The Witcher Series Recap: Thumbstick Athletes Podcast Episode 199

Prior to the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt we wanted to go back and cover the first two games in the series, so Dan and Corey cover both the plots and our thoughts on The Witcher, and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.  Corey had played through the entirety of the the first Witcher game, with Dan only really getting through the first chapter before getting distracted by something else.  Both played through the second one, with Dan playing through it right before The Witcher 3.  Unfortunately, there wont be any show notes this week, Will wanted to avoid any spoilers so he came late to the episode and we forgot to do them later on.  If you wish to avoid any spoilers skip ahead to 1:08:45 when we're beyond the main segment.

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Game Releases: Week of March 4-10, 2013

The first full week of March has some heavy hitters in it, along with the rest of the month.  Be sure to pick up some of these titles as some are must-play games for early in the year.

March 5, 2013

Sim CIty  for PC

 

Tomb Raider for PC, PS3, 360

 

MLB 13: The Show for PS3, Vita

 

MLB 2k13 for PS3, 360

 

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm for PS3, 360

 

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow- Mirror of Fate for 3DS

 

In DLC this week, the final single player DLC for Mass Effect 3 releases, with Citidel coming out also on March 5th.

E3 Presentations

The first press presentation was Microsoft early on monday (in LA anyway) where Halo 4 gameplay was shown and SmartGlass was officially revealed.  The new Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider, and Gears of War games were also shown along with a small number of Kinect games too. 

Microsoft

Electronic Arts was next, announcing their newest games.  Although there were no new intellectual properties, the new Medal of Honor and Crysis games impressed with their stunning graphics.  EA also announced a partnership with UFC, giving EA the exclusive rights to making the next several years worth of Ultimate Fighting Championship games. 

EA

Ubisoft's presentation, hosted by Aisha Tyler, was almost unanimously voted the best of the bunch.  With the stunning new IP's Watch Dogs and ZombiU, and much anticipated games like Assassins Creed 3, Far Cry 3, and the new Splinter Cell, Ubisoft came out swinging in this very games oriented E3.

Ubisoft

Sony also stepped up their game with two brand new IP's of their own in Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us.  God of War: Ascension and PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale solidified their games line up for the PS3.  A little (literally little) love was given to the Vita and Sony also announced and demoed the Wonderbook. 

Sony

Last, but certainly not least, came Nintendo's presentation.  Most were clamoring for any info they could get on the WiiU, and Nintendo gave a decent list of some games to expect.  Pikmin 3, Super Mario Brothers U, and Rayman: Legends were some of the expected announcements, but ZombiU and Lego City Undercover were generally the talk of Nintendo's presser.

Nintendo

Thanks to IGN for posting all the press conferences in full on youtube, subscribe to their channel for more E3 news.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North Review

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by Will Murtha

With a plethora of great game releases in the fall, some games are inevitably overlooked. One such game is The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. War in the North takes place in the background of the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The game starts out with the three characters in the Prancing Pony: Farin who is our Dwarf warrior, Andriel our Elf mage and Eradan the Human ranger, are talking to Aragorn. Aragorn tells them of an attack that is about to happen on Bree and that Agandaûr, Sauron’s right hand man, is behind it. Your goal is to stop it. From there the story continues in the game. The three of your characters are fighting a war in the north while the Fellowship helps Frodo destroy the ring.

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The combat for this game is extremely simple. It is your classic hack and slash, where you are put up against a ton of enemies and you mash the X button for weaker attacks and Y for more powerful attacks. A cool thing about the combat system is the combos you can do, dismembering arms, legs and even the heads of your opponents. This leads to a good amount of blood pouring out of the orc body, a violent display for a Lord of the Rings game. While you’re fighting an enemy, a yellow arrow sometimes appears above their head.  If you press Y you do a critical hit and can even kill an enemy. Those attacks look awesome and do some intense damage too. Another part of the combat is ranged combat. The Dwarf carries a crossbow, the Human uses a bow and the Elf uses magic, nothing too special here.

The War in the North has some basic role playing game elements to it. There are four categories you can put your points into when you level up. This includes stamina which increases health, strength which increases melee damage, dexterity which increase ranged damage and will which increases the mana bar for magic or special abilities. After you put your points into whatever stats you want, you can now select an ability to use. For example, Farin’s war cry makes him more do more damage with his weapon and increases armor stats. The armor and weapons you find and buy sometimes have gem slots which allow you to equip gems to make your stats better or give your weapon extra elemental damage.

One of the best parts of this game is the multiplayer. When you have two other friends to play with it makes this game ten times more fun. At one point of the story my friends and I had to take out eight trolls. It was intense and much more fun than any single player encounters. The AI teammates you have don’t do you any favors. If you let one die your whole team dies. Also, there are times where you must protect a door from oncoming trolls or suicide orcs.  This proves extremely difficult with the AI allies rushing to meet the other enemies while you try to face the trolls alone.

War in the North is not immune to glitches. These are mainly multiplayer glitches. For example, if you find a check point in the middle of a quest can head back to a town to repair your equipment and sell things. When one of my friends tried to go back, one guy started all the way at the start of the map, the other had a black screen and couldn’t see anything. We all left the game and then retried it and one person spawned outside the map. This has happened a couple of times but not too frequently.

Other criticisms are that the characters are very dull and don’t add much to the story. Dialogue really doesn’t matter too much either; having dull characters and bad dialogue hurts games for me.

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Lord of the Rings War in the North went up against the juggernauts of games like Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim which hurt its sales and coverage, but this game is enjoyable to play. Even though the fighting system is simple, it’s nice to sit down and play a hack and slash type of game for a change. Multiplayer shines through with this game. Killing orcs with your buddies is ten times better because it can add a more competitive spirit to the game, racing to level up. Who doesn’t like collecting loot as well? In single player you don’t have this and the crappy AI makes this game a lot more boring and difficult to play. Although the characters don’t add much and the dialogue doesn’t add anything, the fun you have in multiplayer makes up for it. Also you have to give credit to Snowblind Studios writing a story that’s still Lord of the Rings but differentiates itself from the story of the main characters.

War in the North Score- 8 out of 10