If you thought the kind of artificial, hair-tearing stunts found in the Trials series were the only way you'd see dirtbike tricks like that, well, Aussie rider Robbie Maddison would like a word.

In this clip, put together by DC Shoes, he rides around an old airbase pulling off stuff that should only really be done from the safety of a couch, Xbox controller in hand, dictionary full of self-loathing curse words at your side.

Watch Robbie Maddison practice two-wheel hoonage in an aircraft graveyard [autoblog, via Simon Carless]


The New Aliens Game Feels Like A Bad Theme Park Ride. Here's An Awesome Aliens Theme Park Ride.Gary Goddard has just about the coolest job in the universe. He gets to design theme park rides. Over the decades his work has appeared all over the world, in places like Universal Studios, but not everything he put to paper made it to construction.

Like his idea for a ride based on Aliens.

Seems it was designed for a Korean theme park in the late 90s, and both the park and rights-holders Fox were totally serious about it. Sadly, the Asian market crash of 1997 put a stop to the plans. It would have been a sit-down experience similar to, say, the Terminator ride at Universal, or Star Tours at Disneyland.

Gary Goddard [Official Site, via Super Punch]

The New Aliens Game Feels Like A Bad Theme Park Ride. Here's An Awesome Aliens Theme Park Ride.


I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of DaysTelltale's Mark Darin, just for kicks, has taken 2012 adventure series The Walking Dead (which he helped write) and thrown it back a few decades, imagining it as a Commodore 64 title.

He's pretty much nailed it. From the resolution to the colour palette. I'm now a little bummed out I can't actually play this. Maybe I'll just print the amazing cover art off and pretend.

Walking Dead game for the Commodore 64! [DeviantArt]

I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days I Would Play The C64 Version Of The Walking Dead Until The End Of Days

Why The Empire's Most "Spectacular Military Fiasco" Was The Battle Of HothIt's one thing to pick apart plot holes in a film, but to do so while at the same time cross-examining the military strategy of fictional protagonists? That's about as far up my alley as you can get without things getting adults-only.

Wired's military column, Danger Room, has written a fantastic piece putting Darth Vader's strategy at the Battle of Hoth under the microscope.

What at the time looks like a scrappy, if ultimately crushing victory for the Empire is instead—rather convincingly—shown to be its greatest failure, being the one and only time the military might of Palpatine and co. had a serious chance to eradicate the Rebellion and all its principal characters, only to let it slip.

I'd personally argue the Tantive IV operation was worse, at least in terms of strategic importance. Not firing on 3PO and R2's escape pod, burning Owen and Beru's farm in a gross act of unnecessary force (which compels Luke to set off on a journey that will ultimately kill both Palpatine and Vader), failing to discover a Jedi had been living on the planet for decades, letting the Falcon escape... it was a mess.

But the arguments made here for Hoth are still good reading (especially since the Tatooine operations weren't really a "battle").

Inside the Battle of Hoth [Wired]


No, really. Check out this hilarious video by grizzl360 that showcases the incredibly deadly, ultra fearsome alien threat in Aliens: Colonial Marines. I think the The Hello! Ma Baby song makes a strong case for why the AI in the game would have been better suited for a musical, don't you?

Now the question is, which performance is better? The one from Colonial Marines or the one from SpaceBalls?

Aliens Colonial Marines: All Singing, All Dancing [grizzl360 ]


The folks behind Disney's next big move in the gaming space know what you're thinking. They know that you're already comparing Disney Infinity to the Skylanders games. After all, their upcoming title is a video game/collectible toy hybrid where figurines of Disney movie characters come to life and romp around in a video game, just like Activision's big-selling mega-hit. But that's not all you'll be able to do.

There are some key differences in Infinity when compared to Skylanders, mostly in the fact that you can change the look and feel of the world. You can see some of that in action in the video above.

One thing that Disney reps on hand stressed to me was that players will be able to build all at the same time. So you and three other friends can all make stuff in the same world, with the host being able to save and share the resulting content. The simple rule sets of some items will be able to interweave in increasingly complex ways. So, you'll be able to do stuff like link two soccer goals, an action plate, confetti cannons and a boombox all together to make a minigame that celebrates with explosions and music every time someone scores a goal.

It's that kind of creativity that might give an edge to Disney Infinity when it tries to steal some playtime from Skylanders Giants and other games when it comes out this summer.


Soldiers Used Games To Escape From The Hell That Was Afghanistan "Every soldier needed an escape."

Steven Beynon, a cavalry scout in the Army, said that starkly to me in an interview—but many of us know exactly what he's talking about. It's the relief that comes when we kick off our shoes after a long day, grab a controller, and then forget about the world. Just for a little while.

For Beynon, the fact that video games are capable of such a thing was invaluable while he was deployed in Afghanistan.

Steven can't figure out how he ended up in the Army, but he knows a couple of key things. He knows he loves games and that imagined writing about them ever since elementary school. Combine the fact that the army pays for school, along with feeling an impotent rage about 9/11 when he was a kid—these things came together and pointed him toward the army, somehow.

"There was a lot of news footage of men suffering combat, what gave me the right to sit back and eat Doritos?"

Of course, he couldn't quite imagine what he was getting himself into. The conditions in Afghanistan were harsh, but maybe not in the way you'd imagine. Yes, there were incidents, and yes, they shook him profoundly. There is one story in particular that Beynon will never forget, where he came face to face with a Taliban fighter after being separated from his platoon.

"I ran out of reachable ammo. A Taliban fighter emerged from the tree line. He pointed his weapon at me, yelling in Pashto (the language spoken in that Province). He looked scared, but I think he was trying to take me prisoner. I had ammo in my backpack, but I didn't believe he would give me the 15 seconds needed to reload."

Soldiers Used Games To Escape From The Hell That Was Afghanistan

"He walked slowly towards me. I grabbed my knife. I thought about my fiancee, friends, family, and everything in my life I haven't done yet. He was now only 8ft away from me. I heard a dozen gun shots and saw the Taliban fighter fall to the ground. My buddies found me."

"At that moment I had a rebirth. I truly appreciated everything. I don't believe in God, but was convinced I had a second chance. There was nothing stopping that guy from shooting me. Every breath felt like overtime."

Heart-stopping incidents like that happened, sure, but mostly, what got to him and his platoon was intense boredom combined with tumultuous home lives. Being a gamer, he decided to deal with it using video games—more, made it his mission to introduce everyone to video games. So the platoon got some crappy televisions, they made some makeshift tables, and they started gaming.

At first, it wasn't therapeutic—things hadn't gotten that bad yet. The gaming was something that was simply "fun to do. It wasn't like we had bars to go to. Living inside a tent in a half-mile square doesn't provide a lot of entertainment."

Then things got worse.

"As time went by, more firefights, more mortar strikes, more injuries, more deaths, and a growing pile of at-home relationships falling apart strained the men naturally," Beynon wrote in a blog. "This forced them to explore outlets. No one was cowering under their bed from the scary Taliban. That wasn't the atmosphere. The actual fighting was part of the job and felt as natural as you clocking into work."

"The stress came from the girlfriends not following through with previously made commitments, the isolation from the outside world, and the reality of having zero control over the life left at home."

Despite that stuff, Beynon remained remarkably calm—and people wondered about his outlet. What was enabling him to keep so cool?

It was video games. Slowly, people started playing more games as a result, started experimenting with different types of games outside of their comfort zone—instead of Call of Duty, people started picking up games like Skyrim. They got hooked, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

"Everyone has problems in their life that need to be forgotten about."

"The power games have to provide escapism is both good and bad. There are extreme cases like children being neglected because their parents couldn't stop playing WoW, and cases like mine on the positive side of the spectrum."

"Everyone has problems in their life that need to be forgotten about, but it requires a mature mode of thinking to properly play games while keeping reality in check. Plus, games are pretty rad."

Since Afghanistan is considered a U.S. address, Beynon was able to order a myriad of new releases—though they'd sometime take weeks to get to him. He also relied on support back home from the Giant Bomb community.

"A user started a donation thread, and a lot of fans of the site sent me games. I ended up with nearly 70 games and built a library on our Outpost for the guys to play. I ended up donating the games to a local VA Hospital here in the states."

Now Beynon is a student at Miami University, and he hopes to break into games journalism. It's a different world than back in Afghanistan for sure, but he still remembers it and the impact games had on his platoon.

"Games are special to me. Some of my best moments with games came out of my deployment. Not because of playing high-quality titles, but I appreciated gaming more. I valued every minute with my games."


Dead Space Started Off As Horror, But Now It's So Much MoreI beat Dead Space 1.

I nearly beat Dead Space 2, but I got so frustrated with one section near the end in which I was trapped in a room with regenerating Necromorphs that I shelved it. (This was after the amazing "needle/eye" bit.)

I come from a long history of loving sci fi, in particular, scary, gritty sci fi. Growing up I was more about "Aliens" than "Star Wars." "Event Horizon," as flawed as it was, still inspired a 20-something Cliff to implement similar scare gags in Unreal 1. "Sunshine" included, I love movies in which man explores space with his best intentions and all Hell breaks loose.

I'm quite familiar with the controversy over Dead Space 3 and the issue of horror versus action. Generally speaking, the scarier a game is the less empowered a player feels. Controls are often clunky on purpose, and the pacing is quite different from an action movie. It feels as if developer Visceral consciously gravitated the franchise more towards the "action" elements over the "suspense/horror" ones, and I'm quite okay with that. We look at the target audience for your average console game and it's often a cocky young male who doesn't want to be scared. Unfortunately, he's the guy who wants to get in and "fuck shit up."

Is it possible to blend the two? Yes, I do think it is, and those of you who have read my interviews in which I talk about how you could do that in Resident Evil have seen the thoughts. (Random idea 1: Alternate between two storylines, one is a first responder and the other is a terrified child.) Horror is HARD, and suspense is even HARDER. It requires a true director's hand. A nudge this way and a moment plays as comedic, a nudge too far the other way and it's not scary at all. To compound it all, making a scary moment is kind of like trying to tickle yourself. You think it's scary, but you're never sure until you test it on someone who has NEVER SEEN THE MOMENT.

(This is why James Wan is evolving into a great filmmaker. Apart from the slightly over the top 3rd act there are scares in his "Insidious" that work amazingly well.)

Regardless, I'm currently burning through the campaign of DS3 with my wife in co-op and it's still quite a bit of fun. The dynamic of using stasis and limb shooting in a co-op environment works surprisingly well. If there are surprises and scares to be had it's often the person who charges ahead LeeRoy Jenkins style who enjoys them. Grabbing a leg and impaling a foe is worth the effort, and it's gratifying.

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the weapon crafting and upgrading system, to be honest. Generating circuits, crafting them, etc… I could have used a bit more hand holding there. (The UI borders on comedic at times when you're starting a game, with ROTATING METAL PANELS OF STUFF FLYING AT YOU EVERYWHERE!)

Overall game pacing is something that's really hard to get right; it's something that a lead campaign designer or overall lead designer are responsible for and that pacing doesn't let down. The game builds to a crescendo of exciting moments (often with ships crashing) and then it takes its time before getting back into combat. The vistas and skyboxes are breathtaking, and the weapons generally feel good. (One of the issues with making sci-fi weaponry is that the guns don't always look like guns. I know the series was going for more of a "mining equipment" vibe but I often have a hard time figuring out which gun is which when they're icons.)

And yes, there's a part when the game briefly feels like Lost Planet, but it's a welcome change of pacing from dark space corridor after dark space corridor. One of my personal quibbles with the game is the lack of memorable locations. There are just so many corridors; there aren't a lot of areas that can be defined as "the room with the N in it."

Oh, and as a side note the parts when you're in space flying around in your suit are suspenseful but somehow peaceful, if that makes any sense.

At the end of the day this franchise feels like it's starting as a solo experience, a solitary and confined horror game, and now it's evolving into much more than that. You can either fight it or embrace it. I choose the latter, as at the end of the day it's FUN. (We're about 50% through…the giant drill bit section was a highlight.)

p.s. In the 60$ disc based market horror doesn't fly—it's the ultimate "Campaign Rental" that's played for 2 days and traded in and I'm sure EA knows this. When we're fully digital we'll see more true horror games coming back. (Look at Amnesia and Slenderman on PC.)

Cliff Bleszinski is a game industry veteran. He blogs on Tumblr and can be found on Twitter at @therealcliffyb.

Republished with permission.


GameStop Says 60% Of Surveyed Gamers Wouldn't Buy A Console If It Blocks Used Games

Hard times could be getting harder for GameStop, the massive store chain that buys and sells video games all across North America. Already challenged by gaming's increasingly digital future, GameStop now has to face the prospect of a new Xbox that will block used games, if recent reports are true.

But what about us? According to GameStop chief financial officer Rob Lloyd, the company's internal research shows that 60% of customers aren't interested in buying a console that won't play used games. 60%!

Speaking at Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference (as reported by VG247), Lloyd said he's skeptical that people will be interested in the new Xbox if rumors are true.

"Consumers want the ability to play pre-owned games, they want portability in their games; they want to play physical games," he said. "And to not have those things would be a substantial reason for them not to purchase a new console."

Okay, let's see what you guys think. Answer RIGHT HERE:

GameStop: 60% of customers won't buy a new console that blocks used games [VG247]

(Photo: Stephan Mosel/Flickr)

They're Making Mountain Dew for Breakfast, and It's All Your FaultAs a man that at one point in his life consumed no less than four liters of vaguely citrus soda a day, I find it hard to believe that there was really a large demand for a mildly juice-infused Mountain Dew breakfast drink, yet here we are.

Coming February 25 to retail locations across North America, Mountain Dew Kickstart is an all-new, less shameful way to start your day. Pick your poison, Orange Citrus or the less redundant Fruit Punch, each 16-ounce can packed with 80 calories and a whipping five percent real fruit juice. Pepsi is saying it "presents a fresh alternative to the age old morning question of 'coffee or juice.'" I have never asked that question, but I am pretty sure if I did my answer wouldn't be just a little bit of juice with some artificial colors and chemicals. For one, that's far too specific.

Why is Pepsi doing this? Because you demanded it. You did. It says it right here.

"Our consumers told us they are looking for an alternative to traditional morning beverages—one that tastes great, includes real fruit juice and has just the right amount of kick to help them start their days," said Greg Lyons, vice president of marketing for Mountain Dew in a press release that seems perfectly sensible and not at all contrived. "We heard them loud and clear and created a completely new offering with Kickstart to give them exactly what they asked for."

Thanks, Mountain Dew consumers! If not for your dedicated correspondence we wouldn't be here today.

And I have just the slogan: Kickstart—at least pretend you care about your health. That's a freebie, Pepsi marketing guy.