Dungeons

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Dungeons was a game I was really looking forward to, only to be very disappointed by the end product. ~Nick Herber

Dungeons

Sadly, Dungeons is in fact the exact opposite of one of those stories.  The premise is one that caught my attention from the very beginning.  You are the evil overlord who creates, adds to and manages dungeons that foolish, intrepid explorers will visit in hopes of satisfying some deep need or quest.
Dungeons - PC

Your job is three-fold.  Lure them in, sate their interest by giving them what they want, and then finish them off when they try to escape your dungeon.  I have long heard that Dungeon Keeper was a classic PC title (I never did play it) that Dungeons tries very hard to emulate.  I get the feeling though, that Dungeons missed the mark on several points.  Dungeons was a game I was really looking forward to, only to be very disappointed by the end product.

Graphics – 6:

The details and animation are all pretty average.  This is not a game that will tax your video card by any means.  That said, I actually liked the color schemes and ambient lighting used throughout.

Dungeons - PC

The lack of detail and often minimal animations do little to help matters, but at least the visuals do not seem to cause slowdown and do not tear through environments.

Sound & Music – 7:

I really would have liked more music.  What they have here is actually pretty good, but there is not a ton of variety to be had.

Dungeons - PC
The voice acting is pretty decent as well, which is a big perk since the dialog is pretty well-written for the most part.  The sound effects are nothing special though.
Gameplay – 5:

Where to begin… overall the game’s core mechanics are adequate if shallow.  The idea of luring people in to more or less ‘fatten them up for the kill’ is okay on paper, but quite often I found it frustrating how you had to pander to a hero’s needs.  The lack of direct command over minions only made the missions that much more repetitive as well.

Dungeons - PC
The commands are a bit clunky to access and use as well, though the tutorial does a good enough job of at least getting you pointed in the right direction.

Intangibles – 5:

So, generally I want a long game, but in this case Dungeons just plods on for a bit too long.  The missions really are so similar to one another that I was ready for the game to end well before the last level.  I also had some stability issues with the game.  It would freeze or crash on occasion, but for reasons I could never properly identify.

Dungeons - PC
It was not using a ton of memory and my computer is well above the specs for this title, but somehow I kept getting it into bad states.  That problem did seem to diminish once I got a few levels in, but it got me off on the wrong foot initially.
Overall – 5.75:

What happens when you make a game with a great idea but poor execution?  You wind up with something like Dungeons.  I went into the game with an open mind, despite some negative reviews about it early on.  Usually I can find a couple of high-points for a game to discuss – even if I do not particularly like it.

Dungeons - PC
While there was some witty dialog that was reasonably well-executed, I could not help but feel disappointed in how average the rest of the title was.

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

Carmageddon II

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

I am ashamed to admit it but the truth is that I have never played the original Carmageddon, what I do remember however is the hours I spent murdering people with my red shiny car listening to Iron Maiden’s Aces High and the Trooper.
Carmageddon II
What is Carmadeddon II
Carmageddon  II is a racing game (kind-of), a racing game that you get points from running over people and destroying your competitors with the most violent and creative ways. In this spirit, there where three win conditions for any level in the game, win the race, destroy all opponents or kill all pedestrians.
Carmageddon II
Why it’s Great
It is great because this game was criticised like few when it first came out for the violence it contained that according to parents at the time would turn us all into killing machines by the age of 18… I haven’t still killed a person and I had a blast with the game. although from what I know in some countries the changed the pedestrians to animals or aliens for that same reason.
Carmageddon II
Where you Can Get It

Good question, I know Amazon has some but if you know more places that sell it please let me know.

 

Star Wars Battlefront II

Star Wars Battlefront II - PC Box
The pc gaming genre I appreciate the most has always been the Adventure Game. I simply can’t stress enough, how much I enjoyed the vintage classics of Lucasarts and Sierra. How carelessly I danced around them wearing only a green wig and chanting ecstatically ‘Oi, oi, that’s life. Ei, ei, I love adventures’ etc. How I gloriously spent my money on them. How I desperately searched for walkthroughs. How many of them I actually missed. Pah. Those were the days.

On the other hand, I can neither stress how disappointed in Lucasarts I currently am. Not only have they dumped adventures, but also rejected any kind of creativity and/or originality by producing a torrent of mediocre and/or lackluster Star Wars action and(/or) ‘strategy’ games. Star Wars Battlefront was a prime example of this trend. A desperate clone of Battlefield 1942 with Star Wars models and textures, featuring awful gameplay.

Enter Star Wars Battlefront II.

Star Wars Battlefront II - Gameplay Screenshot

It is not an original concept. It is a Lucasarts product. It is a Star Wars game. It’s not an adventure. It is a First Person Shooter with a strong multiplayer aspect. I honestly enjoyed it.

SWBFII is such an improvement over its predecessor it totally surprised me and reminded me how fond of Star Wars games (TIE Fighter is what I am actually referring to) I once used to be. There are lots of excellent maps, vastly improved game mechanics, four different factions, many weapons and classes to choose from, playable characters (Darth Vader and co.) that can be used in multiplayer battles, a decent single player campaign, driveable vehicles and even a small but interesting strategic mode called Galactic Conquest (unfortunately only for the single player mode). By far though, the most interesting new feature is the inclusion of space battles. X-Wings, B-Wings, Y-Wings, TIE Fighters and the rest are all there in a highly enjoyable space flight sim in the style of X-Wing versus TIE Fighter. You can even land inside enemy motherships and fight for tyranny or freedom on foot. You can even play capture the flag in space! Joy. Lots and lots of hours of joy actually, since this is a game that really has dozens of hours worth of gameplay to offer.
Star Wars Battlefront II - Gameplay Screenshot 1

 

Obviously and unfortunately all is not perfect. The 3d engine seems a bit dated, a lack of overall polish is evident, there are some minor bot A.I. problems, no in-mission save points in the campaign and you get to play Princess Leia. On the multiplayer front you wont have any trouble finding people to play against, but you will have lag trouble in some of the larger maps.
And it definitely isn’t the most original or artistic game I have ever seen…

That’s a (seven) out of (ten).

Split Second

Split Second cover
Split Second cover

Split Second review & strategy guide by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Non-stop action makes for an exciting racing game!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview & Gameplay:

Throw your brain out the window and enjoy the pure fun and adrenaline that Split Second will throw at you in the form of a pure arcade racer. The game gets repetitive after a while but by the time you notice, the game will be over.

The game is about a reality TV show (very similar to the remake of the movie Death Race) that consists of immortal people (or I guess people remote controlling their vehicles) racing their cars and pickups around unlikely tracks that take place in airports, junkyards, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, foundries, mines, and so on, which have all been rigged with explosives so that as you race and pull off cool moves (drafting, jumping, and drifting mainly), you build up enough energy to trigger parts of the track blowing up and taking out your rivals, in events called Powerplays.

You basically participate in races, whether traditional who gets the first place, set amount of lap races, or elimination which is like last man standing, in which every set amount of time, the last car drops from the race. There is also a race mode in which you race against the clock with no opponents and the entire track will just trigger its bombs and have the terrain collapse on you, as you basically try to race a perfect lap (without getting killed). Each time you get killed, you basically lose a position.

The other game modes consist of you passing semi-trucks which drop barrels on you to try to blow you up as much as often, with that game mode ending in a sudden death mode which happens after a certain time or when you take the 1st place position. The final different kind of game mode consists of you trying to evade a combat helicopter which randomly fires rockets at shown areas of the track ahead of you. There’s a mode where you just see how far you can survive and another mode where the more you evade it and drift, the more energy you build up and counter attack the helicopter to try to shoot it down.

The final game mode for each “episode”, for which there are 12 which complete the season (single player storyline mode), is the elite race in which you race against the best AI racers the computer has to offer and requiring you to place usually 3rd place or higher to keep moving to the next episode (set of races) available in Split Second.

Overall, there are 12 episodes in Split Second, with 6 races offered in each, 4 that are always available, one bonus race (which unlocks if you meet its requirements; usually killing a certain amount of rivals), and the elite race which unlocks after you have enough credits (money) from placing good enough in previous races (it’s a total number, so you can go back and replay previous episode races if you’re lacking in performance).

There are no upgrades for vehicles and the game is rather short. After races, you get a certain amount of credits which the game automatically counts towards unlocking the next vehicle. You don’t get to pick. The only thing you get to pick is what episode you want to complete in next after the current episode is over.

The game offers the single player campaign (season play), quick play (which you get by unlocking tracks and game modes in season play), online multiplayer play, LAN play, and split screen hotseat play.

Split Second is available on PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iPhone OS, and on Java ME platforms.

Fun Factor & Replayability:

The game is pure FUN. This game goes to the core of classic video games where the storyline might not be the greatest but you can pick up and put the game down very quickly and the game is FUN enough that you will want to keep playing, even though the races are short enough that you can literally play the game for 3 minutes at a time and go do something else if you need to. In my busy life, this appeals to me.

The fact that the speed scaling of the game is realistically done, although the game itself is not realistic reminds me of really going dangerously fast in a real car. Let’s see… pure speed and big explosions mixed together? That’s a winning combination!

I just beat the game but I am going to play it all over again right now and I’m certain that it will be fun yet again.

Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10 and Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10 from me.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Unfortunately, I found the game rather short and easy, which I guess is one of the only real long term downsides of this game. I think they will probably update the game with DLC, which might add more life to it but other than that, as far as difficulty, I never got frustrated even once in the game as the death penalty is not really severe. Even if I failed a race, I didn’t find it annoying to redo it as the game was too fun.

Difficulty gets a score of 3 out of 10 and since I didn’t see a way to alter the difficulty, the Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 3 out of 10 as every level other is equally easy than the elite races.

Value:

You can pick up Split Second, every version here in gogamer. At this time the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are $49.90, which are too high for me, but the PC version is $38.90, which is still too high for me.

Console pricing I give a score of 3 out of 10 because console games unless old games are ALWAYS too expensive, and the PC version I give a 4 out of 10 because the game is too short for that price tag.

Sound:

Sounds for the explosions are really well done, as well as the wind of flying through different kinds of buildings and their environments. Some of the engine sounds didn’t sound realistic for some of the vehicles. Sometimes a vehicle like a pickup truck that would have had something like a V8-V12 gas or diesel engine in real life sounded more like an inline 4 engine with a fart-can muffler. One of the cars (the one that looks like a Lamborghini Murcielago) sounded more like a car with a turbocharged inline 6 engine rather than a naturally aspired V12.

The Sounds get a score of 8 out of 10.

Music:

The music is all tense energetic music which keeps you focused on the action and the style of the game.

It goes along really great with the speed, action, and explosions Split Second gives us. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game crashed for me only when I decided to ALT-TAB it. It let me do whatever I wanted in the desktop and once I ALT-TABbed back to the game my computer rebooted itself instantly. Since that’s the only situation in which that happens, I give Stability/Reliability a score of 8 out of 10. Just don’t multitask and you’ll be fine.

Controls:

The controls are very simple and since the game is an arcade racer, the game doesn’t need anything else. For the PC version, the arrow keys control your car. Forward/up make you accelerate, left/right are obvious, back/down makes you brake and can trigger drifts. Right-CTRL triggers your typical level 1 attacks (Powerplays). Right shift triggers your level 2 super-attacks (the ones that change the route of the race).

Since the Controls are so simple yet effective I give controls a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

Even in DirectX 9, the game looks completely amazing. The game makes the best use I’ve seen of the Havoc engine. Even on my 3 year old gaming PC the game ran completely flawless, not even slowing down when somebody was copying data from my hard drive at the same time. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10 and Performance also gets a score of 10 out of 10. Really, really good job Black Rock Studio! Kudos!

Strategy Guide:

I usually go for cars that have everything into acceleration or into top speed. Don’t worry too much about strength (hit points) as that will usually indicate a heavy vehicle (with terrible acceleration).

Pickup trucks are surprisingly powerful in the game not only because they take a ridiculous amount of damage but because for some reason (which is unrealistic) they have a super-high top speed. They have terrible acceleration so try not to slow down as much as possible. Simply taking advantage of that and not slowing down along with their stable 4 wheel drive will make you have an average top speed than your rivals, often letting you win most races.

Like in all racing games, memorize the tracks. Know where the booby trap areas are and avoid them if you want to be on the safe side. Blowing up and losing 1-2 seconds will cost you a couple of positions usually. Stay as close to ahead of the pack and don’t blow all your Powerplay energy necessarily because you have it. Time it so that you can use it to secure your 1st place position near the end of the race.

For the helicopter missions pick always the cars that have the most control for your playstyle and you can just ignore the missiles easily. For the truck barrel missions simply pick any car that his insane acceleration and even more so super-high top speed.

Conclusion & My History With This Game:

At times, the game reminded me of Speed Busters: American Highways from 1998, in the sense that you can sometimes in that game use the track to take out your opponents. Other times, considering how quickly the computer cars caught up to me, it made me think they were just simply teleporting behind me sort of like the AI cars did in Megarace 1 and 2.

As far as I go since this game game out at nearly the same time as Blur, I’m going to be checking that game out soon to see which one is the superior game. So far this is keeping me entertained.

The Saboteur

The Saboteur cover art
The Saboteur cover art

The Saboteur review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Grand Theft Auto + Assassin’s Creed + Mafia + Inglourious Basterds + The Train”

Overall Score:
7 out of 10

Overview & Gameplay:

The Saboteur is about an Irish mechanic and race car driver, Sean Devlin, that gets caught in a tale of revenge on the eve of World War II. Shortly after the game starts, you see the events leading to his blood-lusted revenge. Sean Devlin competes in the German Grand Prix but his German rival, Kurt Dierker, shoots out the rear tire of his race car, making him lose the race. As a result of that, Sean steals Dierker’s car and drives it off a cliff but then he and his best friend Jules get caught and tortured by the Germans, thinking that they were British spies. When the torture fails, Dierker empties out a Luger pistol into Jules and Sean then escapes vowing revenge on Dierker.

The game consists of Sean joining and helping the French Resistance in now occupied Paris. The game plays out a lot like Grand Theft Auto and Mafia with stealth and assassination aspects borrowed heavily from Assassin’s Creed. The atmosphere of the game is a lot like Quentin Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds. Basically, you steal a ton of cars, run away from the Nazis, blow a lot of shit up, shoot a lot of people, hide, and do it again and again. The game also borrows even more from Frankenheimer’s classic movie The Train.

There are main story missions and side-missions. When you complete a key objective, such as blowing up a special Nazi weapon or killing a key Nazi, that specific section of the city gets liberated from the Nazi oppression. The advantage of doing that is that it makes it easier for you to escape the Nazis when they are after you. Without spoiling the storyline, unless the game is too hard for you, you can just ignore those side-missions but completing them can sometimes liberate a part of the city, making it easier to escape the Nazis.

A really interesting way in which they made this game is that what you see will be either in black and white or in color based on whether the Nazis control that area of the city or not. The more you liberate an area, the more color it gets back. The more color it has, the more the Parisians support The Cause and the more they will help you escape the Nazis. The black and white style with a few colors is reminiscent of Schindler’s List and Sin City.

The game has nice adult humor. Nudity is optional (I always turn it on… wait, that’s a pun). The game does possess a certain kind of realism in the sense that Sean can only carry 2 guns, along with a reasonable amount of explosives. How he hides them, I don’t know or can explain though!

There are hidden mini-games but they are completely pointless.

The money in the game takes form of “contraband” which you get by either finding supply crates and kicking them or simply from the salvage the underground weapons dealers get from your sabotage operations.

The Saboteur is available for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.

Fun Factor & Replayability:

It’s always great fun to drive fast and to blow stuff up. This game has both those things, which I find appealing in an action video game. Although I just beat it, I feel like playing it again in the max difficulty immediately. I’ll give Fun Factor a score of 8 out of 10. Check back on this article in a few days for how replayable it was after I beat it again on the max difficulty.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

On the Standard difficulty, I found the game easy. The main character regenerates damage quickly after getting injured, making the game a cakewalk in that setting. The cars all drive pretty realistically (shitty brakes) but they have a million hitpoints, taking enough hits like a tank again. I will update this part of the article after I destroy the game on the max difficulty setting.

Value:

This game is not that new anymore and it’s hard to get. However, my friends at Stardock/Impulse have it for $29.99 at this link. At that price I give it a Value score of 7 out of 10, simply because I found this game enjoyable and it’s not that bad of a price.

For consoles though, the game is much more expensive. At gogamer they sell the PS3 and XBox 360 versions for about $52.90 which is way too steep for me for a game one can beat in a day or two of hardcore playing.

Sound:

The voice actors are well chosen, especially the ones for the sexy girls and for Sean Devlin as well as his allies. The voices however sometimes talk too fast, in the sense that people react like reading a script much too quickly unlike a real world conversation. Sometimes the sound for a car’s engine is missing if you get in it too fast or you accelerate too fast and it doesn’t yet buffer the other sound file. Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10 for that.

Music:

The music of this game goes along great along with the style of the game.

Enjoy my favorite track from the game, Nina Simone – Feeling Good:

The music gets a score of 10 out of 10. It just blends perfectly with the year the game takes place in. Instead of picking boring music from that time, each track is passionate and moving and it goes along great with the intense action of the game. Sometimes it makes me feel as though it’s the soundtrack to a James Bond movie, and that’s a good thing! It’s such a nice soundtrack that I got the soundtrack for this great game. 😀

Stability/Reliability:

The game never crashed for me. The game is ALT-TABbable but… make sure you have at least one other program running BEFORE launching the game or it won’t simply let you ALT-TAB to the desktop. It won’t respond to CTRL-SHIFT-ESC either, so make sure you run another program if you need to multitask while playing. Other than that tiny bug, game runs like a champ. Stability/Reliability get a score of 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are rather straightforward, much like the GTA games and they are quick to pick up. You climb and descend easily, with the character auto-orienting himself towards a hand-hold. You have to tell him to let go in order to descend. Climbable surfaces will have a white color overlay showing you where you can go to next. Overall, I had no problem with the controls except when sometimes Sean would put a bomb down on the floor for no reason because he was a pixel off from the perfect bomb placement. Controls get a score of 9 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

There were very few parts of the game where the game slowed down even on my 3 year old gaming PC. The game looks beautiful and considering the color schemes, I will remember the beautiful renderings of Paris. Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10. Graphics get a score of 9 out of 10.

My History With This Game & Conclusion:

My friend James recommended that I check this game out. We usually have similar tastes in fun games so I gave it a go. It’s my kind of action game and it’s immersive, a great combination, although it does borrow a lot from games that came before it. It doesn’t necessarily innovate but it has it’s own style, especially with the discoloration/coloration based on the Nazi control of areas. That style and atmosphere, to me, are certainly worth checking out.

If you enjoy the GTA games, as well as Mafia, Gun, the Assassin’s Creed games, as a gamer you should play this game too.

A sequel is possible for the game based on the story but… the studio that made it Pandemic Studios got axed after this game came out, so we will probably not see one in the future.

Machinarium

Machinarium screenshot
Machinarium screenshot

Machinarium review by Leandro Montesanto (english translation by Honorabili)

Developer: Amanita Design
Title: Machinarium
Release Date: October 16, 2009
Value: $20 for game + OST, physical media collector’s edition, £7
Overall Score: 10 out of 10
Free demo: http://machinarium.net/demo/
One Sentence Review: The new school of games gets its artistic avatar.

Prologue:

The game was created by the small Czech video game company Amanita Design in 2009. We play the role of the nameless robot who we’ll call “Machi” for simplicity’s sake. He is thrown out as junk into a junkyard and his mission is to rescue his girlfriend from the Black Cape brotherhood. The game is a refreshing point-and-click graphic adventure game with a unique cyberpunk setting, soundtrack, gameplay, storytelling, colorful scenery, and intricate puzzles are fresher than more contemporary games.

Gameplay, setting, & my history with this game:

Like I mentioned before, the game takes place in a cyberpunk setting although it’s extremely “cute”, which might seem strange to some. Although it is cute, the setting does remind you well of the urban sprawl, especially since every kind of robot in this society fulfills a specific kind of role. There’s poor neighborhoods filled with artists. A special detail is a church with schedules for specific robots to go pray and complete specific functions until the end of time. With it being a clever graphic adventure game, it tells the story through a comic like style of having characters talk in comic balloon dialogue popups drawn in a style that look as if a kid had drawn them but using symbols so that anybody in any country can understand what’s being said.

The gameplay takes into account distance between your character and the environment and Machi can expand and contract (stretch) his body to modify specific parts of the scenery should you need to manipulate it to complete that specific puzzle.

If we get stuck with a specific puzzle we can click the icon on the top right part of the screen which can give us a tip to try to help us solve that specific puzzle. If we really get stuck we can also refer to a guide that has a more comprehensive solve (and looks like a shoot-em-up side scrolling game in navigation).

The puzzles were hard for me but I’m not a hardcore graphic adventure game player. We see also in the game a cameo appearance of the side of the arcade machine for Space Invaders.

Music & Sounds:

The music is of great quality and at times sounds like jazz, calm then melancholic, submerging you in this bohemian world, and it seems to soothe you as you wreck your brains trying to solve the game’s many, many puzzles. It’s important to note that the music was created by Tomas Dvorak, the Czech contemporary artist, which I recommend. If you liked his work, his other work is usually published under the name Floex. The sounds in the game are well suited for how the game is and the setting is provides.

Controls & stability:

The controls are really simple. Like in every adventure game, we’re constantly using the mouse, although in the minigames we have the option to use the keyboard, which makes the interface much more intuitive and stimulating.

With respects to stability, I personally had no problems, but some friends had problems saving the game as the game saved the save game files as temporary files and any time they ran ccleanr the saved games were deleted. Since the game had that problem, Amarita Design released a patch quickly, which you can get from the company’s blog. The new versions of the game already come patched and no longer have this problem.

Value:

The digital download version can be downloaded for $20 from the Machinarium page, including the OST in mp3 format for Windows, Mac, or Linux. You can also get the game from Steam, Impulse (click here to get that version), Direct 2 Drive, and Gamers Gate. You can also get the physical version of the game for 7 pounds from ebay or amazon which includes the OST, a poster, as well as artwork, the Windows or Mac version.

Conclusion:

An unforgettable experience. I recommend playing the rest of the games from the company, especially Samorost 1 & 2.

Links of Interest:

Amanita design blog: http://machinarium.net/blog/ (you can download the demo here)
Amanita design website: http://www.amanitadesign.com/

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/

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move)

Bust-A-Move SNES screen
Bust-A-Move SNES screen

Puzzle Bobble review (Bust-A-Move) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“One of the CUTEST and ADDICTING puzzle games ever!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview, Gameplay, My History With This Game, Fun Factor, & Replayability:

Damn you, Taito… Puzzle Bobble is just so freaking cute and such a great time eater! I first saw this game when I would go to arcades and it would be the game that girls would hog all the time, especially asian girls.

Puzzle Bobble screenshot
Puzzle Bobble screenshot

The cute little dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, Bub and Bob, are back in their own little puzzle game. The game consists of the dinos manning a cannon that shoots different bubbles filled with specific enemies, basically colors, from Bubble Bobble. When you make 3 bubbles of one kind of color they pop. If there are any bubbles connected to them that were only being held there by that string then they pop too.

The game not only requires foresight as to what bubbles to blow up on time but skill as well. Only when you die do you get targeting bubbles that help you guide where the shot will land. The rest of the time you have to learn how to accurately fire bubbles and have them be effective. If you screw up by being slightly off you could have potentially ruined the easy way to pop bubbles quickly which is a problem considering every X number of seconds the stage moves down one bubble in length. If the stage reaches the bottom of the stage, you are so very, very dead.

This game not only makes you think quickly but requires you to react quickly as well, especially the further up the levels you get. I think that’s a good blend for some serious fun! This game is sometimes peaceful enough that it can be relaxing but once you get to the later stages it will make you cry as it owns you.

I’ve been playing this game since the mid 90s and I pick it up and put it down at least once a year. I give it a Fun Factor of 8 out of 10 and Replayability a score of 8 out of 10, considering almost 15 years worth of playing it!

I’ve played it a lot on the arcade, DOS, and the SNES version as well. Look below for a full list of all versions.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

The game starts out rather simple but it gets difficult on some stages quickly. There is no way to alter the difficulty but the game is challenging as it is. If you find it easy just fly through the levels and eventually you will get to a point where your skill is maxed out and then it will get really tested.

Difficulty gets a score of 8 out of 10 since it starts out a bit slow for me but later gets heavy, giving Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move) was released on the 3DO, arcade, Game Boy & Game Boy Advanced & Color, Game Gear, iPhone, mobile phones, N-Gage, Neo Geo & Neo Geo CD & Pocket, Nintendo DS & Gamecube & Wii, PC, Playstation 1 & 2 & PSP, Sega DreamCast, SNES, VG Pocket Caplet, WonderSwan, Xbox & Xbox 360 (XBLA).

Depending on what version you get will determine how much you’ll pay. I’d say this game would easily be worth $20 tops considering it’s age and considering how available it is for emulation on just about everything. Even at $20, it’s totally worth having in your game library. At that price I’d say Value gets a score of 8 out of 10. Anything less or free is worth a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

Just like everything, even the sound is cute in this game. When the level is about to start hearing them say “Ready……. Go!” or the popping sound goes really well with the theme of the game. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music sounds a lot like bubblegum, like j-pop but with a special arcady feel to it. It blends really well with the feel of the game and its repetitiveness makes you keep playing, at times. Even the little jingles when you beat levels are very uplifting happy songs. The music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

No version I’ve ever seen of this game on any platform has ever crashed, not even the DOS version I used to play. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

You don’t need many controls to play this game. Mastering the controls is another different matter though. Left moves left, right moves right, and the fire button simply launches the bubble. Again, mastering the exact spot where it will land takes skill, especially in the later stages and that aspect of the game requires aiming like a game of pool would. Controls get a score of 9 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

They made Bub and Bob even cuter than they were in Bubble Bobble and they have very much a very big Kawaii factor. The game is so cute it might make you ill. Graphics are really well drawn and they deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

The game never lags, no matter what version. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you love puzzle games and you’ve never played this, you must check it out. If you like Bubble Bobble and want to see the dinos killing stuff with their bubble cannon, you need this. If you like Kawaii stuff and cute games, you need this game badly.

***

You can play this game in the Obsolete Gamer arcade area.

Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3 Box Cover
Unreal Tournament 3 Box Cover

Unreal Tournament 3 review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“One of the greatest, fastest FPS games out there”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview & my history with this game:

Unreal Tournament 3 (UT3) is based on the 3rd generation Unreal engine, hence the title. The gameplay of all the Unreal Tournament games are based upon speed, skill, and pure reaction. I could see people getting fatigued from playing this game, maybe explaining why it’s not as popular as some current first person shooter games.

There are many different game modes, which keep the game fun and entertaining. The game modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag (CTF), Vehicle Capture The Flag, Warfare, Greed, and Betrayal. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are all about killing enemies, whether as a free-for-all or as a cohesive team. The Capture The Flag modes are about doing whatever you can to enter the enemy base, steal their flag, while making sure they don’t take your flag. You can only score if your flag is planted in your base. Warfare is about assaulting the enemy base and trying to destroy their generator/strategic objective. Greed is about collecting enemy’s skulls for points. Betrayal is a mix of Team Deathmatch and screwing your team mates over (and THEN trying to survive).

The story of the game is pretty generic and what does it really matter since this is designed to be a carnage-fest anyways. Story goes something along the lines that these megacorps that run everything decided to hold contests to determine disputes (like the original Rollerball movie) and also to have it as a show (generate revenue from the show, advertising, bets, whatever). The single player has its own story where your group of mercenaries get hired/screwed by the corps/military to deal with some alien problems. Anyways, let’s get back to the meat of the game, not the b-movie storyline. 😀

You can play the single player campaign, which is like the training tutorial for the real game: competing online against other players. The game uses Gamespy to connect with other players, which to me is not the best system for connectivity, but one has to live with it. A really annoying thing I found with the UT3 Gamespy component is that if you forget your password, you’re pretty much screwed. When you reset your password at the Gamespy website, it only resets your password for entering that website, which has nothing to do with the password you setup for your UT3 account. So my warning is that you write that password down somewhere and never ever lose it, or you will have to buy another copy of the game, like I did.

Continued from Unreal Tournament 2004, UT3 has vehicles, except the ones in UT3 are much sicker than the ones in UT2004. There are some alien vehicles that are a lot like vehicles and robots from movies like War of the Worlds but with much deadlier death rays.

What’s different in UT3 from the previous games is that the speed has gone up and they added a hover board like the ones in Back to the Future 2. You use the hover boards to move faster while you are trying to get to a combat zone but they do make you much more vulnerable to damage.

UT3 is available on PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. The PC version is by far the fastest and you can’t play cross-platform against each other. They are allegedly releasing UT3 also on Mac OS X and Linux but that has yet to happen.

As far as I go, UT3 is one of a handful of FPS games that I regularly play. The Unreal Tournament games since UT99 have always helped me sell a lot of computers. For many years I used them to showcase the systems I built especially since they are designed to run on most gaming hardware and they scale insanely well along with superior components.

Check out this video so you see how hectic the action in this game is:

Fun Factor & Replayability:

Games that inspire and cause epilepsy are a lot of fun to me. So are games that will make you think that you will die at any second but give you enough of a time window to react and counter an enemy if you’re good enough.

I’ve been playing UT since 1999 and I still fire it up often when I need my speed FPS fix. I can’t say that about every FPS game and overall UT is my favorite as far as replayability goes.

Ever since the first game people have been modding the living hell out of these games and creating their own maps. Having a lot of maps is important for an FPS game. They keep the game fresh. It’s almost as important as having new tracks made for a racing game (one of the things that makes a game like Trackmania a classic).

I just have played so much of this game that I give Fun Factor and Replayability both a score of 8 out of 10.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

UT3 is one of the hardest games out there. It is probably too hard for most players, even for FPS junkies. Most gamers these days are used to easy games so they will probably play this game a little bit and then claim “Oh it sucks” when it’s their lack of skill that sucks.

The game offers a wide variety of difficulties for the bots and single player mode but the real challenge comes in trying to dominate human opponents. It takes a lot of training and losses to become good enough these days to rank high against a group of players.

Because of the variety of difficulties, I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 10 out of 10 because you can customize it really accurately. Difficulty itself is challenging as all hell and that’s a great thing, in the settings I play it at. The A.I. for the bots if tuned correctly will play like a really good player. That’s impressive. Difficulty I also give a score of 10 out of 10. If playing online is too hard, I would say keep it up as much as you can, if not train in single player until you gain enough skill.

Value:

The best price at the time of this writing I found is on Impulse which sells the game for $11.99.

To me that’s a really good price for an FPS game that’s a classic that will give you at least 100-1000 hours of gameplay. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are a very important part of this game. The weapons all have their own unique sound and they are important because they can help you identify what the enemy around the corner might be carrying so you can switch to a weapon (if you’re quick enough) to counter their attack.

The characters in the game have a lot of taunts and insults which help add to the aggressive nature of this game. “Die bitch!” is a very common thing to hear.

I also love the announcer shouting stuff based on how often you kill things: “multi-kill!”, “monster-kill!”, “dominating!”, “head-shot!” It reminds me always of the announcer from Mortal Kombat.

Let’s just say that this is a game which is very loud and is meant to be played at very high volumes. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The Unreal Tournament games have some of the unique music in FPS games I’ve heard. They remind me a lot of the music from amiga games, especially UT99 that had music by Skaven. The music in UT3 was composed by Rom Di Prisco & Jesper Kyd Skylab. Some of the songs are remixes of the music from the previous games, which is all great. Some songs will get your adrenaline pumping right away, and others will be more chilled but can still create enough beats to make you want to keep running and shooting.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

The music for all the UT games are among some of my favorite songs for video games in general. I listen to them often, even while working. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

UT3 is extremely stable. I have yet to have this game crash on me since I bought it the first day it came out. You can alt-tab to your heart’s content as much as you want and the game will respond well to it. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are pretty much the same as all the previous versions except that they added the key for you to pop out your hover board. To me, these controls are standard and not complicated at all. You can customize the reaction of doing double-taps, mouse sensitivity, etc. which is vital. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Unreal Tournament 3 Eye Candy
Unreal Tournament 3 Eye Candy

Graphics & Performance:

Like all Unreal games, the game engine is simply amazing offering both jaw-dropping graphics and flawless performance. UT3 continues with the reputation and legacy of the previous games in that when it comes out it becomes the standard for graphics in gaming. Since the game engine is fast as hell, as well as beautiful, it sets the new standard for what we expect games to look like.

Although I heard that the UT engines are getting more expensive over time, a lot of game developers buy the rights to use the engine for their latest game. I wish Epic Games would still let people use their earlier engines, especially UT99 for a lower cost as this would allow much smaller game studios to still put out great games that might not be able to because of licensing costs.

I vow down to all Unreal Tournament games in terms of graphics and performance, especially. Graphics and Performance get a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you like the speed of the previous Unreal games but want something faster, along the lines of the Descent games and the original Aliens vs Predator, UT3 is for you.

Another World

Another World (Out of this World)
Another World (Out of this World)

Another World review (Out of This World) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Masterful action-adventure storytelling that set the way for games like Abe’s Odyssey and others.”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview:

Another World (Out of This World in the US) is a CLASSIC video game that is a perfect blend of adventure and action. The game is a platformer and plays similar to the original Prince of Persia, except with guns and the later Abe’s Oddysee.

The story goes something along the lines that you were working at a science lab with a particle accelerator during a really bad thunderstorm and lightning hit when you were conducting an experiment and that made a dimensional shift happen that took you into… Another World! As soon as you get there, you are being surrounded by these crawling little creatures that if you allow them to get near you will paw at you with a little venom tooth and it’s pretty much game over. I won’t ruin any more little surprises. This game simply has to be played.

The game needs no dialogue as the ways the characters react was simply amazingly done. The gameplay is fast and fluid. The game has cut-scenes that are really quick and whose animations are really well done for 1991. They’re not like cut-scenes in today’s games for which you might as well just eat popcorn or something else while watching. Another World plays very fast.

The game is available on 3DO, Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, DOS, GBA, Mac OS, Mega-CD, Mega Drive, Mobile phone (Symbian OS), SNES, Windows, Windows Mobile.

The game is from 1991, made by Eric Chahi, with music by Jean-François Freitas.

Here is the intro to the game:

Fun Factor:

Games where everything kills you are a lot of fun for me. There’s parts in this game where you are running for your life and shooting like a real gun fight. It feels more like combat from a movie like Ronin rather than something like Rambo.

The first time one plays this game, the game will most likely blow you away. The fun of exploring a hostile environment plus being a fugitive makes for a great adrenaline rush, as well as having to THINK. Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Although I’ve played this game many, many times, it’s relatively easy to die. Pretty much everything will kill you in one attack, so you need to be careful at all times. Since the death system is realistic and it will depend on your knowledge of knowing how to react as well as your reflexes, the difficulty is perfect and real. Difficulty gets a score of 10 out of 10, since it’s realistic. I’d say this game is “NES hard”.

Since you can’t change the difficulty, Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 7 out of 10. To make the game easier would take away some of the excitement one gets playing the game. (This isn’t a modern noob-friendly game, so deal with it!)

Value:

You can pick up Another World at gog.com for $9.99. Their version gives you the game DRM-free, its manual, a bunch of hi-res wallpapers from it, its development diary, a technical handbook, as well as the soundtrack for the game. Considering how much of a classic this game is to me, $10 is a good value (the cost of going out to dinner) for a classic game that one will never forget. Value gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve replayed this game about 30 times so far, although I know exactly what’s going to happen in every scene. I enjoy having the factor that I might not respond fast enough and still die. That makes the action more realistic offering a challenge not found in most of today’s games. Replayability gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound is particularly important for this game. It makes up a lot of what make it great and what keep you feeling inmersed in the atmosphere of this game. My favorite sounds are the blasts from the energy gun and the cackle of the lightning and particle accelerator in the intro, as well as hearing enemies die. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Music is absent from most of the game except during the intro and ending. Although we are used to having most games playing music most of the time, in real life we don’t go around hearing a theme song in the background all the time, which makes the game have a suspenseful atmosphere. The intro music is tenseful. The ending theme nice and very soothing. Overall the music in this game gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Graphics:

For its time, the graphics and animations of Another World were simply amazing. I remember when I first played this game it had made me justify having upgraded to the Amiga for my gaming platform from my c64. Considering how well this game has always ran, how fluid everything looks, and how real the characters act, Graphics get and deserve a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game almost never crashes, except maybe my Amiga version (mainly because my machine had overheating problems, my old Amiga 600). I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10 for the gog.com version. I give the Amiga version a score of 8 out of 10 because of the rare crashes.

Controls:

The controls for this game are self-explanatory. The only thing that might get some getting used to, the first time you play, is how responsive the character is to running and shooting. One quickly learns to control the character perfectly. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game has always run flawlessly and fast on all platforms. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the games I’m most fond of from my Amiga gaming days. The story, atmosphere, and cinematics are unforgettable.

Longplay of the game:

The following video shows you somebody playing the game all the way through. It’s not a super long game but it’s still a classic game that holds a special place in my heart. This is the Amiga Longplay playthrough by cubex55 for Another World.

Leave your comments and feedback below, on our forums, or our social networking websites!

Rise of the Triad

Rise of the Triad box
Rise of the Triad box

Rise of the Triad

When I built my 486 with the help of my cousin (he did 99% of it) there were three games he told me to install right away one of them was Rise of the Triad. I had already played Doom and Wolfenstein so when I got my hands on ROTT I was hooked.

ROTT came out in 1995 and was developed by 3D Realms, the story initially was going to be a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, you can pretty much tell this by the way the game plays and looks. It does have a Wolfenstein feel to be sure which is why so many people liked it.

Like Wolfenstein, ROTT was pretty much killing hordes of enemies and collecting keys to advance, but it was the little things that made the game fun for me. Some of the cools things about ROTT were the fact that you could pick a specific character from the start which had little differences like one would move slowly, but have a lot of health and another would be quick, but squishy.

ROTT had various weapons as well including pistols, machine guns, missile launchers and magic weapons. Of course one of the coolest things was blasting an enemy into chunks and watching eyeballs fly everywhere, now that’s gaming!

Rise of the Triad screenshot
Rise of the Triad screenshot

Another cool addition was the several power-ups in the game such as God Mode, which would make you invincible and Mercury Mode that allowed you to fly. There was also the Dog Mode  that yes, turned you into a dog and my favorite, Shrooms Mode which involved flashing lights and a spinning screen.

The environment was also different than games before it. You had push-able walls and a ton of stuff could be destroyed like plants and sometimes destroying them opened a secret passage and sometimes it was just for relieving stress.

Rise of the Triad screenshot
Rise of the Triad screenshot

There were also a ton of traps all over the place like spin-blades which would quickly lower your health and flame-jets to set your night on fire. What was cool was the enemies were susceptible to the traps as well so you could lead them into them.

One of the coolest things was the use of jump pads. They were devices on the ground that would propel you into the air when you stepped on them. You could just stand on them to fly up into the air or you ran and jumped on them to catapult you diagonally. This was necessary later on to get to many places in the game.

Rise of the Triad screenshot
Rise of the Triad screenshot

In Rise of the triad you played a member of the team known as the H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force). Your mission was on the island of San Nicolas to investigate cult activity at an ancient monastery. After your boat is destroyed you have to fight your way to the monastery and stop the cults plot to destroy Los Angeles.

The game was not easy, even though you had access to guns and missiles and flamethrowers so did the enemies and they loved to use them. The bosses were no joke either; you had to learn about each ones ability and sometimes the most powerful weapon in your arsenal was not the one to use against a boss.

Finally there was multiplayer which wasn’t anything special, but it was fun using the special weapons and power-ups in multiplayer mode. It wasn’t just Deathmatch, you could also play a capture the flag mode and a tag mode.

Rise of the Traid is one of those games you had to play if you were a true FPS gamer. It had the look, the gameplay and the violence that every growing gamer needs. If you haven’t played it before or just wish to reminisce you can pick up a copy from GOG.com. *The GOG.com version comes with a 30-page manual, game soundtrack and the bonus game levels.

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising
Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising review & strategy guide by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Chaos Rising adds much needed content to revitalize DoW2 with reintroducing Chaos and supplementing all existing game modes.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

This review I will do different than my other reviews because this is an expansion pack and not an entirely new game. To check out my overall initial review of Dawn of War 2 click here.

About the Campaign mode and Chaos:

The campaign mode for Chaos Rising leaves off where the campaign for the original game left off. You take up the role of the same characters in the previous game which were space marines. You can only play as these characters and you can’t play as Chaos. You will however be facing Chaos in the coming war and also this expansion pack has rpg elements from the pen-and-paper rpg game Rogue Trader in the sense that you can do evil deeds that give you Corruption or good deeds that give you Redemption.

The more corrupt you get, the more demonic your men turn. The more Redemption you have, the more normal they remain. Corruption modifies the characterics your characters have, making some stuff barely work anymore and some stuff become really expensive to you but make you deal out more damage and other secondary effects. Of all the characters, the only one that is uncorruptible is the Dreadnought, Davian Thule.

If you’re not familiar with the main storyline for Warhammer 40K I will let you know that basically Chaos are these Warp touched kind of Satanists that worship Chaos gods (really nasty beings) and are fallen humans that have become demons. Along with most stories for the imperium of man, Chaos has traditionally come from people who have sold their souls to these demons or have been tricked by them or what’s even more disturbing are normal space marines (and imperial guard troops) which have simply become Chaos by being in contact with them and elements of the Warp. Sometimes if you fail to meet objectives your men become more influenced by Chaos. This might be as a result of shame or guilt associated with the failure. For example, failing to defend some innocents in the conflict that fell to Chaos.

Myself, I wish would have liked them to include a campaign which lets you play solely as the demonic Chaos forces, sort of like how the Dark Crusade expansion did for Dawn of War 1 (along with other races, Tau, Eldar, Imperial Guard, Necron, etc). Just like the original DoW2, you can invite one of your friends to play the campaign with you, them controlling half your forces.

What’s really different in this campaign over the original DoW2 campaign is that now the supplies you pick up are not generic supplies which supplement all your troops. Now, they are specific supplies (explosives, medical supplies, and so on) which boost only those types of items. Another thing that’s very different is that you no longer have to go around per mission conquering and defending strategic assets (the factories, shrines, and communication arrays). To get more of the items that would let you deploy more of those items such as the artillery strike, ability to deploy tarantula turrets, you specifically have to pick up the strategic supply boxes.

The level cap for Chaos Rising has been raised to level 30 versus level 20 for DoW2. This makes your characters much more powerful but it can also be a hindrance especially when you reach the last mission, which is the 15th mission. Whereas in the original DoW2 you could just keep farming randomly generated missions to keep getting better war gear, since you no longer control strategic assets and because of how they made the storyline in this campaign, you no longer have to deal with these missions, which kind of screws you over when you get to the last mission because it’s LONG and HARD and (to me) ANNOYING.

I played the campaign game once so far, taking the path of keeping my space marines pure and still worshiping the Emperor rather than those Chaos freaks, and of course, playing it at the max difficulty (Primarch). When I finally beat the last mission, it was on my 2nd retry. Some of the war gear I picked up on my first attempt helped a bunch especially since it made my scout a little bit more resilient.

Strategy Guide for last level of Chaos Rising campaign:

This mission is really annoying. This guide was written under the max difficulty setting only. Some stuff might not apply under the easier modes.

The first part of the mission consists of taking an anti-vehicle tank and an anti-infantry tank (Predator tanks) and fighting your way to one of the Chaos summoning buildings and leveling it. If you go along the left path, it will be much harder. It’s easier to just fight to the right path/building instead as it has less resistance. No matter what, as soon as you kill that building, you will have limited control of the tanks for a while, and your 4 squads will deploy along with about 25-50 other space marines and dreadnoughts.

Now you’re supposed to escort them and fight your way to the other point, except now you have all these cannon fodder, WHOOPS, I mean Brothers in Battle to help you. The game says you’re not supposed to let them die but they die every time because the morons will keep patrolling and running into ENDLESS Chaos tanks, Dreadnoughts, troops, demons, etc. Basically, ignore them as soon as you blow up the last big building to the left side and fight your way back with the cannon fodder to the middle.

Once you’re at the middle, just go towards the blue circle and fight the Chaos mini-boss. The strategy here is just keep hitting him. Kill his pet summons once they arise and blow up all buildings he summons ASAP. The later buildings fire some homing bullshit Chaos plasma things that will rape you unless you take them out ASAP. Once those buildings are taken out, the mini-boss won’t have much health left and just wipe him out.

Once that’s gone go up right and blow away all the soldiers, 1-2 tanks, 1-2 dreadnoughts, and building there and cap the point which reinforces you. This point is sort of useful but not entirely.

The fat bastard boss is now at the topmost point of the map. He will randomly summon buddies to help him, in the form of rarely a tank, sometimes dreadnoughts, and usually some heavy infantry. His attacks are doing a Mortal Kombat Scorpion (sort of like the Licter Tyrannid in DoW2) get-over-here sometimes instakill attack or smashing stuff around him like a melee-build dreadnought or thowing up in a cone attack in a specific direction. He also sometimes picks up your guys or impales them with his sword and then either throws them in the direction he’s facing or half the time in a random direction.

It took me about 2 hours to beat the last level finally. What is really important to know is that he heals back over time. Try NOT to use the resurrection point unless you’re down to one man and everybody else is down and you don’t think you can res your healer in time. Not only does the fat bastard heal over time but he will heal much more and much faster if your men die around him. You basically have to spam the living hell out of healing (use the scout and hopefully you kept him pure so using the healing uses energy only, not supplies or you’re dead). The longer you take, more the bastard will heal. The less DPS you do, the longer it will take you to beat him too.

Initially, I went for my force commander and dreadnought combo attack but since the fat bastard does so much damage around him only the force commander has the resilience (and even then spam heal) to the near the bastard. I made all my other guys ranged combat (Avitus and Tarkus). Tarkus is particularly useful because he can interrupt (sometimes) the fat bastard’s specials with one of his abilities (hopefully you build him that way) by doing that power which stuns enemy troops with fear.

Since the fat bastard’s attacks can kill your guys and heal him, keep your guys at a relatively safe distance always drilling him, and if you put in the time, he will eventually drop, ending the campaign.

Back to the review… The Last Stand

For this game mode they added the Tyrannid Hive Tyrant and Chaos Sorceror.

The Tyrannid is basically like godzilla, with you being able to summon pets (if you make it have that build). He walks pretty slow and you can make him have either killer melee or ranged skills.

The Chaos Sorceror is basically a spell caster that shoots enemies and can replicate (and sacrifice) Chaos versions of almost any enemies you are fighting.

Both the new heroes are pretty fun, although you do have to level them up again to unlock all their items, much like the original game.

Multiplayer mode:

Chaos is now a playable race for the multiplayer mode. I’ve played around with it a bit, having fought Chaos as an enemy in this mode and I’ve seen one of the Chaos leaders cast like an enhanced fog of war on areas of the map capping my things behind my back and I have seen some enemies permanently have stealth on the map.

Value:

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 Warhammer40k then you will probably buy it anyways.

Music:

Much like the original game the music for Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising is very militant, dark, and inspiring war music. Great stuff!

If you enjoy the music from Dawn of War 2 then you can download the Dawn of War 2 OST from this link.

Conclusion:

I enjoy the carnage of the DoW games and the epic battle and violence they bring. I have enjoyed this expansion, just wished they could have included another campaign in it. Some parts were annoying like when my dreadnought gets stuck behind a tank or terrain or my terminator armor guys (this is still a problem that DoW2 had). Otherwise, the game is pretty enjoyable and challenging.

Titan Quest

Titan Quest logo

uh, which one of you works in the audio-visual department?

Why am I going commando in this scene?

Have you been itching for Diablo 3?
Have you had a yearning for your characters to walk around without pants?

Titan Quest is calling and you are just poor enough to buy it!

To be fair; let’s state the obvious… the game is a less original version of its idol at the original selling point of $49.99… this fateful reviewer would have demanded a refund. In general, however, the game is serviceable and you can lose several hours without complaint.

The story goes along the Greek mythology route in a somewhat moronic layout:
You are the Nameless Hero! Bad Stuff is happening and the gods are not able to handle it (Where is your Zeus, now? Moronicles…) and as that is a fairly familiar state to the average action-rpger… let’s rumble!

Titan Quest - Lich
Yes, master pet…sir.

You get to advance along 2 of 6 trees of special powers and use whatever equipment you qualify for along the way. This probably the largest difference and can lead to unusual characters that are definitely fun to consider and play (a hoplite-type that levels with AOE fire effects? Checkus-Majorus). I decided to make a pet-user… no, not a farm-lover sort. But when I decided on the necromancy-path (a real natural fit into the heroic Greek tradition?); I became the servant of the Lich. The Lich is apparently from a Dungeon and Dragons game and, there of, proceeds to be better then anything you might actually fight in the game. It clears rooms, draws attacks and kills bosses with maximum evil floating for dramatic effect. And your part in this, after summoning the Mega-Lich and upgrading it faithfully? You are its bitch treasure-collector and re-summon it when the hordes of useless fantasy stereotypes actually kill it (it can happen a few times every ten hours of play).

Where I cannot mock the game too harshly (don’t worry, we’ll return to that shortly) is that the animation art and music are pretty good. Things look great for the time period of release and the music is pretty atmospheric and appropriate for what ever land (or tomb) you are adventuring in. The voice-acting consists of scared folks telling you about monsters that haven’t killed them and their families yet… Sometimes you get a scantily-clad female character begging for your help. No commentary on whether a relationship with a female centaur could go ‘all the way’ with a minion treasure collector. Not bad… but far from a good use of decent voice actors. Sometimes you get the gruff-soldier telling you how he has held out against the said monsters… very ‘eh’ reports. In essence if he/she has an exclamation mark above his/her head, its a quest related babbling. Diamonds mean that the voice acting was wasted on a script requiring the actor to be sorrowful that giant bird creature is eating his livestock or something else you cant do anything about.

Let’s talk about your enemies along the way to Titan-killing.
Basically, you commit genocide with a smile to anything vaguely sneering and hairy or slightly undead. Apparently, none of the gruff soldiers you met or the stable cities you sell and buy your crap from has actually cleared anything from Greece’s countryside or its tombs (once you get to Egypt you should have been a near-Stalin level mass-killer-of-stuff-that-never-really-stood-a-chance-against-human-heroes). Is that a satyr settlement? Fireball the hairy savages. Are some amphibious critters strolling along a beach? Life-Leach the waterborne abominations to their tranquil beach graves.

If one thing can be said about the enemies you massacre; they don’t follow such things as common sense or a history book or silly crap like that. Slime puddles are next to rat-men in caves. Hostile boars infest 55% of Greece. Birds hang out with cat-people. It’s rather wonderful to realize that much like in movies with hot chicks; when stuck, the designers just threw in whatever looked cool and could pass for mythology. Sort of.

Speaking of ridiculous… Something that seemed a little ridiculous was the teleporting system in ancient Greece. The Greeks apparently discovered teleportation somewhere to allow the hero access to every city section once discovered. They even clear a patch of city in order to have built a ornate ‘teleporter’ area for exactly one man. Your bumbling, genocide-inducing self. Let me repeat this for effect; the Greeks. and later the Egyptians, have made a system of instant teleportation and yet… somehow… are under siege by horny goat-men and skeletons that are about as deadly as gnats with cold-symptoms.

Yes, makes perfect sense.

But, as an older game… available from our friends at Impulse and other digital distributors… It’s okay to fulfill the specific need to pass time.
I would say 5 out of eight tentacles, but i would give it a six if you can get the game for under 20 bucks.

Trine

Trine
Trine

Trine review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Symphony of the Night + The Lost Vikings + Out of This World = fun!”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Trine is a fantasy action puzzle platformer game that consists of three soul-bound characters that got trapped that way at the beginning of the game through magic making their way through each map in stages. You switch characters depending on which one you want to use, in the style of The Lost Vikings, only that all three characters take up the same place, rather than like in The Lost Vikings each being an independent character that you control once at a time.

The three characters are a mage, a rogue archer, and a warrior.

The mage can move objects around through magic and summon magic cubes/planks, which you can use to use to jump higher or drop on enemies.

The rogue archer is basically the most powerful character in the game. She can fire a ton of arrows that although they don’t do as much damage as the warrior, you can eventually fire multiple numbers of them and you can dispatch enemies safely at a distance. The best ability she has is firing a grappling arrow, sort of like the grappling hook gun that Batman has, which you can use to climb up, slide down, rock back and forth, swing, and all sorts of crazy acrobatics. She can light torches by firing flame arrows at them. For me, she’s basically the main character to use.

The warrior is supposed to be the main fighter, although the rogue archer is superior in my eyes. He mainly mashes things, whether parts of the terrain or boxes or enemies. He can also pick stuff up and move it around and he has a shield which absorbs most damage, so long as you angle it properly. He can also light torches, simply by chopping them with his sword.

There are 3 stats in this game, health, mana/energy, and XP.

Health is pretty self explanatory, with some enemies dropping hearts which can heal you. You can also heal by going to a checkpoint, if your health is lower than the minimum that difficulty setting designates as the minimum.

Mana/energy gets used up any time the mage does anything, or to do special attacks for the other two characters. The rogue archer mainly uses the energy to fire lit arrows when you pick up that power. The warrior uses energy to perform special attacks. You replentish mana/energy by going to the next checkpoint or by picking up blue vials which some enemies drop, which this is the most common drop in the game.

The last stat is XP. You pick this up in green vials that are scattered throughout the map (mainly in hard to reach places) and by killing enemies. When you get enough XP all three characters level up and you get a certain amount of character points which you use to purchase new powers or improve old ones.

The final thing to mention regarding general gameplay is that there are different treasures/loot hidden throughout the maps. Each one can boost your powers by a set amount or add a completely different kind of power to the character. For example, I picked up an item which lets my mage swim under water for unlimited amounts of time.

The game gets told as a fairy tale story, and it’s really well done in that sense.

As of the time of this writing, this game is only available on PC. You can play the demo here from Steam.

This is an indie title by Frozenbyte. It has gained a lot of acclaim/awards from other gaming sites. Overall, it’s a great, although short game.

Fun Factor:

This game is a lot of fun, especially the first time through. There are many different approaches and solutions towards getting through an area or fighting enemies and to me that makes for an intelligent game, which most games are not these days, especially a platformer game. The atmosphere and way the game got made keeps you playing. The first time I played the game I was dead tired and started playing it at 11 PM. I went to bed that day at 5 AM.

For the first playthrough I give the game a Fun Factor score of 9 out of 10. For the repeat plays, I give it a score of 6 out of 10, maybe even 7 if it’s been a while.

Difficulty Versatility:

There are different difficulties but they are mostly the same. The only difference I found in game play is that the amount of health that you get when a character dies and resurrects at the checkpoints is lowered the harder you set it. I got really good at this game real fast so I would recommend playing it right from the start at the max difficulty. Most of the game is pretty easy to me, but some parts are tricky. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 6 out of 10.

Value:

When I got this game it was $5 (when I announced the sale last time). At that cost, the game is an amazing value.

When it’s not on sale, this game usually goes for about $20. At the time of this writing, you can get it for that much through ebgames.com in DVD and also as the downloaded version. You can get it for the same price through Steam.

You can also get it from Impulse here, which is one of our sponsors.

Trine
$19.99

For $20, considering it took me 5-6 hours to beat the game the first time, it’s not so much a great value. At that cost, I’d give Value a score of 4 out of 10. At a cost of $10, I’d give it a 6 out of 10. At $5, I’d give Value a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

This is a pretty short game. I’ve played it twice so far and the game was predictable the entire 2nd playthrough. I have a good memory and since I just played it back to back, I will probably revisit this game in a year or two. I’d give replayability a 4 out of 10, mainly because it’s such a well made game and the action is well done.

Sound:

The voice acting for the game is great. I enjoy when they argue with each other, regarding the path they are taking for solving the main plot. It’s comical. The mage is a shy dork, the rogue archer is a hot sexy lady, and the warrior is a dumb jock.

The sound effects are well done too. The arrows sound real. The smashing of the warrior’s sword or the impact on his shield sound amazing. Sound gets a score of 8 out of 10. I would have given it a higher score, if it had more voice acting.

Music:

The music for the game is beautiful. It goes well with the atmostphere and the fairy tale setting. The music sometimes reminds me of a Tim Burton kind of fairy tale movie. Danny Elfman would be proud! It is written by Ari Pulkkinen. I wish it were available for download. The music from Trine gets a score of 10 out of 10. It’s simply beautiful.

Graphics:

The game looks beautiful. It reminds me sort of the style that the first Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen had, only from the point of view of a side-scrolling platformer instead of the top down and not pixelated at all. They look well drawn and the game is simply beautiful. For what this game is, the Graphics deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game runs rock solid even while alt-tabbing the living hell out of it. Nothing to complain here. It loads up quickly as well each time. Stability/Reliability gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple and fluid. Standard WASD + mouse combo work like a charm for Trine. Once you’ve played the game for a while, you will be able to use each character almost as if it’s second nature to you. It doesn’t take long to get used to the controls. Eventually you will find yourself just drilling everything with the rogue archer and the enemies won’t stand a chance. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs perfectly on most gaming machines, even some obsolete ones. I never saw lag, not even once during any part of this game. The levels load up quickly as well. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This was one of over 300 games I bought during the Steam holiday sale. Although the game is short I enjoyed playing it as much nearly as when I played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the first time. I would recommend it to people who like that game a lot, who are PC gamers.

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 review by Honorabili

WARNING: This review is not for fanboys or people who like simple games or dumbed down RPGs. If you have played as many RPGs as I have, you will find it useful.

One Sentence Review:
“More action-rpg space opera mayhem”

Overall Score:
7 out of 10

Overview:

Mass Effect 2 is a sequel to one of the better modern RPGs out there. Both Mass Effect games are a lot like Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), taking some elements from the early Fallout games and Planescape: Torment. The game plays like an interactive movie done by a really good director.

I will assume that people who played this game have already played the first one. If you haven’t, you should stop reading this and go play ME1 instead before looking at this game.

You take the role again of Shepard, Captain of the Normandy. I won’t get into any spoilers but the intro of the game will leave you saying “WHAT THE HELL?!” You go around the galaxy recruiting/commanding a team of soldiers, scientists, engineers, etc. trying to uncover clues and complete missions that get you closer to attacking the home of the main baddies, etc.

I won’t cover spoilers and I am writing this review from the perspective of someone that has been playing RPGs from the mid 80s, both normal RPGs (table-top, pen and paper) and classic computer RPGs (non-MMO). Most media out there considers this game the next best thing to sliced bread but I have found some areas that I thought could have been better, especially since they were available in previous Bioware games.

In general, in both games I have a problem with the way they made the dialogue circle. It’s fairly evident after you have been playing for a few minutes that all the nice/good-guy/Paragon options are positioned towards the top of the circle and the asshole/bad-guy/Renegade towards the bottom. My beef with this is that in real life, there’s more to just the extremity of being super nice Jesus Chris Superstar or being Satan/Adolf Hitler. I wish they would have implemented more alignments than just good or bad. In reality nothing is black or white. How about a grey zone? The game has it but all the responses for most of those choices are half assed and you will usually end up getting screwed by the game when you try to apply a rational solution to a problem that compromises both sides.

I wish they would go away from this dumbed down choose-your-own-adventure system and go back towards the roots of more intricate RPGs. It’s kind of annoying how they only phrase part of what your response would be in the options. I miss the days of being able to look at 8-9 different responses that were worded out exactly as my character would deliver them. I would look at lines in Fallout 2 or Planescape: Torment and think “hey, that’s really clever, let’s see what happens?!” Now I can just click on the obvious choices and just keep making my guy nicer/more of an asshole. Like, it takes no skill or thought.

Some people have said that this is now more an action game than rpg. A big problem I found with the action is that there are NO GRENADES. Grenades have been a part of warfare for more than 100 years now. Are you telling me there are no more being used by the military in the future?

Mass Effect 2 vs Mass Effect 1:

ME2 is a lot like part 1 but many things are changed as well.

The first thing that you will notice is that character progression is pretty primitive vs ME1. The game lacks an attribute progression system (hell all attributes in general other than shields, HPs, DPS).

They have done away with the planetary landings/random missions (they are MUCH less in ME2) and your little buggy is gone, which they in turn have replaced with you launching probes (which magically mine minerals for you) from a point and click screen. This is a huge mistake as, at least to me, this was one of the funnest parts of part 1 and that’s the difference between me beating part 1 in 1.5 weeks playing a good 4-6 hours a day and me destroying ME2 in 3 days only. The probing is BORING as hell. I’m good at it but basically as soon as I would start doing it, it would put me in the mood to go do something else (like go play another game or go to sleep). You might say, “Hey, it’s a good concept” but it’s been done right in other games, like Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters, a 1992 space exploration/combat game, with rpg elements to it). They should have included the buggy and maybe added a chemical analyzer to it to manually explore and drop off mining drones. That might have given the game a feel sort of like Koronis Rift, a lost Lucasfilm Games classic for c64 and other 8-bit computers/systems.

The game was dumbed down even further by removing the inventory system. When you kill enemies the only thing they drop is generic ammo, which you adapt to fit on any gun. This is the same as the previous game, and yes it does make the game go a lot faster. It’s not very realistic though, at least from the perspective of loot. It would have been nice if they gave you bonus money for salvaging and selling the weapons/armor/equipment that enemies dropped, for missions where you can pick that stuff up (not ones where you run off a ship/space station that is blowing up). That part of the game just made no sense to me. Some people think this is an improvement of the game but a good part in just about every RPG is gear/weapons/armor/tool management. Many people who play RPGs care about loot and having special items for their characters. (Some real RPG purists will argue otherwise but the plug-and-play system of loot in this game is just silly).

The game now makes you research for weapon mods, which for which you get resources by probing/mining (the game killer for me). You still buy stuff at stores but they are mainly mods which lead to new research projects for which you still need to waste time mining. This feels like grinding except that you’re not killing anything except strip mining a planet through a simple little interface. Where’s the action?

Fun Factor:

The fight scenes are pretty nice but they are impaired by probing/mining in between missions. I’m only really bitching about it so much because if you want to unlock every item mod/ship mod, you will have to spend time grinding on the probes. That’s not my idea of fun.

The fights themselves are pretty fun, although they are easy, especially with the dumb A.I. (see below) and lack of challenge.

The story is nice, but essentially it’s more of the first game (which I love) but it lacks more secret/side quests. It would have been nice to see more of those that secretly integrated into the background of the main story. An example is in Planescape: Torment when you buy a little toy Modron (an artificial robot race in this fantasy setting) and he lets you go to a special Modron dimension that’s an endless Dungeon. I think something like that is unique in a game but I see how that could make a game company dedicate a lot of resources towards something like that. Some people consider Planescape: Torment to be a failure as a “product” but it’s more like what a real RPG (non video game) is like than many others.

I would have liked as well to have seen a LOT MORE interaction between characters while in missions. I purposely picked characters on missions that would have ethical problems with whatever the mission was at hand. I would have liked to have seen them interacting more with each other, maybe even arguing rather than provide a one liner like “Shepard I don’t agree with this, but you’re the Captain.” They had that in Planescape: Torment but I would like that developed even more than that so it seems like you’re dealing with real people/real characters.

Back to ME2, I would have liked more interactivity with my plot/dialogue choices and more challenging combat and NO grinding/mining (if I wanted that I would go play an MMO). When I played ME1 or KOTOR, I cherished every moment. As I played ME2 I just felt like “okay let’s beat it to say I beat it.” I liked the characters in ME1 more as well but that’s beside the point of this section. Fun Factor got a score of 6 out of 10. Bring back more non-predictable dialogue/plot and better/harder/more intense action and my love will return.

Difficulty Versatility:

Overall, I found this game to be easy. There’s multiple difficulties but overall you won’t feel much of a difference unless you play it on the max difficulty. Doing that will sometimes create a situation where if the story dictates that you get screwed/ambushed by multiple enemies from multiple directions, you will often die then. That’s not really an issue for most of the game because you can just switch the difficulty on the fly through the options menu, and that IS useful.

The A.I. of the game is pretty linear/retarded (for the enemies). It’s not as bad as Dragon Age: Origins (that literally made me stop playing that game, although I bought that game). The biggest problem I had with the A.I. is that the enemies take cover really POORLY. In just about 95% of all combat in the game I have just been able to keep attacking the enemy even when they hide behind a box or wall. I especially love when they hide everything except the top of their head and I just unload a clip of sniper rifle on their sweet spot.

I would have liked the A.I. to get smarter as I set it on a higher difficulty, and not just lower my regen rate. Oh, yes, you have a regen rate in Mass Effect 2. Healing items are pretty common and they’re pretty useless unless you’re a really bad gamer. On the 2nd to last and even on the max difficulty there have only been about 2 real fights where I needed to heal my character. The rest of the time I just take cover and drink some tea and pretend I’m playing Gears of War.

The option to change the difficulty is nice (although it doesn’t do much) but the game is a cakewalk (for me). Difficulty Versatility get a score of 6 out of 10.

Value:

The best price for the PC at the time of this writing that I found quickly was from gogamer.com for $41.90.

For Xbox 360, on gogamer.com they have it on “sale” right now for $52.50, which is a bit steep for me, but then again I don’t buy console games as they are expensive.

The game took me about 3 days to beat which is longer than most new video games these days. The problem with RPGs is that unless they have dramatically different replayabilities then they’re pretty much a game you will play NOW and then again a year or so later. I can justify more paying money like that for a game you can play daily, whether a strategy game (any Civilization game) or FPS (Unreal Tournament series, Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2) than a game you will play sparsely like this one.

Most fans will pay the current amount for the game, if they like it enough to buy. If you are a fast gamer like me, especially for the console crowd, you’re better off renting the game.

I give Value a score of 5 out of 10. Too expensive for my blood to buy but longer than most one shot games out there.

Replayability:

I unlocked pretty much everything on my first run of the game, so I don’t think I’ll replay this for a while now. I’d probably replay Mass Effect 1 before I replay this one anyways (especially since I think ME1 is a better game).

If they add more missions, game modes through DLC then it would entice me to play it again (assuming they addressed at least some of the game design problems I had with ME2). The problem I have with DLC is that it’s simply a way for companies to milk you of more money for stuff they could have included in the game to make it a better game from the start. Business-wise it’s a good move (for profits) but it does make inferior games come out.

Some of my friends are as of this moment replaying it as a different class but the game overall is the same. For me that has the same appeal as watching a movie and then immediately rewatching it. Unless an rpg has a lot of different endings and side quests that are unique to that way you picked to play, then they don’t really have much replayability. Since I have really good memory, I will not go back to ME2 for a long while, maybe before Mass Effect 3 comes out. I give replayability a score of 4 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound effects are nicely picked. You have many sounds from ME1 repeated but they did the job for that game and they continue to work for this one. Some of their menu interfaces have their own sounds and they are pleasant. The weapons sound authentic and that’s important for an action (rpg) game.

The voice actors do a good job and you will hear familiar voices (not just from the gaming industry) doing an amazing job with their characters. I think they add a great level of immersion to the game. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music is great for this game but my beef with it is that it is not constantly playing. There will be some songs like the galaxy interface that you will hear over and over. Some songs, like the ones in your private quarters, are pretty epic, but you can only listen to them by going into that room (for which you hardly ever go into). I would have liked an option to force the game to play music constantly to be integrated, and you can make specific songs override what’s playing for dramatic effect in cut scenes or specific fights.

The music I enjoyed but if we can’t really hear it then it’s not really there. Music gets a score of 7 out of 10. It’s there and great, just absent.

Graphics:

Eye candy! This game looks just as good as ME1 and even almost as good as Dead Space. I think they did a great job with the ingame graphics and cut scene movies. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never crashed for me, even though I alt-tabbed the game a bunch of times. You’d expect a game with such a pretty graphics engine to go nuts from that but it never did. In fact, I purposely crashed the game sometimes to see if it could recover and the game relaunched immediately, with no performance hit. Stability/Reliability gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

For PC, the controls are pretty standard. WASD moves you around, the mouse aims, F melee attacks, Shift pauses the game (so that you can issue squad commands and use powers), and Spacebar is the general use/run/everything else key. The controls could have been a bit better, such as including a crouch key, common in most other FPS games, rather than forcing me to run like a little girl for cover. The general action spacebar key sometimes got me killed because my character decided to stand up from cover rather than jump over it. Controls get a score of 7 out of 10. They are enough considering how easy ME2 is but they feel primitive.

Performance:

The game runs pretty okay on my 2 year old gaming PC. There were moments, especially during heavy action sequences when the game did lag/skip frames. Most people will be satified with the overall performance of the game, especially since the graphics of the game are PRETTY. Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

Overall, I like the game. (I’m not as much of a hater as you’d think, but I am critical). I have my opinions on what I wish they would have done differently and I hope they implement some of those changes especially for when we see Mass Effect 3, which is pretty much guaranteed to be made considering how much money this franchise makes.

Aliens versus Predator 2000

Aliens versus Predator classic 2000
Aliens versus Predator classic 2000

Aliens versus Predator 2000 Classic review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“AvP 2000 might be old but it sure still is SCARY!”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview:

AvP 2000 is one of the scariest PC games ever made. It might have come out back in 2000 but the atmosphere of the game is chilling, especially when you play as the space marine and aliens come swarming after you, and predators decloak as they cut you in half.

You can play as any of the 3 races: Aliens, Predators, and human Space Marines. Each of the races plays completely different and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, although the Predator is the most powerful of all.

There’s two aspects to the game, the single and the multi player modes. For single player, you follow a string of missions as any of the races interacting with the story and trying to survive through each level any way possible. Multiplayer consists of either playing co-op against hordes of aliens or a free-for-all slaughter-fest that mainly consists of survival of the fastest.

When you play as the Aliens, you are weak and easy to kill, if they can catch you. You special ability is mainly claw grabbing to any surface and moving really, really fast. You gain health by eating organics (humans, predators) especially if you are lucky enough to get a headshot (you literally eat the brain). The game shows you when this is possible by making a set of teeth come out at the top and bottom of the screen. You have a secondary attack that is your tail which you mainly use to decapitate and rip limbs off opponents.

The Alien by far literally is the most alien to play. When you set your vision to the special vision the alien uses and you run upside down on the ceiling going like 50 mph you will no longer feel like a person, once you get used to it. It kind of has the same feeling (as far as making you dizzy, if you get that) as the game Descent.

Should you decide to play as the human space marine, you will quickly find out why I claim for this to be one of the scariest PC games of all time. Everything pretty much kills you really fast. You have the worst vision in the game (the game is pretty dark enough as it is) and you have to rely between switching your night vision off and using your motion sensor which has the same sound effects sort of like the second Alien movie, Aliens. Your weapons range from the assault rifle to a smart gun, various rocket/missile launchers (overkill usually, and can kill you from the splash damage) to the flame thrower. You will get nervous playing as the space marine as you hear the claws and feet of multiple aliens coming at you from every direction.

The predator is by far the easiest race to play with in the game. You have 4 different vision (filters) to use, each one specializing in a specific kind of prey for you to hunt. The predator is pretty much overpowered in the sense that your weapons pretty much one shot every other thing in the game easily and you have the ability to cloak and self-heal.

This game is a classic.

Fun Factor:

Few games have the speed to rival both the Unreal Tournament and Descent games but AvP does. The action is non-stop and when it does stop, it makes you nervous because usually that indicates that something is hiding or they are building up to come get you. I find that exciting in a game, especially when everything in the game is so lethal.

This game is a pure adrenaline rush. The predator is the slowest but if you want to make it funner/scarier, jump into the space marine or see how far you can last being an alien. I love sneaking around and eating people’s brains.

Fun factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is HARD. I’m good at this game and I can tell you that it’s really tough still, after 10 years of playing it. The terrain and environment for the most part can get you killed, whether it be barrels that can explode or sentry guns that rip you in half or the splash of an explosion or even the acid blood from an alien you killed at point-blank range and that’s now eating a hole through you.

You can play in 3 different difficulty settings, and each one is dramatically harder than the previous one. The harder you put it, the less saves you get (yes, this game has a limited number of saves unless you opt out to cheat and put unlimited saves).

It’s so easy to die and that makes the game way challenging and in a good way! Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10. Why not perfect? Some people will go home and cry to momma since this game is too fast and rough for them.

Value:

Since this game is old, you can either track down an old CD of it through mainly ebay or the easy way to get it is just to spend $5 on Steam (it’s always on sale there for that price). The link to get it on Steam is http://store.steampowered.com/app/3730/

I think that’s a price that anybody, even a child, can afford to spend on a game, especially a classic game like this one. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

It never gets old to get the rush and fear this game gives you. Even when one knows what’s coming up on the mission, if that is too “easy” for you, set it at the max difficulty and get a real challenge.

Think you’re good? Go online and play against people that are champions at the game.

I’ve played over 2000 hours of this game. If you are like me and like being shocked in a game and enjoy an epileptic experience, you will come back over and over to play this classic. I think that deserves a Replayability score of 10 out of 10.

Sound:

Sound is SO important, especially in a horror game. The sounds the Aliens and Predator make are completely authentic and sound as great as their movie versions do. The growl of the Predator and the scream when you heal will remind you a lot of the original Predator (vs Arnold) movie. The game will scare you when you are a lone space marine backed up in a hallway (or how about a stairway!) and you hear the screams of oncoming aliens crawling on the walls all around you. Sometimes the humans can sound a bit cheesy but otherwise the game creates a great tension. Even hearing the thump of your motion detector and some of the lights in the installations turning on can be quite creepy. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

I used to play this game with the music off and it made it easier. However, the soundtrack adds a lot of tension to the game and it does a great job at it. Music should augment what the mood of the game is and it does the job right in AvP. Music gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics are dated but they still look nice considering this game was written on an antiquated DirectX engine. Some of the terrain looks crappy but this is an old game. If you want it to look better you can always play part 2 or the new game which is scheduled to come out tomorrow. The character models look the best and that’s what’s important as well as making the weapons look realistic, which it does. Graphics get a score of 8 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has been patched a lot over the years. It’s extremely stable. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Controls are standard wasd fps game controls but each faction has its own variation. Basically, as soon as you play a new race, pause the game, go to the key mappings and see what your special keys are. It might be a little annoying at first but once you get used to it, it’s not so bad. Overall controls get a score of 9 out of 10.

Performance:

This game always ran fast. The engine is awesome and even when it came out it ran GREAT! Performance is not an issue. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

My brother, friends, and I have played this game extensively single player and even more so doing LAN parties throughout the years. This is one of those games where the explosions and screaming that would come from the speakers and players was so loud that we would literally get kicked out of any place we LANned it at.

I hope the new game continues with the shock treatment tradition that this game started.

Dig Dug review

Dig Dug in-game
Dig Dug in-game shot

Dig Dug review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Pop that monster!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview:

Dig Dug consists of you being this blue man in a white suit that digs your way underground to kill monsters in tunnels. You do this by impaling them with an air pump that has like a tip like Scorpion’s weapon in Mortal Kombat (weird, I know but it’s cute!). You them pump the little monsters with enough air until they pop like a balloon. The game keeps progressing as you kill more monsters and there are none left in that level. Each level is progressively harder (especially when multiple enemies come at you at once).

You can get an extra man every 20000 points and you can pick up fruit in the middle of the stage when you kill enemies in a spectacular way, accelerating your 1UP rate.

The original game keeps going for 256 levels with the remake having about 400 levels.

The game is available on most Ataris, the Intellivision, Apple II, Commodore VIC 20 and c64, for PC, NES, gameboy, Wii, and the TI-99/4A. The remake is also available under Namco Classic Collection Volume 2 for Xbox, Gamecube, and the PS2.

Fun Factor:

I always thought it was a trip to fill up cute little monsters with air and watch their belly burst. If you’re braindead like me then you will love this kind of action. As the game will become much harder later, you will have to react instantly to the onslaught of monsters and have to adapt to using the terrain to your advantage and tricking the game’s A.I. by timing your attacks. You will sometimes have to run like a little bitch for your life and that can be fun to do especially in an old game! Fun Factor gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

Dig Dug is a challenging game. It’s from an era where if you wanted to get a high score you had to be a good gamer. Continues? Never heard of them. You put in a quarter and you got a set amount of lives. If you lost them all, you had to pay again to replay from the beginning. If you like your games easy then Dig Dug is not a game for you. If you like a game where the A.I. will eventually come at you from every direction, really fast then this is your game. You do get one more life though every 20000 points.

The first levels are easy and the game constantly keeps acccelerating in diffuculty. There’s no way to alter that but the game is challenging enough as it is. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Since this game is so old now, most people will probably play the emulated (usually MAME) version which you can get for free.

The PS2 Namco Classic Collection version is now out of print and not available online. You can track it down either by calling your local game stores or finding it through ebay.

The Wii version you can probably get online from their store for probably a few dollars.

Overall, since you can either play this game for free or for a few dollars for the PS2 or Wii version, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Most classic arcade games are highly addictive/replayable, unless you find them too hard/frustrating for you. You can pretty much set your own goal as you what you want your experienced with this game to be, whether to get to whatever number of level or whatever your high score will be.

Myself, I find this game fun and I often wonder to what level I can get to the next time I play. Considering I’ve played this game thousands of times since the 80s and I still play it, the game is a classic and very replayable. I give replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds mainly consist of hearing the dragon roar (whistle) and your pump that fills up the cute monsters and pops the living hell out of them. For an old game the sounds are really well done and I think Sound deserves a score of 1o out of 10.

Music:

The music is so simple but it’s so catchy. The music is interactive in the sense that the little jingle will only play whenever your guy is walking. Mega64 makes fun of that fact and made a video where they go around harrassing people with it! Here is a video showing that:

It’s catchy and it keeps you playing this hectic little game. For a few simple notes, it’s a classic. Overall the game has like 4 little melodies but the main melody is the one that you will hear the most. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics look pretty cute for this old game and they are actually great. It’s fun watching the monsters blow up like a balloon and then POP! Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game actually has 2 bugs.

If you get to the end of the game, the game has a kill screen where you are basically stuck because the game will not progress any further. This happens when you get to the last level of the game (level 256) and beat it.

The other bug happens if you drop a rock on an enemy while you are pumping it with air and snuff it. It basically makes all enemies disappear making the level unbeatable but the work around is to trigger another rock to fall.

Other than those two bugs, mainly the rock one (because most people will NOT get to the last level), the game is rock solid. Stability/Reliability get a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple. Up is up and so forth, and the fire button always triggers the harpoon gun/pump which lets you kill enemies. Other than that you walk into the ground to tunnel and you make rocks fall by leaving a tunnel under it (to try to trick a monster into getting crushed). Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs flawless whether you play it on an arcade machine, emulation (MAME, etc), or on a console remake of it. If only all games could run as well as old games! Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the first games where I was impressed by an arcade game, specifically Namco and Atari. I remember seeing this around the same time I first played Ms. Pacman, another arcade favorite of mine. I’ve played Dig Dug over 1000 times, literally. It’s not as popular as the Pacman games but among the arcade community, it’s always a classic.

If you’ve never played Dig Dug, you are missing out on a major arcade game that is a corner stone for arcade gaming history. Go play it and stop reading this.

Bejeweled

Bejeweled screenshot
Bejeweled screenshot

Bejeweled review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Another classic puzzle game for the masses.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

This is a pure, straight up puzzle game.

The point of the game consists of getting 3 or more of one jewel type connected in a row or column and then the game eliminates it. When that happens more jewels drop in taking up the same amount of space from the top of the screen. The more jewels you make disappear at a time, the more points you get.

There are two game modes, one that is the normal mode and the time mode.

Under the normal mode, you have unlimited time and you have to fill up the bottom bar in order to go to the next stage/level. I find this one to be more laid back and strategic.

Time mode gets pretty hectic. You are still trying to get as many in a row/column as possible but the bar at the bottom is going down constantly. You still have to fill the bar up to move on to the next level, which will make the game harder as the time bar will go down faster.

The point to leveling up is that the higher the level, the higher the score multiplier is for any combos you do. In other words, you will get more points per jewel that disappears.

Fun Factor:

This is a simple game yet it’s very entertaining. I prefer the normal (stategic) game mode the most as opposed to the hectic time mode. This game will keep you interested and it’s a great way to wake up and put your thinking cap on. The game might seem simple but there are subtle strategies for you to learn once you’ve played a bunch of games in a row.

This game keeps my interest as far as puzzle games go and I’m sure you will feel the same. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The more you play the game, the harder it gets. It might not necessarily seem like it but you will find yourself more limited with initial combos once the new level spawns. Overall, if you find the game too easy, you can simply play it in time mode, which is much harder.

You start each game at level 1 and there is no way to artificially manipulate this, so you will go through the same difficulty curve every time. The higher the level you go higher then chance you have of dying simply from running out of moves. Once that happens, it’s game over and there is no continue.

I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

You can opt out to play the game online for free from the Popcap games website or you can buy the game for a few dollars.

The version that I played/own I got through Steam for $1-2 when it was on sale and I bought a huge package of PopCap Games. The link to the version I reviewed is the following (through Steam):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/3350/

You can play the free version through this link:

PopCap Games for Free

They sell Bejeweled there and it’s sequels as well. Most sell for $8-12, for PC and handheld systems/phones.

Considering the replayability value of the game, it’s worth at least getting the basic game or even playing the free ones through a web browser. Since the game is basically free or within the price of a budget title, the game gets a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

This game is VERY addictive. Considering I was going to replay Civilization 4 for the billionth time to submit a review and I’ve been just playing this game over and over, I would say it’s VERY replayable (addictive).

Other than to be a great time killer, for me the replayability comes into trying to one up my old high scores.

The game helps me think about my strategies within the game and real life problems while I play it, so it’s relaxing and that keeps me playing often.

Replayability gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are simple but they are enough for this game. The best sound effect is the robotic voice of the announcer which makes it sound like an old video game. Sound gets a score of 5 out of 10.

Music:

The music for the version I played, Bejeweled Deluxe sounds like classic amiga mod music and a lot like the music of other games that also use MOD files such as Uplink. It has a very oldskool feel and I always love that. There is one song for each game mode and it loops over and over but that keeps me focused. You can always lower the volume if it bothers you and play an external mp3 file if you want by alt-tabbing.

I enjoy the songs in the game. I think Music deserves a score of 8 out of 10. Some people might want more than 2 songs for the whole game.

Graphics:

The graphics are pretty spartan but this game is designed to run on any computer and not require a lot of money in hardware invested. The graphics look like enhanced c64 or Amiga graphics. I don’t expect a game like this to go all out on graphics as people will play it for it’s puzzle aspect, not to look at eye candy. Graphics get a score of 5 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has never crashed after 30 hours of gameplay. I would declare it’s pretty rock solid. I’ve never seen the logic of the game get stuck in any game either. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Controls don’t get simpler than this game. You just left click on what jewel you want to shift and left click on the destination. The jewel will either move up, left, right, or down (not diagonal moves allowed). Once that happens, the game calculates what stuff disappears and you keep playing. It can’t get any simpler than that. Anybody can pretty much play this game. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Any version of this game run perfect on any computer, phone, hand held, etc. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I got this and a bunch of other games through the Steam sale they had in December 2009. Although I know you can play the games for free on the website, since I find them very entertaining, I didn’t mind paying for them and getting the versions that had the enhanced music/graphics.

These are the kinds of games I’ve been playing whenever I take a break from playing a big game.

DiRT 2

DiRT 2 CRUNCHHH
DiRT 2 CRUNCHHH

DiRT 2 review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“More dirt slingling, car crunching rally madness from Codemasters!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

Codemasters surprises us again with another great Colin McRae Rally racing classic.

For the campaign game, you take the role of an up and coming rally race car driver that’s finally making it to the big time. You start entering races in the lower tiers and eventually you “level up” enough to take one the mid grade tiers and up, eventually getting invites for special global events and championships, such as the X-Games, special historical races, etc.

As you do more races you keep getting paid, letting you buy different cars but there are mainly 2-3 cars that will dominate each race mode. If you figure out which those are, the rest of the cars (and money is sort of irrelevant). Some of the cars are much funner to drive than others and you might want to get them simply for the challenge of trying to take on cars with better handling (pretty much the most important characteristic for cars in this game).

The game mainly has modern day rally cars that are favorites today and less of the classic rally cars of legend from the 70s-90s (as opposed to DiRT 1).

Like DiRT 1, DiRT 2 has many big names and personalities from the world of rally racing. Ken Block, Mohammed bin Sulayem, and Travis Pastrana are some, to name a few. The racers interact with you as you race (crash) them with a little pop-up and some smart ass comment to keep you in good spirits. Once in a while, in between races, if you really owned it up or sucked big time, the game will offer you a special challenge against one of these personalities. The challenge will depend on the kind of event you just did and what kind of racing that racer favors the most.

The game offers an online racing mode, which I will discuss in detail below.

DiRT 2 is available on PC, Nintendo Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and PSP.

Fun Factor:

I’m a big fan of racing games, particularly ones where you abuse the hell out of your car and you have to make it last as much as possible. This is such a game!

Some of the tracks will feel repetitive after a while but they do require mastering if you want to take this game on at the max difficulty or make a legend of yourself racing online. Learning every pebble can be fun in itself.

Fun factor gets a score of 7 out of 10 from me. It’s not the funnest racing game I play but it is entertaining, especially when I’m in the mood for off-road racing.

Difficulty Versatility:

DiRT 2 is a lot harder than the first game. The customization for the diffuculty is more detailed and it’s a lot like Grid’s system. You have a finite number of “flashbacks” which let you rewind part of the race in single player offline mode. The harder you set it the more damage you car can take faster, and the easier it will be for damage to disable it. The driving skill of the computer opponents will also get upgraded.

If you want a better challenge than the computer, you will often find better players online. Some players will just specialize in the game so unless you want to get owned, you might have to put in some time to take them on.

Since this game is harder than DiRT 1 and in some parts less annoying (difficulty speaking-wise), Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Value:

I bought DiRT 2 via Steam for about 33 dollars a few months ago. Through Steam at the moment of this writing, DiRT 2 is sold for $40, which is a bit steep considering you can beat the game in a few hours.

Overall, gogamer.com has the best prices for most system’s versions of Dirt 2. The link to find it at gogamer is the following: http://www.gogamer.com/searchresults.htm?keywords=dirt+2&categoryId=&x=0&y=0

Considering how little time I beat DiRT 2 in, I would say pick the game up for about 20 dollars if possible, around that price, it’s worth getting hands down. For the current price, mainly get it if you are a hardcore rally racing fan. At the current prices, Value gets a score of 4 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve played the campaign mode twice and it’s kind of like an experience of diminishing returns. I find the online mode now more interesting. The problem with the online mode is that most people on there are a bunch of cheating assholes (crashing you if you are doing well) so to me there’s only the rally mode where you can’t crash your competitors, so it’s more of a pure test of skill/luck.

All the tracks from DiRT 1 are missing in the sequel, which was a disappointment for me because they seem much more real as tracks/courses. I don’t know why they didn’t even bother to include the Pikes Peak Hill Climb course.

Overall, the Replayability gets a score of 6 out of 10. If they can manage to incorporate the non-cheating, non-crashing into the online mode for the modes other than Rally, I’d say it would be worth a 7 out of 10, solely for that.

Sound:

Wonderful sounds ring to my ears. Whether car crunching sounds of smashing your fellow racers or the roar of your rally car flying up a hill. I found it kind of cool in some tracks how they have a running fireworks display as you are about to finish the race and they do sound pretty real to me. Turn the volume ALL the way UP! Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

I found the music in DiRT 1 to be more fitting towards rally racing. The music in DiRT 2 feels as though you’re stuck in a Mountain Dew commercial hopped up either on MD or Red Bull or Monster, the two latter for which you will see ads for throughout the game in almost every race.

DiRT 2 certainly feels more commercial in this sense. I guess the music fits the current direction of where they are trying to get Rally racing to go (especially the infiltration into the US), so it’s more fitting towards the attitude this game has.

Music gets a score of 7 out of 10 in my book. I don’t like it myself but it gets the job done for what they want DiRT 2 to be.

Graphics:

Like DiRT 1 and Grid, DiRT 2 continues the tradition of being amazing eye candy. The game has about 8 or so different global locations and it is does feel as though you really are in the country where you are racing. The car models are simply beautiful and it’s always fun to see them all covered in dirt!

I do enjoy that this is a great game AND it also happens to look great as well.

Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

I’ve only gotten the game to crash once and that was after playing it non-stop for 5 hours, probably because my video card was overheating. Other than that the game is pretty rock solid. I believe Codemasters took steps to address the lag bug from DiRT 1 and it happens much less in DiRT 2. I will address that below under the performance explanation. Stability/Reliability get a score of 9 out of 10.

Controls:

Like DiRT 1, controls are fully customizable. The standard arrow keys for the PC version are all you need unless you want to remap them to your heart’s content.

For the PC version and consoles I’ve been told that wheel and pedal support has been improved dramatically over the first game.

Controls get a score of 10 out of 10 from me.

Performance:

Overall, this game runs pretty great for how pretty it is. I’ve had moments where it lags due to what I think is a bug inherent in the game engine, even if offline, playing against the computer. It’s a bit less drastic than DiRT 2 and I think Codemasters is trying to work this problem out for their future racing games.

The game will run fine on most gaming machines. Racing games are some of the most intense kinds of games because of how many different objects that are moving at high speeds have to be all computed in relation to each other.

Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the many games I played around the holidays of 2009. They kept delaying the PC version over and over, which I found annoying. I was a little disappointed as to how little time it took me to beat the game. I basically beat it on the first day.

The online mode is okay but I only like doing the Rally mode which gets repetitive once you master all the tracks.

DiRT 1 was a nice surprise for when it was released. DiRT 2 has been heavily marketed in comparison, and some of that hype got it sales, but the game itself is still a great game. Fans of the first game should probably give it a chance.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved

Geometry Wars in game screenshot
Geometry Wars in game screenshot

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return and revenge of classic arcade games.”

 

 

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

 

Overview:

Back in the 80s, people would usually flock to arcades to see what new hard arcade games would come out and they would try to see who could get the highest score in their neighborhood. Arcade games were really hard back then since they were designed for you to keep dropping in quarters in order to keep playing in order to try to beat your friends’ scores. Continues? Never heard of that! Those days are gone but now thanks to games like this one, the challenge from those games has returned.

This game needs no storyline.You’re a spaceship/triangle and you’re trying to survive for as long as you can. You move around and shoot with endless enemies coming for you at all times. If anything touches you, you die. It’s that simple. After 10000 points, your fire modes alternate from rapid fire to a more concentrated but slower attack. You have no control over this. The only special thing that can save you when you’re really screwed is the nukes you get, in limited numbers. The game awards you with extra lives, nukes when you reach a specific score point (and multiples of that score amount).

The longer you live and the more/faster you kill, the higher your score multiplier will be. When you die, you lose a life and ALL your score multiplier. Basically, try to never die because as you have a high multiplier if you are really good you will reach a point where if you manage to stay alive you will get a 1-up/nuke much faster, but most people will not get to see that point in the game.

There are different kinds of enemies each with their own attack style pattern. The most basic enemy, a star just comes at you in a linear path, so they’re usually easy to dispatch. There is a diamond shape one that does about the same only that they spawn in groups. There is a green square cowardly one that will stay away from whatever direction you’re shooting in, will try to go around you to tag (kill) you. There is a pink one that when you kill will spawn two smaller enemies that will go kamikaze for you in a circular pattern. You have a snake one (I call them sperm) that you can only kill by shooting the head off. There is a black hole enemy that eats other enemies and also draws you in via gravity, but the best attack is also has is spitting out really fast seeker enemies when it ate until it burst. There is also a red version of you enemy that tries to ram you and has a forward facing shield (forcing you to trick it and shoot it in the back). The deadliest enemy is the smallest, taking form in a pack of “snow” that you have to shoot endlessly to try to hold back.

Geometry Wars is available for PC, Xbox 360, and also for Nintendo Wii and DS.

Fun Factor:

This game is really unforgiving. Enemies constantly keep spawning, sometimes on top of you, so that you need to keep moving at all times and alert every single second. Usually, the faster you kill enemies the faster you will have to deal with the next wave of enemies. Later on, the game will spawn more than one batch at a time, usually of different kinds of enemies that complement each other.

Here is an example of how insane this game is and how ridiculous the gameplay and your nerves will get:

The game is a pure adrenaline injection into your heart. Fun Factor is a 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is really hard for 99.9% of all people. The longer you play Geometry Wars, the harder it gets, no matter what. You are doomed from the start as the game has no end until you run out of lives. The difficulty is simple for about the first 2-3 minutes and then you will start to see it grow at a geometric rate.

This is not a game for a casual gamer, but then again hard arcade games aren’t either. If you’re like me and like hard game, this game is going to be a favorite. You can’t change the difficulty… the game does it for you! Difficulty Versatility gets a 10 out of 10.

Value:

For the Xbox 360, you can just get it from the Xbox Marketplace for a few dollars. For the PC, the game costs $4 via Steam. The link to get Geometry Wars via Steam is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/app/8400/

Considering how challenging and fun this game is, the game is of great Value. If you are a fan of classic arcade games and MAME, you need it. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Literally, this is a game I play every day, myself.

This game is part of my daily routine of games, when I feel like training myself to build up more/better reflexes. I would usually turn on my computer and play this game until I would reach a minimum high score that I set for myself based on how recent I’ve been playing the game. As soon as I reach that score I let myself go play some other games. It’s part of my gaming “exercise.”

If you get mad at it or sick of it, you can always put it down and come back to it weeks or months later and the charm of the game always returns. Replayability gets a 10 out of 10 from me.

Sound:

All the sound effects are reminiscent of classic 80s arcade games such as Warlords or Sinistar. There are many zapping and electronic kind of sounds that will put a smile on an old gamer’s face. The rapid fire upgrade and the black hole enemy blowing up, as well as the nuke going off are particularly gratifying. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a menu song which is pretty relaxing and an in game song that sounds like a mix of early Sega, Nintendo NES, and Amiga game music. Although you will hear this song over and over, it does not get boring or annoying. It fits the theme of the game really well and it will keep your adrenaline in synch with the action, especially if you set the volume of your speakers/headphones up really loud. The action sometimes drowns the music. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10, simply because of the limited selection of music.

Graphics:

Graphically, this game is like a remix of all those retro 80s arcade games you grew up playing. The game is such amazing eye candy that it makes one glad that small games like this are being released, bringing back the spirit of the original arcade, despite the fact that many original arcade games only had rudimentary graphics. “Retro Evolved” … the subtitle was chosen correctly as this is a rebirth/return of the classics.

You shoot enemies and they shatter into a thousand micro pixel vectors. There are so many things on the screen and they all look familiar in a good way (although they all kill y0u in one hit). The game gives one the feeling of holding down the fire buttons just to watch a stream of volleys shatter a cluster of enemies. Graphics get a 1o out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

I used to have an issue with this game and my old graphics card (an ATI 1950 Pro) where it would run out of video memory and freeze up the computer forcing me to reset the whole thing. On my newer gaming PC I’ve pretty much never had this problem, although I remember it might have done it once or twice. Other than that, the game is pretty solid. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 6 out of 10, mainly of how bad the crashes were on some older video cards/systems. The Xbox 360 version has no problems.

Controls:

The controls are really simple. Half your keyboard/game pad moves you around in the obvious direction, the other half makes you shoot in that direction. The only other button you need is the nuke, which is the spacebar for the PC version. ESC key pauses whenever you want.

Combos or special moves aren’t going to keep you alive in this game. Only tactics and pure skill really do make a difference. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs fine on most computers. I’ve seen it lag on some machines that are not necessarily the fastest gaming machines but you’d imagine it would still run fine since it’s a 2D game. The game though does have a lot of action going on at all times. The Xbox version runs perfectly. Overall, Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I kept hearing about this game from Xbox 360 players, saying how good it is. I decided to pick up the PC version for a few bucks and it was a really good decision.

When I first got Geometry Wars I basically spent 3 days doing nothing but playing it non-stop until my hands hurt. As I said before, I usually play this game daily. It usually can wake me up even more than drinking 2-3 cups of cafe con leche.

There is a sequel for this game and it looks amazing but I don’t yet have an xbox 360. If I get to play it or get my hands on one of those consoles, I can assure you I will get it and review it for you.

Max Payne

Max Payne is coming
Max Payne is coming

Max Payne review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“One of the grandfathers of pulp fiction revenge shooters.”

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

Overview:

When I think of Max Payne 1, I think of the following words: revenge, murder, cliches, bullets, lots of guns, hookers, blow jobs, the ice storm, drugs, junkies, sleaze, New York, porn, conspiracies, evil corporations, bullet time, explosions, pulp fiction, comics, black mail, nothing to lose.

You take the role of Max Payne, a New York detective who has the American Dream, an attractive wife that loves him, a small baby, living in your suburb home. As soon as the game starts these Valkyr (a new drug, sort of like Nuke in Robocop 2) junkies brake into your house and murder both your child and soul mate. After killing them, you sob over their corpses like a helpless child. Soon after that, you transfer into vice work, working deep undercover infiltrating the mafia to get to the source of the drug Valkyr. You have been working doing that for a few years but when you are finally getting some good leads, they kill your partner, the only real person who knows exactly what you were up to and you are framed with his murder. The cops are after you, the mob, and more as you go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in a conspiracy that has permanently made you a marked man. You’re Max Payne, you’d had nothing to lose for years now. Time to kill everybody who gets in your way of revenge and your pursuit of the truth. This is what this game is all about. It’s about not giving a fuck and going forward with a gun to the back of your head.

The game has intense action with cut scenes mainly in the form of a pulp fiction styled comic that is brilliant, which reminds me a lot of the darkest Heavy Metal comics. They made a movie for this game, which is a piece of shit. They should have just shot the comics with a few action sequences in between, in the style of the game, and they could have had something that could have rivaled Sin City. Back to the game…

This is an intense 3rd person shooter and it introduced the concept of bullet time into games, taken from the first Matrix movie, which was popular at the time. The game feels like a very gritty Jon Woo film mixed with some aspects from other games such as Sanitarium (the dream sequences are creepy as hell, with Max Payne haunted by the spirits of his dead woman and child). Regarding the dream sequences, you will never forget the blood trail of your child as you run down a haunted corridor, trying to get to your family to save them in time. Too little, too late.

The combat system consists of walking/running/jumping around in 3rd person mode. You heal by taking pain killers (Max Payne gets hurt a lot, get it?) to take the pain away/regenerate flesh. Just pretend that they’re stimpaks from Fallout.

Max Payne was/is a wonderful gaming experience and everybody should at least play it through at least once. The game is art.

Max Payne is available for PC, Xbox, PS2, Mac, and Gameboy Advanced.

Fun Factor:

If you enjoy stuff blowing up and seeing people get shot and fall down using ragdoll physics, then you need to load up Max Payne and empty out some dual ingrams on a squad of goons. The tension of the atmosphere in the game mixed with the comic styled cut scenes, the drama of revenge, the brutal ice storm mixed with everybody out to kill you makes the action adrenaline pumping and that’s a big plus for Fun Factor. Fun Factor gets a 10 out of 10, even with the age of the game.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is ROUGH. It’s from a time when games were not catered to the masses and you had to be good if you wanted to play a challenging game.

You can only play it on the basic difficulty unless you beat the game already and had that installation on this computer when you are replaying it (or you’re just a masochist). Even to a veteran gamer, you will find yourself quick saving and quick loading OFTEN. The damage you take, even at the basic difficulty, is roughly scaled to the amount that you inflict on enemies and most of the time you’re fighting more than one enemy, so you either need to be a quick gun or rely on bullet time to take them out tactically, but it doesn’t always helps as it won’t stop them from shooting you.

If you want to be a sick puppy, you can always opt out to not ever use bullet time and then the game gets as hard as Mafia (a similar game, except with no bullet time and a harder damage engine). I have beaten the game through like this, although it is very hard.

My recommendation is to keep an alternating save game using two slots and save there manually at the beginning of the level and then quick save/load the rest of the way through until you get to the next level.

Since the game is punishing, but in a good way, but it does not let you pick the most ridiculous difficulties from the start, Max Payne gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Through Steam you can pick up both Max Payne 1 and 2 for 15 bucks when it’s not on sale and sometimes around 7 dollars when they are. On www.gogamer.com, you can get the console versions ranging from 8-14 dollars. You can pick up the console versions for about 5 dollars on www.ebgames.com. Considering the game will last you a good 8-16 hours the first time you play it or more and how fun it is, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10. This game needs to be in your video game library.

Replayability:

I’ve played Max Payne 1 over 9 times through the years. The comic cut scenes have cliched pulp fiction dialogue but I love it all. I feel Max’s sorrow as he loses his family and becomes a man with nothing to lose. The more you get into the game, the more you feel how he’s becoming a lose cannon. I know every part in this game but because it’s really well made and challenging, I visit this game yearly, as well as part 2. Since part 3 will come out this year, it’s now a great time to replay this game or play it again for the first time and follow it up with part 2 immediately, if possible. Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The voice acting and sound effects for the game are amazing! It will immerse you into the character and you will feel the sleaze of the dark corners of New York throughout most of the game. All the voice actors sounds like professionals. Even the Russian you meet in game sounds pretty authentic.

There are a few parts where sounds will cut off another sound effect which I think is a limitation of sound cards at the time this game was released or simply a limitation of the sound engine/algorhythms the game uses. Sound itself is brilliant but because of that glitch, Sound gets a 9 out of 10.

Music:

The soundtrack to the game is perfect. It varies from the deeply sad main theme to the rock/techno from the heavy battle sequences.

The main theme is both dramatic, orchestral, and a rock ballad. Every time I hear the main song, I automatically remember everything that happened in the game. It’s that good.

The music adds a lot to the atmosphere in this game and it’s well implemented, with moments of silence to build up the tension and moments where the music is well timed like a well done action movie. Music gets a 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics are now dated, using an older version of DirectX but for it’s time the graphics were astonishing. I remember this games as being one of the first ones that implemented anti-aliasing successfully. The fire and explosions in particular look the greatest. Some scenes in the game will reminds you a lot of New York and some levels in the game will remind you of Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard and also the building battle from the Matrix part 1. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall, the game almost never crashes or gets stuck loading. The only problems I found were when doing alt-tab and only when running multiple programs in the background, that the game thread got stuck in oblivion/infinity. Basically, don’t alt-tab much if you’re going to play this game, as it’s an action game anyways and you ruin the flow. The physics engine itself might not be the best but it doesn’t detract from the game too much. Overall, Stability/Reliability is a 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are well picked for the game, both the PC and console versions. For PC, you move around with WASD, E uses, shift triggers bullet time + jump to cover, space jumps, left mouse button fires, R reloads, right mouse also bullet times. Controls being not too complicated are the key and you will enjoy that combined with the fast action and the different implementations of using the best gun for whatever the situation is. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

When this game came out it was a machine killer. Most could run it but when you saw it running on max settings on a faster machine, it put yours to shame. Since it’s been going to be nearly a decade since the game came out, any gaming machine these days will run the game like a dream on the max settings. As a result of that Performance gets a 10 out of 10 in the modern scope, probably a 7 out of 10 if you time travel and play it back in 2001.

My history with this game:

This game is a classic. I remember seeing the screenshots in the late 90s and being completely blown away. Not only of the graphics but the story and also the comic cut scenes. You can tell that they put in the time to make the best game possible and it was worth waiting years for it to come out.

When I first played this game I had recently seen Boondock Saints and I was in the mood for murdering a bunch of criminal scumbags. The action sort of reminds me also of Dirty Harry, the Death Wish movies, and Heat/Ronin.

The gun battles are all epic and the game itself is hard, which is my cup of tea. It always keeps me interested even though I know every part of the game already.

I need part 3 to come out ASAP, so we can continue to live Max Payne’s journey to redemption.

Tomenet: A multiplayer roguelike game review

Tomenet
Tomenet

Tomenet : A multiplayer roguelike game review

One Sentence Review:

Multiplayer version of ToME, a variant of Angband, one of the great roguelike games of our time.

Overall score:

8/10

Overview:

Tomenet is a multiplayer roguelike game that originated as a variant for the multiplayer roguelike game Mangband. Both of these games are based on the original roguelike game “Rogue” and other well known classics such as Nethack, Moria, Angband, Tome, and many others that any true gamer from the 80s should know and love. The largest hurdle that was met in the creation of the multiplayer versions of these games was that the single player versions were all turn based and that wasn’t a feasible model for a multiplayer version of the game. This creates an interesting combination of difficulty and fastpaced gameplay that very few other games can rival. Another interesting part of the game is that it includes “artifacts”, items that can only be found once in the universe, so the multiplayer versions had to adjust themselves accordingly to create a fair environment for all player involved. Getting used to your character being an “@” and some of the most feared monsters in the games being “U”s, “D”s , and “P”s definitely creates a bit of a challenge for anyone not used to this sort of game. Dungeons constantly create new items and monsters to be challenged, and the evil “RNG” (Random Number Generator) is the allknowing entity that decides whether you survived at 1000ft in the dungeon or meet your ultimate demise by some ungodly U that’s far out of depth and can destroy any mid level avatar in an instant. Overall, this game is challenging and will show you all the things that new games should be based on, instead of who can throw a touchdown pass or shoot the most terrorists in a single swoop.

Fun Factor:

If you consider staying awake until the sun begins to shine through your basement window, this is the game for you. Hectic battles, insane amount of deaths, interesting chat, and an overall great community make the funfactor in this game one of the best I’ve ever played. I give this a 10 out of 10 as far as how much fun it is to conquer that dungeon level after 8 hours of staying awake on caffeine pills and Mountain Dew.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is one of the most difficult I’ve ever played considering the fact that it’s a turn based game turned realtime, with no real changes to the benefit of the player. The dungeon scales considerably quickly, so expect to stay at low depths for lengthy periods of time to acquire the proper equipment and resistances required to descend further. I also give this a 10 out of 10 for difficulty considering I’ve only seen one player truly master it, after 10 years or so of refining his skills. Anyone up to the challenge of proving me wrong is more than welcome to, but it won’t happen!

Value:

This game is completely free, no charges ever, just a quick download and you’re good to go. The main site for Tomenet is http://www.tomenet.net and is maintained by C. Blue as far as I know. Kudos to him for hosting his server and keeping this game alive through the years. He should implement some sort of donation system because I definitely owe this game something for the years of fun I’ve had playing it. 10 out of 10 for value.

Replayability:

One thing about this game is that you will never have to “replay” it per se, rather the game will force you to start over unlimited times until you create the perfect build and get all the gear necessary, only to die to some insane pack of Greater Balrogs at 5000ft that all decide to breathe on you at the same time without mercy. Considering how tough it is to really get into this game I only give it a 6 out of 10. This game is not newb friendly and don’t try to play it unless you’re a hardcore gamer with a love for getting pissed off at your computer every few hours.

Sound:

The only sound I’ve ever seen this game make is by the /page command, which creates beeps from your motherboard speaker I believe, unless they changed it so it goes through your actual sound system, but i doubt it. Only giving this a 1 out of 10 unfortunately.

 

Music:

Load up itunes and put on your favorite songs for this one, absolutely no music. 0 out of 10.

 

Graphics:

The only graphics that this game includes are ASCII ones like any true roguelike should have. They are definitely an acquired taste but once you get used to a | being a sword and a D being an Ancient Dragon, they really become par for the course. I rate this a 5 out of 10.

 

Stability/Reliability:

Considering the main servers are located somewhere in Europe, there is a small amount of lag on the Tomenet server. If there was a larger fanbase I’m sure US servers would pop up and I could increase the rating as far as stability goes, I rate this a 5 out of 10.

Controls:

Unfortunately this is the part where I need to rant on something that needs to be changed. Basic controls are simple, but performing any action in this game is tedious and requires an extensive knowledge of the macro system, and how to create these. Once you get used to them, it is easy enough, but for a newb, this part of the game can be most daunting and create a tough experience. I rate the controls 2 out of 10.

 

My history with this game:

This was one of my first multiplayer games I’ve ever played, starting in 1995 with Mangband 0.5.4 and never looking back, I’ve played on and off since then and I wouldn’t be suprised if I will play this and other multiplayer variants for years to come. If there was one game that defines all the things I like in a game, Mangband/Tomenet would be it.

Overall I give Tomenet a 8/10, if they created a more newb friendly experience, this game would be one of the most popular ever!

 

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.

Nation Red

Nation Red poster
Nation Red poster

Nation Red review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Smash TV + zombies = fun”

 

 

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

 

Overview:

While everybody knows Left 4 Dead 1 and 2, Nation Red offers arcade zombie killing action for the single player masses. The game consist of you being a woman trapped in a zombie infected quarantine area, with endless (depending on the game mode) hordes of zombies coming to eat your sweet flesh.

There are different game modes, the campaign which involves playing a series of missions (which is basically like training/tutorial mode for me) and the free play mode and its variations. That’s basically the game mode I recommend playing as it offers an online ladder high score table in the style of old arcade games to see who is the champ.

You basically run around in a limited area blasting away at the damned with a variety of pistols, SMGs, and rifles and assorted weapons. There is an XP bar next to your score that shows you how far you are proportionately to level up and earn an upgrade. You can set the game to give you a finite upgrade path but a level cap or make it have unlimited leveling for your avatar but the upgrades will come at you randomly. I find that more challenging and funner, every time. Upgrades vary from self regeneration, faster fire rates, higher DPS in different combinations, damage reduction, special attacks, special ally summons, booster item drop modifications (drop rate, quality of spawns, variations on what items will do), and so on.

Not only is there now still the Free play mode which has been slightly altered but they added Barricade survival mode which also has a ladder high score table.

Fun Factor:

If you enjoy shooting endless hordes of flesh eaters with the constant stress of being under siege then this is your game. The developers update this game at least once a month, usually making it into a different game because of rule/item changes so this keeps the game fresh. The game has a sheer level of destruction that will bring a smile to any pyro’s face. They keep adding new guns every month and that is a sweet pleasure. I give Red Faction a Fun Factor score of 8 out of 10 with variations to that based on how the latest build changed the game.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game starts out pretty simple with the difficulty upscaling itself every 5-7 minutes in a linear path. Since the game gets updated often, the game becomes easier/harder depending on the build that month. You really don’t have control over this so that hurts versatility but it modifies the difficulty factor. I would say the Difficulty Versatility for this game is a 6 out of 10 because of the variation on the game rules but your lack of control as to what the developers do to the game.

Value:

I got this game via Steam for $10, although it’s sometimes on sale on there ranging from 3-7 dollars as well. For the amount of classic arcade fun the game provides, it’s worth getting at that price definitely. As for Value, Nation Red gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

Because of the rate of build updates this game gets and the fact that it’s fun in general to blow away those freaking zombies, this is a game that you can come back to over and over again. I have played the game in some builds to the point where it took 50 real life minutes for me to finally die and I mainly die because I get braindead. However, that’s not the case anymore and they stepped up the difficulty/score generation rate, so it still makes me want to come back to it after 6 months of ownership. I give Replayability a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds for the guns are great, although the sounds for the zombies are kind of generic. The explosions sometimes sound kind of muffled so in general Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music the game comes with will drive you insane eventually because it loops relatively fast and it’s never ending. What I do is turn it off and put on a fun playlist that will keep my energy high and won’t let me get bored of hearing the same 1-2 minute loop of the same thing over and over and over and over and over. Yeah, you get it. Music gets a 4 out of 10.

Graphics:

The game looks rather gloomy as it has this nasty yellow dirt look to it but that’s fine because there is carnage all over the screen within a few minutes of playing. Eventually, most of the screen will be red covered in zombie residue. The graphics look decent for a game put out by a small studio. I give Graphics a score of 7 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never really crashes as the engine is solid. The game never refuses to launch, even if you force it to while it was downloading an update for it. It’s stable as a mountain, so Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Simple controls keep you focused on the game. You move around with WASD and shoot stuff with the left mouse button. You use grenades with the right and press E to do a body roll. ESC pauses the game any time you want and you activate the level up option (which pauses the game too) by hitting space. You can force lock the weapon you’re holding by using F. There’s really no need to remap the controls as the default really work already. I give controls a score of 10 out of 10. Get ready to put in some wear and tear on your mouse though. =P

Performance:

This game runs rather well on most gaming PCs although occasionally the game engine will hickup and you will experience a slight lag, although the game is single player offline. Because of that glitch, the game loses points although it can run on most machines. Performance gets a 7 out of 10 until they fix that bug in the game engine.

My history with this game:

I got sick of playing Left 4 Dead so I thought I’d give the Nation Red demo a try. After half an hour I had already bought the game because the game can be pretty addictive at times. For the price, you really can’t go wrong. I recommended it to various people and they all have fun playing it so far, so you might want to give the demo via Steam a try, just for shits and giggles.

 

Master of Orion

Master of Orion box cover
Master of Orion box cover

Master of Orion 1 (MS-DOS) Review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The original explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate space mega empire game.”

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

Overview:

This is the grand daddy, 5000 lb gorilla of space empire games. From the now dead Microprose, this is one of those games, among XCOM and Master of Magic and Civilization that made that company a gaming legend.

You take the role of the immortal emperor of one of many emerging races that just discovered the ability to travel to other star systems and begin the competition for colonization, later leading to war, and galaxywide politics as to who will win the war for supremacy or the votes of all nations as the race to unify the galaxy as the leader of a mega empire (ending the game).

The game consists of you taking turns (non-simultaneous) with your rivals, managing your planets’ development, research directions (allows multiple research projects at a time vs 1 in later space empire games, which I think that’s unrealistic), your spy projects (they can sabotage, steal tech, be sleepers), your diplomacy (make alliances, actually never do almost, and trade tech, start trade deals, threaten and demand tribute, end and start wars), and conquer conquer conquer. You can orbitally bombard planets to dust basically or be smart about your killing (because later the weapons can literally scorch all populations out of existence, even one ship) and enslave, I mean welcome the conquered population to your empire.

There are different races that each has an advantage, whether a bonus in diplomacy or faster production or research or better combat skills (space or ground combat, which is good for taking over planets) or spying or their people breed like rabbits or some don’t require any terraforming whatsoever (which is a major part of the game, being able to actually claim and live on planets aka breathing is a major technology).

The game is won be either eliminating all rivals or becoming the new emperor of a unified star empire.

This is the game that inspired most future space empire games such as Space Empires, Galactic Civilizations, Sword of the Stars, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc.

Fun Factor:

This game is like crack. If you love micromanagement and having to defend 6 fronts at a time, this is the turn based strategy game for you. Since the game is turn based, you can take your time planning where to attack next or who to try to start a war with (or make them fight each other by making your spies start a fake terrorist attack vs each other). The game makes you feel as though you are using your brain and even to this day, over 15 years of me playing it, I’m always finding out new little secret strategies to deploy. If you’re a war gamer, you will agree that this game has a Fun Factor of 9 out of 10. It’s a game for thinkers.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game has like 5 difficulty settings and it becomes really brutal the higher you go. You can scale the size of the galaxy so that you can play a long or REALLY long game. This sometimes has a harsher effect on how hard it is. Imagine having to fight a fleet of 20 war planets producing full time vs one of 4 planets. It requires you to have the logistical foresight to be able to take on such an onslaught. I give the Difficulty Versality a score of 10 out of 10.

Value:

Well, Microprose is dead and basically so this game is now free. You can get it from sites such as http://www.abandonia.com/ or http://www.homeoftheunderdogs.net/ and run it on DOSBox for free. You can also opt to buy Master of Orion 1 + 2 together for $5.99 from Good Old Games. Since this game is amazing and it’s free or very cheap, the score for Value is maxed out at 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve been playing it at least 2-3 times a year since the mid 90s. It’s one of those games that is on a permanent list to play each year. Like Civilization, once I start playing this game it’s hard for me to do anything but that for a good 2-4 weeks, each time. Replayability gets a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

I usually have the sound off, but the sounds are okay for an early 90s DOS strategy game. I give the Sound a score of 6 out of 10.

Music:

The music is alright but I usually shut it off and play some classical or epic music in the background. Keeps the game play strong and my concentration on maxing out planets and blowing up enemy fleets. The Music that comes with the game gets a 6 out of 10.

Graphics:

Of course, the graphics are now way dated, but for it’s time they were pretty great for a war game. The weapon beam effects look great for DOS and even the homing missiles look threatening although it’s just a grey arrow almost. Considering the style behind the Microprose games of this time and that it’s a war game, Graphics get a 9 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never, ever crashes, itself. Sometimes DOSBox has some issues when you ALT-TAB but that’s a problem with DOSBox, not the game itself. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simply point and click with a few hotkeys integrated. The hotkeys however are not necessarily shown in game and you’d have to read the manual or look them up online. Some are essential like B for scrapping your missile bases in case they are too obsolete or your war front has moved up from that location and you’re wasting resources maintaining them. I give controls a 7 out of 10 because although some are hidden, they do what they’re meant to do properly and keep the game playable.

Performance:

This game will run godlike on any computer, maybe even a mobile phone. Performance instantly gets a 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is actually one of the first PC games I’ve ever bought and it was well worth it as it has given me literally over 1000 hours of gameplay. I played it first on a 486 so you have an idea how much of a place in my gaming history this game has. Because of it’s turn based nature I’ve even played this game while working and that’s very doable so long as you have good multitasking skills and a good memory as to your strategems. I hope you will all start playing this classic even as a new gamer, you will learn new ways to think and that’s always, always rewarding in itself.

Master of Orion manual
Master of Orion manual

Battleforge

Battleforge Logo
Battleforge Logo

Battleforge Review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The lovechild of Warcraft 2/3 on crack mixed with Magic the Gathering.”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

Overview:

This is an RTS MMO by Phenomic and it is run by/published by Electronic Arts. The player takes the role of a Sky Lord, which is basically like a minor god mage that manifests units, buildings, and spells in the mortal realm. Every action in the game takes form of a card to represent the icon for the unit/building/spell which is played in real time whenever the player builds up enough power (mana) to cast/summon it. There are four disciplines of magic: Shadow, Fire, Frost, and Nature. You can make up your army of any mixture of disciplines. There are only two resources during battles, power wells which make power (mana) and monuments (orbs) which are your units/building/spell tier tech levels. Cards are bought using real money which buys one BFPs (battleforge points) either from EA or by buying the game. Trade in game is also possible so it’s not really necessary to buy the game at all if one wants to put in the time instead. The game is divided up into PVP and PVE. The PVP is divided up into unranked (practice), collection (any cards go) 1vs1 and 2vs2 (ranked), and tome (specific to cards bought that month in a random collection) 1vs1 and 2vs2 (ranked). The PVE takes the form of premade missions that are either single player, 2 player, 4 player, or 12 player. A new game mode has been added in Nov 2009 which adds random pve maps from 1-4 players and adds the reward system of the PVP system. As far as rewards go, missions give the player in game money (gold) and upgrades for unit/building/spell cards the player may or may not already own. The goal of the game is up to you, whether to own every card in the game, get all upgrades for them, or dominate the pvp ladders. The initial launch of the game in the US seems to have failed (as far as I know) and it’s relatively cheap to play it here vs the rest of the world. There is no monthly subscription fee and the game is “Play4Free.”

If you already know the game but would like my tips, click here to read my strategy guide on how to do battlegrounds properly.

Fun Factor:

It’s been 2 months since I started playing it and I am still lured back to the game. I hate MMOs in general but for what this is, the usual biweekly updates keep me coming back for more. It’s a lot of fun setting the difficulty higher each time to level up my real life micromanagement skills and I really enjoy sometimes being able to hold out 6-7 fronts throughout different parts of the battlefield all at once. I’ll give the fun factor score for Battleforge a 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

There have been times that I have been doing a mission with a friend for an hour on the max difficulties only to fail for not paying attention for about a minute or two. The difficulties for the missions scale very fast as there are 3 difficulties (Standard, Advanced, Expert) at the time of this writing. Let’s just say you better be good to play Expert. 😀 For the Random PVE maps, they implemented a bar that slides from 1 to 10 so it’s a lot more customizable and the game earns a lot of points in this category for that. For PVP, people have researched the living crap out of the game by now so there are pvp guides out there for people who just want to stick to other people’s strategies. I have myself countered some of the instawin bullshit strategies so I think the game has a lot to offer. I give the difficulty versatility a 10 out of 10.

Value:

Since the game is free, the game has a great Value score. You can download the full game from the main Battleforge website. With the Play4Free account one gets a limited amount of cards but it’s still possible to pretty much do everything in the game with them, although it will very hard to do so if just using these free cards as many basic cards are missing from the free account. To solve that one can trade gold for cards (risky because of the nature of the trade system in game) or if one wanted to be really cheap one can spend the bare minimum real money and add $5 through the EA website to their Battleforge account. That basically translates to one cent is one BFP and with those assets one can either buy two booster packs in game (which I don’t recommend) or buy a lot of cheap 2 cent cards in the auction house and then build up one’s army slowly. Those 500 bfps can also be used to farm the auction house and slowly start earning bfps through one’s buying out of and reselling in the auction house. It’s up to you if you want to put in the time and this can be a game in itself. I myself are notorious for my AH buyouts. (evil grin) If you opt out and buy the full game for $20, you get almost every basic card in the game automatically and 3000 bfps which you can use to buy boosters/tomes/cards in AH, etc. In the long run this is the best value for the in game economy of your character. Since the game has no subscription fee and it’s only $7 or $20 for many, many days/weeks/months of entertainment the game gets a 10 out of 10 in this category from me.

You can get the game from Direct2Drive or Steam for $20 or for close to 7 dollars on Amazon since the game is not as popular as they anticipated. This is by far the best value way to get the game.

Replayability:

The number of missions is limited but since there are three difficulties for each and each difficulty is completely different, these missions will offer at least a whole month worth of entertainment until you grow tired of them. The random pve can be a lot of fun since you pick whatever custom difficulty you want and it’s a random map/enemy every time. They can be extremely challenging. For PVP you can spend endless hours trying to fight your way up the ladder system. It’s up to you what your goals will be and you can always invent new ones. 😀 I’ll give the replayability an 8 out of 10. I do hope that they keep adding more content for this game if not this score will drop.

Sound:

The sound of the explosions and swords rattling is great. The voice actors they picked do a nice job as every unit has their own sounds, some which are funny, some which are generic. Overall I give the sound category a 7 out of 10.

Music:

Each discipline of magic has its own music score which sounds great, except to me the nature music which is kind of annoying (reminds me of the Lion King). My favorites are the music for Shadow (sounds like something out of Gladiator mixed with music from the Dawn of War games) and Fire (sounds like a mix of Assassin’s Creed music). The music can get repetitive, well if you play the game like I do (100 missions in a row, etc). Overall I still think they put a great effort on the soundscore and I reward this game a 7 out of 10 for the music.

Graphics:

The graphics for this game are simply beautiful! To my knowledge this is one of the first games to embrace DX11 and it’s sponsored directly by AMD/ATI (even gets promoted directly on their website and I saw the add for it when updating to the latest ATI video drivers). Each card in the game has its own custom icon which is very pleasing considering this is an RTS game. Special versions of cards (promotion cards) have an even more custom avatar for the units with a special skin and/or better graphics. I think this is one of the better looking RTS games out there and the graphics remind me a lot of Guild Wars and Age of Wonders 2, which as far as graphics go are a great thing! Graphics gets a 9 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall the game is stable but…there are drops in connection/desynch when you least expect it. This might be because of latency issues between people playing far away but I had been playing this game with my brother which lives in the same house as I do and one of my best friends which lives blocks from my house and the match ends because of a desynch issue. This doesn’t happen all the time but I do want to bring it up because for an online game this is a deal breaker. As far as server up time, the servers are up 99.9% of the time with the only times I saw them down being for an update to the game which took about 30-50 minutes and one time for general maintenance. Compared to WoW or Eve Online, EA really does a much better job for quality of service. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 6 out of 10.

Controls:

The game implements the WASD scroll which is great and now makes other RTS games controls seem clumsy. Most hotkeys for commands of units are the same key which simplies micromanagement even further. I give Controls a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

I don’t run the latest hardware and the game runs like a champ on an AMD Athlon X2 5400 CPU and an ATI Radeon 3870 512 PCI Express MB video card. My brother is running the game playable on an AMD Athlon 64 3000 CPU and an ATI X800 AGP video card. Most gamers will be able to run this games on any modern gaming PC. I give it a score of 9 out of 10 for performance.

My history with this game:

I downloaded the demo for this game and I wanted it so suck so much but instead it was enough fun that I stopped playing most other games for a good month or two. I got most of my friends addicted to playing it, even those who hardly ever buy new games bought multiple copies of the game and we got a lot of members added to out gaming clan because of this game. I’ve been playing for two months and I have still a way to go before completing my card/army collection. Probably by the time this will happen another expansion will come out (there has already been one made) so that will keep me even more interested.