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Pritpaul Bains

How John Scalzi’s Head On Envisions the Future of Esports

Ah, spring. Every North American sports fan’s favorite time of year.

The smell of hot dogs and scuffed leather wafts into the bleachers once more on the crisp ballpark breeze. Inside the arenas, boards rattle and teeth skitter across the ice, tiny smears of pink on a long white sheet, as hockey playoffs begin. Rubber-soled sneakers squeak across the hardwood as the biggest personalities in the NBA face off for the ultimate prize.

And under the soft electric-blue glow of a long row of 4k monitors, Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon is making history, becoming the first woman to debut in one of North America’s fastest-growing sports leagues you’ve probably never heard of.

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The Dark Tower Misses the Mark for Longtime Fans and Newcomers Alike

There are other worlds than these, pilgrim, and The Dark Tower movie tries to be the best of both, bringing Stephen King’s epic dark fantasy novel series to the broadest possible audience. But lots is lost in translation, and neither fans nor newbies to the material will find much to make them happy.

Theresa DeLucci has only read the first two novels and Pritpaul Bains has read them all—so how differently did they both hate this movie?

Spoiler warning: several major plot elements of King’s earlier Dark Tower books are discussed in passing, but nothing major from the final books.

[There are other movies than these, pilgrim…]

Lords of the Fallen Demoralizes the Masses at SDCC

Lords of the Fallen capped off my weekend of gaming through SDCC in rather violent, merciless fashion. The game is a joint venture between Polish developer CI Games and German studio Deck13 Interactive, and to date, much of its fame stems from its reputation as being a “next-gen” Dark Souls. While the developers haven’t done much to dissuade gamers from that comparison, they certainly want a game that’s able to stand on its on merit, rather than be known as a next-gen Dark Souls knockoff—and so, I checked in to play through the dungeon on preview to see where the game is at.

[So much death. Why can’t we all just get along?]

Alien: Isolation Scuttles Through the Air Vents and Into SDCC

Developer The Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation made an eye-catching appearance at Comic Con this past weekend, drawing not only crowds of hopeful gamers but also throngs of intrigued spectators who couldn’t help but stop to watch the carnage unfold as each and every player met a grisly demise at the hands of the Alien. Not wanting to feel left out, I too joined the line to await my impending death and to see how the Alien franchise’s latest offering was shaping up a few months prior to release.

[You can run. But I really wouldn’t recommend it.]

Sunset Overdrive Brings Extra Buzz to SDCC

Sony’s PS4 didn’t have much of a presence at this year’s Comic Con (given recent sales numbers, perhaps they felt they didn’t need one), but Microsoft made itself known via a few different games, including a hands-on demo of Sunset Overdrive—an Xbox One exclusive that went on to become one of E3’s surprise hits. So how’s the game that Microsoft is hoping will become a console-defining gamechanger holding up, three months prior to release?

[This game just might make you cut back on your Red Bull intake.]

Hunting the Kraken in Evolve at SDCC

Turtle Rock Studios hit the ground running in 2008 with the release of Left 4 Dead, the multiplayer co-operative zombie shooter that clawed its way into the hearts of gamers around the world. L4D in and of itself was not a revolutionary game—co-op gaming has been around for decades, after all, and zombies remain a gaming cannon fodder mainstay. What Turtle Rock did to elevate their game above all those before it was dedicate the primary focus of the game to co-operative play and then refine that experience to an extent never before seen. The developer both continues with and deviates from their L4D roots with Evolve—a game that lives up to its name not only by virtue of its refined gameplay, but also in how it’s innovating the dynamic of the multiplayer shooter.

[Click for a preview of true evolution in an oft-stagnant genre.]

The Last of Us is the PS3’s Crowning Achievement

A few years ago, developer Naughty Dog became a rising star in the third-person action-adventure genre with the launch of their Uncharted franchise. After the release of Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog opted to take a break from their wildly successful, established franchise in order to pursue a new IP. In what is essentially the PlayStation 3’s swan song, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us has given the rest of us what can very nearly be described as the perfect game—and a pinnacle title for the console—from both a technical and artistic standpoint.

[The Last of Us puts the “fun” in fungus…]

Diablo III Went Live This Week: The Burning Hells Rise Again

As we mentioned last week, this past Tuesday, May 15, marked the official launch of Blizzard’s Diablo III, and the Internet, as always, runneth over with feedback that runs the gamut from praise, to complaints, to out-and-out trolling. Good times for all! Sadly, as a victim of a delayed pre-order, I am one of the many gamers still waiting to set foot onto Blizzard’s servers; however, at least my wait isn’t due to Blizzard’s server issues, so I won’t belabor the point. With that said, if you, like me, are stuck at work and are looking for a way to satiate your clicking finger, here’s some news to tide you over.

[Click. Clickclick. Clickclickclickclickclick.]

Attention, Vault Dwellers: Download the First Fallout This Weekend for Free

“War. War never changes.”

A special treat this weekend for all you 90s gamers up for either a little nostalgic gaming or, if you missed it initially in 1997, a chance to play one of the most iconic games in video game history for the first time, thanks to GOG.com.

In Interplay’s Fallout, a dispute over resources between two prominent world powers results in a global nuclear war. Pockets of survivors, known as Vault Dwellers, take shelter in a series of underground fallout shelters, known as Vaults, and live on in these makeshift settlements for decades. In unlucky (and aptly named) Vault 13, the settlement’s Water Chip, which is responsible for the Vault’s filtration and production of water, breaks down, resulting in a water shortage. As a Vault Dweller of Vault 13, you are tasked with the formidable job of venturing forth to the surface of the earth for the first time since the war, navigating the charred, post-apocalyptic wasteland in a desperate search to locate a new Water Chip and save the settlers of Vault 13 (and, inevitably, the world, but this post shall be spoiler-free).

[Click to save Vault 13]

Gaming Roundup: A First Look at Halo 4

Grab your battle rifle and don your Spartan armor — Master Chief is back in action. 343 Industries released their first “Making of” video for Halo 4 earlier this week, containing an extremely brief look at in-game footage. Highlights include a revamped HUD geared toward establishing a sense of looking out through Master Chief’s visor, a significant focus on multiplayer (no surprise there), and a storyline heavily focused on Master Chief’s character development. Halo 4 news will begin to ramp up in the near future, as the game is believed to be scheduled for a holiday 2012 release.

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Gaming Roundup: Resurrecting the “Are Video Games Art?” Debate

Few video games exist that allow a reasonable argument to be made for the consideration of video games as an art form, although Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Limbo, Okami, and Grim Fandango could construct rather strong cases. You can now add Dear Esther to this list. This indie experiment defies categorization — indeed, Dear Esther is best described as an instance of interactive, atmospheric storytelling rather than a game. To say more would run the risk of ruining a very worthwhile experience, but Dear Esther is at once a poignant, beautiful, and slightly melancholy journey worth taking. You can grab Dear Esther now on Steam for the extremely reasonable price of $9.99.

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Gaming Roundup: Where We Ask Bethesda for Dragon Mounts

We love games, so welcome to a new feature wherein we (we being Pritpaul Bains and Theresa DeLucci) collect links of win from around the web.

Ever find yourself wanting to scream an Unrelenting Force shout at someone? If you have Kinect, you can! Horses too glitchy for you? Ride a dragon instead! And who wouldn’t want to adopt a scruffy little street urchin from Whiterun? With my track record for accidentally killing followers, I’ll pass on that last one. See above what Bethesda employees almost added to Skyrim….

And just in time for this presidential holiday weekend, get lost in Tamriel, drink some homebrew, and save the galaxy with returning patriot Commander Shepard.

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Salvatore and McFarlane Collaboration, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Launches Today

RPG fans, take note: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning releases in North America today — a game of particular interest to fans of R. A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane, who played significant roles in universe creation and art direction, respectively. Of note to sports fans is the fact that this is the first game overseen by avid MMO enthusiast and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who founded 38 Studios in the latter years of his career.

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The Lord of Terror Rides Again: A Hands-On Look at the Diablo 3 Closed Beta

BlizzCon 2011 came and went this past weekend in Anaheim, California, and naturally, much of the fanfare surrounded Blizzard Entertainment’s highly anticipated third instalment of the Diablo series. Diablo 3 invites players once more into the troubled realms of Sanctuary to war against the invading demonic forces of Hell. Originally slated for release in December of this year, Diablo 3 was — to the surprise of, well, no one already familiar with Blizzard and their projected release dates — delayed by its developers into the first quarter of 2012. To tide over rabid fans and finetune gameplay, Blizzard released an invite-only closed beta last month, and yours truly was fortunate enough to gain access.

[Where]

PAX Prime 2011 Roundup: Cosplay, Cookies, and Games, oh my!

PAX Prime 2011 came and went this past weekend in Seattle, and with it, as with all gaming expositions worth their salt, came a steady stream of neckbeards, cosplayers, geek celebrities, and, most of all, the latest video games. PAX, the brainchild of the Penny Arcade creators, opened for registration in mid-April and sold out completely by the end of May – the fastest the exposition has ever sold out. Here are some of the weekend highlights.

[How many utilikilts can fit into one convention center?]