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Multiplayer Game Reviews

May 7, 2011

Shatter

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Other, Paid, Playstation, WindowsTaylorLF @ 05:26

I most likely never would’ve picked up Shatter if the folks over at Steam didn’t do that week of challenges that let you unlock certain game achievements in various games that gained you an entry into winning some games on your wish list. Sad as that may be, I played a game I probably wouldn’t have looked at and I’m grateful I did.

Shatter is a modern, different spin on the brick breaker games. You know, the games where you launch a ball from a platform and keep it up in the air as it breaks the blocks above you? Anyway, what Shatter did is turn it into an actual game. It turned what was a simple game you played on your phone to an action filled, almost transforming it into a side scrolling at parts, top down at other parts shooter game, while sometimes adding a wide circle around the blocks that the ball can bounce off of.

The gameplay is simple enough as is most games like it. You launch the ball and then you keep it up and let it destroy things. However, Shatter adds a whole new spin to it with letting you launch another ball so you have more to keep up on your own, letting you push and pull the ball to maneuver it around the field to get that last brick you just can’t seem to hit usually, and also collect shards that once they fill up a meter you can use a special ability called Shardstorm that just unleashes only what can be described as a hail of bullets in front of you, easily taking care of a section of blocks. Also a section of the bar can be used to activate a shield so that the floating, debris blocks can’t hit you, but if it does it really only knocks your platform back a bit, no real harm except the possibility of missing your ball on the rebound.

The game consists of 10 single player levels, and adds boss fights that require specific parts to be hit, making the whole pull/push mechanic a helpful tool to use. After that however, there’s not much gameplay to be had. There’s a bonus mode to unlock that lets you see how long you can keep 3 balls going and see what high score you can get. The other mode to unlock is a Boss Rush mode which is pretty much what it sounds like, fight through all the bosses back to back to see how quick you can. Both the bonus mode and boss rush mode have leaderboards to compare scores to, but there’s no actual multiplier and co-op must be done on the same computer/keyboard/screen.

Graphics are fine for what the game is. There’s enough visual and shiny stuff to appeal but not breaking your system. The music however is where the game really shines. It has that electronica feel without making you feel like you’ve heard the same beats before. I don’t know, it’s really unique and just suits the game perfectly.

Overall, Shatter is a great game. I like seeing where developers take various types of games and see what spin they put on it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but Shatter breaks out on its own as a game that has to be tried.

Shatter

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A new take on a classic game type.

Game: Shatter | Developer: Sidhe

May 4, 2011

Desktop Dungeons

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Free, Macintosh, WindowsTaylorLF @ 04:10

Desktop Dungeons is a rather simple game at first glance. Select your race, class, and dungeon map and let the game generate a small, top down 8 bit dungeon. Typically these dungeons are so small that they can be completed in 5-10 minutes, making it a perfect game that you can simply just quickly play and put down, and since it runs in a window that can be easily minimized it’s a perfect tool for wasting time at work (Note: I in no way encourage game playing on the clock, I am in no way responsible for you getting your butt fired by playing this at work.) Then it hits you, the level is randomly generated. Meaning you can get stuck between two higher level monsters with no chance except to just rush, die, and generate another dungeon.

You will die, a lot. It’s not a question of difficulty as it is of placement and luck so there’s really no getting better at the game then it is just lucking out on a good random generator. There are plenty of tricks and strategies built up that people have shared which are sort of helpful but in the end it really just comes down to “Do I have enough -blank- to make it through?” Blank could be space, low level monsters that you can level up on, item finds, etc. There are shrines to various deities you can worship which give you various perks depending on what kind of deity they are, but you’ll realize soon enough that only a handful are consistently helpful, some are situational at best, and others are to be avoided unless you want to make things harder on yourself. There are also scattered potions that restore either your health or mana, which you will need. There’s also gold to be had and you can luck out and find a decent store that will sell you something relevant, or a store that really doesn’t help much.

So what’s the whole point of this game? To throw yourself at it enough times to get a nice placement, bring your tiny guy up to level 10 and defeat the end boss of that level, hoping you have enough potions to survive. You manage to beat a level, you can unlock various things. There are new classes, levels, things like that. On the plus side exploring the black areas of the dungeon you haven’t seen yet restores part of your health and mana but of course that only lasts until you have nothing else to see.

There are spells to help you out. Basic stuff that damages an enemy, to others that blow up a part of a wall so you can pass, to spells that summon a monster of your level in case you need that bit of grind, but the problem is once again with placement. You might get nothing, you might find them all but since you can only hold 4 some are wasted. It shares what’s pretty much the problem with most of the game.

The graphics are a more detailed version of 8-bit sprites. Everything from the layout, monsters, hero, all screams of an old school dungeon feel. No real music to speak of, just sound bites for various actions.

Overall, the appeal of Desktop Dungeons is in its difficulty but also in its quick simplicity. Most of said difficulty comes from the random placement of objects. As I mentioned earlier, you will die a lot. The whole point is that the games are so short at times you can just load up another and try again and hope you get different results. The only thing keeping that from being the definition of insanity is the fact that the dungeons are randomized.

Note: At the time of this review, Desktop Dungeons is freeware. Whether the new version they’re working on will be for sale or continue to be free is not known.

Desktop Dungeons

 ★★★☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
Keep going, you might luck out.

Game: Desktop Dungeons | Developer: QCF Design

April 28, 2011

Dynasty Warriors 7

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Adventure & RPG, Paid, Playstation, XBoxTaylorLF @ 05:21

I’ll be up front. I’ve played the series since number two, the first doesn’t count because that was a two player fighting game, not a hack-n-slash. Eventually you get tired of the same people, same game, same battles, same everything. So each game they try to add new aspects, which some work and some don’t. I’ve seen the series go through some changes and haven’t always liked them. The Empire series never grabbed me, Strikeforce was just….weird, Gundam isn’t even Dynasty Warriors (seriously guys Dynasty Warriors = Three Kingdoms not giant robots, get on that). Then they change the original formula and that doesn’t go over well, like Dynasty Warriors 6. However, I still picked up seven. I had to see what they did, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The game play is relatively the same. You’ll fight the same battles as you’d expect to fight with each kingdom, with a slight twist this time. One, there’s a fourth kingdom to play as. What? A fourth kingdom in my three kingdoms game you say!? Yes, you can play as Jin. In story mode, you don’t select the character and go through each battle with them, repeating this for every character, like in the past. Story mode is actually story mode, with each battle being played by a certain person who had relevance to that battle. Most missions begin with you in your camp, letting you walk around and talk to various people just to get some perspective on the current situation, or mindless banter. You talk to the one person who can start the fight, noticeable by the giant red exclamation point over their head, the gates open and you seamlessly get put into the battle. I said most missions because a couple of them you immediately start out fighting, but you can pause the game at any time to switch weapons out or put new seals on your weapons.

Seals are unlocked through using a certain weapon until you unlock that weapons seal. The seals are usually things like attack or defense boosts. Some other ones are: skill point boosts, increase your bonds with officers, walking speed increase, things like that.

Each character can equip two weapons at any time, with one weapon being their “preferred” weapon, with an Ex skill that you can do. However you don’t have to use that weapon if you don’t care about their special skill, and can see how well they can use certain weapons with a three star rating. Some weapons are blocked out for certain people while others only get a one or two star rating. With some weapons they’d have a blacked out star, meaning that character can eventually use that weapon at that level of efficiency. It’s not to say you can’t use a one star weapon, you just attack slower. Two stars means you use the weapon as-is with no penalties, with three stars letting you use the weapon’s special trick.

Throw some seals on those bad boys and go out swinging. It amuses me to see a giant, tough warrior using a harp or a flute or a tiny girl using a big hammer or axe. There are a ton of weapons to use though, and some of the later weapons you get have a mastery skill on it. For instance: Spear Master. Equipping that seal on a weapon will make you fight with the spear as if it was three stars, even if they only have a one. Options people, options!

How do we unlock more weapons to use? Partly through the story mode, sometimes there’s a weapon merchant in that camp you can purchase weapons from pre-battle. Most of the buying, though, takes place in the separate mode from Story mode, Conquest Mode. Conquest is where the free for all starts. You have a big map with hexagons –each representing a battle or a town. The town ones are fairly visible since they’re gold, but the battles can range anywhere from: increasing your fame, to new weapons, to new guardian animals you can equip (horses to ride or different animals that attack things for you), to unlocking new characters to play in conquest mode with. The only problem with this mode is that once it’s completed, like the story mode, that’s kind of it. You can play conquest mode with any character (assuming you unlocked them through their appropriate battle on conquest mode) but the progress is shared, so aside from playing each character to finish their skill tree, to unlock their voices in the gallery, or increasing your bond with officers to unlock more voices, there’s not much to go on.

Officers are unlocked after a couple bond increases to be sworn allies, meaning you can make them your lieutenant…kind of. You equip them in town at the teahouse, where you also equip your guardian animals. Afterwards, you just increase their bond fighting with them. There’s a seal that helps it increase faster but after it’s maxed, aside from different in-game dialogue to show the increased bond, there’s really no need to keep them unless you’ve done everyone.

Characters can be customized a bit. Aside from the weapon switching listed already, each person has a skill tree that you use points gotten from defeating officers to unlock things like: the fifth and sixth regular attacks/charge attacks, a skill point increase that stacks with the skill point weapon seal, a special skill related to that person, and a second musou bar and attack. Wait, a second bar and attack? Yes indeed. Gone are the days of one long bar that continuously drained as you did one attack, continually until it ran out, followed by a big boom. Now you use one bar that does a single, damaging attack. But now each character has two attacks. Variety makes me happy. There are currently only two outfits selectable for each character which really only change the color scheme of their original outfit, but word is that there is DLC coming down that adds a few of the pasts Dynasty Warrior games outfits.

The graphics are the best I’ve seen for the series so far, with the environments looking fairly crisp and clean. The slowdown that plagued the genre when too many things were on screen is gone in favor of the slow loading enemies. Which wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the archers weren’t more dangerous than the officers, at times, or the officer wouldn’t load, being right next to me. The music is typical Dynasty Warriors faire, not much to go on there. One of those if you enjoyed it in the past, you will now.

Overall, it’s another Dynasty Warriors game. Aside from the changed up story mode with the added kingdom and non-selectable characters, the conquest mode that serves as the “free roam” part of the game, the free for all with weapons, and the new characters they added add some flavor, it’s still the hack-n-slash we either love or hate. Long time fans probably already bought it, on the fence people who liked some but disliked others should rent it and people who dislike the genre for some reason won’t find a reason to like it. If you’ve never played, it’s not a bad time to try it out.

Dynasty Warriors 7

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★☆ 
A fun, enjoyable, mindless button masher once again.

Game:Dynasty Warriors 7| Developer: Tecmo Koei

April 27, 2011

Coil

Filed under: Free, Other, WindowsNina S. @ 05:31

I realized after twenty minutes of staring at a blank page that Coil wasn’t a fantastic game. In fact, it’s not really even much of a game at all. I’m assuming that it was an attempt at some kind of artistic work but mostly it was creepy. That’s all I can say, really. I wrote a few notes while I was playing it and I really should just scan them and put them up as a screenshot because they explain the game in a nutshell: it’s creepy.

The music is creepy, the art is creepy, even the words that are set up on a black screen between the gameplay chunks are creepy.
First off, the game doesn’t tell you what to do. There are no instructions, so you’re just kind of winging it through this bizarre world of squishy things. As for the story, I can only tell you my interpretation of what the developers were trying to tell you. It’s not pretty, so you might want to go ahead and stop reading right now, if you have a weak constitution.
Still here? Okay, so, the story is full of creepy dialogue and what I can only say is the freakiest rendition of the human reproductive system I’ve ever seen. The words make it sound like we’re listening to a rapist talk to his victim, whom he impregnated. I know, that’s a mouthful and I would never say it lightly, but I played the game through four and a half times (the game is only about ten minutes long) and I got the same impression every single time. Maybe I’m wrong, I hope I am. I don’t want to think that someone would actually make a game about that but what do I know? It is what it is.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this game. It’s pretty freaky, even though it’s mildly pretty thanks to bright colors and the like. I also want to point out that the game was free when I played it. Still wouldn’t pass it around, but I’m sure someone out there would enjoy it. If it were just an artistic piece without the dialogue I might have been able to stomach it.
P.S. Just for good measure, I’m going to add the Developer comments to the end of this review. That way you can judge for yourself between what I got out of the game and what they meant for it.

Coil is an experimental “autobiographical” game that plays out more like a song or painting then an actual “game”. I was basically trying to create an experience that put the player into an open minded space and let them question not only what the game was about, but what a game can actually be.
Coil uses mouse movements only, no keys or clicking is involved at all.

Coil

 ★½☆☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★☆☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
A thin line between creepy and artistic.

Game: Coil | Developer: Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl

April 23, 2011

Din’s Curse: Demon War

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Macintosh, Paid, WindowsTaylorLF @ 05:26

Din’s Curse: Demon War is the expansion brought out by Soldak Entertainment to add-on to their already unique action-RPG, Din’s Curse. Building upon the foundation they already had, they give the original game a small boost with a variety of things. New class, new monsters, new char options, new world options, and a few new monsters.

First, let’s look at the new character class. The Demon Hunter has 3 skill trees to work with, mostly melee focused with a few spells to use. The first tree being sort of a shadow knight type deal, the second being more of an arcane fighter, and the last being a caster who can end up controlling monsters for a limited time.  Adding his three trees brings the total customization up from 141 class combinations (through the regular class trees and the hybrid trees) to a whopping 196 customizations for characters. That’s a ton given the small choices we usually get to make in the genre.

One of the biggest changes is a whole slew of new creation options. More character options, like losing your mini-map, only letting yourself equip higher quality items, making food a necessity. It gets better with the new options to the world. Making enemies weaker but making a whole hoard of them, changing dungeon size, how much the NPCs interact. All this is added onto the already fairly customizable original game, there’s a lot to play around with.

There are a few new actual monsters, most just got a reskin or some extras, like tails or wings. Adding this with new environments to explore, it adds a bit of fresh life into a game that you might start re-seeing the same things occasionally since it creates the world each time you start a new one.

One of the best new modes put in when you don’t feel like dungeon crawling is an invasion mode. Waves of monsters attack the town immediately, so it provides you something to do when you just want to fight waves and waves of enemies.

In the end though, it adds a handful of things to an already fairly good game. Though to be honest if you don’t use any of the new character options or world editing options, the game is fairly the same. However what it does add shouldn’t be overlooked, and it’s worthy of a purchase just for all the new options.

The game is as enjoyable as it ever was, and I’m looking forward to further developments towards the game and future protects of the company.

Din’s Curse: Demon War

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★☆☆ 
An expansion that adds just enough to keep things interesting.

Game: Din’s Curse: Demon War | Developer: Soldak Entertainment

April 22, 2011

Din’s Curse

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Macintosh, Paid, WindowsTaylorLF @ 05:21

I initially jumped into Din’s Curse with the same attitude I’ve done with its other action-RPG brethren, games like Diablo, Titan Quest, Torchlight, etc. So I start it up and look at my character creation options. 6 classes I see. “Not bad,” I say, “Not bad at all.” Then I glance over another class button below the rest. It says Hybrid. Intrigued, I hit it, and below that are two buttons telling me to select a skill. So I do and it gives me the menu for all 6 classes. Now, each class actually has three individual skill trees per class like Diablo did. However, Hybrid throws that out the window by letting you pick two from any class. Let’s say that again, any class.  A Necromancer, which can summon skeletons while also using ice magic? A two handed warrior with rogue talents?  Madness, I tell you, madness! So after I finish picking my class, there’s another menu that lets you add additional hardships to your person. Making deaths mean more, finding less magical items or money, getting stats cut, things like that. Moving onto the next part, it gives me other options. What levels do I want the monsters to start at compared to mine, how fast/slow do I want to gain exp, do I want stronger monsters but less of them?

Once I get past creating my hero and my world, I finally get into the game. Starting off in a town, you get the gist of the game. You are brought back to redeem your past life by Din, a god. You help the townsfolk with their quests and quests jobs for Din, and maybe redeem your existence. Up front, most of the quests range from kill # of mobs, kill specific mobs, or find/fetch quests. Aside from that, the story you get at the start is pretty much what you get. Not much furthers it. That’s fine though because the game isn’t story driven. It’s madness driven. The minute you get in, your chat box starts erupting with messages. You see that named, unique monsters are summoning minions. Other monsters are fighting each other and becoming stronger. So you do what all good dungeon crawler people do, dive into the dungeon and get to monster bashing. Smash things, collect loot, get blown up by a barrel you smashed for possible loot and turned out to be explosive. It’s all gravy. Until you see the message that the town is under attack. Yes, your town will come under attack. They can kill your vendors. When they give you a quest that tells you to hurry, they aren’t being overly dramatic like other games that you know you can complete 5 hours later. They mean do it or we’ll be overrun. If you don’t defend them, the entire town will die and that’s not good. They help you out with being able to get back to town quickly with warps on each floor of the dungeon that you have to find first, but after you do you can teleport back to town and back to that level instantly. That’s the unique thing about the game though, it’s dynamic. While you’re sitting in town, the dungeon is still being active. It’s not a freeze frame where the monsters are waiting for you like it’s a surprise party, letting you come into view first before doing anything. Then it dawned on me. You could make this all harder on yourself through the creation options. That’s not to dissuade people who prefer things easier. You can stop town invasions all together with a creation option with a 15% experience reduction, but also give yourself more experience to offset it.

The graphics leave a little to be desired, but given some indie games I’ve seen done, they’re good. It looks slightly dated, but not enough to turn you off completely. Plus it gives you that little bit of nostalgia playing older dungeon crawlers. The sound quality however is fairly good.

There is a multiplayer option but I could find no online games to play, however there is a local co-op that you and your buddies can play on.

I honestly sat down with the intent just to get a feel for the game first, and suddenly hours passed. Between questing, keeping the town safe, running back to town every few minutes because I’m obsessed with loot and needed to sell it to get more, I completely forgot about the time. It’s an indie game that never felt like it was an indie game, which is a major plus, and is worth a try at the very least. It gives a shot in the arm to a static genre that let us be comfortable in towns and content in thinking the monsters would still be there for us, waiting like idiots.

Din’s Curse

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★☆☆ 
An indie game that can easily compete with it’s bigger brethren.

Game: Din’s Curse | Developer: Soldak Entertainment

April 21, 2011

The Cool

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, Free, WindowsJosh @ 04:45

The Cool doesn't need weapons: he IS a weapon.

There is a guy called The Cool. He’s so hardcore that not even death can stop him from doing his thing. In fact, two shady characters called “The Streets” and “The Game” try to arrange this guy’s untimely demise, but he’s purely unstoppable. He may have been dead for a little bit, but it’s not too long before he rises from the grave and seeks vengeance against his killers. Quite frankly, you do not want The Cool for an enemy.

The story of this un-killable ex-hustler is told in a little Flash game called The Cool. Players take control of The Cool and guide him through a series of old-school street battles reminiscent of retro games like Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and Battletoads. But The Cool isn’t the only one to rise from the dead: there are plenty of zombies who would love nothing more than to send him straight back to the grave. And of course, The Cool must eventually engage in boss fights against “The Streets” and “The Game.”

The gameplay is fairly shallow: there are a few attacks, and a couple combo moves. Use the arrow keys on your computer keyboard to move, and A, S, and D for your attacks. You can press all three to unleash a super combo, but you are only able to do this a few times. I would recommend saving these for the boss fights.

But forget the gameplay. One of the things that makes The Cool stand out is its unique art style. The characters in this game look great, and are placed against a very stylized city backdrop. Even the game window is pimped out with cool little decorations that make this a tasty piece of eye candy.

And to top it all off, The Cool features a great hip-hop soundtrack by Lupe Fiasco. (In fact, this whole game is a concept piece based off Lupe Fiasco’s album, which is also titled The Cool.) These songs are a lot of fun to listen to, and contain plenty of lyrical references to video games and gothic literature. Yes, they definitely create the perfect vibe that brings a whole lot of energy to this little zombie brawler.

The Cool is a 2D street-fighter game that looks and sounds absolutely amazing. Even after the gameplay starts to get old, Lupe Fiasco’s tunes will tickle your ears and keep you coming back.

They call this chick "The Streets." She will mess you up.

The Cool

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Raise from the dead, beat up zombies, and get revenge on those who killed you.

Game: The Cool | Developer: Custom Logic

April 18, 2011

Gish

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Other, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 04:56

Gish was one of those games that I picked up without even thinking about it. It looked like it may be funny and I really wanted something different and what is more different then playing a game as a glob of goo? Yes, you heard me. I bought this game because you basically play as a big ball of sludge that doesn’t make any sense but is still awesome.

Now, while playing I wasn’t really expecting much but I did like the art style. Both the opening scene, which is actually crudely drawn but still manages to work, and the actual gameplay are fun and shiny. I liked the levels as they are all based around this seemingly underground world of green water and questionable sources. There are pipes and pockets of gross that make you happy and disgusted all at once. The game is riddled with awesome music and sleek movement which can be weird when you’re playing as a ball of slime but still works wonders in the long run. My only real complaint for this game isn’t even really a complaint as a warning for new players. It’ll take a while to get used to playing as Gish. At least it took me a little while, the slippery movement is flawless in design, meaning the physics make sense and once you’re comfortable with the jumps and squishing, it works, but still it’s a little daunting to start with.

As a side note, I loved the story for Gish. It’s a funny platform game but at the heart of it all, it’s a romance. Your entire point for fighting is to save your girlfriend!

This isn’t really a big selling point for a lot of people but I just wanted to mention that Gish also has a collection mode. That’s basically you just running around with your awesome Gish guy and collecting coins or whatever for the fun of it. These coins can be used for many things but mostly it’s just good, blind fun. Gish has a lot of that.

All in all, I think this is probably one of the best games I’ve played all year. Yes, the year is just starting, but that doesn’t make the statement any less credible. It’s funny, sweet, and just plan great, which I feel is really what gaming is all about in the end. I had a great time and was genuinely disappointed when I was done. That really says something.

Gish

 ★★★★½ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A little bit of tar goes a long way.

Game: Gish | Developer: Chronic Logic

April 17, 2011

Between

Filed under: Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 06:47

I’m going to start this review with the ending, which is something I’ve never done before. The reason I’m doing this is because…well, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. If you’re just here skimming through reviews, this is definitely one of those that you might feel like I didn’t like it, but I did. I think game creators that think outside of the box should always get some kind of prop for doing so and this game is definitely something new and worth giving a try.

That being said, it’s –for sure –not a game for everyone. It’s not very clear what you’re supposed to be doing for most of the game, so if you don’t like puzzles you might be a little frustrated by the lack of instruction and progress. The game comes with absolutely no directions; you’re kind of just standing in a field with boxes, trying to do….something. As I mentioned, it’s vague and a little frustrating.

Another thing I wasn’t too keen of in the game is that it doesn’t give you an option: you have to play with someone else. I know that this is what the developer wanted, but if you’re like me and don’t enjoy relying on other people in order to enjoy your games, you’re SOL here. Your options are to find someone random to play with or con one of your friends (or husband) into being patient enough to figure it out together. In addition, even when you’re playing with someone else, you don’t really see them. The game requires you to play it multiplayer (again, a drag, especially if your partner sucks), but you never actually see what your partner is doing. Instead you just kind of…tinker around and eventually see the fruits of his or her labor…sort of.

I kind of get the feeling that this game was meant to be a bit of a struggle. You’re set up with someone you probably don’t know, supposed to be heading toward an invisible goal, and there’s no ultimate validation that I’ve seen. Even if you finally do manage to complete what I am assuming is the goal here, there’s no “Hey, you won! Great job!” It’s just kind of…done-ish.

I’m sure you can see my problems here. Yes, it’s something new and inventive. It’s also pretty cheap, so it’s not like it isn’t worth the money, but still. If you’re not a patient person who likes puzzles you may just find yourself with a migraine and a game you’ll never pick up again.

Between

 ★★¾☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Multiplayer:★☆☆☆☆ 
Between since making and not.

Game: Between | Developer: Jason Rohrer

April 15, 2011

Shadow Complex

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Paid, XBoxTaylorLF @ 05:49

Shadow Complex is one of those games that makes me appreciate we’re in a time where smaller, but great quality games can be downloaded to your console. Of course with such ease you have titles that are very basic and pushed out just for fodder, but when a rare gem comes through you notice it and appreciate it even more. Luckily, Shadow Complex is one of those that was actually done well.

You star as Jason Bailey, a man who is trying to impress some chick he just met by going cave diving with her. You explore, things happen, she gets kidnapped, and like all sane men trying to impress the ladies he busts into a secret underground, private military base to save her. The action takes place as a side scroller in 2D fashion, akin to the likes of Metroid (old Metroid mind you, not this new Wii FPS stuff). You explore, filling out the map and sometimes coming across gaps or doors you can do nothing about.  Pretty much like Metroid. You gain new weapons which can blast open certain doors/walls (missiles for red, grenades for green, foam gun for purple), like Metroid. You even get a hookshot that lets you cling to surfaces, like….Metroid? You know what, if you played either Metroid or Super Metroid, you’ve played Shadow Complex.  There are collectables to find, like increased missle or grenade capacity, new guns, new armors, equipment that lets you explore better, gold bars that unlock gold versions of your firearms, and keycards that unlock the best armor in the game (pretty much invulnerability, but it’s at the very end of the game so not very handy).

The graphics are very well done. Even for a 2D game, the developers used the unreal engine to make everything look real nice and crisp like. It’s a shame that while most of the game takes place underground, the surface is what really shines (literally). The music is nice, though nothing to get excited over.

Overall, Shadow Complex is a great game. If you like the whole 2d exploration, Metroid themed game play anyway. If you’ve never played Metroid, or any sort of 2D exploring game, give the demo a shot. You might like it. Or if you’re into Orson Scott Card’s book “Empire”, the story is set in that world. Either way you look at it, it’s a game to try.

Shadow Complex

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Great, 2D, Metroid-style game.

Game: Shadow Complex | Developer: Chair Entertainment

April 14, 2011

Rag Doll Kung Fu

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Other, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 05:05

Rag Doll Kung Fu opens with a great rap, which is pretty win for me. It really sets the tone for the rest of the game. It’s a little edgy, fun, and upbeat, which is always the kind of mindset I end up when I’m listening to some well done, clean rap. If you’ve ever watched Samurai Champloo you know where I’m heading here. It’s kind of like that. You know it’s going to rock the moment the box is cracked open and the affect isn’t lost in the actual gameplay.

This game is all about playing as a rag doll. You have this limp little character that you move around by dragging their body parts across the screen. You want to headbutt someone? Well, you have to use your mouse to drag the head of your rag doll toward your target. Basic movement is done the same way, you can use the head to drag your person around.

After the tutorial, I realized that the game would be a bit physics extensive, so I focused on how it moves. When you are creating chi (something done by spinning your mouse in a circle), and battling your friends you can rest assured that you won’t be annoyed by shoddy mapping. This game really took the time to ensure that everything works the way you would expect it to.  As long as you have a good mouse you shouldn’t have any trouble playing this reflex-intensive game.

I don’t usually play multiplayer games but this one offered a fun fighting game that I thought I would be able to actually beat my husband at. You don’t have to play local multiplayer but as this is an Indie game, there are times when the open options are slim. Still, it’s a fantastic way to pit yourself against others. It’s a game that requires you to be quick with your hands and to think outside of the box. Ultimately, this multiplayer is well thought out and fun. Other than a bit of lag when you’re playing with more than four people, this is a great game to play during a party.

All in all, this is a great game. It’s challenging, swift, and enjoyable when you’re looking for something funny to play while you get your action fix. Besides, who doesn’t love old kung fu movie clips with hilarious subtitles? This game has them!

Rag Doll Kung Fu

 ★★★¼☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★☆ 
The title says it all.

Game: Rag Doll Kung Fu | Developer: Qi Studios

April 13, 2011

Sprout

Filed under: Android, Free, Macintosh, Puzzle & Casual, Windows — Tags: Josh @ 05:05

A little seed pod dreams of becoming a coconut. His goals are quite lofty for a seed pod, I would say.

Sprout is a puzzle game about a tiny seed pod. This little guy is pretty much the Mega Man of the seed world: he can take on the powers and abilities of other seeds he comes into contact with along his journey. There are four plants from which he gains these powers: coconuts allow him to roll down hills, dandelion seeds allow him to blow in the wind, beanstalks allow him to scale steep cliffs, and apples will attract wild animals. In order to progress through the game, players must decide which of these abilities will keep the little guy moving toward his goal. And what sort of goal could possibly motivate a seed pod? Well, the answer is simple: he wants to find the mighty oak tree and gain the power of the acorn.

This is such a simple concept, but it actually allows for some decent puzzles. In fact, there are a few places that will really force you to be creative in order to keep moving.

There's going to be a bird fight over these apples, I reckon.

Sprout has a hand-drawn look that puts players in the proper mood for enjoying this game, and the ambient water sounds seem to compliment this nicely. However, I feel like there could have been a soft instrumental music track that kicked in somewhere during the game to mix things up a bit. The game sounds fine as it is, mind you, but the right music could have possibly enhanced the experience.

Another small complaint I have is with one of the puzzles in particular – the bridge puzzle. The solution to this puzzle is to perform a certain set of actions four times in a row, yet there is no visual change until after the second time the player successfully completes these actions. This means that after the first time, it’s impossible for the player to tell that the correct sequence has been performed. This particular puzzle would be greatly improved if instead of having to perform these actions four times, the player was only required to perform them three times, each time resulting in a specific visual change letting players know they are on the right track.

Sprout is also very short. If you know all the right choices, you could easily finish the game in under five minutes. Yet some of the puzzles are difficult enough that it will most likely take quite a bit longer to get though. In fact, I would argue that the game is the perfect length: it has a fair variety of puzzles without becoming repetitive.

Despite its few small flaws, Sprout is a very clever point-and-click puzzler. And since you can take it on the go with the Kongregate Arcade app for Android devices, it’s the perfect way to kill some time while away from home.

There are four abilities to help this little guy on his voyage.

Sprout

 ★★★½☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Take on the role of a tiny little seed pod on a quest to find the mighty oak tree.

Game: Sprout | Developer: Custom Logic

April 12, 2011

Total War: Shogun 2

Filed under: OtherLucjan @ 05:41

Let me start by saying I’ve always been a fan of the Total War series. I started playing it when it first came out with the original Shogun, and I played it all the way through to Empires. I lost interest with Empires and its very, very boring “stand in a line and shoot at each other” style of napoleonic warfare. It basically took all the maneuvering and battlefield awareness strategies that made all of its predecessors fun and threw them out the window.

Shogun 2 gets back to the series’ roots and knocks the ball out of the park in every aspect. I don’t think they could have done any better than they did with Shogun 2 (following a few minor tweaks that fixed all the initial noticeable problems with a couple small patches). There’s a great deal of immersion in the storyline and the time period. The graphics are phenomenal. There’s excellent sound and voice acting, period specific music, unit design and ambiance. I could go on forever about how much better Shogun 2 is than any of it’s predecessors. But mostly, the biggest new feature to Shogun 2 is a much, much more player friendly multiplayer version of the game.

Melee Combat

Total War has increasingly become main stream, and with that they’ve increasingly been working on upping their multiplayer game. And they’ve done a fantastic job with this release. The avatar conquest map makes everything very unique in that it gives the player a goal to work towards besides just beating the other guy. There’s unlockable retainers, troops, and avatar gear that give incentive to keep playing, as well as achievements that have just become a mandatory must for any any new game released for any platform.

Enemies Advance on a Castle

One of the coolest things they’ve implemented is the multiplayer campaign, and the “drop-in” combat for single player campaigns that allows players to let other real people “drop in” to their single player campaign to fight a battle as the ai opponents army. Essentially, you may be playing a single player campaign, but when you’re fighting your battles, you can be playing against a real person if you choose to do so.

Five stars for Shogun 2 from me, across the board. Hopefully CA will be able to keep up this level of quality with their next release!

Total War: Shogun 2

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Utterly fantastic.

Game: Shogun 2| Developer: Creative Assembly

April 11, 2011

Socom 4: Multiplayer BETA

Filed under: OtherLucjan @ 05:31

After having been a MAG addict for quite a while now, I almost didn’t notice the Socom 4 release was creeping up rather quickly. Without a second thought I downloaded the free Beta multiplayer version on the PS3 and hopped into the game. It’s a third person, over the shoulder shoorter that plays fantastically well to a genre increasingly popularizing games of it’s style. The Gears of War series and a few others always do really well, but it’s important to note that there needs to be a few key ingredients for a game like this to work.

Firstly, it needs to look nice, and Socom 4 does that very well. There’s a very natural appearance to everything that doesn’t look overly gritty or overly cartoonish at any given time. Nothing is too clean, but nothing looks otherworldy either. The over the shoulder camera gives you an excellent view of the battlefield, including a peripheral vision that’s lost on first person shooters, and makes battlefield awareness that much easier. The sound plays well into the game’s immersion and doesn’t bring anything less to the table than it needs to. It also isn’t so overwhelming that you can’t communicate via headset with the other players on your team.

Boom

The multiplayer system is very well set-up and offers plenty of options to get you into the game. You can either join a friend or scroll through a list of various interesting game types to get into the thick of things. This is, however, a beta, and it should be noted that as things stand now, it is subject to change based on what does and does not work out well from a technical and gameplay aspect based on the response the company gets from the beta players. I’m not anticipating much complaint though.

Nice graphics.

Honestly, the only problem I had with the way things were going was that it seemed like the game would occassionally spawn you right at the front line. So occassionally it seemed like you’d get shot awfully quickly after respawning. And the camera would occassionally bounce when you tried to aim at a location where the camera seemed it was running into a wall or object behind you. Other than that, it’s looking out to be a pretty good game.

Socom 4: Multiplayer BETA

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★☆ 
Looking good so far.

Game: Socom 4 | Developer: Zipper Interactive

April 10, 2011

Droplitz

Filed under: Paid, Playstation, Puzzle & Casual, Windows, XBox, iPhoneTaylorLF @ 05:39

Droplitz is one of those games that you think would be relaxing to play, what with its color changing backgrounds and smooth music changing depending on how high your score/multiplier gets and also the mode you’re playing on. It lies. It’s a dirty, dirty liar. It’s a frustrating, panicky game hiding behind nice visuals and cool music. I’m on to you Droplitz.

The game seems simple. Little grey and purple balls fall out of the holes up top. They have to get into the spaces at the bottom. Your job as the player is to rotate tiles to create a path for those balls to travel down. Sounds simple, fun, easy, and relaxing right? Wrong. Oh sure, everything starts nice. Click a few tiles, hey look a path! The music playing away, you’re casually building paths. Then you realize you’re losing balls (once you run out it’s game over) because now the board has more paths that balls are coming out of and they aren’t making it because the game decided to give you a line piece when you really needed a freaking 4-way. Oh, it knows. It knows. Now it’s a game of frantic clicking trying to make a path, ANY path, work out so you can keep the game going. Then realizing you’re still losing balls because you still can make a path because the tile they gave you outside the dropper zone can’t connect to any other tile surrounding it. Then the board gets even bigger with more droppers and more tiles. Then you get frustrated, randomly click things, lose, and go cry in a fetal position in the corner. Maybe that was just me though.

The graphics and music are well done. Things changed based on your score and your multiplier and the mode you’re on. The backgrounds are all very solid but sort of….wavy? It’s a trip really. They added little graphics to it, like a snowflake or a coffee cup, to set the mood of the level you’re on. The music is relaxing. There are a few music tracks ranging from techno sounding ones, to smooth jazz influenced, to just relaxing. I don’t know how to describe it except something you’d listen to on a meditation CD or something.

For all I said during the review, it is a fun game. It’s casual enough to be fun but challenging enough to where you won’t be bored with it. Different modes to try out, leader boards for those who like comparing to your friends or trying to get a better score than the people above you, and just a generally fun game that people who enjoy puzzle games should check out. I won’t call it back though, the first date was just wrong.

Droplitz

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
A frustratingly casual experience.

Game: Droplitz | Developer: Blitz Arcade

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