Conference Call

GWJ Conference Call Episode 320

Wii U Updates, PS Vita PS+, Hitman: Absolution, Planetside 2, Mass Effect 3, Rabbit's Cocktail Cabinet, Your Emails and more!

Today Rob Zacny, Julian and Shawn enjoy a leisurely post-Thanksgiving email/twitter show!

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.

Jonathan Downin About.Me
Tweaked Audio (Use discount code GWJ)

Chairman_Mao's Timestamps
00.01.38 Mass Effect 3
00.08.52 Rabbit's Thanksgiving project: Cocktail Arcade Cabinet
00.12.40 Walking Dead
00.13.38 Planetside 2
00.24.19 Hitman Absolution
00.32.43 Various Wii U games (Nintendoland, Super Mario, Pikmin3)
00.35.23 PlayStation Vita
00.39.44 Nostalgia lightning round! Zelda: Link to the Past
00.40.13 McElroy and Zacny's undying love for Gunnar Shades
00.45.53 Twitter questions and your emails!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Waking Up Instrumental - Dexter Britain - - 45:25

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks


All that I'll say on the "ethics in games journalism" front is that you don't have to be pushed into a binary outcome. Persecuting games journalism against an impossible, mythical standard of the past isn't really productive; neither is laughing and handwaving away the very idea of journalistic ethics existing in any medium today.

We're only a few months removed from Jonah Lehrer's downfall from plagiarism at Wired. A cursory, thirty-second Google search reveals a blog post that discusses ethical standards for fashion blogging. I'm still new to The Business but, personally, I don't see this as some momentary lapse into navel-gazing that's specific to games journalism (let's talk about game reviews!). I see it as an ongoing struggle across all of media as it continues its steady migration into online forms of consumption and distribution.

I see it as an ongoing struggle across all of media as it continues its steady migration into online forms of consumption and distribution.

Yeah, man.


Just now caught the podcast today, and just popping in long enough to back up Rob on the Gunnars. I took a flyer on a pair a while back based on some moderately convincing testimonial from an acquaintance that sounded a lot like Rob's did on the podcast.

For a long while I'd been getting headaches whenever I played games that tended to keep my eyes moving from spot to spot on the screen constantly. This meant FPS games and any faster tempo RTS games (like my never to be challenged favorite Starcraft 2) would hit me pretty hard after about maybe an hour.

At first I just took to stopping whenever it was opportune and looking out my doorway and down the hall and just focusing on something as far away as I could for a minute, and then sitting back and kind of letting my eyes unfocus and chill for another minute after. That helped things some, but basically only delayed the headaches by maybe half an hour or 45 minutes or so. I found that no matter what I couldn't seem to rest my eyes enough to really make up for all the staring at the monitor.

And mind you I've already done everything else there is to be done. I tweaked the brightness down on my monitors as low as it can be set without sacrificing picture quality, I bought strips of colored LED lights and mounted them to the backs of my monitors to ease the eye strain that goes with staring at a screen in a dark room, if there's a way to help ease eye strain I had already done it.

So with all that effort already put in and the headaches still getting at me (just a little slower than they used to) I bought a pair of Gunnars.

And they just f*cking work. I haven't had a headache while gaming since, including a couple of multi-hour sessions on FPS games in the last couple months.

So while their marketing may be absolutely ridiculous, there is at least SOME merit to their products for some of us.


I don't think it's a secret that you and I have different opinions on a number of things, but I think rabbit hit it right on the dot when he mentioned that you were hitting the worst part of Mass Effect 3 when you park yourself into a cover position and just empty clip after clip of bullets into Cerberus and Reaper troops.

I don't think it's because you're playing a Soldier class. That would have been the case in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. It's a lot less the case in Mass Effect 3. Played purely as a Gears of War clone, it's really not very good. Mass Effect's claim to fame has always been the RPG aspect combined with the shooting aspect.

Mass Effect 3 expands two aspects of combat:

1. Most importantly - and if you get nothing else from my post here, you need to hear this - is that the Soldier's active Carnage and Concussive Shot powers, as well as the ammo element powers now factor into the power combo system. As far as I can tell, Cryo and Inciendary ammo powers can now initiate or finish combos initiated by other powers, though I could be mistaken on the finishing aspect.

The fast, entertaining way to play Mass Effect is to blow up your enemies with combo after combo - that enemy group gets exploded into burning husks - these get shattered into ice fragments - and that last one gets drawn into a Singularity and blasted with a biotic explosion into the sky.

2. Mass Effect's AI in ally AI and enemy AI are much better than before, which dovetails with the maps to create a more dynamic experience. Mass Effect is tuned easy enough to finish it the Gears way, but it's boring. The nice way to do it is to use your AI allies and your own movement to move from cover to cover using sprint in order to arrive at cross map cover positions. It's a lot less like a traditional shooter this way and somewhat more like EPOCH on the iPad.

As a free-moving unit, Shepard really does move like a truck, so I tend not to move her a lot unless I'm sprinting or rolling from one cover position to the next.

With the right flanking position, enemies lose the benefit of riot shields and cover. Battles are over quicker, and they're more dynamic while they last.

Finally listening to this one.

On the topic of inappropriate achievement timing, how about Portal 2's subversion of that trend? I think that's one of the few (if not the only) games that have used achievements to enhance the gameplay or narrative.

EDIT: If I was still wearing contacts, I'd be interested in trying the gunnars. The gunky, icky feeling Rob described was one of the main reasons for going back to glasses.