Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy Ep. 2 – More Six Days In Fallujah & Are The New Consoles Any Good? (TEXT VERSION)

Note: this is my first transcription of the new Weekend Whammy podcast and it’s a lot longer than I expected. I’ve also let a few things out, edited other bits and reworded certain things.

Hello and welcome back to the Weekend Whammy. I’m your host with the most crippling depression. I thought I’d kick off this week with a random fun fact about myself. One of my greatest pet peeves is people who go to petrol stations, get their petrol and then proceed to do about a week’s worth of shopping. Look, just get your petrol, pay for it, get back in the car, go park up and then go do your shopping. Don’t make me sit 20 minutes behind you in a car, waiting for you to find which broccoli you want to eat. Right, get in the car, GO!

Anyway, as per my usual Weekend Whammy structure, we’re going to kick off the games I’ve reviewed, then move on to what I’ve been playing and might be reviewing, and then get into some news and stuff.

So kicking off, I reviewed Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpoclypse. This was a point and click adventure game set in the Cyanide and &happiness universe which is a series of webcomics and animated shorts. It raised $575,000 on Kickstarter and has been in development for a few years. On the last Weekend Whammy I mentioned that I wasn’t really enjoying it and I’m afraid to say my opinion didn’t really change in the end. The game gave me a few chuckles across its short 2-hour runtime, but not as many as I was really hoping for. The puzzles themselves were very basically designed with not much to them and no really unique settings or circumstances. About the most interesting thing you might do is raise a desk with a pulley. Overall, then, I just don’t think this game is worth it and it’s very poorly paced. Across those two hours, you do nothing. The only interesting thing occurs literally just before the credits roll, and then you’re waiting for the second game.

On the plus side, I do think this game could be worth playing in the future once we see the next game or all three parts of the planned trilogy. Once they are all together in a single, big game it could be worth playing but for now, on its own, I don’t think it’s worth playing.

Next up I will be playing and reviewing Genesis Noir. Now according to the Steam description: “A noir adventure spanning time and space. When a love triangle between cosmic beings becomes a bitter confrontation, you’ll witness a gunshot fired by a jealous god—otherwise known as The Big Bang. Jump into the expanding universe and search for a way to destroy creation and save your love.”

Very interesting little write up. It’s a very difficult game to describe visually. It has a black and white art-style but not in the way you’re probably thinking, like an old-timey movie. Instead, most of the screen is black and white is used to outline and fill in the details. It looks really striking. I recommend watching the trailer below. But yeah, a review for that will be coming. I’ve not played enough yet to offer up even a simple opinion on it.

I’ve also been playing the old evil genius game in preparation for maybe reviewing evil genius 2. I say maybe because money is very tight right now and now review code has been forthcoming, and I really need to do things like get some dog-food for my German Shepard, pay bills and all that fun stuff. And unfortunately, there has been a bunch of personal stuff that happened. So yeah, I’m not sure if I have the spare cash to review it.

But in case I do, I am playing Evil Genius. In case you weren’t aware Evil Genius is like a management game where you’re building your evil base in a mountain. And you’re managing your minions and dispatching them into the world to do nefarious deeds and steal cash. You’re building barracks, control centres, reactors and so on, and all the time you’re trying to stop curious tourists wandering in and enemy agents from discovering your secrets.

It hasn’t aged great. It’s quite clunky in its user interface and what it’s trying to do. But the basic premise is so fun and charming you don’t really care. Still, I’m hoping evil genius 2 builds on everything and makes for a far, far better game. I mean, I’d be quite happy playing a remaster of Evil Genius with modern graphics and an updated UI, so even if the sequel is just that it could be good.

Apart from that, I have been playing a lot of Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War, the old RTS from Relic Entertainment. This was released back in 2004 and was a substantial part of my childhood, or should I say teenage years since I would have been 13 when it was released. I bought it pretty much as soon as it came out and have played dozens and dozens and dozens AND DOZENS of hours of it. But I haven’t gone back to the game in a couple of years, so I’m going now with the intent on reviewing it and all three expansions.

Some quick thoughts on it, though: I think it has stood the test of time brilliantly. In fact, you could release it in 2021 with modern graphics and I don’t think anyone would realise it was 17-years old. That’s how good Relic was. That’s how good the game is.

What I really love about it is how they made these capture points around the map that feeds you one of the two resources you need to make stuff. This forces you out of your base, pushing you to be aggressive. You have to take and hold parts of the ma, because if you don’t you let your enemy get a foothold, they’ll be much more economically strong than you. They can just plough through you with sheer numbers whereas you’ll be stuck trying to make up for it. So you really need to get out there and grab the territory. It stops you from turtling up. To help further that base building is fairly streamlined. Most of the emphasis is placed on the battles themselves and using your squad’s individual abilities, as well as upgrading them with various weapons. Like a squad of Space Marines can be upgraded with heavy bolters, flamethrowers and rocket launchers.

As for the expansions, I like how they were willing to change the singleplayer experience. Dark Crusade ditched the linear singleplayer campaign of the first game, and added in a turn-based tactical world map where you fought for control of a whole planet. Each piece of territory you grabbed earned requisition that you could then spend to reinforce areas or buy special Honor Guard units. Bases you built were permanent, too.

I’m loving going back to these games, and I’m going to spoil my own review by saying I highly recommend going out and buying the Dawn of War collection on Steam. It can be found really cheap, and you’re getting one of the best RTS games of all time.

Anyway, moving on from that, before we get into the news and other bits and pieces, I wanted to talk about the PS5 and the Series S/X. I just wanted to discuss where we are with the consoles and how we are all feeling about them. It’s a complicated discussion because even though I am enjoying my Playstation 5, it has also been quite disappointing. And I don’t think you’re missing out on anything by not having one. After all this time, I was hoping to have more to play on the console. We’ve only really got Demon’s Souls and Destruction All-Stars. Astro Bot I’m not really counting because that came free with the console anyway. Out of all the true PS5 games we have, one of them is a remake of an old game that we could already play, and Destruction AllStars has been less than thrilling. We do have Returnal coming up, so that’s a big deal for Sony, but after all of Sony’s talk about believing in generations, it’s very disappointing how little we have to play on the console.

Now don’t get me wrong I do love the upgrade the PS5 gives PS4 games. I’m going back and playing all these older games and loving the higher framerates and the improved graphics and the better load times. However, had I been a regular gamer who wasn’t running a website and just bought the PS5 for myself, I’d been feeling pretty let-down right now. I would regret spending the money to buy one right now and would rather have waited. Because all I’m playing is PS4 games and while the upgrade is certainly nice, it’s not £500 nice. In other words, if you don’t have a PS5 right now you aren’t missing much. Certainly, if you have plenty of money to spare and the £500 isn’t a big deal then go ahead and get it; you’ll appreciate the better performance. But if £500 is a big purchase for you, don’t worry about it. You aren’t missing anything. Seriously. Stick with the last-gen and you can still play most of the big new releases.

Much the same can be said for the Series S/X as well. I was lucky; I got gifted my Series S because I did say that before this gen came out I was only going to support one console for a while until I could afford to get both machines. I chose the PS5 expressly because of Sony’s comments about believing in generations and exclusives, thinking that because I have a decent PC I could still cover Microsoft titles since they come out on Gamepass and PC day one anyway. So that’s come back and bit me in the ass, really.

Xbox are pretty much in a similar situation right now with no exciting exclusive games. The Medium was MEH at best, and there’s nothing really on the horizon, at least at the moment. Obviously, their acquisition of Zenimax and other studios sets them up for the future, but that’s the future and right here and now there’s nothing much in terms of exclusive, interesting games to play. With that said, I am enjoying my Series S, but it’s certainly a less exciting console than the PS5. I say that because when you fire up the Series S it feels like I’m still firing up my Xbox One X from the last-gen. The user interface is exactly the same, so when you combine that with the lack of new games it doesn’t feel very…new.

So yeah, I’d say so far, disappointing. I was hoping for a little more from both consoles. We’ve just not gotten much. Fingers crossed for the future.

Now, let’s move into a few bits of news, shall we? We’re kicking off with more Six Days in Fallujah. I’ve already talked about this previously in a Weekend Whammy, but more things have been occurring with it. It continues to be hugely controversial. If you don’t know what Six Days in Fallujah is, it’s an FPS set during the second battle of Fallujah during the Iraq war, a battle which was reported as having the heaviest urban combat seen in the war. It’s widely believed the US employed white phosphorous as an offensive weapon during the battle which would constitute a war crime as white phosphorous is only allowed to be used to create a smokescreen. Obviously, there’s a tricky line there when it comes to offensive/smoke-screen use.

There are a lot more controversial topics surrounding the battle and the war which I won’t attempt to go into due to the complex nature of it all. I don’t have the knowledge for that.

One little piece of Six Days of Fallujah news is that the game will include randomly generated maps, the idea being that the deevs want to capture the feeling of having to clear unfamiliar buildings. This will hopefully capture the experience of the real marines whenever they went to clear a building and had no idea of the layout, possible enemy presences and so on. With this random generation, you won’t be able to remember layouts and will have to go in blind.

And now, on to the new controversies. People are not happy about this game, folks. A petition has been created to get the game cancelled, and I quote: “Bombing, shooting and humiliating the Iraqi people is being normalized in this sick videogame which will also inevitably breed a new generation of mass shooters in America and brain-wash people into thinking racism is okay.”

That’s a lot of pressure to put on one game. I mean, damn, mass shooters AND racism? I thought we were past this point. I thought we were past this point of believing violent games could create mass murderers and violent people. I thought we moved past this. We had it in the 90s, we had it in the 200s. We have loads and loads of research, all of which indicates that violent videogames do not create violent people. At most, it seems game can increase aggression a little bit in the short term, especially in the cases of kids. Again, this is why good parenting is important. But that’s it. No links to mass killing and shooters have ever been proven outside of the fact that some of them played games, which is like saying some of them watched movies and some of them drove cars.

And brainwashing people into believing racism is okay? I’m not sure where that comes from. There’s a lot you can say about the Iraq war and how it was a horrible thing that shouldn’t have happened. But I don’t think racism comes into it. I don’t think anyone has run around claiming we invaded Iraq because we thought Iraqi people were an inferior race, which is the definition of racism. It’s far more likely the US invaded Iraq due to wanting access to oil and used weapons of mass destruction as the excuse. I don’t think racism ever came into it, and I’m not sure why they are arguing the game is bringing racism into the mix. I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

This is a lot to say about a game that isn’t even out and that we don’t know much about. Nobody has played it outside of the developers. There’s a lot of assumptions in this petition. But what is weird is how many people have supported it within the game industry. For example. the petition has been shared by a Warner Bros. employee by the name of Osama Dorias, lead designer on Gotham Knights. The petition says a lot about violent videogames and the influence they have on people, yet Doriashas signed and shared it. He works on Gotham Knights. A game about hiding your identity and become judge and jury. A game about hitting people. Where you are a vigilante. It’s a violent videogame! So I think it’s a case of not throwing stone when you are standing in a glass house. You’re making violent videogames, so maybe don’t sign a petition that is arguing against a violent videogame.

Now obviously the big difference is one is entirely fictional and one isn’t. That’s important. But a large part of this argument is violence in games again, and I don’t think it’s smart for a developer to be putting their name to a petition attempting to cancel a game.

With that said, Dorias is Iraqi and so I can imagine for him the issue is much more sensitive. I can understand his outrage, then. I don’t agree with it, but I can at least understand it.

other developers at the likes of Square Enix, EA and Ubisoft have also supported Dorias and the petition. These people make the likes Battlefield, Rainbow Six: Siege and the Tom Clancy games. While these aren’t recreations of real events, they are often based on real events and make use of very real-world tensions between countries like the US, Russia and China.

I just…I don’t get this. Surely this is shooting yourself in the foot, right?

But let’s try to get back to the fact that Six Days in Fallujah is based on a real event. In some ways, I can understand the harsh reactions because any historic event like the second battle of Fallujah is a touchy subject. But ultimately you can’t argue games are art and then argue they shouldn’t be made because you don’t like what it says. That goes against everything art is and should be. You can absolutely dislike a game and you can have opinions about its showing., You can hate the message it’s sending. But at the end of the day, it has the right to that message. This game could come out and completely show America in a glowing, shining light, a beacon of hope that was totally right in invading Iraq and froing what it did and killing innocents. I’d hate that and I’d hate the message and I’d argue against the message, but they would have the right to that viewpoint. The developers are entitled to that viewpoint and are should be allowed to make that game. Of course, you’re allowed to essentially book burn and demand they stop, I suppose, I just think it goes against a free-thinking society to do so.

More importantly, again, there’s a lot of assumptions going on about a game that isn’t even out yet. Despite that, you have places like Kotaku describing it as a “war-crime simulator.” That’s a bold claim, especially when you consider the developers have already stated that the supposed usage of white phosphorous won’t be shown or discussed. I suppose the argument is the entire Iraq war was a war crime. I think most people these days would agree that the invasion of Iraq was bullshit and should never have occurred.

It just…it raises a lot of questions about other games, right? I mean, World War 2 games, do they glorify and normalize the killing of German soldiers? We tend to view Nazis as the perfect game enemy because nobody feels bad about shooting them, but what most tend to forget is that many of the German soldiers weren’t Nazis. Obviously, many of them did support the Nazi party, but many would have argued vehemently against being labelled as Nazis, many were conscripts, many didn’t have a choice. But you shoot them anyway. Obviously, the situation was different – that was a battlefield. Lines were drawn. Germany intended on conquering the world and was highly racist. We were right to fight them, and sadly a lot of innocent people got hurt in the process. So where do you draw this magical line? Loads of the Call of Duty games depict horrible events that are based on real events that took place.

Frankly, these arguments against Six Days in Fallujah are dumb and illogical.

Now, the game itself claims it will try to depict both sides of the conflict. There will be sections where you play as Iraq civilians, which is interesting. Personally, I’d actually be quite interested in playing the whole game as an Iraqi civilian trying to survive the battle. It could make a really tense, emotional horror game, almost, where you come around a corner and are face to face with a squad of marines who open fire. That could really hit emotionally and intellectually and be an amazing depiction of the Falljuah battle.

The final point I wanted to raise is that there was somebody by the name if Rami Ismail who put out a video reacting to the new gameplay footage. Specifically, he reacted to two points. The first was the random generation where he railed against the idea of Iraqi’s lives being nothing more than random generation, now. I think that was willfully ignoring the idea of the feature. It’s nowhere near the same as saying they’re just randomly generated Iraqis for you to shoot. And even if they are, loads of games use random NPC generation because trying to create each one bespoke would be time-consuming. We don’t complain about this in other games, so why this one? We don’t argue those games somehow devalue human lives because the people being shown are randomly generated. I think that’s a daft claim.

The other thing he reacted to was a piece of the interview footage shown where a marine talked about clearing houses. They talked about how they believed the first marine in the door is always right. Admittedly, when you hear it out of context it does sound weird. He was trying to argue that does this mean the first guy through a door is always right about murdering people. That, you know, that just wipes the slate claim. That if that marine shoots an innocent person it’s okay because he’s instantly right. But that wasn’t what the marine was saying. If you watch the interview what they were saying is that the first person through a door has a split-second decision to make if there’s someone on the other side of the door. Within microseconds they have to decide to shoot or not to shoot. That’s a tough choice to make because you don’t know if the person on the other side of the door is an innocent civilian or an enemy whose going to gun you and your mates down. It’s a terrible situation and one I hope to never be in, and I can’t imagine the thought process of any marine having to make those calls.

Now, we have to push aside the question of whether the marine should or should not even be there. We have to just consider that moment of going through the door. They’re saying that in that brief moment the first guy is always right, and what they clearly by this is that they trust the judgement of that one marine. If he fires they will all fire. If he doesn’t, they won’t either. Obviously, that doesn’t condone the killing of innocent people, it never can, it never should. But again what we see in these reactions is people trying to wilfully ignore the actual words and meaning of others and instead put in their own words in their mouths and make things sound much worse. I think that’s wrong. I think it’s wrong to condemn a game that isn’t out, to condemn to a vision we little about, and wrong to try to cancel a piece of art that we know nothing about and have long argued to have classed as a piece of art.

The interview show is from the marine’s point of view, so of course that’s how he will word things, like how the the first marine “has the most to fear.” That doesn’t erase the fact person in the house is fucking terrified, and it’s pretty horrible to assume the first marine just guns down innocents without a thought. No soldier goes in intent on shooting civilians and gunning down kids, for fuck’s sake.

There are lots of things I don’t like in this world. Heaps of movies and books and games that have held opinions I strongly disagree with, yet I don’t try to cancel them. I don’t try to burn books because their words offended me. That’s idiotic. These things have the right to exist and should exist.

Personally, Six Days in Fallujah doesn’t interest me much. But I hope they do it brilliantly. I hope the interviews with real marines and Iraqi civilians really resonate with people and make them feel even a tiny bit as scared as they must have been. It has the potential to be a striking piece of work that tackles a tricky subject, and I think we should all wish it the very best in exploring the topic.

Anyway, let’s leave the heavy stuff. This has probably come across as a ramble, but I hope you get the gist. Moving on to the news, Sony has revealed the new designs for the upcoming PS VR 2 controllers. They look a lot like Oculus controllers, but the really exciting thing is they will be including the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback of the Dualsense controllers. This is really exciting because this could help increase immersion massively! The old Move controllers were terrible and outdated even when they first got used with the PS VR, so it’s nice to see Sony moving forward. I love Half-Life: Alyx, and can only imagine how much cooler it would have been with haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Using the guns could have felt awesome if you could feel the tension of the trigger as well, and the shudder of the gun.

Sticking with Sony, there’s been a rumour that Sony is planning on shutting down PS3, PSP and PS Vita digital stores. Since the PS5 can’t play these games natively, this could mean hundreds of thousands of games might be lost forever. When I put out the podcast this was just a rumour, but since I began transcribing the podcast Sony has announced this to be true, so keep that in mind. Thankfully you’ll still be able to download any games you’ve purchased for those systems, but you won’t be able to buy any new games unless you get their physical versions.

Potentially tying into this is the fact that Sony has filed a patent for backwards compatible trophies. Now, patents are filed all the time for stuff that doesn’t get used, but this one is quite interesting. It’s listed as having six inventors, so obviously a lot of work has gone into it. Hopefully, it could be an indication that Sony is working on backwards compatibility for the PS5. It would be amazing if Sony could announce that, and that the old storefronts are going to be merged with the PS5 store. I hope this is true. I really, really do. Especially because of how strong Xbox’s backwards compatibility is.

Microsoft is being rumoured to be considering buying Discord. Again, take it with a pinch of sale. Discord, obviously, is a massive platform widely used by gamers and game communities to chat with each other. I use it quite a bit to chat with friends who are playing on different games on different consoles. I could see Microsoft potentially doing this and rolling it into the Xbox, but could they put it on other platforms? Would Sony allow a Microsoft owned Discord on Playstation? Because it would be amazing if they did. However, Microsoft already owns Skype and have Teams so will be they interested in another similar service?

Meanwhile, Hades has won big at the BAFTA awards, taking home first place for the best game, beating out the likes of Ghost of Tsushima, Half-Life: Alyx and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It also won in categories such as Narrative, Game Design and Artistic Achievement. While Logan Cunningham, the guy who voices Hades, Achilles and more, took home the top prize as a performer in a supporting role. All of this is completely deserved in my estimation. If you read my review of Hades you know I adore the game and I absolutely think it deserves game of the year and all those other awards. It’s an amazing game with astounding mechanics, a great story, beautiful graphics and top-notch performances. I cannot praise it enough.

On the other side of the fence, The Last of Us 2 won the public vote for the best game of the year. You probably already know I don’t like the game that much, but I understand why it won. For a lot of people, I’m sure the game hit hard and hit emotionally. I just didn’t like the direction it took, the pacing or some of the story decisions that were made. I also thought the gameplay was just okay. Nothing special. I don’t think it deserves the award, but that’s me personally. But I still think Hades was better.

Finally, Ghost of Tsushima is getting the movie treated and will be helmed by the direction of the John Wick movies. I have zero excitement for this. Ghost of Tsushima already told a great story in game form, and I don’t see the need to turn it into a movie, especially since it’s already heavily based on the old samurai films.

That’ll do for this week. You might notice that this isn’t a perfect transcription of my podcast, and that’s because I’ve edited it a bit for the sake and time and for easier reading. Plus, transcription takes AAAAAGGGGEEEEESSSSS as it turns out, so there’s that.

Take care everyone.

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