My Top Ten Video Games of 2014

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by Gothamghost in Video Games - (0 Comments)

10. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze – WiiU

9. Dragon Age: Inquisition – PC

8. Broken Age – PC

7. South Park: The Stick of Truth – PC

6. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Xbox One

5. Persona 4 Golden – PS Vita

4. This War of Mine – PC

3. DOTA 2 – PC

2. DayZ – PC

1. Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor – Xbox One

Honorable Mentions:
1. Broken Age – PC
2. PS Vita Library

Games That I Didn’t Get Time To Play That Probably Would Have Made This List:
Shovel Knight
Super Smash Bros – WiiU
Far Cry 4 – PC
Wolfenstein: The New Order – Xbox One
Mario Kart 8 – WiiU

Biggest Disappointments:
Watch Dogs (undoubtedly)

My Top Ten Video Games of 2013

January 15th, 2014 | Posted by Gothamghost in Video Games - (2 Comments)

10. The Stanley Parable

9. Grand Theft Auto V

8. Rogue Legacy

7. Gunpoint

6. Super Mario 3D World

5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

4. Fire Emblem: Awakening

3. Bioshock Infinite

2. Last of Us

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Honorable Mentions:
1. Spelunky, it would be high on this list except technically it wasn’t released in 2013.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD; It is one of my favorite Zelda games and so that makes it one of my favorite games period. But it is an HD remake and so I couldn’t in good conscience put it on this list.
3. Gone Home;
4. Rayman Legends;
5. Pokemon Y;
6. Tomb Raider;

Games That I Didn’t Get Time To Play That Probably Would Have Made This List:
Assassin’s Creed IV
Metro: Last Light
Saints Row IV
Beyond Two Souls
The Swapper

Biggest Disappointment:
Sim City

Early Access Games

March 21st, 2013 | Posted by Gothamghost in Video Games - (0 Comments)

Early Access Games

Valve announced yesterday that it will now be allowing companies to sell their games on Steam while still in development.

“We like to think of games and game development as services that grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and the community. There have been a number of prominent titles that have embraced this model of development recently and found a lot of value in the process. We like to support and encourage developers who want to ship early, involve customers, and build lasting relationships that help everyone make better games.”

According to Valve some of the games in this program will be free and others will not, and that decision is solely up to the developer.

This is a great opportunity for both players and developers to come together and address concerns before the game is even released and this reminds me of Minecraft early in its development. I recommend checking out the available games on Steam and playing any that might interest you. Games such as the Kerbal Space Program, Prison Architect and the ARMA III Alpha are already on the store and ready to be played. I have heard great things about the Kerbal Space Program and will probably check that out myself.

A Life Well Wasted

March 13th, 2013 | Posted by Gothamghost in Video Games - (1 Comments)

A Life Well Wasted

A Life Well Wasted is an internet radio show about video games and the people who love them.  After taking a long hiatus Robert Ashley, the podcast’s creator and host, announced on his twitter feed that there will be a new episode in the near future.  In the meantime I recommend checking out his older episodes.  If you like the art above I suggest taking a look at more of Olly Moss’ fantastic work on his website.

Update: Episode 7 entitled “Work” was released on 3/20/13. Check out the A Life Well Wasted website to download or get it wherever you regularly download podcasts.

Ralink 3062 Driver for Linux

March 5th, 2013 | Posted by Gothamghost in Technology - (0 Comments)

I recently tried to install a PCI wireless card in my Linux HTPC and found that it needed the Ralink 3062 driver. While I found plenty of websites giving information how to install the driver they all linked to Mediatek’s website where I was unable to download the driver. I finally found a mirror and decided to host it here as well. I hope someone else gets some use from it.

Mirror: Ralink 3062 Driver

Here are a few resources on how to install the driver in case you need it:

Squidoo “How to Install ralink 3062 Network Card”
Official Ubuntu Forums

My Top Ten Video Games of 2012

January 10th, 2013 | Posted by Gothamghost in Video Games - (1 Comments)

10. Mass Effect 3 – Bioware – 03/06/12 (PC)

The culmination of five years of waiting with an expectation level so high that it would almost be impossible for any game to meet. Mass Effect 3 and more importantly the Mass Effect series is ultimately about the journey and I feel that my journey was one of the best I have ever had playing video games. That being said I would be remiss not to mention a few of the mistakes made by Bioware.  The first and most glaringly being the pitiful ending to what could have been a fantastic finale to a fantastic series.  Another poor decision is the day one DLC that featured one of the most interesting characters and additions to the story that would be omitted if a player didn’t want to spend more money after purchasing the game. Mass Effect 3 did feature great wrap ups of some of my most beloved characters and storylines of the series including the Geth, Quarians and Genophage and while the ending was disappointing it didn’t ruin the dozens of hours that I enjoyed playing this game leading up to it.

9. Legend of Grimrock – Almost Human LTD – 04/11/12 (PC)

Another difficult game on my list, Legend of Grimrock, evokes memories for me of playing dungeon-crawling action role-playing games of my youth such as Eye of the Beholder, Wizardry, Dungeon Master or Ultima Underworld.  The puzzles are challenging, rewarding and interesting and a lot of them are also optional. The combat can be simplistic at times but it can also be challenging and downright difficult to survive. Ultimately I feel Legend of Grimrock is what you put into it and given the time and exploration is a fun and interesting indie RPG.

8. FTL: Faster Than Light – Subset Games – 09/14/12 (PC)

FTL is a real time strategy game created by Subset Games that was also a Kickstarter campaign. I mention that simply because in a year where Kickstarter gained so much prominence it is a relief to many backers to see a successful project be completed. A difficult game to be sure but also one of the most rewarding games of this year. You pilot a single spaceship with critical information for the Federation that you must deliver to the Federation Base by traveling through the galaxy and fending off Rebels, aliens and pirates along the way all before the Rebels destroy you or your base. As you play through the game and feel secure in your ships chances to defeat the Rebels, amongst various other encounters you face, you will suddenly find yourself watching helplessly as everything goes wrong and you and your crew are destroyed. “Well, that sucked, if only I had done X differently. Let me try that again.” That sentence was a constant refrain after each play through for me, but amazingly the difficulty and struggles serve a purpose because when you do get it right you truly feel like the savior of the Federation.

7. Hotline Miami – Dennaton Games – 10/23/12 (PC)

Hotline Miami features the best soundtrack of any game I played this year. I have listened to the album a dozen times since finishing this quick and incredibly challenging indie game and will probably listen a dozen more times. Set in the 1980’s you play as a man who is slowly losing his sanity and as you murder each room of thugs violently you may find yourself starting to question whether you should be enjoying the violence as much as you do. The 80’s sounding dance music thumping in the background fuels your determination to clear each level, and since you will fail, you will be “clearing” a lot of people. I haven’t found myself repeating levels while simultaneously being frustrated and thrilled like I was in Hotline Miami since Super Meat Boy. Hotline Miami is intense, visceral and is altogether one of my favorite games of the year.

6. Mark of the Ninja – Klei Entertainment – 10/16/12 (PC)

I am not a fan of stealth games, typically.  In games like Splinter Cell I tend to get frustrated and impatient trying to be stealthy.  I usually start out thinking I will be a stealthy assassin and wind up opting for the action oriented route, which in some games can be just as fun, however I want to feel like that stealth ninja.  The majority of the time my frustration stems from a lack of peripheral vision and awareness that I often find lacking in this genre.  This year I played two games that eliminated the frustration for me, Dishonored and Mark of the Ninja.  Mark of the Ninja is the best stealth game I have ever played.  The mechanics Klei introduces to let me be the stealth ninja that I’ve always wanted to be is the reason why. You witness footfalls, you can take out lights with ease, you can distract and take down, you will feel like a ninja.  While the story is engaging, ultimately strategizing and executing a plan of action in a room full of guards is so rewarding the story becomes a side note. The scoring system adds a level of replay value and challenge that is welcome.  Truthfully the fact that I want to replay it at all is new to me for this genre.

5. Fez – Polytron – 04/13/12 (Xbox 360)

I was anxious for Fez to be released this year and after so many awards and delays I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be interesting. What Fez ended up being was one of the most complex and enigmatic games of the year. I don’t think that this game would have worked five or maybe even three years ago. The sense of community in solving some of the more difficult puzzles is a product of the age we live in. The first time I had to whip out my smartphone to scan a QR code to solve a puzzle I knew that this was something different and exciting. The soundtrack was my favorite gaming soundtrack until Hotline Miami came along but it is still listened to close to eight months later in my morning runs. Polytron has announced that they will be releasing Fez on other platforms and I hope that includes the PC as I sold my Xbox 360 earlier this year and I am looking forward to playing it again.

For a more fully featured review please see my Fez review from earlier this year.

4. Far Cry 3 – Ubisoft Montreal – 12/4/12 (PC)

Far Cry 3 was a game I anticipated all year, not because I knew it would be great but because I was concerned that what was once one of my favorite open world shooters was going to continue on a decline. I could not have been more wrong as Far Cry 3 ended up being in my top five this year. A few complaints to start.  While the opening missions are some of the best I have played in a while the end is very weak and doesn’t help to solidify the story in any way.  Speaking of which,  it doesn’t take long to realize that the store is another Mighty Whitey story.  Still, while the narrative is lacking the gameplay excels. Running around on the jungle floor and fighting tigers, leopards and bears is downright entertaining.  Ubisoft Montreal also manages to make to attacking enemy encampments with the stealth of an assassin or burning it down like Rambo equally fun.  It is a vast playground in which you get to explore and conquer to your hearts content. Chaining take downs followed by zip-lining across gorges and setting buildings on fire are just a small example of some of the mayhem you can cause.  Amidst all this chaos you will notice that it is one of the best looking games of the year as well.  A Jurassic Park mod is supposedly on the way as well.  Clever girl.

3. Journey – Thatgamecompany – 03/13/12 (PS3)

I don’t own a Playstation 3 but I seriously considered the purchase of one this year for the latest release from Thatgamecompany. Journey is one of the best video game experiences I have ever had and it is also the most unique. You play as a robed figure in a desert and when you begin you will notice a large mountain in the distance, this mountain serves as the ultimate destination for the game. The journey to the mountain is split into multiple sections with differing terrains, lighting and experiences. As you play, a scarf that your robed protagonist is wearing will grow allowing you to float for longer periods of time which helps you navigate different obstacles. You will meet another robed figure on the same quest as you to reach this tall mountain. One of the key elements to the success of this game is the interaction you will have with this other player character. There is no dialog, no voice chat, no chat at all except for a single ping that can be sent between you and your partner. The two of you can work together to reach goals as your proximity to the other player recharges your scarf allowing you to float and sometimes seemingly fly. I don’t want to spoil anything else about the game as I think the meaning and emotion felt is only achievable by actually playing through it. Journey evoked emotions I have never really felt during a video game and I have heard comparisons to non-denominational religious experiences and while I can honestly say I have never had a religious experience I can understand the comparison. The art is breathtaking, the music is haunting and the meaning I derived from it will leave me with memories for years to come. As an example Journey Stories is a Tumblr blog that allows people to share their stories and experiences with Journey.

Special thanks to David Morrison for letting me borrow his PS3 to play Journey.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Firaxis Games – 10/09/12 (PC)

In a year of difficult and rewarding games XCOM stood above the rest in both categories. Playing on Classic Ironman or even normal can be a challenge. Firaxis knocked this 1994 remake of XCOM: UFO Defense out of the park. Unsurprisingly the makers of the Civilization series know how to make a turn based strategy game but what is surprising is the accessibility they were able to achieve for newcomers to the genre. This is done through a comprehensive and exceptionally well done tutorial that leads right into the game so well you’ll barely notice they were holding your hand. The one-more-turn experience is very much alive in XCOM but with a twist. A new technology or weapon you are waiting on, a satellite you absolutely need in order to keep a country from leaving the XCOM project are going to be interrupted by small form tactical battles that inevitably lead to more panic across the globe negating work done on previous excursions. This is simultaneously frustrating and thrilling.  The strategy elements of the overlying “ant farm” and the tactical elements of the combat against the invading aliens are so superbly done that a lot of other games in the genre could take note of either aspect and benefit from it. As I said in my look ahead to the video game season, one final word, Firaxis.

1. The Walking Dead – Telltale Games – Episodically 4/24, 6/29, 8/29, 10/10, 11/21 (PC)

What an incredible year. 2012 saw the revival of strategy games, the further rise of indie and downloadable games and in my opinion the best game of the year, an episodic adventure game, a long thought dead genre. The Walking Dead did what I thought was impossible, it took licensed content and not only made it as good as the source but in a lot of ways it made it better. Robert Kirkman’s comic is all about life around zombies and the influence a world changing event like the zombie apocalypse has on people, playing as a character in his universe brings a new level of intensity and understanding of this nightmare. The ultimate success of Telltale Games release this year is Lee and Clementine’s relationship. The choices you make as Lee impact the story, the events that take place and ultimately how you feel about yourself after the dust has settled. The places the game is willing to go to tell a great story and the attachment you feel to the characters is not an accident. I have heard there are a few issues with bugs, but I didn’t encounter any so I can’t comment on how that would effect an otherwise superb game. There are moments in this game that I didn’t know a video game or any media for that matter could take me emotionally and I am very excited for season two.

Honorable Mentions:
1. Diablo 3
2. Dishonored
3. Max Payne 3
4. Rayman Jungle Run
5. Spec Ops: The Line

Games I Didn’t Get Time To Play That Probably Would Have Made This List:
1. Sleeping Dogs
2. Halo 4
3. ZombiU

Biggest Disappointment:
Assassin’s Creed III

Nintendo announced today that they will be releasing a new Pokémon game series for the 3DS in October of 2013, worldwide.  The announcement came this morning from Nintendto president Satoru Iwata using the Nintendo Direct website. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y will feature three starter Pokémon: Froakie, Fennekin and Chespin.

Two main things that stand out to me are that they are showing 3D gameplay in a 3D environment for the first time in a main entry in the game. The second thing is the release date is simultaneous around the world rather than in Japan and months later everywhere else.

“The Pokémon series has always offered new styles of gameplay to coincide with the new Nintendo handheld hardware. Features enabled by the Nintendo 3DS will be incorporated in the game,” said Iwata.

The information released this morning makes Pokémon X and Y one of the games I am anticipating the most this year. Some screenshots from the Pokémon X and Y website.

I received a Nintendo 3DS XL for Christmas and I have quickly become enamored with it. I am not surprised at the excellent build quality as that is what I have come to expect from Nintendo. The Streetpass functionality is a bonus for me and I find myself taking my 3DS everywhere in case I run into someone else with one which seems to happen quite often.

I can’t comment on the difference in size compared to the 3DS as I do not own the original 3DS, I can see why someone would want a smaller handheld to carry but the 3D is beautiful on the large screen in games like Ocarina of Time and New Super Mario Bros. 2 and I think the large screen helps with that. Amazingly the 3D adds a sense of depth that I didn’t know I was missing.

The camera is a little lacking but I honestly don’t care as I didn’t want one for photos and I always have my smartphone with me anyway. The Nintendo E-Shop offers retail games for download which is very forward thinking on Nintendo’s part and quite welcome.

The reports of a dedicated gaming handhelds death are greatly exaggerated. I prefer a dedicated handheld for mobile gaming, virtual controls will never beat the feel of d-pad, analog stick or buttons, period. If you don’t have a handheld but are interested in gaming on the go I can’t recommend the Nintendo 3DS XL enough.

Video Game Season

October 1st, 2012 | Posted by Gothamghost in Video Games - (1 Comments)

Most people probably think of October through December as the beginning and end of the “holiday season”.  I however think of it as the time when most major franchises release their games.  I have created a short list of games that I consider to be the major releases this fall/winter and have also included brief thoughts on each one ultimately answering the question, to buy or not to buy.

-Resident Evil 6 (PC, PS3, X360) Release Date: October 2nd

Kicking off the month is Resident Evil 6.  After playing Resident Evil 5 I felt like this series was leaving its survival horror roots and moving towards the third-person action genre.  Everything I have seen about this game indicates that they are sticking with that trend.  I love the Resident Evil franchise but I think that this one is going to be disappointing and I will most likely wait and buy this on a Steam sale; especially since two of what I think will be game of the year contenders come out the following Tuesday.

-Pokemon Black 2 (NDS) Release Date: October 7th

Pokemon is one of those franchises that doesn’t stray too far from the “safe zone”.  When you buy a Pokemon game you know going in what to expect.  I typically put anywhere from 60-100 hrs in every copy I have played making this a great bang for the buck.  Pokemon Black and White 2 will be the numbered sequel to Pokemon White and Black, breaking away from the normal operating procedure for Nintendo and Game Freak.  Typically a new generation of Pokemon is released and then there is a follow up game in that generation with a different color.  What makes this a direct sequel?  I will be sure to find out on the Sunday this game is released, as any Pokemon is a must buy for me.

-Dishonored (PC, X360, PS3) Release Date: October 9th

Since Bioshock Infinite was moved to February of next year Dishonored and the next game on my list are the games I have most been looking forward to this year.  Dishonored is a first-person stealth action adventure game set in a steampunk themed city.  Arkane Studios and Bethesda haven’t been shy about posting videos of Corvo (main character) in action and it looks like it will be a blast.  It has an all star cast of actors for VA including people like Susan Sarandon, Michael Madsen, Chloe Grace Moretz, Lena Headey, and John Slattery.  Best of all, this is new IP.  I love getting into another universe that doesn’t have a number behind its name. This is a must buy.

-XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC, X360, PS3) Release Date: October 9th

XCOM is a remake of a classic strategy game from 1994.  All combat is turn-based with an isometric 3d third-person perspective, it has fog of war, line of sight, destructable environments and it is made by Firaxis.  That’s right, Firaxis Games, I don’t really need to say anything else.  If it is turn based and Firaxis is making it, I am buying it. This game will feature squads that level up as you play and when killed they die permanently.  There is also base building, and an advanced AI that changes each time you attempt a mission.  Steam has a demo you can play for free, I recommend trying it out if you aren’t sold.  One final word though, Firaxis.

-Mark of the Ninja (PC) Release Date: October 16th

Some might be surprised to see this on my list in October since this game came out in September.  However this is the date that it comes out on PC.  I didn’t get a chance to play this game before I sold my Xbox 360.  It is a stealth game where you play as a ninja in a 2D platforming environment.  I have heard it is a lot of fun and will probably purchase it to play later as I will more than likely still be enthralled by either of the previous two games.

-Medal of Honor: Warfighter (PC, X360, PS3, WiiU) Release Date: October 23rd

Medal of Honor is a franchise that was a much bigger deal a decade ago versus today.  It is overshadowed by Call of Duty and honestly I think rightfully so.  The last Medal of Honor was disappointingly average and seemingly afraid to try anything out of the ordinary.  I appreciated the Tier 1 Operator stuff, because I found it to be interesting and it appeared developer Danger Close borrowed the audio guys from Battlefield, which is always a good idea, however it didn’t inspire enough attachment for me to purchase this day one and in fact I will most likely buy this game some time next year (thinking Steam Summer Sale) when it is about half of the original asking price.  A benefit to anyone interested however is that a pre-orders garners access to the Battlefield 4 Beta, so there is that.

-Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game (PC, PS3, X360, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, NDS) Release Date: October 30th

Are you kidding? Lego Lord of the Rings?  I personally find the Lego games to be just plain fun. Add in LOTR lore and I am in. I most likely won’t buy this on release because of other games coming out around it but I will be playing this game relatively close to the launch date. Lego bitches.

-WWE ’13 (PS3, X360, Wii) Release Date: October 30th

I have not purchased a wrasslin’ game in years. I think the last one I even played was around 2004 or 2005. For some reason I am excited about this game. It might be simply because it has been a while since I have smashed someone in the head with a metal chair in a ring with thousands of fans screaming, but still I am planning on buying WWE ’13 this year.

-Assassin’s Creed III (PS3, X360) Release Date: October 30th, (PC) Release Date: November 20th

This is the newest installment in what has become one of my favorite franchises. The newest Assassin’s Creed takes place in America during the Revolutionary War. This dramatic difference of setting from Renaissance era Rome should prove to be an exciting change and will more than likely help the game feel fresh. There isn’t much of a reason to not purchase/play this and I think if you have played the first two then you should definitely pick this up.

-Halo 4 (X360) Release Date: November 6th, (PC) Release Date: in my dreams

Halo 4 is a sequel to one of the best selling video game franchises of all time. The only real reason someone might hesitate about purchasing it is that the developer of Halo, Bungie, is not the developer of Halo 4. What I have heard and seen of Halo 4 is that 343 Industries is making all the right moves. The game will feature a new enemy in the Prometheans and will have the same great multiplayer, gameplay and engaging story the originals had. The only reason I am not buying this game is because I sold my 360 and it will more than likely never be released for any other platform (read PC) ever.

-Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC, X360, PS3) Release Date: November 13th

Another year, another Call of Duty. Modern Warfare 3 was a solid game but the single player campaign felt old and tired.  Black Ops was however a very good game and the campaign and story was outside of the normal Call of Duty grind and it appears as though Black Ops 2 will continue that direction.  The game will take place in two time periods, the 70’s – 80’s and 2025.  Call of Duty multiplayer is always great and for a lot of people is reason enough to purchase this game, I will be buying it for this reason and the campaign as well.

-Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (PC, X360, PS3, Wii, WiiU) Release Date: November 14th

Epic Mickey was a very stylized game from a great video game designer in Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock).  Epic Mickey was an action platformer where Mickey accidentally spills ink on a cartoonists paper and tries to use paint thinner to remove it, when this fails the ink blot takes over and creates a wasteland that Mickey is later abducted into.  Mickey then has to battle using his paintbrush.  Epic Mickey 2 is a sequel and the main difference appears to be the co-operative play either by CPU control or another player.  I think if you enjoyed the original Epic Mickey then Epic Mickey 2 is worth playing.

-Hitman: Absolution (PC, PS3, X360) Release Date: November 20th

A lot has been made about this game and the trailer that was released earlier this year.  The videos I have seen of game play show a better stealth game than has been released in a while.  I enjoy the Hitman franchise but I won’t be purchasing this day one because I will be getting Assassin’s Creed III for PC on this day. I will buy it later on sale or during a lull in releases.

-Scribblenauts Unlimited (WiiU, 3DS, PC) Release Date: November 18th

I loved the original Scribblenauts, mainly because of the ability to bring to life Cthulhu purely to get past the T-Rex I already placed in the game. If you haven’t played Scribblenauts, it is an action puzzle game that requires you to collect Starites by using objects you create to complete tasks.  The main difference in Scribblenauts Unlimited is that there will be an overworld that is open to explore. You will also collect Starite shards and supposedly you will learn the origins of Maxwell’s magical notebook that allows you to bring these objects into the world just by writing them down. I will definitely buy this for PC or my DS.

-Far Cry 3 (PC, X360, PS3) Release Date: December 4th

Everything I have seen about Far Cry 3 has made it the FPS I am most looking forward to. It is an open world first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal. It also has role-playing elements including XP, a skill tree and a crafting system. You play as Jason Brody a tourist who has been stranded on an island that is basically at war with itself. Your girlfriend has been captured and you are fighting against some shady characters that have been trapped on this island for a while. Far Cry is one of my favorite shooter franchises and it has been roughly four years since the last installment, this makes it a day one purchase for me.

Several days ago I lucked out and was selected to be an AMD A-Series Social Reviewer. AMD will be sending me an APU and my understanding is that I need to review it and just basically tweet about the experience. I will also be posting on here about my build around the APU and just some general thoughts.

What is an APU? APU or Accelerated Processing Unit is a processing system that includes additional processing capability designed to accelerate one or more types of computations outside of a CPU [wiki]. It is for all intents and purposes a CPU that integrates a GPU (graphics processing unit). You can watch a video straight from AMD here.

While I doubt this will replace my main computer for gaming, it will likely be fantastic as a secondary gaming PC, or HTPC. I’m excited to benchmark this system against my main PC, and I’m excited by the idea of discrete graphics not being necessary. Anyway, check back for updates in the near future.