Review

Game Reviews

Beneath a Steel Sky

If the set-up sounds a little similar to Mega-City One in Judge Dredd, then it’s no coincidence – Dave Gibbons (of 2000 AD and Watchmen fame) did all of the artwork for the game (including the mini-comic), and every screen simply drips with cyberpunk chic. At the time it looked astonishing, and even now the dystopian backdrops are capitivating. The anticipation of what graphical delight awaited you on the next screen was almost as much of a draw as the fantastic plot.

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Multiplayer Online Games

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review

Too bad anything good I have to say of FFXIV:AAR stops there. The matchmaking and instancing is reminiscent of WoW’s very first implementation of the LFG tool. The level of grinding involved in attempting to raise more than 1 class or trade skill at the same time on the same character would make a Korean LAN cafe operator sick to his stomach. The inconsistency in voice acting on the main scenario quest is laughable. The tiered approach to gearing for end-game past darklight seems like an afterthought and not consistent with the level of polish that went into other parts of the game.

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NES

Vegas Dream

Vegas Dream features multiple game modes such as slot machines, Black Jack, Roulette, and even Keno (if you didnt get enough of playing that in the bar). But what makes this game stand apart from the rest is the added scenarios that happen at random… say an unfamiliar woman offers to watch a show with you. Maybe her intentions are good, or maybe she wants to steal your wallet and throw your money all over the Black Jack table.

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Game Reviews

Fallen Skies: Episode 3

This week Fallen Skies settled into the story of learning more about the aliens and how to defeat them. I knew the Ben rescue storyline would continue for a while, but having the captured alien does at a nice twist. It is also good to see more resistance cells out there and the character development of Pope is coming along nicely. I still think the show has a long way to go before it can find a permanent spot on the watch list. I think depending on what we learn about the aliens and their connection to the children could tell us if the ongoing storyline will be a winner or not.

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Arcade Games

Gun Frontier

As might be evident from some of the screenshots, Gun Frontier looks and plays a lot like some other well-known vertical scrollers, notably Flying Shark. It features the same sort of tanks, squadrons of enemy fighters, and ground targets such as gun turrets and buildings, and even some of the backdrops are reminiscent. Not that this makes it a bad game, of course, just not very original. Maybe that’s what the Wild West theme is in aid of.

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Indie Games

Knightsquire

Knightsquire, lovingly crafted by none other than buloght (?), is apparently a game about a knight and his squire. Make that better a game about a knight, his squire and a door stuck shut. Not very epic in scope, but funny, quirky and touching on the delicate subject of squire-maltreatment (quite the class issue in medieval Europe), Knightsquire is a rather traditional point and click adventure, that’s slightly reminiscent of Gobliins 2

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Indie Games

Feyruna: Fairy Forest

Feyruna – Fairy Forest will henceforth be referred to, probably features Feyruna, a fabulous fairy (which could also be the name of FFF’s setting mind you, but really, I like the idea of calling the fairy Feyruna), and is quite frankly an alliteration heavy casual and/or retro gamer’s wet dream. It also is one of the more polished (but less innovative…) indy games I’ve recently seen and one of the few PC offerings with three unlockable mini-games. They might not be much, they might be simple, basic even, but they’re definitely a touch that shows the amount of care gone into the game.

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Hardware

Retro Love: Buy a Dreamcast

By saying the scene I’m talking of the vibrant DC emulation, demo, homebrew and even amateur journalism community. On the Dreamcast you see, one can play anything from old arcade, to MegaDrive, Amiga, Atari, Gameboy, Playstation or NES games. There’s even a ScummVM port that makes those old Lucasarts adventures of yore DC compatible. Then again one can listen to MP3s, watch DivX videos, see the Dreamcast get pushed to its limits and play zillions of Tetris versions. All of these courtesy of the scene.

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Indie Games

Germ Attack

Germ Attack, though, introduces an interesting and rather successful twist to the color-matching mechanics, that makes for quite a refreshing gameplay experience. Instead of placing colored candy on a grid a la Sweety Puzzle, arranging falling colored objects a la Columns or utilizing a Baku Baku mechanic, Germ Attack lets you rotate (apparently colored) germs, as they are placed on the playing area. Not easily described, but simple and intuitive, and you’ll get the whole idea by playing the demo for 15 seconds.

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Table Top Games

Zombies 2

Assuming those interested in Zombies!!! 2 are already Zombies!!! players (well, they really should be, as the original game is quite required to enjoy the Z!!!2 affair), I’ll get right to the new stuff. Ruleswise you get a slightly tweaked core ruleset, that helps speed the game up and clean up slight problems, a nice FAQ and quite a few brand new rules. Without wanting to spoil the overall fun-of-the-fan I’ll just mention two of them: 1) you get to ride vehicles, 2) tougher (government enhanced) zombies are introduced.

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Nintendo Wii

Sweety Puzzle

Non-gamers are Nintendo’s Wii little target, non-gamers were the people the PlayStation turned to gamers all those years ago and non-gamers are the market casual games are aiming for. But what are casual games (ask the masses in their booming and state-shattering voices)? Well, according to Wikipedia they are “a category of electronic or computer games targeted at the mass audience, which are peculiar for their simple rules, engaging game design, require no time commitment or special skills from an end user as well as comparatively low production and distribution costs from producer”.

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Game Reviews

Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide

The most impressive thing in the ‘Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide’’ though, is not it’s size or the amount of useful information included. Neither are the usual photos of Golden Demon winners’’ entries nor the dioramas and conversions presented. It is the fully converted Araby themed army by Justin Hill. It simply has to be seen to be believed.

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Indie Games

Spooks

On the plus side, the dialogs, handled with a typical multiple-choice interface, are very well written, the finale is unexpectedly unexpected, the Sierra styled interface works in an okay way, and as I’’ve already said everything is fine and dandy. Even the lead character is like Diamanda Galas in joke-mode. I guess that in order to find out more you should rather download and play the game. Here are more screenshots, and a hint on the plot: It’’s about ghouls. The female kind. That should do it. I’’m sure I’’ve convinced you to have a look.

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Indie Games

Apprentice Deluxe

Do you know what the difference between a “review” and a “critique” is? No? Yes? Good for you. You can skip the rest of this paragraph. If your answer was no though, all I can do is provide you with my (very personal and quite copyrighted) view: A review is a critique from a consumer’s point of view. It is there to tell you if something is worth the money it will cost you. A critique on the contrary, judges something on its own and usually on its artistic merits alone, without taking price into consideration. On the other hand, computer games tend to be reviewed, as is customary and as they are considered inferior to -say- movies or apparently novels. So what shall I do with ‘Apprentice deluxe’? It is a PC game (an adventure to be more precise) and it is freeware. Should I review it? Critique(sp.) it? Take it out for a beer? What?

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Xbox 360

Alan Wake

In a nutshell that is how I view the watching of the Night Springs television show that you can watch in game. Night Springs is a Twilight Zone rip-off show that you can watch on many of the televisions in game. The problem is twofold. One, for the most part you don’t need to watch the Night Sprints shows for anything other than an achievement. Two, when you are being chased down and are in the middle of intense action it makes no sense to spend up to ten minutes watching a badly made in game show that does nothing for you. The same applies for the radio. Sure, the radio show gives you some current information and town info, but again, it is long and doesn’t really help you in the game and takes you out of the moment.

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Blog

CyberNations

Ever wanted to run a country? With CyberNations, a massively multiplayer online geopolitical simulator, you can. Your country interacts with other players’ countries in the general setting of a facsimile planet Earth. The real game, however, is on a larger-scale groups of these countries form alliances, which are the real nations. Politics happen, treaties are signed, wars are waged and reparations are paid.

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