Hey Everyone, It’s Tuesday: Saying Goodbye to Ryan Davis, and Thank-you to Giantbomb.


“Hey everyone it’s Tuuuesday!”

It’s strange to say that a website has changed your life. In more ways than one, the crew behind Giant Bomb have shaped the direction of my life profoundly. Tomorrow, I leave for a three week trek though Iceland, a trip that in many ways was sparked by Patrick Klepek’s stories of his own trip to Reykjavik; I recently changed my degree after being inspired by the video production work done by Vinny Caravella and Drew Scanlon; Jeff Gerstmann’s enthusiasm and criticism for videogames has kept me interested in the medium, even in times where I felt my interest in them waning; Brad Shoemaker introduced me to the strange, terrifying microbes and insects of the world; and for five years of my life, I, like thousands of others, waited each and every week to hear a funny, exuberant, sincere, and just plain awesome man named Ryan Davis assure us that it was, in fact, Tuesday.

And, like numerous others have said, today I cried over the loss of one of the closest friends I never met.

I can’t imagine what Ryan’s friends, family, and colleagues are going through. While I never had the pleasure of knowing him personally, I did get to spend a few hours each week listening or watching Ryan speak, and it was always a joy. He was someone I respected immensely. To have Ryan be a part of your life personally must have been something truly special, and I am sincerely sorry for the loss his family and friends are facing. If by any chance any of the Giant Bomb crew or extended family are reading this, I feel I speak for all fans of Ryan and of Giantbomb when I say we all loved that big duder and we are all with you in this difficult time. To Jeff, Brad, Patrick, Vinny, Drew, Dave, Matt, Alex, Alexis, and any and all past/current members of Giant Bomb, I hope you know that your work has touched so many of us in ways we can never fully express, and we are all so grateful of how much effort you put into the content you create for us. No other site, podcast, or community is quite like Giant Bomb, and we are sincerely thankful for what you do.

I hope Ryan knew that too.

Pour one out.


E3 2013 — I’m back in on videogames, guys.

I Almost Went To E3 2013.

It was just about two months ago I wrote about my lack of interest in where the videogame industry was. My oh my, how things can change in two short months — or, more accurately, four days. Before I jump in to the convention itself, let me give you some context for just how big this E3 was for me.

About 3 weeks before the convention, I was offered the opportunity to attend the show (I know a guy who knows a guy). While I was initially interested in the idea, I ultimately turned it down, largely due to conflictions with work and class, but also because recent changes in my life led me to question whether I really cared about games all that much at all. I’ll spare you the details, but essentially my disinterest stemmed from a sense of stagnation in the industry, and a rather sinister notion that games were becoming a little too big — that gamers (and developers) were getting short shifted by console manufacturers in favor of  publishers and retailers hitting their projections and bottom lines. As much as I was interested in Xbox One and PS4’s next steps, at the time I couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm to actually go to E3, despite the offer I was given.

It goes without saying but holy shit did I make a huge mistake.

A Shot In the Arm; A Shot To The Head

E3 2013 was without a doubt the best E3 I’ve seen since I began following the event about 10 years ago, and arguably the most impressive convention since its inception.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that, if you’re reading this, you saw the conferences, read the previews, and watched and re-watched trailers over the past week. You witnessed every moment I did, and are probably excited about many of the same games as me — no need to recap the news or highlights. But I’d like to take a moment and talk about the things that really mattered to me.

Sony and PlayStation 4


First and foremost, Sony. God damn, Sony. I was already interested in the PS4 after the February event (and even more so after the Xbox One reveal last month), but let’s be honest, Sony — no, ‘scuse me, Jack Tretton — slayed Monday night. I’ll admit, the always online and used game ‘controversy’ surrounding the Xbox One didn’t affect me, and in fact I found the entertainment-slant of the system to be far more offensive. Still, Sony’s showing of good faith towards gamers resonated with me. Sure, I’ll probably be mostly buying my games digitally from here on in, but the fact that Sony are keeping the option to buy and trade physical copies is a positive. Not to mention they’re launching at a whole $100 cheaper, despite being the more powerful system. I’ve heard some say that in those five minutes where the used games, PS+ cross over, no online restrictions, and price were all announced, that Sony won this new console war. Whether or not that’s how this all ultimately plays out, it was enough to completely change my feelings on console games, so much so that I preordered the PS4 the moment the press conference had concluded.

The Games

No matter how awesome any console is on its own, it’s nothing without games. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys, but damn were there some amazing looking experiences on show this year. Here are the ones that really caught my eye.

 The week started out strong, with Microsoft opening their conference with what was my personal favorite of the show, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Open world Metal Gear, featuring Keifer Sutherland as Big Boss, and some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen in a game? Yes. A thousand times yes. This is shaping up to be something of a reboot for the series as well; while it’s clear MGSV will maintain Kojima’s brand of goofiness and absurdity, the trailers shown at E3 also feature some of the darkest moments in the series by far, including torture, child soldiers, and a (literally) gut-wrenching scene in which a package is removed from Paz’s body cavity. Between the gameplay demoed and the the themes being explored in the story, MGSV is steadfastly affixed to the top of my anticipated games list.

Not only did Monday begin with a bang, it ended with one as well. Bungie’s gameplay reveal of Destiny was one of the first moments of the show where I started to really see the potential of this new console generation. Sure, it was a sci-fi FPS, but the scope of the world, the polish of the multiplayer gameplay, and the (again) the graphical fidelity on display really captured my imagination. Bungie has never let me down before, and I have high hopes for Destiny.

The third big surprise for me came in the form of Final Fantasy XV. I have always had an interest in the Final fantasy series, but the past half-decade for the RPG franchise have been rocky at best. After years in development hell, Final Fantasy Versus XIII has emerged as Final Fantasy XV. Yeah, it looked really Japanese — in a way that would usually turn me off from a game. But the speed of the gameplay, the design of the characters, and the setting the trailer took place in really grabbed me in a way few JRPGs (or, frankly, Square Enix games) have since the PlayStation 2. While at this point I am maintaining cautious optimism, I can see this becoming one of my most anticipated games.

Finally, in terms of “next-gen” games, The Witcher 3 sounds like it’s shaping up to be the fantasy RPG to play. It’s more than a year away, but early impressions from the show floor have been so overwhelmingly positive, with many stressing that the game is the best example of “next-gen” on display this year, my already-high expectations have only been bolstered. The previous games in the series are some of my favorite of the previous generation, and I look forward to closing out the trilogy with what sounds like will be a groundbreaking role playing experience.

But those four games weren’t everything; Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag secured itself a spot as my PS4 launch title of choice next to Infamous: Second Son. Sony’s support of indie developers was one of the PS4’s biggest selling points for me, and Super Giant’s Transistor was the highlight of their indie showcase; I’ve seen that trailer dozens of times, but it never fails to give me goosebumps. And, despite my tepid response to the Xbox One in general, Titanfall looks like an immensely fun multiplayer game, and I’m thankful I’ll be able to play it on PC as well. Finally, these will come as no surprise to those who know my taste in games, but Dark Souls II and Rayman Legends. That is all.

So many questions about the next gen were answered this week, and for me, the answers we got were beyond my expectations.

What Next?

Of course, in light of all my excitement, this does bring up personal questions: will I start writing about games again? Does this invalidate many of the statements I made just a few short weeks ago? Well to be honest, no, not really. I was compelled enough to sit down and knock out these E3 reactions, but I’m only now beginning to feel excited about games again after almost a year of struggling to stay interested enough to even play them. A lot of that was caused by forcing myself to pay attention to aspects of the business I really dispised, and try to play or be interested in games I had no interest in. I think I need to just enjoy videogames as a hobby for a while. However, that said, this E3 has sparked my interest in an ENTIRELY NEW aspect of the industry and games press. I’ll expound more about that soon, but I guess it’s worth saying that I’m not quite ready to write off the gaming industry as a possible career path, certainly not like I was a couple months ago.

Ironically, about a week before my “epiphany” that maybe games weren’t for me anymore, I finally bought a Playstation 3 and PS+ membership. Tomorrow, I will purchase and play The Last of Us and finally put some real use into the system. For some, the game represents the swansong for this console generation (they forget Dark Souls II is still several months out), but for me it’s the first step into the next generation, and I can’t wait to experience it.

Guys, I’m really excited about videogames again. It feels awesome.

Xbox One Reactions


Two days ago, Microsoft finally unveiled their next in their line of home consoles, Xbox One.

While we can officially add it to the list of “most baffling console nomenclature” along with the Wii U, there’s far more to raise an eyebrow at with this new console. Details are still sparse, but from what we know the system will be slightly less capable in terms of raw processing power than the PS4. That’s not much of an issue for me, especially considering that in terms of architecture both consoles seem have far more parity than the Xbox 360 did compared to PS3. At the very least, we can probably expect both consoles to have games performing quite similarly.

Perhaps the least surprising thing Microsoft focused on was the entertainment angle of the new console. The majority of the conference was taken up discussing Xbox One’s TV features, as well as it’s almost instantaneous application switching. From the demo shown, users should be able to flip between TV, games, music, and more, with just a quick phase to your Kinect.

Youtuber Darkbeatdk’s above highlights clip is a rather apt summary of the system’s reveal. These features were admittedly cool, but for many gamers the focus on TV and entertainment was disheartening. I do share in the sentiment that there was a lack of games shown, and that the three shown off (Quantum Leap, Forza, and Call of Duty: Ghosts) weren’t big surprises. However, prior to the conference (and throughout it, as well) Microsoft has assured gamers that E3 will be the place for games, and I look forward to seeing what they’re bringing to the Xbox One.

That said, there are some things that leave me worried; namely, the inability for Indie developers to self-publish on the system — something both Sony and Nintendo allow. As a gamer increasingly interested in smaller, creative projects, I was disheartened to learn that Microsoft was not embracing this section of the game-development world. Similarly, though I’m not entirely opposed to owning a system that must stay connected to the internet, I did find Microsoft’s vagueness on the subject confusing, to say the least. It seems even Microsoft is unsure about what exactly they’ll be requiring from consumers’ internet connections.

Going into this reveal, I didn’t have many expectations, but I did hope I’d leave it with a modicum of the interest I felt after Sony’s PS4 reveal earlier this year (even though I’m not entirely sold on the PS4, either). Instead, I felt like I had just watched every rumor about the new console come true. What we saw was a company on top making investments in for-sure things: the biggest AAA games; television and movie streaming; NFL and sports apps; and voice-recognition/gesture controls. I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for Halo and that franchise alone could sell a console to me. It also wouldn’t be hard for Microsoft to win me, and many other gamers, over this E3 but giving us a good look at some of the promised 15 exclusive games coming in Xbox One’s first year. But it’s not all about games anymore, and truth be told, I kinda like the media-hub idea they’re pushing for this new system. It’s a smart move. As many writers have pointed out, the gaming console as we know it is dead, so companies need to widen their net if they want to survive. If we still want the living-room experience, Xbox One and PS4 are really our only bets.

Oh well — there’s always PC gaming!

Return of the old school RPG part IV: Might & Magic X Legacy

I am scornfully resenting my inability to have attended this year’s PAX East convention because there were some great announcements: SuperGiant’s next game, Transistor, was shown off; The official name for the Double Fine’s Kickstarter Adventure, Broken Age, was revealed; Capcom announced they would be remaking the classic platformer Duck Tales (which elicited such nostalgia-soaked hysteria from twitter it was almost allarming); but in keeping with the spirit of this column, I want to focus on one announcement in particular: Ubisoft’s upcoming Might & Magic X Legacy.

When the title leaked a couple days prior to the official PAX announcement, I figured it would be yet another strategy game spinoff Heroes of Might and Magic — which to be fair are absolutely great games, but they’re not exactly the old school RPGs. The role playing series as been on hiatus for nearly 12 years, ever since Might & Magic 9 hit back in 2001.

Might and Magic X looks and sounds undeniably old-school.The game take place in a massive world filled with indoor and outdoor dungeons to explore, turn-based combat, and a first-person perspective the dungeon-crawling series is known for. The graphics are lush and the art distinct and charming. From the sounds of the skill system and character building, it sounds very much like a classic dungeon crawler.

What surprises me most here is that this is Ubisoft releasing the game. At a time where most publishers are looking for massive hits and sure-things, Ubisoft seems to be striking a balance. Sure, they’ve got Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and Splinter Cell as their big, primary franchises moving them forward, but other games like ZombiU, Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, and now this Might and Magic sequel give me the impression that the company isn’t quite as averse to new ideas or niche markets as other big-name publishers. I would have expected this to have been a Kickstarter project or an indie studio before I ever would’ve guessed Ubisoft was actually taking the reins. It gives me hope that maybe things are changing, and for the better. Between this and the recent announcement that the Legend of Grimrock folks at Almost Human are working on Grimrock 2, it looks like we can add dungeon crawler to the list of resurrected RPG sub-genres along with Rogue-Likes and CRPGs.

Until our next meeting, mortals!

Gaming Journal March 8, 2013: Tomb Raider Impressions


I have put about 5 or 6 hours into the Tomb Raider reboot by Eidos and Square Enix, and I can safely say it is — at this point — the best early contender for game of the year.

I realize that may be a slight hyperbole, but from the first moments I’ve been enthralled in this tense story of survival. The story itself isn’t anything groundbreaking. There’s a decent level of mystery on the island, and I can tell the story is slowly gearing up to some interesting twists and reveals, but what I find to be so affecting is the growth of Lara herself. She began the game scared, injured, and on the verge of mental and physical breakdown. But a few hours in now, she’s become a cunning, agile survivalist, capable of not only impressive feats of acrobatics and strength, but of harrowing violence in order to get out of this situation alive.

I’m impressed by Lara’s growth and characterization, as well as the broader narrative being told here, something I don’t normally say about the games I play, especially big AAA games like Tomb Raider. Everything seem contextually justified and while the number of enemies Lara has to take down throughout the game is starting to tally-up to unrealistic figures, I don’t feel that there’s much of a logical leap needed in order the believe them. Overall, the story may not be surprising or powerful, but so far its been concise and believable, more than I can say for most games.

On the gameplay front, Tomb Raider continues to impress. The basic mechanics of Tomb Raider are stealth, third-person shooting, exploration and platforming. The stealth sections, while numerous, do a good job of relaying the proper information in order to get past them. The shooting is surprisingly fun. Sure, there’s a bit of a dissonance with enjoying taking on groups of enemies with well-placed arrows and the emotional impact of the scenarios weighing upon Lara’s conscience, but at the end of the day this is a third-person shooter and a good one at that.

Tomb_Raider_2013 (11)

Where Tomb Raider truly shines is the platforming and exploration. The island is broken up into several open hub areas that allow for free-roaming of the surrounding environment. While these levels aren’t entirely open, they are designed in such a way that Lara’s movement feel unfettered as she climbs, leaps, and swings through them. The closest approximation I can think of is something like Metroid Prime or Arkham Asylum; you are given ares in which to explore and find hidden pathways, items, and secrets (of which there are many). These include optional “tombs,” which are usually filled with puzzles and complex traversal sections. The Metroid and Arkham Asylum  comparisons also extend to the acquisition of new equipment and upgrades, often unlocking heretofore inaccessible parts of the open hub areas, allowing you to discover more secrets. There are even light RPG elements in the XP, skillpoints, and upgrade systems that further add to the number of unlockables.

For me, just while the item hunting and discovery are addictive and rewarding, it’s the platforming and traversal that really grabs me. It’s fun to just climb around these jungle gym-like levels and find different ways to get from point A to B.

Overall, I’m enjoying the hell out of Tomb Raider. It’s possible the rest of the game may fall apart sometime down the road, and maybe some of these slowly building climaxes will leave me underwhelmed. But thus far, these is little indication that will happen. The basic gameplay is fun and rewarding; the story is well paced and the characters believable. There may be a slight gap between my feelings of fun and excitement versus the thematic tone of the story, but it’s nominal and has yet to present any issue. I highly recommend picking up the game.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. I realize that turned into more of a full review than other Gaming Journal impressions/recaps, but I just had so much to say about the game! I might expand upon these thoughts once I complete the game — especially if something changes my positive impressions thus far. But for now, I’m having a blast.


Oh, I also played Etrian Odyssey IV. It’s a pretty deep and complex dungeon crawler RPG, and I’ve found the gameplay mechanics to be addictive. I particularly enjoy the map drawing (instead of filling out a dungeon map in the traditional methods, you draw them on the lower screen of the 3DS). However, the tone of the game, soundtrack, and art design aren’t really my thing. It’s a bit too bright and cheery, but more importantly I find it to be filled with uninspired JRPG tropes. Etrian Odyssey IV is good game, to be sure, but I find myself wishing for a sequel to The Dark Spire instead. Check it out if you need a good dungeon crawler grind. Despite clashing my personal tastes, it’s very good.

See you next week!

Gaming Journal Stats:

Games Played This Week: Tomb Raider; Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend of the Titan

Games Completed

February 2013:

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Vagrant Story

 January 2013:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Persona 3

December 2012: 

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn DLC

November 2012:

  • Halo 4 [+ Spartan Ops DLC]
  • Hotline Miami

October 2012:

  • Dark Souls [+ Artorias of the Abyss DLC]
  • DOOM
  • DOOM II: Hell on Earth
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion [+The Shivering Isles]

Shootin’ the Shit: March 8, 2013 — Angry Mobs


Hey! Been a while, how have you been? After weeks off, I’m finally getting around to posting again, and with that comes a new addition of Shootin’ the Shit. On the site itself, I posted two features, The Return of the Old School RPG parts 2 and 3, both of them follow up to my original from a few months ago. But that’s not all that happened this week.


So much has happened these past 5 days. It seems like almost every day this week has had a big story. With those stories, came droves angry internet mobs, so lets cover the big ones.

SimCity Launches… err, sorta


So this week, the new SimCity was released. Despite relatively high initial critical praise, the always-online city building sim quickly came under fire once the the servers went public. EA’s Origin servers were bogged down by the thousands of players, rendering most unable to even access the game due to it’s persistent online nature — if you can’t get online, you can’t play. Moreover, many players found their save data lost, setting progress for some back hours. To combat these issues, Maxis (the makers of SimCity) removed a few features from the game to reduce server strain. However, anecdotal evidence seems to conclude that many players find the current state of the game unplayable in spite of these changes. Many, still, cannot access the game itself. EA has even ended marketing campaigns, and has asked affiliates to cease promoting the game.

The current state of the game led to some outlets amending their review scores to account for these issues. Some that were not privy to early review code have offered scathing reviews due to SimCity’s current state. This had led to major backlash; both against EA and SimCity, but also against the outlets themselves for amending scores. My opinion? I don’t think games — especially games that require a 3rd party in order to work — should be held to their scores. If the game is reviewed prior to release, but the retail version of the game is markedly different, reviews should reflect that. I don’t know what that means for reviews, nor how gaming publications should fix it, but I feel those that reduced their scores for SimCity had the right to do so.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Announced


After being leaked earlier last week, the veil was finally lifted on the new Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. We learned the new game will feature Edward Kenway, grandfather of ACIII’s Connor Kenway, and will be a more open-world focused game. Set in the Carribean in the early 1700’s, ACIV seems to be a pirate game first, and assassin game second. Certain key Assassin’s Creed features, such at the notoriety system, have been removed in favor of more expanded nautical gameplay from ACIII, and numerous pirating activities to indulge in, including treasure hunting, naval battles, exploring ruins, under water sections, shark fighting, and whale hunting, not to mention non-linear assassination missions. However, these promises have been met with some skepticism, especially after the tepid critical response to ACIII.

Personally, I feel both Assassin’s Creed II and III had their issues. Despite this, I still feel both are great games, though I would never have expected to be excited about the franchise again. Despite all this, here I am eagerly awaiting Black flag. I’m a sucker for nautical themes and open-world games, and the fact that Black Flag seems to be focusing on pirates more than the assassins is a plus for me. However, it does make me wonder if this wasn’t an entirely different, non-Assassin’s Creed game before at some point. Still, I’m up for a good pirate game, Assassin’s Creed or otherwise, so count me in.

Big news for RPG fans


I’ve already covered the week’s big RPG news in my Return of the Old School RPG parts 2 and 3  this week, but just for reference:

  • Richard Garriott has announced a new medieval RPG project, Shroud of the Avatar. The game has a new Kickstarter page as well.
  • inXile, the dev studio behind Wasteland 2, launched a kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spitirual seuql to Planescae: Torment. It surpassed it’s funding goal in a matter of hours, and broke $1.5 million in less than 12 hours.
  • A brandnew video showing off Shadowrun Return‘s Alpha gameplay and combat has surface and it looks awesome.

My response to all this?



  • Not a whole lot was watched this week. However, Anita Sarkeesian released her first episode of Tropes vs Women in Video Games. It’s received quite a mixed bag of responses  some of which make me feel a little ashamed I consider myself part of gamer culture. Anita is a hardcore gamer, and very obviously cares about this medium, but her criticisms are sharp, sobering, and valid. While the video doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the conversation, it does articulate many of the issues of women in gaming very well:
  • If you still haven’t watched the new gameplay video for Shadowrun Returns, you should hurry up and get on that:


  • Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera wrote an interesting piece regarding videogame difficulty and aging. I might only be in my early twenties, but I found parts of his editorial to be universal, as many of the thought’s he’s had (“what will be my last videogame”) have been thoughts I’ve legitimately had in the few few months, especially in moments where the industry seems to crumbling.
  • The review that started it all: Polygon’s SimCity review and subsequent score amendments. This has been the epicenter for much of the story, garnering both criticism and praise from fans and other writers, and even understanding on behalf of EA. While the entire thing is tragic, it serve as an example of why ubiquitous always-online gaming isn’t yet a feasible option.


That’s really all I have to offer this week. It’s certainly been an interesting one — one that’s certain to define the tone for the entirety of 2013. I always figured it’d be a big year, but I didn’t realize just how many things we’d be talking about.

A short word about Power Cords: some may be wondering why we’re not using The Cascadian Crew or why we resumed posting here. Primarily, it’s because we wanted a more focused outlet to talk about games and media in a tone that we feel clashes with the concept behind The Cascadian Crew. While it offers us a broader range of topics, we felt fully articulate our thoughts on gaming and film in exactly the ways we wanted warranted resuming posting here. Personally, for a few months I questioned my investment in gaming, and was struggling to find the motivation to cover stories or even play many games. Fortunately, between the announcements of the PS4 and plenty of exciting new games, as well as the success story of several indie project and crowd funding campaigns, I’ve once again found myself compelled to write about not just the industry, but games themselves. I aim to continue this new-found motivation.

While it’s mostly been just me these past few weeks, I’m working hard to get other projects rolling with other memebers across the entire Cascadian Crew. I have some new ideas, some of which my result in changes. However: Power Cords will not be chaging. Other than some possible changes to the layout, and perhaps even some new writers and the return of others, Power Cords will remain. We realize we have to work to get back the readership we had at our peak last year, but I feel we can get there in no time. Thanks to all of you who still read, like, and comment — we promise we’ll have more content for you in the future.

Anyway, that’s it for me this week. Keep an eye out for a new Gaming Journal post this weekend. Otherwise, we’ll see you next week!

Return of the Old School RPG Part THREE!? — Richard Garriott and Shadowrun Returns

Shroud of the Avatar

shroud of the avatar announcement 2

There is probably one name more synonymous with old school role playing games than any other: Richard Garriott. He pioneered the idea of games as worlds, crafted the earliest CRPGs with the Ultima series, and sparked the MMO genre with Ultima Online. Hell, he even was the first guy to sell a game in a box. He’s a pretty important dude, in RPGs or just gaming in general.

Admittedly, I haven’t played nearly as much Ultima as I probably should have. In fact, other than a few brief hours with a couple of the games, the series is pretty foreign to me. For me, names like Chris Avellone, Feargus Urquhart, or even Todd Howard carry more weight when attached to an RPG project.

Nonetheless, in the world of RPGs, when Richard Garriott speaks, people listen. Today, he called down from the mountain tops, announcing his own crowd funding campaign for a new multiplayer RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The game seems to be a split online/offline game, and promises classes character creation, meaningful narrative choices, a fully interactive world, innovative PVP, and player-run homesteads and real estate. It sounds quite ambitious, and I hope the final product encapsulates all of Sir British’s ideas. You can check out more about the game on the Kickstarter here. While I may not be quite as excited by this news as many others are sure to be, it does drive home this idea that RPGs are really coming back; if Richard Garriott is making a medieval role playing game, then the future must be bright.

Check out the Kickstarer here.

 Shadowrun Returns

While Garriot’s Shroud of the Avatar and inXile’s Torment: Tides of Numenera are in the early stages of development, some of these Kickstarter role playing games are finally beginning to show some real progress.

One game in particular is Harebrained Scheme’s Shadowrun Returns. Shadowrun is another series I have little experience with — I never played the original RPG, nor the online FPS that was released a few years ago. However, Shadowrun Returns looks to be a promising game. The developers have released a new gameplay video showing off some alpha footage of the new game along with some commentary. The art style looks great, and the tactical combat seems fun — very reminiscent of the original Fallout games. Plus the setting is awesome (cyberpunk elves? Street samurai? Sold). Peep the video below. I highly recommend it; I’m not sure how this game has flown under my radar for so long, but it is now among a growing list of exciting RPG projects coming in the next few months/years.

You can check out more Shadowrun Returns here.

RPGs seems to be a growing topic of conversation here on Power Cords. While I’m really excited about that, I’m also going to try to get some other topics/voices going again too. At any rate, you can be sure that if anything important occurs in the world of RPGs, I’ll have something to say about it.

The return of the Old School RPG part 2 — Torment: Tides of Numenera


Perhaps one of the single most exciting videogame announcements of the past several years occurred a few weeks ago. A spiritual sequel to one of the greatest games ever made, Planescape: Torment, will be appearing in the form of a new, isometric CRPG called Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Today, inXile — the development team behind Torment, as well as the upcoming Wasteland 2 — launched their Kickstarter campaign, aiming to fund $900,000 over the next 30 days, surpassed its goal in under six hours, and at this time has raised over $1.5 million from 28,173 backers, myself included. Obviously, as an RPG fan I am ecstatic; as a Planescape: Torment fan, I am thrilled. To hear that the development team features many of those who worked on the original game, and that they are working hard to create and world and story full of depth, drama and truly mature philosophical questions is not only reassuring, it’s exciting. It’s even been endorsed by Chris Avellone, director of Planescape: Torment, himself.

Here’s a brief excerpt of the game’s story from the Kickstarter page:

You are the Last Castoff, the final link in the chain of the lives of the being they call the Changing God. He once was a man who discovered a way to use the relics of the ancients to cheat death and skip across the face of centuries in a succession of bodies. But he never knew that his bodies lived on as his consciousness fled, a new consciousness arising in each. Now he has awakened an age-old enemy, the Angel of Entropy, and his days of change are gone as the Angel hunts him and all his works. That includes… you.

That sounds awesome.


I’ve written in the past about my love for various RPGs, as well as my excitement that the genre is making a comeback in a big way. By that I don’t mean in terms of games like Mass Effect or Skyrim selling extremely well and being fantastic games, but also in the fact that classic styles of role playing games are making a comeback thanks to the like of Kickstarter. Obsidian’s Project Eternity, and inXile’s Wasteland 2 and now Torment: Tides of Numenera are exactly the kinds of games I want to be playing. Sure, I’m excited for the PS4; I’m happy the Thief series is returning; and yes I love the idea of Assassin Creed IV’s open-world pirate adventure; but Torment: Tides of Numenera is bar-none the single most exciting game-related announcement this year (now, if Dark Soul II had been announced this year instead of last year, it might have been a closer call).

Thanks to these successful Kickstarter projects, I’m getting the opportunity to play (and by extension, help create) exactly the kinds of videogames that I want to exist. Of course, this is taking it on faith that these games will be good, or even come out in the first place. But even if they fail to live up to our expectations, the fact is that these projects give me hope that videogames aren’t on the verge of some sort of massive collapse — or worse,  water-down homogenization — and are instead evolving and splintering into sub-communities much like other artistic and entertainment mediums. That’s a future I can get excited for.

Check out inXile’s Kickstarter page for the game here. And while you’re at it, you might as well go buy the original Planescape: Torment for cheap on gog.com because it’s a great game.

Gaming Journal: February 22, 2013 – The Return


Power Cords is back this week! It’s been a few weeks since we’ve really posted much, but considering the excitement of the PS4 announcement and deluge or February/March game releases to look forward to, I felt the time was right to jump back in to the blogging realm. It’s been a few months since I posted another entry in my gaming journal series, but that isn’t just because we took a break from the blog itself.

Let’s face it, there haven’t been many games to come out these past couple months, and with a few exceptions the ones that have have been unspectacular. However, in that time I’ve purchased a 3DS, as well as gone back to some old gems — all of which I’ll cover in this post. One game I’ve been able to play is the fantastic 3DS tactical RPG, Fire Emblem AwakeningIt’s the first tactics game I’ve played since the original Disgaea, so it took a little bit to full immerse myself into Fire Emblem’s gameplay mechanics. It’s a very deep game, but the actual moment-to-moment gameplay is easy to understand. I’m on chapter 12 right now, and playing on classic, which has made the past couple chapters ulcer-inducing in their tension. I’ll put together a full length post of my impressions of the game soon, but over all Fire Emblem Awakening is a great game and I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

Another 3DS game I put some time into this week was the Master Quest for Ocarina of Time 3D. I completed the normal quest a few weeks ago, and last week I started up the Master Quest, and have made it up through the water temple (which is far less of a hassle in Master Quest). While I know the original Ocarina quest front to back, Master Quest is proving to be a challenge. There are some real head scratchers, and many of the puzzles are just plain weird (the cows in Jabu Jabu? pretty odd). I like the new dungeons, but at the end of the day it’s still Ocarina. 


The final game I played this week is yet another 3DS title. The demo for Monster Hunter 3U hit the eShop this week. While  the demo doesn’t feature the crafting or gathering from the full game (the most addictive aspect of the series for me), it does feature two really fun fights, as well as access to high-end hunter builds for each weapon class. If you’re a Monster Hunter fan, or curious about the series, check out the demo. If you’ve never been sold on the series, then you can probably pass it. I for one will be milking the demo until the full game hits March 19.

And that’s it for this week! I’ll be doing this more regularly again. My goal is to return to posting every Friday, but we’ll see. It all depends on time and how much I play. And keep an eye out for Shootin’ the Shit’s return this weekend as well!

Gaming Journal Stats:

Games Played This Week: Fire Emblem Awakening; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest; Monster Hunter 3U Demo

Games Completed

February 2013:

  • Vagrant Story

 January 2013:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Persona 3

December 2012: 

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn DLC

November 2012:

  • Halo 4 [+ Spartan Ops DLC]
  • Hotline Miami

October 2012:

  • Dark Souls [+ Artorias of the Abyss DLC]
  • DOOM
  • DOOM II: Hell on Earth
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion [+The Shivering Isles]

Reacting to Sony Meeting 2013: The PS4 is Real.

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And there you have it.

The PS4 is real; it’s powerful, it’s innovative, and easy to use for both developers and consumers, and we’ll be playing it this Holiday season.

But most importantly, we saw games. New game, new IP. Sure, there were sequels, but there were so many amazing looking announcements. I’m still processing and decompressing — that was a solid 2 hours of impressive footage and exciting ideas. I don’t want to over-hype it, but the system sounds impressive. It ‘s seems like a truly next-gen machine, and Sony has clearly made some important partnerships. There are still questions — most notably price, exact release date, and form factor — but we also got a bunch of great things to look forward to.

I wonder what Microsoft will do. But right now, I’m just very happy about what we saw. The developers showing off their games, and talking about how easy to use the hardware is were really good to hear. I’m just very pleased with what we saw. I’m excited for E3 and getting more info because right now, I can see myself owning a PS4 and getting a lot of use out of it. I may even buy a Vita.