Software may be primed for a new generation of hardware, but the model that defines its content adheres to lessons of old. Killzone: Shadow Fall, consciously and inconspicuously, wasn't one to go off-model. Vague novelties allowed it to score somewhere in the average range, leaving its downloadable content the task of supercharging the inevitable decay of its structure.

Enter the Insurgent Pack, a smattering of Killzone goodies aimed squarely at fans of Guerrilla Games' signature shooter. Included is a brand new multiplayer class, new abilities for the existing classes, a handful of new weapons, and two new modes aimed to support the single-player campaign.

The insurgent class is one of Guerrilla’s better contributions to multiplayer combat. Born with nothing but a pistol, the insurgent gains abilities and weapons by stealing them from downed members of the opposing team. Filling out each abilities slot leads to a delightful assemblage of each class into a single solider. Each ability has a limited number of uses, which encourages and facilitates shifting combinations of abilities. The insurgent class can also hack turrets, likening him to the Engineer class of Killzone's past.

If nothing else, the insurgent class demonstrates an interest in further separating Killzone from its peers. The playful nature and considerable risk injected into its foundation scream variety, and its pistol-only start and do-it-yourself acquisition of abilities seem built especially for those who may have squeezed every last drop of interest out of the three existing classes. New abilities and weapons for said existing classes are either safe or indistinguishable from existing options, lacking the definition and pure excitement of a fully-featured Insurgent class.

Speaking of snoozers, the two new modes boasted by the Insurgent Pack's bullet points stretch the definition of "new mode." Single Player Elite Mode merely defaults to hard mode, but only gives the player three lives for the entire campaign. Likewise, Online Collectibles Mode creates a few new opportunities for boosting earned points in online matches. It's not that these additions are particularly detrimental to existing content - far from it, a similar three-life mode in Dead Space 2 provided a harrowing experience, to say to least - but rather merely to state that there's nothing to it. These could have been free content updates in a regular patch, but instead they're bundled with the Insurgent Pack as a perceived value-add. If modes are supposed to be food, these are crumbs.

As its title suggests, the Insurgent Pack is mostly good for the titular insurgent class. The pack, the assorted grab-bag of abilities and weapons lumped into the existing pile, are the parts that will be consumed and forgotten. This leaves the Insurgent Pack's recommendation as one with a handful of important qualifiers. Do you still have your copy of Killzone: Shadow Fall? Are you still playing it? Is a new, and actually great, multiplayer class enough of an enticement to spend ten of your dollars? Probably. Maybe.

If I had to assign a score to the Insurgent Pack (an action that seems somewhat inappropriate given my familiarity with the series and the wobbly nature of the content), it would stand alongside its parent with a solid 6 or 7 out of 10. It adheres rather than defines, although it’s certainly pushing the entire package closer to the former. Maybe at the end of the year, when Killzone's DLC has finished its run, will it push the game into something greater.  

I had to figure out if I could lick that hang glider.

You'll have to forgive me, I should have provided a bit of context. I was simulating what it's like to be a goat through Coffee Stain Studio's Goat Simulator. Like any normal goat, I could bleat, aggressively ward off humans, and use my nine-foot tongue to lick and stick to virtually anything in sight. I've been to plenty of petting zoos and I've met quite a few goats along the way. All I remember is that they have terrifying rectangle eyes and don't typically battle the ducks and chickens when I try to feed them food pellets. That's the extent of my knowledge, and it doesn't seem to conflict with the idea of a goat climbing a giant industrial crane a quarter-mile into the sky and trying to jump off it in order to lick a man's hang glider.

Naturally, I made contact with the hang glider and went along for the wide. My goat head spun around about a hundred-and-forty times, suggesting the elasticity of goat necks goes far beyond my previous understanding. Eventually I got tired of swinging along like an organic wrecking ball and let go. I fell five-hundred or whatever feet to the ground and walked away, casually celebrating my immortality. There were plenty of other things to do in this small town, anyway, and I couldn't let a single activity consume all of my time.

GoatSim01

Goat Simulator simulates the daily activities of a goat the same way Surgeon Simulator 2013 replicates the grievous complexity of brain surgery. It accurately simulates nothing about being a goat, handling the subject matter with the cartoon responsibility of equipping pants full of dynamite. Mechanics include the ability to jump, to lick, to scream, and to charge or back-kick depending on your position. While all of those actions are feasibly possible for goats in the real world, the button to instantly send your goat into a full ragdoll mode is exclusive to this particular simulation. Ragdoll can also be engaged automatically, should your goat fly down a waterslide or directly impact a moving vehicle. No worries, really, as your goat can un-ragdoll with the simple touch of a button.

What exactly you do in Goat Simulator is open to interpretation. Objectively it's packed with all kind of goals, some concrete and other score-based. The quest-log, if you can call it that, lists simple challenges like attaining a certain height, generating specific air time, or jumping over a fence. Virtually any action taken also creates points and builds into a multiplier. Everything generates points. I got points for licking a car. I got points for air-licking a car. I got points for scaring the shit out of people protesting penis-shaped food. Goat Simulator accounts for virtually anything you can do and mindlessly hands out points for it.

GoatSim02

The other means of enjoying Goat Simulator, as strange as it sounds, relates to open world games like Fallout 3 or Skyrim. Seeing what kind of insane shit is out there is an alluring call to adventure, especially with after realizing almost everything in sight was generated for the explicit purpose of making you laugh. The geography of Goat Simulator is relatively small, but what it loses in size it makes up for in outrageous context. Best of all? Goat Simulator recognizes and rewards silly experimentation; there are special one-off points for a ton of specific instances, the likes of which I'm reluctant to spoil out of fear of robbing Goat Simulator of its crown jewels. What's in this house? What's down that mystery tube thing? What do I do with this bacon? Why can't my goat stop farting? Everything in its tiny existence is created and designed to entertain the player.

Goat Simulator is an honest joke; the question is whether or not its laughs are worth ten dollars. There isn't a whole lot of measurable game here, or at least not in comparison to similar joke-games like Octodad: Dadliest Catch or Surgeon Simulator 2013. It's a world built around discovery, either through its outrageous context or observing the results of obscene physics accidents. For me that translated to about three hours until I exhausted the available content, minus a few achievements I still can't seem to figure out. That being said, the density of ridiculous entertainment packed inside those three hours would have easily justified a ten dollar price tag. It's dumb, it's funny, and it's completely straightforward about its intentions. Next to that video about goats screaming like humans, it's probably the best goat-related piece of entertainment on the Internet.

Note: Also check out Kevin Hudson's proper review of Goat Simulator!

I don't understand MOBA's. I mean, I sort of get them - I've watched Dota 2 surge in popularity and bleed through different odds and ends of the Internet over the last three years and don't fault anyone's interest in it or the burgeoning genre - but it seems like a proposition too massive and unwieldy for my particular tastes. The ceiling seems too high and a proper entry-point is too far away to be attainable for, let's say, a person who reviews fifty videogames a year and buys and plays through twice as many. Sure, I can devote an insane amount of time to Dark Souls or Don't Starve, but the buy-in to Dota 2 wasn't as compelling. I played it for about five hours before deciding it wasn't for me. League of Legends and Guardians of Middle Earth included, the genre and I can't seem to work it out.

Dead Island, though. I found Dead Island to be an interesting and worthwhile experience. I could have done without the game's final acts in the jungle and prison, but that opening area - that beautiful resort bathed in chaos and tragedy - held unique appeal. Structure and systems were lifted from Fallout 3 and Borderlands, but Dead Island’s mood and onset of menace, for a fleeting couple of hours, was totally unique. I could beat the living shit out of zombies amidst the cerulean waters of Banoi's resort all day long. In that particular instance, context was king and I held onto it like a security blanket.

I never would have asked for a Dead Island MOBA. I doubt I would have ever wanted a Dead Island MOBA, and yet here we all are with a Dead Island MOBA. Context isn't necessarily king, but it is a door of accessibility, the spoonful of sugar to make the MOBA go down a bit easier. I accepted the assignment of playing around with Dead Island: Epidemic based purely on wondering what in the hell it was and if, despite its egregious origins, it turned out to be any good. Epidemic could be a really cool and welcomed spin on MOBA's. It could be a hasty cash-in for Dead Island publisher Deep Silver, desperate to leverage one of their properties in an exploding genre. It could be both of those and still be a decent game.

As it turns out, the modes included in the beta project Epidemic as something more than a MOBA. Yes, it boasts a cherry-picked variety of different classes, each with their own unique skills affixed to cool down timers, but it appropriates its rules across a couple different modes. The brief tutorial that took me straight across the bungalows of the Banoi-like island showcased its unique context. My starting melee weapon was a paddle, and it was soon joined by a shotgun. Later, in the proper game, I would use a character whose fists were jammed inside two huge propane tanks, thus enabling a brawler's hand-to-hand combat skills. It sounds petty but, to me, things like this make more sense than seemingly arbitrary fantasy motifs or an affiliation with world from Warcraft that I never properly endeared myself to. Yes, Epidemic more or less lifts mechanics wholesale and re-skins them under its own banner, but it's not without purpose; I understand beating the shit out of zombies with boat paddles more than I can grasp Lich issuing chain frost to do whatever it is that does.

And there I was, surprised to see a more traditional and literally named horde mode with a rich application of a MOBA's mechanics. In practice, it unfolded like most traditional wave-based survival games. You make your way around a fairly linear map and defend capture points against the rush of increasingly hostile aggression. What separated Epidemic's horde mode was its peculiar mechanics and MOBA-infused tendencies. Level-ups came fast and frequent, and my characters abilities begged for attention. Berg, a bruising hulk of a man, was privy to an area-of-effect log toss and a knock-back log sweep skill, both of which could receive numerous upgrades. Berg could also summon a leaf shield, and, with a proper investment into my skills, I eventually had access to a hugely powerful AOE log slam, which was extra handy against the inevitable boss rush. In the end horde played, well, like horde, with my team and me easily grasping victory in a twenty minute session.

Horde isn't the meat of Epidemic, but rather a sideshow to explore its mechanics under a different light. Scavenger mode follows a more traditional MOBA format. Epidemic spins its rules around by forcing three different teams of four human-controlled players to compete against each other, and exchanges static bases for different supply points that must be captured. Zombies sort of function as creeps, effortlessly meandering about the map. Boss zombies show up as well, each sort of lifting ideas from either Left 4 Dead or Dead Island, complete with tank and sticky-tongued zombies requiring teamwork to take down. To be perfectly honest I didn't get to spend enough time with this proper mode due to either my connection or the beta's relative instability, but it seemed easy to get a basic understanding of it with minimal amount of investment.

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I’m anxious to see how well Epidemic's characters harmonize with one another. Whenever I played Epidemic it was always with other low-level characters, presumably new to the game as well. Mutated Amber (each class, a named character has a “mutated” and “armored” variant), was created with a melee and quick-attack specialty in mind, but, in practice, it didn’t feel like she played all the differently than her vanilla base. Likewise, Bryce’s place as a ranged-specialist didn’t seem particularly well defined as long as he was being cared for by his teammates. Epidemic is obviously in beta, meaning it exists exclusively to test its mechanics and systems in the real world. It’s going to have time to sort all of this stuff out.

Play control is another facet of Epidemic that bears mentioning. Coming from a life of consoles, the indirect nature of isometric, point-and-click games has always felt alien and abstract to my controller-friendly fingers. Either through a means of creating space or appealing to philistines like myself, Epidemic opts for a more direct means of control. You still use the mouse as a cursor to direct attacks, but movement is controlled entirely through WASD. It's not that much different in the grand picture of control schemes, but it established a more palatable line of interaction than others in its genre. It's not going to be a deal breaker either way, but it's no worse for wear and certainly can't hurt Epidemic's chances of catching on.

Of course, all of this these impressions are culled from a limited amount of time with a beta. With the ease at which four low-level characters demolished horde mode with minimal teamwork, I expect the difficulty to be tweaked significantly before a retail release. Also under wraps is how, exactly, Epidemic is going to sell itself to players. It's free-to-play, sure, but whether character classes, weapon items, or crafting materials remains a mystery. Above all else I'm pleased to report that, despite its necessity or lack thereof; I had a swell time tooling around with Dead Island: Epidemic. It's not going to turn the MOBA world on its heels, but it also doesn't have to. Maybe it'll join Awesomenauts as a beloved, cultish alternative to the bigger guys. Maybe it'll explode into something more. Either way we'll see when it steps out of beta and into Steam-proper later in 2014.

This time we're talking Dr. Dre, the hilarious existence of bitcoin, using the internet to justify paying people to complete housework for you, culturally significant television, what caused a 19-year-old Chris to beat up his parents' house, the science of sleep, whether or not mattresses accumulate dead parts of living people, why Eric is on perscription medication, sacrificing chocolate easter bunnies to correct the course of college basketball games, turnstyle ethics, the menacing presence and murderous intent of Thomas The Tank Engine, and at one point, apropos of nothing, Steve starts talking about Cleveland Steamers.

Flap Jaw Space is objectively a videogame podcast, so we also find time for Bravely Default, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster, Jazzpunk, Don't Starve, Strider, The Last of Us: Left Behind, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, The Yawhg, and the 2014 Louisville Arcade Expo. We also power-ranked the year 2011 in videogames.

Duration: Two hours, thirty-five minutes. Date recorded: 03/10/14

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Please direct feedback, questions, and hate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or follow us on Twitter.

Welcome to 2014, where Flap Jaw Space - your favorite weekly semi-weekly monthly whenever podcast kicks off the 2014 videogame power-rankings. Setting us off this year are Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Bravely Default, Risk of Rain Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Broken Age, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, DayZ, Awesomenauts, and the inevitable Best of 2014 winner, Nidhogg

Because we can't possibly stay focused on anything, we also talk about the Wu-Tang Clan, parts of the first episode of season 2 of House of Cards, the geographic complexity of the hydrologic cycle in floating cities, Kevin, spinach cooking methods, willing things into existence, fitting an arcade cabinet in Steve's basement, 

Duration: Two hours, twenty-nine minutes. Date recorded: 02/15/14

Download this episode from our RSS Feed or iTunes. Download it directly here.  

Please direct feedback, questions, and hate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or follow us on Twitter.

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