Shacknews - Steve Watts

It's almost February 14, and that means greeting-card-inspired love is in the air. This is the time of year that we see romance emphasized on TV and movies, but video games have had a rocky relationship with the concept of relationships. For as well as games have captured types of violence that aren't even possible, they've often struggled to represent real human connections, including love.

This week, the Chattycast talks about how love is represented in games--from highly-scripted stories like Final Fantasy to the CYOA style of BioWare's dialogue systems. What do games get right and wrong about love? How can they improve? What video game relationships have stood out the most to you?

Be sure to visit AudibleTrial.com/Chattycast for your 30-day trial with a free audiobook download of your choice.

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Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Today is a big day for followers of the Marvel Universe. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper has been building to its own climactic clash of heroes, the people at FOX have been working on stories revolving around Marvel's merry band of mutants, the X-Men. Among the rights it currently holds are for one Merc with the Mouth named Deadpool and today marks his official big screen debut. (Well, as long as you forget that… other thing he was in.)

While Deadpool's big screen presence has been limited over the years, he does have a few video games to his credit. So to celebrate Wade Wilson's taking Hollywood by storm this weekend, Shacknews is going to take a look back at some of his more memorable video game outings.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006)

Deadpool technically made his video game debut in Raven Software's X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse the year before this, but Activision's all-out event featuring all of Marvel's finest is where Deadpool truly stands out. Much of the appeal of this four-character dungeon crawler is assembling some of the all-time great Marvel teams: the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men. Everyone has united for the purpose of stopping Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil in a conflict where the very world is at stake.

Then there's Deadpool, who's in it for the kills and the laughs. Ultimate Alliance uses Deadpool as some much-needed comic relief, especially if he's paired with fellow quipper Spider-Man. There's also a story reason for his presence, as members of his supporting cast, like Weasel, are assisting S.H.I.E.L.D. with the search for Doom and the Masters.

However, Ultimate Alliance also offers the perfect introduction to Deadpool for those unfamiliar with the Merc's antics. He can be found in one of the game's central hubs where a dialogue option will ask him why he treats everything like a joke. The answer captures Deadpool's character in a nutshell, expositing on his cancer diagnosis and his subsequent treatment from the Weapon X program that also created Wolverine. Deadpool was given an equally amplified healing factor, but as explained in the game, the process left him so scarred (both physically and psychologically) that his whacked-out humor is more than a result of psychosis. It's a coping mechanism, since the procedure would have driven lesser men insane (well… a different kind of insane than Deadpool's, anyway.).

Best Deadpool Wisecrack: "The day my father Odin banished me from Asgard, I was bitten by a vampire and had radioactive waste dumped into my eyes. To make matters worse, my mutant ability to control weather activated just as I was hit by a blast of gamma radiation. Nah, actually, I got this way by volunteering for the Weapon X program. They promised to cure my cancer. And they cured it all right, by giving me an outrageous healing factor. Then they labeled me psychotic and tossed me into a prison lab. So I escaped and became what some people might call a 'mercenary'. I prefer the title 'cleaner of the gene pool'."


Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009)

Activision's second dip into Ultimate Alliance didn't feel quite as memorable. Part of that was the switch over to developer Vicarious Visions, but it was also because it was hard to build on the scope of that first game. So while basing the story on the Civil War story arc was a nice novelty, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 didn't offer that same pizazz as its predecessor. But hey, there was still Deadpool!

Deadpool didn't have as many memorable character moments or dialogue this time around. In fact, his best moment might have been when he first popped up in the story and ranted about cherry blossoms. Even Deadpool knew his role was somewhat diminished, which is why he decided to confront the Vicarious Visions developers during the game's end credits.

This confrontation stands out as one of the funniest moments of the game and perfectly illustrates what makes Deadpool such a fun character. It also wouldn't be Deadpool's last hostile run-in with a game developer, as we'll see shortly. Those curious about Deadpool's encounter with a game programmer can listen to the full scene here. (That's provided you don't mind spoilers, of course.)

Best Deadpool Wisecrack: "I refuse to say some clever quip because you set down the controller."


Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010)

In 2010, players got to explore four different versions of Spider-Man, including the one hailing from the Ultimate Universe. For those unfamiliar, the Ultimate Universe of Marvel Comics attempted to tell Marvel tales with a fresher, more modern twist. That also led to alternative versions of different characters, which includes Deadpool. The Ultimate version of Deadpool was an antagonistic mutant hunter and over the course of his plan to kill off the X-Men, he ran afoul of Spider-Man.

This game appearance represents Ultimate Deadpool's attempt at revenge. And while this version of Wade Wilson wasn't exactly the same fourth-wall breaking psychopath, he got to bring out his more humorous side by putting on a deadly reality television show. As one might surmise from reading this, Deadpool wasn't playable, but he was rather this stage's boss. As players navigated the level, they'd have to take out Deadpool's cronies while the Merc with a Mouth cracked wise in the background.

The stage would culminate with a one-on-one against Wade himself, as he'd use a dimensional fragment to amplify his power and split himself into three pieces. Aside from making Deadpool more powerful, it also meant Wade could literally tell jokes to himself, highlighting another aspect of his manic personality.

Best Deadpool Wisecrack: "I love this! Finally, someone to laugh at my jokes! Hey, what's green and makes noise? The Incredible Honk!"


Marvel vs. Capcom 3/Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011)

Deadpool didn't quite take off in mainstream popularity until well after the heyday of Capcom's "Vs." series. So when Capcom's best returned to clash with Marvel's mightiest, Deadpool definitely had to be on the invite list. Sure, the game had its fair share of loudmouths and jokers like Spidey, Devil May Cry's Dante, and Dead Rising's Frank West, but those are mere pretenders to Deadpool's crown.

Wade fit in like a glove with his array of powers and abilities. His katana and sidearms were perfect for special moves, while his teleporter allowed him to bounce around the stage. But not was Deadpool relentless with his one-liners, he also used the very fourth wall that he breaks so much as a weapon! His Level 3 Hyper Combo sees Wade grabbing his life bar and clubbing his opponent over the head with it before whacking them into the distance. It's still one of the oddest and funniest attacks seen in a fighting game.

Best Deadpool Wisecrack: "I just beat Mag-freakin'-neto! Where yo' curleh mustache at?"


Marvel Heroes (2013)

In the spirit of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Gazillion gathered together the farthest corners of the Marvel Universe for its first MMORPG. Naturally, Deadpool needed to be a part of the action. Like in Ultimate Alliance, he's a valuable source of comic relief, but this time around, the solo nature of the game helps capture the 'mercenary' idea much better.

Gazillion has also gone a few steps further in helping capture the spirit of who Deadpool is through his various character builds and skill trees. Players can specialize in Wade's firearms and heavy weapons (Hurty), his potent hand-to-hand combat and his expertise as a swordsman (Fighty), or his craftiness on the battlefield that sees him utilizing traps and other unexpected methods (Tricky). The developer has also honored the various phases of the character's life, offering costumes for Detective Deadpool, Pirate Deadpool, X-Force Deadpool, and even Lady Deadpool.

Deadpool isn't done getting love from the Gazillion team, either. As part of the jump to Marvel Heroes 2016, Deadpool received a character revamp that's offered up new animations, effects, and nine new moves for the battlefield.

Best Deadpool Wisecrack: "I'd sing some Black Sabbath right now, but the bean counter says we spent all our money on writers. What a waste."


Deadpool (2013)

Well, if any game was going to spell out just what it means to be Deadpool, it was this one. After reviving the Transformers franchise from the drudges of movie tie-in junk, High Moon Studios set out to do Wade Wilson justice. That didn't just mean an action game. It had to be an adult action game.

While Wade's other game appearances have been friendly for all ages, this game (much like the movie hitting theaters today) needed to be for a more mature audience. Hence, this is Deadpool's first and only M-rated game. And boy, did it nail everything on the Wade Wilson checklist. Fourth-wall breaking? Check! Ultraviolence? Check! Naughty swear words? Check-a-roonie!

Voice actor Nolan North was certainly no stranger to this character by this point, but he was truly allowed to cut loose here with some of the funniest dialogue given to the character in a game yet. The jokes not only gelled with Deadpool and his existence as a comic book character, but it even took shots at the nature of video game development itself. The game started off with Deadpool getting threatening messages on his answering machine from High Moon for blowing their budget and essentially ruining them (a joke that, in hindsight, maybe isn't so funny today), while a later scene follows up on this by briefly sticking Wade in a top-down 8-bit adventure, since that's all that the studio could afford. There's a later sequence that sees Deadpool pumping so many exploding kegs into an area, he breaks the scripting in the stage. The only trouble here was that sometimes the jokes came at the expense of the gameplay. For example, Deadpool joked during the endgame sequence about repetitive, monotonous battles and lazy design, but at the end of the day, the player still actually had to play those repetitive, monotonous battles. That's part of the reason that Deadpool's game, while doing total justice to the character, wasn't quite the masterpiece that we hoped it would be.

But time, much like Wade's healing factor, heals all wounds. Three years later, Deadpool's first game is mainly remembered as an exemplary (if imperfect) showcase for this marvelous character, which is part of the reason that Activision brought it back for next-gen consoles. Those looking for an idea of what an R-rated Deadpool will look like in the movie theater should first take a look at the Deadpool game, which delivers a lot of that same adult humor. While High Moon suffered heavy layoffs after the game's development, the studio ultimately put together the best love letter to Wade. Hopefully, the film will do well enough that another conversation can be had about giving Deadpool another shot at his own game.

Besides, what's Wolverine got that he doesn't got?

Best Deadpool Wisecrack: "That's what happens when you mix C4 with a bean burrito! Now be honest... I'm not the only one with a little bit of s*** in my pants, am I?"


Any favorite Deadpool gaming moments you'd like to share? Join the conversation and leave some in the comments.

Shacknews - Josh Hawkins

XCOM 2 is filled with various types of currencies and materials that you’ll need to do things throughout the game. But the most important of those currencies is Intel. Intel can be gained a different number of ways. You can gain it each month from the Council, and you can also gain it from Scanning remote areas that pop up on your map as the days pass.

You can also gain Intel by completing certain Research tasks like Analyzing ADVENT Datapads and other equipment that you team picks up from the various missions you’re sure to undertake. Perhaps the easiest and most fruitful way to gain Intel, however, is to return the Avenger to the Resistance Base and Scan from there.

The only real downfall to this, aside from boring yourself just sitting there watching that line spin in circles, is that the Avatar Project waits for no one, and each day that passes will push the timeline forward without you being able to stop it. This makes scanning from Resistance HQ something that should be done in moderation, as you wouldn’t want to let the Avatar Project get too far ahead.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Mario Kart vehicles are quite versatile as they can drive across various surfaces, propel themselves underwater, and just recently, defy gravity. But one thing they can’t yet do is fly through the air like an X-Wing or Tie Fighter, but YouTube team Dark Pixel decided to bring these two fan favorites together in their latest video, Star Kart.

Star Kart is the combination of Star Wars and Mario Kart and took the team approximately a year to produce. The video has Mario, Yoshi, Bowser, Luigi, and other iconic characters from the series zooming their way across iconic locales in the Star Wars universe. Not only are there well-known Star Wars locations, but several vehicles, such as Slave I, A-Wing, and Y-Wing, are also included.

The fan-made video gives us hope for a future where Mario Kart would not only take to the skies, but also across galaxies. And if one of those galaxies happens to be one that’s far, far away, then we’re completely fine with that.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Google is planning on taking VR more serious as early as this year, and it’s planning on shaking things up by offering an experience that is entirely self-contained.

In a report published by the Wall Street Journal, whatever Google is cooking up will be self-contained and won’t need a smartphone to use, like the Gear VR, nor a computer or a game console to work. The device is expected to be a true all-in-one device that would deliver a VR experience.

Google is also expected to release a more advanced version of its Google Cardboard that would require the use of a smartphone to provide its screen and drive its experience, although it’ll be a little more high tech than just a piece of cardboard. The more advanced version is expected to include computer chips and sensors.

The world of VR is expanding at a rapid pace lately as the Oculus Rift will soon be available, followed by the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and some other lesser known devices. What all of these devices have in common is the fact they all need an outside source to help power their experience, which PC manufacturers are attempting to provide themselves. But if Google’s entry into VR can offer as good an experience as these products, all within a self-contained unit, that could change things drastically and usher in the evolution of the VR space, even before it officially takes off.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Crystal Dynamics has released its second patch for the PC version of Rise of the Tomb Raider, and even though it isn’t as heavy hitting as last week’s patch, it does include improvements for overall GPU performances.

Rise of the Tomb Raider patch 1.0.616.4 fixes a number of issues, including the map not showing or outright showing the wrong location, ALT-TAB hanging the game or system when used in combination with Exclusive Fullscreen, and graphics glitches on NPC clothing. The patch also adds separate mouse sensitivity control for X and Y axis, the option to reduce in-game camera shake, and an audio cue for finding secrets in the relic viewer.

The patch will be automatically applied by Steam the next time you start Rise of the Tomb Raider, but if you own the game on the Windows Store, you should see it pop up in the next few days.

Here’s the full list of patch notes:

  • Fixed Map sometimes not showing or showing the wrong region.
  • Fixed ALT-TAB in combination with Exclusive Fullscreen occasionally hanging the game or entire system. (Steam Only)
  • Fixed graphics glitches on NPC clothing on NVIDIA 6x0 and 7x0 hardware.
  • Fixed rare crashes with a "DX11 Internal Heap" error.
  • Added separate mouse sensitivity control for X and Y axis, allowing users to equalize sensitivity.
  • Added option to reduce in-game camera shake, for users that prefer this.
  • Added audio-cue for finding secrets in the relic viewer.
  • Fixed game changing system screen saver settings for some users. (Steam Only)
  • Added additional error handling and messaging in case the GPU driver is crashing or unresponsive.
  • Various performance improvements for GPU-bound situations. CPU bound scenarios are not impacted.
  • A variety of other smaller optimizations, bug-fixes, and tweaks.
Shacknews - Daniel Perez

It appears Rock Band 4 wasn’t the only rock band simulator to not sell well as Activision has reported Guitar Hero Live did not meet its expectations.

During a financial call yesterday evening, Activision said Guitar Hero Live suffered “lower than expected performance.” Its poor sales reaffirms the publisher’s stance on releasing a new Guitar Hero game this console generation, and will instead focus on delivering more downloadable content for Guitar Hero Live. Doing so will allow the company to cost-effectively deliver new content and continue to build its installed base.

It seemed like many gamers were excited when both Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4 were first announced, but as we learned more in regards to how both games would perform, it seemed less and less likely people would invest their time and money for more cumbersome controllers. This holds true for Guitar Hero Live, which did not support last-gen instruments.

It appears the resurgence of rock band simulation games may be fading out as quickly as it was resurrected. If you were some of the people who purchased either game, hold on to them tight as it might be a long time until you get another one.

Shacknews - Brittany Vincent

All aboard the VR train! It looks like some heavy hitters of the entertainment world have joined together to put together something fabulous.

It's called The Rogue Initiative, and it's a new VR production firm firmed by names from Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Disney, Sony Pictures, and more. According to Develop, the team will be responsible for creating content in the Unreal 4 engine and will work with Hollywood directors to make some (hopefully) interesting content.

The first project the Rogue Initiative is said to be conquering is a "big episodic action tentpole franchise," a "stylized animated action adventure," and a "psychological thriller." What could we be seeing coming down the pipeline? I don't know, but it all sounds pretty exciting.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

343 Industries and Mattel have signed a master licensing agreement to expand the visibility of Halo products in retailers across the world and will unify the design, development, and creative vision of Halo consumer products.

“The success we’ve seen with the Halo MEGA Bloks franchise over the years laid the foundation for this partnership,” said Bonnie Ross, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Head of 343 Industries. “We’re excited to work with Mattel to bring innovative, quality and, most of all, fun products to old and new Halo fans alike.”

The new line of Halo toys will encompass items collectors, hardcore fans, and franchise newcomers can enjoy. The toys that will be available this fall include the following:

  • Halo Mega BloksDual Mode UNSC Warthog (SRP: $29.99)
  • Halo Mega Bloks Heroes Asst. II (SRP: $4.99)
  • Halo Mega Bloks Fireteam Asst. (SRP: $15.99)
  • Halo Mega Bloks UNSC Vehicle (SRP: $69.99)
  • BoomCo. Halo UNSC MA5 Blaster (SRP: $49.99)
  • BoomCo. Halo Brute Spiker (SRP: $19.99)
  • Halo Warthog + 12” Master Chief (SRP: $49.99)
  • Halo 6″ Figure Assortment (SRP: $19.99)
  • Halo Ghost Vehicle + 6” Figure (SRP: $29.99)
  • Halo 12″ Figure Assortment (SRP: $9.99)
  • Tyco Halo Warthog ONI Anti-Tank Radio Control Vehicle (SRP: $49.99)
  • Tyco Halo Warthog Light Reconnaissance Radio Control Vehicle (SRP: $29.99)
  • Halo Energy Sword (SRP: $49.99)
  • Tyco Halo Radio Control Vehicle *product title pending* (SRP: $29.99)
Shacknews - Daniel Perez

The open beta for Tom Clancy’s The Division is coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 next week, and prior to its launch, Ubisoft has revealed a number of improvements it has made to the game for the upcoming event.

According to patch notes outlined in an update history for the PS4 version, we can expect some new content, including the Subway Morgue mission that include The Cleaners faction, the opportunity to unlock the first upgrade in the Base of Operations’ Tech wing, new high-end weapons to be found in the Dark Zone, and a Deployable Turret skill.

The Dark Zone appears to have received the most changes as players can expect the number of non-player enemies to be significantly increased and to be slightly more powerful, chests will refresh much less frequently, and players who have shot at another player will now be marked, but not yet considered to be a Rogue Agent.

Just like with its closed beta, Xbox One owners will be able to get a headstart on The Division’s beta as they can begin accessing it on February 18. PC and PlayStation 4 owners can then join the fight the following day, on February 19 and all versions are expected to commence on February 21.

Here are screenshots of the full patch notes:

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