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We’re holding our breath and stamping our feet at the following link.

The hype and hoopla for the now current-gen consoles was pegging the meter for the better part of a year – and still manages to raise a lot of noise –  but aside from roaring of console warriors, there doesn’t seem to be much going on.  The first year of new hardware is historically slow to deliver games, but that first year has also tended to amaze or innovate at some perceptible level.  Anymore, “next-gen” may as well mean “keeping pace”.  But these boxes aren’t going anywhere soon, and we gripe and complain when we’re hungry for first-class exclusives.  We’ll revisit the bitchiness on the eve of next year’s E3 and see if we’ve managed any progress.

 

We’ve been spun right round at the following link.

Following the course taken by the Xbox One over the the last year has been a bewildering experience.  It’s nice, we suppose, to have a cheaper console that’s less restrictive in its policies, and there are certainly people who are ready to become One owners once these changes take effect.  But there’s also something grotesque about Microsoft’s console now, as if it’s had every offending limb hacked off and other, mismatched parts bolted into place in an effort to fit into a certain mold.

This is without a doubt the result of the healthy competition we all want from the games industry, but it’s sad that the Xbox couldn’t have been designed to meet these expectations from the beginning, rather than being hectored and beaten into compliance.  It’s been a hard year for the Xbox, and a long one, but it’s a single year, and only half of that on the market.  They’ve made more changes in that year than most consoles would make in their lifetime, so for the sake of not looking too terribly foolish in the future, we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt and wish them the very best of luck.

 

We’re a podcast in harm’s way at the following link.

There are apparently always going to be weeks where we absolutely cannot exercise our boundless optimism and enthusiasm, no matter how hard we try.  Those would be the weeks where the most recent Call of Duty is announced and information dumps for a much-vaunted IP fail to materialize.  It’s clearly important that we preach to the converted about the shortcomings of any particular CoD release, and I think we’ve done what’s expected.  How else would you know what a sickening travesty the franchise has become?

Our responsibilities concerning Destiny are a little less clear, as we’re divided on whether Bungie have done anything wrong.  Or anything at all, really.  An ongoing project on our show is to roll our eyes and pshaw at the incredible power of the overpromise used in nearly all official communications between videogame developers and the fans of said videogames.  We have no doubt there’s a lot on the line when you introduce your half-billion-dollar baby to the world, but there’s quite a bit going on for the guy at the end of the line as well.  Since that’s us, we’re going to bellyache until they’ve delivered the goods.

 

We’re down to our last save-ribbon at the following link.

No matter where we look recently we feel we’re being met by a horror game of every type and kind you can imagine.  Except the kind we used to love, that is.  It’s awfully hard to scratch the Resident Evil 2 itch without actually playing RE2, and sometimes that just won’t sate the hunger.  Something modern but very much in the same spirit would be welcome.  Sadly, a plodding adventure game with tank controls that’s as much about inventory management as it is about the zombie apocalypse doesn’t seem to be everyone’s idea of a good time, though it should be because they were awesome!  Says the old man.

 

We’re live from a galaxy far, far away at the following link.

There are any number of satisfying outcomes that could have followed Amy Hennig’s departure from Naughty Dog, and as lifelong fans of the Star Wars universe we’ve found ourselves as satisfied as could be.  There are endless numbers of people who had some other dream job or personal project in mind for her, but we’re frankly glad they didn’t get their way.  Star Wars – as a universe in general and a universe of games, in particular – has always held a special place in several of In-Game Chat’s hearts, but the quality has dropped in recent years and by no small amount.  Star Wars is in need of saving, and we expect Amy will play a part in its rescue.

 

We’re less than the sum of our parts at the following link.

We did our level best to present a lively discussion this week, but there’s no getting past how awkward the hosts are without Scott at the helm.  He was in hospital, flat on his back and high as a kite, suffering from a gruesome affliction.  Those of us in the studio were more than a little uncomfortable, like lost children who needed an adult.  Scott made it through his ordeal, somehow, and so did we, but our typically flawless (not really) execution wasn’t to be had.  In any case, we apologize for the lateness of this posting, but it couldn’t be avoided.

 

We’ve raised no alerts and triggered no alarms at the following link.

We take real issue with a lot of Kojima’s shenanigans, and we’ve failed completely to understand the story material behind Ground Zeroes, but there’s something curious and wonderful about playing through such an exquisitely polished…something that’s probably almost a complete game, maybe?  We don’t generally think it’s a great idea to go on the record about the value of a game, unless we’re talking about ourselves alone.  But it’s hard to imagine anyone stumbling into a game like this unawares, and even harder to imagine that well-informed gamer being displeased by what they find.

Also we played inFamous and HOLY CRAP THAT GAME LOOKS GREAT!!

 

We’ve got eyes in the backs of our heads at the following link.

It matters more than we can possibly say to invite one of our very best friends on the show for his first appearance ever, really.  It matters something extra that it might, in the future, be  more than a rare event.  To some degree, we all became who we are together – the ‘who we are’ on the show, at the very least – and at the ripe old age of late-ish thirties, you begin to wonder how you came to think and feel the things you do, especially as regards the vidja games.  It’s super swell, then, to touch base with someone else who knows where you’re at, because he’s been where you’ve been.  You, too, may one day have to reconcile the grey hair with the midnight launch, and when you do, you’ll be chuffed to find you’re not alone…so long as you’re not alone.

 

We’ve seen the shape of things to come at the following link.

It’s not as though we ever imagined getting through the spring months without turning out our pockets, so the only comfort now is knowing exactly when, where, and for which games we’ll be going broke.  We’re all over menu as well, with triple-A product at a premium price, and mid-priced digital games that are damn near impulse buys.  And there’s a Steam sale out there, somewhere, no doubt, which puts our extensive wish lists in play as well.  We were recently, and fleetingly, sad to hear of more than one release date delay, but a quick glance at what we’re already due this month and the next has brought us to our senses.

 

Claim your five-finger discount at the following link.

After long years of skeptical previews, rumors of development strife, and the unmatchable expectations of the elderly, Thief the Younger has been released to hilariously uneven industry reviews and community impressions.  There’s a good chance that without the marquee nameplate and the years of cloudy recollections this game would have been received to general acclaim, but there’s no fair shake for anyone who thinks they’re deft enough to follow in Garrett’s nearly silent footsteps.

Perhaps, though, in a year or two, Thief could conjure the embarrassing levels of praise currently being hurled toward Blizzard for making their game what it should have been at launch.  Diablo 3 has, with the surprise release of a not-objectively-horrifying loot system upgrade, banished a large part of the angry fog that’s clung to the game and subdued its legacy.  I’m not usually a fan of the idea that the customer is always right, but as one such customer who’s finally gotten his way, I’ll gladly cling to it in this case.

 

 

Don’t call us bots at the following link.

Four days of wall-running, jump-jets, ejector seats and the roaring atmospheric entry of the Titanfall beta haven’t done a damn thing to help us decide what we actually think of Respawn’s imminent multiplayer shoot-bang.  A huge number of people seem to have fallen head-over-heels for this thing, but we’re still absolutely certain that we’ve missed some important element that’s only been experienced by other people.  It’s a good game, no doubt, but we’re more than a little sad to be left off the hype train.  Maybe all of this excitement will suddenly make sense if I give EA some money?

That is, of course, if I have any left after giving it all to Blizzard, who seem dedicated to offering new and controversial paid options in World of Warcraft, so long as those options don’t involve giving us new content.  Their newest addition involves paying what many consider irrational sums of money to skip the only content that matters; hand over sixty dollars and go straight to level 90.  It’s hard to say if this is truly the pay-to-win scenario that we’re all afraid of, but it’s clear this is Blizzard’s favorite sort of feature creep, and buying levels may one day seem quaint and simple compared to what they have planned.

 

It’s an honor just to be nominated at the following link.

We’re still harboring an awful lot of suspicion surrounding the early hype and imminent release of Titanfall.  It’s one thing to mistrust the wave of praise from reporters of various stripes who might well be overstimulated and over-handled at any number of media events, but it’s another thing entirely to mistrust the legions of regular gamers with access to this past weekend’s alpha test.  Try as we might, though, some of us can’t see our way past the pedigree of the developers and the incredible baggage carried by their previous franchise.  Jetpacks, wall-running, and not-mechs might not be enough to turn it around, but we’ll find out for sure in a few long weeks.

 

We’re part of a well-balanced meal at the following link.

It’s looking less likely over time that we’re going to find love in our hearts for the Steam Machine.  We wish it well with whatever it’s trying to do, and we’re happy on behalf of everyone who finds it compelling.  We haven’t written the idea off completely, though, as the only thing we like more than being proven right is having our negativity proven wrong.

PlayStation Now, on the other hand, has (by doing nothing whatsoever) generated many lustful and love-filled thoughts among the hosts.  We’re perfectly aware of the limitations and restrictions we’re likely to encounter, but we nonetheless choose to dream sweet dreams of all games from all eras available at all times wherever the hell we want.

 

 

What would you do with a drunken sailor at the following link?

I suppose it’s fitting to put last things first for this episode, as we offer beginnings and endings all together in a single show.  It’s a new year for everyone, and with that a chance to build new game-of-the-arbitrary-time-period contender lists (and to fight over them as if our lives depended on it), for platform-warriors to further entrench their positions, for outsiders to misunderstand what we love and for insiders to misappropriate it.  It’s a time for each of us to lift several nagging titles out of the backlog, and then to dig that backlog even deeper.  Keeping the past twelve months in mind, I’m not particularly optimistic about the next twelve.  But, in the spirit of renewal, I’ll wish us all — console and PC, indie and triple-A — a very happy and prosperous new year.

In light of his years of service, I’d also like to wish Jeremy a happy new year and rest of his life.  He’s decided the small matter of home life and child-rearing should take precedence over broadcasting and podcasting during one of his only free days, so we bid him farewell and hope that he will at least be kind enough to offer sideline opinions and technical support for the remaining manbabies with no actual babies to call their own.  Thank you very much for everything, sir.

 

We’re ringing out the old at the following link.

We’ve yet to discover a good way to summarize a year in gaming, and we aren’t going to start now.  Even if we were inclined to do something other than follow the (sometimes unbelievable) progression of the year’s news events, we’d have a hard time reconciling our current state of mind with our memories and predictions from the previous spring and onward.  It’s been an ugly and uneven year in a lot of respects, and I’m not especially sad to see it gone.  I don’t know what there is to be optimistic about in the new year, but we haven’t given up hope for pleasant surprises for gamers, pleasant exchanges between gamers, clear backlogs, and a renewal of the childlike enthusiasm that dragged us into this hobby in the first place.