GWJ Conference Call Episode 175

Conference Call

Bioshock 2, Dante's Inferno, Slay, Space Miner, A New Contest, Lots of Your Emails and more!

This week we try to tackle our insane email backlog and get caught up. We also launch a new name that game contest, we'll pick the winners in a couple weeks. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

'Baba Yetu" - Civilizations 4 - (Christopher Tin) - http://christophertin.com/callingall... - 0:38:08

Comments

Woo! New Podcast. You guys just saved my Wednesday afternoon.

You made my day Rabbit. I'm glad you like my recommendation of Slay. I never would have likened it as Civ 4 without a tech tree though.

That mangling of "Dunedin" was brilliant! For future reference, it's pronounced Dun Eden. You may remember it from such stories as "The Call of Cthulu".

Kinda surprised there was a listener from there, it's a pretty small place. Like many people who grew up there, I got out as fast as humanly possible.

Very painful to hear them talk about Bioshock 2!
Such a nice game and so much trash talk.

BTW anyone seen the AvP scores?!?!? GwJ'ers save your breath on a great game like Bioshock 2 and use it for AvP a real turd of a game...

Wait a minute, Ryan is back? Maybe that's not a spoiler, but the last time I saw the guy he was involved in a very nasty golfing accident. I hope they at least use a good cliché to justify his presence.

I find it interesting that Rob and Shawn seemed to be a lot harder on Bioshock 2 than Dante's Inferno. I personally thought that Bioshock 2 was extremely well done. It can't be easy trying to follow up such an iconic game, and if you take it on its own, it's amazing.

Oh ouch, calling out the voice acting specifically. Poor Growat.

gore wrote:

Wait a minute, Ryan is back? Maybe that's not a spoiler, but the last time I saw the guy he was involved in a very nasty golfing accident. I hope they at least use a good cliché to justify his presence.

It's just more audio logs from before the first game

I feel like the goal of the contest was unclear. Do you want a name as it would appear on a soundtrack, or a location in a game that the song comes from?

I agree Rob the Civ4 music is one of my favorite!

I wonder if anyone will get all six songs I chose. I know two of them will be very hard for console only gamers.

AmazingZoidberg wrote:

I feel like the goal of the contest was unclear. Do you want a name as it would appear on a soundtrack, or a location in a game that the song comes from?

The name of the game the song is from. If you can be that specific ... ye gads. I only recognized like TWO of them.

Still making my way through the episode, but I thought I'd chime in real quick after hearing the discussion about Secret of Mana.

As mentioned on the podcast, you can grab it on the Virtual Console for 800 Wii Points and I agree that it's absolutely worth checking out. It has a number of niggling issues -- the core combat mechanics are a bit clunky, there are localization compromises and technical issues throughout the game (due in part to the late format change during the game's development) and the multiplayer capabilities are actually a bit limited (since you actually have to play a couple of hours into the game before you're allowed to control multiple characters) -- but there is something about that game that manages to shine beyond all of that somehow. It's truly unique, which is a point that Jeremy Parish really nailed when he wrote about the game a while back.

And I think Certis is absolutely correct in calling out the lackluster lineage of the Mana series. As Squaresoft, they neglected to bring Seiken Densetsu 3 -- which some would argue is actually the best game in the series -- over to North America; as Square-Enix, they ran the series straight into the ground through a seemingly endless spew of sequels in the mid-00's, all of which lacked the same charm as the original.

I was so stoked when I heard the Civ 4 music here while I am listening to the podcast at work. Having your podcasts during the middle of the week helps soooo much in surviving my high stress job that seems to take it tolls by Wed and/or Thursday.

I have to say however is that I think you guys were a little hard on Bioshock 2. The story does have a slow start, but I totally feel like I got my money's worth out of the game, and I have already started a second playthough of it just because I want to enjoy the graphics still and try a few other fun strategies with the plasmids and tonics in single player. The multiplay is nice but it doesn't have the lasting power to me to keep me playing it once I get Mass Effect 2, the new Splinter Cell, and the enjoyment I get from multiplay games that are actually not on the 360 like League of Legends, Global Union, Team Fortress 2 and others that are still fun to play on the PC time and time again.

I think BioShock 2's big problem is that first impressions are huge in gaming...and it already has an uphill battle on that front, since it has to "earn" its right to exist with players that have clearly -- and perhaps rigidly -- defined their opinions on the setting from their experiences in the first game.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

I think BioShock 2's big problem is that first impressions are huge in gaming...and it already has an uphill battle on that front, since it has to "earn" its right to exist with players that have clearly -- and perhaps rigidly -- defined their opinions on the setting from their experiences in the first game.

One solution would be to stop games from needing to be a 'hit' within the first month or it's a 'failure'. The cynic in me thinks that now the game is out the door 2k will just move development onto the next thing instead of improving the game and extending the sales life of the game.

I was holding off on my buy/no-buy decision for BioShock 2 until I heard the podcast and based on what I heard I'll be giving this one a pass. Even BioShock 1 didn't give me a nice buzz when I played through it a second time.

And hearing the Civ 4 music reminded me of when I played through the tutorial and actually said angrily to my monitor, "Yes, thank you Sid, I think I got it now!"

I was holding off on my buy/no-buy decision for BioShock 2 until I heard the podcast and based on what I heard I'll be giving this one a pass. Even BioShock 1 didn't give me a nice buzz when I played through it a second time.

Really the problem with Bioshock 2 is that all the really good stuff is at the end. The last couple of hours blew my mind. But you have to get through several "meh" levels to get there.

I'm hoping the podcast crew revisits Bioshock 2 after actually beating the game because I think Bioshock 2 actually did several noteworthy and enjoyable things very differently from Bioshock.

As one of the (apparently) few people who couldn't stand Bioshock, I'm actually eagerly awaiting my opportunity to play the sequel. It just looks like it would be more fun for me. Unfortunately, I haven't heard opinions of the sequel from anyone who doesn't already worship at the altar of the original.

PyromanFO wrote:
I was holding off on my buy/no-buy decision for BioShock 2 until I heard the podcast and based on what I heard I'll be giving this one a pass. Even BioShock 1 didn't give me a nice buzz when I played through it a second time.

Really the problem with Bioshock 2 is that all the really good stuff is at the end. The last couple of hours blew my mind. But you have to get through several "meh" levels to get there.

I'm hoping the podcast crew revisits Bioshock 2 after actually beating the game because I think Bioshock 2 actually did several noteworthy and enjoyable things very differently from Bioshock.

Yeah, BioShock 2 severely underwhelmed me for the first hour or so. It felt very "Oh. I guess I'm in Rapture again and I guess it looks pretty much the same." After getting over that hump, though, I started to find myself enjoying it a lot. I liked what Tycho wrote about it at Penny-Arcade today:

Penny-Arcade wrote:

It took three nights to get into Bioshock 2 - three nights being a span of time with a bit of poetry to it. That's how long I needed to burrow under the preconceptions that clung to every polygon being presented. You can lose your mind in this pursuit, comparing each pixel to the remembered one from two and a half years ago; this introduction to that, one menagerie to the other. I'm perfectly aware of these dangers, to the extent that I warned you about them myself, but even with this mantra fully present to the extent of it being almost luminous in the mind I couldn't shake it.

The story still hasn't grabbed me, and I absolutely can't stand to listen to Sinclair talk, but the gameplay is definitely working. I enjoy fighting the big daddies again, and I really like setting up an area with traps and preparations before harvesting Adam. The one thing that completely blew me away that felt like it was better than it was in the first game was the walks on the sea floor outside. They really made the bottom of the ocean look beautiful.

I'll be revising my opinion a bit now that I'm close to the end. I think Pyro has the right of it. I'm surprised Rob finished it and maintained the story was crap and the gameplay "mediocre" all the way through. It's really gone from "pretty good" to "awesome" over the final four hour span.

The last couple of hours are especially entertaining.
For me personally that game is a suprise hit!

Just picked up AvP. Hope it is not as bad as early reviews make it to be...

Certis wrote:

I'll be revising my opinion a bit now that I'm close to the end. I think Pyro has the right of it. I'm surprised Rob finished it and maintained the story was crap and the gameplay "mediocre" all the way through. It's really gone from "pretty good" to "awesome" over the final four hour span.

Interesting. It sounds like they decided to take the opposite approach of the original game, which blows its load of awesome a bit prematurely.

I really had no desire for this game to be made, and I'm still not sold on it, but I'm finding my resolve to avoid it wavering.

Certis wrote:

I'll be revising my opinion a bit now that I'm close to the end. I think Pyro has the right of it. I'm surprised Rob finished it and maintained the story was crap and the gameplay "mediocre" all the way through. It's really gone from "pretty good" to "awesome" over the final four hour span.

Yeah, I'm still in the first act and even in the early game, it's clear that the gameplay in Bioshock 2 has been refined and improved over the original.

I think a lot of us shared a similar experience with the first Bioshock, in which the first time through was fantastic, but upon finishing the game and starting a new one on a higher difficulty, all momentum just kind of fizzled out after a couple of hours. Once I already knew the story, had seen all the environments and experienced all the scripted scares and set pieces, the combat was not quite deep enough to outweigh the tedious parts, like the incessant hacking minigame.

In my opinion Marin 2K has done a fantastic job of both enhancing the gameplay strengths of the original Bioshock (giving the player a wider variety of combat options and a bigger, more varied sandbox in which to play) and addressing its weaknesses (the streamlined hacking, collect x number of items fetch quests). I'm really enjoying myself so far, and I can easily see myself revisiting Bioshock 2 just to play in the sandbox.

A story that goes from not so great to pretty interesting in the end does not make a good story. If you were reading a book would have you suffered through the first 2/3rds of a not so great book in the hopes it got better in the end? Probably not. With video games though the most important thing is fun game play, which Bioshock 2 had a good amount of. Like I said on the show, it's not a horrible game, it's just not great. Bioshock 2 just did not live up to the first games standards.

I am not saying Bioshock didn't have it's faults, it certainly did, but I was hooked almost from the get go. Each level was interesting to explore. The game play was interesting and new. The game was great at building up tension before each major battle. I was freaked out constantly by the game, and the story was great.

Compare that to the sequel. I never felt scared in Bioshock 2, the levels were mundane in comparison to the first, the game play was no longer new and interesting but expected. the story was repetitive and not very interesting until you get near the end. They completely missed opportunities to do some really cool underwater game play and the one time they change things up and really got me interested in what was going on, it was over all too soon.

So there you have it. For me Bioshock 2 was disappointing but not bad, and I could have lived without the sequel.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

And I think Certis is absolutely correct in calling out the lackluster lineage of the Mana series. As Squaresoft, they neglected to bring Seiken Densetsu 3 -- which some would argue is actually the best game in the series -- over to North America; as Square-Enix, they ran the series straight into the ground through a seemingly endless spew of sequels in the mid-00's, all of which lacked the same charm as the original.

A group of fans have translated Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 3) to English. Anyone who enjoyed Secret of Mana really owes it to themselves to play this on an emulator.

I have a copy and can share. I figured it's no loss for the developer/publisher since they never sold it in North America but if an admin doesn't feel comfortable about it, I'll withdraw my offer of sharing it.

I think it's impossible to come to Bioshock2 without the baggage of Bioshock, if you played the first game. They could have done more to deal with this, design-wise. For one thing, I think they really dropped the ball with the opening of B2. I felt like I was just dropped in the middle of the game, given a pat on the ass and a "let's get going then." They should have taken the time to create a more in-depth introduction to your character and situation, similar in scope to B1, so that you feel like you're (re-)discovering where you are and what you're doing.

I never felt scared in Bioshock 2

Really? I just about peed myself with fear when the whistle-trill of the Big Sister started up the second time — after I'd learned how many ways she could kick my ass the first time around.

And I disagree about the underwater disappointment. I've been relieved every time I get a few minutes to catch my breath in the water, knowing that nothing was going to be coming after me for a few minutes.

Gaald wrote:

A story that goes from not so great to pretty interesting in the end does not make a good story. If you were reading a book would have you suffered through the first 2/3rds of a not so great book in the hopes it got better in the end? Probably not.

On the other side of that coin, what if the first 2/3rds were brilliant but the ending was a jarring disappointment? Hmmm, what game does that sound like?

Compare that to the sequel. I never felt scared in Bioshock 2, the levels were mundane in comparison to the first, the game play was no longer new and interesting but expected. the story was repetitive and not very interesting until you get near the end. They completely missed opportunities to do some really cool underwater game play and the one time they change things up and really got me interested in what was going on, it was over all too soon.

See, I think you're criticizing 2K Marin for failing to achieve goals that they never even intended to achieve. Bioshock 2 goes further down the path of "kick-ass shooter," and in that regard it is a greater success than the first game. The levels that you criticize as mundane are also much larger, less linear and far more interesting places in which to engage enemies with a wide variety of tactics. They're not necessarily going for survival horror scares, or ultra-tense resource management, or whatever. It's not a spiritual successor to System Shock 2 anymore, it's a sequel to the kick-ass shooter that was Bioshock.

For some players, that might be a deal-breaker, but for me it was the right decision. As much as I loved Bioshock (SPOILER: I loved it a lot) I felt that once the curtain was pulled back on the fantastic story and setting, the tedious aspects of the gameplay were too distracting to keep me coming back for the kick-ass shooter. Bioshock 2 remedies that. I recognize that people may have legitimate differences of opinion with me on that matter.

mrwynd wrote:
OzymandiasAV wrote:

And I think Certis is absolutely correct in calling out the lackluster lineage of the Mana series. As Squaresoft, they neglected to bring Seiken Densetsu 3 -- which some would argue is actually the best game in the series -- over to North America; as Square-Enix, they ran the series straight into the ground through a seemingly endless spew of sequels in the mid-00's, all of which lacked the same charm as the original.

A group of fans have translated Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 3) to English. Anyone who enjoyed Secret of Mana really owes it to themselves to play this on an emulator.

I have a copy and can share. I figured it's no loss for the developer/publisher since they never sold it in North America but if an admin doesn't feel comfortable about it, I'll withdraw my offer of sharing it.

Yeah, I wasn't sure whether to mention it in my post or not...but yeah, it's certainly worth seeking out the translation if you're willing to play it on an emulator. If the availability of the product is important to that kind of decision for you, keep in mind that it's not available on the Wii Virtual Console or any other "formal" distribution outlet.

TempestBlayze wrote:

I agree Rob the Civ4 music is one of my favorite!

Ditto! For me, in-game music almost always detracts from (rather than adds to) my experience, so I turn it off. But that Civ 4 music is probably my second all-time favorite (behind Brütal Legend).

Hey, at least Bioshock 2 hasn't yet filled time with useless fetch quest after useless fetch quest. I was ready to give up on Bioshock just before the big reveal. It came within 20 minutes of completely losing my interest just before throwing out one of the better narrative moments that video games have managed. But even with all that, the last act is a slog.

I don't think it's realistic to expect a "2" game to have the same sense of fresh wonderment that the first one did. By its nature it has to refine and expand what went on in the original. If you try to completely change it up and recapture the sense of new, you are doomed to fail.

I think the weakest aspect of Bioshock 2 so far is that the environmental combat tactics seem harder to set up, or maybe I'm just dumber. I find myself getting into too many straight up combat situations which I tend to lose.