Tokyopop is no stranger to crowdfunding campaigns and this latest one might appeal to some of you. The multimedia publisher has recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign for one of its original properties in Riding Shotgun, which was previously a graphic novel and is now an animated short hosted by Mondo Media on its YouTube channel.
The short has become something of sleeper hit for everyone involved with over 2 million views and both Tokyopop and Mondo Media feel that the short could work as a fully fleshed out animated series. However, because of the violent and suggestive content along with the harsh language, they decided to go to the crowdfunding model to keep the spirit of the pilot short intact. The episodes in the campaign are to be directed and written by the director of Shoot ‘em Up in Michael Davis.
The campaign has a goal of $125,000 with $4,280 already raised and multiple tiers for contribution, from exclusive art and DVDs of the two episodes planned, voice acting perks, all the way up to a sponsorship slot for brands at $25,000, with more episodes planned if funding surpasses the initial goal. Below, the campaign trailer:
Kickstarter today recorded its one billionth dollar pledged, nearly four years after the crowdfunding site went live in April 2009. The company launched a special One Billion Dollars page today to celebrate the milestone, which features loads of details about the achievement.
First, and perhaps most notably, though people have pledged $1 billion to date, Kickstarter only counts $859 million in successful dollars. Unlike Indiegogo, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, so if a project comes up short, backers will get refunds. A total of 5.7 million individuals contributed to the $1 billion milestone.
The Games category on Kickstarter is the biggest overall in terms of dollars pledged. Since launch, people have pledged $215.75 million to gaming-related Kickstarters, with $189.84 million of those dollars going to successful campaigns. Gaming projects on Kickstarter have a success rate of 35.15 percent, the fourth-worst overall, only behind Technology (34.79 percent), Publishing (32.29 percent), and Fashion (29.3 percent).
Last November, One Piece celebrated Piece hitting the milestone of 345,000,000 copies sold, on the series definitely has plenty of fans. Among the many, one of its most devote enthusiasts is “Mermaid,” whose hobbies include collecting, customizing and photographing dolls, especially a Volks, of the pirate series would-be lady’s man cook Sanji.
So, on the character’s March 2nd birthday, get a look at the fruits of her fandom…
Mermaid’s tattoo, inked on last year’s birthday
A look at the evolution of her Volks doll over the last year
First shots of recent wig
In honor of this year’s birthday… a Strong World outfit!
Using the recent snow storm
A bit of regular care
Inspired by Film Z
an early Christmas present was love eyes
Casual clothes, smoking
Enjoying a summer beer and showing off some recently crafted bracelets
Lifeline, the upcoming expansion for State of Decay, will put you in control of a military unit with new objectives and abilities, developer Undead Labs announced on its blog.
You’ll control Greyhound One, a small military unit sent to the city of Danforth to rescue scientists whose research is critical to fighting the zombie outbreak. The game will start at the height of the crisis, when you still have access to off-map support from the military, but support will diminish with time as the situation deteriorates. This is opposite the progression structure in the original game, where you start off small and become increasingly stronger as you recruit more people and gather resources.
One of your first objectives will be to secure a landing zone and base where you can receive supply drops and extract civilians, a new goal in the game. Lifeline will also add new military facilities, defenses, weapons, and a new map.
“In zombie fiction, the military is often the go-to bad guy,” Undead Labs said. “They’re the hammer to which every problem is a nail, blindly mowing everything down to serve some unknown goal. But this view is fairly one-sided and naïve. On the State of Decay team, we have a different perspective (some of us firsthand) — the military is made up of many good men and women who stand on the line that divides safety and civilization from chaos and war.”
There will definitely be some Halo news at E3 2014, Microsoft has said.
“Halo news will be coming at E3,” said Microsoft exec Phil Spencer on Twitter. “343i has a great plan in place, will be cool to share with everyone.”
But what could it be? Halo 2 Anniversary? Halo 5? A trailer for whatever live action Halo series that Steven Spielberg is working on, the one that’s been completely absent since Microsoft first unveiled the Xbox One?
While Microsoft isn’t exactly shy about teasing Halo news, the company will only officially confirm that the Halo ‘journey’ will continue in 2014.
“We’re proud of what we accomplished with our first release in Halo 4 and now we’re focused on something much more transformative as we make the leap to the next generation of Xbox,” 343i executive producer Josh Holmes said back in January.
The creative director for the new Halo will also be Tim Longo, who previously worked on Tomb Raider.
A trailer for the title that many presume to be Halo 5–though Microsoft won’t say for sure–was shown at E3 2013. But will it come out in 2014?
Nine years is a long time to wait for a proper port, even for a game as celebrated as The evil has returned and is sharper than ever.
The story of Resident Evil 4 is nearly common knowledge at this point. Ashley Graham, the daughter of the president of the United States, has been abducted, and series veteran Leon S. Kennedy has been dispatched to a remote, undisclosed village in Spain to recover her. There, he discovers that the religious cult responsible for the kidnapping has unleashed an ancient, mind-controlling parasite called Las Plagas onto the Spanish countryside. The game differs from its predecessors, detaching itself from the series’ staple enemies, zombies, and favoring multifaceted foes that display cunning and a dark intelligence. As Leon progresses, enemies grow more grotesque, shedding their humanity and replacing it with a cold, insectoid carapace.
Leon travels across varied and fascinating environments as he searches for the missing Ashley. Adhering to the franchise’s history of creepy atmosphere and dark locales, Resident Evil 4 features misty forests, rundown houses, musty caverns, a labyrinthine castle, and military facilities. Enemy types vary greatly and include pitchfork-wielding farmers, chanting cultists, and horrifying genetically engineered monstrosities that can force even the most stalwart players to turn heel. But Leon isn’t alone against the infected horde. He is joined by a cast of interesting characters, some newly met and others appearing out of his history, teasing past romantic entanglements and bitter rivalries. The dialogue and some later sequences get goofy at times, but the story’s somber overtones keep things intense, from the slow trek through creeping fog, all the way to the explosive finale.
The main attraction of Resident Evil 4 HD is the graphical upgrades, and what Capcom has done to breathe new life into its aging thriller is impressive, mostly. Leon and his assortment of allies and foes have never looked shaper or better defined. The wide-screen support with high-resolution textures running at a crisp, smooth 60 frames per second should be enough to get even the hearts of most veteran Resident Evil 4 fans pumping with adrenaline once again. And, yes, it all performs beautifully. Trees and shadows are imbued with realistic grace, text featured in menus and passing notes is clean, and even the fine-stitched lettering on Leon’s alternate Raccoon City Police uniform is easily legible. However, the new textures have an unintentionally negative side effect.
One of the reasons behind Resident Evil 4′s launch into stardom was the game’s unequivocal attention to detail. Capcom took special care in crafting a realistic and believable world with a gloomy ambiance. While Resident Evil 4 HD boasts high-quality textures, they aren’t universal, meaning the original textures that have lingered since 2005 stand out more than ever, ironically making the game feel more aged than ever. In the game, you may stumble across a stone wall composed of realistic cracks and earthy green moss. But in the same area, you could find a wooden box leaning up against the wall that still retains the archaic textures, resulting in a blurry, brown object strikingly out of place.
It can get distracting, considering it’s difficult not to notice a stark contrast between a building and the ground it stands upon. Many of the new skins feel too clean, scrubbing away rotten wood and rust, robbing the game of its dingy flavor. Castle walls look sharp, and research laboratories feel uninviting and sterile, but the caverns between them look muddy, with textures that are warped and stretched. Texture glitches also pop up from time to time, and measure in intensity from flickering to, on a rare occasion, getting replaced by what appeared to be the image designated for text, because the enemies turned black and were covered in lettering. The game lets you switch back to original textures if you like, but the heavy pixelation may not offer abatement.
Benefiting from the graphical overhaul are all but one of the cutscenes during Leon’s campaign, which play out in real time. Capcom gave far less attention to Separate Ways, which still includes low-quality full-motion video cutscenes that look even worse due to the game’s higher resolution. There is also a grievous error that occurs following nearly every video. As the game transitions from the clip back to gameplay, there is a strong chance the screen will turn bright green for up to five seconds.
This passing annoyance quickly treads into frustrating territory. The game occasionally challenges you to complete a quick-time event between scenes. This transition alone, which takes you from a blurry clip, to sudden action, and onto the following clip, oscillates with enough force to threaten whiplash. Being asked to press a pair of buttons between the scenes comes as a jolt, and the lag produced may decrease the amount of time allowed to complete the move, ending in failure. In one such moment, I missed my cue and had to try again. Except the second time, the green screen overlapped the brisk moment of gameplay and cleared only after it was too late. To continue my game, I had to press the appropriate buttons right as the green screen appeared.
The loudest complaint befalling the original port of Resident Evil 4 to the PC was the lack of mouse support. The squirrely, nauseating user-created aim mods that followed only exacerbated the issue. During that time, PC users had to either get used to it or opt to play the game using a controller. Though aiming with the mouse is finally possible, it is far from perfect. When you’re fighting at close range, the laser sight has a chance to twitch, making fights against advancing ganados more strenuous than necessary. At long distance, aiming a weapon’s laser pointer has a slippery, unnatural feel, making shots difficult and unnecessarily taxing on your ammo supply. There is also a short, but noticeable, delay between holding out the knife and being able to look around.
Like before, your best chance is to equip yourself with a gamepad. The most preferable choice is the Xbox 360 controller, since the game has been updated to support it; gone is the need to memorize the cryptic numbered buttons from the old PC port, because the game includes appropriate onscreen graphics for the device. When you have a gamepad in hand, the controls are roughly comparable to the GameCube experience. The camera floats behind the protagonist’s shoulder, creating a third-person view. When an enemy is spotted, the game requires you to first hold your aim, while the camera flies down closer, enlarging your field of vision. Combat favors strategy, offering different ways to dispatch enemies based on the current situation. Going gung ho and blasting away may leave you scrambling for ammunition, and the optional knife does only so much against tougher foes later down the line.
The story’s somber overtones keep things intense, from the slow trek through creeping fog, all the way to the explosive finale.
Shooting enemies in the head stops them in their place, causing momentary disorientation. Going for the legs is often a better choice, because it causes your targets to drop down, giving you ample opportunity to either deliver a bone-crunching spin kick or momentarily escape and create some distance. There are many crowd-control options, from shotguns to a variety of grenade types, as well as long-range weapons such as sniper rifles, which add a bit of stealth to the mix. Though the game is more of an action adventure game than survival horror, it is not without tense moments and jump scares.
Aiming locks you in place, forcing you to carefully position the laser sight before taking shots. The choice behind this method of combat is done with purpose in mind. By keeping you grounded, the game challenges you to take your shots intelligently, all the while staying aware of the environment around you. No matter how far into the campaign you have gone, you perpetually suffer from a tingling sensation at the back of your skull as you fearfully wonder if someone, or something, will pounce from behind you. Enemies range from regular fodder to the deadly special types, who carry fearsome weapons like chainsaws and miniguns, and are able to stand up to a lot of abuse before falling. And don’t forget the infected dogs, with their strained panting heard even above the thundering sound of their pads hitting the dirt, forcing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end even after all these years.
Such moments are a constant reminder of the excellent gameplay at the core of Resident Evil 4, which set the benchmark for action adventure games. It has been many years since I delved into Leon’s quest, and I was delighted by the visual upgrades, from the lovingly retouched Amenhotep typewriter to the finely detailed garbage bins I gleefully tossed Ashley into at every given opportunity. Texture gripes aside, Resident Evil 4 still has the chops to stand up to the test of time thanks to its moody atmosphere and tight, edge-of-your-seat gameplay.
It took longer than it should have, but PC players finally have access to a proper port of the game. It may be showing its age, but Resident Evil 4 HD stands as the best version available. There is about 30 hours of content in this edition, which runs for a reasonable $20. So if you have waited this long to try the game out, or if you feel the urge to give it another go, there is no better time than now. From its humble beginning, Resident Evil 4 has taken a long journey to get to this point.
Burly and menacing, tanks are an enticing tool for turning the tide in any pitched military conflict. There’s also an undeniable coolness to them. Why drive around trees, walls, and foes when you can crash straight through them unscathed, right? Raw power and heavy guns are the primal ingredients that drive World of Tanks, an online multiplayer shooter that reimagines what mid-20th-century warfare might be like if it were fought solely with rolling metal doom machines. But even if you’re titillated by the brute force of hammering explosive shells into your adversaries until they erupt in flame, it’s the thoughtful emphasis on strategy and the unpredictability of every encounter that keep matches interesting over the long haul.
World of Tanks’ 15-on-15 matches get off to a zippy start, spurring your battalion to spread out quickly across the map to destroy all of your opponents or capture their base before they nab yours. A diverse range of terrain layouts in each battlefield create natural choke points that speed you along toward the opening volleys of cannon fire, and once things get crazy, it’s rare that a match bumps up against the 15-minute time limit before one side is declared the victor. This streamlined pacing helps counteract the sluggish nature of the many tanks you’ll command. Sure, you might move along at a slow pace, but you’re never very far from the action, and that’s a great thing.
Getting killed is serious business, however, since the annihilated tank is unavailable until the match is over. This prevents you from immediately using a tank that gets destroyed, which is a minor pain at times. The upside is that you’re free to grab another available tank in your arsenal and dive into a different match in the meantime. It’s a mechanic that gently pushed me to experiment with other tanks I was initially less interested in, broadening my armored horizons in the process.
The balance between simulation-level tank geekery and accessible arcade-style control is carefully tuned here. Each historical tank sports an authentic visual design, and everything from how tanks handle to the way taking damage impacts their performance is realistic enough to satisfy most serious enthusiasts. Get a tread blown off, and you’re either hamstrung or immobilized, depending on the damage level. Take a direct hit from an armor-piercing round, and your gunner might get killed, leaving you prone and unable to fire. This unpredictability is refreshing and plays nicely into how tactics unfold. At the same time, it takes only a few minutes in the short tutorial to get a feel for maneuvering and firing. Swapping between a third-person view for short-range combat and a first-person, down-the-barrel perspective for long-range aiming is as speedy as it is seamless. With less to fiddle with on the control front, you have more room to focus and react when it counts.
Rather than being a chaotic free-for-all, World of Tanks takes a more deliberate, strategy-minded approach that favors tactical prowess over outright brazenness. Barreling headlong into the middle of a firefight with your cannons thundering–even in a more heavily armored tank–is a quick way to end up a pile of smoldering scrap. Instead, thoughtful planning prevails more often than not. Using the terrain to your advantage, you can hide behind bushes for camouflage, use hills and buildings to hamper incoming artillery, and position your tank at an angle to spread out incoming fire and increase your chances of survival.
Stealth is another important element that can boost the fun. Keep from being spotted, and you can skirt around just outside of the action and flank your foes for an ambush or make a beeline for their base when the path is clear. It works both ways, though, and scouting ahead and spot-marking enemies for your group to swoop in on is equally important.
All of this emphasis on thinking on the fly over outright reliance on twitch reflexes makes for slower-paced gameplay, which might not suit some players. But the strategic flexibility and large-scale team collaborations keep matches from stagnating–even when you’re playing the same cycle of maps over and over again. World of Tanks can get repetitious until you open up more tanks and more territories to fight on. Fresh maps pop up at a reasonable pace, with new areas unlocking as you work your way up in rank. That said, expect to see lots of the same terrain over and over again for spells.
Thankfully, your fellow squadmates and their behaviors also ensure that few matches ever play out the same way. Using a headset is the simplest way to work alongside your team efficiently, though basic communication presets also let you issue orders to your teammates. Whether they follow them is another story. But it’s a handy system and, like most areas of World of Tanks, it’s easy to use.
The balance between simulation-level tank geekery and accessible arcade-style control is carefully tuned here.
The sheer tank variety and absorbing progression system ultimately trump some of World of Tanks’ minor grindy moments. Spread out across three different countries, each with its own branching trees of vehicles and upgrades to unlock, the breadth of rolling thunder available is staggering. There’s a huge assortment of light, medium, and heavy tanks that are also bolstered by a mix of tank killers and vehicles specializing in long-range artillery. Each looks and handles quite differently, and you can use experience and cash earned from your performance in battles to upgrade their firepower, maneuverability, and other critical stats.
Unlocking all that World of Tanks has to offer is a slow but satisfying pursuit that helps to cement long-term interest in diving back into the fray. You start with a single tank from each country, and a limited number of bays to add new vehicles to your fleet. Aside from a few special tanks that cost a bit of real-world coin and pack a mighty powerful punch as a result, you can eventually access everything without spending a cent. If you do feel inclined to drop a little actual green to buy power-ups, tanks, and other perks, the good news is that a little money goes a fairly long way, provided you don’t want to get immediate access to everything.
Match structuring and tank types help provide necessary balance, keeping things from devolving into a pay-to-win situation. Even among the higher tiers of tanks at your disposal, the strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle keep any single player from being too superpowered. The way matches are populated by a range of vehicles from different ranks within a range of similar tiers further keeps battles from being too one-sided. It’s not so much the size of your tank, as it is how well you use it and how cohesive your team is.
World of Tanks has some room to grow until it mirrors the heavily updated PC version, but the smooth transition to the Xbox 360 is off to a great start, offering tons of tanks and a strong online player base to dive into. The strategic large-scale tank battles pair with a deep progression system to give everything a greater purpose and deliver a real winning combo.
“With regards to the German version, all Nazi symbols have been removed from the game in accordance with German law,” an Ubisoft representative told the site.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is not only censored in Germany, but also many other regions worldwide. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that various anal probing and abortion scenes had been censored for the United Kingdom, European, and Middle Eastern versions of the game.
The South Park franchise, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is known for pushing the envelope, so it comes as little surprise that their original vision for the game would have to be pared back somewhat to meet specific regional guidelines.
In the United States, South Park: The Stick of Truth is rated M-for-Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Below is a selection of the ESRB’s content description for the game.
Cutscenes occasionally depict “cartoony” characters dismembered or decapitated. The game includes several instances of mature humor and sexual material: one extended sequence depicts characters getting anally probed by alien creatures; another sequence (in an abortion clinic) depicts doctors using a vacuum to perform procedures on male characters; one level takes place inside the rectum/colon of a character (sex toys, random objects and fecal matter appear in the level)—all sequences are depicted in a cartoony and over-the-top manner. Characters are occasionally depicted nude (e.g., breasts, buttocks, male genitalia); one extended sequence depicts an out-of-focus couple having sex in the background; as players engage in turn-based battle in the foreground, sexual moaning sounds/dialogue is heard. During the course of the game, drug paraphernalia can be seen strewn around a methamphetamine lab. The words “f**k,” “sh*t,” “a*shole,” and “f*ggot” can be heard in the dialogue.
South Park: The Stick of Truth launches March 4 for PC and consoles. Be sure to check out our newly published preview of The Stick of Truth, written by GameSpot editor Mark Walton. He says, “South Park: The Stick of Truth is shaping up to be every bit as crude, offensive, and poorly animated as the legendary TV show.”
SimCity’s influence, both on the strategy genre and on gaming in general, is immense. Still, the past few years have seen an explosion of clever city builders taking some huge steps toward developing personality and becoming more than their progenitor. Banished is the latest in that line, elaborating on the intricate, small-scale design of recent games like Cultivating crops can be one of the best ways to keep some consistent food coming in. Be warned, however. Too much farming will deplete the soil.
Banished is a series of small goals that feed into one ever-looming command: survive. Every game starts in the spring, and before winter hits, you need to get enough firewood, gather a decent supply of food, and build some houses to keep your citizens from freezing to death. Just getting enough food is tough, because you rarely have enough time or free land to get a proper set of crops growing. Instead, you’ll be chopping down as many trees as you can before getting a fishery going in a nearby lake or river. Then you hunker down and hope nobody dies.
What if you were forced out of civilization as you know it, to live in the wilderness? How do you think you’d fare? Banished asks those questions, opening with a dozen or so outcasts seeking to make their way alone in the wilderness.
People, more than anything else, are your vital resource. They need homes, food, decent clothes, tools, emotional support, medicine, and more. Every mechanic, every building you can place, and everything else you can do relates back to that central theme of survival. If you can’t gather enough food, your people die. If they’re stuck outside for too long, or don’t have warm clothing, they die. Each time you fail as their leader, you’re reminded of the loss with a grating sound and a yellow gravestone. These serve as a one-two punch to punish you for failure because losing citizens makes it that much harder to keep up the resource flow. One fewer worker means you can’t gather food, stone, wood, or anything else as quickly. When children die, it’s even worse, though you likely won’t know it for some time. As your population ages, you eventually lose more than a few citizens to old age, and the best way to replace them is to give your younger citizens houses in the hopes that they’ll reproduce and bolster your future numbers.
Like most games of its type, Banished has a number of natural disasters that strike your populace. In many ways, they serve as a kind of random “boss fight” in the sense that they will often test one aspect of your infrastructure. Diseases test the health of your population, fires your city planning, and tornadoes your ability to rapidly rebuild before winter comes again. With Banished already amounting to a desperate attempt to stave off death, disasters can be absolutely devastating for the unprepared. When pests hit your crops and you’re already barely squeaking by each year, you’re going to start losing a lot of people. Those kinds of cascading failures contrast with the almost hilarious scenarios that surround SimCity’s giant robots or aliens.
Societal collapse isn’t caused just by disasters, though, as maintaining equilibrium with the environment is actually impossible, which is another point of contrast between Banished and other games in its family. Most of the time, resources are unlimited in these sorts of games, but not quite so here. Farms won’t continue producing food indefinitely, and most fishermen’s docks steadily deplete the available population of fish that you can draw upon. Stone and iron, two critical materials for construction and maintenance, are also finite. After your initial stores run out, you can find some of these materials out in the world, but once you’ve exhausted those reserves, you’re left with two options: trading and mining. Trading is a lot harder than it sounds, as opportunities come only a few times each year. Trade ships also have limited space and don’t carry too much with them. Additionally, accepting trade increases your risk of disease and pests for your people and your crops. Mines are just as troublesome. Their supply of stone, iron, and coal is finite, and they take an enormous number of people to operate efficiently; they are also deadly, potentially risking mineshaft collapses or being crushed to death by stone. This, of course, all leads back to the struggle of maintaining your population.
Societal collapse isn’t caused just by disasters, though, as maintaining equilibrium with the environment is actually impossible.
Banished has dozens of these kinds of interlocking, intricately woven systems that all feed into one another. Every decision has a cost, and every choice is a risk. Some elements of city planning are also completely incompatible with each other. To maintain your peoples’ health, for example, you need some herbalists. They collect basic resources from the floors of old growth forests and can use them to make poultices that keep your people working their best and resistant to possible disease outbreaks. The key, however, is the “old growth” bit. You also need a steady source of logs to chop up for firewood. A good team of foresters can maintain a large enough area of continuous growth, but helpful herbs and wildlife can’t be found in such young forests. To maximize your production, you need separate forests for your potion masters and your loggers. This dynamic becomes much harder to balance with the addition of resource-distribution mechanics. Loggers that need to transport the fruits of their labor more than a few tiles begin to lose efficiency and increase the risk of running low on firewood or tools–the two main long-term uses for lumber. If any of these pieces begin to lag, you place yourself and your people at risk of a systemic failure. A reduction in logging output can cause your supply of new tools to run low, dropping your logging output that much further. Everything is a feedback loop.
Such strongly linked systems require an enormous amount of care to manage effectively, and that most often comes into play when you’re looking to expand your village. If you try to develop a new logging outpost without building a network of roads, supply barns, and the like to make sure the resources keep moving where they are needed, your new loggers will likely die of starvation or hypothermia. You must effectively build semi-self-sufficient towns that link together via markets and high-capacity roads. The game isn’t completely unreasonable here, though. If you build a new house near a mine on the edge of town, a few people will probably move in, and their occupation automatically shifts to match the closest workspace that can support them. When everything works, Banished is remarkably rewarding.
While the process of survival is never-ending, holding out against the elements amid the hostility of the untamed natural world is a small but powerful personal victory. Villagers have names; they’re born, grow up, and eventually die under your intense supervision. Banished reinforces the human drama with its brutal difficulty and negative feedback loops. It’s fertile soil for some of the most remarkable emergent storytelling around. With relatively few, well-designed mechanics, the game weaves a powerful tale of empathy and desperation and is a high-water mark for narrative elements that mutually reinforce mechanics. Even better, this is a very human story divorced from the Western tropes common in the loosely imperialistic messages of other, similar games. It’s just you, your people, and their strong desire to live.