Overwatch Specialist Servers


Overwatch needs Specialist Servers, elite arenas only for those who spend at least 90% of their time mastering a single class. And here’s the trick: we’ll act like that’s a good thing! We’ll give them custom portraits. We’ll give them novelty skins. We’ll give them a specialist-only club where they can flashbang-Widow-Ryuu-wa-ga-teki-wo-kurau each other till the end of time and casual players need never darken their doorstep again.

And when they try to come out they’ll find those doors locked. While the rest of us enjoy Overwatch, a game about changing class. And understand that unless you’ve found a way to attack health-kits to arrows you simply can’t be a good enough sniper to solve “NO SUPPORT”.

Bonuses Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Behold the Bonus Material! I wrote a complete military history of Call of Duty for the cool folk over at Den of Geek, and when they pushed their plate away after only the main series entries, full of fantastic faux-fighting fun, that meant more material for you!

THE ABSOLUTE WORST: Black Ops: Declassified

Military history is littered with new inventions which just didn’t work and the corpses of those who tried to use them. Black Op: Declassified was released on the PS Vita, and worked about as well releasing the pin from a grenade. Inside a tank. That’s been filled with napalm for no adequately explained reason, but would still be more potentially useful than this disaster of a game.

You could finish the single-player campaign faster than you could field-strip and reassemble a rifle, and you’d be better off throwing the dismantled parts at an enemy than trying to use the touch controls on this unstable multiplayer network. And the AI enemies were so stupid that would work, because they wouldn’t know which part of the gun was actually the bullets and would assume they were dead. Either that, or they’d just got stuck against one of the walls again.

Strike Team

Strike Team was the iOS and Android entry in the series, and just like the little portable screens it was released on it turned out to be surprisingly useful. A drone’s-eye view lets you tap and swipe commands to your elite military unit, like a tactical tinder, and if they’d developed the whole game around that it would be higher on the list. Unfortunately it also insisted it was a “real” Call of Duty game with a first-person shooter mode controlled by touchscreen-thumbsticks. Which work about as well as touchscreen-dentistry, and are even more painful. Like any computer-expert geek trying to prove they could fight combat by jumping into real combat, it was crippled and just slowed everything else down.

Finest Hour

Finest Hour happened when Activision asked “What if we try releasing Call of Duty on consoles?”, and it’s still the closest anyone has come to programming a money volcano. This wasn’t a simple port of the original but an entirely new title, back when developers made an effort to convert titles instead of throwing the code at a new compiler and making their coders work overtime until it fit. Finest Hour featured an interleaving multi-fronted story with more understanding of the World War than most of the people who fought in it. It wasn’t so much a new release as a revelation.

Now go read the real article!

Ridiculously Sexy Video Game Costumes


Video game fashion would require event the most Parisian catwalk to be transported to the International Space Station, being not so much avante garde but actively anti-gravity. Because video game anatomy is a bizarre biological arms race, except there’s nothing biological about it and they’re aiming exactly between the arms.

We behold some of the most ridiculously sexy video game costumes, the most tragic application of Nintendo Difficulty, and wonder what exactly it is about dreamy dwarven pectorals that so terrifies game developers.

The Craziest Jaws Cash-ins

Buy the Jaws towel, thoughtfully pre-dyed yellow so that your terror pee doesn’t embarrass the bloody chunks of your family!

The only towel to keep you dry by scaring you out of getting wet

The only towel to keep you dry by scaring you out of getting wet

And that’s not even nearly the stupidest item of Weird Jaws Merchandise. You can also assemble the entire sea out of jigsaw pieces, celebrate Brody’s alcoholism, and behold the most blatant case of intellectual property theft outside of Shia LaBeouf.

More terrifying to the company's copyright lawyers

More terrifying to the company’s copyright lawyers

Now go be terrified by tubas! Or failing that, find out why sharks must be masters of disguise.

The Saga of Splatoon

My original ode to Splatoon is extending into a saga. The more I play the more I love it. I’ll have written the Inkyssey by the time I’m done and I’ll enjoy every second of it. Especially in the (dank) light of ridiculous complaints about the original piece. Like those who insist that every point is erased by pretending there’s a functional difference between modern first- and fixed camera over the shoulder third- person shooters.

"This might SEEM like a wasteland of desaturated murk, but if you look closely you can make out that we're looking over his scapula! Checkmate!"

“This might SEEM like a wasteland of desaturated murk, but if you look closely you can make out that we’re looking over his scapula! Checkmate!”

If they want to get technical they should talk about how precision console shooters are a contradiction in terms. Easily a cursor is what we invented mice for. Sharpshooting with a thumbstick is like performing heart surgery on a unicycle: you can learn to get precise enough, sure, but it’s awkward and clumsy and people are doing to die more by accident than intent. Splatoon is the first truly console shooter, the first to invent a weapon mechanic which works with that level of control.



Other reasons I love it:

  • Enemy players who “hide” and let me paint half the map to get close so that they can “surprise” me.
  • Including a ranked mode for those Stockholm Syndromed players who still need the risk of wasting entire games on zero result so that their little numbers and letters feel more important.
  • The steering skill and reflexes of Roller Chicken. Feint straight down the line then that little sideways shimmy like you’re judo-throwing them into an ink vat explosion.
  • XP and gold for the losing team so that even a team of idiots is just a new game mode where you extract as much value as you can. (Nothing like a spawn with four paths and three teammates all taking the same one.)
  • Enemy players with the most splats and the least points.
  • Ink-sharking: roller, squid backwards around a corner from a range enemy, and when they follow RISE UP LIKE A BRIGHT PINK JAWS! (And speaking of ridiculous Jaws…)
  • The next round of Dark Souls feels dark and oppressive again instead of “Gritty game rendered in a gravel quarry flooded by a sewage leak #3,432,843.

Now, if only someone would render de_dust2 so that we could finally colour that place in…

How Splatoon Will Save Shooters

An online squad-based shooter on the Wii is more adorable and less expected than kittens performing a piledriver. Splatoon is being mocked by hardcore gamers as a silly underpowered gimmick for children. You know, the same way the Wii was. Back before it was bought by every single person on the planet. One of my earliest positive career memories was getting triple-pay office temping during a bank holiday, which meant the bosses weren’t in, which meant I got 300% pay for playing Doom for eight hours. And Splatoon is even more fun.

splatoonMy latest Cracked column is an ode to this rainbow bursting across the bland rubble of modern online shooters. I still mourn the migration from Battlefield 3,I’m overexcited for Overwatch, my custom shooter mode is GoldenEye John Woo mode (Facility, DarkBots on a team against me, slow motion with pistols and shotgun only), and I’m telling you: Splatoon is the most exciting shooter on the market.

For more first-person action:

The Real Online Shooter Classes

The Counter-Strike Guide to Grammar

your-a-fagThe Dark Side of Duck Hunt

Surviving Smash TV with Four Fantastic Twin Stick Shooters

The Worst Jurassic Park Game Ever Would Have Been The Best Movie

I drill through the amber of history to extract The Strange History of Jurassic Park Games over at Den of Geek today. (Wait, this isn’t amber, it’s just old console plastic which has gone strangely yellow after years in the attic.)

jurassicgamingHere I want to share some extra material I had to cut for space. Jurassic Park: Trespasser was one of the most tragic cases of reaching for the stars, then chopping off your arm at the elbow because you didn’t have time to buy gloves. Revolutionary new systems were developed almost exactly far enough to create problems no-one had ever seen before, then rushed out the door before the bailiffs could confiscate them. The most spectacular was the brand new AI system with internal variables which would give the dinos unique behaviour you could learn, avoid, or even provoke. Except it didn’t work, and the dinosaurs all just stood there doing nothing. Up against a deadline, the developers just jacked all the virtual dinosaurs’ aggression counters to maximum, so that the revolutionary A-Inos just mindlessly attacked, charging directly at humans in easily-defeated straight lines. That’s not just a movie, that’s every AI movie PLUS DINOSAURS.

Read more about Trespassare and many more mad games in The Strange History of Jurassic Park Games

The Worst Romantic Lessons from Videogames

Video game have decided that they must have romantic options, and they do it the same way every social shut-in who decides they suddenly need romantic options: clumsily, loudly, and with a ludicrously simplistic idea of how human relationships work. Every AAA release has decided it needs a romantic subplot, even when the main plot is best described as “insane chain-reacting-fireworks murderer”. But you can’t expect subtlety from people who program games about exploding entire species and decide halfway through that they want to add a boning simulator.

Though one game did get it right. (Source: Volition)

Though one game did get it right. (Source: Volition)

Prepare yourself for Valentine’s day with videogames. Which has the advantage of working whether you’re dating or not.

And behold: a bonus entry! Cut for word count, but restored for you, the worst lesson found in the most games!

One Love Fits All

Do you like girls? You better hope so, because most games think you love girls. In virtual worlds where “conservation of energy” means saving your plasma ammunition, and gravity is just a gentle reminder, heteronormativity is the only inviolable law. Fantastical lands of imagination where you’re allowed to select any body type and gender you want for beating up strangers, but love means taking what you’re given by the Love Interest Clone (TM) factory.

Which is weird, because sex is where our species has spent most of its imagination since it worked out it had one.

More gaming love with

Total Psychopath Holding On To Red Shells in Eleventh Place

(Source: Nintendo)

(Source: Nintendo)

Police have been alerted to a dangerous individual holding on to three red shells despite being in eleventh place. The lunatic was last seen rounding the baggage claim in Sunshine Airport, and should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

“The psycho’s just holding them!” according to our source in twelfth place. Who was quick to add that their current position was only due to a blue shell, a star, and a sequence of other drivers who can only be described as “every male offspring Canis Lupus ever produced”.

The demented driver shows no sign of improving their position by firing the red shells, instead seeming content to sit there defending the second worst position possible in the game. Our source further opined that this is the sort of person who would end up stabbing someone over a parking space and clearly needs to be bloody watched.

UPDATE: Police have been dispatched to arrest the driver on reports that they actually fired all three red shells backwards, and are therefore “at least a serial killer”.

More gaming goodness


Next GTA Game To Feature Incredibly Realistic Graphics of Racism, Sexism

The next Grand Theft Auto will continue the series’ trend of crafting incredibly realistic game worlds by including racism and sexism.

“In most games character creation is just a cosmetic tool,” explained lead developer Al Abaster. “They completely ignore how much your appearance affects your progress in the real world.”

With the updated Real World (TM) mechanics, choosing any race other than white will increase police sensitivity by several hundred percent. In past games your police alert level was limited to crimes you’d actually committed. “We felt this was unrealistic”, said Al. “Now black players will start with the police permanently at one star, raising to two or three should they do anything suspicious like running or standing still.”

Selecting any gender other than male reduces the cash rewards for completed tasks by 70%. Also, in the game’s new leveling system, the player will frequently fail to increase a rank even when they’ve collected sufficient XP. Seventeen new sound channels have been added to play the cat-calls and unwanted advances players will hear at all times when playing as women, including during cut-scenes and mission-critical information.

“Games are chasing realism”, said Al. “There’s nothing people want more than for our fantastic vistas of freedom imagination to more closely mirror our shitty reality. So now it’s time for gamers to face the problems of the Real World (TM).”

More gaming goodness