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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Halo Wars and Unskippable guest reviews X-Blades. See Yahtzee's crossover appearance in Unskippable: Star Ocean.

X-Blades?Edit

(Guest reviewed by Graham Stark. Yahtzee in turn made a crossover appearance in Unskippable: Star Ocean)

Okay, I got this. No problem. Ahem. What makes any game cooler and more likely to appeal to the youth? The letter X. Slap it on anywhere, as in this game, X-Blades, or Why You Don't Outsource Anime To America. Shat out by "developer" (sarcastic air quotes) SouthPeak, makers of the phenomenally mediocre Two Worlds, but not content with merely making a shitty rip-off of Oblivion, they set their sights on making a shitty rip-off of God of War, and they succeeded.

Lets do the rundown. Main character is of an inhuman pallor with one word names, wearing a square foot of fabric, and boasting chests like two melons nailed to a brick shithouse and an egg noodle, respectively. Both carry two blades, which can be leveled up with various skills and purchased by collecting souls from your downed enemies, and, being mindful that a female God of War has already been tried, they stole her hair that acts like a bunch of snakes having fucking seizures and tacked that on too. But, unlike God of War, X-Blades sucks harder than Ayumi would have to do to get this job were she a real person. And she would, the dumb slut. To say X-Blades is the first game to use its female main character as a selling point would be so laughably inaccurate, it would make the world's most humorless man crap his pants with guffaws, but never has it been more blatant or in your face. While most games focus on their girl's gigantic, Earth-shaking boobage, this game prefers to hang out by the back door, because it's all about the ass! Boxart, promotional pictures, even the in-game camera does everything it can to draw the eye to the thong with strings so thin I'm not entirely sure she doesn't just have white pubes.

Put this all together by a dev-team from the Clearly-Missed-The-Point-Of-Fun School and you get a main character that's as dumb as a post and half as likable; a skill system stolen from God of War that might have worked if the programmers had actually been talking to the level designers; levels crammed with so many cannon fodder enemies, they feel more like battles of fucking attrition than tests of any relevant skill; controls that make you want to rent out a high rise apartment just so the controller will fall further when you chuck it out the cunting windows and a soundtrack that...that...fuck...um...

Yahtzee: I can't take this anymore!

Oh, crap...

[Bzzzzt]

Yahtzee: Sorry about that. Ummmmm, yes. Halo Wars.

Halo WarsEdit

The story so far: I am embarking upon an occasional quest to play games belonging to genres I've never really gotten into - a campaign I thoroughly expect to whole-heartedly regret the next time a big JRPG comes out - mostly due to my excremental boredom with the procession of identical powered armor space marines that clog up mainstream action gaming like so much hyper-masculine mildew.

As part of this venture, I have been playing Halo Wars, which may come across as a curious choice because it's a game about identical powered armor space marines - GYAAAARGH!

The crucial difference though, is that all the power-armored fucknuggets are all down there waiting for me to tell them where to go to get killed, while I get to sit here in a spaceship with my feet up eating all the packed lunches. Yes, it's real time strategy, a genre, which, as the whinier of my correspondents have repeatedly made me VERY much aware, I have completely neglected up to now. I've never gotten into them for a number of reasons: firstly I'm a man's man, a courageous man who's not afraid to be out in the field looking my enemy square in the eye through the scope of a high-powered sniper rifle from the next town over.

I can understand the appeal of being in the position of an aloof sky god pursuing their agenda by flinging conscripts at tanks until the shredded limbs clog up the treads, but I suspect I'm just the wrong sort of person for strategy games; I lack the patience to micromanage every unit. I'm also good-looking, and successful, and socially competent. But still, Halo Wars by every account - also I'm not a virgin - but still Halo Wars by every account is dumbed down enough to be accessible to the legions of twitching, inadequate dog-fuckers that are Halo’s fan base, so if it truly is "baby's first RTS," it would a logical introduction to the genre. My other hope was that since I'd spend most of my time staring down at all the characters as I would little tiny cockroaches at the bottom of a jug then they wouldn't try to make me give a shit about them with half-baked story elements. No such luck, I'm afraid. The action of the campaign mode comes as the filling for a great big pre-rendered cinematic sandwich with too much Thousand Island.

The plot is your standard Halo affair: humans rule, aliens suck. They're conquering ancient planets and plundering them for magic superweapons, and we'd rather they didn't. There's the hypermasculine hero, who probably wouldn't even take his power armor off to attend a parent-teacher conference, and he has sexually tense arguments with the spunky love interest, who in that curious tendency of female characters in the Halo universe looks like she just got back from a high school gymnastics club. Also, the aliens kidnap her at one point. I didn't play far enough to see the resolution to that, but presumably they pulled all her arms and legs off.

At the most basic level, real time strategy gameplay has most in common with RPGs. They both involve starting out piss poor and building up to the point that you can take on the next big challenge. Also, they're both most frequently played by losers - NO, END SENTENCE, BEGIN ANEW. The crucial difference is that your status is reset at the start of every mission and you have the option of splitting up your power to embark upon a strategic attack from various fronts. I say “option”, because all I ever seem to do is build enough tanks to embarrass General Patton and steamroll from one side of the map to the other, hoping that the objective will be one of the things that dies along the way. Sometimes I'll try to be a bit cleverer with it and roll out with the short-range weapons in front and the ground-to-air in the back, but before long it all comes down to selecting all units and pointing at whichever enemy looks at me funny. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to develop troops; vehicles don’t move any slower,only take slightly longer to build, and, well, they’re fucking tanks!

The only downside I found is that the Earth armies apparently omit three point turns and parallel parking from the driving test, and when you're trying to maneuver a large group of vehicles through tight passes it turns into herding a particularly dim flock of sheep during an earthquake, which can get really annoying when enemy are defending and your big guns are all at the back, eating grass and fucking each other. The business of selecting units is also a right arse and that may sound like a small complaint, but small things lead to big problems, like a tiny piece of broken glass lodged in the urinary tract.

Games that evolved in PC waters have trouble adapting to non-mouse-controlled environment and RTS is no exception. Lacking click-and-drag, all you can do is select one prick, select one prick and all his prick friends standing within a fixed diameter, select all the pricks on the current screen, or call a great big all-map prick hoedown. So if you just want to, say, select all your flying pricks for a strategic insertion than you’re going to have a bit of prick trouble beyond the might of any soothing cream. The inability to click on the minimap and zoom straight to trouble spots is ineptly countered with the ability to press a button and zoom to your next group of units, although how exactly the game decides that one group is more "next" than another is left as an exercise for the viewer.

I have a horrible feeling that this statement will read like an engraved invitation for all the RTS fans to burst out from under rocks and belch their favorite titles at me, but Halo Wars has not sold me on the genre. Maybe RTS controls are just inherently incompatible with consoles. I hear Stormrise uses an innovative new control method that could potentially fill the missing pieces, but frankly, I stopped caring about ten missions into Halo Wars’ campaign.

You see, I was given a time limit to take down three enemy placements in order to rescue a bunch of trapped units. After several arduous battles I’d ruined the enemy’s shit, found the final group and sent them off to base via a path I’d completely cleared on the way there. But at a point when the base could almost certainly see them without a telescope I ran out of time and the unit disappeared. "We lost contact!" went a character.

Bull. Fucking. Shit! All possible threats were dead! We didn’t lose contact – I was looking at them! They were right fucking there! We were close enough to communicate by waggling our eyebrows at each other! What the fuck happens when the stupid arbitrary time limit runs out? Do their Battle Royale collars explode? They all lose honour and disembowel themselves? What? And just to put the cherry on it, you know who they were? Absolutely bloody no-one! Generic faceless pricks of the sort I’d vat-grown about fifty of that day alone. But we didn’t make it in time so they were gonna make me do the whole fucking mission again. As the exasperated Chinese zookeeper said to the last male panda in the world: fuck that!

AddendaEdit

Fooling no-one but himself: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

People confused about Graham Stark's appearance at the start of this video obviously don't watch Unskippable and for that I pity them

Happy birthday Yug


Bonus SceneEdit

[An imp pokes his head up from behind Yahtzee's desk and looks around]

[A crudely drawn Zero Punctuation title card appears reading "Pedigree Chum" as several imps vocalize the ZP theme]

[The imp, now wearing Yahtzee's hat, mumbles for several seconds before Yahtzee, most of his body just offscreen, points a gun at the imp. The screen goes black as a gunshot is heard]


ScreenshotsEdit

Halo Wars 1

I am embarking upon an occasional quest

Halo Wars 2

A great big all-map prick hoedown

Halo Wars 3

Bull. Fucking. Shit!

External LinksEdit

X-Blades:

Halo Wars:

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells

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