perspective Absence, which means that if you can’t see something it does not exist. If there is a gap in the pathway simply move the field of vision to block the gap and then your Avatar will walk across no problem. Perspective Landing, which means that if there is a black hole in the ground your character will fall directly below the hole. Place the hole above where you want to fall and you will fall there. Perspective Jump is exactly what is says and means when the character walks across a white circle on the ground they jump directly above (I still haven’t mastered this one yet). And Perspective Existence, which means that if there is a jump pad or hole in the ground if you block it by changing the view than it does not exist.

The laws determine what you can do in each level. There are fifty-six levels ranging from A level to G level in difficulty. I’m still in the middle of the Bs myself but man they’re already getting hard. Of course, I say that not having exactly the most spatially organized mind in the world. For those of you who love spatial puzzles this game is like the Holy Grail.

If the difficulty range isn’t enough to satisfy you, then create your own level! A level creator usually means nothing to me. D and Toku are the Dungeon Masters in this crew, but I tried it out just playing around adding holes and jump pads, making irregular shapes that don’t make sense in reality and stringing them around one another in an asymmetrical pattern (which annoys me to no end since I love symmetry). Then I played my seemingly impossible and random dreamscape. Huzzah! Success! Within a short period of time I had reunited three Echoes and won my map. I actually didn’t believe it. What I had thought was nonsense became sense. The unreal solidified in clear cut lines of logic. Really the only word that can describe my surprise is “agog”. I was agog. I was delighted.

For the same reason I feel I can’t play chess, I don’t feel I’m very good at design or map making. This game proved my insecurity was without merit. I truly believe that a newbie like me or a master like Toku can create maps that will work because this game engine’s sole purpose is to make sense out of nonsense. The five laws of this world defy your own senses and understanding of physics and open your mind to another reality. That is excellent game play. That is excellent game design.

I’ve spent hours focused and concentrated on this game, some times getting frustrated and having to move on to another map before finally figuring out another. But that is amazing to me, that wonderful brain workout that you’re not even aware your mind is going through because you are so entangled with the play. I actually feel really good each time I finish a map. Like it’s almost like a rush of adrenaline. I get a rush figuring out a “simple” puzzle! Brilliant.

This game is one of my favourite games so far this year. While all my friends are off being Niko Bellic I’m perfectly happy to stay a faceless, nameless, colourless Avatar. The game is available on the PS3 and PSP, I have both versions for home and mobile play. The PlayStation Store recently realigned their prices as well, so now Canadian prices are an exact match with American ones. Awesome. Both versions retail at $9.99 and I have to say, at the price of two Venti Soy Chai Lattes, that’s a perfectly fair trade for me. I spent way more on Brain Age and I never play that anymore. Math can suck it when I have to actually do it.

Spatial problems with no multiplication necessary?


Mushroom City Stories

Well… there have been two major games in my average day lately, one which has taken over my life like venereal disease.

First… the sucky one: Mario Kart Wii . I used to be a big fan of the Mario Kart Franchise… until the Game Cube. Here was my problem with Double Dash… they uped the sparkly factor. What used to be a fun, enjoyable ride of silliness turned into a manic dash of insanity. Mario Kart evolved into a spinning, tye-dyed mess of obnoxious light and sound. Yet I played it because it was still Mario Kart.

Enter: Mario Kart Wii. I fucking hate this game with a fiery passion. Now, not only are you bombarded not by 7, but 11 other opponents ceaselessly as you navigate poorly designed insanity while dodging weapon after weapon almost every five seconds but it seems that you can drop from first into twelfth in the blink of an eye. And… to make things “more interesting” new weapons have been added… pointless, stupid, weapons… The Pow Block, The Rain Cloud, Bullet Bill… all that is needed is a spinning, angry, dive-bombing sun and the arsenal is complete. Sweet Zombie Jesus… why not just strap a water pack on our backs (a la: Super Mario Sunshine) while we are at it. within the first rounds of Karting I hurled my controller into the couch and stormed off for half an hour (Nadine can attest to this).

The also included old maps… alright… cool… I did miss a few of those. But for the love of Jeebus, make them optional. We are playing this for the new shit, not the old. I will play the old maps if you let me, but I don’t want to be required to.

I played this game and felt like I was jammed into a dryer with a dozen angry midgets and several jars of glitter and set to “tumble dry.” I didn’t need this. I won’t be playing again.

Alright, Second: GTA IV


This has made me so friggin’ happy I am willing to forget the spiky anal probe of Mario Kart.

There are things that I don’t like, and due to my nature I’ll talk about those first: They took away the bicycles that were in San Andreas . I loved those. They were a joy to hop around on and a great escape vehicle and are sorely missed in my humble opinion. Second: They took away character building. Yes, it was a pain in the ass to go to the gym and work out or go to the gun range to improve your skill, but I really felt like it help connect you to the person you are playing in the game. Third: I am not thrilled that you have a cell phone and the internet. D may disagree with me, but I have a love/hate relationship with my cell and internet in real life. I never call people and I REALLY don’t like surfing the internet and I resent being required to use it in the game. Finally: The maintenance missions. I didn’t like the dating and territory claiming stuff from San Andreas because it would so often interfere with my rampages, or relaxed city cruises… and now you are asked to keep ALL of your relationships (friend or otherwise) up… blah…

Anyway, I’ll talk more about it later.

This game is so damn good looking, and the character interaction with his environment so clean you can’t help but fall into Liberty City… It’s Dirty… really dirty. People walk around in it talking to each other, talking to themselves, carrying any number of objects that they drop when startled. Nico Bellic himself is a brilliant testament to design… He is so imperfect. He falls over when he shins himself, he grabs his head when he hits it, he rolls when he hits the ground, staggers when he trips, stumbles when he is drunk… The environmental interaction is a wonder to behold…

I just like this game…

Anyway, enjoy the throwaway comic… it took longer that it looks.

Happy Monday: Wolfenstein's Sweet 16!

What! It’s only been sixteen years? Apparently so! I remember playing this after school in my darkened basement, then in my well-lit front room, then back in the basement when we moved the computer back again. I thought it was such fun, escaping from Nazis and then killing Nazis. Going around corners always freaked the hell out of me too…It was my first introduction into super killing games I think. Like with blood and shooting dogs in the face. I didn’t think of it as violent though, I thought of it as righteous.

I would love to play this on Live, but I have a funny feeling it would make me motion sick like Doom did when I replayed it. God, I hate being outdated…

Happy Friday: Golden Shower

Oh my god. Dudes. So for this Friday’s tune I give you Total Control by Golden Shower. The band consists of two guys and a computer virus, awesome. No, for serials it’s a great story.

Anyway, love this video. Robot Funk indeed…

Hardcore Nerdity!

Angry Robot is proud to present to you Hardcore Nerdity! A few of our good friends have banded together to bring their combined geek power to good use in the form of a new site and weekly podcast called Escape Pod.

This week they have an exclusive interview with X-Men and Watchmen screenwriter David Hayter, who is also the voice of Metal Gear’s Snake! Awesome. Check it out!

So please welcome them warmly and enjoy their views and interviews!

The First GTA IV Moments

Nico is a lot more appealing than I thought. In the trailers, you get the line “I killed people, I sold people” without any of the remorse that becomes apparent in the game itself.

But let’s begin with the world. I began by watching TV, and was reminded of a long-held opinion that the GTA games are best understood as comedy – satire, to be precise. And they are very good at it, their thoroughness more than compensating for their lack of subtlety. Work has led me to experience more than I would like of poorly-produced programs that worship rich people, and the GTA TV programming lampooned them right away. Rockstar should do a TV series for real.

The thoroughness: you know as you see ads for fake products on TV that you will see billboards for them elsewhere; that millionaire TMT will show up as a character later in the game. And you can’t help but marvel at the radio tracklisting. I don’t even know what to say about it.

I must confess that I got a little too taken up in the missions at first. I think Nadine was a little frustrated in San Andreas at the nature of some of the missions: go here, do this, and this exactly. The contrast to the absolute freedom you get by roaming around the world couldn’t be more stark. But I was obsessed with getting ahead and unlocking things. I’d like some threads that don’t make me look like a stereotyped Serbian immigrant. The world at first, despite the size of Broker & Dukes, feels constrained.

All the better to appreciate its breadth later, of course. I had a moment, one of those magic GTA moments, as I strode out on a rooftop and looked out across the river at the evening lights of Algonquin. I wanted to buy every Rockstar employee a beer. How it must feel, building something that enormous, detailed, beautiful.

Detail is the name of the game in this one, of course, and not in some nerd-compulsive HD-fetishistic way. It directly adds to the power of those GTA moments. This happened on a mission: I am told to go to a subway platform and kill a man. When I get there, his underling engages me and he flees. I run after him down to the street. He gets into his car. I shoot but my bullets plow into the door of the car, leaving individual bullet holes. He’s pulling away… I know if he gets free it will be a car chase across the city. I fire again, pushing up on the stick to get his head. It works; he slumps on the wheel and the horn sounds continuously.

“Will GTA IV keep the Iron Man audience at home?” Hell yeah, I’d say so.

D.J. Brotherson from Winnipeg, Canada, said he enjoyed the game so much, he wanted to skip work and keep playing all night, saying it was unlike any game he had ever played.

“The story line is very well-written,” he said, adding that the game “plays like an interactive Martin Scorsese movie.”

I couldn’t agree more, Brotherson.