The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

By Jonathan G. Lee

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Greetings! Today’s Circle Roundup is brought to you by currywurst. I had currywurst for the first time this past Saturday! Up until then, I always wanted to try it and suspected I would like it. I was working a food festival that day and I saw a tent serving German brats, so naturally, I went over there with some pulled pork and slaw (it’s common for vendors to trade with each other during big food events).

It was life affirming. When I told the guy serving me that it was my first time having currywurst, he planted a little German flag into my brat and threw in some beer.

And now, the Roundup!

Last year, Michelle Ehrhardt wrote about the subtle, anti-establishment implications in the original Assassin’s Creed. The game takes place in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade, an era which historians have looked back on as post-Roman Europe’s first taste of imperialism and conquest. The political implications of a small band of clandestine Muslim fighters repelling an invading Christian army were not lost on Michelle. But whereas most games with modern political allegory depict native fighters negatively, Assassin’s Creed took the opposite approach. Altair, the protagonist of the game, is the son of a Muslim man and a Christian woman. Read her whole piece, which deserves to be remembered, here.

Eb Samuel took a look at Deus Ex: Mankind Undivided. While Eb found that the game’s depiction of augmented human beings as stand-ins for modern racial tension were hit or miss, the amount of content and solid gameplay made up for it. He also enjoyed the new leveling system, which forces players to sacrifice one aug for another lest they risk Jensen’s body overheating. All in all, it’s a fun ride that’s definitely worth the buy. Read his full review here.

When ReCore was announced in last year’s E3, people were excited. It was a platformer being developed by Comcept, a studio started by Keiji Inafune, one of the fathers of the Mega Man franchise. Sherri L. Smith dove into it and, while fulfilling to play and visually stunning, the short campaign and long load times kept it from realizing its potential. Mighty No. 9, another Comcept title funded via Kickstarter and released earlier this year, also received a lukewarm reception. Read Sherri’s full review here.

Anthony Agnello sat down with Richard Mitchell, project lead of the XPO Game Festival, and shot the breeze with him while streaming a speed run of Mega Man 6. GR+ Live streams every Tuesday and Thursday starting 4:30 PM EST, so if you’re around then, be sure to tune in and get your snide memes and Kappas ready. It ain’t Twitch chat without the trolls. Watch the stream cap here.

Hockey fans rejoice! NHL 17 is actually really good! Jeff Bakalar praised the new title not only as a step forward in the right direction, but also as a fantastic game on its own. While Jeff still pines for what the franchise used to be five years ago, NHL 17’s new gameplay modes, a more intuitive UI, refined gameplay, and improved physics has made it a series worth revisiting. Read his full review here.

And now for news outside of the Circle. . .

Noah Caldwell-Gervais took a long, in-depth look at No Man’s Sky! I’ve been following Noah from the beginning because he makes great videos and we’re, well, pretty similar. We’re both in our early 30s, we’ve both been working as cooks until we can finally break into full-time game journalism, and we both refuse to shut up about the inherent political messages found in videogames. Watch him here.

Mafia III released its PC system requirements through a retro car ad. It’s neat. See it here.

I mentioned this in our Slack before, but at the ripe age of 42, Chris Metzen is retiring and leaving Blizzard. (Editor’s note: He’s only 42???) This guy crafted half of my childhood. Even though he hasn’t drawn any official Blizzard art for years, I still prefer his concepts and interpretation of Blizzard titles more than any other artist. I loved how he always added a sort of heavy metal vibe to all of his characters, even if they were rooted in medieval fantasy, and the slimmer, more realistic proportions he used whenever he grew orcs. Read his retirement announcement here. Also, check out his artwork here.

Valve banned 11,000 cheaters from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive today. GG, son. Read about it here.

Speaking of GG, Twitch chat beat a grandmaster at chess. I repeat: a Twitch chat room beat a grandmaster at chess. I’m still not sure how to process all this except creating an elaborate crossover fan fiction in my mind where humanity is made up of geth refugees that were inflicted with the Curse of Flesh by the Old Gods, and after years of inferior meatbag existence, Twitch chat is reconnecting us with our ancestral origins as communal supercomputers. Read about it here.

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