Air Traffic Controller Games Round-up

How would I define the magic of an ATC sim? Well, it’s the one simulator which can nearly perfectly recreate the actual experience it is trying to simulate. Being a controller involves sitting in a room, staring at a bunch of blips on the screen, and making them move around. So does playing an ATC sim. I would imagine a perfect ATC sim would make it impossible to tell if you were actually doing it or not, other than the screams of doomed passengers as they plummet to the ground in a fiery ball. More than that, though, the magic is that it’s kind of like slow-motion, three-dimensional Asteroids. And who wouldn’t want to play that?

Now, let’s take a look at the contenders.

Endless ATC

For a free Android app (and a $3 PC game), this gets so much right that many of the other “more sophisticated” (and expensive) sims get wrong that it’s kind of embarrassing to the other sims. It is definitely a “game”, as planes just keep coming, more and more, until you can’t handle it, and the more planes you can handle, the higher your score. That’s it. You can “cap” your score to keep traffic from increasing, but by that time you’ve probably had enough anyway. It’s terrible easy to use, perfectly suited for a tablet/phone, and just does the whole “line ’em up like a string of pearls” stress-fest about as cleanly and well as possible. If I was going to introduce someone to the genre, I would definitely, without question, tell them to start here. The PC version is slightly superior, but they’re both just fine. Score: 8



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Turbo Kid (Movie)

I have become… unhealthily obsessed with this movie ever since it came out on Netflix Instant. Many many movies both mainstream and indie have come out in recent years seeking to capitalize on my childhood. From Transformers, to Moonbeam City, to Kung Fury. But while they may have captured the fashions or the little details, none of them have captured the heart, save for Turbo Kid. Some movies remind me of childhood, Turbo Kid carries me back into my childhood on the hooves of a Lisa Frank unicorn.

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Child of Light (PC)

Child of Light let me fulfill my lifelong dream of having luxurious flowing hair and the cutest little fairy wings to flutter around a magical storybook land. And when you fly around, your beautiful silken locks swirl and twirl about and make me feel so pretty inside ^__________^. But in a vicious rib-kick to fantasy wish fulfillment, they didn’t add in a hairbrush or a giggle button so I could fly around spreading girlish cheer far and wide >:(

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Star Wars: Battlefront First Impressions

I can’t help but think the Rebellion must be running out of recruits. Every Rodian, Sullustan, Twi’lek and Ishi Tib must have already been drafted before they got to me. As I repeatedly crash one X-Wing Fighter after another into the sides of Beggar’s Canyon while trying to figure out how to fly this goddamn thing, surely the recruitment officer who failed to check my references and handed me the keys to this multi-million dollar spaceship has been fired.

I’m not a huge fan of modern console games, but I am a huge fan of Star Wars. I bought a Nintendo 64 to play Star Wars: Episode I Racer and a GameCube for Rogue Squadron. I’ve had blisters on my thumb from attacking AT-ATs on the Atari 2600’s The Empire Strikes Back, spent hours assembling virtual bricks in Lego Star Wars on the PlayStation, and waved my arms around like an idiot while playing The Force Unleashed on the Nintendo Wii. Based on my previous efforts to assist the rebellion you might think word would have spread about my lack of skills and those in charge of recruiting capable soldiers would quit handing me loaded weapons, but no.

For what it’s worth, a PlayStation 4 with a second controller and a copy of Star Wars: Battlefront will set you back $518. After stopping by GameStop after work and receiving a snarky lecture about not pre-ordering the game, we walked next door to Walmart and bought everything right off the shelf. Walmart does a lot of things wrong, but that whole part about stocking their shelves with things people want to buy, they do pretty well. May GameStop and their pre-ordering system burn forever in the lowest levels of Mustafar.

I play these games, I think, because I want to be in Star Wars. As a kid, watching those films on the big screen, I imagined it was me flying a snow speeder and bringing down those giant walkers, or engaging imperial stormtroopers in a furious blaster battle. And while the original two Star Wars Battlefront games did a good job of bringing this experience home, Star Wars: Battlefront for the PS4, Xbox One and PC perfected it. As you run through worlds you’ve grown up watching on the big screen while firing lasers at your opponents, you’ll know this is as close you’ll ever get to being a part of those epic battles that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Because the recommended specs for the PC version of Battlefront are so high (Electronic Arts recommends 16GB of RAM and a 4GB video card, among other demands) I opted to go the console route. As I watched my son wiggle around our entertainment center connecting HDMI cables, I remembered why I’d had him.

The other thing he’s good for, apparently, is kicking imperial ass and taking names. After dying repeatedly, I handed him the controller and watched him go. He’s more of an online multiplayer than I am, and soon he was running around Hoth, Tatooine, and Endor shooting everything in sight.

I don’t know that screenshots do the game justice. I was afraid that the game wouldn’t look as good as the screen captures I had seen floating around prior to its release, but in reality, it looks better. With each generation of games I wonder “How can things get any better?” and this is no exception. At times I wish my enemy would stop shooting at me long enough to let me study the rocks and dirt that make up the landscape.

This game is so detailed and so big that I feel like it may take me many months to see it all. Like a meal with many courses I plan on slowly working my way through each one, taking the time to taste, smell and appreciate them before moving on to the next. Along with the game, I’ll be buying an online pass for $50 and (I’m sure) paying for downloadable content later, and Dice has done such a good job with this game that I honestly don’t care. Whatever it costs, I’ll pay it.

Line up another X-Wing for me, Red Squadron. I’m comin’ in hot.

Review: Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

BREAST ACTION GAME OF THE REAR! EXPLOSIVE HAND-TO-GLAND COMBAT! THIS ERECTION SEASON BAYONETTA 2 PUTS THE TITS BACK IN CONSTITUTION!

Short summary: Gameplay-wise, there aren’t any substantial changes from the first, so if you didn’t like the first you won’t like this either. If you liked the first, you’d probably like this.

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Review: Satellite Reign (PC)

Satellite Reign is one of the most beautiful games I’ve played since Trine 2. Shadowrun has a better plot, but its watercolor backgrounds failed to make an impression, Invisible Inc. has better stealth gameplay, but its cyberpunk vision is so dull it might as well be taking place in the same universe as the movie “Her,” Satellite Reign is the first modern cyberpunk game I’ve played that gets the look and feel right. We really have reached an age where artistic vision trumps engine power in terms of a graphical triumph. I just cleared the Downtown area and gained access to the Industrial sector. My biggest fear was the game would blow its graphical load in the downtown, then industrial would be boring and repetitive. They did not and it is not.

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The Top 50 Non-Art Indie Games

Once upon a time, respected movie critic Roger Ebert said that video games would never be art because their narrative didn’t explore the human condition. Video game critics wished above all else to one day be as respected as Ebert, so they took his statement as a personal rejection and made it their life’s mission to prove him wrong. They could have simply corrected Ebert by telling him that judging video games by their narrative is like comparing the card game “Bridge” to “Go Fish” based on the quality of the artwork on the cards. Sadly, the game critics instead went out in search of video games that explored the human condition with narrative!

Apparently the best they could find was a game called Passage. In it, you control an ugly pixelated dude and move him to the right until he dies. The only noteworthy thing about the game is how terrible it is in every respect. But the game’s website said it was inspired by colon cancer, and that was enough for the game critics. They showered Passage with universal undeserved praise.

Notoriety is money in the indie scene, so like mushrooms on a cow pat, amateurish, ugly, joyless games with a message began popping up everywhere to inevitable accolades from insecure game critics. I myself was mislead into paying money for Papers, Please, foolishly thinking that if EVERYONE was loving this game, including supposed curmudgeon Yahtzee, that it might actually be way more fun than it looks (Spoiler: it isn’t!) Thanks to gamergate, we now live in a brave new world where questioning why art games get preferential treatment by game critics is equivalent to gang-raping a woman in a porta-potty, so pretentious art house gaming is here to stay.

But fear not! There are still indie developers who make games that eschew narrative exploration of the human condition for gameplay that’s actually fun, and I’ve compiled a list of 50 of ‘em! Enjoy!



One Finger Death Punch

50. One Finger Death Punch

A cheap 2-button game of stick figure kung fu fighting with epic music and destructible scenery that’s way more entertaining than it has any right to be.

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A Brief History Of Video Game Violence

Author’s note: After seeing what a wet blanket most of Hotline Miami 2 is I figured I’d dump this here and see what everyone thought about it. I wrote it awhile ago when it seemed like the whole #GamerGate thing was going to turn into some expressly anti-violence desensitization thing. — Worm

This is Rampage, arcade version!

The first violent game I remember seeing would probably be Rampage. Now I know this isn’t a traditionally violent game but it’s where it began. After all you could pick up people and eat them whole, that’s pretty violent. Certainly Mario smashing Goombas wasn’t some grand gesture of peace but this is the first time I remember killing people, innocent people, and it was fun. I wasn’t really defending myself in Rampage, actually I found that the most fun was fighting against the helpless civilians rather than the military units that actually could drain my health and cause me to lose a life. Most of the fun in Rampage was killing helpless women and men, plucking them out of their apartments and eating them whole.

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Review: Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius (PC)

So I got led by a Steam curator to this game which promised turn based naval combat, something that’s been lacking so much in games that I’ve recently reloaded early 90s stuff like The Grandest Fleet and Lost Admiral Returns. It had embarrassing anime art and promised equally embarrassing writing, but like The White Chamber it unexpectedly ends up being one of the best in its genre??!! And it’s free?

The story is a wacky anime harem setup. Thankfully you can hold down the enter key and quickly skip through all of it.

But then you get to the combat and wonder how the hell this got tacked on to some throwaway anime novel game?


skip skip skip skip

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Review: Fury (Movie) 2014

Shia LaBeouf plays an evangelist.

Good god, this is some of the worst writing in an Oscar-bait flick. It almost felt like something Donald Kaufman threw together while flipping through his colored sticky note bookmarks in Story. The opening scene is Brad Pitt having a save the cat moment when, after brutally murdering a German, gently pats the man’s white horse and sets it free. Then at the end, in the carnage of the final battle, a white horse runs by. “This is what McKee calls ‘coming full circle’, Charlie.”

Battle scenes? Shaky cam has officially been replaced by flying clods of dirt obscuring everything. I’m no expert on WWII ordnance, but I’m fairly sure that tank shells didn’t glow green and blue while bullets were dark red. It looks like a G.I. Joe cartoon half the time. In one scene, the sun is setting when they open fire on Germans causing them to run to a barn 100 feet away. Cut to them entering the barn and suddenly it’s pitch black night. A bunch of troops are shown marching where every 5th man is carrying an anti-tank weapon, but when the battle starts they have to break the anti-tank weapons out of crates.

Typist non-combatant new guy. Jesus freak. A dilemma about shooting a German prisoner or not? Struggling over a knife with a German before one is overpowered to be slowly stabbed? The opportunity to withdraw before the final attack but knowing that it would doom other American troops? Telling typist non-combatant guy to go live? All your Saving Private Ryan bits are here, beat for beat! Now with a 5 hour brunch scene! Plus loving, tender rape (it’s okay for the pacifist to rape her because one of the rougher soldiers would have anyway!)




It’s, like, symbolic of technology vs nature.

Did you know that war is hell and that it’s dirty and muddy with muddy dirt everywhere and that soldiers are human and also civilians are human caught in the middle? Donald Kaufman sure does! He’s here to do Saving Private Ryan right, without that opening beach scene that everyone hated and with a more boring final battle.

That’s literally what Fury is: Saving Private Ryan without the beach scene and worse screenwriting 101 moments crammed in.

FABIO

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