The Night of the Rabbit

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The Night of the Rabbit

The point-and-click adventure game is not extinct, but it has been largely in hiding over the last several years. It is not a surprise, video games have evolved a great deal over the years, with a lot of AAA titles sporting amazing, fully animated visuals and high-priced voice and musical talent. Still, I have a soft spot for the genre. They are not generally the first games I go out to play when I see one released, but every now and then a storyline, or some gorgeous artwork will catch my eye and I settle in for a good old fashioned bit of video game nostalgia.

The Night of the Rabbit - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

I think perhaps my most recently point-and-click adventure was also courtesy of Daedalic Entertainment, back when I reviewed The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav – which I liked quite a bit. I happily scored it an 8 overall and it was definitely time well-spent.

I was fortunate enough to get a chance to play The Night of the Rabbit, and it has a lot of the same hallmarks found that title as well – a likeable main character, a distinctive art style and good audio that helps present a story that is probably the biggest Daedalic has released to date and definitely worth your time if you are a fan of this genre of video game. It is still somewhat short of a play compared to some titles, but for an adventure like this, it holds up nicely.

Graphics – 9:

These are not a technical achievement by any means, but sometimes visuals simply resonate with you.

The Night of the Rabbit - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

The art style here is bright, colorful and shows incredible style and detail. The animations are quite good, especially for the lead character Jerry Hazelnut, a twelve year boy reaching the end of his summer. It is not going to tax out anyone’s video cards, and that is a good thing in this instance as I was able to just settle in on my laptop and run it very smoothly from my bedroom.

Sound & Music – 8:

The sound effects are usually minimalistic in nature, but are woven into the game’s events skillfully.

The Night of the Rabbit - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

The music was also quite good, never grating on my nerves and offering up enough variety to keep it from ever really getting repetitive. Best of all, there is a ton of well-voiced dialog to be had here. You can skip it if you want, but you lose some of the vibrance of the world all around if you do.

Gameplay – 7:

This is a click-and-point adventure, so from an interface standpoint you should know exactly what you are getting here.

The Night of the Rabbit - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

I never had any detection issues, it all ran smoothly enough. The puzzles generally work well, but there are a few that can strain your patience. I admit that sometimes I wish the games would point you in the right directly a bit more than this one did, but maybe that is my own personal preference.

Intangibles – 8:

I thoroughly enjoyed the story in general, and Jerry in particular as our protagonist.

The Night of the Rabbit - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

I touched on the length above, and I would guess I spent about fourteen or fifteen hours with the game. I suspect a big factor is how often you get ‘stuck’ on puzzles – which can certainly happen. There is some bonus content in the game as well, most notably a fairly basic card game called quartets – all of which is welcome because once you have beaten the story and seen it through to the end, there is not much reason to give it another go.

Overall – 8:

I actually liked The Night of the Rabbit a bit more than The Dark Eye.

The Night of the Rabbit - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Both games have a distinctive style about them, both are point and click games, but they do some things differently as well. The spells you can learn on your quest in The Night of the Rabbit are actually quite fun to attain. As soon as I got one, I found myself pondering how it might be used in an upcoming puzzle of some sort. Point-and-click adventures are not for everyone, but if you are a fan of the genre, The Night of the Rabbit is very easy to recommend.

DeathSpank

Deathspank - PC Game Screenshot
Back during the desperate times when Ron Gilbert was failing to find a publisher for his Diablo meets Monkey Island game, the skies were dark, gamers were gloomy and gnomes disappointed. Nowadays DeathSpank has not only been published, but after much delay even ported to the PC, the one platform one would think would have been ideal for the game’s launch. Anyway; we might be going through the deepest and most savage recession capitalism has ever known, multinationals might be teeming up with nationalists in preparing the bombs that will help the system flourish once again and the police might just be the only facet of the welfare state that’s going stronger, but we gamers can be happy, for DeathSpank is a great little game indeed. And we can even play it with a mouse and keyboard.

 

In our times of barbarism and boring mainstream games DeathSpank is a wacky splash of colour. It looks surreal and lovely, can at times be really funny, plays well, and -more importantly- actually does what it was supposed to do. It’s a shiny Diablo-clone that effortlessly though sporadically manages to do a pretty decent impersonation of Monkey Island, what with its simple puzzles and dialog trees. Interestingly and despite the fact that only a handful of puzzles made it into the game, they are all quite varied and smart.
Deathspank - PC Game Screenshot

 

The hack-and-slash CRPG aspect of the game is on the other hand extremely rich. There are tons of different and outrageously named weapons, bits of armor and objects to collect, dozens of quest and side-quests, a rich selection of silly baddies, two kinds of chicken, a ridiculous amount of  loot, many locations and a rather big world to explore. Combat itself is close to perfect and always satisfying, making great use of the keyboard-mouse combo, but also allowing the traitorous among PC gamers to use a joypad. Disgusting, I know, but that’s what kids seem to enjoy these. Unfortunately joysticks have been wholly ignored. Oh, and what I really thought was brilliant in the mechanics were the ways in which all the tedious bits of Diablo-clones have been eradicated: players can teleport around the map, store their weapons in a variety of chests, access a handy quest journal, consult a variety of helpful maps and -above all- use the brilliant grinder to turn loot into gold pieces.
Deathspank - PC Game Screenshot
What though actually helps raise DeathSpank above the soup of mediocrity that are Diablo-clones, for let’s face it that’s what it really is, is the combination of a unique presentation and a generous helping of humour. DeathSpank features truly beautiful graphics that create a unique, colorful world not entirely dissimilar to a pop-up book, excellent voice-overs and so many and varied jokes you are bound to both constantly chuckle and at times properly laugh. Apparently, it also features a plot, but this being a review on a blog, it really shouldn’t be much longer than it already is. Let me just add that beating DeathSpank took me 12 hours.

 

Verdict: If you either love Ron Gilbert’s work or care for humorous RPGs, you really can’t go wrong with DeathSpank. It’s a great game and it’s already available on Steam. If only its Monkey Island elements were more apparent, this would have been a true classic.

Machinarium review en espanol

Machinarium screenshot
Machinarium screenshot

Machinarium review en español por Leandro Montesanto


DESARROLLADORA:
AMANITA DESIGN
TITULO:
MACHINARIUM
FECHA DE SALIDA: 16 de octubre del 2009
VALOR: formato virtual+ost 20 dolares;formato fisico edicion coleccionista 7 libras
PLATAFORMAS: PC (windows,linux,mac)
PUNTAJE TOTAL: 10/10
DEMO GRATUITA ONLINE: http://machinarium.net/demo/
Reseña en una oracion: la nueva escuela de juegos recibe a su artistico avatar

Prologo:

Juego realizado por la empresa Checa, Amanita Design, en el 2009; en el cual usamos a un robot sin nombre, al que se le denominara “machi” con motivos de practicidad, este es desechado como chatarra y su mision es rescatar a su novia de las manos de la hermandad Capa Negra; el despliegue resonante de su simpleza no hace valor al gran juego “point and click” (aventura grafica para nosotros) que hoy decidi reseñar ya que su ambientacion cyberpunk, su banda sonora, su sistema de juego, la forma en la cual esta contada la historia, sus coloridos escenarios y sus intrincados puzzles son lo mas fresco que vi en años de jugon.


Jugabilidad, ambientacion y mi historia con el juego:

El juego, como mencione anteriormente, transcurre en un ambiente cyberpunk, puede sonar extraño para muchos es “cute” en si, adorable, pero a su vez caotico, recuerda mucho a la vida urbana, ya que cada robot cumple un rol. Hay barrios bajos y artistas entre ellos. Un detalle sorprendente es la iglesia que tiene horarios para que los robots vayan a rezar, programados a cumplir funciones hasta el fin de los tiempos. Al ser una aventura grafica novedosa e ingeniosa, cuenta la historia de los involucrados a travez de dialogos globos tipo comics pero con animaciones simples dentro de ellas como dibujadas por un niño haciendo que se pueda jugar en cualquier pais sin necesidad de ser traducido. El sistema de juego aplica las leyes del espacio y el rango de alcance de machi ya que no podemos con el mouse atravesar la pantalla para ver que items podemos asir (agarrar) si machi no esta en un rango determinado cercano al objeto, ademas puede estirar su cuerpo verticalmente para alcanzar objetos en lo alto. Si tenemos problemas para darnos una idea de como solucionar los puzzles (un tip como se dice) podemos clickear el icono superior derecho (una lamparita) que nos orientara para seguir nuestro camino y si realmente te rendis no hace falta buscar una guia solo debemos acceder a un minijuego (en la parte superior derecha tambien) en un libro que recuerda mucho a los antigüos matamarcianos sidescroll. Vale aclarar que los puzzles estan espectacularmente armados y proveeran a los jugones de la vieja escuela un desafio. A mi personalmente me costaron mucho pero no soy un asiduo jugador de aventuras graficas; como agregado hace referencias a juegos de antaño un ejemplo seria un cameo al lado de la puerta del arcade nada mas ni nada menos que Space Invaders.

Musica y sonidos:

La musica derrocha calidad, tiene tonos jazzeros de a momentos, tranquila, melancolica, te sumerge en ese mundo bohemio y como si fuera poco al ser en su totalidad ambiental realiza un trabajo estupendo para calmarte cuando estas “luchando” contra un puzzle en tu cabeza. Ahora mismo la estoy escuchandolo para realizar esta reseña. Es importante destacar que fue creada por Tomas Dvorak, artista contemporaneo checo del cual recomiendo, si les ha gustado, sus otros trabajos musicales firmados con el pseudonimo de Floex. Los sonidos son acordes a la situacion, no destacan pero acompañan.

Controles y estabilidad:

El sitema de controles es simple, como en toda aventura grafica usamos casi enteramente el mouse, pero en los minijuegos tenemos la opcion de usar el teclado, haciendo la interface mucho mas intiuitiva y estimulante; con respecto a la estabilidad personalmente no tuve ningun problema, pero a algunos amigos tuvieron problema con el save del juego, ya que lo tomaba como archivo temporal y al pasar el ccleanr se eliminaba; debido a eso Amanita Design creo un parche de estabilidad rapidamente, se puede acceder a el via el blog de la empresa. Las nuevas ediciones del juego vienen con los parches incorporados.

Valor:

Su version en formato virtual puede conseguirse a 20 dolares en la pagina del Machinarium, con el OST incluido en formato mp3 para windows, mac o linux. Ademas para windows puede conseguirse via Steam, Impulse (para comprar esa version hasle click aqui), Direct 2 Drive y Gamers Gate; como si esto fuera poco, puede conseguirse la vercion fisica que fue lanzada este año que contiene el OST, un poster y un artwork en formato fisico para mac y windows a un precio especial de 7 libras via e bay o amazon.

Conclucion:

Una experiencia inigualable recomiendo que prueben los otros juegos de la empresa, en especial el Samorost 1 y 2

 

Links de interes:

Amanita design blog: http://machinarium.net/blog/ (se puede bajar la demo)
Amanita design website: http://www.amanitadesign.com/

Bioshock 2

Bioshock 2 Big Sister
Bioshock 2 Big Sister

Bioshock 2 review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Taste my drill!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

Although I never thought a sequel would have been made when I initially beat the first game, here is Bioshock 2. In Bioshock 2, you take the role of a special kind of Big Daddy, the caretakers of the Little Sisters that go around collecting ADAM, the chemical that turns people into psionics. I’m not going to put spoilers as to the complete story, not even the origins of the main character. You are basically running around, surviving, trying to figure out what you are, liberating or killing Little Sisters, picking up clues (sound recordings just like Bioshock 1 and System Shock 2), fighting a ton of ADAM addicts, etc. The game proceeds in a linear manner.

Most of the gameplay consists of exploring corridors, shooting and casting spells (I mean using plasmids), hacking machines (they made this much faster than the first game and simpler), picking up a TON of voice recordings, dealing with scripted events (traps), getting upgrades (both for weapons or plasmids or implants), fighting bosses (Big Daddies and Big Sisters), and eventually making moral decisions on whether to let characters live or die.

This game takes place about 10 years after the first game. The underground Utopia (dystopia) Rapture has gone to utter crap after the events of the first game but people still live within it. There are still a ton of ADAM crack heads running around fighting each other and Big Daddies protecting their Little Sisters while they play with the ADAM (the chemical from part 1 which lets people get plasmid powers).

You don’t really need to have played the first game but if you want a better idea of what’s going on, I recommend it, although they’re just about the same game.

The game is done is a 1930s-40s retro style. You will see a lot of things that might remind you of Fallout, such as ads that have drawings similar in style to the Pipboy and other similar and old cartoons of that era.

The game has a multiplayer component but I didn’t bother to play it. My friends that did said that there were very few players playing it, so I didn’t even bother. I played this game for the single player story, as will most people.

Bioshock 2 is available for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.

Fun Factor:

It’s no surprise that being able to ram a person’s face with an industrial drill or electrocuting them from the palm of your hand or freezing them and smashing them like Mortal Kombat is a lot of fun. All the different powers you get can change how you go around obliterating people and that’s really neat. Although for me the main tactic was freezing and smashing everything, you can create a ton of chaos doing that while summoning a swarm of bugs to go eat another enemy or confusing another group. Surprisingly, for me, the first time I played it I say it’s worth a fun factor score of 9 out of 10. On the replay I just stormed through the game and at that level of carnage the game probably gets a fun factor score of 7 or 8 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game only had 3 difficulty settings and that’s a problem.

When you play the game on the hardest setting you will be starved for ammo constantly. This makes it annoying especially when you have to fight a Big Daddy and you will empty out your ammo reserves. The game becomes annoying to play it at this setting for some parts of the game, especially when you have to farm Little Sister & Big Brother combos.

When you play it at the regular setting health packs, eve hypos, and ammo are way too abundant. The enemies die more realistic as well but you’re essentially a mix of superman and a tank.

With the limitations of only 3 difficulties, Difficulty Versatility get a score of 3 out of 10. They should have added 2 more difficulties, even one more in between hard and standard would have made it a lot more diverse.

Value:

At the time I wrote this the best price I found on gogamer.com for the PC version at $41.90. Steam is selling it at $50, which is too much, so I’m not even going to list them.

They also sell the PS 3 version for $52.90, as well as the Xbox 360 version for the same price.

At around $40, considering I beat this game in a day it’s not much of a value to me. I give Value a score of 4 out of 10, simply because I enjoyed the experience of playing this game. I’d say it’s worth buying outright when it’s around $20 but most likely you will have beat it by then.

For my console friends, I recommend renting the game instead and beating it over a weekend.

Replayability:

The game is pretty much the same thing when you replay it except that maybe you decide to let people live or die and that will grant you a different kind of ending. The game is virtually the same thing, and it gets old to hear the same voice recordings that you pick up drone on the same information as before. I literally flew through the game on the 2nd replay since I knew where everything was.

Some people will still find fun in an immediate replay. It would be better to play it again some months or a year or so later since memory fades. I give replayability a score of 4 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound effects are great in both Bioshock games and since a lot of the game has a SHOCK factor then you will want to play this game in a dark room with the sound cranked up all the way in volume. The guns sound perfect, the drill is freaking awesome, the footsteps over the different surfaces are great, reminding me of Thief 2’s sounds for that. The screaming from the enemies is nicely done, especially the shriek of the Big Sisters. It just encourages you to unload your entire ammo reserve on them.

The voice actors in the recordings you find do a nice job and they sound like the character portraits that they are. The Little Sisters sound like real little girls and they get scared and cry and say nice things as they go around ripping ADAM from corpses. The grunts from the Big Daddies sound like you’re fighting real mutant monsters. I particularly love the water sound effects as water bounces off your armored diving suit.

The only problem I had with the sound was that the built in reverb for the game is HORRIBLE. It made everything sound as if somebody had set their reverb too high on their sound track and some stuff was just completely inaudiable since the echoes over-echo each other. Just turn it off and the game will sound normal.

The sound is great but because of that bug it gets a Sound score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The game doesn’t have music unless you are near a record player or jukebox OR you are loading a new level OR you reach a scripted action sequence. The music for the scripted action is tenseful and it’s well scored for the game. The rest of the music is old 1920s-1940s kind of music which goes along with the atmosphere of the game but some younger people might not enjoy it. Overall, I give music a score of 8 out of 10.

Graphics:

The game is a graphic delight. The retro style is persistent throughout the whole game and done as well as the original games in that 1930s-40s art deco kind of theme. The lighting and shadow affects are perfect, better than most other games I’ve played. The character models for everything in the game look great for the most part. Even looking out of a window in this game looks like a work of art. You have to see it for yourself. Graphics are simply a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never crashed even while doing alt-tab a lot. It took a little bit for it to come back to the game when you you alt-tab again but that’s fine and not much of a problem. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are the same as the first game. I found it a little annoying that C is crouch rather than CTRL as that is in most other FPS games these days, since CTRL forces the character to use, meaning WASTING, a first aid kit. You can remap the control but I used the default controls, so I guess that’s my fault. Other than that we have pretty standard WASD controls. Left mouse fires your gun/drill, shift does the melee attack, right click uses your plasmid. The game doesn’t have running other than doing the drill dash attack but that’s fine because your guy moves fast enough already. Controls get a score of 8 out of 10.

Performance:

The game uses just about the same engine as the first game but it seems to me like it has been tweaked. It ran pretty flawless on my old gaming machines and that’s even at the highest settings for the game. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10 in my book.

My history with this game:

At first I was irritated that I liked this game a lot more than Mass Effect 2. I was thinking the opposite would have happened.

I wish they would make more System Shock but I don’t think that will ever happen again. It’s still nice to see Bioshock growing and they already said that more games are on the way.

The first time I saw the trailer for the first Bioshock game I was in awe as to how brutal the action looked and how beautiful the environment was. I like how the game actually was just like the trailer and it wasn’t just some prerendered sequence that has stuff that you can’t do in the game. That’s really important to me for games to have.

I purposely avoided seeing any trailers for Bioshock 2 since I wanted it to have more of a shock factor on me. The game is just about the same as the original game but I enjoyed that one, as I have enjoyed this one the same.

System Shock purists often hate Bioshock but on their own they are pretty interesting games. They’re made in the same style as System Shock although they are usually a lot easier.

What was your experience with Bioshock 2? Leave your comments below or on our facebook, twitter, or myspace pages!

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review

Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!
Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of Silkworm!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

The first thing that I thought of when I first played this game was that it was based on Silkworm (the mode where you play the jeep). This game takes that action but multiplies it by a factor of 20.

You take the role of the Atomic Tank, the free world’s last hope versus the red scare. The Ruskies/Commies took over most of the world and the only hope for the Americans is for you to blitz their countries in an alternate reality kind of Red Dawn kind of way and blow their home armies to smithereens.

The game is really simple. You are a tank with unlimited ammo finding a horde of helicopters, other land vehicles, fighters, bombers, blimps, killer satellites, and BOSSES. This is a traditional arcade game in every sense.

You get upgrades depending on the game mode and some on the go such as faster movement speed, faster rate of fire for the main cannon, higher DPS, and spread shot upgrades. You get on the field upgrades via white helicopters that drop them for you (which you’re not supposed to kill). The two special weapons are the mega laser and the nuke. The mega laser comes in 4 parts, being dropped after you killed a good amount of enemies. You need to catch the drops before they hit the ground (for the mega laser only) or else they shatter on the ground. Once you get that puppy built you basically scorch ANYTHING they send or shoot against you. The nuke is like your holy grail weapon. You simply activate it and everything on the screen that’s a hostile simply evaporates (even bullets, missiles, and energy balls). Regarding big upgrades they are: a defensive sphere that takes hits for you, a guided missile, a laser cannon upgrade (the best), unguided rockets (2nd best), flak cannon, and homing bouncing lightning (3rd best). There are 3 levels of upgrades for each.

Other than skill keeping you alive, your tank has an energy shield that comes in red, yellow, green, indicating how strong the shield is. Each strength takes one full hit of a weapon for you. Once your shield is gone if you get hit once by anything, say goodnight.

There are two game modes, Campaign and Survival. Campaign consists of playing though 19 different missions (half of them recycle only MUCH harder), with a boss at the end of each, and an upgrade you get to pick (and can respec later if needed) awarded after the boss is dead and the stage is over. You get 3 total lives in Campaign mode and the game saves automatically at the end of the last stage you beat. You can respec your tank build should you need to before replaying the last stage that got you killed. Survival starts you out with a pea shooter and you simply must survive as long as possible while collecting upgrades.

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) is available on PC, PS 3, and Xbox 360.

The following is a video of the first two levels to the campaign game being played:

Fun Factor:

This game is a ton of fun to play because it keeps your attention going as you try to evade enemy weapon fire and focus on unleashed barrages of heavy anti-aircraft fire worth of utter destruction. It’s still simple enough of a game that you can still play it while sleepy and the game will actually probably wake you up or maybe frustrate you (for some players).

This is my kind of arcade game and it reminds me a lot of playing games on c64, amiga, the NES, and SNES. Not only does it remind me of Silkworm but a little bit of Master Blaster from the NES.

Arcade games are fun. Really good arcade games are a TON of fun. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10 from me.

Difficulty Versatility:

In Heavy Weapon, there is no way to set the difficulty. For the campaign game, for the 19 missions, you will get hard and easy missions depending on how you have your atomic tank specced out and whether the mission itself is hard or not and whether the boss is a cakewalk or a real challenge. The survival mode will continue to get harder no matter what, the longer you survive.

Overall, this game is quite challenging and it took me about a week playing the game on and off to beat the campaign game. The survival mode is the mode I play the most now and it is the most challenging since they make you start with no upgrades and upgrade drops are random. Overall, the Difficulty Versatility of this game gets a 7 out of 10.

Value:

If you get the game from the Popcap games website they sell it for $20, which is not the best price. You can get it via Steam for $10 and that’s totally worth the price of admission, to me. The link to the Steam version is: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3410/

The console versions sell about the same price via their stores. For $10, an arcade game with a good replayability that IS fun, and many many hours of game play, you can’t go wrong. I give Value a score of 9 out of 10.

Replayability:

The campaign mode can get easy, especially if you have beat it already. One basically learns all the attack patterns and spawn combinations for groups of enemies and after countless times of dying, you already know how to counter most attacks. The game still does require pure gaming skill. That mode is still worth checking out for its fun factor and the upgrades you get at the end of each level.

Survival mode is a blast if you want to see if you are making any development as far as your skill goes as the game keeps track via a highscore table your top 10 longest survival times (time, not score matters here).

Heavy Weapon is a easy game to pick up and drop so it is highly replayable if you like old skool arcade style games. I give Replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

This is certainly a game where if you put the volume all the way up, you will probably play better. There are so many audio ques you can get of oncoming attacks that you want to be warned and the explosions get addictive. All the sound effects are great! Even the announcer that sounds like an old 80s arcade game gives the game a retro feel that’s classic!

If you want to have a real treat keep playing the game collecting the parts for the mega laser. The sound of hearing it fry any target instantly and seeing them just pop is simply amazing! Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a a limited number of songs. The main menu has a fake 80s hairband rock ballad that sounds real but so cheesy. I still love it. The main song sounds like a military march and it has a good beat and keeps a great mood going of “the commies are coming!” The rest of the music in the game are short tunes but they keep the atmosphere of the game constant. It just wants to make you play the game even more. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10 simply because of the lack of more music. What’s there is great though!

Graphics:

This is a budget title so you shouldn’t expect much but I found the art of the game really neat, especially all the fake Stalin statues in the background. The graphics are really neat and kind of remind me of playing Project X and Disposable Hero on the Amiga. It seems like a lot of love was put into this game based on how humorous some of the graphics are. I give Graphics a score of 10 out of 10 for what the game is.

Stability/Reliability:

I’ve never had any crashes with the game, not even while ALT-TABbing via the PC version. The game is SOLID. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

For the PC version, the controls get some getting used to, at least at first. They are simple but some of that simplicity can get you killed. Basically, the tank will move in the direction you have the mouse pointed at. Left mouse button shoots and the only other button is the right mouse button for the nuke.

Because the tank will move towards where you are shooting (especially annoying when you have the flak cannon upgrade which will blow up around the cursor only), you need to be careful that the tank is not driving towards oncoming enemy projectiles or that it doesn’t ram any of the enemies that instakill you.

The controls are simple but they make the game challenging. That can be kind of fun but some people will find it annoying. I give Controls a score of 6 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs perfectly on any PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I’ve only had it lag slightly while running about 10 programs in the background but it hardly ever happens. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I first played this game when we were at my friend Frank’s house and we downloaded the demo via the PS3 Store just to check out some new games. We played the living crap out of the demo, and even that was fun. When I found that they were selling this on Steam I didn’t hesitate to buy it on the spot since I remember how challenging the demo was. I’ve been playing this game for about 2 months and I still find it entertaining.

Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

 

 

“I’m Batman!”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

 

Overview:

Simple story: you’re Batman, the Joker took over Arkham Asylum, time to break every skull and take it back from Mr. J. You start out as a barebones Batman with just about every neat gadget missing, except your batwing. As the game progresses you keep getting upgrades and leveling up, while kicking ass and fighting different villains (bosses) from the Batman universe. The gameplay is similar to Max Payne (with no shooting just kicks to the face), the Prince of Persia 3D games, and some stealth elements sort of like the Metal Gear Solid series.

As Batman, you run around collecting clues, secrets, punching out every inmate in Arkham Asylum. There a “detective mode” which basically turns you into a Predator as you can see where people are through walls, which is essential for hunting and beating them all up. The mode is so effective that you might as well leave it on most of the time, although it makes the game look really alien and you get to miss out the beauty of the scenery.

You heal based on how much XP you just got from taking out enemies or finding secrets, but you just about never heal during combat.

Many favorite villains from the cartoons are present although many are missing as well (hinting a sequel). I won’t say which ones are in the game for the sake of spoilers.

Many of the secrets you find will help you level up faster and they help you find out more about how really evil some of the villains are. There are three types of secrets you can find: interview tapes, Riddler question marks, and Arkham lore symbols. The interview tapes are usually tapes that were recorded by psychologists interviewing specific villains in the course of their therapy. The Riddle question marks are usually a matter of you exploring every little bit of the map and picking them up, as well as knocking down walls or climbing up to or gliding down to hard to reach places. The Arkham lore symbols are the hardest to find and they help explain the history behind Arkham Asylum.

The game uses a Games for Windows Live login if you care about achievements.

This is the Mega64 parody of Batman Arkham Asylum that’s great:

Fun Factor:

This game is great fun, as a well balanced blend of a fighting game, stealther, and platformer. Taking on a posse of 6-14 enemies at a time is a great thrill and the action will keep you on your toes. Some enemies are top targets such as any inmates that commandeer any assault rifles (they can pretty much drill you down really fast, no matter how good your armor upgrades are). Sneaking up behind enemies and making them pass out, then zipping out with the grapple gun is tons of fun and it gives you the feeling of actually being Batman from the shows and also that of a ninja. Exploring every nook and cranny of the asylum buildings can be a lot of fun especially as you keep upgrading your toolkit. The amount of action will keep you entertained, even if you are just replaying it. Fun Factor gets a 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is not too hard although it has a bunch of parts that are annoying such as taking out a bunch of goons without one seeing you not even once. Usually in those scenarios they are going to kill a hostage and Batman’s panties get in a bunch so you instantly lose and the game prompts you to load the soonest checkpoint. The game is still pretty challenging the first time you play it as there are so many parts where you can get insta-killed. Because of the linearity of the game, despite the hard setting, the game becomes predictable during replay. Difficulty Versatility gets a 4 out of 10 because of only having 3 difficulty setting and no randomly spawning enemies to surprise you.

Value:

At $50 on Steam the price is pretty steep. The shortest amount of time I beat the game in was 8 hours, and most likely you won’t want to replay it as soon as you beat it unless you really really loved it. It’s sometimes on sale on Steam for $25-30 dollars and at that price, it’s really worth it. The console versions are going for $53 and that’s pretty steep for me but then again the trend for console games are for them to be really expensive these days, especially if it’s a really popular title. For the amount of entertainment the game offers vs the cost, I give Value a score of 6 out of 10. It might be wiser to pick it up when the price in general drops $10-20 of the MSRP.

Replayability:

I’ve played this game twice so far, once in the medium setting and recently through on hard (the max setting). Since the game is linear and scripted, the only thing that hard really does is make the parts that were already annoying even more annoying. There’s no much replay value other than the breaking-people’s-skulls factor. Once you beat the game one, you already know the tricks and strategies for every area. I would say it has much replay value as Max Payne 1 and 2. I do play those games every 1-2 years since they are good too, this will join that list. However, since this game will probably be something to play once a year or two, it doesn’t get a high replay score. Replayability gets a 5 out of 10, mainly because I (Batman) like breaking people’s skulls.

Sound:

The game has great sound effects even for the menu interactions of bats flapping and the corpse of one of your victims, I mean villains, is dead, I mean unconscience, and they dematerialize. Lots of nice metal banging metal notices as well as the awesome grapple gun, which you’ll use often. If you’ve watched the Batman animated series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League, you will recognize a ton of the voice actors such as Kevin Conroy as Batman and some others, even the Joker is the same as the cartoons. All the sounds are properly implemented so the Sound category gets its 10 out of 10.

Music:

The music is tense and gloomy like Batman should be. It is finely crafted into the action of whatever you are doing in the game. It’s not always persistent though but silence can also raise the tension. The score overall is still great and specific tracks are really worthwhile. Music gets an 8 out of 10.

Graphics:

This game uses the UT3 engine which looking amazing, like all Unreal Tournament engines always do. Arkham Asylum looks bleak and filthy, yet futuristic with its multitude of security systems such as force fields, retinal scanning doors, etc. The game has some aspects that are pretty artistic such as when you pause the game, whatever the screen has gets frozen and rendered as a drawing from a comic book. Although many of the buildings around the asylum look similar, each one has its own style and purpose and they are well designed. The game itself is really beautiful. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game is pretty rock solid and I’ve had no crashes at all with it after 20 hours of gameplay. I’ve only had one instance where a character kept screaming for me to save her when I was standing in front of her to say “Thanks Batman, I need you!!!” Other than that the game flows great and you don’t have to be saving like a maniac in case in breaks as is the case in some other games. You don’t need to anyways as the game auto-saves as soon as you enter another area. Stability/Reliability get a 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls for the PC version are adapted from the xbox 360 version, even supporting an xbox 360 controller if you have the PC adaptation for it. The game controls a lot like the Prince of Persia style of games and often plays like it a lot as well. Sometimes I found the mouse a little laggy, considering how much action was going on and the amount of blocking and quick attacks that were needed. Overall, Batman responds really well although there are many instances where you can get him to basically commit suicide easily. Controls get an 8 out of 10.

Performance:

The UT3 engine looks great and also runs amazing on most gaming machines these days (even when it first came out). On my midrange 2007 gaming PC, the game gives me an average frame rate of 71 fps. I did experience some slowdowns though on scenes where one is battling 12 or more enemies at a time. The game itself comes with a benchmark tool option. I think it deserves a score of 8 out of 10 regarding

My history with this game:

I’m a huge fan of all the Batman and DC related animated shows and I have been keeping an eye out on this game long way before it was finally released. I didn’t get the game until a month after it had come out after hearing from my friends that it was the best next thing since sliced bread was invented. It was a delight to see the writers and voice actors of my favorite cartoons involved in such a successful game and I would hope that they come back with more (I think the sequel is already being made) such as also a game for Batman Beyond (that would probably have a LOT more action). A lot of my friends who haven’t played it yet ask me about it and I tell them to go get it already and enjoy every moment of it. Playing it reminded me a lot of watching the original Batman cartoon from the early 90s. I look forward to playing part 2 as soon as its available. Considering how well this game did we are pretty much guaranteed that sequel.

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast

Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast title
Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast title

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of the arcade classic, Outrun”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Outrun is one of the classic arcade games that put Sega on the map in the arcade world and helped them later become a major player in the console market. If you’ve never played Outrun, Outrun is a very fast racing game where you are driving really fast in a bunch of Ferrari cars to get to the finish line, with a time limit. There are different game modes, some where you race against rivals, the traditional one where you are trying to get there as soon as possible with your girlfriend riding shotgun, and another one where you are trying to get the girl excited (no, seriously) by completing challenges. You do different stages depending on the game mode you set it to and unlock new courses, girlfriends, cars (which you buy with money), and music (which you buy in money if you don’t to cheat). You still have from the original, your girlfriend bitching you out when you get yourselves killed by ramming the Ferrari and flipping it over and over after hitting some palm trees or other obstacles.

The physics engine is basically an arcade game so don’t expect GRID or Grand Turismo. Damage is non existent so you’re basically immortal so long as the time doesn’t run out (for some game modes).

PC, PSP, Xbox, and PS 2 versions of the game are available.

Fun Factor:

If you like driving fast and want to get a good feeling of being out on a crazy road trip with hot girl, Outrun is the game for you. For me, the game brings a great feeling of nostalgia since I played the original arcade game in the 80s and at home on the c64 (both Outrun and Turbo Outrun). The game gets hard later but it only makes me want to master it even more. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The difficulty starts out easy and gets to the point where it is impossible for most people to win at all. The later stages would even put skynet to shame, as they are designed for a god to be able to beat. =P I give difficulty versality a 6 out of 10 since you can’t do much about it and it will make you cry (once it becomes insane difficulty).

Value:

I got this game on Steam for about 7 dollars when it was on sale on Christmas. They sometimes sell it on there, but not currently. You can pick it up for console for 5-10 dollars and considering how fun this game is, it’s still worth getting, although it’s old (for most video game players). You can find the game for sale on ebay, gogamer.com, and gamestop/ebgames. I give it a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I played this game a few months ago and it’s still fun to pick up once in a while. I would recommend doing some practice runs before really committing on it again on a replay because the later stages will usually frustrate you. I give Replayability a score of 7 out of 10.

Sound:

Some of the sounds are kind of generic like some of the car engine sounds, that don’t impress. The tires pealing out noise is wonderful and they bring back a lot of memories of the original. Overall, Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music for this game is simply BRILLIANT! Two modernized versions of the original songs are in it, and they are even better than the originals. All the original versions for all previous Outrun games and all the Outrun sequels are included. The OGG files for these songs are available within the game directories, so that you can make your own mix CD of Outrun in real life and go for a real Outrun! ;-] Even some new tracks are introduced which sound like they come from Planet Sega! =P Music gets a 10 out of 10, simply because 1o is the max!

Graphics:

This game came out in 2006 and the game designers did a decent job of balancing graphical quality (better than arcade quality at the time) and performance. The car models for the individual Ferraris are pretty well done and since the game includes some rare car models, it’s a nice treat. I give Graphics a score of 7 out of 10 overall.

Stability/Reliability:

For the most part the game never crashes, at least in the middle of a race. I’ve gotten the game to freeze up while loading if I play it for too long or just the game launched in a bad mood. Not much data loss happens when that takes place. Overall, I give Stability/Reliability a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are as simple as can be and since this is an arcade racer, that’s a really good thing. Because drifting is such an essential part of the game, I usually remap the brake to something other than down on the arrow keys. It allows better control. Since the game even lets you remap while in a race, the controls are solid. Controls get a rating of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game is 3-4 years old and it runs fine on any computer that you would be using for gaming anyways. It would probably also run fine in a light gaming computer such as a work laptop. I give performance a rating of 10 out of 10 considering how many computers will be able to run this game.

My history with this game:

From the arcade, to the c64, and then Amiga, Outrun has always had a place in my heart as far as racing games go. I hope they keep making sequels to it, even in the arcade form because the games are always fun and they’re relaxing to play (some racing games will give you a heart attack). I can usually just load up this game and have a good time without having to worry about the world ending if I lose.

GRID

GRID logo
GRID logo

GRID review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“An ultimate refinement of the TOCA Race Driver series.”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

 

Overview:

Codemasters might be smaller than EA but they sure do know how to code the BEST racing games in the world. This is the sequel to the sequels of Race Driver (TOCA Race Driver) but the game has been polished to perfection. The game consists of being a professional race car driver that is trying to make it as a world champion overall and within three areas of the world, the USA, Europe, and Japan. There’s 4 tiers mainly, with you starting at tier 1 for each area, and then you each championship points based on how well you performed on each race, potentially unlocking the next area within that region, and ultimately you unlock tier 4 which has the most challenging championships worldwide. Once in a while when you dominate a tier in a country, the top racer of a racing team will challenge you on a duel which usually gives a decent amount of points and a hefty lump of cash. All major race cars that are world class champions are found in the game. The game has a decent damage engine built into it and the physics of the racing are pretty solid for a non-sim racing game. You make money in the game by racing and getting whatever higher position you can and by repainting your car with the decals of better and better sponsors that have specific requirements for them to pay you. Most of the car customization ends there as the game does not let you modify the parts of your car but then again this is a game about professional racing, not street racing in the style of Need For Speed. In the real racing world, real race cars have specific rules they have to follow in order to be allowed to race in that league.

Fun Factor:

It’s thrilling to take control of a 500-1000 horsepower race car and push it to the utter limit. Since the game has a damage engine, one can’t simply drive the car straight through walls and one has to be strategic regarding making the car last the entire race. I think that makes the game a more fun vs something like Grand Turismo. The only part that kind of gets boring which you must do (not really but I’m a perfectionist) is the 24-hour LeMans race which literally is an endurance race which will take 24 real minutes to complete. I’ve literally done that over 100 times and I’m kind of sick of it. I would have liked them to have offered some variations to it like 12 hours at Sebring or some other real epic races rather than just that one over and over in between the transition of racing seasons. I give fun factor a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The difficulty in this game is fully customizable, with about 5-7 settings and sub-settings that let you customize the experience to be as abusive as you need or want. I’m really good at racing and racing games in general and I always find a way to make this game challenging even after having played it 4 times through. Sure, it helps to memorize the tracks as it does in every racing game but the A.I. does begin to act like true professional racers in the higher settings and that’s always a plus for a challenge. The game offers “flashbacks” which let you rewind a crash and you might be able to save the car or avoid a spin-out. This and other assists can be disabled depending on how hardcore or masochistic of a gamer you are. The only complaint I have about the difficulty is that there is basically no point to money in the game. In the beginning of the game, money is scarce but after playing the game for a good hour or two, you will basically be able to afford any car you want. It would have been neat if they added the option for me to waste my money designing my own custom race car. (Ahem) Hopefully, Codemasters will add this function in a future racing game. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

The game sells for about US$25 and sometimes you can get it bundled with other Codemaster racing games (like Dirt 1 and/or 2). Even at 25 dollars the game is worth getting because if you are a fan of authentic speed and a racing game with a somewhat realistic damage engine and well over 12-20 hours of solid game play, this is the game for you. I give it’s Value a score of 8 out of 10. Should you see it at 15 dollars or less, I recommend buying it on the spot.

Replayability:

I’ve ran 4 times through the campaign mode of the game. The races eventually become repetitive but the cars this game has are so godlike that it’s worth feeling the rush all over again. The game also has multiplayer online so you can also decide to take your competition there and see if you can best some of the other players in duels of skill. I give the game a Replayability score of 7 out of 10, despite my personal love for this game.

Sound:

The cars sound very, very mean, which I love in a racing game. When a racecar sounds like a toaster, it’s annoying. When a race car sounds like a wood-chipper with baby pumpkins being thrown into it a rate of 1000 baby pumpkin souls per second, my inner demon smiles and makes me want to drive it faster. Sounds get a score of 10 out of 10 for GRID!

Music:

The music is great especially the tracks from Queens of the Stone Age but an advantage/disadvantage is that there is no music at all while you are racing, for the most part. The only time that I really remember any music being played is during the last 4 minutes of the 24-minute Le Mans race to make you feel more tension. Because of the lack of music for the majority of the racing, but with the menu music sounding very pleasing the game gets a 5 out of 10 for Music. What’s there is great but it’s a minor detail in the game.

Graphics:

GRID is pure eye candy at its finest. Even one old hardware and DX9 the game is simple breath-taking. GRID deserves and gets a score of 10 out of 10 in the Graphics category.

Stability/Reliability:

The game rarely very has crashed for me and I’ve logged in over 60 hours of playing it. I would say it has locked up only 1-2 times while loading because my PC was by then overheating. The game has always launched, every time I’ve tried. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The game has pretty standard controls that basically need little to no adjustment, although you can pretty much remap all of it if need be. I played the game on keyboard and found really no problems controlling even the most dangerous, I mean fastest cars. Controls for this game deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs for the most part glitch-less on even a 2-3 year old light-to-medium gaming PC. Compared to the bloated NFS games of late, GRID runs like a champ. The only problem I detected in the game is that the cheat detection system seems to create like a bug where the car will slow down stop for a fraction of a second and then the physics engine of the game will compensate and let you continue. Not that it makes you crash, but still kind of an unrealistic thing to experience. This however, rarely happens, but I’ve played this game for way too long. I give Performance a rating of 9 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I have been playing the Race Driver (TOCA Race Driver) games since they came out and I’ve always been impressed so how well done they are in the sense of making you feel like a real race driver and how they keep getting better after each version. Some of the TOCA Race Driver games got to a point where you HAD to do a race to keep going and it was basically impossible (ugh I remember one where you had to compete in the Ford GT90 that had like zero traction and the AI was godlike/had super sticky tires that used a different physics engine than what you had to deal with). Those days are gone. In GRID, you will actually see the computer making human driver mistakes, lose control of their car and wreck it. When GRID came out it’s basically all I played nonstop for a month, even after I had beat it. I come back to visit it once in a while as it’s one of my favorites in my game collection. Check out doing the super tight tracks in Japan with the prototype class race cars. It will leave a smile on your face. 😀

 

Trackmania

trackmania sunrise
typical in-game screenshot of Trackmania

Trackmania game series reviewed by Honorabili

 

One Sentence Review:

“The only racing game you’ll ever need… until part 2 comes out. =P”

 

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

 

Overview:

Trackmania is pretty much the most played racing game series in the history of PC gaming. Most people in the US don’t know it because it’s from French developer Nadeo. Also since it’s mainly a pure PC racing game (although a Nintendo DS version was released) most of the console crowd (where most people who play racing games are) never heard of it. Sure, people might play Need For Speed whichever is the newest at the time but after a month they will probably never play it again. With Trackmania, since the game has been around since 2003, and now in its 4th game “United” one can just not play it for a while and revisit it months/years later with tons of new content and the game never disappoints. There’s even the free version “Nations” which anybody can pick up. The game consists of racing online against over 5 million players across the world. There’s multiple ladders ranging from your state or country depending on where you are from. There are championships, some even with cash rewards. You get in game money which you can use to design your own tracks, buy tracks from other players/websites, buy new skins for your car, buy music for your tracks, new horns, new pictures, etc. It’s all in good fun and the game does not allow cheating in the form of ramming other people off the road as all cars drive through each other.

There’s different vehicles each with their own driving style and track styles. American muscle cars, 4×4 SUVs, and mini rally cars are the ones included in the original Trackmania game. Island super cars, Bay SUVs that are quick but can flip, and Coast drifting cars which require the most skill and drive like they have 4 flat tires are the ones included in the 2nd game Trackmania Sunrise. Stadium formula cars are the only ones available in the 3rd and free game Trackmania Nations. All car modes are available in Trackmania United.

All the expansions for the game are released for free and even the free players from Nations can play with people on United under the same ladder system.

The tracks in the game in general are something that puts Unreal Tournament to shame as you will see loops and jumps that will make your jaw drop. The speed of the game is usually on terms with other hardcore reflex racing games such as F-Zero and Wipeout.

Fun Factor:

This is one of the few games from a handful where I will forget to eat while playing it and then many hours later will finally get up and have a reality check. I sometimes keep myself from playing it if I have too many other games in my que because I know I will just forget about them if I start up with Trackmania again. Trackmania kind of became an online MMO racing game and in that sense it’s light-years ahead of other MMOs in the sense that you will not waste time looking for group or some other bullshit. You click to race and 2-3 seconds later after the track loads in 3 more seconds you’re in a race. No bullshit. Considering that I forget to eat while playing this game I would say that it’s an awful lot of fun, so I will give it a 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

Even trying to get a top time in practice for a track can be challenging. When you go online and you keep building up your rank, eventually you will get to the top leagues and have to face people that are really really good drivers. I play my racing games on keyboard, although people cry havoc since a wheel and pedals is much easier but I’ve still schooled people have that 200 dollars or more invested in controllers. Anybody stands a chance so long as you have the skill, so I’m quite fond of these games for that. The game will get as hard as you want it to so in this category, I give it the max also, 10 out of 10. Believe me, when you’re trying to beat a world record and somebody you live with or the phone rings and it costs you the world record, it will drive you NUTS!

Value:

You can buy the original game for $1-5 almost anywhere that will stock it. Sunrise is not as easy to find anymore but you can probably get it for $10. Nations is FREE so if you’re not playing it, you’re missing out completely. United can be bought from $20-40 depending on whether it’s on sale or not. The more games you link to your account the more in game money Nadeo gives you. Considering how inexpensive the games are and how it is just a permanent game to play, the value of the trackmania games is the best possible. I give value a 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

These games have unlimited content. New tracks get made every day since 2003. Clans rise and fall in the community for it. In the ashes of the fallen, we still have sometimes hundreds of tracks that created racing legends. Let’s just say that lately I’ve been playing Dirt 2 and I’ve been looking forward to beating it so that I can go back to playing Trackmania a game I have literally logged over 1000 hours for. Replayability gets a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

The only part that I can really bitch about is that the sound sometimes for some of the cars sound kind of generic. Some sound really badass like the super car or the rally car but the rest are just okay to me. Some sounds like the turbo boost section of the track are fun to hear the booming because you know you just hit nitro! I give the sound a 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music can get repetitive, although it’s all pretty funky. Since people make their own stuff, it’s interesting to see what “radio station” a clan might have playing that day. The multitasking alt-tab of the game is godlike so you can just lower the volume bar at the top right with the mouse and load up your favorite racing music like any Juno Reactor or Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird or Tom Petty – Runnin’ Down A Dream, for instance. I give the music a 7 out of 10 only because I’m sick of it.

Graphics:

All the trackmania games have always looked amazing. They make most other games look like shit and considering how fast the game runs and how efficient the netcode is, I’m always and have always been impressed by them. The first time I ran the game on an ATI 3870 it made me want to cry. Graphics gets a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has never crashed since we started playing them since 2003. An obvious score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Simple controls and great gameplay make a classic. Just the arrow keys and the reset buttons are all you really need other than 1-3 for camera controls. Good job! 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Considering the graphic nature of these games and the amazing physics behind them, and the godlike netcode, the performance is astounding. I will give it a 9 out of 10 because in super high settings the game will begin to lag but that’s to be expected.

My history with this game:

My friends and I have been playing Trackmania since it first came out in 2003. We had countless LAN parties where we would basically try to win but at the same time use the in game chat and type “COCK” and some other braindead shit to try to make the other players die. Since you can mod the looks of your car, horns, picture of your avatar, etc. my brother even went so far as to paint his cars pink, put a picture of a tranny, and put a clip of Ru Paul going “you betta work!!!”. That made the game extremely DIFFICULT to play considering he would sneak up on us racing and sound his “horn”. I can’t wait to play Trackmania 2 and I always recommend Trackmania games to any true lovers of speed and driving.

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2

Space Marines from Dawn of War 2
Space Marines from Dawn of War 2

Warhammer 40K – Dawn of War 2 Review by Honorabili

 

One Sentence Review:

“Challenging squad combat level based RTS based on the Warhammer 40K universe but based on the game style of Company of Heroes.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

If you want to read my review & strategy guide for the campaign of the expansion Chaos Rising, click here.

Overview:

This is the ambitious and different sequel to what is considered (by the computer game industry) the 2004 strategy game of the year. The first game was similar to Starcraft but this one chooses a different route. For the multiplayer aspect/connectivity the game decided to use Games For Windows Live as the backbone. If you have a microphone you will appreciate that the game has a built in voice chat that is used via Games For Windows Live. In general over some older RTS games and introduced in Company of Heroes, the game makes use of cover in the terrain to give defensive bonuses to units.

There are different game modes: single player and co-op storyline campaign, skirmish which you can set to PVE or play with a combination of other players together or against each other in the tradition of online pvp play that’s now commonplace, and the recently added mode of The Last Stand. The campaign consists of you or your gaming partner following a series of linear and also randomly generated conquer and defend missions with your squad of hero units which have leveling through combat/objectives (also a level cap) and the acquisition of relics (wargear) that modify the combat characteristics/tactics of each squad. You can only play as the human Space Marine faction in the campaign. The difficulty is variable. As far as fighting goes, the campaign mainly consists of completing objectives and taking optional ones. As far as skirmish goes, you can opt out to practice against the computer or either do traditional 1 vs 1 and up in groupings of players. For skirmish you can be human Space Marines, Eldar, Tyranids, or Orks. The game includes a ladder system for this mode. In the skirmish mode, this plays out more like a regular RTS with two resources available, power and requisition. You can set the objective to either wipe out the player or hold the most strategic points for x amount of time and so forth. This is a lot like Unreal Tournament 3/Company of Heroes. The newest game mode The Last Stand groups you up with two other human players in a series of levels, each in increasing difficulty, in a game of survival. You get a higher score multiplier for killing all enemies quicker than normal groups, not dying, holding the defense points capped, with all your multiplier being resetted to 1X if any team member dies. There is a high score/ladder system with this mode and the game also keeps track of your best scores for each of the characters you get, those being the Space Marine, Eldar, and Ork.

Fun Factor:

The campaign keeps you playing until you beat it and it’s worth replaying with another player, usually at the highest difficulty. It’s worth also playing alone in the max difficulty as having another player can (sometimes) make it easier. The skirmish mode can be a lot of fun as the game plays out more like a traditional RTS game rather than the storyline hero system that people will get used to playing if they play the campaign a lot. The Last Stand is probably the funnest game more as it creates a good feeling of teamwork, although it can be disappointing to get paired up with a bunch of noobs that will get you killed faster than you think. If you play the game with a good group of friends the game can be a lot funner as you can start to dominate the ladders and scoreboards. Overall the game will keep you entertained for days, maybe weeks and it’s good to go back to it and visit it once in a while especially if they released new maps for it or modified minor parts of the game. For fun factor I give DoW2 an 8 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

As far as the campaign goes, I find it rather easy even at the highest difficulty setting. I’ve tested this and made people who never played the game play it at that difficulty right from the start and they found it easy to dominate, even with non-experienced RTS players. I started to play the game with non-favorite/favorable characters and it’s still easy. Still, it’s worth playing through at least once.

The skirmish mode is much more challenging as you are dealing with human players that most likely have been playing the game already in this mode kicking ass and will school you until you get the hang of it. Don’t be discouraged as this is often the case in RTS games online and if you are a good player and played the tutorial, I mean campaign, you will quickly get used to the units, although the campaign only lets one play Space Marines and skirmish allows more races, so one will need to learn all about them from scratch. If you put in the time and effort, you will find skirmish to be the most rewarding as far as a challenge goes. My advice is that you memorize all the cover points in all maps so optimize defense tactics/cover. Don’t worry most other players you will fight already have done this. 😀

The Last Stand is a lot of fun but make sure that you are grouped with great players that know what you are doing and you make a good team effort to make it to the last stages/top of the ladder. The difficulty can be impossible if you play with noobs but don’t feel bad as the game will soon be over. ;-] With my friends we played the hell out of this mode easily for 1-2 weeks nonstop so it can be exciting for a while. In the final stages of the mode when you are fighting the entire screen filled with enemies the difficulty is literally impossible but that’s the point of the mode. It’s really well done in that sense.

The tutorial (campaign) is a cakewalk so I will punish the game for that. Skirmish is great if you put in your time getting used to it so that’s flawless. The Last Stand is what it is and it works as advertised. Overall I give DoW 2 an 8 out of 10 for this category.

Value:

I bought the game when it first came out for $50 on Steam. The game is currently sold for about $40 on there as of the time of this writing and if you buy a bundle of THQ/Relic games you can get it for partially cheaper cost. It is also sometimes sold on sale via Steam as the game did not sell as well as they anticipated and they are trying to get more people to play it. Since the expansion pack is a few months away as of now it will probably be on sale again often as they might also bundle the game and expansion together when that’s available. Since the game is not that popular right now, I would say that they should sell it for $30 all the time as the base price to encourage more players to get it. Since the game provides many many hours/days of entertainment and it can become a permanent game to keep playing, I give it a 7 out of 10 in value.

UPDATE: (from my DoW2 Chaos Rising review)

On Steam, they sell DoW2 Gold which has the original game and expansion for $40. The link to the Steam sale is the following. If you were like me and already owned DoW2 then for $30 Steam sells the expansion here.

If you never played DoW2, for $40 both the original and expansion for that price is an amazing value because that’s like a month or more worth of gaming right there, easily. $30 for just the expansion is a bit more steep but if you’re a fan of DoW2 and/or Warhammer 40k then you will probably buy it anyways.

Replayability:

The campaign can be played a good 2-3 times before you never want to see it again. The Last Stand can be very entertaining especially if you have a great team going. Since you have 3 heroes which you level up and unlock special abilities/wargear for, you would have to play many (and I mean MANY) matches to unlock all their powers. You don’t necessarily have to do that to get ranked super high in the scoreboard so long as you are good and your team mates play like a well-coordinated military unit. The skirmish mode will have unlimited replayability depending on much much you liked the game already in general and how you approach ladder pvp RTS games in general. I give the replayability a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

Most of the voice actors from DoW 1 which are professionals are back and you will quickly recognize them. They are well picked, especially units like the Dreadnought (undead human Robocop ED209 unit of an almost dead human soldier stuck in a killing machine that will forever “live to serve”). The sound effects themselves are great especially hearing the explosions and sounds of machineguns letting loose and Eldar weapons flying through the air (shurikens, etc.). I give the sounds of DoW 2 an 8 out of 10.

Music:

The music for DoW 1 and its expansions are all epic and may be some of the best soundtracks for a war game in the RTS genre. Relic continues this tradition with DoW 2 and they are to be commended. The music of DoW 2 gets a 9 out of 10.

You can download the entire the Dawn of War 2 OST from this link.

Graphics:

This game looks simply wonderful even in Windows XP running DirectX 9. It improves on the graphics of the first game and you will enjoy the spectacular display of combat and gore of the units. One of my favorites is seeing how effective Assault Space Marines can be on a group of unsuspecting targets/victims. ;-] The graphics get an 8 out of 10. They are pretty enough for an RTS but they’re no Assassin’s Creed.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall the game runs pretty well although the netcode can sometimes be laggy. Some people will experience port/NAT errors because of the Games for Windows Live and I researched this and Relic is yet to provide a real fix for it. One might be able to fix this by finding all ports used by Games for Windows Live and forcing them open but I have yet to test this. I found this problem when trying to invite players to co-op campaign and The Last Stand and the game will give a generic NAT routing error message. The game itself is stable as a rock and I haven’t seen the game itself crash to desktop on my hardware. Because of how annoying the NAT error is, and the lag in the netcode, although the game itself is stable, I give this game a 4 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are pretty standard for RTS games with abilities hotkeyed and CTRL + number to group/remap unit groupings. The camera control, panning, zooming is standard. Since Supreme Commander has much better zooming capabilities and Battle Forge has better, faster scrolling I give the controls a 6 out of 10. No real innovation there but no annoying attempts to try new control methods that are a failure.

Performance:

On a modern machine the game runs decently. My brother bought the game but he was not able to get it running on his old machine which uses an ATI X800 video card so make sure you have a video card that supports enough technology in shader models to even run the game. They recommend having at least an ATI X1600 or nVidia GeForce 6600 GT to just be able to run it. I’ve seen the game run kind of laggy on the machine of a friend of mine that had the latest video drivers, a faster CPU than mine and this was at 1600×1200. Even when I scaled it down to 1024×768 it still ran slower than my older machine so I guess the game is kind of a fickle beast. I give the performance of the game a 7 out of 10 for its lack of support of older machines and unpredictable performance (a faster machine should run the game better but in reality didn’t).

My history with this game:

My friends used to have LAN parties every weekend for 2 years nonstop playing mainly DoW 1 as out favorite RTS game and all its incarnations of expansion packs and patch updates. I bought this game when it first came out for 50 bucks hoping that we could continue playing and since the game had a better online client (Games for Windows Live vs GameSpy which was a pain in part 1 to play online because of port issues) but pretty much I was the only one of my friends that bought this game when it first came out since the game got mixed reviews when it came out and fanboys crying like bitches in forums about how they “ruined” the DoW legacy since they went away from the Starcraft roots. About 5-6 months later a few of my friends finally got the game and it’s been a lot of fun to finally be able to play with them again. 😀