November 28, 2010
There is a high correlation between "programmer" and "gamer". One of the first Area 51 sites we launched, based on community demand, was gaming.stackexchange.com. Despite my fundamental skepticism about gaming as a Q&A topic -- as expressed on episode 87 of Herding Code -- I have to admit it has far exceeded my expectations.
But then maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. I've talked about the relationship between gamer and programmer before:
I used to recommend games on this very blog that I particularly enjoyed and felt were worthy of everyone's attention. I don't do this a lot any more, now that my blogging schedule has slipped to one post a week, if I'm lucky. (If you're wondering why, it's because running your own business is crazy stupid amounts of work when you turn it up to eleven.) Here are a few games I've recommended in the past:
I haven't had a ton of time to play games, other than the inevitable Rock Band 3, but I've been consumed by another game I had no idea would become so addictive -- Just Cause 2.
It's what you might call an open world sandbox game, in the vein of the Grand Theft Autos. But I could never get into the GTA games, even after trying GTA 3 and its sequels Vice City and San Andreas. They just left me cold, somehow.
Where GTA and its ilk often felt a tad too much like work for my tastes, Just Cause 2 is almost the opposite -- it is non-stop, full blown open world pandemonium from start to finish. One of the game's explicit goals is that you advance the plot by blowing stuff up. No, seriously. I'm not kidding. You have an entire 1000+ square kilometer island paradise at your disposal, filled with cities and military bases, spanning the range from snowy mountains to deserts to idyllic beaches -- all just waiting for you to turn them into "chaos points" … by any means necessary.
Of course, you get around by hijacking whatever vehicles happen by, be they boats, airplanes, jumbo jets, cars, tanks, trucks, buses, monster trucks, motorcycles, scooters, tractors or anything in between. Even on foot it is fun to navigate the island of Panau, because the developers gave us an impossibly powerful personal zipline that you can fire at any object in the game to propel yourself toward it. Combine that with the magical parachute you can deploy anywhere, anytime, and they make for some fascinating diversions (parasailing anyone?). You can also use the zipline to attach any two objects together. Think about that for a second. Have you ever wondered what happens when you zipline a moving vehicle to a tree? Or a pedestrian? Or another vehicle? Hmm. As a result, simply going walkabout on the island is more fun than I ever would have imagined.
Between the 49 plot missions, 9 stronghold takeovers, 104 unique vehicles, the optional boat/plane/car/parachute race missions,the opportunities for insane stunt points, the umpteen zillion upgrade crates and faction objects to collect, and the 360+ locations in the 1000+ square kilometers of Panau -- there's always something interesting happening around every corner. And whatever it is, it's probably beautiful and blows up real good.
In short, Just Cause 2 is deliriously, stupidly, absurdly entertaining. I can't even remember the last game I completed where I felt compelled to go back after finishing the main storyline to discover even more areas I missed during my initial playthrough and get (most of) the in-game achievements. Whatever amount of time you have to play, Just Cause 2 will happily fill it with totally unscripted, awesome open world pandemonium.
Don't take my word for it; even the notoriously acidic game reviewer Yahtzee had almost nothing negative to say about Just Cause 2, which is his version of a positive review. And Metacritic gives Just Cause 2 a solid 84. Not that it can't be improved, of course; after such a sublime sandbox experience, I'm desperately curious to see what they'll add for Just Cause 3.
Luckily for you, the game has been out long enough that it can be picked up for a song on PS3, Xbox, or PC. Steam has Just Cause 2 on sale right now in an 8 player pack for $60, and Amazon has all versions in stock for under $30. Beware, though, as the PC version does require a pretty solid video card along with Windows Vista or newer -- but the upside is that I have mine cranked up to 2048x1152 with almost all the options on, and it rarely dips below 60 fps.
I spent my holidays on the beautiful island of Panau, and I don't regret a second of it. If you're looking for a vacation spot, I heartily recommend the open world sandbox of Panau. But while you're visiting, do be mindful of any errant gunfire, vehicles, and explosions.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Putting it out there, the fact that you can steal a truck, jump out of the cabin onto the roof and zipline to a helicopter, then use that helicopter to hijack a freaking plane?
That's pretty damn awesome by anyone's standards.
Very much agree about Just Cause 2. Excellent game. I got hooked after downloading the demo on XBOX Live.
Yep, played the demo on PS3 and bought it within a few days. It can get a little repetitive after a while and in some areas can be frustrating to get 100%.
The multi-launch rocket launcher available as an add-on in PSN is worth a look too.
How do you manage to run a startup, have a baby and still have time to play video games? Please, what's the secret?
Heh, running a company must be pretty intense if it makes GTA seem like work...
Totally agree !!
The Openess of this game is cleary his main asset. You have such a freedom sensation, and can do so many incredible things...
Well.. Definitely a must buy !
It is absolutely riotous fun for a while, but after you've finished the main story, and done all the checkpoints races, then trying to 100% the game becomes very tedious indeed. I Hate the game mechanic of having to collect 100 of some item from far flung corners of the game world (and it's a massive game world), but this game has well over a 1000 objects to collect before you can 100% the game. Not good.
But if you ignore the 100% stuff then it's very good fun. If only there was a multiplayer mode...
What is a "8 player pack"?
Curse you and your productivity-destroying recommendations!
[downloading it now...]
Don't forget OnLive! I just bought it (on sale for $15) and I can play it on my Mac without the need for a fancy video card.
@nayan 8-pack is basically you get 8 copies of the game, thereby allowing you to give away 7 copies to friends. it's part of steams "give and get" sale.
I love this game. My brother and I did a bunch of modifications to it (making the zip line longer, changing the properties of some of the vehicles, etc).
PROTIP: go to that public airport, and steal a jumbo jet. Wait by one of the spawn points for the ones that take off and fly around. When one appears, follow it to the runway. Just as it's rounding the bend to get on the runway, hop on top and zipline your plane to the other one (being behind the other jet). Try and take off with it and have some tandem-jumbo-jet-fun
because the developers gave us an impossibly powerful personal zipline
If you thought the "default" zipline is ridiculous - just wait until you try the Bolo patch ( http://m0.to/BOLOPatch/ ) Multiple ropes FTW!
If you're looking for the sale on Steam, you're likely too late... Steam changes their daily sales at 10am PST / 1pm EST... and it's nearly noon now PST / 3pm EST.
Having said that, today being the last day of the sale, Steam is likely running a Best Of sale. I don't know, because steampowered.com is blocked where I work.
Yahtzee's version of a positive review is actually a positive review. See his review of Psychonauts for example.
OK Jeffery, I see your recommendation and I will raise myself a purchase.
If GTA III is like work, then logically it follows that work must be like GTA III. At this point I choose to assume that you are giving us a little insight into the approval process to promote an Area 51 site to a fully fledged Stack Exchange site, and potentially why Spolsky is always so grumpy.
Also, you are correct, I do not understand what a false syllogism is.
Thanks for the recommend :)
It's currently $15 on Direct2Drive and $30 on Steam. The license still gets registered with Steam so if you like Steam to manage your games, you still get that benefit. I started playing it last night--and it is quite fun. :-)
Jeff, steam has had excellent sales on GTA IV, I got my copy for $5 last Christmas. It is the first GTA I have played and I can't tell you how many hours I have logged in it. I would recommend an Xbox 360 controller on the PC version.
I also picked up Just Cause 2 and it is a blast but I was hi-jacked by Borderlands and still need to go back and play JC2.
I would also recommend splurging on a triple head display system. GTA IV and JC2 work flawlessly. Send me an email if you like some YouTube links to gameplay videos on my rig with GTA IV and JC2 (just the demo level).
http://www.widescreengamingforum.com for all the info you need for going triple head.
"There is a high correlation between "programmer" and "gamer"."
A mean part of me wanted to say: "ugliness."
Sorry, the temptation.
(don't take it bad, dudes)
Hi there Jeff, first time posting a comment to your blog but I've been keeping myself entertained while at work reading through your backlog of posts (up to about page 22/23 now). Hey, something has to distract from the monotony of testing phases. :)
Anyway, just wanted to thank you for the game rec. Grabbed it from the current sale on Steam (only £5) and though my machine's nowhere near as beefy as yours, still a great game.
Though I'm dissapointed your blog software seems to have let the bold tag in "replica watches uk"'s (well, isn't that a strange internet pseudonym?) post seem through to everything since.
Okay, bought it, like a few others it seems. Did you check its Amazon sales ranking before you posted?