The Comedy Button: Episode 58

This week, murder strikes on the local commuter train again, so I’ll be back next week. Don’t forget to grab your Santa Clause DVD from our Amazon store for our upcoming holiday movie commentary!

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The Comedy Button — Episode 58 (2012-12-14)
This week, Ryan gets involved in another Caltrain bloodbath, horse trailers are terrible places for horses, Anthony gets mugged, we keep an eye out for the candy criminals, police sketch artists make terrible drawings, we hate on (but secretly look forward to) The Hobbit, Chris Farley makes us pull the tragedy lever, we urge foster children to stop listening to the show, Hotel for Dogs is pretty much the perfect movie, we express our fears of parenthood, we recall how disgusting My Two Dads was, Max goes all Maxbergers about the history of Wassailing, and we pimp our 2012 holiday commentary track. Starring Scott Bromley, Brian Altano, Anthony Gallegos, and Max Scoville.
Running Time: 48m 2s
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Geekbox Reviews: Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (December 4, 2012)
Genre: Open-world first-person shooter
Official Website: http://far-cry.ubi.com/fc-portal/en-us/home/index.aspx
Reviewed By: Eric Neigher and David Wolinsky

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David Wolinsky, Primal Crier: I’m not really sure where to start here, and that’s not because I’m indecisive, but because there’s a metric ton going on in Far Cry 3. Many moons ago I slogged through a good portion of Far Cry 2, which I didn’t really like, and obviously the first thing that grabs anyone with eyes is how gorgeous FC3 is. The island looks and feels real. Night becomes day. There are weather patterns. It’d almost be like being on vacation were it not for the fact that everyone and everything is trying to kill you.

Since you’re flung out into a tropical paradise that’s also a bit of a nightmare: you have to contend with predatorial wildlife and the crazed terrorist guy with a mohawk who’s kidnapped you and your friends. That means gun-toting freaks are just as dangerous as lions, although, in my experience it’s the creatures that are better at catching you.

This would all be sublime if everything worked in congress, but there are some critical elements misfiring that break not so much the game, but the fun. Badly. For example, some of the core mechanics, like holding X to reload or loot or Y to heal work unpredictably. Sometimes you have to be prompted to heal, which is frustrating when you’re fighting for survival. And there were weird bugs I encountered. Weird, weird bugs. Here’s one memorable one: when embarking on a racing mission, instead of hopping into the car when I was supposed to, I was instead unceremoniously crushed by another car, the screen went black, it came back, I dropped my gun, it went black again, and I was informed I had lost the race.

FC3 is like a very pretty girl who, as you get to know her a bit better, actually turns out to be kinda insane. No amount of makeup can fix the problems FC3 has.

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Eric Neigher, Xwing @ Aliciousness: I will say this: FC3’s introductory sequence is so good, so well-written, acted, and integrated with the game — especially the main character’s own voice, that once I start actually playing the game, I couldn’t help but be let down. FC3’s world is impressive, but ultimately, I agree — it is repetitive. That is the sad nature of procedurally generated missions (or a reasonable approximation of that with scripting), as we saw in Skyrim, for example, which quickly became more repetitive than the one-note samba played on an infinite loop on a broken record on Groundhog Day. For me, I actually kind of enjoy grinding my character’s stats up and getting new items and such, but FC3 decides you need to be ambushed constantly by enemies, bestial and human, as if a steady stream of bullets flying and teeth chomping will add to the excitement. It doesn’t. A game needs to have both up moments (like FC3’s awesome introductory sequence) and down moments (like absolutely nothing in FC3 at all).

The PC version is pretty stable, but the graphics leave much to be desired. It’s a huge resource hog, so even on my badass setup, I had to turn down some of the settings to get the sound to sync with people’s mouths. Controls are sharp, and the game does you the favor of at least asking if you’d prefer to play on a gamepad (why?) or with your mouse and keyboard. I managed to play a little co-op on PC, as well, which, like nearly all co-op, is highly dependent on getting good, friendly people to play with in order to actually be fun. When you’re with the right folks, FC3’s open-world, fast-paced shooter action works really well. When you’re with griefers or morons, it sucks.

On a sort-of-related note, I know you’re a big fan of Red Dead Redemption, and FC3 shares a lot with that game, at least on paper: open world, random attacks by bad guys at random moments, an interesting main character in a strong story, and lots of animal skinning. Am I crazy, or is there some similarity between the two games? If not, maybe third-person makes all the difference?

David: I didn’t find Jason to be that interesting of a character at all. There are some similarities, here, though with the skinning animals and using that as a sort of barter system with the game’s mechanics. But that’s where the similarities start and end. (Although I will say I enjoyed early sections, where you get to kill and skin so many dogs. I just found it fascinating, in all honesty. I can’t think of another game that encourages you to slaughter wild dogs.) There are also similarities, I felt, with Just Cause 2 and, of course, Skyrim. Are we running out of ways to be creative in open-world games? Is there really that little we can do with an open world? It isn’t FC3’s fault that it runs into the same small-mindedness of other open-world games, but it is FC3’s fault for not trying to shove more beyond that mentality. Ascending the radio towers reminded me of climbing to eagle’s nests in Assassin’s Creed II. The variety of vehicles reminded me of GTA. Etc., etc. I’m not saying any of the forebears in this tradition of open-world games were blazing trails, but so much emphasis in FC3 is placed on the world. It is spectacular and huge and FC3 wants you to experience it. That much is clear.

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And yet, by the same token, you’re often treated as though you shouldn’t explore that much. I enjoy level-grinding as much as the next gamer, and as in most RPGs, as soon as I got my freedom, I tried to upgrade my stats and inventory as much as possible. For the reader’s benefit: You can kill a bunch of animals to craft a larger wallet (apparently Jason has no pockets?) or you can find radio towers, which make certain items in stores free that otherwise you’d have to save a lifetime for. There’s a later level later where you need to torch a couple of drug fields, and although I had the flamethrower for quite a while, the game acted as if it was this newfangled toy. It was like Huey Lewis and yesterday’s news for me. So am I supposed to forge out into this tropical island, or only do so as Far Cry metes it out?

But yes. Repetition. I think there’s something very strange going on with triple-A games here, Eric, and maybe I’m imagining things, but it was noticeable in Hitman: Absolution and very evident here: Far Cry 3 is a bit like a very, very polished iPhone game on a much grander scale. I am not saying FC3 is simplistic at all — quite the opposite — but rather it expands its scope by having you do the same things over and over again, only with different rewards (unlocking new skills, crafting new items) and locales (underwater against sharks, on land against huge birds).

I feel like we’ve really piled on this game a lot, so, Eric, I’m curious to hear what you thought was really cool or successful about it — and I’d love to hear more about multiplayer, too, and how that works?

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Eric: To be honest, I think FC3 is a good game, but like so many we’ve reviewed before it (ahem, Assassin’s Creed 3), it feels like it would’ve been better had it not come after so many other games like it.

I enjoy being in FC3’s world, its newness is great, but after that wears off, it’s more slogging through skinning animals and getting tattoos and stuff, which is why I didn’t play Red Dead Redemption for more than about 10 hours.

As for the multiplayer, other than a few co-op matches I’d been getting into, I haven’t had any luck finding any people to play the darn game with. Either the matchmaking service sucks, or there’s just nobody playing this game multiplayer.

In the end, I have enjoyed my time in the world of FC3 so far — but I doubt I’ll end up finishing the game, let alone getting 100 percent of everything done. As it stands now? It’s reaching the overly-chewed-gum stage all too quickly.

FINAL SCORE: 665 out of 950 dog-skin wallets you can totally buy on Skymall.

The Geekbox: Episode 198

This week, we bid a fond farewell to Nintendo Power. The magazine’s final spread brings a tear to my eye — if you ever loved this mag, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the final issue (if it isn’t already scarce in your area).

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The Geekbox — Episode 198 (2012-12-11)
Wherein we discuss free bread, Higgins’ accidental gaming binge, things we can’t remember about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, sexy Super Mario princesses, the end of ZombiU, Samuel L. Jackson’s Star Wars lust, Dark Souls II, The Phantom Pain, the end of Nintendo Power, spoiler policies, Star Trek Into Darkness (light cast spoilers), must-watch Star Trek stuff, The Hobbit, Man of Steel, 1989′s best games, and the Nintendo Game Counselors. Starring Ryan Scott, Adam Fitch, and Ryan Higgins.
Running Time: 1h 28m 33s
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The Comic Conspiracy: Episode 87

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The Comic Conspiracy — Episode 87 (2012-12-10)
It’s a full cast this week, as we discuss Fear Agent, giving comics as gifts, favorite Aquaman stories, killing momentum, comic hipsters, Gail Simone fired off Batgirl, and Avengers #1 talk. Starring Ryan Higgins, Omar Brodrick, Bryce Larsen, Brock Sager, Toby Sidler, and Charlie West.
Running Time: 1h 11m 25s
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Good Job, Brain!: Episode 41

This week, it’s time for some oddball celebrity trivia. Congrats to the Good Job, Brain! cast for winning Best Album Art in the 2012 Stitcher Awards!

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Good Job, Brain! #41: Celebrity Secretttsss (2012-12-10)
Unwind with us while we indulge in the guilty pleasure of weird celeb gossip: famous stars with crazy high IQs, why you should not let Prince rent your house, intriguing human body anomalies and the famous people who have them, stage names vs. real names. ALSO: Music Round, eyeball mnemonic, and the BONOBOS SMARTY PANTS LISTENER CHALLENGE! Starring Karen Chu, Colin Felton, Dana Nelson, and wine.
Running Time: 45m 48s
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The Comedy Button: Episode 57

It’s an all email episode! We answer your stupidest questions! Oh boy!

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The Comedy Button — Episode 57 (2012-12-07)
It’s an all email episode! We tell some Helen Keller jokes, have some adventures in pumping our own gas, provide manbaby decor advice, shake our heads at underage girls with breast implants, brainstorm cheap presents, help a lesbian act gayer, interview Ryan, hear from a member of the Food Fight crew, open up some truly weird snail mail, and learn to fear Scott’s new co-worker. Starring Scott Bromley, Brian Altano, Anthony Gallegos, Ryan Scott, and Max Scoville.
Running Time: 45m 43s
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The Geekbox: Episode 197

Geekbox roadie Brock Sager sits in for Karen Chu and Adam Fitch this week to talk about zombies and more old stuff.

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The Geekbox — Episode 197 (2012-12-04)
Wherein we discuss the not-so-Fantastic Four, vomiting blood everywhere, Justice League vs. Avengers, hick fiction, The Walking Dead, ZombiU, weighty decisions in games, Once Upon a Time, the greatest games of 1988, and a warning against The Hobbit’s terrible filmmaking techniques. Starring Ryan Scott, Ryan Higgins, and Brock Sager.
Running Time: 1h 13m 19s
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