Features

By Brendon Bigley, April 23, 2014 0 News, PC

In an effort to bolster sales of its Rising Storm expansion pack this coming weekend, Tripwire Interactive has made its World War II shooter Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad free for the next 24 hours (Apr. 23) on Steam.

While it is a departure from the platform’s typical “Free Weekends,” downloading Red Orchestra 2 today will permanently add the game to your library. Tripwire will be hosting a “Free Weekend” of their Rising Storm DLC this Saturday with a discounted price for those who wish to keep it afterwards.

Red Orchestra 2, released back in September of 2011, is a World War II first-person shooter set in the perspective of the Axis powers in the battle of Stalingrad. It is also worth noting that RO2 features music from composer Sam Hulick of the Mass Effect series. In May 2013, Tripwire released its Rising Storm DLC which adds the Pacific war context between the US and Japan, highlighting weaponry differences and modified strategies.

Adding the game to your library today seems like a no-brainer. Whether you feel inclined to pick up the DLC or not is your call, but the way I see it, one more Steam game is just a drop in the bucket of my already endless back-log.

It’s definitely worth a try.

Source: Twitter

By Pixelitis Staff, April 23, 2014 0 Features, Pixelitis Picks

Endings can be a finicky thing, especially when deus ex machina is involved.

When one finishes a videogame, the final moments are often the most crucial and defining aspects of the virtual experience. Not only will this last bit be the final taste the player is left with, the ending is also the culmination of all the player’s actions up to that moment. Be it a final boss or a race against the clock, a game ideally puts all the player’s acquired strengths to the ultimate test.

That, or an omnipotent force comes out of nowhere and immediately saves the day. Well, that was anticlimactic.

Whether you love them or hate them, the deus ex machina is a plot device that is commonly used in all types of fiction. They are perhaps most notorious in videogames as the deus ex machina often takes power away from the player and can often make the ending seem out of one’s control.

Regardless, we at Pixelitis decided to chronicle our most memorable experiences with the frequently used trope. Feel free to share us your own thoughts in the comments section below.

And just a warning: there will be spoilers posted for Mass Effect 3, Resident Evil 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4.

Memorable use of deus ex machina: The Catalyst in Mass Effect 3

me3 final choiceLet’s get this one out of the way. I need not harp on the unparalleled controversy and debate that was spawned by Mass Effect 3‘s highly controversial ending.

But now that the year of throwing eggs at Bioware and EA has passed (okay, maybe not EA), I think it’s important to look back on ME3 and dissect why the final moments of the game were lost on so many people.

Coincidentally, I felt Mass Effect 2 had a perfect ending, and it stuck out to me that the same creative team behind both games could drastically drop the ball when they had succeeded so well a few years prior.

ME2 succeeds with its ending because of its player involvement. The main drive throughout the game is to assemble a crew, and the final mission of the game tests your ability to do so. Your strategic placement, personal relationships, and in-game statistics all determine who makes it out alive. It’s a gripping final mission that has many different outcomes all based on what the player, as Shepard, has done throughout the entire game.

Meanwhile, Mass Effect 3 has Shepard confronted by an AI intelligence that forces him to choose the fate of the Reapers and (by extension) all life throughout the galaxy. While it is still the player’s decision to make, it is a much less personal and involved decision than the final mission of ME2. The player isn’t in control of any of the outcomes and we simply watch as the fate we have chosen unfolds.

The AI (known as the Catalyst) is the lazy kind of deus ex machina that simply ends the game’s problems too immediately without a second thought. The “Destroy” ending (in my opinion) was the most Mass Effect-feeling decision because it at least let the player make the most of their last playable action. And that’s not to mention the leaps in logic that follow the Synthesize and Control endings. And when I say leaps in logic, keep in mind ME2 starts with Shepard being brought back to life.

But seriously, screw the “Synthesize” ending. Didn’t we kill Saren for a reason?

- Stephen Hilger

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Memorable use of deus ex machina: Last-minute rocket launcher in Resident Evil 2

leonrocketlauncherPicture this: you’ve got five minutes before the secret underground Umbrella laboratory you’re currently in blows up.

If it’s your first time playing Leon’s alternate “B” scenario campaign, then you might be low on ammo and health items for the game’s epic finale. Nevertheless, you saunter on, trying to restore power to the shuttle that’ll take you out of the facility. Suddenly, there’s a rumble and the ever-persistent “Mr. X” T-003 Tyrant that’s been giving you heart attacks throughout the entire game drops down, mutated into something absurdly disgusting and on fire.

He’s faster than he was before and his catastrophically damaging hits put your health at a dangerously low level. What do you do? Well, like the first RE before it, the game kicks in with a deus ex machina in which a supporting character tosses down a rocket launcher for you to defeat it. The silhouetted character (who is without a doubt Ada Wong, the character you thought had just suffered a miserable death) yells out “Here, use this!” and after safely equipping it, you’re treated to a typical 90s-era “Game Over” one-liner, followed by an epic shot of the nightmarish demon blown to bits by your newly-acquired god-tier weapon.

In hindsight, it was a very typical way to cheapen an end boss fight. After all, so much of the media we read, watch and play have used this form of deus ex machina to no end.

But you know what? It didn’t cheapen the feeling of relief I had when I witnessed that freakish stalker blown into smithereens. Relying on a last-minute weapon became a series tradition. Resident Evil 3 had it in the form of a railgun/magnum combo, Resident Evil 4 features a nod to RE2′s moment and Resident Evil 5 has an upgrade of this moment by incorporating two rocket launchers into the mix (right into the noggin of the endboss, no less).

- Patrick Kulikowski

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Memorable use of deus ex machina: Nanomachines in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

oldsnake_shotSay what you will about his penchant for overblown cutscenes and love of scatological humor, Hideo Kojima will likely go down as one of the most influential people in the games industry. From Snatcher to Zone of the Enders to the insanely iconic Metal Gear series, his stories reverberate with so many people throughout the globe.

Yet among the storylines rife with clones, power hungry Russians and corrupt U.S. politicians, one major plot device in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots sticks out as a major cop out…I mean flagrant use of the deus ex machina plot device.

Nanomachines.

After spending three main titles and a handful of smaller releases trying to cement that Naked Snake, aka Big Boss, was at the center of everything going on whether he was willing or not, it seemingly came down to tiny machines in people’s bloodstreams that changed the course of Kojima’s so-called magnum opus.

Need to explain why guns found on the battlefield are locked to individual soldiers and as such, Snake won’t be able to use them until he goes to the store? Nanomachines. How do you make every soldier in the planet’s various private military companies (PMCs) join up with Revolver Ocelot in one fell swoop? Nanomachines.

What’s that? You still haven’t explained why Revolver Ocelot took on the mannerisms of Liquid Snake after grafting one of his arms to replace the one he lost in Metal Gear SolidNanomachines…and hypnotherapy…

I know trying to say the Metal Gear Solid series had any semblance of a coherent story line is laughable, but by the end of MGS4, a giant Metal Gear comprised solely of trillions of nanomachines probably wouldn’t have phased me.

- Andrew Martins

By Mercer Smith-Looper, April 23, 2014 1 Multiplatform, News

A bug that allowed players to duplicate items in Elder Scrolls Online was squashed by ZeniMax Online Studios over the weekend, resulting in a large number of player bans and the seizure of guild banks on North American and European servers.

The bug, which allowed players to duplicate items and materials by placing them in their bank before repeatedly selling those items, was quickly fixed in patch 1.04.

News of the bug had already spread like wildfire, however and ESO Community Manager Jessica Folsom said the indefinite banning of thousands of players from Tamriel was the “first major strike against those who choose to cheat.”

“This is only the beginning of our ongoing efforts to keep the game free from botters, speed hackers, and gold spammers. We want to thank everyone who has sent in-game reports about these individuals in ESO—your reports helped us identify many of the accounts we banned today,” Folsom wrote in a forum post.

ZeniMax Online Studios have since provided ESO with a system for players who felt that they were wrongly banned to appeal the action.

While it is unclear at this time whether this has already affected the game’s economy moving forward, it’s quite a blow to the fledgling MMO just three weeks after release.

Though already out for PC and Mac, ESO is slated to make its way onto the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this June.

By Pixelitis Staff, April 22, 2014 0 Podcast

Ah, technology. Gotta love it.

In this week’s Pixelitis Podcast, not only do we have the irreverent Stephen Hilger taking up the third chair with Karen Rivera and Andrew Martins, we’ve also given you a glimpse into the show’s gritty underbelly. It’s a chance to see what happens when three people get on a Skype chat and stop being polite… and start being real.

…Or was that The Real World?

Either way, the show hits a technical snag and rather than edit out or redo the entire section, we’ve kept it in. It’s really only a few seconds, but why not have a little fun at our expense?

We also manage to talk about some of the past week’s biggest news, including Martin O’Donnell’s unceremonious removal from Bungie and the semi-breaking news that all PSP and PS1 Classics now work on the Vita.

As always, feel free to hit play below. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.


Follow us on Twitter:

Intro: “Diamond” by Monomirror, from Brave Wave’s “In Flux”
Break: “Lanius (Battle)” by Ben Prunty for FTL: Advanced Edition Soundtrack
Outro: “Cranberries’ ZOMBIE” Nintendo Hyper 8-Bit by Daryl Banner

By Andrew Martins, April 21, 2014 0 Multiplatform, News

The release of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition may not be for another few months at the earliest, but thanks to an announcement earlier today, we’ll at least know what the box will look like when it does finally hit store shelves.

Found after the break, the game’s box art shows an unknown protagonist using magic to fight back what looks like a teeming horde of bad guys. Pretty epic stuff. In conjunction with the image’s reveal on the official Dragon Age Twitter account, the phrase “they say only the Inquisitor has the power to stop it” was posted.

Dragon Age Creative Director Mike Laidlaw said the protagonist on the image was purposely left gender neutral in an effort to convey that players will be able to create their own character.

That statement is telling, as Dragon Age II forced players to play as a human character named Hawke with very little variation on the actual character itself – a stark contrast from Dragon Age: Origins.

Dragon Age: Inquisition will be available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC later this year.

dragonageinquisition

By Patrick Kulikowski, April 21, 2014 0 News, PS Vita, PSP

Remember when the PlayStation Vita only supported certain PSone Classics and digital PSP titles? That seems to be a thing of the past now, as it has been discovered that nearly every downloadable PSone and PSP title on the PlayStation Network will now work on the handheld.

Titles like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and all of their sequels have not had any Vita support since the PSone Classics feature rolled out on the system. Thanks to some curious NeoGAF users, however, it has been discovered that these games can now be downloaded from the PlayStation Store via PS3 and/or web browser and transferred to the Vita. This has also been extended to any PSP games you previously couldn’t play on the system, including titles like ModNation Racers and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. PSone Classics like Pocket Fighter still don’t work, unfortunately.

As of this writing, Sony has yet to comment on this new development.

I’m just glad that I finally have use of all those free Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games sitting uninstalled on my PS3 hard drive. A shame that this update wasn’t apparent this past weekend, as I’m sure a lot of people would have heartily engorged in that Crash/Spyro $0.99 sale if they knew that they’d be working on Vitas.

Source: NeoGAF (1) (2)

By Andrew Martins, April 21, 2014 0 Industry, News

It seems Twitter is the place to announce the end of your tenure at a game development company these days, as Nate Wells, the lead artist behind Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, announced earlier today that he no longer works at the Sony subsidiary.

Not only that, but he’s been out of the company for nearly three weeks.

Giant Sparrow, for those who don’t know, is the company that created The Unfinished Swan. The indie dev company based out of Santa Monica has been reportedly working on a new title that has yet to be officially announced.

According to Wells’ Twitter bio, he will now serve as Giant Sparrow’s art director.

News of Wells’ departure comes hot off the heels of both Amy Henning and Justin Richmond’s, both of which left of their own accord to join up with other studios.

While it may seem like Naughty Dog is hemorrhaging talent to some, this isn’t the first time Wells has left a major company following a blockbuster release. Prior to working on The Last of Us, he did art work for Irrational Games’ Bioshock Infinite and SWAT 4.

Other games under his belt include System Shock 2 and Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich.

Naughty Dog is slated to release The Last of Us Remastered for the PlayStation 4 on June 20. The re-released version will reportedly boast a native 1080p resolution and will include all previously released downloadable content.

By Stephen Hilger, April 21, 2014 0 Features, Postcard Review

(Editor’s note: In the Postcard Review, members of the Pixelitis staff write small, easily digestible reviews big enough to ‘fit on a postcard’ – hence the title. It can be about the whole experience or just a small piece of the pie. No scores needed.)

When a game is considered one of the greatest of all time, it’s important to look back on it and see what exactly made it so universally hailed.

For many people, Chrono Trigger is a staple of childhood. This is a game that pits time-traveling robots and talking frogs against aliens and dinosaurs. And all of the character designs are by the same artist from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. I can’t think of a bigger 90s childhood fantasy unless the Street Sharks were to make a cameo.

The plot (time travel aside) is a brilliantly simple adventure story that is strengthened by clear stakes, a great sense of humor, and lovable characters. I stress this a lot: a game can have as messy of a plot as it wants, but as long as we care about the characters, we will want to keep playing to see them through. Between the heroic-yet-silent Crono, the paternal Robo and chivalrous Frog, this game has one of the most iconic and empathetic casts of all time. Just look at them.

One of my favorite features is the pairing system. Many characters can do special moves together, such as Frog and Crono’s X-Slash. Allowing the gameplay to change depending on one’s personal preference of character is something more games (especially RPGs) should have.

Honestly, this game is flawless. I myself played Chrono Cross first, and while I love that game too, Chrono Trigger is a true masterpiece.

By Patrick Kulikowski, April 21, 2014 0 Features, PAX East '14

Indie developers had three days at last week’s PAX East 2014 to show off their games to the myriad of people swarming the show floor, but what if they only had 30 seconds to sell people on it?

That’s precisely what Karen, Andrew and I set out to do when scoping out the Indie Megabooth for new games to check out. In our latest video, we put indie developers to the test in providing elevator pitches for their upcoming games in 30 seconds or less.

Supergiant Games, Klei Entertainment, 17-BIT, Vlambeer, Brace Yourself Games, Discord Games, Yacht Club Games, Iridium Studios and Loveshack took our challenge and we’ve pieced together the outcome.

The results are a ridiculous combination of impressive and utterly amusing speed-talking. We suggest that you give it a watch after the break.

If you enjoyed the video, be sure to give us a rating, comment and a subscription on the YouTube page.

By Andrew Martins, April 20, 2014 0 News, Site news

There’s so much that comes with the advent of Spring. Brighter days, warmer temperatures, blue skies – it’s all just right for an idyllic day in the park.

After a week of recovery from last weekend’s foray into Boston, we’ve begun posting some of the previews that came from our time at PAX East. There’s still some more coming in the next few days, so be sure to check that out when it comes.

As for what’s after the break, you’ve got the last two weeks of content waiting for you. Everything from the latest Hotline Miami 2 trailer to the release date of the highly anticipated title from Supergiant Games, Transistor.

We’ve even got a brand new podcast for you to listen to, which will continue being released on Tuesdays from now on.

So sit back, relax and catch up on everything Pixelitis. And all without having to say “So Long, Mom.”

News

Rise of the Triad patch goes all Army of Darkness on us

Kojima takes to Twitter for fan feedback on Ground Zeroes

New Hotline Miami 2 trailer explodes with blood

New Super Smash Bros. details: all aboard the hype train

Metroid Metal blasts out surprise new “Other Album”

Transistor coming out on May 20

Weekly Digital: In space… everything sounds awesome

Citizens of Earth to be funded by Atlus

Snoop Dogg to voice in-game announcer in Call of Duty DLC

New production company created by Video Game Orchestra

Famed Halo composer Martin O’Donnell fired from Bungie [UPDATE]

Game Music Bundle 7 packages 17 albums for $10

DuckTales Remastered soundtrack gets a digital release

Weekly Digital: Squirrel!

PAX East 2014

[PAX East '14] Soda Drinker Pro coming to Xbox One

[PAX East '14] Sewing up three days of cosplay

[PAX East '14] Distance has cars that jump, rotate and soar

[PAX East '14] Turning the beat around on Crypt of the Necrodancer

[PAX East '14] Why it’s awesome being a female in the gaming industry

Features

Postcard Review: Shadow of the Colossus

Of Smash Bros and Men: An open letter from Capt. Falcon

Cosplay etiquette 101: How to respectfully get the shot

Pixelitis Picks: Games we hope to see in virtual reality

Podcast

The Pixelitis Podcast Ep. 72 – Gentle Starfish of PAX East